The Village Stompers were a Dixieland instrumental octet with a flair for pop and other genres that became famous during the early 1960s. They are best known for the playful yet haunting "Washington Square" (1963), a catchy blend of folk music and jazz with a plucky banjo main melody and a rousing New Orleans funeral procession-like brass coda.
Formed in early 1963 in New York City's Greenwich Village and first known as Frank Hubbell & The Hubb-Caps, the band's lineup consisted of Dick Brady (trombone), Ralph Casale (banjo), Don Coates (piano), Mitchell May (woodwinds), Al McManus (drums), Lenny Pogan (guitar), trumpeter Frank Hubbell (October 6, 1931 - November 10, 2018), and clarinetist Joe Muranyi (January 14, 1928 - April 20, 2012). They were signed to Epic Records and soon after renamed The Village Stompers. Casale, who served as banjoist, was a highly sought-after session guitarist with a long career who worked with such bands and artists as The Four Seasons, Simon & Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, and The Turtles. Muranyi later played with the Louis Armstrong All-Stars and went on to become a producer, music critic, and liner-note writer.
The Village Stompers debuted in late 1963 with the Bob Goldstein-penned "Washington Square," which topped the Adult Contemporary chart and reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. This Grammy-nominated smash, which also topped the charts in Japan, peaked in popularity during the week that President John F. Kennedy's assassination took place (November 22, 1963) and was one of the most widely-heard songs on the radio at that time. The Village Stompers also had minor hits with their Dixieland-styled remakes of the movie themes, "From Russia With Love" (1964) and "Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines" (1965), as well as "Fiddler On The Roof" (1964), the title song from the Broadway musical. Other hits included "The La-Dee-Da Song" (1964) and their renditions of such traditional pop standards as "Oh! Marie" (1964) and "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" (1965).
The Village Stompers toured and recorded actively through 1967 before finally disbanding, releasing seven albums. Many years later, the band's signature song, "Washington Square," was featured in the final episode of the 2020 HBO TV horror crime drama miniseries, "The Outsider."
- Waybackattack.com pays tribute to The Village Stompers.
- Veteran session guitarist Ralph Casale discusses his many career highlights in an interview with Carl Wiser of Songfacts.com (October 19, 2011).
- The Guardian remembers Village Stompers clarinetist Joe Muranyi.
- Usobit.com remembers Village Stompers trumpeter Frank Hubbell.
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The Village Stompers
- Washington Square 1963
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