Thursday, January 15, 2015

Steve Porter's recreation time

 There were several little things in The Phonoscope that hint at the seemingly elaborate recreational life that early recording artist and innovator Steve Porter(1862 or 1864-1936) had outside of the recording studio, which not only was his time, it was a chance to invite his fellow recording artists for the "'phone's"(as George J. Gaskin once called them) to his summer home which was said to have been at Coney Island in the late-1890's. He really only invited the obvious suspects of the Columbia phonograph company. Here's a picture of Mr. Porter when he was at the beginning of his recording career around 1897:

(This image was from a Berliner catalog from about 1898)
The sort of "usual suspects" he invited would have included:

"Vic" Emerson(Columbia's manager), Dan W. Quinn, Len and "Harry"Spencer, Vess L. Ossman, George J. Gaskin, "Freddy" Hylands, Russell Hunting, Billy Golden, Roger Harding, J. W. Myers, George P. Watson, and maybe George Graham 

Here are the two best examples of this odd blunder from The Phonoscope
(From the July 1898 issue of you know what)

(From the August 1899 issue of you know what)
Interesting thing to think here. Porter moved to Dyker Heights at Coney Island in 1899, and around 1904, it has been documented that Len Spencer moved there as well, hmm....
Must have been an expensive place to live. (much like it is in San Francisco to-day) Clearly with all of these pricey pastimes, I have come to think that Steve Porter may have been one of the few of these early recording artists to have been born into high wealth and status. This was unusual, as a majority of them were either immigrants or from the midwest or south, and had to work for years at several jobs before the recoding companies took them in in the 90's. 
Steve Porter had that same sort of odd workings as Len Spencer and Fred. Hylands had, in the fact that they wanted to experiment with every new thing that came about, even film making. But Porter seemed to have been a little more civilized about the whole thing, and he didn't over work himself either. And he probably wasn't an Alcoholic, like a few of his fellow recording artists, and I'm not calling out who they most likely were... YET!
The "dirt" as my dear friend Cliff Kennedy calls it will be revealed in another post. 

I hope you enjoyed this!

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