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He took away the harmonica and the mike, made mincemeat out of me, then handed back and said, 'You can't play shit' - Gary Primich, on meeting his idol Big Walter Horton

Author Topic: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?  (Read 2339 times)

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Offline Mr.OMuck

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He appears in the background of the crap shooting scene it looks like he's playing an L1, he may have a harp in a rack.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 03:19:51 PM by Mr.OMuck »
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Offline JohnLeePimp

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2011, 05:08:29 PM »
It'd help if he played something, or atleast made a sound - that said, my ineducated guess is that it's in St. Louis so it might be clifford gibson or henry spaulding?
...so blue I shade a part of this town.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2011, 05:31:08 PM »
Shot at Gramercy Studios, Astoria, Long Island, June 1929

Yank Rachell would have been 19 at the time, and he played harp and guitar.
Haven't read his bio, this is just a reeeeaaaly uneducated long shot in the dark.

And no, he doesn't play much at all. Could have been Weenie Campbell for all I know.
Maybe find out who played guitar in Fletcher Henderson's band at the time. [later: forget that, it was some other band]
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 07:11:12 PM by Rivers »

Offline slideaway

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2011, 05:33:57 PM »
interesting! def a harp in rack, a C harp playing first position blues, in a style reminiscent of cane fife! never heard that done that way before?  guitar sounds standard, maybe with capo? theres a few half hearted licks at 5:30- 5:40 cool mystery! :)

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2011, 07:19:24 PM »
You can see him at around 1:29 and he's definitely playing.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2011, 07:31:31 PM »
Here are 2 screen shots I was able to extract

[attachment deleted by admin]
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
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Offline Rivers

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2011, 07:42:15 PM »
Good work ther O'Muck. Could well be Weenie Campbell, from the tantalizingly few descriptions available. Kind of resembles the guy in the site logo, apart from the santa hat. Seriously though he does look like a real country blues player, kind of moody and 'into it'. How on earth did you deduce he's playing an L1?
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 07:49:13 PM by Rivers »

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2011, 08:17:49 PM »
Looked that way in certain frames. I no longer think so however.
 looks more like a K11 or somesuch
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
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Offline harry

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2011, 03:34:29 AM »
I could be totally wrong but when I first saw it Tommy McClennan came to mind. pauze at 1.41 and look at the picture. Not sure if Tommy would travel that far from Yazoo City.



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Offline dj

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2011, 04:55:19 AM »
Male blues guitar players with recognizable names who recorded in and around New York City in June of 1929 include Lonnie Johnson, Joe McCoy, Little Hat Jones (in town with Texas Alexander), and the group of Georgia musicians who came up to Long Island City to record for QRS:  Curley Weaver, Eddie Mapp, Guy Lumpkin, and James Moore.  Also, Bobby Leecan and Robert Cooksey seemed to be in the New York City/New Jersey/Philadelphia area a lot just a year before and might still have been around.     

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2011, 06:53:04 AM »
Only fleeting glimpses so damn hard to tell. But I thought the guitar player in the band in the second part looked like he might be the same guy (different guitar obviously). Would make some sense to use the same person I suppose. Anyway, identifying the band might help if so. James P. Johnson is the pianist, the singers are the Hall Johnson singers, but the band isn't ID'd is Chris Albertston's book or IMDB. There is a reference online to them the being Fletcher Henderson's band but Rivers seems to have found something that refutes that - no idea myself.

Offline dj

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2011, 09:25:53 AM »
America's Film Legacy: The Authoritative Guide to the Landmark Movies in the National Film Registry by Daniel Eagan says:

"Most sources say that the film was shot on a soundstage in Astoria, Queens, but biographer Susan Delson cites a letter from [director Dudley] Murphy to Eugene O'Neill describing 'a state-of-the-art sound studio in a converted stable near Gramercy Park at 129 E. 24th Street' built by RCA."

The only known members of the band are James P. Johnson on piano and Thomas Morris and Joe Smith on cornets.  If someone can find a discography listing those members playing in a band in mid-1929, that would give a strong clue to who the guitar player in the band is.  Knowing how movies work, I think the question we should be asking is probably "does anyone know who's playing the harmonica on the soundtrack to the first scene of St. Louis Blues" - director Murphy probably just told the band's guitar player to sit back there and pretend he was playing what's on the soundtrack. 

Considering his reputation, the few recordings he made, and his presence in the New York City area during filming, I'd love to think that it's Eddie Mapp playing harmonica.  Unfortunately, wishing don't make it so. 

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2011, 10:21:22 AM »
This guy does resemble Curley Weaver somewhat so the Eddie Mapp ID may very well hit the nail on the head. Then again he could also be Fred McMullin. Naw scratch that..Its Weaver I'm pretty sure.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2011, 10:30:35 AM by Mr.OMuck »
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
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Offline Bald Melon Jefferson

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2011, 10:38:49 AM »
He's black, he's got a guitar, image is not sharp, it's of the era. It's Robert Johnson. It's the LAW!

Case solved. ;)
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Offline Johnm

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2011, 11:28:27 AM »
Part of the problem is that the music is such a background capacity that the musical individuality of the player does not come through (I hope).  Based on what is played, it could be almost anybody, including someone who didn't specialize in blues.
All best,
Johnm

Offline frankie

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2011, 02:44:17 PM »
Also, Bobby Leecan and Robert Cooksey seemed to be in the New York City/New Jersey/Philadelphia area a lot just a year before and might still have been around.     
I swear...  BEFORE seeing this, and when I first saw the clip...  that the harp playing reminded me of Robert Cooksey's playing...  mebbe just the 1st position...

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2011, 06:46:52 AM »
I was unable to google up any photos of Leecan & Cooksey. Anyone know of any?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2011, 03:25:57 PM »
OK then, in view of the lack of evidence to the contrary, the admittedly difficult but not impossible to decipher matchup of complexion and bridge of nose construction, his presence in the area at the time, and his ability to produce the kind of clear single string vibrato laden sound that pokes its head through the dinn on occasion, I am declaring this to be the only extant film of Curley Weaver, which would most likely make the harp player Eddie Mapp. Dispute me with reasoned argument if you can. >:D
And Slack I demand a Hanukkah Harry Emoticon!
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline Stuart

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2011, 03:45:48 PM »
Dispute me with reasoned argument if you can. >:D

I would, but you know what they say about trying to reason with the unreasonable... ;)

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2011, 04:41:48 PM »
Why unreasonable?

My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline Stuart

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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2011, 04:56:21 PM »
Indeed! Btw Forget the Hannukah emoticons. I looked them up they all suck. I'll have to make my own. Really no one sees a resemblance?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline oddenda

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #22 on: December 21, 2011, 05:41:40 PM »
Probably NOT Curley - his daughter would have mentioned something as momentous as that to us!

pbl

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #23 on: December 21, 2011, 08:41:17 PM »
Any ideas then?
That's probably an interesting interview. Is it in print?
« Last Edit: December 21, 2011, 08:58:21 PM by Mr.OMuck »
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
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Offline uncle bud

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #24 on: December 21, 2011, 09:14:47 PM »
Blues and Gospel Records lists some of the band members, a few of whom were semi-regulars on Bessie Smith recordings. Given that, it would seem even more possible to me that the guitarist would be drawn from that circle. For what it's worth, B&GR lists the "musical fragments" as unknown guitar and unknown harmonica. It also has the following: "It has been alleged that the following are also present on this soundtrack: Sidney DeParis, t; Bernard Addison, g."

Offline Stuart

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #25 on: December 22, 2011, 05:57:55 AM »
Some big "ifs"--

If the company or entity that made the film (and perhaps others like it) kept records, and if those records are still extant, and if they could be located, they might provide some leads. If it was necessary to belong to a guild or union if one were to appear in a film at the time and if those records are still extant, they might provide some leads as well.

Obviously, it's a long shot, but it's not impossible.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #26 on: December 22, 2011, 07:02:48 AM »
Where's Chris Albertson when we need him?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #27 on: December 22, 2011, 03:45:49 PM »
Well Joe Bellulovich says if Frankie thinks its Cooksey on harp then it probably is. That makes the guitarist likely to be either Leecan or Albert Martin.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline Rivers

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #28 on: December 22, 2011, 04:53:40 PM »
Could just be some guy nobody ever heard of O'Muck. Bessie's 3rd cousin, nephew or something.

I mean you can't hear very much that might indicate he was a known recording artist.

And if he really was any good it's more likely they'd have featured him a bit more.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #29 on: December 22, 2011, 06:57:00 PM »
Male blues guitar players with recognizable names who recorded in and around New York City in June of 1929 include Lonnie Johnson, Joe McCoy, Little Hat Jones (in town with Texas Alexander), and the group of Georgia musicians who came up to Long Island City to record for QRS:  Curley Weaver, Eddie Mapp, Guy Lumpkin, and James Moore.  Also, Bobby Leecan and Robert Cooksey seemed to be in the New York City/New Jersey/Philadelphia area a lot just a year before and might still have been around.   

dj, I have to ask, how on earth did you pull that data together?

Offline dj

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #30 on: December 23, 2011, 02:11:08 AM »
Quote
dj, I have to ask, how on earth did you pull that data together?

When I ripped all my blues CDs to iTunes, I corrected the Year field to year of recording, and in the Comments field I put recording date, place of recording, label, and personnel.  So when a question like this comes up, I just make a smart playlist where Year is 1929 and Comments contains June and either New York City or Long Island City (to pick up QRS recordings).  And I just remembered Leecan and Cooksey, since they weren't on the list and, like Frankie, the harmonica player made me think of Robert Cooksey.

It was a real slog entering all that stuff as I ripped CDs, but it was really worth it.   

Offline Rivers

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #31 on: December 23, 2011, 08:16:30 AM »
Wow. Amazing, well done.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #32 on: December 23, 2011, 09:18:59 AM »
I agree with Rivers, dj. Kudos on that. When I think of how long it took me just to rip the CDs (and all I did was make a playlist for each album) the memory makes me shudder.

Offline Richard

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #33 on: December 24, 2011, 09:48:58 AM »
Henderson was using Clarence Holliday (as in Billies father) around '29 and he played guitar and banjo. With James P around then it could have been Teddy Bunn - all of no real help but interesting|!
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline RB

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Re: Can you identify the guitar player and Harmonica player in this film?
« Reply #34 on: December 31, 2011, 07:08:36 AM »
Impressed with dj's archiving abilities.

Offline waxwing

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Been wanting to post to this topic for some time. I've done extensive research into the timing of technology in early talkies and overdubbing was not available to most studios until the end of 1930. This film would have been shot with a single sound track and multiple cameras, with the film latter synchronized to the sound. If you watch and listen closely you can tell when and where the sound was actually edited as there is a clear break. As an example, in the first long shot of the stairs and gambling a second camera is concealed behind the wall to the left of the picture. A sound edit occurs just before Jimmy's entrance, probably to allow one camera to be brought closer. The next edit doesn't occur for some time and it seems there were several cameras as the sound goes cleanly into the start of the bedroom scene, as does the action.

I have also watched this film many, many times and I can see no evidence that the guitar/harmonica player is not doing just that, playing both instruments. You can particularly notice just before the floozie enters that he stops playing, lifts his head to look at her as she passes, and then his mouth goes back to the harmonica and starts playing again. Unfortunately I don't have a clue as to his identity.

The real wonder of this film is the coordination of the cameras and actors in moving from one shot/scene to the next with continuity like a staged play. It even seems that the stairwell scene of the game breaking up was shot in sequence without stopping. This required great directing and much rehearsal, I'm sure.

BTW, Stefan Grossman records his videos at Gramercy Studios. Anyone know if it is actually the same studio. I believe the original was in Long Island City, Queens.

Wax
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