Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
The Minstrel Man from Georgia
Genres: Country, Blues, Folk, Special Interest, Pop
Emmett Miller--bandleader, minstrel, and yodeling crooner--is a true music legend. His version of "Lovesick Blues" was covered by Hank Williams, Merle Haggard recorded an entire Miller tribute album, Leon Redbone cites him... more »
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Emmett Miller--bandleader, minstrel, and yodeling crooner--is a true music legend. His version of "Lovesick Blues" was covered by Hank Williams, Merle Haggard recorded an entire Miller tribute album, Leon Redbone cites him as an influence, and author Nick Tosches has devoted an entire book to his fascination with the forgotten Georgian. What makes an obscure blackface musician who recorded just two dozen or so tunes in the late '20s so special? A lot. Miller existed at one of those magical crossroads in American history. His music is a bridge between the sounds of hot jazz and the as-yet-discovered "country music," and his crooning sound would be copied by Jimmie Rodgers and others, but never quite so compellingly. His music sounds like no one else's and, despite the minstrel shtick he refused to shed long after it became unfashionable, his songs are absolutely, perfectly timeless. Miller's backing band, the Georgia Crackers, was comprised of some of the best jazz musicians of his day (Eddie Lang, the Dorsey Brothers, Gene Krupa, Jack Teagarden), and they're in top form on these tunes, including "Lovesick Blues," "I Ain't Got Nobody," and "Anytime." Included are a few of Miller's recorded minstrel routines--archaic relics that can't compare to his tunes. Anyway you look at it, he led a controversial lifestyle, but his recordings are just too influential to forget. --Jason Verlinde
Nice to listen to, a great singer and the real history
Tony Thomas | SUNNY ISLES BEACH, FL USA | 06/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is simply good music to listen to and enjoy, although it is very historically important. Emmet Miller was a weird, cool, jive performer, who is fun to listen to. If you listen to him, you know where Leon Redbone really comes from. Listen to him, and realize that when Bob Wills hired singers, he auditioned them by requesting they sing Miller songs usually "I ain't got Nobody," a tune that Miller obviously takes from Louis Armstrong's great version. Listen to him and you will see a lot of him in Tommy Duncan and Leon Rausch. Probably Hank Williams never heard Miller, or his version of the lovesick blues. Williams copied a copy of Miller's performance. To my opinion, Miller's is just as good or better.
People raised on the fiction of modern "country" music may object. That isn't what this is, thank goodness. It hasn't been white-washed, formulaed, and restricted to a group of easily borrowingly repeated tunes. Instead this is the meeting of the last of the great ministrels with pre-Swing Jazz, and above all one of the many ways the masterful musical innovations of Louis Armstrong penetrated white music. I am sure that just like Bob Wills or Hank Penny or any of Miller's real descendants, Miller did NOT consider himself part of country music. He was a jazz man of the first generation as well as the last of the great minstrel performers, two of the great strains in the history of American culture. The musicianship on his records is that of the basic Jazz combos that Columbia's predescessors maintained at the Union Square Hotel and other Manhattan studios. I haven't checked the notes recently, but I am sure the Dorsey Brothers, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and lesser known drum and guitar players who LATER went on to front or be great soloists in the swing bands are on these sides when they worked as session recorders for whosever session was scheduled that day.
Incidentally, the one time Bob Wills appeared on the Grand Ole Opry, he almost left because they objected to his drums and horns. They even tried to stop him smoking his trade mark cigar on stage (on a radio show!!!) He never returned. As the song goes, Hank Williams got kicked off the Opry as well. The currently uninformed person whose only reference is nashville, is ignorant that a broad stream of white performers from the South who were decisive in this music like Miller were inspired and informed by Black music.
With all this said, Miller is fun to listen to. His music has a nice little swing to it. He is funny. His versions of some of the pop standards, like She's Funny This Way are great are terrific.
Yes, there are some things that are offensive and down right racist here. I am African American and have been actively involved in antiracist struggles and research all my life. This is the real legacy of life in this country, not some aberration. You're not going to learn about American culture without some of this. So don't sweep it under the rug, enjoy it.
The greater triumph against racism is that Miller helped bring much of the Black style into white southern and Western music."
The Minstrel Man From Georgia
Grillmaster Deli | Happyville, PA | 03/23/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Emmett Miller yodels better than Jimmie Rodgers, sounds drunker than Jerry Lee Lewis and has more fun than either one. Here's 20 sides cut for the Okeh label in the 20's. This is where Hank Williams got "Lovesick Blues", Eddy Arnold got "Anytime", and the Dorsey brothers and Eddie Lang are in his backing band (The Georgia Crackers!)and so on, but this ain't about historical interest, it's about having a good time. Docked one star for the 3 non-musical minstrel routines, but when they come on you can either hit the skip button or go get another drink."
A thousand Frogs on a Log never sounded so special as Miller
Prometheus | USA | 02/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Emmett Miller was a forgotten influence on such greats as Jimmy Rodgers, Gene Autry and Hank Williams until writer Nick Tosches rediscovered him. Now he is an American Original, and so is his sound. His Georgia Crackers is made up of Jazz greats Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, and Guitarist Eddie Lang. Hank Williams learned his "Lovesick Blues" from listening to Miller's recording of the same. Merle Haggard and Leon Redbone have both done tribute albums in honor of Miller's musical legacy. You can listen to a Thousand Frogs on a Log, but Miller will still sound unique, haunting and memorable."