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Mississippi Sheiks

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The Mississippi Sheiks were a popular and influential American guitar and fiddle group of the 1930s. They were notable mostly for playing country blues, but were adept at many styles of popular music of the time.

The Mississippi Sheiks consisted mainly of the Chatmon family, who came from Bolton, Mississippi and were well known throughout the Mississippi Delta. The father of the family had been a “musicianer” (someone with good technical ability on his or her instrument adept at sight-reading written music) during slavery times, and his children carried on the musical spirit. Their most famous (although by no means permanent) member was Armenter Chatmon - better known as Bo Carter - who managed a successful solo career as well as playing with the Sheiks, which may have contributed to their success.
When the band first recorded in 1930, the line-up consisted of Carter with Lonnie and Sam Chatmon, and Walter Vinson. Charlie McCoy (not to be confused with Charlie McCoy, a later American musician) played later, when Bo Carter and Sam Chatmon ceased playing full time. It was Lonnie Chatmon and Vinson who formed the real center of the group.

Bo Carter’s solo work is notable for being sexually suggestive in songs and this is carried on to an extent with the group. They primarily earned their income like Robert Johnson and Skip James. They toured throughout the Southern United States, but also reached as far north as Chicago and New York.

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