“Reefer Man,” as far as I can tell, is a Cab Calloway original composition. Unfortunately there’s not much information on the song out there. This particular video is from the 1933 film “International House” Which starred W.C. Fields and Burns and Allen. It’s a pre-code film and I’d totally love to see it some day!
I’ve never smoked weed but I’m glad they made it legal in a couple of states so maybe I’ll get to try it someday. Cannabis is not the point of my post today. The point of my post is 12/21/12, the date I first heard this song. I’m sure you’ll remember that 12/21 is also the day we perished in the fiery apocalypse. Up until then life had been going rather well. I worked, parented, played, dated, ate (a lot), watched some movies, went on some trips, and kept up with lots of my lovely forum friends on other social media. Then we all died which was sad. But then Christmas came and everyone turned on lights which totally thwarted the cockroach uprising. Plus I got a really nifty new Kindle. Here’s hoping everyone else out there is also having the merriest End Of Days ever!
W is for singer/songwriter Sippie Wallace. In 1923 Sippie followed her brothers to Chicago from her native Texas and immediately landed a recording contract with Okeh Records. Between 1923 and 1927, she wrote and recorded more than 40 songs for the label. Her hits included songs like “Shorty George” (which she wrote with her brother George) and her signature song “Woman Be Wise.” She retired from show business after she married in 1929 and spent the next 40 years as a church organist and vocalist. In 1966 she launched a comeback. She toured the world and recorded with greats like Louis Armstrong and her 1983 album “Sippie” earned her a Grammy nomination. Sippie died in 1986 on her 88th birthday after a massive stroke. Here’s a video of her performing “Woman Be Wise.”
The name Sippie makes me think of the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” and the character Sipsy who was played by Cicely Tyson (love her). To me “Fried Green Tomatoes” is one of the finest chick flicks ever made. It has all the right elements. There’s love, loss and life lessons plus they managed to keep the cannibalism to a bare minimum which to me is the mark of quality film making.
V is for jazz vocalist and saxophonist Vi Redd. Vi (Elvira) is the daughter of jazz drummer Alton Redd and her aunt was vocalist Alma Hightower. She spent some time in her youth performing in and around Los Angeles but she left jazz to work for the Board Of Education in the late 1950s but she returned to music in 1962. She played Vegas with Earl Hines and toured the world with greats like Dizzy Gillespie. Here she is performing “Stormy Monday Blue” with Dizzy’s orchestra.
Vi got a teaching certificate from USC and taught school through the 70s. I didn’t move to LA until 1980 so I missed being taught by a jazz legend by one year. Some kids have all the luck!
U is for spoken word artist Ursula Rucker. Ursula majored in journalism in college but she’d been writing poetry since adolescence. She began performing her work in 1994. Usula is often a featured artist at popular music festivals and she’s made several critically aclaimed recordings. Here she is working with 4Hero at the Montreal Jazz Festival performing “Loveless.”
I had never heard of Ursula Rucker before I made this list. I have never heard of anyone she’s worked with either. That’s not unusual for me as I am hopelessly and unremorsfully out of step with modern music. I do quite like her style and her message though. Perhaps this is an important step on the road to cool for me but to tell you the truth I sincerely hope not.
T is for jazz drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. Terri got her first drum set at age 7. The set had belonged to her grandfather Matt Carrington who played with Fats Waller and Chuck Berry. She played her first major performance at age 11 at the Wichita Jazz Festival. By 12 she’d earned a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music. In the late 80′s, Terri gained recognition as the house drummer on “The Arsenio Hall Show.” Terri also toured extensively with Herbie Hancock. In 2011, she recorded an album with “The Mosaic Project,” an all-star, all female jazz ensemble. This is Terri playing “Virtual Hornets” from Herbie Hancock’s “Future to Future.”
My daughter and I monkeyed around with music lessons last summer but next month she will be starting proper piano lessons. She is 7 just like Terri Lyne was when she started. I think she’ll be pretty good at it but even if she’s not, my Facebook audience can expect videos of my budding young Beethoven. Be kind with your comments folks, nowadays she reads all her press!
Singer Dobie Gray died yesterday 12/6. He was 71. No one is exactly sure what his given name was but he was given the nickname Dobie by Sonny Bono. Gray scored two big hits with “In With The In Crowd” (1965) and “Drift Away” (1973). He spent several years on Broadway with the Los Angeles cast of “Hair.” This is Dobie Gray singing one of my all time favorite songs, “Drift Away.”
“Hair” is one of my favorite movie musicals. I really wish I’d had the opportunity to see him performing in it. I bet he was fantastic.RIP Mr. Gray.
Actor Harry Morgan died today 12/7 after a bout with pneumonia. He was 96. Harry Morgan starred in dozens of movies in his long career including “High Noon” and “The Ox-Bow Incident.” He also starred in several TV shows including “Dragnet” and “M*A*S*H.” I’ve seen him in several roles but I’ll remember him best as Col. Sherman T. Potter from M*A*S*H. Here’s a clip from an interview he did. He’s talking about working with Elvis in the 1966 film “Frankie and Johnny.”
Thank you for all the years of entertainment. RIP Mr. Morgan.
Comedian Alan Sues died of an apparent heart attack last Thursday, December 1. He was 85. Sues got his start in stand-up but he was best known for his recurring roles on “Rowan And Martin’s Laugh In.” He had a long career in theater when Laugh In went off the air. Here’s Alan as Uncle Al the kiddie’s pal.
RIP Mr Sues.