Wonderful Tunes Provided By Friends. Wild Tangents Provided By Me.

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Duke Ellington Bli-Blip

Have I mentioned how much I love soundies? Okay fine, but have I mentioned it today? This one is from 1942 and it features singer-dancers Marie Bryant and Paul White performing the song “Bli-Blip.” It was written by Duke Ellington and Sid Kuller for the musical review “Jump For Joy” which was aimed at breaking down African-American racial stereotypes which were prevalent in the entertainment industry at the time. Bryant and White starred in the show.

I checked the internet to see if restaurants with singing waitstaff exist any more. It turns out there is a place in Studio City, CA called Vitello’s Italian Restaurant where they do still sing! It’s mostly showtunes apparently so I’m not sure if they swing. They do have live jazz there though so that’s bound to count for something. I guess the one drawback to the place is that most customer reviews say the food is awful. My favorite quote was ” it’s Chef Boyardee nasty!” Perhaps it’s a good thing that most restaurants aren’t quite as musical these days. I guess at some point in our recent past we, as a nation cried out “more service, less swing!” Now our restaurant music may be canned but at least our ravioli isn’t.

Young Sammy Davis

I have been watching some amazing tap dance clips on YouTube because I love tap. There’s a great Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell dance number that makes my upper lip sweat with awesome but I couldn’t find it to post. There were so many great moments out there that I was hard pressed to find one replacement. This early Sammy Davis Jr number finally won on strength of cuteness. I’d give my eye teeth to know where it’s from.

I wanted tap dancing lessons as a kid. Tap lessons were surprisingly expensive so Mom signed me up for ballet. I was a fat kid stuffed in a pink leotard and tutu. I looked like a vienna sausage and I was about half as graceful. Mercifully the lessons didn’t last long. I never did get my tap lessons which is probably a good thing. Now I can pretend I would have been great at it without pesky truth interfering with my delusion.

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