Archive for Miami

Fred Shannon & The Clubmen – Coconut Grove Bank – Private Press

Posted in Gold with tags , , , on October 19, 2017 by xxx
As always, the download is located at the bottom of the page…

This post deals with more than just music. It’s about a time and place as told through the rise and fall of a beautiful building. It’s a story that takes place in my backyard, in the historic pioneer settlement, turned bohemian sailing community, turned condo-row called Coconut Grove. It’s also a story about a very rare record, found in the overflow boxes of my local record shop. I’ve held off on writing this post for over a year, but faced with the daily onslaught of sounds coming from the demolition of the Historic Coconut Grove Bank Building, it seems that putting this post together is the best way for me to cope.

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Miami is a strange, yet rewarding city, and it gets stranger and more rewarding the more you pour into it. Unlike cities whose roots run deeper, Miami’s cultural mythology is still being developed. For those of us who prefer to look to the past for a deeper sense of meaning, I feel that some of the greatest cultural totems of our city are still out there in the dusty bins, bookshelfs and filing cabinets, lying in wait for some lucky soul to uncover them. It’s on us to get out there, find them, preserve them and share them.

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I chanced upon such a find one afternoon while thumbing through the overflow boxes of the Easy Listening section in Yesterday and Today Records. After some quick sifting, I noticed a record with a lushly illustrated cover of a tuxedoed, mid-century styled man and woman dancing to a brass band on a painted pastel background. At the top of the cover, there’s a small illustration of a modernist building that caught my eye. On the back cover in text, “Let’s Dance” by Fred Shannon and the Clubmen Orchestra, “Limited Edition — Not For Sale”, further down, “The Grove’s Golden Era”, down in the corner “Coconut Grove Bank, South Bayshore Drive & 27th Avenue, Coconut Grove, Florida”. Basically my home address. Best of all, the price tag: $4.99.

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As I sit to write this, the beautiful Grove Bank building is being torn down. After a few weeks of demolition, all that remains is a blown out corner and some beautiful baby blue, navy and white mosaic tile shades, that made up the main feature of the building’s facade. The Robert Law Weed designed bank building was a crown jewel of the neighborhood and a key example of Miami-Modern (MiMo) architecture. It will be replaced with one of three massive towers of the Park Grove condominium development. A few years back, the City of Miami historic preservation folks determined that the building didn’t qualify for historic designation, due to some spurious claim that it was designed by one of Weed’s understudies and was not actually his work. It all reeked of your classic Miami backroom deal and just like that, we knew the building’s days were numbered.

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When I took the record home, I read the liner notes and found that the album was privately pressed by the bank to commemorate the unveiling of their beautiful new headquarters building. As it turns out, the Vice President of the bank in those days, one Fred Shannon, was “the world’s only banker-dance band maestro”. That’s right, the recordings herein are of the then Vice President of Coconut Grove Bank’s hobby big band, The Clubmen Orchestra. The Orchestra works through all the popular dance hits including Chattanooga Choo-Choo, Fools Rush In, My Blue Heaven, Green Dolphin Street and I Could Write A Book. The recording is absolutely beautiful, if Mr. Shannon was as good at banking as he was at band-leading, I’d imagine the Coconut Grove Bank did fairly well under his vice-presidency.

This is a great mid-century big-band record with a nice mix of classics and contemporary popular songs. I particularly like the way the medleys work together. In a live setting I could see a nice medley being an older iteration of the smoothly executed DJ mix. I’d suggest listening to it when setting the dinner table with someone you love or when your favorite demolished building.

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Liner notes:

Turn down the lights, turn up the record player, roll back the carpet… and let’s dance! 

This album is for lovers of the “big band” sound in dance music. The kind of music those of us who were teenagers in the 30’s and 40’s sometimes smugly, and often nostalgically, refer to as “our kind of music.” We may be reconciled to the fact taht times, tastes, and tunes change, but we still get a charge out of hearing a band that can play this kind of music “the way it really was”.

That’s what this album is all about. A kind of magic carpet tour back into the golden era of dance music. A rare distillation of the best of the big-band sounds. In this album are tunes plucked note-for-note from the years that joined the Great Depression and World War II — the years of Edward’s abdication, nickel cigars, Amelia Earheart’s disappearance in the Pacific, Munich, wrong-way Corrigan, FDR, Pearl Harbor, and the start of pay-as-you-go income taxes. You can’t help recalling some of these when you hear such songs as “The Man I Love,” “I Could Write a Book,” and “Only Make Believe.”

Mixed in with these time-proved standards are some delightfully imaginative renditions of today’s more danceable melodies — but played, of course, in the golden-era style to which we big-band addicts are accustomed. You’ll get the happy message when you and your partner step out to “This is All I Ask,” “Till There Was You,” and “What Kind of Fool Am I?”

This is an album full of surprises, but probably the most surprising thing about it is the man behind the music. You’d expect Fred Shannon Smith to be an exponent of the big-band sound, and he is. He’s put together a numer of bands through the years, and has himself played with many of the greats.

But today Fred Smith dabbles in the world of music only as a hobby. His full time job is in the world of money — as Vice President of the Coconut Grove Bank, here in South Florida. As far as we can tell, he’s the world’s only banker-dance band maestro.

As this album eloquently attests, Fred demands perfection in his band. He chooses musicians diligently. He’s a slave driver in rehearsals. In the photos below, you see the band as it was actually making this album. A hard working, dedicated, shirtsleeved group with just one goal in mind: crisp, flawless execution… a sound that’s big, balanced, and — well, just beautiful. 

Orchestral arrangements were made by three outstanding musicians: Frederic Ashe, Don Muller , and Cliff Keller. Ashe is a professor of music at the University of Miami. Muller and Keller are former students of his. Fred Smith’s close relationship with the University dates back to his student days there, and his remarkable band is an outgrowth of those days. It’s no wonder that the clubmen are in demand whenever “special” music is wanted in the South Florida area. The band plays countless national and state conventions, country club affairs, charity balls, high school and collefge proms — you name it.

This very special band probably won’t change the trend of today’s teenage music — and whos to say we’d really want it to? Perhaps it’s best that we keep this heady big-band stuff around just for special occassions. At our age, we probably couldn’t stand the shock of hearing these great sounds every day. Still — wouldn’t it be fun if we could?

–HOWARD C. PETERSON, JR.

The sidebar:

Coconut Grove carries as its heritage a reflection of courage, determination, and vision.

The early 1800’s brought the settlement of this new land on the shores of Biscayne Bay. The late 1800’s brough the railroad, and caused this settlement to become one of Florida’s most famous areas.

Coconut Grove, with its outstanding beauty and tropic charm, has drawn many a visitor away from northern climes, to take up permanent residence within its village limits. 

In 1926 the Coconut Grove Bank opened its doors to this community. It has been doing business here ever since. It survived the Great Depression, it perservered through the lean World War II years and the tumultuous post-war era.

Coconut Grove has always retained the warm, friendly atmostphere of a small independent, yet quite cosmopolitan town. 

The atmostphere of Coconut Grove Bank has always mirrored the community itself.

Recorded at Dukoff Studios, Miami, Florida.

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#2: The Doors – Resurrection – Bootleg

Posted in Gold with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2011 by xxx

As always, the download link is located at the bottom of the page.

Resurrection is a 2xLP put out on Paris Records by the French Fan Club of The Doors. It is an unofficial compilation of various live recordings of The Doors during their peak years: 1967-1969. This is a must listen for any fan of The Doors. You think you know the band, but you have no idea. The studio recordings in no way properly represent the band’s live performance.  The long improvisational versions of their songs contained on this record capture the essence of The Doors in all it’s uncensored and unedited spectacle. This is the true sound of The Doors.

This is a very rare record issued in 1985 as a limited pressing distributed to members of the French Fan Club: “Not For Sale”. The recording quality is not great since these are bootleg recordings. But as far as bootleg recordings go, they aren’t bad. The French Fan Club printed 500 copies on Black Vinyl, 100 on Clear and 100 on Green. The copy I have is on clear vinyl. I found it at Amoeba Records (Hollywood) mis-filed in the Dosh section. This is a very special record in my collection and it is the record that inspired me to create this blog.

Jim getting Hassled by the Police

This record has rare recordings that you can only hear by owning one of the 700 copies (until now). You will get a very clear idea of what it must have been like to see The Doors perform in their prime. Light My Fire appears three times on the record, twice as an afterward to the Celebration of the Lizard Poem. Musically, highlight of the album for me is the Mack the Knife/Alabama Song/Back Door Man medley. There are some incredible improvisations from all members of the band. You really get a feel for how Jim lead the band through the songs, they really are all reacting to his vocal improving, much like a shaman leads a trip. There are some fantastic hidden gems in these recordings.

Jim Mouthing Off. Ray stepping in.

The last track is also really special, it contains excerpts from the infamous 1969 Miami concert at Dinner Key Auditorium.  The record titles it Miami Rap Excerpts. This is a spliced recording of the tirade that ended with Jim purportedly exposing himself and getting arrested by Miami PD. You can hear the rest of the band’s frustration come through their instruments during Jim’s rant! The Coconut Grove venue hasn’t existed for quite some time, since it was converted into the Coconut Grove Convention Center, which is now the soundstage for the TV show Burn Notice. I can see the old venue very clearly from my window as I write this article. Very trippy.

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Take a trip back to 1969. Close your eyes and see The Doors live in concert. Visionary supplements recommended. Download Below!

Back Cover Detail (Left)

Back Cover Detail (Right)

Download Link:

http://www.mediafire.com/?xmcxfgcdeu2ubmc