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Author Topic: Cappy Barra Boys Harmonica Quintet  (Read 2199 times)

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Offline Danny G

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Cappy Barra Boys Harmonica Quintet
« on: October 19, 2010, 08:09:48 PM »
I talked with Irving Rubenstein's daughter Liza today.
She is trying to find recordings of her Dad playing with the Cappy Barra Boys Harmonica Quartet.
I'm helping her look. If any of you have or know where I can find something, please let me know
DannyG@NewHarmonica.com

Rockin' in the Rockies
The Cappy Barra Boys Harmonica Quartet
L-R: Pro Robbins (Irving Rubenstein), Charles Leighton, George Fields, Alan Greene

http://youtu.be/2nnK56212GU

Offline Tom

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Re: Cappy Barra Boys Harmonica Quintet
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2010, 08:07:31 PM »
Stan Harper can help out.

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Offline John Broecker

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Re: Cappy Barra Boys Harmonica Quintet
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2010, 06:17:48 AM »
Hello, Danny G.

Danny Wilson may be helpful.

www.bassharp.com

Al Smith has written about many harmonica bands in the past issues of Harmonica Happenings (SPAH quarterly), including the Cappy Barra Ensemble.

Also try to Google "The Cappy Barra Harmonica Band," or something like it, or just "Cappy Barra."

From "The Encyclopedia of the Harmonica," by Peter Krampert, Tatanka Publishing:

The Cappy Barra Harmonica Ensemble (or Harmonica Gentlemen)

Formed: 1935, New York City; Disbanded: 1944.

Vaudeville harmonica band

Assembled by promoter Maurice Duke and named after the cappybara, a large South American rodent, The Cappy Barra Harmonica ensemble specialized in playing big band arrangements on the harmonica.

Players in the group included Charles Leighton, Sam Schekter, Don Ripps, Phil King, Sam Sperling, Joe Mullendore, Leon Lafell, Nat Bergman, Phil Solomon, Alan Greene and Pro Robbins.

They made numerous radio and movie appearances, and had a lucrative career in Vaudeville. Most of the group disbanded after the outbreak of World War Two.

Movies: Mad About Music (1938); Pot O' Gold (1941); Rockin' In the Rockies (1945); Radio Stars On Parade (1945); Bowery Boy (1945).

The above listed book references the Cappy Barra group on 17 pages.

In the book, "Harmonicas, Harps and Heavy Breathers," by Kim Field, published by Cooper Square Press, The Cappy Barra group has a more complete biography of two and a half pages (small font). An excerpt from the Kim Field book:

"In 1940, Sam Schekter and Sam Sperling left the group, George Fields replaced Schekter. <snip> Shortly after, the act split into two groups. The first unit...worked primarily in the Chicago area, <snip> a second unit based in New York, was formed around Phil King and newcomers Fields, Charles Leighton, Alan Green and Pro Robbins."

edited:

"The New York unit worked steadily in Vaudeville and in nightclubs through the war years. George Fields left in 1941 to move to California, and the group played as a trio, with Leighton handling the lead, Alan Greene playing chord harp and singing, and Pro Robbins on bass harp. Phil King booked the band, played an occasional Polyphonia, did comedy bits, and fronted the group. The group disbanded in 1944."

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« Last Edit: October 26, 2010, 07:14:39 AM by John Broecker »
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Offline Danny G

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Re: Cappy Barra Boys Harmonica Quintet
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2010, 12:33:33 PM »
From what I've gathered, Pro Robbins aka Irving Rubenstein is in his 90's, in relatively good health and spirits and staying in an assisted living establishment. Liza, his daughter says that he still enjoys playing his harmonica. I know that I wasn't on the phone with her a full minute before telling her I had read about the Cappy Berra group in Al Smith's book, "Confessions of Harmonica Addicts", my copy is within reach so I read a few paragraphs about the group to her.
I've talked with several people asking about records, or copies on tape or CD. After talking with John Mooney (Village Harmonica Club, Florida)
Thank you for taking the time to do all of the research John, it's much appreciated.

Tom
One of the really great things about Garden State is that the New York, New Jersey area has such a rich harmonica heritage and it's one of the few places where you can almost be assured of seeing a few the living legends. I usually spend some time outside with Stan smoking cigars and listening to stories about the good old days.
I'll most certainly ask him about Cappy Berra recordings, thanks for the suggestion.
 I had read that you may be going to Garden State this year but after talking with Val Redler on the phone yesterday I found out that you had an excellent excuse for not going. Playing in concert with Jia-Yi He in Carson City, how cool is that !

Offline Tom

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Re: Cappy Barra Boys Harmonica Quintet
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2010, 08:46:16 PM »
Thanks Danny... we played three Vivaldi movements for two violins a week ago Sunday.  Jia-Yi is a great player and it was a blast.  On November 20th, I will play with the Ruby Mountain Symphony in Elko, Nevada.  This one will be great fun too.  Then Jia-Yi and I will due duets again at the Peninsula Pops Orchestra in Los Gatos, California in May. 

Sorry that I will miss what is going to be a great party in N.J.  There is next year though.  Stan knows a lot about Pro Robins and has talked alot about him...Stan is a living legend and has so much rich history to share.. Enjoy..

Also, Danny Wilson is very knowledgeable and can help...

Tom

Offline Danny G

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Re: Cappy Barra Boys Harmonica Quintet
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2010, 12:06:55 PM »
Thanks Tom
If Stan, Charles Spranklin or Al Smith can't help me out, I'll get in touch with Danny Wison.