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Book signing held Saturday in Commuty Center... “Washington Phillips and his Manzarene Dreams”

Michael Corcoran

Through the intensive research and dedication of Michael Corcoran, author of ?Washington Phillips and his Manzarene Dreams?, Mr. Phillips dreams are still alive. A large crowd gathered at the Teague Community Center on Saturday, January 28, 2017, to hear Mr. Corcoran speak about Washington Philips and the long road that brought him to the printing of his book. People came from all over Texas to attend the book signing because they have heard Washington?s (?Wash? to the people of Teague) music and have fallen in love with it. To a niche group of musical fanatics, he was a touchstone. The songs he recorded for Columbia Records between 1927 and 1929 transcend time and obscurity.

Wash Phillips was raised in the Simsboro community of Freestone County, just north of Teague. He was raised a Christian and loved music. He loved and played gospel music. Mr. Phillips played on the street, at gatherings and at people?s homes. The people of Teague knew him well and enjoyed his music. Some of the music he had recorded for Columbia was thought to be lost. Only four songs were released at that time and two are missing.

In September of 1954, Washington Phillips came to Teague in his mule-drawn wagon to Teague?s Department of Welfare Services. He died that day after falling down the stairs at the old Teague City Hall building. When he died, a secret history of pre-war gospel blues was born; a mystery shrouded in speculation and mistaken identity. Through the dedication of Texas music journalist Michael Corcoran and Atlanta?s Dust-to-Digital archival record label, nearly 90 years after his final recordings were made, Wash Phillips? story can be told.

In November, Dust-to-Digital published a 76-page book and 16 track CD chronicling Phillips? life and music. The book is the product of more than a decade that Corcoran spent scanning old newspapers for clues, conducting interviews, and scouring the East Texas countryside. During that time Dust-to-Digital tracked down the highest quality surviving 78s of Phillips? songs to remaster.

For information on purchasing ?Washington Phillips and His Manzarene Dreams,? contact Doris Nealy at 254-739-2167 or dnrnealy@gmail.com.

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