Ishmon Bracey (January 9, 1901 – February 12, 1970)
Ishmon Bracey was an early figure in Mississippi Delta blues and an associate of singer Tommy Johnson. Bracey learned guitar from “Mississippi” Ruben Lacy, and started playing local dances, juke joints, fish fries and other local events in rural Mississippi.
Bracey first recorded February 3, 1928 at Memphis Auditorium, in Memphis, Tennessee in an all-star session over a two-day period that included “Papa Charlie” McCoy, Tommy Johnson, and Rosie Mae Moore. Bracey backed Rosie Mae Moore on guitar on at least one song, and “Papa Charlie” McCoy backed Bracey on several songs. Bracey, “Papa Charlie” McCoy and Tommy Johnson returned to Memphis for a second batch of records on August 31 of that year.
Bracey finished out his recording career at Paramount with a group called the New Orleans Nehi Boys featuring Kid Ernest Michall on clarinet and Charles Taylor on piano. Bracey also accompanied Taylor on four selections of his own.
As in the case of his close friend Tommy Johnson, Bracey’s recording output is small; only 16 titles in all, although four of them are known in alternate takes. Two additional titles, “Low Down Blues” and “Run to Me at Night,” were apparently issued by Paramount, but have never been found. Original copies of Bracey’s 78-rpm records are among the most valued items sought by blues collectors.
By the time he was “rediscovered” in the late 1950s, Bracey had become a preacher and a performer of religious songs, and was uninterested in recording or discussing his time as a blues performer. However, he did help in the rediscovery of his contemporary Skip James.
There has been controversy regarding the spelling of Bracey’s first name as being spelled Ishman. Certain 78 rpm record labels are supposedly incorrectly spelled “Ishmon,” and this has carried over in some sources, although on his tombstone, his name is spelled “Ishmon,” so that may be the correct spelling.