IN HEAVEN THERE IS NO BEER!


The joys of drinking beer are many and varied, from
quenching one’s thirst with a frosted mug of
“lawnmower beer”, to relaxing by the fire with a glass
of old ale, to pouring from pitchers of draught while
playing shuffleboard in the local tavern. For pure
enjoyment, a glass of beer is unsurpassed as a way
to put aside the cares of the day and needs nothing
in addition to complete the experience, though the
pleasure is often enhanced by the addition of a good
meal or just a handful of peanuts or bag of pretzels.


But not everything to broaden the drinking experience
needs to be ingested. Beer and music go together
very well indeed, and as varied as are the styles of
beer, so are the types of music that pair with those
styles.


Country music has been the best example of how
beer relates to music. Cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon or
Schlitz just seem to fit so well with the sounds
emanating from Southern jukeboxes. They probably
don’t serve too many matinis, olive, straight up in
Luckenbach, Texas. The glass in Webb Pierce’s “There
Stands the Glass” (…it’s my first one today) more
likely contained Dixie Lager than Remy Martin, and
Johnny Cash reminds us that it doesn’t necessarily
have to be twelve o’clock somewhere in order to enjoy
a brew. The beer he had for breakfast wasn’t bad so
he had one more for dessert, as explained in “Sunday
Morning Coming Down”. That country star Hank
Thompson was the best example of the relationship
between country music and beer is best
demonstrated by the titles of his hits:

1. “On Tap, In the Can, or In the Bottle”

2.( I’ve got time for one for the road and a )
“Six Pack To Go”

3. “What Made Milwaukee Famous “ (has made a
loser out of me)

4 “Bubbles in my Beer”

5. “Oklahoma Home Brew”

6. “A Broken Heart and a Glass of Beer”

And my own particular favorite: ( there’s no place that
I’d rather be than right here with my “Red Neck,
White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer”

In the seventies, Tom T. Hall explained why beer and
country music are such a perfect match with his great
tune, “I Like Beer”. (Whiskey’s too rough, champagne
costs too much, and vodka puts my mouth in gear….
so let me explain, with this simple refrain, as a matter
of fact I like beer)


But country isn’t the only music that pairs well with
suds. Nothing makes a pitcher of beer go down
smoother than listening to Stella Kowalski and her
Polka Five banging out “The Beer Barrel Polka” in the
back room of an American Legion hall, or pounding
the tables to the Polkaholics frenzied rendition of “In
Heaven There is no Beer”


Although most devotees of classical music would more
likely be wine snobs, even in this genre beer raises it’s
beautiful head. I never tire of watching Edmund
Purdom mouth the unbelievable tenor of Mario Lanza
singing “Drink, Drink, Drink”, while hoisting a liter
stein in the movie version of Sigmund Romberg’s,
“The Student Prince”. And , yes, it’s tough to view
that scene without such a stein in one’s hand! My
favorite foray into the world of classical music and
beer occurs every Christmas eve, when the rest of the
family has retired after returning from Midnight Mass.
I sit by the tree and slowly sip Anchor’s Special Ale
while listening to The Nutcracker Suite. For that half
hour , life seems perfect!


Songs of brew even extend to children. Of course
they can’t drink it, but how many kids have not
returned from a class trip singing “99 Bottles of Beer
on the Wall” in the back of the bus?( Today that
would be politically incorrect and the kids would have
to submit to counseling before returning to class)

As quickly as the Irish lapse into poetry and break
into fights over pints of Guiness, so do the Germans
break into song over steins of Oktoberfest. There are
literally thousands of German drinking songs that are
incomplete without the hoisting of schteins in addition
to the oompahs.

American breweries have relied heavily on music to
promote their product. “Hey! Getcha cold beer”,
“Schaefer is the one beer to have when you’re having
more than one”, “The Trommer Polka, and “Ah! Ah!
Sittin’ pretty….All together in Schaefer city” are a few
examples of jingles that have become standards in
brewery advertising history. In some cases the jingles
are better known than their origins. How many people
other than Gaslight patrons Augie Helms and Jack
Sweeney and Sigmund Spaeth, the “tune detective” ,
know that “Rheingold is my beer the dry beer”, is
actually Emile Waldteufel’s classical waltz “L’
Estudiantina”, which always sounds better when
accompanied by a glass or two of Rheingold.


Whether or not “rap” (gangsta or otherwise) can be
classified as music is debatable. Whatever it is, I’m
not a fan of it, nor am I a fan of high gravity malt
liquors, however the two certainly seem to be made
for each other.

For over forty years I’ve been a musician in the Aqua
String Band of the Philadelphia Mummers, wearers of
sequins and ostrich plumes and makers of great
banjo playing, beer drinking music. When asked by
people over the years where the name “Aqua” came
from, I relate the truth: In 1919, when the band was
organized on the eve of prohibition, the founders had
no beer with which to toast themselves, (Yeah…….
sure) only water, hence “Aqua”. Over the past 87
years the has always traveled to all of it’s gigs with
generous quantities of brew packed into the bottom
of the bus along with the instruments and backpieces.


Currently , Yuengling’s is the musical staff of life, but
in the past prodigious quantities of Ortlieb’s, Pabst,
and Miller were loaded as fuel for as many as five
consecutive parades on the Fourth of July. For a while
in the seventies we were sponsored by Schmidt’s of
Philadelphia in many parades which featured a Schmidt’
s beer wagon at the end , offering commemorative
glasses with unlimited refills of the” Eeeaasy Beer”. It
required a tremendous effort to induce the bandsman
to board the bus for the ride home. The fresh
draught from the beer wagon tasted so mush better
than the traveled cans on the bus.


The band’s journey to Germany’s Fasching celebration
is a whole beer story in itself, but one anecdote can
be related here as an illustration of the close
relationship between the musical mummers and the
malt beverage. When met by our tour bus in
Luxembourg for our ten day trip through the
Rhineland, we discovered that the trip’s organizer had
been a little too enthusiastic in his preparations for
the tour. Although we managed to cram in the
instruments, there was no room for the luggage due
to the forty cases of Bitburger that had been pre-
ordered and loaded! In heaven there is no beer!!!


Cheers!

Dan
Another two
glasses up
article from
Dan Hodge!
Someone
has to say
these things
and it could
only be
Dan!
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