Twenty-five cents would buy you a full afternoon or evening of live entertainment in nearly any city or town between 1880 and 1930. At the local vaudeville house you could enjoy eight to ten acts by magicians, singers, acrobats, actors, trained animals, and comedians. The "variety stage" might be filled by a Shakespearean troupe or an opera singer, and followed by a blackface act, ragtime band, or sacred vocal quartet. The best, as well as the worst, of these acts made sound recordings so that you could enjoy your favorite routines again and again on your own phonograph.
More on the history of vaudeville can be found at the website of the Library of Congress exhibition, Bob Hope and American Variety.
—Samuel Brylawski, UC Santa Barbara, Editor, American Discography Project