SHREVEPORT SIZZLERS - Nervous Breakdown (Okeh, 1932)
Why do records by the Shreveport Sizzlers even exist? Good question.
In 1932, Okeh released two records by the Shreveport Sizzlers. However, they featured recordings originally made in 1929 and already available on Okeh’s parent label, Columbia Records. For some reason -- perhaps the need to reissue out-of-print releases or stretch limited resources during the Great Depression -- Columbia reached into their back catalog to re-release recordings by Clarence Williams. “Nervous Breakdown” by the Shreveport Sizzlers (Okeh 41561) is the same recording as “Nervous Breakdown” by Clarence Williams & His Jazz Kings (Columbia 14468-D). In any event, the Shreveport Sizzlers earned a favorable review alongside nine other “current dance records” in the April 23, 1932, issue of The New Yorker --
|"Popular Records," The New Yorker, April 23, 1932, page 39.|
Why name the band the Shreveport Sizzlers? That’s the second mystery, though Clarence Williams did have a few connections to the city.
Williams was born in Plaquemine, Louisiana, then lived in New Orleans and Chicago before settling in New York in 1923. In 1912 and 1914, Indianapolis Freeman newspaper articles indicate he toured with the Lockhart Stock Company vaudeville group, who performed at Shreveport’s Star Theater (1050 Texas Avenue). Both appearances are placed within the context of Williams’s formative years in Lynn Abbott’s article “‘Brown Skin, Who You For?’ Another Look at Clarence Williams’s Early Career” (The Jazz Archivist, December 1993).
Yet another Williams-Shreveport connection involves the song "Shreveport Blues" composed by Annie "Bootsy" Potter. In 1923, Clarence Williams published sheet music for the song and also recorded it twice. That September, he played piano as Virigina Liston sang "Shreveport Blues" (Okeh 8122). Then, in November, the Clarence Williams’ Blue Five recorded an instrumental version of “Shreveport Blues” (Okeh 40006). We hope to further untangle this song's history in the future.
While definitive answers about the Shreveport Sizzlers might be lost to history, we are pleased to report that their sounds remain available to this day.
Shreveport Sizzlers (Okeh 8918, 1932)
405106 Railroad Rhythm (Waller)
405107 Zonky (Razaf and Waller)
Shreveport Sizzlers (Okeh 41561, 1932)
405184 You’ve Got To Be Modernistic (Johnson)
405185 Nervous Breakdown (Williams)
Clarence Williams & His Jazz Kings (Columbia 14468, 1929)
149056 Nervous Breakdown (Williams)
149057 Railroad Rhythm (Waller)
Clarence Williams & His Jazz Kings (Columbia 14488, 1930)
149665 Zonky (Razaf and Waller)
149666 You’ve Got To Be Modernistic (Johnson)