Monday, January 10, 2011

Henry 'Ragtime Texas' Thomas 'Ragtim Texas 1927-1929'

Now for something completely different.

Henry 'Ragtime Texas' Thomas remains an enigmatic figure in pre World War II African-American folk music. Reported to be last seen in Texas in the 1950s, he was a country blues pioneer predating Delta Blues Godfather Charlie Patton.

One of nine children Henry is said to have been born in 1874 in Big Sandy, Texas. He came from a family of former slaves and sharecroppers raising cotton. Not keen on following farming for work he left home at a young age and began life as a street musician.

In 1927 through to 1929 Henry Thomas made 23 pieces for the Vocalion label. Most agree this makes him the oldest African-American performer to record blues. His one man band amalgamates gospel, blues and ragtime tunes with the use of quills, pan pipes and a guitar that sounds as though it's being strum like a banjo. Henry Thomas's songs have been interpreted by everyone from his piers Garfield Akers and Joe Callicott to contemporary acts like Bob Dylan, Taj Mahal and Canned Heat.

Utterly unmissable, magical traditional country blues that you can lose afternoons to. One of his songs can be heard here.

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