Singing parts; cream of tartar

the Pips

lemon merengue pieCarla, who I’ve known since high school choir – was she an alto? – decided she needed to know stuff:

Ok… when you sing alone… do you mostly sing the melody, or do you sing your “part?”

Almost always, in four-part music that I’m familiar with, it’s the bass line. In pop music, it’s usually the Pips response, not the Gladys Knight lead. On Lola (Kinks) or The Boxer (S&G), it’d be the high harmony, not the melody. I just hear them better.

To that end, I can sing a higher pitch in harmony than in melody. This makes no physical sense, so it must be mental. We had a church play in March, Once On This Island. I hated singing the high parts in my solo; it made me anxious. But the harmony, I absolutely LOVED doing. Harmony almost always I find relaxing.

No lemon merengue pie?

She also wants to know – those people from Binghamton, NY always inquisitive, especially when the extended family runs the Little Venice restaurant:
OK here is another question…. why are you unfamiliar with cream of tartar? You never make lemon merengue pie? Or soufflés?

I think I’ve made lemon merengue pie exactly once in my life. To the best of my recollection, I’ve NEVER made a soufflé. Or snickerdoodle cookies, which also can use cream of tartar.

But that’s about it. WHY have cream of tartar when it has such limited use? It’s not like cinnamon or nutmeg or any number of other spices I’ve used regularly. AND there are reasonable substitutes.

Now, there was a period in the 1980s, I was into making pumpkin pies, and even baking cookies. And it wasn’t always in the autumn. But it wasn’t for my own consumption. It was either for a food pantry or some benefit auction. I don’t even like eating pumpkin pie as much as I like apple. Or lemon merengue. But they were easier to make; no top crust.

Since I got married, I almost never make pies or cookies. My wife is WAY better at it. I’m not all that interested in doing things only so-so. And frankly, if I were to make them, I’d want to eat them, and I don’t need to do that.

Health reports: how can we keep from singing?

I’m giving a talk about March, Books One, Two, & Three>, graphic novels by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell for the Friends of the Albany Public Library Tuesday at noon.

singingYou may recall that my sister Leslie had a serious bicycle accident back on June 4, 2018. She missed about six months of work recovering and has had a number of medical procedures.

On April 8, 2019, she had a couple more surgeries, around her eye socket and nose. They were done more or less simultaneously, in order to minimize the total time of recovery. She’s doing well.

Meanwhile, I’m recovering from whatever health thing that I had. You know you’re unwell when you have to stop and rest walking DOWN the stairs.

On Sunday past, I barely got out of bed, except to watch two recorded basketball games that had been on the day before. And I couldn’t view anything more than 30 minutes at a time. It was impossible to focus enough to read or write.

Even back at work this week, I felt… loopy. I was still taking meds all week, including one at night that contained codeine. And I couldn’t ride my bicycle for the same reason.

I’m glad my wife finally submitted the paperwork for the taxes to get done. Usually, that process starts in the third week in February, during the school break. But because of our extreme busyness, worse than usual, it didn’t begin until the last week in March.

It’s just as well. Last year we got back around $700 federal; this year we PAID about the same. I was happy that all those early filers girded me for what I thought was a likely outcome.

Even though I’ve not seen five minutes of Game of Thrones – it’s just not my thing – I find myself skimming all episodes, RANKED BY TOMATOMETER; I blame my pharmacist. There are even GoT Oreos.

And speaking of religious behaviors, it’s Holy Week on the Christian calendar. Monday: I get my annual physical. This is a fortuitous occurrence, as it will be the follow-up to the treatment for my illness. I think the yo-yo weather is wreaking havoc with my allergies as well.

Tuesday: My daughter’s heading to Montreal on a ONE-DAY trip, which means getting her to school by 5:30 a.m., and picking her up around 10:30 p.m.

Also, I’m giving a talk about March, Books One, Two, & Three, graphic novels by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell for the Friends of the Albany Public Library.

Wednesday: Get my teeth cleaned.

Thursday: Sing.

Friday: Not sing, but attend service.

Easter Sunday: sing, a LOT, if I still have a voice left.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

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Another singing Les Green – who knew?

Mr. Green, in his feeling for style and in the vocal equipment he has to achieve the sounds he wants, is a major league talent


My sisters and I are on this Binghamton-specific group on Facebook. This woman that I do not know, in response to my sister posting a photo of our father, asked, “Is that Les Green the musician? If it is he worked with us at Hillside Garden Center at holidays.” This was possible; he had a lot of jobs, including working at Costas Flower Shop.

Then a guy we don’t know mentioned, “Must have been a popular man at the time. He was all over the news in the 1960’s.” He pointed me to http://www.fultonhistory.com/, which I had come across before.

But when I typed in “LES GREEN”, I discovered something interesting; there was another singing Les Green.

Avon NY Herald News 1979-1980
“LES GREEN, a tenor soloist, formerly from Syracuse, now from Charlotte, North Carolina, will present a Concert of Sacred Songs at Avon Wesleyan Church, Wednesday, October 31, at 7:30 p.m. Les originally moved from upstate New York to add his clear, high tenor voice to the professional quartet “The Envoys.” Together with “The Envoys” Les has appeared on talk shows such as the “PTL Club” and the “700 Club.” He has also shared the concert stage with names like the Blackwood Brothers, Inspirations, Imperials, Andrea Crouch. Everyone is cordially invited.”

So ANOTHER guy named Les Green, from upstate New York, was a singer, and they BOTH moved to Charlotte, NC? Were they aware of each other? My father took a while to do public singing, outside of the church, when he moved south, so possibly not.

The story with the pic above, from October 1960, began:
“Binghamton’s Les Green qualifies as a rarity among folk singers on several counts. He “doesn’t play the guitar,” by his own account. He doesn’t like Calypso music. He prefers working school and social club dates to night club engagements. He likes to talk about folk songs almost more than he likes to sing them.”

This IS largely true. He never learned the “correct” way to play the guitar, but he was effective using it, nonetheless. He hated nightclubs and bars, and anywhere there was drinking because he wanted to be a storyteller, spin his tales to enhance the singing of the songs, providing context.

“Mr. Green, a 6 foot, 2-inch man of 33, sang in light, sweet head tones, breaking up the tempo to emphasize the storyline of his songs. He also interrupted his singing to talk some of the lines. The guitar was well in the background, marking the rhythms and occasionally spraying chords. The children were invited to join in the singing, and they did.”

He was big on audience participation, whether entertaining children or adults.

This story is also about Dad:
Binghamton NY Press Grayscale 1962
…May 1, 1962 Folk Songs With Feeling Les Green Scores On Melodic Road. Les Green, traveled high, wide and handsome last night…

It’s easier to read than for me to capture electronically, but here are some excerpts:.

“For two hours and more… Added to this, he has a baritone voice powerful enough to line out ‘The Road to Mandalay,’ if he wanted to, which he doesn’t. Mr. Green has perfect control over this voice, the ability to slide without erring in pitch, the gift of spinning thin head tones, the sadness and worry, and hope… Most of the songs are not too well known, songs like “Passing Through,” “Midnight Special,” “Two Brothers” and “Michael.”

“Last night the turnout was not large, which dampened somewhat Mr. Green’s habit of bringing the audience into it to sing some of the choruses with him. The concert, for the benefit of the Women’s Club of Trinity AME Zion Church, will be repeated tonight, at 8 o’clock. Mr. Green, in his feeling for style and in the vocal equipment he has to achieve the sounds he wants, is a major league talent in a field that often seems to be dominated by adenoidal or asthmatic types content with making quaint sounds in the name of folk art.”

He was REALLY good at what he did.

Dad would have been 91 tomorrow.

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Re the Ferguson protests, which I saw described as “mind bogglingly incomprehensible”: It’s Incredibly Rare For A Grand Jury To Do What Ferguson’s Just Did, as even Antonin Scalia could tell you. So Mark Evanier’s thoughts largely echo mine. Related: video showing the moments leading up to the fatal shooting by police of a 22-year-old Saratoga Springs, Utah man, Darrien Hunt.

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