Everyone A Gibsonite

Promotional photo for 1921 Gibson Mandolin Company "Catalog M". Ivers Mandolin Orchestra/Adams Plectrum Society, Adams, Massechusetts.

Members I can identify: Center Middle Row: Joseph Ivers, Orchestra leader, Gibson Mandolin Company Agent,and my Great Grandfather, Center Left Holding a Gibson F-4 Mary Ivers-Bassette, my Great Grandmother, Back Row from left: Leonore Ivers-Carmel, my Great Aunt, George Ivers, my Grandfather, Sitting in front, white dress, Doris Ivers-Hueston, my Great Aunt.

Page 21 Gibson Mandolin Catalog M: See right side second photo from bottom

Page 21 Gibson Mandolin Catalog M: See right side second photo from bottom
I recently discovered that this photo of my Great grandfather's Mandolin Orchestra appears on page 21 of the Gibson "M" catalog, published in 1921, confirming my theory that he (Joseph L. Ivers) was a Gibson "teacher-agent" or dealer, and that this photo was part of the "Everyone a Gibsonite" marketing campaign. Some of these instruments are still owned and played by Ivers family members. For example, my father Robert Ivers still plays the 1914 F4 in the center played by my Great Grandmother Mary Ivers in this photo. He also owns a 1921 H2 Mandola, no doubt pictured brand spanking new somewhere in this photo. I would love to try to contact other family members to see where some of these other instruments ended up.

Water Color "Grandfather's Mandolin" by Robert Ivers of Gibson F-4 #24532

Water Color "Grandfather's Mandolin" by Robert Ivers of Gibson F-4 #24532
Water Color Of My Great Grand Father's F4 painted by my Father, Robert Ivers. Look !!!!!!! Notice unintended ghost image of my Great Grandfather Joseph Ivers in upper left !

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The American Guild of Banjoists, Mandolinists and Guitarists

An announcement about the formation of a new organization from a 1902 issue of  The Music Trade Review trade publication:
The American Guild of Banjoists, Mandolinists and Guitarists, (AGBMG) is an organization whose membership is intended to include music publishers, manufacturers and teachers of these three instruments, was formally launched at a meeting held at Hotel Marliave, Boston, on Jan. 23. A number of the men well known in these departments were present.
The organization, which has been in process of incubation for the past two years, has been persistently agitated by C. L. Partee through columns of his interesting paper, The Cadenza. It was only last week, however, that the plans, so long formulated, were put into effect.
The objects of the guild as set forth are to further advance the interests of the instruments named, in their literature, music and manufacture; to set the standard of competence and establish a higher average of ability among those desiring to teach; to provide a bureau of acknowledged authority on instruments and their study and to conduct examinations and grant diplomas throughout the United States.
The organization went on to publish both The Cadenza and The Crescendo. Boston publisher Walter Jacobs founded The Cadenza, and Philadelphia teacher and publisher Herbert Forrest Odell started The Crescendo as the official organ of the Guild of Mandolinists, Banjoists and Guitarists. Both magazines included group arrangements, columns by leading musicians, news and advertisements for sheet music and instruments. Odell also published a 90 page manual in 1913 called “The Mandolin Orchestra, A Book for Directors Managers, Teachers, and Players” 
(I’m still searching for a copy of this publication)

From its humble beginnings in 1902, the AGBMG grew into an organization of thousands of members, and hundreds of local chapters in the United States and Canada. During their 1923 annual convention held in Washington, DC, members were invited to perform at the Whitehouse.

Here’s a news clip from the Adams Transcript (1921) announcing the formation of the Adams Mass. Chapter of  
The American Guild of Banjoists, Mandolinists and Guitarists. My great grandfather J L Ivers is the founding chapter secretary and musical director. Also mentioned are my great grandmother as a founding “executive board member”, and  my grandfather George Ivers as the organization's first treasurer. You might say my great grandfather took control of the chapter from the start, appointing himself as Chapter Secretary, his son, in charge of the money, and his wife on the “executive board.” The purpose of the society is, “to advance the art of music and to encourage the cultivation of musical talent, particularly among players of the various fretted instruments, and to furnish means whereby the people interested may meet in a spirit of co-operation and promote good fellowship.” A lofty goal, but also, I’m sure, as with any of my great grandfather’s efforts in this arena, JL Ivers was strongly motivated by the prospect of moving more Gibson product, and developing and marketing financially successful musical groups. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Another Ivers Gibson Mandolin Orchestra Photo Turns Up at Montreal Quebec Antique Market

Update on the above mentioned photo: Ward Meeker, Vintage Guitar Magazine editor was nice enough to put me touch with the gentleman who sent the photo to George Gruhn for the Q&A column.  Turns out the photo was purchased at an antique market near Montreal, Quebec /Canada. So the photo made it's way from Lawrence, Mass. to Montreal. Not at all surprising, as my great grandmother's family moved to Lawrence from Montreal. (she's pictured here holding the A Model next to my great grandfather holding the F Model)  Also, the young lad holding the A Model in the front row is more than likely my grandfather George Ivers who later married a French Canadian woman. Small world. And a real fluke for me to learn of this existence of this photo. Thanks to Roland Lafrance for finding the photo, and sending the picture to Vintage Guitar Magazine. Also, thanks to Ward Meeker VG editor, and Greorge Gruhn for their follow up. It's and honor and privilege to have these esteemed giants of the vintage fretted instrument industry take the time to help with this.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Newly Discovered Photo of a JL Ivers Mandolin Orchestra From 1916

This morning, a Co-worker gave me copy of the latest Vintage Guitar Magazine (July 2015) . In the Q&A with George Gruhn column, a reader asks about the origin of a picture he found at an antique market with the caption "The Gibson Mandolin Orchestra Lawrence, Mass 1916".

George Gruhn explains "From the early 1900's through early '20s, mandolin orchestras were extremely popular, in part because Gibson instruments were sold primarily through music teacher/Gibson agents, rather than music stores. Gibson established a network of agents who organized mandolin orchestras, recruited students, and sold Gibson instruments on payment plans, which greatly increased sales and meant instruments could be sold at higher prices. The company even sent posters to agents so they could hang them around their town promoting concerts and other events where they could recruit students. (and potential Gibson instrument buyers) In addition to publishing instruction methods for students and manuals for teachers, Gibson catalogs from the 1910s and '20s are filled with photos of mandolin groups from all over the US. Though we don't believe your photo (see below) is such an example, a photo showing the same instructor/Gibson agent- Joseph Ivers appeared in Gibson's 1921 catalog.

Here's the picture. (I'm working on acquiring a higher resolution copy)
This is a really cool discovery for a lot of reasons. Through research I've done, I knew my great grandfather was a Gibson agent while he lived in Adams (now North Adams) Mass, from around 1920 and later, but only guessed or wondered about his relationship with Gibson prior to 1920. I knew we had a 1914 F-4 that was his (well documented in the blog, maybe pictured here, and definitively pictured in the arms of my great grandmother Mary Ivers in the 1921 "Everyone A Gibsonite" catalog photo at the beginning of this blog) but wasn't aware of any professional relationship he may have had with Gibson in the years he lived in Lawrence before he moved to Adams in 1919. With the discovery of this picture I know for sure he was a Gibson agent as early as 1916. My great grandfather is pictured here in the center with an F model, probably my great grandmother with an A model next to him, and I'm guessing my grandfather or maybe one of my great uncles with an A model in front of him. My father believe the boy pictured is his father/my grandfather George Ivers.

Thanks to the Vintage Guitar Magazine reader who found the picture and sent it to the magazine. Thanks also to George Gruhn for taking the time to answer the reader's question. Special thanks to Vintage Guitar Magazine editor Ward Meeker for sending me the picture.

Here's a cropped high resolution version.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

More Clips From Adams Transcript referencing The Ivers- Gibson Mandolin Club. January 1921

Here are some clips from the Adams Transcript Jan.8. 1921, Adams, Massachusetts.
First is an advertisement announcing a concert to take place on Jan. 9, 1921 at the the Renfrew Community House. My great grandfather J L Ivers was a manger at the Renfrew Mill, and I'm sure made good use of the Renfrew "community house." as a venue for concerts, and to showcase Gibson mandolin family instruments.

Then another clip on the same newspaper page, announces some of the program details for the Jan. 9 1921 concert, including of some of pieces to be performed, the instrumentation, and the performers, including my great grandfather JL Ivers mandolin orchestra leader, music teacher, and Gibson mandolin sales agent. The clip also includes a reference to my grandfather George Ivers, and one of his sisters, my great aunt Leanore Ivers. Interesting to me that the Gibson name is used to describe one of ensembles; Ivers-Gibson Mandolin Club. The program had an interesting mix of both group and individual performances including a mandolin solo by my great grandfather, and a trio of my great grand father, grand father and great aunt , and even a Mando-cello solo!

A little research I dug up on some of the above mentioned songs from this Jan 9 1921 program:

"The Flying Wedge" This I found on the Montana Mandolin Society website:
The Flying Wedge-
Kate Dolby Along with the waltz, quadrille, and polka, a dance called the galop (spelled with one L) was one of the most popular ballroom dances of the seventeenth century. The rapid 2/4 tempo and physical demands of dancing the galop meant that the music lasted no more than two or three minutes. Kate Dolby composed this in about 1916 based on the new game called football and the successful offensive play pattern which drove the linesmen downfield in a V shape.

"Alice Where art Thou" Mando-Cello solo arrangement it turns out was copy written by the Gibson Mandolin Company. I found this link to the copy write info in the Library of Congress: Reference to copywrite info for "Alice Where art thou" Mando-cello solo arrangement.

And here's a link to a vocal arrangement from the Library of Congress of the same song:
Alice Where Art Thou

Seems that these concerts became a recurring Sunday night series, as referenced in yet another clipping from the early 1920's in the Adams Transcript promoting these concerts:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Two Bobs,Tony, and Kerry: St. Patrick's Day Gig

This just in from my father Robert Ivers, grandson of Joseph L. Ivers of the The Ivers Mandolin Orchestra which is the original focus of this blog. My father is still carrying on the tradition of Irish themed music and the mandolin. Here's what my dad sent today:

Not a great photo but I thought you would like to see the group. We played
yesterday at St. Joseph's Hospital nursing facility.
The young lady (Kerry) sometimes sings with us. She has been blind since
birth and and teaches languages at Elmira College as well as voice.
She is a remarkable women having traveled throughout the world. The other
Bob,with the green hat, has played the accordion for 60 years and is really
terrific. He is also a national champion bowler! The patients really
appreciate our performances and always ask when we
will return.

No doubt the Ivers Mandolin Orchestra and connected groups played a number of  St. Patrick's day events back in the teens and early twenties.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Adams Plectral Society Concert Announcement Mid 1920's

This ones' a bit hard to read, but references "The Adams Plectral Society"  an orchestra with 43 members...That's a large group, and potentially a lot of Mandolin family instruments, all under the direction of my great grandfather JL Ivers. Also interesting to note that this was a ticketed event. Tickets sold by "members of the Plectral society" and at The Berkshire News company. Not sure of the exact year, of this clip probably mid 1920's.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Here's another reference to the effort to recruit both new students, and anyone who may have once played "guitar, banjo, mandolin, mandolin-banjo, mandocello, harp, harp guitar, guitar-banjo....knock the dust off them and get busy"!  "Under the direction of J L Ivers." Again, I'm sure the idea here was to recruit students or existing amateur musicians who would become potential buyers of Gibson Mandolin family instruments.