By Nolan Porterfield
Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933), the 1st performer elected to the rustic song corridor of reputation, used to be a folks hero in his personal lifetime and has been idolized through lovers and emulated by way of performers ever in view that. His lifestyles tale has been relatively at risk of romanticizing, marked because it was once via humble origins, surprising good fortune and popularity, and an early demise from tuberculosis. Nolan Porterfield's biography banishes the rumors and myths that experience lengthy shrouded the Blue Yodeler's existence tale. not like prior writings approximately Rodgers, Porterfield's ebook derives from large and exact learn into unique assets: deepest letters, own interviews, court docket documents, and newspaper bills. Jimmie Rodgers considerably expands and alters our wisdom of the entertainer's existence and profession, explaining the character of his position in American tradition of the melancholy period and delivering insightful historical past at the milieu during which he labored. Porterfield writes a preface for this version. Nolan Porterfield's different books comprise final Cavalier: The lifestyles and instances of John A. Lomax and an award-winning novel, a manner of figuring out. a local of Texas, he now lives close to Bowling eco-friendly, Kentucky.
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Additional resources for Jimmie Rodgers: The Life and Times of America’s Blue Yodeler (American Made Music Series)
In his rambles around the country he made friends with musicians and was widely accepted into that amorphous brotherhood of small-time entertainers, med show pitchmen, singing hobos, bandsmen, and part-time minstrels. In New Orleans, one of his acquaintances was a character named Goebel Reeves, a soldier of fortune and wandering troubadour who would later record as "The Texas Drifter" and other noms de disque. During one of Jimmie's layoffs from the railroad (if Reeves's windy account can be trusted), he and Reeves teamed up with a third musician named Lucien Parks to mount an impromptu road show, traveling around the country in an old Ford outfitted with a camper body, playing in bars and on street corners for gas money and expenses.
For this family portrait, Aaron and Eliza Rodgers posed in typical fashion with two of their children, sometimes identified as Tal (faded jigure at left) and Jimrnie, on Aaron's knee. The children's relative sizes, however, and their parents' youthful bearing indicate that the siblings are actually Walter and baby Tal, in a photo made about 1891. In his mother's arms (circle), baby Jimmie appears with relatives in front of the Bozeman home at Pine Springs, about January, 1898. His brother Tal kneels in the center foreground, while brother Walter stands on the porch rail, holding Grandpa Bozeman's Civil War rifle.
From Tal's wife (who was now "Sister Pearl") he filched several bedsheets, stitched together a "big top," and took the show on the mad. Captured "several towns away," he produced enough money from the box office to pay for the sheets and glumly agreed to fold the tent and come home. A second time he outfitted a troupe and set off, sporting an expensive sidewall camping tent he'd charged to his father without the latter's knowledge; again he was tracked down and brought back. Undaunted, he entered an amateur talent contest sponsored by Meridian's Elite Theater, promptly winning first prize for his vocal renditions of "Steamboat Bill" and "I Wonder Why Bill Bailey Don't Come Home" (which he had probably learned from popular cylinder recordings of the time).