Inquiries into the early years of SJI

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Carl "Deacon" Moore advertisement

I thought it would be interesting to post a few old newspaper advertisements.

This one, from 1937, announces that on Sunday, for 40 cents a person, Carl "Deacon" Moore and his famous orchestra will be the grand special attraction. The woman pictured is Marge Hudson, one of the singers in his band. She is presented in this ad as "The singing artist's model. An exotic beauty of Spanish type."

But the most interesting part of this advertisement is the announcement that Carl Moore is the composer of "St. James Infirmary," "Bye Bye Blues," and "Ding Dong Daddy." As I've noted in earlier posts, Moore always maintained that he wrote the lyrics for "St. James Infirmary." A 1935 newspaper article, announcing the upcoming appearance of Moore and his orchestra, stated: "Moore and Phil Baxter were responsible for many popular melodies being composed. Among them were "Ding Dong Daddy," "St. James Infirmary," "Ride 'em Cowboy."

Louis Armstrong - St. James Infirmary advert

This advertisement, appearing in a February 1929 Texas newspaper, shows that the language of the minstrel shows was far from dead.

"Hot dancing . . .
"See dis Strutter!
"He's jess like that. Jess like that! And he don't give a doggone whut you say 'bout his clothes.
"Louis Armstrong and His Savoy Ballroom Five are playing No. 8657
"'St. James Infirmary,' 'Save It Pretty Mama.' Fox trots."

It's interesting that, unlike the ad below, this one does not talk about the music. It does suggest, though, that if you owned this record you might very well be a real cool cat.

King Oliver - St. James Infirmary advert

King Oliver recorded "St. James Infirmary" on January 28, 1930. This was the same day, in the same studio that Gene Austin recorded the song. (Their sessions were probably back-to-back; Oliver's catalog no. is 22298, Austin's 22299.) The ad on the left, for Oliver's record, appeared in a March 1930 newspaper:

"Here's a blazing, blistering 'blues' melody, brimful of primitive rhythm and plaintive fervor. Down in the land of cotton they've been singing it for two decades or more; it's the kind of tune you simply can't forget. Come around and listen to this record by King Oliver and His Orchestra. You'll give ear to some of the 'meanest' trumpet playing you've ever heard in your life."

There's no hint here that Oliver was on his way out. Gum disease was making it harder and more painful for him to play the trumpet. Henry Allen and Bubber Miley handle most if not all of the trumpet parts on this record. Still, this is one of my favourite versions of the song. From the opening bells it has a thoroughly composed feel, and yet it is full of vitality.

Other Victor artists mentioned on this advert include Rudy Valee and Maurice Chevalier.

honey, where you been so long?

This is quite incredible. I stumbled across a blog this evening where something like 110 versions of "St. James Infirmary" have recently been posted. Called honey, where you been so long, the site specializes in prewar blues, and has all sorts of pages devoted to, oh, female blues singers, country blues, field recording, and so on. Certainly worth a look.