Lucho azcarraga y su conjunto recuerde panama remember panama - Music of Panama - Wikipedia

Art Records started in the late 1940s as a transcription and recording service located in the Cadillac Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. In fact, the name of the company, American Recording and Transcription Service (founded 1945), gave rise to the acronym ART, which became the name of the label itself. It was owned and operated by Harold E. Doane, who also served as A&R Director of the label. Doane (born October 17, 1904) was in his late forties when he established Art Records, and recorded some 900 reels of performances at clubs, lounges, and aboard cruise ships before finally calling it quits in the 1980s as an octogenarian. Doane trademarked the Art logo in July, 1957, under the name Art Records Manufacturing Company.

The ART Service was located in the Cadillac Hotel in Miami Beach as late as 1949. Their first albums were on 78 rpm with a red 78-rpm label (shown at left). Their address as of mid-1950 was 304 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. By 1951, they had moved to Miami and located at 2185 NW 79th street there. By 1960, they had settled at 1224 NW 119th Street in Miami, and had changed their name to Art Records Manufacturing Co., Ltd. Sometime after the mid-1960s, they relocated to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Art Records had a short-lived singles-only rockabilly subsidiary in 1957-58, AFS Records (American Federation of Songwriters), which was owned by Harold Doane and Mitch Lebow. About 1970, Doane established another subsidiary, Souvenir Records, for recordings made live aboard cruise ships.

The Art label specialized in recording the lounge and club acts that were appearing in South Florida hotels and clubs, clubs across the water in the Bahamas, and by 1955, artists in Panama. Much of the time, these recordings were "live" recordings of their lounge acts, manufactured to be sold by the artists themselves at their club appearances. Because of this, a much, much greater percentage of records on the label are autographed by the artists. In fact, most albums feature a small box on the back of the album with the notation "For Autographs".

The first two albums were issued in the late 1940s as 78-rpm albums. In 1951, Doane started issuing long playing vinyl LPs instead of 78-rpm. As was the custom of the time, the first 13 LP albums (to ALP-15 in 1955) were 10" LPs, but the demise of the 10" album in the mid-1950s led to a switch to 12" albums exclusively after 1955. By 1957, Doane had reissued his best selling 10-inch albums in 12-inch format, adding tracks not originally on the 10-inch versions. Starting about 1959, most of the albums were issued in stereo as well as mono, with the albums going to all "compatible stereo" in 1967 as the rest of the industry did so.

Many of the first 30 or so albums were of Calypso/Goombay music, usually recorded in the Bahamas. In addition to the Art label, albums were sold in the Bahamas under the "Bahamas Records Ltd." label, sometimes with the same catalog number as the mainland Art Records counterparts. This dual release system continued for several years. After recording an album in Panama by keyboardist Luis Azcarraga in 1955, Doane started another label, Panama, which also provided dual-releases with Art Records' new ALP-2000 series (Panama LA 2000 series). Each Art/Panama release had the address of Art Records in Miami and Panama Records in Panama, since the same jackets were used for both company's releases, although the label itself differed.

The first 30 or so albums concentrated on recording many of the artists of the Bahamas in their prime. Banjoist/vocalist "Blind" Blake (Blake Alphonso Higgs, shown at left in the studio), had an unusual style and was well known in Nassau and the surrounding islands. Blake's "Royal Victoria Hotel" backing group, known sometimes as an orchestra, sometimes as "calypos" or other variations, included Freddie Lewis on lead guitar, Dudley Butler on guitar and clappers, George Wilson on bass, and Chatfield Ward on maracas. Blake, Lewis, Butler, Ward and Wilson, the nucleus of the group, had been playing together for almost 20 years by the time these recordings were made. Occasional recording studio help included Stanley West on piano, Jack Roker on electric guitar, and Alfred Henderson on maracas. Blake went blind in 1934, and was usually accompanied by the unofficial sixth member of the group, his dog "Music." Higgs is not to be confused with American blues singer/guitarist Arthur "Blind" Blake, who recorded for Paramount Records from 1928 to 1932.

George Symonette (pictured at right) was a vocalist and pianist, and with his Sextette was also well- known in Nassau and environs. His group included noted bongo drummer/vocalist John Berkeley "Peanuts" Taylor, tap drummer Leonard Dillet, Richard Johnson on bass, Clayton Young on moraccas and claves, and Jack Roker on lead electric guitar.

Both Blake and Symonette had multiple albums released on Art Records. Other Bahamian artists featured on Art Records albums include the Percentie Brothers, Calypso Mama (Maureen Duvalier), The Mighty Panther (Vernon Joseph Roberts), Brownie (Irvin Brown), Delbon Johnson, Lord Composer (Omri Mundle), Lad Richards, Frankie Anderson, Harold "Digby" McNair, Colin Kelly, Leslie Scott & Irene Williams, Andre Toussaint, Pershing DeGraff, Calypso Eddie & His Carib Islanders, the Union Jack Trio, and Vincent Martin & His Bahamians. The latter was not the same "Vince Martin" who, backed by The Terriers, had a US hit with the Calypso-based "Cindy, Oh Cindy" in late 1956.

Harold Doane's foray into Panamanian music focused on Lucho Azcarraga (pictured at left), who played keyboards and fronted a group made up primarily of his sons and his cousin. Vocalist Margarita Escala also often appeared on his albums. Lucho's trademark was a Panama hat adorned with a gold carnation in front.

By the early 1960s, Daone spent more time at home and began focusing more on recording artists appearing in night clubs at nearby hotels (first Miami, then nearby Ft. Lauderdale). There was no shortage of artists appearing in these clubs. As noted before, these albums were primarily pressed a few hundred to perhaps as many as 1000 at a time for the artists themselves to sell at their appearances. Some artists, lacking the funds to contract Art Records to record their shows, engaged local businesses to take out ads on the back cover to make up the difference. As such, the Art Records albums from the 1960s and 1970s are generally of less interest to collectors than the 1950s albums.

As for the other artists on the label, one might expect to find people "on the way up" as well as those who never made it farther than the lounge circuit. Indeed, several of the artists are known to have recorded for other labels, usually after the days when they were hawking their own albums for a few extra bucks. Herbie Brock, for example, was a pianist who recorded a mid-1960s album on Art Records, then later recorded for Savoy and Criteria. Guitarist Alan Sandlin also recorded for other labels.

Perhaps the most noted of the non-Bahamian, non-Panamanian Art Records "alumni" is Ronnie Prophet. Ronnie was born Ronald Lawrence Victor in December, 1937, in Canada. He was raised in Quebec, and by the time he was a teen in the early 1950s, he was performing on radio in Ottawa's country music program called The Happy Wanderers. He moved to Montreal a couple of years later and appeared in clubs there from the mid-1950s to 1964. That year he moved to the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area, where he performed as a comedian, guitarist, and country singer. He often performed as a "one-man show," doing skits and impersonations with various props as well as singing and playing. Some of his performances were also in the Bahamas. Naturally, he came to the attention of Art Records, and they recorded three albums of material for him to sell at his appearances. In 1969, he moved to Nashville and began a career as a country and western artist. Meanwhile, he continued his showmanship by appearing on Canadian TV, including his own Ronnie Prophet Show in the summer of 1974. After signing with RCA, he placed five sides on the US Country charts starting in 1975, the biggest hit being "Sanctuary," which reached #26. By 1977, he had slipped off the US charts, but he remained popular in Canada and had many hits there in the 1970s and 1980s. On some of these, he sang duets with his wife, Glory-Anne Carriere. He also had a TV show on the BBC in England. Today, he often performs in Branson, Missouri, one of the venerable country veterans who populate that country/easy listening music tourist mecca.

Harold Doane, just before his death at 94 on May 6, 1999, sold the back catalogue of tapes to Darryl Scott, a former publicist for Epic Records, and Drake Sutton-Shearer. The two had formed 2Tribes Entertainment in Miami. The new owners were able to save about half of the deteriorating masters.

Release dates are thought to be accurate to about one year plus or minus.

The earliest Art LP label (far left) was red with silver print, and was the template for all subsequent Art labels. The label name was at the top, with stars flanking the name around the edge to the midpoint of the label. In the lower left quadrant around the edge was a statement about production. In this earliest label, that statement was hand written and runs out of space for the "Inc." at the end of "American Recording and Transcription Service, Inc." There is a copyright date of 1951 also included. In the lower right quadrant, "Microgroove Unbreakable" is also hand written. The album number and side number are near the center hole. The second label (near left) is green with silver print. The design is the same, but the lower left quadrant has been re-drawn to fit "American Recording & Transcription Service, Inc." on the line. These two labels are seen on early pressings of albums to ALP- 6, used in 1951 and 1952. The third label (far left), found on later pressings of ALP-3 to ALP-6, and also initial pressings of ALP-7 and albums through ALP-25, and including the re-issue of early albums on 12-inch albums, had a similar design to the first two labels above, but in the lower left quadrant, "American Recording & Transcription Service, Inc." is replaced by "ART RECORDS, INC." This label was used from about 1953 to 1957. The black label does contain copyright information indicating years prior to 1953, but those copyrights refer to the original issues of those albums. A light blue label (near left) was used for a few albums (., ALP-14 and ALP-15) during this period. The blue labels used for the 12-inch reissues in 1957 were more aqua colored (far left). Starting about 1959, the Panama Series used a purple label (near left) with "Ultra High-Fidelity" in the lower right quadrant, replacing the hand-written "Microgroove Unbreakable." The name of the company also changed from "Art Records, Inc." to "Art Records, Ltd." Starting about 1959 with ALP-26, and with the advent of stereo on disc, the Art label shifted to red with silver print, with the lower right quadrant showing "Ultra High-Fidelity" for the mono records (far left) and "Full-Fidelity Stereo" for the stereo versions (near left). The album number and side number was sometimes near the center hole in the early issues (far left), but soon moved out near the edge (near left). In the mid-1960s, the mono label switched to "Full Fidelity Recordings" in very bold print in the lower right quadrant (far left), and the address of the company in the lower left quadrant also changed to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Oddly, the stereo label remained the same, giving the address as Miami until after 1970. By the 1970s, Art started using additional colors besides red, such as the orange label at near left. By the 1970s, the company name on the label also changed to "Art Records Mfg. Company" and finally the address was corrected. Other color labels used sporadically in the 1970s were dark blue (far left) or pink (near left). The Bahama Records Ltd. label, Art's Bahamian counterpart, used blue (far left) or orange (near left) labels. The Panama label, Art's Panamanian counterpart, used a blue-grey (far left) or grey (near left) label, in this case using one on side 1 and the other on side 2 of the same disc. The Panama Series featured keyboardist Lucho Azcarraga (and his family group) as essentially the only artist on the label, and had his name writ large around the edge. Some of the Panama Records used LA- as a prefix, while others, such as this one, used the Art label's ALP- prefix.

We would appreciate any additions or corrections to this discography. Just send them to us via e-mail . Both Sides Now Publications is an information web page. We are not a catalog, nor can we provide the records listed below. We have no association with Art Records. Should you be interested in acquiring albums listed in this discography (which are all out of print), we suggest you see our Frequently Asked Questions page and follow the instructions found there. This story and discography are copyright 2005, 2013, 2014 by Mike Callahan.

The Dead Rock Stars Club, an extensive list of dead rock stars and people related to rock, when and how they died with links to sites about them - The 1970s

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Panama also boasts a vibrant history of calypso and mento music sung by nationally well-known musicians such as Lord Panama , Lord Delicious, Two-Gun Smokey, Lady Trixie, Lord Kon-Tiki, Lord Kitti, and Lord Cobra and the Pana-Afro sounds.

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