Archive for the Folk (Ethnic) Category

Bayou ‘n’ Brooklyn Launches Tonight!

Posted in American Folk/ Country/ Western, BROOKLYN, Contemporary Variety, Folk (Ethnic), Music, PLUGS with tags , , , , on May 8, 2015 by travsd

RetroPoster

Brooklyn Accordion Club Performs Today

Posted in Contemporary Variety, Folk (Ethnic), Music, PLUGS with tags , on September 14, 2014 by travsd

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Charo: Emissary of “Cuchi-Cuchi”

Posted in Art Models/ Bathing Beauties/ Beauty Queens/ Burlesque Dancers/ Chorines/ Pin-Ups/ Sexpots/ Vamps, Comedy, Folk (Ethnic), Music, Television, TV variety, Women with tags , , , , , , on January 15, 2014 by travsd

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Today is the birthday (according to one source) of that peculiar late 20th century phenomenon known as Charo (Maria del Rosario Mercedes Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza — I can hear her saying that even as I type it). IMDB says she was born January 15, 1945, although there are doubts. And, truthfully, does Charo seem like the kind of lady who would lie about her age? I put it to you.

When you were my age in the mid 1970s, Charo was merely one of a hundred mysterious question marks bouncing around the television landscape with no explanation or context. Who was she, we wondered? She showed up on all the talk shows and variety programs, and even comedy/dramas like The Love Boat (eight times!), and her routine was that she spoke broken English, and said “Cuchi-Cuchi!”. But nobody knew who she was or how she got there. I mean, can anyone just show up and be on television?

The explanation is a lesson in the pitfalls of American show business. Charo was (is!) one of the best flamenco guitar players in the world. She studied under Andres Segovia in her native Spain since childhood, and performed with her husband Xavier Cugat’s band in her early twenties (she married Cugat in 1966; divorced him in 1977). Now, I guess we knew she could sing, dance and play the guitar back then, because she would occasionally do so on her television appearances. But it was CLEAR that she was primarily booked as a comedy burlesque routine (and a funny one). Classical guitar??? She got booked because she shook her money-maker, did a sort of Spanish minstrel routine and said “Cuchi-Cuchi!” . I’m not saying I don’t think it’s funny. I’m actually smirking even as I type this. But the whole thing got out of hand. Her talents deserved respect and they got pushed to the absolute bottom. If you took a poll: “Does Charo have any talent?” I swear an almost universal percentage would say “no”. If you’re talking about acting talent, maybe so. But musical talent? It’s just not fair.

Here, then, the two sides of Charo:

To find out more about  the variety arts (including television variety)consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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Busking Bulletin: A Double Header En Route to Coney

Posted in Buskers, Coney Island, Folk (Ethnic), Music, Rock and Pop with tags , , , on August 8, 2013 by travsd

The Busking Bulletin is a series wherein we chronicle contemporary NYC street and subway performers for fun and very little profit. 

The F train out to Coney Island the other day was a veritable variety show — two acts passed by our seats in rapid succession. Makes me think it might be a fun stunt sometime to mount an entire full length vaudeville show on the trains in this fashion….

Today’s St. Patty’s Parade in Park Slope

Posted in BROOKLYN, Buskers, Clown, Folk (Ethnic), HOLIDAYS/ FESTIVALS/ MEMORIALS/ PARADES, Irish, Music, St. Patrick's Day with tags , , on March 17, 2013 by travsd

How’s this for immediacy? We just saw the tail end of our little neighborhood parade mere seconds ago, miles and miles from the drunken hoardes of Manhattan. This one was sweet and family oriented. Our little musical drama is in two parts. First some pretty, sentimental bagpipe music, followed by a couple of clowns who strike fear into the heart of a child.

Busking Bulletin: Mariachi on the Downtown F

Posted in Buskers, Contemporary Variety, Folk (Ethnic), Latin American/ Spanish, Music with tags , , on February 24, 2013 by travsd

A new feature wherein we record and chronicle contemporary busking performers for fun and very little profit. I’ve always wanted to present mariachi in my live show; here’s the next best thing. I caught these muchachos on the F train yesterday near Rockefeller Center:

To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.

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Dave Apollon Makes His Mandolin to Cry

Posted in Comedy, Folk (Ethnic), Music, Russian, Vaudeville etc. with tags , on February 23, 2013 by travsd

Dave Apollon

Today is the birthday of Star of Vaudeville #120, Dave Apollon, the Mandolin King (for the full skinny on this fascinating person go here). Submitted for your Saturday delectation, some of his virtuoso strumulating:

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.

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