News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 4, 2011

MS. TAKES: They’re gone, but their music is not forgotten

Liz Ciancone
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Dad believed that if it wasn’t composed by John Philip Sousa or Victor Herbert, it simply wasn’t music. Imagine his reaction to Woody Herman or — gasp — Stan Kenton!

Dad was willing to concede that Benny Goodman was a great musician, and he tolerated Harry James. James was OK because he had learned music as a circus band musician so his brass trumpet was never muted. Dad hated a mute.

So it seems odd that I met my Best Friend at an evening of listening to Stan Kenton recordings. I had to be initiated into that kind of jazz, but I did learn it. We have, somewhere, a collection of CDs featuring Kenton. My favorite remains “The Peanut Vendor.” And our collection includes at lot of Sinatra — a must for those of us who grew up with him.

We do have other favorites and they are increasingly hard to find. My BF finally ran down a favorite recording of mine. Sammy Davis Jr. is sometimes a bit raucous for me, but he recorded a version of “For All We Know” in which he is accompanied only by a single acoustic guitar. It may not be my favorite recording of all time, but it’s way up there.

My BF took accordion lessons as a teen, maybe because his cousin was a professional accordionist. Anyway, recordings by Art VanDamme have been sought after, most especially Van Damme’s recording of “After You’ve Gone.” We had it once, on tape, but it disappeared as those things sometimes do.

We’ve sent away and put record stores on the hunt, but no joy. Then, a week or so ago, my BF did a computer search and lo and behold! Not only did he find the recording, he also found sight and sound of VanDamme’s last concert, which brought mixed feelings. The long, slender fingers which improvised so beautifully, actually stumbled a time or two. At the end of the concert, my BF’s favorite musician announced that he was through performing. Talk about a lump in the throat.

Since then, my BF disappears into the “office” from time to time and I can hear the familiar arrangement of “After You’ve Gone” — multiple times. Surely there must be a way to download this so we can listen even more than we do.

I have learned to like some of today’s musicians our sons enjoy: B.B. King, Eric Clapton, George Harrison (but spare me the Beatles, please). Sometimes I wonder what Dad would have made of those performers. I’ll bet if he had heard “After You’ve Gone” he would expand his taste a bit.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to