The Playlist • Some Columbia “E” Series Favorites (1908 – 1920)

Be sure to check out Dick Spottswood’s excellent new Columbia “E” Series Discography, available as a free download courtesy of the author and Mainspring Press.


ABE SCHWARTZ’S ORCHESTRA: Sher — Part 2 [Jewish]

New York: c. October 1920
Columbia E4905 (mx. 86691 – 2)


STEFAN RADIN (accordion): Malo Kolo [Serbian]

New York: c. June 1917
Columbia E3638 (mx. 58373 – 1)


TAMBURASKO DRUSTVO: Ah, haj, Boze doj [Serbian]

New York: c. March 1918
Columbia E4190 (mx. 84187 – 1)


VINDENSKA SALON KAPELA: Tance detektivu — Americká Melodie [Czech]

Unknown location and date (U.S. release 1913)
Columbia E1532 (mx. 66953 – 1)


CHINESE NOVELTY ORCHESTRA: Chinese One-Step — Part 1 [Chinese]

Unknown location and date (U.S. release 1920)
Columbia E4506 (mx. 85544 – 1)


ARISTIDE SIGISMONDI: ’E guaie ’e Nicola [Italian]

New York: c. March 1917
Columbia E3436 (mx. 58149 – 1)


BAND with VOCAL CHORUS: Schorsch’l, kauf mir ein Automobil [German (British composition)]

Berlin: c. September 1908
Columbia E654 (mx. 41669 – 1)
A retitling of “The Perman’s Brooklyn Cake Walk” (a.k.a. “Dream of the Rarebit Fiend”), with added lyrics that have nothing to do with either title.


BILLY WILLIAMS: I’ve Found Kelly [English (Australian artist)]

London: 1911
Columbia E1777 (mx. 27411 – 1)

Mainspring Vintage 78 Record Auction • Coming in September

Mainspring’s 2016 Vintage Record Auction is coming in early September, with an early-to-mid October closing. No printed lists this year; for the first time, we’re distributing the list exclusively online, as a PDF file posted on the Mainspring Blog.



This year’s list is largely classical and operatic, ethnic, and popular (vintage vocal, band music, ragtime, dance, comedy, novelty, etc.), with a smattering of jazz and country. (Our big jazz / blues / country list will be in coming out in early-to-mid 2017.) Bidding this year is open to U.S. as well as international customers.

You’ll find many choice, scarce-to-rare records this year, plus the usual array of more frequently encountered items in great condition at very modest minimums — all conservatively graded and guaranteed using the time-honored VJM scale (N – E – V – G – F – P), with a convenient conversion table showing the corresponding  Nauck and Holdridge grades. Be sure to check back right after Labor Day!


Dick Spottswood’s Columbia “E” Series Discography Now Available for Free Download

We’re pleased to offer Dick Spottswood’s newly updated, 300-page Columbia “E” Series Discography as a free download for your personal use, courtesy of the author.

To download, click the “Free Online Discographies” link in the menu to your left. You’ll need Adobe Acrobat or Acrobat Reader (Versions 5.0 and later) to view the file. This file is offered for personal, non-commercial use only; please review the use notice before downloading.




Dick is one of the great pioneers in discographical research on vernacular music of all sorts, as well as a long-time author, record producer, and radio host.

During the 1950s, Dick began canvassing for forgotten sound recordings containing a broad range of music — originally, jazz, blues, and country, later tackling the largely unexplored field of early ethnic records. In the 1960s he began sharing his finds on  countless reissues, including those on his own Melodeon and Piedmont labels, and co-founded Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. He later produced and annotated the important fifteen-LP series,  Folk Music in America, for the Library of Congress.

Dick’s masterworks are his multi-volume Ethnic Music on Records: A Discography of Ethnic Recordings Produced in the United States, 1893 to 1942 (University of Indiana Press, 1990);  and Country Music Sources, with Meade & Meade (John Edwards Memorial Forum and University of North Carolina Press, 2002) — both winners of ARSC Awards for Excellence, and works that we use constantly — and Banjo on the Mountain: Wade Mainer’s First Hundred Years, with Stephen Wade (University of Mississippi Press, 2010).

In addition to his other books and articles, Dick’s been an important contributor to many major discographical projects, both in print and online. He’s a founding member of The Association for Recorded Sound Collections, which honored him with their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. The International Bluegrass Music Association presented him their Distinguished Service Award in October 2009.

The Playlist • Balinese Gamelan Gems (Late 1920s)

From a historic and very well-traveled group of location recordings that were issued in Germany in 1931 as part of Erich M. Von Hornbostel’s “Musik des Orient” set on Odeon, resurfaced in England in 1934 as “Music of the Orient” (Parlophone), then made their way to American Decca’s under-appreciated Odeon-Parlophone series in 1939.


GAMELAN ANKLUNG — Berong Pengetjet

Bali: 1928
Decca Odeon-Parlophone Series 20125 (mx. JAB 581)


GAMELAN DJOGED — Tjetjing Kereman

Bali: 1928
Decca Odeon-Parlophone Series 20126 (mx. JAB 596)


GAMELAN GONG — Lagu Kebiar

Bali: Before 1931
Decca Odeon-Parlophone Series 20127 (mx. 28180)

The Playlist • Melquiades Rodríguez, the Blind Fiddler (San Antonio, 1935)

Two selections from Bluebird’s B-2400 Spanish-language series that would not have sounded out-of-place in the country-music list (a fact not lost on RCA, which also issued  them in Bluebird’s domestic B-6000 series, with label credits in English to “The Blind Fiddler.” Ethnic Music on Records shows English credits on the corresponding Montgomery Ward issues as well, but copies inspected thus far are in Spanish:



MELQUIADES RODRÍGUEZ (violin; probably with Enrique Morales, guitar): Paulita — Polka

Texas Hotel, San Antonio: August 15, 1935
..(Eli Oberstein, recording director)
Montgomery Ward M-4870 ( as “El Ciego Melqiuades”)
Mx. BS 94589 – 1 (reissue of Bluebird B-2411)


MELQUIADES RODRÍGUEZ (violin; probably with Enrique Morales, guitar): Delgadita — Polka

Texas Hotel, San Antonio: August 15, 1935
..(Eli Oberstein, recording director)
Montgomery Ward M-4870 ( as “El Ciego Melqiuades”)
Mx. BS 94591 – 1 (reissue of Bluebird B-2411)

Eli Oberstein is not credited in the RCA files, but photographs exist of him on the August 1935 San Antonio trip. Morales is not credited in the RCA files for these particular titles; however, the adjacent masters, recorded at the same session, are guitar duets by Rodríguez and Morales.


Now In Stock: Leeds & Catlin / American Record Co. – Hawthorne & Sheble – International Record Co. Discographies

Save When Your Order Both Books as a Set

HSP-Leeds-coversOur long-awaited “rogue record company” discographies are here. Each book features discographical details never before compiled in a modern work — along with illustrated, fully documented histories of these companies, and the people behind them, that are the most comprehensive accounts published to date.

List price is $45 per book, with free U.S. shipping — but for a limited time, we’re offering  $11 off* when you order the set of two. For more information and secure online or mail-in ordering, please visit the Mainspring Press website.

*On U.S. orders. Comparable discounts are also offered on foreign orders — see website for foreign pricing.

The Playlist • Yiddish Vocal and Klezmer Favorites (1913 – 1923)


Ich Bin a Border Bei Mein Weib

New York: c. January 1923
Vocalion 14502  (mx. 10587)



New York: October 1920
Columbia E4905  (mx. 86692 – 1)



HARRY KANDEL’S ORCHESTRA: Rusiche Shaer (Russian Dance) —  Part 1

New York: June 25, 1918
Victor 72102  (mx. B 21666 – 4)


Doina and Hora

Camden, NJ: January 25, 1923Camden, NJ: January 25, 1923
Victor 77163  (mx. B 28671 – 1)



New York: June 14, 1923
Victor 68625  (mx. C 28084 – 2)
Nathaniel Shilkret, arranger / conductor



New York: October 10, 1919
Victor 72308  (mx. B 22352 – 3)
Nathaniel Shilkret, organ



New York: c. April 4, 1913
Columbia E1393  (mx. 38756 – 1)



New York: c. April 4, 1913
Columbia E1394  (mx. 38758 – 1)


ABE SCHWARTZ’S ORCHESTRA (as Oriental Orchestra): The Silver Wedding

New York: c. August 1918
Columbia E3618  (mx. 58541-1)

The Playlist • Klezmer and Other Ethnic Gems (1909–1924)



HARRY KANDEL’S ORCHESTRA: Kiever Bulgar (Dance from Kiev)

New York: May 6, 1921
Victor 73436 (mx. B 25255 – 1)



Constantinople: March 29, 1909
Victor 63512 (Gramophone Co. mx. 12578b)



New York: March 1918
Columbia E4190 (mx. 84187 – 1)


HOYER INSTRUMENTAL TRIO: Na Poskok (Jumping Polka)  [Slovenian]

Cleveland, OH: November 30, 1924
Victor 77915 (mx. B 31239 – 1)


Discographical data are from Dick Spottswood’s Ethnic Music on Records (University of Illinois Press)




Emerson Tries to Challenge the Red Seal (1919)

The Premier series was Emerson’s top-of-the-line, intended to challenge the Victor Red Seal and Columbia Symphony Series. Its roster included Max Bloch, Stanisalu Berini, Eva Leoni, and other operatic stars who had been passed over by the major labels, but also an odd mish-mash of studio performers and relative unknowns from the company’s ethnic series. The label chosen for this ad features Paul Bolognese, who at that time was Emerson’s house conductor for the ethnic-catalog session; he was later Grey Gull’s musical director, where he was responsible for grinding out pseudonyms, run-of-the-mill dance-band records.

Following Emerson’s bankruptcy, some of the Premier-series masters were leased to cheap labels like National Music Lovers, which issued them under pseudonyms. Details of the 10″ and 12″ Premier issues can be found in The Emerson Discography, Vol. 1, available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.



“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)


The Playlist • Records for the Mexican-American Market (1925–1938)



Los Angeles: c. June 1925
Sunset 1126  (mx. 777)
Enrique Espinoza, vocal; others unknown



Blue Bonnet Hotel, San Antonio: October 25, 1938
Montgomery Ward M-7982  (mx. BS–28629-1)
Lidya Mendoza, vocal and mandolin; others unknown



Texas Hotel, San Antonio: August 15, 1935
Montgomery Ward M-4870  (mx. BS-94591-1)
Melquiades Rodriguez, violin; Enrique Morales, guitar


Recording the ‘Thirties (available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries) includes a chapter on Depression-era recordings for the Mexican-American market.

Some Real Irish Music for St. Patrick’s Day

The authentic stuff — Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


New York: 1927
Grey Gull 4016 [version 2] (mx. 2354-A)

Grey Gull 4016 exists in at least two versions and is known with dull pink, red, blue, or green labels, and in both orange- and black-shellac pressings. On the first version, Gagan’s Orchestra plays on both sides. On the version used here, only one Gagan recording is used; Gagan is still credited on the reverse side, but a different recording of the same title — by a group sounding suspiciously like members of the Grey Gull house band — has been substituted.


FRANK QUINN (piano by Ed Gagan): Old Swallow Reel

New York: March 17, 1927
Columbia 33155-F (mx. W-143672-2)


IRISH PIPERS’ BAND OF BOSTON: Connaught Man’s Ramble

New York: May 27, 1927
Yorkville K-502 (mx. BVE-38829-1)

John Bolig’s Victor Special Labels, 1928-1941 contains a complete discography of Yorkville records, compiled from the original RCA and Victor files — It’s arriving soon!


100 Years Ago at the Victor Talking Machine Company: Highlights from the January 1914 Victor Records Catalog



These highlights from Victor’s January 1914 offerings are courtesy of John Bolig, author of the Victor Discography Series. Especially noteworthy is the appearance of Alexander Maloof, who (in association with Gennett) went to on to produce several labels of his own devoted to Middle Eastern music. He was also the last artist to record in Gennett’s Long Island studio before it closed at the end of June 1932.


Carter Family Flyer – Conqueror 78 Records (Sears Roebuck, 1935)

This scarce Sears flyer was issued for the Southern regional market in late 1935. RCA parted ways with the Carter Family at the end of 1934, although their records remained steady sellers on Bluebird and Montgomery Ward into the early 1940s. The Carters signed with the American Record Corporation (the makers of Conqueror) in the spring of 1935 and had their first ARC session on May 5 of that year. The unrelated Hank Warner number shown here was Warner’s only ARC release, recorded in New York on September 13, 1935.

There’s much more on country music recording during the Depression years in Recording the ‘Thirties, the latest title from Mainspring Press.