Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Vess Ossman, Columbia's bossy banjoist

Many know of the great Vess L. Ossman, who recorded like a fiend in the 1890's and early 1900's on his banjo. Ossman was a great self-taught banjo player, don't get me wrong, but he was really an awful person to deal with, this is why most of the duos and groups he was part of didn't last very long. He was selfish, vain, and had an absolutely horrible temper. He had to be all tuned up before a take, it was precise with him, couldn't be any sharp, any flat. And if a banjo string broke, all hell would break loose, he would just explode. I'm surprised that he worked with Spencer for so long! 
it would be a mess if he worked with someone he just didn't like, someone like Fred Van Eps, or any other strings players in general. It's interesting to think that he and Fred. Hylands worked so well together, I guess that when Ossman met Hylands, he left his pianist in vaudeville Frank P. Banta in the dust, kind of a "dick move" if ya ask me. He was always said to have been a little too picky with the money that was distributed to the artists, even if he worked with someone else, he would always have an excuse as to why he should get more money of the bunch. He worked with Spencer alright, as they didn't seem to run into any problems(not that I have found) in their time as a duo from 1897 to 1904. 

I'm sure the two of them worked fine as one. They even had similar hairstyles! 
Nothing could stop Vess, he would sometimes want to keep playing when the boys were ready to cut out. Though, much like many of his fellows in recording, having this impulse was not uncommon. 
The Dudley brothers(George and "Audley') always spoke jokingly of Ossman, as they often had gigs with him once or twice a week when they were a trio from 1904-1907. Ossman was always forgetting things, coming in late, and sometimes even getting the bad chair on the stage! It's alright, he didn't really treat the Dudley's the way that he should have, as that was why George practically quit, as Vess was terrible dealing with their money, that was why this trio ended so quickly. 

I hope you enjoyed this! 

No comments:

Post a Comment