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steamboat bill - the performers 


Arthur Collins (1864-1933)


was born in Philadelphia and began his quarter-century recording career in 1898. 

While Collins recorded a wide swath of popular comic and show songs, and some religious material, he is best  known for his duets with Byron G. Harlan and for his work in The Peerless Quartet. 

He is perhaps best known for his coon songs, the most popular being “The Preacher and the Bear” whose success was so great he would continue to rerecord the song for decades for every record label. 

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Earl McDonald (1885-1949)


Jug bands were a popular bi-racial attraction in Louisville, Kentucky after 1900, and Earl McDonald was a major part of it for his enthusiastic ubiquity in the musical life of the city.    Early Earl McDonald outfits found additional work in places like Chicago and New York, sometimes in collaboration with an otherwise rival, fiddler Clifford Hayes. In addition to recording, Hayes was a popular radio performer.  His previously unmarked grave was recently given a headstone courtesy of a new generation of jug band enthusiasts. 

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Alton (1908-1964) Rabon (1916-1952) Delmore were born in poverty in Alabama and turned to professional music in their teens. They made their first records in 1931 for Columbia, but spent most of their pre-War recording career on the Bluebird label and later on the King label. They appeared on the Grand Ole Opry from 1933-1939. Alton’s posthumously published autobiography “Truth Is Stranger Than Publicity” is considered one of the greatest country music memoirs. 

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