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Bull City Red

George Washington, b. in Durham, NC, Piedmont blues guitarist, singer, and predominately washboard player, most associated with Blind Boy Fuller and the Reverend Gary Davis. Little is known of Red's life outside of his recording career. Active 1930s.

George Washington's primary nickname, "Bull City Red", came from the 'Bull City' town of Durham, where he was born. He was sometimes alternatively called Oh Red. Although he was just good enough as a guitarist to imitate Fuller, with whom he frequently played, he was a very talented washboard player and also sang. A partial albino, Red was a street musician in Durham before becoming the sole sighted member of a band managed by talent scout J. B. Long that included at various times Fuller, Sonny Terry and Davis. In 1935, then a trio featuring Red, Davis and Fuller, the band went to New York to enter the recording studio for the first time, in a session for the American Record Corporation (ARC). As his collaborators were blind, Red signaled them by touch when the recording ended. Accompanying Fuller along with Terry, Red recorded many songs for ARC's Perfect label between 1935 and Fuller's death during surgery in 1941. Red also recorded gospel music based songs under the name of 'Brother George and His Sanctified Singers' along with Fuller, Terry, and Sonny Jones. He recorded "I Saw the Light" with guitar backing by Davis. On Fuller's latter day compilation album, Get Your Yas Yas Out, Red played the washboard on "Jitterbug Rag". Between 1935 and 1939, he struck out on his own as well, recording solo with his own vocals, guitar and washboard. His tracks included "Black Woman and Poison Blues" and "I Won't Be Dogged Around". In 1941, Red became involved with another band. In late 1940, he had introduced Brownie McGhee and his collaborator Jordan Webb to his manager and fellow musicians Fuller and Terry. After Fuller's death, the group came together along with another washboard player, Robert Young, to record.