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Frank Stokes

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  • Born: Whitehaven, TN
  • Died: Memphis, TN
  • Years Active: 1920s, 1930s

Albums

Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Frank Stokes and partner Dan Sane recorded as the Beale Street Sheiks, a Memphis answer to the musical Chatmon family string band, the Mississippi Sheiks. According to local tradition, Stokes was already playing the streets of Memphis by the turn of the century, about the same time the blues began to flourish. As a street artist, he needed a broad repertoire of songs and patter palatable to both blacks and whites. A medicine show and house party favorite, Stokes was remembered as a consummate entertainer who drew on songs from the 19th and 20th centuries with equal facility. Solo or with Sane and sometimes fiddler Will Batts, Stokes recorded 38 sides for Paramount and Victor. These treasures include blues as well as older pieces: "Chicken You Can't Roost Too High for Me," "Mr. Crump Don't Like It," an outstanding version of "You Shall" (commonly known as "You Shall Be Free"), and "Hey Mourner," a traditional comic anti-clerical piece. Stokes possessed a remarkable declamatory voice and was an adroit guitarist. His duets with Sane merit special attention because of their subtle interplay and propulsive rhythm.