April 29, 2007

On the Duke's birthday

From the Wikipedia entry:

A man of suave demeanor and puckish wit that masked occasional brusqueness, Ellington preferred to call his style and sound "American music" rather than just jazz, and liked to describe those who impressed him as "beyond category," including and especially many of the musicians who served with his orchestra.

Ellington was one of the twentieth century's best-known African-American celebrities. He recorded for many American record companies, and appeared in several films. Ellington and his orchestra toured the United States and Europe regularly before and after World War II.

Duke Ellington also appeared in a few television commercials. According to the YouTube description, this first one was filmed in Sydney, Australia, and it is for Craven Filter cigarettes (yucky).

A sure sign of evil among us?

It captures the Duke Ellington band in a "relaxed" mood during their 1970 tour. And they all do appear to be craven cigarettes, so there was truth in advertising. This footage is fabulous (downright historic), and the Duke's comb over never looked more elaborate:

Picture from the Zenith Circle of Sound page

Here is another one from 1970, and it is one Ellington did for the Zenith "Dual Dimension Circle of Sound." I love how effusive and bubbly he seems at the beginning when he says that "music is my life...love it madly" line. And according to the Duke, the Circle of Sound technology was a "new stereo thing." Isn't that all you need to know? I think so.

It seems odd to me he did stuff like this, but I guess legends can't live off of their fame alone:

April 28, 2007

"Nancy (With the Laughing Face)"

Picture from Songs By Sinatra

"Nancy (With the Laughing Face)" was written for Sinatra daughter, Nancy, by Sinatra pallys (comedian) Phil Silvers and Jimmy Van Heusen (music) in 1942.

Phil Silvers

Sinatra family, circa 1944 (picture from Songs By Sinatra)

Sinatra rerecorded it for Reprise in 1963. Here is a live performance from 1965, on the TV special Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music:

April 27, 2007

"I've Got You Under My Skin"

Cole Porter

"I've Got You Under My Skin" was written by Cole Porter in 1936 for the MGM musical Born to Dance.

It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song that year. Frank Sinatra first sang the song on his weekly radio show in 1946, as the second part of a medley with "Easy to Love". The song was largely forgotten by the time he "resurrected" it on his classic Songs for Swingin' Lovers album in 1956.

This version is the swingin' big-band version that builds to successive crescendoes due to the arrangement of Nelson Riddle. According to Sinatra: Behind the Legend, the "arrangement was so superb that after the musicians rehearsed it for the first time in the studio, they gave Riddle a standing ovation" (p. 190). Sinatra and Riddle rerecorded the song for Reprise in April 1963. Here is Sinatra performing it live on the 1965 television special Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music (Nelson Riddle is conducting the orchestra, or "goosing butterflies" as Dean Martin described it):

April 26, 2007

Hello, Cleveland!

Cleveland, Texas (population: 7,605), is 54 miles N of Crazytown (Houston), 105 miles SW of Naconowhere.

The Texan Theater, built in 1939. In 1994, the Texan was saved from almost certain death when new owners bought the theater. I love those people - whoever they are.

April 24, 2007

Mood music for rainy Sundays

A new compilation from Chris from Ultra Swank! The other three he did have been a bright spot in my life for the last couple of months and the soundtracks to several of my "small town" road trips.

Here is the rundown from Ultra Swank:

Here it is, my latest compilation "Voices from a Photograph". I have been working on this compilation for quite some time now, almost a year in the making. Took a long time to find songs that fitted the mood and title of the compilation. The basic theme of it is mood music for rainy Sundays, melancholic, dreamy vocal pop mixed with instrumental music and songs from movies from the late 1960s up to the mid 1970s. I am sure you will recognize some of them, especially if you are a movie buff (like me). The compilation clocks in at about 60 minutes and is available to download from the links below. Enjoy, and please give me feedback if you like it!

01. Scott Walker - It's Raining Today
02. Nick de Caro & Orchestra - I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
03. Dominic Frontiere - When Were Your Dreams Worth Remembering
04. Dino, Desi & Billy - Thru Spray Colored Glasses
05. Elmer Bernstein - Nearing East Proctor
06. The Velvet Underground & Nico - Sunday Morning
07. Michel Legrand - Theme From The Thomas Crown Affair
08. The Hollyridge Strings - Scarborough Fair
09. Scott Walker - Rosemary
10. Henry Mancini - Natasha In Venice
11. The Cyrkle - It's a Lovely Game Louise
12. Michael Legrand - Main Title from Pretty Polly
13. Jerry Goldsmith - Claudie's Stockings
14. Brian Bennett - Thoughtful
15. The Free Design - My Brother Woody
16. The Velvet Underground & Nico - Femme Fatale
17. John Barry - The Man on a Scooter
18. Quincy Jones - On Days Like These
19. Scott Walker - Copenhagen
20. Richard R. Bennett - Anya
21. Marvin Hamlisch - Lovely Hair
22. Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent - Gotta Get Away
23. Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood - Some Velvet Morning
24. Dennis Farnon - Lonely Promenade

A foggy morning in Conroe

Conroe, Texas (population: 43,402), is 30 miles north of Crazytown (Houston), 17 miles S of Huntsville, and 44 miles E of Navasota. It is Montgomery County Seat.

I was there on a foggy morning to rival a previous one, and the streets were set up for something called "The Race for Kids," so I nearly aborted the visit, and if not for the two and a half hour drive, I would've.

Montgomery County Courthouse - made of limestone, it was built in 1936 in the Moderne style.
flags at half-staff for Virginia Tech

lodge cornerstone

defunct bus depot neon

dry goods ghost sign

ready for the race

The Crighton Theatre opened in 1934, and it is now the home of the Montgomery County Performing Arts Society after standing vacant for over a decade. Miracles do happen, and not everything has to be torn down!

former bank building

on the way home...
I got laid off at Brown & Root,
On my way back to Cut and Shoot,
I lost my wristwatch an' my boots,
Shootin' dice with a dude from Houston.

("Lone Star Blues" by Delbert McClinton)

April 23, 2007

"Oh Glory, How Happy I Am"

PCL LinkDump has a post about Pete Seeger and a regional TV show he hosted in the U.S. during the mid-60s called Rainbow Quest. 38 episodes were produced. Folk and country music legends (including Johnny Cash and Judy Collins) were guests on the show. Episode 23 featured an amazing 12-string guitar player/blues and gospel singer named Reverend Gary Davis. Here he performs "Oh Glory, How Happy I Am":

April 22, 2007

Prison Mike!

Steve Carell and the writers of The Office (Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant) are geniuses. Take for example this scene from the current season's episode, "The Convict." "Prison Mike" speaks with something vaguely like a clichéd Bowery Boys/Bronx accent, uses 1930s gangster slang such as "clink" mixed in with current hip-hopisms ("beyotch"), could possibly have brain damage and something wrong with his right eye, and he wears a blue doo-rag (ooooh, is he a Crip??). This is a brilliant "character," and I hope they find an excuse to bring him back in another episode for any reason whatsoever:

Prison Mike scaring them straight

April 20, 2007

Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica

Clip from next week's episode of The Office, called "Product Recall," in which Jim impersonates Dwight:

April 19, 2007


These pictures of Center are from three separate visits, spread out over the last 6 months, or so.

Center, Texas (population: 5,678), is Shelby County Seat. It is 32 miles NE of Naconowhere.

Downtown Center

The Rio Theater, built in 1926, was originally called the Shelby Theater. The name was shortened to RIO in part due to the high cost of neon during the Depression. It still shows first run movies, as you can see. It is one of the oldest, single screen theaters in Texas still in operation.

Although I'd been in Center on two previous occasions for the express purpose of taking pictures, last weekend was the first time I'd noticed this Coca-Cola ghost sign.

Rear entrance to a store no longer there

The Shelby County Courthouse (c. 1885), Romanesque Revival style. The architect was inspired by the castles of his native Ireland.