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Shifters and sugarcubes -- Happy Bicycle Day!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 19, 2013 03:53pm | Post a Comment

Today marks the day that Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann discovered the properties of LSD, on 16 April, 1943, and rode his bike home.

THE DISCOVERY OF LSD


Sandoz Laboratories - Basel, Switzerland (demolished)

Albert Hofmann first synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in his Basel laboratory in 1938 working for Sandoz Laboratories whilst studying scilla and ergot in an attempt to purify and synthesize the active constituents for use as pharmaceuticals.


Siberian scilla (image source: Digging RI)

He set aside his discovery for five years at which point he accidentally absorbed a quality through his fingertips and reported feeling dizzy, intoxicated, stimulated and seeing kaleidoscopic shapes and colors when he closed his eyes.


HOFMANN'S TRIP AND BIKE RIDE

His curiosity piqued, on 19 April Hofmann intentionally took 250 micrograms. He began tripping and rode his bike home. At first the experience was unpleasant. He 
was convinced that a neighbor was a 
witch who had poisoned him. A doctor visited him and reported nothing unusual except for dilated pupils. Thus reassured, his trip became much more pleasant. He later wrote of the experience:

"... little by little I could begin to enjoy the unprecedented colors and plays of shapes that persisted behind my closed eyes. Kaleidoscopic, fantastic images surged in on me, alternating, variegated, opening and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, exploding in colored fountains, rearranging and hybridizing themselves in constant flux ..."


LSD's IMPACT ON CULTURE

In the years that followed, acid (as LSD is commonly known) became used for a variety of scientific and recreational purposes. It was first criminalized in California, on 6 October, 1966. The rest of the US and UK quickly followed. Of course acid had already made its mark. In music, it was the catalyst for psychedelic rock, which had by then spread to both sides of the Atlantic, and its subgenre, acid rock. I don't intend to cram the entire cultural history of LSD on humankind into a blog but I'd like to bring it back to bikes... because this is Bicycle Day, remember? Long before the discovery of acid bicycles were the subjects of popular songs.


THE INVENTION OF AND EARLY SONGS ABOUT BICYCLES


Bicylces were invented in the 18th century. The bike's ancestor, the dandy horse, had been first introduced to the public in Mannheim in 1817. The French term bicyclette had been in use since 1847. In the Anglosphere, the commonly used term was velocipede. London's Daily News first printed the word "bicycle" in 1868 but it didn't completely catch on immediately.


  


Throughout the latter half of the 19th century it was popular to sing about new inventions (see: "The Monsters of Megaphone"). In 1868, Henry Atkins led the pack with "Velocipede Galop." In 1869, he was followed by Carl Faust's "Le Velocipede Galopp," Geo. Cooper & Harry Miller's "The Gay Velocipede," E.H. Sherwood's "The New Velocipede - Galop," S. Low Coach's (John M. Dunfield) "The Unlucky Velocipedist - Galop," Frank Howard's "The Velocipede Song and Chorus," Wm. O. Fiske, "Velocipede (March)," Cha. Koppitz's "Velocipede Galop," G. Operti's "Velocipede Galop," Henry B. Hart's "Velocipede Galop," O.H. Harpel & Henry Atkins's "Velocipede Jimmy," Leander's "Velocipede Johnny," Louis Mösser's "Velocipede March," E. Mack's "Velocipede Polka," (unknown) "Velocipede Song," Leon's "Velocipede Waltz," and (unknown) "Velocipediania."


BICYCLE SONGS AND ADVANCES OF THE 1880s

  

No known songs about bicycles were published in the 1870s but in the 1880s the charts were stormed a mob of bike songs that reflected "bicycle" having taken over "velocipede." W. Diederich's "Bicycle Glide," S. Conant Doster & Harry W. Sawyer's "Mister Tobias Isaias Elias. A Bicycling Song," and E.C. Phelps's "The Sailing Party" were published in 1880. Chas. W. Nathan's "Star Bicycle Galop" was published in 1882. Wm. H.A. Hall's "Bicycle Galop," James C. Bekel's "La Fete des Bicycles, Fantasia Charasteristic," and John Ford's "The Star Rider" and "The Wheelmen's Song," were published in 1883. W.J. Holding's "Knights of the Wheel Schottische," A.S. Andrew & C.D. Blake's "Bicycle Polka," and Conant Foster's "Wheel Songs" were published in 1884. J.J. Sawyer's Bicycle Waltz" and Walter A. Dolane's "Wheelmen Waltzes" were published in 1885. S. White Paine's "Gem of the Track - Bicycle Club Song" was published in 1886. John Young's "Wheelmen's Waltz" was published in 1889.

Toward the end of decade there were key advances in the bicycle industry and the music industry. Edison Phonograph Company formed in 1887 and in 1888 commercially introduced wax cylinders to the music-buying public. Also in 1887, John Dunlop developed the first practical pneumatic tire for his son's tricycle, tested it, and patented his invention in 1888. 


THE GOLDEN AGE OF BICYCLES AND THE SONGS THAT FOLLOWED 

A series of advances beginning with the introduction of the pneumatic tire in 1888 ushered in the Golden Age of Bicycles, the 1890s. There were also new music formats. Piano rolls were introduced in 1896. 

  

Chas. F. Escher, Jr’s “Wheelmen's March” was published in 1890. R.S. Peniston’s “Wheeling, A Bicycle Parade” and Chas. Brighton’s “A Job Lot. Comic Song” were published in 1891. Frank R. Gillis’s “Washington Cyclist's Military March,” Harry Dacre’s “Daisy Bell,” and Gerald Deane’s “Queen of the Wheel” were published in 1892. Walter I. Dolbeare’s “Massachusetts Bicycle Club,” Robert S. Gebhart’s “The Dayton Bicycle Club,” T.H. Rollinson’s “The Silent Steed - Galop Brillante,” Ch. Eustace’s “Véloce-Galop,” Oscar H. Gerber’s “Mercury March,” J.W. Alexander’s “The Bicycle Waltz,” Harry Wunderlich’s “Wheelmen's March,” Lucien Durand’s “Women En Bicyclette,” and Chas. K. Harris’s “Katie Rides a Wheel” were all published in 1893. J.A. Wallace’s “The Pretty Bicycle Girl,” Alice Irene Fairlie’s “East Orange Cyclers,” Anthony Lohmann’s “League Meet March,” Arnold Somylo’s “Pretty Girls in Bloomers,” O. Schrage & W. Potstock’s “The Bloomers,” Emmet Duffy’s “Mulrooney on a Bike,” Harry Dacre’s “Dorothe!,” Mildred McNeal & Hattie Thickens’s “Let Us Ride Together,” Roland Burke Hennessy’s “Ye Merry Cycle Song,” M.H. Bryant & Amy P. Foster’s “She Rides a Bike,” and Wm. Hogan’s “The Bicycle Girl” were published in 1894. M.A. Althouse’s “Penn Wheelmen March Two Step,” John Lloyd Whitney’s “The Century Run March,” A. Robarge’s “The Pittsfield Wheelmen,” M. Florence’s “Bloomer March - Two Step,” Samuel H. Speck’s “Hannah Go Hide Your Bloomers,” George J. Becker’s “The March of the Bloomers,” J.F. Davis’s “A Corker - Bicycle Song,” Margaret Rogers Knapp’s “Cycling Song,” R.W. Young’s “The Pike Belt March and Two Step,” Theo A. Metz’s “Get Your Lamps Lit,” F.E. Hutchings’s “The New Cycle Path March and Two-Step,” Charles Smith Tarbox’s “The United States Wheel March,” Harry J. Ballou’s “Climbing on My Golden Wheel,” David Reed, Jr.’s “Ridin' on de Golden Bike,” Gussie Davis’s “Since Hannah's Done Learned to Ride a Wheel,” O.A. Hoffmann’s “Have You a Wheel,” George Evans’s “Johannah, Is Your Heart Still,” Ward Sprague’s “Sparking on a Wheel,” Melvin Ward & Herman Perlêt’s “Sweetheart I Love None but You,” M. Stuart & Percy Gaunt’s “Spin 'Round,” Jess Danzig & Frank P. Banta’s “Wheeling, Wheeling or Love A-Wheel,” W. Murdoch Lind & George Rosey’s “You Don't Have to Marry the Girl,” Fred J. Hamill’s “A Romance of A Wheel,” Ray Brian’s “Keating Wheel March,” F.R. Gadd’s “On the Wheel - Mazurka-Waltz,” C.E. Stewart (Stuart)’s “The Bicycle Craze,” Frank R. Seltzer’s “The New Columbia March,” Alexander Crerar & A.H. Houghton’s “The Wheel,” Jas. L. Post & R.W. Edwards’s “Angel Grace and the Crimson Rim,” Joseph Louis MacEvoy’s “Mary Belle,” William Mulligan & Roy L. Burtch’s “Rosie Steel,” George A. Watts’s “The Bicycle Belle March,” Nettie M. Wagner & J. Carroll Chandler’s “The Bicycle Girl,” Fraser Grant & Geo. J. Southwick’s “The Cycling Maid or The Maid's the Thing,” Frank P. Banta’s “Wheelman's Patrol,” and Harrison E. Ruhe’s “Allen Wheelmen March and Two Step” were published in 1895. W.J. McIntyre’s “Brooklyn Bicycle Club March,” Theodore E. Brun’s “Cyclopia March,” C.E. Vandersloot’s “L.A.W. Waltzes,” W.L. Metz’s “Mercury Wheelmen March,” Olaf E. Pedersen’s “Turner Wheel Club March Two-Step,” S.G. Kiesling’s “The Black Diamond,” Grace L. Catlin’s “The Cycling Club March,” L.B. Smith’s “What Will the Girls Do Next?,” Leonard B. Marshall’s “Bicycle Song,” T.W. Connor’s “At My Time O’ Life,” Mrs. Harold A. Lee’s “Bicycle Parade March – Two-Step,” Henry Vaughn & Paul Rodney’s “Cycling Song,” Brandon Thomas & Edgar Thornton’s “The Wheel Galop” and “Speed the Wheel,” Billy Vassar & Will H. Friday’s “Under the Trees On The Cycle,” Cornelius Higgins’s “M'kinley and Hobart's Bicycle,” Chas. Quinn’s “Happy Little Coons,” Bruce M. Priddy’s “Cycler’s March,” T.J. Donoghue & Geo. E. Schaller’s “Give Me the Girl That Rides the Wheel,” Dave Reed Jr.’s “Little Zulu Lu, A Congo Elopement,” Frank Dun’s “Making Love on a Wheel,” E.T. Paull’s “New York and Coney Island Cycle March Two-Step,”  Adam Craig & John Quinn’s “Wheeling Together,” August Argauer’s “Wiener Volks Radfahrer,” J.M. Cody’s “Ben Hur March,” Fred W. Edgecomb’s “Frontenac Two-Step,” Tho. W. Jaquith & Otto Funk’s “He’s Got a Wheel,” Fred L. Moreland’s “The Cycle King,” Mrs. Geo. S. Hall’s “The Patee Bicycle March – (TwoStep),” Michl. F. Hayes & Mary Agnes Hayes’s “The Scorcher,” Walter B. Rogers’s “The Yellow Fever – Two-Step,” J.J. Alexander’s “Upa Tree March,” C. Ormsbee-Gregory’s “Bicycle Galop,” Dave Reed Jr.’s “Julienne,” Jas. S. Burdett/Geo. W. Day & Wm. H. Nelson’s “Mary Ann O’Grady and Her Bike,” Geo. K. Barrett & John Quinn’s “My Silent Steed,” Willie Younge & Eugene Barnett’s “Rhoda Rode a Roaster,” Lena R. Hulett’s “The Bicycle Girl,” T.P. Brooke’s “The Cycle Queen – Two Step for the Piano,” Eben E. Rexford & Bertram Harriot’s “The Cycler’s Song – ‘My Wheel for a Comrade’,” John J. McIntyre & Francis M. Paine’s “When You Teach a Pretty Girl to Ride a Bike,” and F. A. Wood & Joseph Knecht’s “When You’re Riding a Bike” were published in 1896. George J. Becker’s “Chain and Sprocket Club March,” M.A. Althouse’s “Electric Wheelmen – March and Two-Step,” Abe Wilsky’s “Fairhill Wheelmen – March and Two-Step,” L.O. De Witt’s “The Hobo – March and Two-Step,” Theo. J. Tinnette’s “Wheelmen’s Parade March,” Ramonda A. Browne & Charles Coleman’s “When the Boys and Girls go Wheeling,” Frederick J. Strachan’s “Winthrop Cycle Club – March and Two Step,” Myrtle R. Davis’s “Bicycle Race,” Eduard Holst’s “Bicycle Race Galop,” George Maywood’s “The Cyclists National Grand March and Two-Step,” F.A. Mills’s “The Pacers Two Step,” Harry B. Parker’s “White Flyer Two-Step,” W.H. Hodgins’s “Olive Waltzes,” Raymond A. Browne & Charles Coleman’s “Before She Went Back Home Again,” T.W. Connor’s “I’m Going to Ride a Bicycle,” Thomas W. Russell & Roy L. Burtch’s “Mike’s Got Wheels in His Head,” Matthews and Bulger’s “Willie’s Misfit Pants,” Ludwig André’s “Vorwärts - Voran! - Bicycle-Galop,” H.H. Godfrey’s “On Wings of Steel,” G.E. Conterno’s “The Bike Intermezzo,” D.W. Reeves’s “The Cycler’s March,” F. Ibach’s “The Neverout March – Two-Step,” J.S. Duss’s “Up To Date,” Jos. B. Carey’s “Melissy,” Chas. K. Champlin’s “My Little May,” Frank Banta’s “The Chaser – Two-Step,” Frederick Solomon’s “The Kid That Knows It All,” Harry LeRoy’s “When Riding Out with Nellie On My Bike,” Glendron Mfg. Co.’s “Glendron Bicycle Two-Step,” Geo. Maywood’s “King Klondike,” Fred Neddermeyer’s “The Columbus Bicycle March,” S.B. Alexander & Summit L. Hecht’s “The Roof-Garden Cycle Party,” Geo. L. Magill’s “Windsor Wheel Waltzes,” C.G. Cotes & Felix McGlennon’s “A Nice Situation for a Girl,” J.M. Richards’s “Bicycle Episode or The Pleasures of Wheeling ,” A. Tregina’s “Camille the Queen of the Wheel,” Nellie Burt’s “Dora Brown,” W.H. Gardner & Otto Langey’s “Queen of the Bicycle Girls,” George Rosey’s “Rosey’s Scorcher,” Raymond A Brown & Charles Coleman’s “The Jolly Girl from Gay Paree,” David Reed Jr. & George Rosey’s “The Pretty Little Scorcher,” and Jos. W. Stern & Co.’s “The Scorcher (March and TwoStep)” were published in 1897. A.R. Cunha’s “Bay City March – (Two-Step),” Frederick T. Strachan’s “Berkeley Cycle Club Two-Step,” Herbert F. Estes’s “C.B.C. March,” Harry E. Jeroy’s “The A.W.C. March,” John G. Schuler’s “The Crackajack March,” J.J. Scull’s “The Lebanon Bicycle Club – March Two Step,” James E. Hough’s “Off to the Races March and TwoStep,” Ludwig Mendelssohn’s “ Radelin (Bicycling),” Albert Hall & Orlando Powell’s “Dear Old Uncle Charlie,” Carl Howard & George Everard’s “I Knew,” D. Frank Tully’s “Coasting in the Moonlight,” Paul Webster Eaton & Minnie Boyd Upperman’s “Lily Crow,” Edmund Braham’s “The Winner – Two Step or Cake Walk for Piano,” Harry F. Sanders’s “Side by Side Two Step,” Gendron Mfg. Co.’s “Lizzy Hogan on Gendron Wheel,” Harry D. Laycock’s “While Riding My Wheel,” Frank Abbott & Henry Norman’s “Mary Ellen Simpkins’ Bike,” Harry B. Marshall’s “Rosie and Mamie,” L.E. West’s “The Cyclone March and TwoStep,” Theo A. Metz’s “The Scorcher – Galop Brilliante” and Manuel Klein’s “White Heather Two-Step” were published in 1898. Anth. J. Dick’s “The Cycle Race March,” Adam Geibel’s “Bicycle Waltz,” Lydia Avery & Jessie L. Gaynor’s “My Bicycle,” Samuel Speck’s “An Easy Mark Two Step,” Wallace Moody & Lee B. Grabbe’s “The Wench That Rides a Wheel,” John P. Harrington & Orlando Powell’s “We All Went Following On,” T.H. Ervin’s “American Wheelmen's March Two-Step,” George Wm. Needham’s “Good Roads Two Step March,” Harry Clay Tacy’s “L.A.W. March and Two-Step,” F.T. McGrath’s “A Breeze from Blackville - Cake Walk and Two Step,” W. Hedemann-Gade’s “I Mot - Och Medvind,” Ellis Brooks’s “A Florida Cracker,” and Arthur J. Lamb & Geo. Schleiffarth’s “When the Band Plays in the Park” were all published in 1899 -- to name but a few.


CYCLING SONGS IN THE AUTOMOBILE AGE

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Angeleno Heights

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 16, 2010 03:00pm | Post a Comment

ANGELENO HEIGHTS

  

Angeleno Heights is a neighborhood in Los Angeles' Mideast Side. It's the second oldest suburb of the city after Bunker Hill (which is no longer suburban). After the Victorian homes of Bunker Hill were razed in the 1950s, Angeleno Heights became the largest concentration of Victorian homes, or "painted ladies" in the city.


Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Angeleno Heights


Angeleno Heights was always predominantly residential and it remains a quiet neighborhood dotted with churches with Echo Park to the west, the Echo Park neighborhood of Sunset Heights to the north, the Echo Park neighborhood of Victor Heights and the Chinatown neighborhood of Alpine Hill to the east, the downtown Civic Center to the southeast, and Historic Filipinotown and Temple-Beaudry to the south. Many people consider it a district within Echo Park although in reality it predates Echo Park's existence by a good few years and has a very different character from its larger, younger neighbor.

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The roots of jazz - ragtime

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 24, 2009 04:48pm | Post a Comment
Although for most people the strains of "The Entertainer" and other rags now primarily evoke quaint, scratchy images of silent films projected at the wrong speed, when ragtime first appeared around the 1870s, it was the soundtrack of Missouri's whorehouses, parlors and gambling clubs.

St. Louis in the 1870s

Ragtime was also one of the first truly and distinctly American musical forms. After cakewalk, ragtime was one of the first global music crazes. That Ragtime's cradle was the river towns of the Missouri Valley shouldn't be a surprise. Missouri, located at the center of the country, has long been and remains a crossroads of cultural exchanges. No state borders more than Missouri and noted ragtime musicians came from all the neighbors and spread to them (except Nebraska and Iowa, states whose people are known to be deaf to the joys of melody and dance). The character of ragtime -- drawing from folk, European and American marches, minstrelsy, spirituals and other forms -- connects Europe, Africa and North America, town and country, classical and popular, black and white.

Though ragtime is primarily written for the piano, it was also played on other instruments, notably the banjo. Although its syncopation is generally discussed as a defining characteristic, not all ragtime truly is and the term "syncopated" was applied much as “swing” was later, as a sort of shorthand for an indescribable feeling. Scott Joplin even wrote, “Play slowly until you catch the swing,” and described the effect as “weird and intoxicating.”

As insisted upon by "The King of Ragtime," Scott Joplin, ragtime was meant to be played exactly as written. Although discouraging improvisation, James P. Johnson stated that he and other New York pianists would routinely appropriate sections of ragtime and improvise, unaware even of the song's authorship, giving birth to a style known as stride.


THE BIRTH OF RAGTIME

Ragtime is usually said to have first appeared in the 1890s (when it first was published) and 1897 is usually named as the year of ragtime's emergence. However, E.A. Phelps’s "The Darkies’ Patrol," published in 1892, is a rag -- a fact noted on the sheet music by the publisher. Ragtime had, in fact, been around many years before it was commited to paper. Scott Joplin heard ragtime when he first arrived in St. Louis in 1885. Blind Boone, skipping school in the mid-1870s, did as well. The place they both heard it was St. Louis's famed Chestnut Valley tenderloin/red light district, where sporting houses employed pianists to provide a score for their client's various activities. Chesnut Valley had a reputation for being so hot that supposedly cops wouldn't set foot in it. It was in Chesnut Valley, on Targee St. in 1899, where Allen (Johnny) Britt got killed by Frankie Baker a lover's quarrel, a crime immortalized in the song "Frankie & Johnny."

ST. LOUIS'S CHESTNUT VALLEY

       
               Artie Matthews                                  Joe Jordan                                         Charles Hunter

    
      Louis Chauvin                     Tom Turpin                      Charley Thompson                Ralph Sutton

Georgia-born Thomas Million John Turpin, aka Tom Turpin, had strong ties to Chestnut Valley. Turpin's father, Honest John Turpin, ran the Silver Dollar Saloon. Turpin the younger opened two of the most famous venues for ragtime when, in 1900 (the same year he met Scott Joplin), he opened the Rosebud Bar, an enormous venue (with rented rooms upstairs) which featured many of the city's best ragtime musicians. The Rosebud also played host to many traveling musicians and was the sight of cutting contests between pianists from various locales. His other venue was the nearby Hurrah Sporting Club.

For his patronage, work as a publisher, and as a ragtime composer himself, Turpin earned the nickname "The Father of Ragtime." Other venues for ragtime in the district existed too. Arthur Marshall was employed at The Spanish Café. Madam Betty Rae ran a bawdy house that employed Louis "Bird Face" Chauvin and Sam Patterson. The Magic Horshoe was yet another venue.

 
                                        The Rosebud Bar                                                                       Chestnut Valley

As ragtime's popularity grew, the district attracted composers from nearby states. Artie Charles Hunter came from Tennessee and gained fame there. Charlie Warfield came in 1897 when he was just fourteen. Artie Matthews came from across the river in Illinois. Joe Jordan came from Ohio. Charlie Matthews moved there from Illinois in 1905.

Other musicians associated with the city over the years, including natives and transplants, are Sonny Anderson, Paul “Can-Can” Sedric, George Reynolds, Walker Farrington, Owen Marshall, Conway Casey, Rob Hampton, Gertrude “Sweety” Bell, Louella Anderson, Thehodosia Hutchison, Lucian Porter Gibson and Harry Belding. In response to the influx of musicians and composers, publishers like Jos. F. Hunleth Music Co., Buck and Lowney and Placht and Son soon appeared.
 

THE SEDALIA SCENE

   
                     Scott Joplin                                       Arthur Marshall                                       Scott Hayden

No city is as closely associated with ragtime as the tiny Missouri town of Sedalia. It may seem odd that a place with only a few thousand residents could claim primary parentage of so large a phenomenon but several factors made that possible.


First, the George R. Smith School of Music was founded there to provide a respectable education for blacks and soon attracted many aspiring composers and musicians from around the south and midwest, including Texas-born Joplin, Indiana-born Etilmon Justus Stark and Arthur Marshall, of nearby Saline County. Marshall and Joplin, after receiving a musical education, themselves turned to teaching. Without a doubt, their most celebrated pupil was a local Sedalian, Scott Hayden.

Downtown Sedalia

Another factor allowing for the tiny town's contribution to ragtime was the surprisingly vibrant nightlife.  East Main Street was the location of Sedalia's sporting district, where townies and railroad workers alike went after the sun went down in search of sport at bars and clubs like the Williams BrothersThe Maple Leaf Club, Tony Williams's The 400 Dance Club, and Hustlers' Hall and guest houses run by Nellie Hall and Mrs. L. WrightAt these venues, the aforementionEd respectable and talented ragtime pianists (and others, like Otis Saunders) found employment, earning up to $1.50 a night (plus tips).

      

In 1885, John Stark came to town with his publishing company, John Stark & Son. Soon after his arrival, he and Scott Joplin would sell over one million copies of the sheet music for "Maple Leaf Rag" -- the first million-selling instrumental piece in American history. So strong was the pull of the ragtime scene that, at just fifteen, S. Brunson Campbell (Brun Campbell) wisely left Kansas in search of Joplin and Saunders. He found them and they nicknamed the precocious teenager "The Ragtime Kid."

Sedalia's ragtime scene came to a screeching halt with the arrival of reform. Totalitarian teetotalers soon completely succeeded in destroying the town's culture and ragtime musicians responded by heading for greener pastures. Not surprisingly, John Stark & Sons and most of the local musicians headed downriver to Chestnut Valley. Soon after, in 1901, Hustler's Hall closed. By 1909, the sporting belt was dead and all vestiges of culture disappeared. Today, KMOS Channel 6 (the local PBS affiliate for Central Missouri) is the only sign of cultural life.


KANSAS CITY'S 18TH AND VINE

    
        Charles L. Johnson                   Euday Louis Bowman                                  Calvin Lee Woolsey

Though less-widely recognized, Kansas City, Missouri's 18th & Vine district, in Downtown East, is of equal importance as more famed music-associated streets like Basin St., 52nd St., Beale St, and Central Ave. It was there that ragtime flourished, with ragtimers like Ed Kuhn, E. Harry Kelly, Irene Cozad, Maude Gilmore and Mamie Williams all representing Kansas City.

Later, 18th & Vine would be the center of Kansas City's vibrant and more commonly-celebrated jazz scene, but it was ragtime that first took hold, a fact not lost on locals. In the 1930s, "Kansas City’s finest outdoor theater for colored people,” the Highland Garden Theater was enclosed and renamed the Boone Theater after the pioneering ragtime musician.

Though he lived in Fort Worth, Texas, Euday Louis Bowman routinely journied to Kansas City to promote and sell his compositions, including songs like "Fort Worth Blues," "Kansas City Blues" and "Twelfth Street Rag," which became popular with early jazz performers like Bennie Moten and Louis Armstrong. Calvin Lee Woosley was drawn to Kansas City from nearby Tinney's Point.

18th & Vine

Kansas City was an early center of ragtime publishing too. Local ragtime composer/publisher Charles Neil Daniels bought Joplin’s 1898 “Original Rags” and arranged it for Carl Hoffman Music Co. of Kansas City. With ragtime's exploding popularity and the resulting emergence of Tin Pan Alley in New York, there was a talent drain on Kansas City and local composers such as Daniels moved to New York. According to Jelly Roll Morton, by 1911 there were no decent pianists in the city. However, some composers stayed, such as Charles L. Johnson, who preferred KC to NYC. He owned his own publishing company (Charles L. Johnson & Co.) and was so prolific he also published under the alias Raymond Birch. Ethel May Earnist and Fannie Bell Woods were long thought to be other aliases of his but recent discoveries have suggested that both women were quite real. Earnist was a Nebraska-born composer and Woods was from Louisville. Other local publishers included JW Jenkins’ Sons Music Co. and Will L. Livernash.


CENTRAL MISSOURI - LITTLE DIXIE

  
                                  Blind Boone                                                              Wilbur Sweatman

Perhaps more than any other musical figure in the 19th century, John William “Blind” Boone bridged the gap between black and white music. Like Gottschalk and Big Tom before him, he wrote and performed music that drew from both musical traditions and synthesized a uniquely American sound. Born in Saline County, Blind Boone had been sent to a school for the blind in St. Louis where his mother hoped he'd gain a musical education. At first he did, but when the school changed hands and he was instead taught the more practical skill of broom-making, he frequently ditched, prefering to hang out in Chesnut Valley.

Boone's truancy led to his expulsion and the blind musician ended up held captive by an unscrupulous gambler. After a group from his hometown secured his freedom, he moved to Columbia's Sharp End neighborhood. In 1880, Sharp End hosted a cutting contest between Blind Boone and the famed early black musical sensation Blind Tom. There, local publisher Allen Music Co. published several of his works.

Downtown Columbia

Wilbur C. Sweatman hailed from nearby Brunswick and moved to Minneapolis in 1902. However, he retained his ties to ragtime, recording and composing many hits. His wax cylinder recording of Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" was supposedly the first of the song. He also had strong ties to a then new style, jazz, and was the first black musician to record songs with "Jass" and "Jazz" in the titles.


THE OZARKS - THE CARTHAGE SCENE

    
         James Scott                      Clarence Woods                 Percy  Wenrich               Theron Catlen Bennett

Though today the Ozarks are more recognized for their hillbillies, back in the day, the small town of Carthage boasted a ragtime scene hot enough in its time to attract composers from outside the state.

 
Happening Carthage

Though Carthage is now best known as the home of the Precious Moments Inspiration Park, at the turn of the century, Dumar Music Co. and the local ragtime scene lured the likes of Clarence "Ragtime Wonder of the South" Woods from neighboring states to the town of around only 10,000 inhabitants. Percy "The Joplin Kid" Wenrich, as his name suggests, was from nearby Joplin. Theron Catlen Bennett hailed from nearby Pierce City. The most famous ragtime composer, the celebrated James Scott, originally of nearby Neosho, traveled to St. Louis to meet Scott Joplin but stayed in Carthage until 1914, when he moved to Kansas City to teach piano. 


THE SPREAD OF RAGTIME'S POPULARITY

Ragtime quickly spread around the lower middle west and upper south, first by itinerant musicians and then sheet music and piano rolls. At the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, pianists from nearby states gathered outside to seek money entertaining the crowds and in the process exposed and exchanged the syncopated style. Soon ragtime struck a chord in the major cities of the area such as Indianapolis, Chicago, Louisville and Cincinnati.

1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition

In the 1890s, ragtime spread down river to New Orleans where it took root in the storied Storyville neighborhood. Had that not happened, jazz would've probably never happened. After the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition (aka St. Louis World's Fair), visitors from around the country and the world were exposed to rags and the music quickly spread. In Europe, not yet recovered from the throes of an obsession with cakewalk, ragtime became the new thing.


RAGTIME BEYOND THE SHOW ME

Other composers from outside Missouri were soon publishing rags over the following years, including A. Shaw, Abe Holzmann, Adeline Shepherd, Ben Harney, Cecil Duane Crabb, Charley Straight, Charlotte Blake, Clarence C. Wiley, Ernest Reuben Crowders, Felix Arndt, Gene Greene, George Botsford, George Botsford, George L. Cobb, Harry Jentes, Harry P. Guy, Harry Tierney, J. Russell Robinson, Jacob Henry Ellis, Jelly Roll Morton, Johann C. Schmid (under the pseudonym "Marie Louka"), Joseph Lamb, Joseph Russel Robinson, Julia Lee Niebergall, Kerry Mills, Les C. Copeland, Luckey Roberts, May Frances Aufderheide, Muriel Pollock, Paul Pratt, Paul Sarebresole, R.J. Hamilton, Robert Hampton, Roy Fredrick Bargy, Russell Smith, Sadie Koninsky, Theodore H. Northrup, Thomas E. Broady, Thomas Henry Lodge, Tony Jackson, and William Beebe.


HYSTERICAL HISTORICAL QUOTES ON RAGTIME

As with all musical developments, conservatives reacted with reactionary panic to what, over time, seems completely harmless. With ragtime's seduction of America's youth, there was predictable concern among wide numbers of both black and white Americans, albeit for different reasons. Blacks often expressed that it was the worst sort of primitive expression that impeded their collective progress as a people. Whites, on the other hand, usually worried that it was corrupting music and white morality. In some ways, the reaction against ragtime helped unite blacks and whites, just as the appreciation of it did.

Louis Blumberg noted, “It can not be denied that the lower types of 'rag-time' and the bulk of it – has done much to lower the musical taste and standard of the whole musical public, irrespective of color."

The New York Herald warned "Can it be said that America is falling prey to the collective soul of the negro through the influence of what is popularly known as ragtime music? If there is any tendency towards such a national disaster, it should be definitely pointed out and extreme measures taken to inhibit the influence and avert the increasing danger if it has not gone too far. American ragtime music is symbolic of the primative immorality and perceptible moral limitations of the negro type." 

Composer Edward Baxter Perry warned, "Ragtime is syncopation gone mad and its victims can be treated successfully, in my opinion, like the dog with rabies, with a dose of lead. Whether it is simply a passing phase of our decadent art culture or an infectous disease that has come to stay, like leprosy, time alone can tell."

Other composers were more pragmatic. Arthur Farwell said, “I often catch my foot in the act of appreciating it [ragtime] when my higher nature is caught off guard.”


RAGTIME'S CO-OPTION AND DECLINE

As with every black American musical development, ragtime was quickly co-opted and in many cases perverted by whites. And, as with all musical crazes (from cakewalk and ragtime then, to alternative and indie today) the term "ragtime" was eventually applied to almost any new composition, in an effort to cash in on the craze.


COON SONGS

Coon songs arose when composers applied ragtime's syncopated rhythms to the tired old minstrel stereotypes of the pre-Civil War era. Coon songs became so popular in the late nineteenth century that both white and black composers wrote them. Though offensive, the songs nonetheless helped open doors for black composers and black-derived music such as cakewalk and ragtime. Nonetheless, with many coon songs being misleadingly labeled as ragtime, many of the criticisms of ragtime began to come from progressives who were incapable of distinguishing coon songs from the genuine article.

Scott Joplin himself jumped to ragtime's defense, arguing "What is scurrilously called ragtime is an invention that is here to stay. That is now conceded by all classes of musicians... All publications masquerading under the name of ragtime are not the genuine article... That real ragtime of the higher class is rather difficult to play is a painful truth which most pianists have discovered."


LATER DEVELOPMENTS

As it declined in popularity, ragtime at the same time began incorporating and mixing with other genres to interesting effect. In 1912, W.C. Handy's "Memphis Blues" was advertised as "A Southern Rag." However, even this shot in the arm couldn't keep ragtime vital forever. Whereas in 1899, 124 rags had been released, in 1919 there were only seven and ragtime was deposed by its offspring, jazz.


RAGTIME'S REVIVAL

Many years later, in 1951, interest in ragtime was renewed. Again, in 1973, the film The Sting brought it back to life yet again. That year, Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer," featured in the film's ragtime soundtrack, almost unthinkably reached number three on the pop charts. Seems like we're long overdue for another'n.

*****

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The roots of jazz -- cakewalk -- Amoeba's Jazz Week

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 21, 2009 08:00am | Post a Comment
A performative, competitive dance known as the chalk line walk first appeared around the 1850s on the plantations along the Gulf Coast. Its origins lay in the African-derived dance known as the bamboula -- also the name of a drum -- and it was performed in New Orleans, where on Sundays slaves were allowed to congregate. In their limited freedom, they not only danced the bamboula, but also dances like the pile, chactas and the carabine in Congo Square and at their masters' homes. Louis Moreau Gottschalk, a local creole composer was inspired by the dances and wrote "Bamboula, dance des nègres, Op.2" in 1848. By the 1850s, the bamboula's popularity had spread to Florida, where it possibly mixed with the dance traditions of the Seminole. It eventually developed into the cakewalk, which quickly became popular throughout the Gulf Coast. 


Whereas the minstrelsy craze of the 1840s-1860s was the first major cross-racial American musical exchange, cakewalk's heyday from the 1850s-1890s was probably the second and importantly, a reversal. Minstrelsy was a product of white musicans seeking to simultaneuosly imitate and mock black customs, but cakewalks were initially produced by black performers imitating and mocking whites. Thus began a long history of back and forth musical and cultural dialogues that have been behind nearly every significant innovation in American music.

The cakewalk was initially a sort of whiteface satire of the slaves' owners and involved mocking their customs with participants adopting the exagerated postures witnessed in the courtship rituals of their toff masters, making it sort of a reverse minstrelsy. Participants doffed hates, bowed exaggeratedly, puffed out their chests, high stepped and twirled their canes alternating with expressive and more obviously acrobatic moves. The performance judged best earned the winners a cake or other prize. The accompanying music, also known as cakewalk, combined the polyrhthmic character of West African music with the various European-derived forms played by brass dance bands. The result was a syncopated music with a swinging rhythm that led to the development first of ragtime and ultimately of jazz.

  

For their curious white masters, the cakewalk could be co-opted in a simultaneous mocking and expression of fascination with black practices, almost as with minstrelsy, then in decline. The first published cakewalk was Rollin Howard's 1871 hit, "Good Enough!" In 1876, cakewalk was demonstrated at the Centennial of the American Independence. Harrigan and Hart's 1877 jam, "Walking For Dat Cake," followed and the popularity of the music and dance quickly spread. Initially, as with all expressions of minstrelsy, the cakewalks would regularly close blackface medicine shows, helping white audiences overcome their fears of blacks by reducing the recently-freed and no doubt ex-slave-owner-hating blacks to cartoonish images of harmless buffoons who loved life as slaves. At the same time, it cautiously opened the door for black musicians and their music, furthering the great cultural dialogue at the center of American art.

     

Over time, as with most appropriations of black American culture, the watered down version was soon judged to be impure and white audiences began to pursue the authentic black expression. Beginning in 1892, The National Cakewalk Jubilee was held anually, going from 11:00 p.m. till 5:00 a.m. the next morning.


In 1893, the famed duo of Johnson and Dean were a featured attraction at the Chicago World Fair. The monacle-wearing Charles Johnson and his partner Dora Dean were another celebrity cakewalk duo.  Famed black entertainers Bert Williams and George Walker incorporated cakewalk into their routine and played for forty consecutive weeks at Koster & Bial's and appeared in advertisements for Philip-Morris.
 
   
       

Caricatures of cakewalk stars were soon collected and traded like baseball or Pokemon cards today (assuming kids still do that). As evinced by the sheet music, caricatures of cakewalkers could be cartoonish and grotesque, but nowhere near as much as coon songs, the spiritual offspring of minstrelsy. In many cases, the images didn't seek to mock their subjects at all. As the popularity of cakewalk spread, it became accepted amongst high society, whose members used the popularity and subsequent semi-respectiblity as an opportunity to unleash their otherwise carefully repressed libidos.

  

Although John Phillip Sousa disliked cakewalk, his Missouri-born trombonist Arthur Pryor often arranged them and Sousa relented in the face of public demand. Sousa's band performed cakewalk at the Paris Exhibition in 1900, and a veritable cakewalk craze was instigated in Europe. Not long afterward, Pryor left Sousa's band to start his own, explaining, "The regulation bands never got over being a little embarassed at syncopating. The stiff-backed old fellows felt it was beneath their dignity and they couldn't or wouldn't give into it."

      

Soon after, the most famous cakewalkers toured England, France and Germany, where even Kaiser Wilhem shook a tailfeather. In Europe, the cakewalking teams were highly paid celebrities and their exploits were covered in newspapers which had previously banned depictions of blacks. In 1903, Edward VII requested cakewalk lessons for the British royal family. By 1905, the peak of cakewalk's popularity had largely passed.


In 1913, Claude Debussy published "Golliwog’s Cakewalk." In 1915 there was a bit of a revival and cakewalk was increasingly viewed nostalgically. However, the revival proved to be short-lived and by the latter part of the decade, the cakewalk had truly declined and far fewer examples were published. To a large extent, the cakewalk dance had transformed into the Charleston and Jazz had begun to completely supplant cakewalk and ragtime music's position as the new, popular black American music.
 
     

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