Winstead’s Musicians


Anderson, M.L. “Sax.” Alto & tenor saxophone 1933

Davis, JC. Trombone 1933; producer, mgr.  1933, 1934, 1935, 1936

DB, or Diddy. Tenor sax. Bill Myers recalled him as a talented musician and longtime member of Winstead’s band, and that he was on the road most of the time. DB got Myers his first job with Winstead and encouraged him to go on the road with them; during his breaks from the road, DB, who was a Bonners Lane neighbor of Myers’–played in local bands and otten asked Myers to sit in with him.

Dixon, W.B. Band. 1936
Dickerson, W.B. Brass 1936 – likely same as W.B. Dixon

Dunning, Don.  1941 in Robinson’s Silver Minstrels band; 1947 in “Pitch” 

Gillens, George. Band. 1936

Harris, D. “Dee.” Drums, bass drum. 1933, 1936

Hooks, Shadow. Brass, 1936.
   “He was a fine trombonist,” said Mattie Sloan, “but a stone drunk.”

Earl Humphrey. MusicRising, Tulane University, New Orleans

Humphrey, Earl. 1902 – 1971. Bass. 1935.
       Earl Humphrey, a renowned trombone player, was one of three Humphrey brothers born in New Orleans and taught to play by their grandfather, a famous local music teacher. He played in New Orleans with numerous bands during the 20s, including those of Lee Collins, Buddy Pettit, Chris Kelly and Louis Dumaine. How long he played with Winstead’s is not known. During the ’30s he moved to Charlottesville, Virginia and quit music, but he returned to New Orleans in 1964 after his wife passed, and gradually got back into music, playing until his death in 1971.  Growing up, he admired Kid Ory [Music Rising, Tulane, 2 interviews]

Hubert, Ted. Reeds. 1936

Jones, T.H. Brass. 1936

Kid Brother. Snares. 1933

Bill Myers (L) and Sam Lathan, photographed by Eric Waters for Our State magazine, 2021

Lathan, Sam. drums. From Wilson, played with Winstead’s when the show was in town in the late 1940s. He toured with James Brown’s Famous Flames, 1960-63, after which he returned to Wilson, where he raised his family and worked as the Monitors‘ drummer from 1963 – 2024.

Mantigo. Band 1933

Mason, O.W.  Brass 1936

Mason, Charles. Trumpet. 1933

Meschaux,  Oliver. Trumpet. 1933

Moon Mullens. Trombone

The Monitors, early 1960s. Myers is 2nd from right. Courtesy of Bill Myers.

Myers, William “Bill.” saxophone. From Greenville, where Myers grew up on the Block . While in high school, he played with Winstead’s when the show was in town. A lifelong educator, he co-founded the Wilson-based band the Monitors.

Nelson, Lamar B “Buck.” Tuba [Defender distributor] 1935, bass 1936

Newby, John. Band 1933.

Niece, Walter. Band. 1936

Price, Walter “Buster.” Drums, 1936.
   From Richmond, Virginia, Price was “the best drummer in this country,” Mattie Sloan said. “I called him Fish because he liked fish so well. He was just a fine drummer, but he couldn’t save money. That was the only thing about him. He could’ve went to New York and made plenty of money but he wouldn’t go. He was the best drummer in this part of the country. If he’d a went North he’d have been rich but he wouldn’t do it, the environment up there. . . “

Reeves , D.B. Saxophone. 1954 $Bk

Robinson, Noah. band 1933.

Sloan, Frank. Sax, clarinet. Band leader, mgr. 1933 sax, clarinet ,leader; 1934 mus. director; 1943 cast; 1935, 1936 band dir.
   He told Mattie Barber Sloan that he ran away from home at the age of 12 in 1910 to join the Ringling Brothers Circus and that he learned saxophone while traveling with them. For the next 20 years, he played with various bands and shows throughout the East before joining Winstead in 1931 as his band leader. 

Sloan, Mattie Barber. 
    Mattie Barber married Frank Sloan in 1935. She said: “I was ticket seller, I sold tickets and kept the books, and I ran a cook house, and I ran a little joint there, where I sold popcorn and stuff.”
    She and Frank Sloan had four children.  “My children was born and raised on the show,” she said, “and they all taken music–their daddy gave ’em music, and all of them played in the band.”

Smith, Walter, Trombone. 1935

Sparrow, Kid. Reeds 1936

Walter, Buster. Drums. 1935.

Wright, Bob. Band 1933

Williams, Sonnie. Blues singer, from Greenville, NC, managed by John Warner. A May 22 1948 New Journal Guide ad says that he toured w/ WInstead’s for 2 years.

Wood, Fountain B. trombone. band dir. 1941, 1943
     “a conspicuous figure in the history of African American minstrel show bands.” 1902, Mahara’s, w/ WC Handy; 1927 leader Silas Green from New Orleans (OS 193)
     High praise for 1927 Silas Green band led by Wood, “one of the greatest trombone soloists of our Race.” From Los Angeles, recruited to take charge of band, immediately replaced overture at noonday concerts, “Bridal Rose,” with selections from Il Travatore & Il Guarany; Wood still had charge of Silas Green band in 1929. (RR 340-41). 
    1894, with Edwin F. Davis’ UTC Co, cast of 50 including Hyers sisters, who were near end of their careers OS 35
    1900, with Georgia Up-to-Dates (IFreeman: 1.6.1900)
    1901, band dir for Geyer-West Minstrels, w/ McQuitty (RR)
Also listed 1941 as band dir of Robinson’s Silver Minstrels, likely a Winstead show that traveled Florida during winter months; includes Don Dunning, W.M. Earl, Joe Frazier

Wright, Bob. Band 1933.

Abbott, Lynn, and Doug Seroff. Ragged But Right: Black Traveling Shows, “Coon Songs,” & the Dark Pathway to Blues and Jazz. Oxford, MS: UP of Miss. 2007.

Harris, John. “Make the Gig”: The Story of the Monitors. Columbia, SC: John Harris, 2024.

Myers, Bill. Personal interview. Wilson, NC 25 April 2024.

Chicago Defender, Pittsburg Courier, Baltimore Afro-American, Norfolks New Journal-Guide. LIST DATES

–4 July 2024