Think there is a "Holy Grail" out there somewhere? Maybe Converse?
I see the topic has sparked some interest, so I started to delve into my files. There are other 19th century banjoists who were minstrel performers who also made recordings. To begin with there is:
Charles A. Asbury (no dates), a singer/banjoist who was apparently a black performer in New York on the minstrel stage from the 1870s. He started recording for the New Jersey Phonograph Co. in 1893 and recorded 12 titles for the Columbia Phonograph Co. in N.Y. in 1897. So far none of his records have turned up, but some must be out there.
The important minstrel Billy Carter (b. 1834) recorded for the North American Phonograph Co. (the parent company of Columbia and Edison at the time) between 1892 and 1894.
Joseph P. Cullen (no dates) of Cullen and Collins is listed in the Columbia lists from March 1895 to April 1897 and recorded some discs for Berliner around the same time. Two brief and very poor samples of the banjo duo (in partial stroke style) can be heard at http://archeophone.com. They are the "Berkeley March" (recorded Berliner, 1898) and Cullen's own composition, the "Twin Star March" (Berliner, 1899). Their cylinders, if any are found, would have been of much better quality than these discs.
William Stanley Grinstead (1868-1910) was a singer/banjoist who recorded 12 titles for North American on October 22, 1891, and others in 1892 and 1893. None of these appear to have survived, but the banjo playing would likely to have been in the minstrel style. He later emerges at the end of the century as the quite famous popular singer and recording artist with the pseudonym of Frank C. Stanley.
If it is of interest to anyone, I'll try to continue through the files and post more info.
The "Saving Them All For Mary" (the actual title) recording can still be heard at
but more directly at
Just to add a little to the old discussion since it was bumped. Charles Asbury wrote the song and was apparently adept at stroke style (not clawhammer) as stated by the article.
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