"Music is the cup that holds the wine of silence. Sound is that cup, but empty. Noise is that cup, but broken.”

Robert Fripp


08/03/2016

Newsboys Spasm Band

Newsboys Spasm Band - New Orleans - 1897

This 1897 photograph shows an early New Orleans band led by Emile “Stalebread Charlie” Lacoume (second from the far left). Members of the group were Harry Gregson, Emile “Whiskey” Benrod, Willie “Cajun” Bussey, Frank “Monk” Bussey and a boy known only as “Warm Gravy.” Another member who was known as “Chinee” and a singer known as “Family Haircut.” This band performed in the streets of Storyville in the 1890’s and early 1900’s. 
in  “Storyville, New Orleans” a book by Al Rose 

This band called "Newsboys Spasm Band" ("bad boys of the city"), founded in 1895, was a part of the life of the young boys working on the streets on New Orleans in the late nineteenth century. These homeless children were living in a special house called "Newsboys home". The term "spasm" applied to any band (often made up of children) who made musical instruments out of found objects not usually employed for such.
There is unfortunately no recordings of that group.

 
 Rev. A.C. Porta said in 1899 : “Of the many creatures we see around us endowed with the power of locomotion, there is none whose nature is so little known as the barefooted, flitting, noisy, ubiquitous newsboy. To the casual observer he is a compound of cat and monkey, with a strong admixture of quicksilver. In the opinion of many the newsboy has no father, no mother, no brothers, no sisters,  no cousins, no friends, no particular home…Alas! the want of a home and the lack of friends are but too often sad undeniable facts.”


“What are you doing here?” I asked one of them. “We was listenin’ ter de ‘Spasm Band,’ Fawder,” he answered pointing to the boys on the bench. “Spasm Band!” I exclaimed. “And what is that?” “Oh! It’s dem fellers who has got introoments made wid soap and cigar boxes, and mouf harmonica and tamboureen, and was givin’ us a concert.”
Rev. Augustine.C. Porta in "An account of Newsboys' home in New Orleans"

 

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