Ken Lelen

Ken Lelen
Ken Lelen sings ragtime, jazz & swing and plays vintage acoustic guitars.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

         2014 — Concert Schedule
Jan    8      Meadowood, Lansdale PA
Jan   15     Heath Village, Hackettstown NJ
Feb   16    Valentine's ConcertLegendary Love Songs
               3:00 pm, Town Center Auditorium,
               Oak Crest Village, Walther Blvd, Parkville MD 21234
Apr    5     Heritage, Raleigh NC
Apr    7     Lakewood Manor, Richmond VA
Apr  14     Public Library Concert  Sunny Side of the Street
              7 pm, Library Theatre, 973-627-6555,
              Denville Library, 121 Diamond Spring Road, Denville NJ 07034
May   9     Friends of the Library Concert  Tin Pan Alley Cats
               7:30 pm, Meeting Rooms A-B-C, 908-526-4016,
               Bridgewater Township Library, 1 Vogt Drive, Bridgewater NJ 08807
May 18     Fountains, Millbrook NY
Jun  10     Glebe, Daleville VA
Jun  11     Cypress, Raleigh NC
Jun  12     Springmoor, Raleigh NC
Jun  13     Lake Prince Woods, Suffolk VA
Jun  16     The Oaks, Orangeburg SC
Jun  17     Stewart Health Center, Charlotte NC
Jun  18     Bermuda Village, Advance NC
July  14    Shannondell - Bradford, Audubon PA
Sep   3     Heath Village, Hackettstown NJ
Sep  18     Country House, Wilmington DE
Sep  25     Arbors, Manchester CT  Juke Joint Jive
Sep  26     Overlook, Charlton MA  In The Mood
Oct    9     Volunteer Recognition Concert  Legendary Love Songs
               10:30 am @ Beaver Brook Country Club, Annandale NJ
               Sponsored by Hunterdon County Senior Center
               4 Gauntt Place, Flemington NJ 08822; 908-788-1359
Oct    9     Wellington, West Chester PA
Oct   13     Riddle Village, Media PA
Oct   16     Sherwood Oaks, Cranberry Twp PA
Oct   20     Lakewood Manor, Richmond VA
Oct   22     Cypress, Raleigh NC
Oct   26    Public Library Concert  Ragtime Rascals
               Friends of the Library commemorate centennial of World War I
               3 pm, Community Room, 973-827-8095,
               Dorothy Henry Branch Library, 66 Rt 94, Vernon NJ 07462
Nov   3      Shannondell - Ashcroft, Audubon PA
Nov   5      Meadowood, Lansdale PA
Nov  13     Springmoor, Raleigh NC
Nov  14     Lake Prince Woods, Suffolk VA
Nov  18     The Oaks, Orangeburg SC
Nov  19     Bermuda Village, Advance NC
©  2014 — Kenneth Lelen — All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 12, 2014

Every song tells a story 

            Program directors want "something different — not just entertainment" in a concert,
            so I offer romantic, musical or historic themes in Vintage Music ConcertsEach uses
            amusing anecdotes, savory musings or wry comments to introduce song. Audiences
            love the thought, humor and poignancy, while hosts report themed concerts are easy
            to promote. In any case, each vintage tune I sing is always accompanied by one of my
            vintage acoustic guitars. Here are my current Vintage Music Concert themes.

A Fine Romance
Features the love songs popularized by a wartime generation that rationed its romance and deferred its affairs "for the duration."

Big Band Idols
Features songs immortalized by the vocalists, musicians and band leaders who fronted Big Bands, society orchestras and jazz combos in the Swing Era.
Bye Bye Blues
Concert spotlights the pop tunes favored by the Depression's hip, young, urban audiences, who wanted rhythmic music they could dance to.

Broadway Song Souvenirs
Explores the show tunes used by producers on the Great White Way to advance a story line, promote an ingenue or spawn ancillary hits for radio, movies and TV.

Folk Song Boomers
Concert offers the folk & protest songs written by slick singer-songwriters that became the pop music hits favored by America's post-WWII generation.

Hollywood's Hit Songs
The power of song selection gave movie producers a way to sprout celluloid dramas and comedies into big hits. You'll be surprised at how many great songs you recognize.

Ragtime Rascals
Concert of the hot tunes, clever lyrics, rapid rhythms and sweet melodies popular with doughboys, flappers and other speakeasy denizens.

In The Mood
WW II changed America, including how pop music could inject emotions that resonated with folks on the Home Front and in the Front Line.

Jazzman's Journey
Offers ragged rhythms and insouciant jive tunes of the 1920s that became pop hits for swing musicians and hep vocalists in the 1930s and 1940s.

Juke Joint Jive
Memorable toe-tappin' hits for stage door johnnies, lindy hoppers, swing shift maisies, bobbie soxers, drugstore cowboys, jitter buggers & zoot suiters.

Legendary Love Songs
Offers amorous lyrics and memorable melodies that evoke old flames, moonlit nights, romantic affairs, heartthrobs and heartaches.

Love Was Nifty
In the decade prior to 1954, when Elvis and his rowdy friends arrived, America pursued a shift in its pop music to reflect adult interests and adult ideas of romance.

Radio Ramblers
For years a handheld device offered tunes, news, drama, comedy, games, sports, menus, shopping & gossip, so we'll salute the songs, singers & shows of radio's heyday.

One Who Got Away
These wistfully memorable and bitter sweetly romantic hits will once again prove it's better to love and lose than to never love at all.

Speak Easy Jazz
Here we play some hot sweet jazz, which was spread by 78 rpm records, radio, talkies and bootleg liquor and upended social mores in the 1920s.

Sunny Side Of The Street
Covers mirthful songs that softened the Great Depression's bite, offered pithy personal advice and poked fun at society's upper crust.

Tin Pan Alley Cats
Concert honors the hit songs composed by Arlen, Berlin, Carmichael, Ellington, Fields, Gershwin, Hart, Loesser, Porter, Rodgers, Styne et. al

Torch Song Embers
Offers the favorite romantic songs of adults who moon for the One Who Got Away, idolize heart-breakers or remember romantic rendezvous.

Vintage Songs + Vintage Guitars
For an authentic back-in-the day sound we pair hits of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s with steel-stringed, acoustic guitars built in the same decades.

Writers - Singers - Performers
Tin Pan Alley, Hollywood and Broadway’s grip on pop music was loosened by talented upstarts who composed, recorded and performed their own hits in the 1960s.

© 2014 — Kenneth Lelen — All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Lorizio
1937 Martin 00-18H

As the Great Recession swept into my neighborhood in early 2009, I needed money to pay some bills. So I decided to sell this 1937 Martin 00-18H, one of 255 made between 1935 and 1941 and priced at $45 to $55. A grand concert-sized guitar (14¼-in. lower-bout width), it originally was set up for Hawaiian-style play.
                                                                                            PHOTO: Vintage Instruments
The Lorizio — 1937 Martin 00-18H
     Today, the instrument is known as the Lorizio after its original owner, Jeanette Porcello Lorizio. Born Jan. 2, 1913 and deceased Dec. 30, 2000 in Norton, MA near Boston, her surname and Soc. Sec. number are hand-inscribed on the back of the guitar's headstock.
     Long-ago converted to standard play, I bought the Lorizio (SN 65183) at the height of the vintage guitar market, when a mid-thirties 00-18H in excellent condition could fetch $9,500. Offered in “good condition, needs work” at $6,500 in Jan. 2007 by Fred Oster of Vintage Instruments in Philadelphia, I was able to buy it six months later at $5,500. By year's end I'd spent $1,650 more for its restoration by luthiers Greg Hanson and David Crawford of Durham, NC (formerly in Raleigh).
                                                 PHOTO: Lark Street
Lorizio 00-18H headstock —
with inscribed name & SSN
     Hanson and Crawford's repairs included the following work:
       resetting the neck;
       planing fingerboard to obtain uniform radius and removal of a hump at the 12th fret;
       refretting fingerboard with modern T frets;
       installing a forgery-grade ebony bridge and intonating the bone saddle;
       adjusting the set-up to accommodate my flatpicking playing style;
       gluing a thin pad of maple rescued from a 100-year-old piano onto the original bridge plate to eliminate string-ball damage;
       repairing two small irregular holes in the upper treble rib.
     The quality of Hanson & Crawford's work was beyond reproach. Still, Oster sniffed dismissively when he examined the restored guitar in early 2009. He called the work "passable, not great."
     Accurate or not, Oster's opinion of this fine guitar meant trouble for me. His opinion of the guitar could spoil my chance to sell the guitar and obtain a good price either at his Vintage Instruments shop or elsewhere in the vintage guitar market.
                                                      PHOTO: Ralph Shirak
Ken Lelen with
 Lorizio 00-18H
Kennebunk, ME in June 2008
     So I looked to sell or trade it in a non-East Coast market. Luckily, a 1920s Maurer Style #493 guitar made by the Larson Brothers appeared on Eric Schoenberg's website. Based in Tiburon, CA near San Francisco, he priced the Larson, a grand concert beauty restored by Chris Berkov, at $6,675. In addition, Schoenberg agreed to my suggestion of swapping the Lorizio 00-18H for the Maurer #493. Like icing on a cake, I netted $1,000 cash from Schoenberg in the process.
     The Lorizio 00-18H is a great instrument and I enjoyed playing it for two years. Still, I don't miss it. The Maurer #493 is an outstanding guitar that offers sublime pleasures to any player. Indeed, it is hard to put down even after playing it for an hour.
References & Links
                                               C. F. Martin & Co.          —
                                               Vintage Instruments     —
                                               Schoenberg Guitars       —
                                               Larson Bros. guitars      —      Maurer Style #493
A journalist for 30 years before opening Vintage Music Concerts in 1999,
Ken Lelen sings ragtime, jazz and swing & plays vintage acoustic guitars
at concerts for diverse groups, niche markets and sundry venues across
the East Coast. He has played acoustic guitar since the summer of 1963.

© 2014 by Kenneth Lelen — All Rights Reserved