February 11 – Turntable Talk 11 : Randy’s Weekend Way-back Machine

Welcome back to Turntable Talk! Thanks to all the regular readers and welcome to any new ones. If you’re keeping count, this is our 11th instalment! But for new readers, briefly, on Turntable Talk we have a number of guest columns from other music fans and writers, sounding off on one particular topic. This month, our topic is A Really Big Show. We’ve asked our guests if they had a time machine, and could go back and see one concert what would it be? It could be a show from before they were born, one tey missed or one they actually attended and would like to relive. Big festival, small club show, you name it.

Today we have Randy from Mostly Music Covers, where as the name suggests he deals with all the great cover songs through the years. Being from Canada, will he pick a Canadian show to take the time machine to? Randy suggests:

Well, if Dave says it’s possible to go back in time to hear some music, then who am I to argue?

It’s cold, it only got to up to 31 degrees today and this evening it’s much colder than that, just a dusting of snow so it could be worse for New York this time of year. We had a few inches back in November. Standing in line it’s hard to keep warm but fortunately they are moving us in quickly. Once inside I make my way up to the first level balcony, first row, front and center, my favorite spot in any venue. I’m flying solo tonight, here at Carnegie Hall the seat cost me $2.70, a full day’s wages plus; but I know it will be worth it. This place is breathtaking and enormous. I have never been in a larger hall.

Marian Anderson performs for an audience at Carnegie Hall in 1947

There is lots of commotion on the stage. Somehow, I managed to miss getting a program. No matter, when I saw the poster I had recognized several names. It’s tribute to the late Bessie Smith. I have two of her records and I saw that her sister Ruby will be singing tonight, but I’m sure they’ll announce all the acts. Much as I love to listen to Blues and Jazz records, mostly the only way to hear these acts is in a Nightclub or at one of the hotels. I heard Count Basie is at the Woodside Hotel in Harlem. Truthfully, it was a stretch to get this ticket; any spare change goes to buy records. Needless to say, with this recession going on I’m lucky to have a job, so no, I don’t get out much. Looking around this place seems to let working stiffs like me and Black Folk too come to shows. Still it’s mostly full of rich folk I’d say. Glad I wore my Sunday best!

Speaking of the Count, that’s him with his orchestra right off the bat, “Swingin’ the Blues”, man it’s going to be a night! John Hammond comes out to do the introductions, and it’s one knockout act to the next, some crazy trumpet from Hot Lips Page, and when they push The Kansas City Six out from the rest of Basie’s group, we are swinging indeed. Then Helen Humes fronts them for some dreamy Blues.

Later it’s back and forth with Big Joe Turner, Pete Johnson, and the damnedest Boogie Woogie Piano you will ever hear with Meade Lux Lewis, Albert Ammons, Page, Jones, I mean I am starting to lose it now. Honestly, I didn’t know about the Gospel stuff but when this lady comes out, Sister Rosetta Tharpe she’s called, never heard a canary sing like that, no sir! And playing that guitar, she was aces!

I still can’t believe I inherited that phonograph, small as it is, there is going to be room in the record budget for her! Mr. Hammond came out at one point and said that one of the names on the poster, that I did not recognize, the singer Robert Johnson had passed away. They played a couple of his songs from a record, me, and everybody else I’d imagine never heard anyone play guitar like that, there was a stunned silence. First Sister Rosetta and now this guy, guitar ain’t never gonna be the same again. Someone I did recognize, just by name mind you, and he knows his way around a guitar as well was Big Bill Broonzy out of Chicago. “It was Just a Dream.”

Following that it was Sonny Terry with some mean harmonica. Then Basie and some of the boys finished out the night with a couple more songs. Now I’m no hep cat but that music was swingin’. No, I’m thinking it’ll be slug burgers and dog soup on the menu for a long time if I am going to buy all these records. Hope I keep my job too. Long as I live, I will not forget this night. More than a bit of walk home but I won’t mind the cold so much, not tonight.




23 thoughts on “February 11 – Turntable Talk 11 : Randy’s Weekend Way-back Machine

  1. You really put the time machine to use there, Randy! Thanks for both an informative and interesting bit of music history but a truly creative, fun way of presenting it. Some real music legends on that stage back then. I’d heard of some (Count Basie for example) but some were brand new to me. A lot of our 50s,60s and so on pop & rock took some pointers from those greats.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, that would have been a cool show to attend indeed – all terrific performers! In my humble opinion, the standout was a lady who I feel oftentimes doesn’t get enough credit as an early rock & roll trailblazer, the amazing Sister Rosetta Tharpe. What a great vocalist – and guitarist! She made that Gibson SG look cool long before rock guitarists like AC/DC’s Angus Young or Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi did! And, btw, Chuck Berry also listened to Tharpe and clearly got inspired by her licks!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Rosetta was a force to be sure, sad as it is I referenced her in my very first post over four years ago.since then I’ve probably talked about her a dozen times. Though I’ll say I don’t have your technical knowledge. For example I would have just known she played ‘a’ Gibson.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. That’s flattering but no, I don’t have a lot of tech knowledge. I can maybe tell a Gibson to see one but I can’t tell the sound of one from a Fender , even though I’ve seen videos describing it. Rickenbackers , they I can usually ID by look and sound. Same with those old ’60s organs- I can tell an organ sound (obviously) but don’t know how to hear a difference between a Hammond and a FArfisa.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Frankly, while I’m a (very rusty) hobby guitarist, I wouldn’t call myself a guitar expert. My knowledge is largely limited to a few iconic models like the SG. I always thought it’s a really cool looking guitar.

        What I love about artists like Sister Rosetta is that if you’d meet them in the street, rock & roll star would probably be the last thing you’d think they might be.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Going way way back there Randy! Names from the past for me, mostly, but they made their mark. I did get to see Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee in the 70s though, that was an education to a wet behind the ears kid!
    A very well written fly-on-the-cold wall contribution.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Badfinger (Max)

    That was super creative Randy I love it.
    That would have been great to listen to at that time. The feel and atmosphere would have been very hip and cool I would think.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Pingback: February 11 – Turntable Talk 11 : Randy’s Weekend Way-back Machine — A Sound Day – Mostly Music Covers

  6. Randy I like how you took us back with you to the place, where you were in your life, what it would cost to go, and where you sat while you watched it. Such polished performances and done with passion. Cool poster also!


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