Black Hillbilly Music
Early 1920s Music
Nashville in the early 1920s, DeFord was exposed to a variety of
different music genres, including pop, blues, jazz, and vaudeville.
During his free time, DeFord would frequent Nashville's theaters
of his favorite spots was the Bijou Theater in downtown Nashville.
The Bijou was the major black theater in town. It was there that
DeFord heard some of the early greats in jazz and blues, and also
where he picked up a few tunes. He played at the Bijou on occasion,
once opening up for Bessie Smith.
Bijou's owner offered DeFord the chance to tour with the other black
performers. Touring had a reputation for being extremely rough and
potentially dangerous. After much thought, DeFord decided it was
not smart for a young, inexperienced, barely four-foot-ten, 100-pound
man to go out on his own. He turned down the offer.
Source for the material
in this section, including excerpts:
David C. Morton with Charles K. Wolfe, DeFord Bailey: A Black Star
in Early Country Music (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1991)
INFLUENCES | PLAYING
STYLE | SONGS | HARMONICA