Stovepipe No. 1

Stovepipe No. 1: Complete Recorded Works (1924-1950) & The Jug Washboard Band (1928)

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The strangely named Stovepipe No. 1 accompanies himself on guitar, harmonica, and stovepipe; the latter homemade instrument functions like a jug, providing a higher pitched and, under Stovepipe's direction, more versatile sound than its cousin. The solo recordings of Stovepipe No. 1 are primarily of interest for the unique repertoire they represent, consisting of typically "white" dance tunes, such as "Turkey in the Straw," "Fisher's Hornpipe," and a melody of "Cripple Creek and Sourwood Mountain." Also included are two religious pieces; of these, "Lord, Don't You Know I Have No Friend like You" is a relation of the Carter Family's "This World Is Not My Home." With guitarist David Crockett, Stovepipe delves briefly into minstrel and medicine show material, producing the unusual title "A Chicken Can Waltz the Gravy Around." Although these unconventional recordings make interesting and important footnotes in the history of Southern rural music and the "race records" industry, only Stovepipe's collaborations with King David's Jug Band, also included here, hold much appeal to the general listener. These six performances represent some of the finest sides of early jug band music, the stovepipe itself (filling the role of the jug) reaching a new level of virtuosity. Four of these numbers also appear on Yazoo's two-volume Ruckus Juice and Chittlins collection of jug band greats, and for all but the most serious collector, that compilation would be a more consistent and agreeable starting point. Four "bonus tracks" by the Tub Jug Washboard Band conclude Document's collection, showcasing additional vaudeville material, with a more explicit jazz influence than the very rural Stovepipe tracks. Though these sides are a welcome presence in the set, this disc remains best left to the most enthusiastic enthusiasts. For such collectors, however, the unique persona of Stovepipe No. 1, and the traditions his performances encompass, may be more than adequate justification for owning this album.

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