A goof on the original by Jim Flora
Sorry we don’t know the artist credit on this
A collection of pictures about Comics, Books, Paperbacks, Pulp, Private Eyes, Writers, Bookshelves, Film Noir, Beautiful Ladies, Vintage things, Nautical Silliness & Music. Most commonly used tags :
June Christy and Bob Cooper, 1947.
"It’s about the world he goes around in. It’s about the big music and the big trouble in the big twenties. So when they ask you, tell them it’s about the blues…Pete Kelly’s Blues."
In 1951, Jack Webb’s Dragnet was a radio hit, and a television version was in the works. The success earned Webb some creative space at NBC, and he was able to bring a new series to the air that summer. It would be a passion project for Webb, allowing him to integrate some of his favorite music to his signature downbeat dramatic style. The show was Pete Kelly’s Blues, the story of a Prohibition-era jazz man and the shady characters he encountered, and it spawned an Academy Award-nominated feature film and a TV series.
Webb starred as Pete Kelly, cornet player and leader of the “Big 7” jazz combo. The band played regularly at a speakeasy at 417 Cherry Street in Kansas City; the club was operated by the often mentioned but never seen George Lupo (Lupo, with his skinflint ways, sounded like a kindred spirit to the penny-pinching Anthony J. Lyon on Jeff Regan, Investigator). In between sets at the club, Kelly met (and usually ran afoul of) various characters on both sides of the law in the Roaring Twenties, including the FBI, bootleggers, gangsters, and gun molls. These were desperate men and women, and murder wasn’t out of the question. Pete would try to keep his head above water. Outside of the band, his only compatriots and confidants were Maggie Jackson, a blues singer who could lend a sympathetic ear; and Barney Rickett, a former bootlegger who Pete counted as the only honest man he knew.
Each episode featured at least one performance from the “Big 7,” and it was these musical interludes that made the series stand out. The band consisted of Dick Cathcart subbing for Webb on the cornet; Matty Matlock on clarinet; Moe Schneider on trombone; Ray Sherman on piano; Marty Cobb and Judd Burnette on bass; Bill Newman and George Van Epps on guitar; and Nick Fatool on drums. Cathcart was a long-time friend of Webb’s, and the two of them assembled the members of the “Big 7.” Webb was a jazz aficionado who amassed a collection of over 6,000 jazz albums, and capturing the right music in the program was critical to him. Just as he pushed for accuracy and realism in Dragnet, Webb wanted the right sound for the “Big 7.” He went to great lengths to find the right cornet to give an authentic sound. The instrument was presented to Webb by a San Francisco fan whose father had played it in Chicago speakeasies during the 1920s. This blend of music was something new to dramatic radio, and it coincided with the entrance of jazz into the American mainstream.
The non-musical cast was well-rounded. Webb reunited with several of his old co-stars going back to his earliest days in radio. Tudor Owen (Jocko Madigan on Pat Novak For Hire) played Barney, and Barton Yarborough (Sgt. Ben Romero on Dragnet) played Kelly’s bass player, “Red.” William Conrad and Jack Kruschen were regularly heard in supporting roles. Scripts came from old pros like James Moser (a regular writer on Dragnet) and Richard Breen (who co-created Pat Novak with Webb).
Pete Kelly’s Blues only ran for 13 weeks in the summer of 1951, but Webb wasn’t done with the concept after the series left NBC. In 1955, he directed and starred in a feature film version written by Richard Breen. Dick Cathcart was back to provide musical support, and the cast included Ella Fitzgerald as singer Maggie Jackson, and Peggy Lee who earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance. Edmond O’Brien, Janet Leigh, and Lee Marvin all co-starred in the film, which was a box office hit. In 1959, Webb produced a TV version of Pete Kelly’s Blues that starred William Reynolds. Several radio episodes were adapted for the TV version (including the story featured on the podcast this week), but the TV version aired for only thirteen episodes.
Though not as well known as his other radio ventures, Pete Kelly’s Blues finds Jack Webb in top form both as an actor and a creator. Once again, he was ahead of the curve with his mix of music and drama and blazing new trails in radio production. And this series is perhaps his most personal; it’s true that Webb had a strong admiration for law enforcement, but jazz was one of his passions going back to his earliest days in broadcasting as a San Francisco disc jockey. Pete Kelly’s Blues was a labor of love for Webb, and you can hear it in these shows whenever he’s about to strike up the band.
In Episode 35 of the podcast, One Hot Set, we’ll hear Jack Webb in “Zelda” from Pete Kelly’s Blues, originally aired on September 5, 1951.
Click here to download this week’s episode.
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"The Definitive Pete Kelly’s Blues Radio Log," from The Digital Deli. http://www.digitaldeliftp.com/DigitalDeliToo/dd2jb-Pete-Kellys-Blues.html
On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, by John Dunning. Copyright 1998 by Oxford University Press.
just watched the Big Star documentary Nothing Can Hurt Me. a sad little story and an affectionate love letter to one of the greatest American rock n’ roll bands that never made it.
Got to find this.
August Darnell - “Christmas on Riverside Drive” from 1981
My all-too-apropos Christmas anthem this year, considering where I ended up and how I won’t be going back home to Florida for the winter. (It’s really about NYC, but I don’t care.)
I don’t tend to do re-posts, but this is still relevant and I will play it to death this month. I don’t know about Riverside in NYC, but I’m going to make Riverside here in the ATX funky.
"Blood Bank" by Bon Iver - Love this song so much. Every year I rediscover it at some point.
Exene Cervenka and John Doe by Ann Summa