Port Aransas duo enlists friends for fun CD
Remember network radio? The Lone Ranger? Amos 'n' Andy? The Great Gildersleeve? Fibber McGee and Molly?
Neither did Nathan Dunton and Josh Morrow, but after they began fooling around with some music, the idea struck them of putting together a CD that emulates one of those radio variety shows from the 1930s and '40s.
So they got together a group of professionals …
Okay, so they weren't exactly professionals.
What they were, was a bunch of Port Aransas ne'er-do-wells who enthusiastically contributed to the final product - rowdies like the Rev. Richard Safford, Leah Matthews, Matt Dunton, Kit Gutherz, Mary Teller, Mark Creighton, Jim Atwill and a host of others.
The result is: (taa-daa!) The Spring Heeled Jacks Original Swinging Jass (sic) Band Presents The Dicky Comstock Show.
You've never heard anything like it. Guaranteed.
It all started when Dunton returned from New Zealand, where he'd been visiting his sister. He said he wrote many of the songs in New Zealand, and when he came back to Port Aransas, he had less than a day before he had to leave again.
"On the only night I had in town, I went over to Josh Morrow 's house and recorded 11 scratch tracks (like musical rough drafts) with just my guitar and voice," Dunton explained in an e-mail. It wasn't until Morrow started sending e-mails to Dunton - with his versions of the music on them - that Dunton realized Morrow was going "in a completely different direction than I was expecting."
The problem was, all Morrow had to work with was digitized musical instruments on his computer - and that didn't sound right to either of them.
The solution? Look up Jim Cole at Port Aransas High School and see if some of his band students would be willing to provide real instrumental tracks. The answer was not only yes, but … er … heck yes.
"Over the next five and a half months, we had close to 30 different musicians come in and record for us -- one person at a time. Nearly all of them gave their time and skills for free. Each added his own unique flavor and sound to the recording. Mrs. (Judy) Cole, for example, put a flutter tongue at the end of 'Somewhere by the Road' with her flute, and Kit Gutherz wrote the trombone solo on 'Mr. and Mrs. Bones.'
"On 'Ray's Magic Powder' and 'The Dicky Comstock Show Theme,' (Port Aransas High School) then-seniors Mary Teller, Jillian Bartlett and Leah Matthews sang together and became affectionately known as the 'Jackettes'."
PAHS student Casey Reed played the beautiful violin solos on 'Garden of Roses' and 'Mr. and Mrs. Bones.' Leah Matthews sang lead on 'Mr. and Mrs. Bones' and is the most prevalent female voice on the album.
"Richard Safford added his booming bass voice to 'No Friends Like Old Friends' and 'Mr. and Mrs. Bones.' Jim Atwill played the voice of the show's spirited announcer, and the incomparable Lloyd Strom played the voice of Dicky Comstock." Oh, yeah - Dicky Comstock.
Who is this guy Comstock, anyway? According to Dunton, he came about when he and Morrow started listening to old-time radio shows on the Internet.
"We became enamored with shows like Amos and Andy, The Fred Allen Show, and, of course, The Bob Hope Show. The idea of The Dicky Comstock Show came from listening to these old shows. Of course, in those days, the shows usually had only one sponsor.
"After listening to the commercials on these old shows for a while, we came up with Ray's Magic Foot Powder, a mysterious, chalky powder that inexplicably eliminates foot sweat and odor. Of course, both Ray's Magic Foot Powder and The Dicky Comstock show were provided with appropriate theme songs. We made The Spring Heeled Jacks Original Jass Band (our name for our group) the featured act on the Dicky Comstock Show and that's how the whole thing came together." Dunton said influences on the music range from Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys through Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra and Teeven Sondheim to Snoop Dogg.
"Josh and I both love all kinds of music, and we like mixing and matching styles. The Dicky Comstock Show is thus a kind of musical historical travelogue through different eras and different genres," he said. "We wrote all the sheet music parts out for our musicians except for Kit Gutherz and Mike Williams who improvised their parts. All recording, engineering, and mixing was done by Josh and me. The album was recorded mainly in the Third Coast Studio, but large parts of it were recorded in my room, Josh's cottage, the high school band hall, and the Presbyterian church. The album was mastered by Fred Remmert at Cedar Creek Studios in Austin." Dunton credits Jim and Marlene Urban (Third Coast Studio) with much of the help for the CD, as well as Jim and Judy Cole, who not only contributed but scouted out others to participate.
"To me what's so special about this album is the fact that it couldn't have been made anywhere but Port Aransas," Dunton said. "We had students, teachers, lawyers, architects, ministers, vagrants, and everything in between. Our youngest member was 16, and our oldest was 83. "Besides Josh and me, no one worked harder on the Dicky Comstock Show than Leah Matthews. She sings on nearly every song and plays the french horn on 'Somewhere by the Road'."
Dunton said the most important goal is to give the residents and visitors to Port Aransas the opportunity to hear what this community is capable of.
"Port Aransas is full of artistic talent and in a way the Dicky Comstock Show is an exhibition and celebration of that talent," he said.
A touch of crazy doesn't hurt, either.
The CD is for sale at the South Jetty office, 141 W. Cotter Ave., but if you'd rather, you can just listen to it on line. The Web address is www. dickycomstock.com.
THE DICKY COMSTOCK CAST AND STAFFWritten, Arranged, and Produced by Nathan Dunton & Josh Morrow Leah Matthews - Background Vocals, Lead Vocals, & French Horn J.D. Gilliland - Cajon & Percussion Christina Garcia Tamez - Cello Jim Cole: Clarinet & Alto Sax Judy Cole: Flute & Piccolo Casey Reed: Violin Tiffany Brown: Oboe Richard Safford: Background Vocals Matt Dunton: Background Vocals Nathan Dunton: Background Vocals, Lead Vocals, Banjo, Mandolin,
Guitar, Piano, Organ, Clarinet, Bass, Percussion, SFX, Kazoo, &
Sampling/Sequencing Josh Morrow: Bass, Percussion, Background Vocals, SFX, & Sampling/
Sequencing Kit Gutherz: Trombone Sam Marks: Trumpet, French Horn, and Fluglehorn Terry Davidson: Trombone Paul Klemm: Bassoon Mary Teller: Background Vocals Jillian Bartlett: Background Vocals Mark Creighton: Background Vocals Mike Williams: Trombone Dunton Family: SFX (crowd noise) Jim Atwill: Announcer & Lloyd Strohm as Dicky Comstock