Photos

  1. Dr H
    Dr H
    So . . . I've been researching this topic as time allows, and figured it was about time to share some of what I've discovered. Just uploaded a bunch of photos of black mandolinists, mostly from the 1900-1930 era (where lies my interest in ragtime); a few more recent.

    Some info to go with the photos:

    A lot of these players were bluesmen, although most of the sources I've read seem agreed that "blues mandolin has almost completely died out". Not sure if I'd quite go that far, but it certainly was more wildly popular 90-110 years ago than it is today. A few number among the earliest jazz players -- particularly New Orleans-style "string band" jazz.

    Interesting that many of the string bands featured a harp guitar (sometimes more than one), and one even included a harp mandolin. From the 1930s up until a decade or so ago, harp guitars were rare as hen's teeth, and harp mandolins even less common.

    As to the photos themselves:
    "A New Orleans String Band" -- if the dating on this is accurate (1908), this must have been one of the earliest integrated bands in the south. Ragtime players were both black and white and often appeared in the same venues, but almost never on the same bandstand at the same time.

    "Carl Martin" -- 1906-1979, guitarist, bassist, and singer as well as mandolinist. Master of the Piedmont Blues; active from 1934-1968; worked with Ted Bogan and Tampa Red, among others.

    "'Papa' Charlie McCoy" -- 1909-1950, delta blues player. Served overseas in WWII which shattered his health. He left music after the war and died relatively young.

    "Albert 'Coochie' Martin (1893-1932) and Wendell McNeil (?-?)" -- I've only given the names of the mandolin players, mostly; it was hard enough find them, in some cases. Both men played in a larger ensemble led by Coochie's brother Henry, a drummer. Coochie doubled on guitar and Wendell doubled on violin. This was another New Orleans string band that played ragtime and early jazz.

    "Dink Brister" -- (1914-1991?), blues mandolinist, active through the 1960s

    "Gibson String Band" -- ca. 1904; no band members identified in the photo. Information about the band is sparse but suggests they were active in the Chicago area. Integrated bands weren't exactly common in the north at this time, but not so rare as in the south.

    "Herb Quinn" -- (1897-1972), blues player and music educator who taught a number of younger blues artists, including Dink Brister (see above). Active through the 1960s; recorded fro Rounder records in the late 60s.

    "James Pullins String Band" -- wasn't able to uncover much info about this group, other than the name. Unknown whether Pullins is the mandolinist or not.

    "James 'Yank' Rachell" -- (1903 or 1910 - 1997) well known country blues player, active for nearly 70 years, by all accounts one of the last great blues mandolinists. He played and recorded virtually up to the day of his death. Worked with Taj Mahal, among many others.

    "Johnny 'Man' Young" -- (1918-1974), one of the first of the post WWII electric blues players, the "man" in his name comes from "mandolin". Worked with "Sonny Boy" Williamson, Muddy Waters, and others, and recorded at least a half-dozen albums in the 60s and 70s.

    "Unknown Quartet" -- ca. 1917; another string band with mandolin and harp guitar; no individuals identified in the photo.

    "Wang Doodle Orchestra" -- an influential Seattle early jazz band, ca. 1915-1925, conducted by trumpeter Frank Waldron. Mandolinist is identified only as "Hughes", and the harp mandolinist is not identified.

    "Weaver Brothers Trio" -- either from, or booked to play in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Wish they'd included a date with the clipping; what you see is what I know.

    "Yank" -- another picture of James "Yank" Rachell, blues mandolinist.

    Hope this is of interest.

    If anyone has additional information about these artists or the photos, I'd love to see it.
  2. Jacqke
    Jacqke
    I haven't been on the Mandolin Cafe for quite a while, thus my slow response. This is quite a collection. Thank you for sharing these. You might be interested (or already know about) a book I just discovered, Out of Sight: The Rise of African American Popular Music, 1889-1895 By Lynn Abbott, Doug Seroff. It appears to have quite a bit on black mandolin clubs in the 1890s.
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