Steel Guitar Rag

Yesterday we looked kindly on the possible Indian origins of the Hawaiian slide/lap steel guitar. Whichever musician was the first to slide steel on a set of strings, guitar historians agree that the Hawaiian steel guitar made its formal debut on the continental mainland in 1915 at Hawaii’s pavilion at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, a massive 7 month long exposition that celebrated the completion of the Panama Canal and attracted millions of visitors. The steel guitar sound so intrigued and inspired Americans that in 1916 record companies sold thousands of copies of Hawaiian-inspired records and many Hawaiian model guitars, along with steel guitar “do-it-yourself’ kits that included song books, steel rods, finger and thumb picks and a mechanism to lift the strings far enough above the body of the guitar that pressing the slide on them wouldn’t make them buzz. Let’s watch Leon McAuliffe and Cimarron Boys play the Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys lap steel classic, “Steel Guitar Rag.”

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