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On April 8, 1937 three boys (ages ranging from late-teens to early twenties) known as "The Mitchell Brothers" took their first trip to Birmingham, Alabama so that a man from the American Record Corporation could record their music. The boys were from a small farming community outside of Moulton, and a trip to Birmingham was a big deal - much less the opportunity to record their songs for a major record label. Driving from Moulton to Birmingham in 1937 was no trivial matter; few people in rural Northwest Alabama owned cars, and most roads were dirt (or mud) and gravel, rutted out from erosion and horse-drawn carts. Money was scarce but they managed to find a car, and early that morning they took their instruments and headed to Birmingham with high spirits. None of the brothers had ever been to Birmingham before, and it took them until lunchtime to get there. Once in town, they had to quickly figure out how to get around in a bustling city and find this man who wanted to record their music.

When they arrived, they met with Mr. W.R. Calaway, a talent scout and producer who was involved with a number of high-profile acts in that era, some of whom went on to greatness. He brought Roy Acuff to Chicago do record his first twenty songs. He gave Willie Perryman his nickname - "Piano Red", which identified him throughout his career.  He is credited with the later recordings from Lucille Bogan, who is considered by manny to be one of the all-time great blues vocalists. Calaway was also the man who bailed Delta Blues legend Charley Patton out of the Belzoni, Mississippi, slammer in 1934, and subseqently signed him to Vocalion. Patton reconfigured the tune "Tom Rushen Blues" as 'High Sheriff Blues," which recounted the drunk and disorderly events leading up to Mr. Calaway's timely offer of bail.

W.R. Calaway was a contemporary of such renowned Talent Scouts as H.C. Speir, known to many as the "Godfather Of Delta Blues": 

"Speir made a demo of Son House, Willie Brown, and Charlie Patton and sent it to W. R. Calaway. And Calaway came down to Speir's store in 1934 to get their addresses. He went into the Delta and found Patton in jail in Belzoni-finally tracked him down to Belzoni from Holly Ridge where he was living at that time, which is in Sunflower County. And he took him back to Meridian, and they rode the train from Meridian to New York City. And Patton recorded up there for a couple of days, Patton and his wife Bertha Lee. That's the only two Mississippi people I know of, John Hurt and Charlie Patton, that ever went to New York to record."1

The songs they recorded that day can be downloaded on the home page, and the rest of their story can be obtained from other articles on this site.

The document on this page is a copy of the Royalty Contract The Mitchell Brothers were given by the American Record Corporation. You can see W.R. Calaway's signature for ARC, and then Eddie Mitchell's as the Manager of the Mitchell Brothers.

The copy below has been cleaned up a bit to make it more legible, but you can also see a photocopy of the original in PDF form.
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ARC Royalties Contract with the Mitchell Brothers

1. Quote taken from H.C. Speir article at