Monday, December 31, 2018

David Miller

Wiki page


another one of Miller's recordings on Allen's blog:

An excerpt from the book Country: A Regional Exploration, by Ivan Tribe, 2006

"On Dec 16, 1924, in its Cincinnati studio, Gennett recorded the first country vocalist from West Virginia, a former national guardsman named David Miller (1893-1959), who lost his eyesight and was billed as "The Blind Soldier".  Like Puckett [Riley], Reneau [George], Miller usually earned his living as a street singer in Huntington.  Although the Tweedys and Miller recorded several sessions and did programs on radio, neither ever had the impact or success that the better known artists on the New York-based labels experienced." 

An excerpt from the book  "Mountaineer Jamboree: Country Music in West Virginia", by Ivan M. Tribe, 1984, The University of Kentucky Press.

W.R. Callaway, a sometime Huntington resident and talent scout, wielded a guiding hand in the career of Miller and other recording artists from that area.

...Miller was not a West Virginian, but he had lived in the Mountain State for several years.  Born in the small Ohio river community of Miller, in Lawrence County, Ohio, on March 7, 1893, David Miller worked primarily as a laborer on a local fruit farm before entering military service in World War I.  Soon after joining the army, he developed granulated eyelids which caused eventual blindness, but he government turned down his pension request.

He had earlier moved across the river to the Huntington suburb of Guyandotte and taken up his music seriously to sustain himself and his family.  Known as "The Blind Soldier", miller developed a unique guitar style and possessed an adequate, albeit archaic and perhaps erratic tenor vocal style.  Much of his recorded work remains unreleased, leading one to question the evenness of its quality.

Miller placed a number of fine old ballads, hymns and especially antiquated popular songs on record over the next seven years but never attained much fame outside the Huntington area and relatively little even there.  He did play extensively on WSAZ, the local radio station, but often as part of a group.  The Gennett record label was the only one to use his real name, and they sold fewer copies than Champion, on which label he was known as Oran Campbell, or as Dan Kutter and Frank Wilkins on Sears Roebuck releases.  All of Miller's 1929 Paramount releases used the pseudonym Owen Mills, and on his 1931 work for the American Record Corporation, sometimes only the nickname "The Blind Soldier" appears on the labels.  Although Miller remained active until just a few years before his death on November 1, 1959, he remains little known even to that small fraternity of dedicated old-time record collectors.  This is unfortunate because Miller constituted one of the most traditional singers and guitar players ever to record, even in the earliest years.  His repetoire, for instance, included such material as an early white version of the Negro ballad "That Badman Stacklee", the old sentimental Civil War song "Faded Coat Of Blue", "It's Hard To Be Shut Up In Prison" (a variant of traditional "Logan County Jail" and the guitar instrumentals "Jailhouse Rag" and "Cannonball Rag".

Gennett 6175
Year:  1927
Label location:  Richmond, Indiana
Pressed by:  Gennett

The Lonesome Valley:

Don't Forget Me Little Darling:

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Lester McFarland & Robert A. Gardner (3rd post)

Lester McFarland at left, Robert A. Gardner at right

Brunswick 109
Year:  1927

Are You Tired Of Me, My Darling

You Give Me Your Love And I'll Give You Mine

Those on my email list will be sent a link to download extra Mac and Bob songs.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Jules Herman And His Orchestra

There were three discs that I know of that were recorded at Kay Bank and pressed with Soma catalog numbers in 1958, to commemorate the 100th year of the state's existence.  Each disc was issued with sheet music in a sturdy mailing envelope.  I'm not sure who the recipients were.  Perhaps a radio giveaway or members of the Minnesota Historical Society.  I have all three discs, but this one I am lacking the envelope and sheet music.  Will most likely find it someday, but for now I thought I'd share it, to get folks ready for the Minnesota State Fair, starting next week.

Side A vocal:  Lois Best
Sibe B vocal:  The Casualaires

Soma 1096
Year:  1958
Label location:  Minnesota
Pressed by:  Kay Bank

The Iota Song

The Tourist's Polka

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Dick Ford

A previous version of this post had an obituary.  I later learned that it was not the same person as found on this recording.

Soma 1082
Year:  1957
Label location:  Minneapolis, Mn
Pressed by:  Kay Bank

Mary Ellen

Lawdy, Lawdy, Miss Clawdy

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Soma (miscellaneous)

The first Soma 45rpm, circa 1955

Wall in the offices of the company
For the past few years I have taken up the task of acquiring copies of every disc issued by Soma records of Minneapolis.  The company didn't leave behind any ledgers that we know of, so a full discography is unavailable.  I compiled an excel file (included in download) listing all the discs I know of.  On that list there are 281 singles (78rpm and 45rpm) and roughly 50 Lps.  I am missing about 70 of the 45s, and need to upgrade about 30 of my discs that are lower quality than VG+.  The first 30 or so discs were pressed on both 45rpm and 78rpm.  Many of the first Soma discs were songs originally issued on the FM Recordings label in Hollywood, CA.  Not sure how that came to be.  Those who knew are most likely deceased.  I hope someday to have all the records, but I'm not entirely sure I'll end up finding all of them.  It's been fun so far and I have no reason to give up. I don't have plans to do anything with the collection once (or if) it is ever complete.  I suppose I have plenty of time to think about it.

I thought I'd upload some of the lesser known discs, which individually wouldn't be worth posting.  I have also included my list of needed records, in case anyone out there can help.   And inside the download folder is a brochure catalog (says complete but it is not) printed by the company, circa 1963.  I was able to scan this rare document from the collection of Dan Heilicher's son Jamie.