New Jersey Performing Arts Center
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GK: I’ve been listening to Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks since I was a boy living on our sod farm near Chaffee, North Dakota (DISTANT BARKS, TRACTOR) I was the 7th child in a family of 13 and we raised grass for rich people’s yards and (GOATS) we trimmed the grass with goats which we also milked (GOATS, MILKING) to make goat cheese, and since we children had very small hands, Dad decided to branch out into cat milk (MEOWS), and he built up a herd of thirty cats and we milked them twice a day, and if you’ve never done it (SFX) cat milking is extremely tedious work and so the radio meant a lot to me and that’s where I first heard Vince and his band.
TR (ANNC): Live from the Tom-Tom Lounge at the Dakota Hotel in Grand Forks, it’s Vince Jorgenson and The Farm Hands with Midday Ballroom
(BAND - MISS ANNABELLE AND FADE UNDER)
TR (ANNC): brought to you by Bob’s Bovine Ointment for Udder Relief. And now here’s Vince Jorgenson....
VG: Thanks so much, Roger, and a big howdy to all of you across Dakota and northern Minnesota. April and it’s planting time so here’s a tune called the Cultivator Stomp....
(BAND TUNE HOCUS POCUS AND FADE).....
GK: There was something elegant and intelligent about Vince, a trace of accent that told me he wasn’t from the prairie, and that his last name wasn’t Jorgenson, and I wrote him a letter, which my Mom found and she got mad--
SS: You’re writing to a man on the radio and asking him if that’s his real name? Accusing him of lying? That is just rude.
GK: People in show business use stage names all the time, Mom.
SS: Well, don’t bother him. The poor man must get hundreds of letters a day, he doesn’t have time for you. And what’s this?? “Would you happen to have a job for a very responsible hard-working 10-year-old boy who wants to get into radio?” You’re asking the man for a job????
GK: I always wanted to get into radio, Mom.
SS: You’ve got plenty of work around here. Get busy milking those cats. (SFX)
GK: Back in those days there were no headphones so you couldn’t listen secretly to things, whatever you listened to, other people knew about it so I’d tune in the radio at 12 noon....
TR (ANNC): Time now to go live to the stockyards for the Farm Roundup with your host Maynard Speece and Vince Giordano and His Happy Helpers..... (BAND THEME TWO AND FADE)
GK: I idolized the man to me he represented the epitome of suave charm and I was astonished when he responded to my letter
VG: We want to send this next tune out to Gary K, a ten-year-old listener in Chaffee, and this is called “Hop, You Hep Cats” (BAND TUNE AND FADE)...
GK: And the next week I was working as Vince’s personal assistant.
VG: Could you run down to the drugstore and get me a big bottle of hair oil, Gary I’m a little low. And charge it to my account. And by the way, my name isn’t Jorgenson, it’s Giordano.
GK: I knew it.
VG: It’s Lutheran country out here and when you have a name that ends in a vowel, you have to be careful.
GK: I’m so glad you’re not Lutheran. I always wanted to meet someone who isn’t and now I have. I love your music, by the way. It’s my dream to someday sing with a band such as yours.
GK: Yes, sir?
VG: I hate to tell you this, but I think your future lies more with announcing.
GK: But I’ve been practicing crooning...
VG: I know. I’ve heard. And you have excellent diction. But the spoken word is your forte, son. And anyway, this music is dying out. The whole music business has gone to the dogs Rocknroll what is that about, anyway? I don’t get it. Young people growing up without any sense of musical structure. And no social skills you don’t know how to dress, how to cut your hair, how to dance nowadays people just stand out there on the dance floor and wiggle their hips what’s that about?? Huh? It just wears me out, kid. I gotta get out of this business while the getting is good.
GK: He was such a pessimist. And so it’s good to have him here and offer him work playing on our show. Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks.
Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).