This Thursday, July 20, there will be a promotion for Everlasting Hope Animal Rescue featuring DJ Jack Bogarski. The evening will include discussions and displays of the group’s activities and success stories in finding homes for needy pets. Participants are encouraged (but not required) to bring pet foods, blankets and other creature comforts for animals still under Everlasting Hope’s care, awaiting their forever homes.
The second month of the Claverack Republican Club’s Summer Music Series kicks off Thursday, August 3, with a special 1950’s “Sock Hop” from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Claverack Town Park, 91 Church Street.
The event will feature dance contests, best dressed contests and other related activities. It is the latest show in the retooled music series designed to increase audience participation and interaction to enhance the feeling of community.
The “Sock Hop” will feature DJ Charlie, who spent many years performing in local and regional bands. A record/CD collector for nearly six decades, he was a contributor to the book “Teen Beat Mayhem”, which is considered an essential tool for exploring the garage band phenomenon.
The 1950s in America were a mixed bag of optimism, incredible economic growth and social expansion while many of the same problems that plagued society in the first half of the century remained largely unchanged and the threat of cold war with former ally Russia hung over everyone’s mind.
It was also the decade that saw the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.
On one hand, the 50s were booming as GIs returned victorious from World War II and began their own families, leaving behind the cities and farms of their birth to occupy a whole new frontier called the suburbs. Massive developments grew up as buffers between cities and farms all across America as the former soldiers worked to transition the country from a wartime economy to peace. But these were the guys that won the war and they made pretty quick work of jumpstarting the peacetime machine.
These massive suburbs spawned kids, lots of them. And these kids didn’t know the rigors of life before the war. They weren’t working from dawn to dust in the barn or some hellish factory because their fathers for the most part found good paying jobs reshaping the American economy. This generation of kids became known as the baby boomers and life was never going to be the same again. For the first time, the kids actually had their own spending money. A youth culture had evolved and they needed their own music to symbolize their new-found identity.
Music up to that point had been pretty stuffy, at least the music that most suburban teens were exposed to. There was classical music and jazz for the academics, adult contemporary and smooth doo wop for daily fare, and country music for the hayseeds. But lurking in the shadows away from polite society was a different type of music that was the province of inner-city blacks – a thing called rhythm and blues which was then referred to as “race music,” so as to keep it hidden away from white culture. But things were changing. Some aspiring white musicians began taking the exotic rhythms and edgy lyrics of race music and mixing it with parts left over from the country and western/rockabilly genre and came up with a whole new music. Influential New York DJ Alan Freed dubbed it “rock ‘n’ rock” and it absolutely exploded in the mid-50s. The kids finally had their own music.
Rock ‘n’ roll was typified by the sneering, swivel-hipped Elvis Presley, who was born in Tupelo, Mississippi but was working in Memphis, Tennessee. Other country-raised hipsters like Gene Vincent, Bill Haley and Buddy Holly were soon thrust into the limelight with their own takes of what rock ‘n roll should sound like. The kids ate it up but the parents were none too pleased with their offspring listening to that “tribal ruckus.” Parents wanted a sanitized version of rock ‘n’ roll, so for every rowdy Elvis or Johnny Otis there was a “white bread” crooner like Pat Boone who sold records that were ‘safe” versions of the biggies. The recording industry became huge but still was fraught with problems like sound-alike copies of hits and the payola scandal where local DJs were paid under the table by record companies to spin their product in big markets, hoping to generate a hit. While many blacks, who had originated “race music,” did make it into the charts, they were too often ripped off by the record industry and unscrupulous promoters and died penniless despite having had a hit or two during their productive years.
As is the case with most musical genres, the 1950s rock ‘n’ roll era wasn‘t confined to the decade that spawned it. Most music historians trace it through 1963, by which time it had degenerated into “the Bobby Era,” for the large number of saccharine crooners with the same first name – Bobby Vinton, Bobby Rydell, etc. By that time the “dangerous” frenzy of the initial era had died out and was replaced with fairly meaningless, twee love songs. Although one of the biggest hits of the era – Chubby Checker’s “The Twist,” topped the charts in 1960 and again in 1962.
The official end of the 1950s era came on February 9, 1964 when the Ed Sullivan Show gave America its first look at The Beatles, an event that drew an astounding 73 million television viewers and ushered in “the British Invasion.” Almost overnight, a large number of 1950s era performers became oldies acts.
FYI – The term “Sock Hop” was coined for the dances that took place in school gymnasiums. School administrators were none to happy with the kids’ shoes scuffing up their expensive gym floors, so dancers were asked to remove their schools and dance in their socks. (The floor at the park is cement, so shoes are fine, recommended even).
The event will also be a promotion for the Columbia-Greene Humane Society. Participants are asked (but not required) to bring various cans and/or bags of pet food, old blankets, and other creature comforts for the homeless animals at the shelter.
The grounds open at 6 p.m. with the music getting underway at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Refreshments are available at the snack bar.
Participants are encouraged to dress appropriately in order to be part of the various contests. Come to dance or just come to see.
Emergency Services Appreciation Night with Eli's Gin is August 17th!