REVIEW POTPOURRI – Singer: Petula Clark; the Cates Country Store

Petula Clark

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Petula Clark

I Know a Place
Jack and John. Warner Brothers 5612, seven inch 45 vinyl disc, recorded 1965.

Now 88, singer Petula Clark achieved fame in England and Europe before hitting paydirt over here. Downtown, This Is My Song, and Don’t Sleep in the Subway are megahits for the best reasons-they are beautiful songs beautifully sung. She had producer Tony Hatch working the arrangements enhancing her singing numerous times. In fact, if she ever made a bad record, I don’t know of it.

I Know a Place may be my favorite of the group with its spirited rhythms and upbeat musicality. It took a few hearings to like the B side, Jack and John, but it too exudes charm.

In 1968, she hosted a tv special and sang a duet with Harry Belafonte during which she locked arms with him. A representative of the sponsor Chrysler wanted another take used in which Clark stood at a distance from Belafonte because he feared a backlash in the Deep South. Clark refused, she destroyed all other takes of the duet, and the special made television history , receiving an Emmy nomination.

Continuing with Coffin’s Kennebec Crystals:

“In the clear dawn next day, along a hundred roads that led down to the Kennebec, farmers were trudging, mustaches hanging down to the woolen mufflers like the tusks on the walrus. Brown mustaches, golden ones, black ones, gray ones and white. But every one in front of a man. And behind them steamed their wealth, on its own feet. Tall, sinewy sons, out of school for good and on the doorstep of manhood and marriage, horses with hides like scrubbed horse chestnuts, big of hoof and billowy of muscle, fattened on corn, sharp shod, with long calks of steel that bit into the frozen ground. Here you could reckon up a man’s prosperity in solid tangible things, as in the days of Jacob and Laban. Goods with the breath of life in them. Like Job’s. The richest man was one who had nine or ten strong men to follow the swing of his creasing trousers in ringing ironed shoes. Or three or four spans of horses with the morning star in their forehead and the music of steel under their feet. So the wealth of the Kennebec came down to the harvest of Maine’s best winter crop in the eighties.”

More next week.

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A note on Vassalboro, Maine, history, the Cates Country Store (which was in family hands from when it was built in 1824 to when it was sold in 1971 to new owners) had ice deliveries from a horse drawn wagon well into the 1920’s. A gentleman, who drove such a wagon and knew my grandfather, Harold Cates (1881-1953), his father George Henry Cates (1852-1938) who ran the store for 65 years from 1873 until he died and other relatives employed in the store, used to park his car down by the Civil War monument during the early 1960’s to read his newspaper and I made his acquaintance. His name was Oscar Tubbs, he lived on the Cushman Road in Winslow in an old house with a long driveway and he told some fascinating stories about those years.

REVIEW POTPOURRI: 29 Classics You Should Know

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

29 Classics You Should Know

Various orchestras; RCA Camden CFL-103, six lps of reissues from Victor 78s.

This bargain priced mid-’50s set contained very good performances and, for their day, quite decently recorded sound. The list of orchestras on the record labels contain the actual names for some pieces, and pseudonyms, due to strange contractual considerations, for other orchestras. Information on each item will be provided as concisely as possible.

Pseudonyms with real names in parentheses:

Cromwell Symphony (Cincinatti Symphony conducted by Eugene Goosens) – Richard Strauss Rosenkavalier Waltzes and Grieg 1st Peer Gynt Suite.

Warwick Symphony (Philadelphia Orchestra with Leopold Stokowski for Sibelius Finlandia, Moussorgsky Night on Bald Mountain, Dukas’ Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Johann Strauss Tales from the Vienna Woods, R. Strauss Salome’s Dance of the Seven Veils and Saint-Saens Dance Macabre; and Eugene Ormandy conducting Liszt Les Preludes.).

Star Symphony (Hollywood Bowl Symphony with Stokowski) – Tchaikovsky Marche Slav.

Carlyle Symphony (Czech Philharmonic/Vaclav Talich) – Dvorak Opus 46 Slavonic Dances.

The other items:

Arthur Fiedler, Boston Pops – Rossini William Tell Overture; Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture and Capriccio Italien; Bizet 2nd L’Arlesienne Suite; and Rimsky-Korsakov Capriccio Espagnol.

Hans Kindler, National Symphony of Washington, D.C, – Liszt 6rh Hungarian Rhapsody; Smetana Moldau; and Humperdinck Hansel and Gretel Dream Pantomine.

Fabien Sevitzky, Indianapolis Symphony- Grieg 2nd Peer Gynt Suite.T

Serge Koussevitzky, Boston Symphony- Liszt Mephisto Waltz.

Constant Lambert, London Philharmonic – Offenbach Orpheus in Hades Overture.

Tig Notaro

In summary, the album gave immense pleasure and some of these recordings may be on YouTube.

I highly recommend the Amazon Prime show, One Missi­ssippi, a semi-autobiographical comedy starring Tig Notaro.

Continuing with RPT Coffin’s Kennebec Crystals:

“The preachers and everybody else in Gardiner and Richmond, Hallowell and Dresden, went to bed that night praying for the snow to hold up and the red blood in the glass to stay down in the ball where it belonged. The river of Henry Hudson was still liquid as it went under the Catskills and down by the walls of the Palisades. God was in His heaven!”

More next week.



REVIEW POTPOURRI – Singer: Connie Francis

Connie Francis

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Connie Francis

Now 83 years old but still active, Connie Francis is a living legend in pop music. Her 1957 megahit, the lovely Bert Kalmar/Harry Ruby Who’s Sorry Now, was one truly fine song, made extra special by CF’s totally sincere rendition, even if a tad smothered by sentimentality. That year, American Bandstand featured her lip-singing it and, as a six year old, I remember wishing, just momentarily, that she would adopt me as her little boy on a single Mom basis – LOL !!!

BTW, with respect to Kalmar and Ruby, the 1950 Fred Astaire and Red Skelton musical biopic, Three Little Words, also from MGM (Hmm, interesting coincidence), and about the two songwriters, had a very stirring and expressively different performance of WSN by Gloria De Haven, very much in the Peggy Lee/Julie London tradition.

Exciting is a set of 12 very classic pop standards – Time After Time; Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen’s Come Rain/Come Shine; a very personal favorite, There Will Never Be Another You; Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, of which my copy of the late Karen Chandler’s early ‘50s Coral 45 is the gold standard; That’s All; All By Myself, etc. She performs with heartfelt expression but her timing and phrasing is sometimes leaving me wanting something more, an elusive nuance and magic that such balladeers as Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme and Doris Day had aplenty. But I really liked her singing of Time After Time. And the arrangements of the gifted Ray Ellis, like those beautiful ones for many of the Johnny Mathis late ‘50s hits, enhanced the album.

For me personally, the worst record she may have released – and one of the top ten worst in recording history, was the 1963 Brylcream Sing Along with Connie. First, it was an insult to the finest Sing Along group then popular, namely Mitch Miller’s. Secondly, the arrangements were hokey, cornballish and, most obviously, a rush job of rush jobs, much like most Christmas albums and TV specials. Thirdly, the Brylcream commercials flooded the American Bandstand. And finally, those little dabs made men’s hair greasier and grosser – forget pursue, the gals would all avoid ya!

The album would also impact the 1963 Christmas of the greater Cates family groups in the vicinity – the price for the record, when first released, was $1 when one purchased a tube of the ointment. Within a week, the price was down to ten cents without the required extortion.

A most “thrifty,’ well-to-do relative whose anonymity shall be honored in this instance, like the other sleeping dogs, bought a pile of the 10 centers and flooded every household with a copy as his way of good will to all men and women. Even after 30 years, no other copies of a record flooding the rubbish sales and Goodwills would be in such mint plus condition.

However, the story doesn’t end there. Rare record shops had their copies priced at 20 bucks and more by the mid ‘80s.

The singer’s life would be shattered by two horrific events. In 1974, a rapist would bust into her room at a New Jersey motel and brutally assault her, never to be found to this day. In 1981, her brother was murdered by two Mafia hitmen.

But her ability to move on and bless so many both here and abroad is only one of the reasons she is so worthy of honor for her life’s work.

Several selections, maybe the whole album, can be heard on YouTube, while prices on the Amazon page start at $4.39 for LP and $6.80 for CD.

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Lost on a Mountain in Maine

Robert P. Tristram Coffin

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Robert P. Tristram (continued…)

Up until a few weeks ago, I was offering weekly paragraphs from Robert P. Tristram Coffin’s essay Kennebec Crystals, which is contained in the 1989 Maine Literature Project anthology, Maine Speaks. To briefly summarize previously offered information Professor Coffin (1892-1955) wrote 40 books that included poetry, novels and non-fiction, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and taught at Bowdoin College, in Brunswick. The essay gives a vivid account of the source of ice blocks that our local Kennebec River was world-renowned for and the arduous, methodically planned process by which they were extracted during the early to mid 1800’s.

Continuing from earlier:

“But back up on the farms, the men were grinding their picks. Women were laying out armfuls of gray socks with white heels and toes, piling up the flannel shirts, packing up bacon and ham and sausage meat and loaves. Boys were oiling harness and polishing the glass sidelights of headstalls. Chains were clinking and sheds were being piled with blankets and bedding and victuals and extra whiffletrees, cant dogs, picks and feed for the horses.

“Down along the river, the doors stood open in the big ice-houses, with sides lined with sawdust that for months had been shut in silence, except for the sharp thin music of wasps. Men were clearing out old roughage and rubbing the sections of track free of rust. Machinery was being oiled. Gouges and scrapers were being looked over and assembled by the river’s side.”

To be continued.

Lost on a Mountain in Maine

Donn Fendler at 12 years old

One of the state’s major attractions for adventurous campers and climbers is Mount Katahdin. I’ve yet to make the trek but one very exciting book I read decades ago was Donn Fendler’s Lost on a Mountain in Maine, which became a national best seller during World War II years. He was a 12-year-old who got separated from his Boy Scout group during a hike up the mountain in 1939 and, for nine days, made the mistake of wandering in all directions instead of staying in one spot. The terrors of survival in its wilderness were vividly recounted.







REVIEW POTOURRI: Record rescue operation

Miliza Korjus

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Record rescue operation

I have been receiving avalanches of free 78s the last few Sundays from a friend who needs to empty his locker. I call it a rescue operation of these records. Otherwise they end up in dumpsters because too many folks want everything modernized. As far as I am concerned, they are missing out on real listening experiences.

A few choice shellac examples: RCA Victor 12829 features the then very popular and now forgotten soprano Miliza Korjus singing two different waltzes usually played by the orchestra by itself – Johann Strauss Jr.’s Voices of Spring and Carl Maria von Weber’s Invitation to the Waltz. She was noted for brilliantly swooping high notes and other vocal acrobatics, along with beautiful phrasing and articulation.

Another of her records, Victor 12021, features her vibrantly alive renditions of two Rimsky-Korsakov arias; the well-known Hymn to the Sun from his opera The Golden Cockerel and the lesser known Martha’s Aria from the Tsar’s Bride.

Geraldine Farrar

Another soprano Geraldine Farrar recorded the Ethelbert Nevin classic Mighty Lak’ a Rose with violinist Fritz Kreisler’s delectable violin obliggato and accompanying orchestra on an acoustic Victrola one sided shellac, 89108, and quite lovely on its own terms but not equal to the absolutely beautiful 1929 electrically recorded Victor of Nathaniel Shilkret’s arrangement with soprano Olive Kline in an album devoted to Nevin’s Songs.

Alma Gluck

Farrar also recorded the very popular F.E. Weatherly/Stephen Adams special church number, The Holy City, also with orchestra on the acoustic Victor 88569 but, again, my favorite performances are three later ones from the electrical era – the 1930s Victor of tenor Richard Crooks with Sir John Barbirolli conducting, a late 1940s Decca 45 with Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians, and the early 1980s Phillips LP featuring the late soprano Jessye Norman with a superb organist. However, Farrar did sing with beauty and conviction.

The last one was a most unexpected charmer; Aloha Oe, which has been given more ghastly overblown performances than I care to remember, was sung sublimely by the wonderful soprano Alma Gluck (1884-1938) whose records sold by the millions. Her acoustic Victrola shellac, 74534, featured her with the Orpheus Male Quartet and orchestra. She was married to violinist Efrem Zimbalist Sr. and their son was the well-known actor best remembered for his starring roles on TV’s 77 Sunset Strip and The FBI.

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Kate Winslett

Highly recommended TV viewing – Mare of Easttown starring Kate Winslett. Filmed near Philadelphia, Winslett gives the performance of her life as a small town police detective investigating the murder of a young mother while battling her own issues at home and elsewhere.






REVIEW POTPOURRI: Soundtracks and singers

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Against All Odds

Soundtrack- composed by Michel Colombier; Atlantic 80152-1-E, stereo LP, recorded 1984.

Rachel Ward

Jeff Bridges

I have never seen this Jeff Bridges/ Rachel Ward thriller but, having read the Wiki synopsis, am now curious. The soundtrack itself is a first class mishmash of instrumentals underscoring the action and individual tracks by Peter Gabriel, Stevie Nicks, Big Country, Mike Rutherford, Kid Creole and the Coconuts and, last but not least, the sublime Phil Collins hit, Take a Look at Me Now. The instrumentals by Colombier and Larry Carlton are powerful and soaringly eloquent. Recommended listening.

Bennie Moten

Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Jazz- X- EVAA-3004, ep 45 reissue, early ‘50s from Victor shellac 78s recorded December 13 and 14, 1926, in Chicago.

Bennie Moten

Bennie Moten (1894-1935), led an outstanding Kansas dance band that was, ar­gua­bly, the most popular one in that burg for much of the 1920s and early ‘30s until Moten’s tragic 1935 early death from a botched tonsillectomy. The four numbers on this 45 – Kansas City Shuffle; Yazoo Blues, Midnight Blues, and Missouri Wabble – make for compelling listening. Every note is alive, every texture well articulated and the variety of sounds coming from my speakers, ranging from the spunky banjo picking of Sam Tall to the brass shadings of cornettists Ed Lewis and Lamar Wright; trombonist Thamon Hayes; and Abe Bolar on tuba, etc., gives this record its status as a classic.

Ella Fitzgerald

with Nelson Riddle’s arrangements and conducting; Ella Swings Brightly with Nelson; Verve V6-4054, 12-inch stereo vinyl LP, recorded 1962.

Ella Fitagerald

The words Swings Brightly do not hint at the supremely splendid, vibrant excitement of this album. As far as I am concerned, Ella Fitzgerald sings renditions of the 12 songs contained here that have been rarely surpassed by anyone for power, beauty, elegance and all the other grossly overused synonyms for musical pleasure; and Nelson Riddle’s arrangements are those of once in a lifetime. Simply try Duke Ellington’s I’m Gonna Go Fishing, which I shared on my fb home page from YouTube, where it can be easily heard !

Pelican Brief

starring Julia Roberts, etc.; directed by Alan J. Pakula; Warner Brothers, 1993, 141 minutes.

Julia Roberts

Two Supreme Court justices of radically different ideologies are murdered on the same day. Thus no common thread is found to launch any type of investigation, until a Louisiana law student, Darby Shaw (played by Ms. Rob­erts), shows a brief to her professor who passes it along to a friend at the Justice Department.

All hell breaks loose for her – her car explodes, killing her professor inside who was borrowing it; she is pursued by killers from out of nowhere and doesn’t know who to trust. It’s 141 minutes of cat and mouse paranoia adding up to a most entertaining film. The late Hume Cronym does a captivating turn as one of the two murdered judges.

FOR YOUR HEALTH – COVID Testing In Schools: What You Should Know

Pooled COVID-19 testing in K-12 schools can reduce the time it takes to uncover positive cases in the classroom.

(NAPSI)—Enabling K-12 schools to reopen for in-person learning is a high priority for parents, communities and governments. In fact, President Biden’s National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness was launched to fund COVID testing for teachers, staff and students in an effort to create a safer return-to-school environment.

Getting kids back to in-person learning will mean giving working parents a break, letting parents return to full-time work, reducing the expense of tutors or childcare and providing a near-normal learning experience.

Nevertheless, concerns linger over COVID in the classroom and the possibility of children bringing the virus home. School districts have looked at options for student testing but at the top of many lists is pooled testing. Here are some common questions and answers about that:

What is pooled COVID testing?

Pooled COVID-19 testing combines swabs from consenting individuals in a classroom and runs them as a single test. This can significantly increase testing capacity and lower costs. School personnel are trained to operate and monitor on-site sample collection, usually done weekly. In the event of a positive pool, the entire pool is quarantined and individually retested. But students who test negative can return to school immediately.

Does my child need to participate?

Participation is optional but according to district supervisors, most parents participate because regular, proactive testing can offer peace of mind. Knowing your child is in a COVID-free pool can make sending them to in-person learning less stressful. Proactive pooled testing alerts parents if a pool tests positive—which can be faster than finding out only after a child starts showing symptoms. It also means that parents know if a child tests positive, even if they are asymptomatic.

Can I trust the results?

Yes, in many states, pooled testing is already being administered by trained school personnel. Swabs are tested by Helix, a CLIA-certified lab, identified as having one of the most sensitive PCR tests on the market in an independent study conducted by the FDA.

Does testing my kids at school cost me anything?

No, having your kids tested for COVID at school on an ongoing basis doesn’t cost families anything. It provides a convenient way to protect all family members and creates a safer in-person learning environment.

How can I learn more?

For more information, contact your school and ask about pooled COVID-19 testing and visit

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Russ Morgan and his Wolverine Band; Peter, Paul and Mary

Peter, Paul and Mary

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Russ Morgan and his Wolverine Band

Everest SDBR 1095, stereo LP, recorded 1960.

Russ Morgan (1904 -1969) led one of the best dance bands during the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, until his death. The above LP, however, is a bit more animated than his usual standard. Wolverines being a clue, Morgan assembled a group of some of the finest sidemen active in ‘50s recording sessions, including trumpeter Dick Cathcart, clarinnettist Matty Matlock, guitarist George Van Epps, saxist Eddie Miller, etc. The rousing program includes such oldies as Mama’s Gone, Goodbye; Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home; That Da-Da Strain; Squeeze Me; etc., while the jacket is provided with informative notes by Morgan’s wife, Shirley, and son, David. Worth the search.

Peter, Paul and Mary

Warner Brothers, WS1449, stereo LP, recorded 1962.

PP and M were, arguably, one of the finest musical vocal groups in any genre. This first of several great albums during their initial seven- or eight-year run (followed by solo outings and intermittent reunions) still holds up incredibly well as a listening experience, even for myself who is no longer a folkie. My personal favorites are, and will always most likely be, 500 Miles, Its Raining, Cruel War and If I Had My Way, especially with the late Mary’s eloquent, haunting gifts of both phrasing the melodic line with both P’s deploying their own harmonies or vice versa.

Finally, their gifted music director, Milt Okun, who whipped the Chad Mitchell Trio into pristine shape for their own several Mercury albums, carefully and methodically honed, nurtured and led them to a level of success they would most likely have never achieved if they had been on their own.

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Pianist: Emil Gilels

Sviatoslav Richter

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Emil Gilels

Emil Gilels

In 1955, Russian pianist Emil Gilels (1916-985) made his debut in the United States, being one of a handful of musicians allowed to tour outside the Iron Curtain. His entourage, like other touring musicians from the Soviet Union, included several ‘friends’ who were KGB operatives prepared to shoot in case Gilels tried to seek asylum.

Fritz Reiner

He made two recordings with Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony – the Tchaikovsky 1st Piano Concerto and the Brahms 2nd – which were distinguished by an unusually refined technical virtuosity, delicacy but full-blooded musicality. He and Reiner, who was otherwise notorious for scathing sarcasm with orchestra members, had a most congenial relationship. (Many years later, Gilels was collaborating with the young Simon Rattle who made a mess with his conducting. Gilels jumped up from the piano bench and screamed at the young maestro for his stupidity. Since then, Rattle’s conducting has drastically improved.)

When Gilels was complimented for his playing during his first appearances, he replied, “Wait until you hear Richter.” He was referring to his good friend, pianist Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997) who first toured the U.S. in 1960. Richter was a big, broad-shouldered man with huge hands that swept across the piano with dazzling power, unlike Gilels who was shorter and had smaller hands.

Simon Rattle

Two outstanding Richter recordings are his ones of the 2 Piano Concertos of Franz Liszt and of Rach­ma­ninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto. I would also add his record of Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata, one that Gilels did very well with a much different approach from Richter.

Richter had a miraculous memory for the names of every single individual he ever met, no matter how briefly, and found it annoying. He also preferred doing free concerts for small groups in such places as a country church.

Both pianists have recordings accessible on YouTube.





Count Basie

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Count Basie

Count Basie (1904-1984) recorded Broadway Basie’s Way for Enoch Light’s Command label on August 18 and September 7 and 8, 1966. It contained 12 classic Broadway tunes:

Hello Young Lovers from The King and I. A Lot of Livin’ to Do from Bye Bye Birdie. Just in Time from Bells Are Ring­ing. Mame. On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. It’s All Right With Me from Can Can. On the Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady. Here’s that Rainy Day from Carnival in Flanders.
From this Moment On from Out of this World. Baubles, Bangles and Beads, from Kismet. People from Funny Girl. Everything’s Coming Up Roses from Gypsy.

Basie’s arranger was the Cuban-born Chico O’Farrill (1921- 2001) and he had on hand the phenomenal trumpeter Roy Eldridge (1911-1989) who otherwise was a free-lancer after years in Gene Krupa’s band, and rhythm guitarist Freddie Green (1911-1987) who had been with Basie for over 30 years.

Except for a few desultory moments – almost as if everyone is on auto-pilot – the album is a good one. Part of its problem may have been the commercialized pressure to do tunes that the band wasn’t that excited about; what saved it from total boredom was the sheer professionalism of Basie and his players and their commitment to a minimum standard of quality and reliability in all of their sessions. As with Basie’s friend Duke Ellington (1899-1974), neither gentleman ever made a bad record and I have many of each of them.

Basie and his wife, Catherine, had one daughter, Diane, who was born in 1944 with cerebral palsy. The doctors told them she would never walk. His wife felt otherwise and taught the little girl to walk and swim.

Continuing with R. P. Tristram Coffin’s Kennebec Crystals:

“But back up on the farms the men were grinding their picks. Women were laying out armfuls of gray socks with white heels and toes, piling up the flannel shirts, packing up bacon and ham and sausage meat and loaves. Boys were oiling harness and polishing the glass sidelights of headstalls. Chains were clinking, and sleds were being piled with blankets and bedding and victuals and extra whiffle-trees, cant dogs, picks, and feed for the horses.”

More next week.