“Records are the lifeblood of singers, and bands—of everything. Those… those are the documents—you see—that people have.”
— Benny Goodman
On Old Time Blues, the ghosts of music’s past spring to life anew out of the scratchy grooves of old shellac records.
Old Time Blues is a weblog founded in 2015 by writer and folklore collector R.C. Montgomery with a mission to preserve and chronicle the music contained within the grooves of decades old 78 RPM records, and bring their sounds to the ears of a new generation of listeners, as a sort of digital archive of historic 78 RPM phonograph records. On Old Time Blues, you will find musical marvels of all sorts dating back to the first half of the twentieth-century; primarily of the American “roots” music genres: blues, jazz, hillbilly, folk music, and more (with an admitted bias toward music from Texas)—some unheard-of and others renowned, with a propensity for the peculiar—presented straight off the original record, many of which were not previously available for listening online.
If you have any questions, comments, corrections, complaints, or requests, please leave a comment on this page or any of the posts herein, or contact me directly! I can’t promise I’ll respond, but I can promise I’ll read it and appreciate it (unless it’s hate mail).
About the Author…
My name is R. Connor Montgomery (sometimes R.C. Montgomery, or Connor if we’re on friendly terms), the owner of this website and curator of the Old Time Blues Collection. The R. stands for Robert, but I go by my middle name to avoid confusion with the movie star. I am a writer, an amateur historian, folklorist and song collector, and an in-general enthusiast of times past. All of my life—as far back as I can remember—I have been captivated by times long before my own, and so I’ve taken it upon myself to conserve the relics and traditions left behind from those days as best I can. Since I was just a little child, I was much more interested in old times than new, and as I moved forward in time, so did I drift backwards. Those decades surrounding the two World Wars have always struck me as a particularly fascinating time in history.
With a passion for writing and a couple thousand old records, I created Old Time Blues to share the music and my ramblings and ruminations thereof, and to spread the good word about these old tunes. I just felt selfish keeping all that wonderful music to myself (and it seemed more justifiable to spend all that money if I did more than just stick them on a shelf). It is my goal herein to provide accurate, comprehensive, and organized information about the records presented here and the people responsible for making them, to help promote awareness of these often forgotten artists, and hopefully to attract new devotees to the marvelous sounds of yesteryear. It is my intention to preach the gospel of the music your great-grandparents used to love. In many cases, I spend hours burning that midnight oil, carefully researching long gone artists whose lives and careers have previously been left mostly unexplored—digitally rifling through piles and piles of old census records, birth and death certificates, draft cards and other such records, and scouring through articles in old trade magazines—to bring you the most accurate and thorough information feasible (still, mistakes can happen, so if you see one please let me know). Before Old Time Blues, scarcely any information had been published—on the internet or in many cases in print—on the lives of some obscure artists like “Buddy” Baker, Slim Lamar, or Roy Shaffer.
Why Old Time Blues?
Old Time Blues draws its name from the eponymous 1921 jazz composition by famed trumpeter Johnny Dunn. Here, the name “Old Time Blues” represents not the genre of music—though plenty of that may be found here—but the feeling called the “blues,” representative of a yearning to return; the blues for old times. After much time spent brainstorming for an appropriate name the project, I came across the record pictured to the right and, as the saying goes, the name seemed to “click.” Thus, Old Time Blues was born.
“Why does the logo say ‘Electrically Recorded’?” you may ask. Well, first of all, it looks pretty darn cool if you ask me, but more than that, just think about it, everything posted on the internet is “electrically recorded” so to speak, so it’s just as valid applied to a website as it was on record labels in the 1920s. More than anything else though, it is a rather iconic relic of the recording industry’s adolescent years, and intended to pay homage to the records of the 1920s and ’30s that comprise this website’s subject matter.
About the Media Posted Here…
All media featured on this website—audio and visual—is digitized from physical artifacts (records, photographs, ephemera, etc.) within the Old Time Blues Collection and Archive (as I’ve dubbed my personal collection to lend it a certain air of importance), unless explicitly noted.
Music featured here is transferred directly from the original 78 RPM records in the Old Time Blues Collection. They are recorded via Audacity from a Esoteric Sound Rek-O-Kut Rondine Jr. turntable equipped with a Grado F3+ cartridge (or Sanyo CN1000 MKII prior to June, 2016) with appropriate 78 stylus, utilizing hardware equalization. The audio files presented here are unaltered, excepting varying degrees of restoration (typically limited to minimal pop and click deletion). This site uses WordPress’s built-in audio playback.
Historical photographs have been scanned from hard copies within the R.C. Montgomery/Old Time Blues Collection, with credit given to the source, and all modern photographs were taken by R.C. Montgomery or close acquaintance, unless noted otherwise.
About the Website…
Old Time Blues was created In the wee hours of May 27, 2015, by R. Connor Montgomery. This website uses WordPress with the Twenty Eleven theme; the background image is a circa 1920s photograph of Hamilton, Texas. The typeface used in the site logo is an older (2011) version of “Crystal Deco” font by Pixel Sagas, licensed free for personal use.
All original content (i.e. text) on Old Time Blues is intellectual property of R. Connor Montgomery, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.Legal Disclaimer…
All material presented on this website is intended for the purposes of commentary, criticism, and education in a strictly not-for-profit and non-commercial manner, thus OldTimeBlues.net and all the content hosted herein does not generate any monetary gain for any entity, and no monetary exchange occurs through this domain. All media presented on this website are digitized from hard copies held in the possession of this site’s owner unless explicitly noted otherwise. All media in the form of audio, imagery, and reproduced text is credited to the proper source. All sound recordings are digitally transferred from original 78 RPM format and presented in unaltered form. The majority of audio recordings presented herein are at least seventy-five years old, and many have not been commercially available in any format for decades. Additionally, none of the audio files presented here are made publicly available for download or distribution.
Some of the media featured herein is believed to be in the public domain; the use of any and all media that is protected by copyright is intended to conform to the doctrine of Fair Use set forth within Title 17, Section 107 of the United States Code, for the express purposes of criticism, comment, scholarship, and research, and strictly for nonprofit educational purposes.
Should any complaint from copyright holders arise, please contact me, and the offending content will be removed immediately upon notification by the holder of the copyright without need for further action. All material on this website is presented in good faith with no ill will of any sort intended toward any party.
No sound when I go to play them. I checked all my settings everything seems to be ok. I do get sound on others postings.
Several people have reported having this problem, and honestly I don’t know what the cause is. Are the sound files not showing up at all, or do they just not play? Sometimes the site can be a bit slow, and I think they can take a while to load once you click the “play” button. One commenter said that enabling “Gravatar” fixed it for him.
Here’s a direct link to a sound file, does this work? http://oldtimeblues.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Pine-Tops-Boogie-Woogie.mp3
I tried to post this info below but there was a glitch.
Violet Goulet is my Great Aunt, Violet had two other sisters, Vivian and Arlene (My Grandmother) She spent a lot of time making hooked rugs and would win several blue ribbons in CA state Fairs. A lot of her subjects where clowns and traditional town settings. Upon passing in the Early 1980’s the rugs where givin to family while some of them where then purchsed by family at an estate auction. She was married a couple times her later, was Johnny Lund. They spent their golden years living in the desert on Pebble Beach Drive, Sun City Ca. I would love to go visit often and even in the 70’s she would play me a song. As I never meet Arlene my grand mother who passed in 1955 or 56 Violet took her place and I somtimes called her grandma Aww the good ol days. Loved her so much..
Enjoy your site . I found it on Facebook. Thanks for posting
Thank you for commenting! Knowing my work is enjoyed is what makes it worthwhile.
I have Capitol Criterion History of Jazz Volume 1. I don’t want to take to Goodwill. Can you tell me a better way to dispose them?
My recommendation would be to offer them to a local record store or used bookstore (such as Half Price Books) that deals in 78s. As I understand it, many Goodwill stores throw 78s away, and it would be a shame for such an excellent set as that one to suffer that fate.
so connor do you think blues was just as popular as jazz in the 20s?
I would say that jazz generally had a larger audience than blues in the ’20s (they did call it the jazz age after all). Blues had a large audience in the Deep South, I’m certain, but outside of the “classic female” vaudeville blues, it didn’t catch on in the big cities of the North until later, when artists like Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell, Big Bill Broonzy, Tampa Red, Peetie Wheatstraw, and so on started to come onto the scene.
Thanks as always, Conner for playing from your collection
I Love that you play both sides of the 78 rpm’s
Those are rarely played, Good to hear them too !
Appreciate all your efforts.
I’ve enjoyed reading your site for research purposes. I’ve come into ownership of this record I knew nothing about, take a look and maybe give me some pointers on bettering the description. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Okeh-Records-8571-Troy-Floyd-Shadowland-Blues-78rpm-Very-Rare-Attic-Find-/192184890063?hash=item2cbf1cb2cf:g:tkYAAOSwhvFZFVK5
It looks like you’ve got it pretty well covered, but you might add that it looks—from what I can tell by the pictures—to grade about a VV+ on the VJM scale. Very clean, doesn’t appear to be scratched, not much needle wear. Looks a little bit scuffed from shelf wear, but retains a good amount of shine. I would expect it to play very nicely.
Also, when you’re shipping this or any other 78 records, I implore you to pack them according to these guidelines. The Post Office rarely treats them with respect, so they need all the protection they can get to survive shipping. You’re also likely to attract more bidders if you can assure them that their 78s will be packed securely.
Best of luck with your auction, that’s a great record, one of the best in my book!
Hey man, I put on the Asheville Shellac Bash and we’d love if you wanted to join us some time. We had about 50 pre war collectors there at our first bash some weeks ago. Big wild party for sure, and a lot of folks got to put some faces to some names. I live in Asheville, NC. Holler if you want me to keep you in the loop about it. Cheers! Brody Hunt
I just found your site. I like sites that are a work of love.
I myself have a site on the Delmore Brothers and I just found on your site a picture of them that I did not know! Would you allow me to put it on my site and would you that I put a link to your site?
Best from France.
That would be perfectly fine, so long as you give credit as you stated. I’d greatly appreciate it if you’d link back to Old Time Blues.
Here’s the full cover of the program that I cropped that shot of Delmores from as well, if it interests you.
I often use my initials RJ.
I’d love to have a chat with you some time .. we have the same passion for music as a link. I am a guitar collector, player, teacher .. and trader .. I started getting interested in pre-WW2 music in the late 1940s as a child. It all just felt better.
I have some Youtubes up .. mainly demonstrating various guitars that I own or have owned .. my channel is MrRJFlood1 .. in a guitar deal a few years ago I also received a treasure trove of 78s .. many known and some forgotten country and blues artists from the war and before .. love the stuff you put up .. I thought you might be interested in some of this material .. some blues .. but mainly early rockabilly precursors, Cheers, Bob Zaidman
Congratulations on the fine sound of your recordings and digitization. I’m looking for a quality conversion software package to deal with my 78’s. For several decades, I recorded my records to cassette tape, then to .WAV files for processing out the clicks and pops, finally converting to .mp3 for CD storage.
I think this all was a waste of time, since a simple single stage analog-to-digital process would have been more practical.
Keep up the great work with your site and I’ll keep up my search for a practical software conversion.
Hi I actually don’t have a comment but a question. When I was really young me and my cousin used to listen to old records from I think the 20’s and up that used to belong to our grandparents. There were loads of tango’s and foxtrots. But there was one record which scared the ## out of us because the first song that was on that record started with people moaning and crying and, at least I think I remember, sounded like a very old blues song from the cotton field times.. At least that’s how I pictured it 😉 But we used to call it the death record and made our family laugh so hard. My granddad tried to explain the song, but we wouldn’t hear of it.
So it was an old blues song where people cry and moan in de beginning and probably wasn’t so scary but it did sound as if they suffered a great loss. Can anyone help me figure out what song this is? Thank a lot and cool website! 🙂
Hello Mr Montgomery. I am a fine artist specializing in vintage subject matter. I happened to be on the look out for some old reference photos when I came across your website. I love the music from this time period. The artists from this period were true professionals who may have thought the idea of an auto-tone laughable. I have a modest collection of blues, vaudeville, old-timey, and gospel. Thanks for your help in preserving our heritage.
Connor I am Monk Harris, Sr’s grandson. Give me a shout if you want some info on the Harris Bros Texans
I have a never played album entitled “From Austin High Comes Jazz
by Bud Freeman & Famous Orchestra” Columbia Records Set C-40
which I’d like to offer for bidding. Do you know a site where I might list this item?
Hey, I’d like to ask a question about a track you posted on YouTube, maybe Email is best. Mine is in my note. It’s for a piece of scholarly research I’m undertaking.
Hello, I noticed on discogs that you and a few others were interested in a Rare 1949 Jump Blues INSTR 78 on MACY’S RECORDINGS Macy and Her Ole Time Band -Boogie Woogie Piano 78… Just wanted to let u know that there’s one on ebay for sale now. Enjoyed your website, keep up the good work!
Thank You for creating “Old Time Blues”. Yesterday I stumbled upon your site by happenstance while reviewing Discog members wantlist items. When I was a kid growing up I remember my dad singing many of these songs to my 2 brothers and myself. I lost my dad 10 years ago unexpectedly but thanks to his love of music I hear him playing(in my head) his guitar and singing these great classics still. My dad played his guitar and sang his whole life mainly to himself but also to my mom and us kids. He was an amazing man and an even more amazing father. Again, Thank You!
Listened to your Texas Party tonight. Good stuff! I wish I could retain 1/100th of the things you guys talk about.
Mr. Montgomery, I have a few 78’s including 3 Dalharts and an Al Hopkins. Is there a market for these? Would you care to share information about selling them?
I’ve seen your youtube channel for years, and you and me have corresponded with each other over both of our own, but only now I’m seeing this website of yours. I’ll look forward to seeing more from it. Though I got one question for now: Where is that Quote from Goodman from? If you can’t remember, can you give me the year he said that at-least?
I remember somebody vehemently disagreeing that records “were the lifeblood of any band” when I stated that, and now learning that Goodman stated that too, I’d love to direct that to them to that quote.
(P.S. I’d put my youtube in the “Website” area, but the email bot automatically decides that putting that is automatically spam.)
Thank you for your comment! That quote is from an interview Goodman gave in 1981, which can be found here on YouTube. He makes the remark about records at about eighteen minutes in.
CroMart 5000 a 78 by Louie and His Old Time Band, looking to discover the year it was recorded!