Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Viper likes to play

Some upcoming opportunities to see The Viper and His Famous Orchestra ply their trade: an all-day series of events in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois; and a five-song spot at a benefit concert in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

On Saturday, November 2, we’ll be playing at the 5th Annual C-U Folk & Roots Festival in Urbana, Illinois. Four different events between 2:30 p.m. and 12:35 a.m., all within about a one-block radius of one another.

  • From 2:30 – 3:30 p.m., we’re doing a Build-a-Band workshop at the Common Ground Food Co-op (300 S. Broadway Ave. #166 | Urbana, IL 61802 | (217) 352-3347). As we’re telling them, this is “The ultimate ‘green’ musical experience, you’ll learn how to make fully-functioning instruments out of recycled & re-purposed household materials (boxes, jugs, superballs, etc.). Practice playing along with others as we learn a song to lead the Festival’s ‘Musical Mayhem Parade’ around the block and to the site of our kids’ show at the Landmark Hotel Ballroom. One lucky kid will go home with a freshly put-together bucket bass.
  • Then from 3:30 – 4:00 p.m., it’s the aforementioned Musical Mayhem Parade through Urbana’s mean street, starting at the Common Ground Food Co-op (see info above) and leading to the Landmark Hotel Ballroom, where we’ll be playing our family-friendly set. Jump in the line and rock your body in time.
  • At 4:00 – 4:45 p.m., we’re playing a Kids + Adults show at the Landmark Hotel Ballroom (210 S. Race St. | Urbana, IL 61801 | (217) 384-8800). This show is sponsored by the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music.
  • And, finally, from 11:15 p.m. – 12:35 a.m., we play an Adults show at the Iron Post (120 S. Race St. | Urbana, IL 61801 | (217) 337-7678). We get to do all the things we can’t do/say at the earlier kids show, and we get to finish at a really specific time.

On Saturday, November 9 we’ll be taking part in the 9th Annual Kneel to Neil concert At Linneman’s River West Inn (1001 E. Locust St. | Milwaukee, WI 53212 | (414) 263-9844 ). The show is a celebration of Neil Young’s birthday, with his music being covered by a whole host of Milwaukee-area musicians. Proceeds benefit the Bridge School and WMSE. The whole show goes from 8:00 p.m – 12:00 a.m., and we’ll be playing a four-or-five-song set at a time in the evening yet to be determined.

Rob Henn and Edward Burch with The Viper & His Famous Orchestra, Kneel to Neil (Young) benefit for The Bridge School and WMSE, Linneman's Riverwest Inn, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photograph by Sue Peacock.
Rob Henn and Edward Burch with The Viper & His Famous Orchestra, Kneel to Neil (Young) benefit for The Bridge School and WMSE, Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 2011. Photograph by Sue Peacock.

Mister Sandman

Here’s The Viper with Edward Burch and Riley Broach of The Famous Orchestra playing “Mister Sandman,” a Pat Ballard song popularized in 1954 by the Chordettes — a vocal group from The Viper’s own hometown of Sheboygan, Wisconsin (and who namecheck Liberace in the 3rd chorus, a fellow Southeastern Wisconsin performer).

right click to download .wav file | right click to download .mp3 file

We recorded this as a scratch track on my tiny little Tascam DR-05 for Riley’s mother and the rest of the sisters Halverson to use as they practice singing this song for Riley’s wedding, coming right up in July!

Edward Burch, Riley Broach, and The Viper rehearse in Champaign, Illinois, June 2013.
Edward Burch, Riley Broach, and The Viper rehearse in Champaign, Illinois, June 2013.

Set list for July 9, 2010

Two Fridays past, we played a “secret” show (i.e., one we didn’t publicize) for a small but enthusiastic crowd, following a small but enthusiastic potluck, at the Humboldt Park, Chicago home of LeRoy Bach. The guests were met, the feast was set, and Edward Burch, followed by The Viper & His Famous Orchestra provided the merry din.

This was the first of 4 performances from that weekend (set lists and commentary from the other 3 to follow. Here’s what The Viper & HFO played.

  • Sharkin’
  • First Round Polka
  • Atomic Sermon
  • Sharkin’
  • My Seafaring Lassie
  • The Viper’s Blue Yodel no. 6.02 x 10 to the 23rd
  • Uncle Bud
  • Big Headed Small Minded Man
  • Party in the U.S.A.
  • Hey! Rounders
  • Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’

This was our first fully orchestral show since 2009, and featured a ridiculously expanded crew that included The Viper, Riley Broach, Edward Burch, Victor Cortez, Rob Henn, John Peacock, and Kip Rainey, three of whom played the suitcase at any given moment.

Sue Peacock has posted a number of videos from this show to YouTube, including the “Sharkin'” you see above, at:

The lighting is dim and kind of red, but the sound is surprisingly good.


1919 is the title of the second installment of John Dos Passos’s U.S.A. trilogy, named for the year in which the spoils of war — such as, oh, say, Iraq and Palestine — were carved up and cobbled together in the nation-building visions dreamed up by the European/American powers-that-were after World War I, a process echoed and answered in the montage form of Dos Passos’s own quadro-cameral novel.

And with two decimal places, $19.19 is also the amount of the check that came in mail for me from CD Baby — my first one — for CD and digital sales of The Viper and His Famous Orchestra’s Everything for Everyone.

Don’t tell me not to spend it all in one place. I already have: in mailing out copies of the recording and sending certified mail to the publishers of songs we covered on The Viper and His Famous Orchestra’s live EP from 2000, A Song for All Seasons, the next CD I’m trying to make available through CD Baby. Since this one was all covers, it’s a bit more work in that regard — mitigated somewhat by the fact that two of the five songs are pre-1923 compositions (and thus public domain), complicated somewhat by the fact that one of the songs (Fats Waller’s “The Rumpsteak Serenade”) interpolates enough of Billy Strayhorn’s “Take the A Train” that I’m considering that a whole ‘nuther cover from another mother.

Look for it in about 30 days.