Sister Acts

Sister Acts from the early 20th century:

Three X Sisters – Rex & his Soundeffects, 1935

DeZurik Sisters, also known as The Cackle Sisters, 1938

The Brox Sisters – Red Hot Mamma

The Brox Sisters – Falling in Love Again, 1932

The Boswell Sisters – Rock and Roll

The Duncan Sisters – Surprise, 1935

The Gumm Sisters – Big Revenue. Judy Garland is the littlest Gumm Sister. Pretty cute!

Sisters G, Eleanor and Karla Gutchrlein – Happy Feet from King of Jazz

Ryan Sisters

Dolly Sisters

Take a Picture of the Moon

“Take a Picture of the Moon,” Sheet Music

I go through annoying cycles of having the same song stuck in my brain for six months at a time. Sometimes it’s a snippet of a few bars, other times, it’s only a verse/melody that I can remember. There was a period of three months last year where “Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can!” was this annoying blip right at the surface of my consciousness. So much so, that I would sing everything in that verse and just change the words. For example, if I was at the ice cream parlor, and I needed to go to the back to get paper towels, I would sing to myself “Paper towels, paper towels, gonna need more paper towels.” in the Spiderman tune.

I must sound like a shoe-in as a candidate for the spin bin. Surely there is a proper psychiatric diagnoses for this condition? Maybe it can be a lumped in diagnosis with my photic sneeze reflex and the way cilantro tastes like handsoap to me. We can call it Foxtrot Syndrome. But, I digress.

Six years ago, I was listening to The Old Codger on WFMU (If you have not listened to this podcast, I demand that you listen to one episode immediately). Let’s all think back to what the internet was like in 2006: to get on Facebook, you needed a school email address, Youtube had some videos but not a breadth of old songs, and most of us were still Livejournaling. I had a distinct interest in being a scholar of the past, but no one to guide or teach me. Enter podcasts, and Courtney T. Edison, host of The Old Codger. I’d like to single handedly thank this entity for carving out my musical tastes, and giving me many jumping off points to start my own musical collection.

One song played on the program was “Take a Picture of the Moon.” Click on this link to listen to the mp3, and I’ve written down the lyrics for you as well:

Do you ever get a disappointment
Just because the moon don’t shine?
Do you ever sit around and mope
groan a little bit and give up hope?
There’s a way to keep a love appointment
even though the moon don’t shine
should yours be a case like this
try this plan of mine:

take a picture of the moon above
in May or June
then you can make love
morning, night, and noon
by the light of the same old moon

Take a picture of the moon on high
when it’s in sight
then you can be dry on a rainy night
when you feel like you’d like to spoon

you have the proper atmosphere
when you’re cuddling someone
take out that little photograph
you can laugh and laugh at the blazing sun

I think this is such a sweet sentiment – the whole song. I imagined myself taking a polaroid snapshot of a full moon, and carrying this crumpled token around in my pocket as an amulet.
So, yes. Incredible sentiments in this song. But WHAT was this singing? Especially towards the end where her voice got guttural and growling? Was this a recording of a young Sophie Tucker?

I can honestly say I had to shut my own mouth when I saw that it was a nine year old girl! I love watching Baby Rose Marie sing – it always cracks me up, especially in this video of her singing “Sentimental Gentleman from Georgia.” I love her hamming it up, wrapping her hands around that beefy man’s neck and doing a little Boswell Sisters scat at the end.

A very short video of her, quite young.

My Bluebird’s Singing the Blues, 1933

Rose Marie discusses being a child star.

She went on to be in many TV shows (including the Dick Van Dyke Show) and is still alive – she’s 89 this year. “Take a Picture of the Moon”is still stuck in my head.

All Girl Bands

The most heavenly video I’ve ever seen is of an orchestra of flapper ladies plucking a sea of banjos. Curious about this and other similar groups of the era, I found a few gems.
These all-girl bands were somewhat of a novelty in their time. Not being intimate with the politics of the time, I’m unsure if club owners were reluctant to book all-girl bands because it was taboo for ladies to be professional musicians, or to be out late unescorted, or if club owners thought no one would come out to watch a totally female orchestra.

The Ingenues do Tiger Rag. Watch for the awesome duck call solo, jazzy bassoon, and how the gal in the back is playing tuba side-saddle. The girl on stand up bass is GETTING DOWN!

The Ingenues in 1928 in a banjo heavy version of “Chasing the Blues Away.” They also sing!

Phil Spitalny and His All-Girl Orchestra perform Tiger Rag

Phil Spitalny and His All-Girl Orchestra in the 40s was known as the “Hour of Charm.”

A bandleader who leads by tap-dance! Ina Ray Hutton, known as the “Blonde Bombshell of Rhythm” and Her Melodears perform “Truckin'” They performed until 1939.

Another all-female group, The Parisian Redheads, later renamed The Bricktops.