Friday, June 26, 2015

5 on Friday -- Set 272




Spinning Friday tunes since 2010...

For anyone who wants to join in, simply choose five pieces of music and post them for other bloggers to enjoy. Then check out the set posted by the other 5 on Friday blogger -- you can sign in over at Golch Central's Rambling Stuff.

My mom and I attended the funeral of a family friend this afternoon -- former radio broadcaster Ron Roberts.

Ron had passed away on May 4th, but his memorial service was delayed until today as his niece was also helping out another elderly family member at the same time. Originally from Cornwall, Ontario, his extended family remains there while Ron spent the last five decades here in the Maritimes.

A very close friend of my Uncle Charlie's, Ron celebrated his 80th birthday in 2013, where I joined my aunt and uncle, my mom, my sister and my brother-in-law to wish Ron a Happy Milestone Birthday.






That's Ron sitting on the couch reading a birthday greeting, surrounded by well-wishers -- including his niece at right who helped with both this birthday and now with arranging his memorial service.




That's me with my sister Michelle and my brother-in-law Newt at the party.




Also at our table: Mrs. Thorne, wife of one of the musicians in Uncle Charlie's various bands; Aunt Noel and Mom




Ron's lifelong radio days friends and fellow broadcasters John Cunningham at left, Clary Flemming, center, and Uncle Charlie at right read long-distance birthday greetings (including one from my other uncle, Warren, in Michigan) from the many friends Ron made in his broadcasting career.

Once again, Uncle Charlie spoke to the gathering following Ron's funeral, at the reception.

In honour of Ron and his made-for-radio voice, his encyclopedic musical knowledge and his unending love of the big band era, swing jazz, cool jazz and cool cats, here is a Ron-inspired 5 on Friday set featuring some of his favourites -- beginning with a song that he co-wrote.



1 - One Little Girl - Carl Dobkins, Jr.


Ron did an extensive blog interview about his career last year for Bevboy. Here are some tales about the tracks in today's set:

"While I was here in Halifax, I was going with a pretty young girl from Queen Elizabeth High School. I wrote a song that was recorded by Carl Dobkins, Jr...He had a big hit with 'Look! Look! My Heart Is An Open Book!' It was his first big hit. And this was a follow up to it. It automatically got a lot of air play."  







2 - Anywhere I Wander - Julius La Rosa


"I was a big fan of La Rosa’s because he, next to Frank Sinatra, his phrasing is better than any singer going...He never recorded very much. I only have one album by him, I think." 








3 - It Shouldn't Happen to a Dream - Al Hibbler


"Al Hibbler...was a blind singer with Duke Ellington’s band. He came here to Halifax to do a show at the Forum, which I MC’d. The opening act was a very young comedian/impersonator by the name of Rich Little. 

They came back to my place after for a party. When you come off the Bedford highway, around the corner on to Joe Howe, that red brick building with the wooden top, that was my place...But I had no furniture whatsoever: I had just moved in. I invited them back to my place for drinks and sandwiches, but we all sat on the floor. Rich Little is telling, in voice, some of the dirtiest jokes you could never tell on air. 


Before we went on stage at the Forum, I asked Al Hibbler if he would take requests. I said, 'My favourite Al Hibbler song is ‘It Shouldn’t Happen To A Dream’.' We’re all sitting on the floor with our backs against the wall...I said, 'You didn’t sing my song!' He said, 'I’m sorry. I forgot all about it. I’ll do it now. Do you have a piano?' I said, 'Do I have a piano? I don’t even have any frigging furniture! Why do you think you’re sitting on the floor?' He said, 'That’s ok. I’ll do it anyway.' And it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. He put his hand up to his ear and leaned right into my face and started singing. It was magic: Al Hibbard, singing right to me in my place like that."









4 - Lady of the Lavender Mist - Duke Ellington Orchestra


"I used to use this theme called 'The Turquoise Cloud'. On the same album, there was a song called 'Lady of the Lavender Mist'. It’s a very hard song for anybody to hum because it’s all in the voicing of the instruments he used. 

Duke Ellington’s band played The Lobster Trap. It was in the basement of what is the Trademart Centre is now. He was there for a week. Peter Power is my longest and oldest dearest friend. He was the President of the Musician’s Union...He took me backstage to meet Duke Ellington.

At the time he was very, very old and not very well. I said, 'Does a guy get to make a request?' He said, 'Yes. What would you like to hear?' I said, 'Could you do ‘Lady of the Lavender Mist’?' He said, 'How does it go?' I thought, 'Is he putting me on? There’s no way I’m going to stand here in front of this genius and try to hum this melody to him!' " 









5 - Somewhere Beyond the Sea - Bobby Darin


"When I was working at WSDS in Massena I heard that [Bobby] was appearing at the Three Rivers Inn, which is just outside of Syracuse. When I worked at WOLF I used to go there all the time.

Anyway, I drove from Massena to see him at the Three Rivers Inn. After the show the guy said, 'You’ll have to wait to go upstairs to the dressing room.'...When I did go up, he was sitting there in his shorts with a towel around him. And, I saw all these great big tanks. At the time, I thought, 'Oh, they’re probably used to fill balloons for the chorus girls or if somebody’s having a birthday.' I later learned that, oh, my god, they were for him. He would just have to go and suck oxygen afterward...You would never know because he just gave everything he had."

  

Friday, June 5, 2015

5 on Friday -- Set 271




Spinning Friday tunes since 2010...

For anyone who wants to join in, simply choose five pieces of music and post them for other bloggers to enjoy. Then check out the set posted by the other 5 on Friday blogger -- you can sign in over at Golch Central's Rambling Stuff.

I'm still in catch-up mode, having taken off most of May and now June from blogging, due to pacing for my fibromyalgia. 

And now, back to our regularly-scheduled programming.

This year I'll be taking a once-a-month look at specific instruments and showcasing five songs or tunes which place that instrument front and center.

This year's feature is called Spotlight On...

...and for our sixth installment, I'm venturing out from the primal body instruments of hand-clapping, whistling and vocal harmonies to explore percussion. Following April's look at drums, and May's look at the vibraphone or vibes, here are five songs which shine a spotlight on the piano.


1 - Jealous Guy - John Lennon - 1971







2 - Mad World (Donnie Darko soundtrack) - Gary Jules - 2001 for the soundtrack, 2003 for radio release








3 - Levon - Elton John - 1971








4 - New York State of Mind - Billy Joel - 1976









5 - Nothing From Nothing - Billy Preston - 1974

  




True posting date: June 19, 2015

Thursday, June 4, 2015

I'm blogging at The Popculturedivas today



Join me at The Popculturedivas for Our Journey Back to Joy

Friday, May 1, 2015

5 on Friday -- Set 270




Spinning Friday tunes since 2010...

For anyone who wants to join in, simply choose five pieces of music and post them for other bloggers to enjoy. Then check out the set posted by the other 5 on Friday blogger -- you can sign in over at Golch Central's Rambling Stuff.

I'm still in catch-up mode, having taken off most of May from blogging due to pacing for my fibromyalgia. My husband Brad and I were busy wrapping up our year-long outdoor fitness challenge, which you can read about here:






And now, back to our regularly-scheduled programming.

This year I'll be taking a once-a-month look at specific instruments and showcasing five songs or tunes which place that instrument front and center.

This year's feature is called Spotlight On...

...and for our fifth installment, I'm venturing out from the primal body instruments of hand-clapping, whistling and vocal harmonies to explore percussion. Following April's look at drums, here are five songs which shine a spotlight on the vibraphone or the vibes.


1 - Flying Home - Lionel Hampton - 1957







2 - Caj Tjader - Maramoor Mambo - 1965








3 - Heartstrings - Milt Jackson - 1957








4 - So Many Things - Gary Burton Trio - 1961









5 - Head Start - Bobby Hutcherson - 1966

  




True posting date: June 5, 2015

Friday, April 24, 2015

A to Z Blog Challenge -- U is for Songs That Start With 'Under' / 5 on Friday -- Set 269




This is my fifth year participating in the A to Z Challenge. It's the first year that I wasn't able to complete the challenge by April 30th.

However, like those marathon runners whose main goal is to finish what they started, knowing they'll cross the finish line hours behind the top three, I'm going to carry on and complete the challenge.

Because there are so many participants, many bloggers spend the next few months visiting all of the other participants now that the posting schedule has slowed down. To see how the challenge wrap-up works, click HERE.

I'm going to backdate my entries so that they make chronological sense, but I'll also include the true posting date. I'm all out of sequence and I'm just going to finish the posts as I get to them.

So what happened? I had several things going on at once, the deal-breaker being my main computer going in the shop. I had to make some pacing choices, as I have learned to do as part of my treatment for chronic pain and fatigue issues. Believe it or not, setting the A to Z Challenge aside was actually me making progress.

And now, dear readers -- on with the show.

For today's blog challenge, let me introduce you to my regular Friday feature: 





Spinning Friday tunes since 2010...

For anyone who wants to join in, simply choose five pieces of music and post them for other bloggers to enjoy. Then check out the set posted by the other 5 on Friday blogger -- you can sign in over at Golch Central's Rambling Stuff.

This week's set is made up of songs that start with the word 'under'. They remind us that experiencing something that feels like bearing weight can be a turning point in our lives, while being beneath a structure can offer a sense of shelter. 


1 - Over, Under, Sideways, Down - The Yardbirds 







2 - Under My Thumb - The Rolling Stones 







3 - Under Pressure - Queen featuring David Bowie 

   





4 - Down Under - Men at Work 






5 - Under the Boardwalk - The Drifters  

  



True posting date: May 11, 2015

Friday, April 17, 2015

A to Z Blog Challenge -- O is for Songs That Start With 'On' / 5 on Friday -- Set 268





Here we are at Day 15, where O is for On.

Just a note for anyone dropping in for the A to Z Challenge:

I'm behind by four posts this week, as I was actively working online on behalf of the film and television industry here in my province of Nova Scotia. To check out what's going on, you can read up here:


For today's blog challenge, let me introduce you to my regular Friday feature: 





Spinning Friday tunes since 2010...

For anyone who wants to join in, simply choose five pieces of music and post them for other bloggers to enjoy. Then check out the set posted by the other 5 on Friday blogger -- you can sign in over at Golch Central's Rambling Stuff.

This week's set is made up of songs that start with the word 'on'. They call us to take our places, to dig deep within ourselves, and to make the move from dreams to action. 


1 - On Broadway - George Benson 







2 - On the Good Ship Lollipop - Shirley Temple 







3 - On the Street Where You Live - Harry Connick Jr. 

   




4 - On My Own - Samantha Barks 






5 - On a Clear Day - Frank Sinatra  

  

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A to Z Blog Challenge -- J is for John Knowles




Some days it's good to have a plan, and other days it's good to remain open to whatever shows up unannounced.

To wrap up Week 2 of the A to Z Challenge, I couldn't ask for a better windfall than my friend arriving in town from Australia.

On Day 10, J is for John Knowles.





That's John, second from left, top row. I'm second from right, front row.

We met in high school when we both sang in the Prince Andrew Chorus. We were fortunate to have a thriving arts community within our working-class high school. To me, it felt like we were in a Fame-style school, where our choir basically arranged our own end-of-the-year variety shows as well as performed in the Kiwanis Music Festival under the direction of our choir director, Jim Farmer.

We also took part in one large-scale musical production every year, which were separate from the plays produced by the drama department. Somewhere in there we also managed to squeeze in some schoolwork.

So, getting back to John.

If you look up the phrase "stole the show", well, that's John Knowles in a nutshell.

He and I were cast several times as the secondary comedy-relief couple. That started after our first foray into musical theatre, when John's tiny part in the sprawling Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat -- starring Not John -- quickly became whispered warnings to "Watch Knowles!" and "Here comes Knowles!" 

By our second year and our second musical, The Pajama Game, John was stealing the audience's attention away from center stage during Hernando's Hideaway just by making his 'extra business' the funniest material we'd ever seen.




By our graduating year, when I was sharing choreographer duties with Heather shown at right (that's me at left) John and I were the B-story couple of cowboy Will Parker and Ado Annie in Oklahoma!

John and I were good friends and we had great chemistry onstage. However, there was one aspect where John's performance style and mine did not line up.

I preferred to learn all of my lines, rehearse our scenes and know what to expect once we stepped out of the wings.

John knew the lines. He knew the scenes. He remembered what we rehearsed. He simply preferred to improvise, because that's where his light shines brightest. It's what made those "Here comes Knowles" whispers ripple through the audience.

As much as it personally freaked me out back in the day to be onstage dealing with improv when I'm not an improv person, when John moved from eastern Canada to his mom's original home country of Australia I wasn't too surprised when he proceeded to forge out a career doing theatre sports and improv theatre.

Fast forward to his latest trip to Canada.

Another friend from high school is involved with a live-performance theatre in the Annapolis Valley. He says to John, "Well, you have to do your show while you're here. I'll set it all up." 

My husband and I hop in the car and make a two-hour drive to the Evergreen Theatre in Margaretsville, close to Kingston and Canadian Forces Base Greenwood.

John proceeds to do his one-man show, pulling a rabbit out of a hat for a full house.




John settles in and begins regaling us with stories running the gamut from laugh-till-I-cry to tears of emotion. Some of the stories I know because of my friendship with John, but most of them I don't know and experience like any audience member.

He touches on childhood stories, on how he managed to survive some rather wild teenaged exploits and moves into rather touching manhood stories. He jumps through time back and forth with the story thread driving the evening, making it all seem like he's not in front of an audience at all but just sharing moments of his life with us over a coffee or a beer. Yet that's classic Knowles. His talent for drawing us in seems so natural that we forget he's actually constructing a verbal autobiography with the clarity of mature perspective.

I especially enjoyed the montage sequence at the end, quickly recapping the highly-charged bits like a movie trailer.




For those of you in the Sydney, Australia area on Apr. 28th and 30th / May 2nd all at 7:00 pm, and May 3rd at 6:00 pm -- John 's Storytiller one-man show is part of the Sydney Comedy Festival at The Factory Theatre