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Jean-Jacques Perrey

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In all the pre-election excitement at SBM, we weren’t able to blog fully about our Wednesday activity: a concert by Jean-Jacques Perrey and Dana Countryman.

Perrey, in case you don’t know, is a pioneer of electronic music, whose Moog-flavored The In Sound from Way Out (written with Gershon Kingsley) introduced tape loops and cheerful bleeping and blooping to popular music and led the way for much to come. Perrey is perhaps best known for writing “Electric Hoedown,” used as the theme to the Disney Electrical Parade for all these years, but don’t let the kitsch connection fool you. He’s a true musical innovator and pioneer.

At age 79, the French-born Perrey came out in a silver sparkling coat and energetically led the way through a set of his hits with him and Countryman locked behind banks of vintage synths. While I wouldn’t swear in front of Congress as to how much was played live, it was nonetheless an engaging performance, as Perrey introduced each song, danced with a little stuffed elephant and was, in general, charming as heck.

Perhaps just as excitingly, in the audience was an amazingly still-living Kingsley (who composed “Popcorn”) and guitarist Vinnie Bell, who is to adherents of Space-Age Pop what Yngwie Malmsteen is to shredding. It was a thrill just to be in the same room as all these wonderful gentlemen.

For a fan of both esoteric and electronic music, this was a night to remember. It was the equivalent of seeing Raymond Scott, Carl Stalling, or Juan Esquivel, or meeting Akira Ifukube.

To give it a comics analogy, at the Baltimore Comic-Con just passed, people remarked on how lucky it was to be able to meet icons like Ramona Fradon, Nick Cardy, and Herb Trimpe. We got the same kind of kick out of seeing Perrey — if you have a chance to encounter a legend, don’t pass it up!

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