Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fungal Meningitis: Could It Have Been Prevented?

"Eddie epitomized the senior citizens of our modern society who are determined to remain active and who have much to give to their community." - Joyce Lovelace.

Could the fungal meningitis outbreak have been prevented? It took the life of a dear friend of mine. And, not just me...Circuit Judge Eddie Lovelace was a dear friend of the entire community. Yet, now, his family, tragically, is left to deal his loss. The community lost, not only a great friend, but a great leader.
Judge Lovelace died Sept. 17 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee after receiving tainted steroid injections in July and August at Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center in Nashville. He was initially checked into Vanderbilt with symptoms that suggested he had suffered a mild stroke. Health officials later discovered he had contracted fungal meningitis after receiving epidural steroid injections produced by Framingham, Massachusetts-based New England Compounding Center, which had shipped thousands of vials of injections, many later found to be growing mold, all over the country.

The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations heard testimony Wednesday about the deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis and whether it could have been prevented. The hearing began with stirring testimony from the judge's wife, Joyce Lovelace. Click on the video below.

Quotes from Joyce Lovelace from a written testimony she also submitted:

"The citizens of our community have lost a civic leader, a church leader, and outstanding judge. His near photographic memory, his booming voice, his sense of humor and his deep-seated concern for his fellow citizens led him to be a speaker at many civic and social functions and led him to frequently deliver eulogies of his friends who had preceded him death. His uncanny ability to quote Shakespeare, the Bible, poetry and famous quotations both entertained and brought comfort to many.

(To the 
subcommittee) "Don’t just investigate. Instead, legislate and regulate. I challenge republicans and democrats alike to put aside partisan politics, partisan philosophies, industry lobbying and wishes of campaign contributions and unanimously send to the White House a bill that will prevent a recurrence of these events. If you will do that, perhaps my family can take some solace in the fact that Eddie Lovelace’s public service continues even after death."


Eddie Lovelace was a public servant for some 50 years. He and Joyce were married nearly 56 years. Life will never be the same. The community will never be the same. 
Such a tragedy.
The president of the NECC, Barry Cadden, was subpoenaed to appear before the committee but chose not to testify, invoking his 5th Amendment right instead.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Conner Hall: Honoring Murl Conner

"I just sent one of my officers home. He was my S-2 (Intelligence Officer), Lt. Garlin M. Conner, who is from Aaron, Kentucky. I'm really proud of Lt. Conner. He probably will call you and, if he does, he may not sound like a soldier, will sound like any good old country boy, but, to my way of seeing, he's one of the outstanding soldiers of this war, if not THE outstanding." Lt. Col. Lloyd B. Ramsey, commander of the,3rd Div., 7th Inf., 7th Army. 

Conner's act of heroism happened near Hussein, France on January 24, 1945 at 0800 hours. Having just been wounded and laying in the hospital, Conner snuck away from it and ran back to his company at enemy lines. Just as he made it back to camp, he overheard talk that his commanding officer was needing to advance communication lines, and was looking for someone willing to run 400 yards directly into the enemy while unreeling a spool of telephone wire. Immediately, Conner grabbed the wire and off he went through the impact area of an intense concentration of enemy artillery fire to direct friendly artillery on a force of six Mark VI tanks and tank destroyers, followed by 600 fanatical German infantrymen, which was assaulting in full fury the spearhead position held by his battalion. Along the way, as he unreeled the spool of telephone wire, he disregarded shells which exploded 25 yards from him and set up an observation post. For three hours, Lt. Conner lay in a shallow ditch as wave after wave of German infantry surged toward him, at times to within five yards of his position. As the last all-out German assault swept forward, he ordered his artillery to concentrate on his own position, resolved to die if necessary to halt the enemy. Friendly shells exploded within five yards of him, blanketing his position but Lt. Conner continued to direct artillery fire on the assault elements swarming around him until the German attack was shattered and broken. Murl Conner was individually credited with stopping more than 150 Germans, destroying all the tanks and completely disintegrating the powerful enemy assault force and preventing heavy loss of life in his own outfit.

Sadly, Conner was never awarded the Medal of Honor for his act of heroism. Due to the heat of the battle that day, the commanding officer did not take the time to do the necessary paperwork. Conner came back home to a hero's parade and then resumed his life on the farm and raised up his own family. He never spoke of what he did during the war to anyone, not even his family. But, what he did was earn the Distinguished Service Cross, Purple Heart with silver oak leaf cluster, Silver Star with four oak leaf clusters and the Bronze Star. He was also awarded the highest French medal, the Croix de Guerre. Many of his battle records were lost.

The records that do exist officially document that Conner repeatedly risked his life under enemy fire to capture and disable numerous enemy positions with grim ferocity. What he didn’t mention was that he was wounded at least seven times during 29 months of nearly continuous combat service, but he refused to accept Purple Hearts for most of the wounds. One of his wounds was so severe that he was told he may never walk again, but he did walk. Also what he never spoke about was the many times that he risked his life to save others, and how that he more than once volunteered to take the point on the most dangerous patrols.

Nothing of his heroic act on January 24, 1945 was ever mentioned until Richard Chilton, a former Green Beret from Genoa City, Wisconsin, discovered it while researching information about an uncle who served in the same unit as Conner. Because of Chilton, resolutions were introduced in both the 108th and 109th Congress, authorizing the President to award a Medal of Honor posthumously to Lt. Conner. However, it is yet to be done.

TACOM FMX Dedicates Buildings

The Army has recognized Murl Conner's heroism more than once. On October 3rd this year, Tank-Automotive and Armaments Commands Fleet Management Expansion Directorate dedicated one of its newest buildings in honor of him. One of two buildings, (buildings 5405 and 5415, which collectively make up the Maneuver Center of Excellence Combat Equipment Maintenance Complex), was named Conner Hall, in honor of the late Aaron, Kentucky native. Conner Hall will service hundreds of tanks and Bradley's in a given year. The other building was named in honor of Joseph Williams, who emigrated to America in 1924, and who played a significant role in World War II by helping develop the M4 series of tanks and later the T-series tanks.

During the ceremony, Dave Carter, deputy director for the Integrated Logistics Support Center, which oversees FMX, said "We're here today to honor two very special people. We're honoring them because of their exceptional and extraordinary character and contributions to our Army and our country. Our hope is that in naming the Joe Williams Maintenance Facility and Conner Hall, we'll pay tribute to their dedication and inspire future generations of Soldiers and civilians … to do what Joe Williams and Lt. Conner did -- live beyond (yourself)."

"It's a great honor," said his wife, Pauline Conner, of the building dedication. "He was … my hero. When he came back after his service, our county had a parade in his honor. I had never seen him before, but I had heard so much about him." Conner said her husband was a very moral man, and the legacy she hopes he leaves behind is one of patriotism and respect for his nation.

Conner Hall maintains light tracked vehicles of about 36 tons and below, while the Joe Williams Maintenance Facility handles heavy tracked vehicles weighing up to 70 tons. Memorial plaques, bearing the names of Conner and Williams, are posted at the entrance to the facilities.

Lt. Conner served in the same 3rd Infantry Division as Audie Murphy, who has always been recognized as America's most decorated hero of all wars, but the Medal of Honor would give Conner one more award than Murphy, who earned one less Silver Star for gallantry than Lt. Conner's four.

I have written stories of Murl Conner's heroic acts more than once, and I will continue to do so, because awarding him the Medal of Honor is the right thing to do. As Chilton once said, "I do not have the option to give up as long as someone will listen." 

A portion of this story was written by Cheryl Rodewig. For more information about the dedication ceremony for Conner Hall, visit

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Old Rugged Cross - 100th Anniversary

It was 100 years ago this year that the Reverend George Bennard wrote what many consider to be the most beloved hymn of all time, "The Old Rugged Cross." "I seemed to have a vision . . . I saw the Christ and the cross inseparable," he wrote in his memoirs. He wrote the song over a month in 1912 as he traveled to revival meetings. The melody came easily, but he labored over the words in the four verses and refrain. The hymn, published in 1913, was immediately successful. Bennard (pronounced Benn-ARD), who was born in Youngstown, Ohio, was the son of George and Margaret Russell Bennard, of Scottish descent. The couple, who had five other children, moved their family to Albia, Iowa, where the senior Bennard ran a tavern. When the tavern burned, the father turned to mining coal. An accident led to his death at 49, forcing young George, at 16, to support his mother and sisters as a miner. In 1895, at age 24, Bennard became a minister when he enlisted in the Salvation Army at Rock Island, Illinois. By 1898, he was conducting revival meetings throughout the Midwest, later transferring to New York, where he resigned in 1910 to go out on his own as a Methodist evangelist. It was at that time that he began composing hymns. Bennard settled at Albion, Michigan and opened his own hymn publishing company. It was there that he likely began writing The Old Rugged Cross. The hymn was first sung formally at a revival meeting at Pokagon, Michigan. Evangelist Billy Sunday popularized the hymn on his nationally broadcast radio show. By 1939, more than 15 million copies had been sold and numerous recordings made. In all, Bennard composed about 350 hymns but none was as successful as "The Old Rugged Cross." He died of asthma in Reed City, Michigan on October 10, 1958.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A New Star Spangled Banner!

Sing 'Star Spangled Banner' your own way, says Geoffrey O'Hara, Noted Composer Has Revised National Anthem. "Discovered: The True Way to Sing The Star Spangled Banner.'"

When this headline appeared in a New York paper it may have carried a bit of a jolt to the worthy few who for years had risen with the first strains of the national anthem to sing unfalteringly to the last note. By this same virtue undoubtedly many who had hummed, rejoiced and secretly resolved to learn the words. But what New Yorkers thought may never be known, for as the story unfolded it developed that the true way to sing The Star Spangled Banner was "everybody's way or, the people's way," according to Geoffrey O'Hara, the famous composer and Irish tenor, who ultimately brought the revision we sing today to the American public. O'Hara had long resented the fact that an American audience must sing its own national anthem in someone elses way. He believed that the American public had a very definite idea and a certain unanimity of self expression when allowed to sing the song unguided, and he decided to let the people settle the question.

Phonograph records were made of various audiences singing without direction. Three of these audiences in New York had twenty-five hundred or more in the house. When later these records were compared, O'Hara was able to prove that the people did not sing "The Star Spangled Banner" in the original Francis Scott Key key or in the way of the United States Army and Navy ,or in the version of the American Board of Education, yet universally they sang it exactly the same way, the way of the people. 

It was about this time that O'Hara was asked to prepare an arrangement of the anthem to be sung by the Mendelssohn Choir of Toronto in New York. So, guided by his phonograph records and his experience as  song leader in the army, where he found the men sang their national anthem in the same unauthorized way, regardless of their native state, he proceeded to produce a new "Star Spangled Banner."

"The Star Spangled Banner", was ordered played at military and naval occasions by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, but was not designated the national anthem by an Act of Congress until 1931. In September 1814, during the War of 1812, the British arrested Dr. William Beanes, an American accused of sending three British soldiers to jail. He was held aboard a British ship stationed off the Baltimore coast. Francis Scott Key, a well-known lawyer and poet, was asked to secure the doctor’s release. Departing from Baltimore, Key and Colonel Skinner, a U.S. agent in charge of American prisoner exchange, set sail on a small boat in search of the British ship. Flying a flag of truce, they sailed for several days before they spotted and, soon after, boarded it. Initially, British commanders refused to be swayed by Key’s arguments to free Dr. Beanes. When Key presented letters from wounded British soldiers who had been treated fairly by Dr. Beanes, they relented. Unfortunately, Key, Skinner, and Dr. Beanes had heard about preparations for an upcoming attack while on board. They were not permitted to return to Baltimore and were escorted under guard to their boat.
Early in the morning of September 13, 1814, Key, Skinner, and Dr. Beanes watched from their boat as the British attacked Fort McHenry. Rockets streaked across the sky and cannons boomed. Some time before dawn, the dark skies fell silent. Unknown to the three men, the British had decided to abandon the assault.
As dawn drew nearer and nearer, Key searched for a sign through the clearing smoke. Had Fort McHenry fallen? When daylight finally arrived, the American flag waved gallantly in the breeze. The sight so moved Key that he began writing a poem on the back of a letter retrieved from his pocket. He completed the poem later in his Baltimore hotel room.

The following morning, Key showed the poem to his brother-in-law, Judge J. H. Nicholson. Nicholson liked the poem so much, he had it printed under the title, “Defense of Fort McHenry,” and distributed it throughout Baltimore. Nicholson also suggested the words be put to the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven,” a song which was popular in America at the time and happened to be a British drinking song.

In October 1814, a Baltimore actor sang the song at Captain McCauley’s tavern, though he called it the “Star-Spangled Banner.” It was an immediate success.

Over the years, the Star-Spangled Banner grew in popularity. In 1889, the Secretary of the Navy made it the official song for all flag raisings. Later, in 1916, Woodrow Wilson, our twenty-eighth president, boosted its status further. He proclaimed it the national anthem of all the armed forces. But it was not until the 1918 World Series that the song took hold of America during a game that almost didn’t happen. America had been involved in World War I for a year. Out of respect for the soldiers, baseball officials wanted to cancel the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs. When it became known, however, that American soldiers fighting in France were eager to know the Series’ results, the games commenced. To honor these brave men, the officials had the band play the Star-Spangled Banner during the seventh-inning stretch of the first game. And, the rest is history. Soon it became tradition to play the Star-Spangled Banner at all baseball games and, eventually, nearly all sporting events.

Geoffrey O'Hara

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


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Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Victor Collection: Geoffrey O'Hara

Geoffrey O'Hara was a Canadian American composer, singer and music professor. Born February 2, 1882 in Chatham, Ontario, Canada, he initially planned a military career, but abandoned that idea when his father died. He moved to the USA in 1904, the same year he began performing in Vaudeville. He began recording for Edison Records in 1905. In 1913 O'Hara undertook the recording of traditional Indian songs on behalf of the American government. In 1914, he was recorded on phonograph cylinder lecturing about the complexity of the music as well as singing and playing several types of Navajo traditional songs. During World War I he was a singing instructor of patriotic songs for American troops. In 1919 he became a naturalized citizen of the United States and began lecturing on music and songwriting, a task he continued for the remainder of his life. He held positions at Teachers' College of Columbia University, Huron College and the University of South Dakota, where in 1947 he received and honorary Doctor of Music degree. In 1920 O'Hara helped organize The Composers' and Lyric Writers' Protective League. He also was a board member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), was the president of the Composers-Authors Guild. O'Hara composed over 500 popular and patriotic songs and hymns. He had some moderate popular music hits in the 1910s with songs such as Your Eyes Have Told Me What I Did Not Know (1913), Tennessee, I Hear You Calling Me (1914), The Old Songs and one huge hit with K-K-K-Katy (1918), one of the most popular tunes of the World War I era. He was commissioned by the Wilson administration to compose the modern day version of the Star Spangled Banner. O'Hara died on January 31, 1967.

The Edison Files: My Diamond Disc Collection

50002-R Dreams Of Galilee - Elizabeth Spencer/Frederick J. Wheeler, 1913
50002-L Nearer My God To Thee - Thomas Chalmers 1912

50065-R Wedding Of The Winds Waltzes - American Symphony Orchestra, 1912
50065-L On The High Alps - Venetian Instrumental Quartet, 1914

50212-R Medley Of American War Songs - Band, 1914
50212-L Medley Of American Patriotic Airs, 1914

50292-R Valse In E Flat - Andre Benoist, 1915
50292-L Old Black Joe w/variations - Andre Benoist, 1915

50348-R On The Hoko Moko Isle - Collins and Harlan, 1916
50348-L Yaka Hula Hickey Dula - Walter Van Brunt, 1916

50351-R Massa's In De Cold, Cold Ground - Fred J. Bacon, 1915
50351-L Old Black Joe - Fred J. Bacon, 1916

50357-R Are You From Dixie - Billy Murray, 1916
50357-L Don't Bite The Hand That Feeds You - Walter Van Brunt, 1916

50428-R Poor Butterfly - Jaudas Society Orchestra, 1917
50428-L The Missouri Waltz - Jaudus Society Orchestra, 1916

50452-R U.S. Army Bugle Calls Part 1 - S.W. Smith, U.S.N. & Bugle Squad, 1917
50452-L U.S. Army Bugle Calls Part 2 - S.W. Smith, U.S.N. & Bugle Squad, 1917

50455-R Ellis March - Ford Hawaiians, 1916
50455-L One, Two, Three, Four Medly - Waikiki Hawaiian Orchestra, 1917

50534-R I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles - Helen Clark and George Wilton Ballard, 1919
50534-L In The Old Sweet Way - Helen Clark and George Wilton Ballard, 1919

50857-R Wonderland of Dreams - Rae Eleanor Ball and Jessie L. Deppen, 1921
50857-L Havana Moon - Rae Eleanor Ball and Jessie L. Deppen, 1921

51026-R Red Moon Waltz - Ernest L. Stevens Trio, 1922
51026-L If I Had My Way Pretty Baby - Ernest L. Stevens Trio, 1922

51145-R Darkey's Dream and Darkey's Awakening - Fred Van Eps, 1922
51145-L Medley of Southern Melodies - Fred Van Eps, 1923

80010-R Ever Of Thee I'm Fondly Dreaming - Elizabeth Spencer and Vernon Archibald
80010-L Darling Nellie Gray - Metropolitan Quartet, 1914

80098-R Annie Laurie/Lady Metropolitan Quartet, 1913
80098-L Call Me Your Darling Again - Elizabeth Spencer, 1916

80160-R I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen - Walter Van Brunt, 1914
80160-L On The Banks Of The Brandywine - Walter Van Brunt, 1914

80172-R America - Mixed Quartet w/orchestra, 1914
80172-L The Star Spangled Banner - Baritone and Chorus w/orchestra, 1914

80204-R Let The Lower Lights Be Burning - Mixed Quartet, 1914
80204-L He Lifted Me - Mixed Quartet w/orchestra, 1914

80276-R When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder - John Young and Frederick J. Wheeler
80276-L Abide With Me - Elizabeth Spencer and Thomas Chalmers, 1915

80300-R I Love To Tell The Story - Metropolitan Quartet
80300-L I Will Sing OF My Redeemer - Metropolitan Quartet

80321-R My Old Kentucky Home - Thomas Chalmers, 1914
80321-L Come Where The Lillies Bloom - Metropolitan Quartet, 1915

80395-R Dixieland Memories No. 1 - Orpheus Male Chorus
80395-L Dixieland Memories No. 2 - Orpheus Male Chorus

80453-R Sundown in Birdland - Sibyl Sanderson and Frederick W. Hager, 1918
80453-L L'Ardita-Magnetic Waltz - Sibyl Sanderson, 1918

80484-R I'll Remember You Love In My Prayers - Betsy Lane Shepherd, 1917
80484-L The Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane - Metropolitan Quartet, 1918

80529-R Is My Name Written There - Charles Hart and Elliott Shaw
80529-L Shall You? Shall I? - Charles Hart, Elliott Shaw and the Calvary Choir

80549-R Only A Step To Jesus - Fred East and Lewis James, 1920
0549-L Beulah Land - Thomas Chalmers w/chorus, 1920

80613-R Recollections of 1861-65 - Edna White, 1920
80613-L Love's Old Sweet Song - Chester Gaylord, 1920

82055-R O Holy Night - Thomas Chalmers, 1914
82055-L The Palms - Thomas Chalmers, 1914

82133-R Battle Hymn Of The Republic - Thomas Chalmers, 1917
82133-L Recessional - Thomas Chalmers, 1916

82159-R I'se Gwine Back To Dixie - Maggie Teyte and the Lyric Male Quartet
82159-L Ma Curly-Headed Babby - Maggie Teyte

82236-R (a) Songs My Mother Taught Me (b) Poem - Vasa Prihoda
82236-L On Wings Of Song - Vasa Prihoda, 1921

83059-R Annie Laurie - Anna Case, 1916
83059-L Old Folks At Home - Anna Case, 1916

Friday, September 7, 2012

My Victor Collection: Esther Walker

Esther Walker (October 18, 1894 - July 26, 1943) was an American musical comedy performer. She was born Esther Thomas in Pewee Valley, Kentucky. Adopting the stage name of Esther Walker, she appeared on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre in a 1919 production of Monte Cristo, Jr., and later that year performed at the 44th Street Theatre in Hello, Alexander. Walker recorded over 32 songs for Victor and Brunswick record labels, during the years 1919-1920 and 1925–1927, including "How Sorry You'll Be." Walker wed Texas businessman Karl Hoblitzelle, a successful manager of movie and vaudeville theatres. The two founded the Hoblitzelle Foundation in 1942, which still exists today. She died of cancer in Dallas, Texas on July 26, 1943 at the age of 48.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Okeh Records: Wabash Cannonball

'Wabash Cannonball' is an American folk song about a fictional train, thought to have originated in the late ninteenth century. Its first documented appearance was on sheet music published in 1882 titled, "The Great Rock Island Route" and credited to J.A. Roff.

Now listen to the jingle and the rumble and the roar
As she dashes thro' the woodland and speeds along the shore
See the mighty rushing engine, hear her merry bell ring out
As they speed along in safety on the great Rock Island route
A rewritten version by Wiliam Kindt appeared in 1904 under the title, "Wabash Cannonball." The Carter Family made one of the first recordings of the song in 1929, though it was not released until 1932.
The most popular version, however, was recorded by Roy Acuff in 1936. The Acuff version is one of the fewer than thirty all-time singles to have sold 10-million (or more) copies worldwide.
In 1932, Dr. Hauer's Medicine Show, which toured the Southern Appalachian region, hired Roy Acuff, as one of its entertainers. Acuff left the medicine show circuit in 1934 and began playing at local shows with various musicians in the Knoxville area. That year, Acuff formed the Tennessee Crackerjacks, which performed regularly on Knoxville radio stations WROL and WNOX.
Within a year, the group had changed its name to the Crazy Tennesseeans. Acuff quickly became popular and, in 1936, was asked to record the song for Okeh Records, a division of the America Recording Company. So, Acuff headed north to Chicago for a recording session which resulted in 20 different songs, including 'Wabash Cannonball.' The recording featured Acuff imitating the sound of a train whistle, but not singing the lead. That part was sang by Sam 'Dynamite' Hatcher.
Acuff's original 1936 recording of Wabash Cannonball (Okeh 04466), is part of my collection of 78 r.p.m. records. 

Home of the Soul: The Whitney Brothers Quartet

Left to right: Alvin, Edwin, William and Yale Whitney.

Home of the Soul is a gospel song recorded by the Whitney Brothers Quartet from September 7 to September 9, 1909 at the Victor studio in Camden, New Jersey and released on Victor (16372).

Between October 1908 and September 1909, the Whitney Brothers Quartet recorded 25 songs for Victor: cSmiling Morn, The Cheerful Wanderer, Sally In Our Alley, Excelior and The Little Red Drum, How Can I Leave Thee?, Santa Lucia, Forsaken, Love's Old Sweet Song, The Hunter's Song, The Bluebells of Scotland, Jesus Savior Pilot Me, Dixie, Old Folks At Home, Galilee, Eternity, Home Of The Soul, Jesus Is Calling, Light Of Life, Nearer My God To Thee, The Light Of The World, Remember Me, O Mighty One, The Bugle Song, Grace Be Unto You and Kitty McGee.

The Whitney Brothers Quartet, who hailed from Rochester, New York, were the sons of Methodist minister, James Edwin Whitney. Alvin sang first tenor, Edwin second tenor, William sang first bass and Yale second bass. Edwin would also give recitations that would more than please every crowd.

One critic wrote, "It is rare to find in one family of four gifted brothers possessing the same gift and even rarer to find four brothers with voices so attuned that they could assume the several parts in a quartet. Rarest of all is to find four whose esprit de corps, close sympathy and magnificent team work enable them to give a program of such beauty, harmony, balance and high appeal. The Whitney's compel laughter or tears and delighted the ear, warm the heart, in an evening that is unique and artistic. Simply put, the Whitney's are irrestible and sure to please."

The Whitney's stopped touring at the end of 1908.

This historic record, Home of the Soul - which is a part of my 78 r.p.m. collection - celebrates its 103rd birthday next week.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Andrew Jenkins: The Blind Newsboy Evangelist

Rev. Andrew Jenkins was born in 1885, just outside Atlanta. He was left partially blind by a mis-prescribed medication while still an infant. Early on, he exhibited remarkable musical talents and was able to play by ear almost any instrument he picked up. Jenkins, who also showed a proficiency for writing songs, saw his musical abilities as a gift from God.

Besides his musical talents, Andrew was skilled in other ways. At the age of nine, he began preaching to playmates from porches and tree stumps. He became a licensed Methodist preacher around the age of 21 and moved into the city, supplementing whatever he could earn from preaching and street performing by running a newspaper stand.

After his first wife's death, Jenkins married Francis Eskew in 1919. A young widow, his new wife had three musically talented children; Irene, Mary Lee and a son, T.P. Thus, was born the Jenkins Family, which became one of the most popular family acts of its day and considered to be the first family act to record country music.

In 1922, the Jenkins Family performed their first program on Atlanta radio station WSB, with Andrew Jenkins billed as "the blind newsboy evangelist." The station had a signal that reached coast-to-coast. Performing folk, country and light classical material, the Jenkins Family was an immediate success and remained with the station for nearly a decade. Their popularity, which reached to Canada and Mexico, also attracted the attention of the major record label, Okeh (pronounced OKAY) Records, for whom they made their debut recordings in 1924, three years before the Carter Family began recording.

The Jenkins Family's initial releases were not originals, but were successful enough to earn the group another recording session, where they recorded four of Rev. Jenkins' songs, including two gospel numbers. Jenkins was soon asked to write songs for the label's other artists, and his first effort, "The Death of Floyd Collins," took just 45 minutes to complete. While the song sold poorly for Okeh, it was picked up by Columbia Records, which hired Vernon Dalhart, one of the era's leading singers, to record it. The Dalhart version eventually sold more than 300,000 copies. Besides being one of the all-time best-selling country music 78's, the song set a sales record for Columbia that stood for many years.

Jenkins earned very little from the songs he wrote. The hit, "The Death of Floyd Collins," for example, brought him just $25, and under his agreement with the producer he was working with at Okeh, he also gave up all rights to the song.

After experiencing copyright problems, Jenkins began keeping meticulous records of his songs. The practice eventually paid off. Years later, after Mahalia Jackson recorded one of his gospel songs, "God Put A Rainbow In The Sky," his step-daughter, Irene, was able to prove the song was not in the public domain but rather Jenkins' composition.

Rev. Jenkins and the Jenkins Family continued to record with Okey into the mid-1930's under a variety of names, including The Jenkins Sacred Singers, Irene Spain Family, Gooby Jenkins and others. Jenkins cut his last record as Blind Andy, a name he often recorded under, on April 23, 1930, while the Jenkins Family's last recording session was Okeh was July 30, 1934.

The Jenkins Family popularity opened Rev. Jenkins' ministry to a wide audience, as they performed concerts and organized revival meetings throughout Georgia. Over time, Jenkins also served as pastor of several churches. In 1939, he lost his eyesight completely, yet he continued to preach up until the time of his death due to an automobile accident in 1957.

Rev. Andrew Jenkins is credited with writing more than 800 songs. He was, without a doubt, among the most important composers of his time.

I am proud to have several Jenkins Family records in my 78 r.p.m/ collection.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

My Victor Collection

The Victor Talking Machine Company (1901-1929) was one of the leading phonograph companies in the world during its years. Headquartered in Camden, New Jersey, it was THE leading American producer of phonographs and phonograph records phonograph records and one of the leading phonograph companies in the world at the time. Here is my collection of Victor 78 r.p.m. records....

16372A Home of the Soul - Whitney Brothers Quartet
16372B I Am Praying For You - Stanley and Burr
17652A When You Wore A Tulip And I Wore A Big Red Rose - American Quartet
17652B The Red, White and Blue - Peerless Quartet
17774A Cunha Medley - Pale K. Lua and David Kaili
18710A Broadway Rose - Henry Burr and Peerless Quartet
18710B Mother's Lullaby - Sterling Trio
18439A Just A Baby's Prayer At Twilight - Henry Burr
18439B On The Road To Home Sweet Home - Percy Hemus
18545A Smile And The World Smiles With You - Lewis James and Peerless Quartet
18545B That Tumble-Down Shack In Athlone - Sterling Trio
18435A Are You From Heaven - Henry Burr
18435B Give Me The Right To Love You - Sterling Trio
18441A Send Me A Curl - Geoffrey O'Hara
18441B All Aboard For Home Sweet Home - Lewis James And Shannon Four
18641A Poor Little Butterfly Is A Fly Gal Now - All Star Trio
18641B Fluffy Ruffles - All Star Trio
19088A Bright Moon Waltz - Frank Ferera and Anthony Franchini
19088B Hawaiian Nights Waltz - Frank Ferera and Anthony Franchini
18700A Alice Blue Gown - Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra
18700B Tripoli Medley - Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra
18687A Tell Me Little Gypsy - John Steel
18687B The Girls Of My Dreams - John Steel
18524A That Wonderful Mother Of Mine - Henry Burr
18524B Salvation Lassie Of Mine - Charles Hart and Lewis James
18510A When Tony Goes Over The Top - Billy Murray
18510B Good Morning Mr. Zip-Zip-Zip! - Arthur Fields
18657A How Sorry You'll Be - Esther Walker
18657B He Went In Like A Lion And Came Out Like A Lamb - Billy Murray
18430A U.S. Field Artillery March - Sousa's Band
18430B Liberty Loan March - Sousa's Band
18633A Dardanella - Selvins Novelty Orchestra
18633B My Isle Of Golden Dreams - Selvins Novelty Orchestra
18590A You're Still An Old Sweetheart Of Mine - Elizabeth Spencer and Henry Burr
18590B The Gates Of Gladness - Lewis James and Shannon Four
V-40097A Sunlight And Shadows - Vaughan Quartet
V-40097B In Steps Of Light - Vaughan Quartet
20103A Hand Me Down My Walking Cane - Kelly Harrell
20103B My Horses Ain't Hungry - Kelly Harrell
24509A Star Dust - Wayne King and his Orchestra
24509B Speak Easy - Wayne King and his Orchestra
V-40048A I'll Rise When The Rooster Crows - Binkley Brothers Dixie Clodhoppers
V-40048B Give Me Back My Fifteen Cents - Binkley Brothers Dixie Clodhoppers
20877A The Poor Orphan Child - The Carter Family
20877B The Wandering Boy - The Carter Family
20937A Single Girl, Married Girl - The Carter Family
20937B The Storms Are On The Ocean - The Carter Family
V-40229A When The Roses Bloom In Dixieland - The Carter Family
V-40229B No Telephone In Heaven - The Carter Family

Victor Presents: Binkley Brothers Dixie Clodhoppers

The Victor Talking Machine Company (1901-1929) was one of the leading phonograph companies in the world. Headquartered in Camden, New Jersey, it was THE leading American producer of phonographs and phonograph records. I have a few Victor discs in my 78 r.p.m. collection, including the artist featured here....

The Binkley Brothers' Dixie Clodhoppers were an American old-time string band consisting of Amos Binkley on banjo, his brother Gale Binkley on fiddle, Tom Andrews on guitar, and Jack Jackson on guitar and vocals. The Binkley Brothers first performed on Nashville radio station WSM in 1926, and in 1928 became one of the first bands to record commercially in the city. The group performed regularly on the Grand Ole Opry until they disbanded in 1938.

Amos and Gale Binkley were born in Ashland City, Tennessee, and were working as jewelry repairmen before they started playing for WSM. Andrews was from Franklin, Tennessee. The group was given the name "Binkley Brothers' Dixie Clodhoppers" by Opry founder George D. Hay, who preferred rural-sounding band names to fit the show's barn dance format.

In September 1928, the group attempted to record several sides for Victor Records at the YMCA building in Nashville, but Victor's A&R agent Ralph Peer decided the group's vocals were too rough. Peer added Lebanon, Tennessee singer Jack Jackson to the line-up, and on October 2, the band made its first recordings. The group continued performing on the Opry throughout the following decade, and by the early 1930s Jackson— who was known as the "Strolling Yodeler"— was one of the most popular singers on Nashville-area radio.

The band's repertoire included "I'll Rise When the Rooster Crows," which was derived from the 1881 song "Dem Golden Shoes," and the folk song "Give Me Back My Fifteen Cents." Both were recorded at their 1928 Victor sessions, and both are included in my collection. When the Binkley Brothers left the Opry in 1938, they were replaced by Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys

And now a word from Mr. Edison....

“The greatest shortcoming of the phonograph was its lack of Realism, and it is this shortcoming which I have sought to overcome. The result is a degree of Realism in our present phonograph which is baffling to even the most expert ears.
“I have been quoted as desiring to see a phonograph in every home. What I actually want to see in every American home is music, so realistic and so perfect in its rendition as to be an unending source of benefit and pleasure.”

The First Family Of Country Music

On the first day of August in 1927, A.P. Carter persuaded his wife, Sara, and his sister-in-law (and Sara's cousin), Maybelle, to drive to Bristol, Tennessee and audition for Ralph Peer of Victor Records, who was scouting for talent. They recorded six tracks in two days ($50 for each song they recorded), including The Poor Orphan Child, The Wandering Boy, Single Girl Married Girl and The Storms Are On The Ocean, all of which are in my record collection.

Immediately after that first recording session, Victor released a 78 r.p.m. record of The Carter Family performing Wandering Boy and Poor Orphan Child. A year later, another record was released with The Storms Are On The Ocean and Single Girl Married Girl.

On May 27, 1928, the group traveled to the Victor Camden, New Jersey studios, where they recorded many of what would become legendary signature songs, including Keep On The Sunny Side, Can The Circle Be Unbroken and Wildwood Flower.

A.P., Sara and Maybelle were all born and raised in southwestern Virginia, where they were immersed in the tight harmonies of mountain gospel music and shape note singing. Sara sang lead and Maybelle sang harmony and played guitar. On some songs, A.P. did not perform at all. At other times, he would sing harmony and occasionally, lead vocal.

The Carter Family's music had a profound impact on folk, bluegrass, country, southern gospel, pop and rock musicians. But, the family's repertoire of songs wasn't the only thing important to music at the time. So was Maybelle's guitar playing. She would play the melody line on the lower strings with her thumb, while at the same time, maintaining the rhythm of the song by brushing her other fingers across the higher strings.

By the end of the 1930's, the Carter Family had sold over 300,000 records. Their career predated any sort of best-selling chart of country music records. (Billboard did not have a country best-sellers chart until 1944.)

By 1936, A.P. and Sara's marriage had dissolved. The group officially disbanded in 1944, although they continued to make records through 1956.

Soon after the group disbanded, Maybelle began performing with her daughters; Helen, June and Anita, as the Carter Sisters and also the Carter Family. Maybelle became affectionately known as Mother Maybelle.

Maybelle and Sara briefly reunited, recorded a reunion album and toured in the 1960's during the height of folk music's popularity.

Today, The Carter Family is referred to as the First Family of Country Music.

Mr. Edison Proves It To Los Angeles

1,500 music-lovers cannot tell the difference between living voice and its re-creation by the New Edison (Phonograph).

Mr. Edison's tone-test was given on the evening of January 26, 1920 at Trinity Auditorium in Los Angeles. Marie Morrisey, a distinguished contralto, sang several selections in direct comparison with the New Edison's re-creation of her voice. Only by watching her lips could the audience tell when she was singing and when the New Edison was (playing a re-creation of her voice.)

Then came the 'dark scene' test in which the audience had to depend on ear alone. While Miss Morrisey was singing the lights went out. Densest black swallowed the stage, singer and phonograph.

Morrisey's rich contralto continued to fill the auditorium. Then the lights flashed on again. The audience gasped - rubbed its eyes.

Morrisey had left the stage. Only the phonograph was standing there. While the lights were out, the New Edison had taken up her song and no one in the audience had detected the substitution.

The Los Angeles newspapers of the following day, January 27th, said in part as follows:

"It was impossible to discern the change from the voice to the New Edison" - Los Angeles Record

"The object of the tone-test - to prove the fidelity of the New Edison in recreating the human voice - was a success." - Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles tone-test is not an isolated example. Approximately 4,000 similar tests have been given before 3,500,000 people in the United States and Canada. Representative newspapers have reported that these 4,000 tests were unqualified successes for the New Edison.

We do not believe there is any one who can listen, under proper test conditions, to a singer's voice (or instrumental performance), in comparison with the New Edison's re-creation and tell, with certainty, when he is listening to the (live performance) and when he is listening to the New Edison. We hereby assert, upon full information and belief, that the New Edison is positively, the only phonograph (or talking machine) capable of sustaining this test.

-- The Etude Music Magazine (February 1920)

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Fate of Dewey Lee

On May 8, 1935, the Carter Family recorded seven songs for American Record Company in New York City. Five of them were re-recordings of earlier hits: Wildwood Flower, Keep On The Sunnyside, Lonesome Valley, River of Jordan and Single Girl Married Girl. They also recorded two new songs: God Gave Noah The Rainbow Sign and The Fate of Dewey Lee.

The Fate of Dewey Lee was written by A.P. Carter about a shooting that had occured a few years earlier.

On January 31, 1931, Dewey Lee was shot at a party in the Wise County community of Ramsey. Joe Jenkins was eventually convicted for the slaying. Newspaper reports said Lee pulled a gun while arguing with another man, and as Jenkins fought to disarm Lee, the gun went off. Other accounts mentioned competition between Jenkins and Lee over a woman, and some local folks thought the party was a trap for Lee. In any case, Jenkins' claim of self-defense failed to sway the court and he was sentenced to five years in prison.

The Fate of Dewey Lee was released on Perfect Records as 13153-A, which had been purchased by the American Record Company and is part of my 78 r.p.m. collection.

Twas on one Saturday evening
About the hour of ten
In a little mining town
Where trouble did begin
Everybody there were drinking
There were whiskey everywhere
Dewey Lee got to thinking
He had no business there

He was so tall and handsome
His heart so true and brave
Joe Jenkins pulled his pistol
And sent him to his grave
He took the life of Dewey
When life had just began
And Dewey went to Heaven
While Joe went to the pen

He took the life of Dewey
Because he would not tell
We know he murdered Dewey
For Dewey's pistol fell
His mother sits now weepin'
She weeps and mourns all day
She prays to meet her boy
In a better world some day

So hearken to my story
And what I have to say
Get right with your Maker
We'll meet Him again some day
The clerk said, "Stand up, boy
And listen to your crime!"
They sent him down to Richmond
To serve out his time

Young men all take warning
For this you must outlive
Don't take the life of anyone
For life you cannot give
You may possess great riches
Put many beneath the sod
But money won't hire a lawyer
When you stand before your God

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Tomorrow Mind

On December 9, 1914 Thomas Edison’s factory in West Orange, New Jersey, was virtually destroyed by fire. Much of Edison’s life work went up in smoke and flames that December night. At the height of the fire, Edison's 24 -year -old son, Charles, searched frantically for his father. He finally found him calmly watching the fire, his face glowing in the reflection, his white hair blowing in the wind. He was 67 and no longer a young man and everything was going up in flames. When he saw Charles, he shouted, "Charles, where's your mother ?" When he told him that he didn't know, he said, 'Find her. Bring her here. She will never see anything like this as long as she lives.'" The next morning, Edison looked at the ruins and said, "There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew." After the fire, the New York Globe wrote that the mind of the great achiever, Thomas Edison, was a to-morrow mind. "For when asked about his loss the night of the fire," the article said, "Edison replied, 'I am not thinking about that. I am planning for tomorrow. The mind of a yesterday is a failure, but the courage of a mind of tomorrow is a success.'

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Edison Files: Frederick W. Hager

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. No one knows for sure who the very first recording artist was. Here is a look at an early recording artist I have in my collection.

In the October 1904 edition of the Edison Phonograph Monthly, there was an announcement of a new recording that was being released....

"Blue Bell" is something new in the way of a phonograph record. It is a bells and xylophone duet by Albert Benzler and Frederick W. Hager, with orchestra accompaniment. This is a most excellent Record of one of the most popular airs published in some time. The tune is carried by the bells, the xylophone plays a variation of the air and back of this is a fine orchestra accompaniment. We predict that this record will sell as well as the vocal record of the same selection, the demand for which has exhausted our capacity to manufacture it ever since it was listed.”

Multi-talented musician and composer Frederick W. Hager (xylophone) was a prominent figure in the early recording industry. He was a widely recorded bandleader for several record companies. His Hager's Band and Hager's Orchestra appeared on many dozens of Zonophone disk recordings. For a time, according to the October 1903 Edison Phonograph Monthly, he directed the Edison Concert Band. In this recording of Blue Bell, we get a rare hearing of Hager as a soloist.

To listen to recordings by Frederick W. Hager, or other early recording artists, visit the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The Edison Files: Helen Clark

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. No one knows for sure who the very first recording artist was. Here is a look at an early recording artist I have in my collection.

Helen Clark. The New York-born contralto made many popular recordings between 1910-1930, as a soloist, in duets, and as a member of Victor Light Opera Company. Her collaboration with Billy Murray, "Come On Over Here" (Victor 17441, 1913), was a major hit. "Sympathy" (Victor 17270), a duet with Walter Van Brunt, was a top seller in early 1913.

To listen to recordings of Helen Clark, or other early recording artists, visit the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The Edison Files: Fred J. Bacon

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. No one knows for sure who the very first recording artist was. Here is a look at an early recording artist I have in my collection.

Fred J. Bacon was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts in 1871. He studied five-string classic-style banjo under Alfred A. Farland and by the late 1890's, he had established himself as a celebrity for his banjo performances. He made numerous recordings for different record companies, such as Edison and Victor.

Bacon started the Bacon Banjo Company in 1906 in Forest Dale, Vermont, where Bacon lived. “The banjo is the greatest of musical instruments when it is played well,” he said. “In tone quality it is very much like the harp, and its flexibility of playing is unexcelled, for in the hands of a skilled player it is as good for classical music as for dance tunes. It is the only original American instrument, and is coming into its own as the greatest of them all.”

The Bacon Banjo Company was widely regarded as one of greatest of the classic pre-war banjo manufacturers. At first, the company sold banjos made in Bacons own workshop at Forest Dale. In 1920 the company moved to Groton, Connecticut. Later, the company changed name to The Bacon Co., Inc.
In 1922 David L. Day joined the company and after that several of the banjo models were sold under the Bacon & Day or B & D brand names. In 1938 the Bacon factory was destroyed in a fire and production was taken over by Gretsch who bought the company two years later. Gretsch kept making banjos under the Bacon brand until mid-1960s. Today Gretsch is owned by Fender who presumably still owns the rights to the Bacon brand name although no instruments have been sold under it since 1970.

To listen to recordings by Fred J. Bacon, or other early recording artists, visit the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The Edison Files: Andre Benoist

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. No one knows for sure who the very first recording artist was. Here is a look at an early recording artist I have in my collection.

The French pianist, Andre Benoist, was born on April 4, 1879 in Paris. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire and then later toured Europe and America as accompanist to Pablo Casals, Albert Spalding and other celebrated artists. He made several recordings for Edison Records and Victor. Benoist died June 19, 1953 in New Jersey.

To listen to recordings of Andre Benoist, or other early recording artists, visit the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

To listen to recordings of Andre Benoist, or other early recording artists, visit the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California and Santa Barbara.

The Edison Files: The Orpheus Male Chorus

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. No one knows for sure who the very first recording artist was. Here is a look at an early recording artist I have in my collection.

Orpheus Male Chorus. One of the most important figures in pre-jazz African-American music, Will Marion Cook is also one of its better known personalities. As a composer, conductor, performer, teacher, and producer, he had his hand in nearly every aspect of the black music of his time and worked with nearly every other important musician in his fields. Uncompromising and difficult to work with, he still commanded respect from his peers for his abilities and accomplishments. In 1881 he was sent to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to live with his grandfather where he heard black folk music for the first time. However, Cook's early career remained focused on classical music and violin performance, which he began at age 13. When he was 15, Cook studied violin at Oberlin College. Cook was sent to Europe to study and as a result, he studied with Joseph Joachim, the famous violinist and associate of Brahms. Upon his return to the U.S. in 1890, however, his classical career went nowhere. Since he was unable to find employment at any musical institution, he began to teach music privately. Among his students was Clarence Cameron White, who later became famous as a violinist and composer. Cook's earliest composition was Scenes from the Opera of Uncle Tom's Cabin--intended for the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, but which was not performed. Cook turned to popular music as his classical career was not successful. He began writing songs. Cook was well represented on disc and cylinder. In 1914, he conducted a group, the Afro-American Folk Song Singers, in a Columbia recording of Cook’s black folk-anthem entitled, “Swing Along,” which was sung by the Orpheus Male Chorus on Edison. Cook remained an important figure in the new century. He wrote and published many songs, was prominent as a conductor and music director. A historic concert on May 2, 1912, at Carnegie Hall featured his 150-voice chorus in a performance of Swing Along! Cook died of cancer in New York in 1944. As mentor and teacher, Cook influenced a generation of young African-American musicians, including jazz composer and performer Duke Ellington, who studied with Cook.

To listen to recordings by the Orpheus Male Chorus, or other early recording stars, visit the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The Edison Files: Vernon Archibald

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. No one knows for sure who the very first recording artist was. Here is a look at an early recording artist I have in my collection.

Vernon Archibald. Popular tenor ballad singer Charles Harrison formed the American Singers Quartet around 1927, with tenor Redferne Hollinshead, bass Frank Croxton and baritone Vernon Archibald. Archibald recorded several solo and duet songs for many different companies, but he mostly recorded for Edison Records.

From the New York Times, March 26, 1920:
Vernon Archibald, a baritone from Chicago, gave a matinee of songs and airs in Italian, French and English yesterday at Aeolian Hall, his first in public here, though he sang once in private last year. A dramatic air of Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra,” was hardly contrasted in performance with that of Handel which preceded it, or the ensuing “Legend of the Sage” from Massenet’s “Jongleur.” There was sensitive appreciation in his delivery of lyrics, such as Cornelius’ “Monotone,” Mrs. Maley’s “In a Garden,” a poem of the Christ-child, and Miss Brown’s “Sunset,” an unpublished air, with “A Ballynure Ballad” and others in conclusion.

To listen to recordings by Vernon Archibald, or other early recording artists, visit the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California Santa Barbara.

The Edison Files: John Young

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. No one knows for sure who the very first recording artist was. Here is a look at an early recording artist I have in my collection.

Tenor John Young, also known as Harry Anthony, recording a cylinder in the early 1900s, showing the cramped conditions and other concessions necessitated by the acoustic recording process at the Edison recording studio. Eugene Jaudas is conducting the studio orchestra. Using the name, Harry Anthony, Young had numerous recordings of hymns with partner Frederick J. Wheeler that reportedly led comedian Billy Murray to dub them the 'Come-To-Jesus Twins.'

In mid-1915, Young replaced Robert D. Armour with the American Quartet. He also sang in, and managed, the Criterion Quartet. The new edition of the American Quartet enjoyed great success, beginning with its first Victor release, "War Song Medley."  The American Quartet recorded for several companies--not only Victor and Edison but Columbia, Okeh, Emerson, Pathe, and Vocalion.

To listen to recordings by John Young, or other early recording artists, visit the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The Edison Files: Rae Eleanor Ball and Jessie L. Deppen

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. No one knows for sure who the very first recording artist was. Here is a look at an early recording artist I have in my collection.

Jessie L. Deppen (1881-1956) was a woman who lived in Cleveland, Ohio and taught piano. She wrote a number of light waltzes and themes, some of which were used in motion pictures. ‘A Japanese Sunset’ was used in the Vitaphone soundtrack of the silent film, ‘Old San Francisco’ (1927) and was the opening theme for the serial ‘Shadow of Chinatown’ (1936) with Bela Lugosi. She also wrote “In The Garden of To-Morrow,” Skylark Waltz” and “Dance of the Robins.”

Rae Eleanor Ball was a violinist for the RKO vaudeville circuit and apparently had a working relationship with Deppen. The two most always appear together on recordings with Ball on violin and Deppen on piano.

The theme music used on the Lum and Abner program during the early years, when the program was sponsored by Horlick’s, was written by Deppen. “Eleanor” first copywritten in 1914. (Deppen autographed a poster for Ball. See the attached photo.)

To my dear friend Rae Eleanor Ball

ELEANOR (A Serenade)
Words & Music by Jessie L. Deppen
(copyright 1914, 1918)

The birds of the forest are calling
From the wild-wood far a-way
While the night shades so softly are falling
At the close of the day;
Each breeze brings a message from love-land,
Fond and true, dear, fond and true,
With each spark from the dew,
My fond heart, dear, calls to you, calls to you,

The moon is creeping high o'er the hill,
Nature is sleeping, the world is still,
Come, ope your window, cast one sweet rose,
A rose to prove, to prove your love.
My heart is sighing for you, my own,
With love undying for you alone;
Beneath your window and star-lit skies,
I wait the love-light, the love-light that beams in your bright eyes.

Then come while the nightbirds are calling,
As the moonbeams brightly shine,
And we'll wander thro' love-land together,
Dreaming love dreams so divine;
I'll sing you sweet songs of a love, dear,
That will linger evermore,
And this big world will seem but a beautiful dream,
Eleanor, Eleanor

The Edison Files: Metropolitan Quartet

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. No one knows for sure who the very first recording artist was. Here is a look at an early recording artist I have in my collection.

The Metropolitan Quartet was a vocal quartet of men who performed in the New York City area in the years 1890 until about 1902. The group consisted of Robert J. Webb (first tenor), Peter J. Collins (second tenor), James J. Byrne (baritone), and Richard Schumm (bass). For several years they appeared at amateur light opera presentations, in minstrel shows and frequently as choir singers. The group became professional in 1895.

To listen to recordings of the Metropolitan Quartet, or other early recording artists, visit the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The Edison Files: Jaudus Society Orchestra

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. No one knows for sure who the very first recording artist was. Here is a look at an early recording artist I have in my collection.

Jaudus Society Orchestra
The ensemble was headed by violinist Eugene A. Jaudas, for many years Edison's orchestra leader. Its hits included "Missouri Waltz" (Edison Blue Amberol 2950, 1916) and "The Darktown Strutters' Ball" (Edison 50469, 1918).

To listen to recordings by Jaudus Society Orchestra, or other early recording artists, visit the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The Edison Files: American Symphony Orchestra

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. No one knows for sure who the very first recording artist was. Here is a look at an early recording artist I have in my collection.

American Symphony Orchestra. Edison's National Phonograph Company "symphony" recordings began in 1898 under the Edison Symphony Orchestra. In October 1908, Edison renamed the orchestra the American Symphony Orchestra (the same month the Edison Military Band was renamed the New York Military Band).

Listen to recordings by American Symphony Orchestra or Edison Symphony Orchestra, or other early recording artists, by visiting the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The Edison Files: Frederick J. Wheeler

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. No one knows for sure who the very first recording artist was. Here is a look at an early recording artist I have in my collection.

Frederick J. Wheeler, also known as James F. Harrison, rose to prominence as part of the gospel duo, James F. Harrison and Harry Anthony, and enjoyed a string of hits as a soloist, paired with James Reed (real name: Reed Miller), and as a member of the Knickerbocker Quartet. The baritone balladeer's top- selling recordings included "Keep the Home Fires Burning" (Victor 17881, 1915/16), "My Little Dream Girl" (with Reed, Victor 17789, 1915), and "There's A Long, Long Trail" (with Reed, Victor 17882, 1915/16).

The Knickerbocker Quartet was formed in 1908 to replace the Edison Male Quartet. Original members were John Young, George M. Stricklett, Frederick Wheeler and Gus Reed. Personnel changed around 1912. Young and Wheeler were joined by Walter Van Brunt and William F. Hooley.

To listen to recordings made by Frederick J. Wheeler/James F. Harrison, or other early recording artists, visit the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The Edison Files: Betsy Lane Shepherd

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. No one knows for sure who the very first recording artist was. Here is a look at an early recording artist I have in my collection.

From an advertisement in October 1920 The Etude, Pressers Musical Magazine:

Miss Shepherd, who is a famous concert soprano, stood beside the new Edison and started to sing. “In the gloaming, oh! My darling…..” With a soft, rounded loveliness, the melody filled the auditorium. Pulsing through its theme was the soul of a great artist. It’s message, warm with understanding, reached the hearts of the hushed listeners and sped their imaginations back to cherished memories.

It was the magic of music.

Suddenly, Miss Shepherd’s lips went absolutely still. But, her lovely voice went smoothly on, ….it was best to leave you, thus.

The audience was puzzled. Then it awoke. Miss Shepherd’s voice was now coming from the new Edison – and no one had been able to tell the difference between the living voice and the re-created voice. The new Edison’s realism had put into the re-created music all the magic of the living voice with which Miss Shepherd charmed her listeners.

This test, on April 26, 1920 in Dallas, Texas, was the 185th test given by Betsy Lane Shepherd in 185 cities and towns of the United States and Canada. The 185 audiences aggregated more than a hundred thousand people. Each audience found itself absolutely unable to tell when Miss Shepherd was singing and when the new Edison was re-creating her voice, except by watching her lips. According to the advertisement, it was a most phenomenal achievement. No other phonograph or talking machine manufacturer dares to make this comparison, the ad read. Mr. Edison subjected the new Edison to these tests because he wanted to prove that perfect realism was an everyday performance with the new Edison.

To listen to recordings of Betsy Lane Shepherd, and other early recording artists, visit the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Long may our Land be Bright with Freedom's Holy Light

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, but after voting to approve it, a draft do...