High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Shady Dell, the College Years: December 1967/January 1968

In today's edition of College Years the timeline advances to the Christmas/New Year holiday break at the end of 1967.

I couldn't wait for classes to end so that I could bust loose, drive back to York, get up the hill to the Dell, check in with Helen and John, and check out the jukebox records in the barn.

Listen now to the hottest songs that were playing at the Shady Dell during the holidays in 1967 and on into the new year.

December 1967

"My Baby Must Be a Magician" – Marvelettes

"I Can’t Stand Myself (When You Touch Me)" – James Brown

"Chain of Fools" – Aretha Franklin

"A Love That’s Real" – Intruders

"Judy in Disguise" – John Fred & His Playboy Band

January 1968

"We’re a Winner" – Impressions

"I Wish it Would Rain" – Temptations

"I Truly, Truly Believe" – Temptations

We'll flash back to the greatest Dell hits of February 1968 in the next edition of College Years. I hope you'll be here!

Have a Shady day and a safe and happy new year celebration!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ghosts of Christmas Past: The Dell's Sounds of the Season!

Big John ambled into the barn carrying a seventy pound log. He crouched before the fireplace and with a mighty heave threw the massive chunk of lumber onto the glowing bed of embers.

Infused with fresh fuel the blaze quickly sprang to life. Light danced merrily on the wall as flames devoured the wood.

The TV room was bathed in a cheery glow as soothing heat radiated to Dell rats gathered 'round. Comforting crackles, pops and hisses from the fire blended with the sound of familiar tunes playing on the jukebox.

'Twas the most wonderful time of the year - Christmas time at the Shady Dell!

Some of my fondest memories of the Dell originated during the colder months and the holiday season. John always sprang into prompt action during a snow storm. Equipped with a winter busting arsenal that included jumper cables, chains, sand, and ice scraper, Mr. Ettline was Johnny on the spot whenever a Dell rat encountered car problems.

Armed with his trusty shovel John wasted no time clearing the front steps and the walkway connecting the house to the barn.

On cold December nights Helen was busy preparing treats to warm the tummy. My favorite cold weather order was a plate of sizzling French fries and a steaming mug of cocoa.

Next stop - the barn, and John had it handled down there, too, with the fireplace burning and records that kept turning.

During the holiday season no place made you feel more welcome, more at home than the Shady Dell!

In keeping with tradition I'm open for business throughout the holidays and I loaded the Dell's two holiday song classics into the jukebox.

"Jingle Bell Rock"/"Captain Santa Claus" by Bobby Helms (December 1957)

For your viewing pleasure I decked the halls and covered the walls with vintage seasonal soda pop ads.

This 45rpm record is one of the many two-siders to enjoy popularity at the Shady Dell. Both sides were enduring seasonal favorites.

"Jingle Bell Rock" first became a nationwide hit at Christmas time in 1957.

Every December thereafter the song would magically show up on the Dell’s dance hall jukebox just in time to help engender a festive holiday mood.

You might think that the Dell's inner circle would have avoided this old countrified Christmas classic, dismissing it as square. Instead, the gang eagerly got into the spirit of the proceedings and made it their own.

The record’s B-side, a nursery school ditty entitled "Captain Santa Claus," produced an extraordinary response at the Dell. The beginning of the song consists of a series of bizarre and instantly recognizable sound effects. Naming that tune in seconds flat, the crowd would erupt in gleeful, childlike laughter.

Jubilant rats would leap to their feet...
head out on the dance floor...
and skip around the room hand-in-hand
like merry little elves.

At the Dell, even the coolest kids were capable of letting their hair down on occasion and acting silly, particularly during Christmas break when Bobby Helms was serenading us.

The popularity of Bobby Helms' perennial holiday classics allows me to once again make an important point.

Dell rats of the 60s seemed to welcome the opportunity to embrace the music of the past and preserve the traditions of their 50s predecessors.

Oh what a night
Late December back in '65
I was happy just to be alive
As I remember what a night.

Have yourself a Shady little Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yule Love These Memories!

Remember the 1958 Poni-tails song "Born Too Late"? Sometimes I feel like I was. For decades I regarded the mid to late 60s as my prime time but lately I find myself feeling happier and more comfortable when I listen to music released in 1963 and earlier. Please join me in remembering some of the great December songs of the 50s and early 60s. For your enjoyment I brought along some vintage seasonal soda pop ads.

"Dim, Dim the Lights (I Want Some Atmosphere)" - Bill Haley & the Comets (December 1954)

"Teen-Age Prayer" - Gloria Mann (December 1955)

"Don't Forbid Me" - Pat Boone (December 1956)

"Be Bop Baby" - Ricky Nelson (December 1957)

"Lonely Teardrops" - Jackie Wilson (December 1958)

"The Big Hurt" - Miss Toni Fisher (December 1959)

"Poetry in Motion" - Johnny Tillotson (December 1960)

"Poor Fool" - Ike & Tina Turner (December 1961)

"All Alone Am I" - Brenda Lee (December 1962)

"Drip Drop" - Dion (December 1963)

More holiday memories are coming up in my next post, so please be here!

Have a Shady day!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Let's Go Huntin' with Hunter & Cruisin' with the Wild I-tralian

It's time once again to shine the spotlight on two more volumes of the Cruisin' series, the simulated Top 40 radio broadcasts of the 50s and 60s released on albums in the early 70s.

As I have done before I will name my Pick to Click from each of the albums and include as a bonus track another of my favorite songs released the same year.

To help set the mood I hung a few more vintage soda pop ads on the wall.

Hop in and we'll cruise out to the left coast, turn around, and go shufflin' off to Buffalo. First, let's hit the Sunset Strip and go Huntin' with Hunter!

Hunter Hancock - KGFJ, Los Angeles

"There is Something on Your Mind" - Big Jay McNeeley
(vocal by Little Sonny Warner)

Garnet Mimms recorded an excellent rendition of "There is Something on Your Mind." Dave Bupp and the Del-Chords performed the song at the White Oaks Reunion last fall.

The definitive version of the song is the one that deejay Hunter Hancock introduced on Cruisin' 1959. Tenor sax show stopper Big Jay McNeely and his band teamed up with satin smooth vocalist Little Sonny Warner to make this slow blues ballad my favorite track on that Cruisin' album and one of the greatest records on the charts during the summer of 1959.

"Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)" - Edward Byrnes & Connie Stevens (June 1959)

He played "Kookie" Kookson the 3rd, the street wise, hair combing, jive talking hipster on the hit TV detective series 77 Sunset Strip.

She portrayed Cricket Blake, the perky photographer, lounge singer, and part time sleuth on the hit TV detective series Hawaiian Eye. Cricket Blake was most likely the inspiration for Cricket Blair, the blonde tressed model turned lawyer on Y&R.

Together, Kookie and Cricket made sweet music, if you want to call it that. "Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)," a novelty single performed by Edd Byrnes and Connie Stevens, was released at a time when the buzzworthy young stars were seeing a meteoric rise in the value of their stock. Byrnes was already riding high as the breakout scene stealer on 77 Sunset Strip and Connie was in production on Hawaiian Eye, a series that would send her popularity skyrocketing in the months and years that followed.

Connie Stevens and Edd "Kookie" Byrnes were hip and trendy and so was their record. Radio stations played it and fans bought it. While serious artists bristled, "Lend Me Your Comb" shot into the top 5 on the national pop singles chart. Like, lay it on me!

Rad, dad! Now let's blow the La-La scene and kick our jets Buffalo, baby!

Dick Biondi - WKBW, Buffalo

"Fannie Mae" - Buster Brown (March 1960)

The wailing blues harmonica intro allows oldies lovers to name that tune ("Fannie Mae") in seconds flat. It was always exciting to hear Dick Biondi, the self-described Wild I-tralian of Buffalo, seamlessly inject the name Buster Brown at the perfect moment right before the melody began.

Buster Brown's "Fannie Mae" is my Pick to Click on Biondi's 1960 volume of the Cruisin' series. The blues rocker became Buster's biggest chart hit, breaking into the Billboard top 40 in the spring of 1960.

"The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man"
- the Rolling Stones

I'm breaking my own rules by jumping ahead to 1965, but this is the perfect time to roll out one of my favorite killer bees, the one found on the flip side of the Rolling Stones' Jaggernaut "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."

Listen to the familiar riffs in "The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man," a song the Stones based on Buster Brown's "Fannie Mae." The song was written as a good natured poke in the ribs aimed at the Stones' own London Records promo man who accompanied Mick and his mates on their first American tour.

"Lucille" - Everly Brothers (October 1960)

As I mentioned in an earlier Cruisin' post, "Wake Up Little Susie" by the Everly Brothers was one of my favorite songs as a boy.

Eventually, I started drifting away from the Everlys and their mellow, laid back rockabilly style, favoring music that packed more of a punch.

Then came the moment in the late 60s when I had an epiphany and realized that the Everly Brothers had their own unique brand of old school cool. It was the moment that I first heard their version of Little Richard Penniman's shouting 1957 hit "Lucille."

The Everly Brothers put their rendition of "Lucille" on the Billboard pop singles chart during the fall of 1960 and it stopped just shy of the top 20 mark. Here are Phil and Don Everly performing their excellent cover of "Lucille" on the Tennessee Ernie Ford Show.

Don't miss the next edition of Cruisin'...coming soon!

Have a Shady day!