Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sallie Stembler and other thoughts and theories

This lovely lady was one of Fred Hylands' women pictured on many of his sheet music covers in 1899 and 1900. Amid her time within the affairs of Fred Hylands and Len Spencer, she was highly praised in a few sections in The Phonoscope, stating that she introduced a few of Hylands' relatively few publications. In fact, the image just above of her came from one of these music covers. To make matters more interesting, this lovely lady left the Hylands affairs and remained in show business for ten years before deciding to make records. It is unclear if Hylands perhaps dropped the idea of her making records when she was affiliated with him, but it probably happened at some point and was refused. She made a few records for Edison ten years after this endeavor, and still sounded like one of Fred's lady friends. What I'm trying to say is that she sounded like someone that Fred would have really approved of as far as lady singers go. With her great talent, it's unfortunate that she didn't make more records, as she would have been a fantastic edition to the Columbia staff back in the late 1890's. She actually might have been and Ada Jones type before Jones created a sort of monopoly among the early lady singers in the studio. Enough bluffing, here's one of her records:
She is genuinely the more fun and upbeat than many of these early studio ladies, even a bit more so than Ada Jones in some respects(who was also a cover-girl for Hylands' music at the same time). She's no May Irwin, but she's got a playful essence in her voice similar to Marie Dressler, who was another fantastic lady of this era, and my favourite as far as the Rag singers go. Just for your information, Dressler was in a fantastically funny silent film with Charlie Chaplin in 1914, of which you have to see if you haven't already! 
That's her in c.1909. Just a fantastic picture in all aspects. 
Speaking of Dressler, just for fun, here's my favourite of her records:
(that other voice at the sketch in the middle of the record is Ed Meeker by the way)

With all of this, we can assume that Fred's wife Marie probably sounded similar to Sallie Stembler or Dressler, since it seems that he preferred the talents of ladies who could sing hilarious and raucous Rag-Time songs, as they all were in the late-1890's(also going into this category are songs like the one listed above by Sallie Stembler). Marie Dressler and May Irwin were the best of the best when it comes to the early female singers of Rag-Time. 

Speaking of these lovely Rag-Time ladies, these last few days have been eventful in my dealings with the kind great nieces of Fred Hylands, in the area regarding Etta Hylands of course. I have explained in previous posts that Etta's children, particularly her oldest daughter Ethel, were popular stage attractions along with their mother. Etta seemed to have constantly been competing with Fred, as she was taking all of these pit orchestra jobs at the same times that Fred was, but at other times was working in the same business with him, in the same publishing firm or union in fact. She also ran her own pit orchestra playing for silent films at the same time that Fred was accompanying silent films(which was in 1909). Even with all of this obvious competition, it seemed Fred remained more popular in show-business than Etta for the most part, and that is what the kind descendants of Fred and Etta claimed upon asking them. The doings that went along within the past few days involved a few images and newspaper clippings being sent to me through them. They all had to do with Etta of course, but that is just as interesting on anything regarding Fred, since there's less known about her, and the more I learn, the more revolutionary and independent of a lady she becomes. She seems to have been rather progressive for her time, which is always welcome in my studies! 
Her daughter "Baby Ethel" as she was called on the stage, was the most popular of Etta's children, since she was a talented young mimic and singer, seeming like a Shirley Temple type in many ways, in fact she even had that essence about her! 
Here is one of the priceless images of her the descendants shared with me:
I had told my friend Charlie Judkins of this image, and he stated that she looked a little like her uncle:
Hmm. I kind of see it. Charlie specifically stated that she had his nose, which is kind of true, and made me laugh. The point is that she did  look like Fred an awful lot, and that gives me hints for future cartoons regarding Fred. Keep in mind that we still haven't dug up a really clear image of Fred, so all of the cartoons I have done of him are still my best guesses as to how he looked. The glasses are still there, that feud has passed, Fred wore glasses, no arguments. His glasses looked much like these here:
These Prince-Nez style spectacles were worn by most dandies of the 1890's including Fred Hylands for that matter(I'd classify him as a dandy in case you're wondering), and seemed a little less practical than the kind that George Schweinfest wore:
(Schweinfest in 1894)
I plan on getting a pair of these strange glasses that Hylands wore to use for comedic affect in my seminar regarding him in November. I will set them on only when reading a quote of Hylands' words, to create a more realistic atmosphere when it comes to his own words. 

Someone that I have been trying to dig up some information on lately has been Hylands' lyricist Will J. Hardman. Hylands had a slue of lyricist friends throughout his music writing career, beginning with Bill Hardman, and later J. Grant Gibson, and almost nothing on these mysterious men can be traced, especially Hardman. At least Gibson has been able to be tracked, and we know of why and how he became Fred's friend. Gibson was a behind-the-scenes man with Fred's musical productions in 1904 to 1907, and they had built a friendship further through the White Rats Union in 1905. Hardman remains interesting to Charlie Judkins and I solely for his true talent in writing lyrics for Fred's popular songs in his days publishing with Len Spencer. He wrote a few songs with Hylands in 1899 and 1900, which, according to the relatively small catalog they had as a firm, is quite a few. Most of the coon songs that Hylands wrote as a publisher at this time had the lyrics by Hardman, which is certainly something to get one suspicious. The partnership began with "You Don't Stop the World from Going 'Round", of Hylands' biggest success in terms of all the music he ever wrote(according to sheet music covers of his from the early 1910's), then three more popular and rare coon songs followed, many of which were advertised in The Phonoscope. With all of this, Hardman seems like an interesting character, since his lyrics were so masterfully executed accompanying Fred's strange and melodic music. It seems almost like Fred and Will were friends much like how Fred was with Spencer, except that they weren't studio partners. They seem like the pair of friends who would go out for a smoke after Fred's day in the studio was done, and amid their smoke plumes was where the song ideas were first composed. That's a funny thing to imagine, because it's not entirely inaccurate to tell the truth. It just seems suspicious that they wrote so many tunes together in such a short period of time, more than Fred wrote with Roger Harding, which is saying quite a lot. It seems Fred had many intertwining friendships during the time he was a publisher with Spencer, which makes the entire endeavor ever more interesting, and more complicated. 

*Once again, I cannot thank you enough Anna for the amazing images you shared with me! I hope for more in the future.*

Hope you enjoyed this! 

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