On November 11, 2019, The Viper & His Famous Orchestra will be in Madison to perform as part of The Greatest War: a multi-band, multi-media, multi-mood exploration of the legacy for Wisconsin and the world of the first World War and it’s subsequent, uneasy Armistice that also features The Kissers and The November Criminals.
Here’s a taste of what to expect — from us at least — based on what we did at last year’s first, centenary edition of this event.
We’re lucky: we get to cover both the beginnings and endings of everything. The first shots fired happen somewhere between the closing notes of “It’s A Long Way To A World War” (to the tune of “Tipperary” with some new lyrics by show organizer Ken Fitzsimmons and The Viper)…
…and the first banjo-string-flams on a bit of wishful thinking from the 1914 pen of Alf “Paddy” Ellerton called “Belgium Put The Kibosh On The Kaiser.” (Fans of Richard Attenborough’s 1969 musical Oh! What a Lovely War will recognize this song.)
Then it’s all about Paris 1919, as the Midwest welcomes back some young fellers who may have learned a thing or two overseas in “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down On The Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree)?”
And we wonder whether there might be any long term consequences to the way Mr. Weelson and the other world powers gathered in Versailles, Sèvres , and Lausanne to divvy up places like, oh, say, Iraq, Palestine, or Kurdistan as we wrap up our set with “They All Made Peace (What Is Peace).”
On all of these recordings, the performers are The Viper, Rob “Rose Brass Bell” Henn, and Riley “Riley” Broach. But this year, we’ll up the ante with guest Irene “Vipersdottir” Jerving on the violin for the second set. If you listen closely, you can almost hear her wistful grace notes now…
So listen in, enjoy, and then come out and see the show!