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Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?

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Songwronger 03 Oct 11 - 06:58 PM
Big Al Whittle 03 Oct 11 - 07:57 PM
Big Al Whittle 03 Oct 11 - 07:58 PM
Songwronger 03 Oct 11 - 10:29 PM
Big Al Whittle 03 Oct 11 - 11:58 PM
MGM·Lion 04 Oct 11 - 12:16 AM
gnomad 04 Oct 11 - 03:14 AM
Will Fly 04 Oct 11 - 03:56 AM
MGM·Lion 04 Oct 11 - 04:27 AM
Will Fly 04 Oct 11 - 04:38 AM
Dave Hunt 04 Oct 11 - 10:41 AM
Dave Hunt 04 Oct 11 - 11:01 AM
Ross Campbell 04 Oct 11 - 12:12 PM
Jim Dixon 04 Oct 11 - 01:16 PM
Thomas Stern 04 Oct 11 - 03:53 PM
tonyteach1 04 Oct 11 - 06:41 PM
MGM·Lion 05 Oct 11 - 03:47 AM
Will Fly 05 Oct 11 - 04:09 AM
GUEST,glueman 05 Oct 11 - 04:24 AM
GUEST,glueman 05 Oct 11 - 04:27 AM
bill\sables 05 Oct 11 - 04:51 AM
Songwronger 06 Oct 11 - 11:14 PM
Jane of 'ull 07 Oct 11 - 05:06 PM
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Jim Dixon 08 Oct 11 - 11:59 PM
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Subject: Music Hall, G Fields good place 2 start?
From: Songwronger
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 06:58 PM

Sorry for the shorthand in the title line. Only so many characters permitted. G. Fields is Gracie Fields.

I searched "Music Hall" and "Gracie Fields" and didn't find any threads addressing this, but please merge it if needed.

I don't know anything about English Music Hall music. Would Gracie Fields be a good place to start? Found a bunch of her songs here...

Gracie Fields songs

Would there be a better way to start familiarizing myself with Music Hall music? A better way to begin? Other performers? Gracie Fields was the only name I could pull out of my memory.

Thanks.
    I expanded the thread title. -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, G Fields good place 2 start?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 07:57 PM

Gracie and george Formby were superstars, filmstars, variety artists. they were more modern in approach than the music hall acts - both played huge theatres an enjoyed Royal Patronage. Like chaplin - they had their start in music hall, but became something a bit different.

Music Hall is generally reckoned to have happened, at a rough guess between 1859 and 1920 = although it struggled on in some form for another twenty odd years.

The geniuses of the form are generally reckoned to be Dan Leno, George Robey, Vesta Tilley. Little tICH and others. there are films of some of these guys.

If you can, get hold of the work of a Birmingham music hall revivalist duo called Cosmotheka. No longer active due the death of one party - but their work was a revelation to many of us of the richness of our legacy. they had the tightest slickest act on the folkscene in the 1970's. Totally brilliant.

There numerous Music hall societies round Britain.


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, G Fields good place 2 start?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 07:58 PM

Roy Hudd has written books about the music hall and variety.


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, G Fields good place 2 start?
From: Songwronger
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 10:29 PM

Excellent. Thank you.

There's my starting point. I'm sure there were hundreds of worthy acts, but I'll look into these first, for a grounding. Love jumping into new musical terrain.

Oh, and while I'm thinking of it, would you say the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album had a Music Hall air about it? I remember when first listening to that album that it had a kind of...staid sound, for a rock album. Some of the songs seem to have been based on older models, and now I'm guessing that might have been because of the English Music Hall influence.

Just wondering.

Thanks again.


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, G Fields good place 2 start?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 11:58 PM

The Beatles were from the north of England. George Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier describes every northern voice as sounding like a music hall comedian.

Perhaps because george formby and Gracie Field were Northerners - that's how northern accents sound to Eton educated southerners like George Orwell.

The legend is that The Beatles Sergeant Pepper was inspired by a music hall poster.

There exists a popular TV series called Goodbye Sweetheart where the protagonist hero has a time machine and sells When I'm 64 (a track from Sergeant Pepper album) to George Formby. Most middle aged English people can spot that music hall influence - jaunty chruses/ pathos/ northern accent - Sergeat pepper is great pastiche of all that.

Compare and contrast the English music hall classic My Old Dutch - performed against a painted backdrop of the poorhouse/workhouse. The pathos is beacuse the husband is old and having to go into the poorhouse, where he will be segregated fron his dear wife - who will go into the women's section - they will be parted.

In the Beatles song She's Leaving Home - its about parents whoare about to be parted from their daughter, who has run away from her stern forbidding home. Pathos again.

From about 1880, American acts were very popular on the English music hall. When that jazzy/cakewalk rhythm gets into English song - that's really the end of traditional rural English folksong.

Hope some of that's useful. Just my thoughts out the top of my head.


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, G Fields good place 2 start?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Oct 11 - 12:16 AM

Other singers to reckon: Albert Chevalier [famous song 'Knocked 'Em in the Old Kent Road']; Gus Elen ['The 'Ouses In Between', 'It's a Great Big Shame'; Marie Lloyd ['My Old Man', 'The Boy I Love is Up in the Gallery']. All these can probably be googled.

Other authority ~ John Foreman, aka The Broadsheet King. Don't know if his vinyl LP 'The 'Ouses In Between'could still be found anywhere! The record at

http://folktrax-archive.org/menus/cassprogs/210foreman.htm

seems to be a CD reissue of it, or extracts, under different title.

HTH

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, G Fields good place 2 start?
From: gnomad
Date: 04 Oct 11 - 03:14 AM

Folk in Education have a number of CDs that you might wish to look at, or at least check out for some artists' names.

Comic monologues also had a home in music hall, Make 'em Laugh has the words of lots, but includes many more modern pieces in the same vein as well.

I would second the praise for Cosmotheka, a real shame they are no more.


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: Will Fly
Date: 04 Oct 11 - 03:56 AM

Gus Elen, Harry Champion, Vesta Tilley, Vesta Victoria, Lilly Morris, Nellie Wallace, Alec Hurley, Marie Lloyd, Florrie Forde, Ella Retford, George Formby Senior, Marie Kendall - all superb and all worth checking out.


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Oct 11 - 04:27 AM

Suzette Tarri (1881-1955)~ comic charlady from the old halls, survived into film & radio days. I saw her once in 1943, in a radio show, The Happidrome, broadcast live on Saturday nights with a live audience, from the Paris Cinema, then a Beeb studio, for which my father had got tickets. The format was of an old-time Northern music-hall, with between-act chat from producer, Mr Lovejoy {Harry Korris}, stage-manager Ramsbottom {Cecil Frederick} & call-boy Enoch {Robbie Vincent}, whose catchphrase "Let me tell you..." in a Lancashire accent became a national catchphrase for a while.

I was 11, and still remember Suzette Tarri's act. She did her downtrodden 'charlady' shtick, but in those days every act ended with a song. This was the middle of the war; so Tarri's was a patriotic song, for which she peeled off her old feathered hat and shabby overall, donned a khaki cap, and appeared instantly in the full uniform of an officer of the {Women's} Auxiliary Territorial Service. She contrived somehow to appear to have grown 6 inches in height, as she marked time smartly to the rhythm of her marching song, ending with a flourishing salute. And this, remember, was a radio show: only we, the invited audience, saw all this; the listening millions only heard the change of tone and accent.

I gazed in awe; and remember consciously thinking to myself, "So that is what they mean by 'professionalism'."

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: Will Fly
Date: 04 Oct 11 - 04:38 AM

The daughter of a fellow band member popped round to my house yesterday - she wanted to find out about some of the music hall material with a view to possibly performing it. I played her some of my records by female performers of the era - some of whom I've mentioned above - and we discussed the ins and outs of the performances.

Two things came across strongly: (a) Most of the performers of the music hall stage played in character - they took on a persona and lived it in their performances, and (b) they had masterly powers of projection, stagecraft, control, presence, etc., at a time when there were no microphones and amplification.

My friend's daughter was awed by these performances - and rightly so, IMO.


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: Dave Hunt
Date: 04 Oct 11 - 10:41 AM

FROM ABOVE - "I would second the praise for Cosmotheka, a real shame they are no more"

But they are! - Dave is now working with his son Dan - have a look at some of these clips

First is an old recording of Dave and Al - then some video of the new stuff by Dave and Dan
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2KTkyfgZYk

Dave and Dan have their own Youtube channel too!
http://www.youtube.com/user/cosmotheka?blend=9&ob=5#p/u/0/coRpF7baOYM

And this one is Steve Parkes - one time resident at the Fitters Arms - Walsall - used to be a great club run by the late Barry Roberts - (Steve has a great Music Hall voice too -and learned this song from Cosmotheka !)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NhDHGnKHYU
.
We (Dr Sunshines Pavement Show - which was me and the late Vic Baker -[Professor Wingnut]) worked many time with Dave and Al - doing music hall nights at all sorts of events - as well as many festivals - happy memories............
Sad the so many of our friends are now 'the late' - must be our age!!!
Dave.(Dr.Sunshine)   www.sunshinearts.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: Dave Hunt
Date: 04 Oct 11 - 11:01 AM

The Baby's Name...
Sorry - THIS is the link to the really excellent video of Steve Parkes!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8h9HMGTmlo&feature=youtu.be

And if you want to read the words (you'll need to!!) - it's all here on a previous Mudcat discussion

http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=41194

Cosmotheka also have a page on facebook https://www.facebook.com/cosmotheka

cheers Dave


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 04 Oct 11 - 12:12 PM

You beat me to it, Dave. I was about to say that Cosmotheka lives on - I saw the revived duo at Whitby in August, in fine form there, just as slick as I remember Dave and Al. Great to see and hear this music performed to such a high standard.

Many Music Hall and Variety acts had quite a restricted range of material, and relied on being able to move all around the country to find fresh audiences. But among them were some really talented people, some of whose work is now appearing on YouTube.

Ross


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 04 Oct 11 - 01:16 PM

Yes, I think Gracie Fields is a good place to start.

Gracie started out in music hall, but most of her career fell into the era of radio.

I have transcribed a lot of songs that she recorded. See this thread: Lyr Add: Songs sung by Gracie Fields plus all the linked threads listed at the top of that page. I am partial to the funny songs; she also sang a lot of sad/sentimental/romantic/patriotic songs that don't interest me so much.

Wikipedia has a long article about her.

There was TV drama called "Gracie!" made for BBC Four, in which Jane Horrocks (a considerable talent in her own right) portrayed Gracie Fields. It is described here, and apparently viewable at YouTube: Click for part 1 of 8. (When I tried to view it earlier this year, it told me "Not available in your area"--meaning the US, I suppose, but it seems to work now.)

For others in the same genre, see these threads:
Lyr Add: Music-hall songs sung by Harry Champion
Lyr Add: Songs sung by Leslie Sarony

The American equivalent of music hall was called vaudeville. If you like one, you'll probably like the other. Here's a place to start if you want to explore vaudeville:
Lyr Add: Songs of The Happiness Boys/Jones & Hare


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 04 Oct 11 - 03:53 PM

Start with MARIE LLOYD, GUS ELEN, HARRY CHAMPION, etc., NOT Gracie Fields.

see: http://www.musichallcds.com/
has LINKS section with much more information.

There are MANY LP and CD reissues of early Music Hall recordings.
World(EMI) had a series of excellent 2-LP sets, also some DECCA(UK) LP's have recordings from the 30's.
There is a 1960's DANIEL FARSON LP which brought together some surviving artistes which was quite interesting.

A Beautiful CD box set (expensive) from Bear Family:
Round The Town 4-CD BOX & 132-PAGE BOOK Bear Family BCD 16021
http://www.bear-family.de/index.php?sid=deed6966fc079412164b1b07daf85438&cl=details&anid=85c117c666075c72fb04d2f51a502a0c&listtype=search&tcinterpret=marie%20lloyd&tcexact=0

And many other CD's on Topic, Saydisc, ASV, etc.

PM if you want more info - however following the links referenced above should lead you to extensive lists of reissues.

Best wishes, Thomas.


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: tonyteach1
Date: 04 Oct 11 - 06:41 PM

Music Hall finished at the start of World War 1 in commecial thereafter becoming vaudeville or variety. J B Priestley wrote an excellent work of fiction called Lost Empires

There is A British Music Hall Society which meets regularly and there is plenty of material also there is the Concert Artistes Association as well which covers this area

There are lots of compilations of MH songs such Cockney DingDong produced and illustrated by Charles Keeping

I worked as a singer on the last so called MH at Ally Pally with Horace Mashford who did the full chairman act and also at the Battersea Town Hall These were paid gigs with professional acts. During the 80s MH and variety acts could scrape a living doing Old Peoples Homes and bingo nights doing "turns"

Re Gracie Fields - she was NOT Music Hall and was not popular during the war as she left the UK to its devices and lived overseas


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 05 Oct 11 - 03:47 AM

Attention should also be drawn to the work over many years of The Players Theatre Club ~ various venues but mainly "underneath the arches" in Villiers Street, alongside Charing Cross Station ~ which kept the Music Hall tradition alive for many years, with the 'Chairman' exchanging badinage with the audience, and a variety bill of singers, comedians, and novelty acts; just like the old-time music-hall. Real 'variety' ~~ it was the first place I ever heard the distinguished folksinger Isla Cameron, who sang "Fair & Tender Girls' unaccompanied, & got so much applause she was called on for an accompanied encore by the Chairman and sang 'Johnny Todd' with the full [4-piece!] orchestra.

See the excellently informative wikipedia article at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Players%27_Theatre

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 Oct 11 - 04:09 AM

Gracie Fields - she was NOT Music Hall and was not popular during the war as she left the UK to its devices and lived overseas

Let's just set the record straight for Gracie Fields, shall we?

She was married to Monty Banks in 1940 - an Italian - after her divorce from Archie Pitt. She had already done work entertaining the troops in Europe from the outbreak of war in '39 - even though she was still ill after a serious operation. On the advice of Churchill, she based herself in America because her husband would have been interned if he had stayed in England - even though he had lived in Britain and worked there for years.

Even though she was formally based in America, she travelled over nearly every theatre of war, in the middle of campaigns and fighting, to entertain the troops at her own expense. This was not generally known by the press, who vilified her even when she returned to England to entertain in factories and army camps. At the instigation of Churchill - in public in the House of Commons, the press was told to lay off her and Parliament issued a public apology to her.


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 05 Oct 11 - 04:24 AM

Jimmy Perry (Dad's Army et al) hosted an excellent series in the 80s on music hall acts. As excerpts were on film these often showed performers in the twilight of their careers but were still fascinating. The golden age of the music hall may well have been pre-WW1 but its legacy informed the early days of television entertainment.


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 05 Oct 11 - 04:27 AM

The programme was called 'Turns' and was at the end of the 70s.


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: bill\sables
Date: 05 Oct 11 - 04:51 AM

You Tube has a series of The Good Old Days from Leeds City Varieties
They were produced by Barney Coolahan and recorded and broadcast on BBC around the 60s/70s.
There was also Balmbras Music Hall in Newcastle which re opened in 1962 on the centenary of the Blaydon Races and lasted for quite a few years.


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: Songwronger
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 11:14 PM

This is great. Thank you all for the input. I now have a timeline and lots of names.

I'll put Gracie Fields in her proper perspective. I suspected she might be a late flowering of the Music Hall era. It looks as if she came along after it petered out and they promoted her as a product of "the music halls."

The discussion here reminded me of the time I said something to an old timer about a Big Band leader named Bert Kaempfert. The man snorted. He said Kaempfert was the last gasp of Big Band music. An afterthought. I liked what I'd heard of Kaempfert's music, more or less, but then the geezer played some of the hard stuff for me. 78s of Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington, others. Kaempfert played pretty bland music, kind of like muzak, but Gene Krupa and Cab Calloway and Harry James...those guys SMOKED.

Anyway, as I work my way through the history of Music Hall I'll probably end up at some pretty slick but adulterated offerings. Gracie Fields is a nice "afterthought" to that music, though, from what I've heard. Her voice has a hell of a punch. I like it.

Thank you all again.


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: Jane of 'ull
Date: 07 Oct 11 - 05:06 PM

There's a great book if you can get hold of it, 'British Music Hall' by Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson. It's got a running history and some great photos of music hall stars, as well as photos of the posters used to advertise them.


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: ripov
Date: 07 Oct 11 - 07:56 PM

Harry Lauder?


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Subject: RE: Music Hall, Gracie Fields good place to start?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 08 Oct 11 - 11:59 PM

Here's a list of music-hall performers that I don't think anyone will find fault with. The links go to articles at Wikipedia. Each of these performers has several recordings that are currently available on Spotify.

Will Fyffe
Harry Lauder
Harry Champion
George Formby, Sr.
Gus Elen
Harry Fragson
Florrie Forde
Marie Lloyd
Stanley Kirkby
Vesta Victoria
Billy Williams
Mark Sheridan
Vesta Tilley
Ella Shields


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