22 July 2020

String Band

When my great-grandfather John Marmon died in Carmarthen in October 1914 at 6 King Street the local paper reported there was a floral tribute from Messrs Jones' String Band. Previously, when his wife died in June 1910 there was a floral tribute from Messrs Jones, 60 King Street.

I wasn't aware John Marmon had any musical interest. There's a lot I don't know about this man who hid his origins.

The reference to a string band was interesting. What comes to mind for string band is the Incredible String Band

Not the kind of group for 1914, neither is the Google definition appropriate to the place and time "an old-time music or jazz ensemble made up mainly or solely of string instruments. String bands were popular in the 1920s and 1930s, and are among the forerunners of modern country music and bluegrass."

The term "string band" appears in Carmarthen newspapers from 1859 with Messrs Jones' string band found from 1890. A report in 1891 included the somewhat ambiguous  "Messrs. Jones's string band were present in force, and played several selections between the different scenes. Praise is unneeded as the quality of the music discoursed by Messrs Jones's string band is too well known in Carmarthen and district."

In the following years there is frequent mention of Messrs. Jones's string band performing at community events. Based on the names of musical pieces mentioned the band is likely what we'd today call an ensemble - quartet, sextet or octet. Over time they expanded with piccolo and piano mentioned, no doubt others. The pieces played become more ambitious.

As far as I can determine the connection between my great-grandfather and the Jones family was their nearby businesses on King and later Queen Streets in Carmarthen.

1 comment:

Ian Barker said...

And I thought that you were referring to the iconic Canadian folk group, led by Bob Bossin and Marie-Lynn Hammond.