Inquiries into the early years of SJI
Showing posts with label Carl Moore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carl Moore. Show all posts

Friday, August 31, 2018

The FIRST sheet music for SJI

The cover for Gambler's Blues, 1925
I had been looking for this sheet music for years. It was as if the object did not exist. It was a legendary thing.

But eventually I did find it ... it was a stroke of luck, for I've never seen it again.

This is an important historical document. It had been printed in such small numbers that it must have become a collectors' item. I was certain of that.

I bought it for ninety-nine cents. Obviously, others were not as eager as I was.

The composing credit was to Carl Moore and Phil Baxter - both of whom are major characters in I Went Down to St. James Infirmary. The sheet music was published privately by Phil Baxter in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1925. Soon after, the publisher Harry D. Squires picked it up.  Squires convinced Fess Williams to record it (February 1927). That was the first recording of the song - which was next released by Buell Kazee in January 1928, and then - definitively - by Louis Armstrong in December 1928.

The sheet music with lyrics can be found elsewhere on this blog - just enter "Gambler's Blues" in the search box. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

SPOTIFY playlist for I Went Down to St. James Infirmary

Image by author, using sheet music for St. James Infirmary as background

All songs, all things, are connected.

While investigating the history of "St. James Infirmary," many other songs came into view.  Because of this I created a Spotify playlist of some of the songs mentioned in my book, I Went Down to St. James Infirmary. I couldn't find everything, though. Neither Daisey Tapley nor Florence Cole-Talbert are in the list. Aside from two or three women who were part of choirs, these were the first two black women to appear in recordings (1910 and 1919). I was able to include the first recorded solo black man (also, probably, the first solo male recording artist) - George W. Johnson with "The Laughing Coon" (c. 1894). Unfortunately, his first tune, "The Whistling Coon" (1891) is not on Spotify.

Neither are any of the songs by Carl Moore, aka "The Squeakin' Deacon." Moore was the first person, in 1924, to claim co-writing credit for SJI. From Arkansas, he adopted the persona of a hillbilly hick while fronting a smooth, swinging jazz orchestra. He recorded four catchy songs, but none of them migrated beyond their original 78 rpm discs. The only place you will find them today is on this site - enter "Carl Moore mp3" into the search box.

So far I have included 55 songs on the SJI playlist. You can hear Irving Mills introducing Duke Ellington at the Cotton Club on "Cotton Club Stomp." The Hokum Boys with their lost versions of "Gambler's Blues/St. James Infirmary." Gene Austin and "My Blue Heaven" (the best-selling song of all time ... until Bing Crosby's "White Christmas") - as well as his take on SJI. Bessie Smith. Blind Willie McTell's "Dyin' Crapshooter's Blues." Bob Dylan's "Blind Willie McTell." Cab Calloway. Alphonso Trent's 1930 SJI tantrum. Sophie Tucker. Hank Williams. Ward-Bergeman's 2011 gypsy version of SJI. Jimmie Rodgers. Victoria Spivey's 1926 "Black Snake Blues."

I shall add more from the book's song index as time goes on.

If you have a Spotify account, look for "I Went Down to St. James Infirmary" in the playlists, and enjoy.

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.





Sunday, February 26, 2017

Copyright entries for SJI, etc.

I have been searching Library of Congress copyright records for an article I am writing about the original Carter Family. I took some detours into "St. James Infirmary" territory; here are actual song copyright entries for some of these songs.

The full music sheets are
elsewhere on this blog

Gambler's blues ; w C. Moore, m P.
Baxter, of U. S. © Jan. 15, 1925
2 c. Jan. 15 ; E 605070 ; Phil Baxter
and Carl Moore, Little Rock, Ark.
1159

The first version of SJI to enter the copyright books was "Gambler's Blues," in 1925. While credited to Carl Moore and Phil Baxter, this (under the title "Those Gambler's Blues") was collected as a traditional song by the poet Carl Sandburg, in his 1927 book The American Songbag. Hmmmm.

Phil Baxter and Carl Moore


St. James' infirmary ; words and musicby Joe Primrose. © Mar. 4, 1929 ; 2 c. Mar. 26; E pub. 4595; Gotham
music service, inc., New York. 6527

This copyright, to the fictional Joe Primrose, was registered in March, 1929.
The recording, by Louis Armstrong & His Savoy Ballroom Five, was recorded in December, 1928 - three months earlier than the copyright. Something was afoot.

Irving Mills aka Joe Primrose

Porter Grainger

Dyin' crap shooter's blues ; words and
melody by P. Grainger. © 1 c. July
27, 1927; E 672418; Porter Grainger,
New York. 13674

"Dyin' Crap Shooter's Blues" was recorded three times in 1927, and then abruptly forgotten ... until resurrected by Blind Willie McTell in the 1940s. McTell was very convincing when describing how he wrote this song - but, obviously, he didn't. Bob Dylan's lyric for his song, "Blind Willie McTell" - "I'm standing in the doorway of the St. James Hotel" - was partly responsible for the writing of this book, I Went Down to St. James Infirmary.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

HAPPY HUNDREDTH BIRTHDAY, MARJORIE MOORE!!!!!

On April 6th, 2016, Marjorie Moore is 100 years young! Through much of her life Margie was intimately involved with the big band scene during the jazz and the dance era, and then with the country music scene after World War II. The Moore name was attached, as co-author, to the first recording of "St. James Infirmary" (aka "Gambler's Blues") in 1928.

Marjorie and I have enjoyed several telephone conversations over the years. We have exchanged letters. She was most helpful when I was deeply into researching the first edition of "I Went Down to St. James Infirmary." There cannot be a more warm, welcoming, and dynamic woman.

Interested readers can find out more about Margie by searching her name on this blog.

For now, I simply wish to extend my thanks and admiration to Marjorie Moore on her one hundredth birthday. Congratulations. You have all my respect and all my love.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Golden Grail - found! Gambler's Blues (aka St. James Infirmary), the first sheet music


Ahhhh.

I have been looking for this sheet music for years. Dare I say, for at least a decade?! And it escaped me. It was as if the object did not exist. I mean, I read about it, and I even found evidence that it was locked in the archives of the New York State judicial library, as evidence in a 1930s lawsuit. But it was rare as the Dickens and I could never find the actual thing.

But two months ago I did.

I found it on ebay. The starting price was ninety-nine cents (plus postage), and there were two weeks left in the bidding. "Oh dear," I thought, "this is such an important historical document, one that has eluded me for a decade, and I am sure many people will be bidding for this. There is no chance that, with my meager resources, I shall be able to actually get my hands on this item." But, as you can see, I did win it. For ninety-nine cents (plus postage).

What an odd thing!! This was something of considerable importance to me. And I was the only one to enter a bid. Nobody else in the world cared. It was my golden grail. And nobody else cared. There were no other bids. And so I now possess (what I thought to be) a great historical document at a cost of ninety-nine cents (plus postage).

I must be deluded. I have been pursuing this story, this history of "St. James Infirmary," for over a decade. One of the critical links in the saga of this song appeared for sale, and . . . well . . . it sold for ninety-nine cents.

I shall have to ponder this.

Maybe history depends upon who writes the story.

The year on this music sheet is 1925. It was published by Phil Baxter in Little Rock, Arkansas. My research had informed me that "Harry D. Squires, Inc." was the original publisher of this song, and that Squires was the person who convinced Fess Williams to record it. So it is possible that Baxter released this edition before finding a bona fide publisher. Also, I had noted that Baxter and Moore neglected to copyright the song (thereby leaving the way open for "Joe Primrose" to take ownership of it). But "International Copyright Secured" is printed on these pages. I had found no evidence of this when I contacted the U.S. copyright offices, so I am not sure what this means.

The sheet music with lyrics is below - the pages should expand when you click on them. I leave it to you to compare this music with the versions of this song in Carl Sandburg's "American Songbag," published in 1927. Whatever this comparison tells you, it will be clear that neither Phil Baxter nor Carl Moore nor Joe Primrose nor anybody else wrote "St. James Infirmary."




 




Tuesday, April 2, 2013

MP3 Monologue 10 - The Hokum Boys 1929

"St. James Infirmary" was first recorded in February 1927, as "Gambler's Blues," by Fess Williams And His Royal Flush Orchestra. The composer credit on the record's label went to Carl Moore and Phil Baxter. It was next recorded as "Gambling Blues" in January, 1928 by the, uhm, hillbilly Kentuckian Buell Kazee. There was no composer credit. The third recording occurred in December 1928. This time it was titled "St. James Infirmary," the recording artist was Louis Armstrong and His Savoy Ballroom Five, and the composer credit went to Don Redman. Until, that is, the second pressing of the record; that's when Joe Primrose made his first appearance on a record label. The fourth and fifth recordings, October 1929, were by The Hokum Boys. The songs were called "Gambler's Blues 'St. James Infirmary Blues'" and "Gambler's Blues No. 2." There was no composer credit. There were at least 23 recordings of "St. James Infirmary" released in North America up to the end of 1930, and most of these bore the composer name "Joe Primrose." Mattie Hite attributed her version to "Nobody," meaning it was in the public domain - but that was challenged, and Primrose appeared on later pressings of Hite's version, which was really a combination of the two songs Carl Sandburg documented as "Those Gambler's Blues" in his book American Songbag.

The Hokum Boys, though. These were quite different songs. I sometimes think of them as the last vestiges of a folk process that, before the copyright took firm hold, was still evolving the song. The one you will hear below, "Gambler's Blues 'St. James Infirmary Blues,'" initially follows the commonly known lyric, and then veers off into strange territory. The musicianship is, I think, extraordinary, and the song is a real pleasure. The second version, "Gambler's Blues No. 2" is odder, and well worth a listen - these songs can be found by clicking here.

To listen to this monologue (less than two minutes), with music (more than two minutes), click here: The Hokum Boys, Gamblers Blues 1929 MP3


Many thanks to Document Records for keeping all these songs available and alive.

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.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

MP3 Monologue 7 - Buell Kazee: the second recording of St. James Infirmary

From an article I wrote in 2008, when first alerted to Buell Kazee.:

"This is, lyrically, very similar to the song that Carl Moore (from Arkansas) and Phil Baxter (from Texas) - both white musicians - put their names to and which Fess Williams recorded in March, 1927. Kazee's recording date of January 1928 makes it, chronologically, the second recording in the "St. James Infirmary" canon, effectively moving Louis Armstrong into third place.
"Kazee hailed from Eastern Kentucky. For the sake of posterity he transcribed the traditional songs of his family and neighbours, and recorded about fifty of them between 1927 and 1929. His "Gambling Blues," while lyrically similar to "Gambler's Blues" and "St. James Infirmary" has a different melody, a kind of simple rhythmic chant reminiscent of mournful Appalachian ballads."

To listen to this monologue (about 2:30 at 256 kbps) click here:
Buell Kazee and SJI/Gambling Blues MP3

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Happy Birthday, Marjorie!

Marjorie Moore, the young bride of bandleader Carl Moore (later Country DJ "The Squeakin' Deacon") turned 96 earlier this month. Marjorie was very supportive of my book, and sent me a number of photographs and press clippings. I spoke with her over the 'phone  yesterday and she was - as usual - bright, enthusiastic, and energetic.

Happy Birthday, Margie!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

MP3 Monologue 6 - Fess, Phil, and Carl: the first recording of St. James Infirmary

Here is monologue 6 from the ongoing series. These were recorded two or three years ago, when I was living in urban Ontario rather than rural Saskatchewan. Here we explore (with a number of period sound clips) the first recording, from 1927, of "St. James Infirmary" - then called "Gambler's Blues."

You might be startled to hear, in this monologue, that Phil Baxter and Carl Moore wrote "Gambler's Blues." Well, they did, in a way. The song had been floating around the music halls for some time. They wrote a version of the song and had some sheet music printed. But, of course, they weren't the creators of "Gambler's Blues."

I know that a sample of their sheet music lies somewhere in the files of New York's legal vaults, where it served as evidence in a 1930 lawsuit initiated by Irving Mills (unrelated to Moore-Baxter), but search as I might I have never been able to find an actual copy. I am sure, though, that Irving Mills did have his own copy, before he disguised himself as Joe Primrose.

To listen (about 4:45 at 256 kbps) click here: Fess, Phil, Carl, and SJI MP3

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An Illustration

A few years ago, while working on the first iteration of I Went Down to St. James Infirmary (which I had titled A Rake's Progress and of which perhaps a dozen copies are still in existence), I  created an illustration that brought together some of the principal characters in the SJI story. Albert Gleizes' 1913 painting "Women Sewing" was the inspiration for the underlying art work; onto this I layered photographs of various SJI personalities, and included myself and my wife (the book's designer) as, I guess, observers of the drama.

So here, in no particular order (the illustration should enlarge if you click on it), you can find Jimmie Rodgers, Porter Grainger, Dan Emmett, Mamie Smith, Irving Mills, Don Redman, Phil Baxter, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Carl "The Deacon" Moore, Bob Dylan, Bessie Smith, Emmett Miller, and Blind Willie McTell.

Speaking of Blind Willie McTell, he will be (part of) the subject of our next entry.

Friday, June 11, 2010

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

Today, I'm revisiting an earlier post about Phil Baxter, a pianist and band leader who was active in the 1920s and 1930s. Phil Baxter was a prolific and successful song-writer. Among his better known compositions we can include "Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas," "Piccolo Pete" (and the follow-up, "Harmonica Harry" - both were early novelty hits for Ted Weems and his orchestra), and "A Faded Summer Love" (which was a hit for Bing Crosby in 1931).

Baxter also claimed co-authorship for "St. James Infirmary." He and Carl Moore actually published the song in 1925, but they neglected to apply for copyright. It is possible that around 1921 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. Baxter eventually settled in Kansas City where, leading the house band at the El Torreon ballroom, he displaced the Coon-Sanders Nighthawks as Kansas City's favourite dance orchestra.

Baxter was unable to perform after 1933 because of arthritis. 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.

Information about Phil Baxter is very hard to come by. Recordings of his can still be found on CD, but 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. I understand that Baxter's friend, Cliff Halliburton, wrote a biography of Phil, but I have been unable to find it and suspect it was never published.

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.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Coming soon: Border Radio - live feed - including Carl "Deacon" Moore!

I have been exchanging emails with Mike Kelsey, dj of a really interesting radio show at the WFHB community radio station in Bloomington, Indiana.

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the name Carl "Deacon" Moore - and probably with the recordings I have posted here. Recently Mike played some of the Carl Moore records on his show - this is probably the first time they've been heard in broadcast since sometime in the 1930s! But later this month he will be doing something even more exciting!

Mark your calendars for Friday March 27th, between 8 and 10 pm Eastern Time. Turn your digital dial to http://www.wfhb.org/ for a live broadcast patterned after the Border Radio of the 1930s and 1940s. Among the songs to be broadcast will be live covers of at least one of the Moore songs. What will it be? "Evolution Mama?" "Nobody Knows Where She's Gone?" Place your bets at the window.

There are a number of books about Border Radio, but one in particular manages to sum it up nicely in its subtitle: "Quacks, Yodelers, Pitchmen, Psychics, and Other Amazing Broadcasters of the American Airwaves." The broadcast promises to be a real treat so, see you there!
ps There is a good chance that Carl's wife, the vivacious 92 year-old Marjorie Moore, will be listening in, too.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Carl "Deacon" Moore - "Waiting for the Evening Mail" MP3


It's been a while since I've posted to the site. I've been involved in a number of projects (that include working on a photo web site - although, truth be told, Pam has been doing most of that).

Anyway, we're long past due for another Carl "Deacon" Moore song. Like the others he made, Waiting for the Evening Mail (Sitting on the Inside Looking Outside) was recorded for Decca in 1938. Originally written by Tin Pan Alley composer Billy Baskette, it was a popular ditty recorded by the likes of Bing Crosby and Al Jolson. This is a tragi-comical song, and Moore does it well. To hear the song, click on: "Waiting for the Evening Mail" MP3.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Carl "Deacon" Moore - "Nobody Knows Where She's Gone" mp3

It's time, I think, for another Carl "Deacon" Moore (and his orchestra) song. Like the rest of Moore's entire recorded output, this was recorded for Decca in 1938.

To paraphrase the big band historian Joesph E. Bennett, if one were simply to listen to a Moore performance, one would first hear Deacon's introductory remarks delivered in a broad hillbilly twang - and would expect, upon opening one's eyes, to see a country hick in bib overalls, chewing on a bit of straw. Instead there would stand "a handsome, slender young man immaculately arrayed in a spotless tuxedo, leading an orchestra which was equal in appearance to the most impressive New York ensemble. The band's music was tasteful and modern, with an impressive mix of popular up-tempo numbers and traditional lush ballads, all delivered with an obvious high degree of musicianship."

You can hear all of that in this selection. To listen to this song, click on: "Nobody Knows Where She's Gone" MP3.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Marjorie Moore and "Deacon" Radio, revisited

Readers of this site will know that Carl Moore is intimately tied to the fascinating history of "St. James Infirmary." I received a telephone call from his wife Marjorie Moore this afternoon. Although we exchanged letters while I was writing I Went Down to St. James Infirmary, this is the first time we've actually spoken to each other. This was an exciting moment, and in celebration I am revisiting one of the earliest posts on this blog.

While Carl Moore was born in 1902 Marjorie Moore, who he married in 1941, was quite a bit younger than him. Margie, now 92, is a warm and energetic woman. About Carl she said, "He was one neat guy - very kind and loving and caring." Whether as a singer and big band leader or as a country music DJ, she says that Carl always had time for his fans. During his later career as a country dj, he hosted an influential amateur show on Sunday mornings. Margie told me that, "After a show people would line up to see him, and he would stay as long as they wanted to talk. He was a down-to-earth guy; he didn't put on airs." When I first wrote to her, asking about SJI, she wrote back, "'St. James Infirmary' is a mystery to me, also. I always understood that Carl wrote the words to it." She also remembered "Carl telling me that someone took several songs to Chicago and sold them but did not put his name on them."

Margie sent me a number of photographs and press clippings, including this photo that I did not include in the book. This is Carl as a California country radio dj "The Squeakin' Deacon."

Moore's first radio job was an early morning show on Cincinnati's WLW radio station. This station was originally built to help sell radios and used such a powerful transmitter that it interfered with Canadian radio signals. From Cincinnati the Moore's moved to St. Louis (where Carl hosted a country show called "The Shady Valley Gang"). By 1947 the Moore's (Carl, Margie, and their daughter Carole) made California their permanent home. The hillbilly persona he adopted in the dance halls of America served him well in the increasingly popular world of country music. It is still possible to see Carl "The Squeakin' Deacon" Moore on some of the Bear Family videos of the 1950s country TV show, Town Hall Party, making brief appearances to tell jokes and advertise his Sunday morning amateur hour. On the August 8th, 1959 show you can not only see the Deacon telling a couple of his jokes, but also watch a 27 year old Johnny Cash doing an impersonation of Elvis Presley.

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.