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Mississippi Sheiks

The Mississippi Shieks were a very popular string band that came out of the Delta in the 1920's. They consisted of the Chatmon Brothers, Lonnie and Bo, and their neighbor Walter Vincson. The Shieks usaully played dance numbers with Lonnie on the violin, Bo on the guitar and Vincson doing vocal duties. They appealed even to white audiences becuase of their snappy racy repertoire. These type of songs were usually referred to as Hokum Blues, a term for blues that were tongue-in-cheek concerning taboo subjects.

The band was named after the Rudolf Valentino movie, 'The Sheik,' which came out in 1921. They may have started using that name by the middle 1920s, but they did not record until 1930. Between 1930 and 1935, the Sheiks toured throughout the South, as well as making it to Chicago and New York. They apparently played Chicago quite a bit, staying with Tampa Red and gigging at the Flamingo club. The Sheiks recorded about 70-80 sides for OKeh, Paramount, and Bluebird. Many of these were filled with double entendres, such as their song, “Bed Spring Poker.”

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