Archive for the ‘1966’ Category

Love, Murder & Regret

Friday, October 26th, 2018

One of my regular stops for tunes new to me or for new perspectives on tunes familiar is the fine blog Any Major Dude With Half A Heart. From imaginatively themed mixes to the multi-part history of country music, I’ve gotten more tunes from the Halfhearted Dude than I can easily digest, all offered with trenchant commentary.

We don’t agree on everything. There are tunes and genres he likes that leave me wanting, and I know there are tunes and genres dear to me that likely draw from the Dude eye-rolls worthy of a teen. As an example, I wasn’t crazy about everything he offered this week in his “Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 1,” which was nevertheless a fun mix. And one of the tracks in the mix pulled me back to one of my own explorations here: Olivia Newton-John’s 1971 cover of “Banks Of The Ohio,” a song of love, murder and regret.

I included Newton-John’s live performance of the song five years ago when I looked a little bit at the song’s long history. As I wrote then, it was startling “to see earlier this week in the Billboard Hot 100 from October 30, 1971, that Olivia Newton-John had a hit with a gender-flipped version of ‘Banks Of The Ohio.’ The single went only to No. 94 here in the U.S. (No. 34 on the Adult Contemporary chart), but it was No. 1 for five weeks in Australia.”

Here’s the studio version:

The Halfhearted Dude called the track “the weirdest” of the twenty-four he included in his murder collection. I left a note at his blog suggesting that if he truly wanted weird, he should listen to Glenn Yarbrough’s take on the tune, found on his 1957 album Come Sit By My Side. The video I linked to five years ago was layered with surface noise; in this video, the purposeful and disquieting dissonance conjured up by Yarbrough and his producer, whoever he was, is much more audible, as is Yarbrough’s odd and jarring diction. I called the whole thing “creepy” five years ago, and I have not changed my mind.

And when I shared Yarbrough’s “Banks Of The Ohio” five years ago, frequent visitor, commenter and pal Yah Shure agreed with my assessment: “Creepy is right! Must thoroughly cleanse musical palate now.”

He went on to compare Yarbrough’s take on the old folk song to a record a local band recorded during his youth:

Some fellow students from my high school were in a band called the Poore Boyes, whose “Give” – a 1966 single on the local Summer label – was a reverb-drenched love-’er and stab-’er affair that I’m guessing didn’t generate boatloads of requests at their high school prom gigs, in spite of some airplay on KDWB. It had that minor key/echo/surf Kay Bank Recording Studio sound (think “Liar, Liar” with knives and blood.)

Here’s the Poore Boyes “Give” on the Summer label (along with the B-side “It’s Love”):

There was a second version of “Give” by the Poore Boyes, Yah Shure said:

The group re-cut . . . er, re-recorded “Give” in a much drier version for Capitol’s perennially-hitless Uptown subsidiary, but the lyrics sounded even creepier – more premeditated, even – when uncloaked from the murky, damp darkness of the earlier echo-fest.

Here’s that second version:

I’ll let Yah Shure have the final word on “Give,” from his comments five years ago: “Maybe Olivia should’ve covered it.”

Getting My Kicks

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

I’ve been bingeing the past few weeks on soccer, the game that the rest of the world calls football, as the World Cup competition plays out in Russia.

I’m by no means an expert on the game, but I’m beginning to understand some of the more complex commentary put forth by the announcers on the Fox networks, and that’s helped with my enjoyment of the game. So, too, has the quality of some of the games, particularly yesterday’s 3-2 victory by Belgium in the round of sixteen (which has a place – though I’m not sure of its rank – in my informal list of the most exciting sports competitions I’ve ever seen).

Given my lineage and my personal history, I tend to root for Scandinavian teams. Two of the three that qualified for the thirty-two team event in Russia – Denmark and Iceland – have been eliminated, leaving Sweden playing today for a spot in the quarterfinals. The Swedes are okay to watch, but I’ve had the most fun watching Belgium, whose fast attacking style seems at odds with everything I’ve known about the game for years.

Those who know me personally might know that my ancestry – according to the genealogy – is half-Swedish, three-eighths German and one-eighth something from the Nineteenth Century Austro-Hungarian Empire. (One of my great-grandmothers was born in a small town in what is now Hungary that sits about fifty miles from Vienna, Austria. If there were one person on my family tree to whom I’d love to give a DNA test, it would be she.) Given my Germanic roots, then, one would assume that I might root for the German soccer team. But I can’t, for historical and personal reasons. In fact, I was actually pretty pleased that the Germans were eliminated in the group round of play.

And today’s first game is set to start in just a few minutes, so I’ll leave you with the entirely unrelated 1966 classic by Paul Revere & The Raiders, “Kicks.”

‘Don’t Be Concerned . . .’

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

A little while back, I looked at one of the Billboard Easy Listening charts from 1968 – fifty years ago – and was surprised to learn that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.

I’ve been getting lessons like that for nearly sixty-five years, so my pride wasn’t wounded all that much. And, given a little more thought about how I came to hear easy listening tunes when I was in my early teens, I thought I’d take a look at another one of the magazine’s easy listening charts from the mid-1960s.

In that earlier post, I ascribed my exposure to – and my continuing love of – easy listening to the fact that we frequently listened to the Twin Cities radio giant WCCO at home. And we did. But there’s another source I didn’t think about as I wrote: my sister’s transistor radio.

I think I’ve told the tale, but if I did, it was some time back, so here goes: In either 1963 or 1964 – probably the latter – my folks gave my sister a transistor radio as a gift (Christmas, I think, though it could have been for her birthday). She evidently didn’t use it all that much, for not long afterward, my dad commandeered it for his nightstand, and every evening (save perhaps Saturdays), he would play the radio for about twenty minutes before we all closed up shop for the night.

And his station of choice was St. Cloud’s KFAM, an outfit located over on the south side that played easy listening music at that time of the evening. I clearly remember, for example, hearing Frank Sinatra’s “Summer Wind” – No. 1 on the easy listening chart for one week during October 1966 – coming from Dad’s transistor radio more than once. So I thought – even though it’s April – I’d take a look at that mid-October chart from 1966 and see what’s familiar and what’s not. Here are the top fifteen from that long ago Billboard Easy Listening chart:

“Summer Wind” by Frank Sinatra
“Born Free” by Roger Williams
“Summer Samba (So Nice)” by Walter Wanderley
“In The Arms Of Love” by Andy Williams
“Dommage, Dommage (Too Bad, Too Bad)” by Jerry Vale
“The Wheel Of Hurt” by Margaret Whiting
“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” by Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra
“Flamingo” by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
“Mas Que Nada” by Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66
“A Time For Love” by Tony Bennett
“Free Again” by Barbra Streisand
“I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” by the Glenn Miller Orchestra
“Lookin’ For Love” by Ray Conniff
“Elusive Butterfly” by Jane Morgan
“Once I Had A Heart” by Robert Goulet

I think I do better with this set of fifteen than I did with the earlier grouping about six weeks ago. The top three are on the digital shelves here, as are “Mas Que Nada” and the record by Tony Bennett. I know “Dommage, Dommage,” likely from Vale’s version; I know “Elusive Butterfly” from Bob Lind’s original; and I know “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” from multiple versions (chiefly the Tommy Dorsey recording from 1935). And for what it may matter, I did refer to Whiting’s record in a post last September.

The rest would be mysteries, even “Flamingo” and “Lookin’ For Love,” despite my enjoyment of the work of both Herb Alpert and Ray Conniff.

Having dipped a toe into most of the unfamiliar tunes in the list above, I find myself liking Morgan’s sprightly take on “Elusive Butterfly.” It turned out to be her most successful record on the magazine’s easy listening chart, reaching No. 9.

Morgan’s chart history is interesting: Massachusetts-born (in 1920) and Florida-raised, she had ten records in or near the Billboard Hot 100 between 1956 and 1967, and seven records in the magazine’s easy listening chart between 1965 and 1968, but – if I’m reading things correctly – only two records showed up in both charts. Her best-performing record was “Fascination,” credited to Jane Morgan & The Troubadors, which went to No. 7 in 1957 in one of the several charts Billboard compiled at the time.

Here’s her take on Bob Lind’s “Elusive Butterfly.”

Chart position corrected after first posting.

Saturday Single No. 578

Saturday, February 17th, 2018

I’ve hated change all my life.

Well, most of the time. When I’ve traveled, I’ve enjoyed seeing, doing, experiencing new things. Traveling was different.

But when I am home, I like my life, my days to be orderly. Even a minor change puts me off-kilter. Case in point: Monday is laundry day. When there’s a Monday holiday, I usually end up doing laundry on Tuesdays, and the whole week feels out of whack.

I know, I know. This is one of those things we call a first-world problem. But it’s true: Even the slightest change in my routines and patterns leaves me feeling out of place.

And here comes a major change as we move from our house on the East Side to the condo on the North Side.

(The truck comes Monday. I think we’ll be ready, although we have two very long days of work ahead of us, work I will get to as soon as I finish here.)

One would think that I’m apprehensive or put off balance by the prospect of moving, of going through one of the major changes we can have in our lives. Well, I was. For the past several years, as the Texas Gal has talked about finding a new place, I’ve been skittish. I’ve loved living here on the East Side, here with the thirty-four oak trees and the garden and the squirrels and the lilacs. Especially the lilacs.

But I’ve come to realize that my skittishness was when we talked about finding an apartment, some place that wasn’t ours. I didn’t want to leave my house, the place where I’d felt at home probably more than any other, for just another place that would feel temporary.

As soon as the Texas Gal brought up the idea of buying a place, there was a shift in me, one I didn’t see coming. Of course, I never saw our owning a place coming, either. And when we decided on the condo on the North Side, there was a major shift. I won’t say I looked forward to the packing, the work of moving, but the move itself, the idea of a place that was ours, felt right.

A little less than ten years ago, when we moved from the adjacent apartments into the house, I wasn’t sure it was the right thing. We were cramped, yes, but . . . well, I was set in a place and I knew where things were and all that. But moving to the house here under the oaks turned out to be the right thing. And I think our move to the North Side will be the right thing.

I think that’s been obvious in some of my work here. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago:

I know that it’s going to take some time, even after we move, for the condo to feel like home. Every move I’ve ever made – and this move will be my twenty-first since I left Kilian Boulevard during the summer of 1976 – has found me slowly acclimating to each new place, living there for maybe a month or two before it felt like home. There will be no “eureka” moment, I know, just an eventual recognition that the new place on the North Side is where we belong.

And it’s taken a couple of weeks since then to realize that for the first time in my life, I’m looking forward to a major change, and that’s something new for me, a reflection of a change in me that I never saw coming. And that’s an appropriate place to end this last epistle from the East Side.

Here, with their cover of one of Phil Ochs’ most lovely songs, are Ian & Sylvia with “Changes.” It’s from their 1966 album Ian & Sylvia Play One More, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘When’

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

So we return after a long break to Journalism 101, our exploration of tunes that include in their titles the five W’s and one H of reporting: who, what, where, when, why, and how. Today’s subject is “when,” and the RealPlayer brings us an initial harvest of 761 tracks.

We’ll winnow that down, of course. We lose a few tracks with “whenever” in their titles, and a 1998 track from the band When In Rome goes by the wayside. So do several albums (except for some title tracks) including Glenn Yarbrough’s For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her, Trisha Yearwood’s The Song Remembers When, Rory Block’s When A Woman Gets The Blues, Snow Patrol’s When It’s All Over We Still Have to Clear Up, Traffic’s When The Eagle Flies, the Sutherland Brothers’ When The Night Comes Down, Carolina Story’s When The River Met The Sea, John Mellencamp’s Whenever We Wanted, and When Harry Met Sally by Harry Connick, Jr.

There’s plenty left, of course, and we’re going to do things a little differently today, picking one track from each of four decades of the 1900s, starting with the 1940s. (Just for the record, the earliest recorded track that popped up was “When a ’Gator Holler, Folks Say It’s A Sign Of Rain” recorded by Margaret Johnson with the Black & Blue Trio in 1926, while the most recent track offered by the RealPlayer was “When I Saw Your Face” from Soul Of A Woman, Sharon Jones’ final album with the Dap-Kings.

The mystically romantic “Where Or When” was introduced in the 1937 musical Babes In Arms, created by the team of Richard Rodgers and Lorenzo Hart and quickly became a popular standard. The website Second Hand Songs lists 225 versions of the tune, and it’s apparent that there are more versions uncounted, as we’re listening today to the 1942 cover of the song by Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians, which SHS does not cite. Lombardo’s version of “Where Or When” is a little stiff, perhaps, but the buttery smooth reeds still sound nice, as does the similarly smooth trombone solo. The Decca release went to No. 19 in 1943, according to David A. Jasen’s book A Century Of American Popular Music.

So we move into the 1950s and find a charming gem: “When You Dance” by the Turbans, a black doo-wop group from Philadelphia. Released on the Herald label in 1955, the record went to No. 33 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 3 on the magazine’s R&B chart. Six years later, the Turbans re-recorded the song for a release on the Parkway label, but the record only bubbled under at No. 114. The original version showed up in 2005 on the stellar two-CD set The Only Doo-Wop Collection You’ll Ever Need on the Shout Factory label.

If ever a No. 18 hit can be called a forgotten record, it might be “Shake Me, Wake Me (When It’s Over)” by the Four Tops. The 1966 single has everything you might want in a Four Tops joint, from an arresting tale and a strong lead vocal to the work of Motown’s Funk Brothers. But I think it tends to get lost among the stellar singles the group released on either side: “I Can’t Help Myself” and “It’s The Same Old Song” charted in 1965, “Reach Out I’ll Be There” hit later in 1966, and 1967 brought “Standing In The Shadows Of Love” and “Bernadette.” Small wonder that “Shake Me, Wake Me,” as good as it is, stands in shadows itself. As I noted, it peaked in the Hot 100 at No. 18, and it went to No. 5 on the R&B chart.

The short-lived British band McGuinness Flint managed one appearance in the Billboard Hot 100 when “When I’m Dead And Gone” went to No. 47 in early 1971, and as I listen today to that track and to “Malt and Barley Blues,” a 1971 Capitol promo single, I wish I had a lot more from the band on the digital shelves. I have Lo and Behold, a 1972 album by the group’s successor band, Coulson, Dean, McGuinness and Flint, and that’s fine, but I suppose I’m going to have to shell out some cash for the original group’s 1970 album. The group’s tangled history is best left to Wikipedia. (Oddly enough, I also have on the digital shelves a cover of “When I’m Dead And Gone” by an American artist named Bob Summers that pretty much copies the original arrangement, slows the song down just a titch, and misses the magic entirely.)

Saturday Single No. 565

Saturday, November 18th, 2017

When my external hard drive clicked its way to death the other week, I replaced it – for the time being – with the 500-gig hard drive I’d tucked away as a partial back-up. Doing that means that iTunes could no longer find the 3,600 or so tunes I’d loaded there for my iPod to find.

My plan – now maybe half-way completed – was to buy two new three-terabyte hard drives, use one as my day-to-day drive and put all my music in the other one and tuck it away as a back-up along with the 500-gig hard drive. It took all day yesterday to transfer my current (diminished) library (along with many documents and other bits) to one of the new 3TB drives. I’m going to do the remaining transfer overnight tonight, and on Monday, I’ll reload all of the sorted mp3s into the RealPlayer and start selecting tracks – once again – to go into iTunes for the iPod.

While I was laying those plans, I did not want to go without tunes on the iPod, so I spent a few hours pushing about 2,500 tunes its way via iTunes. This was no careful selection; it was more like one of those sixty-second shopping sprees one sees occasionally on television: grab some stuff here, grab some stuff there, take a whole folder here and another over there.

What it means is that the current tracks in iTunes (and on the iPod) have maybe a different flavor than they had before. So I’m going to run random through four of them to find our single for today.

First up is “Kingdom of Days” from Bruce Springsteen’s 2009 album Working On A Dream. It’s a testament to loving another as the days and years pass. I’ve not listened to it a great deal, and when I do, I tend to get lost in the hypnotic melody. But every time I do stop to notice it, I wonder again why I don’t listen to it more. Probably because when I drop the CD into the player, I have to make sure to skip the first track, “Outlaw Pete.” (It’s the only Springsteen track I truly dislike.)

Our second stop is a take on “Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)” by Bob Dylan and The Band. It came here on the 1985 box set Biograph and was a product of the sessions in Woodstock, New York, that became known as The Basement Tapes. It’s a decent performance of the tune, but – as these things usually go – I tend to like the first version I ever heard of the tune, and that’s Dylan’s live performance with The Band at the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival. That one was also included on Dylan’s second greatest hits package in 1971.

Then we get Jim Croce’s “Next Time, This Time,” about as catchy a kiss-off song as you might ever want to find. “I’m gonna forget your name and your pretty face, girl and write you off as a bad mistake,” he sings, adding that “a woman like you ought to be ashamed of the things that you do to men.” I remember hearing that lyric for the first time in November of 1974 as I played my newly purchased copy of Croce’s 1973 album Life & Times. As I listened, I found myself relating the song clearly to someone I’d dated briefly that September. Many years later, sipping drinks with a couple of friends from that long-ago era, I mentioned the woman’s name, indicating my less-then-fond memories. The other two guys nodded and noted that they’d had similar, and probably more costly, experiences with the same woman. And that memory makes me wonder if Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken” might show up next.

But it doesn’t. And that’s okay, because it lands on Wilson Pickett’s “634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.),” a 1966 record that went to No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was No. 1 on the magazine’s R&B chart for seven weeks. Even I, as disconnected as I was with Top 40 music in seventh grade, knew that phone number by heart. Thank goodness I still like the track. Oddly, though, I have mentioned Pickett’s record only once in more than ten years of blogging, and that was in a piece on telephone numbers.

And that means that Wilson Pickett’s “634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.)” is today’s Saturday Single.

‘What’

Friday, August 25th, 2017

We resume our tour this morning through the five W’s and one H of basic journalism, a trek we’re calling Journalism 101, during which we’ll highlight tunes with titles that include the words “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how.” We started with a post titled “Who” last month. Today, we move on to “what.”

Our initial search through the 96,000 or so tracks in the RealPlayer brings us 1,476 candidates. There’s winnowing required, and we lose entire albums (except, in some cases, the title track) from William Vaughn, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Jimmy Smith, Bobby Womack, Koko Taylor, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, Janiva Magness, Catherine Howe, the Decemberists, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jackie Lomax, Gloria Scott, Pat Green, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, and a fair number more. We also lose a few tracks from Michael McDonald, a couple tracks from the Staples, one track from the Dynamics, two tracks from Dinah Washington, a track from Rodney Crowell and a few others.

But there are plenty of tracks remaining for our needs this morning, and instead of trying to sort through the remainder with any sort of criteria, I’m going to let the RealPlayer do the work randomly. I’ll intervene for spoken word tracks, tracks shorter than two minutes, and anything before, oh, let’s say 1945. So here we go:

First up in our trek today is “What Do You Want” by the Jeff Beck-era Yardbirds. The track showed up in the U.K. on the 1966 album Yardbirds. In the U.S., it was on Over Under Sideways Down. It’s your basic garage rocker with a slight Brit twist, at least until the last third or so, when Beck takes things over. It’s not near the top of the Yardbirds’ oeuvre, but mediocre Yardbirds is a lot better than a lot of other things we might hear as we wander among the digital shelves here.

We move on to a record about which I know next to nothing, “What More Can I Say” by Jeffrey Clay & The Diggers. It was released by MGM in 1965 but went nowhere; it came to our attention in the massive Lost Jukebox collection that was available online a while back. It’s not in any of the chart books or files I have, the Airheads Radio Survey Archive finds no mention of the single in its vast collection of surveys, and it’s the only single for Mr. Clay and his pals listed at Discogs. It’s not a bad record, just a little boring, with one odd thing: Producer Gene Nash tacked the sound of an audience of screaming girls to the beginning and the end of the record, in what I’d guess was an attempt to make the listeners think the group was overwhelmingly popular. I just wonder who it was those young ladies were actually screaming for.

And we hit some traditional country with “What’ll You Do About Me” by Randy Travis. I suppose that back in 1987, when the tune was an album track on Travis’ Always & Forever, the tale of a spurned lover who won’t give up seemed like a good topic. But listening thirty years later, in a world that’s become much more attuned to the traits of domestic abuse, I hear the story of a stalker who’s likely dangerous (especially in the verse where he’s got his hands on a two-by-two):

All you wanted was a one-night stand
The fire and the wine and the touch of a man
But I fell in love and ruined all your plans
Now what’ll you do about me?

Imagine the faces on your high-class friends
When I beat on the door and I beg to come in
Screamin’ “Come on, love me again!”
Now what’ll you do about me?

Well, you can change your number, you can change your name
You can ride like hell on the midnight train
That’s alright, Momma, that’s okay
But what’ll you do about me?

Picture your neighbors when you try to explain
That good ol’ boy standin’ out in the rain
With his nose on the window pane
Now what’ll you do about me?

What in the world are you planning to do
When a man comes over just to visit with you
And I’m on the porch with a two-by-two?
Lady, what’ll you do about me?

Well, you can call your lawyer, you can call the fuzz
You can sound the alarm, wake the neighbors up
Ain’t no way to stop a man in love
Now what’ll you do about me?

All you wanted was a one night stand
The fire and the wine and the touch of a man
But I fell in love and baby, here I am
Now what’ll you do about me?

Well, you can change your number, you can change your name
You can ride like hell on the midnight train
That’s alright, Momma, that’s okay
Now what’ll you do about me?

And we close our four-tune sample with the combination from 2008 of a long-familiar name with a long-familiar tune: Bonnie Bramlett taking on “For What It’s Worth.” Bramlett, of course, was the Bonnie of Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, the powerhouse group of the late 1960s and early 1970s that offered a wicked stew of rock, blues, R&B and gospel; and the song, of course, is the one that Stephen Stills wrote when he was member of Buffalo Springfield that became an anthem for the counter-culture of the late 1960s and early 1970s. A cynic could say, “Hey! It’s Double-Nostalgia Day!” But the song, slightly cryptic as it is, still sounds right today, and Bramlett’s supple and bluesy voice still sounds good on what is – so far – her most recent album, Beautiful.

‘Weary’

Friday, June 16th, 2017

Well, the ceremonies and formalities are over, and we’ve laid Mom to rest next to Dad in the Lutheran Church cemetery in Dad’s hometown of Cambridge. And we’re slowly getting back into the rhythms of everyday life: laundry, housework, cooking, watering the garden.

There are still some tasks left, things like getting out “thank you” cards, and my sister and I will begin that tomorrow. It won’t take too long. And we’ll have to take care of Mom’s estate, although that should be relatively easy, as Mom and Dad had things pretty well planned years ago.

And someday soon, we’ll pick up the threads of some of the various themes I’ve played with here over the past year and dig deep into some music. But right now, I’m weary, both physically and emotionally, so I’m just going to go out and water the garden and then take care of some household tasks that have been mostly ignored over the last two months.

Here’s the folk duo of Jim & Jean with “Lay Down Your Weary Tune.” It was originally on their 1966 album Changes.

Weary

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

Well, life happens.

Two days ago, my sister and I learned that Mom would have to be moved to a smaller apartment, almost an efficiency, in a facility adjacent to her assisted living center where she can get a greater level of care.

That means packing, moving, downsizing, renting another storage unit and all the stuff that goes with that. I’ve spent most of the past two days running errands and making phone calls as well as trying to keep things running smoothly here at home. Sorting and packing starts tomorrow, and the move is set for a week from today, April 12.

Add some sleep issues, and I’m already weary. I’ve got most of today to refresh – although there are some lingering domestic duties – so I’m going to go do that.

In the meantime, here are Jim and Jean Glover, the musicians who recorded during the 1960s as Jim & Jean, with their version of Bob Dylan’s “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” from their 1966 album Changes. (Dylan’s version of the song, recorded in 1963 for his album The Times They Are a-Changin’, was eventually released in 1985 as part of the Biograph box set.)

Saturday Single 515

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

Show time is fast approaching!

For the past four months, I’ve been working with two friends – Lucille Guinta-Bates, a dancer, and Heather Helmer, a singer – on a cabaret-styled program scheduled for three performances during the second weekend of November.

My part in what we’re calling Cabaret De Lune is not huge. I give an opening monologue, accompany Heather on the piano for several songs, join her in singing one, and I perform three of my original songs. I guess when it’s written down like that, it sounds pretty hefty, but in the context of the show – with Lucille offering memoirs as monologues interspersed with dance and Heather singing five numbers – including that duet with me – it doesn’t seem as daunting.

Or so I tell myself.

Beyond performances at our Unitarian Universalist church in the past few years, I haven’t really sung or played in public since the last performance with Jake’s band, which I think took place in the summer of 2000. And I had a whole band behind me then. There are moments in Cabaret De Lune when I am alone at the piano, and I will be performing for people whom I do not know. The prospect of that is un-nerving.

There will be people there whom I know, certainly. The Texas Gal will attend one of our three performances, and my sister and brother-in-law are bringing my mom to one. And there will no doubt be other folks in the audiences for the three performances whom I know, as Lucille, Heather and I know a fair number of people in common. (I met Lucille, our co-director, through Heather, who used to work with the Texas Gal at the legal aid office. And our other co-director, Tom Hergert, is a member of our church.)

So what’s it about? Well, our promotional material says:

Cabaret De Lune is a show that explores themes of feeling alone, different and misunderstood. How do we find our way during the dark times?

If you give yourself the gift of following your bliss you just might also end up finding your tribe.

I’m pretty nervous about it. As I should be. I do know, however, that when the lights go up in our small performance space on Saturday, November 12, and I look up from my perch at the piano and begin to tell the tale that frames our various pieces, I’ll be energized and ready in spite of my nerves.

We’re doing a full run-through this afternoon and a couple full dress rehearsals next weekend, so I’ll be able to polish my performances a little bit more, and I can only hope that all will go well and will continue to do so.

With all that, the only suitable tune this morning, of course, is “Cabaret,” the theme from the 1966 Broadway music, with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. Here’s Louis Armstrong’s take on the tune. It was released in 1966 as a Columbia single, but it did not chart.

For those readers nearby who are interested, Cabaret De Lune will be presented at 5 and 7 p.m., Saturday, November 12, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 13, at StudioJeff, which is located at 701 W. Saint Germain St., Suite 201, in downtown St. Cloud. If you need more information, leave me a message here.