Janet Klein, shown performing with veteran British musician Ian Whitcomb… (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles…)
L.A. singer and pop music preservationist Janet Klein will celebrate her 100th performance of a nine-year-and-running residency in Hollywood with a show April 4 that highlights vintage popular songs from the 1920s and 1930s.
Klein and her band, the Parlor Boys, have been setting up at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood since 2004, serving up the music of the classic era of Tin Pan Alley songwriters such as George M. Cohan, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter and many other less well-known musicians in period-appropriate arrangements.
The live music is typically preceded by screenings of short musical films of the era. For Thursday’s 100th performance, Klein tells Pop & Hiss she has several special touches in store.
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“The boys will be suiting up formal in tuxedos with white tie -- fancy!’ she said, “and I'll be unveiling and debuting my latest novelty instrument ... as well as launching a new website called Kleinette.com, home of the Kleinette Firefly Flapper Banjolele,” referring to her custom hybrid banjo and ukulele.
“We'll be popping Champagne and also we'll be raffling off signed posters, sets of CDs -- all seven -- and other fun-time stuff,” she said. And as for the setlist, “We took an online poll of favorite tune requests and will be brushing the dust off some old favorites.”
Klein began strumming a uke in the '80s, well ahead of the recent revival of interest in the instrument among music aficionados, as accompaniment when she was giving spoken work performances of her poetry.
“That ukulele opened some things up for me and I started to meet other musicians,” she told The Times last year. “I found people in town playing old music, and they were great characters. I met them one at a time.
"I feel like I started to make this music partly because it just wasn’t around. Something was missing for me, and I realized that since it wasn’t around, maybe I should make some.”
That blossomed into a full-fledged exploration of the songbook of pre-World War II popular music that continues three decades later.
Doors open at 7:30 p.m., films screen at 8 p.m. and Klein and the Parlor Boys get started about 9 p.m. Full details on Klein’s website.
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