Who was/is Robert Pete Williams ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
Robert Pete Williams
This largely instrumental workout with spoken verses gives an indication of just one style of playing by Robert Pete Williams, known for his wide range of self-composed or cleverly adapted story songs, a man Harry Oster called "an innovative artist, raw and spon- taneous, as close to pure folk tradition as anyone of his generation" and who musicologist David Evans told me was, "a genius in my estimation." This appar- ently improvised song based on a number of lines about a wrong-doing woman was recorded at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, one of a num- ber of recordings that persuaded Harry Oster he had discovered a man of rare talent there. Born into a sharecropping family in Zachary in 1914, Robert Williams moved to Baker and Scotlandville by the 1930s, doing farmwork and hauling lumber. When someone sold him a guitar cheaply he studied recordings by Blind Lemon Jefferson, admiring his speed, flexibility and range, and Peetie Wheatstraw. Soon, he said, "White folks started having me to play at their parties. I got to rappin' good with the guitar. They used to call me [after] Peetie Wheatstraw because I could play all his tunes." The newly-dubbed Robert 'Pete' also learned from a number of local players from the Baton Rouge area – his brother, two sisters, his uncle Simon Carney, and especially two older men, Frank and Robert Meddy – whose music was never recorded and is now lost to us. Robert Pete described playing at house parties and all night fish fries as part of a lost community of musicians that included Henry Gaines, Lacey Collins, Solomon Bradd, Dan Jackson, Walker Green, Willie Hudson, and Silas Hogan. Musically, Williams seems to have changed his style in the 1940s, "when I see where I could find more notes on a guitar."...
© Bear Family Records
Extract from: Various Artists - Blues Kings Of Baton Rouge (2-CD) - BCD17512