The Kingfish Files

By host on 8/22/2010 3:00 AM
  After his smash hit "My Blue Heaven", song writer Walter Donaldson established his own music publishing company. While he never matched the success of his big hit, he did pen a number of lovely tunes, including "Lazy Lou'siana Moon". This recording by Annette Hanshaw features the Hawaiian guitar stylings of Frank Ferera, the father of Hawaiian slide guitar. Slide guitar was incredibly popular in the 1920s in many forms, from blues to country to jazz but especially in it's "Hawaiian" form typified by staccato articulation and broad vibrato. ...
By host on 8/15/2010 3:00 AM
Bing Crosby and Al Jolson shared a two interesting similarities. They both performed frequently in blackface. And they both recorded with the Mills Brothers. One might shake one's head at the seemingly preposterous incongruity. Why, after all, would the Mills Brothers agree to record with artists who employed a stage character associated with denigration and racism? The answer is simple, I believe. First, by the early 1930s blackface was still an accepted, if fading, form of stage presentation. Second, Jolson and Crosby, despite their use of blackface, could hardly be considered racist (at least by the standards of the time). Crosby in particular was quite public that Louis Armstrong was his biggest influence as a singer....
By host on 8/8/2010 3:00 AM
Louis Armstrong - "Rhapsody In Black And Blue" Last time I presented Louis Armstrong's great recording of "If I Could Be With You", which is a wonderful example of his great artistry. This week I present another side of Louis' career, the part that involved Louis playing a role in an overtly racist film. In later years Armstrong was criticized by black musicians allowing himself to act in what was considered an subservient, or at least ingratiating way to white audiences. Louis was hardly alone in accepting demeaning roles -- that was how black actors and actresses fed themselves. Yet, despite the negative aspects, black artists distinguished themselves even when presented in a negative context. In this film, as bizarrely racist as it is, Louis' playing shines through in complete dignity. ...

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