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Deadwax 78's


A podcast about the world of 78rpm recordings and technology......dead artists ... old music ... outdated tech ..... live host






A podcast about the world of 78rpm recordings and technology......dead artists ... old music ... outdated tech ..... live host



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Whistling records

Whistling did a significant amount of cultural work, as the act itself and the people who performed it were at the center of dramatic changes in how nature sounds were recorded, presented, and consumed in America. Because sound recording technologies were confined to studio spaces and generally immobile through the late 1920s, popular performers adopted a variety of imitative techniques to transport listeners into scenes and settings that the technology itself could not access--places such as farms, forests, fields, zoos, . Among these imitative practices, whistling proved to be both remarkably popular and enduring.


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Queen Victoria .. no not that one

Victoria Spivey is a legendary Blues singer who gained popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, mostly due to her powerful and emotive voice. She was one of the most successful female Blues singers of her time, and her incredible talent and contribution to the Blues genre have cemented her place in music history. While her career was a remarkable one, there were a lot of ups and downs in Spivey’s life, and the path that led her to greatness is a fascinating one to explore.


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Funny girl

Although the stage and screen hit Funny Girl is inspired by the life of singer-actress Fanny Brice, the plot is mostly fiction with an occasional fact thrown in. Both the play and movie were produced by Fanny Brice's son in law, Ray Stark, who had the unenviable task of appeasing Fanny's surviving family and associates -- including Nick Arnstein. With Nick only too eager to initiate a lawsuit, Stark had to reshape history. And as Nick's character was fictionalized, other aspects of the story had to change too. Who was Fanny Brice


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The Grafonola Grandad

A Graphophone was a phonograph made by the Columbia Phonograph Company under one of its many corporate identities. There were Graphophones that played both cylinder and 78rpm records. A Grafonola was an internal horn phonograph made by the Columbia Phonograph Company that played 78rpm records. Columbia began selling disc records and phonographs in addition to the cylinder system in 1901, preceded only by their “Toy Graphophone” of 1899, which used small, vertically-cut records. For a decade, Columbia competed with both the Edison Phonograph Company cylinders and the Victor Talking Machine Company disc records as one of the top three names in American recorded sound. The firm also introduced the internal-horn “Grafonola” to compete with the extremely popular “Victrola” sold by the rival Victor Talking Machine Company.


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Emerson ... Carson and Hunting shady beginnings

Emerson Records was an American record company and label created by Victor hugo Emerson in 1915. Victor was the chief recording engineer at Columbia Records. In 1914 he left the company, created the Emerson Phonograph Company, and then Emerson Records the following year. He began producing small records, 5-inch discs that sold for 10 cents and 7-inch discs that sold for 25 cents. under the brand name G Clef, an homage to Emerson's original beginnings ..who would have thought the Emerson Radio Corporation one of the United States' largest volume consumer electronics distributors and has a recognized trademark in continuous use since 1912, all began with a scandal


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The stuff of Edison's nightmares

The first Edison Talking Doll record to benefit from optical scanning was a tin cylinder, The small metal ring had been so severely distorted from its original cylindrical shape decades ago, that the out-of-round record could not be properly played by a traditional stylus-contact based approach. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, used IRENE 3-D to create a digital model of the tin record's modulated surface. Their software analysis revived the voice of a young woman reciting the first stanza of the nursery rhyme "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." let the nightmare begin


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Sons of the Pioneers

The Sons of the Pioneers were the most successful western harmony group of all time, enjoying a career longevity that began in the early 1930s and still continues today, with, of course the obvious personnel changes. They were formed originally as The Pioneer Trio because of Ohio-born Leonard Slye’s , love of harmony singing and his desire to be part of a vocal group. The name change came about when a radio announcer introduced them as ‘The Sons of the Pioneers,’ because, he argued, they were too young to be pioneers. And the name stuck. Oh ya .... Leonard Slye ... later changed his name to Roy Rodgers


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John Philip Sousa Patriot

Among America's greatest treasures is John Philip Sousa, "The March King." The music of this beloved bandleader and composer, whose most prolific period straddled the turn of the 20th century, continues to fill hearts with a wave of national pride and patriotism. Sousa's "The Stars and Stripes Forever" is, in fact, the national march, and his creative medium, the marching band, has become an American institution.


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Grey Gull records

The band names on the labels are meaningless; the records were also used to cover groups including the so-called Grey Gull house band. They introduced a new method of selling phonograph which would much later become standard practice in the record industry. Grey Gull would place display racks offering their latest product in newsstands, cigar stores, and other well-frequented businesses, returning on a regular basis to restock the racks and settle accounts with the merchant (a system known today as rack jobbing. .... who was Grey gull records


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The World's Greatest Minstrel Man

The words of one of this famous musician song could very well been his epitaph .. oh why was I so soon forgotten ...James A. "Jimmy" Bland, the greatest Black writer of American Folk Song composed over seven hundred songs, a number of which were outright contributions to Americana. You might not know this name but you probably know a few of his songs Most famous in this era is “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny.” which was the official state song of Virginia from 1940 to 1997 Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any recordings of Bland performing his songs, but many have been covered by other artists like Ray Charles, Bing Crosby, and Louis Armstrong.


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Spindle holes from hell

The Standard Talking Machine Company was an American record label that was created in October 1901 and operated until March 1918. The Chicago, Illinois based company distributed several models of phonographs from Columbia Graphophone Company parts and issued single-sided and double-sided disc records from Columbia Records masters. Despite the label name, the discs were not quite ’Standard’; the spindle hole at the center of the discs was 9/16 inch, larger than the industry standard. This made discs produced by other companies such as Victor and Columbia unable to be played upon Standard Disc phonographs, entrapping the buyer into purchasing only Standard Disc records. There were three affiliated companies — Harmony Disc, United, and Aretino — all with increasingly larger diameter spindle holes and record spindle holes. Collectors refer to these four related companies today as the ‘Chicago scheme companies’.


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The Aeolian bag of wind

The name derives from Aeolus, the mythical ancestor of the Aeolians and son of Hellen, In Greek mythology, Aeolus, was the ruler of the winds encountered by Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey. To ensure safe passage home for Odysseus and his men, Aeolus gave Odysseus a bag containing all the winds, except the gentle west wind. And we know what happened ... The Aeolian Company was a musical-instrument making firm whose products included player organs, pianos, sheet music, records and phonographs. Founded in 1887, it was at one point the world's largest such firm.


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The two sides of Ademor Petit

It seems obvious to us today that disc records would always have two sides, but they didn’t The story behind such an apparently simple idea was fraught with the usual patent wars, false starts and stops, and the appearance of a bevy of talented, even tragic, inventors on three continents. Ademor Napoleon Petit might have been rather petite in physical stature (he stood 5ft 3in tall) and he might have liked the idea of petite typewriters. But he was pretty big on ideas, and his most lasting legacy being the two-sided record.


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Ashley and Foster

The oldest known recording of the song, under the title "Rising Sun Blues", is by Appalachian artists Clarence "Tom" Ashley and Gwen Foster, who recorded it on September 6, 1933, on the Vocalion label Ashley said he had learned it from his grandfather, Enoch Ashley, Several notable musicians cite Ashley as an important influence. Now Foster with his dark skin, and an oriental look acquired the nickname "China" pronounced “Chinee.” Gwen “entertained them when the work slowed down and they thought his French harp (harmonica) was as powerful as a pipe organ. Gwen ruined a flour barrel full of harps by his constant playing”


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The A&R man

In the 1880s, the record industry began by simply having the artist perform at a phonograph. In 1924, the trade journal Talking Machine World, covering the phonography and record industry, reported that Eddie King, Victor Records' manager of the "New York artist and repertoire department", had planned a set of recordings this perhaps the earliest printed use of A&R man. Actually, it says neither "A&R man" nor even "A&R", an name perhaps coined by Billboard magazine in 1946, and entering wide use in the late 1940s


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Bob Hicks was one of Atlanta’s most popular Bluesmen in the 20s. His gruff voice and 12-string bottleneck style got him a recording contract when a Columbia scout went to a Barbecue where Bob would cook, serve and sing! His ‘Barbecue Blues’ and ‘Going Up the Country’ were among his hit records and he put down many interpretations of classic Piedmont Blues, Bob’s records showed his wide repertoire and distinctive voice, but he is not a well known figure in Blues history


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Ethel Waters

One of the most influential of popular singers, her early career found her working in vaudeville. As a consequence, It is reputed that she was the first singer to perform W. C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues” in public, and she later popularized blues and jazz-influenced songs such as “Stormy Weather” and “Travelin’ All Alone,” also scoring a major success with “Dinah.” She first recorded in 1921, A buoyant, high-spirited singer with a light, engaging voice that frequently sounded “whiter” than most of her contemporaries, her career was an object lesson in determination and inner drive. Her appalling childhood problems and troubled early life, were overcome through grit and the application of her great talent. Ethel Waters


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Boston talking machine little wonder's

Little Wonder Records were single-sided five inch discs, the same size as a modern CD, but containing just a single song, running for little more than a minute. The label was the brainchild of former Columbia Records Executive, Henry Waterson. It gave ordinary Americans their first affordable access to recorded sound. Securing a Woolworth endorsement proved lucrative for Waterson, with sales topping half a million records a week!


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The Devineau Biophone

With 134 phonograph-related patents to his credit, Thomas Edison was unquestionably the dominant inventor in the field — but he was far from alone. The Patent History of the Phonograph 1877-1912 lists no fewer than 1,028 optimistic inventors who no doubt all envisioned future glory and fortunes in their patented improvements on the phonograph. If only it were that simple. Louis Devineau was among this army of now forgotten inventors, a middle-aged man with dreams of quitting his job as a clerk and becoming a wealthy inventor.


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"Ma" Rainey mother of the blues

Often called the “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey she bridged earlier vaudeville and the authentic expression of southern blues, influencing a generation of blues singers. She was known for her deep-throated voice and mesmerizing stage presence that drew packed audiences and sold hit records in the early twentieth century. Also a songwriter, her lyrics and melodies reflected her experiences as an independent, openly bisexual African-American woman.