In Tune with June!

Who would believe it – a 27-year-old girl nabbed the top spot on the 2016 Forbes Celebrity 100 list. A singer/songwriter, Taylor Swift earned $170,000,000 in the past year. Whew! Most of her tours attracted an endless ocean of crowds. I look at my computer screen and think “why aren’t they home studying or working or learning something constructive?” Taylor Swift’s fans are incredible. I watch them as I watched her videos: “New Romantic” and “Shake It Off.” Aside from her songs, the wildly applauding crowds, the changing lights, choruses surrounding her and her loving fans I was amazed by this talented girl. At 5-foot-ten she looks wonderful wearing every conceivable costume. Many covered her and many did not cover her completely and she still looks great. Taylor Swift is simply adorable. When it comes to her songs and her singing I can’t fully appreciate her super appeal. She was raised in Wyomissing, Pa., moved to Nashville, Tenn., at the age of 14 to pursue a career in country music. Her super success is amazing. It’s hard for me to understand but kiddo, I hope you put your celebrity to good use. If I had a Pinot Noir I would toast her, wishing Taylor Swift good health and lots of lovely love.
It was Jazz in July at the 92nd Street Y, but I was there for a special event, the screening of a feature-length documentary “Vince Giordano: There’s a Future in the Past.” As an aside I went to my Webster to see how it defines “documentary.” “It gives a factual presentation in artistic form.” Exactly! I have a special caring for the one-of-a-kind gifted single-minded musician-scholar. When I was writing for the “Jersey Jazz” magazine Vince was barely out of high school and was already multi-talented, playing string bass, bass sax, and tuba. The New York premiere of this documentary included a screening, panel discussion, and a rousing performance by the sensational 11-piece Nighthawks. During the screening I was surprised to see a brief shot of myself in a happy crowd at one of their performances. It’s been said by those who know jazz that Vince Giordano makes the Jazz Age come alive. The audience at the Y was packed with those who, like me, enjoy the joyful energetic music, the early jazz of the 1920s and 1930s. Together, Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks have played all over. Currently they are at Iguana, a Tex-Mex restaurant on West 54th Street. Listen for them. They currently can be heard in Woody Allen’s latest film “Café Society” (more about that next).
I’ve always been a Woody Allen fan. Many years ago he played his jazz clarinet with five other musicians every Monday at Michael’s Pub that was on New York’s 56th Street (it no longer exists). The Pub was usually filled with patrons eager to see one of the most recognizable faces in cinema. He rarely smiled, and, when he finished playing, he walked off the set in a dispassionate way to thunderous applause. I never saw him look back. Now, when it comes to his 46 films I think I’ve seen them all. His latest movie is called “Café Society.” The story takes place in the glamorous 1930s. In it the legendary filmmaker extends a glittering valentine to the movie stars, socialites, playboys, debutantes, politicians, and gangsters who epitomize the excitement and glamour of that age. These days, if you can get in, you can hear Woody Allen and banjo player Eddie Davis at the Carlyle Café on Monday nights. I think you might need a well-stocked wallet and don’t mind making it much lighter. Just don’t expect any jokes.
Even on the rare times when I enjoy an overnight at my adult kids’ homes and they provide me with everything I could possibly want or need, there’s one thing missing – a radio! I enjoy listening to it. Now the one live radio variety show created by Garrison Keillor and hosted by him from 1974 to 2016, has ended. His “A Prairie Home Companion” signed off after 42 seasons. It captured a time before tweets and Facebook posts when people talked more over fences and pots of coffee. Nowadays it began to feel increasingly removed from many listeners’ lives, including mine. At radio station NPR (National Public Radio) a former vice-president said that Garrison Keillor’s program is part of public radio’s past, not their future. Still, Garrison Keillor was a pioneering force and taught public radio valuable lessons. The show itself was weird, funny, and idiosyncratic with its singing, quirky sidekicks, stealthily dark humor, and fart jokes. At the time it forged a new path. His mellifluous voice has been likened to a down comforter or a slow drip of Midwestern molasses. He left a lot of uncomplicated pleasure in his wake and some complicated pleasure too. The humorist liked to say that his fictional town’s name, Wobegon, comes from an also fictional Indian word that means “the place where we waited all day in the rain for you.” I had mixed feelings about the show because at times it felt like an overly-sugared Midwestern dish. Admittedly I did frequently dial the show out over the decades. Questioning his legacy, the storyteller says that there is no such thing. “Radio has the permanence of a sand castle. Even books tend to migrate toward recycling rather quickly.” For Keillor’s true fans there are always reruns and downloads.

June Sturz may be reached at

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