Francum Braswell & George Wade

James Francum Braswell (1908-1958) was born in 1908, the son of a farm family, in Piney, in Caldwell County, in western North Carolina. By 1920, however, his father and two siblings were working in cotton mill in nearby Lenoir, and although no definitive evidence has surfaced, Braswell himself may have worked in the mills, in either Caldwell or Gaston County. How Braswell and Wade met remains uncertain, nor is it clear how the duo came to audition for Columbia. However, in the fall of 1929, the pair traveled to Johnson City, Tennessee, to record at a field session, supervised by A & R man Frank B. Walker.
There, on October 21, 1929, in a makeshift studio set up in a former cream separator station, Wade and Braswell waxed two vocal duets for Columbia’s “Familiar Tunes, Old and New” series:
Think a Little
, a rather secular admonition to uphold the biblical Golden Rule, and When We Go A Courtin’, a comical cautionary tale about the hazards of courting (text taken from Gastonia Gallop's Artist Gallery).

Braswell's harmonica playing is extremely powerful and creative, remarkably close to Gwen Foster's style, employing lots of blowbends and upper octave tongue trills in 1st position on a G. Unfortunately these two cuts appear to be his only known recordings. However he remains to be an important part in the legacy of great Carolina harp players.

Francum Braswell & George Wade - "Think a Little"
Francum Braswell & George Wade - "When You Go A'Courtin"

Enjoy, folks!


Stark Martin said...

Wow... thank you SO VERY much for sharing! This is my husbands grandfather and we have looked far and wide to try to obtain a copy of the records to no avail. To finally hear the recording is a gift beyond measure. I can't wait to have his daughter listen to it.

Bless you and Merry Christmas! You have certainly given our family a tremendous gift today.


Stark Martin, wife of James Martin, grandson of James Francum (Picollo) Braswell.

Anonymous said...

I am the Granddaughter of James Francum (Picollo)Braswell.I have heard stories my whole life of how talented my grandfather really was not only with his music but also as a cartoonist. Thank you for allowing me to hear my grandfather play.What a special Christmas treat this really was. I hope to pass this on to my grandmother and his youngest daughter,Joan my mother to hear him play. Pamela Y. Keifer (Betsy) granddaughter of Francum (Picollo)Braswell

Chrissie said...

Picollo is my grandfather also. My father is James Francum Braswell, Jr. My grandmother is still living. What a special gift to play this for her. My father played guitar, and I also play musical instuments. So special to see how music runs in the family :) Christina Lee Braswell Booth (843 360-9595

maz said...

Hello everybody!

First of all I'd like to tell you what your dear grandfather and grandgrandad had brought into my life, of course am I a big fan of his musicwise, but especially to actually hear from y'all guys and having been able to give such Christmas gift to your family really fills me with joy!

I hope you had a good start in 2011 and are doing well!?

Since I'm situated in Germany it's a bit complicated to make a quick phonecall but here's what I'm gonna do - please have my email and feel free to write me anytime:

I'd really like to learn more about one of my all-time favorite harmonica players (maybe you even have a picture of his to send me?), his story and of course his family which is you, too!

Take care everyone and I hope to hear from y'all soon.


Impressions By Stark said...


I am sending you some photos and information on "Picollo Braswell". Hope you enjoy them as much as the family has enjoyed rehearing his music.

His widow is in the hospital right now and one of his grand daughter's shared his music to her today. Hyacinth Braswell LOVED it and was explaining to the room of descendants that he had a harmonica on a brace around his mouth and also played the guitar and sang during the recordings.

Thank you again,

Stark Martin

Suzuki Harmonica said...

Awesome remember to me, When I was kid my father gifted this Vintage Harmonica as my Birthday gift. Now I just ordered Suzuki harmonica at PIJ. Its really amazing.