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“Return to Route 66″ August 21, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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A reader tipped me off about Kingman, Arizona, resident Chris Commisso, who wrote this song and shot the video on the Mother Road in Kingman.

It seems to be a mix of jazz, hip-hop and 1960s lounge. I like it a lot.

Commisso has his own YouTube channel here. His official website is here.

Los Angeles and Woody Guthrie August 21, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Music, Towns.
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Folk singer Woody Guthrie‘s many links to Route 66 have been long documented.

However, this excellent clip by filmmaker Aric Allen shows that Los Angeles played a crucial role in Guthrie’s road to fame in 1937.

Amazingly, many of the places where Guthrie hung around in L.A. still exist, as this film shows.

(Image of Woody Guthrie by James Ratcliffe via Flickr)

Cow Bop gets its kicks August 17, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, Road trips.
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The western swing and jazz collective Cow Bop recently completed another edition of its Route 66 music tour, this one called the Linear Music Festival.

You can follow what they did here with blog posts, audio and a lot of other goodies. But here’s a performance of Bobby Troup’s “Route 66″ at Cars on the Route in Galena, Kansas.

And, for good measure, here’s a performance of “Route 66″ spliced together of people they met along the Mother Road during the tour.

“The Mother Road” August 8, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, Road trips.
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Country-music singer Jess McEntire, who’s spent the last few years using his music to promote Route 66, apparently has produced a new video for one of his songs, “The Mother Road.”

McEntire will be at the International Route 66 Festival in Kingman, Arizona, on Aug. 14-16. Later this year, he’s also selling raffle tickets for a giveaway for  a custom Route 66 guitar autographed by Loretta Lynn.

Sales of his Route 66-themed double album, “Man on a Mission,” go to Project Route 66, which aims to promote the road by erecting billboards.

Strike up the Band-Box July 30, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Music, Preservation, Restaurants.
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Jo Ellis, a columnist for the Joplin Globe newspaper, reported about a sometimes-overlooked but cherished part of the history of Carthage, Missouri — the rare Chicago Coin’s Band-Box, also known as “Strike Up the Band,” in the Pancake Hut restaurant along Route 66.

The Band-Box is a coin-operated miniature, robotic big band that’s been in Carthage for about 60 years. It first was installed at Red’s Diner, Ray’s Cafe, and finally Wanda Baugh’s Pancake Hut. Even though it moved around a bit, it always has been on Route 66.

The Chicago Coin’s Band-Box was manufactured only from 1950 to 1952. It is in reality a remote wall-mounted speaker for a jukebox, and it was activated when a coin was inserted into the jukebox and a selection was made. The original miniature figures were made of sponge rubber. Dressed in stylish green jackets and suave bow ties, they sported the slicked-down hair style of the big-band era.

When the sponge rubber deteriorated, Baugh replaced the original musicians with similar sized figures. She found GI Joe dolls, discarded their camo and dressed them in Ken’s spiffy (Barbie doll) clothes. She also was able to replace the background drop, an ocean scene with waving palm trees, through Brad Frank Restorations in Chatsworth, California.

Here’s a video of the Band-Box in action, with the audio swapped out because of a television show blaring nearby:

Here’s another one in British Columbia:

Gene Autry and Clark Gable both saw the Carthage Band-Box when they dined at the restaurant after a night in the nearby Boots Motel, also a Route 66 icon.

A full restoration would cost about $5,500. Frank has offered to donate labor for the restoration if Baugh can raise the money for parts. Frank is supposed to return to Carthage in November to do more work on the machine; hope springs eternal that someone can come up with the cash for the full makeover.

Springfield will simulcast Ozark Mountain Daredevils concert during festival July 24, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Music.
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If you didn’t have a ticket to the Ozark Mountain Daredevils‘ headlining concert at the Gillioz Theatre during the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival in Springfield, Missouri, on Aug. 9, no worries — the sellout show will be simultaneously broadcast for free on a 16-by-30-foot screen in Park Central Square downtown.

The band enthusiastically endorsed the idea, according to the Springfield News-Leader. And the band also had a few interesting things to say about Route 66:

In the release, band member John Dillon said that Route 66 “played a key role in Springfield’s access to popular music.”

“Because of our location on ‘The Mother Road’ our area of the country was able to tap in to the amazing talent of so many great performers from so many different genres,” Dillon said. “Our band was influenced by the spirit of Route 66, the artists who traveled through Springfield, and the music they shared.”

The show and simulcast, which includes the opening acts Powder Mill, Cindy Woolf and Mark Bilyeu, will begin at 7 p.m. Aug. 9. The city is encouraging people to bring lawn chairs to Park Central Square so they watch it.

The band’s biggest song was “Jackie Blue,” which came within an eyelash or two of being a No. 1 single in 1975. The band has been in semi-retirement for years, but surviving members reunite every so often for shows, especially in its hometown of Springfield. You can hear much of their stuff here:

Some festival proceeds will go to building the future Birthplace of Route 66 Roadside Park on College Street in Springfield.

(Image of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils in 1975 via Wikipedia)

The miracle of the Coleman Theatre’s restoration July 21, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, Preservation, Theaters.
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The history and eventual revitalization of the historic Coleman Theatre in Miami, Oklahoma, is one of the most inspiring and interesting stories you’ll hear on Route 66.

It continues to amaze how a town of just 13,000 people with nominal funding could return an opulent theater back to its old glory.

And who better to tell about it than the theater’s executive director, Barbara Smith?

As Smith noted, the theater continues to host tours almost every day. And it continues to bring in music acts, dramatic productions and the occasional film. Go here for its schedule of upcoming events.

The documentary was produced by students at Macon State College in Macon, Georgia.

(Image of the Coleman Theater from 1929 by CharmaineZoe’s Marvelous Melange via Flickr)

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