The Playlist • U-S Everlasting Cylinder Favorites (1910–1912)

cover_indestructible-x200For a detailed history of U-S Everlasting and its complete output, with 24 pages of color illustrations, be sure to check out Indestructible and U-S Everlasting Cylinders: An Illustrated History and Cylinderography, available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.


GIUSEPPE PIMAZZONI: Carmen — Canzone del Toreador

662 Sixth Avenue, New York; released 1911
U-S Everlasting Grand Opera Record 21133  (4-minute cylinder)


VESS L. OSSMAN (banjo): St. Louis Tickle  

662 Sixth Avenue, New York; released c. January 1911
U-S Everlasting 318  (2-minute cylinder)


FRED VAN EPS (banjo; piano by Albert Benzler): Gondolier / Temptation Rag 

662 Sixth Avenue, New York; released c. July 1911
U-S Everlasting 1260  (4-minute cylinder)


CAL STEWART: Uncle Josh’s New Years Pledge

662 Sixth Avenue, New York; released late 1912
U-S Everlasting 1598 (4-minute cylinder)


[a.k.a. I Want to Be in Dixie] 

662 Sixth Avenue, New York; released c. April 1911
U-S Everlasting 453 (2-minute cylinder)


BOB ROBERTS: Gee, But I Like Music with My Meals 

662 Sixth Avenue, New York; released Summer 1912
Lakeside 1498  (4-minute cylinder)


BOB ROBERTS: My Own Adopted Child 

662 Sixth Avenue, New York; released c. January 1912
Lakeside 1385  (4-minute cylinder)



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 Two Mrs. Cal Stewarts

A couple of artifacts from the Bill Bryant papers relating to Cal Stewart’s two wives. Stewart’s first wife Florence was pictured on the cover of “Pretty Kitty Clover” (here photocopied from the Library of Congress’ copy). Whether it was actually she performed  as “Mrs. Cal Stewart” on early Uncle Josh recordings will probably never be confirmed for certain, especially given the early record companies’ liberal use of pseudonyms. What is certain is that the voice on early records credited to her is not that of Ada Jones, as some have alleged; nor is it likely to have been the second Mrs. Cal Stewart, with whom Stewart had no known connection at the time those recordings were made.

Stewart’s second wife was the exotic (and considerably younger) Hazel Waugh, a professional violinist who used the stage name “Gypsy Rossini.” They were married on July 7, 1914, in St. Joseph, Michigan, some time after the last of the “Mrs. Cal Stewart” records had been issued. The page pictured here is a memorial published by her sister many years after Waugh’s death.


Cal Stewart’s “Portland Daily Advertiser” Interview

UPDATE: Our thanks to George Sweeny, who tracked down the date of Stewart’s Portland appearance (April 5, 1904)


From the Bill Bryant papers — A rare Cal Stewart interview, in which he discusses his early career and influences, and the origin of his “Uncle Josh” character. Note Stewart’s mention of having made personal recordings for presidents McKinley and Roosevelt. This clipping (which is lacking its date) is from the Portland Daily Advertiser (Maine).

In spots, the article reads like a planted publicity piece (note the plug for Columbia in the lead paragraph), but even if so, the biographical material is of interest.


Fourth of July at Pumpkin Center (and Other Uncle Josh Classics)


CAL STEWART: Fourth of July at Pumpkin Center

New York (Knickerbocker Building); Released June 25, 1912
Edison Amberol Cylinder 734


CAL STEWART: Uncle Josh at the Bug House

New York; Released July 1907
Columbia 3667 (take -3)


UNKNOWN SPEAKER: Uncle Josh Weathersby at the Opera

Probably New York, late 1890s
Unbranded brown-wax cylinder

This “mystery” cylinder is probably by a Stewart imitator, based on the aural evidence. (Such subterfuges weren’t uncommon; Leeds & Catlin issued bogus “Uncle Josh” discs by Andrew Keefe as late as 1907.) This early reading deviates significantly from the version published in Uncle Josh Weathersby’s “Punkin Centre” Stories (1903):


Replacing Cal Stewart: Andrew Keefe’s “Uncle Josh” Records

In late 1903, Cal Stewart signed an exclusive three-year contract with Columbia. Left without a fresh supply of Stewart’s immensely popular “Uncle Josh” routines, Edison and Leeds & Catlin finally brought in a substitute — an Albany stove merchant and former junk dealer who did a credible imitation of Stewart. The Edison-endorsed version of Keefe’s discovery originally ran in the Albany Exchange and was later reprinted in the September 1906 edition of the Edison Phonograph Monthly:

keefe-epm“I’m Old, but I’m Awfully Tough” (a laughing song composed by Stewart) was released in December 1905, nine months before this article found its way into EPM. Edison went on to release Keefe’s renditions of two popular Stewart routines — “Uncle Josh in a Department Store” and “Uncle Josh in a Chinese Laundry” — March 1906 and January 1907, respectively.

The infamous patent-infringing firm of Leeds & Catlin issued no fewer than seven “Uncle Josh” routines by Keefe, which appeared during the late summer of 1906. Although very rare today, they were widely circulated at the time, appearing on Leeds’ own Sun and Imperial labels as well as Aretino, D&R, Oxford, and other client brands. Many of the labels showed no artist credit, probably leading buyers to believe they were genuine Stewart records; the truth was revealed in the opening announcements, which credited Keefe.

Stewart finally returned to Edison in August 1908 (the details can be found in Cal Stewart’s Recording Contracts, on the Mainspring website), and Keefe’s Edison records were deleted the following year. The Leeds issues were discontinued in the same year, after the company was ordered to suspend record production by the U.S. Supreme Court (more on that in A Phonograph in Every Home, available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries).