Slam Bang Theater Theme

If you grew up in Dallas/Ft. Worth in the 1970’s there were many local TV programs that left you with lasting memories.  The tunes are what stuck with me the most (no surprise to those who know me).

Weekdays at 7am on Channel 11 (Saturdays too I think) we had Slam Bang Theater, featuring Icky Twerp plus all the Three Stooges and cartoons they could pack into an hour.  The intro theme song was a rousing march followed by a spirited “Hey Kids – good morning!” from the network announcer.  You can take a trip down memory lane at  That tune stayed in my head through the years, so a while back I dug up the clues to find the origin of the theme.


The tune is called “Oh, Didn’t He Ramble” from a 1959 LP called “Bill Cullen’s Minstrel Spectacular.”  The famous game-show host puts on his white tuxedo and guides the listener through what it was like when the old minstrel show pulled into town on a paddle-wheel riverboat.  Or rather, it’s an idealized, white-washed 1950’s nostalgia version of a piece of Americana that most of us try to forget, I suppose.  More about the album here.  The minstrel show’s contribution to American musical theater (Broadway in particular) is fascinating stuff, but that’s another story.ИкониikoniИдея за подаръкикониикониПравославни икониикони на светцииконописikoniсвети георгиikoniхудожник на икониИкони на светциХудожникОткъде да купя иконаидея за подаръкгеоложки проучвания

The Ultimate Father’s Day

Old Pirwitz house, Rock Rapids IA

Just returned from an awesome trip to Iowa (and Nebraska).  First stop, the National Music Museum in Vermillion, SD.  What an awesome place – worth every moment and every penny to get there.  If you have any interest at all in the history of any kind of musical instrument, this place will blow you away.  And they are expanding!  It took us 3 hours to go through the collection on display, and that’s only 7% of what they own.

Continue reading “The Ultimate Father’s Day”

Frank & Ludwig, Chapter 3

Finally got the next “Frank & Ludwig” sock puppet video finished last night. Grace and her sister Laura chipped in and really helped raise the production values. Grace created a “Sally” puppet that is as goofy and loud as I imagined the character would be, and Laura provided the perfect voice and puppetry. Grace also engineered the horn prop we needed, as well as the initial idea for the story…


Minor Alterations is a hit!

The piece I wrote last year for the Dallas Wind Symphony‘s Christmas concert is selling like hotcakes for the upcoming holiday season. It is easily the #1 best-seller from the Lovebird Music catalog this year. I was informed this morning that the United States Navy Band will be performing it on Dec. 5th. Have you heard it yet? If not, have a listen:


The idea started with an arrangement of “Pat-a-pan” that I did in 2006 as a demo of the capabilities of the Garritan Personal Orchestra sample library. Pat-a-pan is such a cool minor-key tune, almost Slavic sounding, and I wanted to slip some other Christmas-themed material into it, so I decided to transpose “Up On The Housetop” to minor. It worked out great and the arrangement was completed…

Continue reading “Minor Alterations is a hit!”

Autumn in Wisconsin

WI 477

Great trip over the weekend.  The Lakeshore Symphonic Band played the world premiere of the march they commissioned last year.  Grace and I flew up and spent Saturday in Cedarburg, a beautifully quaint town in the throes of fall color.  Crisp and brilliant, we browsed the shops on the main drag and met friends and family for dinner before the concert.  The band played wonderfully and the piece was well received.  Went to the AleHouse in Grafton for an after-concert celebration.  Unfortunately we forgot to take pictures of any of this… oops.  However, hope you enjoy the family pics of the rest of our trip!

Sunday morning we attended my cousin’s church, Church in the City, in Milwaukee.  A beautiful building and an excellent service.  Had a wonderful lunch afterwards with cousins and family before heading up to Manitowoc to visit the other side of the family.  Ended a leisurely Monday with a refreshing walk through the farm and woods.

A goof on the DWS “Frank & Ludwig” ads

If you’ve been to the Dallas Wind Symphony site lately you’ve seen the viral-style YouTube ad on the main page featuring “Frank and Ludwig” in a decidedly low-tech campaign.  I decided to try one myself but my devious sense of humor and irrepressible cynicism got in the way immediately.  The result is definitely NOT ready for prime time:

Update (09/02/08): Well, the guys in the DWS office loved the video much to my surprise, so I reshot the video and it is posted on the DWS main page now.

Busy week coming (musically speaking)…

DWS - Fair Park FourthI get to do all my favorite musical things over the next week.  First, my rock band (The Fins) will be playing the next two Saturday evenings – June 28th on the patio at Mario’s, and July 5th at a new place – Little Pete’s on Lake Grapevine in Flower Mound.   Then we have our annual Dallas Wind Symphony July 4th concert at the Meyerson (An original fanfare I composed will be played in the foyer before the concert), followed by a special concert at Fair Park just before fireworks.  Finally, on Sunday July 6th, I’ll be jamming with the best local Irish musicians in the area at Trinity Hall.  Cool stuff!

New Irish band on the way…

Since the breakup of Gallus left a hole in my life last year, I’ve been hoping to hook up with a new band.  Finally took the bull by the horns and got a new group going.  We’re calling ourselves Five Second Rule.  Rehearsals are going well, and it looks like we’ll have quite an eclectic mix of Irish, bluegrass, quasi-jazz and other genres.

Our first performance was with the Lone Star Wind Orchestra, performing Dan Welcher’s Minstrels of the Kells, a cool (classical) piece for wind ensemble that calls for an Irish pub band toward the end.  Be sure to visit the Five Second Rule MySpace page, and listen to the excerpt from that concert.

The Fins are in the running for a Grammy!

Livin' in Fin-LandIn one of the great “slipping through the cracks” moments in music history, our new CD “Livin’ in Fin-Land” has officially entered the Grammy nominating process!  We have been successfully submitted and screened and we are now being voted on by the voting members of the Recording Academy for nomination in the categories of Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance

It all started last fall when we recorded a demo CD to help get us gigs.  Initially we were only going to do small snippets of songs, but we decided to record the full versions just for fun.  Our recording engineer, Grammy-winner Phil York, felt that the finished product was good enough to submit for a Grammy.  We were flattered but we assumed it would go no further.  But today Dennis got a letter from Phil saying were through to the next round in two different categories! 

Again, we don’t expect to advance any further, but what an honor!  This next round narrows the field from hundreds down a final five nominees, so odds are very slim we’ll move on.  But just knowing that folks felt we were qualified to be heard by the entire voting membership of the Academy is really amazing!  Will keep you posted….

Off to Japan!

Just about ready to head to Japan to visit CJ.  We’ll be flying into Tokyo Narita airport and staying in Yokosuka for a little over a week.  We’ll get to check out CJ’s ship on Family Day and have several days afterwards to see the sights.  I may not be able to blog or post photos until we get back unless we can do it from CJ’s laptop.  But I’ll definitely post them and all our adventures.

I shipped my new march to the band in Wisconsin today.  I finally chose the title “Heartland Journey” after getting feedback from many friends and family, only to have my benefactors reject it.  The preferred “The Midwesterner” which is a pretty good title as well.  Click here to listen to a computerized playback.  This playback uses the Garritan Concert and Marching Band sample library, which is amazing especially considering its very reasonable price.  I’m a huge fan of their products.  More on this later.