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Thread: #31 Coley Jones

  1. #1
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Mar 2017
    Ottawa, Canada

    Default #31 Coley Jones

    Coley Jones (circa 1880s 1930s), a founder of the Dallas String Band was another outstanding blues mandolinist. Many of the details of his life are unknown, but he was born in Texas, came from a musical background, and, while young, played at dances and on the streets with a family group led by his father, Coley Jones Sr. Coley Jr. moved to Dallas by 1903, and performed in a travelling minstrel show before starting the Dallas String Band, a group of street musicians, some with homemade instruments. He recorded for a Columbia travelling studio in 1927 and 1929, and played guitar as a session musician as well. Jones was also a member of The Satisfied Five, which broadcast live from Baker Hotel and radio station WFAA. The Dallas String Band evolved into the Coley Jones String Band, with T-Bone Walker, "father" of the West Coast blues, as a member. These bands played dance and popular tunes, blues, and rags at local parks, "white barbecues," ball games, and anywhere they could draw a crowd. Sadly, Jones faded into obscurity, and, after the thirties, nothing is known of this exciting musician. In Mandolin Blues, Rich Del Grosso teaches "Dallas Rag" in Jones's style (p.20-21). This is an old tune which the Dallas String Band recorded, made memorable by Jones's frenetic mandolin playing.

    (Information from: "Coley Jones," Wikipedia; Del Grosso, Rich, Mandolin Blues,p.19; and Cherry, Dr. Richard, notes from Rags, Breakdowns, Stomps & Blues CD.)

    Here's Jones's thrilling rendition of Dallas Blues. If the links don't work, search YouTube for "Dallas Rag (1927) -- Dallas String Band".

    And here's another fine example of Jones's mandolin playing. The verbal exchange at the beginning illustrates that these men were not only musicians but all-round "entertainers". (I damaged my voice through pneumonia, and still can't sing well, so if someone asks me to sing, I use Coley's corny line.) If the links don't work, search YouTube for "Hokum Blues- Coley Jones".

    "It's just music; you can't break it."

    Buffy Ste-Marie on experimenting with your sound.
    "On Reserve", CBC Radio.

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  3. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Mar 2003
    Westchester, NY

    Default Re: #31 Coley Jones

    Great stuff! I used to play Dallas Rag on my little Weymann mandolin-banjo (the only ones of that ilk that didn't hurt my ears. I just fixed the bridge on it and was playing it the other day. I have to see if I can remember Dallas Rag. Have to relearn it. Thanks, Ranald!

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