About The Artist
Old time banjo picker Jacob Calvin Davenport along with his Gang were early day radio and recording artists in Knoxville. The Gang consisted primarily of his nephews Hubert Davenport (December 25, 1909 - April 18, 1968) and Malcom Davenport (May 15, 1908 - November 23, 1992) although others were off-and-on members.
They played a regular program on Wednesday nights over WNOX for such sponsors as Big Four Markets and later for the Cas Walker stores. Although band members had day jobs, they also played frequently at local functions. In addition to Cal on banjo, Hubert played harmonica and Malcom guitar.
Research of newspaper archives did not provide any material such as promotional ads. But it did find several small one paragraph articles indicating where the band was playing. Some examples:
On August 31, 1929, Cal Davenport and his Gang recorded four numbers for Vocalion. In addition to the three Davenports, William C. Brown played a second guitar. Three of the four sang vocals and while some doubt exists as to the singer, it was not Hubert as his French harp can be heard behind the vocal. Although they placed no more numbers on disc, the band remained semi-active into the 1950s. Their entire output was released on "The Knoxville Sessions, 1929-1930" Bear Family boxed set.
The Knoxville Journal wrote an article about this historic event. It was the first time recordings were to be made in Knoxville and all of the artists were local performers. The sessions began on August 27, 1929 and were done in the Sterchi Brothers broadcasting studio in the St. James hotel. The recordings were being done for Vocalion by the Brunswick-Balke-Collender company. Sterchi Brothers also carried Vocalion records. R. F. Lyons of Chicago came to Knoxville to oversee the recordings. The article reported that the following artists were to make records:
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