Top 10 Jazzy Halloween Songs

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Part 2 of my Top 10 Halloween songs, this list features some fabulous jazz numbers, great for you guys and ghouls who like hosting a classy Halloween shindig.

I Put a Spell On You (Because You’re Mine)
There have been a lot of renditions of this one, but I don’t think any can top Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

2. That Old Black Magic
Another classic that has been done in about a dozen arrangements, from beautiful ballad to upbeat swing. Sammy Davis Jr. did one of my favourite versions, though Judy Garland would be a close second.

3. Skeleton in the Closet
Who doesn’t love Louis Armstrong? This number is from the film Pennies From Heaven.

4. The Boogie Man (A Jazzy Halloween)
Admittedly, this has a bit of a creepy stalker feel to it, but maybe that just adds to its charm..? “Bad little girls” better watch out for this one.

5. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
This slow jazz is sure to fill the air with ghostly romance.

6. Ghost of Yesterday
No jazz playlist is complete without Lady Day.

7. Haunted House Blues
This one is a real oldie, from 1924. I came across Bessie Smith when I was looking for music for Rope last year – she’s got an amazing voice for the Blues.

8. Witchcraft
Looking to slow things down and get a little cozy with that certain someone? Throw on Old Blues Eyes and you’re set.

9. Murder at Peyton Hall
This has an amazing swing beat, for all you jitterbugs out there.

10. Ghost of Smokey Joe
Ok, so the man only has one tune, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great one. Switch out Minnie the Moocher for Smokey Joe on your Halloween playlist.

Top 10 Retro Halloween Dance Songs

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I started to make a simple “top 10” list for my favourite Halloween songs and it grew so quickly I decided to split it up. Here are my top 10 (in no particular order), 1950s/60s dance songs that are sure to make your retro Halloween bash a smash hit.

1.Sinister Stomp
Including The Monster Mash would be too easy, but we can’t have a list like this and not feature something from Bobby Pickett, so enjoy this lesser-known hit.

2. The Mummy’s Bracelet
Gotta love that bass line. Check it.

3. The Transylvanian Twist
Can’t have a retro dance party without the Twist!

4. She’s My Witch
This groovy, bluesy number is sure to be a hit later in the evening.

5. Graveyard Cha Cha
If you are looking for something to dance to I don’t think you can beat this – “now shut up and get back in your tomb!”

6. Spooky
I have always loved this song, but this is the first time I’ve heard the Dusty Springfield version – I think I like it better than the one I’m familiar with. 

7. Love Potion Number 9
Another great dance number for your retro bash.

8. He’s a Vampire
Great do-wop number.

9. I’d Rather Be Burned As A Witch
Eartha Kitt in all of her devilish wonder, this has got to be the best witchy number yet.

10. The Monster’s Hop
Let’s end this list with another great upbeat, rockabilly tune. This one is for all you young guys & ghouls.

Like these? Follow Bygone Theatre on Youtube to hear our entire Halloween playlist!

Vintage Halloween Masks – DIY Printables!

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Liked my last post on printable decor? Then you’ll love these wicked vintage Halloween masks.

Bygone Theatre

With Halloween just around the corner, we thought we’d share some fun vintage masks that you can print out at home! Check out these great sites for more, and be sure to follow our pinterest board for all the updates.

Wings of Whimsey is a great source for free printables and one I visit often. You can find things like this vintage cat mask;

VintageHalloween.com is an obvious choice if you’re looking for something specific and don’t mind spending some money. They have a wide array of vintage reproduction so you can make your Halloween party as authentic as you’d like (I’m swooning over some of this stuff).

This is sort of a random one that I stumbled across while browsing pinterest. 50’s Ben Cooper Box Art Detail is how the flickr album is labeled and it seems to be a high-res scan of an old costume box. Pretty…

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Vintage Halloween Decor

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With Halloween fast approaching I thought I’d share some great vintage designs sure to give your party that awesome retro flare. Links are in the comments – enjoy!

Cats are a big part of vintage Halloween decor, and thanks to people like Martha Stewart, chances are you are familiar with the classic “scared cat” design. You can find variations of it here from sites like Johanna Parker Designs;

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and The Sum of All Crafts;

Great for wreaths, masks, invites and more! Just print and hang.

Try whipping up some eerie apothecary bottles using vintage medicine labels; you’d be surprised how many household items were poisonous back in the day!

chloroform-linament

Turn of the century labels often have beautiful typography and design. Try throwing a few less deadly bottles in your mix (like the bitters one here) to make a more eerily authentic display.

Try throwing some of these onto bottles of brightly coloured punch and let your guests “pick their poison”.

sugar-of-lead Have some old family photos? Swap out your blurry selfies and vacation shots for some with a bit of vintage charm, and try adding a few extra eerie ones as well, like these;

Really, can you think of anything more terrifying?

Post mortem photography was popular in the Victorian era.

Check out the Bygone Theatre Vintage Halloween Pinterest Board for more design ideas!

-E.

Fun With Photoshop

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Well it’s nearly 5am and for some reason I’m still awake. Playing with Photoshop and now writing a blog about it. I swear my body wants me to be nocturnal.

Thought I’d throw together a few quick “before & afters” to show you what I’ve been working on lately. I was getting frustrated with my business card design for Bygone so I decided to take a break and play with simpler Photoshop stuff for a while (turns out 4am is not a good time to try and learn how to use Illustrator for the first time, go figure).

Before&After - Basic 2The above photo is one I took of Tom Beattie a few years back when I got a new camera and was testing it out. Since it was an extreme close-up, and quite clear, I thought it would be a good one to test blemish removal on. The challenge is always making skin look smooth and “perfect” without losing the natural texture and having it come across as fake. This is especially a concern when editing pictures of men, as they don’t wear makeup and sometimes have facial hair that makes editing difficult.

Before&After - Basic Edit

This rather ridiculous looking photo of me is from a couple years ago and is meant to look like a picture of my Grandma Henderson from when she was in her 20s. I noticed I had nearly identical hair, so I did my makeup like hers and attempted to mimic the pose. The problem was it was taken in horrible lighting, so I used this one to work on colour correction. The whole image could still stand to be lightened and brightened a bit, but all I was going for here was something less orange.

Before&After - StylizedI started off playing with this picture of Matt McGrath (originally taken by Krista Hovesepian several years ago) just trying to see how fake and stylized I could make it look without having to do anything too complicated. The result was starting to remind me of those SNL photos, so the colours are inspired by that, but I would have to put some more thought into how to mimic that style exactly.

Original photo by Amy George

Original photo by Amy George

Amy George took this promo shot for Kill Sister, Kill! when we were in NYC back in August. I played around with the colour and focus here.

Before&After - Vintage RetouchThis is a photo of my Great Grandmother, Candace Myrtle Dix (nee Clare) and my Great Aunt Mary, taken in the late 1920s. The photo was in very poor shape and I wasn’t able to fix it as much as I’d like, partly because it is a low-res scan to boot. I did adjust the colour & contrast though, and managed to remove the fold marks.

Before&After - ColourizedThis one I did a while ago, and quite quickly; I might re-edit in the same style and take some more time on it. Just a simple (exaggerated) colourized photo of my Grandpa Henderson from the 1950s or 60s. I wasn’t going for realism here, but I think I’ll try to get some colourized well enough they look like actual colour photos; wish me luck.

A Review of the LOT’s “Buddy Holly Story”

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Nigel Irwin as Buddy Holly, Thomas James Finn as the Big Bopper and Mike Buchanan as Richie Valens -photo Seanna Kennedy.

Nigel Irwin as Buddy Holly, Thomas James Finn as the Big Bopper and Mike Buchanan as Richie Valens – photo Seanna Kennedy.

The challenge of mounting any Jukebox Musical is that you are taking songs people know and love and putting them in the hands of performers who, regardless of how talented they are, are unlikely to live up to the image we have in our minds of what they should be. When you have the added challenge of working with performers who simply aren’t as talented as singers they’re portraying you end up with a show that is unfortunately lackluster. Sadly, this was the case for the majority of the performers in the Lower Ossington Theatre production of The Buddy Holly Story, however, a few standout moments were powerful enough to still make for an overall enjoyable evening.

…a show that is unfortunately lackluster…however, a few standout moments were powerful enough to still make for an overall enjoyable evening.

Alan Kinsella directed the show along with musical director Mike Ross. While I question some of the casting choices, the staging was effective and Mikael Kangas lighting and set design (Michael Galloro also worked on set) was simple but bold and engaging. They made excellent use of a small stage and stationary set, creating a series of unique scenes primarily through the use of lights. As always, I’m going to be critical of the design; I found the costumes sub-par especially the women’s, and was surprised to see such a big name (Mark Boots) listed as “Wig Consultant” when I thought the wigs looked cheap and inaccurate.

…excellent use of a small stage and stationary set, creating a series of unique scenes primarily through the use of lights.

Any performance that requires actors put on accents risks sounding cheesy or inauthentic; with the exception of Thomas Finn, whose Hi-Pockets & Big Bopper were spot on, this was a common issue for the show. As the title character, Nigel Irwin’s Buddy lacked the charm, charisma and authenticity the show required. In fact, the majority of the cast was lacking in energy, and moments like the fight scene between The Crickets and a music producer felt very forced. Similarly, numbers like “Party” that should have had the audience on their feet fell flat due to pitchy vocals and a dull performance.

Nigel Irwin’s Buddy lacked the charm, charisma and authenticity the show required.

Despite being too long and dragging much more than the first act (a fault of the writing, not performance), the second act was what made the show. Easily the biggest talent of the performance was Thomas Finn as The Big Bopper. Bursting onstage with all of the Bopper’s larger-than-life presence, Finn steals the show with on-the-spot vocals and contagious energy. You could feel the audience wake up during “Chantilly Lace”, and even less electric performances were given a much needed push with the help of Finn’s great stage presence.

Easily the biggest talent of the performance was Thomas Finn as The Big Bopper…Finn steals the show.

One number did stand out as a good Holly impersonation; “Guess It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”. That song has always been one of my favourites and I was happy to hear Irwin find his voice and channel Buddy beautifully in that song. Maybe some more work will add some consistency to his performance.

All in all the production has a definite amateurish feel, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an enjoyable night out. Upbeat, lovable music and a few stand out moments make it a fun time for anyone with a love of the oldies. For tickets and more information, check out www.lowerossingtontheatre.com.

-E.