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Bones Fest XXI
Aug 24 to 27, 2017
San Antonio, Texas
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Yes Sir, Mr. Bones! DVD
Vintage 1951 movie features Scatman Crothers and legendary bones player Freeman "Brother Bones" Davis. Only known film recording of minstrel man Emmett Miller.
New DVD release!
Rare film with legendary Freeman "Brother Bones" Davis
Double feature DVD
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The Inside Story...
Yes Sir, Mr. Bones!
Rare vintage 1951 film with Freeman "Brother Bones" Davis
New dvd release by VCI Entertainment
This film is part of a double feature dvd which includes the 1949 movie,
Square Dance Jubilee.
Together, the two films comprise volume 2 of the four volume
collector's pack. The package is designed for fans of vaudeville, minstrel shows, and vintage musicals.
No Hollywood film has ever captured the true ambience of a minstrel show. This low budget film stands alone as the most accurate representation ever produced. The film presents the traditional parade plus three elements of a minstrel show:
First Part (Endman jokes),
Second Part (Olio - variety acts)
Third Part (Burlesque melodrama)
The movie even portrays a traditional 'afterpiece' Southern Plantation Scene. The production features a cast of authentic minstrel performers - a remarkable feat considering the film was released in 1951. You will also see the only known film footage of legendary minstrel, Emmett Miller. Plus you will see Brother Bones perform a solid two-and-a-half minutes of whistlin', dancin' and bone rattlin' like you have never seen before.
What the Movie is About
The show features a bevy of authentic "late vaudevillian minstrel performers". Their average age is around 70 years old. What we are witnessing on film is a merger of burlesque, minstrelsy and vaudeville.
Black Actors in Feature Roles
Racial stereotyping aside, the film is rather progressive for the 1950s. Few movies from that era dared to present African-American actors in a feature role alongside caucasian performers. So if you ignore the blackface and stereotypes, then the comic genius and appeal of these black and white performers is quite evident.
The commentary by film historians Richard Roberts, Brent Walker, and Randy Sketvedt make this DVD especially worthwhile and important. They provide valuable context for the performances, offer loads of factual tidbits - and they acknowledge the world of musical bones.
I guess we should get the political correctness apology out of the way now...
Even though it may make us cringe in many places now, it does preserve a very important part of American show biz history and it also preserves a lot of wonderful black performers as well as white performers.
I suppose we're the only ones brave enough to actually sit down and do a commentary for this show.
There's actually websites devoted to bones playing and I saw that somebody did a doctoral dissertation all about bones playing.
A young boy wanders into the Show Boat Rest Inn, a home for old minstrel men. The boy wants to know more about them. The oldsters are more than delighted to oblige. We flash back to a
performance from the
days of riverboat shows...minstrel songs, buck-and-wing dancing, end-man jokes, soft-shoe routines, variety acts - and yes sir, Mister Bones!
Minstrel Show Program and Cast... (coming soon)
Special DVD Features
Square Dance Jubilee
Commentaries by film historians Richard Roberts, Brent Walker and Randy Sketvedt
The Shortest Way Home
Square Dance Jubilee
Don Barry, Spade Cooley, Mary Beth Hughes, Wally Vernon, Max Terhune, John Eldredge.
New York television talent scouts (Don "Red" Barry and Wally Vernon) head west to look for musical talent for Spade Cooley's TV show and find plenty - and even help round up some cattle rustlers! With a whopping 25 songs, this one "stacks up as a strong entry in western music market...crackerjack exploitation potential" (
Minstrel Show FAQs...
Recording type: DVD-9/Dolby Digital/NTSC/All Region/ English Language
Real time recording: Recorded live, no special effects
Label: VCI Entertainment
Director (Yes Sir, Mr. Bones!): Ron Ormond
Director (Square Dance Jubilee): Oliver Drake
Who is Brother Bones?
Freeman 'Brother Bones' Davis was born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1902.
As a kid, Freeman made his own musical bones from cow ribs he got down at the slaughterhouse. His favorite bones included ivory, rosewood, ebony
became known as
in Long Beach, California. That's where he worked his shoeshine stand in a barber shop vestibule. Folks say he would tap dance and pop his shoeshine rag to popular tunes.
And he could draw a crowd! Word has it he could whistle so loud that people in cars outside the barber shop would stop to listen
at least until the police came by to clear the traffic jam.
Brother Bones lived most of his years in Long Beach. But it all started back in Montgomery when he was just a little boy who listened to his mother whistle. "My mother used to whistle all the time...she was just a happy person," Brother Bones once explained to a newspaper reporter.
Although he never achieved great fame, Brother Bones was a gifted entertainer who performed at prominent venues including Carnegie Hall and The Ed Sullivan Show. He played on stage with eminent musicians including Woody Herman, Teddy Buckener, Jimmy Lunsford, and Russ Morgan.
served as a consultant to Bing Crosby in
where Bing plays dinner knives
And he even appeared in two feature films:
Yes Sir, Mr. Bones
(1951) with Scatman Crothers, and
Pot O' Gold
(1941) as a jail chef playing traditional spoons, starring James Stewart.
Recorded One of the Most Listened To Recordings in History
The greatest legacy of Brother Bones is his 1948 recording of
Sweet Georgia Brown.
The tune was adopted in 1952 by the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team as their official theme song. This version "is probably in the top ten most listened to recordings in history,"
reported Steve Wixson, editor of the
Rhythm Bones Player.
Greatest Whistling Bones Player
Brother Bones died in 1974 at the age of 71. The Rhythm Bones Society offered a tribute to Freeman Davis at Bones Fest VI in 2002, which honored the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Noted for playing four bones in each hand, Freeman 'Brother Bones' Davis is admired among the world community of bone players as a consummate entertainer who developed into the greatest whistling bones player of all time.
Accessories or Related Products:
Tambo: His Jokes and Funny Sayings
Bones: His Gags and Stump Speeches
Vintage "Yes Sir, Mr. Bones!" Movie Poster
Burnt Cork: Or The Amateur Minstrel
Bodhran, Bones & Spoons, tutorial DVD
Vintage Dan Emmett Plate
How to Play the Bones with Percy Danforth, tutorial DVD
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Dan Emmett and the Rise of Negro Minstrelsy, hardcover
Bing Crosby's Minstrel Song Portfolio
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