Dressed in a shiny top hat and tails Gramophone Gregory peers though round spectacles at a modern world that moves far too fast. His time machine is a pair of portable 1920s gramophones displayed on top of an antique mahogany wooden radio console. Slowly hand-cranking up the spring-loaded “talking machines” he, his dancers, and listeners instantly rewind back to a joyful innocent time where guys were gentleman and gals were ladies. A spinning, singing, shellac 78 rpm DJ straight from another era. A traveling music museum under the direction of Mr. Lou Curtiss’ record collection at Folk Arts Rare Records, this one-of-kind contraption is sure to make you smile and tap your toes. Something magical happens when you listen to 78 rpm shellac records on a vintage gramophone. The reissued digitally re-mastered jazz and blues CDs are welcome Christmas presents, but to hear how this music actually sounded back in the day is something deep and indescribable. Gramophone Gregory and his Imaginary Dance Orchestra provides heart-thumping volume from these machines by adding a microphone into the gramophone’s HMV-patented Soundbox 5A, projecting the music through the console’s speaker. From large dance halls to small classrooms to outdoor street fairs and retirement homes, this music can now be heard and felt like never before. Classic standards such as “The Very Thought of You” feature special “live” vocal accompaniment using a carbon spring-mount microphone, which together create an authentic balance of nostalgia. With 78 rpm records from the 1920s all the way up to the 1950s this “one man portable performance” will have you dancing your troubles away.
Upon the modern world’s scene music now exists as an invisible, intangible binary code, which seems that the pendulum swings like a dance orchestra back into focus again, using a hand-cranked wooden and metal box. The American inventer Emil Berliner is best known for developing the disc record gramophone and founded the Berliner Gramophone company in 1895. Over a hundred years later these wind-up machines are still running strong and are making a fast return into the ears of many. It is said in life we die twice – once when our physical body departs and the second time we die is when there is no one around who remembers who we were. The musicians and music that exist on these fragile shellac records are still alive and with us as long as they are being heard and appreciated. It’s important for our young people to see and hear where the very first “Walkman or iPod” originated from. Gramophone Gregory wants to share the value of these extraordinary songs, which fill you with joy and make you want to dance.
To witness this fantastic contraption at full steam, please visit www.gregorygramophone.com. In addition, you can see Gramophone Gregory at ArtLab (3536 Adams Ave. in Normal Heights) every Thursday night, beginning at 8pm.