Hillbilly-Music.comThe People. The Music. The History.
Born: February 27, 1891
Died: April 25, 1973
About The Artist
Old time banjo picker Jacob Calvin Davenport along with his Gang were early day radio and recording
artists in Knoxville. The Gang consisted primarily of his nephews Hubert Davenport (December 25, 1909 - April 18, 1968)
and Malcom Davenport (May 15, 1908 - November 23, 1992) although others
were off-and-on members.
They played a regular program on Wednesday nights over WNOX for such sponsors
as Big Four Markets and later for the Cas Walker stores. Although band members had day jobs, they also
played frequently at local functions. In addition to Cal on banjo, Hubert played harmonica and Malcom guitar.
Research of newspaper archives did not provide any material such as promotional ads. But it did find
several small one paragraph articles indicating where the band was playing. Some examples:
March 19, 1930 - Cal Davenport's sting orchestra provide music - Inskip PTA sponsored program.
December 27, 1931 - Cal Davenport's Gang radio entertainers music for danceung; E. P. King vocal music - Past Councilors Assocation, Daughters of America - Ida McKinley Hall
January 28, 1933 - Cal Davenport's string orchestra along with white and negro quartets - South Knoxville Methodist Church
February 8, 1936 - Cal Davenport and his Gang with Burns Brothers and Mount Olive Quartet - Galbraith PTA supper
September 6, 1931 - Cal Davenport and His Boys string band and Dixie Gem Quartet vocals - Farragut Council No. 11 meeting
August 28, 1932 - Cal Davenport and His Gang furnish music - D. of A. - Ida McKinley Council
On August 31, 1929, Cal Davenport and his Gang recorded four numbers for Vocalion. In addition to
the three Davenports, William C. Brown played a second guitar. Three of the four sang vocals and
while some doubt exists as to the singer, it was not Hubert as his French harp can be heard behind the vocal.
Although they placed no more numbers on disc, the band remained semi-active into the 1950s. Their entire
output was released on "The Knoxville Sessions, 1929-1930" Bear Family boxed set.
The Knoxville Journal wrote an article about this historic event. It was the first time recordings were to be made
in Knoxville and all of the artists were local performers. The sessions began on August 27, 1929 and were done
in the Sterchi Brothers broadcasting studio in the St. James hotel. The recordings were being done for Vocalion
by the Brunswick-Balke-Collender company. Sterchi Brothers also carried Vocalion records. R. F. Lyons of Chicago
came to Knoxville to oversee the recordings. The article reported that the following artists were to make records:
Cal Davenport and His Gang
University of Tennessee Trio
Maynard Baird and His Southern Serenaders
Will Bennet (negro/black) of Loudon
Hugh Ballard Cross
Ridgel's Fountain Citians
Wise String Orchestra
Southern Moonlight Entertainers
Harry Van Gilder
Senior Chapel Quartet (negro)
Jacob Calvin Davenport married the former Lida Elizabeth Woods (November 15, 1895 — July 11, 1935). The 1930 census
indicated that he was 22 years old when he was first married to Lida, which would be around 1913.
The 1930 census shows they had four children at that time;
3 sons (Harry, Alvin R, and Ray F) and one daughter (Wilma E.). It appears that he remarried (Anna R.) and had a one year
old son, Thomas Edward, per the 1940 census.