Press Releases


It's The Girl!

Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys
Purveyors of rare and scintillating early Jazz,
Tin Pan Alley & Vaudeville tunes of the 1920s and 30s Present their 8th CD release
"It's The Girl!"


The long awaited 8th CD by Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys is OUT! Entitled "It’s The Girl!". The disc is jam packed with delicious delights. All the sensational titillation and panache of pre-code era music-making is here in this ensemble's latest 2015 tour de force.

Well worth the wait (last release "Whoopee Hey Hey!" 2010), this is surely the band's most ambitious project to date.

With band arrangements that certainly would have delighted Hal Roach, the group is at the top of its game. Eleven of the eighteen songs are culled from old films, including Wheeler and Woolsey comedies, and Vitaphone Vaudeville performance shorts.

With top-notch ensemble musicianship on par with a studio orchestra of the 1930s, the group here has added original newly composed sections that seamlessly interweave with the old to make a final product even more thrilling than the original. Two transcending examples to note are the effervescent mid-sections of "I Double Dare You" & the dark sexy tango interlude in "Close Your Eyes".

Rare archeological treasures abound on Janet’s CDs and this latest is no exception.

In the hands of these early jazz hunters, better known song selections like "Moonglow" and "Willow Weep For Me", shine like new as the band has gone the extra mile to unearth little known and rarely performed verse sections. Leaving no stone unturned, Janet and the band bring to life hot jazz, tin pan alley and ballads from early twentieth century radio, film, dance halls, nightclubs, Vaudeville and even conjure some cartoon music of the time.

To support the immersive adventure, together with cartoonist, Thom Foolery, the group built and painted a full-scale cartoon set, ala 1920s Felix the Cat and early Disney's Little Alice silent cartoons. The set was constructed as an interactive space for Janet's black and white clad band to mug and frolic for imaginative CD packaging photos and a music video: "Sing To Me". The original inspiration of live action actors mixing it up in a cartoon environment is drawn from Max Fleischer's office antics with animated characters Koko the Clown, Bosko and Betty Boop leaping off the animation cells and the little living girl - Alice walking into 2 dimensional black and white 1920s cartoonland in Disney's earliest achievements. The tune "Old Man of the Mountain" sung by band member John Reynolds is originally from a Cab Calloway/Betty Boop cartoon, a live action mash up fantasy of that same title.

For the photos, Janet designed two costumes for herself; one made to resemble a 1920s Max Sennett bathing beauty checkered and rolled stocking get-up and another satin ensemble ala 1930s Ruby Keeler tapdance outfit that includes two handmade charming, unique and kooky hats, with parts hunted down from the last standing millinery supply house in LA.

Janet & Her Parlor Boys (produced by Robert Loveless) have never sounded so good. The sweet and melodic tunes' rich tapestry has an immediate sound quality that draws the listener into the inspired performances. As a whole this CD emotes the love the musicians feel for this genre and a playful authentic charm that will appeal to a modern ear.

Janet has been performing early music since 1996 and released her first CD in 1998 - "Come Into My Parlor". She and the band currently live and perform around Los Angeles and have played in many old music halls and theatres in the US and around the world.

The CD includes two original songs by Ian Whitcomb; an English Yiddish novelty number written about Janet plus the fanciful instrumental "Left Bank Medley" featuring the amazing accordion playing of Josh Kaufman from The Petrovich Blasting Co. and Grammy Nominees The California Feetwarmers

Recently (2014-5) Janet's voice was featured in Cartoon Network's "Adventure Time" and "Over the Garden Wall". She has a hit song (200,000+ views) on YouTube from her most recent characterization as the lovelorn school teacher (Miss Langtree) for forest animals in the exquisitely beautiful cartoon "Over The Garden Wall". Her song "Langtree's Lament" can be seen and heard Here!

Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys
Merrymakers of Whoopee!

Musician Credits
Benny Brydern - Violin
Corey Gemme - Cornet, T-Bone & Percussion
Marquis Howell - Upright Bass
Josh Kaufman - Accordion
Janet Klein - Vocal & Ukulele
Dan Levinson - Clarinet, C-Melody Sax & Tenor Sax
Geoff Nudell - Alto Sax, Bass Clarinet & Clarinet
John Reynolds - National Steel Tricone Guitar, Banjo, Vocals
Jonathan Stout - Drums
Ian Whitcomb - Vocal
Randy Woltz - Piano, Celeste & Vibraphone

Booking, Photo Requests & Contact Info

* Janet Klein on Facebook

Videos and Clips
* "Sing To Me" from CD #8 - "It's The Girl"
"Langtree's Lament" from "Over The Garden Wall"
* Janet's Official Youtube Channel

CDs Available From
* CD Baby
* Burnside Distribution in Portland OR (June 16th 2015)
* Amazon
* web site
* Canterbury and Amoeba Records Los Angeles, CA.
* Moga Records in Japan (June 28th 2015)



"Whoopee Hey Hey!"
Songs to Cheer in Tumultuous Times
2010 CD RELEASE and 7th CD

Whoopee Hey Hey!”, Tunes to Cheer In Tumultuous Times, is  Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys’ 7th CD release and times couldn’t be more ripe for this vibrant and evocative bunch of rare and wonderful tunes from the 1920s and 1930s. Performed with freshness and zeal these long lost tunes are alive again with timeless perspectives on life’s ups and downs and will surely have listeners musing over parallels with our current state of affairs.

Songs from the 20s and 30s reflect culturally "tumultuous times"- the heady frivolity and sassy wild good times followed by modernistic stylings colored by “The Crash” and the Great Depression that followed. The enchanting and effervescent Ms Klein’s singing on "Whoopee Hey Hey!" is sweeter than ever.  The album is chock full (19 tracks) of rich and bold music and lyrics vivid with heady parlance of the period.

Included are eleven tunes from the 1920s… It is the first time Janet and Boys have tried to get a characteristic 1920s dance band feel. You can hear the crisp foxtrot and vertical clip on ‘Honey Child’ 1929, ‘Shanghai Shuffle’ 1924,  ‘I Found A New Baby’ 1926 and ‘Bye Bye Blues’ 1929.  ‘Honey Child’, the CD’s opening track at once transports the listener to a 1920s dance hall with its bright tenor guitar and up-beat, bouncy accordion stabs. The record then leads with more Southern fantasy tunes such as the yearning ‘Delta Bound’ and playful romping of  ‘Mississippi Mud’.

The six 1930s songs and arrangements let on a more "knowing", lush and world-weary sound with sophisticated undulating rhythms, ie “Delta Bound”, “Isn't Love the Strangest Thing”, “I'll Never Be the Same”. A novelty song on the CD (written by band-member, the incomparable Ian Whitcomb) is lovingly inspired by the English Music Hall favorites- Flanagan and Allen who were known for their down and out but jolly tramp tunes such as "Underneath the Arches", 'Two Very Ordinary People', On the Outside Looking In'. In this vein Ian’s tune, "Ambling Along”, complete with old style introductory patter, is a bitter sweet strolling melody and a heartfelt hobo song for our own agitated times.

Featured are two new full time Parlor Boy band members: best on the planet 1930’s style guitar and plectrum banjo whistling master-John Reynolds and hobo bon vivant Marquis Howell who plays stand-up bass with an authentically inspired vintage panache. Other notable performers are: Daniel Glass who literally “wrote the book” on vintage percussion styles. Set to the task, he succeeded in deciphering and recreating in his own style the fantastic percussion effects of Paul Whiteman’s original recording of ‘Mississippi Mud’ and discovered a rare devise called a bockety bock. Also, Randy Woltz who continues with his marvelously adroit Vibraphone and xylophone playing is featured on jaunty piano duets with Janet. One of these tunes ‘Poppa’s back With Momma Now’ (from a lost Vitaphone short) is a virtual laundry list of pre 1929 whoopee lavish lifestyle ‘when every fella from a banker to his caddy’ had lots of dough and wandering ways only to find they are now all staying home with momma because they’ve discovered ‘there’s a kick in the old gal still’.

Having come so perilously close to the brink of economic calamity... what better time than now to contemplate the zeitgeist of pre and post Depression America…As Janet likes to say, ‘This music got folks through the Depression, the last time’. So Bye By Blues…

Since Janet’s last release (‘Ready For You’ in 2008) the band has toured Japan and Australia and played at the famous Fuji Rock Festival and Adelaide Cabaret Festival. The group plays regularly in and around Los Angeles.  Whoopee Hey Hey!is produced by Robert Loveless (Scenic, 17 Pygmies and Savage Republic) with gorgeously crafted vintage style artwork adornments designed by Janet, David Barlia and Robert.

Janet and her highly acclaimed, girdle-bustin’ bunch of West Coast Jazz Archeologists and Merrymakers previous CDs include:

1998 Come In To my Parlor    2002 Put A Flavor To Love    2006 Oh!
2000 Paradise Wobble         2004 Living In Sin      2008 Ready For You

Band Leader

Janet Klein – Vocal & Ukulele

Parlor Boys
Benny Brydern * Violin and Stroh Violin
Corey Gemme * Cornet & trombone
Marquis Howell * Stand-Up Bass
Brad Kay * Piano
Tom Marion * Guitar
John Reynolds * National Steel Guitar, Plectrum Banjo, whistling and vocal
Dan Weinstein * Trombone, Cornet & Violin
Ian Whitcomb * Accordion, Ukulele, Piano and Vocal
Randy Woltz * Piano, Xylophone, Percussion and Vibraphone

Musician Guest Artists
Chloe Feoranzo * Alto, Tenor & C-Melody Sax, Clarinet
Daniel Glass * Vintage Drums and Percussion
Dan Levinson * C-Melody Sax and Clarinet
Robert Loveless * Marxophone, Uklin and Mandolin

Label Contact Info:     Coeur De Jeanette LLC
PO BOX 172 ALHAMBRA, CA. 91802


Past Perfect - Janet Klein interview

One of the hardest-working acts at the fest this year is Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys, putting on at least five shows over the Fujirock weekend. No, Klein is no rock star. Quite the opposite. Klein and her band, the Parlor Boys, perform exclusively songs from the 1920s and 1930s, recreating the music of her crumbling collection of tin pan alley-era sheet music. Sitting backstage, she fans herself and grins widely. She’s just finished up a session at Avalon Field, and despite the rain that dumped at the beginning of her set, the crowd actually grew in number, choosing to shimmy to the oldies in the downpour instead of run for shelter.

Q: Enjoying the fest so far?

A: Oh sure! But I feel a little out of place here (giggles). Rock concerts are so foreign to me. So much brain-beating music. I walked by Underworld last night and felt like an alien in a strange land.

Q: What do you think of the crowd? You seem to get on quite well here.

A: Oh, I love playing in Japan. I love the design sensibilities here and the food. I feel at home because the women here are still feminine and sweet. I recently learned an old Japanese drinking song from the 1920s and am trying it out this tour. I think it’s going over.

Q: How does performing here compare to your hometown of LA?

A: Oh it’s much different here. People in LA seem to enjoy acting miserable. I’ve never met so many people that put on a sort of cool misery attitude.

Q: Obviously you take a different tack.

A: Of course! Give ‘em a little sunshine! Smile and put on a nice dress and they’ll lighten up.

Q: Many of the 20s and 30s songs you perform were quite racy, even by today’s standards. Have you ever had trouble with obscenity laws?

A: (laughs) No! These songs won’t cause any outrage with my kind of delivery anyway. I get away with saying naughty things because they sound so nice. In fact, the more common reaction is “wow, my grandmother used to listen to this stuff, hmm.”


Fujirock Review 08

I was expecting Janet Klein to be a novelty act. She looks like she’s been cut out of an ancient sepia photo, with her bob cut and flowers in her hair and she plays music from the early 20th century on a ukulele. I guess really it was the ukulele--- nobody plays that without an ironic twinkle in their eye, do they? Klein, for sure, was going to be a comic interlude in a weekend of proper music.

But that’s not quite how it was.

One of my fellow fujirockers once reviewed a Janet Klein album, saying “the only thing missing is the hiss and crackle of the gramophone”. It’s the same live.

Three guys come out first—Colonel Sanders on a steel guitar, some kind of geography teacher with a violin, and a chap that looks like a proper muso on the double bass. They strike up a chirpy tune that makes it sound like Klein will skip for the flickering monochrome, that’s exactly what happens.

“I play old songs,” said Janet. “Old songs from the 1920s and 30s. That’s where I come from.” She sounded like she was reading a disclaimer. Perhaps she was worried the audience would think she was playing something wrong. But they loved it.

Colonel Sanders began whistling, and Janet sang a ditty about whether or not whistling makes you crazy. It doesn’t she reckoned.

Then Janet leaned into the audience and yelled “Fuck the US government and their tools of oppression” before launching into a cover of the Sex Pistols’ “Belsen was a Gas”. No, of course she didn’t. She sang a song with gentle innuendos questioning the virtues of
Little Red Riding Hood.

It becomes clear that despite the costumes and the giggling and the wide –eyed fluttering, Janet Klein and Her Parlor Boys are perfectly serious. And they made me think: If someone plays music from the ‘70s it’s retro; from the 1770’s and it’s classic, but somehow the 1920s seems like it’s a gimmick. One live show will sort out that misconception. It’s a jolly afternoon of jazz in the Orange Court. As Janet says,


Step into the Parlor
June 2009
The Advertiser

Janet Klein swings into a nasal Lily Tomlin-telephonist voice. “1929 calling,” she drawls from LA, not a bit deterred that the Telstra conference call is sounding rather like an echoey old pre-war trunk call.

It could almost be a setup.

Janet Klein is a celebrated exponent of the 1920s and 30s culture. So much mistress of the time warp is she that, she points out, she is even talking on a genuine “candlestick”
telephone of the period.

It is part of the extensive ephemera she has collected, part of the retro bubble in which she lives and whence she makes her living.

Janet Klein is coming to charm the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, bringing her ukulele, a suitcase packed with exquisite 1930s evening dresses, a trio of musicians known as the Parlor Boys and a repertoire of long-forgotten ragtime ditties, chansonettes, foxtrots and vaudevillian songs.

It’s a musical genre, she realizes with wonderment, in which she has no competition.

“It’s shocking that we’ve left it alone for so long. I don’t understand it. I feel like I’m in a fool’s paradise having it all to myself.”

Klein started out as an art student at UCLA but already her grandfather, the prestidigitator, Marty Klein, with the trappings of his act, his press photos and posters and film clips, had carved a niche in her imagination. Klein developed an appetite for vintage showbiz—scratchy old recordings, flickery old movies, song sheets and eventually, all things from hatpins to cigarette cards. Not that her friends shared her enthusiasm.

“I could never get anyone to sit in a room and listen to those old records with me,” she laughs.

The ukulele was the piece of magic which transformed Janet Klein’s passion for vintage music into the performance of vintage music.

She’s been on a “Yellow Brick Road” ever since, she says, --meeting extraordinary people who share her interest, meeting the eclectic Parlor Boys with their interesting instruments. “The C-melody saxophone we’re brining, it’s like taking an extinct bird on to the stage with it’s sweet, nasal sound of a lost time,” she chirps.

“The musicality of the Parlor Boys is very high, the love for the music, the respect for it as it was done then. We’re not trying to tweak it. We dish it out as best we can to render it the way it was performed originally.”

It has been interesting to see the reaction from the public to this neglected music from another time- so far removed from the strident electronics and emphatic beats of modern music.

“At first, as I was looking out at everybody, I felt they were looking back with a sort of shock,” recalls Klein.

“I felt I was shocking them with sweetness, with things songs don’t say any more. The lyrics can be frank, bawdy in a healthy way, and sublimely beautiful.”

They also are uplifting and Klein sense that their time has come.

“These days, I remind people that this is the music that got folks through the Depression, the last time,” she says. “You just can’t be around this sort of music without it being a pick-you-up.”


Australia 2009

The term “little ray of sunshine” is a perfect description of the wonderful Janet Klein and, in the middle of an Adelaide winter and a global recession, there could not be a better time to see her show. She has a smile that could light up a city and it never fades for a second. She is more bright and bubbly than a glass of Champagne with a spoon of sherbet added to it. She floats, bounces, flounces and dances her way through the whole show, singing a string of great songs from the 1920s and 30s interspersed with lots of fun chatter, both to the audience and with her band. If this were still 1920 she would be described as a “flapper”, one of the trend setting darlings of the era.

Wearing a beautiful full length period dress, and with flowers in her hair at each temple, she entered with a “Wheee!” and a cheery hello and launched straight into a lively rendition of “Who’s that Knocking at my Door” followed by a brief and humorous discussion of the Australian pronunciation of vowels and the brightness of our money. “Hello Bluebird Hello” led into a once banned song, considered too bawdy for the radio in its day, “How Could Red Riding Hood Have Been So Very Good?”, “I Found A New Baby” first played by Clarence Williams Blue Five in 1926 and later a big hit for Benny Goodman, was one of the well known numbers, but there were many obscure songs, including the next one, simply titled, “OH!”, that was found by Klein on a test pressing that was never released. Research is a big part of this show and she and her band, it seems, scour record shops wherever they go, looking for new, old material.

“Baby O’ Mine” and “Erastus Plays his Old Kazoo”, a novelty item featuring pianist Brad Kay on Wazoo, led on to “Is He An Aussie, Is He Lizzie?” one of the big hits of British duo Mr. Flotsam (tenor, Bentley Collingwood Hilliam) and Mr. Jetsam (New Zealand born bass, Malcolm McEachern). It was really good to hear this number again after so long and, as we were invited to sing along, Klein was surprised to find that most of the audience knew the words.

“Jacksonville Blues” was followed by an instrumental number by Fletcher Henderson, who later became Benny Goodman’s arranger. That gave the three piece band a chance to stretch out and show what great musicians they are. Then the rarely seen C Melody Sax, and some great Fats Waller style stride piano, featured on “A Little Bit Independent”.

By this stage, time was running out, but did that bother her? Not a bit! We were still to have a few more songs, including “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Love”, before the frantic signals from the back of the auditorium finally drew the show to a reluctant conclusion. In spite of the signaling there was still just one extra encore with “Bye Bye Blues”, as if anybody could possibly be blue after an evening with the fabulous Janet Klein.


Reported by Frank Ford

One of the great attractions of the Adelaide Cabaret festival is the incredible variety of acts presented, with lots of surprises along the way. “Janet Klein
And Her Parlor Boys” is one of these unusual delights. This ukulele lady from California takes us o a charming nostalgic trip down memory lane of the 1920s and 30s by researching and bringing to life “the innocent and happy songs” that peppered those boom and bust years. Delicately flouncing about in her pretty lavender chiffon frock this cute flapper recreates the dream world of Hollywood’s depiction of the times. Rather than the harshness of life in the Great Depression and the brutal reality of the corruption and gangsterism fostered by Prohibition.

No wonder the act has such appeal to us in our depressing times. Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys charmed us into their make believe world. This escapism was made irresistible as Klein’s flashing eyes effused a champagne bubbly invitation to join the fun. Launching into “Who’s that Knocking at My Door”, “Hello Bluebird Hello” and what was considered bawdy in its day “How Could Red Riding Hood Have Been So Very Good”. Her Parlor Boys were equally talented and good fun such as when the piano player gave us a jazzing hot rendition of “When Erastus Plays His old Kazoo” on a wahzoo.


Adelaide Now
Samela Harris
June 2009

Retro revival is a delight to behold Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys

Turn back the clock and hop. Janet is the delicious queen of retro.
She has all the dainty moves, the sparkling eyes and both the big full-bite smile and cupid’s bow pursed lips.

She enriches the Cabaret Festival with a swag of songs of the 20s and 30s, lovingly archived and fastidiously researched. In long, slimline lavender gown with chiffon-puffed sleeves and flowers in her bobbed hair, she is a picture of Art Deco.

Her voice has positively cute nasal timbre and with the peeping shrills of her little whoops and gleeful whoopees, she effuses a spirit of mischievous fun, which has not been around since that era. Her three Parlor Boys, also, are delightful- engaging presences who wear hats and produce exquisitely mellow musical accompaniments. It’s a class act all round—joyful, impish and lightly risqué.

The songs have wonderful, idiosyncratic lyrics, too—
“she’s a little bit independent”, for instance and “mountain greenery home”. As a wee homage to Australia, she and pianist Brad Kay sing the colonial tongue-twister “Is He An Aussie, Is He Lizzie?” The Klein hour passes too fast. It is an euphoria of an adorable anachronism.


Cabaret Festival review
Janet Klein  - Ukulele Chanteuse
Robert Ho

Growing up in San Bernardino, California in the 1970s Janet Klein fell in love with the songs of the 1920s and 30s and has devoted her life to revival and performance.

Klein is petite and bubbly, adopting a singing flapper persona, and takes the stage with her Parlor Boys, a three piece of piano, double bass and horns/percussion.

Her giggly effervescence may take a minute to get used to, but she is a natural performer and as the show settles down it is clear there is genuine love in every minute of it.

And nowhere do you find the obvious, the standard material. Klein considers herself an archaeologist, mining the vaults of libraries and private collections for the unusual and the original. Many are happy songs people sang to survive the Great Depression, songs that maybe Jolson would have sung in a very different way.

“Hello Bluebird Hello” started things off.
”When Erastus Plays His Old Kazoo” had the audience enthralled, with piano player Brad Kay doubling on the “Wahzoo” There was a Mae west song from the film “Belle of the Nineties”, then a phone conversation with horn player Corey mimicking the human voice on trumpet. The crowd was delighted with a 1920s novelty number scooped up just for this tour –“Is He An Aussie, Is He Lizzie, EH?

The between-song banter between Klein, band and audience suggested they are all fascinated with the Australian accent, especially the use of vowels; apparently every vowel used here contains the use of every other vowel!

Klein’s singing is clear, bright and expressive. The bass was slick and reassuring, the piano jangled crisp and clear over the top and the versatile horn player treated us to a couple of muted trombone solos; the Parlor Boys were a star turn in their own right. Oh, and Janet Klein did strum the ukulele on a couple of numbers.

If you have any interest in the music of this great era, ukulele chanteuse is a show for you.


READ THE SPAIN REVIEWS - Popular 1 Magazine


More Press

Janet Klein brings her boys Backstage

By Steven Harris
January 2006

If you prefer your music lowdown and hotsy totsy, then performer Janet Klein
can deliver the goods---and how. Her group specializes in “Obscure, Naughty and Lovely Songs of the 1910s, 20s and 30s”. Klein vocalizes and plays the ukulele to these long-forgotten tunes, abetted by Ian Whitcomb (on uke and accordion) and a host of other music-minded gents known as the Parlor Boys. The sextet performs tonight at the “Backstage” in Altadena. Musician, singer and comedian David Barlia opens the show, resurrecting classic Western Swing with vaudevillian material. (He’s joined by John Reynolds, grandson of 1930s actress Zasu Pitts). Indeed, Klein conjures up the image of a gut bucking vamp like no one does. Such selections as “What A Night For Spooning,” “Good Little Bad Little You” or the “Sheik of Avenue B” say it all. She’s like a svelte dream in a vintage Vitaphone short, pitching woo as she transports one to a time when novelty and a bit of sentimental swing were the thing. Klein has been a staple at the Backstage since her first appearance in 2001, presented by Bob Stane. Klein fondly said of the producer, “Bob is a wonderful showman who is so supportive of the acts that he takes into his place. So you know when you go there that you’re seeing something that’s been handpicked by a fella who’s been presenting shows for many years. Klein’s repertoire spans the approximate years of 1915 through 1937. The music itself offers a history lesson; it would be hard to argue that the nostalgic verbiage itself is, at least, interesting, if not appealing. Of her five CDs to date, Klein has retrieved and updated 110 songs from the period. (Her debut CD of 1998, “Come Into My Parlor”, covers 26 songs alone.)

Are there still hundreds of vintage melodies yet to be discovered? Like an archeologist on a sheet music hunt, Klein responded in the affirmative. “Hallelujah, yes! I’m hoping that I never feel like I’ve heard everything. The music is certainly out there.” An Alhambra resident, Klein works assiduously at her craft and plays her part thoroughly. Besides restoring a 1908 Craftsman bungalow and reviving old music for a new audience, she dresses in actual clothes from the period. Klein tracks down her material via 78 record collectors, correspondences, libraries, swap meets, the internet, and antique shops. “I’m always on the lookout for anything old and interesting that reveals some other layer about the city,” she said. “Los Angeles is not an obvious city, being so spread out. You really have to search to find the gems you’re looking for.” Klein’s most surprising find happened in front of a TV set. “I had looked up a Bebe Daniels movie called “Dixiana.” The story took place around the 1890s. Two old vaudevillians, Wheeler and Woolsey come out dressed in ostrich outfits while wheeling in a giant egg. Bebe pops out of the egg singing in a rather operatic fashion, about a baby bird. I saw that and thought “wow, I want to be Bebe Daniels!” I learned her song on my ukulele and made it my own. Klein often incorporates unusual instruments in her act that relate to the period. “We sometimes use stroh violin which has a horn on it, musical saw, slide whistle..” Klein’s vocal mentors cover Fred Astaire, Ruth Etting, Josephine Baker, Blanche Calloway and other less known personalities. “Just recently I’ve learned to appreciate Ethel Waters. She and Sophie Tucker were entertainers I really hadn’t thought much about until I read their autobiographies.”
The rousing response from Klein’s audiences is something to be anticipated. “I have moments,” she said, “when I’m singing that I’ve known that I’m shocking people. They realize that these songs are naughty and they think, gee I didn’t know that grandma and grandpa were hearing things like that back then. I sing them like they’re illegal. There are also other songs that convey the sweetest notions imaginable. They actually shock people with their sweetness because nobody sings about the anticipation of setting up a love nest, of walking down the street in your hometown, or especially anything that refers to your mother.

Why is it so important to bring back this archaic music of generations past? Klein kindly offers her two cents, with some added change to boot. She stated,”One of my soapboxes (and I have a few) is that I think there are a lot of stereotypes about that era that I’d like people to rethink. For instance, I like to collect evidence that shows that woman have always had an attitude. Because there’s a sense that women’s liberation was just invented in the 1960s or 70s that just doesn’t include the cultural details of what came before. There were plenty of women who did incredible things –and it’s been going on a long time. I’ve got so many illustrations, articles and photographs that show plenty of wild and crazy dances, outrageous entertainers, enterprising and inventive ladies, even in the Victorian era.”


Weekend Calendar Section
by Susan Carpenter

Singing Praises of the Past
Janet Klein prefers " obscure, naughty and lovely" tunes,
pre 1938

Janet Klein probably should have been born at the beginning of the 20th century, when the "obscure, naughty and lovely" songs she sings were popular. It's the era to which she feels most drawn, and whose spirit and style she so successfully recreates with her music.

The L.A.-based singer records and performs a vast repertoire of long-forgotten material-- songs from the 1910's, 20's and '30's that few people even know exist.

Klein, who prefers venues where she can "make a time warp", recently played to a packed house at the Silent Movie Theatre in the Fairfax district with her nine-piece jazz band, the Parlor Boys. Dressed in a vintage floor-length, black and gold gown, she strummed the ukulele and smiled her way through sweet and sexually suggestive ditties in a vocal style that was both coy and come-hither. The Parlor Boys, only seven of whom could fit on stage, backed her up with a lighthearted liveliness and enthusiasm that can only come from a true love of the genre.

"People think of music from the 20's as corny, but it's not... Alot of it is really full of life and bawdy and shockingly "cool", says Klein, a bobbed brunette who dresses in period even when she's not onstage. "Some of the material is more frank than songs today."

Her hourlong set at the Silent Movie Theatre included the songs, "Hurry on Down To My House Honey, There Ain't Nobody Home But Me", which was banned from radio in the 30's, and "Yiddish Hula Boy", about a man who leaves his wife to go to Hawaii where, he says, "give me a girl with a dress of shredded wheat...with donuts on her feet....when they start to wiggle, you yell wow! shoot me while I'm happy now."
Most of Klein's material derives from obscure 78 rpm recordings and sheet music she and her bandmates collect. Some of the songs are from vaudeville acts that just happened to get recorded on film. Much of it is incredibly rare.

"I can't believe how much material I come across that's just astoundingly great. The period between the turn of the century and 1938 is an amazingly fruitful time in American music. It's shocking that it's so buried and forgotten."

Klein herself took a long time unearthing the treasures she now performs. Though attracted to early 20th century aesthetics since she was a child, it wasn't until the 1980's, when she was studying for an art degree at UCLA, that she haunted the music library there and began learning about songwriters and musicians such as Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya , Josephine Baker, and Edith Piaf.

After placing an ad in a publication that posts requests for information on various topics, (pre-internet), she started receiving cassettes filled with everything from ragtime music to tunes by, cowboy vaudevillian, Charlie Poole, entertainers Billy Murray and Aileen Stanley and blues singers Georgia White and Edith Wilson.

It was several years before she worked up the nerve to sing them in public. In the interim, Klein, who is also a poet, read her own work at poetry readings. Eventually, she wanted to add a musical component and learned the ukulele.

"I like to think small," says Klein. Ukulele was just kind of a nice simple instrument to pick up. I thought it would be a charming accompaniment, the right size for a little poem."

That accompaniment grew to include a pianist, bass player and percussionist, all of whom played between poems at various poetry readings. Then Klein decided to sing the songs she'd been collecting with fuller accompaniment, and the group began performing as a musical act in 1996.

Today, six additional musicians have joined the band, including two members of famed underground cartoonist R. Crumb's Cheap Suit Serenaders, Tom Marion and Robert Armstrong. Also on board is veteran musician-author-historian Ian Whitcomb, who preceeded Klein as a champion of the period's music.

Klein's day job is with a commercial printing company, Delta Graphics, in Santa Monica, which is where she prints her fliers, postcards and CD jackets for her band--all of them based on designs from the first third of the 1900's.

Klein has released two CDs on her own Coeur De Jeanette label--"Come Into My Parlor" (1998), a solo record on which Klein sings and plays ukulele, and "Paradise Wobble" (2000) where Klein performs with her full band. Her next record, "Put A Flavor To Love," will be released at the end of August.
Klein's music goes beyond entertainment--it's also a history lesson, a means of keeping old music alive for a new audience, which encompasses everyone from goth girls and rock fans to people who grew up with the music.

"This last show, so many people were coming up to me requesting specific tunes," says Klein. "It gives me such a kick because they know them through me. These are songs that have been as good as dead and buried. Suddenly, people act like these are the latest hits. It's great."


Los Angeles, California
Called by the LA Weekly " A Betty Boop for the fin-de-siecle" Janet Klein with her band the Parlor Boys perform forgotten gems and naughty ditties from the 1910's, 20s and 30s with panache, style and wit. Nominated for a 1998 Music Award by the Los Angeles New Times, which calls Klein "Sweet and sexy like a classic showgirl...evoking the vamps of the silent era", Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys have been performing about town to great appreciation and soldout houses at venues such as Luna Park, the Atlas Supper Club, Lunaria, Cafe Largo and enthusiastic support from local legends Charlie Lustman, proprietor of the newly restored Silent Movie Theatre and Mr. Ukulele, "Jumping" Jim Beloff, author of the "Visual History of the Ukulele", have not hurt a bit.

The Gallery of Indispensible Pop Music has written of Ms. Klein's 1998 debut CD "Come Into My Parlor", "Her knowing, kittenish vocal delivery, the equivalent of a wink and a smile is perfectly matched with the material...chock full of clever wordplay and double entendre...and the delicate instrumentation lends an authentically old-fashioned sweetness to songs that, in the hands of a less finely attuned interpretter, might well end up as overblown camp." Amplifier Magazine extolls "A perfect record...completely free of smarmy hipsterism."

Inspired by Vitaphone musicals from the 1920s, years of scouring 78 record collections, poetry and performance art, Klein delights in presenting her latest CD release entitled "Paradise Wobble", featuring late ragtime and early jazz era tunes, including gloriously sweet numbers such as "You're A Heavenly Thing", "Cooking Breakfast for the One I Love" as well as naughty numbers such as "The Physician", "I'm No Angel", "Nasty Man", and "Real Estate Papa You Ain't Gonna Subdivide Me", plus many, many more made obscure by the likes of Lil Armstrong (wife of Louis), Ruth Etting, Blanche Calloway (sister of Cab), Annette Hanshaw, Jane Green, Fannie Brice and Baby Rosemarie.

Klein's musicological treasure hunting has led her to cultivate more than just a few old timers, scholars and fellow tunesters. With her own fascinating family history including vaudevillian magicians, filmmakers, artists, early synthesizer experimentors, and more, stories abound, while Klein's own eclectic and adventurous life make for an interesting connection.

Having assembled a cast of fascinating players, Janet Klein has managed to charm several band leaders, music historians and time-warped musicians into her parlor and has allowed them to collaborate as happy-go-lucky sidemen to bring about soulful, slightly rustic, authentically inspired interpretations of music originally performed by the likes of Django Reinhardt, Charlie Johnson, Cab Calloway, as well as rare Italian mazurkas, 1920s jazz-styled Hawaiian numbers and 1920s & 30s French and Russian songs. Among the Parlor Boys are two alumni of R.Crumb's band "The Cheap Suit Serenaders", Tom Marion, on guitar, mandolin & banjo, and Robert Armstrong, on Hawaiian steel guitar, accordion & saw, as well as recording and radio personality Ian Whitcomb, on ukulele & accordion, composer/band-leader and music historian Brad Kay, on ragtime style piano & cornet, and John reynolds, on guitar & whistling (grandson of the late Zasou Pitts).

A lively feature of the band's performances are the spontaneous mixture of visitng guest performers, such as ingenius ragtime guitarist, Craig Ventresco, of Bo Grumpus, and mesmirizing horn player, Jeff Healy. Always a buzz at shows, 20th century popular culture scholars such as Kenneth Anger, author of "Hollywood Babylon", Miles Kreuger, director of the Institute of the American Musical, are often on hand to chime in with tidbits of information about this and that song and to chat with wide-eyed music lovers, freshly "jazzed' by music rarely experienced live today.

All in all Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys share the riches of the rarest tidbits of American culture, music written by our own under-recognized early 20th century composers and in effect help to unearth our own best kept secrets.

OFFBEAT New Orleans' & Louisiana's Music Magazine
If you have followed this column over the last score or so of months it seems to me it should be quite apparent that if I'm about anything it would be "keeping it real, 16/7." But when I'm keeping it unreal, well, that's the time when I dream. These days I dream about the Second Annual Sugarshack Festival of Hot Music. For those of you not with us last year, the SSFHM is the two weekends out of the year when I give up my patch of grass to make room for someone from out-of-town so they can enjoy the spoils of our New Orleans music, which to me is available 52 weeks out of the year. Instead of the heat and the crowds, I opt to while away my festival weekends alone and revel in my favorite recordings being made today. This year the 8/7 portion of my day is filled with the sights and sounds of Janet Klein.

Janet Klein? In a previous column I revealed my discovery of this ukulele-playing vocalist (and musical archeologist) in the subterranean depths of San Francisco's Cafe Du Nord. I was smitten. Soon after meeting her, she sent me her initial recording Come Into My Parlor. Within a few moments of hearing her sing the opening song's verse, which begins "There's no accounting for taste I'm sure, and that's why I picked you. It seems a terrible waste/ but you're the best that I could do," well, the invitation was nice and all, but the combination of her delicate voice and sweet strumming made me want to knock down the parlor door.

That parlor door is located in Los Angeles, where Ms. Klein plies her particular trade, the performance and recording of what she calls "obscure, naughty and lovely songs from the 1910s, 20s and 30s." I must confess that no recordings made today have gotten under my skin more than the two discs released by her own Coeur De Jeanette Productions. They are full of pleasure and gaiety, and I cherish them because I'm a fellow who finds inherent delight in a sparse ukulele background and a pretty voice singing the Kurt Weill/Ogden Nash collaboration, "Wooden Wedding," which includes the lines: "Heyday will bring a magic casement/ Opening on something peachy/ Maybe a trip to Macy's basement/ Or a double feature with Don Ameche.."

The beauty of Come Into My Parlor is in the simplicity of it all. The instruments, whether the uke, a guitar, an accordion or mandolin provide a light pillow of sound on which Klein gently sets the lyrics to wonderful songs; sweet ones like "What a Night For Spooning" ("When the birdies go to sleep and the stars begin to beam she says, What a night for spooning,") or her sad and knowing delivery of "If you Want the Rainbow You Must Have the Rain," or when she becomes a sort of Patrick Henry of romance declaring "Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Love."

Klein is not all sweetness however. With a coy wink she delivers naughty novelties like "If I Can't Sell It I'll Keep Sitting On It," "Banana In Your Fruit Basket," and especially racy "I Need Alittle Sugar In My Bowl", where she coos "Get off your knees I can't see what you're driving at, it's dark down there and it looks like a snake. So come on here and drop something in my bowl."

What to make of Janet Klein, this Jazz Age thrush who, without any trace of irony, brings to us these wonderful songs of another age? "I'm not into the old stuff because it's 'funny', she told The Sentimentalist, "I like it because I think it's great and I have respect for it." That respect comes through on every track. And one gets an idea of where her feeling comes from in a fragment of a note she sent late last year "I'm attracted to old stuff mostly out of discontent and an 'out of my elementness' with the modern world."

Klein's disconnect with contemporary America is revealed in her comment, "The idea of singing a song about bluebirds makes me feel nice." So I was pleased when her second CD, the ambitious Paradise Wobble (featuring her band the Parlor Boys), included the 1928 Harry Woods composition, "Lonely Little Bluebird". I was pleased with all the tunes; the opener "I Wish I Were Twins" and "You Went Away Too Far" and "Cooking Breakfast For the One I Love" ("My baby likes bacon and that's what I'm Making"). And how can you not adore a pretty lady in a vintage dress, a flower in her hair, cradling a ukulele in her hands singing, and sweetly, "Real Estate Papa You Ain't Gonna Subdivide Me."

The Parlor Boys are a hot jazz aggregation heavy on strings. Two former, and versatile, members of R. Crumb's Cheap Suit Serenaders are here, Tom Marion on guitar, banjo, mandolin and violin and Robert Armstrong who backs Ms. Klein on Hawaiian steel guitar, banjo, ukulele and musical saw. They have joined with a host of others to fashion a wonderfully textured canvas for Klein to paint lovely cameos of the first third of the 20th century.

Among the 23 tracks that make up the disc, my favorites are those recorded in a Los Angeles dance studio Klein calls "The Ross Deluxe Room," an homage to the sound made by the Ross Deluxe Syncopators. "I was wildly inspired by those recordings made in an unidentified room in Savannah,Georgia in 1927. The sound was so haunting and natural, you could just picture this big wood dance floor with high ceilings big high windows..well I wanted to try to get that feel." She succeeds, especially on the title track, "Paradise Wobble," and Lil Hardin Armstrong's "Clip Joint." (If you're not familiar with the Ross Deluxe recordings, a similar sound is present on Bill Russell's 1940s recordings of Bunk Johnson and George Lewis at San Jacinto Hall on Dumaine Street.)

We at the Sugarshack offer a hearty salute to Janet Klein for turning her pangs of discontent into something beautiful, and in so doing bringing joy to the hearts of her fellow travelers. In her honor The Sugarshack Festival has installed the "Klein Shrine" a collection of press photos and assorted ephemera associated with our favorite songstress.


San Francisco Stories
Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys by Jon Pult
In previous columns I have let known my affinity for hot music and the ukulele. Janet Klein sings and plays the ukulele, her band the Parlor Boys play the hot music. They assembled on a recent Friday evening in the subterranean depths of Cafe Du Nord on Market Street in San Francisco, a club with a slightly dangerous, prohibition era speakeasy feel. When the curtain opened on the small stage Ms. Klein, this sprightly oddball prone to wacky hand gestures (rivaling DeMond) began singing "Good Little Bad Little You," a number I count among my favorites as performed by the great Cliff Edwards, and a tune one never ever hears performed live. She sang "Exactly Like You" and "If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight". When she sang "Banana In Your Fruitbasket" well, let's just say I was glad to be presently on the "Dole." She even unearthed a little known Cole Porter masterpiece, "The Physician," and I therefore melted when Ms. Klein, this lively thrush, cooed the following: "He said my epidermis was darling, and found my blood as blue as could be, he went through wild ecstatics when I showed him my lymphatics, but he never said he loved me."

While I was pining in a sort of joyous trance, the Parlor Boys (three guitars, standup bass, washboard and a guy who doubled on Hawaiian Lap Steel and Musical Saw) were augmented by a trumpeter and accordionist (this is San Francisco after all). The latter looked quite familiar to me, and soon my assumptions were correct when Ian Whitcomb, the spry English chap who had a rock and roll hit in the 1960s with "You Turn Me On" and then turned his formidable talents to playing, researching and writing about the music of Tin Pan Alley and its immediate precursors,was introduced. It is fitting that Mr. Whitcomb's latest offering is a songbook and CD set entitled Ukulele Heaven for that's where he put me when he and his little Martin uke were featured on that most bouyant of Walter Donaldson numbers "T'aint No Sin" (When a gal wears X-Ray dresses, and shows everything she owns, t'aint no sin to take off your skin and dance around in your bones.") Klein and Whitcomb undoubtedly had me in ukulele heaven.


Translated article from Dutch Music Magazine “Smiling Ears”
by Marco Kalnenek - Holland
Americans sometimes claim that Europeans take more care of the American Cultural Heritage than people in their own country. The fact that many jazz musicians move to Europe because they can’t earn an honest living in America is proof enough, they say. Also the fact that during the last few years, our own Beau Hunks have done a great deal to draw new attention to the Americans, Leroy Shield and Raymond Scott, strengthens the theory.

Still there are definitely musicians in the United States to be found who carefully occupy themselves with the musical past of their country. Sometime ago I came in contact quite accidentally with Janet Klein of Los Angeles. Klein sings and plays material from the first thirty years of the last century. She tours along clubs in and around LA with her own band, and also writes poetry, paints and works on film soundtracks. Her many-sidedness is easy to explain: Janet comes from a family of vaudevillians, magicians, filmmakers and artists. One of her forefathers seems to even have been involved in the development of the synthesizer. Everything about Janet’s first CD, “Come Into My Parlor” breathes the atmosphere of the twenties and thirties. In the photographs in the CD’s book, we see Klein posing as a cross between a sexy vamp and a young somewhat naughty girl. Of course the hairdo and makeup are completely of the period. In her interpretation of the then daring numbers such as “Banana In Your Fruit Basket”, “Nasty Man”, and “If I Can’t Sell It I’ll Keep Sitting On It”, the opposites of innoncence and naughtiness are expressed beautifully. Because of the subtle accompaniment--Janet Klein accompanies herself on ukulele--the whole thing becomes something intimate and warm. The numbers don’t sound kitsch or unauthentic, and that is perhaps Klein’s greatest acheivement: the love for this kind of music radiates out of every note.

A second CD, this time with her band, “The Parlor Boys”, is on its way. The title will be “Paradise Wobble”. Here too “Entertaining Songs, Emotive Ballads, Hot Chansonettes and Lyrical Notions” from the beginning of the last century will be presented. Together with the Beau Hunks, R. Crumb’s Cheap Suit Serenaders, and the German Palace Orchestra, Janet Klein keeps the musical tradition alive which might otherwise die out.Hopefully she will succeed in finding a good distributor so that “Paradise Wobble” may easily be found in our own outlets. Record Bosses, be aware!!




© 2015 Coeur de Jeanette Productions