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Bones Fest XXI
Aug 24 to 27, 2017
San Antonio, Texas
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Franklin & Baytop: Searching for Frank
Brand new CD release features birth of the blues acoustic guitar, harmonica - and bones.
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The Inside Story...
Franklin & Baytop: Searching for Frank
A tribute to Memphis blues great Frank Stokes
New CD release with Mike Baytop and Rick Franklin on acoustic guitar...plus harmonica -
Traditional Blues from the 1920s and 1930s
with Six Tracks of Bones
Blues artists Michael Baytop and Rick Franklin are a Washington, D.C. based duo who share an appreciation for Memphis legends Frank Stokes and Dan Sane and the acoustic guitar duet tradition. This CD was conceived as a tribute to Stokes and Sane, and as a sample of the types of guitar based music they and other street singers would have played in the late 1920's and early 1930's. It also showcases Baytop and Franklin's own musical voices and the particular circumstances in which they developed their blues perspectives.
Inspired by Archie Edwards and Richard "Mr. Bones" Thomas
Both Baytop and Franklin were born in the Washington, D.C. area and were initially exposed to rhythm and blues in their homes as children. But it was later in life that Michael, inspired by Archie Edwards, learned guitar and harmonica. He also learned to play the bones from
Richard "Mr. Bones" Thomas
, one of Archie's barbershop buddies.
Since Mr. Bones passed away, Baytop has been carrying on this relatively obscure tradition that links back to the minstrel show era and African percussion tradition. He also carried on other lessons learned in Archie Edwards' barbershop through his leadership in the Archie Edwards Blues Foundation which has kept the barbershop as a memorial to Edwards and the musicians of his generation while providing a place for younger musicians to gather and play in a community of like-minded blues performers.
Rick Franklin honed his skills in the same regional musical matrix. Following a brief flirtation with electric blues, he turned to classical lessons where a fellow student turned him on to Blind Blake and Reverend Gary Davis. As Rick put it, "From there it's just been finger-picking blues." Rick has performed in educational programs with Archie Edwards, and today he plays with various artists, working diverse venues including farmers markets, where he keeps the street musician tradition going.
Six Tracks of Classic Street Bluesy Bones
This rare CD features six tracks of bone playing on tunes wrought from the pop, minstrel, ragtime, and medicine show influences that permeated Memphis street musicians of the 1920s and 1930s. So just sit back and listen, or grab your favorite set of bones and jam with Mike Baytop and Rick Franklin - and play along with the birth of the blues.
Excellent Play-Along CD
Shooting Star Granadillo Bones
demo video. Musical segment features
Searching for Frank.
Look what's on the CD:
Changed the Locks*
Crazy About You*
Some Cold Rainy Day
You Shall Be Free
I Got Mine*
Sweet To Mama
One Way Gal*
Song for Frank
Jail House Blues
Stop and Listen Blues*
*Michael Baytop on bones
vocals, bones, harmonica
Who is Frank Stokes?
Click "The Inside Story..." tab above for more info about Frank Stokes.
Recording type: Audio CD
Tracks: 14. Six tracks feature Michael Baytop on bones
Running Time: 40:30
Label: Patuxent Music
About Frank Stokes
Frank Stokes [1888-1955] was born in the south Memphis suburb of Whitehaven, Tennessee. Learning guitar as a youngster, he plied his musical wares in nearby Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee working with medicine shows or playing country jooks and picnics in the company of such artists as Jim Jackson, John Estes, Gus Cannon, Willie Brown, Son House, Charlie Patton, and his Memphis partners Dan Sane, Jack Kelly, and Will Batts. A fixture of the Memphis music scene, he was a blacksmith as well as a street musician and is considered one of the founding fathers of Memphis blues and, quite possibly, the best among many outstanding Memphis blues artists. Blues, however, was only a part of his diverse repertoire. Like his Delta counterpart, Charlie Patton, he was a "songster," whose repertoire spanned the 19th and 20th centuries, encompassing pop tunes, minstrel showpieces, and ragtime dance tunes. As a medicine show veteran and a street musician, he needed variety to satisfy various audiences who would also request the best known songs of the day.
Fortunately for blues history, he recorded over forty songs for the Paramount and Victor labels from 1927 to 1928. Nineteen of these were guitar duets with his partner, Dan Sane. Recording together as The Beale Street Sheiks, the duo's recordings testify to their musical prowess and diversity. These sides probably include their signature songs and most requested material as well as the songs the record companies thought had the best chance to sell. But they only represent a portion of what they would have performed on the streets, playing Church Park, working parties and picnics, or serenading the white folks at the Peabody Hotel. Moreover, they only span two years out of a career that lasted up to the 1950's.
Stokes' partner Dan Sane, or Sain, was born in Hernando, Mississippi some ten miles south of Whitehaven. Depending on economics and opportunity, the two guitarists also worked with the South Memphis Jug Band which included Jack Kelly and violinist Will Batts, and were part of an ever changing aggregation of jug bands and street musicians that made Memphis their home. Part of the first urban migration, these musicians included John Estes, Memphis Minnie, Joe McCoy, and other major recording artists from Mississippi and Tennessee drawn to the opportunities in Memphis.
Although a tribute to Stokes and Sane, and the Memphis music community of the late 1920's and early 1930's, it also draws on the work of other similar musical aggregations that ranged beyond Memphis to Chicago. The goal was to reach beyond what Stokes and Sane recorded to what they might have heard - the soundscape that provided a contextual backdrop for their musical output. As Rick puts it, "What these guys recorded wasn't necessarily what they played all the time. What they recorded never really showed how much material they had. So what we try to do is include songs they might have played as well as what they recorded; to put the two together to show what the musicians of that period were doing."
Blues has always been a vehicle for grassroots history and a site for memory, bringing the past into the present day. As the proverb goes, "You don't know where you are going if you don't know where you have been." As many blues artists will tell you, blues are about real life, or as one artist put it, "Somebody has lived that life." And, as Baytop explains, this also holds true of the Memphis artists: "These guys were real - John Estes, Hammie Nixon, Frank Stokes, Bukka White. I mean, they were real and their music was real. It wasn't fantasy, and it wasn't 'fun and blues time.' It was raw. It was what they were, who they were. It's a way of looking at something. You get a chance to look into who they were." It opens a window on the Memphis street scene and the musical range of that era. But more than that, it is a contemporary example of finger-picking excellence. While paying tribute to other guitar heroes, it is music for today, a potent and danceable alternative to electric blues rock. Searching for Frank tells two related stories: One rooted in a commitment to keeping the music of a past era in the public eye; the other, a contemporary representation of the Washington, D.C. area's 21st century blues tradition.
Return to Description...
Media Type: Audio CD. Listen to audio disc on CD player or your computer.
Complete information about the recording project: Read all about Frank Stokes and Franklin & Baytop.
Detailed facts about each tune: See who is playing what instruments.
Background notes about each tune: Get an insider's look at the birth of the blues.
Complete Liner Notes: Makes it easy to follow along.
Fourteen Play-along Tunes: Fun to play along with Mike on bones.
Plastic Jewel Case: Protects your CD.
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