Friday, November 30, 2012


       Ever have a word or idea just leap into your head?  Not sure why or where it came from?  That's how Ish Kabibble got here.
Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia
       Kabibble was a radio and movie player in the 40's and 50's, part of Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge which my parents listened to.  In chasing down the origin of this odd and invading name, I come back to my mother and a great aunt who used to laugh at Kabibble, or at least the name.
     He started off to be a lawyer, Merwyn Bogue, but his comedic skills landed him in Kay Kyser cast.  Maybe the atmospheric storms raking the California Coast dislodged the funny man from deep in the brain.  BTW Ish Kabibble is said to be from a mock Yiddish expression meaning "I should worry?"  
    Here's a sample of the Kay Kyser comedy from a simpler time in America.
   It's the early 60's and this very white kid in middle America is searching the radio dial at night for music that had soul.  Some people in those days called it "race music."   I could dial in a station from Nashville, WLAC that filled the night with R&B, Rhythm and Blues. I heard music there unlike anything else on the airwaves.  
    Somehow, by a fluke of nature which radio engineers have told me was impossible I also heard the strains of something called Ska.  It was from Jamaica and was the progenitor of Reggae and Rock Steady.  
    There was an artist that my middle class, middle American, white friends could never imagine-Justin Hinds and the Dominoes.  This is the first step on the path to Reggae.
       Rock Steady and then Reggae were more up tempo, and a richer form of music that would have immense impact on Rock and jazz.  What may be curious to some is that Ska, like early Reggae was also equal parts politics and religion.
"Better to seek a home in Mount Zion High
Instead of keeping oppression upon an innocent man
But time will tell on you, you old jezebel

As the musical idiom grew and gave birth to Reggae
Justin Hinds and the Dominoes changed too

       So to both of my daughters, true Reggae fans, this has been a little footnote to your dad's history-how on dark midwestern nights a white teen searched the atmosphere for a sound that all of these years later thrills you.

    Ish Kabibble to Reggae?  All on the radio!
    Must be some powerful atmospheric currents bouncing between the Pacific and the mountains eh? What, I should worry?

     Happy listening.  Have a good weekend.
     See you down the trail.



  1. I can remember Kay Kyser and the College of Musical Knowledge but Justin Hinds et al somehow slipped by me.

  2. Ska reigned from about '58 thru the summer of '65 in JA. That summer was unbearably hot & the dancers found they couldn't skank all night on the dance hall floor or at jump ups on the beach to the standard ska beat of the time - about 150 bpm - so the sound system operators who also owned the record shops & the studios literally cut the ska beat in half in '65 & introduced rock steady at about 75 to 78 bpm. Rock steady lasted until '68 & offered some of the best trio harmony ever recorded anywhere. Roots reggae at 72 bpm arrived w/the acceptance of rasta around '68. It was later sped up to around 80 bpm by Chris Blackwell to try to sell Bob Marley's music to white US audiences. I first encountered ska at the New York World's Fair in spring '64. And Gobd Bless Johnnie Randolph (John R. of WLAC) for saving all us Hoosier radio boys back in the day...

    1. Allen-
      Thanks. You are the reigning king of Reggae, Ska and Rock Steady at these latitudes. May those trade winds forever carry your program to eager ears!

  3. Thanks for providing the next best thing to a trip in Mr. Peabody's Way Back Machine. And remember, if a boy can have a dog, why can't a dog have a boy. Just call me Sherman!

  4. From an old WLAC listener whilst wheeling up and down US-441: "White Rose, White Rose, White Rose...Petroleum Jelly!"

  5. This white boy from North Dakota used to listen to John R from way down south in Dixie and old Rufus Thomas, too.