Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Selma Kurz, Soprano 1874-1933

Selma Kurz was born in Biala, the poorer of two adjoining Austrian towns (the other was Bielitz), to a very humble Jewish family of eleven children. She grew up in Bielitz. (Today they are a single city known as Bielsko-Biała, in the Polish province of Silesia. While still a girl she was taken to a convent of nuns, with the hope that she might learn to be a seamstress; the nuns quickly discovered the beauty of her voice, however, and she also often sang in the local synagogue. These circumstances led local people to raise some money so that she could go to Vienna and audition for professor Gänsbacher, a prominent vocal teacher. Gänsbacher did not teach women, but wrote some important letters of recommendation. Little Selma was thus enabled to visit the imposing Schloss Totis, the Viennese residence, en villéggiature, of the famous patron of the arts, count Nicholas [Miklós]Esterházy de Galántha, who agreed to pay for her lessons with another prominent vocal pedagogue, Johannes Ress.

Once her career was established, Selma Kurz consulted such world-renowned voice teachers as Jean de Reszke in Nice and Mathilde Marchesi in Paris, as well as the soprano Felicie Kaschowska, well-known in Vienna; but she always called herself, above all, a pupil of Ress.

Selma Kurz Soprano 1874-1933 mp3 zip file 107 mb

Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Introduction to Ma Rainey

Credited with recording the first blues song "Crazy Blues" in 1923, Ma Rainey was a Huge influence on performers like Bessy Smith.

She began performing at the age of 12 or 14, and recorded under the name Ma Rainey after she and Will Rainey were married in 1904. They toured with F.S. Wolcott’s Rabbit Foot Minstrels and later formed their own group called Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues. From the time of her first recording in 1923 to five years later, Ma Rainey made over 100 recordings. Some of them include, Bo-weevil Blues (1923), Moonshine Blues (1923),See See Rider (1924), Black Bottom (1927), and Soon This Morning (1927).

Ma Rainey was known for her very powerful vocal abilities, energetic disposition, majestic phrasing, and a ‘moaning’ style of singing similar to folk tradition. Though her powerful voice and disposition are not captured on her recordings, the other characteristics are present, and most evident on her early recordings, Bo-weevil Blues and Moonshine Blues. Ma Rainey also recorded with Louis Armstrong in addition to touring and recording with the Georgia Jazz Band. Ma Rainey continued to tour until 1935 when she retired to her hometown.

An Introduction to Ma Rainey Mp3 zip

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Early Harmonica Blues Recordings zip

The first recordings of harmonicas were made in the U.S. in the 1920s.These recordings included “race” music, intended for the African-American market of the southern states with solo recordings by DeFord Bailey (who appeared on the first episode of the WSM Barn Dance after it had changed its name to the Grand Ole Opry), duo recordings with a guitarist Hammie Nixon,Walter Horton, Sonny Terry, jug band performers such as Jaybird Coleman, as well as hillbilly styles recorded for white audiences, byFrank Hutchison, Gwen Foster and several other musicians. There are also recordings featuring the harmonica in jug bands, of which the Memphis Jug Band is the most famous. But the harmonica still represented a toy instrument in those years and was associated with the poor. It is also during those years that musicians started experimenting with new techniques such as tongue-blocking, hand effects and the most important innovation of all, the 2nd position, or cross-harp.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Free Mp3 Pre War Blues Collection as Zip File

Fifty great pre war era blues performances in MP3 format. Classic stuff from well-knowns like Charley Patton and Blind lemon Jefferson, as well as lots of cool music from lesser-knowns too like Geeshie Wiley and Dick Justice.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Skillet Lickers

The Skillet Lickers, one of the most exciting early bands to record, were from North Georgia, an extremely fertile area for old time music in the 1920's. The first line-up was Gid Tanner,Riley PuckettClayton McMichen and Fate Norris. Between 1926 and 1931 they recorded 88 sides for Columbia.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Musical History of Vaudeville

By the 1880s, the Industrial Revolution had changed the once rural face of America. Half of the population was now concentrated in towns and cities, working at regulated jobs that left most of them with two things they never had back on the farm – a little spare cash and weekly leisure time. These people wanted affordable entertainment on a regular basis. Most variety shows were too coarse for women or children to attend, and minstrel shows were already declining in popularity. In a world where phonographs, film, radio and television did not yet exist, something new was needed to fill the gap.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Definitive Charley Patton

The Seminal Blues Singer/Guitarist of early recorded delta blues. Much has been written. Some of it may even be true.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

May Irwin - Broadway Recordings from the 1890s

May Irwin's buxom figure was much in vogue at the time and combined with her charming personality, for more than thirty years she was one of America's most beloved performers.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Really Chicago's Blues

Over the next few days I'm going to be digitizing the rare blues record on Adelphi called Really Chicago's Blues featuring a lot of pre war artists like Johnny Shines, Walter Horton, Honeyboy Edwards, Big Joe Williams and Sunnyland Slim. I'm psyched! This is such a great record (double album actually) with terrific, casual performances. The record has a real intimate, living room kinda feel too. Here is one track just to whet the appetite. Enjoy!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fiddlin' John Carson

Recorded on June 13 or 14, 1923 in Atlanta. Polk Brockman ran a furniture store in Atlanta and in order to market phonographs had developed a flourishing business selling "race" 78rpm recordings. In 1923, Ralph Peer arrived in Atlanta looking for black talent to record. Brockman imposed on him to record local fiddle champion Fiddlin' John Carson. Peer recorded Carson, but was unimpressed and issued this recording without even a label to the Atlanta market only. This first issue sold out and when Brockman ordered more copies, Peer realized there might be gold in them thar hills. This recording is acknowledged as the first country tune to be recorded and marketed on a commercial basis.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Geeshie Wiley

Geeshie Wiley was a female United States blues singer and guitar player. She recorded six records in the early 1930s. There are no known photographs or images of the artist in existence.

Her song "Last Kind Words" was included in the film Crumb.

Those familiar with her know that she is one of the rarest and best country blues musicians ever to be recorded. I've included 4 out of her six titles for download

King Solomon Hill

King Solomon Hill - Times Has Done Got Hard

Paul Whiteman

In honor of Paul Whiteman's birthday (born March 28, 1890). Enjoy!

Paul Whiteman Orchestra - Magnolia

The Mysterious Death of Blind Lemon Jefferson

Blind Lemon Jefferson was the best selling early black blues singer in the US, where he recorded over a hundred titles for the Paramount label between 1926 and his untimely death in 1929.

To this day, little is known about his life, and his death remains a mystery.

Here is one version of how he died:

Lemon died shortly after meeting with his record company in Chicago, where they paid him some cash royalty money. I believe Lemon's own guide robbed him as he led Lemon back to the train station. Since Lemon was nearly totally blind, I bet the guide was able to take Lemon past the regular waiting area, to a more remote location near the tracks and robbed him. Poor Lemon was found the next day, in the snow by the tracks--many think that he had a heart attack.

And a few other possibilities:

His death certificate said he died "probably (from) acute myocarditis"

Some say he froze to death on the streets of Chicago.

Some have said that Jefferson died from a heart attack after being attacked by a dog in the middle of the night.

Jefferson was buried at Wortham Negro Cemetery (later Wortham Black Cemetery). Far from his grave being kept clean, it was unmarked until 1967, when a Texas Historical Marker was erected in the general area of his plot, the precise location being unknown. By 1996, the cemetery and marker were in poor condition, but a new granite headstone was erected in 1997. In 2007, the cemetery's name was changed to Blind Lemon Memorial Cemetery and his gravesite is kept clean by a cemetery committee in Wortham, Texas.

The Pink in Pink Floyd: Pink Anderson Medicine Show Man

The Medicine Shows of the 19th and early 20th centuries were a wonderful oddity of Old America. Along with the Minstrel Show, Vaudeville...