The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Bobby Edwards, the Troubadour of Greenwich Village (10)

January 14th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Edwards was featured a couple of times in Theatre Magazine in the ‘teens.  We see him here in the August 1919 issue, rehearsing for “Greenwich Village Nights” — which soon changed its name to “Greenwich Village Follies,” thereby enraging Flo Ziegfeld.

The August 1917 issue carried an article called “The Renaissance of Greenwich Village,” by one Ada Patterson.  She seems quite taken with our troubadour:

“But perhaps the village’s most picturesque figure is ‘Bobbie’ Edwards, ‘the Irving Berlin of Greenwich Village.’  A tall, pale, young man, Bobbie Edwards wears the garb of an average New Yorker, but to Polly’s, to the Dutch Oven, the Black Cat, and to other restaurants typical of ‘Village’ life, he goes to sing his songs.  Once an illustrator, he has dropped the crayon for the score.  He accompanies his songs upon an instrument which he himself makes, in his studio in South Washington Square, and which he adorns in brilliant colors, the greens and reds and purples of the impressionistic school.

“‘Be sure to save your cigar boxes for Bobbie Edwards,’ may be heard any night in many restaurants of New York’s Montmartre.

“Presently the pale young man walks to the desk of the cigar counter and with smile and bow collects the empty receptacles of the weed.  He will carry them to his studio and rapidly fashion them into replicas of the Hawaiian musical instrument, which, lighter toned than the cigar guitar, still resembles it.”

So that’s where those cigar boxes came from!  Another Village celebrity, Romany Marie, used to accuse him of buying the ukes from a manufacturer, and then simply painting them.  But we’ll hear from her tomorrow.

Incidentally, Edwards was also active in the little theater movement, not just in restaurants and revues.  He acted in productions of the Washington Square Players and the Provincetown Players.  For Harry Kemp’s Poet’s Theater (which lasted from 1925 all the way to 1926), he wrote a play called “Paraloxyn”; and composed music for Kemp’s comedy “The Game Called Kiss.”

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

Tags: Bobby Edwards · Ukulele

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Angela // Jan 14, 2011 at 9:13 am

    what a great picture! I love the line: He dropped the crayon for the score.

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