Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
It’s really hot and sticky out there. Perfect for a song, don’t you think.
So hot and sticky that it makes one think of days that are…
No, no, no.
Those aren't right.
Actually the correct word comes from a Chicago group in the late 1960’s. From allmusic.com:
Spanky & Our Gang is one of those odd groups that, despite having had a string of Top 40 chart hits in a two-year period from 1967 through 1969, somehow falls between the cracks of 1960s pop music history. Their hits were as much a part of the ambience of the middle to late '60s as any of the best known songs of the Mamas & the Papas with whom they're frequently compared. Yet they fell short of the latter group as cultural icons; they lacked the L.A.-based group's distinctively accessible collective personality, or anything like its individual members' visual appeal, and they also had none of the Mamas and Papas' in-house songwriting talent. They did have good voices and musical instincts, however, and a lot more to their sound than the cheerful anthems that made them famous.
Their sound most obviously displayed a folk-rock influence, but Spanky & Our Gang actually came just as much out of a pop-jazz background. Elaine McFarlane was into blues and jazz, and her first professional gig was in a jazz-based singing group called the Jamie Lyn Trio in 1962. By the start of 1963, lured by the booming folk music scene, she joined the New Wine Singers who mixed folk and protest songs with Dixieland jazz. It was during her tenure with this group that she acquired the friendship of trombonist/singer Malcolm Hale and also the nickname "Spanky," owing to her resemblance -- in the eyes of fellow group member Arnie Lanza -- to George "Spanky" McFarland of the Little Rascals/Our Gang comedies.
They called themselves "Spanky & Our Gang" as a joke, playing on their singer's nickname, but when local newspapers began reviewing their performances in favorable terms, the name ended up sticking.
At their first recording session in New York, they were given a song called "Sunday Will Never Be the Same."
A second hit, "Making Every Minute Count," although not as distinctive as their debut, rose to number 22 nationally, and then a third, "Lazy Day," reached number 14 late in 1967. The group's harmonies were impeccable, and their records and arrangement displayed a slick, smooth texture that overlapped with the sounds of pop-jazz and also with the singing that one often heard on commercials of the period.
"I feel like soundtrack music is almost like seeing the movie again, but with my ears."
It's Friday night. Time to unwind with our regular Friday night feature on This Just In.
The weekend has finally arrived.
The sun has set.
The evening sky has erupted.
Let's smooth our way into Saturday and Sunday.
Next week Friday and Saturday, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra presents Casablanca: Film with Orchestra at the Riverside Theater. Led by Associate Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong, the program features a screening of the film with live accompaniment from the MSO performing Max Steiner's Oscar-nominated score.
Tickets are still available.
Tonight, music from one of the very best.
Casablanca is one of the greatest films to ever come out of Hollywood.
The American Film Institute rates the following for Casablanca:
Greatest Movie of All-Time: #3
Best Hero: Rick Blaine (#4)
Top Movie Song: “As Time Goes By” (#2)
Best Movie Quote: “Here’s looking at you, kid” (#5)
Most Passionate Film: #1
Most Inspiring Film: #32
Most Thrilling Film: #37
Greatest Screen Legend, Men: Humphrey Bogart (#1)
Greatest Screen Legend, Women: Ingrid Bergman (#4)
There are some classic tunes in that movie, some merely background music performed by Dooley Wilson and the cafe's (Warner Bros. Studio) orchestra. Tonight we feature, not the original soundtrack, but other renditions of those timeless standards.
Our first selection dates back to Al Jolson in 1920. Jazz musician and historian Chris Tyle writes,“’Avalon’ is practically an advertisement for the resort town on Catalina Island off the coast of California which was a popular resort destination for the film community of Hollywood. The song not only relates missing the place ‘beside the bay’ but dreaming ‘from dusk ‘til dawn’ of someone left behind. One of the cleverest parts of the lyric is the rhyme ‘I’ll have to travel-on, to Av-a-lon’.”
Famed guitarist John Pizzarelli performs.
If they were here today, they’d be talking about it. Because they’d remember. And how tragic it was. He was the heart and soul of America during war time. He brought people and our troops together like nobody else could.
Then 70 years ago today, that generation saw its day the music died.
Previously on This Just In...
Over the weekend WRIT-FM, the Oldies Station broadcast what it billed as the Memorial Weekend Top 500 Countdown. I listened on and off and heard some very good records. But this nostalgia buff found a few major flaws with this countdown.
I heard the word “classics” used to describe the 500 recordings. The problem with a list of this nature is that there’s always going to be omissions, and in some cases they can be glaring.
WRIT never announced what criteria were used to determine the 500.
There are elements of the Countdown that would stymie the Riddler. For example, “Ladies Night” by Kool & the Gang makes the list. “Celebration” by the same group does not. “Free Ride” by Edgar Winter makes the list. “Frankenstein” does not. You get the point. A Best of the Best this ain’t.
It’s not impossible to listen to all 500, but rather unlikely. I was interested as to what constituted the Top Ten and found the answer online once the countdown was completed:
“The war WWII) was an emotional period and the songs tapped a reservoir of emotions: hope, longing, loneliness, and love."
Elihu Rose, retired Adjunct Associate Professor of Military History at New York University
It's hard to imagine someone like this week's featured entertainer would have a forgotten oldie since he performed so many memorable songs.
The latest inductees in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were recently announced.