Columbia heard a blast from the past when dixieland jazz legends the Shingle Shakers held a reunion here last November. Many of the musicians hadn't played together since Richard Nixon was president in the late '60s and early '70s, the band used to pack 'em in every weekend at the long-gone Village Inn pizza parlor.
Back in the late 1960's, the Stones couldn't get no satisfaction, Janis Joplin begged us to take just a little piece of her heart. Maybe acid rock ruled the airwaves, but an unlikely amalgam of musicians called the Shingle Shakers ruled the roost when it came to Columbia's music scene.
Their music was a little unlikely for the times, too. It was hot and heavy Dixieland jazz that always raised the roof of the now-defunct Village Inn pizza parlor. Several band members kept in touch over the years, and they orchestrated a Dixieland reunion gig in Columbia this past fall.
Back in the old days the Shingle Shakers could be a little cornball. They played everything from "Honeysuckle Rose" to "Ava Nagila," with the Tiger fight song thrown in every hour or so. Musicians from around town sat in as the spirit and the rhythm moved them.
"It was wall-to-wall noise and mayhem," Larry Garrett, BJ '72, remembers of the goings-on at the Village Inn. "It would get so crowded that band members learned not to drink any beer for the first few sets because we could not get off the bandstand to get to the bathroom." Garrett, now a partner in a Kansas City Missouri advertising agency, played a mean clarinet back then.
The November 1 and 2, 2002 Columbia reunion went off without a hitch, even though many of the band members hadn't seen or performed with each other since Richard Nixon was president.
"We managed to sound pretty decent by the second night," Garrett says of the reunion gig for friends, family and old Shingle Shakers fans at Harpo's, a local watering hole. "A few college kids wandered in from the other part of Harpo's and wondered what the hell was going on."
What was going on was a blast from the past, the re-enactment of a musical tradition that had people lined up out the door of the old "V.I." every weekend for years. "It seems so odd that the music would be so popular then," Garrett says. "Maybe we were the mosh pit of the '70's."