Friday, August 19, 2005

Tubular dude...

...was the title of an e-mail from Rob that awaited me upon my return from a two week vacation. It turns out that Rob's impeccable digging skills, honed over years of record and book collecting, serve him just as well on the internet. Here is a link to an absolutely amazing collection of Edison cylinder recordings hosted by the University of California at Santa Barbara. Despite being transferred from Edison wax cylinders from the early part of last century (e.g., 1900-1920), these recordings sound amazingly clear (even in MP3 format). Perhaps most importantly, because they are so old, they are not covered by any copyright. You can download them, post them yourself, cut them up, paste them over your favorite beat, make a collage out of them, or just listen to them without fear of litigation. (Of course, since I am not a lawyer and probably could not offer legal advice here even if I was AND it is quite possible that the recording industry could push back the length of copyright protection even further - Caveat Emptor).

Since this archive contains the 1909 Cal Stewart track Uncle Josh in Society, which I cited in LOVE 1.4 as one possible source for the first use of the term "jazz" on record, I was actually able to confirm that its not in there. Unlike academic researchers, beat researchers are interested in null results (e.g., not finding a musical source you expect) as much as they are in positive ones. The value of these null results is that it helps us define boundaries, limits of theories, ends of musical tributaries, gaps in the transmission of memes. I guess I gotta just keep diggin.



Blogger subconsciouscafe said...

actually i think the version that has 'jazz' is on a Victor disc; lotta these vaudevillians recorded the same bit for several labels, and as the kids say, formats. so dig we must!

11:23 AM  
Blogger subconsciouscafe said...

note that Polk Miller's Old South Quartet is black - except for the guitarist & leader Polk Miller, who was a Confederate officer - and the Quartet served under him in the Civil War!

9:28 AM  
Blogger Music Downloads Center said...

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10:11 PM  
Anonymous Kip W said...

In 1975, I was visiting relatives in Brookins, SD, and made a brief trip to a little museum on the campus. They had a cylinder player and some cylinders, so I asked it if worked. They didn't know, so I asked if they'd mind me trying. They didn't, so I gave it a spin.

I had time to listen to a few seconds of the Sousa Band, and then decided I'd give a listen to a comedy cylinder, "Uncle Josh at the Bug House." Just as in James Thurber's reminiscences, it had obviously been played to death. I had to keep finger pressure on the needle, or it would stay in the same groove indefinitely.

The story was about a house where a family named Bug lived. The humor consisted of jokes in the form [word] + Bug. That is, something like this: "He heard the lightning, Bug did! He took a tumble, Bug did! Fell out of bed, Bug did!" And after each sentence, he'd hoot at himself -- an early example of canned laughter. "Hek! Hek!"

My aunt came along and collected me just then, so I didn't get to hear any more, to my lasting regret. I've searched the Library of Congress's "American Memory" and now this wonderful site, but still haven't found the Bug House again. (American Memory has an Uncle Josh movie, though.)

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Kip W said...

Uncle Josh at the Bug House has been found -- two versions, even. has a great section of 78s, including Jones and Hare's "Old King Tut," George Grossmith's "Murders," Al Jolson's "The Spaniard That Blighted My Life," George M. Cohan's "Life's a Funny Proposition, After All," George O'Connor's "Gasoline Gus and his Jitney Bus," Franks Harris's "A Yiddisha Charleston" (as heard in Forbidden Zone), Benny Bell's "Why Buy a Cow When Milk is Free," and so darn much more. Off-color party records (including Cliff Edwards) and a genuine castrato singing "Ave Maria."

7:30 PM  
Blogger Pace said...

Thanks for diggin that one up (and for sharing your ongoing excavations). is a treasure trove indeed.

7:54 PM  

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