We’ve begun compiling a discography of Midwestern radio pioneer Jack Penewell and his Twin Six guitar, in connection with our upcoming Autograph Records Discography. A very preliminary Penewell listing is now posted on the Mainspring website. Click the “Articles” link at the top of the homepage if you’d like to have a look (and maybe add some information from your own Penewell originals — there’s still a lot to learn about these elusive recordings!).
We recently had the good fortune to obtain a 1925 Marsh Laboratories catalog for our reference collection. Every page is a revelation, with artist photos, listings of legendary jazz classics, and previously undocumented couplings — But perhaps the most interesting feature is a photo of Orlando Marsh’s primitive electrical recording equipment in use in the Chicago Theatre. An unknown photographer took photos of Marsh with organist Jesse Crawford at some point prior to December 1924, when Crawford signed an exclusive Victor contract:
.An alternate photo apparently from the same session, reproduced in Recording the ‘Twenties, is missing one fascinating element that appears in the photo above — the large belled horn seen projecting from Marsh’s rig. Marsh experimented with (and even patented) various devices for “focusing” the sound on his crude carbon microphone, including bowl-shaped reflectors and a pivoting megaphone, but this is the first evidence we’ve seen that he also employed a plain old “witch’s hat” horn for that purpose. Collectors have long noted that Marsh’s on-location organ recordings are sonically superior to the recordings made in his studio (where photos show he was using a sort of bowl enclosure around the microphone), so perhaps the horn is the reason.
By the way, we’re making steady progress on The Marsh Laboratories Matrix Discography, scheduled for publication in 2013, but much remains to be done. If you have other Marsh-related materials, or some of the more obscure Marsh Laboratories issues, and would like to be involved with the project, please feel free to e-mail us at Mainspring Press — We’ll look forward to hearing from you!
There’s detailed information on Marsh and his role in producing the first commercial electrical recordings in “When Did Orlando Marsh Begin to Make Electrical Recordings?” (on the Mainspring website) and Recording the ‘Twenties (available from Mainspring Press).