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Garfield Akers

Garfield Akers, b. 1901 in Bates, MS, d. 1959 in  Memphis, TN, was a blues singer and guitarist. He sometimes performed under the pseudonym "Garfield Partee."

Akers' extant recordings consist of four sides, which are nonetheless historically significant. His most well-known song was his debut, "Cottonfield Blues", a duet with friend and longtime collaborator Joe Callicott on second guitar, based on a song performed by Texas Bluesman Henry Thomas a few years prior. Akers lived in Hernando, Mississippi most of his life, working as a sharecropper and performing during off-hours at local house parties and dances. He toured with Frank Stokes on the Doc Watts Medicine Show. Akers was reportedly active on the south Memphis circuit throughout the 1930s. Akers and Callicott played together for more than twenty years, parting in the mid-1940s. Akers briefly resurfaced in the early 1950s, shortly before his death at a historically undetermined date. No photographs of Akers are known to exist.

Jason Ankeny, in the AllMusic Guide, notes that Akers' recorded performances "reflect a distinctively insistent guitar style, and also reveal a high-pitched, almost otherworldly voice." Ankeny claims that Akers "was a primary influence on subsequent generations of Mississippi bluesmen, with the likes of John Lee Hooker and Robert Wilkins citing him as an influence." Blues historian Don Kent praised "Cottonfield Blues," saying "only a handful of guitar duets in all blues match the incredible drive, intricate rhythms and ferocious intensity." Kent also called Akers "one of the greatest vocalists in blues history."  Author/historian Michael Gray called this recording "the birth of rock 'n' roll … from 1929!" "Dough Roller Blues" was probably the first of many versions of "Roll and Tumble Blues" by Hambone Willie Newbern (Okeh Records 8679).