Rest  In  Peace  Bert  Williams.


Howard Armstrong
d. July 30, 2003
Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong was an African American string band and country blues musician, who played fiddle, mandolin, and guitar and also sang. He was also a notable visual artist and raconteur.
Country bluesman Howard Armstrong was born March 4, 1909 in Dayton, TN; one of 11 children. As a youngster he fashioned his first fiddle out of a goods box strung with horsehair. Honing his musical skills in his family band, he began performing as a teen alongside Knoxville performers Ted Bogan and Carl Martin in groups like the Tennessee Chocolate Drops and the Four Aces. Armstrong's groups were exceptions to the rule of the era which dictated that black performers perform only material from the segregated "race music catalogs"; their repertoire included not only old-time jigs, reels, waltzes, rags, and minstrel show favorites, but also current jazz, blues, and Tin Pan Alley hits.

In 1930, the Chocolate Drops made their radio debut and cut their first sides for the Vocalion label. 
During the Depression, the trio of Howard, Bogan, and Martin lived on the road, playing throughout the Appalachian circuit and appearing with a medicine show headed by one Dr. Leon D. Bondara. By the early '30s they found themselves in Chicago, regularly playing the city's Southside and Maxwell Street flea market area; living on tips left them in dire financial straits, however, and they soon began "pullin' doors" -- playing stores and taverns in the white immigrant areas, where the Italian, Polish, and German which Armstrong learned to speak as a child growing up in multi-ethnic La Follette, opened doors that most other black performers found barred.
By the end of the decade, the popularity of radio and the emergence of the jukebox brought Armstrong's professional playing days to a halt; however, during the '70s his few recordings were rediscovered by folk music scholars, and he reunited with Bogan and Martin to tour college campuses, coffeehouses, and festivals. After Martin's 1978 death, the surviving duo forged on, and in 1985 they became the subject of the feature documentary Louie Bluie, a film directed by Terry Zwigoff. The accompanying soundtrack also introduced Armstrong's music to new fans through its mix of new recordings and vintage sides dating back to the '30s.

Armstrong continued to perform well into the new millennium. He and his wife/manager Barbara Ward married 1996 and took up residency in her hometown of Boston. She was also the drummer of Armstrong's band. His solo album, Louie Bluie, won a W.C. Handy award from the Blues Foundation a year prior. On July 30, 2003, Armstrong died from complications after a heart attack he suffered in March. He was 94.
~ Jason Ankeny
Howard Armstrong - Wikipedia

Howard Armstrong, 94

Ward Kimball, Trombone
b. Minneapolis, MN. USA
d. July 8, 2002, Arcadia, CA. USA.
(Natural causes.)
Ward finished his career working (38 years) for Walt Disney Films, - as an animator. However, musicians will best remember his as a found member of 'The Firehouse Five Plus Two' where he was best heard on such recordings as "Oh Sister Ain't That Hot", and "Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight". He also directed some films while in Hollywood.

Orlando Roberson, Vocal
b. Tulsa, OK, USA. d.
~Artist Biography by Eugene Chadbourne
According to the great jazz singer and blues shouter Jimmy Rushing, it was the advent of sound system technology that changed the singing style of vocalists appearing with jazz or blues groups. Rushing's generation, which included performers such as Big Joe Turner and Jimmy Witherspoon, had figured out how to get their voices over the top of the band, rhythm section, and all, without the benefit of amplification because there was none available. The advent of the megaphone brought about crooners such as Rudy Vallee, yet this device had such a limited sound it was in turn not suited to every type of performance. It was the invention of the microphone around 1933 that made it possible for singers such as Orlando Roberson or the Jimmie Lunceford band's Dan Grissom to be heard over the sound of a full band. Once they did, the effect on the listening public was devastating, paving the way for the likes of Frank Sinatra and Perry Como.

Vocalists such as Roberson were often considered showstoppers, not only because of their vocal range, but because audiences were not used to hearing voices such as his coming from the bandstand. The voice of Orlando Roberson is most frequently described as high, with some listeners even assuming it is a woman singing. He was part of the first wave of the type of fragile, subtly expressive voices that were indeed made possible by microphone technology. As a result, vocalists could have the same time of musical flexibility as instrumentalists. He has often been misidentified as Orlando Robeson, a spelling difference of one letter which has also led to the misconception that there was a family relation to the great gospel and dramatic singer Paul Robeson. In reality, the two are not related other than their choice of careers. Orlando Roberson's sister Ida Mae Roberson is the only member of his family to have any notoriety. She was one of the face-saving "wives" of the gay poet Countee Cullen, who published some ten volumes of work.

He is most often associated with the bands of Claude Hopkins, a pianist whose ambitious arrangements were often scuttled by the ineptness of some of his sidemen. The bandleader recorded steadily between 1932 and 1935, and much of this material has been reissued on three Classics compact discs. The trumpeter and vocalist Ovie Alston was also part of the Hopkins lineup, frequently sharing the vocal duties with Roberson. Other members of this group included trombonist Fernando Arbello, youthful clarinetist Edmond Hall, and tenor saxophonist Bobby Sands. The most complete glimpse of the singer and this band in action is provided by several short films released by Vitaphone in the mid-'30s, which later became part of the United Artists collection. 

By Request, directed by Roy Mack, is set in a nightclub and features the Hopkins orchestra with Roberson vocalizing and the dancers Tip, Tap and Toe. The songs packed into the film's 11-minute running time include "California, Here I Come," "Chasing My Blues Away," "Chinatown, My Chinatown," "I Would Do Anything for You," "A Quarter to Nine/Shine," and "To Call You My Own." Barber Shop Blues may sound like a lament from the hippie era, but was actually a 1933 short in which the talented Four Step Brothers join Hopkins and Roberson to perform "Loveless Love," "Nagasaki," and several other tunes. Roberson also performed and recorded with Fats Waller, Edgar Hayes, and Ben Selvin.

Tom Shaw, guitar
b. Brenham, TX, USA.
Thomas Edgar Shaw (March 4, 1908, Brenham, Texas – February 24, 1977), aka Tom Shaw, was an American blues singer and guitarist.

Egbert Anson Van Alstyne, composer
b. Chicago, IL, USA
d. July 9, 1951, Chicago,IL, USA
A precocious and gifted child, little Egbert played the organ in church at the age of seven and soon was granted a scholarship to the Chicago Musical College, a prestigious academy specializing in the traditions of European Classical music. 
Yet fate and social environment determined that Van Alstyne would become a composer of popular songs, feeding hits to the sheet music industry and providing vaudeville entertainers with topical ditties. In 1900 he capitalized upon a burgeoning trend and came up with something he called "Ragtime Chimes", featuring a "ringing" effect which was later to be widely imitated.
In 1903 he published "Navajo", a novelty tune with lyrics by Harry H. Williams. Continuing to manifest the early Tin Pan Alley predilection for ethnic humor, in 1904 this partnership brought out another number parodying Native American culture entitled "Seminole" and "Back, Back, Back to Baltimore", which was described as a "coon song". 
The tune that put them on the map for all intents and purposes was "In The Shade Of The Old Apple Tree". Published in 1905, this song sold sheet music by the millions. Unable to resist resorting once again to the "exotic" theme of "Indian" life, Van Alstyne and Williams brought out "Cheyenne" in 1906, along with "Won't You Come Over To My House?".
In 1907 they published the humorous "I'm Afraid To Come Home In The Dark" and yet another "Indian" routine which they called "San Antonio". Van Alstyne wrote "Rebecca" in 1908, along with "It Looks Like A Big Night Tonight" and something with the seemingly paranoiac title "I Used To Be Afraid To Go Home In The Dark, Now I'm Afraid To Go At All". Ever ready to compose syncopated material, he rolled out the "Honey Rag" in 1909. His big success of 1910 was "What's The Matter With Father?" while "Good Night Ladies" was published in 1911, along with "Oh, That Navajo Rag". 1912 was the year of "Jamaica Jinger (A Hot Rag)", and "That Old Girl Of Mine". These titles aptly demonstrate the two simultaneous paths trodden by most Tin Pan Alley songwriters: Hot and Not. "That Devil Rag", published in 1913, was certainly an example of Hot. "Memories", a smooth hit with society dance bands in 1915, was most definitely Not.
Possibly the most interesting and relevant connection between Van Alstyne and the world of jazz was his involvement with Tony Jackson of New Orleans in composing the famous melody "Pretty Baby", published in 1916 with lyrics by Gus Kahn. What was Van Alstyne's exact contribution to the composition of this song? In the competitive, opportunistic world of music publishing, composer credits often indicate little or no actual participation in the creation of the song in question. Did he simply put in a word for Jackson, an Afro-American artist confronted with the racist policies of the entertainment industry, or did the two men actually collaborate in the creation of this unforgettable air? Who can say? Even if Jelly Roll Morton were alive today, his verdict would doubtless only fuel the debate and exacerbate the mystery.
Van Alstyne's remaining years only yielded a couple of minor hits: "Your Eyes Have Told Me So" came out in 1919, and "Beautiful Love" appeared in 1931. Twenty years later, Egbert Van Alstyne passed away in his home town of Chicago Illinois at the age of 69.
~ arwulf arwulf
Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:

Emile Berliner invents the microphone.
Just in time for Alexander Graham Bell to
use it in his own new invention -the Telephone.
Bert Williams
vocals/Black vaudvillian
died in New York, NY, USA.
Age: 47.

"Blind" Willie Walker, guitar
died in Greenville, SC, USA.
Age: 37

Dick Jurgens orchestra recorded
"One Dozen Roses" (Okeh - Chicago).

Lloyd "Tiny" Grimes, guitar
died in New York, NY, USA.
Age: 72

Art Hodes, piano
died in Harvey, IL, USA.
Age: 88

"Cousin" Minnie Pearl
C&W comedienne
died in Nashville, TN, USA.
Age: 83.
Eddie Dean
C&W singer-songwriter
died in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Among his compositions:
"I Dreamed Of A Hillbilly Heaven"

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra
  • Chong (Introducing: "By The Camp Fire")


Clarence Williams' Blue Five 


Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra - Make Believe (introducing "Old Pal, Why Don't You Answer Me?")


Lucille Hegamin


Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds Of Joy - Bearcat Shuffle

Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds Of Joy - Froggy Bottom


Chong - He Come From Hong Kong - 1919

Lettle Al-lee Fo chong played
all day in an or-i-en-tal way
In a swell Chinese Ca-fe

But Allee loved his rag
that same as you,
And ev'ry evening
when his work was thru
Al-lee layesd his
Tom-Tom down,
Pret-ty soon you'd
hear this sound:

he come from Hong Kong
where Chine-ee-man
play all-ee day on a drum....."

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.

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