Goodnight everyone, and have a thankful weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

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Monday is Veterans Day.  The annual observance was approved by Congress in 1926 and  Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

Each branch of the military has talented musicians among their ranks. This week, the music of America’s military bands. Let’s get rolling.

From the website of the Great American Songbook:

Ira Gershwin wrote in his memoir Lyrics on Several Occasions that the final (or fifth) version of the music for the song “Strike Up the Band” was written by his brother George lying in bed during the middle of the night. It was the spring of 1927 and the brothers were in Atlantic City for a meeting with Edgar Selwyn, the producer of their show in progress, also titled Strike Up the Band. Ira had gone out to get the Sunday paper and upon returning to their adjoining rooms and seeing no light under the door assumed George was asleep; however, the door opened and the pajama clad composer informed his lyricist brother that he’d got it. When Ira pressed him to explain the “it,” he replied, “Why the march of course, I think I’ve finally got it. Come on in.”

Apparently George had thought he’d gotten it on four previous occasions but this time he assured Ira this was it, even though the first four were written while he was at the piano, this one in his head while he was in bed. George sat down at the piano (He always had a piano in his hotel room.) and played it almost exactly as the song is now known. Ira pressed his brother that this would indeed be “it,” that there would be no more “maybe I’ll come up with something better[s].” The fifth try did, in fact, turn out to be “it,” Ira went ahead and “wrote it up.”

The United States Coast Guard Band is the premier band representing the Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security. The 55-member ensemble has performed at some of the most prestigious venues in the nation including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.

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This past August 10th  the Coast Guard Band performed at the Marcus Performing Arts Center in Milwaukee as part of their 2019 tour of the Great Lakes region. The concert was free and open to the public who had to reserve their tickets in advance, and was sponsored by WaterStone Bank.

We move on to the Marine Band.

From their official website:

“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band’s mission is to perform for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Founded in 1798 by an Act of Congress, the Marine Band is America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization. Today, “The President’s Own” is celebrated for its role at the White House and its dynamic public performances, which total more than 500 annually.

This was Mrs. John Philip Sousa’s favorite march.

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Earlier this week the Marine Band performed at the White House as President Trump honored the 2019 World Series Champion Washington Nationals. The band was very quick to…adapt.

“Baby Shark” fans I’m sure caught the last few seconds of that video that captured people doing the hand motions that go along with the catchy children’s song sensation.

There’s a reason for my madness of including “Baby Shark” at the White House. As wonderful as those tunes are that the military bands play, the marches, the anthems, the historical compositions, all the glorious patriotic material, what’s also beautiful about these ensembles and a tribute to their major talent is that they’re not boxed in by what you’d assume they’d play. They venture off into all kinds of musical genres. Witness “Baby Shark.”

And we will finish the rest of this week’s blog with more examples.

Let’s see. On our program schedule I see on deck is the U.S. Army Field Band that provides musical support to strengthen the ties between the Army and civilian populations at home and abroad.

As the premier touring musical representative for the United States Army, this internationally-acclaimed organization travels thousands of miles each year presenting a variety of music to enthusiastic audiences throughout the nation and abroad. Through these concerts, the Field Band fosters the support of the American people for members of the armed forces and supports diplomatic efforts around the world.

We said our remaining bands would do what is considered non-traditional material for them, and we’ll start out slow.

Henry Mancini would be proud.

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Audrey Hepburn sang Mancini’s famous song in the 1961 film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” but almost didn’t. Paramount Studio’s president  thought the movie was too long and wanted to cut Hepburn’s scene. The young actress reportedly responded, “Over my dead body!”

Time to move to the 70’s and heat things up.

The Ohio Players played funk, soul, and R&B, but were most famous for their series of rather provocative album covers, including this 1975 release.

The title track has a guy singing that he’s out of control.

“The way you swerve and curve, really wrecks my nerves
And I’m so excited…”

The Airmen of Note, the premier jazz ensemble of the United States Air Force, honors those who have served, inspires American citizens to heightened patriotism and service, and connects with the global community. Here, they really get down.

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“Fire” was a #1 hit for the Ohio Players in February 1975. Several members have died, but the latest edition of the band still tours.

That’s it for this week’s segment.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend and thank a veteran!

The United States Navy Band is the premier musical organization of the Navy. It’s been said  the band is “capable of playing any style of music in any setting.”

So true, joined here by the US Navy Sea Chanters.

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Goodnight everyone, and get a kick out of your weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

File this one under “They just don’t write them like they used to.”

Songwriter/musician Sammy Cahn once said Irving Berlin was one of the two most gifted men of American words and music. The other, said Cahn, was Cole Porter. We just ended October. One of the greatest contributors to the Great American Songbook, Cole Porter died 55 years ago October of this year. So tonight, the music and lyrics of Cole Porter that live on. Let’s get started.

In his book American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950, Alec Wilder writes about our opening tune, “This is a very good, essentially simple song, in spite of its half note triplets, but, as is almost always the case with Porter songs, it is popular as much because of its lyric as its melody. This, however, is not true for jazz musicians who like it for its looseness, which provides ample room for improvisation. Needless to say, the half note triplets are, for the most part, ignored by them.”

Max Morath writes in The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Popular Standards, “Jazz musicians go for it–they love most anything of Porter’s–those long melody lines and the beat, often Latin-tinged, that is so often implicit in his theater songs.”

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The Main Event was a TV special recorded at New York’s Madison Square Garden broadcast on October 13, 1974. Milwaukee native Woody Herman and his Orchestra backed up Sinatra.

I had the pleasure of working with a talented radio personality and writer during the 1980’s at WUWM and he and I became wonderful friends. Obie Yadgar approached me one day and inquired if he could produce a news segment for the all-news morning drive format. This request was unusual because Obie was our premier classical music announcer, not a reporter, though I knew he was an exceptional writer.

Sure, I said, what have ya got in mind?

Seems one of the biggest of the big band era stars had stopped in Milwaukee and Obie was able to get a one-on-one interview. Problem was that Obie said he had so much good material. No problem, I countered. Simply do a multi-part series.

Artie Shaw was a bona fide superstar during the height of the big bands making him a favorite of the gossip columnists. His wives included actresses Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, and Evelyn Keyes (“Gone with the Wind”).

I’ll never forget Shaw telling Obie on tape about the heydays of the big bands when his orchestra would fill a ballroom far beyond fire department regulations. The dance floor would get so crowded and so hot that women would pass out. With nowhere to go, since they were held up from hitting the floor by the mass of dancers, the bodies would be hoisted up and passed like students at a football game and deposited on the stage.

Mom, I know Shaw and his signature song were big favorites. This one’s for you, from a 1970’s ensemble.

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Next up, another timeless treasure.

Trumpeter Chris Botti is joined by a young lovely he knows “Everyone in the world has a crush on.”

This video was difficult to find but we’ve got it. Just click here  and then click the play button for Chris Botti and his special guest performing with the Boston Pops in 2009.

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Yep, I think I’ve got a crush on her as well.

Katharine McPhee was named one of the 100 Most Beautiful People of 2007 by People magazine. She was voted No. 2 on FHM‘s 100 Sexiest Women in The World of 2007, and was also No. 47 on Maxim‘s Hot 100 Women of 2007.

It’s natural McPhee would be paired with Botti who People Magazine voted one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in 2004.

There’s quite an interesting story about our next track that comes from the rock group Chicago’s 22nd album. From

Back in the early ’70’s, (Duke) Ellington had asked to have Chicago appear on his TV special, Duke Ellington: We Love You Madly, along with such august company as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, Peggy Lee, and Count Basie. After the show, (Walter) Parazaider and (James) Pankow went to meet Ellington, who was near the end of his illustrious career. “I said, “Mr. Ellington, it really was an honor to be asked to be on your show,” Parazaider recalls, “and he looked at Jimmy and me, and he said, ‘On the contrary young men, the honor is all mine because you’re the next Duke Ellingtons.’

Jimmy and I were gassed to meet him and that he said that. We were going away, and I said, ‘Yeah, right, now if we can make another hit record to pay the rent we’ll be happy,’ not thinking about the long haul. When the idea for (a) big band album presented itself, at first it got a lukewarm reaction by the band. Then Jimmy and I remembered this, and I thought, maybe this is what we were supposed to do in the scheme of our musical life. So, that was one of the reasons that we warmed up to the idea of it.”

“The approach that we wanted to take on Night & Day – and I think were successful in doing – was to contemporize,” says Imboden. “We didn’t do anything traditional, at least in the rhythm section.” At the same time, however, the album continued the effort Chicago has always made to bring horns back to a primary place in popular music. “Horns were the vocals of the time,” says big band enthusiast Lee Loughnane of the Swing Era. “They did all the playing, and then halfway through the song the vocalist would come in with a couple of choruses, and then he’d sit down again. Then rock ‘n’ roll comes out, and what was the rhythm section, the guitar, became the lead voice for a long time. And then Chicago comes, and we try to make the horns the lead voice again, and we’ve been pretty successful at it.”

“It was a great musical experience, and that’s what it’s all about, in my mind,” (Lee) Loughnane concludes. “I think it should have been more popular than it has become, but it’s still a great piece of music as far as I’m concerned, and I’ll take that to the grave with me. I know we put everything we had into it, and it came out sounding great.”

In 1995 Chicago released their big band/swing music LP. Here’s the title track.

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That’s Chicago on the football field at the University of Notre Dame. One of the group’s original mentors, the late Rev. George Wiskirchen, C.S.C., served as assistant director of bands at Notre Dame from 1972 to 2001 and maintained a close connection between the Notre Dame Band and Chicago. The band’s manager is Peter Schivarelli, a 1971 Notre Dame graduate.

Only three of the original Chicago band members are left: Robert Lamm (vocals, keyboards), Lee Loughnane(trumpet),  and James Pankow (trombone).

“In a strange way, the guys who are maybe a generation younger who have come to fill in are better players than we were when we started out, so I would say the level of skill has improved with each sort of injection of fresh blood. The new guys have made the band better and maybe have more energy than the standard band that was showing up in the ‘90s and early ’00s, said Robert Lamm of Chicago.

“We’ve played some gigs with the current Blood, Sweat & Tears, and I think that from the listeners’ point of view it sounds like Blood, Sweat & Tears, even though they don’t recognize anybody on the stage from the first couple of albums, and it doesn’t seem to matter much. I think that could be the case with [Chicago] too.”

That’s it for this segment.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

We close with a song that displays that Cole Porter was not just an excellent composer, but he was a prophet, too.

These lyrics were perfect in 1934, and they’re just as perfect today.

Joel Grey does the intro, and our star is just about out of breath near the end of this exciting dance number.

In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
was looked on as something shocking.
Now heaven knows, anything goes.

Good authors too who once knew better words,
now only use four-letter words writing prose,
anything goes.

The world has gone mad today,
and good´s bad today, and black´s white today,
and day´s night today,
When most guys today that women prize today
are just silly gigolos.

So though I´m not a great romancer,
I know that you´re bound to answer
when I propose, anything goes.

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And yes, Sutton Foster was the winner of Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for ‘Anything Goes.’

Cole Porter (1891-1964)

Goodnight everyone, and have a treat-filled weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

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Halloween is just around the corner, a holiday with ever-growing popularity. This requires appropriate music, and we’ve got it to get you in the mood, so let’s get started.

This soundtrack is from a movie that had no monsters, masks, or slashers. But it did feature a cruel, vicious, evil villain.

Jon Burlingame wrote on the website of The Film Music Society:

Rarely have six basses, eight celli, four trombones and a tuba held more power over listeners. Especially in a movie theater.

John Williams’ score for Jaws ranks as some of the most terrifying music ever written for the cinema (and, according to a 2005 survey by the American Film Institute, among the top 10 most memorable scores in movie history).

The music of Jaws was as responsible as filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s imagery for scaring people out of the water in the summer of 1975. Its sheer intensity and visceral power helped to make the film a global phenomenon; Spielberg compared it to Bernard Herrmann’s equally frightening, indelible music for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

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“Jaws” won an Oscar for best original music score.

BTW, the last model of Bruce, the movie’s fake shark, will have a space in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that opens in Los Angeles next year.

Before we move on…

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Time to get out of the water.

Medeski Martin & Wood is an American avant-jazz-funk band formed in 1991, consisting of John Medeski on keyboards and piano, Billy Martin on drums and percussion, and Chris Wood on double bass and bass guitar. In 1996 the group recorded “Shack-Man” in a plywood shack surrounded by mango trees and plumerias on Hawaii’s Big Island. This album track is entitled “Dracula.”

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There was no musical soundtrack in Bela Lugosi’s 1931 film “Dracula.” The movie-makers thought that the new concept of using music would distract the audience and confuse them, not knowing why the music was there in the first place.

Our next artist provides an interesting story.

Six-time Grammy Award-nominee Nnenna Freelon toured with Ray Charles, Ellis Marsalis, Al Jarreau, George Benson, and many others. She had a featured song on the hit TV show Mad Men. That was followed by a tour with legendary guitarist Earl Klugh in 2011 and 2012 brought her first collaboration with legendary pianist Ramsey Lewis.

In November 2011, The White House asked her to headline the Asia Pacific Economic Summit, for 300 Presidents, Premiers and Heads of State from around the world.

Freelon was exposed to music as a youngster singing in the church and her parents playing Count Basie records.

Her take on a Stevie Wonder classic might even be spookier.

In 1979 Nnenna married architect Phillip Freelon and raised three children before deciding to be become a jazz singer. Phillip designed the Smithsonian Institution’s in Washington that opened in September of 2016. He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, in March 2016, and died in July of this year at the age of 66.

Who does the very best Halloween music? That’s quite subjective but the answer just could be the Midnight Syndicate. From their website:

“For almost two decades, composers Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka have been known as Midnight Syndicate, creating symphonic soundtracks to imaginary films that facilitate a transcendental and adventurous escape into the secret dimensions of the mind’s eye. To many of their fans, they are Gothic music pioneers brewing a signature blend of orchestral horror music and movie-style sound effects. To others, they remain the first ‘haunted house band’ that forever changed the Halloween music genre and became a staple of the October holiday season.

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Every weekend in September and October the music of Midnight Syndicate is piped throughout Cedar Point, a 364-acre amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio.

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That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

Fred Bronson wrote the following in The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Billboard, 1988:

“He needed a song to play when they said, ‘Let’s hear Edgar Winter, bring him out here,'” remembers Rick Derringer. “So he wrote this song called ‘The Double Drum Solo,’ just for a working name, and every night when he came out he’d bring down the house. At the end of the song he’d get to play sax, he’d get to play keyboards, he’d get to play drums — he’d get to play everything.”

“When it came time for Edgar to do his first band album, They Only Come Out at Night, he wanted to include that instrumental in the album,” Rick explains. “Bill Szymczyk and I — I was the producer and he was the engineer — were really looking forward to doing that song. To us, we’re musicians, the rest of the album was a little more predictable. The one thing that seemed like it was going to be fun was the instrumental. At one point in the project Edgar started to be nervous. ‘Oh, I don’t know, it’s a little too crazy. Is this gonna be too jazzy, to out of context for the rest of the album?’ All of us voiced our opinions immediately, saying, ‘It’s fantastic, it’s gotta be on the record.’ We went ahead and finished it; we did some editing to shorten it, as it was too long in the live form.”

Edgar Winter is an albino. As a youngster he couldn’t see well enough to play sports. He can’t read music. Keep that in mind.

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“I believe there are two golden eras in music: the forties and fifties for big band jazz and swing, and the sixties and seventies for rock. I really think they’re unparalleled eras in music. And the reason they were so important is because they really were all about making great music, over just making music that sells.”
Edgar Winter

Goodnight everyone, and have a groovy weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

The inspiration for this weekly blog comes from many sources. First and foremost, it’s my love of music.

It could be a musical style, a birthday or anniversary, an event, history, even the weather. Sometimes the unexpected, something completely accidental can provide the weekly theme. This week’s popped after I heard a certain word for the first time in ages (it occurred in last week’s blog to be exact).

So that’s where we’re headed. Let’s get started with this special introduction!

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“Groovy People” was the follow-up to the biggest hit of Rawls’ career, “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” in 1976.

Diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005 Rawls refused to give up. In an interview with The Arizona Republic Rawls said, “Don’t count me out, brother. There’s been many people diagnosed with this kind of thing and they’re still jumping and pumping.”

Rawls died the next year. He was 72.

We’re groovin’ this week. While you’re enjoying please ponder how and when the term “groovy” came to be. The answer is coming up later.

The latest Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees were announced this week. The following American band was inducted in 200. The word “groove’ doesn’t appear in the title songs of this twin spin, but the music fits.

This video is from The Big T.N.T. Show (1965) that was filmed before a live audience at what was then the Moulin Rouge nightclub in  Hollywood.

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Above is lead singer John Sebastian around 2015. He’s now 75.

OK. What’s that?

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It’s vintage photography of a Milwaukee-area restaurant.

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In the mid-1970’s, can’t remember the exact year, I took my mom and dad to Alioto’s to celebrate their wedding anniversary that happened in early July. Our waitress, attractive and about my age, maybe a few years older, commented that I looked a lot like John Sebastian, who she was crazy about. In 1976 Sebastian scored a big hit with the theme to “Welcome Back Kotter” so I think it might have been that summer this all took place.

Even though my wired-framed glasses were not oval like the John Lennon version, she was right. There was a resemblance, so we got tremendous service from our gushing waitress. I’m not sure but I think Sebastian had appeared just days before at Summerfest and the lovely lass may have told us she attended. I also vaguely remember my dad saying “Who’s John Sebastian?” When I told him he was the Kotter guy he replied “Oh yeh” (Dad particularly enjoyed Horshack).

Sadly, I never had the chance to pursue a date. Well, maybe I did, but c’mon. Mom and Dad’s anniversary? And no, she didn’t have to flirt so much, and she did. I would have liked her anyway.

Question time. Can classical music be groovy?

Listen to a bit of the Rondo movement of Sonatina in G major, op. 36 no. 5 by Muzio Clementi.

This band was part of the British Invasion and backed up Wayne Fontana. Together they had a #1 smash, “The Game of Love.”

Then Montana and the group split. The Mindbenders kept on keeping on.

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Without Wayne Fontana, the Mindbenders climbed to #2 with “Groovy Kind of Love.”

Time now to answer the question about the origin of the G-word.

Ethan Hein is a Doctoral Fellow in music education at New York University, and an adjunct professor of music technology at NYU and Montclair State University.  He writes on his blog:

The word “groovy” originates in jazz slang, referring to music that’s swinging, tight, funky, in the pocket. The analogy is to the groove in a vinyl record — the musicians are so together that it’s like they’re the needle guided by the groove.

Hein also quotes from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

Slang sense of “first-rate, excellent” is 1937, American English, from jazz slang phrase in the groove (1932) “performing well (without grandstanding).” As teen slang for “wonderful,” it dates from c. 1941; popularized 1960s, out of currency by 1980.

This next song was written by Paul Simon and the lyrics are perfectly “groovy.”

On Sept. 19, 1981, Simon and Art Garfunkel who had a messy breakup reunited for a free concert in New York City’s Central Park. An estimated 500,000 people crammed into the park’s Great Lawn for the event. The live album came out in early 1982.

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That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

Back in the 90’s I started moonlighting,  working security backstage at the WI State Fair. I got hooked into the job when I had press credentials from WTMJ, and some of the backstage people whom I’d known for a long, long time asked if I would put on a bright yellow Security shirt and give them a hand.

In August of 2007 Felix Cavaliere, the lead singer of the Rascals, received a national honor in Wisconsin, and yours truly played a small part in securing the former Young Rascal. Cavaliere was the honoree for the 2007 National Italian Invitational Golf Tournament for Charities at the Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva.

My role came totally unexpected  working backstage at the Main Stage at the 2006 Wisconsin State Fair. Cavaliere was opening on the final Sunday afternoon for Johnny Rivers. Prior to the show, while I was near the front of the stage, a man motioned for my attention. He introduced himself, local attorney Joseph Alioto. Alioto was very polite and asked if I could get a message backstage to Cavaliere that his organization held this golf tournament and every year they honored an Italian and for 2007 they wanted to pay tribute to Cavaliere if he would accept.

Keep in mind, it is day 11 of a long, grinding, tiring State Fair. Working backstage, I have heard 11 days of stories. This person has a friend who has a cousin who once met the wife of the brother of the drummer and could he please get backstage. That kind of stuff.

However, I had already met Cavaliere and found him to be affable and very easy-going. Knowing that he was going to meet with several fans in a “meet and greet” backstage, I thought Alioto’s request could work.

“Why don’t I see if I can arrange to have you invite Mr. Cavaliere personally” I said to Alioto.

Alioto was ecstatic.

I walked into Cavaliere’s dressing room where I had met him earlier and found him sitting in a large lounge chair. After briefly describing the situation and telling Cavaliere I believed it to be genuine, without hesitation he said, “Sure, send him in.”

When I went back to get Alioto, he had his young teenage son with him, apologized, and asked if his son could also be allowed backstage.

“Wait here,” I replied.

Back to the dressing room I went, Cavaliere gave another quick approval, and I ran out to usher Alioto and his son backstage.

I couldn’t just leave the two in the dressing room so I sat with Alioto during his entire conversation with Cavaliere, who, as he learned more and more, was flattered and very interested in the opportunity to be honored by Alioto’s group, of which Alioto is the treasurer. Alioto exchanged information with Cavaliere’s people and after about ten minutes, the negotiation was completed successfully.

Alioto must have thanked me what seemed a hundred thousand times on the way back to his seat.

Felix Cavaliere accepted and attended the National Italian Invitational Golf Tournament for Charities, and so did my wife Jennifer and I. We were excited to get photos and autographs.

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Cavaliere played a mini-concert that lasted over a half hour.

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Performing in Nippon Budokan, Tokyo in 1995…

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Goodnight everyone, and have a weekend filled with tradition!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

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Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15.

This week, music for the celebration. Let’s get started.

In the 1970’s Louis Clark arranged material for the rock band Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). Then came the early 1980’s and ELO moved on, wanting a totally different sound.  Suddenly Clark was broke, was forced to sell his lawn mower, his wife’s engagement ring and some of his musical instruments.

Clark needed something new to do. Don Redman had the perfect idea.

A producer at K-tel, Redman thought Clark could and should take advantage of  the popularity of putting disco to medley of old hits. Clark took the next step and incorporated old, old, old hits. Conducting The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Clark released the very first Hooked on Classics album in 1981 that hit #4 on the Billboard 200; a single from the album made the Top Ten.

Purists were aghast. One newspaper proclaimed the album was “a sad comment on the way the arts are regarded in English society.”

Clark’s response about the critics: “Blinkered. They want to pigeonhole everything. In some cases I actually enhance them (the classics) by beefing up the orchestration. Besides, it opens up that music to a whole new audience.”

Other albums followed with Hooked on Classics 5 featuring a Latin flavor. Luis Cobos was the conductor this time. He was born in Campo de Criptana, Ciudad Real, Spain, and has earned more than 50 platinum awards in various countries and sold over 10 million albums worldwide.

Enjoy the “Mexicano” medley.

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Very nice. Maybe some of these next folks will be playing in an orchestra someday.

The Latino Arts Strings Program (LASP) was established in the fall of 2002 at the United Community Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and is housed in the Bruce-Guadalupe Community School. Created and directed by Dinorah Marquez, this pre-college music training program provides Latino students with instruments, music materials, individual lessons, small group and orchestra, and mariachi ensemble lessons every week, all for a fee of $65 per school year.

The program reaches more than 200 children ages five through eighteen that may otherwise never have the opportunity to receive serious music instruction. LASP began with 26 students in 2002 and now serves over 200 students in violin, viola, cello, bass, and guitar.

Our family saw them earlier this year at The Inaugural César E. Chávez Birthday Celebration Art Contest at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts where Kyla won an art contest award. The ensemble is a joy to watch and listen to.


“The Strings Program has helped me find who I am and discover myself. Before I used to be really shy, and not speak up for myself. I feel that my violin has given me a voice. When I play, I find I have a voice.”

During the 1970’s Linda Ronstadt became known as The Queen of Rock and also The Queen of Country Rock.  So,  after a long string of major hits when she decided to do a Mexican album and perform mariachi concerts in full costume, the complete change in style came as a huge surprise to the music industry.  Ronstadt, who is part Mexican, really didn’t care.

“I’ve decided that I’ll do whatever I want to do and I’ve always tried not to have commercial considerations, but they were considered for me even more than I might have done on my own … I wasn’t always real satisfied with the music I made.”

This song was originally done by Artie Shaw and his Orchestra in 1940.

Some time ago
I wandered down into old Mexico
While I was there
I felt romance everywhere
Moon was shining bright
And I could hear laughing voices in the night
Everyone was gay
This was the start of their holiday
It was fiesta down in Mexico
And so I stopped a while to see the show
I knew that frenesí meant “Please love me”
And I could say frenesí
A lovely señorita caught my eye
I stood enchanted as she wandered by
And never knowing that it come from me
I gently sighed frenesí
She stopped and raised her eyes to mine
Her lips just pleaded to be kissed
Her eyes were soft as candle-shine
So how was I to resist?
And now without a heart to call my own
A greater happiness I’ve never known
Because her kisses are for me alone
Who wouldn’t say frenesí?

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Ronstadt’s grandfather was a Mexican bandleader, and her father had serenaded her mother with Mexican folk songs.

In 2013 we learned that Parkinson’s disease had rendered Ronstadt unable to sing, ending her musical career.

One of the most popular performers to hail from Mexico is a guitarist, composer, singer and band-leader you’ve probably of.

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But did you know Carlos Santana has a brother, Jorge Santana, who also plays the guitar. In the 70’s Jorge was a leader of the band Malo, based in San Francisco. From the group’s third album in 1973 there’s a driving horn section and plenty of pulsating percussion. Just imagine Blood, Sweat & Tears, or Chicago, Latin-style.

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Malo is still performing and touring today.

Next up, a Columbian-American artist. In 2004, her self-titled album won a Latin Grammy Award for “Best Album by a Songwriter.” A year later, she won another award for “Best Female Pop Vocal Album.

From this album…

Here is Soraya.

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After battling breast cancer for seven years, Soraya Arnelis died in 2006. She was 37.

Back in March husband-and-wife team of Cuban-Americans Emilio and Gloria Estefan were the 2019 recipients of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The honorees represent two firsts for the prize – they are the first recipients of Hispanic descent and the first married couple to receive the award.

That’s it for this week.

Enjoy the weekend.


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Goodnight everyone, and have a nice walk this weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” was released 50 years ago last week and a new remixed 50th Anniversary Edition is now available. The album concludes with the short track “The End” with the lyric “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” Clearly this was the group’s finale (“Let It Be,” though released in 1970, was recorded before “Abbey Road.”)  “Once we finished Abbey Road, the game was up, and I think we all accepted that,” said George Harrison.

The Beatles recorded most of  the 1969 album at what was then called EMI Studios. The band also took the album’s iconic cover photo at a crosswalk near the entrance to the studio, which is located on Abbey Road. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr held up traffic on the zebra crossing outside their recording studio in north London to get the cover shot for the album.

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“There is no pilgrimage more meaningful to most Beatles fans than to step onto the crosswalk where the Fab Four were photographed for the cover of their “Abbey Road” album. Fifty years after the release of the album, Abbey Road is still drawing tourists. And drivers in London are getting sick of it. Ten years ago, on the 40th anniversary of the album, a taxi driver told the BBC: ‘I come here all the time and it’s always been the same – it really does annoy you. All they’re doing is posing on the crossing. Someone’s going to get mown down one of these days, there’s no doubt about it.'”
Travel and Leisure

The Beatles Abbey Road Anniversary 50thA Paul McCartney impersonator proposes to his girlfriend as a group of Beatles look a-likes recreate the iconic ‘Abbey Road’ photograph. Photo: Newsweek

This week, a celebration of the Beatles’ swan songs. Let’s get started.

On rare occasions (two I believe) the band allowed Ringo to write and sing a song. The drummer got the idea for the whimsical, child-friendly “Octopus’s Garden” after the captain of Peter Sellers’ yacht talked to him about the sea animal while on vacation.

“He told me all about octopuses, how they go ’round the sea bed and pick up stones and shiny objects and build gardens. I thought, ‘How fabulous!’ because at the time I just wanted to be under the sea, too. I wanted to get out of it for a while.”

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On the studio recording Ringo made the underwater sounds by blowing bubbles through a glass of water.

The inspiration for the first track on the first side of the album came when John Lennon started working on a campaign song for LSD guru Timothy Leary  who was running against Ronald Reagan for governor of California in 1969.

“East Bay Soul,” led by former Tower of Power trumpeter and arranger Greg Adams does the honors.

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OK, that was an instrumental, but be honest. Were you singing along?

Here come old flat top
He come groovin’ up slowly
He got joo joo eyeballs
He one holy roller
He got hair down to his knee
Got to be a joker
He just do what he please

He wear no shoeshine
He got toe jam football
He got monkey finger
He shoot Coca-Cola
He say I know you, you know me
One thing I can tell you is
You got to be free
Come together, right now
Over me

John Lennon said he should have been the lead singer on “Oh! Darling, ” a rare Beatle hard-rock vocal because the song was more his style. Paul wanted so badly to sing it to the point where he came to the studio early every day for a week to practice over and over again, not to perfect the vocal, but to make its sound as though his voice was strained from all the rehearsing.  Since he lived two blocks away from Abbey Road he could easily arrive early. And since Paul wrote the song he got to belt it out on the album, which John always resented.

Said John “He wrote it, so what the hell, he’s going to sing it. If he’d had any sense, he should have let me sing it.”

Speaking of style this version of “Oh! Darling” is very different from the original. Karen Souza is an Argentinian jazz and bossa nova singer-songwriter and producer. She has toured in Europe, throughout Latin America and Japan.

Souza is sultry and smooth, smoky and smoldering. She performs with the Cooltrane Quartet.

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“Karen Souza has a voice that can make any song sound like an intimate confession.”
Downbeat Magazine

“Her voice is like a massage.”
Tom “Bones” Malone, the trombonist and former Saturday Night Live bandleader

“A good song, you can sing it in bossa, in jazz, in whatever. It works because it’s a good song.”
Karen Souza

We transition from that sweet voice to imagining The Beatles doing a song about someone like this.

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Hard to believe, but that’s exactly what they did.

“Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is pure Paul pop. Starts out innocent enough. Then it quickly sinks into the tale of a medical student who’s a serial killer.

I suppose one could argue the song was a good vehicle at the time for comedian Steve Martin to perform in the dreadful 1978 musical “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” But that would be a reach. As one reviewer put it, “It must have seemed like a good idea at the time.”

The film got terrible reviews. Dave Swanson wrote on “most of the interpretations of Beatles classics are terrible. (The verdict is still out on whether Martin’s take on ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ or anesthesia-free root-canal surgery is more painful.)”

“His over the top ‘performance’ will go down in history as both a musical and cinematic bomb of Hiroshima-like proportions.”
John Borack, Goldmine Magazine

Here’s a clip on how to butcher a Beatles classic. You’ll recognize George Burns as the narrator.

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The movie bombed. Swanson contends the careers of the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton were ruined from that point on because of their appearances. The soundtrack double album hit #5 on the Billboard charts. But millions of copies were returned to distributors or destroyed when the movie flopped.

I loved the original of the previous tune. Since we didn’t see or hear the entire Steve Martin rendition, let’s hear the Beatles finale.

Recording sessions for the album came at a turbulent time. The Beatles had, at best, a tense relationship, on the verge of breaking up. In a 2008 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Ringo Starr said, “The worst session ever was ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.’ It was the worst track we ever had to record. It went on for f–king weeks. I thought it was mad.”

The sessions for the song actually lasted only three days. But to Ringo it felt more agonizing.

That’s it for this week.

Goodnight everyone.

Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

Trust me, we’ll end on a high-quality note, but first, what the Abbey Road album cover would look like if it was released today.

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Abbey Road got mixed reviews, with the NY Times (Hell, what do they know) calling it an “unmitigated disaster” and Rolling Stone saying it was “complicated instead of complex.” Didn’t matter. The album topped the Billboard 200 album chart for 8 weeks near the very end of 1969.

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Goodnight everyone, and have a blast this weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

I’ve wanted to do this themed segment for a long, long time. Those “horn bands” from back in the day. Loved ’em.

Sure, the guys with the horns contributed to their groups hitting the charts with the likes of “Make Me Smile,” “And When I Die,” and “So Very Hard to Go.” But the players could really play. Some attended the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School, or were members of the best big band groups of the day before going top 40.

Tonight’s music is obscure, some album tracks never released as singles. However, the quality is clear, very clear.  We pack a powerful wallop this week. Prepare to get blown away. Let’s get started.

Maurice White was the founder of Earth, Wind, and Fire.

“I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before,” said White. “Although we were basically jazz musicians, we played soul, funk, gospel, blues, jazz, rock and dance music…which somehow ended up becoming pop. We were coming out of a decade (the 60’s) of experimentation, mind expansion and cosmic awareness. I wanted our music to convey messages of universal love and harmony without force-feeding listeners’ spiritual content.”

“Gratitude” is a double album by the band that was issued in November 1975. This is one of the best-selling soul bands of the 1970s that recorded several live albums. Quite an exciting opening we have for you.

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“Gratitude” was #1 on the pop album chart for three straight weeks in late 1975.

The 42nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors take place in December. “The Kennedy Center Honors celebrates icons who, through their artistry, have left an indelible stamp on our collective cultural consciousness,” said Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. “Earth, Wind and Fire’s hooks and grooves are the foundation of a seminal style that continues to shape our musical landscape.”

On Sunday, December 8, the 2019 Honorees, seated in the Box Tier of the iconic Kennedy Center Opera House, will accept the recognition and gratitude of their peers through performances and tributes. CBS will broadcast the honors on Sunday, December 15.

Tower of Power is an R&B-based horn section and band, originating in Oakland, California, that has been performing since 1968.

The tight, blaring 5-man horn section has backed many artists including Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Graham Central Station, Elton John,  Billy Preston, Jose Feliciano, Rod Stewart, Peter Frampton, Jermaine Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Melissa Manchester, Heart, Rick James, Santana, Smokey Robinson, Huey Lewis & The News, Toto, Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, Spyro Gyra, Luther Vandross, Aerosmith, and Neil Diamond.

In 1975 the band was on top of its game. Keyboardist Chester Thompson wrote this instrumental where he’s featured prominently. Mic Gillette provides the trumpet solo.

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Last year Tower of Power celebrated their 50th year with their 25th album, Soul Side of Town, that topped Billboard’s Jazz Albums and Contemporary Jazz Albums charts in June — a first for the band.

Before Kool & the Gang recorded the very pop single “Fresh” the group did the love song “Joanna.” Before that they did the party anthem “Celebration.”  And before that, “Ladies’ Night.” “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swinging.”

But when the band first started out more than 50 years ago there was a heavy emphasis on jazz and blended in soul and funk. Their first live album was recorded in 1970 at The Sex Machine, a night club in Philadelphia.

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A Kool section at The New Jersey Legends corridor at the Newark Grammy Museum

Kool & the Gang has been on records by the Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Cypress Hill, and P. Diddy. Their music is also featured on the soundtracks for Rocky, Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction, Wreck-It Ralph and many others.

Next, two short clips from two medleys by two of my favorite horn bands. The first is from a 1974 album by Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

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BS & T at Woodstock

The band’s self-titled album released in 1968 won five Grammy Awards and generated several hit singles.

How did the group’s title come about? Founder Al Kooper came up with it after an after-hours jam at a club in New York’s Greenwich Village. He played with a cut on his hand that had left his organ keyboard covered in blood.

About the same as BS &T another jazz-rock group emerged.The Chicago Transit Authority had to change their name or face a lawsuit by the real Authority. Like BS &T, Chicago is still in business.

Their album Chicago VII was probably their jazziest. This track is short, but really swings.

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Chicago has sold more than 100 million records.

That’s it for this week’s segment.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

We close with the Tower of Power Horns appearing on the David Letterman Show. You may have heard a snippet of this catchy instrumental on a TV or radio commercial.

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Goodnight everyone, and say Adios to summer this weekend

“But then fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.”
Stephen King, “Salem’s Lot”

It’s Friday night. Time to unwind with our regular Friday night feature on This Just In.

The weekend has finally arrived.

The sun has set.

The evening sky has erupted.

Let’s smooth our way into Saturday and Sunday.

Tonight…a reluctant farewell to summer that ends on Monday.

In the upper Midwest, summer is cherished, cradled, fondled, elevated to a gigantic, almost constant ongoing party, until suddenly, it’s gone, blown away by frosty winds.

Three months of summer are instantly replaced by a week or two of fall, followed by what seems to be an interminable winter.

Summer this year officially started June 21. That wasn’t that long ago.  Ah, summertime was just beginning, and the livin’ was easy.

From one of their bios:

The Modern Jazz Quartet was a major jazz institution, a band that, counting a seven-year “vacation,” lasted 43 years. During a time when jazz musicians were stereotyped as unreliable, rarely sober and erratic, the MJQ played at concert halls while wearing tuxedos. They are not known to have ever been late, missed a gig, or disappointed an audience.

Our next performer hails from London though she’s originally from Poland. Her full name is Basia Trzetrzelewska, but the music world knows her as Basia.

Basia loved American music, especially jazz. After failing to catch on as a singer in the Chicago area, she moved to London in 1981 and joined the group, Matt Bianco. The band’s first album was a big success, and Basia and keyboardist Danny White left to perform under the name, Basia and immediately hit it big with popular-selling albums until 1995. About that time, Basia cut back on her recording, saying her mother’s death and wars throughout the world made it difficult for her to sing upbeat material.

Danny White persuaded her to return with him to the Matt Bianco band that got back together again. A world tour emerged, and then Basia and White left Matt Bianco again.

In 2009 Basia released “It’s That Girl Again” that features “Blame it on the Summer.”

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Basia’s favorite singers are Brazilian bossa nova queen Astrud Gilberto and the late Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin.

One of the superstars of smooth jazz is Paul Hardcastle. His genre has been labeled New Adult Contemporary.

Hardcastle’s website says, “To hear the music of Paul Hardcastle is like taking an exciting journey into a mysterious land of warm, colorful sights and sounds; completely transporting you through a wide spectrum of audible levels of emotion.”

Here’s an appropriate selection for tonight’s theme.

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In 1985 Hardcastle recorded ’19,’ an anti-war song that ended up the top-selling single worldwide that year. Thirty years later in 2015 Hardcastle released the song again to raise money for victims of PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. Of the three million soldiers that served in Vietnam, it is estimated that 15 to 30% suffer from PTSD.

“Everyone is still bashing each other to pieces and coming home with their brains scrambled,” said Hardcastle in 2015. “It’s very difficult to unscramble someone once that’s happened.”

We just heard a fairly recent composition. Now we dip into the pop music vault.

Next up, one of the greatest vocalists of all-time. One of the composers of this hit, George David Weiss, was also one of the writers of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

This song reminds that we all have one special day that we remember, a day we’d like to live over and over again.

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In February of 1965, Cole died in his sleep at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, three weeks after he had undergone surgery for removal of a cancerous left lung. He was 45.

Cole left a recording legacy at Capitol Records of at least 700 songs and 33 albums. Of those documented recordings, Cole had 11 #1 singles, and 3 Gold and 5 Platinum albums.

In 2000 Cole was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the major early influences of that style of music.

That’s it for tonight’s entry.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

Hope your summer was memorable.

Time to close.

Do you remember?

It’s November 1972 at Hofstra University.

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Goodnight everyone, and have a weekend with feeling

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

“Country music isn’t a guitar. It isn’t a banjo, it isn’t a melody, it isn’t a lyric. It’s a feeling.”
Waylon Jennings

This Sunday documentary producer extraordinaire Ken Burns opens his latest major project on PBS that can be seen on Channel 10 in Milwaukee. From the PBS website:

Explore the history of a uniquely American art form: country music. From its deep and tangled roots in ballads, blues and hymns performed in small settings, to its worldwide popularity, learn how country music evolved over the course of the 20th century, as it eventually emerged to become America’s music. Country Music features never-before-seen footage and photographs, plus interviews with more than 80 country music artists. The eight-part 16-hour series is directed and produced by Ken Burns.

Some great country music in this week’s installment, but first, a video. Of course, Nashville will dominate this series, but Oklahoma played a part as well.

The documentary was written and produced by Dayton Duncan and produced by Julie Dunfey and they were interviewed on KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City.

We have some memorable country selections from the good ‘ole days, so let’s get started.

Elvis leads off. Are you surprised? The King of Rock and Roll never forgot his roots, even when Elvis was rocketing up the charts in 1958, the year he recorded his version of this Hank Williams classic.

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Very early in his career Elvis toured and shared the stage with stars like Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Hank Snow, Slim Whitman and Faron Young.

Elvis and his producer Felton Jarvis cranked out many songs during several recording sessions in 1970 that resulted in the album  “Elvis Country” that was released on January 2, 1971. The King of Rock and Roll was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998.

How do you follow Elvis? With what sounds like an odd combination. Country and…

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“I heard country-and-western music in Liverpool before I heard rock’ n’ roll,” recalled John Lennon. “There were established folk, blues and country-and-western clubs in Liverpool before rock’ n’ roll. I started imitating Hank Williams when I was fifteen, before I could play the guitar.”

The Beatles recorded several songs that had a country flavor, during that 1965 period, including “Act Naturally” with Ringo Starr doing the lead vocal.

“I used to love country music and country rock; I’d had my own show with Rory Storm, when I would do five or six numbers. So singing and performing wasn’t new to me,” said Starr.

“Act Naturally” was written by Johnny Russell and Voni Morrison, and first recorded by Buck Owens and the Buckaroos. It reached #1 on the Billboard Country Singles Chart in 1963. Two years later the Beatles recorded their own version.

Capitol Records heavily promoted the song, running a full page advertisement in the September 11th, 1965 issue of Billboard magazine proclaiming “Ringo Starr Sings Solo!”  The B-side was “Yesterday.” That’s right, the B-side.

“Some of (Ringo’s songs) we just couldn’t get behind,” said Paul McCartney. “I must admit, we didn’t really, until later, think of Ringo’s songs as seriously as our own. That’s not very kind but it’s the way it was…I think John and I were really concentrating on ‘We’ll do the real records!’ but because the other guys had a lot of fans we wrote for them too.”

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This would mark the last time the Beatles recorded a song not written by a member of the group.

“Yesterday” as a B-side? That was a mistake. Capitol did make the decision to release “Yesterday” from the British soundtrack album of “Help!” as a single and it turned out to be far more popular than Ringo’s solo vocal. “Yesterday” shot up the chart to #1 for four straight weeks. “Act Naturally” only reached #47 on the Billboard singles chart.

Oh, the above album cover. The original release of the album Yesterday and Today by the Beatles featured the so-called “Butcher cover” depicting the Beatles dressed in butcher smocks, surrounded by pieces of raw meat and plastic doll parts. A public outrage ensued and a more subdued design was produced replacing the original copies that quickly became collectors’ items.


In several polls this next song is ranked as the best country hit … ever. Kris Kristofferson wrote and recorded it in 1970, and it became a huge success for Sammi Smith.

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Kristofferson and country singer Rita Coolidge were married from 1973 to 1979.

You know what yodeling is? Of course you do. Yodeling is when a singer repeats fast changes of pitch between a low-pitch register and a high-pitch register or falsetto. The style has been a part of country music history since the 1920’s so maybe it’ll get a mention in Ken Burns’ documentary.

The year is 1990.

The TV show is “Star Search.”

The host is Ed McMahon.

His guest sings a Marty Robbins smash from 1961.

Just a few years later when Rimes grew to the tender age of 13 (1996 to be exact),  she hit pay dirt.  Her recording went to #10 on the country chart. Again, she was 13. Let that sink in.

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Bill Mack wrote “Blue” in 1958. Rumor has it that he did so for Patsy Cline, but when she died it wound up many years later with Rimes.

Not true. Mack said he never wrote the song for anyone in particular, including Cline.

That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

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For as long as I can remember I’ve heard that jazz is America’s only true art form. Milwaukee’s own Woody Herman said that on stage all the time. This documentary intends to add country to the list.

“There’s something that we do in our culture in which we’re OK with sentimentality and nostalgia. I don’t know why, but that’s the enemy of good anything. We’re frightened of real, deep emotions. So we mask [discussions of country music] with jokes about pickup trucks, dogs, girlfriends and the beer. When in fact it’s about elemental things: birth, death, falling in love, out of love, seeking redemption and erring and all the things human flesh is heir to. That’s the stuff country music is about.”
Ken Burns

“It is part of who we are as Americans — as much as the New Deal and the Civil War and the slave trade. All the violence and all the beauty — it’s part of who we are, and we should know it.”
Rosanne Cash, daughter of johnny Cash

We close with an all-star cast and country classic that was written in 1907.