Emmett Miller
Minstrel/C&W vocals
b. Barnesville (near Macon), GA, USA
d 1962.
Basically a vaudeville singer who performed in 'blackface', Miller was well known as a minstrel performer, touring widely with minstrel shows for several decades. Miller's yodeling trill, was widely admired and he heavily influenced such country singers as Jimmie Rodgers, Lefty Frizzell, and Hank Williams (who learned "Lovesick Blues" from a Miller record). His history is still clouded in mystery, yet his singing contributed elements to later Country, Pop, and Jazz. When Miller died, he was hopelessly alcoholic, penniless and completely forgotten. (Miller's dates of birth and demise are largely the result of research by Bret Wood, and his friend Nick Tosches, who has written about Miller.)
~by Richie Unterberger
Although his vocal delivery was influential on several major country singers, Emmett Miller was basically a vaudeville singer, with far stronger aural links to Al Jolson than Merle Haggard. A white man performing in blackface, Miller was an exponent of the minstrel school of performance, touring widely with minstrel shows for several decades. The most influential aspect of his recordings were his yodeling trill, and there can be no doubt that it heavily influenced country singers such as Jimmie Rodgers, Lefty Frizzell, and Hank Williams (who learned "Lovesick Blues" from a Miller record). Bob Wills asked his early lead singer to copy Miller's style, and a bit of Miller's easygoing ragtime sensibility can be heard in Leon Redbone.
But Miller, to quote Donald Sutherland's description of John Milton in Animal House, does not speak well to our generation. That's not just because the vaudeville arrangements of his 1920s recordings will strike most modern-day listeners as quaint. It's also because the blackface minstrel tradition -- which was just part of the scene in Miller's heyday -- strikes as somewhat distasteful in the post-segregation era in its perpetuation of some disagreeable black stereotypes.

Miller began recording for OKeh in the mid-'20s and made his most important singles for the label at the end of the decade with accompaniment by the Georgia Crackers, which included both Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. The minstrel tradition faded drastically in popularity after 1930, although Miller did record for Bluebird in 1936 and continued to perform in minstrel shows to dwindling crowds through the early '50s.

Emmett Miller - Wikipedia

Cab Calloway Sax section with Eddie Barefield, Arville Harris, Andrew Brown and Walter Foots.
Andrew Brown, Bass Sax
b. New York, NY, USA.
d. 1960 
~by Eugene Chadbourne
Vintage photographs of reed multi-instrumentalists such as this artist inspired many a modern jazz player such as Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell of the AACM into assembling a large arsenal of axes. Andrew Brown, who began working in top big bands in the mid '20s, played pretty much the entire family of saxophones as well as both bass and standard clarinet. Brown played on the bass saxophone in the early days of bands such as the Cotton Club Orchestra, but was just as likely to be featured as an alto or tenor saxophonist. With Andrew Preer as one of the band's leaders, the aforementioned Cotton Club Orchestra melded into The Missourians, an outfit that Brown eventually fled in order to begin working for the wild and crazy Cab Calloway.
It was in this context that Brown's comic talents began to emerge, mostly in the form of group vocals and occasional choreography. Calloway employed Brown for 15 years beginning in 1930, including an extravagently succesful European tour in 1934. This band was constantly stocked with fine musicians, including the magnificent tenor man Chu Berry. Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie was drummed out of the Calloway band for supposedly playing "Chinese music" during his solos, but remembered Brown's talents for one of his own extended ensembles which combined intricate bebop arrangements with a style of hip, jive humor that was nothing if not straight out of Calloway. From the mid '40s Brown dropped out of performing and began running his own teaching studio in New York City. His recording appearances are many, including many Calloway discs and a variety of compilations focusing on enjoyable themes such as hemp songs.
Andrew Brown

Godfrey Hirsch
vibraphone/drums/piano, d. 1992
~by Scott Yanow
A fixture in New Orleans for many decades, Godfrey Hirsch was a fine vibraphonist whose main influence was Lionel Hampton.
He started playing drums when he was 15 and studied percussion. Most of his gigs through the years were low-profile engagements but Hirsch did tour with Louis Prima for a year and Richard Himber's big band for three. After being part of the Dave Roberts Trio in 1943, he spent time in the Army. Following his discharge, the versatile Hirsch spent 15 years on the staff of WWL-CBS. In 1960 he joined Pete Fountain's band in New Orleans, playing vibes exclusively. Hirsch appeared on many of Fountain's Coral records and was associated with the clarinetist until his retirement. Godfrey Hirsch had one opportunity to lead his own record date, an album recorded during 1964-65 on Coral, At Pete's Place.
Godfrey Hirsch: Information from

Louis Keppard
b. New Orleans, LA, USA
d. 1986
Louis played in the Cherry Blossom Band and then led his own group, the Magnolia Band, which included King Oliver and Honore Dutrey among its members. He played with Papa Celestin's Tuxedo Brass Band and Manuel Perez, and following this with the Olympia Orchestra alongside Freddie. In 1917 he moved briefly to Chicago but returned soon after. 

He played in several brass bands in New Orleans as an alto hornist and guitarist from the 1920s through the 1950s, including in the Gibson Brass Band and the Young Excelsior Brass Band. His style of "shuffle rhythms" was an influence on Danny Barker. He recorded with Wooden Joe Nicholas in 1949, and retired from music some time after 1962. 
Smithsonian Folkways - Bucket's Got a Hole In It - Louis Keppard
Louis Keppard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Louis Keppard

Burton Lane, composer
b. New York, NY, USA
d. Jan. 3, 1997, New York, NY, USA.
né: Burton Levy
by John Bush
The Broadway and Hollywood composer best-known for Finian's Rainbow, Burton Lane was born in New York in 1912. He began writing songs before his teens and after dropping out of high school, worked as a song plugger and staff composer. Influenced by Gershwin, Lane met his idol through a family friend and began composing for the theater while still a teenager. Teaming with lyricist Harold Adamson, he wrote songs for Earl Carroll's Vanities and Artists and Models in 1930. The pair wrote songs for several other shows, then traveled to Hollywood under the aegis of Irving Berlin's publishing company; after authoring two major film hits, "Everything I Have Is Yours" (from Dancing Lady) and "Says My Heart" (from Cocoanut Grove), Lane ended up staying for over two decades. He contracted with MGM, then Paramount, working on more than 30 pictures during the 1930s. After working at MGM for several years during the '40s, Lane returned to Broadway in 1947 to present Finian's Rainbow with lyrics by E.Y. Harburg. The show became a big success thanks to songs like "How Are Things in Glocca Morra," "When I'm Not Near the Girl I Love," and "Something Sort of Grandish."
Despite the grand homecoming, Burton Lane returned to Hollywood and worked on films, including Royal Wedding, Give a Girl a Break, and Jupiter's Darling. Lane's last major success, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, appeared in 1965. Written with Alan Jay Lerner, the show launched a hit with the title song and became a feature film in 1970. Though he rarely composed during his last two decades, he worked tirelessly as the president of the American Guild of Composers and Authors.
Songwriters Hall of Fame - Burton Lane Exhibit Home
Burton Lane - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Burton Lane: Information from

Lester McFarland, (Country)
b. Gray, KY, USA.
~by Eugene Chadbourne
This gifted musician was part of the duo Mac & Bob, which featured two blind musicians who met while studying music at the Kentucky School for the Blind. They teamed up in the early '20s and soon attracted record company scouts. During their active career they recorded at least 200 songs with sales reported to be more than one million copies. 
The duo apparently taught each other songs by punching out representations of musical notes and song lyrics that approximated a crude variation on the braille system.

Emanual Paul
b. New Orleans, LA, USA
d. 1988

Biography ~by Scott Yanow

Emanuel Paul was one of the first tenor saxophonists to be accepted in the New Orleans jazz world; in fact, his tenor often took the place of a baritone horn in brass bands. He started music fairly late, playing violin when he was 18, playing banjo in the mid-1920s and then switching permanently to tenor. Paul joined the Eureka Brass Band in 1940, began a longtime association with Kid Thomas Valentine in 1942 and recorded quite a bit through the years, including with the Eureka Brass Band, Kid Thomas, Oscar Celestin (1953), Emmanuel Sayles and the Olympia Brass Band. Paul's style was unaffected by later innovations and throughout his career he had a unique sound and function of his own in New Orleans jazz. Paul led two albums for the European Jazz Macon Club label in 1967; his sidemen on the live sets include Valentine, George Lewis and Butch Thompson.

Walter Vinson, guitarist
b. USA.
Member of 'The Mississippi Sheiks', a group formed in Jackson, MS, USA
Biography ~by Jason Ankeny
One half of the legendary Mississippi Sheiks, singer/guitarist Walter Vinson was also among the most noteworthy blues accompanists of his era. Born February 2, 1901 in Bolton, Mississippi, Vinson (also known variously as Vincson and Vincent) began performing as a child, and during his teen years was a fixture at area parties and picnics. Even from the outset, however, he rarely if ever appeared as a solo act, seemingly much more at home in duets and trios; towards that end, during the 1920s he worked with Charlie McCoy, Rubin Lacy and Son Spand before forging his most pivotal and long-lasting union, with Lonnie Chatmon, in 1928. In addition to teaming with Chatmon in the Mississippi Sheiks, Vinson also recorded with him in the Mississippi Hot Footers, and even worked with Chatmon's brothers Bo and Harry.

Upon the Sheiks' 1933 dissolution, Vinson recorded with various players in areas ranging from Jackson, Mississippi to New Orleans to finally Chicago; while an active club performer during the early 1940s, by the middle of the decade he had begun a lengthy hiatus from music which continued through 1960, at which point he returned to both recording and festival appearances. Hardening of the arteries forced Vinson into retirement during the early '70s; he died in Chicago in 1975.

PLATE 4, from left, “Abner” Leon Weaver and brother “Cicero” Frank Weaver.
Frank "Cicero" Weaver
(Hillbilly) vocals/comedy
b. Ozark, MO, USA.
Frank was one-third of "The Weaver Bros. & Elviry", a Hillbilly act that parlayed their 'Grand Ole Opry' show success into a lucrative contract with Republic Pictures. One third of the act was Frank Weaver as "Cicero" ( b, 2 February 1891, Ozark,Missouri, USA, d. 29 October 1967, Ventura County, California, USA.) his brother Leon Abner Weaver, as "Abner" who played the "Saw" (b. 12 August 1882, Ozark, Missouri, USA, d. 27 May 1950, Los Angeles, California, USA. heart attack), sister-in-law June Weaver as "Elviry", and niece Loretta Weaver as the ingénue, "Violey".
Frank Weaver

Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:

Clara Smith, vocals
died in Detroit, MI
Age 41
Clara Smith

Clara Smith - Wikipedia

Guy Lombardo Orchestra
recorded "Boo Hoo" 
(Victor Records)
one of their all-time great hits.

Jenks 'Tex' Carman
C&W singer-songwriter, died.
Jenks "Tex" Carman: Information from

Alfred Lion
label founder (Blue Note)
died in San Diego, CA.
On This Date Include:


All Star Trio and their Orchestra - Rose Nightingale


Benson Orchestra of Chicago
  • Virginia Blues

The California Ramblers


Bailey's Lucky Seven
  • Sweet One

Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra
  • Falling
  • That American Boy of Mine


The Virginians  - I've Got A Cross-Eyed Papa (But He Looks Straight To Me)


Sonny Clay's Plantation Orchestra


Jean Goldkette and his Orchestra
Hoosier Sweetheart - Vocal refrain by Ray Muerer

Annette Hanshaw - Here Or There


The New Yorkers
  • I'm Living On Love
  • There's A Cradle In Caroline

Tiny Parham and his Musicians

Tiny Parham and his Musicians - Tiny's Stomp (Oriental Blues)


Joe Venuti and his New Yorkers - That's The Good Old Sunny South

Joe Venuti and his New Yorkers Weary River (Smith Ballew, Vocals)


The Red Devils
  • Dinah
  • Tiger Rag


Duke Ellington and his Orchestra - It Don't Mean A Thing


Don Redman and his Orchestra - How Ya Feelin'


Lil Armstrong and her Swing Orchestra - Happy Today, Sad Tomorrow - Vocal Chorus by Lil Armstrong


Duke Ellington - It don't mean a thing (1943 version)
It Don't Mean A Thing
~Irving Mills

What good is melody?
What good is music?
If it ain't possessin' something sweet
It ain't the melody, it ain't the music

There's something else that makes the tune complete
It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing
It don't mean a thing all you got to do is sing

It makes no difference
If it's sweet or hot
Just give that rhythm
Everything you've got
It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing

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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.

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