From Wiki: The Pathé Brothers of France went into the photographic business in 1896. In the early 1900s, Pathé became the world’s largest film equipment and production company, as well as a major producer of phonograph records. In 1908, Pathé invented the newsreel that was shown in cinemas before a feature film.
[The future of the past found here.]
Leon Redbone could scat-sing better than almost anyone, and there’s proof with his cover of Tommy McClennan’s Bottle Up And Go (aka Step It Up And Go recorded by Blind Boy Fuller and many others). If someone in the audience pulled out a camera to take his photo, when the flash went off, he’d stop the song, jump for his camera and take a shot of them. He’d wait as the Polaroid image developed, (“Hmmm. Not a bad likeness”) and pick up the song right where he left it. He kept those photos, too.
Leon Redbone was an iconic performer who reinvigorated the music of the late 19th to early 20th century, including blues, ragtime, dixieland jazz and country. That he pulled it off in the mid 1970s is an interesting commentary of the state of music of the time (mainstream rock was sucking donkeys). You couldn’t get more retro than Leon Redbone at that time, and he stepped right into the mix.
Rolling Stone described his repertoire as “so authentic you can hear the surface noise of an old 78 rpm.” During a 1974 interview (prior to release of any album) they asked where he first played in public. Redbone responded, “In a pool hall, but I wasn’t playing guitar, you see. I was playing pool.” Apparently he was pretty good at it.
I learned of the song “Ain’t Misbehavin‘” via some sheet music my late grampa had, and I liked the tune. I’d never heard of Fats Waller before I heard Leon Redbone’s version.
In the early ’80s I saw Mr. Redbone perform at The Golden Bear (a small but famous venue with no bad seats). His props were a rattan chair, a side table with a lamp, and his guitar. He was in the middle of a song when he saw the flash of a Kodak Instamatic camera. With lightning speed, he stopped, grabbed a Polaroid Swinger and took a photo of the photographer, then sat quietly humming until the image appeared. He held it up to view.
“Ahhh. Not a bad likeness.”
Then he resumed the song exactly where he left off.
I wasn’t aware of this until today, but there is a documentary on Leon Redbone. Here’s the trailer:
“He was always mysterious, he was always coming and going. It was almost like he was there one second and he’d be gone the next… and you never knew where he’d gone or why or how he’d even left, but suddenly he wasn’t there anymore.” – Jane Harbury, Publicist.
Here’s a link to the full documentary if you’re interested. It’s only 16 minutes, but it’s worth it.
Leon Redbone, you were a breath of fresh air into the stagnant late 70s music scene. May You Rest In Peace.
Tuba Skinny on a hot, steamy New Orleans day, playing James Scott’s “Climax Rag” from 1914. Pay attention to the girl on cornet – she knows exactly how to do it right – and before you assume that the girl on bass drum is only there for eye candy, check this out:
Red Nichols, Pete Candoli & Al Hirt playing “Hot Lips.”
If that video wasn’t so entirely bitchin’ we’d never have posted it – Every decent link on the U-Toobage we found had “embedding disabled.” Some anusbrain copyright jerks don’t understand the concept of free advertisement. Let’s move on.
Here’s some fun etymology: In Japanese American slang, a “Buddahead” used to mean a Japanese American from Hawaii (h/t Osprey 1) and “Mumbo Jumbo” (Mandingo, West African in origin) was a bugbear who appeared at night to resolve marital disputes. Mumbo Jumbo was not nice. He’d beat the crap out of wives who disobeyed their husbands.
Let’s lighten it up a bit. Here’s Leon Redbone, one of the few folks I can think of (besides you, of course) who is welcome at my doorstep any time.
That’s it for this episode of The Saturday Matinee. Have a great weekend and be back tomorrow for more nonsensical oddities.
“I’m just an entertainer, and I use music as a medium for entertaining. But I’m not really an entertainer either, because to be an entertainer it implies you have a great desire to want to entertain.”
Leon Redbone‘s take on Lonnie Johnson’s “Mr. Jelly Roll Baker” in 2009. (BTW, “jelly roll” was slang for something other than a pastry.)
On growing up in New Orleans Parish: “There was music all around us, and in my family you’d better play something, even if you just banged on a tin can.”
Lonnie Johnson created the single-note guitar solo in the 1920s, and decades passed before the guitar was regarded as more than a background rhythm instrument. I don’t know who’s on drums or piano, but that’s Willie Dixon on bass, and the vid is likely from the mid to late 1960s.
My first impression of “ethnomusicologist” Bob Brozman was that he’s a pretentious jerk. On the other hand, he’s crammed some great country/Delta blues licks into his American Steel.
Let’s wrap this baboso up with two of the greatest modern day slide guitar players, on stage together in Austin: Bonnie Raitt & Roy Rogers jamming “Gnawin’ On It.”
Weather Report was a breath of fresh air from the garbage that was being pumped out over the airwaves in the late 1970s. Although it is pure jazz-fusion, they initiated a resurgence of a nuanced genre based upon the substantial willingness of proper associative mindset awareness and shit. Jaco was great.
Meanwhile, Tom Waits was working the other end of the jazz resurgence spectrum as a hep-cat jazzbo 50s street poet.
Leon Redbone took the jazz resurgence in a completely different direction – right to it’s early American roots. “Diddy Wah Diddy” was a song by itself, complete with the requisite innuendo, but listen to the cornet solo. It’s a note-for-note copy of King Oliver from 1926, “Sugar Foot Stomp.”
And for you babosos who don’t give a carp about weather, this vid of Dick Dale & The DelTones (ca. 1963) is supposedly a rare video of the King of Surf Guitar, but nothing is rare on the internest, and I dare you to name the dances. Double dog dare you.
Have a great weekend, folks. More stuff coming tomorrow.