Alfred "Snuff" Johnson

Black Cowboy Blues and Church Songs


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Details: Audio CD, 1994, Produced and Recorded by Alan Govenar

Many of the songs Johnson performs are remembered in bits and pieces and combine traditional lyrics and those he improvises as he goes along. He sings with a deep, almost moaning tone, accompanying himself on guitar and sometimes humming. "While you're humming," he smiles, "it gives you the thoughts of what verses to place in with your singing." The influence of Mance Lipscomb is apparent in Johnson's playing, especially in his use of a strong thumb on the bass string, almost like the drum in a dance tune. About this, Johnson says, "That's right, when I be playing, I carry my bass with me. You can't find too many guitar pickers who can play and carry a bass." In addition to playing a distinctive style of what might be called "black cowboy" blues at house parties and country balls, Johnson has also performed in his church. "It'd be with the sermon," Johnson says, "I'll get up there and play while the people are singing and I play along with them." This compact disc was produced by Alan Govenar and, funded by Documentary Arts, Inc.