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Dan Sane

Dan Sane, b. September 22, 1896 in Hernando, MS, d. February 18, 1956 in Memphis, TN, Memphis blues and country blues guitarist and songwriter. He was an associate of Frank Stokes. According to the Allmusic journalist Jason Ankeny, "they had emerged among the most complementary duos in all of the blues, with Sane's flatpicking ideally embellished by Stokes' fluid rhythms." The best-known of the songs written by Sane are "Downtown Blues" and "Mr. Crump Don't Like It." His surname was sometimes spelled "Sain".

Sane was born in Hernando, Mississippi. He moved to Memphis, Tennessee, and played in Will Batts's string band, before meeting the guitar player Frank Stokes. Sane and Stokes busked together around Memphis's Beale Street on weekends. During the 1920s the pair performed on Beale Street as a duo, billed as the Beale Street Sheiks, and played in white venues, including country clubs, parties and dances, as members of Jack Kelly's Jug Busters. Their first recording was made for Paramount Records in August 1927, as the Beale Street Sheiks. A National Park Service tourist guide to the blues heritage of the Mississippi Delta says, "The fluid guitar interplay between Stokes and Sane, combined with a propulsive beat, witty lyrics, and Stokes's stentorian voice, make their recordings irresistible." They moved to Victor Records in 1928. Their recordings were released under Stokes's name. They recorded a two-part version of "Tain't Nobody's Business if I Do", a song well known in later versions by Bessie Smith and Jimmy Witherspoon, but whose origin lies in the pre-blues era. A locally popular song was "Mr. Crump Don't Like It," whose lyrics referred to Memphis mayor E. H. Crump and his campaign to clean up Memphis's less salubrious areas. That song may have been based on an earlier song on the same topic by W. C. Handy. The Sheiks also continued to busk on the streets and play at parties. In 1929, Stokes and Sane recorded again for Paramount, resuming their billing as the Beale Street Sheiks for a few cuts. These 1929 sides were their last together, although they continued an intermittent performing partnership until Sane's retirement from music in 1952. In 1933, Sane and the singer and guitarist Jack Batts (1904–1956) and the fiddler Will Kelly recorded as the South Memphis Jug Band.

Sane died in Memphis in February 1956, aged 59. His recordings as a guitarist are available on numerous compilation albums, including The Best of Frank Stokes (Yazoo Records, 2005).


by Jason Ankeny
Best known for his work in collaboration with guitar partner Frank Stokes, Dan Sane was born in Michigan, Mississippi on January 24, 1904. Upon relocating to Memphis during the 1920s, he played in the string band led by violinist Will Batts; there Sane first began playing with Stokes, and the two guitarists also worked together in Jack Kelly's jug band. When the duo made their first recordings for the Paramount label in 1927, they had emerged among the most complementary duos in all of the blues, with Sane's flatpicking ideally embellished by Stokes' fluid rhythms. They moved to Victor in 1928, but by the following year were back on Paramount; these 1929 sides were their last together, although Sane continued performing with Stokes up until the latter's 1952 retirement. Sane died in Memphis on February 18, 1956.