Advertisements

Posts Tagged ‘Ragtime’

Saturday Matinee – Leon Redbone (1892-2019)

Saturday, 1 June 2019

“Why don’t they play pretty music any more?”

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.

Then I heard Redbone’s over-the-top absurd version of The Sheik of Araby, a cover of this (1937) which was a cover of this (1922). I became a fan.

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.

[Related posts here.]

Advertisements

Saturday Matinee – Kirsten Lepore, Sid Laverents, Unknown Boogie Master & Commander Cody

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Kirsten Lepore‘s animated short “Bottle” won awards.

Sid Laverents played the classic song “Nola,” written in 1915 by pianist Felix Arndt (author of many player piano rolls). Laverents 1970 short film film Multiple SIDosis is one of the few amateur films to have been selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry [h/t wheels].

BTW, Newark Athelete (1891) is the oldest film in the NFR and runs about 10 seconds.

Workman on lunch break plays boogie woogie at the Public Piano in St Pancras Station, London. Some think he was just a plant in a public works suit, but so what. It’s all entertainment.

Commander Cody‘s vintage 1977 cover of Bradley & McKinley’s 1940 classic “Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar.” Nicolette Larson was one of the backup singers.

Have a great weekend, folks. We’ll do you proud. Or not.

Saturday Matinee – Stephanie Trick, Tuba Skinny, Nanook & Zappa

Saturday, 31 January 2015

“Hand Full of Keys,” performed here by Stephanie Trick, is a Fats Waller composition, circa 1938. Awesome stride piano style. Although I’m somewhat ambidextrous and have a basic understanding of music theory and chords, there’s no way I could cut those chops.

Tuba Skinny is my favorite band these days.

I had a conversation with some of my co-workers recently, and the topic of Yellow Snow came up. I tried to explain Nanook of the North and failed, so we’re forced into Zappa mode.

You can find Zappa’s “Nanook Rubs It” on the Utoobage on your own, but “Deathless Horsie” is amazing.

Have a great SuperBowl Weekend folks. Seattle sucks big green donkeys because Seattle sucks big green donkeys. Everyone outside of Seattle knows Seattle sucks big green donkeys and so does Seattle. Seattle sucks big green donkeys.

Saturday Matinee – Nippoless Nippleby, Dan Hicks, Leon Redbone, 80s Ragtime

Saturday, 9 April 2011


Nice absurd animation from the 1980s.


Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks were mildly successful in the 70s with their 1930s hot club jazz/bluegrass style. “Crazy ‘Cause He Is” was my favorite Hicks ditty. (NSFK: flip off in the vid image, mild language warning. Fun song otherwise.)

Leon Redbone’s version of  “Polly Wolly Doodle.” According to Wiki, there’s no secret meaning to the song, but here’s a verse I’d never heard:

“Behind the barn, down on my knees,
Sing Polly Wolly Doodle all the day;
I thought I heard a chicken sneeze,
Sing Polly Wolly Doodle all the day.
Oh he sneezed so hard with the whooping cough,
Sing Polly Wolly Doodle all the day;
He sneezed his head and his tail right off,
Sing Polly Wolly Doodle all the day.”

I suspect that the song predates The War Between The States even though the popular tune is played in ragtime. So let’s play some ragtime!

Yep. 1980s hits played in ragtime. There’s something wrong with piano players who can pull off stuff like this (actually, I think there’s something wrong with piano players in general). Must be a subconscious and deep-rooted jealousy thing just because I can’t do what they do.

And with that, we’re done. Have a great weekend, folks. Be back here tomorrow for more fun.


%d bloggers like this: