WTM #1125: Yodels Hanging on to Trains

•November 10, 2011 • 1 Comment

wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 88.3 
Amsterdam ~ Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies

Train yo freedom britt-ken > B/art
wtu06-yodel bomber > plu/jbhp/w
Good Kaye Whit Schulte > b/art & Schulte  & Danny Kaye
Yodel Reptiles > Oingo Boingo
It’s A Quiet Town  > Andrews Sisters & Danny Kaye
Muita Lôco > Banda Muita Loco
Jimmie Rodger’s Last Blue Yodel > Jason & Rabbagastene
Muleskinner Blues > Jad Fair/Half Japanese
She Won’t Be My Gal No More > Rhythm Wreckers [Whitey McPherson]
My Narrow Mind > 16 Horsepower
California Hippy Murders > Mysterious Asthmatic Avenger [Yodels from Texas to Tyrol / MAA]
Boogy Yodel Cowboy Blues > John Brosnan
Darling [yodel] > Crass
Flat > Honeymoon Killers
Yodel Blues > Sam Sacks
She Taught Me How to Yodel > Stackridge with Michael Evans yodeling
Yodel  > Deep Purple
Seattle Yodel > Gorillaz
Twist And Yodel > Claude Brownell & The Country Cousins
Muleskinner Twist > Ray Kannon
Twistin’ Is A Funny Thing > Al Sherron & The Blue Sky Rangers
Gitarzan > Ray Stevens
Cotton-Haired Lady > Bill Haley
One Horse Town acoustic > Hank Williams III 
Rockabilly yodel > Bob Cribbie
Jodel Twist > Susi Schuster
Pretty > Cranberries [Everybody Else is Doing It / Island]
Yodelling Song > Tanita Tikaram
Government Surveillance Yodel Blues > The Fugs
Nationalhymne Der DDR > FSK [When It Rains In Texas It Snows On The Rhine / Sub-Up]
Switzerland > The Champs
Rock Tiroles  > Banda Muita Loco
I’m Your DJ > Lil Wally
End of Marvelous Night Outro pal* > B/art & MC Pal

This is gritty knock-em-down dusty, rollicking yodeling to do with trains and manly stuff. The floating influence of yodeling in rootsy post-rockabilly and real country is significant as the yodel often represents stabs at vocals and behavior beyond the norm, of actions meant to transcend normal locution, normal behavior, normal song, normal situations so that through the yodel we reach another side of reality, beyond what we are normally dealing with.
And what all of the above singers have in common is that singing is not enough when it comes to transcending or trangressing. To take us elsewhere requires vocals that serve as mantras that push our consciousness into another state.

BTW: All of the above yodels and yodelers are featured in my forthcoming book YODEL IN HIFI
Listen to selected shows at wreckthismixcloud

WTM #1124: Trains That Yodel

•November 9, 2011 • 1 Comment

wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 88.3 
Amsterdam ~ Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies

Train Freedom PTP ID > b/art vs Stephen Vitiello
Prisoner Train > Dub Ratz vs DJ NSD
Train No 1 + Trains Hit Cars > Dusty Kid + Damage Trax
I Dreamt I Yodeled I Remixed > Alvin Curran
Slow Snow > Erika Stucky [Suicidal Yodels / Traumton]
Echotrain > Abstrackt Keal Agram
#6 Duets > Shelley Hirsch
Intro Yodel & Yodel Lessons 1-3 > Mysterious Asthmatic Avenger [Yodels from Texas to Tyrol / MAA]
Concierto En Canto – Sobre Saltos > Fatima Miranda
Them Yodelers > Mason Williams [Them Poems / Vee Jay]
I’m Lonely > Lee Morse
Dog Kickers > Mason Williams [Them Poems / Vee Jay]
Sheriff’s Sale > Frankie Marvin [The Golden Age of Frankie Marvin / Cattle]
BooBoo Cat > Hasil Adkins [Look At That Caveman Go!! / Norton]
Turn-T > If Bwana
Hitler Lives > FSK [When It Rains In Texas It Snows On The Rhine / Sub-Up]
Nurse’s Song > Allen Ginsberg vs Peter Orlovsky
Some Talking / When It Snows In Texas > FSK [When It Rains In Texas It Snows On The Rhine / Sub-Up]
Train Stn. Alexanderplatz > Ned Bouhalassa
Train to Tehran > Namito (Eleven Kling Klong)
DC metro 08 04 02-1 > B/art
End of Marvelous Night Outro pal > B/art & MC Pal

Most of the tracks featured on this show were by people, not ordinary people, but yodelers who are featured in my new book, Yodel in HiFi. The notion is that yodeling is dynamic and bold like the train and often the train whistle, the physical forward [positive / progress] motion of the train, its logical inertia seems in some ways very compatible with that of the yodel as a sonic thrust outward that represents a positive effort to communicate beyond ordinary means to reach another part of the self not normally touched upon just like the first railroads stretched across seemingly uncharted territory. Three of the most enchanting [ab]users of the yodel inc.:

• “I Dreamt John Cage Yodeling at the Zurich Hauptbahnhof, Maritime Rites,” Alvin Curran [1938]. This piece is very close to my heart because this experimental soundmaker-composer captures the ephemeral nature of chance encounters and serendipity.  Curran’s work reflects the dynamic nature of contrasts working with both notated composition and soundscape happenstance, minimal and large, chaotic and calm. This work reveals his enchantment with sounds stumbled upon in public at a train station where he heard a man vocalizing and yodeling. Curran tracked him down and convinced him to reproduce his impromptu vocals in Zurich’s train station producing this brilliant electroacoustic piece of yodeling. He remixed it for my CD collection Avant La Voix, creating an even more intensely turbo urban version.

• Erika Stucky, a most unusual singer with the most common of Swiss last names, is never where you expect her to be. As a singer-yodeler-cabaretier she’s all over the place but always armed with a deadly earnest focus. She divides her life – uh, career – into tours and each tour is dedicated to one of her preoccupations: among others, Hendrix, the Woodstock Project with the Young Gods, renovated roots with Roots of Communication, the “Princess” tour – and her Suicidal Yodels project, which focuses on songs that have influenced her and how they recombine in a post-mod existence, using storytelling, videos, solo yodels and duet yodels with Austrian trombonist-yodeler, Sebastian Fuchsberger of Global.Kryner.

Born in San Francisco during high hippie days, Stucky learned to be at home anywhere in any genre – her vocal cords serving as a visceral, sinewy link between styles and sympathies. Her modus operandi lies somewhere between stand-up liberation musicology and melodic Groucho Marxism. This is in part due to her strategy of “serious fun,” which means skewing pop standards, double entendres, salacious insinuation and a boundless energy for discovering the “light” inside “enlightenment.”

I’ve seen her perform a number of ties but each performance is a surprise and she features prominently as one of the profiled yodelers in the excellent film Heimatklange.

• Shelley Hirsch [276] is one of the first people I wanted to interview for my book [Randy Erwin & Ed Sanders were 2 others]. I interviewed her one month after 9-11 only a few blocks from Ground Zero. I wanted to interview her because her “Haiku Lingo” is what brought me to my WFMU radio special devoted to yodeling in 1996, which eventually led to the writing of the book. Her piece remains central because it is the perfect example of vocals as iconoclasm, as cliché-buster of the notion that the yodel can only develop in a place with mountainous conditions because of the natural echo conditions. Hirsch grew up a Jewish girl in the ghetto known as East New York in Brooklyn and recorded “Lingo” in a modern studio — if these circumstances don’t explode the typical view of the yodel that is steeped in deep prejudice then I don’t know what could.

What I like most about Hirsch is this perfect combination of comedic cabaret and serious vocal extension. She is best known for her kinetic multiple personality panoply of voices that seem to emerge from her mouth as if by some temporary self-induced psychotic state. She is a bit of a shaman in her ability to shift into new guises, voices, dreams, and personalities. She makes imperceptible legato slides from style to genre to questionable mental states. She has a command of cabaret, Borscht Belt routines, a grip on opera, 40s swingin’ pop, jazz, rock, Broadway musicals, as well as post-Dada forays into the abstract frontier of language as pure sound experiments. She moves from East New York denizen to operatic diva at the blink of an eye. From chest voice to head voice in the twitch of an ear. Shelley Hirsch.
Although I feature 3 yodelers here it could have been any of the others featured during the show as many are among my favorites. The ultimate compliment is that the yodel as voiced by them brought me back to the human voice, to a dimension I thought I had left for good, the human dimension.

Listen to selected shows at wreckthismixcloud

WTM #1107: Yodel in HiFi Prelim

•January 11, 2011 • 1 Comment

wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 88.3
Amsterdam ~ Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies

06 September 2010 // 16.30-18.30

Listen to Wreck Yodel in Hifi @ Wreck Mixcloud

“Have you ever heard him yodel / not like the Scandinavian’s yodel / in the mountains of Norway / but how the Africans yodel / in the Pigmy nation… / With a million voices blending / conversing soul to soul / during the middle passage / You can hear the voices / each nation on the ship / was Leon’s out of his mouth / from deep within / with an east St. Louis spice / and a smooth Harlem tone… / He was a mouth sorcerer / who had magic from within.”
• Poet Abiodun Oyewole (Last Poets) on Leon Thomas

Greeting > Solo Burundi Girl
Nils Juhan > Johan Anders Baer
Whoa Buck > C.B. ’88’ Cook
Shawnee Stomp Dance > Shawnee Tribe
Ku-Ku Jodel > PolkaBjørn & Kleineheine
MARKADO > Fred Panopio
Chime Bells > Fred Panopio
Rock n Roll Yodeling Guy > Sakura Teng and The Quests
Kalifornia Knacky Murders > Mysterious Asthmatic Avenger [My Mother Killed Rock and Roll / Ken Rock]
Indian Love Call > Ho Lan [Echo From Deep Valley / Mandala]
Echo From Deep Valley > Ho Lan [Echo From Deep Valley / Mandala]
Crazy > Erika Stucky [Suicidal Yodels / Traumton]
All I Really Want To Do > Erika Stucky [Suicidal Yodels / Traumton]
Jodelen is Mijn Leven > Olga Lowina [16 Successen / Polydor]
Jeowi > Edelschwarz [Alpine Härte 1 von 2 / Lawine]
Bring Me Edelweiss > Edelweiss [A Sound-Attack Straight from the Alps / GiG]
Pygmy Divorce > Francis Bebey
The Hip Cowboy > Slim Gaillard
Spaced Cowboy > Sly & The Family Stone
Little Ole Country Boy > Parliament
Jodelende Postiljon > De Limbergse Zusjes
Umbo Weti > Leon Thomas [Leon Thomas in Berlin / Bluebird]
De Jodel Disco > Slijpers vs Migras vs Jodel Jerry vs Alpenzusjes [Slijpers Disco / Telstar]
Babu Samjho Ishare > Kishore Kumar
Thep Thida Tan Kandal > Sinn Sisamouth
Yodel Lady Blues > Tomi Fujiyama
Lavado Cerebral > Alfredo Gutierrez
Jodelend Fluiter > Bobbejaan Schoepen

My new book YODEL IN HIFI is almost complete. In the process I have met and talked to some unique people who happen to do that thing with their voices… Inviting strangers into the skanky lair known as the studio of Radio Patapoe, however, is a bit like inviting guests to jump into the tar pits, dip a toe into an active volcano, enter a bar after 100 patrons have puked all of their alcoholic consumptions and all of their cheap take-out onto the musty, wobbly furniture…

Exc. From the book:

In September 2010, two Norwegian filmmakers [Eivind Tolas & cameraman] came by to document my radio show in a dingy, underground studio, somewhere in the clandestine heart of Amsterdam. I decided to spin only yodeling songs – a dangerous decision at most radio stations but here it seemed perfectly normal, rebellious, and ridiculous – and, may I add, glorious. I presciently – or just coincidentally – played “Ku-Ku Jodel” by the comical Norwegian duo PolkaBjørn & Kleine Heine, with astute comic delivery of more than adequate yodeling. They interrupted me to point out that they were making a documentary about this very duo as they journey to meet their yodeling heroes including the reclusive Franzl Lang, arguably the world’s most famous technical yodeler. The studio smelled of questionable bodily fluids and wet dog fur and, after wrestling with the perpetual mysteries of donated malfunctioning sound equipment, we began to soar.

In 2002, I received an uncredited yodel from yodeling poet Jack Collom and DJ Sam Fuqua and was instantly transfixed. I tracked it down to Johan Anders Bær. For a radio show I quite unconsciously arranged some yodels – “Yakut Song,” Lioudmila Khandi [Siberia]; “Nils Juhan,” Baer [Norway]; “Shawnee Stomp Dance,” Shawnees [North America]; “Whoa Buck,” CB Cook [African-American]; “Cutting Trees,” Kaluli [Papua New Guinea], Sylvester yodeling [Switzerland], and Tuvan throat-singing [Mongolia]

Fred Panopio (1939-2010) singer, comedian, actor with a characteristic polio limp rose to fame due in great part to his 1970s Fili-cowboy style of singing-yodeling can be heard in various early films  like “Teen-age Crush” [1960] or rough-and-tumble Filipino Westerns like Omar Cassidy and the Sandalyas Kid [1970] and Pitong Gatang [1992] for which he yodeled “Pitong Gatang” and the theme song for “Tatlong Baraha,” while his best yodeling was on “Markado” which has a Harry Belafonte feel with a style somewhere between Slim Whitman and Eddie Arnold.

Sakura Teng [Ying Hua, 1948- ] Hugely popular Malaysian, Singapore-based, “A go-go Queen” songbird in the 1960s launched her career at the gigantic New World Amusement Park, venue for strippers, strongmen and cutesy chanteueses, was where Sakura Teng launched her music career at age 17 before a largely Malay and Singapore audience. She was also known for her yodeled interpretations of Western hits by the Beatles, Doris Day, John Lee Hooker and others.

Thee Mysterious Asthmatic Avenger: Masked avengers like Batman and Zorro are a strange, lonely breed, one-person operations – at once heroic and existential, alienated from society and paperwork, preferring flamboyant capes to Docker khakis. Even stranger, however, are one-man bands, the DIY all-in-one noisemaker-street minstrels. Folding strange into certified wacko entails welding a masked avenger theme to a one-man band concept. How about a surreal character playing ultra-real, close-to-the-bone rock ‘n’ roll? Add Frenchness!, asthma!!, humor!!!, and yodeling!!!!, and you have a recipe for pure aural derangements of the soul by a vrai troublemaker. I’d been fascinated by this French voodoobilly performer since I discovered his broken-down Website. In October 2008, I met him at Radio Patapoe’s clandestine studios in Amsterdam.
Ho Lan: “I heard it and started to do it,” Lan notes in a 2008 interview. “It is especially fun to yodel in the mountains where I used to spend a lot of time as a youth.” Her daughter, Hsia-Jung Chang, herself a musician, wrote in a 2009 letter that her mother “would sing into the waterfall to strengthen her voice and increase her range.” Lan adds: “Somehow it was as if I was trying to call out to someone, but no one in particular. I also enjoyed imitating bird sounds, I guess that’s where the whistling comes from.” Her entertainment repertoire coincidentally also includes whistling. “Going to school, I always had my shoes on when I left the house, but somehow by the time I got on the trail the shoes had come off and I would be whistling the entire way.”

Erika Stucky, [Y] a most unusual singer with the most common of Swiss last names, is never where you expect her to be. As a singer-yodeler-cabaretier she’s all over the place but always armed with a deadly earnest focus. She divides her life – uh, career – into tours and each tour is dedicated to one of her preoccupations: among others, Hendrix, the Woodstock Project with the Young Gods, renovated roots with Roots of Communication, the “Princess” tour – and her Suicidal Yodels project that addresses yodels as they’ve touched her and how they recombine in a post-mod existence, using storytelling, videos, solo yodels and duet yodels with Austrian trombonist-yodeler, Sebastian Fuchsberger of Global.Kryner. … Her modus operandi lies somewhere between stand-up liberation musicology and melodic Groucho Marxism.
We also heard Rotterdam’s Olga Lowina, cover girl of YODEL-AY-EE-OOOO and with lungs iron; German metal bang heads Edelschwarz doing their anthemic and quite enchanting yodeling; Edelweiss with their sampled house circa 1988, no doubt the most dubious re-use [abuse] of yodeling ever; one of the more intriguing yodelers this world has ever heard: Francis Bebey, Cameroonian [not Pygmy] ethnomusicolgist, novelist, poet and Pygmy-style yodeler; Slim Gaillard, one of my favorite musicians ever and a super hip yodel here; Sly was a California DJ who learned yodeling from the Soul Stirrers and used to yodel his DJ banter between songs; Parliament did some very cool yodeling, basically folding the notion of country yodeling, black and R&B into one song; the Dutch engaged in some questionable yodeling practices that bordered on the amusingly bad but good; Leon Thomas features again in this book because he is one of the best, most interesting and one of the most head-on unapologetic ululators of all time; Kishore Kumar has really begun to charm and impress even though I already featured him in YODEL-AY – the breadth and depth and vibrancy of his yodeling seems to know no bounds; Sinn Sisamouth is the famous mysterious “Cambodian funk yodeler” we find all over the Internet; Tomi Fujiyama, baritone-voiced and Nashville obsessed Japanese yodeler; Alfredo Guttierrez is simply one of the most astonishing yodelers around and he doesn’t even advertise himself as one; another great yodeler from an unexpected place is/was Bobbejaan Schoepen [RIP] who could yodel and whistle and pick and wear outlandish Nudie spangled outfits like no other – in 5 languages. All of the above are among my faves for one reason or another – it usually has to do with anomaly: yodelers living in an unexpected place in the world, yodeling in styles not expected of their kind or in genres not commonly thought of as conducive to yodeling. More will certainly follow…

WTM #1096: Bobbejaan Schoepen Dead

•October 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 88.3 http://freeteam.nl/patapoe/
Amsterdam ~ Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies

17 Mei 2010 // 16.30-18.30

A beach without water or land without ground
That’s already as bad as a tail without a dog
But your money that disappears with your trusty cashier
Is not nearly as bad as a cafe without beer
• Cafe Zonder Bier

The Whistler and his Shadow > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Love Song of the Waterfall  > Slim Whitman
Echo Waterval > Bobbejaan Schoepen [Bobbejaan Schoepen 4 / Dureco]
Der verliebte Pfeifer > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Love Song of the Waterfall  > Ian B. MacLeod, the Rockabilly Cowboy
Rose Marie > Slim Whitman [Songs I Love to Sing / EMI]
Rose Marie > Bobbejaan Schoepen [Bobbejaan Schoepen 4 / Dureco]
Rose-Marie > Wylie & the Wild West [Total Yodel! / Rounder]
Een Student uit Heidelberg > Bobbejaan Schoepen [Bobbejaan Schoepen 4 / Dureco]
Water Halen > Bobbejaan Schoepen [Bobbejaan Schoepen 4 / Dureco]
Zwischen Tennessee und Oklahoma > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Roy Old Boy > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Ich Steh an der Bar und habe kein Geld > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Ich weine in mein Bier > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Een Kerel Die Niet Drinken Kan > Bobbejaan Schoepen [Bobbejaan Schoepen 4 / Dureco]
Viel bittere Tränen > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Weer Een Cafe! > > Bobbejaan Schoepen [single / Omega]
Kili Watsch* > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Ik Wou Dat Ik Naar Huis Toe Wou > Bobbejaan Schoepen [‘N Lach en ‘n Traan / Telgram]
Spiel Gitarre Spiel > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Mein Ponny und ich > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Spreken is Zilver > Bobbejaan Schoepen [Bobbejaan Schoepen 1 / Dureco]
De Jodelende Fluiter > Bobbejaan Schoepen [Bobbejaan Schoepen 1 / Dureco]
Wie ‘ne kneipe ohne Bier > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Ein volles Glas und ein volles Portemonnaie > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Er Staat ‘n Huis in de Bergen van Majorca > Bobbejaan Schoepen [‘N Lach en ‘n Traan / Telgram]
Het Ezeltje > Bobbejaan Schoepen [‘N Lach en ‘n Traan / Telgram]
Der Pfeifer und sein Schatten* > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Texas-Rangers Abschied > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Geef Ze Een Klein Beetje Liefde [Schifrin] > Bobbejaan Schoepen [‘N Lach en ‘n Traan / Telgram]
Ich muß ein Cowboy sein* > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Cowboy Jimmy > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Cowboy Jimmy > Jodel Jerry en de Prairie Roses [Cowboys en Meisjes / Uniek]
Eskimo en Eskima > Bobbejaan Schoepen [‘N Lach en ‘n Traan / Telgram] [GAINSBOURG LIKE]
Mijn Dingaling [Chuck Berry] > > Bobbejaan Schoepen [‘N Lach en ‘n Traan / Telgram]
Yodel-ee Yodel-ay  > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Cannonball Yodel > Kenny Roberts [Then & Now / Longhorn]
Cannonball Yodel > Randy Erwin [Best of Randy Erwin vols. 1-2 / RE]
The Cannonball Yodel (Dutch TV, 1962) > Bobbejaan Schoepen
Lachende Vagabond > Bobbejaan Schoepen [Bobbejaan Schoepen 4 / Dureco]
Gambler’s Guitar [lachende vagabond] > Rusty Draper
• Bobbejaan Schoepen [1925~2010] [from the soon to be published book YODEL IN HIFI] was one of the best of the yodeling Lowlanders not just because of his bravura, improvisational yodels but how he incorproated them into songs that also  included bird calls. The last 20 years or so he was busy with his Bobbejaanland amusement park that can be compared thematically to Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s theme park. One of his most startling displays of talent, “De Jodelende Fluiter” [The Yodeling Whistler], combines whistling and yodeling, becoming a Lowland standard with Dutch lyrics: “The yodeling whistler is a certified wacko…” His good-natured style and formidable technique created a respected stage presence. The height of his popularity was the 1950s-1970s, when he was instrumental in introducing country music to Belgium. He sang Flemish covers of American hits in English, Dutch, French and German. He recorded with Josephine Baker, Gilbert Bécaud, Jacques Brel, and Tex Williams; on the Grand Old Opry, Ed Sullivan Show, and for Queen Elizabeth.

He reminds me of Kenny Roberts in certain ways, his child-like spirit, his ebullient spirit but this guy sang in 5 languages and could fool have the bird kingdom into believing he was one of them. He made music, whistling, yodeling all seem so effortless, so light and so capable of yanking you out of your troubled life.

WTM #890: Jumpin’ Kenny Roberts

•June 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 88.3 ~ Amsterdam
Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies
20 june 2005 / 17.00-19.00

You’re My Kind Of People > Kenny Roberts [1]
Alpine Milkman > Kenny Roberts & Elton Britt [2]
Chime Bells > Kenny Roberts & Elton Britt [2]
Cannonball Yodel > Elton Britt [3]
Chime Bells > Al Shade & the Short Mountain Boys [4]
The Alpine Milkman > Wilf “Montana Slim” Carter [5]
Prairieland Polka > Elton Britt & Rosalie Allen [5a]
Yodeller’s Lullaby > Bill Haley [6]
Yodel Your Blues Away > Bill Haley [6]
Roll Along Kentucky Moon > Kenny Roberts [1]
I’ve Got the Blues > Kenny Roberts [7]
Cotton Haired Gal > Bill Haley [6]
Just A Yodel For Me > Kenny Roberts [7]
Eddie Stubb’s “Way Back Wednesday” Intro [8]
I Never See Maggie Alone > Kenny Roberts [8]
Wedding Bells > Kenny Roberts [7]
That’s How The Yodel Was Born > Ranger Doug [9]
That’s How The Yodel Was Born > Elton Britt [10]
Yodel Blues > Ranger Doug [9]
Eddie Stubb’s “Way Back Wednesday” Hank Snow Intro of Roberts [8]
She Taught Me To Yodel > Kenny Roberts [8]
The Yodelling Ranger > Jimmie Rodgers [10]
The Texas Cowboy > Hank Snow [10]
Eddie Stubb’s “Way Back Wednesday” presents Blue > LeAnn Rimes [8]
Blue > Kenny Roberts [8]
Yodel Boogie > Rosalie Allen [11]
Boogie Woogie Yodel Song > Kenny Roberts [7]
Indian Love Call > Kenny Roberts [12]
My Prairie Rose > Wilf “Montana Slim” Carter [5]
Rattlesnake Daddy > Al Shade [13]
Slide Them Jugs Down the Mountain > Kenny Roberts [2]
They’re Burning Down the House [I Was Brung Up In] Polka > Elton Britt [5a]
Hillbilly Fever > Kenny Roberts [7]
Cowboy’s Sweetheart > Joyce Leonard [14]
Ernest Tubb’s Midnight Jamboree, Kenny Roberts [15]
The Man Called E.T. > Kenny Roberts [15]
Since That Black Cat Crossed My Path > Ernest Tubb [10]
Hillbilly Style > Kenny Roberts [7]


[1] “You’re My Kind of People” on KA <kennybett@juno.com>. This is a joyous collection by this infectious yodeler who is now 78 and still out on the circuit of small fireman’s halls, banquet halls and still — despite his genius setting up a table to hawk his wares. He just does CDs, which is fine with me. When it goes to doilies and mouse mats I get a little concerned. He opens with this song. He has no pretensions and absolutely no airs about him. He yodels because he likes it. That’s it. And he still answers all his fan mail personally. I know.

[2] “Then and Now” on Longhorn. This has a clear division between then [way back] and now [some 25 years ago]. the now is less than the then basically because some producer “now” decided to make the production as deadly and clean as a funeral parlor. The then has plenty of grit and comprises 75% of the disc space. Includes 2 duets with KR hero Elton Britt who died in 1972 and KR was called upon to fill in for him at a concert. Liner notes: “When Bettyanne was 14 years old, she went into a record store to purchase a vaughn Monroe record. Kenny’s first picture record had just come out. She fell in love with his picture and this record and bought it instead, little realizing that she would one day become – Mrs. Kenny Roberts.”

[3] EB is one of America’s most incredible yodelers, who has yet to be reckoned with on the same level as Jimmie Rodgers. Whenever yodelers cite influences, after Jimmie Rodgers it is usually EB. When you hear his combination of virtuoso and gutsy heartfelt yodeling you realize why.

[4] “Pennsylvania Mountain People” on AlJean Records vinyl.  He called it this because, as he notes in his liner notes, because “at least 65% of the people of Pennsylvania love country music.” Interesting percentage. He is PA roots music. I had the amazing fortune to meet and interview Al & Jean Shade in their cozy and modest Central PA home in late April. I not only realized then and there that I had enough for a second book but it is people like Al & Jean who need to be written about because we have to spread the harvest of fame. And obviously talent and entertainment value are no guarantees for success. What I came away with is this: Al & Jean love to play music and love to perform and yodel. It is plain that they are living a more meaningful and FUN late [in their 70s] life than most people their age. At the KR performance, Al Shade and band opened and entertained the gray-blue perm crowd with a variety of dirty jokes and yodeling trickery and hoedown jamming. It is KR who made us aware of the fact that Al has NEVER been invited to play the Grand Ole Opry. What a delight to discover this local legend and excellent yodeler and his wife and duet partner Jean Shade. Some PA hillbilly stuff that will make you reassess the entire idea of what and where the sources of roots music come from. Anywhere and everywhere. Nice version of the Britt standard.
[see more below]

[5] “The Dynamite Trail” on Bear Family < www.bear-family.de >. An influential and pure [Canadian] yodeler [who looks like LBJ’s bro] of hundreds of yodel songs. He has had a big influence on a broad range of North American yodelers including KR. He is proof that yodeling leads to a life-affirming lifestyle [not goofy, really!] and longevity. He lives to almost 90. Basically 60 years of recording folksy [although somewhat too sweet to be considered hardcore rootsy] yodeling songs.

[6] “Hillbilly Haley” Rollercoaster . An amazing bridge record of rare recordings that document a furtive, festive and festering period of pre-rock and roll — and all happening in the unassuming and quaintly staid state of New Hampshire [US]

[7] “Jumpin’ & Yodelin’” on Bear Family . A really superb collection of early KR. Includes many of his signature tunes and gives a good indication of how KR is a key figure in the crossover from country to rockabilly.

[8] Blue by LR was a monstrous hit and includes some breakvoice yodeling that has an effect on one’s emotions even if the production is quite smooth and homogenous. KR was a Starday 1967 single that was a minor crossover hit.

[9] “Yodel the Cowboy Way” on Rounder. Ranger Doug is one of the great yodelers in contemporary music. His Riders in the Sky is the Marx Brothers of country music with plenty of yodeling in the Sons of the Pioneers and Tommy Duncan style. Also very indebted to the trailblazing styles of KR.

[10] “Yodelling MAD!” on Jasmine . Good starter introduction kit into white guys with cowboy hats on style yodeling. A few women included. Some nice rarities.

[11] “The Hillbilly Yodel Star of the 1940s” on Cattle . Already a star by the time KR arrived on the scene, this woman became famous for her yodel duets with Elton Britt. She was also one of the first female radio djs with her show in NYC. She also had her own TV show and opened up a record shop called “The Rosalie Allen Hillbilly Music Center”. Being a pioneering queen off hillbilly and yodeling she was very cool but fame has a strange way of turning cool into something that makes a person go astray – in 1975 she began working for the Jim Bakker PTL organization, certainly a dubious enterprise [religious mafia] if ever there was one in the name of G-O-D. Cattle / Binge is an incredible [German] label. Amazingly enterprising in digging up lost and forgotten American gems.

[12] “Indian Love Call” on Starday. This great record is the one that introduced me to the genius of KR. It showed a life-affirming exuberance that I had forgotten belonged to music. I was sitting at the Library of Congress in a sound booth. There they have this arcane system of listening and auditioning music. You write down your audio requests, hand them in to the librarian, who forwards your note to the man in the basement archive who fetches your requests. In the sound booth you are in touch with this basement archivist and fetcher who asks, which record you’d like to hear. He puts it on and then leaves you to your thoughts until you buzz him. Then he will put on side B or another of your requests. It is like having your own personal DJ. You can almost hear him running and shuffling and rummaging through an amazing labyrinthine network of stacks and shelves. Her is where I heard the galloping yodel and his amazing 50+ second held high note in the manner of Elton Britt and here is where I thought I have to get this. Luckily I did not have to contend with the sound on the LoC vinyl. I got this wonderful. Clear and heart-wrenching version.

[13] Single on AlJean records, vinyl, 1978. Great rockabilly yodeling single by this under-appreciated singer-songwriter-yodeler-DJ-promoter-producer. Brought KR to PA while I was there in April 2005.

[14]  “Where Could You Take Me” on AMI, 1997. JL and former linesman and rhythm, mandolin player I met in Goshen Indiana at a yodel event of strange combinations: imagine a small progressive Mennonite college town in the middle of the flatlands where the people abide by 3 zones and where I spent 3 days doing research on Mennonite yodeling with the help of the Mennonite Historical Library staff and the Mennonite Historical Society archivists and ended up discovering some crazy illuminating stuff. The reading was held in a downtown coffeehouse frequented by students and locals but this night we had a sizeable crowd that included many Mennonites who had never been in such an establishment. JL & PL entertained the crowd with their warm and accomplished playing and JL’s incredibly charming yodeling that is as much lorelei serenade as anything else. After the main event [my reading and their performance] some actual Mennonite yodelers found their way to the stage and did some local Swiss-style Indiana yodeling. What a strange piece of rock we live on. We also appeared together on o Stateside with Charity Nebbe is a regional show on WUOM <michiganradio.org>, Michigan Public Radio. I was their guest on April 25 along with my yodeling companions Joyce “Michigan’s Yodeling Sweetheart” and Phil Leonard, who consistently demonstrate why yodeling is not only fun but soulful, expressive and thriving as well. The show was pre-recorded in the Ann Arbor studios and will be broadcast Friday May 20, 1 PM and will then be presumably archived at WUOM — it can also be heard on WVGR 104.1 [Grand Rapids], WFUM 91.1 [Flint], and WUOM 91.7 in Ann Arbor/Detroit. The archived show discusses YODEL-AY-EE-OOOO: THE SECRET HISTORY OF YODELING AROUND THE WORLD as well as the origins of yodeling and some strange and surprising samples of yodeling from areas of the world where you would not  expect to hear yodeling. The show also features Joyce Leonard [and Phil]. she discusses yodeling from a practitioner’s point of view. You will also hear some in-studio yodeling from Joyce. Her/their work is definitely worth the search…

[15] “Ernest Tubb’s Midnight Jamboree” Received this private recording from KR himself. A great document of KR’s appearance on this show begun by the influential hillbilly singer, the man they called ET. Ex-beer salesman and Jimmie Rodgers wannabe, even toured playing his hero’s guitar, wearing JR’s suits and dueted with Rodgers’s widow. Lost his yodel after a tonsil operation when his octave range went to somewhere between bullfrog and freight train.


Kenny Roberts: In the writing of my book YODEL-AY-EE-OOOO: THE SECRET HISTORY OF YODELING AROUND THE WORLD I met many fantastic people and the yodelers I interviewed live, by phone, letter or via email convinced me that yodeling brings a healthy aspect to life. Something about the amount of oxygen in the blood or maybe it has to do with the sound itself or the mechanics of yodeling or the fact that you are basically providing entertainment and happiness for people who might not all have equal access to the buoyant aspects of life. Or maybe it has to do with the knowledge that indeed your gift is a communication with spirits floating through the air. The yodelers all seemed – dare I say it – happy. Like ululating little buddhists in spangles and fringe.

In any case, I became transformed/transfixed or returned to an earlier state of fascination, a place I hadn’t been for years and years and that place was a reappreciation for simple heart-rending vocals with earnest lyrics [or without in the case of abstract vocalists] — folk music broadly defined. In my years as a DJ on radio, you grow pretty goddamn tired and cynical and blasé toward just about all music. In fact, crises of faith are not unheard of in DJing. Some just give it up when they cave in. I call it the Butthole Surfer syndrome. When you are engaged in post-mdoern relativizing cynicism and that becomes your MO you have a tendency to end up hating almost everything touched by humans. The great Butthole Surfers fell victim to this, maybe writers like Celine did as well.

Freeform DJs crave the new and the obscure – new obscure being best, although overlooked obscure is good and so is wacky obscure – and so for years I had given up on old genres especially rock and roll and folk. It just did not challenge the little skinny hairs inside my ears. I listened to electronica and avant garde and some jazz and trip hop and various beat driven musics as long as it didn’t have any drivel type lyrics.

No lyrics no texts, I didn’t trust text/words. I had become a writer totally suspicious of every word that was spouted by ever singer everywhere. The only lyrics were those in a foreign language I did not understand. The more incomprehensible [nonsense texts qualify] the better. This all changed with yodeling. Although a textless utterance, its context is often a standard lyrical song with the yodel serving as refrain. And at some point I went to Washington DC — still then in the spring of 2002 — a paranoid warzone. But spending 4 days at the Library of Congress [thanx to the DC housely-hospitality of the Charles Bukowski of our generation, Jose Padua] I ran across some crazy yodels in their archives. One that stuck out was an old recording of KR’s, Indian Love Call [see above]. It was the songs, yes, and the virtuoso yodeling as well but what really got me was the cumulative effect of listening to the entire album. This was not just some guy who yodels periodically like Merle Haggard or Jerry Lee Lewis or Dolly Parton. This guy yodeled a lot and had made a career of it and had a handful of top 10 hits as well. The record finishes with the classic yodel tune “She Taught Me How to Yodel”, which features his galloping yodel, which means fast like a galloping horse. Virtuoso and yet full of fun. Yikes, what was happening to me, an aficionado of the dark and gloomy [see Joy Division and now wave and other existential musics].

The more I started focusing on him the more he didn’t seem available. Whoever was advising him advised him not to answer my questions for fear it would compromise his in-progress biography. Nothing could be further from the truth. When he finally communicated I was very pleased to be able to interview him. Although the global broad and wide nature of the book precluded longer more in-depth interviewing with him and others I hope to right that with some articles and these playlists and book number 2. This gentleman deserves more than what he has thus far received and, ever the gracious guy, he says au contraire and believes he’s been blessed with plenty of success and pleasure in his life. And that is evident.

During my lecture tour in April 2005 [which was supported by the Dutch Consulate, Pro Helvetia, and the Universities of Wisconsin and Colorado] which included a lot of the Midwest, I also stopped in PA to visit my mother who is all alone in the middle of some winding way suburban housing development. Where you never see anyone walking, riding a bike or much of anything except for a quick mow of the old lawn. I also wanted to interview the wild and wooly Hank Hart [his stage name]. What a wild character. Nearly 80, he grew up a Mennonite and has spent more than 40 years outside the fold of the church to pursue his muse, which was music and sometimes a turn toward what used to be described as sinful behavior. I will not go into all of this in deference to his almost paranoid need to keep his secret a secret. What I did learn was that he was fount of information, oral history is what I was getting from a wonderful motormouth with a photographic memory. Many of his fondest memories dealt with a fertile and still under-appreciated aspect of world culture, that of radio. Specifically in the US during the 30s thru 50s when radio was the major outlet for hillbilly music [country & cowboy] other than fireman halls, bingo parlors and county fairs. He left the church to find his fame and fortune, only to find dejection and rejection and plenty of adventure during the depression, wandering the countryside with his guitar. Although what he did become was a consummate fanatic of old timey music, and specifically yodeling in the C&W tradition.

He shared a stage with me when I did a reading at a Lancaster Barnes & Noble [alas none of the indie bookstores responded to my request for a reading] and he provided a bit of pizzazz by doing some tunes, a little Elvis maneuver and a tongue twisting yodel. What we shared is an admiration for Kenny Roberts. On this most recent trip I realize the importance of circumstance, synchronicity, fortuitous happenings and it just so happened that while I was visiting my mother, Kenny Roberts was performing in a fireman’s hall in Mt. Zion, not far from Lancaster. The opening act was Al & Jean Shade, 2 committed local folk / country musicians [Al’s also a local DJ promoting independent country] and I had the good fortune to meet them and interview them on top of also meeting and talking at length with KR and his lovely wife, Bettyanne.

The hall, a country fireman’s hall filled with hundreds of bus tourists and locals of the age where the women all have blue rinses or strange perms that make their heads look like a ball of steel wool and the men dress in clothes so comfortable that it looks like they just climbed out of bed. But among them were a number of very perky people, fans of KR and the like with fond 60-year-old memories and old vinyl to have autographed. One incredibly pouty self-assured young punkette who had brought her grandma was with us because she had to go outside and smoke a cigarette. Beautiful and gloriously full of herself and a world glowing with possibility she was in her slender bio, pure trailer trash with multiple piercings bound to set off even the dullest metal detector in airports and tattoos of gods from alien worlds. Yes, she had experienced domestic violence and neglect and was now living with her grandparents in a trailer home. But she seemed beyond that, already playing guitar and bass in a punk band as well as being an accomplished visual artist who in a casual and bemused matter-of-fact way ready to conquer her little acre of earth.

What is so impressive about Kenny is his graciousness and stamina. He’s nearly 80 but can still do a full yodeling gig of over an hour – even managing a characteristic jump and a breath-taking galloping yodel. And he still has the range and can still hit [most of] the high notes. Plus he beams with gratitude and the fact that he has a lovely and cool songwriting wife. More interesting is how he is often considered a lightweight because he has a joyous voice, hosted a children’s show on TV and his songs are mostly happy-go-lucky, plus he’s a yodeler. But he stands at the confluence — and his yodeling is much admired and imitated — of various movements and periods of time. I consider KR to be one of the major links between country and rockabilly and it all happened in Keane, New Hampshire where he gigged with the Downhomers and eventually taught Bill Haley how to yodel.

What I have come to value is that the songs are great, easy to singalong with and the yodeling makes them virtuosic and unique. I now see that our culture ever since white guys got steeped in the blues as suffering and suffering only [seldom seeing the renewal, glory, and downright happy stuff in those songs] that set the tone for rock and roll and how we hear music. Soul music is good because it is deep because it is about pain. It is only in our part of the world where happy music is discounted and devalued as not serious or not a valid part of the western ouevre. This is so deeply ingrained I am guessing this has something to do with my uphill [altho not without its rewards and kudos] battle to convince the establishment that yodeling although perceived as a joyous [even goofy] outburst is serious vocalizing, every bit as serious as soul singing falsetto or opera or what have you. I think our culture has so ingrained this casual bemused dismissal in its standard repertoire of reactions that is informed by the idea that serious is solemn and that everything else is surface and is easily tossed aside as bubbly flotsam.

This for me began with the purge known as punk. A necessary upheaval for all of us especially in reaction to the over-produced treacle of most arena rock but with this bath water, the baby also got thrown out and by baby I mean roots and by roots I mean all those musical forms clinging to those roots, which included a lot of hippie music [which was back then the absolute most pejorative thing you could call music other than disco], out of this cultural revolution not unlike the Chinese Commies came a kind of narrow definition of what was cool. Black clothes, night life, self-destruction with a bit of poetry and glamorous dissipation. It took many years for me and others to recover a sense of equilibrium and perspective that allowed us to listen to the music damned to the cut-out bins. Funny, most punk is now in this category and has in my reanalysis become largely unlistenable. How our ears are part of the herd mentality and the prevailing zeitgeist. Or maybe my internal organs just needed punk [etc.] at the time it came along. As your body changes, hormones readjust and so do our ears…

Of course, I never gave up on other music, especially as a freeform DJ – I played a little bit of almost anything and maybe in one 3-hour show even. But still, it took a long time because there seems to be a period of 20-25 years before cultural artifacts can be accurately reassessed – this may have to do with our society although it may also have to do with our biological make up, that our ears and memories have a necessary lag time [some audio-historical wave form] before we can listen to things without the cultural distraction and hyped commotion along with it.

I listen to a lot more roots music – its not necessarily more real or even better or more soulful than other styles – it’s just good to listen to especially to reorient and reshape the ears. And Kenny Roberts embodies this struggle in me and probably on a societal level as well. What I am saying is: he’s every bit as good as many of the greats who have been handed the seal of approval as bonafide star or genius. Hank Snow, Gene Autry, and several others come to mind. But when I listen to KR I do not hear a qualitative difference. He’s every bit as good as these greats. The obverse is also true, both Patsy Montana and Jimmie Rodgers are great and are now considered American cultural icons [almost on the level of Gershwin] but when you listen to them, part of their greatness was their ability to artistically overcome their sizeable shortcomings mostly to do with their playing and limited voices. I like both of them very much, don’t get me wrong, BUT I do get the distinct feeling that they are vaguely overrated. They become increasingly famous because they are already famous, the old snowball effect.

I understand in the case of both of them that they were groundbreakers and made it possible for others to follow in their paths. But this has nothing to do with the quality of their songs, singing and yodeling. Take Carolina Cotton. Who? You ask. Well, a very accomplished and sophisticated singer and songwriter who wrote songs for a number of  Hollywood productions and even sang and acted in some of these. She is great and yet circumstance like in the case of KR that they are ignored, neglected, and what not.

With my book and subsequent compilations, a feature-length documentary, and a second book YODELING IN HI FI, I hope to set some of these injustices straight and further untangle the world’s under-documented worlds of strange musics.

WTM #947: There’s Nothing Amiss with the Swiss Except the Way They Kiss

•May 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 88.3 ~ Amsterdam
6 November 2006

Switzerland is simply a large, lumpy, solid rock with a thin skin of grass stretched over it.
• Mark Twain

Switzerland, on a high mountain, not far from Lucerne, there is a lake they call Pilate’s Pond, which the Devil has fixed upon as one of the chief residences of his evil spirits
• Martin Luther
ìIn Switzerland they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock!
• Simone Weil AND Orson Welles

The first time I passed through the country (Switzerland) I had the impression it was swept down with a broom from one end to the other every morning by housewives who dumped all the dirt in Italy.
• Ernesto S’bato

Switzerland is a small, steep country, much more up and down than sideways, and is all stuck over with large brown hotels built on the cuckoo style of architecture.
• Ernest Hemingway

Morgeluft > Cyril Schlaepfer [1]
Wreck Up Version > Prince Jammy & the Agrgrovators [1a]
Herz > Doppelbock [2]
What Shakes > Sainkho Namchylak & Ned Rothenberg [3]
Tyz / Summertag / Ledoj Express > Christine Lauterburg [4]
Le Sirena > Demetrios Stratos & Lucien Fabbri [5]
Echo-Jodel > Peter Hinnen [6]
Long Way Home > Sainkho [3]
Ledoj Express > Christine Lauterburg [4]
Bettag > Christine Lauterburg [4]
Swiss Maiden’s Dance > Edelweiss Stars [7]
Planalp > Christine Lauterburg [4]
Sylvesterchlaus 2 > Buel-Bänkli Schuppel [8]
Yokomata ’06 > Christine Lauterburg [4]
Bergli im Treub > Doppelbock [2]
Quatember > Sait’n’Sang [9]
Geissbuebeliedli > Sonja Aebi [10]
Annegreth / Pfaffewalzer > Doppelbock [2]
Piraten > Gilbert Paeffgen Plus [9]
Alpstein [exc] > Christine Lauterburg [4]
Guggisberlied > Heimatflimmern [9]
D’r Münsterbärgler Natuurjodel > Jodlergruppe Swissair [11]
Rentrer > EAM [12]
One More Tequila > Pascal Schaer Quartet [13]
Oberbärgler und Stümpeli > Nadja Räss [14]
Wänns Winteret > Doppelbock [13]
Schäpfer Jodel > Älpler-Jodlergruppe Zihlmann [15]
Musflueh-Juitz > Jodlerklub Wisenberg [16]
Information Channel  EAM [12]
Ciumbararillalla > Christina Zurbrügg [13]
Piano Song > Planzplätz [17]
Z’Stückish > Erika Stucky [12]
Woschnuhi > Stimmhorn & Kold Electronics [12]

[1] “Morgeluft” on CSR is another in this series of incredibly enchanting soundscape CDs which are intoxicatingly representative sonic portraits of certain aspects of Swiss [vanshing] culture. “True Tone” volumes 1-5 including: [‘s Glüüt vols. 1-2], [ ‘s Fahr Glüüt], [Les Sonailles] [CD 91522, 91532, 91482, 91492] is a series of ambient recordings of, yes, the pastoral / past-aural Swiss scenery.
[2] “Obio” on Narrenschiff . Exquisite tightrope walk between traditional and modern renovating music in Switzerland. With Lauterberg on vocals/yodels. Saw them in Brugg, Switz. In early November. I am constantly amazed at the pervasive musicianship in Switzerland at the quality of it and that there are so many [free] performances. Switzerland is jammin’.
[3] Amazing Tuvan avant gardist who works with traditional material to make it at once her own and everyone’s.
[4] “Alles Bleibt Anders” on Dewil Music . One of my tops for 2006.
[5] Amazingly avant and retro singer who verges into yodeling, histrionics, vocal tectonics, and falsetto like no man before him and that goes for Freddy Mercury, Tiny Tim or Klaus Nomi. Some very interesting cross-cultural forays into throat-singing, other-worldly scat all set in a 70s prog rock setting. Courtesy of Giorgia and Massimo.
[6] Probably one of my/the mysteries or tragedies of pop music. One of the biggest stars in the pop music scene in Switzerland and I think Germany in the 60s he all but withdrew and became a male nurse only to return half-heartedly some 30 years later. One of the most gifted of the speed and pyrotechnic yodelers.
[7] The Edelweiss Stars were a Swiss-American group of hell-raisers in the 50s and 60s, who poured on the neo-trad good time music in America’s Midwest where traditions were preserved in a way that suited the people there best.
[8]  ” Um Alte Silveschter z’Urnaäsch” on CSR . These field recordings by Cyrill Schäpler record the strange Appenzeller pagan holiday in January when men dress as strange evil or good spirits. The masks remind you of something from the Middle Ages or mid-Africa. Incredibly haunting material.
[9] “Alpentöne 05” on Muysques Suisses. Highlights froma festival theat captures the ongoing tempest in a schnapps glass in Switzerland. But some fury does fly between the various camps: the traditionalists, the neo-trads, the official trads of the National Jodel organisation, the pop purveyors, the avant gardists who abuse/misuse/reuse [take your pick]traditional sounds, themes, instruments, vocals. It’s a robust but oft cantankerous row between someone guarding the old guard and someone who has blasted away some more of prized and treasured tradition [that is all cooked up in a simulacrum for consumption by tourists anyway]. But tradition lives most in those who are busy doing something with it as the musicians in this festival show. Liner notes: “Sait’Sang plays with bass notes and the voice in combination with theatrical expression, humour and sensuality. Howling strings meet bubbling voices.”
[10] “Dur z’Seeland Uf!” on Philips vinyl. Yodeling and all the other stuff done in a polite manner for the consumption of tourists who spent a week in Switzerland and a need a jolt of that old jägermeister, edelweiss, and jodeling.
[11] “Schweizer Heimatabend” on Tell Records vinyl.
[12] “EAM: Electro Acoustic Meeting” on EAM . An amazingly beautiful meeting of electro and acoustic that creates an ambience that reminds me of the romantic post-Rapahelite kind of folk-rock of 1960s UK… but also of mid-90s ambient and jazz and amazing landscapes. This could have easily been in my Top 2006 had it not been for the fact that I forgot it.
[13] “Alpine Music: Made in Switzerland” on Suisa. Compiled by one of the most knowledgeable of contemporary music, Urban Frye . A vast broad array of sounds that ultimately does have a very “Swiss” sound. Something for everyone and some things that everyone will hate. I love Stimmhorn but wonder what happened on their collaboration with Kold Electronics. I love odd meetings of disparate musical strategies but this one did not click. Also includes the inimitable Erika Stucky, Doppelbock and the fresh new [to me] voice of Nadja Räss.
[14] “Stimmreise.ch” on Tell Music. Räss is another one of ‘my’ recent discoveries. Not by me but for me. An amazingly clear-voiced yodeling researcher, teacher, composer and preserver of traditions in a way that you can get around. She doesn’t put the sons in some scratched and dusty glass museum case. No, she pulls them out, hangs them on a line and lets the yodel songs flutter and shimmer in the breeze.
[15] “Alpler-Jodlergruppe Zihlmann: De Schratteschäfer” on CSR. Amazingly interesting yodels from more than 40 years ago that have been revived by Cyrill Schlaepfer. The group is comprised of young and old and family members and friends and can only be described as the real thing, somewhat outside the rarefied/sterile realm of official traditional yodeling as espoused by the National Jodeler Organisation.  They are as I claim something equivalent to the Carter Family and would be something Allan Lomax would have salivated over for days.
[16] “Mey Freyd” on Phonoplay . Another group considered by many to cut through all the contrivance and hoopla of the regenerated real and actual to just plainly sing and yodel for REAL. Featured in a recent film, these farming yodelers have voices that cut through all the built up fat and cholesterol around a heart too readily coddled. Shake it up.
There is no country more enhanced and encumbered by the myths and misunderstandings that people hold on to with all their touristic might. Cuckoo clocks, for instance, altho famous for their watches they ARE NOT known for their cuckoo clocks – not like Bavaria, for instance – but that does not stop me from searching for one and finding one and along the way having everyone there tell me it is NOT really a Swiss thing… And yet, we continue to follow a manufactured image of this nation. I guess the Netherlands also profits [and loses some of its depth and identity] by latching itself to romantic images that tourists want to see and hear – wooden shoes, Van Gogh, coffeeshops… We give the tourists what they want, profit from it but feel somewhat emptier afterward – like a discount warehouse cleared to the walls after a sale.
There is also no nation more different than the Netherlands although when you are there as a Dutch speaker a strange audio-hallucinatory effect takes hold – after day 4 or 5 wandering around the city streets you begin to think you are hearing things, you begin to believe you understand Switzer Deutsch – you look at people, the way their mouths move, smirk, and swear you are understanding everything they are saying. There is something about the intonation of their German that seems to catch your eardrums the same way Dutch does. I thought I was going crazy until someone from Switzerland who had visited Amsterdam had almost the same exact experience except in reverse.
I have been in Switzerland a number of times and have been there twice for research purposes. The last times, 4 years ago while writing my yodel book I spent my last full day there unwinding [after 6 days of yodel intensity] I climbed a mountain, got high on the sun, the scents, the view, the thin air but most of all from the sounds, the atmospheric ambient orchestral sounds of cowbells in the foreground, passing from consciousness to unconscious, in the distance, on other mountains…
The Swiss seem to wrestle or engage or be annoyed with one another or find it stimulating to be in the age-old and yet hugely contemporary issue of identity and nation, of folk culture and who we are in that glom of conflicting stimuli. The Americans long for a royal, regal, mythical history and thus have Hollywood and the cult of fame, the British have their history [which of course simultaneously empowers and sarcastically laughs at its citizenry] while the Swiss are constantly dealing with issues of the real vs the image, illusion vs roots culture, commerce vs complexity, culture by political decree, wild outsider culture… The good thing is that despite some flared tempers and some indignant denunciations by the one side or the other that one is real and the other fake or whatever, there is live music everywhere and that liveness brings people to the fore – in these smoky cafes and bars, you encounter rosy-cheeked people listening, dreaming, contemplating, scheming, dancing, singing, yodeling and arguing about who is upholding the Swissness of Switzerland: the official preservers of culture [conservative preservatives?], the playful ad hoc traditionals [they like to play with traditional music and improvise], the pop trads [ remunerative and surfacy play with tradition], the rockers [hating everything to do with embarrassing Swissness], the mature musicians [they take from everywhere and mix anything and everything to create an international Swissness that is certainly more savory than Switzerland’s secretive international banking sleaze]…
While in Switzerland we met BBC reporter, grad student, musician and sometime yodeler, Serena Dankwa who is from Ghana but just as much from Switzerland. She is Swiss. Being black that creates awkward cultural moments and constant explanation that one of her parents is African the other European [Swiss]. She could yodel based on her interest stimulated by the avant gardists but brought back from her childhood learning yodels and songs taught to her by her mom. We met, interviewed, filmed and drank schnaps with some of the Zihlmann clan in the Entlebuch region of small villages and farms. There we met a traditional roots family who has continued to yodel on site and in a jodel group and even became somewhat renowned in the 1960s because of Alan Lomax-like recordings made of their songs. Sitting here and understanding little but feeling a lot [and hearing NO yodeling today] I realized how engrained certain practices like singing in and with a family is as far as identity [family, region, canton, national] and see how they deal with that balance between traditional and modern [they have modern tractors, TVs, mobile phones and yet therir lifestyles still clings to many habits, manners that keeps them in touch with who they are through what they do [they yodel, sing, make their own cheese, raise cattle, make their own schnapps]. We also visited yet another person straddling the tradition vs modern divide. Nadja Räss, the young effervescent rage in song and research is that ideal lovely ambassador and negotiator who can make both traditionalists and modernists put away their arsenal of grumpy preconceptions. She is inspired by tradition, lives and yodels with a view of amazingly breathtaking [for a Dutchman whose experience with hills are dirt mounds – Paloma upon passing a huge dirt mound at a building site said ‘Hey, daddy, look a mountain in Amsterdam] mountains in the backdrop where outside you hear the lingering time delay echoes of bells and children playing far off in the distance… And, yes, Nadja has a voice, temper, soulful investment that makes her real without being stuffy or encumbered by the frills and handcuffs of tradition. Then we met the amazing vocalist, Christine Lauterberg who has always had a very open and constructive antagonism with pre-heated tradition and sings like someone with roots in the earth and roots in the sky and yet, she, as everyone else mentioned and not has to deal with issues of the acceptable, the transgressive, the sentimental, the profiteering, the satirical and many of these people, musicians and yodelers embrace a wide and varied approach to culture, folk music and tradition. This was best exemplified by the ‘farmer’ ‘herder’ guys we met in the Muotathal valley where people still live traditionally and yet have all the creature comforts of modern society. Christian and Bernard, both who sing/yodel a lovely natuurjodel juutz that is dug right out of a mountainside with a shovel made of soul and yet Bernard is in a rock band where he does NO yodeling and his favorite music is rock and metal, with his fave being Creedence Clearwater. Meanwhile, Bernard also sang and yodeled in a family yodel group where the official traditions of strict guidelines and rules of what is ‘folk’ are maintained by judges who keep these strict guidelines to preserve folk music to death… [To Be Continued]

WTM #1086: Mix Ultra-Electro-Voce-Extremotion

•April 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 88.3
Amsterdam ~ Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies

22 February 2010 // 16.30-18.30

“Yodeling is maligned because people tend to fear, thus ridicule, the extreme, and also tend to find the extreme lacking in nuance. Often, yodelers have abetted this neglect by obsessing on the mere trick of the yodel, [becoming] virtuosos of the mechanical. Yodeling can be redolent with emotional subtlety, but it’s abstract, lacks the comfort of semantics, so many folks are more at ease lounging in pop cliché, deriving their subtlety from particular analogous memories.”
Jack Collom, poet-yodeler-pedagogue

In the beginning was the voice. Voice is sounding breath, the audible sign of life. • Otto Jespersen, Language, Its Nature, Development and Origin

Stepping into the Night > Penumbra [Anoraks / Universal Egg]
+ Yodel Bomber > People Like Us
Stepping into the Night > Penumbra [Anoraks / Universal Egg]
+ Balkanization > Neil B. Rolnick
Stepping into the Night > Penumbra [Anoraks / Universal Egg]
+ A Little Pond, Whatever You want it to Be > Bob Ross
Pushpulser > Penumbra [Anoraks / Universal Egg]
Kariitti [Finn] > Leena Joutsenlahti
Introduction Et Ouanigou* > Valentin Clastrier
The Chi Stirs > Annea Lockwood [Thousand Year Dreaming / Pogus]
[Talking] Space to Space > Iris Garrelfs [Split/Sprinter / Lichtung]
Lettre au Directeur des Messageries Maritimes [Rimbaud] > Richard Bohringer & Mr. X [Zazou]
The Chi Stirs > Annea Lockwood [Thousand Year Dreaming / Pogus]
[Talking] Space to Space > Iris Garrelfs [Split/Sprinter / Lichtung]
Schlagerzeit (Tolstoy’s Anemic) > Doo-Dooettes
In Full Bloom > Annea Lockwood [Thousand Year Dreaming / Pogus]
Na Marcem de Todas as Coisas: Uma Cancao > Ricardo Corona
Xango > Cathy Berberian
Yodel Odel Obey Me  > Dr. Doofenshmirtz
[Talking] Space to Space > Iris Garrelfs [Split/Sprinter / Lichtung]
Waiting for a Train  > The Proclaimers
Russian Roulette > Shelley Hirsch
Tatlaga > Egschiglen [Traditionelle Mongolische Lieder / Gema http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egschiglen
The Chi Stirs > Annea Lockwood [Thousand Year Dreaming / Pogus]
[Talking] Space to Space > Iris Garrelfs [Split/Sprinter / Lichtung]
Mongolian Folk Melody > Egschiglen [Traditionelle Mongolische Lieder / Gema]
Angelica Silvestris > Anna Nacher
I dreamt I Yodeled I Remixed project* > Alvin Curran
The Chi Stirs > Annea Lockwood [Thousand Year Dreaming / Pogus]
Dierpmesbákti – The Rock Of The Thunder God > Wimme [Cugu / Rockadillo]
Concierto En Canto – Sobre Saltos > Fatima Miranda
Floating World 1 > Annea Lockwood [Thousand Year Dreaming / Pogus]
Um Um Um > Leon Thomas [Spirits Known and Unknown / Bluebird-BMG]
Depressed Echo 4x > Margaret Harris/WFMU]
Arctic Bar > Meredith Monk [Facing North / ECM]
Floating World 2 > Annea Lockwood [Thousand Year Dreaming / Pogus]
The Deep > Kyron [Union / Black Note]
Floating World 2 > Annea Lockwood [Thousand Year Dreaming / Pogus]
Rabbi / Union > Kyron [Union / Black Note]
Fly [short] > Yoko Ono
I Want to Hold Your Hand > Cathy Berberian
Alpine Climbers edit > Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck & Pluto
Stripsody (Tv svizzera italiana 1969) > Cathy Berberian
In the Alps Act 1 [Yodel] > Barbara Hannigan & Nederlands Blazers Ensemble

“While singing the yodel I recommend to anyone who is … familiar with the Runes… to take up the appropriate Runic posture. Also it is good, while singing, to stretch your arms out to your sides and to dance slowly in a waltz-step in a circle.”
Siegfried Adolf Kummer

This was a show dedicated to adventurous vocalists many of whom will appear on my AVANT LE VOIX: HUMAN EXPERIMENTS WITH THE YODEL album. What I had forgotten for those years in the late 1980s through until the later 1990s was that the human voice is still the best most evocative and radical instrument. I had given up on vocals, specifically rock/pop lyrics because nothing rang true or even that clever. But through Yoko Ono, Shelley Hirsch I came out of my moratorium and these adventurous vocalists led me to the yodel and the rest is history of course. The yodel has never been fully accepted as Muzak for the masses the way rock and rock n roll have. Isn’t it strange to hear your favorite rock anthems, the ones that spoke the most to your identity crisis now being shoveled up in super markets to ease us into anxiety-free shopping? I combined two disparate forms [electronica] and [mostly] unplugged / honest voices and in their abstract extrapolations of what can have meaning outside standard rock/pop song formats they come together very seamlessly.

What I stuck to mostly was female voices and men at the knobs. The female is allowed to express any/everything as long as it is with her voice as marketed icon of herself and her femaleness but also as the only instrument where women predominate, where they have taken the reigns. There is no other instrument dominated by women. Look at ensembles, bands, rock groups – its 95% men behind the kits and axes. Is it perhaps some ancient link between women, enchantment, lorelei, destruction, power that has allowed for this anomaly? Or is it just me? Is there some oral cavity – vaginal link that goes back beyond history into our very genetic structure? Does it have something to do with a certain Ur-confidence that women have, not based on socialization, more like despite socialization, but something that has to do with their very femaleness? That they, unlike men, do not have to prove their ability to create over and over and over. They can move – with their art and voices – beyond having to prove themselves, to show off, beholden to touting results.

What we have here is a strange conglomeration of musicians and vocalists, many of whom  are world musicians in the abstract form as beyond boundaries, border, nationalities, isms and such, a world without countries but not without roots. They end up exploring the very physicality of the OOO, the OOOMM, the Yo- the leap into EEee and have noted the effects this has on both body and spirit. In a sense divining up a world beyond explication, beyond narrative that only jazz musicians have maybe been privy to. But then I think that perhaps many singers undergo a kind of transformation and that this is really a series of highlighted moments, consciously noted by these vocalists, states that we ALL pass through in the course of a day of flickering consciousness, with external stimuli triggering memories like signpost mnemonic devices, with voices working as laments, as doorways and passages to different parts of ourselves. People like Anna Nacher, Shelley Hirsch, Fatima Miranda, Yoko Ono, Barbara Hannigan and Cathy Berberian seem to be able to periodically function as oracles and sometimes their vocal arsenal must create the equivalent of a skipped heartbeat so that they and we can enter a new plane and this may happen when you least expect it – after a yodeled flourish that shakes us out of our expectation of [radio-fed] musical normalcy, that music and vocals must follow rules. These are some bold, brave, kick-ass gals, every bit as provocative as Joan Jett or Lady Gaga – times 10.


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