On Race Music

 

Underground is the opening number in Memphis: The Musical, which received 8 Tony nominations while winning 4 (2010) – including Best Musical. The story (loosely true) is about a white DJ in Memphis who played black music in the 1950s to a White audience. The musical’s script includes “race music” as a descriptive phrase.

In my almost 66 years, I haven’t heard “race music” before, well – until 10 days before attending a community theater performance of Memphis: The Musical when we saw the premier of a new play – Cincinnati King – a story about Cincinnati-based King Records. (Click for video ad.) From not ever hearing the term to it crossing my path twice within 10 days is a bit odd – but also a sign for a blog post.

Within a week after attending Memphis: The Musical, we saw a new movie (well, new at the time) – Green Book – many thumbs up! (Click for trailer.) Although not about race music, this movie involves both music and racism. Another timely event for my November and this post. However, this post is about Memphis and Cincinnati – so, let’s jump to Cleveland.

Cleveland is in the diagonally opposite corner of Ohio from Cincinnati – a 4 hour drive downtown-to-downtown. Cleveland is also home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Hall). Besides putting up the money to get the Hall, the location is based on Alan Freed, a Cleveland DJ (WJW) who coined the term rock and roll. Interestingly, Freed’s “sign-on” song was on the King Records label.

Then there is Terry Stewart, the Hall’s longest serving CEO and current President Emeritus, who said the following: “There are only three places in the country that can claim to be the birthplace of rock and roll: New Orleans, Memphis, and Cincinnati.” (Reminder of the two plays that I saw.)

Image from Wikipedia

King Records is the reason Cincinnati is in that quote. Syd Nathan, a local sales hustler, started King Records in 1943. With Cincinnati being home to one of the nation’s most powerful radio stations (WLW) and the local population having many Blacks and poor Appalachian Whites, Nathan saw a musical opportunity.

In time, Nathan grew King Records into one of the most successful independent record labels in the country, Nathan also controlled the recording, mastering, pressing, and shipping processes because they were typically done in-house – therefore a quick turnaround from recording to store shelves.

By realizing the importance of music to different populations, Nathan’s stable of artists included country & western, rhythm & blues, gospel, bluegrass, rockabilly, and boogie woogie. On the “B-side” of 45s, he often put a crossover song or artist to expand the music to different populations. Yes, Nathan promoted and distributed race music.

Fever was a hit for Peggy Lee in 1958 – but did you know that King Records Little Willie John recorded Fever two years earlier?

 

Everyone knows the success with The Twist. Did you know that the song was first done by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters on King Records? Ballard was unavailable for American Bandstand, so Dick Clark (who wanted the song on the show) turned to a local artist to perform the song as a cover – enter Chubby Checker.

 

Music buffs may know King Records names as Albert King, Grandpa Jones, Joe Tex, The Dominoes, The Charms, Freddie King, and John Lee Hooker – but the biggest name at King Records was none other than the Godfather of Soul – James Brown – with this mega-hit that won Brown his first Grammy Award (Best R&B Performance, 1966).

 

Syd Nathan died in 1968. Although King Records final demise would shortly follow, it’s impact on the music industry would last forever. Meanwhile, the City of Cincinnati is considering a King Records Museum. Let’s toast the pioneers of race music in Cincinnati and Memphis. Cheers!

On Trip Tidbits: Liberty Square

Image from Budapest Tourism

Many visitors to Budapest encounter Liberty Square (Szabadság tér) – especially if they are avid walkers. After all, Liberty Square is on the way from city center to the magnificent Hungarian Parliament building.

Liberty Square is a public park. The trees are full, the border buildings are grand. Hungarian National Bank and the former Hungarian Stock Exchange flank one side as symbols to free capitalism. The US Embassy is located on the opposite side of the square.

To me, Liberty square was a place of contrast. A place of contradictions. A place that could be called the Square of Juxtaposition. Let me make my case.

Monument of German Occupation

 

Hungary initially was one of the pro-Hitler Axis Powers. Hungarian military invaded Yugoslavia and massacred many. In 1944, Germans moved to occupy Hungary because Hitler felt betrayed by Hungarian leaders. From that point, Hungarian Jews and Roma were sent to concentration camps. In front of the monument is a collection of small memorials to Hungarian Holocaust victims. Yet, no mention of the Hungarian involvement in the atrocities.

 

Harry Bandholtz Statue

Austria-Hungary and Germany were WW1 allies. Which means the Hungarians lost the war. Liberty Park has a statue to Harry Bandholtz, a US Army general (WW1). It seems a band of Romanians wanted to loot the Hungarian National Museum, but Bandholtz successfully protected the museum – therefore a statue in this honor.

Embed from Getty Images

 

Memorial to Fallen Soviet Soldiers

The Soviets erected a memorial the far end of Liberty Square to honor their role in liberating Hungary from the Nazis and in memorial to the Soviet soldiers who lost their lives in the efforts. Of course, the Soviets decided to stay for over 40 years – and the US Embassy is nearby.

 

Ronald Reagan Statue

Very near to the Soviet Memorial stands a statue of Ronald Reagan. Interestingly, the current Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is responsible for the statue. However, Orbán is far to the right, and is moving Hungary closer to Putin’s Russia – and I just don’t think Ronald Reagan would be endorsing Putin.

 

Imre Nagy Memorial

Imre Nagy (HM-reh nodge) was a communist, but he sought to ease Stalinist policies. As he rose in leadership, he withdrew Hungary from the Warsaw Pact with hopes of bridging Eastern Communism with Western Capitalism. This memorial has Nagy on the bridging facing the Parliament Building. Interestingly, Prime Minister Orbán had the statue removed in late December. Here’s a related read.

Image from Wikipedia

Yes, Budapest’s Liberty Square is interesting, complicated, and full of contradictions.

On a Weekend Concert with the Moody Blues

Moody Blues

The Producer’s Guidelines

  1. Only songs the Moody Blues
  2. Songs by individual members outside the group are not acceptable
  3. No duplicate songs
  4. Include the song title in your introduction text so others can see it
  5. To prevent browsers crashing from loading too many videos, please paste the URL as part of your last line (not a new line) – (I do not mind unembedding, so no apologies are necessary)

For me, this is the perfect opening song for this concert at my little corner of the world – Lovely to See You

 

Next Concert: Queen

Past Concerts: Beatles, Ex-Beatles

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 388

Embed from Getty Images

 

After a very busy week, my plan is to return to my normal posting and visiting routine. Thanks for your understanding.

It’s time for a new header – so I introduce a Hubble image of Herbig-Haro object (HH 24) capturing the birth of a new star. To see my collection of past headers, click the Past Headers tab above the image.

The next weekend concert features the Moody Blues. (Long-time readers aren’t surprised.) Concerts starts on Saturday at 1:00 AM (Eastern US).

Last week’s concert was unbelievably successful with 25+ songs and just-over 300 comments. The interaction between bloggers makes me smile. Thanks to all!!!

There is a rumor of the possibility of Pronouns 3: The Musical. One has to wonder if it will gain momentum and replace next schedule musical.

Not only was David Funk one of my early blogging buddies, he served as a mentor and role model as a host. Although he’s listed as one of my Pioneers in the sidebar, he finally made to WordPress. Now is the time for me to return him a favor by inviting others to visit (and possibly subscribe) to his new travel blog – One Funked Up World. If you visit and comment, tell him I sent you. Welcome, David!

Embed from Getty Images

 

This picture reminds me of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). His role in the government shutdown is pathetic. This recent opener from Late Show with Stephen Colbert made me laugh.

Regarding the current government shutdown: “Problems start from the top, and they have to get solved from the top, and the President’s the leader, and he’s got to get everybody in a room, and he’s got to lead. And he doesn’t do that, he doesn’t like doing that, that’s not his strength. And that’s why you have this horrible situation going on in Washington. It’s a very, very bad thing and it’s very embarrassing worldwide.” (Donald Trump, 20 September 2013)

For me, the best ending of the Trump saga would not be impeachment. Resigning wouldn’t qualify. Certainly I don’t wish death to the man. Nope, it isn’t even him losing his re-election bid. So what would be the perfect ending? It’s simple. Losing every state in November 2020 – therefore making 2020 the biggest margin of victory ever in the country’s history. That would be HUGE! Then again, that would be difficult to achieve in some states.

I appreciated this concluding statement from a recent article I read: “Because you’re not getting it right if you can’t admit when you’ve gotten it wrong. And you can’t boast of morality if you’ve no sense of shame.” (Matt Bai, journalist)

Democrats are starting to declaring their candidacy for the party’s 2020 nomination. While it’s going to be interesting, the early crop hasn’t caused me to blink – let alone get excited. However, I am confident the ticket will have at least one female.

Due to the government shutdown, my current projection for a Trump re-election drops to 55%

Embed from Getty Images

 

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Biologist still no closer to discovering how birds have sex
Woman amazed she found perfect partner just when she was getting desperate enough to accept anything
Rival gang members come together to help build community playground to fight over
Kinky girlfriend wants to try sexual pleasure tonight
Manager of combination KFC/Taco Bell secretly considers it mostly a Taco Bell
DNA test confirms Subway chicken only 50% poultry

(My Combo: DNA tests confirm kinky woman found sexual pleasure discovering desperate Taco Bell manager as perfect sex partner at Subway)

Interesting Reads

Europe’s most competition country
Capsulating the Venezuelan crisis
10 iconic Italian foods by region
A read for hockey fans
Crazy Horse’s last battle
A view of art theft
(Graphic) Media-bias chart
(Photos) The bests deep-sea dives
(Video) Earth 101 in 3 minutes

To send you into the weekend, here’s a Herman’s Hermits three-peat – but actually as a doubleheader. Take your pic – but we want to know the one you chose.In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Weekend Concert with the Ex-Beatles

Ex-Beatles

The Producer’s Guidelines

  1. Only songs by solo ex-Beatles outside the Beatles
  2. Songs by the Beatles are unacceptable – even if done as a soloist
  3. No duplicate songs
  4. Include the song title in your introduction text so others can see it
  5. To prevent browsers crashing from loading too many videos, please paste the URL as part of your last line (not a new line) – (I don’t mind unembedding, so apologies are not necessary)

Let’s start with what I think is the first #1 song by an ex-Beatle: My Sweet Lord (George Harrison)

 

Next Concert: Moody Blues

Past Concerts: Beatles