Stubby Kaye, the cheerful singer and comic actor. Know him?
He had a long career spanning vaudeville, television, Broadway and films.
Stubby Kaye taught me a few important lessons that inspire me whenever I entertain at any celebration.
Well, he didn’t really teach me these things personally. I learned them by admiring his example and following his lead.
I’ve seen Stubby Kaye many times. Maybe you have, too. In all his movie and television roles, and on all the YouTube clips people have posted. Watch two of his best film performances, from Guys and Dolls and Cat Ballou
I saw him in person only once. As “Marryin’ Sam” in the original Broadway production of Li’l Abner.
And there he was, cavorting non-stop all over the stage, a stout little dynamo singing his heart out with sunshiny humor and enormous feeling. His clear voice rang with a gorgeous tone that grabbed everyone’s attention. I’ll never forget that first impression.
Maybe that’s because I was just a little kid. I’m sure that’s part of it.
Young as I was, whatever he said or did, I felt sure he was telling the story to me. Since then I’ve learned that many stage performers, especially in the early days before microphones, would perform with the same enthusiasm.
So what has Stubby Kaye taught me?
Many things, I’m sure. One is noticing that an outstanding musician can deliver a memorable performance with ANY song — a masterpiece, or a little “throwaway” tune, or anything in between.
It’s all in the performance. I’ve seen this over and over, and hearing Stubby Kaye do his magic was probably the first time I noticed it.
But I think the most important lesson is realizing how deeply people enjoy the emotion in music. Stubby Kaye always performed with enormous feeling, and his audiences could never get enough.
Especially me. To this day.
I think of several musicians whenever I play, and they all performed with great expression. Inspired by their examples, I always strive to play with feeling.
I’m always playing to please someone. Wherever we are, I’m always looking around the room to establish some “eye-contact”, to keep me focused on the people.
And “ear-contact”, too, if you know what I mean. It’s as though the more passion they hear, the more effective their music will be.
Have you found this, too? Tell me about it.
So here’s a tip for planning the music at your next celebration. Be sure the selections and the performance appeal to your guests’ feelings. Don’t distract anyone from the main event, but you’ll keep them in the right mood, and they’ll enjoy your festivities even more.
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Meanwhile, the Magnolia Jazz Band entertains at weddings and parties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. If you are ever nearby, you’ll love catching us in action, seeing and hearing us create a great mood.
How can I help you? Call 408-245-9120 or use Robbie@MagnoliaJazz.com. Planning a celebration? Ask about our availability.