Back in December of 2006, Pittsburgh DJ Jason Baldinger dropped me a line mentioning several SJI-relevant tunes, including Elton Britt’s “St. James Avenue,” which he described as “just a slight variant based on Jimmie Rodgers’ take, a little peppy country-politan number complete with the Jordinairres.” I later mentioned being unable to find this take, and that’s about as far as I ever got with it.
So anyway, this week I got another note from a different DJ: Doug Schulkind, proprieter of the awesome Give The Drummer Some on WFMU and a certified friend of this site. Mr. Schulkind mentioned the Elton Britt version, too, but even better, on this week’s show — he played it!
You can check out the episode here, “St. James Avenue” is toward the top of the show (after the theme(s) and intro). And I recommend you keep listening for the next three hours, because Give The Drummer Some is always full of entertaining surprises. If you like the country-ish read on “St. James Avenue,” at least stick around for the first set. For starters, it’s a great hillbilly set. Moreover, there’s a brief shout-out to me and to Robert W. Harwood’s I Went Down To St. James Infirmary. (A book I recommend, although Mr. Schulkind suggests it comes with a CD, but that’s not actually the case.)
As for Britt, the Encyclopedia of Arkansas says he “was a popular country singer of the 1940s, with a yodeling style most often compared to Jimmie Rodgers.”
I think you’ll hear the similarity.