Friday, January 18, 2008

I wasn't always this jaded thing you see before you. There was a time, so long ago, when I could be charmed by razzmatazz. I was young once, and doo-wacka-doo hadn't done a doggone thing to me. Before I even had a ukulele, I would get down a tennis racket and pretend to strum along with a record I got out of the library, an Lp by hometown gents The Goodtime Washboard Three. I noticed it was on Berkeley's Fantasy Records label, known home to cultural icons Lenny Bruce, Vince Guaraldi, and Korla Pandit. When finally I got my hands on a ukulele I couldn't wait to learn the chords to play their erstwhile local radio sensation, "Oakland."

"Where did all those people go
When Frisco burned?
They all went to Oakland
And never returned..."

Oakland magazine has a nice little write up about the song, and the Three, and how it all came to be. The writer points out that appropriately enough it is no solemn civic anthem, but something along the lines of "fight - fight - fight!" There's even a link to an mp3 of the song (not the original recording).

If you learn it, too, we can sing it at Berkeley Ukulele Club!


Howlin' Hobbit said...

Steven, your link doesn't go to a write up in Oakland magazine, it goes to an mp3 of some classical sounding piece (I believe it has piano, string bass, oboe and one other reed -- maybe clarinet). It's pleasant enough if somewhat surprising.


Steven Strauss said...

Oh, Howlin' Hobbit, I'm the world's worst blogger. What would I do without you to check my work?

I think I fixed it.


PS That's the Cadman piece from December's last entry. Very gitchy goomey, huh?

Howlin' Hobbit said...

Dude, having gone back more times than I can count to edit...

...and re-edit...

...and re-edit... I wouldn't feel too bad if I were you.

Sometimes you can toss off a blog post in moments, other times it behooves you to use the preview button and slow down.

One of these days I'll learn just which is which.

RICKBOY said...


I was fascinated by your site and blog, which I found while googling my brother Kevin Mummey. We met briefly years ago when you were working with Penelope Houston. Thanks for Ukebox!

Lee Hartsfeld said...

Wow! John Cleese has a decent amount of hair topside. He must have been young.

Er... that IS John Cleese in the middle, isn't it?


Steven Strauss said...

Hey Rick - I'll be chasing you down soon - I have a comp to send Kevin, who's been elusive (not surprisngly).

Lee: the man in the middle is Bruce Bratton, whose reknown has expanded steadily with the burgeoning internet. Read the man here: