Freeman Davis, better known as Brother Bones
, was a whistler and player of the bones
. As his story goes
, he started in Montgomery, Alabama, hearing his mother whistle. He made his way to Long Beach, California, where he was a shoe-shining entertainer called Whistling Sam. Somewhere along the way, he gained popularity with the bones as Brother Bones, leading a group called Brother Bones and His Shadows, as heard here in Rosetta
and Listen To The Mockingbird
. Their 1948 instrumental version
of the 1920s jazz standard Sweet Georgia Brown
was chosen as the theme song for the Harlem Globetrotters
. Brother Bones was also featured
in the blackface minstrel show
movie, Yes Sir, Mr. Bones
. Freeman Davis died in 1970, and in 2002 he was paid tribute at the Rhythm Bones Society
's Bones Fest 6
, honoring the 100th anniversary of his birth.
An anecdote from the Brother Bones brief biography with limited discography
include that Davis served as a consultant to Bing Crosby in Riding High
, where Crosby played knives like the bones
according to this history of minstrel shows
, Brother Bones is also an archetype, though Brother Bones is a portly, comedic character, instead of the musician that was the Brother Bones persona of Freeman Davis.
had a discography and more samples of Brother Bones music, but the site has been under construction for some years. From this previous MetaFilter post on whistling
, Brother Bones had a profile there. According to one Amazon reviewer
(who provides more information on Brother Bones), those songs were illegally made into a CD compilation.