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Sing along with your favorites, for a good cause

John Graves will be featured on the keyboard at the upcoming PSAC sponsored Sing-Along with Broadway Show Tunes fund-raiser that will be held Thursday, Jan. 28, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Pagosa Pub Works Brewpub.

Tickets are available at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, Higher Grounds and Pagosa Pub Works Brewpub.

John Graves was born in Porterville, Calif., in 1928, and was writing songs and playing piano for school and vaudeville-type shows at the age of 8, with his first professional engagement coming six years later. 

Through the World War II years, John’s high school dance band had a corner on most of the dances in Tulare County, since all the other musicians had been drafted.  His other early professional musical experiences were with former big band jazz players who were too old for the service.  (This is where he learned many of the some 3.000 songs now included in his request book, “The Memory Flogger”.)

Upon graduating from The College of the Pacific, John went to Los Angeles to try starting a career in broadcasting.  When his money ran out, he went on the road with a small comedy band, replacing Stan Freberg.  Besides playing for dancing, the band did three floor shows a night, and Graves was featured as a dead-pan comedian.  After a tour with Rick Fay’s Krazy Kats, he settled in Los Angeles and started a family while earning a living playing in piano bars.

Since his efforts to break into broadcasting had been unsuccessful, he finally decided to start at the very bottom, and became a page at NBC.  Six months later he was selecting recorded background music for Matinee Theater daily dramas, followed by an eight-year stint as an NBC Broadcast Standards Program policy editor (so-called censor).  This led to the position which had become his goal:  manager of film programs, where he supervised for NBC such shows as Bonanza, I Dream of Jeannie, Ironside, The Man from Uncle, Then Came Bronson, The Debbie Reynolds Show, The Monkees, and a series shot in London called The Strange Report.

In 1970 the management changed at MGM-TV and Graves moved over to become director of current programming.  He was the executive in charge of the award-winning Medical Center, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, GE Monogram Documentaries, and several syndicated talk shows.  Since executive regimes at this level tend to change about every two years, 1972 gave him the opportunity to become a producer.  He helmed Assignment Vienna, with Robert Conrad, an eight-hour miniseries filmed on location in Vienna, Austria, for MGM-TV and the ABC Television Network.

The newly-formed South Australian Film Corporation was looking for someone with network, major studio, and international experience to head up their feature film and television division in 1974, and Graves accepted the challenge.  Under his guidance, the corporation made its first major feature success: Peter Weir’s critically acclaimed Picnic at Hanging Rock, of which Graves was executive producer.

Throughout this varied career, he has always played several nights a week as a single pianist, side man, or band leader at private parties, including affairs for Judy Garland, Groucho Marx, Danny Thomas, and John Wayne.  He has recorded, been a staff pianist at KLAC-TV and on the first Betty White show, was musical director for the Gloria Hart Show on KLAC-TV, and has accompanied such artists as George Burns, June Christy, Rosemary Clooney, Rudy Vallee, Redd Foxx, and Jimmy Durante.

In 1981 Graves enrolled in a graduate program at California State University at Northridge with the goal of teaching upon getting his master’s degree in mass communication. After 10 gratifying years as an associate professor in the Communication Department at the University of Central Missouri, he retired to Pagosa Springs in 1996.

Following is the list of PSAC Sing-Along tunes that will be featued at the fund-raiser.

Show tunes

Accentuate the Positive

Ain’t Misbehavin’

As Time Goes By

Blue Moon

Cabaret

Delovely

Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

Embraceable You

Give My Regards to Broadway

Hello Dolly

I Could Have Danced All Night

I Can’t Give You Anything But Love

I Get a Kick Out  of You

I Got Rhythm

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

It Had To Be You

It’s Only a Paper Moon

Mame

Meet Me In St. Louis

Mister Sandman

Moon River

Music, Music, Music

New York, New York

Oh what a Beautiful Morning

Old Man River

On the Street Where You Live

Over the Rainbow

Singing in the Rain

Some Enchanted Evening

Summertime

Swanee

S’wonderful

There’s No Business Like Show  Business

’Til There Was You

Toot, Toot, Tootsie

You Made Me Love You

 Old favorites

 Ain’t She Sweet

Always

Baby Face

The Band Played On

Beer Barrel Polka

Bill Bailey

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

Bye, Bye, Blackbird

Chattanoogas Choo Choo

Danny Boy

Darktown Strutters’ Ball

Down by the Old Mill Stream

Doodle De Do

Five Foot Two

For Me and My Gal

Goody Goody

Heart of My Heart

Home on the Range

I Don’t Know Why

I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Let the Rest of the World Go By

My Blue Heaven

My Wild Irish Rose

Oh Susanna

Sentimental Journey

Shanty Town

Shine On Harvest Moon

Side by Side

Yes Sir, That’s My Baby

You Are My Sunshine

Your Cheating Heart

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

When It’s Springtime in the Rockies

Whiffenpoof Song