Sunday morning, June 5, 2016 I will once again host the three hour program “Music on the Sunny Side” on WBRH-FM in Baton Rouge. The show is broadcast from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Central Time. Normally I host the first show each month, and Dr. Fritz McCameron, who has a fabulous collection of Big Band era music and a vast amount of knowledge about it, hosts the remaining shows.
Highlights will include four numbers from Your Hit Parade, a very popular TV program back in the 1950s. The show featured a cast of singers who sang the most popular songs of the week after the announcer gave the ranking of the song about to be sung. It was always fun to see what song was number one for the week. I will feature numbers sung by Russell Arms, Gizele MacKenzie (a very talented Canadian singer, pianist, and violinist), Dorothy Collins, and Snooky Lanson. The programs from which the songs are excerpted were broadcast in 1953, 1954, and 1955.
Later I will play two recordings featuring Walter Brennan. Brennan, despite his old country boy persona, was born in Massachusetts in 1894. He was a wonderful character actor who won three Best Supporting Actor Oscars – for his work in Come and Get It (1936), Kentucky (1938), and The Westerner (1940). He was nominated for his performance in Sergeant York (1941), but lost to Donald Crisp who won for his performance in How Green was My Valley. Only 2 other actors, Jack Nicholson and Daniel Day-Lewis, have also won 3 Academy Awards. Brennan may be best remembered as Grandpa Amos McCoy in the hit TV comedy series The Real McCoys which ran from 1957 to 1963. Walter Brennan died in Oxnard, California in 1974 at the age of 80. “Old Rivers” was a hit for Brennan back in 1962 – reaching #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In all of his recordings he recites rather than sings the lyrics, but you can hear the songs’ melodies in the background. On some of his recordings you hear the Johnny Mann Singers in the background as well.
I will also air one of the G.I. Jive radio shows featuring G.I. Jill. A post that I wrote about her long ago still gets many “hits” to my surprise. G. I. Jive, a radio broadcast during and after WW II that featured a young woman who called herself Jill, was originally aired to counter the influence of Tokyo Rose. While Tokyo Rose tried to demoralize the homesick G. I.s, Jill tried to boost their morale. Jill was actually Martha Wilkerson (1918-1999), a young mother who worked for the Office of War Information. Jill’s combination of music and friendly chatter reminded the troops of their girls back home, and she became a favorite of U. S. servicemen around the world. So, for good reason her closing line was: “Good morning to some of you, good afternoon to some more of you, and to the rest of you—good night.”
Old Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, will give us his version of “Poor Butterfly,” a popular song written in 1916 which is based on the story related in Giacomo Puccini’s 1904 opera Madama Butterfly. Sinatra is backed by the great Duke Ellington and his orchestra.
Near the end of the show I’ll play three numbers from the soundtrack of the 1958 movie musical South Pacific.
There’ll be lots of good music, so please join me either locally at 90.3 FM or over the internet at wbrh.org. To make comments about the music, call us at 225-388-9030. We would love to hear from you.