78rpm and Vintage Music Researches and Discussions

from 2001

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this page first published by John Wright, 31 January 2001
last update 8 January 2004vintage@r2ok.co.uk

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November 2001

Al's brother, Augustus Bowlly
In the Al Bowlly biography Ray Pallet lists the names of Al's brothers Matthew, Augustus and Michael (Mish) and several sisters, and suggests the Greek family name wasn't Bowlly but Pauli, and Bowlly came about via passport/pronounciation problems in Africa. Maybe the name Bowlly already existed in S Africa and was chosen as nearest to what Al's dad said to passport control. Or maybe the name became unique to Al's family? If the latter, have I found a reference to Al's brother Augustus? (born 1898)

This article relates to a billiards competition in 1936:

Reference: The story of Billiards and Snooker by Clive Everton.
Tournament number 7
Title British Empire Amateur Billiard Championship
Location Johannesburg, South Africa
Number in field Four
Countries Three - Australia, England, South Africa
General format A single round-robin
Details of format Each match was three sessions of 2 1/4 hours; the winner was decided by the number of matches won
Rules Hazard limit of 15, two pots off the spot

2. Statistical summary
An explanation of the columns and special entries in the table below is given here.
Player Country Won Agg. Av. HB 100s
Bob Marshall Australia 3 8526 22.0 248 24
Allan Prior South Africa 2 7014 17.7 197 11
Joe Thompson England 1 7705 21.2 245 15
Gus Bowlly South Africa 0 4548 9.0 93 0

3. Individual matches
Marshall beat Thompson 2852 - 2468.

4. Achievement highlights:
Marshall made five centuries in a session against Bowlly.
Marshall made a South African record of 248 off a double baulk in his match against Thompson.

extract from Philip Sharp's website which may be closed now.

Follow-up December 2003:

Augustus Bowlly, the billiard player, comes up again in the autobiography of the famous Joe Davis. Doesn't confirm Gus is Al's brother but it may take us a step closer to finding out. Here is an extract from Chapter 17 relating to a 1937 tour:

"I concluded my first series of engagements in Johannesburg by playing a three-day billiards match, under the auspices of the Transvaal Billiard Control Board, against a team comprising Allan Prior and two other leading amateurs, S. Cranko and Gus Bowlly. They played me one day each and I conceded their team 1,500 points. On day one I made 886 to Cranko's 73, on day two 921 to Prior's 46 and finished the third day, in which Bowlly scored 16, the winner by 2,804 to the amateurs' 1,635".

The book is serialised on the internet, chapter 17 is at: http://www.eaba.co.uk/books/davis/chapter17.html

By the way Joe Davis later married dance band singer June Malo.

extract from files of http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Bowlly/

November 2001

photo of Al Bowlly and Jimmy Mesene
Geoff Orr announced to the group that he had a very rare copy of a photo of Al Bowlly and Jimmy Mesene, dated 1940:

This photo interested the Yahoo group immensely, particularly as the two gents look a lot younger than when they performed together in 1940.
Iris McCanna wrote: I would just like to add that, although the picture was signed and dated 1940 it may not have been taken then. I worked both with recording artists and actors for a long time and they were pretty good at dishing out and signing photos of themselves much younger! Just my thoughts about what was (and probably still is) an accepted practice by celebrities.
John Wright: the hairstyles suggest around 1930. Maybe Al and Jimmy knew each other back then, afer all they were both of Greek descent. If we go for 1930-1931, circumstantial evidence maybe, but Al and Jimmy were both frequenting the Piccadilly recording studio in the spring of 1931 (e.g. with Percy Chandler). Maybe they are on other records of that time. Melody Maker might have some information on their whereabouts.

extract from files of http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Bowlly/

November 2001

Dan Donovan and the Celtic Five
Just a note to say I was flicking through some old Dance Band Diaries, these were 'summaries' of Melody Makers, published in 1986 by Chris Hayes. They are a fascinating read, just wish I had all the MM's ! I was reading the September 1928 diary and the name Dan Donovan caught me eye, and there I found the personnel of Dan's Cardiff band. I don't recall this information in our previous discussions, so for Dave Burns this is what Chris quotes from Melody Maker:

'Former world boxing champion Jimmy Wilde is proprietor Cardiff's Celtic Palais, where the resident 5-piece band, the Celtic Five, comprises of Carl Grashoff (saxes, bjo), Jimmy Donovan (vln), Pete Coleman (pno, arr), Dave Wolfstein (drs), Dan Donovan (saxes, vcl)'.

extract from files of http://groups.yahoo.com/group/british-dance-bands/

November 2001 (updated March 2004)

Southern Rag-A-Jazz members found
I was impressed by the results from Joe Moore's searches on the Ellis Island internet site. This site allows you to identify the ships and passengers that travelled to New York City (currently up to the year 1924). I thought I would look for some obscure musicians, and I thought of the Southern Rag-A-Jazz Band, a college band who visited Britain and made records in 1921. Rust lists personnel and most of the surnames are unusual: Cressell, Reed, Leroy, Fairchild, Peterson, Grubb, Schultz, so this ought to narrow down possibilities on the Ellis Island lists. Jim Godbolt's book also says they hailed from Carolina University. So could that also narrow down the search....?

After taking into account slight spelling discrepancies, I reckon I've found all the band except Floyd Schultz (drummer). It seems the ships left Britain and called in at European ports OR the musicians visited Europe before returning to USA. Edward Cressell and Bert Reed returned together 14 Jan '22, while Harold Peterson and Gayle Grubb returned 17 Aug '23. Robert Leroy and Donville Fairchild returned separately. The details are below.

The surprising thing to come out of all this is that five of the musicians hailed originally from Nebraska. I've been to Nebraska and it's a state a bit west of the usual early jazz influences, though their home towns are just west of the Missouri River...... which comes up from St Louis ..... this is a well known jazz trail.

The conclusion then is that these guys were likely ex-college from a Nebraska college or university. Is there an archive site listing Nebraska college students....?

Here are the extracts from the Ellis Island site, a record of their arrivals back in USA:

Fairchild, DonvilleAge 21
Home: Lincoln, NebraskaNationality: A U.S. citizen
Landed: December 23, 1921Ship: Adriatic
From port: Cherbourg, Manche, France

Cressell, EdwardAge 27
Home: Buffalo, N.Y.Nationality: A U.S. citizen
Landed: January 14, 1922 Ship: Paris
From port: Le Havre, Seine-Inferior, France

Reed, Bert Age 26
Home: Kearney, NebraskaNationality: A U.S. citizen
Landed: January 14, 1922Ship: Paris
From port: Le Havre, Seine-Inferior, France

Peterson, HaroldAge 26
Home: Fremont, NebraskaNationality: A U.S. citizen
Landed: August 17, 1923Ship: Lapland
From port: Antwerp, Belgium

Grubb, GayleAge 27
Home: Lincoln, NebraskaNationality: A U.S. citizen
Landed: August 17, 1923Ship: Lapland
From port: Antwerp, Belgium

Le Roy, RobertAge 19
Home: York, NebraskaNationality: A U.S. citizen
Landed: November 11, 1923Ship: America
From port: Cherbourg, Manche, France

update march 2004:
Now I have received an e-mail and fascinating photograph from the family of Bert Reed, Mr John Reed Hackett. Bert Reed was born in Illinois. About 1907 the family moved to Kearney, Nebraska. He became a successful stockbroker in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he died in 1982 at age 87. The photo below features the band with Bert on trombone. The photo was used for publicity in England while the band performed at Rector's Club. Trumpeter Robert Leroy is missing; the personnel listed by Brian Rust would suggest that from left to right we have Gayle Grubb (piano) Bert Reed (trombone), Eddie Cresswell (violin), Donville Fairchild (banjo), Harold Peterson (reeds) and Floyd Schultz (drums).

Note: Rust lists first names Galen and Danville. Floyd Schultz has not been found returning to Ellis Island so name needs to be confirmed on British ship passenger records.

September 2001

James Brown, Melodeon player
In message Angela Boon wrote:
My Great Grandfather JAMES BROWN from Edinburgh was a Melodeon Player/Recording Artist from 1909 until his death in 1919. Do you know where I might obtain original recordings of his playing? I look forward to hearing from you.

John Wright: 'Hello Angela, a couple of collector colleagues of mine have 78's by James Brown, they want to keep them but are willing to send you (free) CD copies and record label scans etc. Hope that will be of interest. Norman Field has:
Zonophone 847 'Memories of Burns' and 'Memories of Scott'
and Louis Barfe has:
Regal-Zonophone T 848 'Edina' and 'Eightsome Reel'
Other information, there are 21 double-sided discs by James Brown in the British Zonophone catalogue for October 1913 (40 sides, two discs are coupled with other artists) and James Brown is also listed as having recorded for Marathon vertical-cut discs and Clarion cylinders.

January 2001

Al Bowlly and Jack Jackson, having a laugh
Denis King wrote: "During the recording of Sunny Days I think Al Bowlly goosed Jack Jackson right at the tail end of the latter's scat vocal.
John Wright: Yes Denis, I have to agree! But I wonder if Al was getting BACK at Jack? Listen to Al's first verse and as he goes for the low note he falters and we hear 'da..a..ays'. Maybe Al struggled with the low note and the pace of the music, but it's possible he was trying not to laugh, as if Jack had started the funny goings on at that point"!

extract from files of http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Bowlly/

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