Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit

Scarce Early Photograph of a Jug Band with No Jug African-American Street Musicians

CLICK TO ENLARGE  COLLECTION JIM LINDERMAN

My second good blues musician photograph in two years.  Period original photographs of African-American musicians are hard to find, and I have been very lucky indeed.   See HERE for another find from the same period.  

A washtub bass, two guitars (one which appears to be decorated, or possibly having inlaid wood?) and a fiddle.  This is a small snapshot taken at what appears to be the train station, although it could be a streetcar, but the Western Union sign leads me to believe it is the railroad, and of course there is a porter who appears as interested as the others.  The performers appear successful with sharp shoes and good dress.   This would be a darn smart jug band if they had a jug.  I am going to guess the nurses were on the way home.

My first guess was that the bass player could be Will Shade, ringleader for a hodge-podge of Memphis musicianers and jug bands.  In part because of his nickname "Son Brimmer" which referred to his habit of wearing a hat with a brim to shade his eyes. (and I believe also the title of his first recording, but haven't looked it up)  The hat here is unusual and brimmed.

Shade or not, the performer plays a "bullfiddle" which is a garbage can, broomstick and one string.  If you have never seen a musician play who COULD play one, you'd be surprised how effective the rudimentary instrument is.  I believe what we are seeing here dates to the Frank Stokes, Sleepy John Estes, Gus Cannon era.  The snapshot is a mere 2.5" x 3.5" but crisp as can be, enlarge it and see the details. 

If any of you out there recognize any participants or the location I would be much obliging.  I have one or two experts scratching their heads.  More heads is better!  How unfortunate that a photo can not sing or play...I would have loved to be met by this splendid looking group on my arrival.

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Original Street Photograph Snapshot circa 1930 African-American Quartet Perform at Train Station.  Location Uknown.  Collection Jim Linderman

COLLECTION JIM LINDERMAN

5 comments:

  1. The second paragraph in your text is really nice. I really like the personality and the detail in it. I'll try to practice that stuff when I look at photos.

    Of course, I guess you *have* to do that stuff when you're trying to get the where/when of a photo.

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  2. "My first guess was that the bass player could be Will Shade, ringleader for a hodge-podge of Memphis musicianers and jug bands. In part because of his nickname "Son Brimmer" which referred to his habit of wearing a hat with a brim to shade his eyes. (and I believe also the title of his first recording, but haven't looked it up) The hat here is unusual and brimmed."

    As a brim goes all the way round, I think you mean visor. In fact, Sun Visor.

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    Replies
    1. Indeed I did. But there is a photo of Will Shade wearing a cap too, with a visor. I'm not saying it IS Will, only asking for help identifying the musicians. Thanks!

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  3. I really have no idea where this photo was taken, but my best guess (and I'm sure yours, as well) is New Orleans.

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  4. I thought New Orleans as well, The building looks like the back of the French Market......though the train tracks are a bit further away now days.

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