Bootlegging, Brawling and Banjos.

Dock Boggs is considered a seminal figure in Country Blues and from the few artifacts we have from his early years its clear to hear why. His recordings made in the 1920s and brought to later generations attention on Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music have a rare quality, particularly ‘Sugar Baby’, which I can hear again and again and it still stops me dead. Dock’s combination of Appalachian folk music and African-American blues, might be what delivers the magic but I believe there’s something locked into those recordings, Dock’s personality, a ghost of a bygone era, whatever it is the effect is strong.

Dock was a miner by trade but managed to impress some talent scouts from Brunswick Records with his Whiskey fueled audition in 1926. He recorded 8 tracks for Brunswick and achieved moderate success with his music, his passion was to sing and play. Like so many other musicians of Dock’s ilk, hard times were ahead and many a career, including Dock’s, suffered from the Wall Street Crash and Great Depression. Dock would play at parties and socials around Kentucky and Southwest Virginia earning a living with his music, constantly moving from mining camp to mining camp were excess would get Dock into drunken brawls that often left him or an opponent badly injured.

In the years to follow Dock was offered several other recording contracts but he couldn’t raise enough for his travel expenses. He eventually pawned his banjo, and gave up hopes of making a living playing music but like many an old bluesman the folk revival of the 1960s brought a new audience for Docks music and he was soon sought after to perform again.

Sugar Baby

Got no sugar baby now,
I’ve got no honey baby now,
I’ve done all I can do
For to see peace with you,
I can’t get along this a-way.

Oh, I’ve got no sugar baby now,
I’ve got no honey baby now.
I’ve done all I can do,
I’ve said all I can say,
I can’t make a livin’ this a-way,
I can’t get along this a-way.
I’ve got no honey baby now,
I’ve got no sugar baby now.

Got no use for the red rockin’ chair,
I’ve got no sugar baby now,
I’ve got no honey baby now.

Laid her in the shade,
Gave her every dime I made,
What more could a poor boy do?
What more could a poor boy do?

Done all I can do,
I’ve said all I can say,
I will send you to your mama next payday,
I will send you to your mama next payday.
I’ve got no sugar baby now,
I’ve got no honey baby now.

Who’ll rock the cradle?
Who’ll sing the song?
Who’ll rock the cradle when I’m gone,
Who’ll rock the cradle when I’m gone?
I’ll rock the cradle,
I’ll sing the song,
I’ll rock the cradle when you’re gone.
Got no sugar baby now,
I’ve got no honey baby now.

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