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Remember the 1930s Broadway musicals Say When and Everybody’s Welcome, and song-stuffed movies like Elegance and Give 'Em the Axe? Of course not. That’s because these shows and films got the ax themselves—or were quick flops.
What these and similar lost titles have hidden for decades is a treasure trove of songs by some the era’s most prolific and best-known composers and lyricists. Now they’ve come to light in a recently digitized cache of files from the Library of Congress. Pianist and pop-song archivist Alex Hassan, tenor Douglas Bowles, and soprano Karin Paludan have collected the best, polished them to a sleek and stylish ‘30s sheen, and are ready give these tunes the second chance they never got and so richly deserve.
You may not recognize the name Dave Dreyer, but you can hum his hit “Me and My Shadow” and bet that “"Hopeless, Helpless, Lovesick, and Blue" would have been one of the chart-toppers of 1930 had the movie for which it was written been made. Ray Henderson (of “Button Up Your Overcoat” fame) had high hopes for his Broadway score for Say When—and the show’s young star, Bob Hope—but the critics thought otherwise, even though “Don’t Tell Me It’s Bad” was a charmer. Discover even more delights in unheard songs from Ralph Rainger (“Thanks For the Memories”), Walter Donaldson, (“Yes, Sir, That's My Baby,” “Makin' Whoopee”), Manning Sherwin (“A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square”), and Burton Lane (composer of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and Finian's Rainbow).
Michael Feinstein declared this program "one of the freshest and most stimulating shows for lovers of vintage popular music, performed by an outstandingly talented trio". Once you’ve heard these infectious tunes and hilarious, heartwarming, and surprising anecdotes about their creation, you just might leave humming Lane’s “Blue Serenade”—and with a whole new batch of favorite songs you’ve never heard.
Hear Alex Hassan and Doug Bowles perform the bouncy Depression-era anthem “New Deal Rhythm.”
National Museum of the American Indian
4th St. & Independence Avenue, SW