Friday, July 12, 2013

Party at the Barnes's!!! (part II)

George Barnes
I hope you enjoyed yesterday's video of "Liza", from George Barnes's Guitars Galore album, released in 1961. The beautiful montage was produced by Alexandra Barnes Leh, daughter of George's, who's also producing the George Barnes Legacy collection. This website is not to be missed, especially if you're in the least interested in the history of the guitar in America. Barnes was a true, multi-faceted pioneer, one of those larger-than-life characters, who was gone too soon, in 1977.

At the end of this text you can see some screenshots taken from the video. From the smiling faces, it’s pretty clear that everybody had a ball. Musicians from this era are remembered for their witticisms, their pranks, their humour… their ability to have fun in any given situation. Thanks to Alexandra and her mother, and wife of George's, Evelyn Barnes, we have some details from this actual party. Our deepest gratitude goes to both of them.

The "listening party" took place on Sunday, December 10th, 1961, at the Barnes’s midtown Manhattan penthouse. It started around 5 p.m. and lasted till the wee hours of the morning. If the place looks crowded is because it was! There were almost a hundred people at any given time. Invitations were made in person and by word of mouth.

George & Evelyn Barnes
Given the crowd, there was no room for jamming, but records were played instead, and not only Guitars Galore. Someone may have sat down at the piano to play, but music really couldn't have been heard over the cacophony of conversation.

A favourite bar for musicians at the time was Jim & Andy’s, a bar and grill located in 116 West, 48th Street, especially since young Phil Ramone had installed his A&R studio, where the album was actually recorded, four floors above. No wonder that catering for that party was left in the hands of Jim Koulouvaris of Jim & Andy's bar. Rocky Martino was Jim's bartender and handled the bar at the party.

You have probably noticed the dress etiquette, men in jackets and ties, women in night dresses, which will be familiar to any Mad Men fans. I asked Evelyn Barnes whether a dress code was stated, to which she replied, laughing:
Hell, no! This is how people dressed in 1961.
So, without further ado, I give you some shots from the party, with almost all people identified. You'll find some familiar faces, but especially some familiar names whose faces you may be seeing for the first time. I wouldn’t want to over-romanticize these images, but besides showing a few excellent musicians away from the studios or the stage, they do come from a different era, when actual musicians could make a decent living in New York, people had class and fun at the same time, JFK was still president, and the Beatles hadn't arrived yet.

I hope you do enjoy these images. Please note that all photos were taken by Milt Hinton, except the one with Hinton in it, which was taken by Evelyn Barnes. All images used with permission from The George Barnes Legacy Collection.

L to R, foreground: drummer Ed Shaughnessy (in profile); guitarists Bill Suyker and George Barnes

L to R, foreground: guitarists Don Arnone, Art Ryerson, George Barnes;
sound engineer Phil Ramone (in profile)

L to R, fore: Anne Lesberg and her husband, bassist Jack Lesberg, (unknown), drummer Cliff Leeman
Back: Al Dronge (president of Guild guitars), Red Wenisch (friend of Jim & Andy's owner),

L to R: guitarists Everett Barksdale and Bill Suyker (looking at camera);
between them, in the background, bassist Arnold Fishkind and Mona Hinton (Milt's wife),
Phil Ramone (back, in profile), Chicke Ryerson (wife of Art),
Jack Lesberg (back of his head), clarinetist Hank D’Amico (smiling),
pianist Bernie Leighton (in profile)

L to R, standing: Ed Shaughnessy, George Barnes, Evelyn Barnes
L to R, seated: Grace D'Amico (Hank's wife), René Leeman (Cliff's wife)
(oil painting on the wall by George Barnes)

L to R: Florence Leighton (Bernie's wife), Dee Gubin (wife of drummer Sol),
sound engineer Phil Ramone

L to R: Joan Ramone (smoking, in profile), bassist Milt Hinton, Art Ryerson (back, profile),
saxophonist Al Cohn, unknown (back), Downbeat's George Hoefer,
guitarist Mundell Lowe (back, in profile), Ed Shaughnessy (back)

L to R: Ed Shaughnessy (standing), unknown, Don Arnone, Donnye Fishkind, unknown

L to R: pianist/vibist Eddie Costa (in profile, with cigarette), Evelyn Barnes (sleeveless, dark dress),
Ed Shaughnessy, half of George Hoefer (with drink).

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