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Garfield Akers

The throbbing guitar sound of Garfield Akers was a primary influence on subsequent generations of Mississippi bluesmen, with famous brands John Lee Hooker and Robert Wilkins citing him as an influence. Delivered around 1902 in Bates, Mississippi, Akers continues to be a shadowy shape; after honing his abilities at regional dances and home celebrations, he relocated towards the Hernando region, where he worked well by day like a sharecropper. After shifting to Memphis, in 1929 he produced his 1st Vocalion label recordings in the Peabody, associated with guitarist Joe Callicott; between this first day along with a 1930 program for Brunswick, four Akers shows remain — his two-part personal “Cottonfield Blues,” “Jumpin’ and Shoutin’ Blues,” and “Dough Roller Blues,” among the first variants on Hambone Willie Newbern’s seminal “Move and Tumble.” All reflect a distinctively insistent acoustic guitar style, and in addition reveal a high-pitched, nearly otherworldly tone of voice. Akers remained a dynamic presence around the southern Memphis circuit through the entire 1930s, briefly resurfacing in the first 1950s before fading back to obscurity; he’s believed to possess passed away around 1959.

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