Borrah Minnevitch and His Harmonica School
January 24, 2008 11:46 PM   Subscribe

Borrah Minevitch & His Harmonica Rascals - Harmonica Specialty and Rascal Bill McBride's vocal turn on Always In My Heart are excerpts from Borrah Minevitch & His Harmonica School--a wmv video file of a Vitaphone Short which with no surprise we find at Vitaphone Shorts, a subsection of Dr. Macro's High Quality Movie Scans--which was first brought to our attention by the noble crunchland, albeit at another and now defunct URL, let it be noted. .

Whether the impish and dapper Borrah Minevitch was the originator of the Harmonica Madness of the swing era or merely the most successful, many of the following dyi harmonica orchestras cited him as inspiration

The equally if not more impish and extremely diminutive Rascal in Harmonica Specialty is one Sammy Ross, who had quite a run of his own. He was the replacement for the runaway Rascal Johnny Puleo, who eventually inherited the franchise. And indeed Leo Diamond and Larry Murad of the Harmonicats were Minevitch alumni.

It is interesting as well to note that the Harmonica Madness and Doo Wop were both dyi phenomena that had their origins in the 1942-1944 Musicians Strike known as the Petrillo Ban, which was also the nail in the coffin of the Big Band era. Harmonicas were not considered musical instruments while harmony groups could record accapella with vocal lines reproducing big band horn lines while the big bands sat by. Between the ban and the introduction of Juke Boxes, touring big bands were doomed.

Oh, and PS. Always In My Heart was the theme song of the movie of the same name, a movie in which Borrah Minnevitch and his Harmonica Rascals provided comic relief and the song was nominated for an Oscar in 1942. White Christmas won. And Dean Martin covered both in his time.
posted by y2karl (5 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
That's entertainment!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:59 AM on January 25, 2008

Thanks for pointing out the connection between the Rascals and the Harmonicats. I'd always wondered whether they were competitors. Great links throughout.
posted by the sobsister at 7:06 AM on January 25, 2008

The Nine O'Clock Folks video has one of the very few performances of the Mound City Blue Blowers with Red Mackenzie- this is awesome stuff, well worth preserving!
posted by drhydro at 10:12 AM on January 25, 2008

Here's s'more madcap harmonica antics, from 1946: the Cappy Barra Boys.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:46 PM on January 25, 2008

Erm, 1945, that is.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:00 PM on January 25, 2008

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