Nelstone’s Hawaiians
Posted in 1920s,Country,Instrumental on 12.02.07

I asked this question in the comments secition of the post below, but I thought I’d ask it up front also. Does anyone know where to buy

    Hand Me My Travelin’ Shoes: In Search Of Blind Willie McTell

in the States? Having a large % of your readers located in Europe makes me feel like I’m missing out on a lot of things, like cheap prices on Document Records and this biography.

Trikont Records is another wonderful European based recorded label, whose compilations are much easier to find than Document’s here in the States. I’ve been pouring over their early harmonica recordings compilation titled “Black & White Hillbilly Music” this past week – and it’s a perfectly sequenced album – flowing between black and white artists with ease helping make those connections between playing styles easier to grasp. The harmonica was important because it was cheap, portable and easy to play but a lot more versatile than the kazoo, so it allowed people of all races and classes a chance to play and hear a lot of different styles of harmonica playing. Of course with the folk revival of the 60s and onward it seems a lot of the nuances of the harmonica have been lost and everyone just plays it like kazoo. This disc is a revelation on just how versatile the harmonica is – and how so many groups incorporated it into their playing style. Two of the tracks I liked the most were from Nelstone’s Hawaiians a country duo named for the two members Hubert Nelson and James Touchstone and also their use of Steel Guitar which at this time was more associated with Hawaiian music more so than country or guitar. The sound of steel guitar and the harmonica in duet is not something I’ve heard before , but it shows that they are perefect match for each other.

Buy the disc here!

Nelstone’s Hawaiians – Just Because (1929)
Nelstone’s Hawaiians – Mobile Country Blues (1929)


8 Comments so far
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By Dixon on 12.03.07 9:25 am

Great tunes, thanks for these. I know ‘Just Because’ from Elvis. It’s always surprising to learn how far back some of these songs go.

By Hotdog on 12.03.07 7:32 pm

It’s great mate! Thank you very much!

By Vincent on 12.03.07 10:48 pm

The harmonica and the guitar are beautiful together. I hope you’ll post some more. Thanks

By luke batarang on 12.04.07 4:09 am

You can buy the book at Roots & Rhythm ('%20SHOE%20SHOES)
We Europeans are lucky to have great labels like Trikont, Ace, Bear Family etc. You Americans on the other hand do have other great ones like Dust-To-Digital, Arhoolie, Yazoo etc.
You can always order the book from too…

By Chris Kearin on 12.29.07 7:01 pm

The author of the McTell book has a note on his blog that reads “US hardback Spring 2009?”

By Daniel on 04.21.08 3:54 pm

I live in New York. I bought the McTell book on the U.K. version of I think it came to 22 bucks or so. It’s worth it! The first half of the book is extremely heavy on U.S. history, and it’s absolutely amazing that the author was able to uncover as much information as he did on McTell’s ancestors. The last two or three chapters really make the book wonderful. I highly recommend the McTell book, as well as “Society Blues”, Elijah Wald’s biography of Josh White.

By Will Hancock on 02.26.09 2:31 pm

It true that steel guitar wasn’t that typical in country in 1929, but its worth mentioning Darby and Tarleton here since they were certainly more popular than Nelstone’s Hawaiians, and way more country. the fact that this isnt straight up country music (i don’t think,) is a distinction without much meaning in the context of 1929 perhaps, since its a label applied retroactively.

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