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Hello from Belgium January 31, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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Here’s an oldie but goodie from Belgium native Burt Blanca and his King Creoles.

I’m guessing this version of Bobby Troup’s most famous song was recorded in the early 1960s.

Blanca is nearly 70 years old, and according to his website he’s still playing gigs.

Electric vehicle group to support Route 66 festival January 30, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Vehicles.
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The Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation will bring electric vehicles and lend its support to the International Route 66 Festival on Aug. 14-17 in Kingman, Ariz., according to a news release from the group.

After reviewing the information on the festival the HEVF Board of Directors voted unanimously to not only attend, but to support the concept of using Route 66 as the core of America’s First National Electric Highway. According to Roderick Wilde, Executive Director of HEVF, it was the theme that got their attention, “Crossroads of the Past and Future” but it was the conferences and exhibits that clinched the deal.

The conferences include:

— Project to Transform ROUTE 66 into America’s First Electric Highway — Presentation about the installation of charging stations along the Mother Road
— History of Electric and Alternative Energy Vehicles in America

According to Wilde the festival will give HEVF an opportunity to showcase their foundation and their goal of building the world’s first International Electric Vehicle Museum. The foundation will be bringing approximately a half dozen electric vehicles of historical significance to the festival for exhibition. These will include a 1930 Detroit Electric, a 1960 Electric Shopper, a 1961 Trident, and the World’s first electric Street Rod, a 1932 Ford Roadster which has been featured in several magazines and international car shows. Also a 400 mile range EV2, the creation of HEVF’s Marketing Director, John Wayland, who will be driving it from Oregon to the festival.

Here are two more photos of a few of the electric vehicles that will appear at the festival:

The idea of putting charging stations along Route 66 has been percolating for some time. This map shows charging stations or EV dealers along many of the larger cities along Route 66.

Tesla Motors in particular has been aggressive in building Supercharger stations. According to this map, Tesla will have stations along Route 66 every 150 miles or so.

Just a few years ago, that many stations would have been unthinkable.

(Images courtesy of the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation)

How to play “Route 66″ on ukulele January 30, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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Bueno Chen gives in-depth instructions on how to play Bobby Troup’s “Route 66″ on ukulele, so you can try it at home.

Chen provides a lot of online courses in the instrument and is an instructor at the University of Hawaii.

A feature on Maldaner’s, one of Route 66’s oldest restaurants January 29, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Preservation, Restaurants.
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The Springfield State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill., soon will publish a section on area businesses that are at least 100 years old.

One of them is Maldaner’s Restaurant in downtown Springfield, which has operated since 1884. It sits on Sixth Street (aka Route 66), which makes it one of the rare still-operating restaurants that predate the Mother Road.

The newspaper produced this video about Maldaner’s featuring an interview with Michael Higgins:

The newspaper provided this brief history of the restaurant and founder John C. Maldaner:

The Milwaukee native moved to Springfield in 1866. He opened the forerunner restaurant, Confectioneries and Bakers at 216 S. Sixth St. in 1884, according to a history compiled for the restaurant in 2002 by Springfield high school student Nicholas Feller. Feller compiled the history as a class project.

Maldaner worked as a pastry chef at the former Leland Hotel before opening his own business.
After a couple of moves and a name change, the restaurant opened at the current address, 222 S. Sixth St., in 1898.

Maldaner established his restaurant as a political watering hole earlier on, including his involvement in the still-young Republican Party. He jointed The Tanners in support of the presidential bid of Ulysses S. Grant.

“I was captain of the Springfield Tanners,” Maldaner told a forerunner of The State Journal-Register in 1920, “and we wore leather caps when we paraded on hot days.”
Maldaner died in 1924 at age 71.

Higgins bought the restaurant 20 years ago and restored some of the restaurant’s early 1900s look. Downtown preservationist Carolyn Oxtoby also brought back some of the building’s early look after she bought it about 1980.

The restaurant’s menu has evolved over the years, but continues to serve local standards such as Beef Wellington and the horseshoe.

Maldaner’s cannot make the claim as the oldest restaurant on Route 66. The Sycamore Inn in Rancho Cucuamonga, Calif., probably takes the crown, with roots going back to 1848.

(Hat tip to Cheryl Eichar Jett; image of the interior of Maldaner’s by ryangs via Flickr)

Pete Seeger, R.I.P. January 28, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Music, People, Preservation.
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Folk singer and social activist Pete Seeger died Monday night in New York City hospital at age 94, according to various media outlets.

We’ll let the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers report about Seeger’s impact on music and America in general, his triumphs and his controversies. One should remember that in addition to writing the songs “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “We Shall Overcome,” he became a one-man preservation group of American songs.

As detailed in the excellent but brief 2010 book “The Protest Singer,” Seeger went to hobo camps, music festivals and union rallies all over the country, heard an unfamiliar song and promptly would ask its performer to teach the song to him. He did this for decades and finally would commit those tunes to vinyl when he got a recording contract. He probably did as much honest work in preserving American music as Alan Lomax did (in fact, he assisted Lomax in such endeavors). For that alone, Seeger deserves gratitude.

Also, Seeger co-wrote “66 Highway Blues” with another titan of folk music, Woody Guthrie. You can listen to a latter-day version of the tune with Woody’s son, Arlo Guthrie, on Spotify. You can download the tune for 99 cents here.

(Image of Pete Seeger at the 2009 Newport Folk Festival by DoKwan via Flickr)

Historic Bernalillo bar isn’t closed, but it’s for sale January 28, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, History.
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The historic Silva’s Saloon along old Route 66 in Bernalillo, N.M., isn’t closed (contrary to rumor), but the owner confirmed to Albuquerque Business First the business indeed is for sale.

Owner Denise Silva told the newspaper the bar will stay open until it sells “or until both of us die” — referring to co-owner Felix Silva Jr., 81, her father.

The bar, which has been family-owned and operated since 1933, is unique in several ways.

The purchase price of $995,000 not only includes the bar operation, but an adjacent half-acre of land and a full bar/package liquor license. Also included in the purchase price are decades of Route 66-style memorabilia that have been collected by the owners and left by patrons.

“We are looking for someone who would respect the 80 years of our being here. People come from all over the world and the country, especially in the summer — those that follow Route 66. We are one of the lone family-owned businesses that are on the route,” Silva, a retired Albuquerque Public Schools teacher, said. […]

“It would require some remodel, but the liquor license alone is probably worth $500,000,” he said.

Silva’s Saloon sits on the 1926-37 alignment of Route 66, known as the Santa Fe Loop. Because the bar actually dates to the time when Route 66 ran by its front door, you’re getting a real article from the Mother Road when you visit.

This terrific video tells about the bar’s old bootlegging history, its memorabilia and its one-of-a-kind character:

An excellent feature article about Silva’s from 2012 is here. An excerpt:

There may be antiques, but no decorator has ever put his or her stamp on Silva’s. The best way to describe the look of the place is “organic.” There are license plates, hats, photos of celebrities, memorials to regulars who have shuffled off this mortal coil, an old pack of Chesterfields, a pair of rubber S & M boots, alcohol advertisements, sports regalia, a wooden hand giving a disembodied finger.

A Green Bay Packers “cheese-head” evidences the Vikings/Packers rivalry that exists among a few patrons. People write messages on dollar bills that Felix Jr. affixes to any available spot on the wall. And then, of course, there are the velvet paintings of voluptuous naked women. Denise says they come from formerly single married patrons who couldn’t bear to completely part with them.

You can understand why movie and television crews have used this place as a backdrop over the decades. The romantic comedy Animal Behavior starring Karen Allen and Armand Assante was filmed primarily at the University of New Mexico, but a scene was shot at Silva’s. Denise says Julia Roberts served as Allen’s understudy, and an aged photo of a very young Roberts is tacked to the wall. An episode of the old detective show “Mannix” was filmed here as well. The Silvas would welcome more film crews—just as long as they don’t disturb the decor.

The real-estate listing for the bar is here.

(Hat tip to David “Willy” Willman)

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