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Weldon & Sleepy: 1942

Weldon & Sleepy: 1942

February 1942. Two members of the "Musical Drake Family," performing at a barn dance in the Farm Security Administration's Mercer G. Evans camp in Weslaco, Texas. Our pickers are brothers Weldon (1923-1977) and Jasper "Sleepy" Drake (1926-1992). More Drakes here, and you can read comments from their children and grandkids here. Photo by Arthur Rothstein. View full size.

 

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Mercer G. Evans

The camp was named after Mercer G. Evans, Director of Labor Relations during the Roosevelt administration. There's not a lot on Google about him, but there is a portrait of him on the FSA/OWI site:

Pickin' 'n' not grinning

Intriguing photo, and the links are well worth a look. Now I am on a mission to see whether I can find any recordings by the Drakes.

That guitar, a Broman Casa Loma f-hole, probably sounded great, as did the big-bodied 12-string played by Weldon in an earlier Shorpy photo. Probably made by Harmony or Regal in the 1930s.

Problem with those guitars is after many years of use or just from being under string tension for so long, the necks just go out of whack. I bought a similar one from the family of an Arkansas woman who played it on the radio in the '30s, and just couldn't get the neck to stay in place. After three resets, I gave up and sold it as a wall-hanger. But it sounded wonderful while it lasted!

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