Thursday, August 20, 2015

TBT: Jimmy Dorsey, "So Rare."

"So Rare" was written in 1937 and recorded and released that year by two big bands, Gus Arnheim and his Coconut Grove Orchestra and Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians. There were many subsequent releases, including one by Marian McPartland and George Shearing in 1953. Jimmy Dorsey recorded it in November of 1956, and it rose to number two on the Billboard pop chart in 1957. It has been called the last hit of the big band era, although the song's Wikipedia entry describes Dorsey's version as having "a decidedly rhythm and blues feel unlike the earlier versions."

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Party on a tanker? Yes, if it's PortSide NY's Mary A. Whalen.

A week ago PortSide New York, headed by my friend Carolina Salguera, played host to a weekend long festival aboard their historic coastal tanker Mary A. Whalen. I went on Saturday afternoon, when a folk music sing-along was scheduled.
Leading the singing were A. Heather Wood and Jerry Korobow of the Folk Music Society of New York.
Two macaws were among the visitors aboard.
Off in the harbor a fireboat was making a display of spray.
Looking aft, I saw cranes of the Red Hook Container Port and the skyline of lower Manhattan.

We sang some folk music chestnuts like "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and labor songs like "Solidarity Forever" and "Union Maid." At my suggestion we did a couple of sea shanteys, "New York Girls," as performed below by Steeleye Span, with assistance from Peter Sellars on ukulele and verbal commentary,

and "Haul Away Joe," which I'd learned first from the Kingston Trio, then from the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.

Heather and Jerry led us in a version of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" with which I was not familiar:

As I left the party, I took this photo of Mary A. Whalen's wheelhouse and funnel against a sunset sky: