ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY (2)On February 28, 1943, George Gershwin’s PORGY AND BESS opened on Broadway with Anne Brown and Todd Duncan.

Actually, Gershwin’s first version of the opera, running four hours (counting the two intermissions), was performed privately in a concert version in Carnegie Hall, in the fall of 1935.

I’ve never seen a Broadway show (although there was a time I held season tickets to the Music Theater of Wichita).  In 1943 I wasn’t born yet, so obviously I could not have seen Porgy and Bess on Broadway at that time, but I do like to listen to the songs from this show.

As I was learning to play the piano, as well as playing hymns, once in a while I played show tunes.  This is one of my favorites, but I admit I like “The King & I” and “South Pacific” too.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I like all musicals – on Broadway or off.  I even like some that are way WAY off-Broadway!  Give me a good solid storyline with good solid characters, add a little drama and some snappy music, and I’m hooked!

Porgy and Bess is about the residents of the Charleston tenement known as Catfish Row.  Nobody is rich by any stretch of the imagination, and everyone is struggling to survive.  Porgy is disabled and uses a cart to get around.  Bess has dealings with some shady characters, but eventually seeks shelter with Porgy.  She knows a good guy when she meets him.

Of course, any great show on Broadway is going to be remade on the big screen – and this one definitely made it there – a few times.  The most memorable movie starred Dorothy Dandridge, Sidney Poitier, Brock Peters and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong made a recording of the songs from Porgy and Bess in 1957, but it was held and released along with the 1959 movie.  It’s truly some of Gershwin’s best work, and with a duo like Fitzgerald and Armstrong, how could it have failed?  No way would the album fail.  I love that Gershwin used this subject matter and wrote it as an opera.  It’s pure genius!  I feel the same way about “West Side Story.”   I’d describe either show as oxymoronic, theatrically speaking.  I wish I had a mind like Gershwin – with enough irony and interest to capture the world long enough to watch a four-hour show.  Wow!   Sometimes I can’t get folks to read a ten-second poem I’ve written.  Sigh.

Oh, the plot thickens toward the end…  but just in case you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil the ending for you.  You should rent the 1959 film for movie night this week.  🙂

 

 

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A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (30)

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.  – Psalm 98:1

If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say, “I can’t sing” – I’d be so rich!  If God gave you a voice, sing to Him a new song – not because you have a good singing voice – but because He has done marvelous things!1

Has He blessed you in your life?  Is He worthy of praise?  If you answer yes…  you gotta sing His praises!  If you aren’t comfortable singing in front of people, that’s okay.  Hop in your car and pop in a praise and worship CD – and sing along!  Just don’t close your eyes, cuz…  ya know…  you’re driving.2

I had a praise and worship cassette tape that I walked to for many years.  It had a song on it that was based on this Scripture.

You know what I’d love to see happen???  I would absolutely LOVE to see a Christian Planet Fitness.  I like working out – except for the music.  The new techno-babble “music” that is played is not particularly inspiring while I’m walking on the treadmill.  I know – earbuds and an ipod…  well – yeah in a perfect world I could do that.  Trouble is, it’s not a perfect world and I don’t have earbuds or an ipod.

I have a cassette player and headphones.  That’s how far behind I am.  If you think I’m gonna walk into Planet Fitness with my Walkman and headphones – you are cray cray.  Ain’t happenin’!

beautiful

Let’s start the new year by singing to the Lord!  Sing to Him a new song – a joyful noise – it may be off-key or out of tune, but I don’t see anything in the Bible that says it has to be perfect – just joyful.  🙂

 

 

 

SILENT NIGHT

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So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.  – Luke 2:4-7

Most of us grew up singing this Christmas carol.  It’s like saying the pledge of allegiance or reciting Scripture we’ve learned by heart.  The lyrics just roll off the tongue with little or no thought.  Today I want to make you think about the words of this old carol.  Why was “Silent Night” written?  Why not “Bright Night” – although early in the song it’s mentioned that all is calm and all is…  bright.

On Christmas Eve, 1818, “Stille Nacht!  Heilige Nacht” was heard for the first time in a village church in Oberndorf, Austria.  The voices of the assistant pastor, Father Joseph Mohr, and the choir director Franz Xaver Gruber, rang through the church accompanied by Father Mohr’s guitar.  All the congregation at that Midnight Mass in St. Nicholas Church listened intently.

On all six verses, the choir repeated the last two lines in four-part harmony.  A carol was launched that would soar into the hearts of folks throughout the world.  It’s been translated into hundreds of languages and is sung by untold millions every Christmas from small chapels to great cathedrals around the world.

Keep in mind that this simple tune was written to be played on a guitar.  The effect is so profound because of its simplicity.  It’s as though as lullaby is being sung – and what better accompaniment than a guitar?quiet-time-prayer

Often our Lord speaks to the human heart in a whisper.  Why are we so surprised when it is the soft and simple song that penetrates a hard heart?  Christmas softens most hearts by its very nature because what’s more precious than a baby?  Of course, Christ was not just any child, but He did enter into our world in the same way we as humans do.  It’s the first small bit of common ground He established in order to become a part of humanity.

When I think of what He left behind to begin His mission, I’m so very thankful He decided to follow through…  from cradle to glorious resurrection – for even me.

Take a look at Lucinda’s cute poem about that silent night.

my-christmas-storyIsn’t that cute???  🙂

 

 

 

WE LOVE ELVIS

TL 5-25 WE LOVE ELVISThings are popping in Memphis, Tennessee at Graceland!  August 8-16 is ELVIS WEEK!  There will be all sorts of events and special stuff happening.  For a full schedule and more details, click this link:

https://www.graceland.com/elvisweek/

I’ve been to Graceland and it’s such a memorable experience.  I wasn’t there for Elvis week, but I think it’d be great to be there.  The next best thing would be to hop on this link and do the live stream – yeah!  That’s my plan.

I like the idea of having the children’s karaoke – kids 17 and under are invited to sing their favorite Elvis song.  It’s weird to think that anyone doesn’t know who he was, I mean – the generation right after mine was clueless about Elvis (and most things political – but I digress…) Isn’t it a great idea to keep Elvis alive, so to speak – keep his music alive by having the little ones sing it?  That’s brilliant.

Does anyone else appreciate the “human” side of the legend?  I mean, sometimes we build up a legend until they seem almost more than just human.  I found this quote and thought I’d share it – just to remind us that while yes, Elvis is a legend – he actually was, in reality, very human.

When one of Lisa’s baby teeth fell out here, the tooth fairy left her 50 cents. Another tooth fell out when she was with her father in Las Vegas, and that tooth fairy left her $5. When I told Elvis that 50 cents would be more in line, he laughed. He knew I was not criticizing him; how would Elvis Presley know the going rate for a tooth?  – Priscilla Presley

As you know, my favorite Elvis impersonator is John Coyote.  He’s done some of my favorite Elvis songs and some funny skits.  I hope you enjoy these.

That made me hungry for shrimp…  LOL.

That made me thirsty for…  water – a glass of WATER.  LOL – you thought you caught me, didn’t ‘cha?

Enjoy ELVIS WEEK…  uh huh huh…  uh huh huh!  🙂

 

 

 

 

SATCHMO DAYS

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The legendary Louis “Satchmo Pops” Armstrong is the most recognizable icon in music history.  There’ll never be another like him.  The Satchmo Summerfest will be happening in New Orleans.  There will be music dedicated to the great man himself as well as seminars and great food.  http://www.fqfi.org/satchmo

All music is folk music. I ain’t never heard a horse sing a song.  – Louis Armstrong

Here’s a bit of his book entitled Satchmo:  My Life in New Orleans

“In all my whole career the Brick House was one of the toughest joints I ever played in. It was the honky-tonk where levee workers would congregate every Saturday night and trade with the gals who’d stroll up and down the floor and the bar. Those guys would drink and fight one another like circle saws. Bottles would come flying over the bandstand like crazy, and there was lots of just plain common shooting and cutting. But somehow all that jive didn’t faze me at all, I was so happy to have some place to blow my horn.” So says Louis Armstrong, a tough kid who just happened to be a musical genius, about one of the places where he performed and grew up. This raucous, rich tale of his early days in New Orleans concludes with his departure to Chicago at twenty-one to play with his boyhood idol King Oliver, and tells the story of a life that began, mythically, on July 4, 1900, in the city that sowed the seeds of jazz.

I have a friend who can imitate Louis Armstrong’s distinctive voice and if you were to close your eyes and hear him sing “Hello Dolly” you would not be able to tell it was not the late great Louis Armstrong!  Can my friend play a horn though?  Nope – sorry.

If anybody was Mr. Jazz it was Louis Armstrong. He was the epitome of jazz and always will be. He is what I call an American standard, an American original.  – Duke Ellington

Hello Dolly!  Um…  I mean…  bye!  Enjoy Satchmo Days!  🙂

WE LOVE ELVIS

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I got a photo taken in Branson on August 22, 2004 with an Elvis impersonator – it was snapped after the show, so he was not exactly spring fresh – but we get photo ops when we can.  I’ll bet he never went to a gym – doing those shows is a workout in itself.  You know what’s in my scrapbook along with this photo?  One of his scarves – or whatever you call those sweat catchers…  eeeewww.  Funny story though – I was so short there’s no way I could have caught one before all those tall girls – so my sweet hubby jumped up and got it for me – then handed it over.  Teamwork – yep!

Who thinks that real life is just overwhelming right now?  I’m raising my hand!  Seriously, there have been NO positives in the news and even though someone is running around saying America will be GREAT again, well…  never mind.  I’ll tell ya what, I’ll believe it when I see it – let’s put it that way.

So when real life gets to be too much, what do we need to do?  That’s right – we need to have fun and laugh.  And guess what I have today?  Yep – my friend John Coyote made a YouTube video – another Elvis tribute – but I gotta tell ya – this one is a hoot!  But John’s voice does have an Elvis-like quality – but the dramatics along with it are too funny!

And honestly, I didn’t even know Elvis recorded this song – I think the first time I heard The First Time (lol – that was confusing) – was when it was sung by Roberta Flack.  I had the 45 record of it, so of course that’s the one I’m most familiar with.  Of course, John would know for sure because I think he’s older than me (LOL) – yeah – he’s probably not – I’m just a music illiterate.  Don’t hit me, John! 

I think John should be an Elvis impersonator, don’t you?  They get paid pretty good, I think – and he’s certainly got the talent and that ham bone quality…  yep – I think he needs to consider a possible career move.  I don’t know if they’re hiring in Branson, but he surely should check it out.  🙂

 

 

 

OLD-TIME PLAYER PIANO WEEKEND

TL 5-27 THRU 29 OLD-TIME PLAYER PIANO WEEKENDThere are not many places that feature these wonderful player pianos anymore, but I can name one antique store in Kansas that still has one – and it works!  At Two Sisters Antique Mall in Newton, Kansas, the player piano (photo on today’s banner) lights up when it’s in use with a gorgeous stained glass panel.  Considering the age of the instrument, the tune is not that bad and all the keys work as far as I can tell.  It’s a joy to put a quarter in it and hear an old standard played as only a player piano can.  They even provide the quarters – is that nice or what?

As I watch the keys fly, I think to myself, “If I practiced every day for the rest of my life I couldn’t play like that!”  I love player pianos.  If I had room in my house, I’d try to get one.  Of course, as time goes by there will be fewer of them around.  What a sad thought.  😦

Here’s the facebook page for 2 Sisters – go over and give them a LIKE!  https://www.facebook.com/2.sisters.antique.mall/

Edwin Votey is credited with inventing this awesome piano.  He constructed his prototype system in 1895 in Detroit.  As he built it in his workshop, it took the form of a large wooden cabinet, much like the old upright piano, but a bit taller.  From the rear a row of felt-covered wooden fingers protruded that were aligned with the keyboard.  These fingers activated the piano’s keys in the same manner as a human pianist.

The paper rolls that are loaded onto a player piano look like they contain a code – and I suppose you could say they do.  Each little note that gets played on the piano is represented on that paper.  That’s why the player piano can do things that human hands many times cannot.  We have ten fingers, but those paper rolls can have as many notes represented as the arranger wants!  It’s amazing how much can go on at one time – it boggles the mind really.  Fascinating!

The last time we heard the player piano at Two Sisters, it was playing “In The Good Ol’ Summertime”, yet it was April – which struck me as funny.

I guess the most popular tune is “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin.

I know player pianos seem to be from an era gone by, but they have always interested me.  If you have a chance this weekend, go out and listen to some good piano playing – and take plenty of quarters with you!  🙂