Duane Keilstrup Broadcast Archives
September, 2016

Philco Radio Click to hear the Program of 9-4-16

This Week's Classics & Curios Show:

"Echoes of Songs and Laughter"

Episode 223

KOMEDY KINGDOM: SCHOOL DAYS & THE GAY NINETIES; ABBOTT & COSTELLO: WHO'S ON FIRST?

Komedy Kingdom was a radio show during the middle and late 1930’s that provided some samples of vintage vaudeville variety. Singers, comedians, and actors made the show successful with hostess and performer Elvia Allman. Each week a show focussed on a topic such as love, movies, vacations, geography, dancing, and history. The two shows on this Episode of CLASSICS & CURIOS focus on School Days and the Gay Nineties. Elvia, then in her twenties, was dubbed Queen of Mirth in the Komedy Kingdom as she introduced various acts and displayed a talented voice in songs. Playing characters like Madam Toncilio Lungbuster, and Pansy Pennypincher, Elvia went on to perform on several radio shows, such as the Bob Hope Show, Burns & Allen, Blondie, and Abbott & Costello. TV viewers can probably recall her performance as the demanding supervisor in the famous candy dipping episode on I Love Lucy.

The fifteen-minute Transco shows were syndicated, and stations were able to supply their own commercials during the extra long playing of the theme song at the beginning of each episode.

The highlight of the School Days episode from April 21, 1937, is, of course, the vintage song, along with “Let’s Not Forget to Remember Way Back When.” Players have fun with school subjects like arithmetic, spelling, and history. In Elvia’s school exam, for example, she exclaims that a common animal at the North Pole is the “Pole Cat!” And Ole and Oscar bring us “down” to speed about geography. The Plantation Boys make school fun again singing a song a lot like the Mills Brothers. Near the end of the show a pleasant extended instrumental version of “School Days” plays so stations can insert more commercials as desired.

The second Komedy Kingdom episode takes us back to the Gay Nineties with “rollicking” comedy and songs like “Don’t Put Your Foot in My Face,” all of which especially, in Ellvia’s own word, “rollick.” Better rollicking songs come, however, with “Those Were Wonderful Days,” “Beautiful Dreamer,” and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” The baseball song, still popular at games today, was composed by vaudeville entertainer Jack Norworth, with music by Albert von Tilzer, in 1908 (and a later version in 1927). Neither Norworth nor von Tilzer had ever even seen a game, but it didn’t matter as the tune became one of the most popular songs in American music and baseball culture. The earlier version, now in the Baseball Hall of Fame, had these lyrics (partial):

Katie Casey was base ball mad.
Had the fever and had it bad;
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev'ry sou [small change] Katie blew.
On a Saturday, her young beau
Called to see if she'd like to go,
To see a show but Miss Kate said,
"No, I'll tell you what you can do.

Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

Following “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” it’s only appropriate that we tune in to Abbott & Costello on April 17, 1947, to hear their classic performance of the world-famous sketch “Who’s on First?”

While authorship of “Who’s On First?” is uncertain, and while it apparently appeared in some form in vaudeville, some say Irving Gordon wrote it. It was Gordon who wrote Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable” and Duke Ellington’s “Prelude to a Kiss.” But it was Abbott & Costello who refined the baseball routine to perfection and performed it first in 1938 on the Kate Smith Hour. The skit was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956, and in 1999 Time magazine voted it the Best Comedy Sketch of the 20th Century.

Preceding the masterful baseball piece are comedy bits and fine musical performances. Bud and Lou, for example, have fun with word play with ‘niche” and “salary,” and baseball players’ names Bob Feller and Enos Slaughter. Also, Marilyn Maxwell sings “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans,” and bandleader Skinnay Ennis performs “Linda.”

No matter how many times I hear this baseball comedy sketch, I cannot keep from laughing or at least smiling in appreciation of masterful comedy. But while “Who’s on First?” continues to leave me laughing, it also keeps me wondering who plays right field! Maybe a fellow named “Wondering!”

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All of the above programs are available at Jerry Haendiges Productions for purchase.

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Philco Radio Click to hear the Program of 9-11-16

This Week's Classics & Curios Show:

"Echoes of Songs and Laughter"

Episode 224

THE KORN KOBBLERS: THREE EPISODES

In the musical tradition of the Schnickelfritz Band, the Hoosier Hotshots, and Spike Jones, the Korn Kobblers take center stage this time on CLASSICS & CURIOS. The Korn Kobblers were discovered in 1939 by Guy Lombardo at the Old Vienna in Cincinnati, OH, and they later opened for Lombardo when he played the 1940 Wold Fair.

Billed as "America's most nonsensical band,” the Korn Kobblers sextet was part comedy act and part big band. In addition to traditional musical instruments, they added their own self-invented instruments like the “skoocherphone” and the “tuned smokestack,” not to mention the one instrument no hill-billy band should be without, a washboard. Their jugs, automobile horns, tonettes, whistles, mouth harps, duck quackers, etc., made more people laugh at the time than any other band in the country.

Like the Schnickelfritz band earlier and Spike Jones later, the Korn Kobblers decided on the comedy approach to boost their earnings in the music business. Actually the Korn Kobblers split from the Schnickelfritz band when that group headed west to Hollywood. The Korn Kobblers then headed east to a successful radio career. During their run, the group appeared on 200 radio stations, plus the band made several short movies and recorded several albums. One of their popular hits included “Don’t Give Me No Goose for Christmas, Grandma.” Much of the band's comedy was visual, so they dressed as the common idea of a hick in overalls, flannel shirts, and floppy hats.

So on this Classics & Curios, three fifteen-minute Korn Kobblers episodes reveal the group’s unique musical approach in songs, starting with “Ida,” then “Oh, Them Golden Slippers,” and a favorite of mine, “The Cuckoo Waltz,” which, of course, brings to mind the background music for the great comedy films of Laurel and Hardy.

In the second episode, the “classical Kobblers” offer totally useless clarinet and trumpet lessons, along with their versions of “A Bicycle Built for Two” and “Georgia on My Mind.”

In the closing episode there are three tunes, “Barnacle Bill the Sailor,” “Brazil,’ and an Israeli folksong, “Chiri Biri Bim.” Definitely not “worth” mentioning, but appropriate, is an extra piece, “Concert for Drum and Orchestra.”

The closing melody is long enough for local stations to insert commercials, so my own local commercial would be to listen to the Korn Kobblers for musical smiles!

[Liner Notes background material on the Korn Kobblers represents combined contributions and paraphrasing from the Hoosier Hotshots Museum, Ones Media and Eugene Chadbourne.]

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All of the above programs are available for purchase online at Jerry Haendiges Productions.

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Philco Radio Click to hear the Program of 9-25-16

This Week's Classics & Curios Show:

"Echoes of Songs and Laughter"

Episode 225

SPIKE JONES: THE "KING OF CORN" PLAYS DALLAS

Next on Classics & Curios we continue our journey of silliness in music to Spike Jones and His City Slickers, the "King of Corn," as voted by Downbeat Magazine in 1949 for the 7th straight year. Sponsored by Coca Cola as a summer replacement for Jack Benny, Spike brought his musical sense of humor to CBS. The Spike Jones Show producers expanded the show’s comedy horizons beyond Spike's masterful musical nonsense to include such things as comedian Doodles Weaver as Professsor Feetlebaum, who liked to speak in Spoonerisms as he mixed up sentences and song lyrics.

Guests often added "non-nonsense" class to the show, such as Peggy Mann (pictured left), who sings “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” and Alec Templeton, a noted composer, pianist, teacher, and satirist. Templeton brings sense to the scene by performing Gershwin’s Second Prelude after stealing the show with his opening performance of “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now” a la Spike’s silly style with added classical music humor.

Spike blossoms in the City Slicker rendition of “Love in Bloom,” making even Jack Benny’s famously flawed version take second place. The City Slickers also entertain us “In a Persian Market,” and Doodles Weaver pretty well destroys “A Little Bird Told Me” with his antics and off-key capers.

Templeton, blind and considered by many a musical genius, came to the U.S.A. from Wales as a member of Jack Hylton’s Jazz Band and performed on several radio shows such as the Kraft Music Hall and the Rudy Vallee Show. He also had his own show, initially as a summer replacement for Fibber McGee and Molly.

This Jones show marked Spike’s first appearance in Dallas, Texas, the first city on his tour of the Lone Star state, which took him from Fort Worth to Houston.

This program is available for purchase from Jerry Haendiges Productions.

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