Fred Van Eps in a moment of madness or maybe desperation!

I have always loved Fred van Eps' music...  but this one!  What was he thinking?

Vocals by Len Spencer who seems to have been a bit of an impresario!

HICKORY BILL by Fred Van Eps and Len Spencer

I can only think that times must have been hard for Fred as this is diabolical!

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"Can you play the banjo?"

"Well, I reckon."

"Wish you would."

"Well, I will."

The 'taciturn' person (these guys sound like they're from the backwoods of New England) was a popular comedy theme in the period (and it still works sometimes). Guy #1 is loquacious, Guy #2 is just the opposite.

I thought it was amusing the first time I heard it. Reminds me somewhat of Cal Stewart (very popular comedian of the period...mostly on cylinders). Cal and Len Spencer made some recordings together...so that figures.

I've always liked and enjoyed this recording. As Marc says, these are classic American rural "types". I also agree with Marc about New England. The rhythms and cadence of the speech and some of the vowels are not far from rural Maine or New Hampshire. I used to find such comedy skits on 78rpm discs in junk shops all over the northeast when I was a teenager. You could buy em for a nickel or a dime.

Hmmm,

I guess it must lose something in the translation from American to English ;-)

The banjo playing is good though.

It seems that Vess Ossman also got in the act of producing diabolical recordings with Len Spencer!

HOT TIMES ON THE LEVEE Len Sencer and Vess Ossman

Warning...NON PC language in this recording! But I bet you join in with the whistling at one point!

On this one I agree with the description "diabolical".  That sounded like an impression of a rural black accent as done by an alien from another planet. An analogy is how American actors and particularly actresses were taught to speak in early black and white films: in a way that had no correspondence in the real world. Except maybe in mental hospitals.

thereallyniceman said:

It seems that Vess Ossman also got in the act of producing diabolical recordings with Len Spencer!

HOT TIMES ON THE LEVEE Len Sencer and Vess Ossman

Warning...NON PC language in this recording! But I bet you join in with the whistling at one point!
For some reason none of these play on my iPad...

Well...some folks simply have cartoonish dialects. Here in the deep South, you don't run across these dialects and speech patterns often, but they exist (or existed). My first real job was pumping avgas at the airport in Tuscaloosa, AL (mid 1970's). The building maintenance crew had one ancient black gentleman whom everyone called "Preacher"...he sounded very much like Len Spencer's character. I had a terrible time understanding him or his cohort, who had a voice like a gravel-crusher. After a few months, I finally got my ears tuned to their patterns.

Reminds me somewhat of watching the BBC. Some of those rural Brit accents are so alien sounding that I suspect they're not even speaking English!
 
Jody Stecher said:

On this one I agree with the description "diabolical".  That sounded like an impression of a rural black accent as done by an alien from another planet. An analogy is how American actors and particularly actresses were taught to speak in early black and white films: in a way that had no correspondence in the real world. Except maybe in mental hospitals.

thereallyniceman said:

It seems that Vess Ossman also got in the act of producing diabolical recordings with Len Spencer!

Yeah, you're right, Marc. There are still pockets of strange speech here and in the UK. I remember a "conversation" on a bus in South Yorkshire with an old coal miner. I understood one word in 10. The most impenetrable accent (for me) in the USA is found in both towns and countryside in parts of southern Ohio. So many vowels and consonants are something other than anywhere else. K becomes G. E becomes OR and the pace is slow and the ups and downs are musical but what are they saying? I can't be quite sure. Riverside County, California has a unique accent where 3 syllables become one and vowel substitution deviates from the rest of southern California. 

Trapdoor2 said:

Well...some folks simply have cartoonish dialects. Here in the deep South, you don't run across these dialects and speech patterns often, but they exist (or existed). My first real job was pumping avgas at the airport in Tuscaloosa, AL (mid 1970's). The building maintenance crew had one ancient black gentleman whom everyone called "Preacher"...he sounded very much like Len Spencer's character. I had a terrible time understanding him or his cohort, who had a voice like a gravel-crusher. After a few months, I finally got my ears tuned to their patterns.

Reminds me somewhat of watching the BBC. Some of those rural Brit accents are so alien sounding that I suspect they're not even speaking English!
 
Jody Stecher said:

On this one I agree with the description "diabolical".  That sounded like an impression of a rural black accent as done by an alien from another planet. An analogy is how American actors and particularly actresses were taught to speak in early black and white films: in a way that had no correspondence in the real world. Except maybe in mental hospitals.

thereallyniceman said:

It seems that Vess Ossman also got in the act of producing diabolical recordings with Len Spencer!

Thanks Paul. I will check this out with my son, the web-developer, who will be over from Germany in June and see if we can fix it.

Paul Draper said:

For some reason none of these play on my iPad...

Hi Paul,

Please check out your iPad again as the audio players "should" play.

Apple iPads don't support "Flash" so my son had to write code to fool them into playing the files!  I hope that they now work OK for you.

Ian

Paul Draper said:

For some reason none of these play on my iPad...
YES!! It works! Thank you, Ian, and your son, for going the extra mile! I greatly appreciate it!

I'm definitely picking up a New England flavor.   Compare with the more modern "Bert and I" records by Marshall Dodge & company, which feature particularly dry yankee humor with pretty good downeast Maine accents:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIJBUZm1HoY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Jn61NUd0q8

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