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A Man With a Horn
Produced by The Kitchen Sisters, Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson

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  • See with Tom Battuk's Cartoon based upon this story.

    A Man with a Horn, Eric Byron with the home built, hand cranked phonograph that he wheels to Washington Square Park on warm Sunday afternoons.
    Photographer Credit: Shawn Baldwin
    Each Sunday on warm weekends, Eric Byron walks a mile from his Lower East Side apartment to the same bench, in the Northwest corner of Washington Square Park in New York City and sets up shop. Out comes his guestbook, a battered box of 78s, hand painted signs, a home built, hand cranked, phonograph with a with a four-foot horn made from a heating duct.

    Eric Byron is ready for your request.

    A self appointed, early century disc jockey Eric fills his corner of the park with sounds from another place and time. If a song was recorded before 1930, Eric probably has it, or something close. And if no one passes by to listen, he cranks up his machine for himself.

    One weekend, The Kitchen Sisters, radio producers Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson followed the faded sounds of opera, drifting across the park to Eric's bench.

    Some of the recordings featured in this piece:

  • Caruso's "M'appare", c1906.
  • "El Mole Rachim" (Prayer for the Dead) a Hebrew song, by Josef Rosenblatt the "King of Cantors" for the passengers of the Titanic that perished at sea, c. 1912-1915
  • The Mad Scene from the opera "Lucia" by the soprano Amelita Galli-Curci
  • "Willie the Weeper" by Louis Armstrong, c.1928.
  • "How 'Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On the Farm After They've Seen Paris" by Arthur Fields, c.1919
  • "How Are You Goin to Wet Your Whistle When the Whole Darn World Goes Dry" by Billy Murray, c. 1919

    Mixed by Tom Corwin and Jim McKee, Earwax Productions
    Field recording by Jim Anderson

    Special Thanks to Mr. Wizard, Don Herbert, David Isay, and Rachel Day.


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    Copyright 1999 The Kitchen Sisters