Saturday, May 17, 2014

Summer style - the seersucker.

 Blue and white striped seersucker blazer, a thin cotton shirt with a blue and slightly pink check, and a pair of selvage denims. Plus a pair of orange socks to add a splash of colour. Pair this with a Lambretta of your choice and you are good to go!

Summer has finally arrived in Sweden. Or at least late spring, which means that the weather is getting a lot warmer. I for one love that, since I do find the cold and dark winter somewhat of a downer. There is one major downside to summer though: for someone who likes to dress smart it get's a lot harder. At least if you don't feel like being soaked in sweat after just an hour outdoors.

Enter - the seersucker! Seersucker is actually not a suit in itself, it is the name of the material - a thin type of cotton, usually but not always in a white and blue (or red) stripe or checkpattern that is woven in a way that makes the threads bunch together and create a wrinkled appearance. That the fabric is rather thin, paired with the wrinkles, is what makes it ideal for a summer suit. It not only breathes, but the structure actually makes the fabric be held of from your skin, allowing air to sweep underneath as well as warmth to escape without causing ugly sweatstains.
Originally from India the materials original name is actually in Hindi: "keer aur shakkar", which means "rice pudding and sugar". It is generally believed to refer to the structure of the fabric, where the smooth cotton parts are the pudding and the "lumps" are the sugar. With time the name has been reformed amongst us westeners until today when it is refered to as seersucker.

Seersucker is used in a lot of things: bedlinen, shirts, towels. But perhaps most famously in suits.  It was the british who first brought it from India. During the colonial days a lot of welldressed gentlemen in places such as British India found the warm and humid conditions a real nuisance and soon enough some of them started fashioning suits of the seersucker fabric in order to be able to dress well and still not turn into a wet puddle of sweat. That the material, being wrinkled even from the start, also made the suits easier to care for in a country where a good drycleaning service probably was rather hard to find made them even more suitable,
These suits followed them over the atlantic, back home, and eventually came to America where they grew especially popular in the southern states where the weather conditions were similar to, and sometimes even more humid than, those in India.

Originally the seersucker suit was considered somewhat of a poor mans suit in the states, but in the 20s they were picked up by the preppy students of the Ivy League-universitys and the rest is history. Today the seersucker is considered an american and british classic and it has been adopted by gentlemen and people into classic fashion all over the world.

Finding a nice seersucker can be a harder task than you'd imagine though. At least if you, like me, are into the more continental and british variations of style. Sure, there are tons of seersucker blazers and suits floating around eBay and such sites, but most of them are way to oversized or does not have the buttoning or rise I prefer. I had been looking for one that appealed to my taste for quite some time when I finally found New Orleans, on our trip there last summer. Where else?
Mine is a Penguin by Munsingwear one and a full suit. I was really glad when I found it because of all the detailing - ticket pocket, slim lapels and working cuff buttonings to name a few. I had a third button added though since it was a two button blazer. Nothing wrong with that (I might even do a 2 vs 3 button-post in the future), but I was not quite pleased with the low rise. Luckily enough the cut of the lapels made it easy for my tailor to sort that out - on most jackets adding a third buttonhole is something that is advised against.
I really like the look off the full suit, but quite often wear the blazer alone and combine it with a pair of lighcoloured trousers or even denim (blue seersuckers are one of the few blazers, apart from the odd tweed-jacket, that actually works worn with jeans in my opinion). That's one other benefit of the seersucker - it can be worn as full suit with shirt (with or without tie) or as a casual blazer/summersjacket. I am actually keeping my eyes out for another one at the moment - preferebly with a red or mintgreen pattern.

So...put on that thin summer shirt, button up your seersucker and get ready for those summerpartys with a nice cocktail in hand!

Song of the day:
Eddie Floyd - Big Bird

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Baracutadash! Or: the fun of being a background DJ.

Some of my friends in Lambretta Club Stockholm dropped by to show of their rides.

One of my absolute favourite brands when it comes to jackets is, and has been for a very long time, Baracuta - the legendary clothesmaker whose most famous garment in the legendary G9 (probably the best looking non formal jacket ever made): the mother of all Harringtons, made famous by the likes of Steve McQueen, James Dean, Elvis Presley, The Clash and just about every casually dressed mod in the 60s. Too name a few.

Lately, I've started a collaboration of sorts with Baracuta (or, to be more precise with the company that handles their resale and promotion in Sweden). However, the details around that are not yet 100% official so I will not tell you more about it until it's all in the clear.

What I can tell you about now though is last wednesdays event in Stockholm. As promotion for this years summer-collection a small party for specially invited guests was held at the store Haberdash after their regular closing time. As a start of our collaboration I had been asked to DJ at the event together with Gustav Bendt, an aquaintance of mine who happens to be part of the same project.

I don't do lounge-DJing, or whatever you should call it, very often. Or maybe I should put it - I don't do it often enough. Theres's something very liberating about not having to care about keeping a dancefloor crowded and get to focus on playing some of your favourite tunes and just keeping the mood nice and sweet instead. Me, my bag of 45s (ok - I did bring some LPs too to be honest) and Gustav had a very nice time behind the turntables and I think the people who showed up, according to the promoters about 150 persons all in all, had one too. On the other hand it's rather hard not too have a nice time when there's great people to talk to, a bunch of scooters parked outside, the clothes on display look great and the good people from Camden Brewery and Hendricks are serving beer and drinks for free. A bit of a bummer that I had to drive home to Eskilstuna after the event due to working at my dayjob the  next morning and therefore couldn't taste one of the great old-fashioneds my DJ-partner happily sipped on, but not a big enough bummer to ruin this otherwise wonderful pre-summer evening.

All in all it was a very pleasent evening and it was great to get to play all of those records I love and listen to at home but that aren't quite fit for a regular night behind the decks at a club or all-nighter. For example I finally got to play that wonderful Georges Raudi Et Son Orchestre-single Stercok that I love so much but that never seems to fit into any of my "normal" sets.
It seems I was not the only who enjoyed it either and that I might get to play those loungier records at other places than my own livingroom some more since I was offered a few other gigs of the same kind in Stockholm later on this year afterwards. A nice side-effect so to speak. No dates are set yet, but I have a feeling you might get to read about it here if, or when, it happens.

Inside of the store, turntables spinning. Sorry about the crappy iPhone-pic - I was too busy spinning to pick up my real camera.
Song of the day:
Georges Raudi Et Son Orchestre - Stercok

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

On the turntable: Ernestine Andersson - You Can't Buy Love.

One of the best things about being into soulmusic is that no matter how much you listen, dig, read and learn, there is still always going to be records and songs you've never heard of before left to find out about. During the heydays of soulmusic the amount of artists that got to record a single was enormous - and a lot of them never made it big. Not necessarily due to them not being as good as the household names (actually quite the opposite in a lot of cases) but more due to a lack of funds, bad luck or simply life getting in the way.

This one, at least for me, is one of those records I had not heard about before stumbling across it one of my local used record-stores. I don't really know what made me give it a chance at the testlistening player (this store is one of the few in town that actually have a turntable so you can listen to the records before you buy them) since Mercury is a rather big label that does not exactly scream "great soul!!!". I did not really know Ernestine Anderson or the song either. Or well, I kind of thought I recognized her name but couldn't place it and for some reason I was sort of expecting to hear a rock'n roll backbeat when dropping the needle.

How wrong was I not? As soon as I heard the first few bars, a fuzzy, almost kind of psych, guitar and the drums and organheavy rhythmsection kicked in I knew that I had stumbled upon something good. And when Ernestines vocals came on I realised that this was right up my alley and even a potential new favourite track. The song, released in 1966, has a almost rhythm 'n bluesy kind of feel to it, yet it is still distinctively soul. It is basically what I would describe as a pure mod-stomper and apparently, it has been getting some plays on the northern soul scene. This was indeed one of those times when taking a chance turned out to be the right thing to do. The flipside, a track called Jerk & Twine, is quite a dancer too.

Who is this Ernestine then? Well, she was born in 1928 and as far as I've been able to find out she is still an active musician (or well - as active as you can be at the age of 86 at least). Apparently she used to be a pretty big name in jazz- and bluescircuits in the 50's and 60's, singing with acts such as Lionel Hampton and Johnny Otis. She even spent quite some time touring sweden and actually recorded her debut album here.

This track however is neither jazz nor blues in my opinon. It is pure classic soul - and great such too.

Song of the day:
Ernestine Anderson - You Can't Buy Love