Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I always loved Australian singer, Judith Durham, the original lead vocalist of the Seekers. 

After four years of hits (1965-1968), they disbanded, only to resurface in 1970 as the New Seekers, but, unfortunately, without Durham. 

How about some of the other "New" groups? 

For example, were the New Christy Minstrels just a newer band that evolved from an earlier group named the Christy Minstrels? 

Perhaps they were around and simply didn't become popular. 
—Lucy Vasquez, Flagstaff, Ariz. 

DEAR LUCY: Not everything old is new again. Most of the "New" groups have no connection whatsoever to previous artists with the same name, sans the "New."

Examples: The 1979 New York band named New England, has no connection to England, an English group who recorded in 1977. Same goes for New Horizons of the '80s and Horizons of 1964; New Establishment of the early '70s and Establishment from the mid-'60s; and New Dimensions of the mid-'60s and Dimensions of 1960.

Others adopted a "New" (fill in blank) moniker that is completely original, and not inspired by anyone who came before.

Examples: Remove the "New" and you'll have trouble finding earlier groups named Birth; Colony Six; Edition; Kids on the Block; Order; and Vaudeville Band.

Then we have the Seekers, who have an undeniable connection to the New Seekers. Keith Potger, one of the four original Seekers, formed the New Seekers.

Others in this category include Kingston Trio/New Kingston Trio; Marketts/New Marketts; Young Hearts/New Young Hearts; Rotary Connection/New Rotary Connection; Cactus Band/New Cactus Band; Hollywood Argyles/New Hollywood Argyles; Riders of the Purple Sage/New Riders of the Purple Sage; and Mississippi Sheiks/New Mississippi Sheiks, etc.

Then there is the New Christy Minstrels, who, without any direct lineage to the Christy Minstrels, chose to revive the name of a 100-year-old group.

Founded in 1843 by Edwin P. Christy, and including his stepson George Christy, the Minstrels' blackface music and comedy shows were wildly popular from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s, in the U.S. as well as Europe.

As with most ensemble acts, Christy's personnel changed frequently, and by the time phonographs and records were invented, Edwin and George Christy were both dead.

We only know of four records made by this troupe, all recorded in 1907 for Victor Records, and all 10-inch, single-sided 78 rpms.

Unlike most singles of the past 100-plus years, with one selection on each side, these Victor Talking Machine Records often had two or more tunes on the one side.

With sequentially numbered titles, each Minstrels' label identified the specific songs or skits in a subtitle:

"The Christy Minstrels (Songs of College Life - My Kickapoo Queen)" (Victor 5097)
"The Christy Minstrels No. 2 (Yankee Doodle Negroes - San Antonio)" (Victor 5098)
"The Christy Minstrels No. 3 (Good-Bye New York Town - My Creole Saidee)" (Victor 5122)
"The Christy Minstrels No. 4" (Victor 5135)

Either Victor made far fewer of the fourth disc, or their distribution varied greatly from the first three, but "The Christy Minstrels No. 4" is so rare we have yet to identify its subtitles.

Of course this degree of rarity is reflected in the marketplace. Copies of the first three can be found in the $30 to $50 range, but "No 4" could be 10 times as much.

IZ ZAT SO? When Randy Sparks formed the New Christy Minstrels in 1961, he could not have imagined that over 250 different singers and instrumentalists would, over the next 50 years, be Minstrel members.

For many, Randy's group provided the launching pad for a successful solo career in show business.

Some of the better-known NCM alumni, by year they joined, are:

1961: Jim Yester (Lovin' Spoonful member)
1962: Dolan Ellis (Arizona's Official State Balladeer); Barry McGuire ("Eve of Destruction"); Larry Ramos (Association member)
1963: Gene Clark (Byrds member)
1965: Pat Henderson (half of Skiles and Henderson)
1966: Kim Carnes ("Betty Davis Eyes"); Kenny Rogers; Mike Settle; Terry Williams (Kenny, Mike, Terry, and Thelma Camacho formed The First Edition)
1967: Keith Barbour ("Echo Park"); Karen Black (actress); Thelma Camacho (First Edition co-founder)

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column.  Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368  E-mail:   Visit his Web site:

All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition. 

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