Hi fellas,

     I'm interested in trying to find early examples of how Vess' banjo sounded when he first started recording, perhaps when he was using a Morrison. After researching, the earliest documentation I could find for his recordings were two songs he did in 1893 for North American Phonograph, they were the "Washington Post March", and "Love's Sweet Honor."

     Then in 1894 under the same label, there are several song listings....most notably recognizable is his "Yankee Doodle" version we're all familiar with. Other songs are " Tyro Mazurka, Sgt. Gunner/Gone for the Summer, New Gaiety Dance, The Nadja Waltz, High School Cadets March. 

     I was only able to find audio for a few 19th century cylinders. "Yankee doodle"...not entirely sure which version or year it is from...probably later, but uncertain. An 1896 version of "Stars & Stripes Forever." And an 1897 version of "Sounds from Africa."  And a later '90s version of "Tyro Mazurka".

Does anybody have access to any of the earlier recordings from 1893 or '94, or know where I may find them? 

Thanks very much,


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Nothin' huh? Well...I'm still searching for those early recordings...I will not yield. In trying to date when Vess was playing the Morrison....can anybody remember the year that the photo of him and Tommy Glynn sitting side-by-side at Madison Square Gardens with their Morrisons was taken? 


If you are so very lucky as to find any such very early recording, congratulations !!

However,  I doubt it will help you much in your present quest.  The expected poor condition and marginal sound quality of such recordings offer little opportunity to hear the subtle nuance in sound you are hoping to detect.

More importantly, an accomplished musician like Ossman made any decent instrument sound like Vess Ossman, not Morrison, Stewart or Fairbanks; his sound originates from his hands and his setup far more than the banjo itself.

Ah...very true Shawn! An established bluegrass player once told me the same thing about Scruggs, and how his sound came from his hands as well. I will keep searching for those lost recordings, I'll let ya know what I come up with....even if its nothing. Thanks for the reply. 


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