Bull City Red

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Bull City Red
Birth name George Washington
Also known as Oh Red
Born Durham, North Carolina, United States
Genres Piedmont blues, East Coast blues, country blues, gospel
Occupations Singer, guitarist, washboard player
Instruments Vocals, guitar, washboard
Years active Early 1930s-early 1940s
Labels Vocalion
Associated acts Blind Boy Fuller, Reverend Gary Davis, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Sonny Jones

Bull City Red (born George Washington, Durham, North Carolina, United States) was an American, Piedmont blues guitarist, singer, and predominately washboard player, most associated with Blind Boy Fuller and the Reverend Gary Davis. Little is known of Red's life outside of his recording career.

Biography[edit]

George Washington's primary nickname, "Bull City Red", came from the 'Bull City' town of Durham, where he was born. He was sometimes alternatively called Oh Red. Although he was just good enough as a guitarist to imitate Fuller, with whom he frequently played, he was a very talented washboard player and also sang.[1]

A partial albino, Red was a street musician in Durham before becoming the sole sighted member of a band managed by talent scout J. B. Long that included at various times Fuller, Sonny Terry and Davis.[2][3] In 1935, then a trio featuring Red, Davis and Fuller, the band went to New York to enter the recording studio for the first time,[3] in a session for the American Record Corporation (ARC).[4] As his collaborators were blind, Red signaled them by touch when the recording ended.[4] Accompanying Fuller along with Terry, Red recorded many songs for ARC's Perfect label between 1935 and Fuller's death during surgery in 1941.[1][5]

Red also recorded gospel music based songs under the name of 'Brother George and His Sanctified Singers' along with Fuller, Terry, and Sonny Jones.[1] He recorded "I Saw the Light" with guitar backing by Davis.[3] On Fuller's latter day compilation album, Get Your Yas Yas Out, Red played the washboard on "Jitterbug Rag".[2] Between 1935 and 1939, he struck out on his own as well, recording solo with his own vocals, guitar and washboard.[1] His tracks included "Black Woman and Poison Blues" and "I Won't Be Dogged Around".[6]

In 1941, Red became involved with another band. In late 1940, he had introduced Brownie McGhee and his collaborator Jordan Webb to his manager and fellow musicians Fuller and Terry. After Fuller's death, the group came together along with another washboard player, Robert Young, to record.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Biography by Bruce Eder". Allmusic.com. Retrieved December 26, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 203. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 
  3. ^ a b c Young, Alan (1997). Woke me up this morning: Black gospel singers and the gospel life. American made music series. University Press of Mississippi. p. 11. ISBN 0-87805-944-X. 
  4. ^ a b Davis, Gary; Stefan Grossman (1993). Stefan Grossman's Early Masters of American Blues Guitar: Rev. Gary Davis. Alfred Publishing. p. 4. ISBN 0-7390-4329-3. 
  5. ^ Anderson, Jean Bradley (1990). Durham County: a history of Durham County, North Carolina. Duke University Press. p. 375. ISBN 0-8223-1056-2. 
  6. ^ "Magpie Records discography". Wirz.de. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 

External links[edit]