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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".

    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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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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