Archive for the ‘Cofer Bros.’ Category

“Where Dead Voices Gather”

August 17, 2012

“Where Dead Voices Gather,” by Nick Tosches (Little, Brown and Company, 2001)

Tosches writes about the Cofer Brothers (The Georgia Crackers), who recorded in the 1920’s:

In its own rough-hewn way, this hillbilly string band, from predominantly black Hancock County in central Georgia, echoes the same sources that informed their more sophisticated contemporary Jimmie Rodgers and his black counterparts: the motes of vaudeville, minstrelsy, and the black songster tradition aswirl in the effulgence of that beautiful thievery that in the hands of one became the blues, in the hands of another country music.

It was the nineteenth-century fiddle-based string bands, black and white, through which the mongrel motes swirled. It was the symbiosis and synergy and estuary of those nineteenth-century fiddle-based string bands, black and white, that brought forth, simultaneously, before the ascendancy of the guitar, what came to be called the blues and country music.  It was the music of those nineteenth-century fiddle-based string bands, black and white, that was the true indigenous and autochthonous sound of the nineteenth century South, mother and wild bride and fickle daughter, enticer and enticed of all that swirled, of that eventual bastard song, neither black nor white, both black and white, of the midnight bottomlands crossroads and the great lighted dazzling of Broadway alike.

The Cofer Bros.


The Cofer Brothers

January 3, 2012

Paul and Leon Cofer

By David Wondrich, (Village Voice, Tuesday, Mar 21 2000)

Imagine if Iggy and the Stooges kicked off their first album with a nice, sincere version of “Get Together”—you know, “C’mon people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together . . . ” That’s what the Cofer Brothers are up to on Georgia Stringbands, Vol. 1. But before the search and destroy, a little defoliation: five bands total, all recording between 1927 and 1930 in Atlanta. Four of ’em—the Spooney Five, the Watkins Band, Theo & Gus Clark, and the Carroll County Revelers—are the kind of thing you might find on volume two of Harry Smith‘s Anthology of American Folk Music. The ancestral music of the American cracker, dance division. Fiddles and banjos, spoons, square-dance calls, like that. Ten tracks of good, honest music. But then there are the other 14. The Cofer Brothers.

Going by the picture on the cover of the CD, they weren’t much to look at—two skinny-headed peckerwoods with cheap suits and Christopher Walken hair. In 1927, Paul Cofer was a 26-year-old sheet-metal worker from Hancock County, Georgia (a patch of trees and hills a hundred miles southeast of Atlanta; 1996 population: 9,023; average income: $12,879). He played the fiddle, more or less (it didn’t help that he wrecked his arm the year before when he ran his new Ford head-on into a streetcar). Leon—known as L.J.—was a couple of years older. He was an alumnus of the Georgia Academy for the Blind, same as bluesman Blind Willie McTell, who was about his age (they didn’t share a classroom). He was a piano tuner by trade, but here he sticks to banjo and guitar.

Their first recording session betrays barely a hint of the horrors to follow. On Saturday, March 19, 1927, they cut four sides for Okeh Records, in Atlanta. The boys led off with a sentimental number all about “drifting back to childhood” and wandering “down the lane to yesterday.” No harm in that. There’s a song about the Titanic (rural America loved the thought of all those Vanderbilts splashing around in the north Atlantic) and a couple of mildly impolite hobo numbers. They sing okay and play pretty well, although they’re nothing in comparison to some of the other Atlanta bands getting recorded around then. Earl Johnson & His Dixie Entertainers, for example—with Earl making like Jimmy Page on the fiddle—would’ve ground them into library paste. So: just another hillbilly combo, not incompetent but certainly not remarkable. (more…)

Georgia Hobo

August 27, 2011

Cofer Brothers

September 14, 2009
Excerpted from "Country music originals: the legends and the lost"  By Tony Russell

Excerpted from "Country music originals: the legends and the lost" By Tony Russell

Little Janie Green