Trio Plays at Houston Business Journal Book of Lists Party 2017

February 21, 2017
My trio plays the Houston Business Journal Book of Lists party later today (2/21/17) at the Marriott Marquis (Houston), Texas Ballrooms, 5:30-8:30pm.
If you’re in business in Houston, it’s an opportunity to network with 300+ executives. Single tickets @ $90.00 available as a walk-in or here:
If you attend, please stop by and say hi. With the great and wonderful Ernesto Camilo Vega (clarinet/saxophone) and Sam Kuslan (voice/piano).

Reba McEntire

February 9, 2017

I always liked Reba McEntire’s voice and stage personality, but now I admire her. If you love and respect your audience, you want to please them. Today on TV:

Behar asked McEntire, “If you ever went on a political rant in the middle of your act, what would happen?”

“My fans would be shocked,” the two-time Grammy-winner said. “I take it this way: they have paid their hard-earned money to come in there and fill a seat — parking, getting something at the concession stand, go and eat before the concert — I am there to entertain them, to take their worries away from them, so when they walk out, they can kind of have a little lift in their step and go, ‘Aw, that was such a great break from all the problems I have to deal with during daily life.’ So I’m not going to give them my political views.”

Out of the Woods

February 3, 2017

Thanks to Chip Colcord who played “You Tell Lies” off of my 2011 album, Fire and Fall Back, on the most recent episode of his syndicated radio show, Out of the Woods.

Subway Performers

January 23, 2017
A salute to those who perform in the NYC subway system. (I was one.) I read this article this morning and remembered.
The toughest gig in America: lugging your gear, often unsafe, freezing in winter, boiling in summer, no toilets(!), entertaining your heart out to get people to stay another few seconds, playing for tips.
Many first-rate talents working below ground for peanuts: the city pays them nothing. What are they worth to you, then? Put a $20 in the jar, but only if you have been entertained to your satisfaction. Don’t ever feel sorry for them — they are tough as nails.  (This has been a public service message.)

Where’s the Verse? A Singer’s Notes to I’ll See You in My Dreams

December 27, 2016

“I’ll See You in My Dreams” (1924)

Lyrics: Gus Kahn     Music: Isham Jones

I listened to several dozen versions of this perennial favorite, recently heard in the soundtrack of several movies, including Woody Allen’s, Sweet and Lowdown. But none it seemed played the verse, instead going straight to the chorus at the top of the song.  Here’s an example:

Those few who sang the verse did so before 1930, it would appear. At some point, singers just dropped the verse.   Curious, because it’s a wonderful verse, too. (Of course, it’s not as memorable as the hook and on radio of old, no time was wasted.)

These singers skipped the verse and went straight to the famous chorus.

Bing, Ella, Ezio Pinza, Pat Boone, Mr. Armstrong, Sue Raney, Doris Day, The Mills Brothers, Durante, Jolson, Frank Fontaine, Vaughn Monroe, The Platters (!)

Here’s Durante:

Here’s who sang the verse (before 1930):
Marion Harris
Cliff Edwards
Red Nichols (instrumental, but the verse is played)

But other instrumental versions before 1930 are already lopping off the verse:
Ben Bernie
Even Isham Jones’s own recording of 1924!

And after 1930, almost no instrumental versions play the verse at the top: Jan Garber, for example.

The only recent recording in which the verse is at the top appears to be this:
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

So early on, the tradition was: cut the verse.

My Discovery of Janice Mars — Manhattan Cabaret Performer of the 1950s

December 19, 2016
I shared an album with a friend today and would love to share with everyone.
(It appears that the rights holders themselves have put this recording on YouTube via CDBaby.)
Janice Mars was my great discovery of 2015, a performer of natural talent and superior skills who exemplified sophisticated Manhattan cabaret of the 1950s, recorded but once (which recording disappeared for nearly 50 years) and worked only sporadically thereafter. And yet, this is perhaps my most treasured recording of all — there is so much here to one can enjoy, think about and admire. I find something new with every listen.
Listening again today, I can only wonder why every label refused to pick up this fantastic album of hers — it had been self-produced. Miss Mars had been a cold-water flat neighbor, friend (and perhaps lover) of Marlon Brando when both were unemployed actors. In the late 50s, after his success, it is said that he put some money into her little after-hours gin joint where she performed and other theater singers drank after their shows let out.
When Miss Mars’s great-nephews, who’d heard family tales of a Brando connection, called Brando, they were startled to learn that he still had the tapes in his closet! Soon the tapes were on their way to Kansas, which Miss Mars’s great-nephews made into this wonderful CD.

“A New York City Subway Christmas” Featured on the Spin-o-Rama Show

December 18, 2016

Thanks to Esther for putting “A NYC Subway Christmas” (with Tony LaVorgna) on her delightful Christmas show. Click here to listen to the show.  Play it at your holiday party!

If you’ve found us through the Spin-o-Rama show, thanks for listening! You will find “A New York City Subway Christmas” here.

“A delightful compilation of 12 well-loved Christmas songs performed in the happy swingin’ style of Richie Kaye’s Music & Mirth. As heard at the Holiday Fair in Grand Central Terminal in the bustling metropolis of New York City. You’ll love it!”

Additions to the Repetoire

December 14, 2016

News songs added to the repetoire this week:

Those, Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer (Nat Cole)
Nel blu di pinto di blu (Domenico Modugno)
Night Life (Ray Price)
Music to Watch Girls By (Andy Williams)
On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (The Peddlers)
Tequila Sheila (Bobby Bare)
Mambo Italiano (Rosie Clooney)

Ernesto Vega and Richie Kaye — A New Musical Collaboration

November 9, 2016

We’re pleased to tell you of a new duo:  Richie Kaye (guitar/voice) and Ernesto Camilo Vega (clarinet/saxophone/flute).

Over the next few weeks, we’ll release a series of videos of mostly new and original music, plus a few surprises from the back catalog.    All melody, strong grooves, richly expressive.

Stay tuned for the release of our first video this Friday, November 11, 2016!

When High Culture and Low Culture LIked Each Other

November 1, 2016

Before 1967 in America, high culture met low culture and they liked each other very much.

This scene from Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956), with Sammy Davis, Jr., singing over, is an excellent example of skilled talent transforming what is base and common into the aesthetic and ethereal. Popular and cultured, at the same time.

Go for quality, as high as you can reach it and then go even further. This is the work of the Artist, not simply the mere regurgitation of everyday life. An inspiration, watching this.

Click on this link to watch a short video in the Warner archive:

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