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Garfield Akers (1902-1953/59)

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A Shadowy Figure

The throbbing guitar sound of Garfield Akers was a primary influence on subsequent generations of Mississippi bluesmen, with the likes of John Lee Hooker and Robert Wilkins citing him as an influence. Born around 1902 in Bates, Mississippi, Garfield Akers remains a shadowy figure; after honing his skills at local dances and house parties, he relocated to the Hernando area, where he worked by day as a sharecropper. After moving on to Memphis, in 1929 he made his first Vocalion label recordings at the Peabody, accompanied by guitarist Joe Callicott; between this first date and a 1930 session for Brunswick, four Garfield Akers performances still exist -- his two-part signature Cottonfield Blues, Jumpin' and Shoutin' Blues, and Dough Roller Blues, one of the first variations on Hambone Willie Newbern's seminal Roll and Tumble. All reflect a distinctively insistent guitar style, and also reveal a high-pitched, almost otherworldly voice. Garfield Akers remained an active presence on the south Memphis circuit throughout the 1930s, briefly resurfacing in the early 1950s before fading back into obscurity; he is believed to have died around 1959. (Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide)
Garfield Akers (b. 1902 (?) in Brights or Bates, Mississippi,d. between 1953 and 1959, probably in Memphis) was a blues-singer and -guitarist, sometimes acting as Garfield Partee. His work is extremely small, it only consists of four sides. His most renowned song is his debut, the Cottonfield Blues, which Don Kent praised with the words "only a handful of guitar duets in all blues match the incredible drive, intricate rhythms and ferocious intensity" and called Akers "one of the greatest vocalists in blues history". Michael Gray appreciated it as "the birth of rock íní roll ... from 1929!" (quoted from

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