Inside the Columbia Pressing Plant with David Bispham (1912)

This 1912 publicity shot, showing baritone David Bispham pressing a record, reveals what a grim, gritty operation Columbia’s Bridgeport pressing plant was. Conditions did not improve there, and in the early 1930s John Hammond finally exposed the situation in a muckraking article that had employees clamoring for unionization. The problems were finally corrected, and the workforce unionized, after CBS purchased the plant in 1939.


Cleveland’s Bessie Brown Signs with Brunswick (1928)

There were three Bessie Browns on records in the 1920s, two of them apparently New York–area singers. The last of the three to record worked in Cleveland and signed with Brunswick in 1928. This announcement appeared in the March 1928 Talking Machine World:

bessiebrown-bwk“Chloe” was a  straightforward rendition with conventional orchestral accompaniment. The reverse is also a commercial pop tune, by Irving Berlin, but is interesting for its piano accompanist, who unfortunately wasn’t named on the labels or in the Brunswick files:″

BESSIE BROWN (with unknown pianist): Someone Else May Be There While I’m Gone

Chicago: January 24, 1928
Brunswick 3817  (mx. C 1673)