Thursday, November 17, 2005

Digital Archive of Cylinder Recordings

Wonderful news for vintage music buffs and scholars. A post on Ukulelia's mother site, Boing Boing, points to a new online digital archive of Edison Cylinder Recordings at UC Santa Barbara. Try searching on "ukulele" or "Hawaii". I turned up several recordings by the Ford Hawai'ian Quintet, a group with an interesting history, and important place in ukulele history. The band was led by Henry Kailimai, and and was first heard by Henry Ford at the Pan Pacific Exposition in 1915. Ford offered Kailimai a job and moved the band to Detroit (!?).

"While in the employment of Ford, Henry Kailimai was the manager of what became known as the Ford Hawai'ian Quintet. This group of musicians would perform regularly at company functions and were booked for private parties as well.

In 1916, the group traveled to Orange, New Jersey where they played for employees of the Thomas A. Edison company. According to a letter sent to Ford's secretary by an Edison employee, the Quintet met and made a hit with Mr. and Mrs. Edison. The group eventually played at the marriage of Edison's daughter, and went on to the Edison Recording Studio in New York where they made several records.

During all this time, Ford's only stipulation was that the Ford Hawai'ian Quintet confine themselves to Hawai'ian music as they had done in the Hawai'i Building during the Exposition."

Why else should you know about Kailimai? He's the composer of the early hapa haole blockbuster, "On the Beach at Waikiki"! Sadly, it seems that the Ford Quintet recordings have not yet been posted to the web. But there's lots of great stuff nonetheless. Here's a 1916 recording of Billy Murray singing "When Old Bill Bailey Plays the Ukalele". Enjoy!

No comments:

Top 50 Ukulele Sites