The Ticonderoga & The New Orleans Hop Scop Blues

The Shelburne Museum is located at 6000 Shelburne Road in Shelburne, Vermont.

Spread across the 45 acres of the museum’s grounds are 39 buildings housing a world-renowned collection of art and Americana numbering over 100,000 items. There are also 22 gardens, a carousel, a passenger train, a covered bridge and a boat.

The boat is known as the Ti, short for the Ticonderoga.

The Ticonderoga is a 220-foot, 892 ton, 5 deck, side-paddlewheel steam boat.

Here’s a vintage postcard image of the vessel back in its sailing days.

The Ticonderoga was put into service in 1906 and operated as a day boat on Lake Champlain. It served the ports of Burlington and St. Albans, Vermont & Essex, Plattsburgh, Port Kent and Westport, NY. Its last cruise was on September 20, 1953.

In 1955, the Ti was incredibly transported two miles over land from the waters of Lake Champlain to the grounds of the Shelburne Museum. The boat was then meticulously restored to its original grandeur and, on January 28, 1964, was declared a National Historic Landmark.

The first thing a visitor sees after walking up the port-side gangplank and stepping onto the main deck is a sign welcoming you to “Steamboat Ticonderoga.”

Beneath that title, in a much smaller font, is a date: October 3, 1923.

The sign goes on to explain: “Over its 48 years of operation, the steamboat Ticonderoga served as a passenger and freight ferry, excursion boat, and floating casino and showboat. The ‘Ti‘ as you see it today is restored to appear much as it did on October 3, 1923.”

The sign then invites the visitor to actually imagine that it is October 3, 1923. It even provides a good bit of contextual history for that date to assist the visitor’s imagination.

For example, on that date…

  • Vermont native Calvin Coolidge was President of the United States.
  • Vermonters owned about 50,000 of the 10 million cars in the U.S.
  • There were 350,000 people in Vermont and 360,000 dairy cows.
  • Prohibition against the sale and consumption of alcohol was in its 4th year.

The sign offers the visitor these last encouraging words: “Step back in time to October 3, 1923. Imagine the wind blowing and the paddlewheels churning. Welcome aboard the Ticonderoga.”

During my recent visit to the Shelburne Museum, I spent a most enjoyable hour exploring the Ti, taking photos and pondering the significance of October 3, 1923.

Here’s a shot taken from the starboard side of the Forward Promenade/Salon Deck, near the bow of the boat.

This is the view looking aft through the Salon Deck, at the stern of the boat.

This last one is also a look aft along the starboard side of the Main Deck Dining Room.

 

Upon returning home, I was still thinking about October 3, 1923 and wondering if it had any historical significance in the world of music. A search through my reference library came up with nothing on that specific date.

However, a few events from my “This Historic Day In Music” lists did come kind of close.

Bessie Smith had her recording debut on February 15, 1923. The vocalist cut “‘Tain’t Nobody’s Bizness If I Do” and “Downhearted Blues” that day for Columbia Records.

Sylvester Weaver made the first recordings of solo acoustic Blues slide guitar music on November 4, 1923. He recorded “Guitar Blues” and “Guitar Rag” for OKeh Records on that day in New York City.

I did an online search next and… Bingo!

Google introduced me to a book: “Black Recording Artists, 1877-1926: An Annotated Discography,” edited by Craig Martin Gibbs and published in 2012.

Specifically, pgs.169-170 in Mr. Gibbs’ book which contained the listings for two bands and two vocalists who had recording sessions on October 3, 1923.

They were…

Deppe’s Serenaders – an eleven-piece ensemble from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, featuring baritone vocalist Lois Deppe and pianist Earl Hines – recorded 3 songs in Richmond, Indiana for Gennett Records. “Falling” and “Congaine” made up the two side of the group’s first release. The third song, “In The Evening By The Moonlight,” was not issued.

Fannie May Goosby – a Blues singer, pianist and songwriter from Atlanta, Georgia – recorded 3 songs in New York, New York for OKeh Records. Ms. Goosby cut “I’ve Got A Do Right Daddy Now,” written by pianist Eddie Heywood (who accompanied her on this session) and two originals: “I Believe My Man Has Got A Rabbit’s Leg” and “Goosby Blues.”

[Fannie May Goosby is believed to be one of the first female Blues artists to record her own material. She made her first record – “Grievous Blues” – on June 14, 1923 in Atlanta for producer Ralph Peer. She accompanied herself on the piano for this recording.]

Tudie Wells – a Vaudeville singer trying her hand at the Blues – recorded two songs in New York for Pathe Records. Accompanied by pianist F.H. Henderson, Jr., the songs “Baby’s Got The Blues” and “Uncle Sam Blues” would prove to be Ms. Wells’ only two recordings.

Last but not least, Clarence Williams’ Blue Five cut three numbers on October 3, 1923 in New York City for OKeh Records. (I wonder if they went before or after Fannie May?)

The numbers were: “‘Taint Nobody’s Bus’ness If I Do,” “Oh Daddy! (You Won’t Have No Mama At All)” and “New Orleans Hop Scop Blues.”

I like this one. Give a listen for yourself.

The musicians performing on that recording were:

  • Sidney Bechet – Soprano Saxophone
  • Buddy Christian – Banjo
  • John Masefield – Trombone
  • Thomas Morris – Cornet
  • Clarence Williams – Piano

“New Orleans Hop Scop Blues” was written by George Washington Thomas Jr. and published in 1916. It was first recorded as a song by Sara Martin and released on OKeh Records in September, 1923.

So, on October 3, 1923, Deppe’s Serenaders, Fannie May Goosby, Tudie Wells and Clarence Williams’ Blue Five collectively made 10 contributions to the then-rapidly growing cannon of Blues and Jazz recordings in America; and the Steamboat Ticonderoga made “a special trip to pick up 316 bushels of apples for delivery to the Delaware and Hudson Railway station in Westport, New York.”

Quite the day.

Information used in the writing of this post came from the following sources.

The welcoming sign on the “Steamboat Ticonderoga.”

The “Welcome Aboard the Ticonderoga” brochure published by the Shelburne Museum.

The Shelburne Museum website: http://www.shelburnemuseum.org.

The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog at http://www.loc.gov.

“Black Recording Artists, 1877-1926: An Annotated Discography” Edited by Craig Martin Gibbs.

Wikipedia & YouTube

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