Guitar Slim

Carolina Blues NYC 1944

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Here Alex "Guitar Slim" Seward and Louis Hayes ("Fat Boy" or "Jelly Belly") are captured in New York City. This traveling pair also recorded as the Backporch Boys, Blues King and The Bluesboys bringing rural, east coast Blues in the tradition of Blind Boy Fuller, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee to their nostalgic constituents displaced to the big Northern cities during and after World War II. Louis and Alex trade back and forth in conversational exchanges leading before a song containing verse exchanges. Both play guitar, the only musical accompaniment here. The vocals are adequately summed up as "rough" for more country-styled Hayes and "smooth" for Seward, a protege of Lonnie Johnson and Sonny Terry. The two play up their differences as the more sophisticated sounding Guitar Slim berates Jelly Belly for his shiftless ways and fondness for "ten-cent wine." It appears the two had some wild adventures with disreputable woman in taking their music to the road. The interesting interplay of the basic acoustic guitarwork and comedic exchanges between the men who can scoff at their hardscrabble past makes for a singular record. Mr. Arhoolie himself, Chris Strachwitz provides notes on the players individual and combined careers.

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