Fred Bolden's posts on Blindman Blues Forum PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 16 April 2006 00:00
Fred Bolden's posts on Blindman Blues Forum
Fred gave me permission to cut and paste excerpts that he had written on the Blindman's Blues Forum. These are just excerpts. They are not in their original form. The names represented are various user names from Blindman's. The dates are the days of his posting in case if you want to search the original context of the forum. The headlines are not names of forum lists. They are just descriptions of what Fred is talking about. --Angela Mack

June 6, 2005 PERMISSION
Feel free to post anything that I posted.

June 5, 2005 LYNCHING
You ask how the @#$#@ can people be like that. @#$#@, when one group of people believe that they can control another through fear, all too often the worst methods are employed. All you have to do is read history from the beginning right up to today.
I can remember some of those times in America. Most of the lynchings were done by hanging or shooting, or both. Those bastard whites meant to make an example out of Emmitt Till. That's why they combined such a cruel combination of @$$ and torture.
Anyway, if you check out the lynchings from the turn of last century on into the 20s, 30s, and 40s, you'll find case scenerios that were far more repulsive than Till. If you need an example, try burning at the stake.

June 3, 2005 RACISM
Those times were certainly racist. My mom and dad grew up under that system as did my relatives in the state of Mississippi. When they arrived north, things weren't that much better. I mean, they couldn't move to Cicero
These days, I stand ready with a big stick prepared to fight racism at every turn. Be it against any group of people.


Yes, Scot, it’s true. John Hurt is indeed my uncle. He was my grandfather’s brother. He slept at our house on many a night, especially during those Newport sessions. In those days, I couldn’t fathom how famous he was, or would become.

May 23, 2005 SON HOUSE
Yeah, I suppose Dick Waterman had something to do and he didn't want to leave Son alone, so he brought him to our house so he could spend some time with his good friend John Hurt. After that, Dick took off. Blindman, you've heard Son's recordings, but listening to him play sitting on our sofa was a mind blower. At that time, I didn't even know about his association with Willie Brown or Charlie Patton. It's a bet, Blindman, that a short while after Son left, I went right out and bought my first copy of Son's Columbia recording.

I wish I could say that I heard of that band, but I haven't.
I think what you guys are doing to commemorate and revive interest in Paramount Records is commendable.
I registered at your site yesterday, however, I still have yet to post. 'Hope to get around to that today, but I sure enjoyed that article on Son.
Oh yes, Skip always referred to his songs as 'pieces'. That, I can tell you for sure.

I'll tell you the truth. As much time as I spent in Skip James's home, I never knew about Skip having any relatives. Since he married a blood kin of mine, we were the only family he had. As you already know, I'm a Hurt all the way. Still, I'm of the belief that there's got to be someone, somewhere.

About those guys running Paramount in the thirties. Of course, their motive was simple profit, which the artist shared as well. When Skip spoke with me about it, there was a lot of bitterness, so I never pressed him because he was terminally ill.
No, I don't believe Skip ever returned to Grafton. If he did, he never mentioned it to me.
We have hundreds of relatives living in Chicago, but I'm not sure any would be interested in speaking on Skip's behalf. Skip is only related by marriage and I don't think many family members know about him.
It is sad to hear about those racists. Honestly, if I were to run into any of them today, it's a cinch that I would get into serious trouble; I'd try to hurt one.
Skip treated me very well on my many long stays at his home, as did his wife. How many bluesmen like that would give you their bedroom to sleep in? The James's did. Skip allowed me to take his guitar around Philadelphia and always gave me encouragement. God bless him. I'll always remember him being so cordial because I was always like a son to him.
I was up your way about thirty-five years ago. Have you ever heard of the Great Lakes Naval Training Center? Well, that's where I did my basic training. It was located roughly between Waukegan and Milwaukee.

Sitting in the living room of Skip's home in West Philadelphia and hearing my cousin speak of his recording days up in Grafton was something I never forgot. He referred to himself as a 'young buck' who auditioned in H.C. Spier's store on that muggy day in 1931 for a Paramount recording contract. Skip talked about how Mr. Spier didn't give a pig's ass about him and those others living on the wrong side of the poverty line, and that the income from the music he was about to record wasn't enough to significantly improve his lot over welfare. So, these were among the first things he talked about.
Skip mentioned that while at Spier's he didn't audition much. He played a few songs and was hired. He said he was so excited and was "wild as a buck rabbit". On the train up there, Skip mentioned that they paid for his fare, meals, and lodging, although I don't recall him ever saying that he stayed at the Grafton Hotel. Skip did say that while walking those streets of Grafton, he was forever looking for a black face. He went looking for booze and women during the short time he spent there. On the way back south Skip said he didn't go all the way, and that he stopped at several places before he finally landed home.
So, this is some of what I remember Skip talking about while staying at that beautiful home that Eric Clapton bought for him in Philly.
Skip James married my mother's first cousin who was also the niece of my uncle, Mississippi John Hurt.

Welcome to our forum and long live your stay. I've already visited your site and liked it very much. My cousin was the late Skip James, and as everyone around here knows, Mississippi John Hurt was my uncle.

I read that and found it quite enjoyable
I remember my cousin, Skip James, telling about his experience traveling up to Grafton.
My parents are from the Mississippi Delta and they heard Son House play on some of those plantations during the thirties. When Dick Waterman brought Son House to our home for a visit in '65, they talked about some fascinating things I hadn't heard up to that time - people, places, etc. Son remembered my dad who came from Greenwood, MS.
It's been so long ago. I wish I could still remember a lot of what they talked about more in detail. I still remember Son speaking on Blind Lemon. My uncle, John Hurt, and Son did play "Black Snake Moan". I remember that because it was the first time I saw my uncle play while strumming.

May 19, 2005 SON’S GAL
Yeah, Tangy, I dig what you mean, brother. That nappy-headed woman Son was with tried to pull his coat, but to no avail. It seemed to make Son madder than #$%#@, "Oh that woman. Gotta mouth like an outboard motor. All the time putputputputputputput."
I just kept quiet and watched it all go down because Son was about to cause more confusion than a mouse at a burlesque show. Then I heard him say, "The blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch - ain't no way out". Now, I knew the geezer was toasted, but what in the #$#@@% did he say?

So sorry I took so long in getting back to you.
Well, John Hurt taught me some of his exquisite arrangements and techniques while I was still in puberty. While he was away, I'd practice. Within a week I was already gaining a deeper knowledge of the fingerboard and its vast possibilties. Later, he'd visit me again and go over his unique rhythms, tones, and colors. Before long, I started to develope a different style and by age 12 I was writing my own songs.
Occasionally, I had to find a suitable place for John Hurt to tutor me. Often, we'd use the kitchen, or the living room - anyplace we could find peace and quiet.

May 12, 2005 JOHN HURT
When you consider my family, yes, I was the closest to Mississippi John Hurt. There was something about him that made me feel I could always convey my innermost thoughts and feelings. Being that close, I could always tell how he was feeling as well. It just seemed like we hit it off as soul mates. My uncle was a good listener, and if he got rankled, he never went into a screaming match or verbal warfare, he remained calm. Often, uncle John and I talked about deep stuff, like civil rights, Emmett Till, or our views about the world. He'd be quite funny at times, though I must admit, he became confused at some of the things I'd say.
Generally, in his most private moments with my family, he allowed himself to display some of the anger and dismay that he felt towards some of his associates in the music world. If there was a poisonous atmosphere brewing, he could become bitter, and that sometimes would bubble to the surface.
So, in conclusion, John Hurt and I could relate...that's why I cared a lot for him.

May 10, 2005 JOHN HURT’S DEATH
About the cause of Mississippi John Hurts death. It was a stroke. He was out hunting squirrels east of Avalon near the St. James Baptist Church when he felt a stiffness in his throat and discovered that he couldn't whistle. He managed to get to a road where someone picked him up and took him to Grenada County Hospital. That was where he died on November 2, 1966.
I hope to get to our family plot in Avalon where he's buried. My mother's sister Katherine is buried there as is my three first cousins Dennis, Matthew, and Annie Laura. All of MJH's brothers are there except four of them. Teddy Hurt is buried there (Teddy's sister, you know, married Skip James). There are more, but they're all buried there right with our famous relative, Mississippi John Hurt.

Well, I got to check this out. Man, I love me some Charlie Patton, and I can't wait to see what they've done to my cousin Skip James' 1930s sides. This had better be good.


John Fahey and Bill Barth located my cousin Skip in the Tunica County Hospital, where Skip told me he was undergoing (mis)treatment for that lesion you-know-where. Skip said they introduced themselves and paid his bill (about $84) and put him in a car bound for DC. On the way up, these two white kids, who had memorized every lick from Skip's recordings in the 1930s, retaught him several songs. Man, this came in handy at the 1964 Newport Blues Festival, when Son House staggered off the bill. So, TangyBlues, that's the way Skip explained it to me, and I don't think you'll get this culled from any newspaper or magazine.

April 7, 2005 CHARLEY PATTON
You know, hearing old Charley again was like hearing sounds coming from the deep recesses of space. I found myself grappling helplessly in the air when I heard that spirtual that was done with one of his wives. How moving! Charley enunciated clearly enough for me, but then it was like his voice would become a frenzy...then it became a shout.

don't know if became underrated, but I certainly don't hear much about him these days.
As Son House said to me once, "Blind Lemon was a real crackbuster", meaning of course that his records sold very well; that he was very popular in his day. Is he underrated? It's hard for me to say. Today, I mostly hear about about Robert Johnson and people from the Chicago blues scene. Seldom, do I hear much about Blind Lemon.

When you mention Choctaw, I assume that you refer to the Indian tribe. Are there many Choctaw indians in Mississippi today? Wasn't Charley Patton part Choctaw indian?
I hope to come back to Mississippi someday. You know, Deadeye, I have hundreds of relatives right there in Greenwood where you live, and God knows where else. Thank you very much for writing to me.

That Robert Johnson was one talented Kid. Of course, we know that there were other blues greats before him. We know that he was influenced by greats like my cousin Skip, Son House, and goodness knows how many more.

When I talked with Skip at his house, that subject came up. Skip said he stopped off in Illinois coming back from Grafton. I forget where. He had a %$*&%uva time. He told the whorehouses, the hustlers, etc. He had gotten back to Mississippi where he lived and worked. Skip said that he was a young man sowing his wild oats. He kept wanting to go back for more. That's all I remember.

April 22, 2005 BLUES MENTORS
I was thinking along the lines of Patton, Brown, Son, Bukka, Wolf, Elmore, etc, as being a school. At that school, you see Patton at the very top. Each singer was influenced by one or the other. The older student to the younger one. Maybe, Muddy never even met Patton. Skip James and John Hurt never went to that school. Skip had a school in Bentonia, but I don't know if it's still open.

I think that Muddy had many influences, chief among them the late Son House. Since Robert Johnson was influenced by Son and others, it's hard for me to say just how much Muddy was influenced by Robert Johnson. Muddy and Robert must have gone to the same school, and that school was Pattonson High School.

April 28, 2005 SON HOUSE
Yeah, you're right about the sing part. When I sat down with Son House, he told me that he wanted to play B.B King stuff while he was in his re-discovery. Then I talked it over with Dick Waterman and he told me that people wanted to hear the stuff Son was known for playing from the thirties and forties. No, Son really wanted to play what Muddy and B.B were doing. This is very true.

April 27, 2005 “I’M SO GLAD”
I just remembered this particular night. It was about 1967. Skip, his wife, and me were sitting around listening to to Skip play. Skip was doing "I'm So Glad". This is the truth everybody. He played that song so fast that it made my head spin. Never had I heard him play so fast. After that, Skip started playing a flamenco piece. Whew! I'll aways remember that night because Skip was sure full of surprises.

April 26, 2005 SKIP JAMES
My favorite Skip James piano piece is not listed. It was called "Throw Me Down" and Skip recorded that one in 1927, however, from your list I'd pick "If You Haven't Any Hay". Skip would put on these big black boots when he sat down at the piano and his living room would rock. Skip let me have his bedroom to sleep in and woke me up one morning while he was downstairs playing. It was on a Sunday. Those religious songs that he was playing sure sounded good. He awakened me with "What A Friend We Have In Jesus".

April 26, 2005 SKIP JAMES
Sorry for the outburst, but I get a little upset when I remember what my cousin had to go through towards the end of his life. Skip James and I were very close. He was just like a father to me. See, John Fahey and the late Bill Barth were the two who re-discovered Skip in that Tunica, Mississippi hospital. They introduced themselves and paid his bill (about $84) and put him in a car bound for DC. As Skip was telling me, they were running up all kinds of bills and debts at his expense. After a while, Skip was able to get rid of those two %$#@ and make a fresh start. He did okay with Dick Waterman, though he was very careful in signing future contracts.

April 25, 2005 SKIP JAMES
Shortly into his re-rediscovery, yeah, he had every reason to be pissed off. With his co-resdiscoverers using his money the way they did. Skip explained the whole situation to me on one of my stays at his house. Skip hated John Fahey and I don't blame him! I'm sorry. I have to stop because I'm really losing my temper.

April 24, 2005 SKIP JAMES
The thing about Skip was that when you asked him to play certain songs, he wouldn't play them, especially if those songs were associated with other artists. He might say, "Aw man, that's Bukka White's song. I don't play his stuff and he don't play mine." When it came to music, Skip was an individualist in every sense of the word. Mostly, he played his own stuff.

April 30, 2005 GRAFTON STUDIO
If I'm not mistaken, I think Charlie knew a lot of these people and was partly responsible for them getting into the studio. H.C Speir scooped up the whole bunch of them, took em up to Grafton. Don't forget, I could be wrong, but I heard Son House talkin' to John Hurt about that.

May 3, 2005 SKIP JAMES
When I was staying with Skip James, he'd always awaken me on Sundays with his church music. I never saw Skip on that day with his guitar or playing any blues. He would be at the piano pumpin' all kinds of religious songs.

May 14, 2005 SKIP JAMES
What was Skip like? He was a stoned nut. God bless him. I always got along with him, but Skip liked to preach to his audiences about the vicissitudes of life and it turned many people off. It was the same way at home. When you were a guest at his house, man you had to be able to recite bible verses at his table, or you'd be castigated severely. At times, he could be rude to some of his fans. There was a white teen who wanted to demonstrate one of Skip's riffs that he'd learned. Skip told him, "Man, I done been and gone from places you'll never get to". Clearly, the kid's feelings were hurt. On the other hand, Skip could be quite affable as stated in that article. He treated me like a king when I stayed in his home. He always gave me his bedroom to sleep. He let me take his Gibson over to our other relative's homes. Basically, he could be one way or the other. It depended on his mood. I guess you already know that musically he was strictly an individualist. He, for the most part, did his own stuff.
I was with poor Skip. He had testicular cancer and they did all that they could. Finally, they had to remove the gonads. Just remember that Skip meant well. I understood that when I was a young man.

May 19, 2005 SKIP JAMES
Man, when I sat down with Son House in the living room, that cat became transformed. When he played, he just went into another world. After every song he sang, my dad would shake his hand. Son was smoking those non-filter cigarettes and drinking plenty of tall liquor.

May 31, 2005 BACK WHEN
Well, I guess you could say that I was born with the blues. When my parents left the Mississippi Delta in '39', they brought the blues here to Boston with them. All during the 40s, 50s, and 60s the blues were in our house since I could first imagine. My dad knew about Blind Lemon, Charlie P, and all those cats long before he came north. Dad was born in 1912.

June 2, 2005 RACISM
These days a lot of racism is hidden and barely able to detect. From time to time it rears its' ugly head and gets caught. Of course, I see this occuring among people around the globe. Deal with it where you are. If you see it, speak out. Denounce it right then and there. Racism exists among all races.
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