Ken Lelen

Ken Lelen
Ken Lelen sings great American ragtime, jazz & swing and performs with vintage acoustic guitars for an authentic, back-in-the day sound.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

                                        2023 Concert Schedule

Date           Venue + Location                             Web Link                Concert Theme
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Mar      5            Dover Public Library, Dover DE                              Dover                               Juke Joint Jive

Mar      5            North Oaks, Pikesville MD                                       NorthOaks                      Sunny Side of the Street

Mar    26           Middlesex Public Library, Middlesex NJ               Middlesex                       The Moon, the Stars & You 

Apr     22           Mahwah Public Library, Mahwah NJ                     Mahwah                          When Love Was Nifty

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                             ©  2023 — Kenneth Lelen — All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 3, 2022

                                       2022 Concert Schedule

Date          Venue + Location                             Web Link                Concert Theme
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Apr    22        Luther Crest Community, Allentown PA               LutherCrest                   Hollywood Song Souvenirs 

May   14         Westfield Memorial Library, Westfield NJ           Westfield                        Legendary Love Songs

Jun    16         Springhill, Erie PA                                                      Springhill                       The Moon, the Stars & You 

Jun    18         Homewood, Frederick MD                                       Homewood                    Crooners, Swingers & Idols 

Jun    22         Heath Village, Hackettstown NJ                             HeathVlg                        The Moon, the Stars & You 

July   26         Milltown Public Library, Milltown NJ                   Milltown                         Sunny Side of the Street 

Sep     13         Church of the Savior, Wayne PA                             ChurchSavoir                 MidCentury Melodies 

Oct      5           Greendale Men's Club, Worcester MA                  Greendale                       Crooners, Swingers & Idols

Oct      8          Harvey Mitchell Library, Epping NH                     Epping                             Hollywood Song Souvenirs 

Oct     11          Springmoor, Raleigh NC                                           Springmoor                    Crooners, Swingers & Idols 

Oct     12         Penick Village, Southern Pines NC                         PenickVlg                        Legendary Love Songs

Oct     12         Arbor Acres, Winston-Salem NC                             ArborAcres                     The Moon, the Stars & You

Oct     13         Bermuda Village, Advance NC                                 BermudaVlg                    The Moon, the Stars & You 

Oct     20         Springhill, Erie PA                                                      Springhill                        Crooners, Swingers & Idols

Oct     21         Concordia South Hills, Pittsburgh PA                    Concordia                          Juke Joint Jive

Oct     22         Homewood, Frederick MD                                       Homewood                      The Moon, the Stars & You 

Oct     23         Oak Crest, Parkville MD                                            OakCrest                          MidCentury Melodies

Oct     28         Dunellen Senior Club, Dunellen NJ                        SeniorClub                       He Did It His Way

Nov      3         Waretown Library, Waretown NJ                           Waretown                        MidCentury Melodies

Nov      5         Pt Pleasant Library, Pt Pleasant NJ                        PointPleasant                      She Did It Her Way

Nov             Stafford Library, Manahawkin NJ                          Stafford                             MidCenturyMelodies

Nov    10         Sea Isle City Library, Sea Isle City NJ                    SeaIsleCity                              Vintage Guitar Roadshow

Nov    12         Long Beach Island Library, Surf City NJ               LongBeachIsland            In the Mood

Dec      3          Court House Library, Cape May CH NJ                CapeMayCtHouse           She Did It Her Way

Dec              Upper Shores Library, Lavalette NJ                       UpperShores                    In the Mood

Dec    13          Toms River Library, Toms River NJ                       TomsRiver                     She Did It Her Way

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                             ©  2022 — Kenneth Lelen — All Rights Reserved


Monday, August 29, 2022

"OCEANS OF POSSIBILITIES"

Milltown Library on the Sunny Side 

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                                          ©  2022 — Kenneth Lelen — Al Rights Reserved


Summertime and the livin' is sunny and mild with a chance of cheer, say the folks at Milltown Public Library.

On July 26, as one of its offerings for Oceans of Possibilities the theme for 2022 Summer Reading Programs across the nation — the Milltown NJ library sponsored an evening concert for adults in its community room.

Performed by vintage guitarist and vocalist Ken Lelen, Sunny Side of the Street offered mirthful songs with memorable tunes and clever lyrics from the 1930s. Employing amusing anecdotes to introduce many of the songs, Lelen performed vintage tunes originally designed to soften the bite of hard times, offer sly advice for lovers and sinners, and poke fun at society's upper crust.

His concert included such memorable American classics as "Until The Real Thing Comes Along," "It's A Sin To Tell A Lie," "The Lady Is A Tramp," "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter," "Pennies From Heaven," "Nice Work If You Can Get It," "The Glory of Love," "Moonglow" and, of course, "On The Sunny Side of the Street."

 

Stories, songs and memories

Throughout the concert Lelen told amusing stories to introduce many of the songs he sang. For instance, for "They Can't Take That Away From Me," George and Ira Gershwin's memorable song from the 1937 film, Shall We Dance, Lelen said the film's male lead, a tap dancer played by Fred Astaire, sings a love song full of wry remorse to the film's female lead, a ballet dancer played by Ginger Rogers. 

Their love affair was bumpy, Lelen remarked, and one foggy night, just as Fred prepares to take a ferry across the Hudson River to Manhattan, he reminisces — in song — about the joys and sorrows of his romance with Ginger. "'The mem'ry of all that. No, no, they can't take that away from me,'" the musician intoned.

"Once upon a time songs like this brushed away day-to-day burdens, cleansed your heart and soothed your soul," said Lelen, who has offered Vintage Music Concerts to adult and senior audiences at public libraries, museums, life-care communities, social clubs, arts and culture facilities, and senior centers across the East Coast since 1999. 

 

Back-in-the-day sound of vintage acoustic guitars 

In addition to singing sunny songs from the 1930s, the performer played vintage acoustic guitars made during the same decade. Fashioned by hand from spruce, rosewood, mahogany and ebony, such guitars produce musical sounds with tone, character and unstinting sustain without the use of pick-ups, studio gimmicks or electronic gizmos.

For the Milltown concert, Lelen played these vintage acoustic guitars:

 

     1930 Martin 00-17 — X-braced grand           1933 MarvelTone  —  X-braced grand

     concert guitar with mahogany top, back           concert guitar, mahogany body, spruce

     and sides;  ebony bridge and rosewood            top, with pearl headstock & fingerboard

     fretboard; 12 frets to the body;  one of            inlays; 12 frets to body; made by Regal

     161 made by C.F. Martin of Nazareth PA;             of Chicago, distributed by Targ & Dinner

     original price: $35.                                         of New York City; original price: $28. 

                                                                 

     1933 Weymann 840 – X-braced grand           1938 Martin 00-21 – X-braced grand

     concert guitar,  mahogany body, spruce              concert guitar, rosewood body, spruce top,

     top,  with rosewood binding and  bridge;            herringbone soundhole trim and backstrip,

     12 frets to the body; made by Weymann          ebony fingerboard; 12 frets to body; one of

     & Son of Philadelphia; original price: $45.         15 Martin made in 1938; original price: $65.


Oceans of Possibilities

After the Sunny Side of the Street concert, the Milltown Library offered a final word on the success of its 2022 Summer Reading Program — Oceans of Possibilities — in a note of gratitude to donors, patrons and library staff who participated in the program.

Shown at left is the Thank You note posted on the library's home page:

https://lmac.ent.sirsi.net/client/en_US/milltown

 

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                                      ©  2022 — Kenneth Lelen — All Rights Reserved

 

Monday, March 7, 2022

Concert  Themes
  Popular program themes for Vintage Music Concerts
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© 2022 — Kenneth Lelen — All Rights Reserved

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - 1936
With the addition of six new themes, Vintage Music Concerts will offer 27 programs for its 2022 concerts. Each theme traces a musical, romantic or historic idea with wry comments, savory musings or amusing stories. Audiences will find their favorite melodies and fondest memories seasoned with warmth and wit, while hosts will discover themed concerts are easy to promote.

Vintage Music Concerts offer hand-crafted jazz, ragtime, swing and pop tunes as well as vintage acoustic guitars for an authentic back-in-the-day sound. You can't get this old-time sound from some box with plastic knobs.


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Vintage Guitar Roadshow
For an authentic, back-in-the-day sound, concert offers great American ragtime, jazz and swing tunes of the 1920s, 1930s & 1940s paired with vintage acoustic guitars from the same decades. Program explores popular music of early 20th Century as well as the current market for guitars used by performers of that time.

MidCentury Melodies
Johnny Mercer - 1950s
A concert of great tunes from the 20th Century's juicy middle — before musical tastes were stained by disco, bossa nova, bubble gum and stadium singers. We will explore the hit tunes of Jo Stafford, Tony Bennett, Vaughn Monroe, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mercer, Patti Page, Nat King Cole, Dinah Shore, Dave Barbour, Rosemary Clooney, Edith Piaf, Bob Wills, Barbara Cook and others.

Crooners, Swingers and Idols
Concert of romantic ballads and pop songs foisted on American ears by heart-throb crooners, teen-aged idols and Rat Pack swingers during the Eisenhower Era. These songs were hits for a post-war sock-hop generation, a time when people dated, dined & danced to their favorite tunes as they aired on radios, juke boxes or at the movies. You’ll be glad to hear them again.

Huddie Ledbetter - 1940s
Great American Songsters
Stories and songs by the performers, com- posers and musical scamps that populated the early 20th Century. These genre-makers include Bob Wills, Carson J Robison, Big Bill Bronzy, Bessie Smith, Jimmie Rodgers, Jimmie Davis, Leadbelly, Goebel Reeves and the Carters.

American originals all, they worked out of the humid limelight of Tin Pan Alley even as they spawned the musical genres known today as blues, bluegrass, R&B, ragtime, country, country 'n western, western swing, cowboy, hillbilly, Piedmont and folk.

Some of these songsters were famous in their own day, some were not. Still, their music spread across America's cultural landscape in several formats, including recorded discs, radio air time, Hollywood movies, Broadway shows, juke box selections, big band dance tunes, jazz combo cutting contests and juke joint favorites.

The Moon, The Stars and You
Concert will summon wine-dark skies, cheerful stars and the pale moon on high for romantic insight and inspiration with classic love songs, including: Blue Moon, Fly Me To The Moon, It’s Only A Paper Moon, Moonglow, As Time Goes By, Moon River, How High The Moon, Moonlight Bay, Stars Fell On Alabama, Beyond The Sea, Blue Skies, Moonlight in Vermont, Get Out and Get Under The Moon, Moonlight Serenade, Old Cape Cod, Polka Dots and Moonbeams and, of course, everyone's favorite, Stardust. Your fondest memories will rise on the horizon.

The Singing Cowboy - Gene Autry - 1930s
Lunchbox Cowboys
Popularized on the radio, with Saturday afternoon flicks, in the earliest black-and-white TV shows, with merchandise found in mail-order catalogs and on the shelves of five-and-dime stores, the singing cowboys were a big deal with small-fry buckaroos (boys and girls) from the early 1930s until the mid-1960s.
 
Though a few Tin Pan Alley cats prowled their ranks, the list of luminous lunchbox cowboys included Jimmie Rodgers, Roy Rogers, Patsy Montana, Dale Evans, Al Dexter, Gene Autry, Carson Robison, Burl Ives, Bradley Kinkaid, Jimmy Dickens and others. You'll be surprised how many of these sagebrush songsters you recognize and how many of their great tunes you remember. Happy Trails To You.
 
Big Band Idols
Concert of songs immortalized by vocalists, musicians and band leaders who fronted Big Bands, jazz combos and society orchestras during the Swing Era.

Irving Berlin's memorable masterpiece - 1920
Ragtime Rascals
Concert offers hot sweet jazz renditions with the memorable tunes, clever lyrics and rapid rhythms loved by flappers, doughboys and bootleggers and spread by radio, talkies, 78s and tin lizzies.

When Love Was Nifty
In the decade before Elvis and his rowdy friends arrived, American pop music shifted its focus to appeal to both adult interests and youthful ideas of romance.

She Did It Her Way
Concert celebrates lives, romances, careers and hits of female vocalists and recording artists such as Peggy Lee, Billie Holiday, Patti Page, Dinah Shore, Ella Fitzgerald, Jo Stafford, Judy Garland, Bessie Smith, Mildred Bailey, Helen Forrest and others.

He Did It His Way
Concert celebrates lives, romances, careers and hits of male vocalists and band leaders such as Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Gene Autry, Johnny Mercer, Artie Shaw and others.

Great American Cabaret
Back in the day couples dated, dined and danced at cabarets, supper clubs, hotels, restaurants and night clubs, so our concert offers the standards, ballads and jazz hits of saloon singers, ballroom bands and jazz combos.

Radio Ramblers
Americans once used console, tabletop or portable devices to hear music, news, drama, comedy, games, sports, shopping and gossip of the day, so our concert salutes the shows, songs, singers and emcees of radio's heyday.

Juke Joint Jive
Memorable toe-tappin' hits favored by lindy hoppers, stage door johnnies, zoo suiters, swingshift maisies, jitter buggers, drugstore cowboys & bobby soxers.

Speak Easy Jazz
Concert of record, jukebox and radio hits by the artists who were progenitors of American jazz: Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Isham Jones, Paul Whiteman, Mildred Bailey, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Richard Whiting et al.

Composer Jimmy McHugh and
lyricist Dorothy Fields - 1933
Sunny Side Of The Street
Concert of mirthful, upbeat romantic songs that will smother you in unsolicited love advice, repair or improve your personality, poke fun at society's upper crust (AKA — the 1 percent) and beat back the blues you've denied for who knows how long. 
 
Legendary Love Songs
Concert offers musical fountain of amorous lyrics, catchy tunes and dewy-eyed anecdotes to re-ignite old flames, evoke moonlit nights, recall romantic affairs, re-submit to the pangs of heartthrobs and heartaches — all those memorable times each kiss was an inspiration.

Torch Song Embers
Concert plays bittersweet, wistful and romantic songs for folks who idolize the One Who Got Away, can't seem to forget a misbegotten lover and still romanticize that long-ago tryst.

Kingston Trio Redux
The Kingston Trio changed the course of pop music for 10 years from the late 1950s to late 1960s. They became America's most envied, imitated and successful pop group as they gathered a repertoire from numerous sources — urban and rural folk, calypso, folk rock, Broadway show tunes and Americana — and spun their arrangements into commercial success on college campuses, in coffee houses and with hit records.

Broadway Song Mementos
Tunes Great White Way producers used to advance story lines, tout ingénues and draw income from sheet music, records, juke box, movies and radio airplay.

Cliff Edwards (Ukulele Ike) and admirer - 1930s
Hollywood Song Souvenirs
Song selection gave movie makers ways to turn celluloid dramas & zany comedies into hits. You’ll be surprised how many tunes you remember.

Singer - Songwriters
Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and Hollywood lost their grip on pop music in the 1960s when talented upstarts such as Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Carole King, Gordon Lightfoot and others began to write, record and sell their own hit tunes. Called folksingers at the time, these youngsters' used record sales to gain both popular attention and cultural identity.

Composer George Gershwin and
lyricist Ira Gershwin - 1920s
Tin Pan Alley Cats
Songs and stories behind the great American hit songs of Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields, Johnny Mercer, Jule Styne, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer, Johnny Black, Duke Ellington, Frank Loesser, Harry Warren, Richard Rodgers and Larry Hart and other well-known composers.

Bye Bye Blues
Concert features the jazz and swing hits popular in the era between the world wars. Young people claimed these tunes as their own because the songs were danceable and had clever lyrics and memorable melodies. What's more, they were performed by vocalists and big bands who gained popularity with simultaneous appearances in recordings, radios, jukeboxes and movies.

In The Mood
Concert offers a bouquet of romantic tunes from the war-torn 1940s that gave pop music emotional depth and evoked nostalgic moods to resonate with folks on the Home Front & Front Lines. Back in the day escapism was a priority for listeners and this Vintage Music Concert will help you get away from it all.


Dustbowl balladeer Woody Guthrie - 1943

Prairie Poets 
With songs and stories, this concert will explore the late 20th Century cultural impact of such American and Canadian artist-performers as Woody Guthrie of Okema OK, Goebel Reeves of Sherman TX, Bob Dylan of Duluth MN, Gordon Lightfoot of Toronto ON, Buffy Sainte-Marie of Qu'Appelle Valley SK, and Ian Tyson of Victoria BC.

Folk Song Boomers
Concert of pop, topical, folk, traditional and protest songs that became popular radio hits and sing-along anthems for America's post-war generation that came of age in the 1950s and 1960s.

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© 2022 — Kenneth Lelen — All Rights Reserved