September 22, 2015

Blues and Rhythm Show 197 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, September 22nd, (1:00-2:30 pm).

Ralph Peer had a large role in determining how and when roots music–blues and country–appeared on commercial records.  He appears to have presided over the first African-American blues record and the first commercial hillbilly record and, established a path that the rest of the industry quickly followed in both fields. Understanding the potential of the southern market for roots recordings, he was the first to employ recording field trips to find new material for the OKeh label. When he left OKeh, he took his knowledge and techniques to the Victor label. Soon after his arrival at Victor he organized the famous Bristol sessions where he found and recorded the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, the single event for which he is best known. The list of performers he brought to the OKeh and Victor catalogues was impressive as was their recorded output. Peer was either extremely fortunate to be positioned where and when he was in the industry or he had the vision to understand the potential of roots music markets before others. Peer explained his method as looking for what was familiar in a song but with something new in it. He decided who would record what songs for his labels and at some point soon in his career became comfortable with suggesting how they should arrange a song. In business, he was an innovator. He took no salary from Victor but took his earnings from the per-disc mechanical royalties paid to copyright holders of recorded songs. This gave him and his performers an incentive to record songs that were new and unique to record and also to encourage other labels to record songs he had copyrighted. When the RCA Company became concerned about anti-trust, tit sold Southern Music Publishing the company he had established to handle copyrights at Victor to Peer and Peer built a large international music publishing business from that foundation. Our show looks at the race and country recordings Peer produced between 1920 and 1920. Our show is largely based upon information contained in Barry Mazor’s biography of Ralph Peer, Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Music, a book we recommend highly.

Product Details

On the Show:

James P. Johnson – Mamie Smith – Norfolk Jazz Quartet – Fiddlin John Carson – Sylvester Weaver – Ernest Stoneman – Lonnie Johnson – Richard “Rabbit” Brown – Carter Family – Ernest Phipps & His Holiness Singers – a.o.

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.msumcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until October 18th.

Contact Us To reach us with comments or queries, write us at sweartotellthetruth@gmail.com. You can also follow the program at sweartotellthetruth@nosignifying on Twitter.

Next week (September 29th)



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