Category Archives: fabulous ones

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.

Thank you, John

…for being a boss popcorn. Last week, we had an “incident” at the Jerving house in which Jerving-the-youngest accidentally knocked the Toneport USB interface off the desk, bringing a dance-infused session of recording “Starships” with her friend Nala to an abrupt end. John Peacock came to the rescue by letting me borrow his sturdy Tascam US-122: he says “indefinitely” — and now we have that in print — which means that, once again, I can shove all kinds of sounds into my computer.

I tested it out today — doesn’t yet work through the Ubuntu side of my computer, but it does on Windows. The following represents a good five minutes of work, using the Audacity sound editor to lay down three tracks of Fender Telecaster gold, un-amped and plugged in as is directly into the machine.

The sound isn’t actually terrible. The song is an instrumental version of John Papageorge’s Kissyfish classic, “Girlfriend,” from our Grownups Are People, Too tape.

John Papageorge, circa May, 1987, Madison, Wisconsin

Don Gerard for Mayor

Just finished recording this plug for all and sundry to vote on April 5, 2011 for Don Gerard, running for mayor of Champaign, Illinois. Better late than never!

Don Gerard for Mayor

click here to download the mp3

This was recorded at home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on a perfectly clear day. The thunder comes from the open source Community Audio project of the Internet Archive, and is made available for free use and free modification for any purpose under a Creative Commons attribution license (the author is given as Gaia), at

Don Gerard, a fixture of the Champaign-Urbana music scene (The Farmboys, Steve Pride & His Blood Kin, Moon Seven Times, Greedy Loves), has appeared on stage with The Viper & His Famous Orchestra at least once, in the year 2000.

Feliz Meriton

Just in time for the season, Irene Vipersdottir Jerving has, once again, struck holiday gold. You may remember last year’s “Christmasy Blues” (and if you don’t, see below). This year’s offering is titled “Feliz Meriton,” and it goes like this:

Feliz Meriton
download the mp3 | download the uncompressed wav file

The song is faux French with some Spanish influence (don’t bother to look up the meaning of “meriton” — it doesn’t exist). Irene sings all three vocal tracks. And as she tells you in the pages of her own online IRENE Magazine, “This is a song in D minor, so don’t cry!”

And now, think back to 2009, when you and I were young. “The Christmasy Blues”:

download the mp3

And “Jingle Bells”

download the mp3