We're happy to announce that, at last, Dodge's Sundodgers have released our first CD, "Under the Sun," with music that is sweet, hot and surprising. Under the direction of the Cheap Suit Serenader's own Allan Dodge, we've served up an inviting mix of American, Hawaiian, Mexican and Italian songs, a few well known and others you've probably never heard. In "Under the Sun" we've picked songs from the great early eras of ragtime and pop music, when music could be both fun and unashamedly beautiful.
On the CD we play a wide variety of vintage string instruments, National tenor and Hawaiian guitars and ukuleles, ornate 1920s banjos, mandolins and mandolas, jazz guitars from the 1930s, ukuleles of various types and configurations. We also feature some original luthier-made instruments (the creations of our own in-house luthier and bass player, Glen Jordan). To enrich the blend we've included a couple of examples of Sundodger Zac Salem spanking the ivories.
Zac specializes in Latin American songs of the period, rhythmic movers like "Marta" and sentimental ballads such as "Alma Angelina" where he contributes Mexican stylings on guitar. His mandolin, banjo and tenor guitar effortlessly cross cultures and move right on to Broadway, early Hollywood and well known tunes such as "Moonglow" (complete with its short but surprising verse) or others now almost forgotten. He sings either solo or harmonizes with the gorgeous vocal presentations of our chanteuse, Kathy Sparling.
Kathy's harmonies and solo efforts shine in romantic mood pieces ("Pagan Love Song"), torch songs ("Why Did It Have To Be Me?"), cheerfully triumphant ditties about the sun (of course) and novelty items about cartoon cats, and she holds the beat down for the rest of us with her ukulele. On tunes such as the Italian-American 1900's "Telephone Waltz," Glen coaxes tuba-like tones out of his bass banjo, while Fred Dortort supplies enough rhythm, guitar fills and general meanderings along the fretboard to keep the whole band moving, even while he wonders if Kathy would be willing to sing hillbilly heartbreakers in the manner of Molly O'Day or Rose Maddox.
When looking for material we usually return to the bottomless well of Al Dodge's knowledge of now forgotten -— or always obscure -— but great songs by unsung masters such as Leecan and Cooksey, Sol Hoopii, or the 6 and 7/8 String Band. In Under the Sun, Al contributes some fine jug-blowing as well as his own slyly twisted lyrics on "You May Go." Elsewhere, whether he's playing his 1923 Iucci mandolin, his tricone 7 string National, his 1918 Vega mandola or his Bacon and Day Silver Belle Ne Plus Ultra Number 6 banjo, mysteriously plinking on orchestra bells that once belonged to the Red Nichols band, or just messing with the rest of us, he sets the tone for Dodge's Sundodgers, and the band strives to make him happy.