Gennett Records
1917-1934

The Starr Piano Company of Richmond, Indiana was established in 1872 and found great success and reputation for their namesake product in the following decades. By the mid-1910s, it joined the trend of furniture and piano manufacturers wanting their own phonograph divisions by buying the assets of The Boston Talking Machine Company (Phono-Cut Records). "Remington" was the label name used to reissue some of those acquired masters while "Starr" was the mainline label issuing sides from a New York studio established in 1915. Like other second-tier labels at the time, vertical recording was used since Victor and Columbia still had exclusive rights to the lateral patent. Starr was replaced by the "Gennett" name in 1917 in honor of the owning family. Sales were unimpressive until 1919 when the company threw caution to the wind and led the charge in making lateral-cut records. Victor quickly brought suit but the process was finally declared to be public domain by that time.

Gennett recorded some of the usual freelance talent known in the industry like Billy Murray, Arthur Fields, Byron G. Harlan, Arthur Collins and Vernon Dalhart. However, it also recorded respectable amounts of Jazz as well as performers who were well-known back home in the Midwest. A second studio was opened in Richmond in 1921, which had the great fortune of being at a crossroads for Jazz, Blues, Country and Gospel artists traveling from the South, up the Mississippi River and across to New York. The products from this studio were far behind the New York location in technical quality, which also included being near railroad tracks and having to stop recordings when trains passed by. It made up for that though in the historical and artistic value of what it captured. It recorded early Jelly Roll Morton, The New Orleans Rhythm Kings, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke among others. Other genres included Tommy A. Dorsey, Fiddlin’ Doc Roberts, Gene Autry and Lawrence Welk. Gennett also offered personal recording services for any person or group with the money. Such a practice even led to a sizeable business in custom Ku Klux Klan issues, with the Gennett name left off the label of course. A few sessions led to contract offers but other artists had their recordings offered as "Special" Gennetts outside the catalog system while the rest had to buy their pressings outright as personal recordings. A&R wasn't always perceptive since The Wolverines with Bix Beiderbecke were consigned to that second fate.

Gennett's conversion to electrical recording was late, problematic and sporadic. A few electrical masters were leased from Autograph Records and issued in 1925 but that company's process yielded a very tinny and acoustic-sounding product. The turnover frequency could even approach 1000 Hz, reducing sounds below that which were then hard to amplify again upon playback. 200-250 Hz was the more mainstream standard. A few masters were leased from Compo the following year. March-August 1926 saw a process briefly licensed from General Electric and used in Gennett studios until customers complained of premature record wear. However, this was actually due to the shellac's physical quality being too soft for the more-modulated groove of electrical recording and the continued consumer use of acoustical phonographs with their heavier reproducers. Nonetheless, the acoustic horn returned to the studio until February 1927, when the "New Electrobeam" Disc was introduced with harder shellac for greater durability. However, the GE system still had some problems and quality suffered even moreso at Richmond when carpets were hung on the walls to keep railroad sounds from registering on the sensitive equipment but thus dampened the actual performances as well. Yet, some remote sessions were also conducted with this system and many historically important performers were still being recorded. Gennett licensed another process from RCA Photophone in 1928 and with changing practices and personnel better sound was achieved. In the late 1920s Gennett founded its own subsidiary labels, Champion and Superior Records. The Great Depression proved a slow death-knell for the company and its normal production ceased by 1934. It was then consigned to mainly pressing for other labels and making the odd series of sound-effect records until operations ended sometime around 1947.

Encoded Speed: 192 Kbps

Carry Me Back To Old Virginny Darling Nellie Gray
Knickerbocker Trio Knickerbocker Trio
Gennett 10031-A Gennett 10031-B
Matrix# 7397a Matrix# 7395
November 1920 November 1920

The Raggedy Man - The Bumble Bee Out To Old Aunt Mary's
Harry Humphrey Harry Humphrey
Gennett 4764-A Gennett 4764-B
Matrix# 7561 Matrix# 7562a
ca. Autumn 1921 ca. Autumn 1921
Note: Very worn. Note: Very worn.

I've Got The Joys My Sunny Tennessee
Bennie Krueger's Orchestra Bennie Krueger's Orchestra
Gennett 4793-A Gennett 4793-B
Matrix# 7663a Matrix# 7664a
ca. October 18, 1921 ca. October 18, 1921
New York, New York New York, New York
Note: Worn. Note: Worn.

Souvenir Spring Song and Glow Worm
Norman Provol's Canaries Norman Provol's Canaries
Gennett 5107-A Gennett 5107-B
Matrix# 11279 Matrix# 11281
January 1923 January 1923
Note: Immediate start. Note: Immediate end. The canaries probably weren't watching the recording engineer.

I'm Knee Deep In Daisies (And Head Over Heels In Love) I'm In Love With You
"Piggy" Jones and His Orchestra (pseudonym for Nathan Glantz) (vocal by Arthur Fields) "Piggy" Jones and His Orchestra (pseudonym for Nathan Glantz)
Gennett 3115-A Gennett 3115-B
Matrix# 9688 Matrix# 9689
ca. August 12, 1925 ca. August 12, 1925
New York, New York New York, New York
Note: Worn at start. Note: Worn at start.

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