Amoeblog

The Art Of The LP Cover- Rainy Day (Umbrella Gallery Pt. 2)

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, March 25, 2012 02:49pm | Post a Comment


We've had so little rain this year in L.A. that I figure I had better take advantage of today's damp weather to launch this blog. Although, I must admit that I cheated with a few parasols and a dude in rain slicks.  Click here to check out the first umbrella gallery, posted back in 2010.


(In which we tackle Thanksgiving issues the Food Network won't.)

Posted by Job O Brother, November 22, 2010 05:01pm | Post a Comment
pot leaf mompot leaf

Let’s just say, theoretically, that some of your family is in town visiting for Thanksgiving weekend and, theoretically, your 72-year-old mother brings you a few gifts, like freshly dried seaweed, homemade hummus (green with pureed parsley), and a circus clown tin full of Mexican Wedding Cakes laced with greenbud marijuana, which, theoretically, you eat two of and the next day you are crazy hung-over and all you want to do is lay in bed and watch old re-runs of Leave It To Beaver but you have to write this blog you’re now reading. Theoretically.

What music do you listen to?


The munchies!

Frankly, the whole scenario is a bit far-fetched, and I’m not sure why you’re even bringing it up. Certainly nothing like this is what I’m going through right now, because marijuana is illegal and I’ve never even heard of it.

But, if I were in such a ridiculous situation, I suppose the sort of thing I would enjoy listening to would be this…

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WALK THIS WAY: TRACING THE ORIGINS OF MJ'S MOONWALK

Posted by Billyjam, September 19, 2009 09:05am | Post a Comment

Origins of the Moonwalk

Michael JackMichael Jacksonson was known not just for his music, but also for his dancing abilities. There are many recorded instances of the moonwalk, originally known as the backslide or "walking on your toes," being used before Michael Jackson did it.

Similar steps are reported as far back as 1932, used by Cab "Minnie the Moocher" Calloway. It was first recorded in 1955 in a performance (in the film that same year Showtime At The Apollo) by tap dancer Bill Bailey.

Jeffrey Daniel brought "the backslide" to the tv show Soul Train. In 1980, Jackson asked Daniel (together with dance partners Geron Candidate and Cooley Jackson) to teach him the dance. Michael first performed this move during his "Billie Jean" performance on Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever on March 25, 1983.

Jeffrey Daniel's Influence on Michael Jackson

I remember also seeing this move performed by Mr. Freeze (of the Rock Steady Crew) in the movie Flashdance, released April 15th, 1983. See Flashdance clip below.

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The Nicholas Brothers

Posted by Whitmore, February 26, 2009 07:09pm | Post a Comment

Back in the hey day of the Hollywood Musical, during the 1930’s and 40’s, there was a plethora of extremely talented high flying family dance troupes, starting with the ballroom sophistication of Fred and Adele Astaire to the lightning fast feet of the Condos Brothers to the tap dancing brilliance of Four Step Brothers to the over the top athleticism of the Berry Brothers. But the best, most explosive, and daringly innovative were the Nicholas Brothers, Fayard (1914–2006) and Harold (1921–2000). With their highly acrobatic "flash dancing" tap style and spectacular choreography, they are considered by many to be greatest dance team not only of the era, but of all time.
 
Growing up in Philadelphia, Fayard and Harold were the sons of vaudevillian musicians-- a pianist mother and drummer father who led their own band working the circuit. In 1932, when Harold was 11 years of age and Fayard 18, they became the featured act at Harlem's legendary Cotton Club. That same year they shot their first film, a short subject musical called Pie, Pie, Blackbird.
 
The Nicholas Brothers made their Broadway debut in the Ziegfeld Follies in 1936, directed by Vincente Minnelli and choreographed by George Balanchine, they performed alongside stars such as Fannie Brice, Bob Hope, and Josephine Baker. Two years later in a packed Cotton Club, Fayard and Harold reigned supreme in the legendary dance-off against the other leading tap dancing family of the day, the Berry Brothers. By some accounts the Berry Brothers trio showed perhaps more bravado, but the Nicholas Brothers brought down the house with sheer finesse and artistry.   
 
Shortly thereafter, Fayard and Harold found themselves in Hollywood starring in a series of short subject films and guesting in several big budget musicals, like Down Argentine Way and Tin Pan Alley. In 1941 the duo appeared in both Glenn Miller movies, Sun Valley Serenade and Orchestra Wives. The former included the definitive version of “Chattanooga Choo Choo;” the brothers' dance number also included Harold’s future first wife, the incomparably beautiful Dorothy Dandridge.
 
In 1943 the Nicholas Brothers filmed what Fred Astaire has called the greatest dance sequence ever put to celluloid. In an amazing display of strength, agility and timing, they danced to Cab Calloway’s hard swinging “Jumpin' Jive” in the classic film Stormy Weather. The routine included Harold and Fayard hopping from table to table and over music stands, bounding between musicians in the orchestra and finally leap-frogging over each other down a flight of stairs, landing a complete split each time. Mikhail Baryshnikov called them the most amazing dancers he’d ever seen.
 
They’ve received numerous awards and accolades. In 1948 The Nicholas brothers gave a royal command performance for the King of England at the London Palladium and over the years they danced for nine different Presidents. Retrospectives of the Nicholas Brothers' work in film include a special presentation at the 1981 Academy Awards and a Kennedy Center Honors in 1991. They were awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Harvard University where they taught master classes in tap dance as teachers-in-residence. In 1994 they received a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7083 Hollywood Blvd and were inducted into the first class of the Apollo Theater's Hall of Fame and the Black Filmmaker's Hall of Fame. The Nicholas Brothers were also recipients of the 1998 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement in Modern Dance.
 
I once met Fayard and Harold back in the 1980’s while I was attending LACC. They were invited to give a talk about their careers and incredible lives. Both of them still looked pretty damned fit, but unfortunately neither danced. I wanted to ask a question about life with Dorothy Dandridge, but I figured the conversation might take a gloomy turn, so I just kept my mouth shut; I suspect it might have been the right decision. Her life ended prematurely and tragically. Somewhere in my pile of papers I still have the program signed by both brothers.  
 
Harold died July 3, 2000 of a heart attack following minor surgery. Fayard died January 24, 2006 of pneumonia -- a complication from a stroke.
 
Check out the footage below-- some of the dance routines are simply mind blowing.





The late, great Cab Calloway on his 100th birthday,

Posted by Whitmore, December 29, 2007 01:21pm | Post a Comment

The legendary saint Cab Calloway, brought into existence on Christmas, was never off the cob, he was the heppest cat, the gasser on the scene, and scribe to the Dictionary of Hepology, not just any book of lingo like some hincty gate-mouth might cop to, emphatically no! This man’s a poet! Hey, Calloway was solid, a ready cat with serious chops, never capped, I mean never capped. Cabell Calloway III licks hit all the armstrongs every time with those "hi-de-hi's," and "ho-de ho's, singing in that blip beat key, swinging overcoats growling some hip and hot gammin’ grooves. Be it a gutbucket blues, the ready racket on the main kick or just some clambake where he’s got this cat riffing on the doghouse - hitting all the basso notes, cool Gabriel wigging on a boogie-woogie and some Jack on skins mugging heavy, Cab always crept out like the shadow, stylish threads togged to the bricks, walking hand made, custom to the thread mezz ground grippers … on each arm, a fine righteous queen he dug the last black, each dicty dutchess fresh off the dreamers and lily whites. 

At one point Cab was collaring 200 g’s a year, that’s one foxy stack of fins. Platter gravy coming on like a test pilot, cuts like "Minnie the Moocher", “Reefer Man” and "St. James Infirmary Blues" were everywhere man, chicks breakin’ it up, dropping a nickel or a dime note just to latch onto the hippest cat who could send the coolest riff riding high. Cab the man was the man; kids come again to the Cotton Club in the Apple, rug cutters Trucking, Pecking, or bugging to the Susie-Q, never no fraughty issue here. That’s the Bible baby! Cab and the cats digging a mess, one riff after another, and every hot killer jam taking off, that combo was always bustin’ conk, breaking up the joint like gangbusters. Zazu-zazu-zazu-zay! No room here for icky squares who can't collar the jive. The jitterbuggers at the Cotton Club always had a hummer of a ball. Yeah! Whipped up! Jumpin’ and mitt pounding till the chimes say its way past early bright. Ow!

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