If you and your sweetheart are lacking for Valentine's Day entertainment, come on down to the Claremont Folk Music Center this Saturday night, February 13, and hear Janet Klein and her Parlour Boys. Klein played the FMC about one year ago. We didn't make it, but our spies tell us it was a great concert.
Klein, who hails from somewhere around San Bernardino, has found a niche mining old songs from the first third of the 20th century and arranging them for her band. At first glance, Klein's act seems a little Betty Boopish, but after not too long, you realize that there's really quite a lot of artistry involved.
It would be very easy to veer into kitsch, but Klein clearly has a lot of respect for the material, and she does a good bit of scholarly work digging through old sheet music and film archives to unearth the gems she and her band perform. For a concert in Japan, Klein found some old film material and used it to work up a version of "My Blue Heaven" in Japanese:
The musicians, by the way, are first-rate. At last year's FMC concert, our sources say, German-born violinist Benny Bryndern (who looks a little like the Food Network's Alton Brown) and John Reynolds with his nickel-plated National Steel tricone guitar seemed to having a grand old time, creating a twangy, jazzy sound more than a little reminiscent of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli with their Quinttett du Hot Club de France.
Klein's website has review from the Inland Empire Weekly's Chuck Mindenhall:
Throwback flapper Janet Klein is the very definition of an “old soul.” She grew up in 1970s San Bernardino, yet fell in love with the bits of the IE she never knew—the historical images she’d seen of early turn-of-the-century postcards with orange groves and the old Carnegie Library with the onion dome. The way things were got into her blood, and today she’s the most refreshing anachronism to ever materialize from the ether of the Prohibition. Klein is a channel to a definitive time in American music when Eton crops were the rage and batting-eyes meant you had a live one on your hands.
Thing is, LA-based Janet Klein and Her Parlor Boys are more than some nostalgic shtick. She doesn’t merely perform songs from “lost America”—obscure numbers circa 1900s-1930s such as barrelhouse jazz, foxtrots, chansonettes, ragtime ditties and vaudeville from the Great Depression—she actually lives them, and transports her audiences along the way. Klein considers herself an “archeologist” for digging up buried treasures by the likes of Wilton Crawley and A.P. Randolf and Robert Cloud, the songs of the Victrola that her and the Parlor Boys—featuring an all-star line-up playing banjos, uprights, trombones, trumpets, violins, piano, etc—add all that authentic dang to feel the wild spirit of that bygone era. The “naughty” music of the day is Klein’s strong suit, and the ukulele chanteuse belts in an Olive Oyl-meets-Billie Holiday voice while coyly bobbling in step to the strump
The local band Hobo Jazz will open the show. Saturday's concert begins at 8pm. Tickets are $15 and can be had inside the FMC.
Claremont Folk Music Center
220 Yale Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711