Victor 20864 – Jimmie Rodgers – 1927

Rodgers around 1927-’28, pictured in the Victor catalog.

In early August 1927, Ralph Peer was continuing his recording sessions for Victor in Bristol, Tennessee, when he received a telephone call from a radio performer in Asheville, North Carolina, who had read of this opportunity in the newspaper, and was interested in recording with his string band.  Peer arranged for this man to meet for an audition.  Somewhere along the line, he had a disagreement with his band, and they parted ways before the audition.  Nevertheless, he auditioned before Peer, who saw a huge potential for success.  On August 4, 1927, Jimmie Rodgers made his first recordings for the Victor Talking Machine Company, only two sides.  The first was his own composition, “The Soldier’s Sweetheart”, the second was the old yodel song, “Sleep, Baby, Sleep”.  The record was a hit, and Rodgers recorded with Victor again only a few months later, making the first of his famous Blue Yodels.  Over the course of the following six years, he became one of Victor top artists, one of the best-selling record artists of the Great Depression, and earned the moniker of the Father of Country Music.

Victor 20864 was recorded between 2:00 and 4:20 P.M. on August 4, 1927 in Bristol, Tennessee, the only two sides cut in Jimmie Rodgers Bristol session, and his first ever recordings.  It was released in October of 1927.

Jimmie’s second song at the session, but issued as the “A” side of his debut disc was his haunting rendition of John J. Handley’s old time yodel song, “Sleep Baby Sleep”.

Sleep Baby Sleep, recorded August 4, 1927 by Jimmie Rodgers.

Sleep Baby Sleep, recorded August 4, 1927 by Jimmie Rodgers.

Issued as the “B” side, Rodgers own composition “The Soldier’s Sweetheart” marked the first time that the voice of America’s Blue Yodeler was ever preserved in shellac.

The Soldier's Sweetheart, recorded August 4, 1927 by Jimmie Rodgers.

The Soldier’s Sweetheart, recorded August 4, 1927 by Jimmie Rodgers.

Victor 20877 – The Carter Family – 1927

In an effort to capitalize on the success of the popular “mountaineer songs” by the likes of Vernon Dalhart and Kelly Harrell, talent scout and record producer Ralph S. Peer arranged for the Victor Talking Machine Company to make a series of field trips in an effort to discover and record marketable new artists for the burgeoning “hillbilly” market.  Arriving in Bristol, Tennessee in late July of 1927, Peer got the word out about the sessions through local radio stations and newspapers, and soon musicians began coming to Bristol in droves to record for Victor.  Among the many noted artists who recorded in those sessions were Ernest Stoneman and Blind Alfred Reed.  It was in early August, however, when came the artists who were to make the biggest fame for themselves and for the Bristol sessions: the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers.

The Carter Family in the late 1920s. Left to right: Sara, A.P., Maybelle.

The Carter Family around the time of the Bristol Sessions. Left to right: Maybelle, A.P., Sara.  Pictured in the Victor Catalog

When A.P. Carter of Maces Spring, Virginia—not far from Bristol—learned of the sessions, he persuaded his wife Sara and sister-in-law Maybelle to make the short journey from their home to audition for Ralph Peer.  Though the trio had made music together since their meeting, only A.P. had inclinations to try and make a career out of it.  There in Bristol, on the night of August 1, 1927, A.P., Sara, and Maybelle—as the “Carter Family”—recorded four songs: Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow”, “Little Log Cabin By the Sea”, “The Poor Orphan Child”, and “The Storms are On the Ocean”.  Their audition went well.  Peer was impressed by the Carters, and invited them to return the following morning to record again.  They obliged, this time cutting “”Single Girl, Married Girl” and “The Wandering Boy”.  In return for these recordings, they were paid fifty dollars per song, and half-a-cent royalties on each record sold.  Their second issued record, “Single Girl, Married Girl” and “The Storms are On the Ocean” on Victor 20937, made quite a hit, and the Carters’ path to success as recording stars thus opened.  The following May, they traveled to Camden, New Jersey to record again, anticipating the many sessions to come for Victor, Decca, and the American Record Corporation between then and the early 1940s.  Thus, the Carter Family’s decades long, multi-generation legacy as one of country music’s most legendary acts of all time began.

Victor 20877 was recorded on August 1 and 2, 1927 in Bristol, Tennessee by the Carter Family, Sara, Maybelle, and A.P.  Released on November 4, 1927, it was the first issued record, but not the first recorded sides, by the Carter Family.

Firstly the Carters sing “The Poor Orphan Child”, the third side recorded at the Carter Family’s first session.

The Poor Orphan Child, recorded August 1, 1927 by the Carter Family.

The Poor Orphan Child, recorded August 1, 1927 by the Carter Family.

On the “B” side, they sing the third title cut at their second session, “The Wandering Boy”.

The Wandering Boy, recorded August 2 , 1927 by the Carter Family.

The Wandering Boy, recorded August 2 , 1927 by the Carter Family.

Updated on June 1, 2018.