No I am not a guitar player, just a mother of four with a son who is a huge fan of yours. There was a big rumpus from his corner of the house over a Mickey Mouse cartoon on your site and there was Williard's photo above it. So really just a coincidence, although I must say your collection of photographs is very interesting even for someone who is not a player at all.
I looked into this again and must correct an error. The surname was Johns not Trostle; I got the wrong side of the family. His band was called the "Royal Hawaiians" and consisted of him on metal guitar, which he played on his lap with a bar, Lefty Schimmel on acoustic guitar played "Spanish" (?), Sammy Conrad on tenor guitar and ukelele, and a fourth man whose name my grandmother does not remember, he played guitar and fiddle but often was not with the other three. They were not really a Hawaiian band, but played many different things because people would always ask for whatever they liked from the radio. In the late 30s they were well-known and very popular in Pennsylvania and did well in music competitions, which were a big affair in those days, like "battle of the bands" contests I suppose. They won local and regional competitions, and came in second at the state finals in Pittsburgh in 1936. Travel was a problem, however, because Sammy was in school (he was 11 when they went to the finals) and Lefty had a regular job to worry about. So they never went any further and then when the war came they broke up.
This sounds so quaint! But perhaps your readers will be interested.
Hi Ella, It's not quaint, it's fascinating! Bear in mind that the people (like me) who come on this site are obsessed with these guitars and the music and the history behind all of it. We love this kind of stuff!
Ella, thanks for posting this very interesting info; re the 'Eddie House' mentioned in your original post, it may interest you to know (if you don't already) that Eddie 'Son' House was one of the most highly regarded of the prewar Mississippi blues artists (who survived to have a second musical career in the 60s - I was lucky enough to experience his still-awesome performing power in '67); if the Eddie House in your picture is the same person, a photo from this date would be of extreme interest to country-blues enthusiasts, since (afaik) there are no prewar pictures of him - any possibility of sharing the photo with us? Regards, Rick
Post by Michael Messer on Oct 1, 2004 18:11:58 GMT
MESSAGE FOR ELLA:
Thank you so much for the information about the photograph and your family. It is fascinating stuff and very interesting to us collectors and reseachers. It may not surprize you to know that I have a serious interest in old Hawaiian music, as well as blues, country, folk & jazz. So your story about Williard & the Royal Hawaiians is wonderful. Any more information or photographs on the subject would be gratefully received.
In your message you talk about a second photograph of two people, one of which is called Eddie House. This is creating a lot of interest on my forum! Do you still have that photo' and if so, could we see it please? Eddie House was the real name of one of the legendary early Miss'ippi blues singers, "Son House". Could this Eddie House be Son House? I am very interested to see this photograph as there are no known photos' of Son House from this period. If you do not want to post it on this forum, I will send you my personal email address.
That's great, you found the photo of Williard Johns because your son is a fan of my music! Wonderful stuff. Your son (what's his name?) has great taste.
My forum visitors & members have really enjoyed your messages, thank you.
Post by Michael Messer on Oct 1, 2004 19:01:50 GMT
Here is a photograph that I don't think has been published anywhere. Affectionately known as 'Dobro Man Pic 1' - if anyone knows who this is, or anything that could lead us to finding out....we would love to hear from you.
Thanks to everyone for all the interest, and to Michael, Martin and Rick for their messages. I really did not expect that there would be such a reaction, or any reaction now that I think of it. I was a bit apprehensive that I would sound like I tumbled into your forum off a pile of turnips, so thanks again for such a gracious and friendly reception.
I did not know that you are interested in Hawaiian music Michael, but I am glad to know that the tradition has not died out. I have hardly ever heard that music, but years ago (long before my time!) it was all the rage. I also did not know that Eddie House would turn out to be so interesting and I had never heard of Son House.
That photo I mentioned a few days ago is not mine and was just described to me when I said something about the picture on your website, but I will see what can be found. I myself would be happy for everyone to see whatever turns up, so long as it is freely available and not turned into a commercial fuss.
The photo has three (not two) people on it: Williard Johns with a guitar, a young man in a white navy uniform, and Eddie House with a guitar. The photo is post-war, and the sailor is back home but still in uniform - so 1946-47? So if something pre-war is what you need this won't be it. As for Eddie House, my son (TJ) is very excited about all this and insists that this must be your famous blues musician, but I doubt it I must say. The Eddie House in the photo lived in upstate New York not Mississippi, and he was definitely not a celebrity or anything like that. Williard and his crowd were crazy about anything with strings on it and there were always others around. If there was a music legend right there in front of them no one seems to have paid any mind. But let's see.
Post by Michael Messer on Oct 3, 2004 11:12:25 GMT
MESSAGE FOR ELLA:
Hawaiian music and my interest in it, that's a whole other story! But to cut a long story short......I think a lot of us metal guitar players & collectors are similar in this; having discovered Mississippi blues music and started playing that style on old National guitars, I started collecting any record, book, picture, or sheet music that had a picture of a metal National guitar on the front, this very quickly took me into the world of Hawaiian steel guitar music, country music and early jazz. These metal guitars, National guitars & Dobro guitars ( both brand names) were built in the 1920s & 30s and are mechanically amplified for extra volume. Pre electric amplification, these guitars were the loudest thing on your side of the Atlantic Ocean. At the time Williard Johns was photographed with his National guitar ( a late 20s early 30s National Triolian guitar) it was the most hip looking state-of-the-art instrument in town. Still is! Since the mid 1960s when the baby-boom generation started turning on to old blues music from the 20s & 30s, these guitars have been very collectable. I have been involved with playing, researching & collecting them since the mid 1970s. A couple of years ago I built a website about National guitars that may interest you - www.notecannons.com
Here is a colour photo of an instrument similar to Williard's in the photo.
Regarding the photograph of Eddie House; as Colin said in his message, the legendary blues singer was re-discovered in the early 1960s living in Rochester, NY and apparently had lived there since the war years. At that time he was not known as a legend of the blues, he had been working as a janitor and doing various other jobs for survival. So there is a possibility that this Eddie House is the blues singer Son House. You have no need to worry about my using the picture for commercial purposes, it would just be wonderful to see him at a time long before the music fraternity started photographing, recording & interviewing him.
Oh, & Ella - in case you're wondering why all this flutter in the chicken-coop? - the reason Son House is regarded as a legend in the blues world is that he is held by many to have been one of the top 2 or 3 performers of 'country' or rural-style blues back in the late 20s/early 30s, when he first recorded; & his regional style of blues , known as Mississippi/'Delta' style, is considered by the majority of blues-lovers to be the most emotionally-intense or 'purest' form of the genre. 'Intense' is certainly the word to decribe Son's performing style! Many thanks for your efforts
Thank you again for these clarifications and for your patience. The guitar is quite striking and I have seen quite a few of those but not always in those colors.
So perhaps this is your blues player after all. He is a striking figure from the CD photos I have recently seen (a Martin Scorcese CD). I will certainly see if I can come up with the photograph for you.
Michael, if you are interested I could probably provide you with quite a few details about the Royal Hawaiians. Willard Johns was my great-uncle and "Sammy" Conrad ( no one calls him that but older relatives) is my Dad, now 79. He is also the sailor in one of the photos, assuming that the description as "Ikes boy" (Ike is the nickname for Isaac, my grandfather) is correct. I have never sat my Dad down and grilled him about the band but maybe this is the time. His memories would be how things looked to a young boy. I thought my Dad was older when they went to the state finals in Pittsburgh, but he says no it was 1936, as Ella heard, so he was 11.
Ella we used to always come through Port Matilda on our way up the Seven Mountains to visit relatives back home. Are you a Trostle? I ask because you talk like my grandmother did . Get in touch if you like. My email is in my profile.
An afterthought on how strange the world can get. It just occurred to me that the guitar held by Triolian Man would be the Triolian that you identified for me on your old forum Michael. That is, you were looking at an email attachment showing the guitar as it was in 2004, while you had a pic of how it looked in the 1930s stuck on your fridge or wherever.
Good to hear from you. That's incredible, your father is the guy in the picture Ella told us about, and Willard Johns is your 'great uncle'. What a coincidence! I am amazed and also very happy to see the forum providing us with a meeting place to communicate and share knowledge.
The photo of Willard Johns that has being affectionately known as 'unknown Triolian man' is a great photo of a very proud owner of his National guitar. That's quite a coincidence, having known you for a while and spent time with you at EBA events, I had no idea that I owned a photo of your relative.
I am sure it feels a little strange to suddenly find your father & your 'great uncle' being the subject of this thread. Thank you for sharing this information with us.
I am afraid I have not got a copy of the photo of Willard's National Triolian in 2004. If you still have a copy could you post it on this thread? It would be an interesting addition to the story & I would be interested to see it again.
Your father, Sammy Conrad, played with the Royal Hawaiians......that's pretty cool! I am sure I speak for myself & visitors to this forum; I would love to hear some of your father's recollections of life in the 30s with the Royal Hawaiians.