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> Das Palast Orchester
clark
post Nov 27 2004, 04:01 AM
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Say, has anyone had the chance to attend a concert of Das Palast Orchester
during their tour here in the U.S.? I had the great pleasure of seeing them perform at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia last Sunday night.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Fox, it was built during the mid to late 1920's and has been meticulously restored and maintained. It seats 4,000 and is so ornate inside and out, it is almost too much for the eyes and brain to take in. It was the perfect venue for Das Palast Orchester.

I thought they were terrific. I have a large collection of 78's, L.P.s, Cassettes and Cd's. A good portion of my collection is devoted to music of the 20's and 30's. I am also an avid listener of Radio Dismuke. While I don't profess to be an expert, I like to think that I have a keen ear. So, I have to say that after having seen and heard Das Palast Orchester live at the Fox, I feel as if I have been on a trip back through time.

Max Raabe was the leader and lead vocalist, although he did not conduct. In fact, the musicians performed with no conductor at all. I have always suspected that it was unecessary for bandleaders to stand in front of the musicians and wave a baton. I wonder, were there any bands during the 20's and 30's that did not feature a leader with a baton? Does anyone know of any examples?
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dismuke
post Nov 30 2004, 06:47 AM
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QUOTE(clark @ Nov 26 2004, 10:01 PM)
Say, has anyone had the chance to attend a concert of Das Palast Orchester
during their tour here in the U.S.?  I had the great pleasure of seeing them perform at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia last Sunday night.




I attended the performance in San Antonio and have been meaning to put up a posting about it.



QUOTE
For those of you who are not familiar with the Fox, it was built during the mid to late 1920's and has been meticulously restored and maintained. It seats 4,000 and is so ornate inside and out, it is almost too much for the eyes and brain to take in. It was the perfect venue for Das Palast Orchester



I spent two weeks in Atlanta on business in 2000 and got an opportunity to take one of the tours of the theatre that are offered on certain days each week (or, at least they were offered at the time). It is indeed an incredible place - and yes, "almost too much for the eyes and brain to take in" is a very apt description. Back in the 1920s the public areas of those old movie and vaudeville palaces were considered just as important to the customers' overall experience as was the movie or show itself. The amount of quality, craftsmanship and attention to detail of that era was incredible - and in stark contrast to the boring blandness that was all so pervasive in the post World War II decades.

QUOTE
Max Raabe was the leader and lead vocalist, although he did not conduct. In fact, the musicians performed with no conductor at all. I have always suspected that it was unecessary for bandleaders to stand in front of the musicians and wave a baton. I wonder, were there any bands during the 20's and 30's that did not feature a leader with a baton? Does anyone know of any examples?


I seem to recall reading about some - but I am afraid I cannot remember the details. Some of the bands were fronted by people who were primarily showmen - for example Ted Lewis. I am not sure if Ted Lewis waved a baton or what he did when he sang. Others were musicians whose playing was part of their act - for example, Eddy Duchin. It would have been kind of difficult for Duchin to conduct while he played the piano. I wonder if the band simply did without a conductor or if Duchin had someone to do it for him. It is certainly a very interesting question.


QUOTE
I thought they were terrific. I have a large collection of 78's, L.P.s, Cassettes and Cd's. A good portion of my collection is devoted to music of the 20's and 30's. I am also an avid listener of Radio Dismuke. While I don't profess to be an expert, I like to think that I have a keen ear. So, I have to say that after having seen and heard Das Palast Orchester live at the Fox, I feel as if I have been on a trip back through time.


They were indeed terrific. It was the very first time in my life that I have had an opportunity to see a 1920s and 1930s style dance band in person - which I think is kind of sad considering how much I love that sort music. I have seen performances of 1940s style big bands and traditional jazz groups and enjoyed them - but the musical era I love most is the '20s and early '30s. One of the things I kept thinking during and after the program was "gee, imagine what it must have been like to have lived in an era when similar performances were commonplace and could be found any weekend in any big city downtown." In a way, the sheer sparkle and brilliance of the performance made it all the more clear just how much of a cultural desert we live in today when it comes to popular music. Of course, I am very grateful for the advent of the Internet which finally makes it possible for non-collectors to once again have an opportunity to discover and enjoy the music from earlier eras. But the Palast performance gave me a taste of what it must have been like to experience the era in person - and it made me very homesick for an era that ceased to exist long before I was even born.

Raabe and his musicians are very talented - and the members of the band displayed a great deal of showmanship even while they played. The facial expressions of the band's pianist were great. And while San Antonio's Empire Theatre is much smaller than the Fox, it is still quite grand and ornate and was perfect for such a performance.

I also had a great time after the performance - and I even got an unexpected opportunity to meet Max Raabe and some of the musicians.

After the show was over, I went across the street to the historic Gunter Hotel for the planned Radio Dismuke reception. I had no idea how many people, if any, were going to show up. My thought was if only one person showed up and it resulted in some interesting conversation, it would be a success - and indeed it was. Two people showed up: Vladimir Berkov, who is a member of this discussion board, came in from Austin and a very nice lady from San Antonio, Louise Cantwell, who came to ask if Vladimir and I would be interested in attending a party that was being held for the members of the band. Of course, we were very much interested and so that is where we spent the rest of the evening. It was indeed an honor to be able to meet and talk with Raabe and the other musicians - especially given the fact that virtually all of my favorite musicians are no longer alive.

Clark, you mentioned how authentic the Palast Orchester sounded. One of the things Max Raabe mentioned when Vladimir complimented him on the band's version of "You're The Cream In My Coffee" was that his arranger reproduced the score note for note from an original 78 rpm performance.

One thing I found out was that the band does plan on making another American tour - probably in 2006 - which will include a performance at New York's Carnegie Hall. They are also going to try and add more cities to the tour next time around. I sure hope that they include Texas again. San Antonio, with so many of its nice early 1900s buildings intact, is a great place to visit to see such a performance - though I certainly would have no complaints if they decided to make a stop here in Fort Worth!

Below are photos I took at the party of Max Raabe and the two people who showed up at Radio Dismuke event at the Gunter:


Max Raabe (left) with Vladimir Berkov


Louise Cantwell with Max Raabe

Yes - I did have a photo taken of myself standing next to Max Raabe. Unfortunately, the shutter snapped at the wrong moment and my facial expression looks like someone just punched me in the gut. Let's just say it is not a very flattering photo, and, therefore, it will NOT be posted!

Between the outstanding performance and the party, I had a great evening - one that I will long remember. I am extremely grateful to Louise Cantwell for her kindness in inviting me to the party and making it possible for me to meet Raabe and the musicians. It was also very fun to meet Vladimir who, too, collects 78 rpm records and is a passionate fan of 1920s and 1930s pop.
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clark
post Dec 8 2004, 10:37 PM
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Thanks for your response and the photos, Dismuke. I envy your opportunity to attend the post performance party. The price of tickets for the party at the Fox were more than twice the cost of good seats for the performance, so regrettably, I had to pass.

Keep up the great work with your site and Radio Dismuke. You are a boon to nostalgia buffs.

Clark
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Lennie
post Feb 10 2005, 11:39 PM
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Clark,

Since you obviously are quite familiar with "Das Palast Orchester" perhaps you can recommend one or two CDs from their huge repertoire?

Thanks!

Lennie
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clark
post Feb 20 2005, 03:50 AM
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Sorry for being so long in replying, Lenny. I just noticed your post tonight.

I regret to say that I have only one Das Palast Orchester CD. It was the only one left for sale in the lobby after the concert. It is titled "Charming Well" and features the work of Kurt Well. With the exception of one or two songs, I didn't care much for it. Kurt Well (he wrote "Mack the Knife", you know) is a little dark for me.

If I were going to order a Das Palast Orchester CD from their site, I would pick one with familiar American tunes. Although, I found some of the German songs that they performed to be very enjoyable. It's just that I don't speak or read German, and I am not familiar with the titles of German songs of the pre-war period (with the exception of maybe a few Marlene Dietrich tunes).

Das Palast Orchester's arrangements of "Music Maestro Please", "You're the Cream in My Coffee", and "Avalon", to name a few, made me literally heartsick with nostalgia. They are that good. Max Raabe's vocals are very authentic to the period of the music.

I did not see a CD on their site that did not include some song titles that were German and hence, unrecognizable to me. Therefore, at least for me, there is some risk involved in ordering. Shall we flip a coin to see who orders a CD first?
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clark
post Feb 20 2005, 03:53 AM
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I apologize for mispelling your name in that last post, Lennie.
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dismuke
post Feb 20 2005, 07:00 AM
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QUOTE(clark @ Feb 19 2005, 09:50 PM)
I did not see a CD on their site that did not include some song titles that were German and hence, unrecognizable to me.  Therefore, at least for me, there is some risk involved in ordering. 

German dance band music from that era tended to be really good - and the Palast Orchestra recordings of it a very fun to listen to.

The only Palast CD that I would caution against is one in which the band tries to play 1920s sounding versions of modern rock stuff. They used to have a few preview tracks on their old website and I did not care for them. I am sorry, but I have my doubts about any attempts to turn a soiled and filthy styrofoam cup into a crystal goblet - and I suspect that I am not exaggerating too much when I equate such a thing with trying to turn modern pop into 1920s music. On the other hand, I certainly won't knock such a CD if it ultimately results in people who have been exposed to nothing better than modern pop discovering 1920s music.

As for the other Palast CDs, if your only concern is that you do not recognize the song titles, I highly recommend them. The songs Max Raabe has selected to perform are among the era's best. On the other hand, if your concern is that you will not understand the lyrics - well, that would, of course, be a problem. For me, the lyrics to a song are very, very secondary. I am mostly interested in the song itself and the arrangement. Indeed, one of the nice things about old German recordings is the fact that I cannot understand the words - so if it is a really nice song with super hokey lyrics, I am none the wiser.

If you click on This link you will hear pretty typical sample of one of the Palast Orchester's recordings in German. The song is called "Ich bin so scharf auf Erika" and I am very fond of it. The recording comes from their CD Mein kleiner grüner Kaktus I have forgotten most of the German that I learned in high school, but even I can figure out that it means "My Little Green Cactus" which is the name of one of the songs on the CD. And by clicking on This link you can here another one from the CD that I really like. It is called "Ich steh' im Schnee." A few years back a German music website had a vintage recording of the song and it is amazing just how true to the original the Palast Orchester version is.

I think the Palast Orchester is an absolutely dynamite band and it is sad that they are not very well known over here even among vintage music fans. If they were better known, we might have an easier time obtaining their CDs. When their next American tour happens, my website will certainly be doing its part to make people aware of it. I just hope they come back to Texas so I don't have to travel so far to see them.
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clark
post Feb 21 2005, 04:39 AM
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Thanks for the input, Dismuke. I will order Das Palast Orchester CDs with confidence.

Off the topic, what is an example of a song with a melody that you like and lyrics that you consider hokey?
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dismuke
post Feb 21 2005, 05:20 AM
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QUOTE(clark @ Feb 20 2005, 10:39 PM)
Off the topic, what is an example of a song with a melody that you like and lyrics that you consider hokey?

Two that come to mind immediately are: "Where The Shy Little Violets Grow" and "Let's Put Out The Lights And Go To Sleep."

The second song was one that I discovered with altered words on an old cartoon soundtrack - a Betty Boop cartoon if my memory is correct. Anyhow, when I finally discovered the name of the song, I was very disappointed by the actual lyrics.

Sometimes the lyrics may not be so hokey - but they are at odds with the image the tune conveys in my mind.

When I was in high school, I heard the opera La Traviata and really fell for certain passages of it. It is still my favorite opera. When I first discovered it, I was 17 years old and was riding in the back of a convertible with some friends through the foothills of the Rocky Mountains - and that is what they had playing through the car tape player. And the scenery and the music were both so beautiful that I have always associated the two. I really have no desire to discover the meaning of the words to that music. I once attempted to read part of the libretto to La Traviata - and I did not like it at all and put it down.

I kind of feel the same way about certain German songs. I would rather retain my own imagery of the music rather than allow some lyricist influence it. For example, one German song I really enjoy is "Komm spiel mit mire blinde Kuh" which must have been quite popular in Germany due to the number of versions I have heard of it. I once looked up the translation of the title and it turned out to be "Come Play With My Blind Cow." Not quite the imagery I had in mind.

My biggest difficulty with German music is the fact that I do not speak much German makes it difficult for me to remember song titles.
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clark
post Feb 24 2005, 04:45 AM
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I understand what you mean, Dismuke. I don't want to know the lyrics to "Come Play With My Blind Cow" either.
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Fredrik
post Feb 24 2005, 07:43 AM
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Actually the title rather translates "come play blind cow with me", where I would guess that "blind cow" is probably some sort of play or game, possibly what we in Sweden call "blindbock" (litterally = blind buck) where someone is blindfolded and then supposed to catch and identify the other people in the room.

Any German participants to the board that could confirm this?

Fredrik
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Shanghai Slim
post Apr 5 2006, 05:09 PM
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Howdy! As an American living in China - as barren a musical wasteland as you are likely to find outside the polar regions - I enjoy streaming web broadcasts to keep my ears happy.

I'm a recent convert to Jazz Age music, thanks in great part to Dismuke (and to my brother, for tipping me off about Radio Dismuke)! My own background is an unlikely combination of 80s Goth + Baroque & Renaissance era music. My recent enthusiasm for 20s & 30s jazz has a poignant flavor in that I live in Shanghai, a city that had a vivid jazz scene at that time, a scene which was brought to a screeching halt by the arrival of the Japanese war machine in 1937.

I was combing through old posts here, and found this thread. I checked out the Palast Orchester site, and decided, just out of curiosity, to see what their touring schedule was like. As I clicked on the menu, I thought about how sad it was that such a band could never play Shanghai - there can't possibly be enough afficionados of this style of music to justify a stop here. But I clicked anyway.

Das Palast Orchester plays Shanghai next month.

Thanks, Dismuke! :-D
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clark
post Apr 12 2006, 03:11 AM
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You are going to enjoy Das Palast Orchester, Slim. Be sure to post your opinion here after the performance.
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paul
post Apr 12 2006, 01:16 PM
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but the musical era I love most is the '20s and early '30s. One of the things I kept thinking during and after the program was "gee, imagine what it must have been like to have lived in an era when similar performances were commonplace and could be found any weekend in any big city downtown."

My mother was born in 1904 in New York City and grew up there, attending many musical and cultural events during the 1920s. A terrible regret is that I never fully questioned her about her life during these times. She is gone now, too late. Imagine what it must have been like! just as you said.

Your Radio Dismuke, it's just marvelous. Play it all the time here home (even the dogs and cats listen when am out) and at the newspaper office. And as good is your excellent comentaries and the descriptions you have of the different musics in your web pages. Each of the songs has been given loving attention by you. We read every word of your commentaries on them.
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