The Hokum Boys Biography

‘Hokum’, with its connotations of verbal cleverness, was first applied to black music on record in the billing of ‘ Tampa Red’s Hokum Jug Band’ (performing ‘It’s Tight Like That’, hokum’s archetypal song). Tampa and his partner Georgia Tom were prominent in the hokum craze of the late 20s and early 30s. The Hokum Boys were varied in personnel, and appeared on various labels; besides Tampa and Tom, participants included Big Bill Broonzy, Ikey Robinson, Jimmy Blythe, Blind Blake, Teddy Edwards, Casey Bill Weldon, Black Bob, Washboard Sam and ‘hokum girl’ Jane Lucas. Also celebrating the spirit of hokum were Frankie Jaxon (vocalist with the Hokum Jug Band) and Kansas City Kitty. Hokum groups favoured danceable rhythms and skilful musicianship, but the ‘hokum’ part of the billing seems chiefly to refer to the verbal content, heavily reliant on double entendres that are often ingenious and sometimes witty, and which probably seemed less tedious in the pre-album era. It has been plausibly suggested that the appeal of the Hokum Boys, apart from their obvious entertainment value, was to a black audience newly migrated from the south, and keen to confirm its newly urbanized sophistication.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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