By March 8, 1963, Entertainment columnist Will Jones of the Tribune stated that the Twist was dying, but the Jockey Club, which had prospered during the Twist boom, responded by running a “4-girls-4” chorus line led by Gloria Bush, aka Sheena, aka Jerry. “What she devised is a half-twisting chorus line. Right now they’re twisting on an every-other-show basis, doing nontwist numbers the rest of the time, and rehearsing for the days when they may not twist at all.”
An ad announced the “50 Mile” Paper Dolls, Twisting With Vigah!” The reference was to a challenge to the Marines and to the citizenry from President Kennedy to walk 50 miles.
If 1962 was all about the Twist, 1963 was all about folk music. Or what passed for folk music. For if folk music was handed down from generation to generation, how could you write new folk music? Anyway, the movement became a fad, and the clubs advertised in the Minneapolis Tribune all touted their singers as folk singers, whether they were or not.
The Contemporary Folk Group was from Minneapolis, and almost hit the big time, performing at the Troubadour Club in Hollywood in February 1963. They performed at the Chalet in Crystal in June 1963. They also did “folk type commercials for Aunt Jemima, Quaker Oats, and B.F. Goodrich,” reported Will Jones. The group consisted of Dick Winther, Jerry Longie, Ed Knutson, and Jerry Goodge.
The Kingston Trio, Stan Getz and His Bossa Nova Quintet, and comedian Ronnie Schell appeared at the Minneapolis Auditorium on February 22, 1963.
The Harlem Globetrotters came to the Minneapolis Auditorium for two shows on February 24, 1963. Also on the bill were Cab Calloway, five undescribed variety acts, and two table tennis stars.
The Dave Brubeck Quartet appeared at the Macalester Field House on March 15, 1963.
The Northwest Builders Show took place at the Minneapolis Auditorium from March 15-24, 1963, with appearances by Jimmy Dean, the Skeets Trio, the Ashtons, and local announcer Howard Viken. The troupe did 19 shows in the two weeks.
The Northwest Boat, Sports & Travel Show took place from March 29 to April 7, 1963, and an ad boasted a 15-act stage show of Internationally famous entertainers, but no location or list of acts was provided. Two shows were to be presented per day.
Will Jones is hilarious. In May 1963 he told a long story about how the Musicians’ Union was giving clubs a hard time, and in response many were pulling their live music and bringing in:
that Parisiann phenomenon, the all-record night club. There’s already a modified version of it in the Lipstick Lounge at the rear of the Black Angus restaurant. After pianist Joe DeMarsh was given his notice in the middle of the hassle with the musicians, the Lipstick Lounge took out its piano and installed a hi-fi record player in the piano bar, with a girl disc jockey behind it..
The girl in charge of records is Kay Clark Nygaard, who for disc-jockey purposes is being billed as K.C. Nygaard. The curvy Mrs. Nygaard is a bit of a kook with a big toothy smile and a pair of Ben Franklin glasses that tend to slide down her nose. She was three hours late for work on her opening night because she had trouble selecting just the right dress…
The requests ran to Brubeck and Jamal and Kenton the night I visited the Lounge. Sometimes Mrs. Nygaard vocalized along with a record, and once she stood on the bar and twisted, but mostly she just sat smiling and wiggling and making sly little comments to the customers..
Will Jones, May 26, 1963:
All right, folk-music faddists, hear this:
Folk singer Pete Seeger, a recent visitor, observed that Minnesota’s folk music is the so-called old-time music played by the polka and oompah bands hereabouts. New Ulm, Minn., for example, is a hotbed of folk music.
“It really means,” observed folk singer Maury Bernstein, “that Whoopee John is our Leadbelly.”
There you are, kids. If you’re really with it, you’ll start demanding to hear the Six Fat Dutchmen and Fezz Fritsche and Elmer Scheid and all the rest of those cats in your favorite coffeehouses. Or is it only folk music from some other are that has the snob appeal.
WDGY DJ Bill Diehl appeared at a Record Hop at the Lucky Twin Drive-In on June 15, 1963. The Lucky Twin, located at 35 W and Highway 12, featured two Elvis movies (I hesitate to say films) that night: “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Blue Hawaii.”
Oh to be young on June 19, 1963:
This is too funny: There is an ad for Breezy Point Lodge (on Big Pelican Lake) and the Co-Owner and Developer is Ginny Simms – Kay Kaiser’s girl singer! It gets better: the Convention Director is… Ish Kabibble! This is not a joke!
Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians came through with their “Wonderful World of Music” tour on July 1, 1963, at Met Stadium. Included on the tour was our own Miss Betty Ann McCall, accordionist extraordinaire and runner up to the Miss Minnesota contest in 1959. It was part of a “Music Under the Stars” series sponsored by the Minneapolis Jaycees.
On July 6, 1963, the Lucky Twin Drive-In Theatre (35W and Highway 12) featured a DANCE-DANCE-DANCE with Bill Diehl (“N.W.’s Top Disc Jockey”) and Mike Waggoner and the Bops. On the screen was “The Cool and the Crazy.” The IMDB only shows a 1958 movie by this name, with the plotline: “High school thug is front man for a local marijuana ring.” Hard to believe Bill Diehl would be associated with that – although he was tops with the teens, he was secretly a square!
Harry Belafonte and a cast of 32 came to the St. Paul Auditorium for five days on July 9-13, 1963.
In about July 1963 Ann Oleson and Genie Evans bought the Scholar, and celebrated with (what else?) a Hootenanny.
Hootenanny ’63 (no details) happened at the Minneapolis Auditorium on July 26, 1963.
Al Hirt and his New Orleans Jazz Group appeared at Met Stadium on July 29, 1963. It was part of a “Music Under the Stars” series sponsored by the Minneapolis Jaycees. Also appearing were the Schmitz Sisters.
Meat-packing heir Geordie Hormel was a regular singer at the White House in Golden Valley. He’d had his own club, King’s Wood, apparently in Austin, but it failed. Hormel was apparently a real character.
On September 17, 1963, you could go to the St. Paul Auditorium Arena and – if you wanted to – you could Sing Along With Mitch. Also on the ticket were Leslie Uggams and 50 singers, dancers, and musicians.
Will Jones reported that Bob Hope promised a hootenanny to end all when he introduced the team of Hoot, Nanny, and Hope on his comedy special on September 27, 1963.
McGuire’s Restaurant and Lounge, not normally a place for young people, featured the Folksinging Voyagers in September 1963. Gene Bass and Bob Monfort sang calypso, songs from Israel to Ireland, American Ballads, comedy and novelty numbers.
Nat King Cole appeared at the Minneapolis Auditorium on October 30, 1963, with the Merry Young Souls and Joe Zito’s 19-piece orchestra.
In 1963 WDGY DJ Bill Diehl was the emcee at a Halloween dance at the St. Louis Park Roller Garden featuring the Trashmen, who had released their national smash hit, “Surfin’ Bird” earlier that month. Expecting about 800 kids, an estimated 2100 showed up. The enthusiastic crowd pushed in the building’s glass door, and Diehl had to call the police department and hire 5-6 members of the local constabulary to keep the peace. Even at only $2 a head, money was made hand over fist, stuffed in wastebaskets and whatever they could find. Diehl had promoted the dance in partnership with his brother, who was a plastic surgeon. So much money was made that his brother was ready to quit his practice and keep promoting dances, but the next three turned out to be flops, so he returned to facelifts. See more about about the Trashmen here.
Jack Benny appeared with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra at Northrop Auditorium on November 7, 1963. Benny did 7-8 of these benefit concerts a year. The reviewer in the Tribune was not impressed with Benny’s… anything, and said that conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski was mean to him, but it was probably all in the act, since Benny was said to be hilarious. Which shows that he is a pro, since days before his wife had been robbed of $250,000 in jewels in her hotel room in New York City and he was hopping mad. Mary Livingstone was unharmed and the jewels were insured.
Perhaps the first mention of the Beatles in a Minneapolis paper appeared in the Tribune on November 10, 1963, with a UPI story dateline London. The article was couched as a fairy story and kind of made fun of them, except that it was quite impressed that the group was making $14,000 a week.
The Beatles, who just a year ago were making only about $50 a week, have turned Britain topsy-turvy with their brand of music, called the ‘Mersey sound,’ the ‘Liverpool sound,’ ‘Beat with a Drive’ and ‘Pop with a beat.’ …. In recent weeks, police in cities throughout Britain have become engaged in almost uncontrolled warfare with thousands of young fans…
The Ahmad Jamal Trio appeared at the Macalester Fieldhouse on November 16, 1963.