History of the Blues Calendar (part 1)

Paramount record plant in Grafton, Wisconsin

With a few exceptions, the images and photographs used in our calendars have not been seen by the public since they were first created back in the 1920’s. These images are but a small part of a huge stash of promotional material created over 70 years ago to promote the latest record releases of now legendary Blues singers.

This stash of artwork and photographs was first discovered over twenty years ago by two Wisconsin newspaper reporters on a loading dock near some dumpsters, where it all had been placed by the new owners of a newspaper who were clearing out and disposing of old, useless files. Since they were hours from being thrown in those dumpsters and thereby lost to the world forever, the two reporters (who had a casual interest in Blues music) decided to rescue the material from certain destruction. Neither reporter had a single clue as to the significance of their find. Since the images were intriguing and it seemed a waste to see them destroyed, they divided them up and took them home, carefully storing them for the past twenty years.

In 2002, Blues Images™ became aware of their existence and quickly purchased the entire hoard. We will be sharing all of the artwork with the world in the coming years. The calendar you have so kindly purchased is the first of many projects that will showcase these beautiful images. The 2004 Classic Blues Calendar is the first of many projects that will showcase these beautiful images.

Paramount Offices, Port Washington, Wisconsin. Now demolished.

Back in the late 1920’s, the F.W. Boerner Company billed itself as the “World’s Largest Distributor of Race Records.” The Boerner company was headquartered in Port Washington, Wisconsin and its owners were indirectly connected with the legendary Blues and Jazz label called Paramount. It was Fred Boerner and his friends at Paramount who made a huge impact on the world of Blues music by operating a mail order company directed at African American record buyers throughout the USA.

The recordings made and released by Paramount are considered by Blues experts and historians to be representative of the pinnacle in recorded Blues. In the mid-1920’s, Paramount began advertising in the now legendary Chicago Defender, carefully promoting each new Blues release with clever artwork and appropriate hype. The artwork and advertisements were produced in Wisconsin and then sent to Chicago for publication. Apparently, all the printing was done by the local newspaper in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin.

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