In February of 1928, guitarist Napoleon "Nap" Hayes and mandolinist Matthew Prater, two black musicians from Vicksburg, MSi, recorded four instrumental tunes in Memphis. The tunes -- "Somethin' Doin'," "Easy Winner," "Nothin' Doin'," and "Prater Blues" -- showcase the clean musicianship of both players, with Hayes' guitar providing a steady rhythmic accompaniment for the skillful mandolin lead. The performances, while comprising only a small body of recorded work, reveal a unique and carefully stylized repertoire, fusing elements of string band, ragtime, and blues forms: the first two sides directly borrow themes and phrasings from Scott Joplin rags, "Something Doing" and "The Entertainer," respectively. Little biographical information is known regarding Hayes and Prater, who recorded as the Johnson Boys and the Blue Boys. The duo also recorded two numbers with popular bluesman Lonnie Johnson on violin, but those sides were not issued (they have only become available in recent years). The four duet recordings of Nap Hayes and Matthew Prater are collected on Document's String Bands (1926-1929).
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