During the Blues boom of the late 1920′s practically all of the talent lived and worked in the Southern States, whilst the record companies and their studios tended to based in the North. So every year each of the major labels would embark on a tour of likely cities or large towns in the South, armed with mobile recording facilities, searching for unsigned singers and recording new songs by those they’d already signed on previous visits. And when they left, the artists would get on with their lives again until the next visit.
Columbia Records usually visited twice a year - in Spring and in Autumn. In the first visit in 1927 they came across Robert Hicks. Robert was working as a chef in a barbecue restaurant in Atlanta and performing in his spare time, often in the same restaurant. That will explain why his first recording was called ’Barbecue Blues’. In their wisdom Columbia decided to photograph Bob in full chef’s gear to promote the song and rechristen him, ’Barbecue Bob’. They knew what they were doing and ’Barbecue Blues’ became a very big hit, selling 15,000 copies and making Bob Columbia’s biggest Black star up to that point.