Gary Lucas’ Fleisherei: Music From Max Fleischer Cartoons

CartoonCD_060316Music from Max Fleischer Cartoons (Cuneiform)

Thanks to vintage cartoons from the 1920s and 1930s, many a young person has gotten their first taste of Dixieland, jazz and swing without even realizing it. This was no more so the case than with the animated output of Fleischer Studios, whose most famous characters were Betty Boop and Popeye.

Like those aforementioned little kids, guitarist Gary Lucas was bitten by the same bug at an early age. So as someone with the kind of talent that’s allowed him to go from being a sideman to avant bluesman Captain Beefheart, provide a springboard to Jeff Buckley, and record everything from Chinese pop to psychedelic folk with Peter Stampfel, Lucas threw himself into these unique compositions that appeal to kids of all ages. Helping with the instrumental heavy lifting are trombonist Joe Fiedler, reedman Jeff Lederer, acoustic bassist Michael Bates and drummer Rob Garcia.

Lucas’ secret weapon is Sarah Stiles, a Tony Award-nominated veteran who has appeared in Hand to God and Avenue Q. With her perky vocals, she perfectly embodies Boop and Popeye paramour Olive Oyl in numbers like the former’s signature song, the clarinet-goosed “Don’t Take My Boop-Oop-a-Doop Away.”

Elsewhere, Stiles croons her way through suavely rendered “Penthouse Serenade” while Lucas’ 1946 Gibson J-45 acoustic guitar and Lederer’s sublime woodwinds provide sublime accompaniment before giving way to a warbling outro. Elements of klezmer, Tin Pan Alley and show tunes are liberally sprinkled throughout, be it the herky-jerky phrasing Stiles provides to the wonderful toe-tapper “The Broken Record,” the sultry “I Want a Clean Shaven Man” (which contains a snippet of the familiar “Popeye the Sailor Man” refrain), or the brisk “Little Pal,” which proves to be a nice showcase for Lucas’ fleet-fingered picking.

Fleisherei winds up being a sweet stroll down memory lane while still managing to wield a contemporary edge to it.

Gary Lucas will be appearing with Jann Klose on June 17 at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St. NYC. For more information, visit or call 212-239-6200.


Want It In Print?

We now offer matted and framed copies of articles upon request.

Dave Gil de Rubio
In addition to being editor of Massapequa Observer and Hicksville News, Dave Gil de Rubio is a regular contributor to Long Island Weekly, specializing in music and sports features. He has won several awards for writing from Press Club of Long Island (PCLI).

Leave a Reply




PSEG Warns Customers Of Scammers During The Pandemic

A heightened sense of uncertainty throughout the world is emboldening phone scammers.

Meal Kits Available To Home-Bound School Children

Hundreds of home-bound families dependent on the daily meals provided by the schools.

Hope For Treating COVID-19

Medical science is feverishly working to develop and test treatments for COVID-19.

Maintaining Skincare And Fillers During COVID-19

Although dark roots and grays might already be peaking through, the good news is that filler lasts six-to-nine months.

Suozzi To Host Teleconference For Small Businesses Adversely Affected By Coronavirus

Suozzi will be joined by representatives from the SBA and lending institutions who can answer questions from small business owners.

Get Updates Via Email

Enter your email to be updated with all the latest news and special announcements.