Monday, January 4, 2016

Identifying a Picture

Since late last night, I have had some debate about one of the pictures that I use somewhat frequently on this blog. It has to do with identification of musicians, and I have to do that ofttimes on this blog, and in the presence of other record collectors. This one however, has proven a more difficult one to identify than many in the past. 
That picture. The debate lies over in that piano corner. 

I have said that the pianist in that corner is Fred Hylands(and I still think it is somehow), but I got into a conversation last evening about the fact that it could be another one of the early studio pianists. I immediately thought Hylands when first seeing this picture, and from the issue of The Phonoscope that it was in, the date had to line up with the issue date closely, if not rather near. Now here are the possibilities with explanations:
Yes, he was the first one who came to mind. The reason I deny it being Schweinfest is because of the shape of the forehead and the glasses. Also, because Schweinfest can be seen here:
That, is Schweinfest at the piano. The one ear there really is what gets me, and the nose paired with the whiskers. Also, he's a reasonably small figure, not like the one at the piano in the picture as the subject of the discussion. I'm not convinced it's Schweinfest, but he's a suitable guess. 

The next is slightly far-fetched, but it's Edward Issler:
The person I discussed this with thought Issler was a realistic guess as well, with a beard and similar-looking nose to the picture. The only problem with assuming Issler is that he wasn't exactly tall, nor had he the figure of Fred Hylands. If the picture looked just as good as the exhibition picture from the same time frame, it would probably be a thousand times easier to know who that pianist is. Here is that picture just for reference(when I had this discussion I looked back at all of these pictures for help):
Yep, seeing Hylands in the left corner really tells me something. Something that me friend told me last evening when discussing this was that she noticed 
the pianist was wearing glasses in the picture. I had never seen that before, nor had I ever thought of that. 
Anyone see spectacles? I'm not really sure. If anyone can see any, tell me quick! 
That would be a very odd thing to ponder, to think that he and George Schweinfest both wore glasses is very bizarre to me. Again, if the exhibition picture and the studio picture were both very clear, none of this would be a problem. Let's just say Hylands was wearing spectacles in the small image above, they would look like "P. S. Gilmore" glasses, if you inside music nerds know what I mean:
(it's P. S. Gilmore!)
They would have to have been very thin and hadn't the long arms that extend to the ears. That's only IF. That's if you are reading this and think you can see the glasses over Hylands' eyes.  I doubt that was true. Even with all of this, I still hold my position on thinking it's Hylands in that back corner. Another reason I still think it's Hylands is because of how expressive the eyes look in the little quality of the picture, and that is something I could only picture Hylands with, not Schweinfest or Issler. Also, he's looking back at the musicians, he's not playing! That's another clue, not sure how, but it has to be. This calls for ideas in the comment section. Please put your opinion about this mystery in the comments! 

Now for some records, this post needs from music. 
I would like to begin with Banta's orchestra. 
According to an older Dan W. Quinn, Banta's orchestra was reasonably popular in its day, and he would sit and play things by ear much of the time when in that orchestra. There has been much speculation about Banta's orchestra, as a few of their records survive, and they are very unknown, because Banta's musicians weren't regular studio workers(neither was Banta when he made those records). There's no doubt that he chose his musicians wisely, as their records sounded fantastic. 

Here's the popular 1890's tune "Dancing in the Kitchen" by Banta's orchestra.
Now, there has been debate over who that announcer is. Some speculate Banta, others say a studio announcer. I am one of those who say Banta. Why? I have heard that voice distantly and briefly on Edison cylinders and Victors. Also because the announcer on this cylinder also by Banta's orchestra, is not the same as the one on "Dancing in the Kitchen". You can hear that same familiar voice of Banta at the beginning of this one here. That voice is at about "piano distance". There's something about it that makes me think that it's Banta. I don't know what, but it does. 

I hope you enjoyed this! 

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