Archive for the ‘Music Discoveries’ Category

Cagle & Nash PR Photo - Charlotte, NC

It’s Been a Long Time!
Spring 2011

It’s been a long time since we checked in with everyone and a lot has been happening over the past few months. We’ll give you the short & skinny of it in the lines and spaces below.
Cagle & Nash Released Greg’s solo project “Red Herring Redux”
Those of you who have been keeping a scorecard know that RHR (or the Green Album we like to call it), is the fourth Cagle & Nash produced project in just over two years. Some say prolific but we just say OK as long as it ain’t horrific!
This one has got tunes on it like Back on the River, Years Later, Walkin’, Spendin’ Money and eight other solid offerings. What you hear in this release is plenty of just pure blues and blues rock/alt rock with strong playing coming out of every single instrument. Of course it helps that Cagle himself is covering lead vocals background vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass and even sax on at least most of these compositions. Nash lends a hand on horn parts on a few of the tracks.
Been getting some international airplay on RHR from our usual loyal fans over in Europe and even in Greece and Japan. We’ve done a mini-blitz if you will to a couple hundred broadcast stations here in the US and any of four or five tracks should be going into some sort of rotation in the next week or so. Keep an ear open – request it if you dare.
Here are our faves or at least the faves we think should be faves.
 The hyperlinks will take you directly to our SoundCloud page (no waiting!)
Let us hear your thoughts. Be one of the first ten people to review Red Herring Redux on iTunes and you will receive the entire Cagle & Nash catalog. Just send us a link to your review and your snail mail address in an email.

Side Projects – Cagle (The Other Side of the Ampersand)
 Cagle continues his several side projects. (HaHa Understatement:).

 First and foremost the Robyn Springer partnership. By now everyone knows Robyn from her contributions to most of the Cagle & Nash releases. The Ritz-Carlton of Downtown Charlotte booked her one night for their showplace lounge and the response was pretty damned amazing. So for the past couple of years Robyn Springer (accompanied by Greg Cagle) has been the primary entertainment in the Ritz Lobby Lounge on just about any Friday or Saturday evening !And yes it free.
Speaking of Robyn there is a recording project in the works being co-produced by Robyn and Greg that you will want to keep an eye out for. You’ll hear three Cagle & Nash songs on here but with an OMG fantastic interpretation! The mixes so far are sounding fine fine fine.
Another Cagle & project is Greg’s tentatively titled Next To Nowhere Country CD. Not sure what direction we’ll go yet with the public release of this but suffice to say we think the material is so strong that it should get release to the public by some means or another. Do I hear Nashville Roadtrip?
Just in case you don’t get a chance to purchase this outright, here is a sneak peek at a couple of three kickass tunes to give you the gist of the grit that it packs
The hyperlinks will take you directly to our SoundCloud page (no waiting)
But wait there’s another side project as well.  A very interesting collab between Greg and his son Matt Cagle. We’ll share a couple of those but these are no where near finished so try not to pre-judge (aka be haters) .
The hyperlinks will take you directly to our SoundCloud page (PLEASE DO NOT SHARE THESE TRACKS)
That stands for Bad Boys Blues Band. Ray Alexander put this vision together and this powerhouse of Charlotte vets gets to gig together at least once a month. Cagle on lead vocals, Rick Lee Keys and vocals, Tim Gordon, Tony “Tree” Hayes, Jon Thornton and the one and only Ray Alexander with Yelverton, Suddrith and Allen.  Nash has said this band is as tight as delivering Tower of Power tunes as well as TOP themselves.  Horn Section is a Million dollars !

Side Projects – Nash (The Other Side of the Ampersand)
 Nash Spreading Himself The Appropriate Amount of Thin.
 His regular day gig keeps Nash pretty busy but it has it’s benefits. Lately involved in producing a syndicated radio show and working with the likes of The Grammy Museum, The RIAA (The Grammys) as part of a huge musical past of 20,000 un-released tracks over three decades of some of the great artist musicians of the times in all genres.
The Churchill-Nash Records area of business is full on these days. Nash’s working laboriously to spread the word of all of the current Cagle & Nash projects including the rock project and the country project (call me) as well as the continued development of the fanbase and the most important task of getting every Music Supervisor and Production House on board with the entire Cagle & Nash catalog which will be approaching 100 songs before you know it ! (fingers crossed AND more below).
So If you think your favorite broadcast DJ or mobile DJ has not gotten the latest and greatest be sure to let us know or better yet let him know where to find us via ReverbNation. Let’s make this music viral !

Cagle & Nash Side Projects – Both Sides of the Amersand)
Yes indeed another Cagle & Nash project is in the works (as we type). We’re as excited as teenaged schoolgirls to take the mothership to the next level if you know what I mean. Don’t let us scare you though – expect the unexpected – expect Cagle & Nash. Maybe lots of instrumental stuff? Maybe Soul?  Maybe funky, Maybe Smooth, Maybe Rufffffff) Definitely Raw J
To assist in our writing endeavors, we’ve taken to actually appearing together in the same room at the same time and with the sole purpose of making music in public. There we said it Cagle & Nash – The Live Version is in the works. We do an occasional Thursday night over at our friend Jeff McNeice’s place DLW but we’re keeping that on the down-lo until e can work in more Cagle & Nash songs in some sort of acoustic duo arrangement. Until then just call us two guys playing jazz standards for the love of it in some really nice wine bar that you should be checking out ASAP>
OK So Lets Review – Here’s What’s New !
  • Robyn Springer Live NOW at the Ritz
  • New Side projects (Country, Rock and Robyn)
  • Grammy Spottings and Radioland
  • BBBB
  • Cagle & Nash New CD – what’s It Gonna Be?
  • Cagle & Nash Live ! (Almost)


Here is a re-post from my friend Bruce McKagan’s blog.  Pay close attention to what he mentions about the Grammys Museum and the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress !

The Golden Age of Radio…Thanks to Muzak

Posted by Roberta Keener on 3/10/11 • Categorized as New

Associated Program Services AlbumAssociated Program Services Album 

As you’ve read and heard in several of my latest blogs, Muzak’s early days were all about recording the industry’s best.  These recordings were perfect for building their main product offering, which was music for business.  However, once radio stations heard about this, they wanted in on the action.  You see, back in the ‘30s and ‘40s radio would not and could not legally broadcast recordings sold to the public. If they wanted to feature music, they would book musicians into their studios and broadcast them live, which was an expensive and restrictive proposition.  Muzak’s electronic transcription recordings where produced exclusively for broadcast, making them a great option and a hot commodity for radio stations across the country in those early days of radio.

By the late ‘30s Muzak’s “Associated Programming Services” (APS) began to develop their own “library services” (e.g., programming) for syndication and broadcast networks.    Each week stations would receive one or two new 16” discs with 4 to 6 recordings per side for their library.  Associated subscribers accumulated a library of thousands of tracks in different genres such as big band, jazz, opera, hillbilly, musicals, Negro gospel, classical, popular vocals, and lots of novelty recordings.  Because of the popularity of these recordings, Muzak came to be known as the “hit makers”.

Associated also provided their radio customers with what were known as production aids.  These were recordings in the form of jingles, bumpers, station breaks and IDs, announcements, musical interludes and introductions.  Subscribers could literally produce their own radio shows by programming production aids along with musical tracks and local DJ voice-overs. This proved to be a highly profitable investment in a world hungry for novelty and fresh content over broadcast radio.

Muzak continued to supply content to radio stations across America all through the Golden Age of Radio (‘30s, ‘40s and early ‘50s – before TV caught on), after which time we boxed these masters up and hid them in storage for over 60 years.  No wonder the Grammy Museum, Library of Congress and Smithsonian are so excited about helping us uncover these American pop culture treasures.  As a matter of fact, I think that’s Bob from the Grammys calling right now.  Excuse me for a second…

Contributed by Bruce McKagan

The First Hillbilly Heart-Throb

Originally Posted on by Roberta Keener on 2/23/11 •

Frank Luther

When Ben Selvin, Muzak’s executive producer in the ‘30s and ‘40s, called on bands and musicians to record for Muzak, he seemed impartial to their musical styles or genres. He booked big bands, jazz, gospel, opera and everything in between. On November 23, 1934, Ben invited his friend Frank Luther into his Muzak studio to record a few tunes. Frank Luther had a trio with his wife, Zora Layman, and baritone Leonard Stokes. They were the first featured act on the NBC radio series, “Hillbilly Heart-Throbs” at the time of this recording. Frank is recognized along with the Carter family and Carson Robison as pioneers of country western music.

Frank’s trio was often found in Muzak studios because of his warm and engaging approach to music. “Oh Dem Golden Slippers” is a great example of Frank’s rural American style. This Frank Luther tune is one of 20,000 Muzak recordings from the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s that has never been released to the public and hasn’t been heard in over 60 years. We are in the painstaking process of digitizing this immense library. Over the next few weeks we plan to spoon feed you some of these historic nuggets. Have fun listening to and sharing these pop culture treasures with your friends. I sure am.

Here is a LINK to the original post where you will be able to listen to a sample of Mr. Luther’s work. Well worth the listen

Posted by Brittany Lyke on 1/06/11 • Categorized as Blogging the Archives, New

Galli Sisters

I’ve spent the last few posts getting you up to speed on the Muzak recording sessions held in our Manhattan during the late 1930’s. But why did Muzak need to record so much music… and in so many genres? Wasn’t Muzak primarily into instrumental versions of traditional songs?  You know, “elevator music” versions of classic melodies?

Well, in the early years of Muzak, our business model was much different than you might think.  Starting in 1934, Muzak’s business model was created not only to offer high quality music to businesses, but also to homes. Muzak’s means of distributing music was via telephone lines (the broadband cable of its day) offering customers clearer and more consistent reception than by the less reliable radio. And, since radio stations could not broadcast records sold to the public (due to licensing restrictions) most of the music was performed live, which had its own quality issues.

So just imagine: Muzak’s transcription recordings were high quality soundtracks by exquisite musicians and arrangers, broadcasted via state-of-the-art telephonic technology. And Muzak’s library was building by leaps and bounds on a weekly basis. With such high quality content delivered by a high quality signal, businesses and residences were lining up to get their subscription.

After only a few short years, it became extremely apparent that there was an additional revenue opportunity for Muzak.  In 1935 Muzak corporate introduced Associated Program Service (AMP).  This new business arm offered Muzak’s transcription library to radio stations, giving broadcasters a viable option for more cost effective and quality music programming.  Radio stations across the country immediately began to sign up for the service.  AMP provided a healthy revenue stream for Muzak for nearly two decades.

All of this meant that executive producer Ben Selvin’s task was clear – record lots and lots of music for Muzak’s library:  a variety of artists, playing all kinds of musical styles for a multitude of business models and a broad listening audience.  And that he did – nearly 8,000 recordings in his 13 years at Muzak (1934-1947). No person and no company has produced more quality recordings by top artists than Ben Selvin and Muzak in the 1930s and 40s.

Elevator music?  Not even close.  Muzak captured the soundtrack of American Pop Culture and we’ve got thousands of master recordings in our archives to prove it!

I’ll be back in just a few days.  See ya then.

Contributed by Bruce McKagan

1934: The First Year

Noah'sTo-DoList 1So off into the world of Muzak archives we go, to our earliest recording sessions. We know the names of nearly all of the musicians and the songs they recorded on specific dates thanks we call our ‘Blue Books’. These books are filled with session charts or stage reports that document the date, band leader, number of musicians, studio, engineer, master number, composer, publisher, and titles recorded at each Muzak session.

Our earliest stage reports from 1934 lack some of the information registered in later sessions, but they still give us an unprecedented look into the past.  A picture of one of the very first stage reports is captured at left.

Our records show that one of the first Muzak recording sessions featured a touring Italian brass band called the ‘National Fascist Militia Band’. Yes folks, this was just prior to WWII and the band was Mussolini’s own Italian marching band, with their American tour scheduled in mid 1934. The tour’s slogan was “Uniting the Hearts of Italy and America”.  Turns out that Mussolini also booked his band in Nazi Germany. During the National Fascist Militia Band’s one and only American tour in the summer of ’34, Carnegie Hall was one of their first stops, followed by a visit to Muzak’s sound studio in Manhattan.

At this session Muzak’s producer Ben Selvin, recorded over 25 songs and marches, including:  To Arms (Fascist Anthem), Royal Italian March, the Meistersinger Overture, the William Tell Overture and the Star Spangled Banner (ironic).  I’m not sure how often these recordings were played after the war began, but they sure made a power musical statement as part of Muzak’s initial library. After hearing these recordings, current producer and Muzak digitizing expert Joe Carter concludes that they are true masterpieces performed by exquisite musicians.

In 1934 we also recorded the likes of the Metropolitan Opera, Joe Venuti’s Orchestra (renowned jazz violinists, featuring vocalist Louie Prima in “Confessing”, found on our 75th website), Harold Kemp and his Orchestra (first “sweet” dance band), Frank Luther Quintet (legendary Hilly Billy band leader), Edwin Franco Goldman Band (renowned military band that played for over 90 years), the St. Bartholomew Choir, and  the Harry Salter Orchestra (played with Gene Krupa, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw and Jack Teagarden).  All in all during 1934, over 250 tracks in 7 different music genres were recorded by Muzak’s producer extraordinaire, Ben Selvin. Not bad for a company in their first year of operation.

We are currently digitizing many of these tracks from Muzak’s 1934 archive and are excited to give you a taste over the next few weeks.  Stay tuned!

Contributed by Bruce McKagan

My New Hero: Ben Selvin | Straight to Plate.

My New Hero: Ben Selvin

Posted by Brittany Lyke on 12/14/10 • Categorized as Blogging the Archives, New

Young Ben Selvin Portrait_jpgI’ve been a huge Beatles fan all my life. As a left handed 14 year older, I took up bass in 1964 just like my idol Paul. The music of the Fab Four has had a profound impact on my music, my career and my life. But after digging into the history of Ben Selvin over the past two years, I have a new music hero. How about some highlights so you can see why I think so highly of this music genius?

A few posts back, I took a look at Muzak’s first recordings in 1934, which were produced by VP of programming Ben Selvin. Ben orchestrated hundreds of recording sessions for Muzak over the next ten years, producing well over 7,000 songs. The more I look into his life, the more I’m amazed by the impact Ben Selvin had on this music industry of ours. Not only was he an exquisite musician, producer, arranger and band leader—he was also a wise and crafty businessman.

Born March 5, 1898, he quickly became recognized as a child prodigy for his creative and unique fiddle playing techniques. His first appearance was in a New York nightclub, at the age of 5! Ben was playing on Broadway at 7 and had steady gigs by 15. He finally formed his own band at 19. In 1919, he signed to Columbia Records, and Ben Selvin’s Novelty Orchestra recorded “Dardanella”, which became the top selling record (5 million) over the first quarter century. But this was just the beginning. Through the next decade he recorded for over 9 record companies, including Vocalion Records, Paramount, Plaza Music Company, Banner, Brunswick and Columbia, playing several roles in over 2,500 releases.  Every label had him directing, producing, arranging, leading his own orchestras, as well as their other musical acts.  He was the darling of the industry, commonly titled “the Dean of Recorded Music” as he released several more hits through the 20’s including, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”, “Blue Skies”, “Yes! We Have No Bananas”, “Oh, I Miss You Tonight”, “Manhattan”, “Happy Days Are Here Again”, and “When It’s Springtime in the Rockies”. I liken him to our current day Quincy Jones. Not bad company!

In 1934, newly formed Muzak was looking for the right guy to oversee its “transcription” recording operation in NYC, and Ben Selvin was the obvious choice.  Once hired, he simply opened his rolodex brimming with the best musicians and bands in the industry, and started booking recording sessions.

Ben Selvin is said to have recorded nearly 20,000 titles over his 7 decades in the business. The Guinness Book of Records says that Ben Selvin has produced more records that anyone to this day. Ben passed away in 1980 at the age of 82.  I never got the chance to meet him, but last year I had the occasion to get together with two of his grandchildren, David and Emily Selvin. We shared stories, listened to lots of grandpa’s music and scratched our heads as to why he has yet to be recognized by the Recording Academy. It’s high time we changed that.

I can’t imagine what the music industry would be like today without the vision, exquisite ear, business savvy and musical know-how that Ben Selvin shared over 3 quarters of last century.  Muzak would have never found its music man… and I would only have the Beatles.

Contributed by Bruce McKagan

For more Muzak archive information go to

Blogging the Archives

Posted by Brittany Lyke on 12/02/10 • Categorized as Featured, New

Selvin in Studio with Orchestra

I’m about to go on a pretty unique trip: through seventy-six years of our historical archives, which include original recording sessions at Muzak studios in Manhattan. Before we start, let me introduce myself: my name is Bruce McKagan. Coming from a very musical family, my entire personal and professional life has been a chorus line of musical experiences.  Rock bands through high school in Seattle and the U of W provided a steady income and some pretty dang good times. Coming out of college it was time to get serious, so I put together a touring band with some excellent Seattle musicians that played and recorded through the 70s.  Next came almost 3 decades in the field of entertainment management. First the creation of a mid-west booking agency in 1980, then director of several west coast restaurant and nightclubs chains, followed by heading the country’s largest provider of music videos for businesses. In 1995 I joined Muzak, where I’ve held several executive positions throughout the years. Suffice it to say that my life is largely defined by these musical experiences, and my passion for this industry is absolute.

One of my current assignments at Muzak is the enviable task of working with a team of employees to research, organize, preserve and expose our music archives. Untouched for nearly 50 years, we’ve uncovered over 40 pallets of original recordings, from 16” master discs to 2” tape. Most of these masters are in pristine shape, thanks to the fact that they’ve been under lock and key in climate controlled storage for all these years. As you can imagine, having this opportunity to touch, listen to and share recordings that haven’t been heard for over half a century is pretty exciting for a passionate music buff like me.

I know what you’re thinking: the history of elevator music doesn’t sound that inviting. But what I hope to help you discover is that the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s at Muzak were nothing like the instrumental covers produced by Muzak in the 60’s and 70’s, known by baby boomers as ‘elevator music’. The earlier years actually couldn’t have been more different, and were filled with recording sessions by the hottest bands, best musicians and vocalists of the day, with greats like the Dorsey Brothers, Fats Waller, the Carter family, Louie Prima, the Deep River Boys, Earl Wild, Larry Clinton, Ozzie Nelson, the Polka Dots, Rosemary Clooney, and the list goes on and on. Nearly 2,000 recordings sessions covering every genre in the book: big band, jazz, hillbilly, classical, musicals, gospel and popular vocals. As best as we can tell, our archives hold somewhere close to 20,000 original recordings by the original artists that have never been released to the public.

Our journey will include dusting off these masters and discovering together the sounds of these incredible musical decades at Muzak, with a look at the evolution of policies and laws that have shaped our business and the recording industry as a whole. It is not well understood that in when Muzak first opened in 1934, music recordings for broadcast were almost non-existent. Broadcasters (radio stations and music providers like Muzak) weren’t permitted to play records on the radio, because the industry assumed that the radio play would actually damage record sales. This law forced early radio stations who wanted music as part of their programming  to book artist to perform live on air. Muzak, whose business model was to broadcast music to businesses continuously during work hours, had a real problem, because airing live performances was not realistic. So Muzak unearthed a little used option at the time referred to as ‘transcription service’, which allowed recording music for broadcast only onto records that could not be sold commercially to the public.

Muzak jumped all over this option and immediately set up shop to start recording as many artists as humanly possible. Renowned music producer Ben Selvin was hired to kick start the process. He built a state of the art studio in the heart of Manhattan and started scheduling all of his musician and band buddies to record songs they’d perform nightly at clubs and concerts.  The Dorsey Brothers were one of his early calls and their initial recording session was held on January 17th, 1935.  Bob Crosby (the first recording artist in Bing’s family) joined the band on vocals and the 3 hour session produced some great tracks, including “Eccentric”, “Sugar Foot Stomp”, “By Heck” and “Dese, Dem & Dose”. Amazing recordings by incredible musicians, with 12 songs recorded in one short afternoon gig. That type of output is unheard of by today’s standards. These recording sessions became commonplace at the Muzak studios throughout the 30s 40s and 50s.

I plan to post about twice a week, so please check in as we discover the music, technology and people behind Muzak’s fascinating 76 years in business.

Contributed by Bruce McKagan