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Red Mckenzie and his Mound City Blue Blowers
Here’s how Red Mckenzie tells of the birth of The Mound City Blue Blowers.

In 1923, Red was back in his home town, St. Louis, the ‘Mound City’ from which the Blue Blowers got their name:

Mound City Blue Blowers
The Mound City Blue Blowers in 1924. left to right: Dick Slevin, kazoo, Jack Bland, banjo, Eddie Lang, guitar, Red McKenzie, comb and paper.

“I was a bellhop in the Claridge, and across the street was a place called Butler Brothers Soda Shop. Dick Slevin worked there and there was a little colored shoe-shine boy who used to beat it out on the shoes. Had a phonograph going. I passed with my comb, and played along. Slevin would have liked to play a comb but he had a ticklish mouth, so he used a kazoo.

“He got fired across the street and got a job in a big soda store. He ran into Jack Bland, who owned a banjo (now known for his guitar), and one night after work they went to his room. He and Slevin started playing. They got me.

“Gene Rodemich’s was a famous band at that time. His musicians used to drop in at the restaurant where we hung out. They were impressed and told their boss. He took us to Chicago to record with his band, as a novelty.

“When we got to Chicago we went down Arkansaw Blues Mound City Blue Blowersto the Friars’ Inn. About 1924 it was. Volly de Faut and Elmer Schoebel were there. Isham Jones was at the place and he asked us what instruments we were playing. He had us come to his office next day, and set the date for Brunswick.

“That was the time 2-23-’24 we made “Arkansas Blues” and “Blue Blues“. They say it sold over a million copies. Brunswick put us in a cafe in Atlantic City called the Beaux Arts. I met Eddie Lang in Atlantic City. In New York, The Mound City Blue Blowers played the Palace in August, 1924.”

Subsequently, Red’s band played at the Stork Club in London. Upon returning to America McKenzie joined the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, but kept the band going on the side, with personnel changes. In 1935 he revived the Mound City Blue Blowers for a series of recording sessions.

Listen to Angela Verbrugge: Love for Connoisseurs

TitleRecording DateRecording LocationCompany
A Little Bit Independent
(Burke / Leslie)
12-12-1935New York, New YorkChampion
40073
Arkansaw Blues
(Spencer Williams)
2-23-1924Chicago, IllinoisBrunswick
2581-A
Barb Wire Blues
(Frankie Trumbauer)
7-9-1924Chicago, IllinoisBrunswick
2648-A
Blue Blues
(Red McKenzie / Dick Slevin)
2-23-1924Chicago, IllinoisBrunswick
2581-B
Blues In F
(Red McKenzie / Eddie Lang)
7-1925New York, New YorkBrunswick
2908-A
Deep Second Street Blues
(McGauley / Red McKenzie / Eddie Lang)
12-10-1924New York, New YorkBrunswick
2804-B
Eeney Meeney Miney Mo
(Johnny Mercer / Matty Malneck)
12-12-1935New York, New YorkChampion
40073
Firehouse Blues
(Red McKenzie)
8-19-1929New York, New YorkColumbia
1946-D
Georgia On My Mind
(Johnny Mercer / Hoagy Carmichael)
6-30-1931New York, New YorkOkeh
41515
Gettin’ Told
(Red McKenzie / Eddie Lang)
2-9-1925New York, New YorkBrunswick
2849-A
Hello Lola
(Red McKenzie / Means)
11-14-1929New York, New YorkVictor
V-38100-B
Bluebird
B-10037-A
Bluebird
B-6270-A
High Society Blues
(A.J. Piron / Clarence Williams)
12-12-1935New York, New YorkChampion
40103
Decca
1274 A
I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You
(Sam Thread)
6-30-1931New York, New YorkOkeh
41526
I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me6-30-1931New York, New YorkOkeh
41515
I Hope Gabriel Likes My Music
(Franklin)
1-8-1936New York, New YorkChampion
40091 B
Indiana
(Ballard MacDonald / James F. Hanley)
8-19-1929New York, New YorkColumbia
1946-D
Indiana
(Ballard MacDonald / James F. Hanley)
5-9-1935New York, New YorkVocalion
2973 A
I’m Gonna Clap My Hands
(Riley / Farley)
2-17-1936New York, New YorkChampion
40103
I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter
(Joe E. Young / Fred E. Ahlert)
1-8-1936New York, New YorkChampion
40082
I’m Shootin’ High
From 20th Century-Fox Production “King Of Burlesque”
Vocal Chorus by Nappy Lamare

(Jimmy McHugh / Ted Koehler)
12-12-1935New York, New YorkChampion
40076 A
I’m Sittin’ High On A Hill Top
(Kahn / Johnston)
11-8-1935New York, New YorkChampion
40059
I’ve Got My Fingers Crossed
From 20th Century-Fox Production “King Of Burlesque”
Vocal Chorus by Nappy Lamare

(Jimmy McHugh / Ted Koehler)
12-12-1935New York, New YorkChampion
40076 B
Mama Don’t Allow It
(Davenport)
1-8-1936New York, New YorkChampion
40091 A
Muskrat Ramble
(Kid Ory)
12-12-1935New York, New YorkDecca
1274 B
Nervous Puppies
(Red McKenzie)
3-7-1927New York, New YorkBrunswick
3484-B
Never Had A Reason To Believe In You
(Red McKenzie / Billings)
9-25-1929New York, New YorkVictor
V-38087-B
Bluebird
B-6270-B
On Treasure Island
(Burke / Leslie)
11-8-1935New York, New YorkChampion
40060-A
One Hour
(Red McKenzie / Gene Krupa)
11-14-1929New York, New YorkVictor
V-38100-A
Victor
40060
Bluebird
B-6456-A
Play Me Slow
(Hagen / O’Flynn)
2-9-1925New York, New YorkBrunswick
2849-B
Red Hot!
(Ted Koehler / Frankie Trumbauer / Bradley / Sherman)
3-14-1924Chicago, IllinoisBrunswick
2602-B
Red Sails In The Sunset
(Grosz / Kennedy)
11-8-1935New York, New YorkChampion
40060-B
(If I Had) Rhythm In My Nursery Rhymes
(Lunceford / Chaplain)
1-8-1936New York, New YorkChampion
40082
Saddle Your Blues To A Wild Mustang
Vocal Chorus by Billy Wilson

(Billy Reid / George Whitting / Buddy Bernier)
2-17-1936New York, New YorkChampion
40099 B
San
(Lindsay McPhail / Walter Michaels)
3-14-1924Chicago, IllinoisBrunswick
2602-A
She’s Latin From Manhattan
(Al Dubin / Harry Warren)
5-9-1935New York, New YorkVocalion
2957
Spreadin’ Rhythm Around
(McHugh / Koehler)
2-17-1936New York, New YorkChampion
40098
Tailspin Blues
(Red McKenzie)
9-25-1929New York, New York
Bluebird
B-6456-B
The Broken Record (A)
(Cliff Friend / Charlie Tobias / Boyd Bunch)
1-3-1936New York, New YorkPan
The Broken Record (B)
(Cliff Friend / Charlie Tobias / Boyd Bunch)
1-3-1936New York, New YorkChampion
40081 B
Montgomery Ward
5022-B
The Darktown Strutters Ball
(Shelton Brooks)
6-30-1931New York, New YorkOkeh
41526
Columbia
36281
The Music Goes Round And Round
(Mike Reilley / Ed Farley)
1-3-1936New York, New YorkChampion
40081 A
Montgomery Ward
5022-A
Tiger Rag
(Nick LaRocca)
12-10-1924New York, New YorkBrunswick
2804-A
Thanks A Million
(Kahn / Johnston)
11-8-1935New York, New YorkChampion
40059
Wah-Hoo!
Vocal Chorus by Billy Wilson

(Cliff Friend)
2-17-1936New York, New YorkChampion
40099 A
What Do I Care What Somebody Said
(Clare / Wood)
7-3-1927Chicago, IllinoisBrunswick
3484-A
What’s The Reason (I’m Not Pleasing You)
(Poe / Greer / Tomlin / Hatch)
5-9-1935New York, New YorkVocalion
2957
Wigwam Blues
(Red McKenzie / Dick Slevin / Jack Bland)
7-1925New York, New YorkBrunswick
2908-B
You Ain’t Got Nothing I Want
(Red McKenzie / Dick Slevin)
7-10-1924Chicago, IllinoisBrunswick
2648-B
You Hit The Spot
(Gordon / Revel)
2-17-1936New York, New YorkChampion
40098
You’ve Been Taking Lessons
(From Somebody New)

(Tharpe / Watts)
5-9-1935New York, New YorkVocalion
2973 A

ArtistInstrument
Dave BarbourGuitar
Ray BaudacDrums
Josh BillingsDrums
Jack BlandBanjo
Bunny BeriganTrumpet
Gil BowersPiano
Eddie CondonBanjo, Vocals
Forrest CrawfordClarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Spooky DickensonVocals
Jimmy DorseyClarinet, Alto Saxophone
Pops FosterBanjo, Vocals
Harry GoodmanBass
Bob HaggartBass
Coleman HawkinsTenor Saxophone
Stan KingDrums
Gene KrupaDrums
Nappy LamareGuitar, Vocals
Yank LawsonTrumpet
Eddie LangGuitar
Carmen MastrenGuitar
Red McKenzieComb, Vocals
Eddie MillerClarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Glenn MillerTrombone
Al MorganBass
Pete PetersonBass
Al PhilburnTrombone
Pee Wee RussellClarinet
Jack RussinPiano
Dick SlevinKazoo
Frank SignorelliPiano
Muggsy SpanierCornet
Mort StuhlmakerBass
Jack TeagardenTrombone, Vocals
Dave ToughDrums
Sid TruckerClarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Frankie TrumbauerC-Melody Saxophone
Sid WeissBass
Billy WilsonVocals
Bruce YantisViolin

TitleDirectorYear
The Opry HouseVitaphone1929

 

A special thanks to Wayne Brandtner for his contributions to this page.

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