Showing posts with label Carl Deacon Moore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carl Deacon Moore. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Phil Baxter, 1925 co-composer of Gambler's Blues (aka St. James Infirmary)

Phil Baxter was a pianist and band leader in the 1920s and 1930s. He was a prolific song-writer. Among his better known compositions are the rather risque "Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas" (recorded by a host of musicians from Phil Harris to Louis Armstrong), "Piccolo Pete" and the follow-up, "Harmonica Harry" (both were major novelty hits for Ted Weems and his orchestra), as well as "A Faded Summer Love" (which was a hit for Bing Crosby in 1931).
Phil Baxter

Baxter and Carl Moore published "Gambler's Blues" in 1925. Four years earlier Baxter and Moore toured together as a duo.They would ride the train from town to town and perform skits and music, with Moore on drums, Baxter at the piano. Eventually Baxter settled in Kansas City where, leading a band at the El Torreon ballroom, he displaced the Coon-Sanders Nighthawks as Kansas City's favourite dance orchestra. Moore created his own band; with a mixture of sophisticated dance arrangements and down-home humour, he was a popular entertainer.

Baxter was unable to perform after 1933 because of arthritis in his hands. On the verge of his leaving for Texas, the Kansas City Journal-Post ran a long article about Baxter which included this comment: "Baxter has had some litigation over the authorship of one song, which has been in circulation as 'St. James Infirmary,' but which he said he composed long ago and called 'Gambler's Blues.' He said he published it privately in Texas years ago, and that a New York publisher picked it up." That New York publisher was undoubtedly Gotham Music, whose president was Irving Mills (aka Joe Primrose).

(In 1924, a year before Moore/Baxter published "Gambler's Blues," Carl Sandburg published a book of "traditional" American songs containing a very similar piece, "Those Gambler's Blues.")

I Went Down to St. James Infirmary includes a brief biography of Baxter. Information about him is not easy to find. Recordings of his can still be discovered on CD and on streaming services, in compilations with titles like volume 2 of Jazz the World Forgot, or Texas and Tennessee Territory Bands. If anyone has information about Phil I would love to hear from you. Baxter's friend, Cliff Halliburton, wrote a biography, but I have been unable to find it and suspect it was never published.

Phil Baxter's band with his 1929 composition "I Ain't Got No Gal Now."

Original recording of Phil Baxter's 1928 "I'm a Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas."
Baxter's published version has seven verses, so this is a bit abbreviated.


Original recording of Phil Baxter's and Carl Moore's "Gambler's Blues"
(aka "St James Infirmary") 1927 - recorded one year before Louis Armstrong's
"St. James Infirmary" and two years after Moore/Baxter published it.


Louis Armstrong's original 1928 "St. James Infirmary." He recorded the song at
least twice more.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Original Sheet Music for SJI???

This, to the left, is the generic cover of the 1929 sheet music for "St. James Infirmary." The cover was designed so that a performer's image could be inserted without breaking the flow, as in the next picture. In those days images had to be set physically - that is, with an editor's hands placing the components in place. And so it was important for the Mills organization - and everybody else - to create flexible background images.

This is the first music score ever released for "St. James Infirmary." In the same year Mills Music (aka Gotham Music Service) also released an orchestral arrangement for SJI (which you can find elsewhere on this blog - search "sheet music"). The Mills music machine was fully engaged. The song had been subsumed.

Ahhh. But while it's the first music score for "St. James Infirmary," the sheet music for "Gambler's Blues," an earlier title for the song, had been printed four years earlier. The composer credits were to, not Joe Primrose, but Phil Baxter and Carl Moore. I wrote a bit about it here: The Golden Grail - you'll find more in the book.

"St. James Infirmary" aka "Gambler's Blues" had been around for many years before being taken into a recording studio. There were a ton of variations. There were many verses. The song, chameleon-like, changed its colour for the environment it stumbled into. The sheet music below, the first of its kind, gives us a taste of the song. But the song was more than this. It assumed many shapes; there were many versions.

This was just one of them.





Saturday, December 29, 2012

Carl Moore as The Squeakin' Deacon - photograph

Moore as radio personality "The Squeakin' Deacon"
Back in the mid nineteen-twenties Carl Moore, along with Phil Baxter, claimed authorship of "Gambler's Blues" (aka "St. James Infirmary"). You can read more about each of those fascinating individuals elsewhere on this blog (and, of course, in the book).

I recently received a message from Cecil Warren, who noticed that once upon a time I started to create a family tree for Carl, at Ancestry.com. Moore was one of the central characters in I Went Down to St. James Infirmary, and I closely researched his early years.

When he was a young lad ("in the 1947/1948 time period when my parents took me to his radio program"), Mr. Warren once sat on Moore's knee, and received the photograph you see here. "Too bad it got torn," Warren wrote, "probably a result of a fight between my sister and I over who got to hold it while we listened to his radio show. It is still a piece of history that has survived these 60 plus years."

By this time, Moore had given up leading a dance orchestra (many dance orchestras dissolved due to supply and personnel shortages during World War Two), and had become the country radio personality, "The Squeakin' Deacon." The Deacon was living in California at this time, not far from Hollywood. In fact, he had a (very) minor film career, including an uncredited appearance as the Toastmaster in the Rock Hudson/Elizabeth Taylor/James Dean movie Giant. He was once considered for the title role in the Will Rogers film biography, but Rogers' son eventually played that part. Moore would have been a natural, with his down-home humor and country hick persona.

Mr Warren added, in response to my writing, that  "I am glad that his role in music history is being preserved." Thank you, Cecil

ps In her late nineties, Moore's wife Marjorie is very much alive and energetic - she will be thrilled to see that you remember Carl Moore, The Squeakin' Deacon.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Carl "Deacon" Moore - "A Woman Gets Tired" mp3 - and Margie Moore turns 93!


A recent photograph of Marjorie Moore, with her daughter Carol

As readers of this blog, or of the book, know - Carl Moore was credited as co-composer of "Gambler's Blues" when it was recorded by Fess Williams in 1927. "Gambler's Blues" would soon become known as "St. James Infirmary" - and credit for authorship would change; first to Don Redman, and then to Joe Primrose.

But Carl Moore (along with Phil Baxter) was the first of these. He is one of the most interesting of the characters that I explore in
I Went Down to St. James Infirmary. After many years as a big band leader - and dapper, tuxedoed, comical hillbilly hick - he became one of the first (and one of the most popular) country music djs. Although he retired in 1969, Dave Sichak's website Hillbilly-Music dawt com announced that in 2008 Carl "Squeakin' Deacon" Moore had the most visited page of the many disk jockeys the site features.

Carl Moore was born in Paragould, Arkansas in 1902. He died in
Huntington Beach, California, in 1985. I telephoned his wife, the lovely Margie Moore, a few days ago. She celebrated her 93rd birthday this past weekend!

Happy Birthday Marjorie!!

In celebration of Margie's birthday, I am posting the fourth - and last - song of Carl's complete recorded output. Much of Carl's inspiration came from the vaudeville and minstrel stages, and this song - written by Paul Carter and C.H. Barker (who are today as obscure as songwriters can get) - was popular on vaudeville. Deacon drawls, the orchestra swings.

To hear this song, click on: "A Woman Gets Tired" MP3. Be warned that a few seconds in it might sound like the recording skips a beat. I edited the file a bit in order to removed a loud click.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

More about Border Radio on WFHB - Live!


The above image is from the web site of Bloomington, Indiana's Buskirk-Chumley Theater. This historic building will be the site for WFHB's March 27th live broadcast after the style of Border Radio - of interest here because of a) its historical context and b) it promises the first live performance after the style of Carl "Deacon" Moore in perhaps 70 years.

I was doing a bit of surfing this morning, and noticed that WFHB's home page had added the following notice:

WFHB holds live radio show at Buskirk-Chumley Theater March 27th
Remember the days when the radio announcer would say "Who's this on the Wolfman telephone?" or "Put your hands on the radio to feel the power of His love..."? Then you'll want to mark the date for WFHB's Spring Variety Show on Friday, March 27th at the historic Buskirk-Chumley Theater in downtown Bloomington. Local and regional musical acts, radio skits, live sound effects and more will transport you back to an earlier age when preachers, psychics, and purveyors of snake oil prevailed.

There is more detail here.

So, if you happen to live nearby, or are visiting Bloomington, Indiana, the live show is from 8 to 10 pm on March 27th. Those of us further away can catch it via their live feed at www.wfhb.org.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Carl "Deacon" Moore - "Evolution Mama" mp3

Some of my earlier posts discussed Carl "Deacon" Moore, a fascinating personality who became a central character in my book, I Went Down to St. James Infirmary. Pictured here with his orchestra in 1940, Moore (leaning against the piano) was credited as co-composer on Fess Williams' 1927 recording of "Gambler's Blues." Born and raised in Arkansas, Moore adopted the persona of the hillbilly hick in his performances. His drawling vocalizations contrasted appealingly with the smooth sounds of his orchestra. He made only four records, all during the same session for Decca records on August 9th, 1938. None of his recordings have ever been reproduced since those early 78s. In upcoming posts I shall make these recordings available - here's the first one.

"Evolution Mama" is Moore's strangest record. Referring to the controversy over evolution vs creation ("Evolution Mama, don't you make a monkey out of me") the song was written by Terry Shand . . . according to the credit on Moore's record label, anyway. The song had been recorded perhaps three times between 1925 and 1927, generally credited to Doc Dasher and Eddie Heywood. Since then it has been recorded by the Even Dozen Jug Band in 1964 (credited as a traditional tune).

By clicking on the song title below, you can hear Carl "Deacon" Moore and his orchestra perform "Evolution Mama" MP3 - the song is courtesy of Moore's wife, Marjorie Moore, and was transferred to tape for me by the big band historian Joseph E. Bennett.

Lyrics to "Evolution Mama"

Well old Lucian Burn had a gal, way down in Tennessee
Now, she told Lucian all about evolution
While she was sitting down on his knee
When one fine day she got gay and started steppin’ out
Well sir, then ol’ Lucian started a revolution
And the neighbours heard him shout

He said, Evolution Mama, Evolution Mama
He says, Honey Lamb don’t you make a monkey out of me
'Cause Evolution Mama don’t you think you’ve got me up a tree
I remember the time you had me nice and tame
and I was eating right out of your hand
But some sweet day I’m going to take dead aim
And knock that peanut whistle right off your stand

‘Cause Evolution Mama, sweet smellin’ mama
Listen here while I get you told
This is odd, but you ain’t no organ grinder
And I ain’t a hangin’ on your chain
He says I got me a razor and I got me a gun
And I’m gonna cut you if you stand still
And shoot you if you run

‘Cause Evolution Mama, sweet smellin’ mama
Don’t you make a monkey out of me
Says, I ain’t half man and I ain’t half beast
But I can do you more good than this here store-bought yeast
‘Cause Evolution Mama, sweet smellin’ mama
Don’t you make a monkey out of me

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Carl "Deacon" Moore advertisement

I thought it would be interesting to post a few old newspaper advertisements.

This one, from 1937, announces that on Sunday, for 40 cents a person, Carl "Deacon" Moore and his famous orchestra will be the grand special attraction. The woman pictured is Marge Hudson, one of the singers in his band. She is presented in this ad as "The singing artist's model. An exotic beauty of Spanish type."

But the most interesting part of this advertisement is the announcement that Carl Moore is the composer of "St. James Infirmary," "Bye Bye Blues," and "Ding Dong Daddy." As I've noted in earlier posts, Moore always maintained that he wrote the lyrics for "St. James Infirmary." A 1935 newspaper article, announcing the upcoming appearance of Moore and his orchestra, stated: "Moore and Phil Baxter were responsible for many popular melodies being composed. Among them were "Ding Dong Daddy," "St. James Infirmary," "Ride 'em Cowboy."
Inquiries into the early years of SJI