ROUGH DRAFT

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JIMMIE RODGERS SAGA

 

 

 

WILD WEST RUNAWAY TRAIN, MEDICINE SHOW & MOVIE PREVIEW

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Producer/Director/Creator Benford Standley

 

 

The Jimmie Rodgers Saga Trailer

THE SETUP

 

Act 1--Reenactment of the Medicine Show era.  Actual Medicine

Wagon will come on stage where a number of our performers will

do renditions of Jimmie Rodgers songs and others from that era.

 

Act 2--Reenactment of the Tent Show era.  Set will be with Tent

Show like stage that would have been found during this late 1980's

 

Act 3--Reenactment of the Vaudeville era.  Set will be the stage as

is and we will have a Vaude Variety Show like never seen before.

 

Act 4--Screening of the JimmieRodgersSaga.com doc Preview.

Q & A following with the Director and musicians in the film.

 

Behind the performance area of the stage we will have a top of the

line theater screen were we will projects clips of film and stills that

will aid in the telling about Jimmie Rodgers and the evolving era of

the Entertainment Business itself...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 In the beginning there was the medicine wagon

as time went by the snake doctors and charlatans of early day Europe would

pick up other entertainers along the way to add to his Medicine Show. The

Circus, and big time Museums with the promotions of P.T. Barnum around the

country, as Buffalo Bill Cody is loading up his Wild West Show we are seeing

great new forms of entertainment evolving...Theaters and Vaudeville to

Motion Pictures silent and talkie eras.

 

 

Tony Pastor, who would become the “Father of Vaudeville” who'd started as a boy

in show business and ended up singing in P.T. Barnum's Scudder's American Museum

in New York. Pastor was for sure mentored by the Great P.T. Barnum, then he leaves

us the history that he invents we might say, “Vaudeville”. Wiki states: In 1874, Pastor

moved his company a few blocks to take over Michael Bennett Leavitt's former

theater at 585 Broadway. The theater district was moving uptown to Union

Square, and in 1881 Pastor took a lease on the former Germania Theatre

on 14th Street in the same building that housed Tammany Hall. He alternated

his theater's presentations between operettas and family-oriented variety shows,

creating what became known as “vaudeville”.

The concert saloon was evolving and more New York style theaters were heading west and soon some business men were taking the

idea of shows into theaters like the ones in the big cities, bring their dog and pony shows with musicians, singers, dancers, comedians,

jugglers, magicians, muscle men, fat ladies, men and women impersonators, minstrels, trained animal acts, acrobats, ventriloquists,

celebrities, and freaks inside venues then to sell people admission. Many of the characters that were out of the early circus & medicine

show era and still had their shuck and jive became big showmen.  It is said that some of the genius of Pastor was to clean up the show

and make it fun and safe for women, especially the ones in cities shopping.

With this new entertainment source to be called vaudeville with performers called vaudevillian there in

the latter parts of 1850tys and early '60tys and these showmen would just bring together a troupe from

this group of entertainers and misfits that would entertain the country.  1883 the Gaiety Museum opened

in Boston by Benjamin Franklin Keith ex-circus man was creating chain of theaters and Buffalo Bill Cody

was loading up his Wild West Show to travel the US and across the seas, while a new form of entertain-

ment called "shorts" then motion pictures was starting to take entertainment dollars then the talkies, aka

“sound on film” that had been home to New York with Cecil B DeMille renting a barn off the corner of

Hollywood & Vine in 1913, the movie industry was setting the stage to bring an end to the medicine

show and vaudeville rein in the theaters.

 

In 1930 with the great depression and the coming of the new motion pictures with sound their fame began

to move the vaudeville shows out of the theaters. Yet there was a period of time that they joined and many

of these “variety” shows were part of a moving picture show experience that was the new big draw,

especially in 1927 when sound came to the film with the Jazz Singer, and would be the year that Jimmie

Rodgers was first discovered by Ralph Peer, Sr. at the Bristol Sessions, and radio and phonograph

records where exploding.  The wave lengths and the RPMs were changing.

 

 

Jimmie Rodgers and Will Rogers, Will would

call  Jimmie his "distant son" CLICK PIC FOR MORE

Jimmie Rodgers, the Singing Brakeman and later to become the Father of

Country Music, and who at the time was one of the biggest record and

radio stars in the US teamed up with Will Rogers, motion picture star,

vaudeville performer, humorist, social commentator and a rope-throwing

cowboy to do a tour of Oklahoma and Arkansas where they raised $250k

to help support a Red Cross relief tour to help the millions suffering from the

Great Depression and the Dust Bowl that was hitting Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas at that time in history.  Some historians say that this effort saved

the Red Cross from bankruptcy saving many people from hunger and they

brought attention to the devastation going on in this part of the country at a

time the nation was deep in the Great Depression.  Due to Jimmies failing

health he was not able to do all 52 performances in the 48 towns and Will

Rogers got a plane to help make the trip more easy to cover all the ground

in the 18 days of the tour.

 

There are stories that for a while both Jimmie and Will had suites at the

Gunter Hotel.  The kick off party for their tour was in the hotel's Crystal

Ballroom and was attended by the high society of San Antonio and Texas.

 

 

 

 

RKO’s St. Louis Blues, directed by Dudley Murphy and starring Bessie Smith, was named to the National Film Registry in 2006. This two-reel early sound short premiered in New York before the feature Bulldog Drummond in 1929.  The film was produced at the Gramercy Studio in Queens, and starred an entirely black cast. Bessie Smith makes her first and only film appearance here, for which she was handpicked by W.C. Handy to sing his song “St. Louis Blues.” Handy wrote the song in September of 1914 

RKO's 1929, St. Louis Blues, directed by Dudley Murphy and starring Bessie Smith's only film will be one of the number of music

history films that we will screen during the Festival.  Dudley Murphy's

daughter Erin Murphy will be at the screening to talk more about her dad's work in silent films and the early days of "sound on film."  This will be educational in the sense that we will discuss the

 

 

Jimmie Rodgers the Father of Country Music

loved and lived in San Antonio, Texas

 

During Jimmie's early days working on the railroad run as a brakeman out of Meridian, Mississippi he would find himself heading through New Orleans and Houston with a turnaround in San Antonio, Texas where he loved the action of that great city. As far back as 1916 he was coming to Texas riding the T&P Train to look for work in El Paso, Abilene, where there are still stories about him in West Texas where later his quest for health would lead him back there in 1929, and at the height of his career he bought a house in Kerrville, Texas that was called his “Blue Yodeler's Paradise,” yet he began to spend a lot of time in San Antonio.  He was also touring Texas appearing solo in conjunction with various movie bills and working for a time out of Sweetwater, Texas with a Victor distributor out of Dallas.  In August he started some recording sessions in Dallas, Texas at the Jefferson Hotel. He was starting to sing cowboy songs, including Yodeling Cowboy.  He would rent a suite at the Gunter Hotel when in San Antonio and story tells he just kept a suite there for some years.

 

Jimmie was a huge radio and record star and in 1929, he was doing a RKO Vaudeville Show tour that was playing a number of grand theaters across a few states as Radio-Keith-Orpheum Interstate Circuit that summer and he ended up doing a number of Majestic Theaters all timed to make the grand opening of the Majestic in San Antonio in the Summer of 1929 for a four day run and receiving 18 curtain calls the night of the opening some 90 years ago there across the street from the Gunter Hotel where he had his suite.

 

In 1930 Jimmie toured 24 Texas cities as the feature act with Swain's Hollywood Follies one of the numerous medicine shows that Jimmie sometimes would appear with including Skeeter Kell and His Gang and the J. Doug Morgan Medicine Show. He was constantly touring and spending more time in recording studios.  Jimmie was adorning the cowboy outfits and wearing ten gallon Stetsons and cowboy boots, with some photos in chaps. There is no doubt that his cowboy and western music was also influencing the next generation of cowboys like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers, Ernest Tubb, and Hank Snow.  Down the trail Rodgers would become “The Father of Country Music” and inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, then the Blues, Rock and Roll, Songwriter and Grammy Halls of Fame and receive the W.C. Handy Blues Award and in 1978 he was the first entertainer to be on a US Postage Stamp.

 

In 1931 he sold his home in Kerrville and bought a home in San Antonio's Alamo Heights and during these times was recording at the Texas Hotel and the Bluebonnet Hotel in San Antonio and living in a suite at the Gunter Hotel and traveling the United States, with many trips to the San Antonio train station to tour then return to “a place that he dearly loved.” Within one year of going professional in 1927, he became the best-selling and most popular non-classical performer in the nation. There is still question where Jimmie Rodgers was born however Rodgers adopted Texas as his home during his most public  years and the final 5 years he was living in San Antonio and traveling from there across the Nation and back.

 

During the three years he was living in San Antonio he was the biggest record and radio star in America. From Texas he would travel to New York to record, New Jersey to film a movie, and Hollywood to record and meet with movie people. It wasn't until he moved to Texas that he began to wear western clothes. In his family letters in the archives you see many written on Gunter Hotel stationary.  He knew the states' railroad towns well, especially the San Antonio Station.  Jimmie even put his Texas experiences on one of his huge hits T For Texas his Blue Yodel #1 that was covered by the likes of Waylon Jennings, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dwight Yoakum, Grandpa Jones, Boxcar Willie and Molly Hatchet.  In 1931 he recorded Travlin' Blues, TB Blues, and Jimmie The Kid at the Texas Hotel in San Antonio.

 

He related in his Waiting for a Train from his hoboin' days a line about being thrown off a train “in Texas a place he dearly loved.”  In Jimmie's Texas Blues he sings "Give me sweet Dallas, Texas, where the women think the world of me."  His wife Carrie Rodgers wrote about Jimmie's love for Texas in her book My Husband Jimmie Rodgers, she told stories about their times in Texas and told of his huge love for the Lone Star State and its people.  Following all of his three years of touring Texas the press was always very positive.

 

During January and February of 1931, Will Rogers, the famous cowboy, humorist, vaudeville and motion picture actor, and

Mary Pickford one of the top actress in movies teamed up with Jimmie Rodgers to tour the drought-stricken areas of Texas

and Oklahoma doing a Red Cross relief tour. This tour was told to have saved the Red Cross organization from bankruptcy

by raising over a quarter-million dollars for the needy. Some of the tour was rough on Jimmie, due to the serious decline in his health. Kick off event for the tour is in San Antonio at the Gunter Hotel in the Crystal Ball Room and attended by the Mayor

and many dignitaries from Texas and Washington.

 

In 1932 Jimmie started his radio show at KMAC in San Antonio. When he was not in town live on the station and touring they would play his records. Jimmie Rodgers, Will Rogers, Mary Pickford, Mae West, and cowboy film stars Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, John Wayne and Gene Autry stayed at the Gunter Hotel with Will and Jimmie had suites and lived in the hotel at times story tells. His illness was taking him further and further away from his stardom. He returns to San Antonio to record TB Blues and Jimmie the Kid and in February made an honorary Texas Ranger at ceremonies in Austin, and appears as featured attraction at the Texas Rotary Club's state wide convention in March. He also joins Leslie E. Kell Shows for appearances in Houston and San Antonio. Over a four year period Jimmie played many many towns and cities in Texas.   Jimmie even moved his Masonic Lodge membership from Mississippi to San Antonio and he was made a private detective in San Antonio.

 

Barry Mazor noted in his book Meeting Jimmie Rodgers, “A handsome blond leather briefcase that Jimmie had toted on that last trip north had been placed in his casket...It would later be owned by Johnny Cash who would give it to Marty Stewart. That briefcase was emblazoned “Jimmie Rodgers, San Antonio, Texas.” Read much more in Mazor's award winning book in his chapter “South By Southwest A Easterner in a Cowboy Hat.”

 

Benford Standley's

40 years work for kids

1984 Austin, Texas Country Music

Sings for Runaway Hotline

Buffalo Benford Multimedia, LLC

westmultimedia@gmail.com

 

 

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