Tomorrow in New York City – Bob Roberts

Uncle Dave Lewis and I will again be speaking about Bob and Nick Roberts and we have some exciting new discoveries to present! The flyer for the program is below.


ARSC New York Chapter

FEBRUARY 2016 Meeting

7:00 P. M. Thursday, 3/17/16

(At the CUNY Sonic Arts Center)

West 140th Street & Convent Avenue, New York

Or enter at 138th Street off Convent Avenue

Shepard Hall (the Gothic building) – Recital Hall (Room 95, Basement level)

An elevator is located in the center of the building

“I May Be Crazy but I Ain’t No Fool”

The Legacy of Funnyman “Ragtime Bob” Roberts


Many collectors of vintage records need no introduction to Robert S. “Ragtime Bob” Roberts, one of the most charismatic and mysterious figures in the early phonograph industry, his name appearing on nearly 500 discs and cylinder releases. Researcher Rebecca Forste and I have been looking into the Bob Roberts story from the context of his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio and have made new discoveries in the life of this key entertainer. We have discovered a new birthdate for him and have made inroads into his family history, particularly in regard to his illustrious father, minstrel show entertainer and circus entrepreneur Nick Roberts (1841-1905). This will be a joint presentation where the Nick Roberts-related material will be presented by Rebecca Forste, with Uncle Dave Lewis joining in on Roberts’s recording activity, and later, career in early radio.

the original and only nick roberts

David N. “Uncle Dave” Lewis has been an ARSC member since 1999. He has presented at several ARSC Conferences since giving his first talk in Santa Barbara in 2002 on the subject of the obscure bandleader, Harry Spindler. Lewis ran the underground record label Hospital Records out of Cincinnati in the 1980s and has had a long presence in public radio, appearing in years-long programs on WAIF (Cincinnati) and WCBN (Ann Arbor, University of Michigan). He worked as a classical music buyer for West Coast Tower Records and Virgin Megastore locations in the 1990s and spent a decade as an editor for the All Music Guide, now RoviCorp. Today he presents monthly lectures at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County on topics relating to the music and recording industry in the Ohio Valley, and is an historian and producer for WVXU, the NPR affiliate in Cincinnati. His radio piece on bandleader Earl Fuller won an “Excellence in Journalism” award from the Society for Professional Journalists.


Rebecca Forste has worked as a contributor and editor for a variety of publications. Her background and interest in sound recordings is largely the legacy of her late mother, who was an audiophile and longstanding collector.

She contributes reviews to the ARSC Journal and returns to these meetings following her initial appearance last year in the Hal Kemp program.


Subway: Take the 1 train to 137th Street City College and walk north to 140th St. & Broadway,

then go east to 140th St. & Convent Avenue. Take the A, B, C, or D trains to 145th St, go south on St. Nicholas to 141st St, (one long block), then west one block to Convent Avenue, and south one more block to 140th & Convent Avenue.

Bus: M4 and M5 on Broadway; M 100, 101 on Amsterdam Ave. (one block West of Convent Avenue)

All ARSC NY Chapter meetings are free and open to the public.

Voluntary contributions to help defray our expenses are welcome!

To join ARSC, visit


History of Cincinnati Music: Puttin’ On the Ritz – Southwest Ohio Show People


Saturday, July 25

 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

 Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

800 Vine St, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

Dunbar,_Paul_Laurence_Advertising  pb james-oneill-circa-1896-photo-bw-resized

“Cincinnati has contributed a multitude of major talent to show biz, stretching back into the nineteenth century. Through thumbnail sketches, audio and video clips, Rebecca Forste and Uncle Dave Lewis will present summary profiles of seven key players in mainstream entertainment from 1870-1930: Powhatan Beaty, James O’Neill, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Charles Urban, Arthur V. Johnson, Theda Bara and Harry Richman. The one thing these key historic figures in entertainment have in common is that they all called Southwestern Ohio home. ” Text by David Neal Lewis


This going to be great! Hope you can be there!

History of Cincinnati Music: Midwestern Hayrides – The Sons of the Hayloft Gang

When we think of historic live country music and entertainment in the mass media, what immediately comes to mind is the National Barn Dance at WLS in Chicago, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and, in a later context, the syndicated television program “Hee Haw.” But from the 1930s to the 1960s there were dozens of broadcasts of this kind across the nation, with a heavy concentration of them in states bordering the Ohio River: Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Among them was WLW’s “Midwestern Hayride,” the Renfro Valley Barn Dance in Kentucky, and the WWVA Jamboree in Wheeling, West Virginia. Uncle Dave Lewis will provide a broad, regional survey of these types of programs in addition to the local history and will include some short thumbnail sketches devoted to artists involved in these programs.

The_Daily_Courier_Fri__May_24__1946_ (1)   Wilmington_News_Journal_Tue__Jan_11__1938_

Program will be held in the Reading Garden Lounge located near the lobby on the first floor of Main Library’s south building.

Midwestern Hayride hay

The_Piqua_Daily_Call_Mon__Feb_13__1939_ (1) Wilmington_News_Journal_Mon__Jul_31__1939_ Freeport_Journal_Standard_Sat__Feb_18__1933_

Saturday, June 27, 2015

 3:00pm – 5:00pm



From Cincinnati City Beat

David Lewis’ Music Lectures at the Main Library Expand to Saturdays

January 30th, 2015 By Steven Rosen

The presentations on The History of Cincinnati Music that David (“Uncle Dave”) Lewis has been presenting at the Main Library over the last year or so have been so good — so enlightening and entertaining — that one wishes he could do it for much larger crowds at the Aronoff Center or Music Hall. Or as a professor at University of Cincinnati — he’d be great there. He combines his original research with recordings and archival film footage and still photographs (when available).

One of his presentations, about Homer Rodeheaver, whose Cincinnati-based publishing company and record label were pioneers of sacred music and who was also close to the famous 1920s preacher Billy Sunday, got a nod as Best Arts Lecture last year from CityBeat.

But because his presentations have been on Wednesday evenings, many haven’t been able to attend. But now there’s a second chance. The Main Library’s music librarian, Steven Kemple, has arranged for Lewis to present reprises of his past lectures at 3 p.m. on the last Saturday of each month in the Reading Garden.

The Open Door

The Open Door

By R. S. Forste

This is a story I wrote to enter in National Public Radio’s Three-Minute Fiction contest. The rules were that it must be 600 words or less and revolve around a United States President.

Tip shivered under the heavy linen sheets. The dreamy haze of the opium was diminishing and the sharp pains in his chest began to reassert themselves. He moaned and blinked open his crusted eyelids. Where was he? This was not his home. Then he remembered. The brilliant, vigorous campaign, the epic inaugural address, the ceaseless flow of visitors, all of them wanting something – it all came rushing back to him. He was in the White House.

He drew a long, shuddering breath, triggering a fit of coughing. One of his doctors rose from a nearby chair to offer a tumbler of something.  Tip hoped it was water, and not that nasty castor oil they kept giving him. He sipped apprehensively. An unexpected, but not unpleasant, burning trickled down his gullet. It was neither water nor oil; it was whiskey.

He shot a look of surprise from beneath his shaggy, white brows at his physician. A single black eye met his gaze the way a slab of black rock meets the torrent of a cataract. He knew that eye. It did not belong here in this room.

He had first seen that eye among the crowd at the signing of the Treaty of Greenville, his attention snagged by the scarred patch of skin where its mate should have been. It had glared down on him from a crag at the battle after which he had renamed himself. It struck Tip for the first time that he probably would never have been elected were it not for that eye and the wretch to whom it belonged – Ten-squat-a-way, the Shawnee Prophet! But he had been dead nearly five years.

The brick-tinted skin at the corner of the solitary eye crinkled as the cracked lips below it parted in a smile of derision. Tip could see that the Prophet had divined his thoughts. Tip turned his face toward the wall and squeezed his own eyes shut. When he reopened them, the eye was still boring into him, now flanked by two intact pairs of eyes in two faces that were nearly identical to the first.

“What are you doing here?” Tip wheezed.

“I am the Open Door,” Ten-squat-a-way replied. “I have come to help you through. How much whiskey did you give to my brothers and me? We have come to repay you.” He raised the tumbler again to Tip’s lips, but Tip pressed them tightly together. The thought of all he had given the Shawnee made him dread reciprocation.

“If you will not take the medicine from me, then take it from your own blood. Here, Marie.”

Ten-squat-a-way handed the tumbler to a Negro woman at the foot of Tip’s bed. Tip recognized his own features in the woman’s face, but how could his daughter be here? She had been sold down to Georgia, so that no one in Washington would ever know of her or her siblings’ existence.

Marie thrust the vessel to his lips, which were open in bewilderment at her presence. She was liberal in her dosage, flooding his mouth and dousing his bedding. He choked and spat.

“Help her, Brothers,” Ten-squat-a-way commanded.  His two doppelgangers lifted Tip from his bed and held him upright with his head tilted back to facilitate Marie’s ministrations. The liquid, which was more than whiskey, flowed until he felt that he must vomit, but he didn’t.  The medicine did its work and he saw into the future, all the far-reaching consequences of his own actions. Through closed eyes, he beheld in terror what awaited him beyond the open door.