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ARSCLIST  May 2006

ARSCLIST May 2006

Subject:

Conference report

From:

Cary Ginell <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 24 May 2006 23:09:46 EDT

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (120 lines)

 
I guess I'm the first one to report in after having left yesterday from the  
ARSC conference. I opted to not to stay for the banquet and have to shell out 
an  extra $139 on a bed 3x too big for me so I hopped a sunset flight back to  
L.A.
 
The conference was a great success, with an unofficial pre-reg count of  175, 
which beat last year's record in Austin. A front page story on vinyl  
collectors in relation to the conference appeared in the Seattle Times on  Thursday, 
so that probably helped bring in some walk-in registrants. There was a  
caveat, however. The correspondent warned that most of the sessions were  
"esoteric," (as Seinfeld would say, "not that there's anything wrong with  that...") but 
did recommend two presentations as being potentially "accessible,"  Roberta 
Freund Schwartz's tongue-in-cheek historiography of "Louie Louie" and  (gasp!) 
my examination of Elektra album cover art (I don't know whether or not  to be 
offended by being called "accessible." Maybe I'm losing my touch?)
 
But regardless of the above, most of the regulars were there - Kurt Nauck  
and Patrick Feaster ran the proceedings splendidly and most of the presenters  
were adequately prepared. There was a problem (as there always is) with a  
banquet in the next ballroom, where the PA system was inadvertently patched into  
our room as well. So in the middle of some of the presentations on Friday, 
you'd  hear "will everyone take their seats!" and the ARSCers would look around 
to see  who was standing up. When I finished my presentation, there was a 
spontaneous  burst of applause from next door. I didn't think they were paying  
attention.
 
Weather was spectacular for most of the weekend. It drizzled a little on  
Friday but it was Chamber of Commerce weather for the rest of the time. I  
enjoyed a long walk on Saturday, preferring a birds-eye view of Seattle from the  
Space Needle to a report on John Cage's music. I was dismayed upon returning,  
however, to find that I had not only missed the Cage talk, but so did everyone  
else, since the presenter had been unable to show. The dismay was due to a 
last  minute replacement - a screening of rare country-western films featuring 
Jimmy  Wakely, Johnny Bond, Noel Boggs, and Speedy West (drat!).
 
Steve Ramm took me to Bud's Jazz Records, a below-street-level used LP shop  
in Pioneer Square, the Bohemian (read: lotsa homeless people and assorted  
weirdos) sector of town. I bought a selection of inexpensively priced LPs,  
including Ray Anthony's "Jam Session at the Tower," a neat LP from 1956  featuring 
a nifty early shot of the just-completed Capitol Tower and jamming by  a lot 
of Hollywood session men (Conrad Gozzo, Med Flory, Paul Smith and  others)
 
The Pike Street Market Place is always brimming with activity. Buskers  
playing blues on weatherbeaten guitars, fish marketers throwing 30 lb. King  
salmons, and lots of hustle and bustle. Downstairs were two very interesting  shops 
- one was "Holy Cow Records," a CD and used LP store that also had some  
rifled-through 78s (their logo is a dreamy-looking bovine with wings and a  halo... 
get it?). Found a couple of interesting things there - an alternative  cover 
of "Evening at L'Abbaye" by Gordon Heath & Lee Payant on Elektra that  I 
didn't know existed (same design, just a color change on the front) and the  80th 
anniversary commemorative 78 of the ODJB's "Original Dixieland One  Step/Livery 
Stable Blues," pressed on vinyl with a wonderful reproduction of the  
original label. This 78 came out in 1997 as a promotional tool to herald the  
8-volume CD set on RCA Victor jazz but was only available to the press. At $10,  I 
considered it a bargain. 
 
Also got a chance to see Bobby "Blue" Bland at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, and  
despite the warnings by some on-liners, Bland actually put on a great show. It  
was the second set on Thursday night, Bland's first for the weekend, so he 
was  probably about as spry as he was going to be. Bland is 76 and had to be 
assisted  to the stage by a handler clad in white from head to toe. There was an  
upholstered stool set up for Bobby and he never moved from it. He had a crack 
 band with him (flugelhorn, trumpet, trombone, keyboard - set to Hammond B-3 
mode  - guitar, bass & drums) that knew him well enough when to play sotto  
voce. That's when Bobby shined. He picked out one patron (a 25-year old  white 
male) sitting directly in front of him, and did the whole show to him. He  
would have musical conversations with the guy - improvising questions musically  
with the band playing softly behind him. He did "St. James Infirmary," "Stormy  
Monday Blues" without missing tempo and right on pitch. He just seemed to be  
conserving his strength. On louder songs he was completely drowned out by the 
 band. But he used his apparent weakness to his advantage, and the result was 
a  wonderfully intimate performance for only about 40 people (the house 
capacity  was 400). I'll try and post some pictures from my digital camera.
 
Steve Ramm chose to go see another double B act, Bobby Bare and his son,  
Bobby Jr. and the famous Showbox. He'll report on that I'm sure when he returns. 
 
As for the conference, there were many highlights. The annual Mike Biel  Show 
is now a tandem. Daughter Leah did a fine job filling in the blank spaces  
while Mike changed transparencies (hey, Mike! Learn Powerpoint!) in a terrific  
program on manipulation of voice speed on record; he played all the  
prerequisites - "Purple People Eater," "Babbitt & the Bromide," "Witch  Doctor," but 
also showed shots of a fascinating old contraption called the  Whirling Dervish 
that helped speed up sound without changing the pitch. 
 
Sam Brylawski gave an update on the online Victor Discographical project,  
Marie Azile O'Connell gave a paper on how "not" to conduct an oral history,  
playing some horrific examples. Helice Koffler reported on "The Golden Apple,"  
the '50s flop Broadway musical and its place in the Columbia/RCA battle for  
supremacy during that decade. Newcomer Jonathan Ward contributed a piece on a  
genre few of us were aware of: musicals created by corporations such as Coca  
Cola, Ford, and Westinghouse that were stage for stockholders only. There has  
been a flurry of these that were put on LP, available only internally that are 
 uproariously bad, but they persisted throughout the '50s, '60s, and '70s. 
 
There were two terrific reports on politics - one presented recorded  
conversations by Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, and Johnson that showed them in  their 
true colors. The most stunning of these was a Dictaphone memo by LBJ  talking 
about a "Knowledge Network" of the future that would enable scholars  from one 
of the end world to access archives in another, basically predicting  the 
Internet long before Al Gore ever thought up the idea himself. The other was  an 
examination of political campaigning on record. 
 
Ava Lawrence gave an informative talk on the nuts and bolts of music  
licensing (in a parallel session) as well as the erudite Dennis Rooney's report  on 
New York pianist Milton Kaye, who is still recording at 97.
 
And finally, Roberta Schwartz's analysis of the roots of "Louie Louie," (it  
was actually a modified cha cha in its original form) and revealed the rather  
mundane lyrics (it's more of a sea shanty than anything else). 
 
I'm sure others will have lots to add to my thoughts on the session, but  
those were my personal highlights. 
 

Cary  Ginell
Origin Jazz  Library
www.originjazz.com

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