Alfoncy Harris

Biography by

Alfoncy Harris was an old-styled big-voiced blues singer active during the 1920s and '30s whose legacy amounts to a small number of recordings, some of which have been reissued in connection with more…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

Alfoncy Harris was an old-styled big-voiced blues singer active during the 1920s and '30s whose legacy amounts to a small number of recordings, some of which have been reissued in connection with more famous artists, or on widely circulated historic blues collections. His first records appear to have been made in Memphis, TN, on January 31, 1928, for the Victor company with his wife, Bethenea Harris, and a trio consisting of clarinetist Douglas Williams, pianist Blaine (some sources say Elaine) Elliott, and drummer Sam Sims. According to the discographies, Alfoncy briefly blew into an alto saxophone on this session. "I Don't Care What You Say" was followed by "That Same Cat," a song credited to Alfoncy but clearly patterned after "That Same Dog" by Butterbeans & Susie, the better-known and more successful vaudeville blues duo after whom many a husband-and-wife team patterned their acts. On November 26 and 27, 1929, Alfoncy and Bethenea recorded a pair of duets for Victor in Atlanta, GA. On "Teasing Brown" b/w "This Is Not the Stove to Brown Your Bread," the two were backed by banjoist William Shorter and 12-string guitarist Blind Willie McTell. Four additional titles, "Lucaloosa Blue Front Blues" (on which Alfoncy played clarinet), "Get Back Blues," "Learn Something Blues," and "What Do I Care?," were also waxed at these sessions but remained unissued. Alfoncy's last known recordings, "No Good Guy," "Absent Freight Train Blues," and "South Land Blues," were made for the ARC label in Dallas, TX, in October 1934 with pianist Curtis Jones. These were included as bonus tracks on Document's Complete Works, Vol. 4 Curtis Jones collection in 1995. The originally issued McTell titles have cropped up on a number of collections under that guitarist's name. The Douglas Williams selections made their CD debut in 1997 on a Document anthology of duets by George Williams and Bessie Brown among examples by five other vaudeville and blues duos from the same time period. They were then presented by Jazz Oracle among Williams' complete works in 2000, followed by unprecedented exposure via inclusion on Bluebird's highly acclaimed When the Sun Goes Down: The Secret History of Rock & Roll compilation in 2002.