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Mance Lipscomb  

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tracesoftexas
(@tracesoftexas)
Honorable Member Admin

Mance Lipscomb was a virtuoso folk/blues guitarist. Here's a short biography from the Texas State Historical Association (link below):

 

Mance Lipscomb, guitarist and songster, was born Bowdie Glenn Lipscomb, in the Brazos bottoms near Navasota, Texas, on April 9, 1895. He was the son of Charles and Jane Lipscomb. Mance lived in the Brazos valley most of his life as a tenant farmer. His father was an Alabama slave who acquired the surname Lipscomb when he was sold to a Texas family of that name. Lipscomb dropped his given name and named himself Mance when a friend, an old man called Emancipation, died. Lipscomb and Elnora, his wife of sixty-three years, had one son, Mance Jr., three adopted children, and twenty-four grandchildren.

Lipscomb represented one of the last remnants of the nineteenth-century songster tradition, which predated the development of the blues. Though songsters might incorporate blues into their repertoires, as did Lipscomb, they performed a wide variety of material in diverse styles, much of it common to both black and white traditions in the South, including ballads, rags, dance pieces (breakdowns, waltzes, one and two steps, slow drags, reels, ballin' the jack, the buzzard lope, hop scop, buck and wing, heel and toe polka), and popular, sacred, and secular songs. Lipscomb himself insisted that he was a songster, not a guitarist or "blues singer," since he played "all kinds of music." His eclectic repertoire has been reported to have contained 350 pieces spanning two centuries. (He likewise took exception when he was labeled a "sharecropper" instead of a "farmer.")

Lipscomb was born into a musical family and began playing at an early age. His father was a fiddler, his uncle played the banjo, and his brothers were guitarists. His mother bought him a guitar when he was eleven, and he was soon accompanying his father, and later entertaining alone, at suppers and Saturday night dances. Although he had some contact with such early recording artists as fellow Texans Blind Lemon Jefferson and Blind Willie Johnson and early country star Jimmie Rodgers, he did not make recordings until his "discovery" by whites during the folk-song revival of the 1960s.

Between 1905 and 1956 he farmed as a tenant for a series of landlords in and around Grimes County, including the notorious Tom Moore, subject of a local ballad. Lipscomb left Moore's employ abruptly and went into hiding after he struck a foreman for abusing his mother and wife. His rendition of "Tom Moore's Farm" was taped at his first session in 1960 but released anonymously (Arhoolie LP 1017, Texas Blues, Volume 2), presumably to protect the singer. Between 1956 and 1958 Lipscomb lived in Houston, working for a lumber company during the day and playing at night in bars where he vied for audiences with Texas blues great Lightnin' Hopkins, whom Lipscomb had first met in Galveston in 1938. With compensation from an on-the-job accident, he returned to Navasota and was finally able to buy some land and build a house of his own. He was working as foreman of a highway-mowing crew in Grimes County when blues researchers Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Records and Mack McCormick of Houston found and recorded him in 1960.

Lipscomb's encounter with Strachwitz and McCormick marked the beginning of over a decade of involvement in the folk-song revival, during which he won wide acclaim and emulation from young white audiences and performers for his virtuosity as a guitarist and the breadth of his repertoire. Admirers enjoyed his lengthy reminiscences and eloquent observations regarding music and life, many of which are contained in taped and written materials in the Lipscomb–Alyn Collection in the archives and manuscripts section of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. He made numerous recordings and appeared at such festivals as the Berkeley Folk Festival of 1961, where he played before a crowd of more than 40,000.

In clubs Lipscomb often shared the bill with young revivalists or rock bands. He was also the subject of a film, A Well-Spent Life (1970), made by Les Blank. Despite his popularity, however, he remained poor. After 1974 declining health confined him to a nursing home and hospitals. In the mid-1970s he gave a series of interviews to writer and musician Glen Alyn (Glenn Myers), and the project eventually resulted in a book, I Say Me for a Parable: The Oral Autobiography of Mance Lipscomb, Texas Bluesman, which was published in 1993. Lipscomb died in Grimes Memorial Hospital, Navasota, on January 30, 1976, and was buried at Rest Haven Cemetery.

Arhoolie Records (El Cerrito, California) has released a number of albums of material by Lipscomb, including Mance Lipscomb: Texas Songster and Sharecropper (1960), Mance Lipscomb: Texas Songster Volume 2 (1964), Mance Lipscomb Vol. 3: Texas Songster in a Live Performance (1965), You'll Never Find Another Man Like Mance (1978), Mance Lipscomb: Texas Blues Guitar (1994), and The Best of Mance Lipscomb (2009). Trouble in Mind was released by Reprise (1961). Individual pieces are included in other anthologies. Lipscomb is honored in the Houston Institute for Culture’s Texas Music Hall of Fame. In the early 1990s Alyn (Lipscomb’s biographer), other musicians, and some citizens of Navasota made plans that culminated in the first Navasota Blues Festival in 1996. Designed to bring Texas Blues to audiences, with proceeds going to the Mance Lipscomb Scholarship, the event was reorganized in 2004 as the Navasota Blues Fest, Inc., and continued as an annual event into the 2010s. Lipscomb was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2010. In August 2011 a statue of Mance Lipscomb was unveiled in Mance Lipscomb Park in Navasota.

 

Source:  Handbook of Texas Online, John Minton, "LIPSCOMB, MANCE," accessed January 07, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fli26 .  

Beauty is only skin deep but Texas is to the bone.

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Posted : 29th December 2019 9:31 pm
tracesoftexas
(@tracesoftexas)
Honorable Member Admin

Mance and Arhoolie Records founder Chris Strachwitz, 1964.  I am in huge admiration of what Strachwitz did for Texas music.  We are so blessed that he came along when he did.  Arhoolie forever!

 

This post was modified 8 months ago by tracesoftexas

Beauty is only skin deep but Texas is to the bone.

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Posted : 7th January 2020 11:27 pm
tracesoftexas
(@tracesoftexas)
Honorable Member Admin

Rick Koster wrote:

 

"Many of the Texas country blues musicians toiled in obscurity, only to be discovered late in their lives. Mance Lipscomb is probably the best example of these artists. He was born in 1894 in the Navasota River bottoms and spent his life as a sharecropper. An intuitive and cunning guitarist who originally learned fiddle from his father, Lipscomb entertained at parties and barn dances. Though he made trips to Dallas to pick cotton during the harvest, and would anonymously watch Blind Lemon Jefferson play, he never made the trek to any of the urban blues centers with the idea of performing himself.

Lipscomb "turned pro" when he was sixty-five ... In 1950, Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Rocords, an archival label in San Francisco, was led by Houston disc jockey Mack McCormick to Navasota, where Lipscomb could generally be found playing on his porch.

A guitarist whose staggering technique underscored a lifetime spent writing and cataloging a spectacular range of material (from country blues to ballads to jazz and folk) by all accounts Lipscomb was a devout, friendly, gentle man, and it must have been astonishing to him when the records he recorded for Arhoolie brought him a bit of fame.

He criscrossed the United States, appearing before adoring fans and bedazzled musicians at various clubs and folk festivals, but he found a spiritual home in Austin. For almost ten years, Lipscomb was a kind godfather to a city-wide family of players, preaching his gospel of Texas music in "churches" like the Armadillo World Headquarters and the Vulcan Gas Company. He passed away in 1976, but scores of modern guitarists ----- from Jimmie Vaughan to Ian Moore ----- are quick to point to Lipscomb as a genuine Texas musical force. Arhoolies "Texas Sharecropper and Songster" and "You Got to Reap What You Sow" are recommended."

 

----- Rick Koster, "Texas Music," 1998

 

Here Mance demonstrates his virtuosity by playing "Jack of Diamonds"  using a pocket knife for a slide.

 

This post was modified 1 year ago by tracesoftexas

Beauty is only skin deep but Texas is to the bone.

ReplyQuote
Posted : 7th January 2020 11:29 pm
tracesoftexas
(@tracesoftexas)
Honorable Member Admin

Mance plays and sings "Big Boss Man."

 

Beauty is only skin deep but Texas is to the bone.

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Posted : 7th January 2020 11:42 pm