3 Spiller Musical Bumpers

Negro music act / early 1900s

Variety, April 1907 (pg119):

Binghamton (NY) Press
February 1907

- listed at Armory Theatre

The Daily Journal (pg1)
New Bern, North Carolina
January 26, 1907
New Masonic Opera House

- listed as part of the "Dandy Dixie Minstrels."

from National Jazz Archives ("Storyville"):

"Around 1906 Spiller organised his own vaudeville group, the Three Musical Bumpers. The group was later expanded to five, six,
seven, even thirteen musicians and renamed the Musical Spillers. Sam Patterson joined Spiller in 1906 and stayed until about 1911...


from the Evening Herald (Feb. 1907):
"The Three Spiller Musical Bumpers are artists with the saxaphone and xylophone, and with the brasses.
They delight the most festidious with their rendition of 'the Poet and Peasant overture' and the
'St. Louis Rag' on the xylophone. Their sayings are really funny."

Tom Turpin (1873-1922) is the composer of 'The St. Louis Rag', which was copyrighted by Sol Bloom on 2 November 1903
in New York. It was to become Spiller's piece de resistance, featured in his regular act and often commented upon
by reviewers...

Touring continued to good notices and the group also visited Canada around April 1907 and at this time Spiller
seems to have augmented his group, The Five Spillers, musical bumpers, a colored troupe, played saxophones and
xylophones like real musicians, and they introduced a little negro comedy into their act, which went well. The
quintette wore elegant uniforms, and the act was pleasing to the eye, as well as the ear. [Music And The Drama].

At Bennett's Theater, (Ottawa) source unknown, Scrapbook of clippings on Musical Spillers 1906-1911, [Moorland-Spingarn
collection]. Still numbering five and apparently all male, the group continued to tour mostly in the eastern states and
up into Canada during the remainder of 1907 and into 1908. Some indication of the esteem in which they were held is given
by the fact that when Scott Joplin published his Pineapple Rag in 1908 he dedicated it to the ??Five Musical Spillers??.
It is not known when and how Joplin and Spiller met, but they were probably introduced to each other through Sam Patterson.

1908 and 1909 saw the group extending their touring range and in August of 1909 they were reported on the west coast.
Such press reports as have been traced are always favourable with emphasis usually given to their versatility and wide
ranging programme.

At the beginning of 1911 an item, source unknown, in the Scrapbook of clippings on Musical Spillers 1906-1911,
[Moorland-Spingarn collection] headed only 'Vaudeville At Bennett??s??, has, The best team is undoubtedly the five
Musical Spillers, a colored troupe, who get off the most itching ragtime on numerous instruments. They even turned
"Love Me And, The World Is Mine" into a ??rag. The Musical Spillers", an aggregation of colored gentlemen who sing and
can turn a dead march into a rag time, were well received by the audience."

Between this date and around August 1911 there appears to have been a change of personnel and an enlargement to six
members, assumably three men and three women as indicated by the following from the The Buffalo Commercial, Tuesday
Evening, 29 Aug 1911. "The six Musical Spillers made another big hit with Sheagoers. They are past masters of several
instruments and of incidental comedy and although they are billed as rag time..."


  • Hathaways Theatre / New Bedford / 1906

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