"KEN GRIFFIN DEDICATION SHOW"
At The Beautiful Sound (Allen Organ Dealer)
Countryside, Chicago, Illinois.
On Sunday 23rd of October 2005
Eric Larson & Frank Pugno
# Frank and Eric prior to start of the Show
(Reedited version with technical help from Frank and Eric)
It was a great pleasure to be able to attend the fourth Dedication Show, especially so after missing out on being there last year. Along with meeting up with everyone again it was nice to meet Don Downin for the first time after two years of communicating via the Internet. Bob made a weekend of it, coming over from Mesa, Arizona.
Kerry Griffin, who tried to be there, gave apologies. Kerry was in Boston on business and had hoped to be able to get a flight move to be able to get into Chicago but that didn't work out. It was very sad that he was unable to be with us but very much appreciate his effort and talking with him on the phone.
Apologies were also sent from our friends Wilfred and Bente Hoasteland in Norway and also from Johs and Stinne Larsen, in Denmark. While they couldn't be with us I know that their thoughts and Best Wishes were with us during this weekend. Likewise with Bruce and Julie McLean who live in Australia. I very much hope that all will manage to be with us in the future.
On the Saturday before the show I met up with Andy Antonczyk and Eric Larson and we went out to the Beautiful Sound Show Rooms, where we met up with Frank Pugno and Brian Wessel. Thanks to Andy's pre-planning and Lee Moloney everything had already been set up and Frank and Eric got down to rehearsing their programmes. A Hammond RT-3, An Allen GW-IV and a brand new Allen 311 Quantum were at our disposal. Those who know and understand about these organs will know that we were exceptionally honored to have such a trio of fine organs for our use. For me, being in the company of my American friends and listening to both Frank and Eric during these rehearsals and hearing all those 'Griffin Sounds' is a very enjoyable part of the whole weekend of this Dedication Weekend. However, that isn't to forget Andy's part! Before Eric and Frank turned up Andy played for pleasure, mainly on the Allen GW-IV but also on the 311 Quantum and once Andy relaxes at the keyboards he gives a very enjoyable performance.
After rehearsals were over Frank and Brian returned home then Andy drove Eric and myself to his home. After Sally arrived we spent a very enjoyable evening at Andy's catching up with all the chat and enjoying more 'Griffin' and 'Larson' music on Andy's 3-Manual Allen organ, played by Eric. We also listened to numerous 'other' organists from Andy's extensive record collection. It was interesting learning the influence that Jessie Crawford had on Ken and you can hear the similarities in Ken's performances and playing style in numbers such as Masquarade. From this we can assume that Ken found the very moody sounds he used in numbers such as Far Away Places, The Nearness Of You etc, from Jessie and arranged the mood and style to suit the Hammond and Wurlitzer Electrostatic organs, putting his own personal stamp on these fine tunes.
What more could you ask for than to spend such and enjoyable day and evening and still have the complete Dedication Show to look forward to next day!
Sunday afternoon quickly came around and as we waited for the audience to arrive it was nice to meet up once again with Bob Potts and his wife, Cindy, who were accompanied with their Daughter. It was certainly nice to meet Bryon Young and to know him by name. Bryon as you know has just started a new page on our web site in which he hopes to increase the content. I met Bryon at the first two Dedication Shows but couldn't place him by name, therefore it is nice to be able to do so and to work and correspond with him through the web pages.
Andy also introduced us to a recording by a Jimmy Paulin whom I have never heard of and, apparently the recording was made while the performer was really drunk and from which he produced quite a masterpiece of the old tune Cecelia! Well, if not a masterpiece, certainly a performance you are not likely to forget. He played virtually at Full organ throughout but changed pace and mood to advantage and the whole piece just hit you for six. Suffice to say, that Eric had not heard of it either and as we learned later the number had ran through his mind all through the night. The result you will read about below in my report of Eric's performance during the Dedication Show.
The show was started off with an introduction from ---------- --------------, who gave a warm welcome to the members of The Ken Griffin Society and also to the members of The Chicago Organ Society, who's normal meeting day this is. With only two organists this time the whole day was given over to Frank Pugno and Eric Larson and their performances averaged around 40 minutes each in which they filled the afternoon with little other than the great Ken Griffin Sound, which we had all come to hear.
* The Hammond RT-3 as used for the Show and which produced an excellent 'Griffin Sound'.
Frank Pugno kicked off with Ken's most famous Hit 'You Can't be True, Dear', on the Hammond RT-3 and gave almost a perfect performance that set the mood for the rest of the afternoon.
This was followed up with Half As Much and Now Is The Hour a nice mixture of a faster paced number being followed by Ken's more melodious organ sound.
This was followed by another very catchy number Give me A Little Kiss (Won't You, Hon.), which again was very close to Ken's performance on the recording. Frank then slowed the pace down again for the very melodious sound of Let Me Call You Sweetheart, with exactly the same sound and arrangement as you hear by Ken.
Frank then concluded his first 'solo' performance with Ken's upbeat number The Woman In The Shoe, which was almost identical to Ken's recording but managed to follow this up with an even closer arrangement of Ken's great show stopper Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart. With each performance you are amazed at how exact you are hearing the Griffin Sound and can almost imagine Ken being at the console.
Ken produced a number of recordings where the counter-melody was overdubbed. At that time this was quite a new innovation and Ken was amongst the first to use this technique using reel-reel tape. He would record the main melody then record the counter-melody and in the recording studio they 'dub' the two tracks into one. However, to get the same result during a live show you require, as Frank put it "To grow an extra pair of arms" or resort to two organs and organists. Therefore, Eric assisted Frank by playing these counter-melodies and other sound effects on the Allen GW-IV.
* Eric & Frank playing Ken's 18th Century Drawing Room, with Eric playing the pizzicato on the Allen GW-IV.
Frank first played 'April In Portugal' and while he played that precisely as Ken did, Eric created the background beat by 'palming' the keys in rhythm. Between them they produced an exact play-a-like performance of Ken Griffin.
Next Frank played You, You, You. This is amongst my favourites of favourites of Ken's recordings. It's such a great tune that carries you along with it and the deep organ sound in the centre melody really 'spits' out the notes from the keyboard. If you know this recording you will recall that Ken added his fast paced right-hand 'brassing (a single note melody that accompanies a main melody in the background at reduced volume. A series of staccato chords played to accentuate the rhythm) and once again while Frank played the melody, Eric played the fast 'brassing' and together gave the perfect performance of this great piece. If I remember correctly, while Ken produced a number of recordings that did well in the charts, he never quite managed to match the sales of You Can't Be True, Dear, but You, You, You was the one that came very close. Frank and Eric are to be congratulated on combining their talents to produce such a perfect performance.
As if that wasn't good enough, Frank and Eric came up with an equally breath-taking performance of Ken's 18th Century Drawing Room, where the over-dubbing is equally as important as the melody. This is a very fast number where the "pizzicato effect" is used time and again at some speed and two organists keeping in strict harmony is paramount and once again our 'Fingercrunching-Duo' came up with the goods. 18th Century Drawing Room is based on the Piano Sonata in C-Major, and while Ken's more upbeat arrangement is not what the pureists would like, it must surely be a unique arrangement that Ken should have been proud of and I am sure Mozart would appreciate it.
Frank moved to the Allen GW-IV for his next number, Apple Blossom Wedding. This is another of those really great tunes that you enjoy hearing time and again. This was also one of those numbers where Ken dubbed the piano and organ together, which also created a unique sound that was very much part of that 'Griffin Sound'. Again we would require two organists but Frank used the uniqueness of the Allen, which could produce both the organ and piano sound at the same time, making it easy for a 'good' organist to play this arrangement solo. Well, our Frank is even better than 'good' and while the Allen couldn't produce the correct 'Griffin Sound' Frank gave an excellent performance of this fine number. Not exactly as Ken's arrangement but it was very close.
For his final number on the GW-IV next played I'll Never Smile Again. I have never heard Ken play this tune but Frank gave a fine performance of this old smoothie.
* Frank at the Allen GW-IV Organ
With all that 'Griffin Sound' Frank moved onto the brand new Allen 311-Quantum to play his final two numbers in his own playing style. The 'Quantum' is a really fine instrument, with a very bright and crisp sound. Frank first played 'Linger A While' and concluded with a fantastic arrangement of In The Mood in which he performs some really fine foot-peddle work, which is as fascinating to watch as is his overall keyboard playing. An excellent conclusion to a very good set of numbers that really entertained and Frank deserved the considerable applause.
There was a 20-minute break for refreshments and some more chitchat.
* Eric Larson at the Hammond RT-3
Eric started the second half of the show with Ken's 'second' biggest hit The Cuckoo Waltz and you immediately heard the play-alike quality that is Eric's trade mark and as good as other organists are I doubt if anyone else gets anywhere as close to Ken's sound and playing style that Eric does, and so consistently. Eric now has a very comprehensive collection of play-a-like recordings and the Cuckoo Waltz is as close as it gets.
My Heart Cries For You is one of those tunes that shouldn't suite the organ but Ken's arrangement made it more than acceptable and Eric caught this arrangement very well.
Eric followed this with Jealous, which I call a 'walking or strolling' style of tune that Ken often used and this fine tune really has you wanting to 'stroll along with it'. I have heard vocal verions of this tune but they have never inspired me in the way that Ken's arrangement did and once again Eric got everything spot on.
Ken played Lamplighter's Serenade as a very bouncy number that you can easily whistle along to and Eric played exactly to the right pace and bounce. A very enjoyable tune.
Next Eric played Side By Side. We have heard Eric play this number a number of times but it still amazes me at how close he gets this to Ken's arrangement and once again he surpassed himself.
This was followed up with another fine playing of September In The Rain. It wasn't meant to be exactly to Ken's arrangement but you could certainly hear Ken Griffin in there every now and again.
Eric's next tune was Kringle's Jingle. By coincidence a member of the audiance asked Eric how Ken made the 'Jingling' sound that carried through most of this recording. Ken had over-dubbed a loop of this Jingle but again for a live performance you require two players and Frank Pugno came to Eric's aid and played the 'Jingle' on the GW-IV and once again our 'Fingercrunching-Duo' played Ken's arrangement to perfection.
Ken also recorded this tune as 'Whistler's Jingle', which had a slightly slower pace. My guess is that this arrangement (and title) was produced so that it could be played at any time of the year.
Eric moved to the Allen GW-IV for Satin Doll and played a very melodious arrangement of this swinging old number.
My Kind Of Girl is very much a 'Showtime' number and Eric played it very much as a fun piece
Eric next gave a remarkable rendering of Ken's very harmonious arrangement of My Best To You. This is a really sweet tune and Eric played it with great sensitivity, only straying from Ken's arrangement and into his own playing style for a few bars. Eric used the Allen GW-IV rather than the Hammond for this number because it required playing two keyboards at the same time with one hand, using his thumb to play the lower keyboard while he played the main melody on the upper keyboard. The rather straight edge of the Hammond keyboards makes this difficult while the Allen's overlapping keys make for an easier reach. This is a very interesting movement to watch and also makes for a very interesting sound combination and Eric is to be congratulated for playing such a melodious arrangement of this fine old number.
I have never head this tune as a vocal or knew that there was even words to it, but Sally gave out a few photocopies of the Song Sheet, which includes a photo of Ken, at the organ. I shall be trying to learn the words before long and see how they fit the mood of this lovely tune.
Eric concluded his concert with an old song called 'Cecilia'. It is a reflection on Eric's keyboard ability and a keen mind and ear for sound, that he only heard this particular arrangement the evening before when Andy played this from his extensive record collection. Eric had thought about the tune well into the night and during our live show sat down at the organ played the exact arrangement. You can't describe this arrangement and really need to hear it to get the full impact that the original impromptu performance produced.
Eric and Frank closed the show with the inevitable dual playing of You Can't Be True, Dear and you really can't follow that.
The show concluded with a hearty hand shake between Eric and Frank and well deserved applause from the audience. Bringing to a close an incredibly enjoyable afternoon
Our thanks to everyone who made the effort to attend and to the organisers of Beautiful Sound and The Chicago Organ Society for their kind support and we hope to see you all again next year.
As a point of interest next March 11th represents the 50th anniversary of Ken's death and 95 years since his birth and representing over 70 years of what we know as the 'Griffin Sound'. Quite a landmark. Perhaps we can put on something a little more 'special' for this event!
Photos From The Show
* Two views of the audience, caught between tunes
* Left: Eric, Bill, Sally and Frank * Right: Eric and Sally
# Frank, Eric and Don Downin
AFTER THE SHOW
After the show a number of us met at the Hotel close by and enjoyed a grand meal. It also gave us a chance to relax and talk
longer and catch up with old friends and get to know new ones.
* Left: Sally White, Bill Reid, Eric Larson, Robert Ridgeway, Andy Antonczyk and Lee Maloney
* Right: Bob & Cindy Potts & Daughter, Sally and Bill
I couldn't conclude this report without giving special thanks to Andy Antonczyk, who carries out all the organising from booking
the venue to arranging the use of instuments and any necessary equipment, and even the supply of refreshments. Without Andy's
help these Dedication Shows would not be possible.
# Andy Antonczyk
We would like to wish Andy's mother, Pat well after a recent fall in which she broke an arm. Pat usually helps greet our
visitors at the door and arranges the refreshments but had to miss out this time.
Photos marked # by Bill Reid
Photos marked * by Don Downin.
Watch these pages for the 2006 Dedication Show. It can only get better!
"Ken's music just goes on and on"