Category Archives: Pop Music

Issue 326 – Music: Language of the Universe

The Paregien Journal  —  Issue 326  —  February 28, 2016 

Stan Paregien, Editor

Music: Language of the Universe

We had another “Music and Poetry Show” on Friday night, Feb. 19, 2016 at our clubhouse at the Plantation Grove MHP in Bradenton, Florida. Back in December, we had 42 present. Then we had 62 folks here in January. And last night we rocked the house with 72 people gathered for a good time. They were not disappointed.

Our new Canadian friends–Tom White (percussion), Neil Blair (guitar and singing) and Roger A. St. Jules (lead guitar) –made a delightful night even better. Our regulars, too, were right on top of their game with Virginia Corbin reading her original poem and playing several songs on the piano, plus Paul Cox and Clay Landes and Rod Myers each playing their guitars and singing. Very nice, indeed. Our final show “of the season” will begin at 6:45 p.m. on Friday, March 18th. 

Below are some thoughts about music and quite a number of photos of people in various parts of the world enjoying “the language of the universe.” I have scattered among these items a few photos from last night’s event. 

Pete Seeger quote -- music and mistakes

Live music and poetry are all about making mistakes and adjusting to the circumstances. When I was really heavy into performing my original stories and poetry at cowboy festivals around the western United States, we repeatedly saw even the best poets and musicians flub up right in front of God and everybody. We called it “gettin’ bucked off,” and part of the fun was watching how the person recovered and got back on track. Life is like that, too. Don’t let your mistakes get you down or cause you to quit. Suck it in, cowboy up, and get right back into this thing we call “life.”

1949--culture--music--forgiveness--family--Tommy Dorsey and Jimmy Dorsey--Reminisce mag - Aug-Sept 2011, page 30

1958--culture--teenage girls--music--45 records--REMINISCE mag - Aug-Sept, 2011 - Page 31

Music -- traditional instruments in India --  about 1900

2016--0182   Feb 19  Bradenton, FL  --  PG MHP Music and Poetry Show -- Paul Cox

Aging -- music -- Denis the Menace cartoon - your frisbees play music

Church -- music -- contemporary worship -- church organist cartoon

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.  — Martin Luther, would-be reformer of the Catholic Church and founder of the Lutheran Church.

Music -- gospel music -- I write modern worship choruses

1940--OK--McIntosh County--musicians at a square dance - by Russell Lee - Library of Congress

This was the entire “orchestra” at a square dance in somebody’s house in McIntosh County, Oklahoma, in about 1939.Photo by Russell Lee.

Cowboys--and-dance-party---01

Aging--041--Hi and Lois cartoon - records were groovy - 2012

Aging--Music---Dennis the Menace cartoon - 2012-09-01

2016--0183   Feb 19  Bradenton, FL  --  PG MHP Music and Poetry Show -- Roger A St Jules

Karl Alex Smyser Banjoy Band in about 1931

Aging--teenagers--radio--music---Zits cartoon--2012--07--12

Band---BromideOK--about1920

Band-getFamousBeforeQuitting

Band--novelty act

Music -- traditional instruments in Africa -- band - The African Children's Choir

Music -- a musician is ---

Musicians  -- Marriage and musicians -- Hagar the Horrible cartoon

Music - I don't always talk with musicians, but

Music - how to make a small fortune, start with a big one

Music -- traditional instruments in China  - 1878 painting by Settei Hasegawa shows woman playing the koto

2016--0184   Feb 19  Bradenton, FL  --  PG MHP Music and Poetry Show -- Tom White, Neil Blair, Roger A St Jules

Cartoon--Blondie--Mandolin Lessons--2012--02--29

musician-makingaliving

Music -- traditional instruments in Scotland -- band - Ceilidh Trail

Fiddler  --  a song in the heart cannot be denied  --  HOLY MOLE  cartoon for 2016--02--17

Music - entertainment - our band was old from the start

“Out of the mouths of babes”

Music - it's not that I'm old, your music really does suck

Music--challenges--courage---disabled violinist and broken string--2013--01--07

Music -- traditional instruments in Rwanda -- about 1973

2016--0185   Feb 19  Bradenton, FL  --  PG MHP Music and Poetry Show -- Clay Landes, Rod Meyers

Music--NormanRockwell--painting--barbershop

Music--turn down the volumn--Hi and Lois Cartoon- 2012-10-22

Poster -- sometimes music is the only thing that gets your mind off of everything else

2016--0188   Feb 19  Bradenton, FL  --  PG MHP Music and Poetry Show --  Virginia Corbin

2016--0188--B   Feb 19  Bradenton, FL  --  PG MHP Music and Poetry Show --  Virginia Corbin

Singing--child singing at a piano

Singing---quote--MayaAngelou

Working--singing--happy--cooking---Hagar cartoon--2012--11--22

Music -- cartoon - we removed the tune stuck in your head

Those who wish to sing always find a song.  ~Proverb

I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing.  ~William James

God sent his Singers upon earth
With songs of sadness and of mirth,
That they might touch the hearts of men,
And bring them back to heaven again.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.  — Billy Joel

2016--0186   Feb 19  Bradenton, FL  --  PG MHP Music and Poetry Show -- Clay Landes, Rod Meyers

I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me–like food or water.  — Ray Charles, blind singer and piano player

Andres Segovia, the great performer and teacher of the flamingo guitar style, said: “Lean your body forward slightly to support the guitar against your chest, for the poetry of the music should resound in your heart.”
Okay, my friends, that is it for this time. 
Those of you in our area, please remember that our next and last “Music & Poetry Show” of “the season” will start at 6:45 pm on Friday, March 18, 2016. We hope you’ll come and join the fun.
2016--04--18   Flyer 1 - Music and Poetry Show - March 18 -- 03
 
AA  Fair Use Disclaimer - 01 -- designed on by Stan Paregien Sr on 2016-02-01
END.

Issue 323 – Life in Florida, Part 1

The Paregien Journal  –  Issue 323  –  Friday, Feb. 12, 2016

Stan Paregien, Editor

Life in Florida, Part 1

This issue is devoted to showing  a number of photos taken at some of our recent music events. Since moving to Bradenton, Florida in June of 2013, we have hosted maybe 5 or 6 music jams in our home. We maxed out with 19 folks the last time. So we thought about hosting a music jame at our clubhouse in Plantation Grove MHP in Bradenton, Florida.That would allow us to invite a lot more folks and several more musicians. 

As we were exploring that idea, I also decided to add poetry to the mix. You see, there is a long-standing tradition at cowboy festivals across the country of including music, poetry, storytelling and the reading of formal papers on various cowboy subjects. So Peggy and I decided to give it and try here. 

The first time we hosted a “Music & Poetry Show” at our clubhouse we had some 42 folks show up. And several people were prepared to read some poetry for us. It seems to be a welcomed combination, though unusual in this area. So please come enjoy the fun. If you plan an instrument and/or sing, we’d be happy to have you perform. We would particularly like to add a fiddle player, a harmonica player, a dulcimer player, a mandolin play and even a drummer or a steel guitar player. They just seem to be scarce in these parts. And if you want to read poems, each being no more than 4 minutes in length, we’d be happy for you to share with us.

 

2015--11--20   2672    Bradenton, FL --  Music and Poetry Jam -  copyrighted by Peggy Paregien

2015--11--20   2674    Bradenton, FL --  Music and Poetry Jam -  copyrighted by Peggy Paregien

2015--11--20   2675    Bradenton, FL --  Music and Poetry Jam -  copyrighted by Peggy Paregien

2015--11--20   2676    Bradenton, FL --  Music and Poetry Jam -  copyrighted by Peggy Paregien

2015--11--20   2678    Bradenton, FL --  Music and Poetry Jam -  copyrighted by Peggy Paregien

2015--11--20   2679    Bradenton, FL --  Music and Poetry Jam -  copyrighted by Peggy Paregien

2015--12--11   2705--A    Bradenton, FL --  Music and Poetry Jam

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2016--0006--A   Jan 15  - Bradenton, FL   PG Music and Poetry Jam - by Stan Paregien2016--0006--B   Jan 15  - Bradenton, FL   PG Music and Poetry Jam - by Stan Paregien2016--0008   Jan 15  Bradenton, FL -- PG Music and Poetry Jam -- by Virginia Corbin

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2016--0009   Jan 15  Bradenton, FL -- PG Music and Poetry Jam -- by Virginia Corbin2016--0010   Jan 15  Bradenton, FL -- PG Music and Poetry Jam -- by Virginia Corbin

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Those who share some poems with us last time included Evelyn Sklair, Virginia Corbin, Joyce Sparks, Don Betts, Judy Teeuwen, Mike Teeuwen, Eunice Iacovacci and Tom White.

So, there you have it. Our “Music & Poetry Shows” are just a lot of casual, home-grown fun. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. Each person who reads a poem, plays an instrument and/or sings a song is doing it just out of the pure joy of sharing with our friends and neighbors and other guests. Please note that no one involved with this event receives a payment for services rendered, other than the applause of the audience.

Below you’ll find the flyer for the next show. Won’t you please consider joining us??

Flyer 1 - for 2016--02--19  Music and Poetry Show -- by Stan Paregien

NOTE: Sometimes we have new folks say, “What the heck is finger food?” That just means we’d like to only have things that can be eaten with one’s fingers as we do not sit out knives or forks. We’re looking for non-messy cookies, carrots, crackers, chips, celery sticks, peanuts, and such. Coffee (both regular and decalf) and water are free.

Invite a friend and come on down.

End.

 

Issue 282 – Herb Jeffries, Cowboy Movie Star

Issue 282   —    The Paregien Journal  —  May 29, 2014

Herb Jeffries, Cowboy Movie Star

and Singer

by Stan Paregien

Copyrighted May 29, 2014

Official U.S. Census records from 1920 show actor and singer Herb Jeffries was born Umberto Alejandro Balentino on Sept. 24, 1914 in Detroit, Mich. His father was one Mr. Howard Jeffrey. Jeffries died at the age of 100 (or nearly so) on May 25, 2014 in a hospital in Los Angeles. The cause of death was listed as heart failure.

Jeffries often described his mother as “100% white and Irish.” However, the father he never knew he described as part Sicilian, part Irish, part French, part Italian and part Ethiopian (African), accounting for his being able to pass as a black man and, sometimes, as a white man. He was black enough (sometimes aided by dark makeup) to be hired by some of the best black bands and orchestras. He sometimes privately joked he was only “3/8’s black.”

He said that he chose to be identified as a black man, largely because a white man would not have been hired to play with the big-name black bands and orchestras of the day. Reverse discrimination, don’t you know? Ironically, on each of his four or five marriage certificates he listed his race as “Caucasian.” All of his wives were white women.

The charismatic Jeffries started out his career using the name “Herb Jeffrey,” the last name being that of his father. He moved to Chicago as a teenager and began by singing for Earl “Fatha” Hines and his orchestra. That was from 1931 to 1934. From there it was on to Los Angeles .

Then, blessed with a handsome face, a tall (6′ 2″) and muscular physique, and a robust baritone voice, Jeffries became the star of four Westerns movies between 1937 and 1939. He was a lover of the Old West stories and the popular white cowboy stars such as Tom Mix, Buck Jones and William S. Hart. It was his dream to create cowboy movies for black people, so he sought out someone to produce them.

He found a white man named Jed Buell, an independent producer of B-movies (the ones which received second billing at theaters). Jeffries saw Buell’s unusual movie, “The Terror of Tiny Town,” a Western spoof with a cast made up entirely of “height challenged” actors (little people). So he found Buell and made a deal.

For those low-budget films, Buell had Jeffries apply dark makeup to cover up his light complexion. That was to insure he would be accepted by black audiences, as the black cowboy films were only distributed to black movie theaters.

Jeffries, Herb - as black singing cowboy in 1930s

In those Westerns, Herb Jeffries (listed as Jeffrey) played a cowboy named “Bob Blake” and rode a horse named “Stardusk.” He was flanked by a singing group called “The Four Tones” and his comical pard was a black actor named Mantan Moreland. Jeffries was billed as “The Bronze Buckeroo” in the films named “Harlem Rides the Range (1939),” “The Bronze Buckaroo,” “Two-Gun Man from Harlem” and “Harlem on the Prairie.” That last film was actually a musical. Those films are now available on a DVD titled, “Treasures of Black Cinema.”

Or you may view some not-such-good-quality copies on YouTube such as:

Jeffries, Herb - movie poster 'Harlem Rides the Range'

(1) Harlem Rides the Range – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lQFxvcr31Y’

Jeffries, Herb - movie poster, 'Two-Gun Man from Harlem'

(2) Two-Gun Man from Harlem – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4D96gvWk6lE

Jeffries, Herb - movie poster, 'The Bronze Buckaroo'

(3) The Bronze Buckeroo” (1939) – pretty good vocal quality with fair visuals.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvPlB-j0mOc

Later in his life, Herb Jeffries is quoted was having said: “The word ‘black’ means ‘a void,’ so I have never seen a black man. The word ‘white’ means ‘lack of pigment,’ so I have never seen a white man either. There’s only one race: the human race.”

Jeffries quickly moved on to establish a solid career as a jazz and pop singer, mainly with black bands both in the United States and in France. He worked for famed black band leader Duke Ellington for ten years. In 1941 he had a big hit with the song, “Flamingo.” It became Herb Jeffries’ signature song, and eventually it sold over 14 million copies and gave him a steady stream of income.

He sometimes told interviewers, “Most people come to this world by stork. I came by Flamingo, and Duke Ellington delivered me.”

Other Jeffries hits included “You, You Darlin’,” “In My Solitude,” “When I Write My Song,” “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good,” and “There Shall Be No Night.”

It should be noted that this man’s stage name until 1941 was Herb Jeffrey, after his father Howard Jeffrey. Then a clerical error listed the singer on the smash hit “Flamingo” as “Herb Jeffries.” Rather than fight to get it corrected, Umberto Balentino (aka Herb Jeffrey) just went with the flow and adopted “Jeffries” as his new last name.

The actor and singer took a career detour when he served in the military during World War II. After that, he had hit songs with “Basin Street Blues” and with “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano.”

You may watch a nice film on YouTube of Jeffries singing several songs, including “Basin Street Blues,” “Baby, Come on Home,” “Night,” and “Solitude” at this location: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHaCKPTIl90.

Try this little experiment: show the above clip to a few folks and ask them what they think his nationality is. I think most would be hard pressed to identify him as black.

Jeffries moved to France in the late 1940s and remained there several years, appearing in many different clubs and actually owning at least two of them. He returned to the United States in the 1950s.

Album cover for 'Jamaica' - Herb Jeffries - 1957

Jeffries liked diversity as a singer and performing. So he wrote a series of calypso songs which was produced by RKO as a record album titled, “Jamaica.”

Jeffries, Herb - movie poster, 'Calypso Joe'

And he was in a romantic musical film, “Calypso Joe,” with Angie Dickinson in 1957. He and his band were given credits as “Herb Jeffries and his Calypsomaniacs.”

In 1996 he played himself in “The Cherokee Kid,” a Western spoof. He also made brief appearances on such TV shows as “Hawaii Five-O,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” and “The Virginian.”

Herb Jeffries often told interviewers he didn’t believe age should be a factor in one’s career or personal life. He backed that up by marrying a series of five beautiful white women. His second wife was a well-known stripper with the stage name of Tempest Storm. And his last wife/significant other, Savannah Shippen, was a mere 45 years his junior. He was still touring and singing up to his early 90’s.

Jeffries, Herb - 1995 CD cover, 'The Bronze Buckeroo Rides Again'

He returned to his early cowboy roots in 1995 when he released his Western CD, “The Bronze Buckaroo (Rides Again)” on the Warner Western label. He also recorded a duet in which he and folksinger and cowboy singer Michael Martin Murphy sang a catchy little song called, “Payday Blues.”

Jeffries was honored in 1997 by his induction into the Hall of Fame of the Western Music Association. And in 2001 he was inducted into the “Walk of Western Stars” at Newhall, California.

In the spring of 2004, Herb Jeffries attended the annual “Wrangler Awards” ceremony at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. He himself was inducted into the “Western Performers Hall of Fame” that night. And Peggy and I were there to see him receive it and to meet him.

2004-028

Stan & Peggy Paregien with singer/movie star Herb Jeffries in 2004

2004-029

Herb Jeffries, left, in 2004 as he was inducted into the “Western Performers Hall of Fame” in Oklahoma City. At right is Buck Taylor who played “Newly” on the TV Western series, “Gunsmoke.” Taylor is the son of the later Western comic and actor Dub “Cannonball” Taylor. [Photo by Stan Paregien]

2004--Sept 24 - Herb Jeffries, 93, and wife Savannah, with star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

At the age of 93, Herb Jeffries attended the formal celebration of the installation of his own “star” on the famous Hollywood Walk of Stars on a stretch of several blocks of sidewalks in Hollywood, Calif.

For several years, he and mate Savannah lived in Wichita, Kansas. Carl Brewer, the mayor of Wichita, issued a proclamation making September 13, 2012 as “Herb Jeffries Day” in that city. The local city/county museum celebrated his long career by hosting several events. He died at the West Hills Hospital & Medical Center in San Fernando, California, near his last home which was in Woodland Hills, California. He was the last surviving member of The Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Herb Jeffries was the Alpha and the Omega of black singing cowboy movie stars. He was fiercely proud of the fact that he was “the very first black singing cowboy on the face of this earth.” He probably would have also expressed deep satisfaction that he was also the very last of the early-day black singing cowboy movie stars. It is unlikely we will see a man quite like him again.

___________________

Sources:

“A Colored Life: The Herb Jeffries Story.” A promotional clip by AMS Pictures Original Programming on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkMSZJKmrek

Barnes, Mike. “Herb Jeffries, Pioneering Black Singing Cowboy of the Movies, Dies at 100.” The Hollywood Reporter (online version). May 25, 2014.

“Herb Jeffries’s Biography.” Internet Movie Data Base: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0420370/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm.

“Herb Jeffries, in Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia.

Herndon, Jessica. “African-American cowboy crooner Herb Jeffries dies.” Chron, the online version of the Houston Chronicle. May 26, 2014.

Jeffries, Herb. “Colored Life: The Herb Jeffries Story.” 52 min. DVD.

http://www.amazon.com/Colored-Life-Herb-Jeffries-Story/dp/B001EBBYM2

Released in 2007.

Jeffries, Herb. “Flamingo” with Duke Ellington in 1941. A film clip found at:

Jeffries, Herb. “Flamingo” performed on a tropical set. Undated. YouTube:

Jeffries, Herb. “I’m A Happy Cowboy.” Recording from 1938 posted on YouTube:

Jeffries, Herb and Michael Martin Murphey. “Payday Blues” recording posted on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV_9jqZw1_c

Stedman, Alex. “Herb Jeffries, Star of Black Cowboy Films, Dies at 100.” Variety (online version), May 26, 2014.

“Wichitans remember cowboy actor, singer Herb Jeffries.” Staff report at Kansas.com, the online version of The Wichita (Kansas) Eagle. May 27, 2014.

Yardley, William. Herb Jeffries, “‘Bronze Buckaroo’ of Song and Screen, Dies at 100 (or So).” The New York Times (online version), May 26, 2014.