Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Prof. Kitzel's Time Machine Record Label Profiles; Broome Records and Black Patti Records


This Black History Month I feature two of the first black owned record labels, Broome Records and Black Patti Records;


Broome Records was the first black owned & run record label starting in 1919 some 18 months before Black Swan Records, the label commonly noted as the first black label. Running to 1923 or 24, producing a series of records for a number of black artists of the pre-jazz era.

Founded by George Broome, (1868-1941) a black music manager and promoter based in Medford Mass. who had produced Will Marion Cook's musicals and managed singer Roland Hayes, Broome Records was started in 1919 dedicated to producing music that would "uplift the race" which in the early twentieth century meant classical music done in the European style by black musicians and singers. Thus Broome recorded none of the Jazz, Ragtime, Blues or Spirituals that the majority of black folks listened to at the time, preferring instead piano or string recitals, chamber pieces, light operettas, formal spirituals, and speeches. The records were rather expensive for the day and distributed mostly through mail-order from his office in Medford Massachusetts, targeting an audience of fairly affluent, educated, middle-class blacks from the urban north-east & midwest along with a few white patrons and fellow musicians.

Broome Records never had a large catalog or audience and as Jazz became respectable for middle class blacks, Broome was unable to move with the times (as also happened to Black Swan) and stopped releasing or recording new records after 1923. After that date Broome opened a print shop with is son however Broome apparently continued to release records from his back catalog through mail order until his death in 1941.

Because of it's fairly small catalog Broome's records are quite rare and haven't been as fully researched as has other labels of the era such as Black Swan, Black Patti, Paramount or Vocalition. Broome also hasn't gotten the attention it's pioneering status deserves for music historians since he recorded no Jazz, the usual choice of music historians of the era, however in recent years more copies of Broome Records have surfaced and a few articles have been written about the label. The most detailed of which is in Tim Brooks Grammy Award winning book, "Lost Sounds".


Artists on Broome Records:

~ Henry Burleigh ~ 1866 -1949 ~ Burleigh was one of the best known black composers and singers of his day. Having studied with Czech composer Anton Dvorak (who praised him for introducing the European to African-American folk music and spirituals) he became the first black soloist and later musical arranger for St. George's Episcopal Church of New York, a wealthy and influential white church where he attracted patrons like J.P. Morgan. By the the 1900's he had graduated to the concert stage as a singer, pianist and composer of spirituals in a formalized operatic style similar to that later done by Paul Robeson who he heavily influenced both musically and for his serious presence. In spite of his long career the Broome recordings are his only known records and were not even known about at all until recently.


~ Edward Boatner ~ 1898 - 1981 ~ At the time of his recordings Boatner was a young student of Burleigh who brought him in to record one of his arrangements. Boatner would go on to a long career as a composer, conductor and teacher with students such Josephine Baker. Like Burleigh and Dett the Broome recordings are his only known records. He was also the father of Jazzman Sonny Stitt.

~ Nathaniel Dett ~ 1882 - 1943 ~ Born in Niagara Falls Canada, Dett was a well known pianist and composer of the era, he left a volume of works which are still performed today. He also taught at universities and conservatories in the USA, Canada and Europe along with winning awards for his pieces and essays. Later in life he made many radio recordings but like Burleigh his only known proper recordings are the ones he did for Broome which like Burleigh's were forgotten about until recently. He is remembered in Canada with a choral society, festival and scholarships in his name.

~ Florance Cole-Talbert ~ 1890 - 1961 ~ A classically trained contralto from Detroit, Cole married pianist Wendell Talbert and started singing around 1910 making her New York debut in 1918, recording for Broome in 1919. She toured Europe in 1924 to rave reviews staying until 1927. Known for her showmanship she also recorded for Black Swan.

~ William Leonard King ~ An now obscure pianist who played with Cole-Talbert and other singers on Broome including probably Burliegh and Boatner.

~ Clarence Cameron White ~ 1880 - 1960 ~ One of the best known black violinists of the era dubbed "The Bronze Kubelik" after the Czech virtuoso of the era, White was already well know by the time he recorded for Broome in 1919 and would go on to further fame in The USA Canada & Europe making many other recordings and compositions.

~ Booker T. Washington ~ 1856 - 1915 ~ America's best known civil rights leader of the late Victorian era made a recording of his famous 1895 Atlanta exposition speech for Columbia Records in 1908. When George Broome started up his own label he bought up surplus copies of these discs and rereleased them with new Broome labels making them one of Broome's best sellers and the ones most often found today.



Black Patti Records was the only black owned blues label of the 1920's. Founded in 1927 by Mayo Williams, a former pro-football player and talent scout for Paramount and Black Swan Records who decided to start his own label, Black Patti (named after African-American opera singer Matilda Jones A.K.A "The Black Patti") was set up as a lean operation with an office to scout, sign and promote artists while leaving the actual recording and pressing to a licensing deal with Paramount's chief rival Gennett Records.

Mayo quickly established a strong stable of artists with a mix of blues, jazz, spirituals and even country records, however Mayo had run out of capital by the end of the year and had to shut down the label after only 55 known titles and take a job with Vocalion and Records and later with Decca before again running his own Ebony label in the 1940's. Mayo Williams died in 1980. In spite of Black Patti's short life and commercial failure it has long been considered one of the most collectible labels of the era both for the quality of it's music and the fact of it's being the only major black-owned label after the collapses of Black Swan and Broome records in the early 1920's, and being the last such label until the post war era. Black Patti is also well known for having the most elaborate label logos of the era, with it's golden art deco peacock design which was later copied by the Yazoo label.

Notable Black Patti artists ~ Jackie "Half Pint" Jaxon ~ 1895~194? ~ A diminutive and flamboyant singer of double-entendre jazz & blues as well as a female impersonator known for his wild showmanship which would later influence Cab Calloway and Little Richard.


Jaybird Coleman ~ 1908~1950 ~ A respected singer & harpist from Alabama who pioneered the style that would influence both of the later Sonny Boy Williamsons.


Cow Cow Davenport ~ 1894~1955 ~ Popular boogie-woogie pianist and songwriter who also accompanied various singers including Jaxon. Highly influencial on later boogie-woogie pianists in the 1940's & 50's


Sam Collins ~ 1887~1949 ~ A typical rural singer/guitarist street and tent show performer from the Mississippi Delta notable for his bottle-neck playing, known as Cryin' Sam Collins for his high, keening tenor.


Vernon Dalhart ~ 1883~1948~ William's attempt to appeal to the white country market, Dalhart had been the first million (and multi-million) selling country artist in 1922 but by 1927 his career was in decline having been bypassed by more authentic rural artists such as Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family.


Mozelle Anderson ~ A typical female blues singer also known as Kansas City Kitty, one of several singers to use that name.


The Rev. J.M. Gates ~ 1884 - 1941; Although largely forgotten now Gates was one of the most successful black artists of the 1920's as a singing preacher who recorded combined sermons with acapella hymns. In the 1920's it is estimated that an astounding one quarter of all Gospel records were by Gates alone and he probably outsold more famous Jazz artists such as Louis Armstrong, King Oliver or Jelly Roll Morton.


The Downhome Boys ~ Long Cleve Reed and Little Harvey Hull, a guitar and vocal duet who recorded the first known version of Stack-o-Lee Blues, now one of the rarest and most valuable 78's in existence, with only one known mint copy, owned by collector Joe Bussard, worth an estimated at least $30,000.


Blind Richard Yates ~ An obscure travelling singer/guitar player, he recorded four songs during two sessions in 1927 which also featured a pianist.


Willie Hightower's Jazz Band ~ A typical popular 1920's hot jazz band led by trumpet player Hightower.


Other obscure blues singers include Blind James Beck and Ivy Smith.


Professor Kitzel's Time Machine Band Profile; The Poets


Just in time for Robbie Burns Day;


There were a few notable Scottish contributions to the 1960's British Invasion, Donovan and Lulu being the most successful. However Scotland's best band of the 1960's never managed to get a hit outside of Alba.
Hailing from Glasgow and formed in 1961 The Poets were one of the big hopes for Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate Records label. With a sound similar to The Small Faces and a Edwardian look taken from The Kinks the Poets released a series of excellent singles starting with "Now We're Through" with Decca Records which reached 31 in the charts in 1965. However two follow-ups with "I Am So Blue" and the excellent "That's The Way It's Got To Be" failed to chart. Oldham had signed up as a manager and still had faith in the band so he moved them to his fledgeling Immediate Records label were they recorded two other singles; "Call Again" a ballad backed with the atmospheric "I Can't Forget" which was probably a better (if shorter) choice than the A-Side. This was followed in 1966 by a cover of a Marvin Gaye Motown hit "Baby Don't you Do It" which had already been covered by the Small Faces and was produced by Gary Glitter, backed with another ballad "I'll Come Home". This also failed to chart. That was about it for the Poets who were dropped by Immediate Records and did not record a full album, although their singles have been compiled into a best of. They continued to slog it out on the tour circuit with a bewildering series of line-up changes before breaking up within a few years.


Some of their singles are found on various compilation albums, including the Nuggets II box set on Rhino Records (one song) and The Immediate Records Story (four songs) on Charly Records. One of their tracks, "That's The Way It's Got To Be" was on the soundtrack for the films Factory Girl and Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster.
The members of The Poets did not go on to fame in other bands. Four have since died.


George Gallacher - lead vocals (born 21 September 1943 died 25 August 2012)
John Dawson - bass guitar (born 1944 died 6 January 2002)
Alan Weir - drums (born 1944 died 9 June 2010)
Stafford Hamilton - rhythm guitar (born 1945)
Hume Paton - 12-string lead guitar (born Hume Michael Paton, 6 October 1945 died 30 April 2011)


NOTE; There was also a contemporary Irish band with the same name who recorded a couple of cool singles just to confuse things.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Turns out there was more than one attempt to steal 88.1fm

You may remember that during the feeding frenzy over the vacant 88.1fm frequency left behind by the CKLN shutdown, I reported that one of the applicants (who had links to the Conservative Party via former Mike Harris era Ontario Cabinet Minister David Tubuschi) tried to game the system by lobbying a local Tory M.P.

From The Globe & Mail;


You may or may not also recall that my response at the time was basically; "Umm..Yeah, Right, Good Luck with that one. I'm pretty sure that's illegal though."

Turns out they weren't the only corporate weasels to try this stunt. Oh; and it also turns out that I was right about this. Too bad nobody told any of these high priced corporate radio big shots about the law. Then again apparently nobody told Finance Minster Jim Flaherty either. But the CRTC didn't need to be told though;
From The CBC;

From CTV;

Selected quotes;

"Responding to a dressing down from the federal ethics watchdog who said Jim Flaherty broke the rules when he sent a letter to the CRTC advocating for a business in his riding, the finance minister says any wrongdoing was borne of an "oversight."
Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson’s criticism was made public on the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner's website Friday in a notice she also sent him outlining her conclusion after reviewing the case.
In her response, Dawson says Flaherty broke accountability guidelines, as well as conflict of interest rules, when he sent the letter to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission last March to advocate for Durham Radio Inc. and its ultimately-failed bid for an FM radio station licence."
Nevertheless, Dawson says, considering his political position, Flaherty was wrong to have stepped in on the company’s behalf.
"It is improper for you, as Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Greater Toronto Area, to have written a letter of support on behalf of a constituent to an administrative tribunal in relation to its decision making," Dawson wrote.
As news of his letter first made headlines earlier this week, Flaherty told The Canadian Press he would "continue to be a strong advocate for the people and community I represent. It is my job."
The Prime Minister's Office also came to his defence, saying on Thursday that Flaherty was merely performing his duties as an MP.
Flaherty did not only sign his letter as an MP, however, as his sign-off also notes his status as finance minister and minister responsible for the GTA.
"I therefore order you to refrain from writing any similar letters in the future without seeking approval from my office."

And what is the bullshit excuse from the Tories? I'm glad you asked.

"As news of his letter first made headlines earlier this week, Flaherty told The Canadian Press he would "continue to be a strong advocate for the people and community I represent. It is my job." The Prime Minister's Office also came to his defence, saying on Thursday that Flaherty was merely performing his duties as an MP."

Translation; "Gosh I'm just a regular lil' ole M.P. You can't expect me to be up on obscure technicalities like this".

Uhh..No; Sorry guys the law says;
(From the Section of the Broadcasting Act:
7(1) Subject to subsection (2) and section 8, the Governor in Council (that means the Federal Cabinet or Prime Minister) may, by order, issue to the Commission directions of general application on broad policy matters with respect to;
(a) any of the objectives of the broadcasting policy set out in subsection 3(1); or
(b) any of the objectives of the regulatory policy set out in subsection 5(2).
(2) No order may be made under subsection (1) in respect of the issuance of a licence to a particular person or in respect of the amendment, renewal, suspension or revocation of a particular licence.

That means that No! Jim Flaherty, You may NOT, repeat NOT, lobby the CRTC for one of your cronies. You got that now? Making the claim that "I was only acting as a normal Member of Parliament gosh darn it" is nonsense. He is no such thing. Especially since he signed the fucking letter as Canada's Finance Minister. There is a copy included in the CTV story.

I expect the idiots at Ryerson to be this clueless but there is no excuse for Flaherty not knowing this stuff. It's kinda part of his job. It's not like he's Rob Ford for Fuck Sakes. On the other hand if you scroll down to the comment section you will find the usual collection of right wing Trolls making just that excuse. Probably the same sort of Tea Party wannabes who think Rob Ford was "set up" by "The Left". So there are clearly no limits to willful blindness.

The good news here is that, as I predicted, the CRTC was not bought off. They granted to a small independent group who are promising to play an all Indie and heavy CanCon format. (I did not predict this, although I did write a submission in their support). I doubt they could have outbidded the corporate big fish who were swimming in this pond, so they must have earned it fair and square. Say what you like about the CRTC, and there are legitimate reasons to criticize them, the CRTC are totally honest. In these days of blase' corruption I give them a great deal of credit for that.

Incidentally this reminds me that when Fitzroy Gordon was granted a license for a Black/Caribbean station at 98.7FM he made a point of saying in several interviews that he got the license after Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Jason Kenny personally met with him and intervened with the CRTC. Gordon has specifically said this several times in various public interviews. He also urged black people to vote for Harper because of this. If true however that would mean that either;

a) Harper and Kenny blatantly broke the law (I wouldn't have though they were that stupid, now I'm not so sure)

b) Gordon is an ass-kissing liar who is just sucking up to Harper and making himself look like an insider.

c) Harper and Kenny just bullshitted Gordon to get him out of their office and then did nothing but make some empty promises and Gordon was dumb enough to believe them.

d) The Tories are running a shakedown operation for broadcast licenses since while Gordon was lobbying Harper and Jason Kenny, Durham inc. was also lobbying the Finance Minister and yet another group was slipping cash to yet another Tory MP. Setting aside the obvious corruption, can it really be this chaotic in Ottawa? How does a corporate weasel know who to pay off around here? What happens if you pay off the wrong sleazebag? How would you know? As it turns out NONE of these three jerks got the 88.1fm license anyway (although Durham has a slew of others across Canada), so they ALL got scammed. Serves them right of course but it still seems a tad unfair, not to mention inefficient.

Either way they are openly bragging about breaking the law. Someone really should look into this.