The fifth annual Roots, Rock & Deep Blues festival is this weekend — it’s one of our favorite neighborhood events of the year. The bill includes lots of our favorite local artists who have performed here at Hymie’s in the past, including Charlie Parr, Mike Munson, Barbara Jean, Black Market Brass and more.

There is also a chance to sample food from all of the awesome restaurants that make Longfellow the best neighborhood in town. The best eats from all over the world can be found around here. You can check out details for the festival’s “international food court” here. Please save some palak paneer for us!

One last reason we love this event is that it’s a fundraiser to support Patrick’s Cabaret, which is a non-profit community theater and an essential anchor for our neighborhood.

Here is the video of Black Market Brass we produced last year with Pabst Twin Cities. We love these guys!

PinkFloyd-album-ummagummastudio-300Of course, one of the most famous is these is the so-called “Gigi cover.” Early copies of Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma depict a copy of the cast album. The picture is also a unique example of the droste effect (a repeating picture within a picture) because the band members change places with each iteration.

More often than not the albums which appear on albums are on shelves in the background. We like the idea of a passing glimpse at the collection of a favorite artist. It’s no surprise to us that Andre Previn’s shelves are far tidier than Roland Kirk’s.

right as rain

roland kirk

 

We’ll bet it would have been a lot of fun to go record shopping with Roland Kirk or Leontyne Price. And Andre Previn, who incidentally composed the Gigi score seen in the Pink Floyd album above, can have any record he finds at Hymie’s on the house.
Photo on 7-12-15 at 5.05 PMTake a close look at Santana’s Amigos and you’ll see a blue monkey holding a copy of their debut album — the monkey’s got good taste!

ernest tubb record shopAnother common way for records to appear on the covers of other records is when the performer poses in a record shop. Ernest Tubb is seen beaming before a rack of albums from his label-mates in his own record shop on the cover of this 1960 album. There are now two Ernest Tubbs’ Record Shop locations in Nashville, Tennessee — at the Music Valley Village location you can also see the Green Hornet, a 1964 Silver Eagle touring bus used by Tubb himself. It travelled over three million miles before being restored for display!

hard promisesAnd Tom Petty is seen inside an un-named record shop on the cover of Hard Promises. To Petty’s left you can see the same sort of spinning 45 rack we have here in our shop — we would like very much to know where this shop is so we can go there and straighten up those singles!

Petty’s choice of setting is fitting, for Hard Promises was of course the album over which Petty fought MCA’s policy of “superstar pricing” (charging an extra dollar for top-selling artist). Olivia Newton John and Steely Dan gave in, but Petty was next in line and considered either not delivering the album to the label or titling it the standard price, $8.98, to protest the increase. As if we needed another reason to think Petty was a good dude.

DJ shadow

Another album which fittingly features a record store on the cover is Entroducing…DJ Shadow, a highly influential (and enjoyable) album built around innovative samples. In the documentary Scratch, he returns to the record shop where he found most of the albums sampled on his 1996 debut album. He’d gone there for years before they let him look through the basement where albums were stacked everywhere under bare bulbs.

“Just being in here is a humbling experience for me,” he explains. “Because you’re looking through all these records and it’s sort of like a big pile of broken dreams.”

 


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Sunday’s re-run from the Hymie’s archive featured some lesser-known dance crazes we recalled celebrating. Today’s is freshly imported from the south seas and features cheerful, Hugh Downs-ish instructions. We hope you and your friends have fun doing the Bamboo Hop!

 

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“Tinikling” instructions

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“Tinikling” song

We all know the twist the funky chicken and the electric slide  – most of us have probably done at least one of them at a wedding  Here are some dances that may be unfamiliar to you (although Laura and Dave danced all of them at their wedding)

THE BUMP

(as introduced by Alvin Cash and the Crawlers)

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“Bumpity bump bump…”  Sounds pretty good to us.

THE TURTLE

(as introduced by Ichabod and the Cranes)

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This seems like it would be the perfect hipster dance because all you do is stand there.  If only you could also talk about the time you saw the band before they were cool.

THE PIGEON

(as introduced by Bert)

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Sesame Street Fever is not the first time Bert did the pigeon.  Its just the funkiest.

THE STRAND

(as introduced by Maureen Gray)

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Must have been a slow dance.

THE HUMPTY DUMPTY

(as introduced by Bobby Pickett)

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This is the B side of a single that came out a year after the million-seller “Monster Mash” (credited to Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt Kickers).  Like everything Pickett recorded after his smash hit debut – even the 2005 protest song “Climate Mash” – it never escaped the shadow of the perennial Halloween classic. Still, we love to do the Humpty Dumpty.  Let’s all do the Humpty Dumpty!

 

Mary Lou Williams, who refused to be bound by a contract and even once founded her own independent label, is one of our favorite figures in jazz history. Her career outlasted the swing era and included collaborations with beboppers and free jazzers, and she was beyond simple ahead of her time. Her music was in many ways timeless.

She was connected to so many seminal moments in jazz history, performing with an early version of Duke Ellington’s Washingtonians (at the age of thirteen) in 1924. A year later, while playing with McKinney’s Cotton Pickers in Harlem, her playing so pleased Louis Armstrong that he paused in his tracks to listen before kissing her.

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Williams is best known to swing aficionados for her work with Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy in the 1930s. She was originally brought to Kirk’s orchestra by her first husband, John Williams, who was a saxophonist in the group. By the time she left, about a decade later, she was the primary reason for their success, which you can quickly tell from any compilation of their singles (the ones arranged by other members simply don’t swing the same). “Walking and Swinging” (1936) and “Mary’s Idea” (1938) are two of our favorites.

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“Walking and Swinging” by Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy

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“Mary’s Idea” by Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy

She began her freelance career while working for Kirk’s Clouds of Joy, who had taken a long engagement in Kansas City. She did work for Earl Hines, Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, and for Benny Goodman. One track Goodman was especially pleased with was “Roll Em.”

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“Roll Em” by the Benny Goodman Orchestra

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“Camel Hop” by Benny Goodman and his Orchestra

The King of Swing was so pleased with the theme she wrote for his NBC Radio program, sponsored by Camel cigarettes, that he tried unsuccessfully to pin Williams down with an exclusive contract. She refused and continued to work for a variety of bandleaders.

Her second husband was trumpeter Shorty Baker, and when he was briefly engaged with Duke Ellington’s Orchestra, she came along and arranged her version of Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies” for the Duke (as “Trumpet no End”), as well as adding “Walking and Swinging” to his prestigious repertoire.

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“Blue Skies” by Duke Ellington and his Orchestra

One distinctive talent she shared with Ellington was an ability to arrange music to bring out the best in a specific performer. While still working for Kirk she produced “Floyd’s Guitar Blues” for Floyd Smith with the intention of highlighting his Hawaiian style on the lap steel guitar. The result is one of the earliest hit records to feature an electric guitar.

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“Floyd’s Guitar Blues” by Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy

Williams made a number of her own recordings during these productive years, including a couple solo sides for Brunswick in 1930 which we would sure like to find one day. She was not, however, completely rooted in the swing era and became a close associate of Dizzy Gillespie and his wife Lorraine. Bebop musicians, notably Thelonious Monk, held her in high esteem. She had a regular program on New York’s WNEW (Mary Lou’s Piano Workshop), broadcast from Barney Josephson’s influential Cafe Society club. “During this period Monk and the kids would come to my apartment every morning around four or pick me up at the Café after I’d finished my last show, and we’d play and swap ideas until noon or later”, she explained to Melody Maker in a 1954 interview. Williams’ remarks reflected a welcoming attitude towards bebop and other developments in jazz not always held by members of her generation.

Right from the start, musical reactionaries have said the worst about bop. But after seeing the Savoy Ballroom kids fit dances to this kind of music, I felt it was destined to become the new era of music, though not taking anything away from Dixieland or swing or any of the great stars of jazz. I see no reason why there should be a battle in music. All of us aim to make our listeners happy.

Mary Lou maintained this attitude throughout her professional career, collaborating with free jazz pioneer Cecil Taylor in 1978 on one of the most unexpectedly moving jazz albums of its era. Williams seems like one of those musicians who was capable of playing just about anything, but had the dedication to take her talent where she felt inspired.

Williams wrote or arranged a few songs for Gillespie’s experimental big band, which was one of the most interesting groups in the history of jazz (we last listened to them here, in a post about percussionist Chano Pozo). One of these songs was “In the Land of Ooh Bla Dee,” featured a fun vocal by Joe Carroll and, naturally, a great solo by Diz.

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“In the Land of Ooh Bla Dee” by Dizzy Gillespie and his Orchestra

It was Gillespie who convinced Williams to come out of her brief retirement with a performance at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival — she is featured on his live album of the performance. Her life thereafter was focused on liturgical music and charitable work, and her compositions during this time blend jazz with choral arrangements and traditional blues. The most famous of these is her Mass for Peace, commonly called “Mary Lou’s Mass,” which was recorded in 1970.

mary lou's mass

“I am praying with my fingers when I play,” she once said, adding that she hoped to inspire people’s spirituality with her music. Williams performed her Mass on The Dick Cavett Show in August 1971. Sadly, while you’ll have no trouble finding footage of John Lennon’s jackassery on the same program, nobody has posted Williams’ performance online. Priorities, huh?

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“Old Time Spiritual” from Mass for Peace

Williams’ work involved at one time operating thrift stores which supported musicians and supporting children’s music education through programs like Billy Taylor’s Jazzmobile — in fact, one of her many fans was no less than Mr. Rogers, who had her as a guest on his show in 1973.

songs to grow on

Woody Guthrie recorded his children’s records for Folkways (Songs to Grow On and Nursery Days) in the late 40s when his own children were fairly small. During this time he lived in the now-famous Mermaid Avenue house on Coney Island, and produced a variety of songs, poems and drawing now archived by his family.

You could learn more about the archives from the official Woody Guthrie website.

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“Car Song” by Woody Guthrie

While much of his work in these years was inspired by his domestic life in New York, he continued to document the struggles of working people — for instance, in 1948 he wrote on of our favorites of his songs, “Deportees (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)” after reading about the death of 28 migrant workers who were being sent back to Mexico.

It may not be the coolest choice but “Car Song” is probably our favorite song by Woody Guthrie. Why don’t they make cars with horns that go “Ah-ooo-gah!” anymore?

 

Cracker had a song on their self-titled debut called “Another Song About the Rain.” There certainly are a lot of songs about the rain, and Cracker’s 1992 submission is memorable only as the only song on the otherwise enjoyable album where David Lowery does not sing the lead (add it to our collection of songs where one of the other guys sings). Most songs about the rain are fairly mundane at best, as are most rainstorms.

Last night’s downpour and this morning’s drizzle had some serious consequences, however, as its the first day of camp for two disappointed little ones around here. Fortunately, even a little rain could hardly dampen their spirits as they got on the bus early this morning. We’re hoping its a day which turns out bright and sunny in the end, as it did just a week ago when we posted Taj Mahal’s “Light Rain Blues.”

j churchToday’s song about the rain is “November” by J Church, a band named for a San Francisco bus line, which explains why they’d experience rain in November. Through seemingly endless lineup changes, J Church was one of the most prolific punk rock bands of the 90s and early 00s, and its songwriter Lance Hahn seemed to have an endless supply of insight and pop hooks.

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“November” by J Church

Hahn’s life was at times as tragic as the tales in his songs. He lost everything in a fire in 2002, nearly his life as well, and also survived a serious heart condition. After fighting kidney disease for more than five difficult years, he passed away at the age of forty, leaving behind a catalog of nearly 300 songs written for J Church, Cringer and Cilantro. The band explored the boundaries of punk rock to include art rock and experimentalism, while rarely venturing far from the tradition, and Hahn’s lyrics were a surreal cross between the Situationist International and the short stories of Charles Bukowski — not for everyone but for some an inspiring combination. Hahn was hardly noticed by mainstream music press (though one must appreciate The Onion‘s AV Club for their sincere tribute) but he was widely remembered by those who approached punk rock as an ideology rather than a genre or trendy fashion.

 

“November” is one of the simplest songs about the rain we’ve ever heard. It appeared on a 7inch EP in 1992, and again on Camels, Spilled Corona and the Sound of Mariachi Bands, which was the first of four compilations of J Church singles. It is the only picture disc in our personal collection.

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