From the archives. This week's contestant is Kristen Zoetewey from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I had an odd result from the contest. When it finished, I had no clue. And yet I should have guessed the composer style because I like the composer a lot. But no. As for the hidden song, I also had no clue -- though about the 3-minute mark there was a passage that sounded familiar, but I just couldn't place it. And even pianist Bruce Adolphe acknowledged that this was a difficult one, well-hidden. As he was talking though, it clicked in -- and before he even got to playing the piece again, I guessed it.
On this week’s Naked Lunch podcast, hosts Phil Rosenthal and David Wild’ get together at Phil's house in this special episode. As the show explains, “Phil talks about heading out on his whirlwind European Somebody Feed Phil book tour. David discusses being hard at work on the upcoming Grammy Awards broadcast Sunday, February 5. And Phil and David both lovingly introduce a special reprise of their very fun and rocking lunch with the one & only Sheryl Crow at the Sunset Marquis. A 9-time Grammy Award winner, Sheryl is nominated once again this year for her stunning song 'Forever' featured in the 2022 Showtime doc Sheryl." And they talk, as well, about food, family and the occasional high price of being a people-pleaser.
I can’t embed the audio, but if you click on the link here, it will take you to the website, where you just click on the “Play” arrow underneath the photo.
From the archives. This week, the contestant is Joseph Gewirtz of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. For the longest time, while I could tell where the hidden song was, I just couldn't nail it -- and then finally did. (It was quite clear, needless to say, when later played a second time.) My guess for the composer style was not only one of Mr. Gewirtz's guesses, but was born the same year as the composer who was the correct answer, and also the same year of a third even-more renowned composer. And all three wrote in somewhat the same style. The correct answer though is the least-famous of the three.
In the Peter, Paul and Mary concert video I posted yesterday, it had a section where Paul Stookey talked affectionately and amusingly about the legendary blues musician and songwriter Jesse Fuller, who was famous too for being an very offbeat one-man band. The group then went into a joyous version of Fuller's great song, "San Francisco Bay Blues."
Stookey's introduction was so entertaining -- and I love the song so much -- I decided to see if I could track done any footage of Jessie Fuller. And happily, I did. And further, all the better, to show that Stookey was not exaggerating, here is a 1968 video of Jesse Fuller with his one-man band performing his most-famous song.
The other week, I posted a wonderful video here that was a collection of performances by Peter, Paul and Mary at the Newport Folk Festival at the height of their popularity, between 1963-65. I mentioned that I had another terrific video of them upcoming, and we have now reached what is no longer “upcoming.”
This is 50-minute video of a concert they gave on British TV in 1965. (Actually, it’s a bit odd and might be two half-hour shows, since there are credits in the middle. My guess is maybe it was one performance edited into two shows.)
It’s really good, and – coming early in the peak – is not a “Best of…” show, since many of those hits came later. And what stands out is how excellent so many of their lesser-known songs are. Though there’s plenty of well-known ones (including, yes, they sing it. And what’s fun is seeing an early British audience singing along with “Puff, the Magic Dragon”).
There are two interesting songs at the beginning. One is “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Place,” which was later a huge hit for Roberta Flack. It turns out that the song was written by Scottish folk singer Ewan McColl – and is about his wife, Peggy Seeger…who was the half-sister of Pete Seeger.
The other is the following song, an utterly joyous performance of “San Francisco Bay Blues,” written by Jesse Fuller, who Paul Stookey given an endearing description about.
I’ve always read how long and hard the group rehearsed to get their harmonies and arrangements so impeccable (something Stookey off-handedly addresses later), and how that work pays off is very clear in this performance.
(Side note: You'll get to see their longtime bass player Dick Kniss a lot here. He's the fellow I referred to meeting with Stookey in my tale about O'Hare Airport when I was a little kid that I wrote about with the Newport concerts video, that I linked to above.)
I never saw Peter, Paul and Mary together, though after they had their temporary split, I did see Peter Yarrow in Chicago, and then Paul Stookey unexpectedly in Maine. I was working on a Stephen King movie at the time, Pet Sematary, which was filming in the small town of Ellsworth. As it happened, Stookey lived about 5-10 miles down the road in Blue Hill, so he’d periodically perform in the area. And one night I saw he was going to do a show in Ellsworth – but it was sold out. I went to the theater anyway, and happily a father and his young daughter had an extra ticket since the mother couldn’t make it.
By the way, what got Peter, Paul and Mary back together was a “Come Together” reunion concert fundraiser for George McGovern when he ran for President in 1972. Held at Madison Square Garden, three famous “split partnerships” reunited for the concert – Peter, Paul and Mary, and Simon and Garfunkle, and also Mike Nichols and Elaine May!! Yowza. I remember reading about it at the time, but there was no way I’d be going to New York. But I’ve always wished that that concert had been filmed. How on earth could it not?? And then released on video to raise even more money. Ah, well…
Anyway, Peter, Paul and Mary got on so well together and missed performing as a group that they decide to periodically reunite for other concerts. And eventually those went so well, they just reunited, period. (Though I believe they’d still do separate concerts on occasion.)
Anyway, here they are at their peak, being very entertaining, in 1965 on the BBC.
From the archives. This week, the contest is Jason Carr from Philadelphia. In the early stages, I could hear the theme, but couldn't make out the hidden song -- but not long after it became quite clear to me. The composer style is obviously from a distinct period, though it's a period I always have a toss-up because about three or four people. And my toss-up guess was wrong.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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