b. Thomas McFarland, 16 September 1903, Alton, Illinois, USA, d. April 1962. On his 1929 debut recording, Barrelhouse Buck sang reflectively, like many St. Louis pianists, but his playing was more percussive than that of his contemporaries. This resulted partly from his experience as a drummer, and partly from a conscious decision to make his style different. By 1934, he had adopted a fierce, growling vocal to match his swinging piano, and perhaps also to compete with his accompanists, drawn from among a rasping fiddler, a clarinettist, and Peetie Wheatstraw’s guitar. Together they made exciting dance music, and it is regrettable that Barrelhouse Buck did not record again until shortly before his death, at a hurried session that produced a brief album, marred by an out-of-tune piano.
Share this page