Friday, May 19, 2006

Six-and-Seven-Eighths

A 1920s String Band
Thanks to Jørgen I have learned a lot about rare guitar recordings. Recordings of groups I've never heard of and each record suprises me with unheard music.

Last night I tried to find out how the music of the Six-and-Seven-Eights String Band of New Orleans, as its full name is, sounds. A primitive, but good sounding kind of syncopated dance music. It was popular between 1910 and 1925 and normally the band included violin, mandolin, guitar, banjo and ukulele.

One of those popular early 20th Century bands was the Invincibles String Band, but no recordings of that gruop were ever made. A other one was the Six-and-Seven-Eights. The history of both bands is different. The Invincibles String Band enlarged by using horns, became a regular dance band and changed their names in the New Orleans Owls, playing straight arrangements. The Six-and-Seven-Eights survived and were recorded in the late 1940s by Dr. Edmond Souchon, who playes the guitar on that recordings. This group of New Orleans musician could survive as they were used in places where they needed "hot" music instead of "loud" . They became popular in Colleges and they became, Richard Sudhalter says in his great book Lost Chords the house band of the Navy houseboat Aunt Dinah.

If you want to hear some music click on this
link containing fragments of the Folkways album FA 2671.

Thanks Jørgen for sharing this great music with me.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Jorgen said...

The Six and Seven-Eights String Band was recorded 1955-56 by Samuel Charters for the Moses Ash label, issued on a Folkways lp and now available on a custom cd or cassette from Smithsonian. However, there is more material from these sessions not issued on Folkways, but it has been issued lately by the 504 Records (CD28). I am anxious myself to hear this, when I'll get my copy in near future.
The Six and Seven-Eights stringband, I think, is the link between rural American folk/dance and Jazz. Remember, that even Jelly Roll Morton in his youth joined a stringband (playing guitar!)?
Jo

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The recordings by the Six and Seven-Eight String band have always been among
my favorites, ever since I heard their version of Donna Clara over Dutch
radio, around 1960. Jepsen has the date of these recordings as March 20,
1949 which, I think, is correct.
The Folkways LP contains 16 titles and some alternate takes.
Some more recordings by this group were issued on 78s only. The labels are
New Orleans Originals and Circle. They are mostly different takes again (and
they are different indeed, I checked it).

Ate

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ate and Hans,
I have the 'Jepson' volume with that entry for the Six & Seven-Eighths
String Band Of New Orleans and the recording date of 20 March 1949 for the
two New Orleans Records' and Circle' 78s.
I suggest that when Jorgen Jepsen compiled this information in 1963-4 is was
assumed to be a single session. Hence his note that Folkways used different
takes for the repeated tune titles.
A later reliable source I have provides the June 1955 date for Folkways
FP671 and FA2671.
I see no reason why the band could not repeat the same tunes for a later
Folkways session. It seems that Ate has both versions of some tunes. Does
the recording sound seem the same for each?
Another note I have for the Folkways FA2671 LP says: Produced by Frederic
Ramsey.
Artist, Edmond Souchon.
Artist, Six and Seven-Eighths String Band.
Produced by Samuel Barclay Charters.
which (to me) implies that Folkways initiated the later record session.
Folkways Records was founded by Moses Asch and Marian Distler in 1948 and
became renowned for its release of of blues, folk and bluegrass recordings
by re-discovered performers from the 1920s and 1930s, as well as
contemporary performers.
There is a 2003 book 'Folkways Records: Moses Asch and His Encyclopedia of
Sound' by Anthony Olmsted, published by Routledge.
The contents page suggests that the book provides a detailed background to
the company's recording activities and may indicate when its first LPs were
produced and released in the early 1950s. At US$95 a copy I have not
bothered to buy the book.
I realise that more research is needed, but feel confident that 1955 is a
more likely date for the Folkways LP than 1949.
I thought that I had a copy of the LP, but can't find it. Maybe the LP notes
provide a hidden clue.
Or the LP label, as Folkways usually gave a copyright date for its material.
Kind regards,
Bill.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Rittsel's Gullin discography said...

The FP671 label has the copyright date 1956. Sam Charters mentions the 1949 recordings in his notes and says he hea heard the band four times when visiting Nwe Orleans, "the most recently was for the annual jazz concert of the Baton Rouge Jazz Club in December, 1955".
Edmond Souchon writes: "This is the way the tape recordings ... were made - they were originally intended for no one's ears but our own".
Thats suggests several Sunday afternoon sessions with the tape machine rolling.
Par

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Hans said...

Dear Rick,

Thanks for your extensive commend - I love to have contact with you directly: keepswinging at live point nl

Thanks

hans

9:28 PM  

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