Mississippi Sheiks

The Essential

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Walter Vinson and various members of the musical Chatman family made more than 80 recordings together for OKeh, Columbia, and Bluebird as the Mississippi Sheiks, and still more under other names. Their sizable legacy is reachable through reissue collections offered by several contemporary labels, and nobody has done it more thoroughly than Document. For those seeking a good representative taste in one package, The Essential on Classic Blues (a non-chronological sampler drawn from the Document catalog) is highly recommended. Recorded during the years 1930-1934 in Shreveport, LA, San Antonio, TX, Atlanta, GA, Jackson, MS, and Grafton, WI, these are fascinating examples of Depression-era guitar-and-fiddle blues with a strong rural identity. The original recordings were quite popular and sold well even during times when many people had little money to spare for luxuries like phonograph records. "Jake Leg Blues" was originally left unissued; the title refers to a peculiar gait associated with radical damage to the central nervous system caused by the consumption of tainted Prohibition liquor. The Mississippi Sheiks should not be confused with the Beale Street Sheiks; that name leads directly to all of the Paramount recordings made by Memphis bluesmen Frank Stokes and Dan Sane in 1927-1929. Those who are moved by what is reproduced here should consider obtaining all four volumes of the Mississippi Sheiks' complete works on Document, as well as adjacent compilations under the headings of Walter Vinson, the Chatman Brothers, Charlie McCoy, and various Mississippi String Bands.

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