Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Ishman Bracey (certain 78 rpm record labels are incorrectly spelled "Ishmon," and this has carried over in some sources) was an early figure in Mississippi Delta blues and an associate of singer Tommy Johnson. Bracey learned guitar from "Mississippi" Ruben Lacy, and starting in the 1910s he played local dances, juke joints, fish fries and other local events in rural Mississippi. Bracey first recorded for Victor in Memphis in February, 1928 with Charlie McCoy on second guitar, and the two returned to Memphis for a second batch of records on August 31 of that year. Ishman Bracey finished out his recording career at Paramount with a group called the New Orleans Nehi Boys featuring Kid Ernest Michall on clarinet and Charles Taylor on piano. Bracey also accompanied Taylor on four selections of his own. As in the case of his close friend Tommy Johnson, Ishman Bracey's recording output is small; only 16 titles in all, although four of them are known in alternate takes. Two additional titles, "Low Down Blues" and "Run to Me at Night," were apparently issued by Paramount, but have never been found. Original copies of Ishman Bracey's 78-rpm records are among the most valued items sought by blues collectors.
Of Bracey's songs, "Trouble Hearted Blues" and "Left Alone Blues" are very highly regarded, but in general his work is quite consistent and listening to his small output in its complete form certainly has its rewards. After his recording career ended, Bracey continued to perform, again with Tommy Johnson, on the medicine-show circuit. After World War II Bracey "got religion," and wasn't even interested in discussing his career as a bluesman when rediscovered in the late '50s. However, he did provide advice to researchers that led to the rediscovery of Skip James, and it is worth noting that Ishman Bracey continued to perform sacred material in local churches up until the day he died.