Beale Street Sheiks
Beale Street Sheiks
He was raised by his stepfather in Tutwiler, Mississippi, after the death of his parents. Stokes learned to play guitar as a youth in Tutwiler, and, after 1895, in Hernando, Mississippi, which was home to such African American guitarists as Jim Jackson, Dan Sane, Elijah Avery (of Cannon's Jug Stompers), and Robert Wilkins. In the mid 1910s, Stokes joined forces with fellow Mississippian Garfield Akers as a blackface songster, comedian, and buck dancer in the Doc Watts Medicine Show, a tent show that toured the South. During this period of touring, Stokes developed a sense of show business professionalism that set him apart from many of the more rural, less polished blues musicians of that time and place. It is said that his performances on the southern minstrel and vaudeville circuit around this time greatly influenced the great archetypal country and western musician Jimmie Rodgers, who played the same circuit.
Rodgers borrowed songs and song fragments from Stokes and was influenced stylistically as well. Around 1920, Stokes settled in Oakville, Tennessee, where he went back to work as a blacksmith. Stokes teamed up again with Sane and went to work playing dances, picnics, fish fries, saloons, and parties in his free time. Stokes and Sane joined Jack Kelly's Jug Busters to play white country clubs, parties and dances, and to play Beale Street together as the Beale Street Sheiks, first recording under that name for Paramount Records in August 1927. All told, Stokes was to cut 38 sides for Paramount and Victor Records.
"The fluid guitar interplay between Stokes and Sane, combined with a propulsive beat, witty lyrics, and Stokes's stentorian voice, make their recordings irresistible." Their duet style influenced the young Memphis Minnie in her duets with husband Kansas Joe McCoy. The Sheiks next recorded at a session for Victor Records where Furry Lewis also recorded. At this session, in February 1928, the emphasis was on blues, rather than the older songs that were also part of Stokes' repertoire. Stokes recorded again for Victor that August, playing "I Got Mine", one of a body of pre-blues songs about gambling, stealing and living high. He also recorded the more modern "Nehi Mamma Blues", which puns on the Nehi soft drink and the "knee-high" skirts that were fashionable at the time.
Sane rejoined Stokes for the second day of the August 1928 session, and they produced a two-part version of "Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do", a song well known in later versions by Bessie Smith and Jimmy Witherspoon, but whose origin lies somewhere in the pre-blues era. The Sheiks also continued to busk the streets, and play informally at parties. In 1929, Stokes and Sane recorded again for Paramount, resuming their 'Beale Street Sheiks' billing for a few cuts. In September Stokes was back on Victor to make what were to be his last recordings, this time without Sane, but with Will Batts on fiddle. Stokes and Batts were a team as evidenced by these records, which are both traditional and wildly original, but their style had fallen out of favor with the blues record buying public. Stokes was still a popular live performer, however, appearing in medicine shows, the Ringling Brothers Circus, and other tent shows and similar venues during the 1930s and 1940s.
During the 1940s, Stokes moved to Clarksdale, and occasionally worked with Bukka White in local juke joints. Stokes died of a stroke in Memphis on September 12, 1955. He is buried there in Hollywood Cemetery. Dan Sane (September 22, 1896 – February 18, 1956) was an American Memphis and country blues guitarist and songwriter. He was a working associate of Frank Stokes , with Sane's flatpicking ideally embellished by Stokes' fluid rhythms." The best known of Sane's penned songs were "Downtown Blues" and "Mr. Crump Don't Like It." His surname was alternatively spelt as 'Sain'. Sane was born in Hernando, Mississippi.
He moved to Memphis, Tennessee, and played in Will Batts' string band, before meeting guitar player Frank Stokes. Sane and Stokes busked together around Memphis' Beale Street at weekends. During the 1920s the pair performed on Beale Street as a duo billed as the Beale Street Sheiks and played in white venues, including country clubs, parties and dances, as members of Jack Kelly's Jug Busters. Their first recording was for Paramount Records in August 1927, under the Beale Street Sheiks name.
A National Park Service's tourist guide to the blues heritage of the Mississippi Delta says: "The fluid guitar interplay between Stokes and Sane, combined with a propulsive beat, witty lyrics, and Stokes's stentorian voice, make their recordings irresistible." They moved to Victor Records in 1928, where the recordings were under Stokes' own name. They recorded a two-part version of "Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do", a song well known in later versions by Bessie Smith and Jimmy Witherspoon, but whose origin lies somewhere in the pre-blues era. A locally popular song was "Mr. Crump Don't Like It," whose lyrics referred to Memphis mayor E.
H. Crump and his campaign to clean up Memphis' less salubrious areas. That song may have been based on an earlier song on the same topic by W. C.
Handy. The Sheiks also continued to busk the streets, and play informally at parties. In 1929, Stokes and Sane recorded again for Paramount, resuming their 'Beale Street Sheiks' billing for a few cuts. These 1929 sides were their last together, although Sane and Stokes continued their intermittent performing partnership up to the latter's retirement from music in 1952. In 1933, Sane and Batts (1904–1956), alongside Kelly, recorded as the South Memphis Jug Band. Sane died in Memphis in February 1956, aged 59. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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