A brief update on something I do believe will be of great interest. Shortly a wonderful documentary by Jim Brown on Pete Seeger will be shown at the IFC theater in NYC. If you subscribe to IFC On Demand on your cable carrier you can view the film there. It should be there in the next few days or weeks. Keep checking. Brown is the documentary filmmaker responsible for the Weavers documentaries--among other things.
While this page is usually devoted to Folk Music and to the various programs your never humble correspondent hosts--SUNDAY SIMCHA and TABLETALKS in addition to TRADITIONS one has to ask when does something become part of the "folk canon". I had mentioned a while back a wonderful musical which had so much folk feeling at its heart---New Girl In Town (1955). This past week was the 50th anniversary of WEST SIDE STORY.
How the times have changed and how brilliantly Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Stephen Sondheim, and Jerome Robbins captured a dangerous era and brought it to us as a thing of beauty originally created by W. Shakespeare. While the film was wonderful it lacked the grit and the realism of the original stage version. Additionally, it was a time when language on stage and on screen was proscribed in its realism. Think of the "Officer Krupke" song. Imagine it today.
Another anniversary of a breakthrough bit of music that could enter the folk canon is HAIR which is now having its 4oth Anniversary presentation in Central Park at The Delacourte Theater (thanks always to Joe Papp).
A breakthrough musical that changed the face of musical theater for a time. It brought meaning in an abstract way to musical theater. It broke the taboo on nudity and left us, still, with songs you sang as you left the theater. Songs you sang as you did with earlier musicals but with a whole new beat.
Folk is what becomes a tradition in a culture. Both of the above pieces have done that. As have so many others--New Girl In Town (probably more than most), Fiddler on The Roof, South Pacific, and many more.Webber, presentations which are quickly followed on those heels by the Disney productions, are creating a mundane field of Amusement Park Presentations on a theater that once was blessed by the creativity of drama and music by masters with a concept of something more than the basis of a sit-c0m one can view at home.
It may well be that the best offerings are no longer on Broadway. They are in the theaters that are considered Off Bway--or Off Off Bway. Recently---the folk part---great presentations on the life of Hank Williams, A Shakespearean take on Twelfth Night by The Red Clay Ramblers, and for the Not Folk Part---A L Gurney plays, The Goldman Project (now playing), and many more.
Another thing which deserves its own paragraph is a brilliant work by Leonard Bernstein----MASS. Rarely revived, it incoroporates Jewish Liturgy, Folk Music, and Catholic Liturgy as it follows the complete order of The Mass. Any requests for that I will be happy to, somehow, incorporate into TABLETALK at some time. Any comments about it are cetainly welcome here or on e makl
I would urge you to click on the right side to The Almost Daily Rooster for some great videos of the ever topical Lewis Black and some nice videos of the guest on TRADITIONS last week---Sharon Katz and The Peace Train. In addition some thoughts on topics other than the radio programs.