Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Little Voice

Whoa! I hope y’all had a good weekend. The Bayou Boogaloo in Norfolk was great!

The music was outstanding, the food was nearly as good as being back in Louisiana, the weather was just what the Chamber of Commerce had ordered. There was only one flaw in a perfect day. I have noticed that the past few local festivals I have attended have all had the same flaw. I don’t know if it is because they are sponsors or if it’s because of their large presence in Williamsburg, but the only beer available came straight from a Clydesdale. I had anticipated this lack of quaffable refreshments and brought along my trusty old hip flask, filled with Bacardi 151. In fact, I have become wiser with age, and this time I carried a second flask so that my wife would have her own to mix with whatever fruit juice, lemonade, or smoothies she desired.

I had heard little voice as I was filling my flask for the day ahead, “That flask won’t do you both the whole day, better fill another, my friend.” I glanced over my shoulder to see if anyone else had heard. Nope. It must have been my own, personal Jiminy Cricket. Just like the Jiminy Cricket that tried to keep Pinocchio along the right path, mine was offering some good advice and I was wise to heed his word.

How could Pinocchio not follow the advice of Jiminy Cricket? That was the voice of a caring friend, putting his concern for your well being above all else. That was the voice of a man twice divorced, on the brink of bankruptcy, and often at the bottom of a bottle, but always looking on the bright side of life. That voice was Ukulele Ike. Cliff Edwards was a vaudeville singer/musician/actor, who had worked a string of odd jobs before he bought a ukulele and taught himself to play by ear. Around 1918 Edwards took the stage name Ukulele Ike and started touring on the vaudeville circuit throughout the Midwest. His trademark falsetto scat singing and strange impression of a kazoo became well known by the mid 1920s, as he had hit after hit on the charts. By the 1930s Edwards had a few small acting parts in the movies. But all of this success was lost to divorce, alimony, gambling debt, cocaine and alcohol. But the work kept coming, he appeared in nearly one hundred films, including a small part in Gone with the Wind. Walt Disney took a liking to the always joyful, Edwards. He provided the voice of Jiminy Cricket for Disney’s Pinocchio.

Cliff Edwards died broke and alone in a nursing home at the age of 76. Through all the hard times, Cliff Edwards kept a sunny disposition and enjoyed life to its fullest.

Cliff Edwards – I’m A Bear In A Lady’s Boudoir.mp3

Cliff Edwards –
Nobody Knows What A Red Head Mama Can Do.mp3


Blogger Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

You might imagine I have drank a bottle or two of 151. Never managed to get more than 20 oz. of the stuff in my belly. Perhaps because rum does not bang my drum. The last time I drank my fill of 151 I fell through a very big (closed) window, without getting hurt, spilling not a drop and still managed to walk 3 miles home. And I still remember the night clearly. That 151 is the Hells Angels of liquor.

June 24, 2007 11:57 PM  
Anonymous Woodshed said...

I have to admit to being obsessed with the ukulele. So much so I started a blog about it.

The vaudeville guys like Edwards and Jack Pepper are big inspirations for me. Even more so is Roy Smeck and his showboating antics. He reached a standard on lap-steel, tenor banjo and ukulele that puts him ahead of almost anyone on a single one of those instruments.

June 25, 2007 4:08 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Beer, "spilling not a drop"? I wouldn't expect any less from a seasoned drinker.

June 25, 2007 9:45 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Woodshed, The uke is such a wonderful little instrument. As an Autoharpist (Autoharpoholic?), I can understand your fondness for an under-apperciated instrument.

I'll try to get a link to "Uke Hunt" added to the Bus soon.

June 25, 2007 9:48 PM  
Blogger kjk said...

ed, a very educational post as always. i almost thought i heard a "and that's the rest of the story!"

hey woodshed, nice blog. i've added it to my list of regular reads. maybe i will be inspired to dust off my uke and figure out how it works.

June 26, 2007 6:52 AM  
Anonymous john said...

I belive it's "Autpoharpoon".

June 26, 2007 1:17 PM  
Anonymous john said...

Excuse me,,
it's "Autoharpoon".

June 26, 2007 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Woodshed said...

Thanks, Ed. I've added you to my blog roll.

Thanks, kjk. Be wary: once you pick you uke up again, you might not put it down.

June 26, 2007 3:22 PM  

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