The Famous Hokum Boys

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While the Famous Hokum Boys has turned up as a name for various regional old-time music and country-blues groups, the most famous group utilizing the name was a loose-knit aggregation of blues singers…
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While the Famous Hokum Boys has turned up as a name for various regional old-time music and country-blues groups, the most famous group utilizing the name was a loose-knit aggregation of blues singers that were actually better known under their own names. Yet Georgia Tom, Tampa Red, and Big Bill Broonzy may have wanted the somewhat more anonymous cover of a combo name in order to release their raunchiest material, including the number "It's Tight Like That." By the time the latter ditty was cut in the late '20s, blues or so-called "race records" was established as an area where sexy, sometimes downright nasty lyrics, were a stock-in-trade. Georgia Tom, also known under his real name of Thomas Dorsey, particularly may have wanted some kind of a cover to prevent his high-profile gospel and religious singing career from being corrupted. The ruse hardly worked, however, but the result actually turned out to be a sort of a canonization of Dorsey and the Famous Hokum Boys by later advocates of what became known as "contemporary Christian music," in which it was alright, even desired, for the performer to touch on steamy subjects such as lust and adultery. "It's entirely arguable that Christian music would not exist if it were not for the Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey," a magazine devoted to the contemporary Christian genre even wrote. The term "hokum" is said to have been invented by the Famous Hokum Boys as a new descriptive term for the type of material the band was coming up with, but has since evolved into a minimally used expression for something corny, low-brow, or kitschy, with little reference to sex -- or gospel.