Dan Marshall, the singing fire chief, was born at no. 8 Mining Camp near Farmington, West Virginia. He spent the early part of his life in the hills of West Virginia, where he heard Country-Folk music right from its source. Although moving to Ohio after finishing high school at Weston, West Virginia, his voice still caries the plaintive quality heard only in true Country-Folk music.
When was the last time you were knocked over by an impossibly great and new talent? If you can remember how you dusted your pants off and straightened your tie, then prepare yourself once again for that particular rare moment. Dan Marshall has a way of blowing you over. The first time I saw and heard him I was astonished. His voice is an amazing instrument, in fact, his voice is literally an extension of his body. He is also a gifted actor. Among all of these gifts that he possesses, the one that I have not mentioned, and which may be the most valuable one of all, is his special brand of believability that he seems to put into every song he sings.
Following his military career, he joined the fire department in Columbus, Ohio., where he rose rapidly to the rank of Assistant Fire Chief. Until recently his singing and song writing has been confined to local social events and family entertainment. The unusual folk quality of his voice and the candid stories portrayed in the songs he has written, such as BORN LOSER, caused those who knew him to encourage him into making this recording.
Very few entertainers can be credited with creating this type of music, but the man to which this recording was made possible. did just that.
I consider it a great honor to present the singing Fire Chief, DAN MARSHALL.
John R. Bartlett
A couple of years ago I found two 78s by Joe Dixie in a little thrift store in the street where I live. When I recently found two more records that had his name on it, it was time to do some research. Unfortunately there is very little information about pianist, arranger, band leader and songwriter Joe Dixie on the Internet. Not even his real name is known. His music seems to be forgotten. Although clearly jazz tinged, it is too commercial for hardcore jazz fans and too obscure for everybody else to ever be reissued. A good starting point for a very small portrait.
In 1946 a group of young jazz fanatics who had survived the chaos of the last years of World War II were determined to establish a jazz scene in the ruins of Dresden. Among them was a 22-yer old pianist who called himself Joe Dixie, because crazy English-sounding nicknames were customary among German jazz fans. Spurred by his love for real Jazz, Joe Dixie founded one of the first big bands in post war Germany, the Original Dixies – Dresdner Tanzsinfoniker. The group fused jazz and dance music and even had a string section. Although popular locally they did not record, which they most probably would have, had they been based in Berlin. In 1951 the young ambitious bandleader left the group and Dresden for the Western part of Germany to pursue a professional career in music. Throughout the next decades he would keep his moniker “Dixie” from his early life in Dresden.
When exactly Joe Dixie recorded these songs for the West Berlin record label Metrophon is not known, but it was definitely prior to his leaving East Germany, because the little annex on the side of the label Hergestellt unter der Zulassung Nr B-511 der Nachrichtenkontrolle der Militärregierung (made by permission Nr. B-511 of the surveillance of the military government) was only used until the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949. Cultural transfer between the two Germanys was still relatively common, before the Berlin wall was built in 1961. While the borders were transparent, it might have been decisive that it was a West Berlin label that released Dixie´s first records. It mustalso have been obvious to the young musician, that in the long run an artist going by the name of “Joe Dixie” would not fly with the communist East German regime. Nor would a song about springtime in Texas and the cowboys having a ball with no cops and no tax authorities around…
I already posted these songs two years ago, but back then I did not know how to record them properly, so now I did it again and though there are still ticks and hisses to be heard, the files sound much better than before…
Eins, zwei, drei kleine Mädchen is a German version of The Trolley Song performed by Judy Garland in the film ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’, from 1944. The German lyrics are credited to Joe Dixie so I suppose this was his unique version. The Ping-Pongs were an East German girl group very much like the Andrew Sisters.
Louise was composed in 1929 with music by Richard Whiting and lyrics by Leo Robin for the film “The Innocents of Paris”, Paramount´s first musical picture, starring Maurice Chevalier. The song became a swing favorite recorded by many groups.
After Joe Dixie escaped from communist East Germany, he settled in a small village, tellingly called Freiheit in Osterode, Lower Saxony. By 1952 he had established himself as a songwriter and even started his own small publishing company for sheet music issuing songs like: Der Lange Jan Aus Amsterdam, Die Fahrt zum Mond, Fritzchen pfeift fabelhaft, Sieben Tage keinen Kuss von dir, Canzonetta d`amore, Prego, prego, Gondoliere (together wit Fred Oldörp, die drei Travellers)
In the late fifties he led groups of various sizes (Joe Dixie Swingtett, Joe Dixie Und Sein Tanzorchester, Joe Dixie Und Seine Instrumental-Virtuosen, Joe Dixie Und Seine Solisten) and recorded for Telefunken, Baccarola and Ariola but also for the small indie label Jupiter from Munich. Jupiter released two 45s by Mona Baptiste backed by Joe Dixie and his orchestra.
This EP, released in 1957 on the Opera label out of Stuttgart (and also on Donauland 1563), really does have extended playtime, with each side being around six minutes long. Though burdened by the fact that these tracks are not only medleys, a particularly weak format, but also medleys of German schlager songs from the 1930s and 40s, Joe still manages to fill in quite a few jazz licks on his piano.
By the mid-60s Joe Dixie stopped performing and moved towards songwriting and arranging. But I´m pretty sure there´s more Joe Dixie solo material out there that I´ve never heard of.
I´m not going to DJ these songs. I´m not going to play them on the radio. I will not even play them for anyone at home. The only communication I will have about this record is here. Like some crazy person talking to myself…
There is a reason why nobody wants to listen to these songs and why they have not been reissued in over fifty years. Real 1930s/40s swing music is still in high demand today, but not this type of goofy 1950s retro swing music with a harmonica theme. Despite the cover showing some teenagers draped around a French hot rod, this music was not made for teenagers. It was for old people, guys like me. Today the equivalent would be a no name band playing slightly spiced-up 1980s hit songs. Ted Morris sounds very much like a pseudonym. I suspect the group to be German, but I don´t know anything about them, there is no information on the Internet.
These expendable type of records are why I started this blog. What I find endearing, is that nobody needs them. Nobody wants them. They´re lost. But if you´ll listen, there´s a lot happening in these songs…
Really… totally crazy, these teenagers…
This record was in the same 50 cents bin that the Trio Harmonie 45s came from. After I enjoyed jazz played an the harmonica I thought I might also give the zither a chance. The zither is mainly associated with traditional folk music, but the most famous and commercially successful zither song is still a pop song : The Harry Lime Theme, also known as The Third Man Theme, written and recorded by Anton Karas for the 1949 film The Third Man.
Toni Sulzböck led his own group in the 60s and 70s and regularly appeared on German television accompanying various artists. Although as a zitherist Toni primarily played traditional material, he also wrote and produced more pop oriented songs for other artists. This medley record, probably one of Toni Sulzböck´s first, is surprisingly swingin´, because, the medleys are based on swing songs from the 1930s and 40s. Obviously influenced by Les Paul´s innovative production techniques, Dieter Resch experimented with his guitar tricks in East Germany, while Toni Sulzböck tried the same on his zither over in Bavaria. I think he displays an unusual pop sensibility on these two sides. This is zither music for dancing.
Sadly it appears that very few of his songs have ever been reissued, certainly not these two. So, here´s Toni Sulzböck and his swingin´ trickzither:
A couple of month ago I found this 45 by Harmonika-Trio Harmonie in the 50 cents bin of a local second hand store. The record didn´t have a sleeve and was lumped together with a bunch of other sleeveless 45s. It looked pretty scratched up and dirty. However the titles Get Up On The Stairs and June Night sounded promising, like they might be some kind of jazz. So took it home, cleaned it and it didn´t sound so bad. And once you get behind the harmonica sound, the songs are great too.
Apparently Trio Harmonie was a top German jazz group in the late 40s and early 50s. As I will show in the next couple of posts, all sorts of groups used to be very comfortable playing the current hits of the day with their unlikely instruments. It was this sort of diversity in styles and adaptions that made jazz so popular. Groups like the Harmonica Rascals and the Harmonicats and dozens of others were a regular part of the entertainment business in the 30s and 40s. In Europe one of the most popular harmonica groups was the Dutch Hotcha Trio who started as a five piece group in the mid-30s.
In Germany harmonica groups were especially active in the post war era. One of the first outings of Harmonika-Trio Harmonie (with members Rolf Balschun , Günter Koerber and Max Fricke) was a version of St. Louis Blues , recorded in Berlin, October 1948.
No information about the group on the Internet and no full reissues either, but their very nice up-beat harmonica version of Don´t Be Cruel has been featured on a compilation of German cover versions of Elvis songs.
Last week I went back to the same second hand store and found two more 45s by Trio Harmonie in the same bins. Back home I realized that all three were from the same collection as the numbers on the small record album stickers indicate. These records have probably been sitting in those boxes for years, ignored by both jazz fans and record collectors.
None of them have been reissued in 57 years, so I think they do deserve to be listened to once more…
All the way from Austin comes this image and two more tracks from Mundharmonika-Trio Harmonie, taken from Die Illustrierte Schallplatte 2. Folge (Telefunken LA 6125).
Thanks a lot Austin!