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Brooklyn Bugle

TBT: The Candymen, "Georgia Pines," featuring Rodney Justo

February 19, 2015

Like last week’s TBT, this is a memory from my law school years; this one from the spring of 1968, when I was a first year law student and, as a transplant from Florida to Massachusetts, experiencing my first real spring since I was a child. I had spring fever bad, which wasn’t helping me concentrate on my studies. Many nights I stayed up late, trying to catch up on assignments and prepare for exams, and would always have WBCN, Boston’s first “underground” FM rock station, playing.

Probably because of my emotional state at the time, music I heard often got engraved on my memory. One night the DJ announced what he said was an example of  “Southern white soul,” a song called “Georgia Pines” by a group I’d never heard of called the Candymen. He also  mentioned that the singer’s name was Rodney Justo. The video clip below shows the Candymen performing “Georgia Pines” at Greenwich Village’s famous, and still extant, music venue The Bitter End in 1967:

Despite “Candymen” and “Rodney Justo” sticking in my memory, I didn’t follow them at the time. WBCN didn’t play the song again, at least not when I was listening, and no Candymen albums showed up in the record bins at the Harvard Coop. My principal musical interests at the time were the harder edged British Invasion groups–the Stones, the Who, the Yardbirds–along with Dylan and the country-tinged rock of the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield. From the last two I developed passions for, respectively, the “Cosmic American Music” of Gram Parsons and the protean Neil Young.

A few years ago I became Facebook friends with someone I had known in Tampa during my youth, and saw that one of that person’s other friends was a “Rodney Justo.” “Could it be?” I thought. I went to Rodney’s Facebook page and–sho’ nuff! It turned out we had both lived in Tampa and went to rival, though not arch-rival, high schools (I to Robinson; he to Chamberlain). Although I had never met him. I sent a friend request, which he graciously accepted. I learned that, before the Candymen, he had led a group called Rodney and the Mystics, which triggered a vague memory, as I’d probably heard of them during my Tampa years (they shouldn’t be confused with the Mystics who had the 1959 hit “Hushabye; those Mystics came from what is now my adopted home, Brooklyn).  What I didn’t know was that Rodney and the Mystics became the go-to backup band for many established rock stars. Roy Orbison asked Justo to join his backup group, called the Candymen as a reference to Orbison’s song “Candy Man”.  Although their principal commitment was to Orbison, the Candymen also recorded and performed on their own; witness “Georgia Pines.”

After the Candymen, Justo became a founding member of  Atlanta Rhythm Section; the photo at the top of this post is of him while he was with ARS. The video clip below is of a reunited ARS performing “Doraville” live sometime in the not-too-distant past; Justo is the lead singer.

Some years ago Justo left the full time music world and took a job with a beverage distributor because he decided it was more important to be a  successful father than a successful musician. Nevertheless, he still does gigs with Coo Coo Ca Choo, a ’60s-’70s revival band, in the Tampa area.

Source: Self-Absorbed Boomer

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Gram and Emmylou; Emmylou, Dolly, and Linda

December 21, 2013

When I go for walks, I usually take my iPod set in the “shuffle” mode. Because of my eclectic interests in music, this sometimes leads to odd concatenations, as on a recent walk during which the Sinfonia from Verdi’s Nabucco was followed immediately by the Holy Modal Rounders’ version of “Flop-Eared Mule”. Sometimes these conjunctions are serendipitously pleasant, as on one walk several years ago when the first, allegro movement from J.S. Bach’s Second Brandenberg Concerto was followed by a lively Cajun song.

A few days ago I started out with the iPod playing Gram Parsons’ haunting, autobiographical “In My Hour of Darkness,” with Emmylou Harris on harmony vocal, from Gram’s posthumously released album Grievous Angel (audio clip with still of album cover above); next came “My Dear Companion” from the Trio album by Dolly Parton, Emmylou, and Linda Ronstadt (live performance video below). It’s easy for me to speculate that “My Dear Companion,” on which Emmylou takes the lead vocal, was chosen by her as a tribute to Gram, her late musical companion and friend.

I never met Gram Parsons, but I knew of him before he became famous. While I was a student at the University of South Florida I became friends with several students who had known him in his home town, Winter Haven. They told me about this brilliant, talented guy who was a folk singer, and who performed with his group, the Shilohs, at the Derry Down, a night club for teenagers that was owned by his stepfather. I heard that he was at Harvard, and, later, that he had dropped out and started a group called the International Submarine Band along with fellow Havenite Jon Corneal. I was thrilled when, in my second year of  law school, I read that he had joined my favorite rock group, the Byrds. I bought their newest album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, which includes what has become his signature song, “Hickory Wind”. I followed his career as he left the Byrds and, along with another former Byrd, Chris Hillman, formed the Flying Burrito Brothers, then had a solo album, GP, which introduced to a wide audience the voice of Emmylou Harris. His death from a drug overdose in 1973 saddened me enormously.

Source: Self-Absorbed Boomer

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Zagat’s Fifty State Sandwich Survey: Beef on Weck Gets Its Due

October 14, 2013

When I was an associate at LeBoeuf, Lamb, “fifty state survey” was a dreaded assignment. It meant going to the library (no Lexis or Westlaw in those days) to determine the law governing some abstruse matter–say, eligibility of liability insurance on exterminators for export to the unlicensed or “surplus lines” market–in each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia. The good people at Zagat (yes, I really do like them) had a much more enjoyable task: finding the “unique regional sandwich” that best characterizes each state, as well as D.C. For the New York sandwich, I expected them to choose pastrami on rye with mustard, served with a half-sour pickle, and would have considered that a worthy option. Instead, I was surprised and delighted that they looked to the western end of the state and chose beef on weck (photo above). As I’ve posted here before, I came to love this sandwich years ago, during my tenure at LeBoeuf, when I was working on client matters in the Buffalo area.

In our neighboring state of Connecticut, Zagat picks another favorite of mine, the Connecticut lobster roll (photo above). There’s more about it here. Not surprisingly, the Maine version gets the nod as the Pine Tree State’s characteristic sandwich.

My old home state, Florida, gets what it ought to: the Cuban sandwich. The one Zagat chose to feature, however, doesn’t look like any Cuban I’ve ever had. That’s probably because it comes from a cafeteria in Miami, not from my old home town, Tampa, the Ur of el Cubano. My first, and therefore iconic, Cuban came from the Silver Ring Bar in Ybor City, an establishment that failed to survive the transformation of Tampa’s Latin Quarter into a corporatized tourist mecca. There’s a lively discussion in the comments on the Zagat piece about what a proper Cuban should, or should not, include. The Zagat description fails to mention what I consider the sine qua non: that the sandwich be pressed in a plancha, a device resembling that used to press panini.

My wife wanted to know what Zagat considers the characteristic sandwich of her home state, Massachusetts. She was amused and pleased to know that it’s the fluffernutter, a variant of the PB&J with Marshmallow Fluff in place of the jelly. Evidently the  General Court (what they call the legislature in the Bay State) and Governor made it the Commonwealth’s official sandwich. Zagat tells us that Marshmallow Fluff was invented in Somerville (though it’s now made in my wife’s hometown, Lynn) by a man named Archibald Query, who sold it door-to-door. Somerville now has an annual Fluffernutter Festival, and it seems we just missed National Fluffernutter Day. Did Congress and the President actually agree to proclaim that? Ah, for the days when they could find common ground on important matters.

The Zagat folks threw a few curves. For my native state, Pennsylvania, one might well expect the Philly cheesesteak, no? No. The “cheesesteak” award goes to…drumroll…Idaho. I put cheesesteak in quotes because the version Zagat chose is made with chicken and bacon. Turning to Philly, Zagat anoints as the Keystone State’s sandwich a hoagie made with roast pork, melted provolone, and broccoli rabe. It looks and sounds delicious, so the next time I’m down there I’ll try to find time to visit Tommy DiNic’s at the Reading Terminal Market.

Source: Self-Absorbed Boomer

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