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Bongo Joe

While some may think of him only as a novelty, Bongo Joe (aka George Coleman) had a long, illustrious career, especially for a self-taught street musician who played mainly for free. Born George Coleman in Haines City, FL, on November 28, 1923, he had a rough life from the beginning. His father died before he was born and his mother passed away when he was seven, leaving siblings and neighbors to look after him. Upon graduation from high school, Coleman began a 30-year musical career that found him playing 15 years on Seawall Boulevard in Galveston and another 15 in San Antonio, occasionally traveling anywhere between. Coleman had played with numerous musicians, including Sammy Davis Jr. and Dizzy Gillespie, and played for Muhammad Ali, President John F. Kennedy in Fort Worth (the night before he was assassinated), and Gerald Ford during his 1976 presidential campaign. He also played private exclusive parties at homes and country clubs. While he was a proficient piano player, Coleman preferred percussion because it was easier to play on the streets, hence the moniker Bongo Joe. He rode a motorbike, towing his equipment: 55-gallon oil drums, mallets made of hammer handles, and a small public-address system. No matter where he was, Bongo Joe was a disciplined performer playing practically every night without fail. Coleman died on December 19, 1999, due to diabetes and kidney disease. Only one album by Bongo Joe was recorded and released by Arhoolie Records in 1968. It remains in print over 30 years later. ~ Al Campbell
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Arhoolie 40th Anniversary Collection 1960 - 2000

Disc 1

1. San Francisco Bay Blues

2. Mercury Blues

3. Shake Shake Mama

4. Cairo Blues

6. One Thin Dime

7. Charmin' Betsy

9. I Am The Black Ace

10. Brother James

15. Bald Headed Woman

19. The Country Blues

20. Crowley Waltz

22. Ay, Ai Ai

23. Write Me A Few Lines

24. Charlie James

25. Louisiana Blues

Disc 2

1. Cindy

2. Little Red Rooster

6. I Wonder Where You Are Tonight

9. Sometimes I Cry

10. Two Bugs And A Roach

11. Dream

12. Things Gonna Get Better

13. Visions

17. Please Settle In Vietnam

18. Shake 'em On Down

21. Finger Lickin' Good

Disc 3

1. Church Point Breakdown

3. Gibson Creek Shuffle

5. You Ain't Got A Chance

7. Satan's Burning Hell

8. Luzita

12. Allons A Grand Coteau

15. Fast Santa Fe (Bear Cat)

16. I'll See You In C-U-B-A

17. El Balaju

21. Ay Te Dejo En San Antonio

22. Mi Problema

Disc 4

1. Gritenme Piedras Del Campo

2. Co-Fe

3. Single Girl

4. Bee De La Manche

6. Negra Ausencia

12. Here To Stay

13. I Know That's Right

19. Hot Chili Mama

21. El Canoero

23. San Francisco Can Be Such A Lonely Town

Disc 5

5. Food Stamp Blues

6. Ain't It A Shame

8. La Mal Sentada

9. Falling For You

14. El Corrido De Esequiel Hernandez

15. What's His Name-Jesus

16. Just A Closer Walk With Thee

Comments

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