Articles by Dave Hoenack

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We love Halloween! It’s one of the most uniquely American holidays, in no small part because it has evolved from a variety of traditions imported from around the world. We can thank the ancient Celts for the tradition of dressing in spooky costumes — their harvest festival, the Gaelic harvest festival Samhain was a time when the wall between the corporeal world and that of the spirits became permeable. Costumes were used to confuse the spirits.

From this same source we inherit the practice of mumming or guising, in which revelers dressed as the aos sí, the souls of the dead, would visit homes and perform to receive treats as an offering to the dead. In England this became known as souling, when mostly poor people would ask for food in exchange for saying prayers for the dead. Thanksgiving begging became a tradition here in America, but largely disappeared during the Depression. After World War II trick or treating was introduced to children at least in part to occupy them so they wouldn’t play Halloween pranks along the lines of Scotland’s Cabbage Day, on which spoiled produce was tossed at homes.

As the Catholic Church began to replace pagan celebrations such as Samhain with its own liturgical calendar, a three day celebration of the saints and remembrance of the recently lost called Hallowmas became the setting for these activities. It’s first night, All Hallows Eve, soon became Halloween.

The story of Jack of the Lantern also travelled across the Atlantic to find a home here in America — only instead of keeping his burning coal in a carved turnip, Jack used a pumpkin. The pumpkin, like all squashes, is an ancient New World food, believed to have first been cultivated in Mexico between 5,000 BC and 7,000 BC. It was the first of the foundational “Three sisters” — squash, beans, corn — of ancient Mesoamerican agriculture.

Our family carved our jack o’ lanterns last night!

Of course the real appeal of the holiday for our kids is the candy. According to the internet, Americans spend more than $2 billion on Halloween, most of that in the form of chocolate and *shudder* candy corn. Its worth noting that the fear of poisoned candy is almost entirely unfounded. Only a handful of cases exist — most famously that of Ronald Clark O’Bryan, who poisoned his son with cyanide in a pixie stick in hopes of collecting insurance money. O’Bryan attempted to cover up his horrible crime by distributing the poison to his daughter and three other children, but only eight-year-old Timothy ate his pixie stick. After a lengthy investigation, O’Bryan was charged, convicted and ultimately executed by the state of Texas. He is the subject of the song “Candyman” by Siouxsie and the Banshees.

We’ll have some safe delicious candy in the record shop today. Costumes are welcome but not required. We’ve also got a couple copies of the Hymies Halloween mix CD left, which includes great songs like the Fortunes’ “Ghoul in School,” heard above.

This post is a re-run of a post which originally appeared in 2014.

Our pal Craig is always bringing in odd finds from his thrift store trips, and he recently found this awesome tape of a 1988 radio documentary about Radio First Termer, a pirate station briefly broadcast in Vietnam.

vietnam radio first termerRadio First Termer broadcast just over sixty hours, for three weeks in January 1971. Its host, Dave Rabbit, is now known to have been US Air Force Sargent Clyde David DeLay. You can hear one of the only surviving recordings of the original broadcasts here.

There’s a controversial movie about the private life of Jacqueline Du Pré, a cellist whose short career revived England’s role in classical music, in particular Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto. Du Pré’s life and career didn’t need to be sensationalized to be interesting, as she was one of those classical musicians whose music spoke for itself.

Du Pré first performed the Elgar concerto at her concert debut in 1962 when she was seventeen years old. She went on to perform it again at the BBC’s prominent Proms summer festival, and a subsequent recording of the piece became an international hit. After this she studied with Mstislav Rostropovich and earned his praise.

She made many famous friends in the classical community — A 1969 recording of Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet featured Du Pré along with her husband Daniel Barenbiom, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zuckerman and Zubin Mehta. It was a classical “super group” along the lines of rock’s Traveling Wilburys, and they performed and recorded several chamber pieces together.

Du Pré was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and her career came to a tragic end. She was so, so young when she passed away, and the loss for listeners like ourselves is enormous. In a short time she truly brought new life into the world of classical music.

Her recordings of Elgar and Schubert are highly regarded. We also love this album of Du Pré and Barenbohm performing Beethoven’s Cello Sonata no.3 in A Major. Regular readers of the Hymies blog know how highly we regard Beethoven’s music — this work, completed at the same time as the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, is unique in the way the cello and piano interact and share the lead role.

Pianist Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich had toured with Du Pré, and had also performed and recorded other Beethoven works at the time of this recording. His 1968 recording of the Diabelli Variations is one of the best. Although he was born in the United States, he has long lived in England. At seventy-seven, he is still performing.

 

Of course, its hard to be sure if the applause he received is genuine, or out of fear. “Clap, you fool, clap or he will have us arrested!”

Fats Domino has passed away at the age of eighty-six in his Harvey, Louisiana home, across the Mississippi from the city of New Orleans where he remained a popular fixture even in retirement. He released his last album, Alive and Kickin’, the same year he was rescued by helicopter during Hurricane Katrina. The following year, he described his retirement in a rare interview, saying, “I just drink my little beers, do some cookin’, anything I feel like.”

We couldn’t choose a favorite from the dozens of hit singles he recorded in the 50s and early 60s. In fact, we could hardly narrow it down to four. Here are a few of our favorites. All of these were co-written with Dave Bartholomew, who at ninety-six is still alive and kickin’.

In January we posted the first tune from Focus, a 1961 album by Stan Getz and Eddie Sauter. One of our favorite things about “I’m Late, I’m Late” is that the song refers to the White Rabbit as he appears in the Disney adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Whether its his resemblance to character actor S.Z. Sakall or his jaunty tune, we’ve always loved the White Rabbit. He was performed by Bill Thompson, aka “Droopy,” in the cartoon.

“I’m Late, I’m Late” captures the character’s manic dash, and also sets the tone for one of the more entertaining classical/jazz hybrids on record. Sauter, best known for the big band he led with Bill Finegan, was a jazz composer who collaborated with Getz once again for the score to the surreal 1965 Warren Beatty film, Mickey One. A commercial flop, it is now considered a cult classic, and Sauter’s score runs the range of jazz experimentation.

Sauter also wrote an original suite for Getz to perform with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. An arrangement of his “Doodletown Fifers” (a 1952 tune by the Sauter-Finegan Big Band) has become a nearly annual tradition at Tanglewood, but “Tanglewood Concerto” has not seen a revival. The piece is very much along the lines of Focus, and sure to be of interest to fans of that album. This particular recording, though, is a little worn out. It’s a withdrawn St. Paul Public Library copy we found in a recent jazz collection.

This is a 1972 promotional record on Fillmore Records, named for the San Francisco auditorium operated by promoter Bill Graham until about a year earlier. Although many acts were associated with Graham, few of them released recordings on his label, which folded altogether after the release of a box set, Fillmore – The Last Days, about four years later.

Graham is most known for his work as a promoter, including the organization of the largest outdoor concert of all time in Watkins Glen, New York in 1973, which entertained more than 800,000 paying ticket holders who came to see the Band, the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band.

He was also one of the famous “One Thousand Children” — actually now known to be a number closer to 1,400, they are the Jewish children who were sent to the United States without their families between 1934 and 1945 to escape the Holocaust. Graham’s childhood name was Wulf Wolodia Grajonca. They came from many backgrounds, but one commonality between nearly all of them is that their parents would not have been able to obtain visas to leave the country, and nearly all subsequently perished in concentration camps.

 

 

Graham established monopolistic control over large music events in California, and was an early associate of BASS Tickets, which is now Ticketmaster. Still, after his death in a 1991 helicopter crash, Graham was remembered for the fairness with which he treated performers and also for his concern for the well-being and safety of attendees. He also has a history of assembling bills with diverse artists, giving fans the opportunity to hear things they might otherwise never experience.

Years ago when working at Al’s Breakfast here in Dinkytown, we heard a great story from a regular customer there, a guy so popular there that a dish on the menu was named for him. He said as a teenager he went to see the Who at the Fillmore West, and the opening act was Cannonball Adderley. Throughout their set, Cannonball and his brother Nat were smoking cigarettes and putting them out on the stage. Later, before the Who came out to perform, Roger Daltry went out and picked up a few of the butts, saying that back home in England nobody would believe that Cannonball Adderley had opened up for them. Who know if the stories are true. Another, in Miles Davis’ autobiography, shows another side of such a show:

I remember one time — it might have been a couple of times — I was opening up for this sorry-ass cat named Steve Miller. I think Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were on that program and they were a little better. Anyway, Steve Miller didn’t have shit going for him, so I’m pissed because I got to open for this non-playing motherfucker just because he had one or two sorry-ass records out. So I would come late and he would have to go on first, and then when we got there we just smoked the motherfucking place and everybody dug it, even Bill!

This went on for a couple of nights and every time I would come late, Bill would be telling me about “it’s being disrespectful to the artist” and shit like that. On this last night, I do the same thing. When I get there I see that Bill is madder than a motherfucker because he’s not waiting for me inside like he normally does, but he’s standing outside the Fillmore. He starts to cut into me with this bullshit about “disrespecting Steve” and everything. So I just look at him, cool as a motherfucker, and say to him, “Hey baby, just like the other nights and you know they worked out just fine, right?” So he couldn’t say nothing to that because we had torn the place down.

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