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Fridays are the day when we at the McElrath Cabaret Blog present blog posts in our Cabaret Through Time series. We present historical cabaret singers, entertainers, venues, writers, and musicians, and often include cabaret videos. We hope that you find it informative!
Martha Davis and Spouse–A Piano- and Bass-Playing Duo
Martha Davis and Spouse was the name of a musical comedy act consisting of Martha Davis on piano and her husband, Calvin Ponder who played bass. Both sang, and were noted for their rhythm and blues style. (Fats Waller was an early influence on Ms. Davis, and her piano playing reflected this.)
There are some online sources of information regarding Martha Davis and Spouse, which include Wikipedia, an entry by Dave Penny that appears on the website RockabillyEurope.com, and a quite detailed review of their work and recordings on WeirdWildRealm.com. MP3s of their work are available on Amazon.com, and Discogs.com lists the songs on their album named after their act. Another overview of Martha Davis is available on the website theendofbeing.com. AllMusic.com offers some song samples featuring Martha Davis, and there are several YouTubes with Martha Davis currently available. James Gavin in Intimate Nights also has a brief mention of Martha Davis and Spouse’s engagement at The Blue Angel.
They were in their musical performance heyday during the late 1940s and into the 1950s, and worked in the Blue Angel nightclub in New York City. The website Theendofbeing.com lists Martha Davis as a high school classmate of Nat King Cole, and as Davis being a pioneer of “roots rock, jump jazz and jump blues.” One of the duo’s most successful songs was entitled “Little White Lies,” and was written by Walter Donaldson. According to Wikipedia, the duo began recording in 1948, but stopped recording for much of the 1950s, and didn’t resume until 1957. This was likely due to the popularity of the duo act, which they toured around the country. They also worked in film, appearing in Smart Politics with Gene Krupa, as well as in several variety films. They appeared on television, including Garry Moore’s daytime variety show called The Garry Moore Show.
Martha Davis is known as one of the musicians who bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll. Here is one of the duo’s signature songs, “Martha’s Boogie”:
And here’s Martha Davis and Spouse appearing in 1956 on the Perry Como Show, where you get to hear a bit from their Blue Angel show and she sings with Como:
A fun performance of the song called “Goodbye”:
Another song that Martha Davis made famous in the 1950s was called “Vip-I-Ty Vip-I-Ty Vop.” She really shows off her acting skills and sense of humor along with phenomenal piano skills–these are skills that modern-day cabaret entertainers would do well to hone for their own shows:
Had you heard of Martha Davis and Spouse? Which recordings of the duo’s songs do you like the most and why? Let us know in the comments below–we love to hear from you!
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Till next time,
ps–The Cabaret Soiree Link Party will begin anew on Monday–you can visit anytime to click on the links and see what others have posted, or you can share your own recent cabaret blog or website link every Monday through Thursday. Link is below.
Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:
Tuesdays: Cabaret Tip Tuesday
Wednesdays: Ask A Cabaret Question
Thursdays: Featured Cabaret Blog, Website, Performer
Fridays: Cabaret Through Time