Happy Birthday Elsie Carlisle!


Elsie Carlisle
Elsie Carlisle (28 January 1896 – November 1977) was a popular English female singer.
Originally from Manchester, Elsie became extremely popular during the 1920s and 1930s, recording with many of the big dance bands of the time, as well as solo. She recorded very little after the beginning of the Second World War, and retired from the entertainment industry after about 1946.
Her business interests included ballroom dancing venues in south London, a company manufacturing bar accessories, a pub in central London and a hotel/pub in Berkshire. She lived from 1939 until her death in November 1977 in her house in Mayfair in central London.

Two songs performed by Elsie Carlisle (accompanied by Ambrose) were featured in the Dennis Potter television eries Pennies From Heaven (1978). "You've Got Me Crying Again" featured in episode "The Sweetest Thing". "The Clouds Will Soon Roll By" featured in episodes "The Sweetest Thing" and "Down Sunnyside Lane".
Elsie Carlisle was beyond a doubt the most popular radio performer in England in the '30s. Proof is even available in the form of her nickname, "Radio Sweetheart Number One." She was a slightly small, unassuming performer who in some ways crystallized the idea of the blonde flapper, an image also utilized by American big-band vocalists such as Annette Hanshaw and Ruth Etting. Comparisons to other singers can be made only on the basis of appearance, however. In terms of singing, Carlisle had her own way with material, such as romantic songs and light comedy.

Her reputation was complex as well, as she also developed a part of her style devoted to material bordering on the obscene, and also felt hounded by innuendo and gossip concerning her personal life during some stages of her career. She was associated with the top bandleaders in the U.K., and with some of the classiest song material, as well. Carlisle was one of the vocalists with the Ambrose Orchestra, which for more than two decades was considered one of the finest dance bands in the nation.

Bandleader Bert Ambrose regarded Carlisle as one of his best singers, and found her one of the most difficult to replace. Decca chose the group as one of its first signings after setting up a British branch, and Carlisle was practically chained to the microphone stand for the prolific recording activity that ensued. She was also associated with bandleaders such as Paul Whiteman and Jack Harris. Harris was a partner of Ambrose, and their orchestras would switch off at the fashionable London club Ciro's during the late '30s.

In the early '50s, Carlisle's association with bandleader Jack Hylton seemed to be about more than charts and arrangements; they reportedly had an affair, and for years there was speculation that Carlisle had fathered Hylton's child. Gossip mongers later reversed themselves on this hot topic.

A singer who worked with a broad repertoire, Carlisle was nonetheless associated with certain songs, such as the Cole Porter classic "What Is This Thing Called Love?," which she introduced to the public in the first London production of the the musical Wake Up and Dream. She also had a way with comic material, especially in tandem with fellow vocalist Sam Browne; the pair worked together in the Ambrose group, popularizing the ditty "Home James and Don't Spare the Horses," which originated with a country & western publishing house, and also went on tour on their own. 

Carlisle recorded "My Handy Man," the Andy Razaf classic blues also chosen for its shock value by other singers such as Ethel Waters. This was not Carlisle's only risque touch: "Pu-leeze! Mister Hemingway" was entirely banned by the BBC, which normally worshipped the ground Carlisle walked on. The song was not the only side stricken from the airwaves by the British network -- there were enough banned songs to easily fill a compact disc, which is just what the HMV-Living Era label did with its Listen to the Banned collection. This label is a good source of Carlisle material in general, on her own or as part of various interesting compilations. 
~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi
'Blind Arvella' Gray, guitar
b. Somerville, TX, USA
né: Walter Dixon

Biography ~by Jason Ankeny
Chicago bluesman Blind Arvella Gray was born Walter Dixon in Somerville, TX, on January 28, 1906. A world-class raconteur, he vividly embellished the details of his life and never told a particular story the same way twice, meaning the exact circumstance of his formative years are impossible to document with any certainty. But by most accounts Gray began as a stick-up man, reportedly driving a getaway car for Detroit's infamous Purple Gang; during a botched bank robbery attempt -- possibly in Peoria, IL -- he was shot, losing his sight and two of the fingers on his left hand in the process. (During some retellings, the shooter was instead a jealous husband.)
Eventually Gray landed in Chicago and picked up the guitar, inspired by the blues and gospel songs he learned in the cotton fields and chain gangs of the rural South. He acquired a National steel guitar but, bereft of two fingers on his fret hand, could play only slide. Sometime around 1946 Gray became a fixture of the legendary Maxwell Street open-air market, standing out from rival bluesmen by virtue of a repertoire comprised of little-known field hollers and work songs; he sometimes performed alongside his sister, who typically appeared under the name Granny Clara Jenkinsbey.
Gray also traveled extensively outside of Chicago, regularly playing at the annual Kentucky Derby and making frequent trips to the St. Louis area, where he performed up and down the Mississippi River. The riverboats were another fertile source for Gray's repertoire. There he learned new lyrics to his signature tune, the traditional "John Henry," that "were not in the Library of Congress until he put them there," according to Delmark Records founder Bob Koester. Other staples of the Gray songbook included the country traditional "More Pretty Girls Than One" and the gospel standard "Take Your Burden to the Lord and Leave It There." According to legend, he was even the source of Bob Dylan's 1961 recording "He Was a Friend of Mine." Gray himself first appeared on record on the 1960 compilation Live from Maxwell Street, in 1965 self-releasing three rare singles: "Freedom Riders," "You Are My Dear," and "John Henry."
He also appeared in the 1964 documentary And This Is Free. In 1972, a teenaged suburbanite and budding blues devotee named Cary Baker fell under Gray's sway and convinced Dave Wylie, owner of the tiny Wilmette-based label Birch Records, to finance an LP. The Singing Drifter, Gray's lone album, appeared in 1973 in an edition of just 1,000 that quickly sold out but was not repressed. Despite reaching blues fans in Europe and Japan -- some of whom traveled to Chicago just to meet and photograph Gray during his regular Maxwell Street gigs -- The Singing Drifter did little to raise his visibility at home. He remained a Maxwell Street fixture long after most of his peers and rivals abandoned the bazaar, busking there each and every Sunday morning.
By 1980 it seemed Gray's career was on the upturn: he and Baker discussed cutting a second LP, and he was in talks with organizers of the University of Chicago Folk Festival to appear in a showcase spotlighting performers who played the inaugural festival 20 years earlier. But before either project could reach fruition, Gray died on September 7, 1980; given his slim body of recorded music and limited fame outside the Midwest, over the years to follow he essentially slipped through the cracks of Chicago's rich blues history. 
But in 2004 Baker -- now a successful music industry PR exec who operated his own firm, Conqueroo -- tracked down Wylie to inquire about reissuing The Singing Drifter on his fledgling Conjuroo label; an expanded CD edition of the album appeared the following summer, marking its first ever wide release.

Bob Hilliard, lyricist
d. Feb 1, 1971
~by Joslyn Layne

American pop lyricist Bob Hilliard wrote hits from the mid-'40s through the early '60s. Born in N.Y.C. in 1918, Hilliard was 28 years old when he wrote his first successful song, "The Coffe Song." The following year, he penned several more and wrote for the Broadway show Angel in the Wings. Other shows featuring Hilliard's songs were Michael Todd's Peep Show (1950) and Hazel Flagg (1953).
He also had musical numbers in Disney's 1952 animated feature Alice in Wonderland -- "I'm Late," "Very Good Advice," and "All in the Golden Afternoon" -- and the 1954 film Living It Up, including "Money Burns a Hole in My Pocket," and "That's What I Like." Other popular songs by Hilliard include "Civilization" (1947), "Careless Hands" (1948), "Dear Hearts and Gentle People" (1949 song written for Bing Crosby), "Be My Life's Companion" (1951 song written for the Mills Brothers), "Bouquet of Roses" (1952), and "Every Street's a Boulevard in Old New York" (1953).
In 1960, Hilliard shifted styles and focused on composing soft rock hits like "My Little Corner of the World," and the Ruby & the Romantics hit "Our Day Will Come." Over the years, Hilliard collaborated with composers David Mann, Carl Sigman, Jule Styne, Sammy Fain, and more. 
Songwriters Hall of Fame - Bob Hilliard Exhibit Home
Luke Jordan, guitar
b. Appomattox City, VA, USA.
~by Steve Leggett

One of the most intriguing of the Piedmont blues players, Luke Jordan was born January 28, 1892, in Bluefield, WV. As a teenager he relocated to Lynchburg, VA, which was to remain his home base the rest of his life. Jordan recorded 12 tracks for Victor Records at two sessions in 1927 and 1929, ten of which have survived on 78s, including his classic versions of "Church Bell Blues," "Pick Poor Robin Clean," and "Cocaine Blues."
Exhibiting a clean, precise guitar style, Jordan also possessed an elegant-sounding tenor voice that conveyed a sort of wry, good-natured feel, and his material, drawn from a repertoire of ballads, gambling tunes, ragtime, and minstrel tunes, perfectly defines the Piedmont blues. He was immensely influential on the blues players in his region, and he truly deserves to be better known outside the blues community. He died on June 25, 1952. 
Luke Jordan - Wikipedia

Louis "Big Eye" Delisle Nelson, Clarinet
b. New Orleans, LA, USA
d. 1949. (Some sources show b. 1880)

~by Scott Yanow

One of the early pioneers of jazz, Big Eye Louis Nelson (no relation to trombonist Louis Nelson, although they sometimes played together) was an early inspiration for Johnny Dodds and Jimmie Noone and was for a period the teacher of Sidney Bechet. Born Louis Nelson DeLisle -- he eventually dropped his last name -- he played accordion, guitar, banjo, violin and bass early on; he was mostly self-taught on clarinet other than some lessons from Lorenzo Tio Sr. and Luis Tio in 1904.
One of the very first jazz clarinetists (as opposed to ones who merely played preplanned counter-melodies or stuck to reading music), Nelson performed with the who's who of early jazz, including Buddy Bolden, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Oscar Celestin. Nelson spent his early life in New Orleans, leaving for Chicago in 1916 to join Freddie Keppard and the Original Creole Orchestra but returning two years later. He was with many bands including the Imperial Orchestra, the Golden Rule Orchestra, the Imperial Band, the Superior Orchestra and the Eagle Band. Nelson worked with John Robichaux's Orchestra (1918-24) and Sidney Desvigne; from 1939-49 he led his own group at Luthjen's.
Because he did not leave the South, Nelson did not record much. Nelson's career reached back to the beginnings of jazz but fortunately he was documented a bit in 1949, just a short time before his death. He is on the erratic 1940 Kid Rena sessions and was captured in 1949: twice in the studios for American Music (once under the leadership of Wooden Joe Nicholas) and on a live date at Luthjen's that year (which was not released until 1992). All of the 1949 sessions (except a few alternate takes) are included on the American Music CD Big Eye Louis Nelson DeLisle. Fortunately he is in pretty good form on these historic performances that are his recorded legacy. 
Louis Nelson Delisle - Wikipedia

Zilner Randolph
b. Dermott, AR, USA
d. Feb. 2, 1994Zilner Randolph was more important as a teacher than as a musician although his involvement with Louis Armstrong during a brief period has insured him a place in the jazz history books. Randolph studied at the Biddle University in North Carolina, the Kreuger Conservatory in St. Louis and the Wisconsin Conservatory in Milwaukee. Randolph played in Milwaukee-based territory bands including four years with Bernie Young. After moving to Chicago, he became the musical director for Louis Armstrong during Mar. 1931-Mar. 1932 and a bit in 1933 and 1935.
The first association resulted in some notable recordings in which Randolph is heard in the band that backs Armstrong. Randolph, whose song "Old Man Mose" became famous due to Armstrong (who recorded it in 1935), also played with Carroll Dickerson and Dave Peyton in 1934 and led his own orchestra in Chicago during the second half of the 30's. He contributed arrangements to a lot of big bands (including Earl Hines, Woody Herman, Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington) and led his own quartet in the 1940's but never recorded as a leader. Randolph was primarily a teacher from the 1940's on although he did record on piano in 1951. Zilner Randolph, who lived to be 95, was one of the last of the Louis Armstrong alumni of the 1930's.
~ Scott Yanow

Bobby Sands
Tenor Saxophone
b. New York, NY, USA

Biography ~by Eugene Chadbourne
An outfit known as the Strand Roof Orchestra under the direction of bandleader Billy Fowler has been identified by swinging archaeologists as the earliest professional affiliation of Bobby Sands, a tenor and baritone saxophonist born in Brooklyn early in the 20th century. Fowler's group was active in 1927, but it is Sands' performances in the following decade that are flesh around the bone of this classic jazz performer's discography. Sands was more than just a grain in the operation of classy pianist and bandleader Claude Hopkins, sharing star soloing duties with the leader as well as clarinetist Edmond Hall in his early years.
Vintage jazz reissue collections such as Claude Hopkins: 1934-1935 feature a program of both high-spirited novelty songs and so-called "serious" jazz repertoire canons. "I Can't Dance, I've Got Ants in My Pants" and "In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree" were the type of recordings Hopkins made in order to stay attractive to label producers throughout the '30s; a superb arrangement of Jelly Roll Morton's "King Porter Stomp" joins with Hopkins' own "Minor Mania" in the short list of highlights for traces of Sands in both section and solo capacity. The saxophonist also worked with bandleader Charlie Skeets in the late '20s. Sands retired from music in the '40s and became a printer.

Charles Henry "Baby" Tate
Blues singer/guitarist
b. Elberton, GA, USA
d. August 17, 1972, Columbia, SC, USA

In the course of his nearly 50-year career, guitarist Baby Tate recorded only a handful of sessions. The bulk of his life was spent as a sideman, playing with musicians like Blind Boy Fuller, Pink Anderson, and Peg Leg Sam.

Born Charles Henry Tate, he was born in Elberton, GA, but raised in Greenville, SC. When he was 14 years old, Tate taught himself how to play guitar. Shortly afterward, he began playing with Blind Boy Fuller, who taught Tate the fundamentals of blues guitar. When he was in his late teens, Baby began playing with Joe Walker and Roosevelt Brooks; the trio played clubs throughout the Greenville area.
In 1932, Tate stopped working with Walker and Brooks, hooking up with Carolina Blackbirds. The duo played a number of shows for the radio station WFBC. For most of the '30s, Baby played music as a hobby, performing at local parties, celebrations, and medicine shows.
Tate served in the U.S. Army in the late '30s and early '40s. While he was stationed in Europe, he played local taverns and dances.

In 1942, he returned to Greenville, SC, where he earned a living doing odd jobs around the town. Tate picked up music again in 1946, setting out on the local blues club circuit. In 1950, he cut several sessions for the Atlanta-based Kapp label. In the early '50s, Baby moved to Spartanburg, SC, where he performed both as a solo act and as a duo with Pink Anderson. Tate and Anderson performed as duo into the '70s.

In 1962, Tate recorded his first album, See What You Done. The following year, he was featured in the documentary film, The Blues. For the rest of the decade, Baby Tate played various gigs, concerts, and festivals across America. With the assistance of harmonica player Peg Leg Sam, Baby Tate recorded another set of sessions in 1972. Later that year, Tate suffered a fatal heart attack. He died on August 17, 1972.
~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Baby Tate - Wikipedia

Clifford Blandford Townshend
b. January 28th, 1916
d. June 29th, 1986
Clifford Blandford Townshend was an English jazz musician noted for playing the saxophone in The Royal Air Force Dance Orchestra, popularly known as The Squadronaires. He was described by acquaintances as a quiet man with a wry sense of humor. He also played clarinet in the band and was respected by his peers as a talented and accomplished musician. His eldest son, Pete, gained renown as guitarist and principal composer for the seminal rock band The Who.
The Squadronaires sax section.
Left to right: Jack Dawkes, Andy McDevitt, Cliff Townshend, Monty Levy, Don Honeywill.
Clifford Blandford Townshend
The Squadronaires

Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:

"Kansas" Joe McCoy, guitar
died in Chicago, IL, USA.
Age: 44.
Worked with 'Memphis Minnie'
Ed Allen, trumpet
died in New York, NY, USA.
Ray "Remo" Biondi, guitar/violin
died in Chicago, IL, USA.

"Sweet" Emma Barrett, piano
died in New Orleans, LA, USA.
Age: 85.

Al Dexter, C&W vocals
died (heart attack) in Lewisville, TX, USA.
Age 78: (Best recalled release: "Pistol Packin' Mama")
Al Dexter - Wikipedia

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


Joseph C. Smith's Trio
  • Mickey


Original Dixieland Jass Band - Crazy Blues (Introducing "It's Right Here For You") (If You Don't Get It - Tain't No Fault O' Mine)

Original Dixieland Jass Band - Dangerous Blues - Vocal Chorus - Al Bernard

Original Dixieland Jass Band - Home Again Blues (Introducing "Lindy")


Bennie Krueger and his Orchestra


Charles Fulcher and his Orchestra
  • Home Sweet Home Blues

Charles Fulcher and his Orchestra - The Georgia Stomp

Warner's Seven Aces
  • The Blues Have Got Me
  • When My Sugar Walks Down The Street


Vincent Lopez and His Casa Lopez Orchestra - T-N-T

Jean Goldkette and his Orchestra

  • After I Say I'm Sorry (What Can I Say?)

Jean Goldkette and his Orchestra - Dinah

Ray Miller's Orchestra


Mac's Jazz Orchestra - Ace In The Hole

Annette Hanshaw - Ain't He Sweet - Piano Accompaniment by Irving Brodsky

Annette Hanshaw - I'm Gonna Meet My Sweetie Now

Annette Hanshaw - It All Depends On You- Piano Accompaniment by Irving Brodsky


Waring's Pennsylvanians
  • There Must Be A Silver Lining


King Oliver's Orchestra - Struggle Buggy


Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra
  • Mahogany Hall Stomp
  • Swing, You Cats


  • It All Comes Back To Me Now - Vocal Refrain by Perry Como
  • Rose Of The Rockies - Vocal Refrain by Perry Como and Elmo Tanner
  • Salud, Dinero y Amor (Health, Wealth and Love) - Vocal refrain by Elmo Tanner


(Milton Ager / Jack Yellen)

There she is! There she is!
There's what keeps me up at night
Oh, gee whiz! Oh, gee whiz!
There's why I can't eat a bite
Those flaming eyes! That flaming youth!
Oh, mister oh, sister, tell me the truth...

Ain't she sweet?
See her walking down the street
Now I ask you very confidentially
Ain't she sweet?

Ain't she nice
Look her over once or twice
Now I ask you very confidentially
Ain't she nice?

Just cast an eye in her direction
Oh me, oh my, ain't that perfection

I repeat
Don't you think she's kind of sweet
Now I ask you very confidentially
Ain't she sweet?

Tell me where, tell me where
Have you seen one just like that
I declare, I declare
That sure is worth looking at

Oh, boy, how sweet those lips must be
Gaze on it, doggonit! Now answer me

Ain't she sweet?
See her walking down the street
Now I ask you very confidentially
Ain't she sweet?

Ain't she nice?
Look her over once or twice
Now I ask you very confidentially
Ain't she nice?

Just cast an eye in her direction
Oh me, oh my, ain't that perfection

I repeat
Don't you think she's kind of sweet
Now I ask you very confidentially
Ain't she sweet?

brought to you by... 


Special Thanks To:
The Red Hot Jazz Archives,
The Big Band Database, Scott Yanow, 

and all those who have provided content,
images and sound files for this site.

No comments: