Nevada City, CA — Mario Biscotti of Nevada City is upset, and it’s all because of a local band’s name. “They’re trying to pull a fast one,” he exclaimed on the phone. “When I first heard them I was smitten. I mean I love old jazz, especially Dixieland. Who doesn’t?”
Mr. Biscotti continued. “Their name is Earls of Newtown, and I was so excited the first time I heard them. Not only was their music great, but here were eight members of the aristocracy right here in Nevada City!” His enthusiasm intensified. “And who knew that Brits were into ragtime?”
The Earles of Newtown, according to their website, “swing and sway through a time machine of American dance music ranging through Dixieland jazz, classic ragtime, country swing, wailing blues and genre-defying originals.”
Mr. Biscotti kept going. “I had to find out more” he persisted. “I wanted to see where in England they were from. A place called Newtown, so wonderful it had eight earls, and all of them musicians!” he rasped. “There’s a Newtown in Derbyshire, and another in Exeter, and a third in Kent. I contacted them all, but none of them had any earls, let alone ones in a band” he exclaimed. “It’s a ruse, I tell you. These guys are nothing but commoners!”
I looked into his story and realized that this wasn’t the first time jazz musicians claimed to be of noble blood. There was Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Nat “King” Cole to name just a few that come to mind. I asked Robert X. Trent of Nevada City his opinion of this kerfuffle. “They’re not blue blood,” he grinned, “they’re blue collar!”
I decided it was time to call the band and ask for an explanation. The band’s PR guy was dismissive. “The boys don’t claim to be peers” he explained. “Earle is our musical director’s first name, that’s all”.