St. Vincent and Justin Townes Earle last week joined the growing gang of pop and rock singers recording songs of the 1910s and 1920s for HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” which begins its second season Sept. 25.
The second season opener begins with Kathy Brier singing Irving Berlin’s “After You Get What You Want (You Don’t Want It),” a hit in 1920 for Van and Schenck, which appears on the first “Boardwalk Empire” soundtrack that Elektra is releasing Tuesday (Sept. 13). St. Vincent, in Los Angeles to do promotional performances for public radio station KCRW and Amoeba Records, and Earle had sessions scheduled for this week, missing the cut on the first soundtrack.
The soundtrack, which features songs from seasons one and two, is being released on the heels of the “Boardwalk Empire” being the big winner at Saturday’s seven Creative Arts Emmy Award. The show won seven awards being honored in casting, cinematography, special effects and other categories. The show is up for more awards at Sunday’s Emmy Awards, including best drama and series actor for Steve Buscemi.
The soundtrack features Regina Spektor, Loudon Wainwright III, Leon Redbone, Martha Wainwright and the show’s house band, Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, performing songs made famous by the likes of Eddie Cantor, Sophie Tucker and Ted Lewis in the years when ragtime was giving way to improvised elements in jazz and vaudeville tunes were as big as Broadway hits.
Billy Murray’s “By the Light of the Silv’ry Moon” (From Episode 2 of Season 1):
“It tests the ability of a contemporary singer to render a period sound,” the show’s music supervisor Randall Poster told Billboard.com. “We use Vince and his band top make sure everything looks and sounds right. He lives in this world and in my mind, I always feel safe in his company. He has done music from the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, but this is definitely his sweet spot.”
Giordano, 58, has played this music for half a century, leading the Nighthawks since the early 1970s and he continues to perform weekly on Mondays and Tuesday at New York City’s Sophia’s Ristorante. He also continues to do period work for film (“The Aviator”) and TV, most recently taping an appearance as a wedding band on USA’s “Royal Pains.”
As the show is wrapping up production over the next two weeks, Giordano is heading back to the studio to record “King of the Bungaloos,” which could be the first record to ever feature scat singing, and the 1921 pop tunes “Make Believe,” “Wabash Blues” and “Ma, She’s Making Eyes at Me.” No word yet on who will be the featured singers.
“What Randall is trying to do is getting a new audience for the show by having young folks (sing),” Giordano tells Billboard.com. “It reminds me of ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’ (on Broadway with Daniel Radcliffe). The place is covered in young girls screaming but they’re listening to this wonderful Frank Loesser score. Getting pop stars involved extends the life of this music.”
In addition to Giordano, Adam Green — one half of the Moldy Peaches — and New York Dolls front man David Johansen have recorded songs for the second season that are not on the soundtrack. Poster told Billboard.com that Johansen “channeled Jack Teagarden on ‘Strut Miss Lizzie.’ Bringing people into this world – it’s a gas.”