Lowe Stokes

Lowe Stokes, Vol. 1: 1927-1930

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Part of the multi-fiddle attack of the legendary Skillet Lickers, Lowe Stokes also fronted his own string band, the North Georgians, and recorded several sides on his own in the late '20s and early '30s. By all accounts, Stokes suffered more hard knocks than any down-on-his-luck bluesman, and reportedly was stabbed and shot several times in his lifetime, including a mishap in which he lost his bow hand. Outfitted with a special hook that allowed him to continue playing, Lowe Stokes was still amazing audiences with his fiddle prowess as late as 1982. The recordings collected here are drawn from old 78s and they demonstrate the range of this extraordinary musician. There are the expected string band standards, of course, including "Sally Johnson," "Billy in the Low Ground," and a version of "Cotton-Eyed Joe" called "Four Cent Cotton," but Stokes had a wider range, and attempted blues ("Unexplained Blues"), rags ("Swamp Cat Rag"), Dixie jazz ("Sailin' Down the Chesapeake Bay") and even parlor pop ("Everybody's Doin' It Now"). This is an archival release of old 78s, so the sound quality varies from track to track, but each exhibits a kind of wild, loose energy, as befits a man who lost his bow hand in a gun battle.

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