Found Performance: “Washington Square” – Village Stompers

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In 1963 I was’t yet glued to the radio. So at the time I didn’t hear “Washington Square” by the Village Stompers. But in retrospect, it became one of my favorite instrumentals of the sixties. Sure, we had Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass and The Ventures, each with strings of instrumental hits, but this banjo prominent number rang my chimes.

The Village Stompers played mainly dixieland jazz and they hailed from Greenwich Village in New York City. “Washington Square” was their first and biggest hit. In 1963, it reached #1 on the Adult Contemporary Chart and #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart. “Washington Square” was at its peak when President Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963. Other records that charted for The Village Stompers included “From Russia with Love,” “The Bridge of Budapest,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “Moonlight on the Ganges.”

This video was not easy to locate. I’d had my eye out for such a performance for about five years. This TV appearance on the “The Mike Douglas Show” is from 1967, four years after the hit. The best known incarnation of the band, from its earlier days, consisted of Dick Brady, Don Coates, Ralph Casale, Frank Hubbell, Lenny Pogan, Al McManus, Mitchell May, and Joe Muranyi. Frank Hubbell is present here playing the trumpet, but it seems the other original hit-makers had gone their separate ways.

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Steven Smith

Author: Steven Smith

Presently editor and historical writer with Puget Sound Media in Seattle. Former radio broadcaster and radio station owner, 1970-1999. Journalism and speech communications degrees. I enjoy researching articles and online reporting that allows me to meld together words, audio and video. P.S. I appreciate and encourage reader comments and opinions.

11 thoughts on “Found Performance: “Washington Square” – Village Stompers

    1. So…was that considered to be Dixieland-retro music?…1963 was a real grab-bag of different pop music…these guys made it in under the wire, just before the Beatles revolutionized popular music…I liked it ok, but enjoyed more the one-hit rhythm and blues-type tunes, and rockers, that were kinda popular just before the British Invasion….you know, things like Wild Weekend, by the Rock Rebels, Underwater, by the Frogmen, Jupiter C by Pat and the Starfires….the list goes on…over the years, I have managed to download these types of tunes, and crank them loudly on my car CD player…much to the chagrin of my passengers!

      1. Jack…I first heard it when my dad bought a stereo in 1966. Big deal for the family. And he bought all these Hawaiian records, although he never went to Hawaii, and a record by Spike Jones Jr….who actually did music with some comedy vs. the outright comedy of his dad. Anyway, on the album was this and Alley Cat. I did not hear the original until years later and it was much the same. I think it was Dixieland-pop.

    1. That hit by The Impalas was so meaningful to me, in 1959, as I was playing Little League baseball, trying to indeed “run all the way home”!…a couple more favorites…It was I (Skip and Flip). A Rose and a Baby Ruth (George Hamilton IV)..and a couple of NW hits…JAJ (Dynamics, with a future jazz musician, Larry Coryell, on guitar), Tall Cool One (The Fabulous Wailers), so many more from that era!..If you Google History of NW Rock, there are a couple of websites that list many hundreds of local groups that existed around that special time, 1958-64 or so…We did not know it, but we were so fortunate to have such a rich pool of music coming from our own localities!

  1. Although The Village Stompers were designated a Dixieland/Jazz ensemble, they were basically just another aspect to the Folk Revival thing happening in the early 60s in Greenwich Village that attracted folk singers like Dave Von Ronk, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and a very young Bob Dylan. In reality, the Revival also included other aspects of early American music including Bluegrass, The Clancy Brothers with their brand of Irish folk, Odetta and The Lost City Ramblers. The Village Stompers fit right in with the wide range of folky musicians in the Village. Another folk act, The Rooftop Singers, had a #1 hit with “Walk Right In” in ’63 … so the genre was still hangin’ in there on the Pop charts.

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