Interview with Washboard Bill Cooke about his music

Date: July 30, 1987

Source: S1685 , Container 5

Type: Sound

Download: MP3


  • One audio cassette. Recorded at his home. Born in Dupont, just south of St. Augustine, on 4 July. His mother ran a jook joint, where he was first exposed to music and dance. He hoboed, played street music, worked for railways, and played at nightclubs in South Florida. In the interviews, he discusses jook joints; writing songs; working in New York; playing the washboard and the ukulele; and plays various songs, some wellknown, others his own compositions. This interview was an exploratory interview for the Florida Folk Festival, and was expanded by Jan Rosenberg the following month. The tape speed is a little fast, noticeable in the higher pitch of their voices approximately half way through the tape. Side two is blank. In 1956, he made a recording with Pete Seeger and Sonny Terry called Washboard Country Band. In 1992, he won the Florida Folk Heritage Award. The Folk Arts in Education Project in Palm Beach County was a joint venture between the Palm Beach County School System and the Florida Folklife Program. It was conducted between 1986 and 1987 by folklorist Jan Rosenberg with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to add to existing social studies curriculum. The goal was to impart an appreciation of multi-ethnic traditions and provide a sense of place to the mobile student population. The project focused on the Florida Studies component for fourth grade students. The project consisted of field research to identify local traditions and folk artists, a series of five two-day seminars to acquaint teachers with the use of folklore and folk arts, in-school programs conducted by a folklorist and traditionalist, which included visits by local folk artists. In total, the project involved 15 schools with 779 students.

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