A few months ago, I picked up several discs of "Reminiscin' with Singin' Sam" that don't appear to be in circulation, so I'll be putting one up on the blog now and then. The July 4th weekend seems like a perfect time to dive into this little slice of Americana.
Harry Frankel, aka "Singin' Sam", was a native of Kentucky. Starting in minstrel shows and vaudeville, he got his big break on radio in 1930 on WLW in Chicago. He show was heard throughout the thirties and he became known as "Singin' Sam, the Barbasol Man" and he'd keep the "Singin' Sam" name for a series he did for Coca-Cola from 1937 to 1942. Sam passed away in 1948 and his sheet music collection and personal papers and records are housed in the Morrisson-Reeves Library in Richmond, Indiana. The Library has an online digital collection of his 78 rpm recordings, photographs and memorabilia.
"Reminiscin' with Singing' Sam" was a syndicated series he produced through his own company in the 1940s and preserves his unique singing style and radio presence. Frankel possessed one of the largest private collections of sheet music in the country and the focus of his show were long-forgotten popular songs that were "oldies", some reaching back to the late 19th century. With his warm, "down home" manner, he'd invite the parents and grandparents to pull up a chair in front of the radio and remember the good old times and songs of long ago. The fun for listeners today is rediscovering long-forgotten tunes.
Program 3 in the series kicks off with what sounds like an old minstrel show tune, "When I'm Walkin' With My Sweetness", and we also hear "My Little Mule Wagon". Sam is backed by the Charles Magnante Trio and the Mullins Sisters. You might remember Charles Magnante from his work on the Jack Berch Show, heard previously on the blog.
Our mp3 was transferred from original Transcription Sales, Inc vinyl disc, matrix number L-19667-A1. The original "Singin' Sam" discs I obtained were stored without sleeves for many years and were pretty scuffed up; I've run the file through some click reduction software to make it more listenable.