2003   MAY 22   #142

Camp Akiba 1976 - Swanee/Old Man River

Camp Akiba was apparently a wondrously musical place to be. Located in the majestic Poconos of Pennsylvania, the camp not only provided the necessities of a great summer camp (as you can see from the photo montage from the album cover), but also provided its campers a chance to record their musical stylings for posterity (or at least until their record collection was dropped off at the Goodwill).

I have two Camp Akiba records, and they both follow the same pattern. Side A is taken up with the songs from the camp's Color Days (a traditional activity at many summer camps, in which the kids are split up into teams, assigned a team color, and put through a grueling series of back-breaking chores which are collectively known as "fun"). Side B is a series of show tune medleys, split up by year (the littlest kids go first, then the older kids, then the camp counselors).

This selection comes from a 1976 medley titled "Hooray U.S.A." "Swanee" is handled by young Billy Sigmon, who really knows how to belt out the Gershwin classic. "Old Man River" is handled by Glenn Scharf and Elise Levin, who don't quite have the chops, but I admire their enthusiasm as they tackle such lines as "you don't dast make the white boss frown." Not exactly the best choice for camp kids to sing, but hey, it was a different world 27 years ago, and now you get to experience it.

- Jim Allenspach, http://www.empty-handed.com/

TT-4:39 / 4.3MB / 128kbps 44.1khz
Virtue Recording Studios of Philadelphia, PA, CA-101876

(Images courtesy of Jim Allenspach)