FEATURED ARTIST / S
|Barbecue Bob (Robert Hicks)|
Robert Hicks "Barbecue Bob", vocal, twelve-string guitar.
Genres; Country Blues, Atlanta Blues, Twelve-String Guitar, Bottleneck-slide Guitar.
Informative booklet notes by Chris Smith.
Robert Hicks was an extrovert young man of 24 when Columbia's Dan Hornsby arranged his first recording session in March 1927, and had only moved into Atlanta from the countryside a few years before. When he recorded He had learned guitar, along with their friend Curley Weaver, from Curley's mother; all three played in a similar style, favouring the big, booming sound of the 12-string guitar, and relishing the contrast of pulsing bass riffs with the whine of a bottleneck on the treble strings. Barbecue Blues was a good seller, but it was at his second session, in New York in June 1927, that Bob firmly established himself with black record buyers, and thus with Columbia; Mississippi Heavy Water Blues, inspired by the catastrophic floods that had occurred that very month, was a considerable seller, and as a result Robert became Atlanta's most-recorded blues singer of the 20s. It was probably his success that persuaded Columbia to record both his brother Charlie and, in 1928, Curley Weaver.
From the first, Barbecue Bob's music was instantly recognisable, both for the characteristic guitar style and for his warm, nasal singing voice. He could sound fiercely involved with his material, as on Barbecue Blues, ironically detached, as he did when performing Mama You Don't Suit Me!, or crushed by rejection, alike on Crooked Woman Blues and the traditionally based How Long Pretty Mama. The two-part It Won't Be Long Now, in crosstalk and duet with Charlie, is probably an example of the kind of material Robert performed on the medicine show with which he is known to have visited the small town of Waycross, in southwest Georgia, about which he made up a blues.
Barbecue Bob's lyrics are remarkable for their blending of traditional formulae with a wry originality that is all his own. He was well acquainted with traditional songs; the content of Barbecue Blues and Motherless Chile Blues is almost proverbial, and the session where he cut versions of two well-known gospel songs also produced Easy Rider Don't You Deny My Name and a stunning account of Poor Boy A Long Ways From Home. Barbecue Bob rapidly impressed himself on his fans' minds as sharp, clever and original.