Frank Stokes – The Victor Recordings (1928-1929)
There are a number of ways to get your Frank Stokes. While there is no disputing the importance of Yazoo Records when it comes to preserving SO much great country blues music, their masters, it must be said, often suck. In the case of Stokes’ recordings, I definitely prefer these Document versions.
I’m not sure one can really understand the history of this music without having knowledge of Frank Stokes. He cast a long shadow over Beale Street and what’s come to be known as “The Memphis Sound” (tho he had strong roots in Mississippi) and while that was often his neck of the woods, and while he and his mate—and sometime fellow Memphisian—Furry Lewis certainly share some sonic similarities, Stokes and Mississippi John Hurt, to mention but one example, shared some shared traits as well.
More important than all that, however, is that Stokes is a “bridge” figure between the era of minstrel and medicine shows, and the era of classic blues. In his playing—striking for its precision and clarity—you hear the breadth of influences that would come to mark the canonical innovations of country blues.
If for some reason Stokes is still an omission in your musical knowledge, you must remedy said omission, instanter.