[Dixielandjazz] Uncle Yoke's Black Dog Jazz Band

Jeanne Brei TinPanAlleyCat at cox.net
Sat Jan 8 10:17:26 PST 2005

Dear Bill,

    I'm mostly a lurker but Uncle Yoke's Black Dog Jazz Band will bring me out in the open. BDJB was one of the first bands I fell in love with on the Dixieland circuit. They went into a recording studio in 1988 and worked out all their performance schtick before they ever played their first gig together - which meant that they exploded on the scene as the BEST showband in the land (defined as equally fabulous in musicianship AND entertainment) or as Tom Hook puts it on website: 


    "Yocum, a veteran trombonist that had previously worked with artists as diverse as Tom Waits and Banu Gibson, had a vision of a band that would infuse Traditional Jazz with contemporary New Orleans rhythms. In conjunction with a revitalized look at the music, Uncle Yoke" also had a vision of presenting a dynamic stage presentation with the kind of showmanship typical of a Disney product." (for more click on: http://www.tomhook.com/html/the_black_dogs.html 


    So, the emphasis was to make fabulous music AND be enormously entertaining right from the start. Since all of the original Black Dogs were playing at Disney World in Orlando (with different bands), they all knew each other's sense of humors. Their early schtick featured each of the musicians as a different "dog" - ie, Steve Yocum was "Top Dog," Tom Hook was "Bad Dog," Jim Buchman was the "Good Dog," I think it was Eddie Metz, Jr. who was the "Junkyard Dog," my memory starts to slip but I think Dave Gannett might have been "Hound Dog," etc. This schtick was SO funny that bandleader and trumpeter Stan Mark used the same concept when he was creating the Sin Sity Suitz (a Las Vegas-based swing band where each of the guys wore a different color zoot suit). In his band, each of the guys was a different "suit" based on his personality - ie, the laid-back pianist was "leisure suit," the trombonist was "lawsuit" (he was a lawyer by day), the alto saxophonist was "birthday suit" (he was a teenage phenomenon), etc.   These nicknames would be used in their introductions as well as patter between songs to really make the audience feel as if they knew the guys. And keep everyone laughing!  


    Every single one of the Original Black Dogs was a fabulous musician AND entertainer - from David Gannett's exploding fireworks out of his tuba to Bob Leary's hysterically funny lyrics (like "Roll the Patrol"). Some of their best songs included "I Like New Orleans" - which was used as a television theme song for "Great Chefs of New Orleans II" - and Tom Hook's hauntingly beautiful, "Nobody's There." Bookers and record producers were really hoping that Uncle Yoke's Black Dogs would be the band that would take the Dixieland circuit and make it more mainstream - since they were so entertaining they could easily have been one of the first cross-over artists of Dixieland with today's radio. Harry Connick, Jr. (who has written some great Thirties-style songs that have been used in movie soundtracks like "The Recipe for Makin' Love," or (We Go Together Like) A Wink and A Smile" (which was recorded by the Kinda Dixie Jazz Band) was the first crossover artist of my generation that I know of (actually makes REAL music with melodies and horns in the band). It CAN be done! I think you have to start by being either a TV or movie theme before you can get any radio play, nowadays - but, hey, I think Louis Armstrong gets played in more movie soundtracks now than when he was alive! 

    Dixieland music has an energy and a sound that all ages can enjoy - it's just a matter of exposing people to it - I fell in love with it the first time I heard it (of course, as a small child my family exposed to ALL kinds of music - the radio may have been playing the Captain & Tennille but we used to drive up to Denver to the Elitch Gardens' Trocadero and see 80-year-old Wayne King's orchestra and we'd go to Shakey's pizza parlor and hear all the sing-a-long songs on piano and banjo - it breaks my heart that today's generation of kids don't know ANY of those songs except Take Me Out to the Ballgame. 

    Well, I digress - Rae Ann gave you the Black Dogs original line-up - their last year together was 2000 and their last ever performance together was the first Costa Mesa Jazz Festival. Later incarnations of the Black Dogs have dropped most of the schtick - now they're more like a Mardi Gras band or a party band - they make you want to get up and dance to some fabulous music!


    I'm really grateful to the Dogs because when they announced that 2000 was going to be their last year, I went to ALL of their performances (which took me to Victoria, British Columbia (wonderful festival spread all over town, gorgeous city and fabulous dancers up there) all the way to the Clearwater Jazz Festival (wonderful festival all in one hotel that year) to the Costa Mesa Festival (wonderful festival that was in two hotels that year -across the street from each other). The bookers of Costa Mesa really know how to book - call them showbands, crowd-pleasers, whatever - they book fabulous musicians who are also entertaining and put on a great festival. 

    If you want the complete discography of the Black Dogs, Tom Hooks has that on his website, click here: http://www.tomhook.com/html/albums.html  

And enjoy!

Jeanne Brei

Tin Pan Alley Cat Entertainment
(702) 254-3832 / jeannebrei at cox.net 




P.S. I'm going to New Orleans next weekend (to work a tradeshow) but I'm looking forward to hearing some music every night! 


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bill Haesler" <bhaesler at bigpond.net.au>
To: "dixieland jazz mail list" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Friday, January 07, 2005 10:46 PM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Uncle Yoke's Black Dog Jazz Band

> Friends,
> A dear mate in Melbourne, Oz, has (very naughtily) sent me two copy CDs by
> 'Uncle Yoke's Black Dog Jazz Band'.
> But no details.
> An entertaining and very good band, which I can imagine having some very
> devoted festival fans.
> I gather that Uncle Yoke is trombonist Steve Yocum.
> There is also an excellent drummer and a fine tuba player.
> A Google search revealed practically nothing.
> CD 1 starts with Jelly Roll Morton's "Fussy Mabel".
> The other opens with Jelly's "Georgia Swing".
> Both have 12 tracks.
> Help!
> Personnel, dates, full tune list (I have worked out most of them), where
> were the CDs 'pinched' from, history of the band.
> Kind regards,
> Bill. 
> _______________________________________________
> Dixielandjazz mailing list
> Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com
> http://ml.islandnet.com/mailman/listinfo/dixielandjazz

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