As a fan of 1920s music I'm always a little frustrated by recording quality. Sure, it's kind of charming to hear the scratchy reproduction, the hollow sound of too-big rooms, but not that charming. That's why it's great that a few contemporary musicians are doing 1920s music right. Right now.
Janet Klein is interviewed by LAist this week. Back when I had a short-lived indie rock column on ArtistDirect.com, I talked to Janet and discovered that she was a longtime collector of music from the early 1900s -- before the internets, she and other enthusiasts would swap sheet music and cassette tapes through the mail (talk about old-fashioned!). So her song selection is off the beaten path and has a marvelously sassy twist, like "How Could Little Red Riding Hood?" and "Real Estate Papa, You Ain't Gonna Subdivide Me." Her backup band, the Parlor Boys, are terrific live, and rumor has it they include a fellow who plays in R. Crumb's band. Some song samples here (scroll down).
All of which reminded me that the Ditty Bops are about to hit Pittsburgh -- this Saturday, the 19th, at Garfield Artworks. The Ditty Bops are a pair of girls who (mostly) write their own music which is very 1920s influenced and kinda folk-ish (take a listen to "Moon Over the Freeway.") But they're entirely 21st century: they're a couple and they're doing their band's tour of the US via bicycle. And I thought my trip from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh was long!
So this week, both LA and Pittsburgh can rock out like Cole Porter. It's De-Lovely.