Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sef and His Playboys

Sef and His Playboys
Severin Pfannenstiel – drums
Rod Julkowski – cordovox
Rod Harkman – sax, clarinet, and trumpet
Wendell Phifer – bass guitar

Sef Pfannenstiel - 470 S. Bryant Street, Denver

Upon dropping the needle on the Sef and His Playboys album (yes, I too noticed the cover picture was exactly the same as the one on Bob Mickey's LP), I thought this was going to be your standard issue vanity release polka record, from an un-Googleable artist.

Listen to "Solvenian Home Polka."
But holy cats was I wrong. 
Thankfully I kept listening, and soon realized ‘ol Sef and His Playboys is probably my best surprise find – ever.
I am hard pressed to find words to describe this album. It’s jazz, it’s polka – heck, it even has some psych vibes (not joking). Four songs into side one, and Rod Harkman jazzes it up on "Pennies From Heaven" – oh my God I’m diggin’ that cordovox!

Listen to a sample of "Pennies from Heaven."

Side two? The guys let loose on this jazzy opener.

Listen to a sample of "Angry."

The second cut, a cover of Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass “So What’s New,” and I have no words. If you had been a fly on my wall when I first heard this. WOW.  Rod Julkowski is channeling some lite psych on his keyboards.

Throw in some Louis Armstrong ("Song of the Island"), and Carpenters ("Close to You") covers, for good measure....and the song that inspired the theme to Star Trek, "Out of Nowhere."

OK, enough gushing. I’ll stop now. The runoff indicates it was recorded in 1972. I did find a Severin Pfannenstiel who passed away in 1988, but can’t get confirmation if he is one in the same.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

June 5, 1963 - JFK visits the Air Force Academy

Whenever I come home to visit, I always have to laugh at the blatant political leanings up and down Interstate 25.  When you go across the Colorado border, you're on John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway.  However it becomes quickly evident that you are soon in the conservative bastion of the state, once you leave the Democratic-friendly Pueblo County, and enter into El Paso County, and Colorado Springs, where the road instantly becomes Ronald Reagan Highway.  Once you are out of El Paso County?  It reverts back to John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway.

That's why I thought it was humorous to find out that, way back when, the U.S. Air Force Academy asked President John F. Kennedy to be its first presidential commencement speaker, on June 5, 1963 (the previous year, Vice President Lyndon Johnson gave the commencement speech).

Politics aside, the President arriving in Colorado Springs was a huge deal. He spoke at 9:45 a.m. in a packed Falcon Stadium and was awarded an honorary bachelor of science degree.  Afterward, he went on to visit NORAD, before flying to the White Sands Missile Range, in New Mexico.

To commemorate the Colorado visit, the Air Force Academy released a vinyl single souvenir - on standard black vinyl (and blue label), and on yellow vinyl (with a blue label).  The label notes "A Reed Record," but the flip indicates it was from "J.B.B. Enterprises," out of Hollywood. My copy didn't come with a picture sleeve.  Would be cool to know if it came with one.

Listen to a sample of the recording.

Of course, we all know what would happen five months later...

U.S. Presidents/USAFA commencement speakers (and year)

1963     John F. Kennedy
1969     Richard M. Nixon
1984     Ronald W. Reagan
1991     George H.W. Bush
1995     William J. Clinton
1999     William J. Clinton
2004     George W. Bush
2012     Barack H. Obama