Merry Christmas, Baby, plus Louis Armstrong’s Hot 5, and local stars
Written by Randy Black on December 22, 2015
Viking Twang Episode 70, December22, 2015
Good morning, welcome to Viking Twang Episode 70. My name is Randy Black, hope you’re all ready for Christmas.
If you’re not, we’re going to help with some Christmas music, which we’ll get to in the first set. The second set will feature some vintage Louis Armstrong from his Hot Five years, and we’ll have some great music from local bands in the third set. Here’s our local favorites, Well Swung, to get us started.
1 – Turkey Red; W.C. Beck & the Portland Country Underground.
2 – Jingle Bells; Well Swung. Local heroes Jonathan Trawick with Aarun Carter on fiddle, and Carolyn Martin on vocals.
3 — I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus; John Prine. From the 1994 album “A John Prine Christmas.” Written by Jimmy Boyd in 1952.
4 – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town; Ella Fitzgerald. From the 1960 album, Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas.
5 – Santa Baby; Eartha Kitt. The original recording of the song, from 1953 with Henri Rene and his orchestra.
6 – Merry Christmas, Baby; Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers; the original from 1947, written by Johnny Moore and Lou Baxter, with Charles Brown on the vocals.
7 – May Every Day Be Christmas; Louis Jordan. From 1951.
When I was a kid, Louis Armstrong was this old guy who kept showing up on TV with this gravelly voice and goofy grin. It’s only been recently I’ve gotten into his great playing, especially early, which I first got through his collaborations with Jimmie Rodgers.
So we’re going to play some music from his Hot 5 in the 1920s. The band is his wife and manager, Lil Hardin, on piano; Johnny Dodds on clarinet and sax, Edouard “Kid” Ory on trombone, and Johnny St. Cyr on banjo.
8 – Gut Bucket Blues; from the band’s first recording session on Nov. 12, 1925.
9 – Heebie Jeebies; from Feb. 26, 1926, featuring Louis’ first vocal perfomance.
10 – Ory’s Creole Trombone; from Sept. 2, 1927. This is a song that Kid Ory first recorded in Los Angeles in 1921.
11 – Struttin’ With Some Barbecue; from December, 1927.
12 – Christmas Night in Harlem; recorded with Eartha Kitt in 1951.
Probably about eight years ago. J.D. Dawson showed up at the Off Key Easy Bluegrass Jam at Holman’s, the first time I played with this remarkable musician. He’s a songwriter and a great mandolin and guitar player.
In the past few years he’s put on a couple of monthly shows at the Jade Lounge in southeast Portland, where’s he’s not only brought in some great guest musicians, but helped many of us move from the jam circle to the spotlight.
A few days ago, he suffered a series of strokes. It sounds as if he’s doing well considering, and I’m looking forward to being able to play with him again sometime soon. We’ll start this set of local artists with one of his songs, from his self-recorded 2010 album, Hearts and Highways.
13 – Beer Drinking Town; J.D. Dawson.
14 – Cutie Pie; Ken Chapple. The Portland expatriate now living in Asheville, N.C., from his album Crossing the Black.
15 – Ants in the Kitchen; the Hillwilliams, from their new album, Hill Yeah!
16 – Ghost of Gram; Sweet Sunny South; from their 2010 album, Carried off by a Twister.
17 – River; Joni Mitchell. From 1971’s Blue.
18 – Twang Theme; Countrypolitans.