Inside the Hawthorne & Sheble Phonograph Horn Factory (Philadelphia, 1898)

A rare glimpse inside Hawthorne & Sheble’s “horn room” in the late 1890s. Ellsworth Hawthorne & Horace Sheble produced an excellent line of horns, cranes, and other phonograph accessories, but they seemed to have a knack for getting into legal trouble, beginning with their blacklisting by Edison for removing the nameplates from Gem phonographs.

They were involved in two record ventures in the early 1900s — first as sales agents (in partnership with John O. Prescott)  for the Odeon-backed American Record Company, which was shut down for patent infringement in 1906; and then as the manufacturers of Star discs. The latter were produced legally enough, using licensed (albeit disguised) Columbia masters, but a Victor patent-infringement suit involving H&S’s Star and Starola phonographs, combined with declining demand for horns, drove Hawthorne & Sheble into bankruptcy in 1909.

MSP_h&s_hornfactory-1898The whole colorful, convoluted story of Hawthorne, Sheble, and their associates is covered in a new history and discography being released by Mainspring Press later this year:


The Antique Phonograph Gallery: U-S Everlasting Cylinder Phono Advertisements (1912)

Some 1912 Talking Machine World advertisements for U-S Everlasting phonographs and cylinders. U-S Phonograph’s turbulent history, and details of its complete cylinder-record output, can be found in the ARSC Award–winning Indestructible and U-S Everlasting Cylinders: An Illustrated History and Cylinderography, available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.


Correct Personnel for the California Ramblers’ Late 1927—Early 1928 Cameo Sessions (from Ed Kirkeby’s Files)

Some more corrections to American Dance Bands on Records and Film California Ramblers personnel listings, this time for the December 1927 and February 1928 Varsity Eight sessions for Cameo. The compilers somehow missed this material in California Ramblers manager W. T. “Ed” Kirkeby’s logbook and payroll records.

This also offers an object lesson on the dangers of “collective personnel” — a euphemism for “If you throw enough names at the wall, maybe a few might stick.” Here’s ADBFR’s “collective personnel” for these sessions. The names in boldface turned out to be correct guesses. We’ve crossed out the bad guesses (most notably, Tommy Dorsey), which make up the majority (64%) of the listing:


Angie Rattiner, Al King, Mickey Bloom, Fred Van Eps Jr., Frank Cush (trumpets); Ted Raph, Tommy Dorsey, Frank Ferretti, Chuck Campbell (trombones); Pete Pumigilo, Carl Orech, Harold Marcus (clarinets, alto saxes); Sam Ruby (tenor sax); Spencer Clark (bass sax); Chauncey Gray or Jack Russin (piano); Tommy Felline (banjo, guitar); Herb Weil or Chick Condon (drums).


And now, the actual personnel who were hired for these sessions, from Ed Kirkeby’s files. As usual, Kirkeby did not enter first names or instruments; we’ve inserted the first names [in brackets] and usual instruments (in parentheses) of musicians who appear in his payroll records for this period. Musicians missing from ADBFR’s “collective personnel” are in underlined red type:


December 1, 1927 (Cameo mxs. 2715 – 2717) — [Chelsea] Quealy, [Henry] Levine (trumpets); [Al] Philburn (trombone); [Pete] Pumiglio, [Bob] Fallon (reeds); Jack Russin (piano); [/?] Mahoney (banjo); [Hank] Stern (bass); [Herb] Weil (percussion)

February 3, 1928 (Cameo mxs. 2857 – 2859) — [Henry] Levine, [Fred] Van Eps [Jr.] (trumpets); [Al] Philburn (trombone); Bob Montgomery [first name listed in this case], [Sam] Ruby (saxophones); [Chauncey] Grey (piano); Joe La Faro (violin); [Tommy] Felline (banjo, guitar); [Hank] Stern (bass); [Herb] Weil (percussion)

More to come…

“Lloyd Dayton & his Music” Finally Identified (from the Ed Kirkeby Files)

Thanks to our recent research of Ed Kirkeby’s files in conjunction with the ongoing Pathé-Perfect and American Record Corporation projects, we’ve finally unearthed the true identity of the band ARC credited as “Lloyd Dayton & his Music” (which, to further confuse matters, was logged by ARC as “Fred MacDougall & his Orchestra”). It’s none other than Ed Kirkeby & his Orchestra, with his usual personnel of the period.

The compilers of The American Dance Band Discography and American Dance Bands on Records and Film obviously didn’t check for these in Kirkeby’s files. ADB shows all personnel as unknown and doesn’t mention Kirkeby. ADBFR makes a tiny bit of headway, mentioning a “reported” Kirkeby connection, guessing correctly Jack Purvis, and getting Dick Dixon partially correct (right name, wrong instrument), while leaving the rest blank.

The correct data from Kirkeby’s logbook and payroll files are shown below. First names (except Dixon’s) are not listed in either file; we’ve inserted [in brackets] the first names of musicians who are confirmed to have been on Kirkeby’s payroll in late 1930.

Kirkeby logged this as a Cameo session, but that label was discontinued a short time later, so the recordings instead appeared on Banner, Romeo, and other ARC brands. The session is headed “Three dogs” (i.e, throw-away “filler” tunes,  generally not even copyrighted) in Kirkeby’s log — a surprisingly honest appraisal, given that Kirkeby himself composed one of them!

October 10, 1930 (ARC mxs. 10131 – 10133, issued as Lloyd Dayton & his Music):

[Jack] Purvis (trumpet); Dick Dixon (first name listed in this case only; the beginning of the logbook session entry reads “Add trombone Dick Dixon,” but the name appears in the payroll record as “Dickson”); [Bobby] Davis, [Joe] Gillespie (reeds); [Sidney] Harris, [Sam] Hoffman (violins); [Lew] Cobey (piano); [Ed] Sexton (guitar); [Ward] Lay (string bass); [Jack] Powers (percussion)