Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Delta Rhythm Boys

Artist: The Delta Rhythm Boys
LP: Presenting The Delta Rhythm Boys
Song: "Dry Bones"
[ listen ]
Song: "Take the 'A' Train"
[ listen ]

This mid-1950s LP by The Delta Rhythm Boys is something I picked up on "clearance" at Omega Music in Dayton, Ohio a few summers ago. Formed in Langston, Oklahoma in 1934, The Delta Rhythm Boys went through numerous lineup changes over the course of their 53 years together. They were immensely popular in Scandinavia, so in 1956 The Delta Rhythm Boys relocated to Europe, where people generally have better taste in music than in the USA. Sadly, the group finally disbanded in 1987 after Lee Gaines died of cancer in Helsinki, and then Hugh Bryant, the Rhythm Boys' current baritone at the time, collapsed and died while performing at Gaines' funeral. "Dry Bones" was one of the group's most popular tunes. Simultaneously exploring issues of religion and human biology, the song features more key changes than Scandinavia's busiest locksmith on a Sunday afternoon. "Take the 'A' Train" includes some nice "choo-choo" backing vocals and lots of 'hep' talk, and the video below (not recommended for Native American audiences) presents a Delta Rhythm Boys ditty that connects to my very own part of the world—the Pacific Northwest! You can read about The Delta Rhythm Boys on Wikipedia here, and then enter the weird wild realm of Paghat the Ratgirl to learn even more.

The Delta Rhythm Boys on YouTube:

 [ Lee Gaines ]

[ Kelsey Pharr ]

[ Rene DeKnight ]

[ Carl Jones ]

[ Traverse Crawford ]

[ The Delta Rhythm Boys in 1951 ]


Victoria said...

This is cool!

Anonymous said...

It might interest you to know that Kelsey Pharr was an open homosexual (or so I've read). He was the Baritone and sang lead on tunes such as "You're Mine, You", "Jenny Kissed Me", "September Song" and several others. He was great and could have probably been a big star solo had he not been open about his homosexuality. When I searched his name I came across this blog and was suprised you didn;t mention this... maybe you knew and thats why you blogged it. Anyway, I thought you might want to know.