American Recording Pioneers

Two Years in the Life of a Studio Freelancer:
Arthur Fields and the Ed Kirkeby Recording Sessions
(1921–1922)

Compiled from the Ed Kirkeby Logbooks

  
Related Articles:

The Arthur Fields Melody Record Label
Arthur Fields at Play (The Bain News Service Photographs)
Fields & Hall and the Creation of the "Hillbilly" Stereotype
Arthur Fields Blue Amberol Cylinderopgraphy


Arthur Fields and family c. 1919
(Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

Ed Kirkeby is remembered today as the manager of the California Ramblers, and later the A&R man for Bluebird. But in the early 1920s he made much of his living as a talent broker, supplying singers and instrumentalists to recording studios.

As 1921 opened, Kirkeby had only one recording band under management, the lackluster Merry Melody Men (who would soon morph into the far more popular California Ramblers, a.k.a. the Golden Gate Orchestra). The rest of his stable consisted largely of freelance performers (including Fred Van Eps, Charles Harrison, Ernest Hare, Vernon Dalhart, Reed Miller, Nevada Van Der Veer, and Arthur Fields), for whom he brokered hundreds of sessions with many of the newer labels. Harrison and Fields got the lion's share of Kirkeby's vocal bookings during 1921–1922.

Fortunately for collectors and discographers, Kirkeby kept logbooks detailing the sessions he brokered. We present here his Arthur Fields listings from 1921 and 1922, as a revealing look at the working life of a typical studio free-lancer, and as an indicator of how widely the recording activity of the day was shuffled among the smaller studios. Among other things, the logbooks confirm a long-held suspicion that the New York Recording Laboratories (Paramount) was the actual producer of many early Arto, Clarion and Grey Gull masters.

Disclaimers:
(1) This is by no means a complete list of Fields' recording sessions for the period. Kirkeby at this time worked primarily with the newer and smaller studios, and Fields was booked for countless other sessions without Kirkeby's involvement during this time.

(2) The issue and matrix numbers shown in brackets are relatively modern additions, by an unknown hand, on our transcribed copy of the logbooks. They have not been checked for accuracy at this point and should be regarded with caution, but were felt to be worth including as a point of departure for further investigation.


3/28/1921 - REMINGTON STUDIO:

Vamping Rose - remade 4/11/1921
The Scandal of Little Lizzie Ford [Olympic 14102]

 

4/11/1921 - REMINGTON STUDIO:

I'm Nobody's Baby [Olympic 14106]
Peggy O'Neil [Olympic 14106]
Vamping Rose [Olympic 14102]

 

4/19/1921 - STARR PIANO CO. STUDIO:

Peggy O'Neil

 

5/2/1921 - ARTO at NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

Pucker Up and Whistle till the Clouds Roll By [Arto 9066]

 

6/24/1921 - ARTO at unlisted studio

Sunnyside Sale [Arto 9075]

 

8/4/1921 - ARTO at CRITERION LABORATORIES:

Who'll Be the Next One to Cry Over You? - remade 8/16/1921 at NYRL

 

8/22/1921 - GREY GULL at NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

Ma [Grey Gull L-2063]
My Sunny Tennessee [Grey Gull L-2064]

 

9/7/1921 - ARTO at NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

Everybody's Welcome in Dixie [Arto 9091]

 

9/15/1921 - CARDINAL at NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

No titles made; Ernest Hare, Dorothy Dodd, and Melody Men on same date

 

9/21/1921 - GREY GULL at NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

Who'll Be the Next One to Cry Over You? [Grey Gull L-2065]
All By Myself [Grey Gull L-2065]

 

10/7/1921 - GREY GULL at NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

I Want My Mammy [Grey Gull L-2068]
Nobody's Darlin'

 

10/10/1921 - CARDINAL at NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

Figaro
Bimini Bay

Note: The Melody Men were on same date, but there is no indication that they accompanied Fields.

 

10/11/1921 - ARTO at REYNARD STUDIO:

When Francis Dances with Me - remade 12/15/1921

 

11/1/1921 - EMERSON STUDIO

April Showers

 

11/3/1921 - STARR PIANO CO. STUDIO

Moxie - remade 12/14/1921

 

11/12/1921 - EMERSON STUDIO

Dapper Dan - 7" [i.e., Melodisc]

 

11/15/1921 - CARDINAL at unlisted studio:

How Is It by You? [Clarion 3015]
Smilin' [Royal 10135]

 

11/17/1921 - CARDINAL at unlisted studio:

Tuck Me to Sleep in My Old 'Tucky Home

 

11/22/1921 - GREY GULL at NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

Weep No More My Mammy [Grey Gull L-2071]
How Is It by You? [Grey Gull L-2072]
Olga [Grey Gull L-2072]

 

11/23/1921 - NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

I Want My Mammy

 

12/1/1921 - EMERSON STUDIO:

Birds of a Feather

 

12/2/1921- PATHE STUDIO:

How Is It by You?
Maggie Maguire (with Ed Smalle)

 

12/8/1921 - EMERSON STUDIO:

How Is It by You?

 

12/14/1921 - STARR PIANO CO. STUDIO:

Ain't Nature Grand?
Moxie [Gennett special]

 

12/15/1921 - ARTO at unlisted studio:

You Taught Me to Care
When Francis Dances with Me

 

12/19/1921 - GREY GULL at JONES LABORATORIES:

Witch Hazel

 

12/30/1921 - NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

I Hold Her Hand

 

 

1/4/1922 - GREY GULL at NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

Granny - remade 1/11/1922
There's a Down in Dixie Feeling - remade 1/11/1922

 

1/11/1922 - GREY GULL at NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

Dear Old Southland
Granny
There's a Down in Dixie Feeling

 

1/13/1921 - EMERSON STUDIO:

There's a Down in Dixie Feeling

 

1/18/1922 - GREY GULL at NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

Delia [allocated to Paramount]
My Mammy Knows [mx. 557]
An Old-Fashioned Girl [mx. 556]

 

2/22/1922 - EMERSON STUDIO (9:30):

An Old-Fashioned Girl

 

2/3/1922 - CAMEO (vocal choruses with dance orchestra):

Angel Child [Cameo 209]
Gin-Gin-Ginny Shore [Cameo 209]

 

2/6/1922 - EMERSON STUDIO

Goodbye, Shanghai

 

2/9/1922 - NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

Molly-O [mx. 842]

 

2/16/1922 - ARTO at unlisted studio

Leave Me with a Smile - remade 3/6/1922

 

2/27/1922 - NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

The Farmer in the Dell
London Bridge
Mulberry Bush
Note: Children's titles, possibly for Bob-O-Link

 

3/1/1922 - CAMEO:

"Remake" - no details

 

3/3/1922 - PATHE STUDIO:

California [Pathé 020733]
Don't Feel Sorry for Me

 

3/6/1922 - ARTO at unlisted studio:

I Hold Her Hand [Arto 9135]
Ain't Nature Grand? [Arto 9135]
Leave Me with a Smile (remake) [Arto 9127]

 

3/20/1922 - ARTO at unlisted studio:

Pick Me Up and Lay Me Down in Dear Old Dixieland

 

4/13/1922 - ARTO at unlisted studio:

Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean (with Ernest Hare) [Arto 9141]

 

4/20/1922 - No studio or label shown:

All Over Nothing at All
Some Sunny Day

 

5/6/1922 - NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

Just a Love Song (allocated to Paramount) [mx. 1055]
Oogie Oogie Wa Wa (allocated to Paramount) [mx. 1056]

Oogie Oogie Wa Wa (allocated to Grey Gull)
Eddie Leonard Blues (allocated to Grey Gull)

 

5/12/1922 - ARTO at unlisted studio:

Don't Feel Sorry for Me

 

5/23/1922
(am) CAMEO:

On a Saturday Night

(pm) NEW YORK RECORDING LABORTORIES:

Oh You Beautiful Baby [mx. 1064]

 

6/8/1922 - STARR PIANO CO. STUDIO:

Why Should I Cry Over You?

 

6/21/1922 - GREY GULL at unlisted studio:

Why Should I Cry Over You?

 

6/29/1922 - ARTO at MARKER'S LABORATORY:

I Wish There Was a Wireless to Heaven

 

7/11/1922 - BANNER at unlisted studio:

Sweet Indiana Home [NYRL mx. 1122 ?]

 

8/9/1922 - VOCALION at AEOLIAN CO. STUDIO:

In My Home Town

 

8/21/1922 - NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

All Over Nothing at All [mx. 1188]

 

8/29/1922 - ARTO at unlisted studio:

Who'll Take My Place? [Arto 9167]

 

9/9/1922 - GREY GULL at unlisted studio:

Till My Luck Comes Rolling Along [mx. 636]

 

9/15/1922 - ARTO at unlisted studio:

Gee, How I Hate to Go Home Alone [Arto 9172]

 

9/22/1922 - GREY GULL at NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

Homesick [mx. 642]

 

10/6/1922 - ARTO at unlisted studio:

He Loves It [Arto 9180]

 

11/27/1922 - "DUNN - ARTO":

Who Did You Fool After All? - remade 12/27/1922

 

12/7/1922 - ARTO at 102 W. 38th STREET:

Who Did You Fool After All? [Arto 9181]

 

Two additional Fields sessions were logged in early 1923. At that point, the California Ramblers and their various spin-offs were recording prolifically and constituted a full-time business, and Kirkeby appears to have dropped most of his studio vocalists during the first few months of 1923.

 

2/2/1923 - ARTO at NEW YORK RECORDING LABORATORIES:

I Gave You All the Love I Had [Arto 9181]

 

3/9/1923 - ARTO at unlisted studio:

Little Rolling Stone

 
Fields later recorded numerous vocal choruses with the California Ramblers and the various groups that were spun out of that band. However, Fields' name does not appear in Kirkeby's logs or payroll records for those sessions, probably indicating that he was hired by the record companies rather than by Kirkeby.

.

First online posting Jan-09-2012. The basic data contained here may be reproduced and distributed for personal research purposes provided that the source is fully cited, including a link to the Mainspring Press homepage (www.mainspringpress.com).



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