Thursday, August 10, 2017

Washboard Willie -Ham Bone (sound file and lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post showcases the 1964 record "Ham Bone" by Washboard Willie". Information about Washboard Willie is included in this post along with information about the washboard instrument and information about Washboard Willie's 1964 record "Ham Bone".

A sound file of and lyrics for that song are also included in this post..

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Washboard Willie for his musical legacy. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this psot and thanks to the publisher of this sound file on YouTube.
This post is part of an ongoing series about the "Hambone" song and percussive body patting activity.

for a 2011 pancocojams post on Hambone (pattin juba) beat and body percussion.

Click the tag below for other pancocojams posts that are also part of an ongoing series on "Hambone".

"William Paden Hensley (July 24, 1906[1] or 1909 – August 24, 1991),[2] known as Washboard Willie, was an [African] American Detroit blues musician, who specialised in playing the washboard. He recorded tracks including "A Fool on a Mule in the Middle of The Road" plus "Cherry Red Blues", and worked variously with Eddie "Guitar" Burns, Baby Boy Warren, and Boogie Woogie Red.[2]

Hensley was born either in Bullock County, Alabama, in 1906,[1] or in Columbus, Georgia, in 1909.[2] "Washboard Willie", as he became known, did not take up music until his thirties. By 1948 he had relocated to Detroit,[3] and in 1952, he watched Eddie "Guitar" Burns performing and played along with Burns' backing group. He impressed the proprietor and ended up with a three-year residency with the band.[4]
Working full-time washing cars for a living, he decided to name his own musical ensemble, Washboard Willie and the Super Suds of Rhythm, working off of the name of a once-popular laundry detergent![4][5] He graduated from just playing the washboard to incorporate a bass drum and snare and, in 1955, gave Little Sonny his first booking.[4] In 1956, Hensley made his own debut recording of "Cherry Red Blues," with "Washboard Shuffle;" and then "Washboard Blues Pt. 1 & 2."[6] His recording career continued until 1962 utilising Boogie Woogie Red on piano accompaniment. The recordings were not issued until 1969 on Barrelhouse Records. However, in 1966, Willie did release a single with the tracks "Natural Born Lover," and "Wee Baby Blues." His band remained in demand playing nightly in both Detroit and Ann Arbor.[4]
In 1973, he toured Europe with Lightnin' Slim, Whispering Smith, Snooky Pryor, Homesick James and Boogie Woogie Red; he also played at the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival that year on the Saturday afternoon "Detroit Blues" show. A compilation album, American Blues Legends '73 was issued on Big Bear Records with Willie contributing the tracks, "I Feel So Fine" and "Kansas City."[4][6] Six years later he stopped playing professionally.[4]"

"The washboard and frottoir (from Cajun French "frotter", to rub) are used as a percussion instrument, employing the ribbed metal surface of the cleaning device as a rhythm instrument. As traditionally used in jazz, zydeco, skiffle, jug band, and old-time music, the washboard remained in its wooden frame and is played primarily by tapping, but also scraping the washboard with thimbles. Often the washboard has additional traps, such as a wood block, a cowbell, and even small cymbals. Conversely, the frottoir (zydeco rubboard) dispenses with the frame and consists simply of the metal ribbing hung around the neck. It is played primarily with spoon handles or bottle openers in a combination of strumming, scratching, tapping and rolling. The frottoir or vest frottoir is played as a stroked percussion instrument, often in a band with a drummer, while the washboard generally is a replacement for drums."...

From Ham Bone / Washboard Willie
"Roger Armstrong played me ‘Ham Bone’ in ’07. I’d never heard the version prior, but hunted for it ever since. Let me tell you, this was one hard record to find. Forget about price, it was all about a copy turning up at all. Subsequently I’d been searching unsuccessfully for ages, but just prior to our London trip last week, the first pressing to list on eBay in years appeared. Not about to lose it, I put in a crazy high bid, and luck was on my side.

Funny enough, the auction closed while I was in the UK, sitting in Camden’s Spreadeagle pub with Roger himself. No lie. What a nice email alert to get anywhere, but nicely full circle in this case.

By far the most successful version, according the BILLBOARD chart number, is that by Red Saunders & His Orch. with Delores Hawkins & The Hambone Kids. Love it as you will, still Washboard Willie’s is clearly in a class of it’s own.

Having turned professional in ’52 at thirty years old, a very late bloomer even then, this full time car washer’s apparent first stroke of genius was to name his band Washboard Willie & The Super Suds Of Rhythm. Now who wouldn’t want every record they made on name alone?

Originally playing only his washboard from work, his second stroke, by ’55 he added a bass and snare drum, his third. Listen to Washboard Willie’s performance on ‘Ham Bone’, from ’64, and you’ll hear how he mastered a most primal idea, thereby achieving for himself a permanent slot in music history."...

SHOWCASE SOUND FILE: Washboard Willie - Ham Bone

DeepGospel, Published on May 9, 2015

Great solo drums/vocal record, produced by Detroit's legendary Joe von Battle. [1964]

(Washboard Willie)

Ham in the hambone pat’em on the shoulder
If you get a pretty girl, I'll show you how to hold her.
Up to the big house down to the kitchen
Come on get your hook and line Let’s go fishin’
Mama caught a red bass I caught a hammer
Mama caught a big fish, big enough for dinner
Hambone Hambone where you been?
All around the world and back again
Come on gal let’s go where it’s found
come on gal let’s mess around
come on gal let’s go to school
come on gal let’s cut the fool


Hambone is a good ole man
He washed his face with a frying pan
He combed his hair with a wagon wheel
He died with a toothpick in his heel
These lyrics are spoken rather than sung and are accompanied by a snare drum .

This is my transcription of this song from that sound file. Additions and corrections are welcome.

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