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Wow, the Dolceola!

28 Oct 02 - 08:02 PM (#813275)
Subject: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: wysiwyg

I forget now who directed me to this link, but as soon as I got there I heard a sound I have never heard in music, and I was intrigued. Today I ran across the info on what it was-- a Dolceola.

Listen to Washington Phillips, LIFT HIM UP, THAT'S ALL at The Roots Music Listening Room, to hear what I heard.

(BTW, it turns out that song is now out on Ralph Stanley's current CD.)

Washington Phillips' posthumous CD is at Amazon, with more tracks featuring the Dolceola, here: PLICK!

Info on Phillips and his Dolceola from Amazon.com:
Texas-born singer Washington Phillips did a limited amount of recording between his first sessions in 1927 and his last, which were completed in 1939, shortly before his death on New Year's Eve from tuberculosis. What little recording the unique solo gospel performer did can be found on this wondrous 16-track collection. Accompanying himself sensitively on the dolceola (a rare autoharp-like instrument) and singing with gentle resolve, Phillips created serene music that really did feel like it was touched by grace. Early in his career Ry Cooder revived a couple of Phillips's best numbers ("Denomination Blues" and "Tattler"), but he's largely a forgotten figure these days. I Am Born to Preach the Gospel makes that seem like an unpardonable sin. --Steven Stolder

Further info on his playing style at Amazon: What makes Phillips even more unique is that he plays this Germanic Zither-ish---Harp in a Box---by taking the little harpie's chordal construction apart and playing it with his fingers...

More on the Dolceola from Amazon's comment on Yazoo's liner notes: ...one of the rarest string instruments the world has ever known, of which there are about 14 still existing in the world: a Dolceola: "A miniature grande piano" says an old advertisement Yazoo has included in the liner notes...

OK! So who's got one?

~Susan


28 Oct 02 - 08:42 PM (#813301)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: McGrath of Harlow

Dolceola Restoration. With pictures. I see what they mean about "grand piano."


28 Oct 02 - 09:01 PM (#813316)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: masato sakurai

Some sound clips can be heard HERE. Washington Phillips is also on Storefront & Streetcorner Gospel 1927 - 1929 (DOCD-5054).

~Masato


28 Oct 02 - 09:19 PM (#813324)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: Jerry Rasmussen

Pat Conte has a dolceola..

Jerry


28 Oct 02 - 09:31 PM (#813329)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: Judy Cook

Andy Cohen is a fabulous Dolceolist and has a new CD out "Dolceola Favorites" on the Riverlark (that's Andy and his wife Larkin - lap dulcimer player extraordinary) label. I notice it's not yet on their website www.riverlarkmusic.com, but you could ask for it there or by calling 800-366-5275.

--Judy Cook


28 Oct 02 - 09:49 PM (#813339)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: Jerry Rasmussen

Good to hear, Judy... I don't think there are more than a half a dozen Dolceolas in existence..

Jerry


28 Oct 02 - 10:02 PM (#813347)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: Rick Fielding

One of my really fun and totally bizarre experiences was showing the highly ebullient Andy Cohen, downtown Toronto....and especially the pawnshop district..where sometimes, great instruments can be found.)

Andy had his Dolceola on his back (no case) and in every pawnshop the owner would ask if this instrument was up for pawn. This was Andy's cue to plop the Dolceola on the counter and pound out some boogie woogie. The looks on these men's faces were priceless. Most are first generation Eastern European, and to say they were discombobulated would be an understatement! Along with the boogie, Andy gave each one of them a brief history of the instrument including references to Washington Phillips. T'was quite day.

I've messed around a bit on the Patons' Dolceola, and it's a lot of fun.

For what it's worth Paul Mason Howard used one on Leadbelly's Los Angeles recordings, and it sounds phenomenal on "Ella Speed". If anyone still hasn't heard Washington Phillips.....boy I strongly reccommend him.

Cheers

Rick


28 Oct 02 - 10:09 PM (#813350)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: GUEST,Dale

It has been several years since I talked to Andy about it, and I suppose the number may have grown in my memory since then, but it seems that he said he had THREE of them.

Boy, Wizzy, you are LATE getting into the Washington Phillips fan club ~!~ I expect Sandy, Rick, Stewie and I, along with all the other members of the club ~~ which quite naturally includes Andy will be glad to let you in. No dues, you just have to swear allegiance to Washington Phillips as the mightiest of them all ~~ except MAYBE Alfred Karnes and his harp guitar.


28 Oct 02 - 10:11 PM (#813351)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: GUEST,Dale

Ah, I see Rick beat me to the punch while I was typing all that out.


28 Oct 02 - 10:15 PM (#813353)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: wysiwyg

LOL, Rick!

I'm in! I'm late but I'm in! All it took was 2 seconds' listening and I was ready to dump Hardi and have WP's babies! Heck, I guess we can't do it on the Dolceola, me being a big girl and him a minister and all-- not to mention DAID~~ oh well! ~G~

Found this:
A heavy-set, unsmiling man in his 30s, Phillips had a sense of humor ("Denomination Blues," a deadpan account of the endless antipathies Christian orders find in a message of love). He played, and was apparently the only person ever to record with, the dolceola, a kind of dulcimer that sounded like an electric zither run through a Leslie speaker cabinet, showing you a heaven populated by ghosts. In 1929, at his last recording session, just a year before he was committed to the insane asylum where he would spend the few years that remained of his life, he sang the saddest song in the world, thanking his parents for putting him on the right path. You listen and you know the world is poorer because he is not in it.

Aw.... wish I'd'a knowed him.

Geeze you guys, you couldda TOLD me-- how you been runnin that club with no wimmin innit????

~Susan


28 Oct 02 - 10:15 PM (#813355)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: wysiwyg

25 or so around, most not playable I guess.

~S~


28 Oct 02 - 10:25 PM (#813367)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: GUEST,Dale

Dolceola List The Dolceola site given by McGrath has a list of 25, including two in Memphis.


28 Oct 02 - 10:50 PM (#813378)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: Rick Fielding

Well we know who the Memphis ones belong to.

Don't worry about bein' late Susan...that's one of the absolute JOYS of unpopular music!!

If you were visiting here from Mars and were listening to any Golden Oldie, or vintage Country radio station, you'd hear virtually every prominent artist in one day. That's popular music.

But with our music you discover the joys of regional and rural artists throughout your lifetime.....some you have to dig SO hard for....others are there in plain sight, but they're in a narrow field of music, and still others (like Washington Phillips and the Rev. Alfred E. Karnes) are in a narrow enough field (rural Gospel recordings) AND recorded so little that it DOES take years to discover them....and even then it's often by pure luck.

Now, in my case, Sandy Paton helped BIG TIME. He said "You HAVEN'T heard Washington Phillips? Then prepare to be amazed"!

He also said that "Called to The Foreign Shore" by Rev. Karnes was the greatest piece of recorded folk music he'd ever heard. Now don't tell him this...but I practically burst into tears when I played that record. You know I'm not religious, and the song is pretty dated in it's message.....but My God, what a piece of music! After the Patons had gone to bed, I sat in their living room and played the cut at least twenty times.

Oh there have been so many discoveries like that....t'is why I love this folky life-style.

Have you heard Rochester NY's Freddie Vine? Simply the finest blues fingerpicker on the planet.....why? He actually SOUNDS like the people who invented the music....and yet he's virtually unknown, even (or especially) in his own home town.

My I AM chatty tonight!

Rick


28 Oct 02 - 10:54 PM (#813381)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: wysiwyg

And I love yas for it, Rick. Gotta get up your way sometime.

Karnes, yah, I found him awreddy. *G*

~S~


28 Oct 02 - 10:57 PM (#813384)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: Art Thieme

Sandy and Caroline Paton have a Dolceola. Fifteen or twenty years ago I took it out on their lawn in front of Folk Legacy to photograph it.

Nice to see the links to these photos.

Art Thieme


29 Oct 02 - 06:22 AM (#813455)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: MikeofNorthumbria

Aha!

So Paul Mason Howard was playing a Doceola on Lead Belly's recording of Ella Speed. I've been wondering for decades how he could have played so many notes, and so fast, on a finger-picked zither.

Thanks for the information, Rick.

Wassail


29 Oct 02 - 06:28 AM (#813457)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: RangerSteve

A friend of mine in Westchester County, New York has one, but it's in bad shape. As mentioned above, Pat Conte has one. I saw one in an antique store in Red Bank, New Jersey years ago, but it was also in bad shape and was vastly overpriced for an unplayable instrument. It's been 20 years since I saw it, so it's probably not there anymore.

Get the Phillips recording, for the Dolceola and to hear him sing "What are They Doing in Heaven Today?", one of the best religious songs ever written.


29 Oct 02 - 08:27 AM (#813495)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: GUEST,T-boy

I seem to remember reading (in Folk Roots) that the Dulceola had a design flaw which meant that the string tension used to pull it to pieces after a while. Maybe that's why there's not many around, whereas quite a number were made.


29 Oct 02 - 09:39 AM (#813546)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy

I remember when Andy found his, saw it in its original condition, he had it restored beautifully. If you've got one in so so condition, he's the guy to talk to about who to have work on it. I could listen to it for as long as Andy can play it, otherwise known as forever!


29 Oct 02 - 09:49 AM (#813555)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy

ANdy on the Dolceola is about as much fun as Andy on the steam calliope, or Andy on the guitar, or mandoli, or Andy on the front porch spinnin yarns, or Andy reciting his poetry, or talking about Rev. Gary Davis, or playing poker, or talking Anthopology blues...


29 Oct 02 - 10:58 AM (#813590)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: belfast

I seem to recall that the late Peter Bellamy had an interest in the dolceola but I don't think he ever recorded with it.

As for Washington Phillips, I'm sure that I'm not the only one who was pointed in that direction by Ry Cooder's recording of "Denomination Blues". Now, Ry Cooder is, of course, brilliant but Washington Phillips … pure joy.


29 Oct 02 - 11:11 AM (#813604)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: Rick Fielding

Hi Mike of Northumbria. Yep, for many years I (and probably six other people....you being one of them) was amazed at Howard's "Zither" playing on Ella Speed, and then along came Andy and Pat and a VERY few others, who cleared up the mystery. God bless 'em. Andy sent me a picture of the man himself, sitting next to Leadbelly....and sure enough....that ain't no zither!!

Andy and Larkin, if you notice this thread, there's still no more info on GL.

Cheers

Rick


29 Oct 02 - 11:50 AM (#813646)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: dick greenhaus

I guess I shouldn't mind when Mudcatters plug other sources for recordings, but CAMSCO carries 'em all, and can use the business.


29 Oct 02 - 11:52 AM (#813649)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: wysiwyg

Dick, it isn't a plug, it's a link to HEAR the music. Of course we can and should buy from you and Sandy.

~Susan


29 Oct 02 - 12:02 PM (#813657)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: wysiwyg

A new feature at the new, improved Mudcat is the Special Product Request Form you can often see floating in a yellow box at the top of the day's thread topics. I am unclear what happens after you submit your request-- maybe Dick can tell us-- who gets that message and what happens next?

~Susan


29 Oct 02 - 07:18 PM (#814006)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: dick greenhaus

Susan-
I don't know who else reads those messages, but I certainly do, and try to respond adequately by E-mail.


29 Oct 02 - 07:48 PM (#814021)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: wysiwyg

Dick,

Do they come through as PMs then?

~Susan


29 Oct 02 - 08:33 PM (#814059)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: Art Thieme

I have a couple of superb photos (slides) I took of Gary Davis in Andy's livingroom in Chicago-----circa 1967. Some day I'll get a slide scanner (just heard those exist) and I can send my folk pics all over, They're all on slides. (I figured slides would never be out of fashion. But I thought that about LPs too.)

Art Thieme


29 Oct 02 - 08:40 PM (#814066)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: McGrath of Harlow

Thanks for that link WYSIWYG. I've got it bookmarked. (Just for listening to the music mind!) It's a shame it doesn't have "streaming" like Honking Duck, but it does have some great 78s there.


29 Oct 02 - 09:49 PM (#814107)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: wysiwyg

You can of course download and save them on your hard drive.

~Susan


30 Oct 02 - 01:10 AM (#814164)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: GutBucketeer

Ditto on the WoW! I've never heard of, heard, or seen the Dolceola before and all I can say it way cool. Does anyone have more information about the instrument itself?

How many strings did it have?

How was it tuned?

Has anyone tried to make a modern equivalent? It would seem that the key mechanism could be duplicated and replace the autoharp dampers on a modern autoharp fairly easily (at least in concept).

After listening to the samples, the sound the Doceola makes is fascinating. Was this sound unique to Washington Phillips? Has Andy Cohen made any recordings?

Just Blown away

JAB


30 Oct 02 - 07:22 AM (#814262)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: Ferrara

Some years ago, Lisa Null gave me a CD of Washington Phillips' music, saying that since I play a zither I should hear both Phillips and his dolceola. Like the rest of you folks, I was blown away. What wonderful songs and just wonderful music.

Judy Cook didn't mention that she sometimes sings "The Dying Mother's Advice to her Daughter." I asked her to learn it... I was waiting for a new heart, and couldn't sing, but I loved the song and thought it would suit Judy very well. It does.


31 Oct 02 - 02:17 PM (#815374)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: Art Thieme

I would think that a dolceola played with your fingers and not with the keyboard keys, as someone said W.P. did his picking with his fingers, would be very much like the psaltery on legs that Bob Beers and his niece Susan Boyer-Haley played.

Anyone know if that is the case??

Art Thieme


08 Nov 02 - 02:44 PM (#821668)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy

anyone seriously interested in owning one should check out ebay, nice one for sale, up to about $2400. with three days to go


08 Nov 02 - 10:07 PM (#821979)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: denise:^)

Here's one you can vie for, if you've got the spare change:
dolceola
denise:^)


07 Apr 09 - 03:50 PM (#2606768)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: GUEST

I may be able to get one that works How much is any one willing to pay? A friend had one inherited to him. I don't know if its working until I see it this weekend. Someone please email me. He wants to sell it. Thanks johnohenryo@sbcglobal.net


07 Apr 09 - 05:30 PM (#2606855)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: Art Thieme

Sandy and Caroline Paton have one. See my photo site and search for Dolceola--and there it will be.

Andy Cohen has one and plays it great.

But it looks more like a toy piano than an autoharp. There are keys---white and dark---sert up piano style. Washington Phillips is just great. A very dedicated singer who, Like Gary Davis, was expert. He and Gary were best when they were playing songs that reflected his belief. The few blues Gary Davis did were less than inspired. He didn't really want to do them.

Art


07 Apr 09 - 05:42 PM (#2606866)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: Art Thieme

Wow, I wrote the post above without realizing that this was an old thread that I had posted to several times before. Quite a shock. Am real sorry 'bout that. Memory is quite impinged upon for me these days.

Art


07 Apr 09 - 06:48 PM (#2606904)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: Jack Campin

Anybody got any current links to sound files that work?


07 Apr 09 - 06:52 PM (#2606906)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: wysiwyg

PM me an email address that will take BIG attachments (3-6 MB).

~S~


07 Apr 09 - 08:00 PM (#2606956)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: open mike

Washington Phillips here: http://www.fretlesszithers.com/wp.html
Andy Cohen here on you tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6hyekRKQaU
these links may not have been available when this thread began in 2002

also see: www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database


07 Apr 09 - 08:43 PM (#2606982)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: SharonA

GUEST, johnohenryo: Somebody is auctioning a Dolceola on Ebay now. Starting bid is $1500, and his Buy-It-Now price is $2200. Don't know if that's the "going rate" but it's what that guy wants for the instrument.

At the very least, the seller posted some nice pictures. Check 'em out.

YouTube has a couple of clips of Dolceola performances. One is the demo by Andy Cohen that open mike mentioned. Another is an audio of Washington Phillips singing "I Had a Good Father and Mother" (though he appears to be holding a different instrument in the photo posted with that clip): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27HIoSLkQ64


10 Jun 10 - 03:23 PM (#2924847)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: GUEST,Dolceola for Sale on eBay NOW 06/10/2010

Photo Gallery:

http://s1019.photobucket.com/albums/af319/allweareisnow/Dolceola/


Auction:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290443937939#ht_1634wt_881


10 Jun 10 - 05:28 PM (#2924961)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: Edthefolkie

Here's one on YouTube, plenty more there....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MggZleh3pM&feature=related


10 Jun 10 - 06:52 PM (#2925044)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: CupOfTea

The eBay Dulceola looks nothing like what Andy Cohen demonstrates.
I looked at pictures of him with it from last summer - Andy is playing an instrument, on eBay it looks like "dulceola" is more a model name on a gramaphone there, not an instrument.

It reminds me of how much confusion there is over the Marx company's invented instruments & sorting out what's a Ukelin or violin-uke or....

Joanne in Cleveland


19 Oct 10 - 08:47 PM (#3011151)
Subject: RE: Wow, the Dolceola!
From: GUEST,Lee in Tennessee

In summer of 2009 I emptied my fathers estate in Cleveland OH and brought home the baby sized piano that was kept in the upstairs apartment/storage area since only God knows when, and since I remember in the 1960's. Unused and unabused it is still quite charming and restorable. I believe that a piece of instumental history in this condition should be priceless but would put it up for sale at closer to 10,000 dollars! Email me if seriously interested. Dnmalan@aol.com


05 Sep 12 - 09:32 PM (#3400634)
Subject: I have one for sale.
From: GUEST,David Gibbs

I have a dolceola on sale on e-bay right now. Real nice condition. $2500 starting bid.