Keeton, Marlin 1987-06-13

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Buster Keeton reviewed Gospel singing and techniques in West Texas.

General Interview Information

Interviewee Name: Marlin Keeton

Additional Parties Recorded: None

Date: June 13, 1987

Location: Lubbock, Texas

Interviewer: Richard J. Mason

Length: 75 minutes


Tape 1, Side 1: Keeton, Buster, Sacred Harp singing, His father’s brother and mother’s brother taught 7-note, Buster’s teacher taught by them, He learned to read music in 1906, He will be 90 this November, His teacher was J. B. Latimer who lived in the area, Latimer’s uncle also taught, Two week singing schools with 2 teachers, He started music when 8 years old, Played organ by ear, Learned Shaped Note system on the 1st day, Both shape and sound sight-read, Taught in area schools by age 18, Advanced work included trio in Waco, A. J. Showalter of Dalton, Georgia, Helped develop, 7-note (shaped) system, Music school in 1916, Quartet Music Company of Fort Worth, Analytical School of Music, Head was J. B. Thomas, Taught Buster harmony, Same company in 1918, Three week music school, Graduated and started teaching, He married in 1916 and farmed, In 1921, he was Sunday School superintendent, July 3, 1921 started a singing school, Yates Community, Hill County, Texas, Next week to another school 3 miles away, Liberty Hill near Whitney, Texas, Prairie Valley and Red Point, He taught independent singing schools year-round, Other teachers, Stamps Quartet, Vaughan Conservatory of Music, V. O. Stamps daddy of Stamps Music Company, He was first to call me “Buster”, Procedure, Promotion to churches and schools, Church of Christ, Nazarene, Baptist, Presbyterian, Central Texas, Oklahoma, southern Arkansas, New Mexico, West Texas, He also taught piano in Amarillo in 1946, Shaped-Note system versus round-note (conventional) system, Methodology and technique, Harmony (lengthy discussion), He used to sing 3 octaves, Woman I taught with in 1934-35, Not Grady Taylor but Jo Lewis, We in Stamps Quartet together in 1935-36, She played piano, he sang lead, She couldn’t transpose so he would and she sang alto, Vaughan Quartet in 1922 Lubbock concert, He sang with, He quit teaching in late 1940’s, Insurance business in Lubbock, Texas, Music was his hobby with conventions various sites, National convention in Stephenville, Texas this November, Also in 1976, Texas-Oklahoma convention in 1932, Singing spread in 1920’s, Denton, Arlington, Stamps School in Dallas, School in Lubbock in 1950, Otis Echols organized, He had radio station, Buster knew Otis in 1918, He has been in Lubbock since then--37 years, Regions of popularity, South Plains- 1929 in Terry County, Three week daytime school 4 miles west of Brownfield, Johnson School, Meadow School, Peak in 1930’s to 1940’s, Texas-Oklahoma Convention (again), Brownfield last year, Frederick, Oklahoma next time, 15 county convention in Plainview at First Baptist Church, Campbell Quartet, He played with them 30 years, Their sister played, lived in Fort Worth, His fee in 1920’s was $25/week, later fee was $200/week, During the depression, $50 for two weeks and a box supper, He was great auctioneer so did well on box supper’s, His biggest year was 1940, Taught 47 of 52 weeks, Oklahoma had good schools, Full-blood Indian classes, Better music readers, On government rolls, so went to singing schools, Caprock Convention in 1950, Second weekend in June, Stanton, Brownfield, Mineral Wells (best in state), Decatur fall session, President of that died awhile back in Fort Worth Mickey Marlowe now president, Jones County people and ?97th year of their convention, He with quartet in Wichita Falls in 1941, Six month contract and he played piano, Radio work with manager W. B. ?Knowland, Statesman Quartet, Blackwood Brothers, Frank Stamps came at end of contract, Buster refused tour to Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Tape 1, Side 2: Keeton, Buster (again), Sale of books and publishing, Stamps Baxter sponsored him, Snyder, Oklahoma, Arkansas- ?Prairieville Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Louisiana- Shreveport, Texas-Oklahoma convention (again) and Clovis, Stamps Baxter was main publisher, They sold to ?Zondevan Company of Chicago, Moved business to Nashville, Tennessee, Shaped-note technique (again), Publishers (again), J. B. Stamps started in 1925, V. O. Stamps died in Dallas, Frank Stamps couldn’t get along with Baxter, He started Stamps Quartet Music Company in Dallas, V. O. Stamps (again), He died in 1940, Buster was teaching a school at ?Coweta, Oklahoma, He shut down for one night and went to the funeral, New books out twice a year, About 120 brand-new songs, Vaughan book, Tennessee Music Publishing Company book, Song writers, He has had 3 published so far, Teaching methods (again), V. C.? ?Anderson was old time music man before Buster’s day, Teacher at Shenandoah College in Virginia, Taught round-note for 30 years, Went to shaped-note system, People learned faster, South Plains College teaching bluegrass, Shaped-note technique (again), Harmony, Campbell Quartet (again), Saturday night two Campbell and two Stephenson boys sang together, V. O. Stamps (again), He was born and raised in east Texas, His teacher was R. E. ?Moore, He was tone-deaf, Worked for Vaughan with Buster, Taught in Vaughan School, Published a book in Jacksonville, Texas, About 1925, ?”Temple Bells” was in that book, Teaching and singing “attributes” (syncopation), Teaching (again), Three factors are pitch or tone, length, and accent, Singing schools (again), Cisco, Texas 5 week school, First week teach shaped-notes and some round notes, His fathers younger brother would teach 4-note, They came to Texas in 1920, Sacred Harp and Shaped-note comparisons, Second week for singing and rhythm, Ezra Knight was a writer, Tennessee and Texas music were the same, “Sugar Sticks”- favorite songs, Blackwood was his favorite, Song “I’ll Fly Away”, Young people attend less, Current teachers, Henry Ship, Billy Medley, Jack Medley (died 2-3 years ago), Church at 8th and Q in Lubbock (now torn down), Singing at Central Baptist Church and 26th Street Church, Singing at old Plainsman Hotel, Now a live-in center, sing on 3rd Sunday, Quartets, Homer Garrison, Clyde Burleson, Wilson Carson- on guitar, ?played with Bob Wills, Meek?, Clyde Burleson (again), With Vaughan headquarters Quartet, Buster met in 1921, Sang high tenor, also taught, moved to California and died, Came to Lubbock in 1958 and stayed the night with Buster, Hard timed in 1930’s, This is Buster’s 3rd wife, married 12 years, She heard him on the radio program, Music on radio, Littlefield Four Quartet, Stamps Quartet and Amarillo Fair, A member moved to Big Spring in 1957 and Buster joined, Homer Garrison also sang, Convention at Cloudcroft.

Tape 2, Side 1: Keeton, Buster (again), Teaching methods (again), Parts, harmony and piano, Big woman- parents were Newman’s from Santa Anna, Her mother died awhile back, They were one of best trio’s in the area, Grady Taylor (again), Different than others but can’t transpose, Jo Lewis of Fort Worth (again), Sight-reading (again), Public schools and colleges won’t teach shaped-note, Italian music in 1700’s, Song “Victory in Jesus popular in churches, Originated from singing teacher in Arkansas, Songs are religious but non-denominational, Lubbock Gospel Opry is a disgrace, Hillbilly music not our type, “I’ll Fly Away” is being sung wrong, Lubbock groups, Stephenson Boys and Billy Baker of Slaton, J. R. Sikes? (Sites?) and woman, Weldon ?Lemon is bass singer, (Interview concludes after 10 minutes, and Buster Keaton then plays two piano numbers), 1st piano number, “Let the Holy Ghost Fall on Me”, 2nd piano number, ?”Gathering the Grain”, (Music concludes 5 minutes later).

Range Dates: 1880’s to 1987

Bulk Dates: 1906 - 1950

Access Information

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