I love his voice. It’s both smooth and gravelly. I love his spirit – playful, romantic, and cool. He’s the perfect front man, projecting and controlling the energy. He’s fun and is working all the angles.
When They Ask About You
Big bands and hot groups were there at his start in Los Angeles and the west coast and the music still keep him moving forward.
If I Were You, Baby, I’d Fall In Love With Me
The horns, the punctuating rhythms, his soulful delivery, and inherent hipness set him apart from a million other singers. He’s 90 now, and still performing.
Almost In Your Arms
At this point in time, there are few like him – a real guy who has lived a jazz life in a musician’s world, who has only become better and stronger and more wonderful with age.
Tender, sly, vulnerable, joyful, unconquerable and in the pocket. His advice is, Take it one day at a time, live your dreams, and enjoy the ride. Thanks, Ernie!
There is a radio station in my town called, KGUD. Or, as it is intoned, with dramatic pauses in between, Kay-Good. Good. Very good.
I don’t listen to the radio as much as in the past. I can control the soundtrack of my individual movie to a remarkable degree. I can program my devices and make my playlists. That’s all well and good but, through that little box, how many wonders have I stumbled into in the past and what might I encounter now and in the future? I just might be missing something.
Summer Samba Walter Wanderley KGUD is a city-sponsored, listener supported, station broadcasting from a serious-looking building next to the library. From what I can gather, it’s all on tape with a single resonant voice breaking in every three or four songs, reminding us of our goodness, the goodness of the music, and the goodness to be depended on at this particular position on the dial.
Stranger on the Shore Acker Bilk
A curious mix comes out of the speaker with no obvious organizing principle. If I weren’t driving my car or sitting on the edge of my bed before sleep, I’d think I was somewhere, lost in time, escalating to the second floor of a department store or wandering the aisles of a badly lit grocery store, accompanied by Muzak of an insistently positive nature.
There is watered-down Ferrante and Teicher, even watered-down Floyd Cramer. Odd and insipid interpretations of Beatles favorites. There is How Deep Is Your Love on panpipes. The rhythms are off, the strings are less than crisp. The arrangements are suspect for many reasons. As a palette cleanser, every eighth or ninth song is redeemingly classical in nature, often legitimately performed, though, sometimes, mangled by the magnetic pull of a Muzak aesthetic.
Last Date Floyd Cramer
The thing is that there is something wonderfully endearing about the whole experience. The KGUD sincerity is not in question. Forgotten melodies are unearthed from both the Top 40 and middle-of-the-road graveyards. There’s no doubt that the whole effect is calming, not to say soporific. But, somehow, it’s uplifting, despite its inane endlessness. It calls on and creates a nostalgia I didn’t know I had.
English Suite 3 in g minor Bach
One of the things I appreciate is that it is in such contrast with the expressive nature of the pickup trucks which roar back and forth just outside the studio doors. Another thing is the contrast between its pleasant sounds and the dire nature of the news, which seems to increase daily and which it avoids. There’s also the pounding bass line of Main Street, a block away, that pushes every other element into the corner.
Barquinho Walter Wanderley
It’s hard to counteract those kinds of declarations. Fortunately, it’s there for you, for me, twenty-four hours a day. KGUD. Your gentle companion in the background. Always reassuring. Always with good music. KGUD — music for the good land.
Sometimes, you don’t know what you’ve got, until you look. There’s stuff. A glove your dog brought home. A gift you’ve never opened. Something your husband forgot to tell you about. All the junk in the basement. In closets, under furniture, crammed in the garage.
I was just scrolling through my iTunes library and there’s stuff there, too. Lots of it! I’ve downloaded, purchased, and copied a ton of tunes and many spoken words, both books and podcasts, and I live in fear that some Apple algorithm is going to realize how many songs I have, freak out, and stop iTunes from working. Let’s just say there is enough to play continuously, without repeating, for over 400 days or something. But messing around like this, I’ve found some songs there that not only don’t I recognize, but they’re things I know I would never ever think to download, even for research and development.
It’s a treat, of sorts, there are new and unusual performers such as Ollie and the Nightingales and The Three Chuckles and sentimental titles like Tuna Fish Salad and My Little Sister’s Got A Motorbike.
But it’s also kind of like going through someone’s mail with that blank look on your face. Not that that I’ve ever looked through someone’s mail. I swear it.
I’m getting an education in obscurity and just plain oddness. My imagination has been overworked trying to conjure this group or that orchestra or trying to figure out what language is at work and why our cultures are so different, even though YouTube has been active since many of us were born.
At the end of all this, I’m including here some of the finds that I love. Or could love, if they were a little bit better. All the same, it’s surprising what I can’t remember. It’s fun and I wonder what it means that I would never encounter these items again, even if I typed as long or as hard as those monkeys.
The SingleThe late 70s and 80s were a time lost between the expanded vision of the 60s and the approaching, unknown, and, possibly, sci-fi new century. Frank Zappa had set my absurdity antennae twitching and he and a bunch of other bands and individuals had brought all kinds of sophistication and instrumental expertise to bear on the music that was in the ether.
Gruppo Sportivo was one band that seemed to integrate great pop sensibility and an oblique (not to say wacky) take on traditional ideas and lyrics involving teen angst, true love, and automobiles.
One Way LoveThis band was led by a guy with the great name of Van DeFruits, aka Hans Vandenburg, He and his gang in Holland had heard the same tunes everyone else had and their music alluded to, parodied, and took inspiration from everything under the sun, including hook-oriented pop and hi-tech studio production.
Out There In The Jungle
Album followed album, filled with excitingly goofy and tuneful songs that referred to the collective rock and roll experience that we lived full time. Songs like, Out There in the Jungle, Happily Unemployed, and I Shot My Manager kept me grounded, while thoroughly whacked ones like, Lock Yourself Up, Booby Trap Boogie, and Born On My Birthday stirred tender thoughts and memories.
I like listening to music where I have no idea what they’re saying — like Valerio Longoria, Paolo Conte, and Joao Gilberto, but, fortunately, Gruppo Sportivo sang in English. I would be much poorer for missing their perspective.
Sunny or cloudy, it’s Spring. Whether we can see it or not, there’s always moonlight. And, somewhere in the background, there’s music. I hope these tunes can help bring forth not only the upcoming flowers of May, but also the sweetness of the present moment.
In my mind, he will always be the King of New Orleans, even though there have been and will be many more. He has its history in his fingertips. He’s telling me about gilded splinters and I’m trying to understand what he means. He’s pulling on my coat to let me know who’s been hoodooed. He’s a street guy and has been, since he was a kid going jukebox to jukebox with his dad. He says he’s always been in the right place, but at the wrong time. He’s got a voice that takes me right down the river. You can imitate it, but not what’s behind it. He reveals the need for a little brain salad surgery, but, as far as I’m concerned, he’s always in tune, in the pocket, and talking soul to soul. He always uplifts mine.
More than forty years ago, I was a stranger in town after a long move across the country. It’s my first week there, alone, and facing the end of autumn. I go to a little bar, really a roadhouse, outside of town, where he and his band are scheduled for one-night. As I pull into the parking lot, the flakes start to fall, the first since last winter. I go in, get a beer, and wait for the show to begin.
Doc comes out alone and sits at the piano. He leans, Fats Domino-style, towards the sparse crowd, smiles a sly look, and begins a medley of Christmas carols. Winter Wonderland, Frosty, Silent Night and others. This goes on and on and is amazing me and every other lucky person there. No gravelly singing, just a sweet and funky, soulful solo that stops and silences even the waitresses, each of us present in this wonderful moment and, at the same time, lost in our own particular memories.
By the end of the night, hours later, there are horns and backup singers. The rhythm section and the Doctor are wailing. Sitting is a foreign concept. Everyone is on their chairs, truly drawn together in an experience that transcends New Orleans, is more than the cold Minnesota night, and goes beyond any holiday celebration.
When it’s all over, the audience and I reconnect with the floor, softly, like snowflakes, and I walk outside to the parking lot, now soft and white, and smile into the infinite darkness.
Minnesota had never heard such a thing. It came from another world. It expanded your mind in a way the accordion never could. It provided instant hipness. You could almost smell the incense. In fact, upon hearing it, the entire room started to shimmer, your hair grew faster, colors were brighter, and, without meaning to, you began to question your place in the universe.
Gat Kirawani Ravi Shankar
Guys like George Harrison were serious musicians and, in the real world beyond America, Ravi Shankar was an acknowledged master. On Sgt. Pepper’s, when Within You, Without You came out of speakers, it was like stepping into OZ. And when The Sound of the Sitar, by Ravi Shankar, came in the mail from the Columbia Record Club, I sank like a stone into a world I knew nothing about.
Love Scene George Harrison Wonderwall
Its music was like meditation — something I was never sure I was doing correctly and which seemed to last longer than it should have. A lot of groups in the late sixties added it to their songs to give them a certain psychedelic je ne sais quoi. For guys like B. J. Thomas, the sound of the sitar was like the fringe on his coat, goony and unnecessary, but for others, like the Incredible String Band, it really did add to the sound, the meaning, the emotion of a piece.
Hooked on a Feeling B. J. Thomas
The Mad Hatter’s Song The Incredible String Band
In the end, it didn’t matter. I loved the sound and I felt that just by hearing these tones, these notes, these rhythms, I was moving closer to the center of the cosmos. This is what I felt all music was doing to me. I still do.