Thursday, July 29, 2010

I've Got The Horse Right Here -----

I am not sure that is the correct title for that song, but it comes from THE STING, and it is a cleverly constructed parody of a better. If you are not familiar with The Sting I highly recommend it. The story line - you might want to watch it twice - is a race track sting, a little complicated, but very entertaining. The music - I never tire of it so sometimes I put the video in and never look at the screen. The movie stars Redford and Newman in equally important roles. But what brings this song to mind?

Well, my grandson is working at the local race track this summer. I never thought he would get hired because he is very young, but apparently as soon as a kid is old enough to step behind the betting line, he is also old enough to sell tickets.I might add, I was not delighted he got the job, although in today's economy I was pleased he was able to get work, and after all, it is only a summer job.

Anyway, back to the connection: The track gave him one jersey with the track logo on it. Now "track people" are not usually heavy drinkers - you can't get sloshed and make sensible bets - but a lot of them are chain smokers. There is an area where smokers can watch the races, but they have to come to the windows to bet, so the reek of smoke permeates the grandstand. As my grandson was pulling his 'uniform shirt' over his head the other day he commented that it smelled - of " smoke and broken dreams."
My fears that he will become a compulsive gambler after his summer at the track have been allayed. I don't know what "broken dreams" smell like, but I am sure it is not pleasant. And I loved the observation.

Another great piece from The Sting is "Easy Winners." It is a catchy tune, not difficult once you feel the rhythm. It is in Hal Leonard Book EZ-310. I am sure I have seen "I Got A Horse Right Here" somewhere, also, but do not find it listed in the Hal Leonard catalog.

This past week two of my organ friends put wheels on the organ at the Maine Veterans' HOme. Now I will be able to roll it from wing to wing (there are four of them) and share my music with more residents. THey also put wheel on the bench, and Brian commented that he hoped I would not have an accident with it. He envisioned me rolling accidentally across the room, I guess. I am not worried about that, but I do hope it doesn't roll away from me as I start to sit. The very thought of me sitting on the floor in front of the organ while the residents sit patiently by waiting for music is not amusing.

If you are an organ owner, are you exploring the buttons? You should be. Today a few of us experimented with lock system on the Holiday Classic which has only two lock features: temp and accompaniment. We discovered by adjusting the mixer to suit us and then locking both buttons, we locked everything except upper right manual. The accomp button will lock the drums which is a big plus in my book. I have a Prestige so I use the lock buttons a lot, but there are four lock buttons on that organ. You can also lock in the various adjustments by setting them where you want and then pressing both up and down buttons at the same time.

Remember when you are just playing for yourself, experiment with the buttons. You own them and you can't hurt the organ no matter how many times you change sounds. Today Brian wanted a better guitar than he could hear on the Holiday Classic Easy 4/4. By putting #2 registration on, and pressing the Latin button, a really great guitar came up. And #1 Latin has a great trumpet.

Trivia from the TOP 500 COUNTDOWN (Hamilton Ontario CKOC)

What song was #188? a. Little Darlin'
"I don't know if we're in a garden, b. In The Still of the Night
Or on a crowded avenue. c. I Only Have Eyes For You d. The Great Pretender
You are here and so am I,
Maybe millions of people go by,
But they all disappear from view ..."

Music affects every part of your brain -

Keep the music playing.


Saturday, July 17, 2010


WHEW! We are still experience a heat wave, but we exhausted that subject last week.

Interesting things have been happening with the lcoal Lowrey program. John, our new "class leader" is working with us each Thursday morning from 9:30 to 10:00. We have playing time after that. The group is more cohesive and spirits are rising. Maybe not exactly soaring yet, but definitely on the rise. You see, we have been through about three years of uncertainty and some are still skeptical that this good turn is going to last. But, I am very optimistic and look forward to seeing the program not only continue, but thrive. John has a lot he can do with us, given some time to work out the kinks.

Our group is very broad in both capability and length of time in the program. Some like myself have been there for ten plus years; some are relatively new. Not only do we differ in that respect, we also differ in our expectations and purpose. PURPOSE? A HOBBY HAS A PURPOSE? Well, in my mind it does. My "purpose" is to entertain.
I like entertaining myself and I like entertaining others. I am not a stage performer and do not have the skills to "go far" but I love playing for others. And I will play for one for as many as the room will accommodate. At the Veterans' Home there are usually from three to twenty. At the adult day care there are up to 35. Of course, they are a captive audience. Maybe I love it more than they do. I would like better organs in both places, but can still make music on the old Century (once the top of the Lowrey line) and the Premiere, a nice but limited mid-size instrument.

Hot as it was today, only three faithful people came to Stoney Creek for our usual Saturday gathering. I do not have AC and warned people they would be coming at their own heated peril. The fans are humming. We had fruit and coffee cake. There was coffee, of course, but I also made ice tea and lemonade. Thankfully, both will keep and I will enjoy their cooling FX all weekend.

As I write this there is a light breeze moving the tops of the tall pines behind my condo.
Thus, "The Breeze and I"

This song was written by Ernesto Lecuona, an exceptionally talented composer, bandleader, song writer and pioneer in Latin music. He was born in Cuba in 1895, and died in Teneriffe, Canary Is. in 1963. the song, The Breeze and I, was originally a part of "Andalucia" which was part of his "Spanish Suite." It is certainly one of the best known and loved of his compositions, although his "Malaguena (1927) is one of my favorites. A lyricist, Al Stillman, wrote the words which Bob Eberly recorded with Jimmy Dorsey. The words tell are a lament that the singer's love is known only to the breeze. But the music, in my opinion, is so enjoyable that the words don't spoil the mood. To me it is still a "love song" even if it is love unrequited.

Today's home organs bring an orchestra into our living rooms. The small organs have trios, or eight piece bands, but the larger ones have huge orchestras - dance bands, symphonic, marching and all other rhythms from Calypso to Salsa to Waltz. Marvels of modern technology. It just takes a little time and effort to learn your way around your orchestra. You are the leader of your band so you need to get acquainted with your musicians. The Latin trumpet is wonderful for some parts of the "Breeze" and the Pan Flute makes a beautiful change in the bridge. Experiment with it. It's a fun song. Recently I made a couple of very noticeable errors in a trumpet solo part of a piece. When I finished I turned to the room and said, "I am going to fire that trumpeter. She isn't practicing enough." Some people caught the joke and we shared a moment of light humor.

I have talked myself right into closing out this blog, going to my Lowrey Prestige and seeing how many different ways I can play THE BREEZE AND I.

Keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Wikipedia says there is no universal definition of a HEATWAVE, but that it is generally considered one if there are several consecutive days of excessive heat and humidity.

I GOOGLED "HEATWAVE, the music" and came up with Irving Berlin's song by that title. I thought there was another newer song by that title with a lot of drum breaks and twangy guitars, but that never came up, so I think this is the one and only. Irving Berlin said:
"We're having a heat wave, a tropical heatwave.
The temperature's rising, it isn't surprising
She certainly can can-can.
She started a heatwave, by letting her seat wave
In such a way that The customers say that
She certainly can can-can.

See, her anatomy - Makes the mercury
Jump to 93.

We're having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave.
The way that she moves
The thermometer proves
That she certainly can can-can."

Irving Berlin certainly had a way with words and apparently a sense of humor.
But in this heat - don't wave your seat around too much. Pour yourself a nice tall ice tea and sit where it's cool with your CD player and a good book, your knitting , or a crossword puzzle. That is a perfect prescription for staying cool, stimulating your mind - music does wonderful things for the brain - and relaxing.

If you own a newer and larger Lowrey organ, you may have an instrument called Django. Do you know anything about it? Skip the next few lines if you do. If you don't ---read on:

Django Reinhard was one of the greatest guitarists of all time. He had only two fingers on his left hand. He was a European Gypsy, married very young to a girl who made paper flowers and decorations. At age 18, coming into their trailer after an evening of playing guitar, he knocked over a candle into her supplied and the trailer went up in flames. He was pulled to safety, but was burned over much of his body. He lost his fingers in that conflagration, as well as the use of one leg. The doctors wanted to amputate that limb but he refused. After a period of recovery his brother, also a guitarist gave him a new guitar and he proceeded to rehabilitate himself. He struggled but succeeded in becoming an outstanding guitarist with that special sound that you will find on the newer high end Lowrey Organs. I don't care much for it, but then I am not a guitarist.

Whether you strum a guitar, play a keyboard, or play a reed or brass instrument, keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing.


Saturday, July 3, 2010


I was going over the blogs from the past and discovered I had two drafts - one of which was "JUST MUSIC" . Apparently I never did post it, so I will rewrite it and post tonight.
This is Saturday, July 3, 2010. It would be my 52nd wedding anniversary if my husband were still alive. I suppose whether he is here or not, it is still my 52nd anniversary. Oh, well. no sense sitting her supposing - 1958 is a long way back in the past. One think I learned early into our marriage, getting hitched on a holiday weekend is not a good idea. You pay double for hotels if you can get into one at all, and you can't get a sitter for your kids because they all have their own holiday agenda.
I have three absolutely great kids, wonderful children-in-law, sis grand children and four great grand children. They don't care much about my music - that's o.k. I probably don't care much for theirs - I don't even know what they like. I just hope they all like some kind of music because it does provide all sorts of benefits: passes time pleasantly, keeps the mind nimble, gives us rhythm in our steps and binds us to people of like mindedness. Everything else fades when one is wrapped up in his/her music.

This past week Joanie Manero of Lowrey Organ Company, Regional Sales Manager for the east coast (including one of the Dakotas and Arizona - somebody flunked geography while they were excelling in organ!). Joanie did two workshops at the dealer, Starbird Music Mall in Portland, and then after a pot luck lunch, came to my home and did a workshop for Joyce and me. We are both Prestige owners and the dealer does not have one in stock. When you are entertained as well taught there is nothing to complain about.
It was a wonderful day in my book. I am optimistic that the organ program in Portland is alive and well and growing once again.

I purchased two new books lately. Both are fake books - easy fake books to be specific. They are written entirely in the key of C which eliminates the necessity of dealing with all those little little sharps and flats at the beginning of the pieces. The difference between fake books and the EZ-Play format is smaller notes, slightly more - and more difficult - chords and some pieces have interesting embellishments. The music is not as challenging as conventional sheet music, the traditional fake books, or the music I have purchased from O'lyn Callahan. It is pure enjoyment, turn-the-page music. I love it.

The Gospel Fake Book has a lot of good old gospel music, some I am familiar with but having been brought up in a Congregational Church, hardly the music of MY childhood.
The other recent purchase is a great Latin Fake Book. I spent nearly two hours today quite leisurely working on some of those sambas, rumbas, tangos and bossas. The nice thing about music at this age is no one is timing you or telling you what you are doing wrong. No parent reminding you you haven't been there long enough. Or telling you the notes are sour. There are benefits to being old.

A lot of Latin music was written by Antonio Carlos Jobim, aka Tom Jobim. He was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1927. He married and had children, but he moved to New York (I suppose, after all, that was where all the action was) and worked with Sinatra, Fitzgerald, Stan Getz and many other American musicians. Among his compositions - he was a key figure in the development of the bossa nova - were (American titles) Meditation, SLsilghtly Out of Tune, Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars, The Girl From Ipanema, How Insensitive, and one of my favorites, Wave. Most if not all of them are in the Latin Fake Book.

IF it weren't for composers like Jobim we might never have been exposed to the great Latin rhythms. If you watch Dancing With The Stars you know how they have become a standard in all forms of music.

Keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing.