Georgia Buck

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edited from liner notes to “Kulanjan”(Hannibal CD 1444) by Lucy Duran and Taj Mahal:

When he was 19, and she was 67, Taj Mahal learned this old banjo dance tune (“Georgie Buck”) from Elizabeth Cotten.  During the recording of the CD “Kulanjan” he played it to the Malian musicians who were recording with him, then put down his guitar, and they started to play their own version based around the 6-string hunter’s harp [kamalengoni, see above].

This may be as close as one gets to how the blues once sounded–long before even the wax-cylinder recordings at the turn of the century–but it’s also unquestionable contemporary.  As Taj declared after the last notes of “Ol’ Georgie Buck” faded, “That’s five centuries there, the music just went around in a big ring.”

“To complete a cycle, to return to the intact original, to have been visited by very powerful visions of ancestors and their music, to realize the dream my father and mother had along with many other generations of Africans who now live outside of the continent of Africa.”

Taj Mahal, Ballake Sissoko, Dougouye Koulibaly, and Bassekou Kouyate play “Ol’ Georgie Buck”: 

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One Response to “Georgia Buck”

  1. REED MARTIN Says:

    This is SO great to hear.
    I’m 66 – the following is what I was told, in 1965, by an elderly woman in Chapel Hill, North Carolina as she sold me ($25) a little fretless homemade oak 5-string banjo which her parents found in a dirt road…
    ” …Many years ago, my parents were going down a dirt road and this banjo was in the road. My dad picked it up and they took it home. My mom played one tune on it, which she had learned from HER mother – about a “woman of the night” who once lived in Chapel Hill.
    The woman’s name was Georgia Buck.”
    The words and tune which she passed on to me are just about exactly the same as here, only one would change the genders throughout the song, as “Georgia Buck” as I know the song – was a
    woman.
    The chorus had been shortened to
    ” Old georgia Buck is Dead
    The last words she said,
    Never let a nickel roll by…..”

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