Valet Confidential

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Meeting “Van”

photo by Rich Borden

photo by Rich Borden

This one is long over-due.  Back at the end of August we took the Philharmonette on the road to the Hudson Valley in New York for shows at two of our favorite venues out that way, the Peint O’Gwrw Tafran, a Welsh tavern in Chatham, and Musica, a musical instrument store in Hudson.

Our good friends Denise & Rich setup the shows so that we could meet a very special man, George D Brantley, who was in the area for about a week.  George recorded two singles with his brother Billy back in 1968 under the name “Van & Titus” – George was “Van”/Billy was “Titus”.  One of the four songs they released is a fantastic number called “Cry Baby Cry”, which came to Chandler’s attention by way of Christine Ohlman, “The Beehive Queen”, who found the record in a yard sale (or thrift store or something like that) and re-recorded the song as a duet with Dion on her album “The Deep End“.  We’ve been performing the song off & on for several years now, and I just love singing it.

George rode with Denise & Rich to our Chatham show, which is where we first met him – he was standing on the curb when we pulled up in front of the Peint O’Gwrw.  You’d be hard-pressed to find a sweeter human than George, who answered any questions we had about Van & Titus and their music and told us great stories of touring, recording at Muscle Shoals, and other aspects of the music industry.

Chandler called up George to sing with us that first night and at first he only wanted to sing the song we had just done on our own (Chandler’s “Sha La La (Lover’s Heart)” from the Llama Rhymes album), so we did a reprise of the final couple choruses and then George went back to where he was sitting and we started our version of “Cry Baby Cry”.  About halfway through the song, I must have been singing with my eyes shut (I so often do – that’s one reason I wear sunglasses on stage), I felt someone next to me … and there was George!  It was such a great thrill to sing that great song with the guy who recorded the original version.

The next day we all had a breakfast that couldn’t be beat at Chez Borden before heading down to Rob Caldwell’s fabulous Musica shop in Hudson, NY. It was a little overcast, but we decided to play outside on the concrete patio in front of the store anyway. My buddy Glenn was there with his lovely bride Carla and I asked him to shoot video if we called up George to sing.  Sure enough, Chandler asked George to join us and Glenn was rolling!  I had an audio recorder going else where and later synchronized that audio with Glenn’s video.

So here’s our video of the event – sadly George wasn’t as well mic’d as he deserves, but at least we have a document of his performance and hopefully we’ll have another chance or five to get another video – I’ll try to remember to bring an extra mic just for George if we do!  You just have to hear him singing his “tears rolling down my face” interjections while he’s miming the tears – I loved that part so much, as I’m sure you can tell by the joy and excitement I’m showing in this video.

If you dig our version at all, you absolutely must check out the original version:

And here is a little appreciation of Van & Titus and the song from Sir Shambling’s Deep Soul Heaven

One Response to Meeting “Van”

  1. Denise & Rich Borden says:

    OH Fred ! Thank You for helping us to relive this awesome August weekend . George Brantley was so thrilled that the members of the Chandler Travis Philharmonette were making the trip to the area to meet and play for him . He was delighted to have the opportunity to sing “Cry Baby Cry ” with the CTPette …and YES one only has to be in George’s presence for minutes to realize that you are meeting one of the nicest people you are ever going to know . Thanks to You and Your pal Glenn for capturing these magic moments for Us ! Can’t wait for that next time we see George standing next to You on stage !

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