[Dixielandjazz] Thread--Blind Willie McTell & his aliases

Norman Vickers nvickers1 at cox.net
Mon Sep 29 09:30:50 PDT 2003

Glen Page rightly questions whether Barbeque Bob was an alias for Blind
Willie McTell.  I certainly am no blues authority. My published sources on
Willie McTell are two-fold.
 1. Liner notes by Chris Albertson, Downbeat Contributor, to a 1949 Biograph
record indicate aliases as Pig and Whistle Red; Blind Sammie, Georgia Bill
and Barrelhouse Sammy.  Albertson makes reference to John Lomax's 1940
recording on Library of Congress #4072A entitled "Monologue on Life as a
Maker of Records"
Albertson acknowledges he has not actually heard the record.

2. Alan Balfour's liner notes to volume 1 & 2 of Document Records CDs, an
Austrian label (c) 1990 makes reference to McTell's aliases as Blind Sammie
(presumably because he was recording for Columbia,  whereas  he recorded for
Victor as Willie McTell.) These two CDs cover periods from 18 October 1927
to 19 December 1933.

In these two sources, there is no reference to a Barbeque Bob alias for
McTell. My relative spoke of hearing a blind guitarist at the Pig And
Whistle restuarant and drive-in.
The relative's time in school in Altanta would have been 1931-1935.  So it
might have been Robert Hicks as Barbeque Bob after all.  When I was in
school in Atlanta in 1952-56, I was not familiar with a Tidwell's Barbeque
place-- might not have been extant at that time or I might have been
unfamiliar ( I was just trying to get through medical school and couldn't
sample all the music, barbeque and other sins that Atlanta offered.)

Now, let's hear from some experts to clarify the matter.  Thanks, Glen Page.

Norman Vickers

  -----Original Message-----
  From: glen page [mailto:gpage at direct.ca]
  To: Norman Vickers; DJML
  Subject: Willie McTell

  > I would like to see the information regarding McTell also being called
Barbeque Bob verified.

  Robert Hicks, alias Barbeque Bob, was active in Atlanta in the late 20s
and 1930/31 McTell certainly recorded under a number of pseudonyms but I
have never heard of him using this one. Hicks was working in Atlanta from
1923 until 1931, Tidwell's Barbeque Place being one place.

  Are there any bona  fida blues authorities out there who would like to
comment on this? I bet Bill Haesler knows.
  Cheers, Glen.

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