"Washboard" Bill Cooke interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

Date: May 30, 1993

Source: S1576 , Container 30 , C93-16, C93-17

Type: Sound

Full Recording:

Download: mp3 | ogg

Description

Two audio cassettes. NKwanda Jah is the interviewer. On C93-16, Cooke, born in Dupont, Fla., gives a history of his early life and family. He discusses his early experiences of hoboing and tells stories about hitchhiking in Florida. He details his educational experiences, including dropping out of school. He took his last name "Cooke" from his grandfather after being adopted by him. He explains that from 1926 to 1930, he worked as a "gandy dancer" on the railways. After that, until 1941, he hoboed. He discusses being ostracized because of being a hobo. He recounts his beginnings as a washboard musician in 1946 in New York, before moving to Miami from 1947 to 1963 and working as a musician there. He explains that he learned to play the ukulele in 1979. Cooke discusses working on railroads, as well as having met Elvis Presley, Jackie Wilson, B.B. King, Gene Krupa, and Sam Cooke. He shares his opinions on the relationship between black and white musicians, using Presley and King as an example of the positive interchange of ideas. He recounts working as a washboard musician in studios and being a part of the musicians union in New York. He recorded with Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry, Pete Seeger, Pete "Guitar" Lewis and Johnny Winter. He explains that his first recording was in 1959, and that he worked on a Harry Belafonte recording in 1979. He also recounts his relationship with Sammy Davis Jr.'s grandmother. He discusses receiving social security and other government subsidies in the 1970s. He tells some stories about getting married and having children.
On C93-17, Cooke discusses his children. He recounts his life during the 1980s playing music gigs around Florida, and the difficulty of making a living as a musician. He tells a story about being robbed. He compares the joy of receiving an invitation to attend the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter with working four months on a Waycross, Ga. chain gang in 1931. He details his travels on the railroad after leaving Waycross. He explains why he joined a church. He closes by telling a story about travelling to California in 1991.

1993 Florida Folk Festival Program

View the 1993 Program

C93-2The Gandy Dancers demonstration at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area (First demonstration)
C93-3"Washboard" Bill Cooke interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area
C93-5The Gandy Dancers demonstration at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area (Second demonstration)
C93-7The Gandy Dancers demonstration at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area (First demonstration)
C93-8aGlen Simmons interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area
C93-8bCornelius Wright, Jr. & "Washboard" Bill Cooke interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area
C93-9aCornelius Wright, Jr. interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area
C93-9bAllen Jones interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area
C93-9cBilly Howell interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area
C93-11The Gandy Dancers demonstration at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area (Second demonstration)
C93-12bThe Gandy Dancers demonstration at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area (First demonstration)
C93-14The Gandy Dancers demonstration at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area (Second demonstration)
C93-17"Washboard" Bill Cooke interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area
C93-18Billy Howell interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area
C93-19Allen Jones interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area
C93-20Elder Brown interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area
C93-21Charlie Vinson interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area
C93-22John Mealing interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area
C93-24"Washboard" Bill Cooke interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area (Second interview)
C93-25The Gandy Dancers demonstration at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area (Second demonstration)
C93-27Cornelius Wright, Jr. interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area
C93-28aKate Taluga & story swap at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Storytelling Stage
C93-28bAnnette Bruce & story swap at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Storytelling Stage
C93-28cChristie Koontz & story swap at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Storytelling Stage
C93-30aImagine That & story swap at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Storytelling Stage
C93-30bJohn Drury & story swap at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Storytelling Stage
C93-31bLinda Spitzer & story swap at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Storytelling Stage
D93-1Friday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 1)
D93-2Friday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 2)
D93-3Friday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 3)
D93-4Friday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 4)
D93-5Friday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 5)
D93-6Friday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 6)
D93-6Saturday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 1)
D93-7Saturday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 2)
D93-8Saturday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 3)
D93-9Saturday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 4)
D93-10Saturday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 5)
D93-11Saturday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 6)
D93-12Saturday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 7)
D93-13Sunday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 1)
D93-14Sunday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 2)
D93-15Sunday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 3)
D93-16Sunday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 4)
D93-17Sunday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 5)
D93-18Sunday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 6)
D93-19Friday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Old Marble Stage) (Tape 1)
D93-20Friday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Old Marble Stage) (Tape 2)
D93-21Friday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Old Marble Stage) (Tape 3)
D93-22Friday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Old Marble Stage) (Tape 4)
D93-23Saturday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Old Marble Stage) (Tape 1)
D93-24Saturday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Old Marble Stage) (Tape 2)
D93-25Saturday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Old Marble Stage) (Tape 3)
D93-26Saturday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Old Marble Stage) (Tape 4)
D93-27Sunday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Old Marble Stage) (Tape 1)
D93-28Sunday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Old Marble Stage) (Tape 2)
D93-29Sunday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Old Marble Stage) (Tape 3)
D93-30Sunday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Old Marble Stage) (Tape 4)
D93-31Sunday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Old Marble Stage) (Tape 5)
D93-32Friday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Stage III) (Tape 1)
D93-33Friday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Stage III) (Tape 2)
D93-34Friday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Stage III) (Tape 3)
D93-35Saturday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Stage III) (Tape 1)
D93-36Saturday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Stage III) (Tape 2)
D93-37Saturday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Stage III) (Tape 3)
D93-38Sunday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Stage III) (Tape 1)
D93-39Sunday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Stage III) (Tape 2)
D93-40Sunday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Stage III) (Tape 3)
D93-41Sunday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Stage III) (Tape 4)

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