Boots And His Buddies
Bluebird B-6063-B August 14, 1935
Boots and his Buddies was a San Antonio based jazz band led by drummer Clifford “Boots” Douglas. This selection is from the band’s first recording session which was held at the Texas Hotel in San Antonio. San Antonio was a regular stop for the major record labels’ field trips to record regional artists and genres. In addition to jazz and country talent from Texas and the Southwest, many artists from northern Mexico also participated in the San Antonio field sessions.
In addition to the August 14, 1935 recording session, Boots and his Buddies recorded additional sides in San Antonio for RCA Victor/Bluebird in 1936 and in two sessions in 1937.
The song “Rose Room,” composed by bandleader Art Hickman, was already an old standard by the time of this recording dating back to 1917. It was named after the Rose Room of the St Francis Hotel in San Francisco where Hickman regularly performed
“A Good Man Is Hard To Find”
Julia Garity And Her Boys
Victor 22812-A September 11,1931
Here is one of only four recordings made by Julia Garity who performed mostly in night clubs and cabarets from the 1910s through the 1950s. The excellent but unaccredited band that accompanies her here was Snooks And His Memphis Ramblers.
In 1933 Victor reissued this recording under the pseudonym of Williams’ Cotton Club Orchestra on its new budget priced Bluebird and Sunrise labels. Victor soon discontinued the Sunrise label but kept Bluebird. The reissue was a dubbed transfer rather than a repressing. But while the original Victor issue had the benefit of being pressed from the original master, it is likely that the reissue, especially the one on the Sunrise label, would fetch a premium due to its rarity.
Luigi Romanelli And His King Edward Hotel Orchestra
(Edison 14077-R mx N-1136-C) September 18, 1929
Luigi Romanelli And His King Edward Hotel Orchestra
(Edison 14077-L mx N-1137-C) September 18, 1929
This enjoyable but extremely rare Edison “Needle Type Electric” record, recently donated to Early 1900s Music Preservation for digitization and airplay on Radio Dismuke, was the last record (i.e, the highest catalog number) officially issued by Thomas Edison who had invented the phonograph in 1877. It was one of a handful of issues that were part of Edison’s last shipment of records on October 22, 1929 for a November 1 release date in stores. Our last posting featured another donated Needle Type Electric that had a higher catalog number – but that was to have been part of a planned October 29 shipment that never took place due to the closure of Edison’s record and phonograph division after years of declining sales.
Luigi Romanelli was a prominent Canadian bandleader who, at the time of these recordings, regularly appeared at Toronto’s King Edwards Hotel. Some collectors have speculated that it was unlikely that Romanelli’s band was in New York City where Edison’s recording studios were located on the day of the recording session and that the actual band was the Piccadilly Players, an Edison in-house ensemble led by Mel Morris. Regardless, this recording of “Perhaps” is delightful – it is filled with the sort of happy, upbeat charm that makes so much of the music from that era special.
Edison’s Needle Type Electric records were part of an an effort, led by Thomas Edison’s son Theodore, to turn around the fortunes of the company’s record and phonograph division and were only issued between July and October 1929. They were conventional “thin” 78 rpm records – as opposed to the half-inch thick Edison Diamond Discs which had been the company’s main format since 1913 and could only be played on Edison machines or a phonograph equipped with a special conversion device. Unfortunately, the attempt to market records in a more widely accepted format was too little too late to make up for Edison’s significantly reduced market share and years of financial losses. Within a couple of weeks after the decision to cease operations, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression, which had a devastating effect on Edison’s rival record labels, began. By 1932 record sales had fallen over 90 percent from their high point in the late 1920s. And, by 1934, all of the 1920s era United States record labels besides Victor had either closed their doors or had been absorbed by The American Record Corporation.
Mal Hallett And His Orchestra
(Edison 14080-L mx N-1177-C) October 3, 1929
Here is an extremely rare recording that was very generously donated to Early 1900s Music Preservation for digitization and airplay on Radio Dismuke.
All Edison “Needle Type” Electric records are rare – but what makes this issue special is that the company suspended operations before any copies were shipped. This release was one one of several scheduled to ship on October 29, 1929 in order to be at stores by November 15. But when Edison executives made the decision in mid-October to close the company’s record and phonograph division, its final shipment of records was on October 22. The remaining inventory, including records such as this that were still awaiting release, were made available to employees at a low cost before being sent off to liquidators.
Mal Hallett’s band was based in the Boston area. “The Boomerang” is a mostly forgotten song composed by Lee David with lyrics by Billy Rose. The version here is instrumental with a nice jazzy solo about two minutes into the recording. The Colonial Club Orchestra recorded a vocal version for Brunswick which can regularly be heard on Radio Dismuke.
On Saturday Dustin Ellis and Dismuke made an out of town trip to pick up a rare 1928 Edison C-2 Radio-Phonograph that is being very generously donated to Early 1900s Music Preservation. Here is a video of Dustin trying the machine out after we got it to its temporary home (with Dismuke, once again, forgetting that he has to turn his phone sideways to correctly record video).
This machine was very high end – in 1928 it sold new for $495 (about $7,300 in today’s currency) and that price did NOT include the vacuum tubes which also had to be purchased and were not cheap.
What is special about the machine is it reproduces the records through a speaker rather than an internal horn as was still standard at the time. Not just that, it is able to play both Edison Diamond Discs as well as conventional 78 rpm records. By default the pickup head features a diamond styli for playing the vertical grooved Diamond Disc records. But one can twist it to the side and insert a single-play steel needle to play conventional lateral grooved 78 rpms.
Edison introduced this machine at a time when sales of its Diamond Disc records had fallen to very low levels and was planning on releasing its own line of conventional “needle type” 78 rpms. But those did not hit the market until July 1929 and were in production only for a few months before Edison abandoned the phonograph and record business altogether in October of that year. Those “needle type” Edison records are rare and we have a number of them that were given by the same donor, including some additional records we brought back with the machine and which will soon be regularly aired on Radio Dismuke. On the turntable in the video is an electrically recorded Diamond Disc from April 1928. Electrically recorded Diamond Discs are also quite rare due to the degree that Edison sales had fallen by the time they began to record electrically.
And the machine features a high-end radio set. By 1928 the popularity of radio was hurting sales of phonographs and records. Why buy expensive records when one could hear the top dance bands playing the popular tunes of the day for free through live broadcasts from glamorous big city hotels and nightclubs? These radio phonograph combinations were an attempt by the record/phonograph manufacturers to cash in on the radio boom and revive record sales.
The sound quality of this machine is simply breathtaking – the audio capture here by the dot size microphone on Dismuke’s phone simply does not do it justice.
Our long-term hope is for Early 1900s to have its own physical facility where the machine can be displayed. In the meanwhile, we are working to place it on loan to a museum so that other people can have an opportunity to see a rare example of musical and technological history and where we can hold occasional vintage record “concerts” that will be open to the public. And, for those who are unable to come to Texas to see it in person, our plan is to find a way to improve the audio quality of our videos so that audiences around the world will be able to enjoy the machine through its own YouTube channel.
“Come Easy, Go Easy, Love”
Carolina Dandies (Sunny Clapp & His Band O’ Sunshine); Hoagy Carmichael, vocal
(Victor 2276-A) July 1, 1931
“When I Can’t Be With You”
Carolina Dandies (Sunny Clapp & His Band O’ Sunshine); George Marks, vocal
(Victor 2276-B) July 1, 1931
The credit on the label might say “Carolina Dandies” but the band was a Texas-based ensemble with a somewhat odd name – Sunny Clapp And His Band O’ Sunshine. The band only made a handful of recordings, but all of them are excellent.
Clapp (his real name was Charles Clapp) co-composed with Hoagy Carmichael one of the songs featured on this record, “Come Easy, Go Easy, Love.” Carmichael himself performs the vocal but, as was common in that period, was not credited on the label.
The Clapp band had recorded previous takes of the song, none of which were ever issued. The first attempt was in July 1929 with band member Bob Hutchingson doing the vocal. The band recorded an additional two takes in an April 16, 1931 recording session with the vocal performed by the elusive Jeanne Geddies. It is too bad that neither of the Geddies takes were issued. Little seems to be known about Geddies besides the fact that she only made two recordings, both during that same recording session and both very memorable: “Treat Me Like A Baby” and “Learn To Croon” (both regularly played on Radio Dismuke). It would have been nice for history, as well as fans such as myself, to have another recording by her. One can perhaps hope that a master or a test pressing of one of those unissued takes has managed to survive in a vault somewhere and will perhaps someday be made public.
The unaccredited vocal on the “When I Can’t Be With You” side is by George Marks who was also the band’s pianist. Prior to joining the band, Marks had worked for the infamous Blue Steele, a bandleader, usually based out of Dallas, who was notorious for physically assaulting band members who resigned to work elsewhere. No word on what happened when Marks left for the Sunny Clapp band. But in the 1940s Steele spent time in prison after a victim of one of his attacks died as a result of his injuries.
Some years ago I had the privilege of spending an afternoon with a musician who, in the 1920s and 1930s, performed with various bands in the Dallas/Fort Worth and Chicago areas. He told me that, during the Depression, the Sunny Clapp band became stranded in Fort Worth after the musicians’ union learned that it had accepted a gig at less than union rate. Every member of the band was fined $100 (about $1,900 in today’s currency) and forbidden from performing for an entire month – they were essentially left with no money and no way of earning any for several weeks. Given that the Depression was likely what enticed them to perform at the lower rate in the first place, that was indeed a stiff punishment.
“Laffin’ At The Funnies”
Ruby Newman And His Ritz-Carleton Hotel Orchestra
(Victor 22934-B) February 15, 1932
See how many Great Depression era newspaper comic strips mentioned in the lyrics of this happy, up tempo recording you recognize – a few of the names you will hear are still around today.
The vocal on this is by The Funnyboners, a trio that consisted of Dave Grant, Gordon Graham and Bunny Coughlin who had their own network radio program in which they often spoofed the songs and performers of the period.
The Ruby Newman Orchestra was a Boston based society band that had a long-term engagement at that city’s Ritz-Carleton Hotel. The hotel still exists and is the last survivor of the original 1920s era Ritz Carleton chain.
This recording demonstrates that even the sophisticated high-society bands were not above making novelty recordings.
“It’s An Old Spanish Custom In The Moonlight”
Milt Shaw And His Detroiters
(Melotone M-12020) October 1930
Here is a recording of a catchy but mostly forgotten tune. It is one of a number of recordings from the Depression era Melotone label that are in the process of being digitized for inclusion in the Radio Dismuke. The song appears to have enjoyed more success in Great Britain than it did in the USA. Indeed, the British pressing of this same recording was on the very first record issued by the Panachord label which was affiliated with Melotone and its parent label, Brunswick.
Milt Shaw led a popular band in the Detroit era that was formed in 1927 when Shaw took over a Philadelphia based band led by Frank Winegar and moved it to Michigan.
“Is There Anything Wrong In That?”
(Edison 52519-R) January 19,1929
“Good Little Bad Little You”
(Edison 52519 L) January 19,1929
Here is a rare electrically recorded Edison Diamond Disc that was generously donated to Early 1900s Music Preservation for digitization and airplay on Radio Dismuke.
Ermine Calloway (pronounced er-minny) was briefly famous for her “baby vamp” vocals patterned after Helen Kane whose stage persona was later used (against her wishes) as the prototype for the cartoon character Betty Boop. Both sides of this record are fun – and Calloway is backed up on both by a top-notch hot jazz combo.
For most of the late 1920s, Calloway was a Dallas area singer mostly known for her performances of Negro spirituals over local radio stations WRR and WFAA. As a result of the radio exposure she caught the attention of multiple New York based record labels.
Based on Thomas Edison’s prestige as the brilliant inventor who created the recording industry, Calloway’s friends encouraged her to sign up with Edison Records. This turned out to be a very poor advice for Calloway’s budding career. By the late 1920s Edison Records had been losing money for years with sales of its records declining to extremely low levels. The only thing that had kept the label going was Edison’s name and deep pockets.
When Calloway arrived at Edison’s New York studios in January 1929 to make her first recordings, the company was in the middle of a last-ditch effort to save its record business. With great fanfare Edison publicists promoted Calloway as “The Tomboy From Texas” and had her record “boop-oop-a-doop” style vocals as Edison’s answer to Helen Kane’s successful recordings on Victor.
Calloway cut records for Edison into the fall of 1929 with releases on Diamond Discs (which could not be played on a non-Edison phonograph without a special conversion kit) as well as on Edison’s new Needle Type Electric records that could be played on standard phonographs. The Needle Type Electric records were Edison’s attempt to sell records to a wider market. But, once the new records made their debut in July, sales were poor. By late October, a few days before the stock market crashed, Edison executives determined that their record division was no longer viable and suspended operations.
The timing could not have been worse for Calloway. With the onset of the Great Depression, obtaining a new recording contract became extremely difficult. By 1932, between the popularity of radio and the impact of the Depression, sales of phonograph records had fallen by over 90 percent from their late 1920s high. News articles indicate that Calloway continued to perform on radio as late as 1931. But around that time she gave up show business and took a job at a New York City advertising agency where she worked until moving back to Dallas in 1941.
Listening to both sides, it is readily apparent that Calloway was a talented vocalist. And while her records for Edison are fun to listen to, it is a shame that the collapse of Edison Records and the onset of the Great Depression deprived us of the opportunity to hear how she might have sounded on more straightforward vocals minus the hayseed novelty act.
“Happy Days Are Here Again”
(Brunswick 4615) September 24,1929
Here is a recording that will soon be added to the Radio Dismuke playlist. It is one of the few songs played on the station that is still well-known to modern audiences thanks in large part to its revival as FDR’s campaign theme song in the 1932 presidential election. It is still performed at political campaign events and in commercial advertising spots. Several versions of the song play on Radio Dismuke – but this one is interesting in that it was recorded by the same artist who performed it in the song’s motion picture debut.
The song dates to 1929 when it was composed by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen for an M.G.M. musical film Road Show. After M.G.M. cancelled work on the film, Ager and Yellen had the song published and it subsequently caught the attention of prominent bandleaders such as Ben Bernie and George Olsen who performed it during their network radio broadcasts. The song’s enthusiastic public reception motivated M.G.M. to revive work on the film which was edited to showcase the song. It was eventually released to theaters in February 1930 under a new title, Chasing Rainbows.
Besides “Happy Days Are Here Again” Chasing Rainbows is best remembered as one of Jack Benny’s early film appearances. Its other star was Charles King, a Broadway and vaudeville veteran who performed the song in the film and who cut this recording for Brunswick in Los Angeles on September 24 1929 (though some sources have put the date at November 29, 1929, which, if true, was one month to the day after the infamous Black Tuesday stock market crash). If you look closely at the label image below you can see that the record was issued prior to the film’s name being changed from Road Show to Chasing Rainbows.
The song also made its way to Germany where it was popularized in late 1930 by the Comedian Harmonists with entirely different lyrics under the title “Wochenend und Sonnenschein”(“Weekend and Sunshine.”)