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Jun 23, 2022

Old Mister, Old Mister

In 1897, the “Twin-Pan” barrel organ was introduced to Bluff City by the Callahan Corporation and took the boardwalk by storm. The ease of use, the smoothness of operation, and purity of tone were a significant step forward from the common “Trout” model used at the time. These new instruments were expensive to source, and as such, many organ grinders found themselves pushed out of business by “Twin-Pan” operators paid for by the boardwalk hotels. 

This song, first recorded by Elliott Callahan in 1899, speaks to the mingled pain and opportunity felt on the boardwalks in those days. 

Old Mister, Old Mister, I heard from my sister!

The man on the boardwalk is closing up shop,

Oh brother, our mother has heard from another,

A new kind of organ has forced him to stop! 

The tunes that it plays are a new kind of sweetness,

Old Mister, Old Mister, my spirits take flight!

Old Mister, with such incomparable neatness,

Its harmonies thrill and its measures delight!

So brother, we’re steeling our hearts for the parting,

The man on the boardwalk’s departure does ache,

But when we attend to the new organ starting…

We’ll find sacrifices are easy to make!

Featuring: Austin Walker, Art Martinez-Tebbel, Jack de Quidt, Janine Hawkins and Keith J Carberry

Music & Description by Jack de Quidt

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