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Guitar Four Hands: 1942

Guitar Four Hands: 1942

Weslaco, Texas. The "musical Drake family," performing at a barn dance in the Farm Security Administration's Mercer G. Evans camp, February 1942. Medium-format safety negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Farm Security Administration. Update: The fiddler is Nathan Drake, the younger boy is Jasper "Sleepy" Drake, and behind him is brother Weldon Drake. View full size.


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The Drakes

Would you mind posting a link to the original file location on the LOC website for this photo? I've found others of the Drakes but I can't seem to find this particular shot. I ask because I'm trying to teach myself photo re-touching (I use Photoshop Elements) and you do it so well on Shorpy, that my learning method amounts to attempting to make the raw tiff look as close to your version as possible. You guys are very skilled at this. I've experimented on a few others of those you posted--but I think I have a long way to go to be any good. Thanks.

[How to locate just about any of these: First determine the filename of the image by right-clicking on it. Then plug the result (in this instance, 8b37744 -- do not include the one-letter suffix) into the bottom field ("Searching Numbers") of the LOC query form. - Dave]

Plays well with others

Way back in the early 60s I saw the Everly Brothers do this same thing on the Tennessee Ernie Ford TV show. Then Ernie joined in and all three were playing the same guitar.

Since my brain and my left hand seem to be total strangers, I could probably handle the strumming...

Have you ever......

... talked to so many ducks (Drakes) in your life!!! Wow the other day we didn't know about all but one of the pics and now there are more than we can shake a stick at!!! Thanks for the pics of Grandpaw!!!

[Another one! Glad to oblige. Actually the other day when I Googled "Jasper Drake" and "guitar" the first hit I got was your MySpace page. Good to see you are keeping up the musical tradition. - Dave]

My Great Grandpapa Drake

I am the great-granddaughter of Jasper (Sleepy) Drake and am pleased to be a part of this family. My family has a lot of history and there are some things I don't even know about.

Just today, i learned that my Grandpa Drake was on a website that i can learn more stuff about him. Even though i did not get to meet him i have heard a lot of stories of him and the things he did from my wonderful nana and papa. They told me that he was in a band and played the steel guitar, fiddle, guitar, and banjo. A lot of very interesting instruments.

Being in this family means a lot to me and it just keeps getting better and better now that i know i can learn more about my great grandpa that i never got the chance to meet.

[Goodness gracious. We've heard from three generations of the Drake family in one day! Thank you for writing, Shelby. Your great-grandpa sounds like a truly wonderful and fascinating person. - Dave]


Granddad once told me that he played in Jack Ruby's bar and that one time he got a ride from Bonnie and Clyde. I always got a kick watching him play because he would whistle softly while he was playing. I sure do miss him and my grandmother, they were fun to be around. Lots of lovin' came from those two.

Drakes galore!

This is way cool. Downright serendipitous. This board constantly gives rise to the thought, "No way on God's green earth that the people taking these pictures (and even less likely those having their pictures taken) could have imagined us doing what we do here every day." I also have to add that there's a huge and impressive knowledge base residing out there amongst the Shorpy constituency.

And while I'm at it, I have to say that I have looked at a number of these LOC images before, but seeing them in this context and, as it were, in the company of others, casts them in an entirely different and altogether more luminous light. It's not unlike seeing a movie on a large screen in the middle of an audience vs. seeing the same film in your living room with the dishwasher running and the phone ringing and all the rest. A tip of my hat to Dave and the rest of the Shorpy crew for taking something that was there all along and allowing us see it anew.

And I have been wondering since I first saw this pic what those four-handed Drakes sounded like. Neat looking trick that is.

[Good insights, SLR. Thanks. I might add that the closest thing to this picture that you will find on the Library of Congress site is this - not nearly as big or sharp, and kind of washed-out. The jpegs we post here are extracted from the raw image files (called tiffs) on the Library of Congress servers. It takes a bit of work on our part to come up with the images you see here. - Dave]

Jasper's life

Sleepy starting playing professionally shortly after he married our mother, Irene, in 1944. He mastered the fiddle and became one of the best Western Swing fiddlers ever. He played with Bill Boyd and the Ramblers, The 7 Row Brothers, Hank Thompson, Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys, and many more. Sleepy & Irene were married for 48 years have five daughters and 11 grandchildren. Now they are both deceased. So these pictures are very precious to all us in the Drake family, and believe me there are A LOT of us!

[Wow. Thanks! - Dave]

Jasper Drake

I am one of Jasper Drake's granddaughters ... his oldest daughter's youngest. Ann Jackson is my mom.

I bought my 13-year-old son a guitar for Christmas hoping he inherited some of that Drake talent!!! So far, by hearing him practice I think he's got it!!!! I know my children will love to look at these photos of their great-grandfather they never got to meet.

[Thanks for writing! It's like the Drake family reunion here today. What can you tell us about Jasper's life? He was a professional musician? Who did he play with? - Dave]


He got his nickname "Sleepy" because every time he would go on tour with various bands he would always want to sleep on the bus.

[Hi Connie! No, I did not know your family. These photographs come from the archives of the Library of Congress in Washington. They were taken by government photographers (in this case, Arthur Rothstein) documenting the relocation of farmers following the Great Depression of the 1930s. - Dave]

Drake 1942 photos

Dave, I'm the daughter of Jasper Drake. Could you please let me know were you come-about these photos of our family. Jasper Drake has five daughters. The pics of the fiddle player show my Granddad N.W. Drake. And my dad, Jasper Drake. And Uncle Weldon Drake. These are too cool, we love these. The Drake Family is in the book "Picturing Texas" on page 111. Thanks.

Janette Wauson.

[Hi Janette! These photographs come from the archives of the Library of Congress in Washington. They were taken by government photographers (in this case, Arthur Rothstein) documenting the relocation of farmers following the Great Depression of the 1930s. - Dave]

Jasper Drake

Ok, This is way too cool!!! Never seen these photos before, but the young man playing the guitar is Jasper "Sleepy" Drake. How do I know? Because he is my Dad. I am the youngest of his five daughters. The man playing the fiddle in the picture is my Grandpa Drake, N.W. (Nathan) Drake. Also my uncle Weldon Drake is behind my Dad playing guitar. This has made my day!!!!

[Amazing. Thank you Connie! There are a few more Drake photos that I'll post later in the week. So I have to ask, how did your dad get the nickname Sleepy? - Dave]

Broman Guitar

Broman was one of dozens of brand names that Harmony Guitars (est. 1892) produced. Near as I can tell, it was a short-lived brand (late 1930s?), so this might be a semi-rare item. It also appears this was a Casa Loma model, which would have been capitalizing on the Glen Gray Casa Loma Orchestra, a well known and fairly well regarded band from about the late 1920s to the 40s or 50s. At one time or another, they had some pretty well known musicians, as was the case with a lot of the swing bands. I'm sure there's somebody out there who can tell you a whole lot more about it than I can.

[Very interesting, thanks. Fiddler Jasper Drake's grandson (or maybe great-grandson) Eric Wauson has a MySpace page here. - Dave]

The Drakes' Guitar

Who can tell us about the guitar, and the Drakes? Detail below.

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