Sunday, October 16, 2011

Champagne Music

Goodnight, sleep tight, and pleasant dreams to you
Here's a wish and a prayer that every dream comes true
And now 'til we meet again
Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehn.....Good Night!

Oh sure, those words are on the tip of your tongue, but are more apt to be burned into your memory if you are from a certain vintage.  When we were first courting, we were discussing our musical guilty pleasures.  One artist we both agreed on as being very ingrained in our memories and someone we would watch on televsion at our grandparent's house on Saturday night, was Lawrence Welk.  Although, when pressed in the beginning, Kate uttered to Spence, "I didn't think I wanted to mention him, I didn't know you that well."

Now, on Sunday evenings on KEET-TV, The Lawrence Welk Show continues to spur great memories for us.  And, you probably aren't surprised we can sing the theme song by heart and in harmony.
Here are our favorite members of the Lawrence Welk family.
From my grandmother, I learned many of the Lawrence Welk Band members by name.
Although, she could tell you their hometowns, too.   I have many favorites.  Bass singer and piano player, Larry Hooper, accordionist Myron Floren, clarinetist Henry Questa, and tap dancer Arthur Duncan seem to top the list.   I shudder, though, when I'm subjected to Irish tenor, Joe Finney and soprano Norma Zimmer.  Oh yeah, I can't forget guitarists Buddy Merrill and Neil LeVang.
I often watched The Lawrence Welk show at my great Aunt Bertie's house eating Jiffy Pop and drinking Tang.  She loved the Lennon Sisters so of course I did too.  I really liked watching Joanne Castle, she always seemed so friendly and bouncy (I learned later that may have been due to drugs and alcohol).  And I loved the Christmas special when everyone brought their families and the kids was rivaled only by the Andy Williams Christmas Special.  My mother often found fault with the "newcomers" teeth...but any stray snaggle tooth was always fixed by the next season.


Fred said...

Wow! What a strange show to reminisce about.

My only memory of Lawrence Welk was pretty much having to watch it while I was living for a short while around '74ish with the Scarpellinos. They had a house just south of Hodgson on K Street in Eureka at the time.

Old Joe used to watch that show all the time and he'd lay there in the recliner just enchanted by the show. I had no choice but to watch, if I wanted to watch any TV at all. My main memory and impression was the almost unnatural smiles on all the performer's faces and they danced or played an instrument. That, and Welk saying "Now wasn't that nice?" after just about every performance. Weird show.

I'd heard from someone, maybe it was one of the Scarpellinos, that Lawrence Welk was a very demanding producer and you really had to be up to speed to make it on his show.

But those weird smiles...

The Editors said...


Yes, Lawrence Welk was very demanding, but fair. His wages were quite competitive and that's why his players stayed with him for so long. The musicians were all top-notch professionals, although, the music is a required taste, for young ears, for sure. One of the drummers actually would play with the Welk orchestra during the day and do studio work with Frank Zappa at night. They were incredibly accomplished players. But, it's hard to give up a steady gig like that.

skippy said...

Having Saturday dinner at Grandma's for what seemed like decades, Lawrence Welk was the main staple television attraction. I don't think she-- or us, her captive audience-- missed a single show. She loved Connie Francis and had all her records. She even bought a Lawrence Welk plastic soap machine clarinet for me as a Christmas gift. I know she loved me but that was a bit embarrassing.

I was amazed and aghast at the superficial happiness of the show, the white teeth and perfect dental bridges, the beautiful white people, the clean cut hair, the dance routines, and the 'whole big happy conformist family thing.' The garish sets and gaudy colors and the wild costumes designed by some femme fashionista set director wacked on Valium or hallucinations. It was a bizarre and surreal scene. Outside, somewhere, the Vietnam war was raging, the country at war with itself. Inside was 'Up, up and away... My beautiful, my beautiful balloon..."

All too tranquil and too tranquilizing. Even at 11, I knew something was amiss, not quite right, but exactly what it was I wasn't sure, but knew we were being duped.

I watch Lawrence Welk now. What were they thinking back then? I kinda like it. Lawrence and Grandma were both way ahead of their time.

Kate said...

How can anyone say Lawrence Welk was out of touch? Here Dale and Gayle sing "One Toke Over the Line"...I don't think they know what they were saying, but they gave it a shot.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I went to the link and forwarded it to the front counter. I played it to the crew. They laughed uproariously, except Brian the kid. He said: So who's Lawrence Welk??

Feeling old?

Kate said...

Every day.