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The "Gavotte" Label - A Canadian 78 rpm Enterprise

"Gavotte", a brainchild of Gordon V. Thompson (1) was a small Canadian operation that recorded Canadian artists (2) on 78 rpm discs (3) after World War II.

The Encyclopaedia of Music in Canada gives "Gavotte" production years as 1952 to 1955, but Thompson's own Record Bulletin 1951 lists 10 "Gavotte" discs (20 sides) by three artists: Tex Bloye, Alberta Slim, and Edward MacHugh, the gospel singer who also recorded on "Bluebird".

In Thompson's Complete Listing of Gavotte Records 1954, 37 Gavotte discs are offered (4). Here are some examples:

  • The Commodores, a male quartet that met in the Royal Canadian Navy, has 4 discs listed. Carl Tapscott is one of the singers and Don Parrish, later the deep-voiced announcer on "Candlelight and Wine", is the basso.
  • Dixie Dean, the accordianist, has 2 sides. He also appeared on at least one other Canadian label as the accompanist for "Tony the Troubador".
  • Charles Templeton, better known as author, editor and runner-up in a former Provincial Liberal Leadership Campaign, sings a religious duet with his wife Constance.
  • Wishart Campbell, the "Golden Voice of the Air" in the 1940s and later Music Director for CFRB, sings 2 religious numbers.
  • Edward MacHugh, who sang on Sunday evenings over CBC radio during World War II, has 3 discs.
  • Wilson MacDonald, Canadian poet, reads 7 of his poems, including his well-known "Song of the Ski".
  • Art Hallman has 1 disc which includes the tune "As We Dance the Casa Loma Way".

Some of the voices are not up to today's standards, but the 40's and 50's belonged to a different world. When I came to Canada in 1940 as a "War Guest", I would listen to Edward MacHugh open his program with "If I have wounded any soul today". In those days I thought Edward MacHugh and Wishart Campbell both had "good voices", but the "Gavotte" records do not support my first impressions. On the other hand, the voice of Don Parrish stands up very well in the "Commodores" recording of "On Ilkley Moor".

So for me, Gavotte records are of some value, even though "greatness" maybe missing. At least we can get a better understanding of the standards of the Canadian recording artist in the 40's and early 50's. And we can be grateful, too, to George V. Thompson who supported Canadian talent for over four decades, and whose efforts preserved a bit of Canadiana that would otherwise be lost.

Notes

  1. Toronto-based music publisher and song-writer. His initials are contained in the word " Gavotte".
  2. Some American artists were included, such as Reinald Werrenrath.
  3. Some LP's were also issued, mostly copies of the 78's, but I have never seen one.
  4. On the 1954 list, records are numbered from GVT 101 to GVT 155, but there were more. I have GVT 156 which is a song called "Wonderful" sung by a "Youth for Christ" quartet which included the very young Tommy Ambrose. Also GVT 111 is not listed on the '54 sheet. It is a recording of "Who'll be the Next One" and "Daddy's Little Girl", both sung by Dick Todd. There was also a Folk Music series starting, I believe, with GVT 500, a Schottische by Al Toft.