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Thread: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #46

  1. #1
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Blues, Stomps, & Rags #46

    Mike Hoffman is a contemporary mandolin player from Branchville, New Jersey. He plays (or played) in the band, The Little Brothers, doing primarily pre-WW II blues. Little Brothers is composed of Hoffman and a couple, Frankie and Kim Basile, of Hopewell, N.J. (None of these folks is named "Little"; Kim looks more like a sister than brother; and I have no idea whether the men are brothers, let alone whether they are little brothers to anyone.). They released at least two CD's, "Walked All the Way Back Home," in 2010, and "Mama's Angel Child"in 2011, on Doggone Records, whose website seems inactive. Their appearances include a performance with R.Crumb at the Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn, and a gig at Sighisoara Blues Festival in Transylvania, Romania in 2011 -- anyone been to that one? I don't know if The Little Brothers are still together.

    Hoffman's influences include Yank Rachell, Frank Wakefield, Charlie McCoy, Agim Colaku, and the Mississippi Sheiks. In the words of Bruce Nemerov, reviewing their CD, "Mama’s Angel Child": "Mike lurks in the background a lot. Though he’s not on all the tracks, when present his contribution is a subtle force of texture — a tremolo here, a rhythmic punch there, and especially the rollicking orchestral duets with the fiddle. He does get a few solos; the one in the Roll & Tumble child “The Girl I Love Got Long Curly Hair” is particularly nice. He seems content to be the guy who quietly adds the little touches that mean so much. Except when he plays his banjo-mandolin; then he loudly adds those touches."

    Information from: Price, Robert. "Bringing the country blues to Transylvania," New Jersey Herald, Feb. 4, 2011,
    https://www.njherald.com/article/201...CLE/302049987#
    and Nemerov, Bruce, "Mama’s Angel Child: The Little Brothers" (review) [orig. on weeniecampbell.com?]
    https://oldtimeparty.wordpress.com/c...ttle-brothers/

    Here are a couple of the band's compelling and enjoyable interpretations of old blues tunes, with Mike Hoffman on banjo-mandolin.

    For the first, if the links don't work, search YouTube for "Grind So Fine/ The Little Brothers".

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySJhJu6FAhY




    On the second, the photographer focuses on the guitar player during Hoffman's first solo, but the sound is clear. If the links don't work, search YouTube for "Honey Blues/ The Little Brothers".

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bF_XwUk2vIU

    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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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #46

    I don't think the band is still together. I am a friend of Frankie. I can ask him to check in here.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #46

    The Little Brothers stopped playing together sometime in 2012. We did all kinds of country blues and old-time with varying degrees of success, but we always meant it. Mike was and is a great guy and fun to play with. Here are some things that the two of us recorded early on:

    Leavin' Town Blues:


    That Lonesome Train Took My Baby Away:


    Some later stuff after the Little Brothers called it quits:

    See See Rider


    Sorry for the carpet bombing. I do realize that this may or may not be to anyone's tastes... none of us were really about 'solos' so to speak... just about accompanying one another.

    About the name: It has nothing to do with being literal brothers, although everyone seems to get hung up on that AND the fact that Kim was quite clearly a female. The name was a nod to the Otis Brothers, who were our spiritual big brothers. It was just a name, really.

    About the label and website: The label is actually Penny Records, not Doggone Records. Penny is, however, the name of my dog and my domain is donegone.net (like the fiddle tune), so maybe these got conflated somehow. The domain is still mine and someday when I get enough free time I'll do something to revive it from its slumber. At one time, it hosted the lyrics to all the songs of the Mississippi Sheiks and the musicians in their orbit, as well as an analysis of their music and how it was played. I've since moved all that material to https://weeniecampbell.com.

    Mike and I still do play, but Italian music... if you're interested in that, you can check it out at the link in my signature and there are a couple of videos on my youtube channel:

    https://www.youtube.com/user/frankie12string

    all of which is pretty far off-topic for a thread on blues and rags, so that'll have to do...

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #46

    Frankie is a phenomenal musician. We spent an afternoon together and playing a bunch of instruments neither of us could afford at RetroFret in Brooklyn a few months ago. Fun stuff.
    Jim

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #46

    Thanks, Jim, for connecting Frankie with us.
    And thanks, Frankie, for the information and for the enjoyable videos. I liked your takes on both the blues tunes and the Italian music. Sorry for the doggone mistakes -- it took some detective work to find out as much as I did about The Little Brothers. My comment about Kim was thoroughly tongue in cheap; I knew she was a woman, though of late, I've been taken to task for referring to a woman as "a woman." (Please, folks, don't try to explain the rationale behind such linguistics to me -- I know already.) All the best to you, Kim, and Mike in future ventures.
    To all readers, weeniecampbell.com is a great site for those who enjoy old blues and related music.
    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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    Default Re: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #46

    Thanks, Ranald. It really must have taken some work to get all that together - we were pretty much beneath notice, generally speaking. I have to say it was endlessly amusing to remind Mike this week that he made the top #50 of the Blues, Stomps & Rags thread on mandocafe... WORLD FAMOUS!!

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #46

    Quote Originally Posted by frankie View Post
    Thanks, Ranald. I have to say it was endlessly amusing to remind Mike this week that he made the top #50 of the Blues, Stomps & Rags thread on mandocafe... WORLD FAMOUS!!
    What have I done? If Mike becomes another Mick, please don't you become another Keith. Maybe I should only celebrate dead people.
    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.

  14. #8

    Default Re: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #46

    This is Mike. Thank you, Ranald I used to spend much more time on this site about 15 years ago. I always posted as Sam Jessin to remain somewhat anonymous as I work in the public sector, but it does feel good to be recognized as a mandolin player off note, I mean of note - even if I do not feel quite worthy of the recognition. As Frankie just noted, I am still playing mandolin, but it is a little more oil-y now instead of grease-y! BTW, Frankie taught me everything I know. I first learned from Frank Wakefield who told me to learn all the Blue Sky Boys stuff if I wanted to know how to play mandolin. Then Frankie Basile took over and taught me everything else. I also naturally always loved Mike Compton's playing and took advantage of his availability for some time. I always remembered a line from the Bill Monroe Homespun VHS when John Hartford asks him about playing and he says he tries to sound like the fiddles he loved hearing growing up. This line sort of always bounces around in my head when playing with the Mass/VT fiddlers. Thanks, again!

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #46

    Thanks, Mike.
    We've enjoyed your music, and it's good to know your musical background. It's always rewaring to find people keeping old musical styles alive.
    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.

  17. #10

    Default Re: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #46

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Frankie is a phenomenal musician. We spent an afternoon together and playing a bunch of instruments neither of us could afford at RetroFret in Brooklyn a few months ago. Fun stuff.
    I dunno about phenomenal, but I can definitely hold instruments... even expensive ones! We will play Italian tunes (and more) soon!

  18. #11
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #46

    Mike (Sam) and Frankie: We had a blast playing Italian tunes a few years ago at the Lake Genero Old Time Music Gathering. I hope to do it again sometime soon.
    Jim

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