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Hands & Feet: A Book of One Man Bands

PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 10:28 am
by Alan Balfour
A couple of months ago my attention was drawn to this pending publication. Not being one who parts with his money willingly I took an expensive risk on the grounds that I couldn't see anybody else tackling the subject in my lifetime, so best to grab one before it disappears.

This has just arrived after a six week journey from Victoria, BC, Canada. No expense has been spared in the choice of packaging which has ensured no damage whatsoever to the edges or spine whilst bumping around in a container in the hold of a ship.

The artefact - hardback, full colour cover, laminated boards, well bound (head-banded spine top and bottom) and gloss art paper which really does the numerous colour/black &white photos/illustrations proud in its 410 pages. The layout and design of the interior is best described as each page of text has a border festooned with illustrations pertinent to the subject(s) under discussion. It's a weighty tome on all counts, the postman who delivered the package (11x8.5 and inch thick) asked if it contained a concrete block.

For my "litmus test" I singled out some of my favourite OMBs – Jesse Fuller, Dr. Ross, Joe Hill Louis, Duster Bennett and Don Partridge – and all seem to have been thoroughly researched and well illustrated, many photos new to me. I'll be the first to admit that I've never heard of three quarters of those listed in this massive work. I'm astonished that there are in excess of 40 OMBs currently plying their trade in the UK – and have been doing so for a mighty long time. I've obviously led a very sheltered life.

This book may have set me back a serious amount of money but have no regrets, brave enterprise as this deserve recognition, even if the marketplace for such is limited. Here follows a scan of the first page from the table of contents:

1. Overview 6
2. Glossary 12
3. Early History (mostly USA) Pipe & labor/Early Europeans 16
Early Americans 18
Harp Rack & Players including Gwin Foster & Frank Floyd 19
Innovation incl. London Fiddle & Bells, Fate Norris & Albert Nelson 21
Daddy Stovepipe, other blues & country 25
4. Jesse Fuller 32
5. Early Blues: Memphis Area incl. Joe Hill Louis, Dr. Ross & Drifting Slim 52
6. Other Blues:'50s1'60s incl. Juke Boy Bonner, Blind Joe Hill
& Wilbert Harrison 72
Early Washboard players including Washboard Willie 86
7. Outsider including Hasil Adkins & Abner Jay 88
8. Early Country: North America incl. Joe Barrick, Boyd Skuldt & Greeley Robertson 98
9. Early UK including Don Partridge, Chucklefoot & Vie Ellis 106
10. Folk, Blues & Beyond: USA/Canada/UK '70s including Robert "One Man"
Johnson, Ray Stubbs, Mike Whellans, Elmore Nixon & Winko Ljizz 126
11. Early Northern Europe 140
French including Albert Bergerault & Remy Bricka 140
Feel Free Norway and related, incl. Des Bader & Lawrence Glaister 142
Germany including Slippery Mike, Buskin' Chris & Alan Moorhouse 147
12. World Travelers including Jimmy Jimmy & Gee Gee Kettel 158
13. UK Part 2 including Buddy OMB & Bang On Boogie Band 176
British Blues including Eddie Martin 189
14. Italians (by Mark Di Guiseppe) including Otto & Bamelli, The Straniero,
AMI BUS, Michele Roscica & Giorgio OMB 192
15. USA Blues'80s/'90s including Jessie Mae Hemphill (article by David Evans),
Richard Johnston, Ben Prestage and Satan & Adam 202
16. More Blues USA incl. W.C. Spencer, Adolphus Bell & Homer Henderson 220
Songs Inside the Box OMBs cigar box guitar players 232
17. USA Bent Blues & Rock incl. Bob Log Ill, Scott H. Biram & John Lowe 240
More Rock Oriented incl. Molly Gene & Becky Lee & Drunkfoot 251
18. European Blues & Others (incl. articles by NikolajAndersen) Nikolaj Andersen,
Benjamin Tehoval, Philippe Menard, Paolo Sgallini & Dr. Albert Flipout's One
Can Band 260
Other Newer European OMBs incl. PitPete, George vd Muziek, Mr. Orkester,
Ivan Holinka & Cigo Man Band 276
19. Other USA OMBs Gospel incl. Flora Molton & Gypsy AZAL Cams 286
More Recent Country including Royer's OMB & Bo Baseman 287
Peripheral Old Time & Country incl. David Holt & Hal Walker 291
Children's Entertainer incl. Professor Paddywhack & Mahsa Matin 293
Piano OMBs including Patrick Hazell & The Professor 294
Off the Beaten Path incl. Leonard Solomon & Lonesome Organist 297

More information at with a couple of videos of the author, a longtime OMB practitioner, talking about his enterprise.

Re: Hands & Feet: A Book of One Man Bands

PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 11:01 am
by NormanD
Any mention of this tribute by Leo Sayer?
But it doesn't really qualify.

The book sounds fascinating, though I can see the financial reasons for your hesitation.

This film of Jesse Fuller shows another great skill that was part of his OMB repertory - tap dancing

Re: Hands & Feet: A Book of One Man Bands

PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 3:41 pm
by will vine
Did I see advertised last week, or the week before, a festival of one man bands at The Blues Kitchen in Camden. Or was that something other than what it appeared to be? Anybody?

Re: Hands & Feet: A Book of One Man Bands

PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:26 pm
by Alan Balfour

Re: Hands & Feet: A Book of One Man Bands

PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:23 pm
by Chris P
Paolo Angeli could be, or could have been, featured in this book:

A Sardinian guitar like you've never seen or heard:

the foot pedals control hammers over the bridge that play a separate set of bass strings. All this piece is played in real time.

Re: Hands & Feet: A Book of One Man Bands

PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:08 pm
by NormanD
That's so good, Chris - thanks for posting.

Re: Head, Hands & Feet: A Book Of One Man Bands

PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 2:02 pm
by Alan Balfour
This has been drawn to my attention. Don't grow beards like that anymore!