A ukulele player's look at jazz and popular songs of the early 20th Century

BY TIM HATCHER

BY TIM HATCHER

One of the joys of learning the ukulele is discovering the wonderful songs of long ago--the beautiful melodies and lyrics that deserve to be remembered and revived. Thankfully, vintage sheet music abounds on the internet, and so I've had a great time tracking down lots of the old songs, transcribing them to chord/lyric sheets--in a good key for my voice--and then learning them on the uke. If you would like to receive my chord/lyric sheet for any of the songs featured here, email me and I will be happy to share them.
(tims.email@yahoo.com)

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Have a listen to Van and Schenk, a popular Vaudeville duo:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"The Breeze (That's Bringin' My Honey Back to Me)"

This blog entry is dedicated to an old friend who passed away in 2003, Harry Will. I was first introduced to Harry in about 1980, through a couple of other close friends, Terry Baxter and Barry Hensley. The three of them were devotees of jazz and popular music from the 1920s through the 1960s, roughly, and collectively introduced me to a wide spectrum of performers. Harry had an enormous collection of LPs, tapes and CDs, as did Terry and Barry. It was Harry, though, who would often arrive for a visit with a few LPs to add to my own collection, or he’d hand a few to me when I would stop by his house. Many of these gifts were recordings of people I was not familiar with, and so it was not unusual for me to gratefully accept the gift and then add them to my own collection without listening to them. Many even stayed covered in their original shrink wrap for years.
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One of these gifts to me was a boxed set of LPs entitled “Echoes of the Thirties”, released by the “Nostalgia Book Club” at Columbia Records containing “70 performances from the golden age of popular music and Jazz”. This item sat in my small collection for approximately twenty years, at least, until I finally put it on for a listen a few months ago. That’s one of the side effects of playing the uke: you start digging around for songs that are perfect for the uke but have not been performed to death already. An immediate stand-out on the LP was this uptempo tune performed on the disc by Gene Kardos and his orchestra, from June 26, 1934, with a vocal by trumpet player Joe Hostetter. Its authors are Dick Smith, Al Lewis and Tony Sacco. I’ve done a great deal of searching on the internet for information on the song and the songwriters, but there is very little to be found. I can’t imagine that this wonderful little tune is not widely known, but I certainly had not heard it before discovering it on this record. As for other recordings of the song, the only one I’ve found is a 1952 version by Kay Starr.
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Lyricist Dick Smith’s (1901-1934) most famous composition was probably “Winter Wonderland”, a Christmas standard he composed during a lengthy stay in a sanitarium where he was being treated for tuberculosis. It was this disease which claimed his life in 1934, at the age of 33.
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Al Lewis (1902-1967) was primarily a lyricist but occasionally served as composer. This is not the Al Lewis that played Grandpa on “The Munsters” sitcom in the 1960s. This Al Lewis had songwriting successes such as a Rudy Vallee tune, “Ninety-Nine Out of a Hundred” (1931), the Eddie Cantor hit “Now’s the Time to Fall in Love” (1933) and 1940’s “Blueberry Hill” -- a chart-topper for Fats Domino in 1956.
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As for Tony Sacco, there is very little to be found on the internet. From what I can determine, he was a member of the Eddie Paul Paramount Orchestra and would sometimes perform vocals on their recordings. If anyone can provide me with further information about him and his work, I’d be happy to include it here.
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3 comments:

  1. Hi Tim. A little more about Tony Sacco for you: he played guitar and banjo and sang with the Enric Madriguera band in the mid-30s. Before that he had toured with Red Nichols and done pick-up vocal dates with various bands including Benny Goodman's and the Dorsey Bros.

    Tony must have been fairly well known in his day, as he turns up on more than a few songsheet covers. But I don't know that he had a hand in any more hit songs.

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  2. Thanks so much, pwlsax! I appreciate the extra info on Tony Sacco.

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  3. my god,man..you just get better and better..there's a new found confidence founded on huge musical leaps..the singing is great.. you've become a very charismatic performer..how amazing to have witnessed your upward curve....i love that you're not being contemporary with the ukelele...and this web page you've created is an education....love you to shreds,tim.

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