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.

Goodnight everyone, and have an I DO 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.


Many years ago my friend and WTMJ colleague Jim Kaluzny had his own deejay service and asked me to assist at wedding receptions. The stories I could tell.

There are definitely crowd pleasers that draw folks to the dance floor. To me, some are so natural, so obvious that there should be some stipulation that unless they’re not played at a wedding the couple isn’t legally married. 🙂

To this day I can’t attend a ceremony without critiquing. Why aren’t they doing this? Why haven’t they played that?

Wedding “must plays” this week.

Jim would more often than not actually line up the recordings and I would intro them. A nice opener to break the ice after the couple’s official first dance was this oldie.

If it was good enough for the legendary Glenn Miller it was good enough for us. Nice crisp clean sound.

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Today there simply aren’t enough bumpers and grinders, slow dances played at weddings. That’s too bad because they work.

Like this classic from the King.

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And some reports indicate Elvis didn’t want to record this song, but others insisted. It made it all the way to #2 where it just couldn’t knock off Joey Dee and “The Peppermint  Twist.” But you won’t hear that at a wedding.

Time to liven (speed) things up. They’re in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so why not give ’em a spin!

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From Facebook:

A national sensation, they toured extensively and were co-headliners on the 1959 Winter Dance Party, the tour that took the lives of Buddy Holly and Richie Valens. Dion was, in fact, scheduled to fly in the fateful plane that went down. The headliners flipped a coin to see who was going to fly. The Big Bopper and Dion won the toss. Then Dion discovered that the flight would cost $36 — the exact amount of rent his parents paid monthly. He said, “I couldn’t bring myself to pay a full month’s rent on a short flight. So I said, ‘Ritchie, you go.’ He accepted and took my seat. Only the four of us knew who was getting on that plane when we left the dressing room that night. Of those four, I was the only one who survived beyond February 3, 1959.”

Dion’s memorable career lives on. The Wanderer: Based On The Life and Music Of Dion will have its world premiere at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse in the spring of 2020 a 2020 prior to an expected Broadway run.

To quote Johnny Mathis, “Chances are” you’ll hear this song in the first 15-30 minutes at a wedding.

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Now another cuddler. Most often the Frank Sinatra version gets the attention and that certainly isn’t bad. I like this rendition where the DJ can talk over the piano intro. Great vocal by Steve Tyrell and wonderful sax solo. And sorry, Frank. This recording is a bit better and easier to dance to. I give it an 87.

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OK. I admit. I can’t help myself. One more. One more. Some of these are just plain perfect for the occasion. And so is this next selection. Weddings seem to bring on and ooze sentimentality. There aren’t more songs that are prettier than this. And might I add this would be ideal for the father -daughter dance. I personally recommend that a DJ play this as early in the evening as possible for ultimate happiness.

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Everyone knows this incredibly talented family, thus, a popular wedding choice.
Nat King Cole died on Feb. 15, 1965. He was only 45.

Natalie Cole died on December 31, 2015, at the age of 65.

There are so, so many others that are great wedding choices.

A polka, of course
The Chicken Dance
Old Time Rock and Roll-Bob Seger
Twist and Shout-Beatles

Jailhouse Rock-Elvis
Grease Medley
Dancing Queen-ABBA

YMCA-The Village People
C’mon Eileen-Dexty’s Midnight Runners
Footloose-Kenny Loggins
Ain’t Too Proud To Beg-The Temptations
Brown Eyed Girl-Van Morrison

Love Shack-The B-52’s
Shout-The Isley Brothers
Funkytown-Lipps Inc.
Shake It Off-Taylor Swift
All About That Bass-Meghan Trainor

Colour My World-Chicago
Crazy-Patsy Cline
Close To You-Carpenters
Unchained Melody-The Righteous Brothers
Behind Closed Doors-Charlie Rich

Don’t hear ’em? Go request ’em!

That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

We close with a dance floor favorite. Jive Bunny was an English pop act that did medleys of popular music hits that were a wedding DJ’s best friend. On their big album they recorded eight (8) medleys. Jim and I always played this. Slam dunk winner. The “That’s What I Like” medley. See how many you a) remember and b) would love to dance to on a Saturday night in all your finery.

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Our Irish dancer daughter Kyla wins her solo dress!


So, to the uninitiated, what does that mean?

This requires some explanation.

March 25, 2009.

It was 10:45 pm.

Late into the day.

But worth it at Aurora Women’s Pavilion in West Allis.

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My darling wife, Jennifer, at first objected to me posting these pictures until I explained that no one gives birth looking like Melania Trump or Marilyn Monroe.

I went home that night (actually early morning the next day) and let our immediate world the good news.

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I was working for state Senator Mary Lazich (New Berlin) at the time. She gave explicit instructions the next day to clear her calendar so she could meet her newest constituent.

The early morning of March 26, 2009…

Sen. Mary meets her youngest constituent
Lazich and Kyla

Soon after, Kyla Audrey Fischer had another visitor. Her extremely Irish grandmother, Audrey Fischer. Please note the sweater imported from Ireland.

Kyla & Gramma Audrey for Kyla's Project

Mom, who was extremely Irish, died the following January.  But her Irish influence remained alive, right up through today.

We’d take baby Kyla to Milwaukee’s Irish Fest where I’ve been a volunteer now for more than 25 years.

Kyla would see the Irish dancers in their finery on the grounds and openly wished she could be one someday.

We never pushed her but she told us she wanted to try dancing solely because of what she saw at Irish Fest.

So we enrolled her at Cashel Dennehy School of Irish Dance. Kyla’s baptism by fire came in a Summer Sampler course that would train her just enough to be on the stage in front of thousands at Irish Fest.

It’s August of 2013.

Kyla is led onstage by one of those older Irish girls she dreamed of being someday, wearing an Irish Connemara marble angel pendant around her neck.


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Wow. A real Irish girl!

Kyla continued her Summer Samplers for another three seasons and then started full time classes in September 2016.  Lesson after lesson after lesson (about six month’s worth) led to the school’s traditional welcoming event for all the new dancers, the Beginner Debut.

In February 2017, Kyla found herself dancing proudly onstage with a teacher because all the other dancers had already performed with a partner. So Kyla, with no partner of her own, was joined by one of her instructors Alyssa Harling who, because of her skills and love of high heels, danced with Kyla in monster stilettos.

Now you get Kyla’s school (Cashel Dennehy) and you can complete all over the Midwest in what’s called a feis, an Irish dance competition.

In various dance style compositions the dancers move from “beginner” (Kyla, for example after Summer Sampler) to “novice” status. Once in novice status the dancers must achieve 1st place in a competition in order to go from the school dance costume to the opportunity to purchase their very own solo dress with all the bling, color, etc.

It’s quite an incentive. Victory doesn’t happen overnight.

The Badger State Feis took place Saturday, July 20, 2019.

Kyla and her dance friends from Cashel Dennehy did OK, but no solo dresses.

The next day, Sunday, July 21, 2019. The Cashel gods were smiling down, big time.

First, Kyla’s partner in last November’s Mid-America Oireachtas ceili competition in Louisville, Mallory Thomae, broke through the ice with a 1st. Mallory captured six awards on the day.

Mallory Awards Cream City 2019

Not long after Mallory won her 1st place Kyla performed in the treble jig.

The picture on the scoreboard every dancer wants to see.

First Place Results Posting


Another Cashel 1st place.

Another OK to go get that glittery solo dress!

Kyla won a 1st, two 2nd places, and one 3rd place finish. She was amazing! And on her Irish grandmother’s birthday weekend!

Kyla Trophy 2019

Kyla & Mallory Winners
Kyla and Mallory after their 1st place finishes.

Are you keeping score?

Mallory nabs a 1st.

So does Kyla.

And then came a long 50-minute lunch break.

More dances were still scheduled. More dancers had to worry through stomach butterflies.

What about Kyla’s dear friend, Erinn O’Neill?

Erinn had another dance after lunch.

To the scoreboard we go.

You wait and you wait in anticipation. When will they post the results? Please post them, please.

Erinn’s the girl in front, next to Kyla.

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Eirinn Results Face 2

Yes, it is a magical moment, a dream come true.

Eirinn Jumping

In steamroller fashion, four Cashel girls in a sports momentum-like rally finished first. One, then another, and then another. Four 1st places in a short period of time from dancers who train in a small studio in Wauwatosa.

They practiced so hard, and then they won, alongside each other, hugging and smiling.

Kyla & Eirin Solo Dress Rack

A wonderful story, and a terrific example that the future of America looks truly great.

Time to revisit the dirty little secret in Washington everyone knows (but has done nothing about)

Yes the economy is booming.

However, while the economy is experiencing its longest sustained expansion in American history, the federal deficit is ballooning. Normally in strong economic times, it shrinks.

The US national debt as of this posting is a record $22.5 trillion.

Meanwhile the US deficit is just over $1 trillion.

FLASHBACK. Nobody has paid attention since this segment from CBS’ “60 Minutes” in 2007.

FLASHBACK: AC, a liberal nightmare

Today is going to be one of the hottest and most humid days of the year.

90, maybe 91 degrees here in Franklin.

Time for a Flashback.

The date is July 13, 2013. I wrote on my old blog on the old that includes all of the following:

Last week, I featured a review written by Salon’s Ryan Brown about Stan Cox’s book, “Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer.”

Brown writes, “Stan Cox argues in his new book, the dizzying rise of air conditioning comes at a steep personal and societal price……providing a clear explanation of how A.C. made the leap from luxury to necessity in the United States and examining how we can learn to manage the addiction before we refrigerate ourselves into the apocalypse.”


We’ve paid “a steep personal and societal price” for not sweating to death.

AC will cause us to “refrigerate ourselves into the apocalypse.”

This week, the kooky flako author speaks out on his own in the Washington Post. Wacko Stan Cox says cranking up the ACs duirng intense heat and humidity “isn’t smart.” You hear that. If you turned on your air the past week, you’re stupid.

AC, you idiots, is evil.

“Air conditioning is one of the worst power-guzzlers. The energy required to air-condition American homes and retail spaces has doubled since the early 1990s. Turning buildings into refrigerators burns fossil fuels, which emits greenhouse gases, which raises global temperatures, which creates a need for — you guessed it — more air-conditioning.”

Cue the kumbaya music…

“Saying goodbye to A.C. means saying hello to the world. With more people spending more time outdoors — particularly in the late afternoon and evening, when temperatures fall more quickly outside than they do inside — neighborhoods see a boom in spontaneous summertime socializing. Rather than cowering alone in chilly home-entertainment rooms, neighbors get to know one another. Because there are more people outside, streets in high-crime areas become safer.”

Most outrageous is Cox’s diminishing of the jeopardy living without AC brings. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Science (I’m sure Stan Cox has heard of it) heat is the primary weather-related cause of death in the United States.

Slate (Another source I’m sure Stan Cox is aware of) reports, “Heat waves kill more people in the United States than all of the other so-called natural disasters combined. More than 400 Americans die from heat-related illnesses in a typical year. Annual mortality from tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods together is under 200. Heat-wave deaths aren’t the worst natural disasters only in quantitative terms, but also in qualitative ones because they’re slow and preventable. There’s no telling when an earthquake will strike. But dangerous heat always comes announced, and it’s fairly easy to prevent human damage. Victims of heat tend to wilt gradually, alone and at home, out of touch with family, friends, and social-service providers who could save their lives simply by treating them with water or bringing them to an air-conditioned place.”

That’s small potatoes according to Cox:

“A.C.’s obvious public-health benefits during severe heat waves do not justify its lavish use in everyday life for months on end.”

Without supporting data, Cox makes the ridiculous claim that turning off the AC reduces heat deaths.


I just love the thought processes of liberals. Hope Cox has stocked up mightily on Right Guard.
—This Just In…July 13, 2010

Here’s an update. It’s not sexy. The history of AC. But it’s significant. Don’t have to reinforce that as you try to prevent sweltering, unless you subscribe to the nutty opinions already posted.

By the 1950s, the company began marketing their products for residential applications and is considered a major contributor to suburban sprawl in areas such as the American Southwest by providing improved living conditions in once-remote regions.

Read the entire article here.

FLASHBACK: Why do you want to be a police officer?

Milwaukee Police say Officer Kou Her was killed after a crash at 60th & Capitol early Tuesday morning. At 1:35 a.m. the officer was hit by a suspect at the intersection while driving home from work. Witnesses tell police the suspect was traveling “at a high rate of speed” and drove through a red light, hitting the officer’s car.

A veteran officer with the Racine Police Department was shot and killed after witnessing an armed robbery in progress at Teezer’s Tavern, 1936 Lathrop Ave., at approximately 9:40 p.m. Monday, Racine Police announced Tuesday morning.

Officer John Hetland was off duty when he witnessed an armed robbery in progress at Teezer’s and took immediate action to stop the felony in progress. During his effort to intervene, Hetland sustained a fatal gunshot wound.

My blog from November 2016.