To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
10 messages

Lyr Req: *one verse* of Ella Speed

04 Oct 99 - 01:39 PM (#120556)
Subject: Lyr. Req: *one verse* of Ella Speed
From: Ely

There is already a version of this on file, but it doesn't contain the verse that I need. Something about:

"The women all heard that Ella Speed was dead, [they went home and ----------------- red(?)] . . ."

"Red" could be completely wrong. I have two recordings of this (one by Leadbelly and one by a guy named Dick Staber) and the words are completely unintelligible on each. --Thank you.

04 Oct 99 - 02:20 PM (#120575)
Subject: RE: Lyr. Req: *one verse* of Ella Speed
From: Rick Fielding

Those women "re-ragged" in red. Marvelous line. Perhaps my all time favourite Leadbelly song (and he's my all time favourite musician.) Listen to Paul Mason Howard keep up with Huddie on the Dolceola. After 35 years it still gives me a chill.


04 Oct 99 - 03:09 PM (#120596)
Subject: RE: Lyr. Req: *one verse* of Ella Speed
From: Les B

Rick - what is a "Dolceola" ? (I don't have access to that Leadbelly recording) That re-ragged line seems popular, it shows up in some versions of "Brady & Duncan" and I'm sure some other songs of that era.

04 Oct 99 - 04:08 PM (#120628)
Subject: RE: Lyr. Req: *one verse* of Ella Speed
From: Pete Peterson

I remember it also from Missisippi John Hurt's singing of Lewis Collins (angels laid him away) Or am I confused? Wouldn't be the first time.

I take "re-ragged" to mean changed their clothes to wear red. Or is this too obvious? PETE

04 Oct 99 - 04:17 PM (#120633)
Subject: RE: Lyr. Req: *one verse* of Ella Speed
From: Rick Fielding

Hi Pete. Nope, that's right.

Les. A Dolceola is to all intents and purposes a very small piano. It was only made for a few years (around 1920) and has a very pecussive and tinny sound. Washington Phillips, the gospel singer used one. For almost fifty years folks thought that the instrument on the Leadbelly recording was a zither. (Even Folkways Records thought so)


04 Oct 99 - 05:20 PM (#120671)
Subject: RE: Lyr. Req: *one verse* of Ella Speed
From: Doctor John

Rick, Interesting but where did you get your information about this from? I know the Capitol Hollywood recordings very well; the first Lead Belly LP I bought, must be nearly 40 years ago. Do you have any information on Paul Mason Howard? Dr John

04 Oct 99 - 06:30 PM (#120702)
Subject: RE: Lyr. Req: *one verse* of Ella Speed
From: PJ Curtis(Ireland)

The Lewadbely Ella Speed is a masterpiece. Mance Lipscome did a marvellous 'Ella ' in the late 50's. Rick F, I know the Washnington Phillips recordings with the etherial 'Dulceola'...but I never knew that Paul Mason Howard played one on the Leadbelly Capitol sessions. Thank you for that info. Know of any other recordings with 'Dulceola' accomp. or solo? PJC

04 Oct 99 - 08:39 PM (#120743)
Subject: RE: Lyr. Req: *one verse* of Ella Speed
From: Stewie

Pat Conte's informative notes to Yazoo's CD reissue of Washington Phillips' 'I am born to preach the gospel' (Yazoo 2003)include a description of the dulceola and a reprint of an advert for the dulceola (complete with picture and described as 'A Miniature Grand Piano'). The advert appeared in the prestigious magazine 'The Etude' in 1907. The inventor was David P. Boyd who left his tyre business and family company to produce the doceola as an aid to beginning pianists. The following excerpt may be of interest:

'The dolceola was constructed of a zither-like body with 60 wire strings with a housing atop it similar to an autoharp holding, instead of bars, 25 chromatic notes on a miniature keyboard for the right hand. For the left hand, there was a setup for 7 chords played in cluster of three keys each giving the three notes of the chord, a tonic note or root and the fifth. Boyd based the tuning on Eb in an effort to give a comfortable range for accompaniment of both male and female voice. Its setup would also allow for easy progression in C minor to facilitate singing. Phillips had limited the breadth of his chordal possibilities by tending to remain a full step removed from Eb (as Boyd had engineered the system). Conversely, as he preferred F# for most of his accompaniments throughout his repertoire, the penatonic scale he predominantly set to his work affords him a marked virtuosity in the reliance of mainly black key for the right hand'.

Conte does not mention Paul Mason Howard by name, but simply says '... the dolceola was used on one other session in the 1940s by a white pianist accompanying Leadbelly (and even then erroneously described as a zither)'.

Cheers, Stewie.

04 Oct 99 - 11:33 PM (#120811)
Subject: RE: Lyr. Req: *one verse* of Ella Speed
From: Sandy Paton

The great Washington Phillips compact disc is available from Folk-Legacy. CLICK HERE, and be sure to mention Mudcat. We are charter members (along with Andy Cohen and Pat Conte) of the informal Washington Phillips Fan Club! We even have a Dolceola! It need a little work, but Andy Cohen tinkers with it whenever he's passing through this area. He plays the instrument very well, so if you hear of him (with his wife, Larkin Bryant) doing a program near you, don't miss it.

Wasn't it Andy, Rick, who proved to your satisfaction that the instrument on the Leadbelly session was a Dolceola?


05 Oct 99 - 04:54 PM (#121022)
Subject: RE: Lyr. Req: *one verse* of Ella Speed
From: Rick Fielding

Sorry to take so long getting back. Thanks Stewie and Sandy. It was indeed Andy who proved it was a Dolceola (note spelling) and Sandy and Caroline know how many hours I spent in their living room listening to that song over and over again. Now if only anyone cared about Rev. Karnes and what HE played, we could do this all over again!