Two Jaggers And A Pianist

:: Elsie & Gene Jaggers - The Train Song ::

:: Elsie & Gene Jaggers - Hilo March ::

Here's a nifty little single I found awhile back. It appears to be a private pressing on Angelus Records, an obscure label out of Glendale, CA, featuring some glorious steel guitar playing by a woman named Elsie Jaggers, accompanied by her husband on ukulele, Reverend Gene Jaggers, and pianist, Janice Dernier. There's no real info on the sleeve, just a PO Box to order more sacred and Hawaiian recordings from this couple. From the look of it, I'm guessing this came out sometime in the 1970's or possibly the late sixties.

There's really not much info out there on Elsie Jaggers, other than that she was a student of Sol Ho'opi'i, often considered to be the "King of the Steel Guitar." Sol came to San Francisco as a teenager in 1919, a stowaway from Hawaii, birthplace of the novel idea of pressing and sliding a metal bar against guitar strings. Sometime in the 1920's he developed different tunings for the electric lap steel guitar, which allowed for more complex chords and sophisticated melodies than previously utilized. Soon both he and his music were appearing in Hollywood films, and his recordings began to spread out and inspire other musicians. Unfortunately, the good tunes coming out of this guy were not to last - in the late 1930's he became a born-again Christian and dedicated himself to evangelism. Musical appearances became sporadic and religious in nature from that point forward, because, you know the deal - God hates those hot, jazzy numbers and will condemn you to eternal damnation in the fiery pits of hell for listening or playing it. As the Robot's good friend, Russell, once exasperatingly exclaimed when denied buying a six-pack in Texas on a Sunday, "Those goddamned Christians ruin everything!"

Anyway, if you'd like to check out Sol Ho'opi'i's music, Rounder Records has done a nice job of compiling a good assortment of his recordings. While writing, I came across an offer which has me absolutely salivating. A friend of Sol's, and steel guitar recording artist himself, Bud Tutmarc, has a nine-disc collection of Sol Ho'opi'i public performances, private parties and jam sessions that have never officially been released for $75. Check out the sound samples that are provided, and then have fun trying to exercise some self restraint and not click that paypal button.

Anyway, back to the Elsie & Gene Jagger single. Both songs have sort of a ragtime Hawaiian feel that lend them some upbeat pep and bounce. "The Train Song" is meant to be a religious ditty - see the train riding on up to that shining city in the sky on the record's front cover? The song's subtitle, printed on the label, reads, "Life's Railway to Heaven." Make sure to listen for the steel produced sounds of a chicken squawk and a cow's "moo" just prior to the song's end - I suppose just outside those pearly gates there lies a farm, and we'll all be greeted by its animals.

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Saturday, January 21, 2006 1:59:00 PM

This is wonderful stuff. My favorite "Hawaiian" music is the stuff that really isnt Hawaiian. A big fave is Joey Bochenek, "the musical wizard," who does "Hawaiian" versions of Christian hymns on Hawaiian steel guitar. I'll post some soon.    

Saturday, January 28, 2006 10:50:00 PM

I'm glad someone remembers that quote.
Wait a minute, you weren't even there!!
I've never been to Texas with you! (The story is a little inaccurate too, but that's OK).    

Wednesday, March 01, 2006 5:02:00 AM

I have quite a bit of Elsie Jagger's music- I just need to locate it. I saw them in person too, at a private party in the 80s. Elsie was also a great vocalist, if you liked her style. She also had an accompanist on the organ- "Joy Newborn" it was very good. I'll look for it and share if there's intrest. She was so heavy that she must be gone by now. Patrick Cowdrey ...    

Thursday, November 02, 2006 7:35:00 PM

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.    

Thursday, November 02, 2006 7:53:00 PM

I personally knew Elsie and her husband Gene. They were evangelists back in the 70's and came to my dads church in Indiana several times. I well remember hearing her play live "the train song" as well as others. I still have on tape that I taped their church service and Music. I have often wondered if they were still alive. They also had one daughter Hazel. I remember them staying with us and were driving a station wagon back then. If anyone knows where they are and if still alive I would like to know    

Monday, January 29, 2007 12:56:00 PM


I have a great album by the Jagger's called "The Healer of Broken Hearts." It is a truly haunting album. I would love to hear some more music of theirs, but, alas, the links here were broken. Let me know if they are fixed, or if the problem is on my end...


Sunday, October 12, 2008 1:07:00 PM

I just got off the phone with Elsie Jaggers - who is alive and well and living with her daughter in Oregon.

I had hoped she could help me research that obscure record label - Angelus Records so I can track down The Faith Tones - she didn't remember anything about Angelus, but did talk about recording with Sol.

Pretty darned interestin'    

Monday, August 03, 2009 5:59:00 PM

Has anyone heard of a record by "The Faith Tones" by Angelus records? It's an internet mystery.    

Wednesday, September 09, 2009 1:37:00 AM

Hey- This is Patrick. I don't know if either of the Jaggers are still alive, but I am. How do I edit my post? The only thing I need to change is my eMail address. It has been changed to Also- I have found one of the tapes of Elsie Jaggers music. I need to burn it to a CD, and if anybody is interested in a copy, that will cause me to get busy and get it done. Blessings to all- Patrick Cowdrey    

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