Did You Read That Letter
Posted in Honey on 03.02.06

As I type a video featuring Big Bill Broonzy (I think from the early 50s) is making its way to blues videos, It is a rough transfer, but nothing a harden blues fan can’t deal with. I’ve also uploaded the other track by Walter Rhodes maybe to solve the argument going on about his accordion . To me it sounds like an accordion being played very lazily.

I know a talk a lot of junk about Josh White, but he was still a very under-rated guitar player (before his accident or whatever happened to cut up his hands) and of course that voice. I still think he social protest songs are really boring and silly, but his early gospel and blues songs are wonderful. This track was recorded in 1935 and features Buddy Moss on guitar also.

Josh White – Did You Read That Letter?

Walter Rhodes – Leaving Home Blues 


8 Comments so far
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By frankie on 03.03.06 12:01 am

Josh White’s gospel sides are absolutlely outstanding, especially when he plays in vestapol tuning (like this song). I definitely don’t have the same enthusiasm for his straight blues recordings, even the material that predates his ‘cabaret’ days. There are occasional standouts, like ‘Good Gal’, and his accompaniments to Leroy Carr and other piano players are generally stellar, but as a solo blues performer? Not to my taste at all, really.

I’m pretty sure that the guitarists accompanying Walter Rhodes are Pet & Can Harney – one of which is Richard ‘Hacksaw’ Harney. Never can remember which one it is!

By L. on 03.03.06 10:43 am

That makes me even more convinced it’s a melodeon : it really sounds like a push/pull instrument. Or perhaps you mean something different by the name accordion – that is another possibly source of confusion!

By Steve Sims on 03.04.06 3:02 am

Josh White before he severed tendons putting his fist through a window (I think 1936) was a superlative Piedmont style guitar picker (including some great recordings with Leroy & Scrapper, say no more). After that he still played great, but became a NY Cafe Society player along with likes of Brownie & Sonny, still no reason to dis the guy. Josh is one of the greats though not really one of my faves – apart from the odd great song like Low Cotton – I really think you folk should hear his early 30’s recordings before thinking of him as a Tom… a great bluesman IMHO!

By zaelic on 03.06.06 2:40 pm

Rhodes was playing a melodeon, or a diatonic button accordion as we know it in the US. Probably a one-row. Jared Snyder (who now lives out in Washington State) did a lot of research on African-American accordion traditions, which were not as rare as it seems from the sparse recordings that have come down. He wrote an article “Squeezebox: the legacy of the Afro-Mississippi accordionists.” in Black Music Research Journal; 3/22/1997; Snyder, Jared M. which examines Rhodes in depth. On the web it is avaialable on the High Beam research site, which is usually a subscription service but right now seems to have a trial going on. Otherwise I can email a copy of the article to anybody interested.

By peter patnaik on 03.06.06 11:55 pm

a ha! hit me up with the article if you can.

i don’t really buy that josh white was a “tom” but he became really unbearably boring in his NY days.

By L. on 03.07.06 6:55 pm

OK, so it was terminology confusion after all. Thanks. It does sound like a one-row I agree – a pretty broken one-row at that.

By Dan on 03.28.06 10:41 am


I would like a copy of that article, please!

Snyder has another artcle on this subject: “Breeze in the Carolinas: The African American Accordionists of the Upper South” in
The Free-Reed Journal, Volume 3
I haven’t been able to find it either!

Many thanks,

By Jan Sobotka on 03.23.09 6:53 am

Please, I´d like to get a copy of the accordion article too,
Many thanks,

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