1957   2 comments

This 78 r.p.m. album of the Buttondowns, simply entitled “Spring Concert,” may be the earliest recording of Pingry music — and it sounds like it. Very scratchy, with a strong bass hum that may rattle your speakers, the album shows its age. The second side sounds a little better than the first, though. If you have a “bass” setting for your speaker, I suggest you set it as low as it goes.

You get the impression someone simply set up a microphone and tape recorder, and they ran through a half-dozen tunes before an appreciative audience. The recording keeps rolling through the coughs and silences between songs.

A couple of songs are announced. On the second side, preceding the track’s third and final song, someone (the voice could be Tony du Bourg) announces something that sounds like: “We are indebted for the words of this next song to Mrs. Robert Redpath. We would like to dedicate this to the class of 1957.” The song the follows is an ode to friendship and loyalty among “sons of Pingry.”

Who was Mrs. Robert Redpath? Well, Bob Bill Redpath ’57 was a founding member of the Buttondowns, and he described the group’s early days in an article in The Pingry Review in 2008 that marked the group’s 50th anniversary. (Here is a link) He describes how several students formed the group; how they sought out “the new and intensely musical physics teacher, Tony du Bourg,” to help lead them; and how they settled on the name:
“One night, at a rehearsal dinner generously provided by Mr. du Bourg at his apartment in Summit, middle school teacher Mr. Brett Boocock’s wife, Betsy Boocock, suggested ‘The Buttondowns’ and we quickly embraced it as our new name. Button-down shirts were then a recent, primarily East Coast phenomenon. The button-down collar promised freedom from the stiff starched-collar in which we were literally up to our necks…. The Buttondowns evoked a certain liberated spirit, suggesting our music was fresh and freeing.”

I’m guessing Mrs. Robert Redpath was Bob’s Bill’s mother.

THE BUTTONDOWNS
Track 1
Track 2

Posted September 3, 2011 by kjgranville

2 responses to “1957

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  1. I believe the REDPATH to whom you refer is Bill Redpath ’57.

    • Indeed, it should be Bill Redpath! Thanks for taking the time to let me know. I’ll correct the notes above. I’ve got to ask, do you know Bill, or were you a member of Buttondowns? I really enjoyed his account about how the origins of the group — especially, his description of what a buttondown shirt symbolized in the late 50’s (somewhat different that what it suggests today). Again, thanks for letting me know. Kevin

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