Ginger's Blog...Snips from The Schnappes

Ginger and The Schnappes Album of Original Songs: Social Music  


Social Music - The Album by Ginger and The Schnappes  

Congratulate us! Ginger and The Schnappes has officially released our first album! It’s 10 songs - all originals! Yup, that’s right, we wrote the music, wrote the words, improvised the solos, created the whole experience. We are very proud of this collection of swing tunes, jump tunes, beautiful ballads, latiny rhythms and even a New Orleans style song. The tunes make you want to dance, tap your toes, listen, and share it with your friends.  That’s the most important part - share it with your friends.   

These tunes are engaging, take the song 309 for instance.  It’s about all the quirky and fun places along PA Route 309 from Philadelphia to Tunkhannock.  If you’re from around here you’ll know those stops and end up sharing your own stories of trips along that road.   

The tunes Chrome Dome and Double Stop are big swing tunes, perfect for asking the person next to you to dance -  yes, dance - an activity CoVID took from us for a while but public health and science has now restored! 

The nostalgia in Drunk and Dreamy, the longing in A-Strollin’ On By, the sadness in Lament are emotions known to anyone who has been around long enough to have fallen in love at least once.  Listen to these songs by yourself in a crowd through your headphones or coddled by a group of friends, you are not alone in knowing these emotions.  

Pardon Me is cute and reflective (“How ‘bout for now I meditate but wait, first can I bum a cigarette?”), Prosecco, like the bubbly little drink itself, is light and fun (“Have a bellini made with Prosecco, not be a meanie share your Prosecco”),  Magic Thread is full of passion (“Desperate times call for desperate measures, what this old world needs is more rhinestones and feathers”)  and On Veut Faire La Fête is just a plain ol’ good time (dancin’ in the street, you can feel her heat!).  

We’ve taken all these human emotions and desires and wrapped them in some cool jazz chords and riffs and neatly placed them all in one tight little LP and called it Social Music.  Yes, the name of the album is Social Music.  Here’s why: 

                    MILES DAVIS: I don't like that word "jazz." 

                    INTERVIEWER: You don't? What would you call it? 

                    MILES DAVIS: I think social music. All the social melodies out in the air.  

                    1982. Bryan Gumbult interview with Miles Davis 

Melodies in the air, music for people to experience together and create a community around. Music to tickle the emotions and make the listeners want to talk to the people around them and share what that music just stirred inside them.  Music that is accessible to anyone who is listening, actively or casually, and gives the soul a little nudge.  That is social music in general, and our Social Music in particular.  

Social Music - How It Feels 

Social music is listening to the stereo, the cassette player, the radio, the concert or a streaming device with others and experiencing the music together.  “Shh, listen, this is my favorite part,” and now your favorite part becomes your friend’s favorite part.  Social music is shared.  Was there ever a better expression of your love for someone then to hand them your personally curated mix-tape? “Here, share my universe with me.” Streaming services, allowing us to experience music in our own personal cocoons of earbuds and headphones, still give us the power to share our feelings about the music with the world, “I hereby give this tune 5 stars!” or “this music deserves to live - thumbs up!” These media all allow people to feel something and share the experience and that’s social music.  But if you really want to experience social music in all its glory then come to a Ginger and The Schnappes show! 

A thin ribbon of emotion wrapped in sound waves forms when the musicians begin to play.   The musical ribbon emerges from between the guitar strings, through the fret holes of the bass, in and out the sax keys, between the piano’s hammers and strings, twirls along the drum sticks, brushes the singer’s throat then floats into the crowd. Like a soft breeze the ribbon of music enfolds the crowd, touches each person and transforms an audience into a community through a shared musical experience.    

Ginger and The Schnappes is a jazz band - an accessible, entertaining, engaging jazz band,.  We create a sense of belonging and community with our music and want to invite you to listen, experience and join us as together we all get nicely tangled up in the ribbon of our Social Music.  

Driving Up Route 309   

Ginger and her 1939 Packard-Brunn limousine.  Yes, Ginger actually drives it!

Joe Mixon, our guitarist and musical director, grew up near Tamaqua, a small town about one and half hours north of Philadelphia on PA Route 309.  My husband, Jay Brew, grew up in Conyngham, a small town about two hours north of Philadelphia also near PA Route 309.  Jay’s family has been living along Route 309 since it was just a trail taken by the Minsi Native Americans.  There is even a street named for his grandfather in Tamaqua - Brew Street.  

When Joe and Jay found out their personal histories shared Route 309 they developed a kindredness, like two people from the same small town accidentally meeting while traveling overseas.  They’d good-naturedly quiz each other on the minor landmarks and out-of-the-way places to eat (like Leiby’s), and had a friendly competition to see who knew the quirkiest thing about the towns that collect along 309. Towns with names that reflect the people who lived in the area, names like Gwynedd, Ontelaunee, and Neffs. Historic things have happened along 309, like the discovery of anthracite, the Molly Maguires and Einstein the Snow Camel walking along the highway in a 2019 snowstorm (true story!). 

309 can be the fastest way to get some place when it’s a smooth flowing six lane highway or a drudgery to drive when you’re stuck behind a truck wheezing along a two lane portion.  It’s well known by everyone in this part of Pennsylvania and important enough to have its own Wikipedia page.   Every member of the band has their, “I was driving up Route 309 when…” story so we couldn’t resist writing a song about this iconic highway and the places along the way.   


Music by Joe Mixon 

Lyrics by Ginger Brew 

© 2020 Mixon Brew Music, LLC 


Starting out in Phil-a-del-phi-a  

Gonna take this highway all the way. 

Got the pedal to the metal, got the wind in my hair         

Driving up  Route, 309.                    


Perkasie and Q’town,   

Dorney Park before the sun goes down.  

Trucks on 78 that’s the part that I hate 

When driving up Route 309.


Oh, past hex signs painted with distelfink,  

The Little Schuylkill River where I’ll stop for a drink, 

Appalachian Trail  and Nesquehoning Ridge, 

Stop for Lieby’s pie 

Then Senapes pizza pie 

Hazelton’s nearby  

       In McAdoo I know a guy.   


Left on Mahantongo Street 

Drink a Yuengling and scrapple to eat. 

Hoagies, perogies I can have my fill 

When driving 309.  


Starting out in Phil-a-del-phi-a                

Gonna take this highway all the way. 

Got the pedal to the metal, got the wind in my hair

Driving up  Route 309.   


                                    (Too bad we left this stanza out of the recorded version, it’s kinda cute!)                                   

Jim Thorpe used to be Mauch Chunk 

Where they’d mine coal in big hunks. 

In Tamaqua plant your feet on Brew Street 

You’ll be on 309.  


Oh, past hex signs painted with distelfink  

The Little Schuylkill River where I’ll stop for a drink  

Appalachian Trail and Nesquehoning Ridge 

Stop for Leiby’s pie 

Then Senapes pizza pie 

Hazelton’s nearby  

In McAdoo I know a guy! 


Wilkes Barre’s on the way  

Watch the farm team for the Penguins play 

When I reach Tunkhannock, I’ll need a mechanic 

After driving 309 



(Band)    (Driving 309) 

(spoken)  Sally-Starr’s from New Tripoli 

(Band)  (Driving 309) 

(sung)  Dippy eggs in Schnecksville 

(Band)   (Driving 309) 

(spoken) Through Honey Hole and Ginther 

(Band) (Driving 309)         

(sung)   Centralia’s on fire!                           

Driving up Route 309.


On Veut Fair Le Fête - Let’s Party  (Or  "What’s A Nice Bunch of Pennsylvania Musicians Like You Doing Writing A Song Like This? ")  


So Joe walks up to me and he says to me he says, ”Let’s do a song with a New Orleans feel. You know, that second line, Mardi Gras sound.  We’ll call it ‘On Vue Faire Le Fête,’ that’s New Orleans French for ‘let’s party.’” 

“Sure!” Says I, “Great idea!”  I knew what he meant, I’d been to NOLA a couple of times, seen the floats and heard musicians in the second line parading through the Vieux Carré for Mardi Gras, been drinking at the Spotted Cat, seen the beaded and drunk on Bourbon Street, peeked through a shotgun house, ate po’ boys and king cake, smeared beignet sugar and grease on my lap, drank a julep while waving a parasol, listened to cigar box guitars, felt a voodoo shiver down my spine.  “Let’s do this!” 

Joe got the inspiration to write a song with this sound after playing When The Saints Go Marching In with our drummer, Vern Mobley.  Vern is an extremely accomplished drummer and, even though he is just one guy, he can replicate that syncopated beat and shifting pattern of accents created by two or more drummers in a second line.  Joe also plays steel drums in The Big Wahu Caribbean band and is no stranger to the Caribbean rhythms that sneak into second line drumming. There you go, we had a strong foundation for the New Orleans sound  - a second line rhythm.   

Drumming makes the second line and the second line defines the New Orleans sound but you need the brass featured in the first line of the parade to fully create the sound.  Big, bold brass with phrasing and form that gives that march-y feel.  So, we created a brass band courtesy of our very own Dan Twaddell, who expertly blew on the alto sax, our friend Rob Stonebeck, who generously agreed to play some terrific trombone and, believe it or not, our own bassist, Brian Bortz, who dusted off his high school trumpet, to fill out our brass band sound.  We added in a little jazz influence and gave those horns some space to solo and -  voilà! - we had ourselves a big brass band!  

OK, now my turn, I have to put some fancy icing on this cakewalk and make the pretty words. Words that invoke the “joie de vivre” and “laissez le bon temps rouler” attitude of New Orleans and her music. Done.  

Next, put it all together in a giant stew-pot called Spectra Sound Recording Studio, allow master chef Jim McGee to mix it all up with just the right amount of piano from Pat Kerssen and bass from Brian Bortz and - again, voilà! -  Ginger and The Schnappes is paying homage to jazz’s musical roots by creating this Pennsylavnia-based gumbo, On Vue Faire Le Fête!

Bon appetit! - GB 

On Veut Fair Le Fête (Let’s Party) 

Music by Joe Mixon 

Lyrics by Ginger Brew 

(C)2020 Mixon Brew Music, LLC 

Ol’ New Orleans, rice and red beans, 

                                             Mardi gras queens, you know what that means.                                           

On veut fair le fête  

And now you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. 


Party of your dreams, bursting at the seams. 

Purple gold and green, you know what that means. 

On veut faire le fête  

And it’s the best time you’ve had yet. 



On veut faire le fête! On veut faire le fête!  

On veut faire le fête! On veut faire le fête! 


Madame Yvette, never upset, 

Could be sad and yet, Madame doesn’t fret. 

On veut fair le fête with all the men that she has met. 


Les bon temps rouler in the vieux carré 

Where you’ll hear her say, “Take me all the way!” 

On veut faire le fête and then we’ll have our tête-à-tête. 



On veut faire le fête! On veut faire le fête!  

On veut faire le fête! On veut faire le fête! 


Madame Fifi had a joie de vivre. 

Dancing in the street you can feel her heat.  

On veut faire le fête and if it rains she’ll get wet. 

Rings on bare feet, splashing to the beat. 

Never takes a seat, does not stop to eat. 

On veut faire le fête and I will dance with you my pet. 



On veut faire le fête! On veut faire le fête!  

On veut faire le fête! On veut faire le fête! 



On veut faire le fête and I will dance with you my pet. 

On veut faire le fête and if it rains we’ll get wet. 

On veut faire le fête and it’s the best time you’ve had yet. 

On veut faire le fête and now you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! 


P.S. Head to the "Buy Music" section of the website to download/stream the song!


Playing With The Old Songs 

Ginger and The Schnappes is made up of 5 great musicians and 1 great vocalist: 

(L to R) Brian Bortz on bass, Joe Mixon on guitar, Dan Twaddell on sax and flute, Ginger Brew on vocals, Patrick Kerssen on keyboard, Vern Mobley on drums.

I love the old jazz standards.  It’s the clever lyrics that really draw me in.  I love the word play and the imagery suggested by these songs.  Sometimes, though, as clever as the songs are, they are dated.  The references don't quite hit home because they’re just not relevant anymore. You can usually still get the gist of the cleverness but the impact is not the same as when you live the references daily. 

That’s how I felt about the great jazz standard, The Lady Is A Tramp by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart.  Written in 1937, it’s about a down-to-earth woman who bucks the latest trends so gets labeled “a tramp” by her small minded “friends.”  Some of the references still make sense,


I get too hungry for dinner at eight

... I never bother with people I hate.


but some are kind of a stretch for today’s listeners:  


I go to Coney, the beach is divine, 

I go to ballgames, the bleachers are fine, 

I follow Winchell and read every line. 

That's why the lady is a tramp. 


The food at Sardi's is perfect, no doubt, 

I wouldn't know what the Ritz is about, 

I drop a nickel and coffee comes out. 

That's why the lady is a tramp.  


It’s very well done but, nowadays, who is going to feel the impact of going to Coney Island for a beach day, sitting on bleachers at a professional baseball game and reading Walter Winchell’s column? Sardi’s is not the hot spot it once was, the Ritz-Carlton of today is not the Ritz of the 1930’s and the last automat in New York closed in 1991. So all these clever references are missing the mark in 2021.  

It’s still a well composed song with a clever premise and the band wanted to keep doing it.  So, with apologies to Mr Hart, I updated some of the examples in this great list song and put my own Jersey/Philly spin on it.   Ginger and The Schnappes now performs Lady is A Tramp as part of our regular repertoire -  It’s a lot of fun to sing and we get some laughs from the audience.  Enjoy! 

I get too hungry for dinner at eight,   
I go to NASCAR Yeah I think it’s great,  

I never bother with people I hate. 

That's why the lady is a tramp. 


I don’t have CoVID but still wear a mask, 

I’ll stay six feet, you don’t have to ask,  

My hands are clean, keep Purell in my flask. 

That’s why the lady is a tramp.   


  I love all my friends, no matter their race. 

  Live life with grace, 

  No bucks? Aw, shucks! 


And for the Eagles I whistle and stamp, 

That's why the lady is a tramp. 


I don’t like Twitter it’s so full of Jive, 

I can eat gluten and I don’t get hives,
I crave my cell phone, but not when I drive. 

That's why the lady is a tramp. 


My favorite people are dogs and felines, 

I missed the wedding Prince William won't mind, 

I think Kardashians got ugly behinds. 

That’s why the lady is a tramp. 


            I like to hang my hat wherever I please. 

Sail with the breeze. 

No dough? Heigh-ho! 

    I’m from New Jersey and think it’s the champ. 

That's why the lady is a tramp. 



Why Ginger and The Schnappes Play The Great American Song Book 

Ginger and The Schnappes is a band made up of 5 great musicians - Joe Mixon on guitar, Brian Bortz on bass, Vern Mobley on drums, Pat Kerssen on keyboard, Dan Twaddell on sax and flute - and me, Ginger Brew on vocals.

Ginger and The Schnappes is made up of 5 great musicians and 1 great vocalist:

(L to R) Brian Bortz on bass, Joe Mixon on guitar, Dan Twaddell on sax and flute, Ginger Brew on vocals, Patrick Kerssen on keyboard, Vern Mobley on drums.

Everyone contributes their musical ideas to the band but somebody has to be the chief-cook-and-bottle-washer and that someone is me and "I'm just Ginger Brew!"

Since it’s “my band” I get to pick a lot of the music we play and I always pick songs with the cleverest and juiciest lyrics from The Great American Songbook. I love to wrap my teeth and tongue around the sassy lyrics and smart rhymes typical of these songs.  It’s these terrific words, these yummy sounds and the feelings they create that made me want to sing in the first place.

Unlike Joe and the other musicians in the band, I don’t hear music and think, “Wow, what a great sound! I have to learn to play this!” Instead, I hear music all wrapped around the words and think,  “Wow, what a great medium for transporting words! I have to learn to sing this!”   To my ear, music makes poetic language more enjoyable to vocalize and more impactful to hear compared to straight spoken language.  "I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree"... but add a melody and make it swing and now that poem's a song and that, to me, is a very lovely thing!

Of all the ways to marry words and music, I don’t think any style of music does it better than the jazz standards found in the body of music called the Great American Songbook. These songs, written from the 1920’s to about the 1960’s, have something for everyone.  First, they have great music.  The tunes are catchy with great melodies and interesting chords that allow the musicians to stretch them a million different ways.  Play them up, play them down, make them latin, improvise the hell out of them, it doesn't matter.  These tunes are so well composed you can bend them anyway you want and they still sound great. 

Second thing these songs have going for them are lyrics, really great lyrics.  Lyrics that are clever and bright and fun.  Lyrics that make you laugh, blush and ponder.  Lyrics that take the great themes of the human condition and boil them down into tight little brilliant nuggets that feel like velvety fine chocolate melting in your mouth when sung.  How can you resist singing about: 

A woman who missed out on true love and replaced it with superficial fun in alliteration: 

          Diamonds shining, dancing, dining with some man in a restaurant, is that all you really want?
From "Sophisticated Lady." Lyrics by Irving Mills, Music by Duke Ellington 

The comic inevitability of falling in love: 

          Come the measles, you can quarantine the room, come a mousy, you can chase it with a broom,
          Come love, nothing can be done. 
           From, "Comes Love."   Lyrics by Lew Brown and Charles Tobias, Music by Sam Stept

Picking yourself up, and I mean up: 

         My fur coat sold, oh Lord ain’t it cold, but I ain't gonna holler ’cuz I still got a dollar
         And when I get low, woe, woe, woe, I get high.  
         From, "When I Get Low I Get  High." Words and Music by Marion Sunshine

More on the inevitability of love, this time with a naughty undertone: 

          Electric eels I might add do it, though it shocks them I know. Why ask if shad do it? 
          Waiter, bring me shad roe.  Let’s do it, Let’s fall in love.  
From, "Let's Do It."  Words and Music by Cole Porter

A comical lesson on the dangers of infidelity, modestly described as 'whoopee': 

          He doesn’t make much money, only five thousand per.   
          Some judge who thinks he’s funny says, “You will give six to her.”  
          He says, “now judge, suppose I fail?”  
          The judge says, “Bud, right into jail.”  
          You’d better keep her, I think it’s cheaper than making whoopee.  
           From, "Making Whopee." Lyrics by Gus Kahn, Music by Walter Donaldson 

The excitement of getting ready for a hot date along with a terrific rhyme using ‘boutonniere’: 

          Gotta get a half a buck somewhere, gotta shine my shoes and slick my hair,
          Gotta get myself a boutonniere, Lulu’s back in town.  
           From, "Lulu's Back in Town."   Lyrics by Al Dubin, Music by  Harry Warren

These lyrics are fun, smart, well written and then encased in a delicious coating of unforgettable melodies and chords. Of course Ginger and The Schnappes plays these songs!   -GB



Facebook Feed