Y Stijn Debrouwere, el rey del América

Madison Match-up Madness, culminating in this moment of mental chess between Milwaukee, WI’s The Viper and Ghent, Belgium’s Stijn Debrouwere. Photo by Rob Henn.

See parts 1, 2, and 3 here, here, and here.

PART 4 OF 3 – In the summer of 2009, when The Viper and His Famous Orchestra started playing together again after my return to the Midwest, an innocent self-search on Google turned up the fact that a trad jazz band out of Belgium had posted a cover of “Ich Bin Berlin (The Sundown Song),” a Viper and His Famous Orchestra tune recorded for our Everything for Everyone long-playing CD.

What followed was some frenzied e-mails among the members of the Orchestra, some excited comments to the YouTube video, and a correspondence with the Rambling Boys of Pleasure’s singer/clarinetist/ukulelist, Stijn Debrouwere (including an e-mail interview that you can find here).

Then, one Saturday three years hence, August 18, 2012, we finally got to meet up in person. Stijn travelled to Madison, Wisconsin from Cedar Rapids, Iowa (where he’s been working) and The Viper travelled to Madison, Wisconsin from Milwaukee, Wisconsin (where he hasn’t been working).

After dinner with some friends, we all retired to the Spaight Street home of Orchestra trombonist Rob Henn to make some music: everything from Bob Wills, Roger Miller, and Hank Williams through some Stijn Debrouwere orginals and Viper stand-bys.

Rob documented some of this through his laptop camera/mic and posted the results, with some context, to YouTube, which you can see here.

This is the long awaited international, trans-Atlantic intersection of The Viper and His Famous Orchestra and The Rambling Boys of Pleasure, playing “Ich Bin Berlin (The Sundown Song)” for your orchestrated pleasure.

August 18, 2012 – The Viper (plus Rob Henn) + Stijn Debrouwere
Madison, WI

NOTE: Watching this again in 2019, I’ve decided I really like this recording! I’m not wild about the framing, which was dictated, if I remember right, by the length of Rob’s laptop cord and keeps poor Rob out of the frame and doesn’t show much detail. But I like the sound of the concert and the bartione uke together, I’m impressed that we took the time to compose a new little double-uke intro on the spot, and the performances are pretty lively, kicked up a definite notch or two by Stijn’s presence. Nice work, guys who haven’t yet hit their mid-40s!

NOTE ON NOTE: Watching this again in 2022, I am super happy about everything that happens here! Stijn is great, Rob (even off-screen) makes it happen, and — alluded to in the 2019 note — I LOVE LOVE LOVE the little arrangement at the beginning where Stijn plays the scripted Ink Spots opening and I do a little baritone counterpoint. Just a wonderful memory.

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