Piano Kid Edwards, some notes & transcriptions
Along with Black Bob, another mysterious & underrated barrelhouse pianist from the 1930s was Piano Kid Edwards, realname unknown. We have no infos about him, but we are lucky enough to have his only four sides recorded for Paramount. He recorded them in a single session for Paramount label on December, 1930 in Grafton, WI :
- Gamblin’ Man’s Prayer Blues (L-677-2-PM 13086)
- Hard Luck Gamblin’s Man (L-678-2-PM 13086)
- Piano Kid Special (L-679-1-PM 13051)
- Give Us Another Jug (L-680-1-PM 13051)
The first two cuts features his vocals while the rest are piano instrumentals.
I would also like to draw attention on his two instrumentals : it’s absolutely incredible how this pianist could play in so many different ways on the same session : ‘Piano Kid Special ‘ is a wild barrelhouse number featuring a lot of clear influences from Texas Pianist school : from ragtime patterns with the 1th and 5th on bass to slur notes on right hand and hard driving & strong piano style. This could suggest that he came to Chicago from the south. On the other hand, ‘Give Us Another Jug‘, a fine and sophisticated tune with evident echoes and quotes from Jimmy Blythe and Clarence Johnson, with unusual left hand work. For exsmple, his solo starts quoting Clarence Johnson’s final chorus on ‘You Shall Reap Just What You Sow‘, a roll made by Johnson & Blythe issued on their label ‘Staffnote‘ in the 1920s with #213.
Below two awesome transcriptions from my great friend Nathan Bello, one again many thanks to him for his priceless work !
PAIGE VANVORST -
March 31, 2014 at 9:29 pm
Just finished reviewing a booklet that mentioned Edwards, whom I hadn’t thought of in years. When I started out as a record collector in the 60s, I was told he was practicing medicine in Minneapolis, my home town. Some of the older collectors met him when he went to hear Red Allen- Allen knew him and the collectors asked Allen who he was and were told he’d been a pianist. He said he recorded for pocket money when he was in college and didn’t want to play in public as it would interfere with his image as a doctor. Glad I found your website and will spend more time looking at it.
Andrew E Barrett -
October 10, 2014 at 12:58 am
I was of the opinion that the “Piano Kid Edwards” sides were actually made by Mr. Blythe when quite intoxicated and were issued as a form of joke. HOWEVER. Ms. VanVorst’s post has changed all of that. It appears that she has some solid information on this man.
Who can tell us more? Was Mr. Edwards considered (in census records, by his peers, etc) “white” or “black”? (this will help us find him in census records, WWI draft cards, etc)?
Was he practicing medicine in the CITY of Minneapolis proper, or in a suburb of the city?
Ms. VanVorst, did you actually get to meet Mr. Edwards, and if so, could you tell us more about him? Are there any known photos of him, and/or if you saw him, could you draw us a picture from memory? Thanks a lot!
P. S. it sounds to me that Mr. Edwards MIGHT be one of the heretofore-unknown other late Capitol piano roll artists appearing on the late Capitol blues rolls circa 1929-1931, besides Mr. James Blythe, Mr. Alex Hill, and some others.
Nathan Bello, Frank Himpsl, can you confirm or deny this based upon the rolls and their stylings?
You’ve been making a more thorough study of these rolls and recordings than I have.
I’ve been too busy learning about Ernest L Stevens and Ray Perkins, as well as Irving Brodsky. Thanks!