Pseudonym Update: Blanche Klaise Is Really Blanche Klaise [Klaiss]

MSP_klaise-variety-1930Blanche Klaiss & Ed Pressler listing from a 1930 Keith-Orpheum-RKO ad. The name was  spelled both “Klaise” (which appears on the Cameo labels, as well as in various trade-paper and newspaper reports) and “Klaiss” (which appears as early as 1920 and appears to be the more common spelling from the mid-1920s onward).


Another great finding among Bill Bryant’s biographical clippings: We now know beyond any reasonable doubt that Cameo “blues singer” Blanche Klaise was really Blanche Klaise (or Klaiss — both spellings appear in the clippings), not the famous Harlem cabaret and stage star Edith Wilson. Chatter about Klaise and Wilson being one-and-the-same is all over the web lately, even though the newest edition of Pseudonyms on American Records (2013) has this to say:

“[Klaise] has been suggested as a pseudonym for Edith Wilson (Cameo), but Cameo’s original documentation does not exist, and the aural evidence is unconvincing. Not cited as a Wilson pseudonym in BGR [Blues and Gospel Records] or other reliable works.”

The Bryant files include numerous original and photocopied clippings mentioning Klaise/Klaiss, from Variety and other trade papers and newspapers of the day, which we’re in the process of conserving and scanning. From early 1920 through at least 1930, Klaise toured widely in vaudeville, on the B.F. Keith (later, the Keith-Orpheum-RKO) circuits, usually teamed with pianist-comedian Ed Pressler. The clippings show them performing in Washington DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. A 1928 review describes their act as “hot jazz vocals with novelty piano.”

Klaise and Pressler toured on all-white circuits, so presumably were white themselves (Wilson, of course, was black), although Klaise found her way into a recent derivative discography — compiled from secondary sources of widely varying degrees of reliability — of recordings by African-American artists. More than one online auction dealer has misrepresented Klaise’s very common Cameo release of “Daddy, Change Your Mind” as “really” being by Wilson.

For a similar bit of discographical confusion that’s finally been laid to rest, see our posting on Flo Bert vs. Florence Cole-Talbert.


The Playlist • Fred Van Eps’ Banjo Orchestra and Trio (1914–1920)


VAN EPS BANJO ORCHESTRA (Fred Van Eps, first banjo): Some Baby
(Julius Lenzberg)

New York: Late July 1914 (master shipped to Bridgeport plant on July 24)
Climax K493 (anonymous issue; Columbia mx. 39503 – 2)

VAN EPS BANJO ORCHESTRA (Fred Van Eps, first banjo): Old Folks Rag
(Wilbur Sweatman)

New York: September 25, 1914
Columbia A5618 (mx. 37042 – 2)

Personnel for these sessions are not listed in the surviving Columbia files. Musicians with whom Fred Van Eps is known to have worked during this period, and who might be present on these recordings, include William Van Eps (banjo), Felix Arndt (piano), and Howard Kopp (percussion).

VAN EPS TRIO: Teasing the Cat (Charles L. Johnson)

New York: December 20, 1916
Victor 18226 (mx. B 18860 – 2)

Personnel per Victor files: Fred Van Eps (banjo); Nathan Glantz (saxophone); Frank E. Banta (piano)

VAN EPS TRIO (as PLANTATION TRIO): Dixie Girl (J. Bodewalt Lampe)

Camden, NJ: November 6, 1920
Victor 16667 (mx. B 24293 – 6)

Identified as Fred Van Eps’ Trio in the Victor files, which do not list the guitar and second banjo player. This replaced the Ossman-Dudley Trio’s 1906 recording, on the same catalog number.

The Playlist • Roots of Boogie Woogie (1928–1929)

MSP_davenport-chidef-1928From the Chicago Defender — October 20, 1928 (photocopy, Bill Bryant papers)


CHARLES (COW COW) DAVENPORT (Ivy Smith, talking): State Street Jive

Chicago: July 16, 1928
Brunswick 80022 (mx. C 2064 – B)
First issue (take A issued on Vocalion 1198); original-mx. pressing



Chicago: April 22, 1929
Brunswick 80019 (mx. C 3358 – A)
Reissue of Vocalion 1419; original-mx. pressing (Rust shows dubbed mx., in error)



Chicago: September 5, 1929
Brunswick 80021 (mx. C 4300 – C)
Reissue of Vocalion 1447; dubbed-mx. pressing (from – B)


PINE TOP SMITH: Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie

Chicago: December 29, 1928
Brunswick 80008 (mx. C 2726 – A)
Reissue of Vocalion 1245; original-mx. pressing



“Blue Indian” Records: The Tokyo Connection

A few years ago we mentioned a suspected connection between the blue-shellac American Record Company discs (often referred to informally by their producers as “Blue Indian records”) and Japanese Nipponophone discs. An early Nipponophone catalog — intended more for Western tourists and temporary residents than for the native population — listed many dozens of the same titles that had appeared on the Blue Indians. Although no artists were named, the records were categorized by type (vocals by voice range, spoken, banjo solo, etc.), which were a perfect match to the suspected corresponding American issues.

Our suspicions were confirmed recently, when we came across a 1994 letter to the late Bill Bryant from a West Coast collector, who had acquired a badly damaged Nipponophone disc showing an American Record Company (031000-series) master on one side, and a German Beka master on the reverse. The titles were in English, with no artist credits.

So — how did an American Record Company two-step end up on a Japanese disc? The missing link appears in the articles below, from the January 1911 issue of The Talking Machine World. It was none other than John O. Prescott, formerly of Hawthorne, Sheble & Prescott — the sales agents for the Blue Indian discs. The German Beka master on the reverse of the West Coast specimen offers still more evidence of a link. Beka was a product of the Berlin-based International Talking Machine Company, operated by John O.’s brother Frederick M. Prescott — the makers of Odeon records (on which numerous Blue Indian recordings were reissued in England), and an affiliate of the American Record Company.


The Symphony label and recording below are from the Japan-American Phonograph Company’s earliest days, before adopting the Nipponophone label. In all likelihood the recording was done by John O. himself, who several years earlier had been recording the likes of Billy Murray and Collins & Harlan in New York. As you can see from the second clipping, Japan was not to his liking, and he was soon back in the U.S. These weren’t his last recordings of indigenous music, however. In 1926, as Gennett’s chief engineer, he headed a team (with backing from the Smithsonian Institution) that was dispatched to the Grand Canyon to record Hopi Indian songs.



(Can any of our Japanese or Japanese-speaking followers translate?)

Symphony Record 17 (no visible mx. number)
Tokyo, Japan: c. 1910


All of the numerous American Record Company foreign reissues are listed in Bill Bryant’s American Record Discography, coming later this year from Mainspring Press:



The Playlist • Jimmie Noone’s Apex Club Orchestra (1928–1929)


JIMMIE NOONE’S APEX CLUB ORCHESTRA (Earl Hines, piano): Apex Blues [#1]

Chicago: August 23, 1928
Vocalion 1207 (mx. C 2258 – B)


JIMMIE NOONE’S APEX CLUB ORCHESTRA (Alex Hill, piano): Apex Blues [#2]

Chicago: July 11, 1929
Blank-labeled vinyl pressing from mx. C 3849 – B


JIMMIE NOONE’S APEX CLUB ORCHESTRA (May Alix, vocal): My Daddy Rocks Me
(With One Steady Roll)

Chicago: July 11, 1929
Blank-labeled vinyl pressing from mx. C 3848 – A


Personnel details can be found in Brian Rust’s Jazz & Ragtime Records 1897-1942, Sixth Edition, out-of-print in book form but available exclusively from Mainspring Press on a convenient, searchable CD-ROM.

“Princess Watahwaso” Obituary (1969)

“Princess Watahwaso” in real life was Lucy Nicola Poolaw, a Penobscot Indian from Maine. For many years she toured on the concert and Chautauqua circuits, often accompanied by pianist-composer Thurlow Lieurance of “By the Waters of Minnetonka” fame. She did a great deal to spread awareness of Native American music, even if her material was sometimes Europeanized nearly beyond recognition, as in the example posted here.

This obituary is from the Evening Express, Portland, Maine, March 20, 1969 (Bill Bryant papers). Poolaw was, of course, far from being “among the first” to record vocal music for Victor. Her Victor records were issued in the late ‘teens, in the “Educational” series.



Camden, NJ: October 30, 1917 — Released May 1918 (Educational Catalog)
Victor 18418  (mx. B 21015 – 1)


Joe Maxwell Clippings (1907–1909)

Joe Maxwell is one of the more elusive Edison recording artists. These clippings are from an unknown source (June 2, 1907), top; the Indianapolis Star (December 12, 1909), lower left; and the Pittsburgh Post (September 12, 1907), lower right.

From the theater-clippings archive, Bill Bryant papers


The Vaudeville Playlist • Murray K. Hill (1909)


MURRY K. HILL: The Tale of the Cheese

Camden, NJ: November 10, 1909
Released: January 1910
Victor 35093 (mx. C 8356 – 3)


MURRY K. HILL: A Bunch of Nonsense

Camden, NJ: November 9, 1909
Released: February 1910 – Deleted: January 1920
Victor 16446 (mx. B 8354 – )
Note: Takes 1 and 2 were issued; the selected take is not indicated in the pressing.


MURRAY K. HILL: Father Was Out

Camden, NJ: November 10, 1909
Released: January 1910 – Deleted: January 1920
Victor 16436 (mx. B 8360 – 2)


Discographical data are from the original Victor files, courtesy of John Bolig. All selections are accompanied by studio orchestra; the conductor is uncredited on the labels and in the files.

Discographical details of Hill’s complete recordings can be found in The American Stage Performers Discography, Vol. 1, still available from Mainspring Press while supplies last (we’re into the last carton).

The Playlist • Hot Bands on Edison (1925–1928)



New York: September 15, 1925
Edison 51622 (mx. 10574 – A)


RED & MIFF’S STOMPERS (Red Nichols, director): Stampede

New York: October 13, 1926
Edison 51853 (mx. 11246 – C)


WINEGAR’S PENN. BOYS (Frank Winegar, director): My Gal Sal

New York: May 4, 1928
Edison 52305 (mx. 18469 – B)

2014 ARSC Awards for Emerson and Edison Amberol Books

We’re honored to announce that two recent Mainspring Press books have received 2014 awards from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections:

MSP_covers-em-amb-ARSCARSC 2014 Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research:
Emerson Records: A History and Discography (Complete 10″ / 12″ Issues)
William R. Bryant & Allan Sutton

ARSC 2014 Certificate of Merit in Historical Recorded Sound Research:
Edison Amberol Cylinders: U.S. and Foreign Issues, 1908–1913
Allan Sutton

These awards are presented to authors and publishers to recognize outstanding published research in the field of recorded sound. In giving these awards, ARSC “recognizes the contributions of these individuals and aims to encourage others to emulate their high standards and to promote readership of their work.” A complete list of winners can be found on the ARSC website.



Photo Gallery • Blanche Ring On and Off Stage (1907–1912)

We’re finally getting around to sorting the mass of original theater-related clippings in Bill Bryant’s papers. Someone carefully cut these from newspapers and stage magazines of the early 1900s — unfortunately  not always preserving the running-heads, so sources and dates are lost in some cases.

This grouping features Blanche Ring, whose recordings are documented in The American Stage Stars Discography (still available from Mainspring Press, although we’re now down to our last carton).

The top photo is from 1907, when Ring was starring in “The Gay White Way.” The four center photos show Ring in the 1912 production of  “The Wall Street Girl” (top two are from “Stage Pictorial” magazine; source unknown on the others). The bottom photo, of Ring at her home in Larchmont, New York, appeared in a  publication named “Players Off the Stage,” date and publisher unknown.



Uncle Josh Asks for Thomas Edison’s Autograph

An undated letter to Edison studio head Walter Miller from Cal Stewart, requesting an autographed photo of Thomas Edison. The Scott Printing Company in Stewart’s hometown of Muncie, Indiana, was one of several Midwestern printing companies with which he had connections. You can read about Stewart’s publishing activities in “Uncle Josh’s Punkin Centre Stories: Cal Stewart as Author, Publisher, and Entrepreneur,” on the Mainspring Press website. (Photocopy from unknown source, Bill Bryant papers)


The Playlist • Mugsy Spanier in Chicago (1928–1929)

MSP_bwk-4001_chicago-rhythmThree hot sides featuring cornetist Mugsy Spanier along with some of the best of the Chicagoans. Complete personnel can be found in Brian Rust’s Jazz & Ragtime Records 1897-1942, Sixth Edition, out of print in book form but available on a convenient searchable CD from Mainspring Press.


CHICAGO RHYTHM KINGS (Red McKenzie, vocal): There’ll Be Some Changes Made

Chicago: April 6, 1928
Brunswick 4001 (mx. C 1885 – A)



Chicago: April 6, 1928
Brunswick 4001 (mx. C 1886 – A)



Chicago, January 3, 1929
Brunswick 4224 (mx. C 2743 – )

Three takes were recorded; the selected take isn’t indicated in the Brunswick files or on the pressings.

The Playlist • More Hit of the Week Favorites (1931–1932)

MSP_durium-covers_compositeYou can find a detailed history of Hit of the Week and Durium Products in Recording
the ‘Thirties, available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.


Was That the Human Thing to Do?

New York: c. February 1932 (released March 1932)
Hit of the Week C-1-2 (mx. 1198 – B)


ERNO RAPEE & HIS ORCHESTRA (vocal: Helen Rowland)
River, Stay ’Way from My Door / Some of these Days

New York: c. December 1931 (released December 1931)
Hit of the Week M-5-A-1 (mx. 1185-C)


PHIL SPITALNY’ S MUSIC (vocal: Helen Rowland / Ensemble)
When It’s Sleepy Time Down South / Sailing

New York: c. December 1931 (released January 1932)
Hit of the Week A-1-2 (mx. 1186 – B)
Note: This selection includes a racially derogatory term that is symptomatic of the era and does not reflect the views of Mainspring Press.