Mance Lipscomb

Mance Lipscomb by ANNE DINGUSAPRIL 19981 COMMENT Press spacebar to see more share options. A MUSICAL GRANDPA MOSES, Mance Lipscomb spent half a century singing and playing for black audiences in his hometown of Navasota before being discovered and recorded by white musicologists in 1960 at age 65. Although he is widely considered a bluesman, Lipscomb preferred to call himself a “songster”; his repertoire of some 350 songs included ballads, rags, waltzes, polkas, and hymns. His music helped him endure the poverty and adversity that were a given for Southern blacks of his era. He was almost as admired for his front-porch philosophizing (“Once you do Right, Right’ll come back to ya”), much of which is preserved in his oral autobiography, I Say Me for a Parable, published by collaborator Glen Alyn in 1993. He was born Bodyglin (sometimes spelled Bowdie Glenn) Lipscomb on April 9, 1895. Mance, short for Emancipation, was a nickname. When he was about fourteen, his mother bought him a guitar for $1.50—three days’ pay in the cotton field. For most of his life he was a farmer first, playing in public only for Saturday dances. In 1922 Jimmie Rodgers invited him to go on tour; he declined. A staunch family man, Lipscomb was married to the same woman for 62 years. He helped raise 23 children, only 1 of them his own. When fledgling producer Chris Strachwitz and fellow blues fan Mack McCormick arrived in Texas in 1960, they wanted to record Lightnin’ Hopkins, but he had just left for their home state of California. Word of mouth led them instead to Lipscomb. An impromptu songfest, recorded around the kitchen table, became the debut release of Strachwitz’s Arhoolie Records. The album made Lipscomb famous. In 1961 he left Texas for the first time to appear before an audience of thousands at the Berkeley Folk Festival. He went on to work with a who’s who of musicians, including Willie Nelson, Pete Seeger, and the Grateful Dead. Fans included Lyndon Johnson, Bob Dylan, and Frank Sinatra, who persuaded his own label, Reprise, to record Lipscomb. In 1970 he starred in A Well-Spent Life, a documentary by Les Blank. In it Lipscomb demonstrates his use of a pocketknife as a slide; renders “Big Boss Man,” “Motherless Children,” and other tunes; and recalls segregation (“Mule die, they buy another one; nigger die, they hire another one”). Despite his fame, Lipscomb remained poor. A rare extravagance was his dentures, stamped inside with a guitar in gold. He died in Navasota on January 30, 1976.

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Mance Lipscomb Lyrics

For me, Mance Lipscomb lyrics and blues guitar style had it all. Although Mance found a kind of fame during the folk-blues revival in the 60s, he never became anything but poor, which was a situation he seemed quite content with. Never living the life of the itinerant blues men, Mance played at parties and dances around his home town in Texas and didn’t really achieve the international fame of fellow Texan Lightnin’ Hopkins.

The fingerpicking guitar techniques of the two men were very similar, both preferring the ‘monotonic bass’ way of using the thumb strokes to the alternating bass technique associated with the ragtime style of fingerstyle blues guitar, but if anything, I think that Lipscomb’s playing was richer and more diverse. he used several keys, while 80% of Hopkins’ output was in the key of E.

Mance Lipscomb

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A MUSICAL GRANDPA MOSES, Mance Lipscomb spent half a century singing and playing for black audiences in his hometown of Navasota before being discovered and recorded by white musicologists in 1960 at age 65. Although he is widely considered a bluesman, Lipscomb preferred to call himself a “songster”; his repertoire of some 350 songs included ballads, rags, waltzes, polkas, and hymns.

His music helped him endure the poverty and adversity that were a given for Southern blacks of his era. He was almost as admired for his front-porch philosophizing (“Once you do Right, Right’ll come back to ya”), much of which is preserved in his oral autobiography, I Say Me for a Parable, published by collaborator Glen Alyn in 1993.

He was born Bodyglin (sometimes spelled Bowdie Glenn) Lipscomb on April 9, 1895. Mance, short for Emancipation, was a nickname. When he was about fourteen, his mother bought him a guitar for $1.50—three days’ pay in the cotton field.

For most of his life he was a farmer first, playing in public only for Saturday dances. In 1922 Jimmie Rodgers invited him to go on tour; he declined.

A staunch family man, Lipscomb was married to the same woman for 62 years. He helped raise 23 children, only 1 of them his own.

When fledgling producer Chris Strachwitz and fellow blues fan Mack McCormick arrived in Texas in 1960, they wanted to record Lightnin’ Hopkins, but he had just left for their home state of California. Word of mouth led them instead to Lipscomb. An impromptu songfest, recorded around the kitchen table, became the debut release of Strachwitz’s Arhoolie Records.

The album made Lipscomb famous. In 1961 he left Texas for the first time to appear before an audience of thousands at the Berkeley Folk Festival. He went on to work with a who’s who of musicians, including Willie Nelson, Pete Seeger, and the Grateful Dead. Fans included Lyndon Johnson, Bob Dylan, and Frank Sinatra, who persuaded his own label, Reprise, to record Lipscomb.

In 1970 he starred in A Well-Spent Life, a documentary by Les Blank. In it Lipscomb demonstrates his use of a pocketknife as a slide; renders “Big Boss Man,” “Motherless Children,” and other tunes; and recalls segregation (“Mule die, they buy another one; nigger die, they hire another one”).

Despite his fame, Lipscomb remained poor. A rare extravagance was his dentures, stamped inside with a guitar in gold. He died in Navasota on January 30, 1976.

Source: http://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/mance-lipscomb/

 

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LIPSCOMB, MANCE (1895–1976). 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.

Article Source: https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fli26

 

Years prior to the blues being acknowledged as a commercially feasible category, Texan Mance Lipscomb was singing and playing the blues. The most accomplished of the “dead-thumb” guitar players, Lipscomb’s propulsive bass lines anchored his dance-like, spontaneous tunes. A skilled old styme blues style fingerpicker, the music of Lipscomb is a path to finding a musical culture of the early 20th century that has actually had an extensive impact since.

Although Lipscomb most definitely played the blues, he himself declined this classification, choosing to be categorized as a “songster,” which showed the terrific variety of his extensive collection. This variety and his elaborate guitar work is exactly what made Lipscomb stick out from other Southern blues entertainers.

His recordings were rooted in both white and black tune and dance types that not just consisted of blues pieces, but ballads, waltzes, kids’s tunes, jigs, reels, and polkas, along with ways of playing Lipscomb himself created descriptions for, such as the buzzard lope, cinch, sluggish drag, and ballin’ the jack. Popular, spiritual, and nonreligious tunes were all part of the mix.

Born into a musical household in 1895 near Navasota, the son of an ex-slave and a half Choctaw Indian mom, Lipscomb invested much of his life as a renter farmer in his house state of Texas. Both of Lipscomb’s bros were guitar players, his papa played fiddle and his uncle banjo. By age 11, Mance himself started playing guitar. Soon he was accompanying his dad at regional occasions and dances.

Unlike a number of his contemporaries, Lipscomb did not record throughout the early blues age, however he had direct exposure to early Texas recording artists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson and Blind Willie Johnson, along with the cutting-edge nation star Jimmie Rogers.

Although a taking a trip entertainer welcomed Lipscomb to go on the roadway in 1922, he decreased the invite and up until the blues revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s, hardly ever left house and the majority of his live efficiencies were at regional functions. Staying wed to his partner Elnora throughout his life, with whom he raised a son and 3 embraced kids, Lipscomb led an accountable hard-working life and did not fit the blues artist stereotype of the roving bettor or difficult drinking artist.

Throughout the late 1950s, Lipscomb moved to Houston, where a regional lumber business used him throughout the day. He invested his nights carrying out for regional audiences, typically with Texas blues luminary Sam “Lightnin'” Hopkins, whom Lipscomb had actually ended up being buddies with 20 years prior, when they initially satisfied in Galveston.

In reality it wasn’t till 1960 that Lipscomb experienced the music scientists Chris Strachwitz and Mack McCormick, who would quickly be acknowledged for finding him. They satisfied on a task website, while Strachwitz and McCormick were attempting to find Lightnin’ Hopkins, who had actually just recently left the location.

Strachwitz remained in the preliminary phases of forming his record label, Arhoolie, and Lipscomb encouraged the researchers to pay attention to his music. This possibility encounter would mark the start of Lipscomb’s recording profession at age 65. Twenty-three tunes were taped throughout this preliminary encounter, varying from ballads and barrelhouse tunes to blues, reels and one spiritual tune.

The resulting album, Mance Lipscomb: Texas Songster and Sharecropper, would start a years of participation in the folk-song and blues revival, throughout which Lipscomb would lastly acquire broader honor and acknowledgment for his virtuosity as a guitar player and the breadth of his extensive collection.

This recording is a testimony to the ability and enthusiasm of among the blues’ most under valued artists. Though Lipscomb will most likely never ever get the acclaims he should have, those in the understand will rejoice at the possibility to hear the male at his best.

 

 

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