I might not have a 740AM tattoo, but I l do love lounge music. In fact, it's one of those things like being a Yankees fan or a vegetarian that I imagine would be sometimes hard to explain. Things that I like about being a fan of lounge music though are easy to list. For one, I have my pick of the litter at the Goodwill. Also, at record fairs, I can make a b-line for the Bacharach, Chris Montez, Doris Day and Anita Kerr records without having to bump elbows with other grubby collectors. The fact is, nobody wants this stuff. Lounge music is the punchline of every musical joke, the easiest genre to parody, even perhaps when you think about, the last line of parodying that anyone can cross. After all, what lends itself to that dreaded apparition of a 'medley' better than a baby grand and a shimmery dress?
Lounge is easy to bully because it's just like that geeky guy with the glasses at the piano-- clear, nuanced, vulnerable, fun, sexy...well, all these things. But, it's also one of the all-time great musical genres for lovers of pure music.
Tonight, Rock 'n' Roll Rumble maven and WZLX DJ Anngelle Wood will be fulfilling a long-held dream by launching Lounge Act, a series of lounge inspired music from local Boston bands, at Somerville's Radio. Tonight's show will feature Ruby Rose Fox, SPF 5000 and Goddamn Glenn and the Parlour Bells Players. I asked each of these parties what THEY think of when they think of lounge music. Here is what they had to say.
Reflecting on this inspiring Shelley Burch performance of "Bill" from Showboat, Ruby Rose Fox explains that for her, lounge music is less about an actual sound and more about environment. "The 'lounge' environment lends itself to a certain exoticism, a demand for an intimate and laser focus on the performer, and an element of artifice exaggerated just enough to see through it. For me, "lounge" is not about what it actually was--it's about what I imagine it to be"
Parlour Bells' Glenn Di Benedetto tunes in more to the singer's experience. "Stylistically, I think the lounge elements that some listeners detect in Parlour Bells might be the moody keys, the crooning, some subtle theatrics and overall atmospherics. The clip of this [Dean Stockwell] singing Orbison's "In Dreams" from Blue Velvet sums up nicely the haunted, campy noir that I appreciate in the lounge style."
For Amy Douglas and SPF 5000 (all who have jazz backgrounds), it's all about the music, and the ability for the swinging canon to unite musicians in the purest way possible. "In order to be a truly great and well rounded musician, jazz and lounge music has to be part of your lexicon so that you possess the most fundamental parts of playing music--that being an ability to get a group feel instantly and intuitively, harmonic exploration, and improvisation. This video of Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane performing the Billy Strayhorn classic "Lush Life" is one of the most perfect blendings of vocal and instrumental jazz ever recorded, and it remains for me, one of the most important moments on record in general."
Your host Anngelle Wood closes out this post with this clip of the Honey Drippers (feat. Robert Plant) doing "Rockin At Midnight." One of the main things she loves about the lounge genre itself is how open it is to interpretation. "It encompasses swing, big band, crooners, down-tempo, jazz, soul, R&B, and even some electro," says Wood. "While the idea of performing in a lounge style isn't for everyone, it is my hope that as the series progresses others will be encouraged to step out and try something new, with their own music or otherwise. The door is always open for singers to come and do some classics, standards, jazz, soul, and so on!"
Anngelle Wood Presents
Goddamn Glenn and the Parlour Bells Players
Ruby Rose Fox
and swinging DJ sets by Anngelle Wood
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About the authorJonathan Donaldson is a Boston-based musician, writer, and second-generation music junkie. An Ohio native who moved to Boston in 1998, Jonathan's musical loves include R&B, psych, punk, bubblegum, country, electronic, More »
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