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Notes prologue: a view of mr. handy 3 Alaskan Roof Garden: W. C. Handy, Father of the Blues: An Autobiography (New York: Da Capo Press, 1985), 101, 113. Hereafter cited as Father. 3 “Beale Street”: The lyrics are excerpted from the graphic reproductions of historical scores and lyrics to “Beale Street” available at the website This site is maintained by the Library of Congress and is hereafter cited as LOC. The musicians named in the text are among those identified by Handy as playing in his “first string” orchestra in 1918, Father, 101, 172. Bevard is spelled in some secondary sources as Bernard. 4 “The Main Street of Negro America”: George W. Lee, Beale Street: Where the Blues Began (New York: Robert O. Ballou, 1934), 13. Hereafter cited as Street. Thirteenth Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1910, Abstract of the Census (Government Printing Office, 1913), 94–95. 4 “ebony hands”: Father, 97. 5 “enjoyed by the Negroes” to “pickpockets skilled”: Street, 13; “Beale Street,” LOC. 5 “jogo” to “’Fess Handy”: Father, 117, 86. 6 Pee Wee’s Saloon: Father, 91; Beale Street USA (Bexhill-on-Sea, England: Blues Unlimited Publications, 1970), “Pee Wee’s Saloon,” unpaged, hereafter cited as USA. 6 Beale Avenue’s vaudeville theaters to “unbleached American”: USA, “Negroes Found Theater,” unpaged; Lynn Abbott and Doug Seroff, “‘They Cert’ly Sound Good to Me’: Sheet Music, Southern Vaudeville, and the Commercial Ascendancy of the Blues,” American Music, vol. 14 (winter 1996), 430–33, hereafter cited as Abbott; H. Loring White, Ragging It: Getting Ragtime into History (and Some History into Ragtime) (New York: iUniverse, 2005), 62–63, 87–89, 99. Hereafter cited as Ragging It. For “unbleached American,” see the review of the performance at the Keith Theatre by the African American vaudevillian Frank Hogan, in The Boston Globe newspaper, 15 April 1902, quoted in Henry T. Sampson, The Ghost Walks: A Chronological History of Blacks in Show Business, 1865–1910. (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1988), 250–51. Hereafter cited as Ghost. 7 “Tough on Black Asses”: Margaret McKee and Fred Chisenhall, Beale Black & Blue: Life and Music on Black America’s Main Street (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981), 13–15. Hereafter cited as Black and Blue. Abbott, 435. 7 “Early Every Morning”: Street, 151–52. 8 “endure it cheerfully”: Father, 135. 8 “weirdest music” to “the colored Sousa”: Father, 74, 76–77, 120; Florence (AL) Times, 30 January 1903. Handy is described thus in the newspaper article reviewing his performance in Alabama shortly before his move to Mississippi. 8 sounded like a mistake to “primitive music”: Father, 76–77, 120–21. 9 “American composer” to “Dvor̆ák Manifesto”: Father, 77; Antonín Dvor̆ák, “The Real Value of Negro Melodies,” New York Herald, 21 May 1893, quoted in Lynn Abbott and Doug Seroff, Out of Sight: The Rise of African American Popular Music 1889–1895 (Oxford: University Press of Mississippi, 2003), 145–46. Hereafter cited as Out of Sight. 9 “no grass grow” to “took them by the heels”: Father, 78, 122. 10 Harry Raderman to “Miss Bessie Smith”: Tim Brooks, Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890–1919 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004), 436. Hereafter cited as Lost Sounds. (Indianapolis) Freeman newspaper, 1 January 1916. Hereafter cited as Freeman. 10 Lippman’s Loan Office: 1910 Memphis City Directory for the Year Commencing May 1st (Memphis: R. L. Polk, 1910), unpaged; Father, 126. 11 “rating artistic work”: Father, 129–30. 11 “two souls”: W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 8–9. Hereafter cited as Souls. 12 short-lived newspaper: Paul G. Partington, “The Moon Illustrated Weekly: The Precursor of The Crisis,” Journal of Negro History, vol. 48 (July 1963), 210. 12 “monkey business”: Father, 135. 13 Solvent Savings Bank: The bank was first located in a building at 392 Beale, and is pictured in the photograph facing page 144, Street. In 1914, however, the bank and Handy’s office moved to a building at 386–388 Beale. See photograph and text in William S. Worley, Beale Street: Crossroads of America ’s Music (Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel, 1998), 61. Hereafter cited as Worley. 13 “Handy’s ‘blues’”: Freeman, 9 June 1917. 13 sixty cents to three cents: This maximum amount is the price listed for the Pace & Handy retail score of “Beale Street,” at the onset of the song’s national...


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