Friday, November 2, 2007

A Look Back Showing the Way Forward

While the video you will see on the right has been on THE ALMOST DAILY ROOSTER for a time now I have moved it here since more people will view it.

As was announced in an earlier commentary the TABLETALK program on November 18 (Airtime 8 AM Eastern--and on the web ) my guests will be the Siegels and they will be talking about their book "RADIO AND THE JEWS". Among the many things we will be talking about will be about the person pictured here. Gertrude Berg. Creator and star of the 2d longest running radio program of all time. Amos and Andy were #1.

On the right is a wonderful video that I hope you will view. You will have 12 minutes of historical radio and television significance. You will find that the besides presenting a wonderful portrait of a Jewish family on radio over the years. Something unknown over the country. The television version was truly the origination of "sit-coms". All done live.

You will also find out, in this video, about the supporting cast with special attention paid to Philip Loeb, the co-star who was later blacklisted but who was in the front of the Actors Union getting paid for rehearsal time and other things that were never paid for before him.

Rather than telling you more---watch the video. Those too young to know of the "Golden Age" of radio will be impressed and those of the right age will have a wonderful trip back to that time. The time when Edward R Murrow was the prime source of news and later--as you will see here (much against his will) --host of a TV program that visits the homes of stars. Gertrude Berg in her 5th Avenue apartment being one.

Having seen the video I think you will appreciate the chat I have with the Siegels about radio in their most readable and fascinating book. The book comes with a CD that has clips from many programs and also of the anti-Semitic tirades of Father Coughlin. It also has a wonderful piece by Edward R Murrow that listeners to SUNDAY SIMCHA (Sundays 10-11 AM Eastern--and on the web-- ) will be hearing on Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2008.

While this page usually is for items about my 3 programs---TRADITIONS / SUNDAY SIMCHA / TABLETALK it also is about giving you some updates about upcoming events and memorable moments; if you will.

Upcoming events:

Modern Man will be at Bodles Opera House on 11/10. Chester NY and at Temple Emanuel in New Hyde Park on 11/17. On 12/16 the will be at the Orangeburg Library (Orangeburg NY tel:845 359-2244) for a FREE concert but seating is limited. Call the number to reserve a seat. If you were born with a seat of your own---park it wherever you like.



The memorable moments that this time of year of long and colder nights brings along are reminiscences of some of the wonderful people that have been part of doing the various programs---so--- a little history. This time only one brief story more to come if they are welcome. TABLETALK and how it came about.

Elizabeth Swados was going to appear at the BOTTOM LINE (now, sadly, defunct) and I asked the owner if there was a way I might get to interview this wonderful writer and performer. Her musicals range from the one at left (Runaways) to Dispatches, Haggadah, and more. He arranged for us to meet at her most eclectic abode.

A digression here. RUNAWAYS was the only of her musicals ever recorded for distribution on LP or CD. As she told me that it was truly a shame because, in my opinion, they were all gems we do not see much of anymore.

Now the problem---where to air this interview. WFDU, being the eclectic and all encompassing station that it is the Program Director allowed me a "one-shot" on Radio Omnibus when there was an open slot. It was well received and so TABLETALK was born and the guests over the years have been a veritable roll call of great artists, writers, and---as I say---="...people of interest". Authors of books ranging from the Israeli 1967 War, Katherine Hepburn to a producer of a film about a true spy story and the musical director of Spamalot (0n how one creates for a Bway musical). That is only the tip of the ice-berg---and not the one that sunk the Titanic--the one that holds the treasure of the talent that has graced TABLETALK.

So for that one does have to thank WFDU and its management for the open mind that allows for creativity. Which, finally, brings us to the other video on this site. Check on the right and enjoy what you ---the listeners--have wrought and what Gertrude Berg was all about

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Referrals for Some Frights

Brother Theodore (left)(more about him below in TABLETALK)

It is Trick or Treat time once again. So a referral for a frightening trick--

THE ALMOST DAILY ROOSTER or you can click on the right side to get to the same spot. No treat there---just a scary trick.

Program Notes to mention briefly here now:

TABLETALK: A reminder that November 11 you can hear the quarterly installment of The Capitol Steps and the following week join David and Susan Siegel as they walk with me about their book---pictured below---Radio and The Jews. We will also touch on some of the great old radio programs of years past---Life Can Be Beautiful, The Goldbergs, Rudy Vallee, and much more.

TABLETALK airs at 8 AM on Sundays. Get your coffee and wake up to some interesting talk.

TO MY GREAT CHAGRIN--that is the name of the a documentary that will shortly be presented at MOMA at the Fortnight of Documentaries. TO MY GREAT CHAGRIN is a film about the late and great THEODORE. The film maker will be my guest in December---or at the latest in January. Stay tuned for this because the subject of this film is about a lost treasure that I had the delight of meeting and chatting with on TRADITIONS some 8 years ago---at age 92. He passed away shortly thereafter. I don't blame myself---though I do know how to clear a room.

TRADITIONS: On November 18 I will be joined by SPOOK HANDY for some live music and also to talk about and listen work from his newest CD--"Watcha Gonna Do?". I guess the thing to do is to listen to it and the add it to your collection. Meaningful Music from a Meaningful Musician.

SUNDAY SIMCHA: The program now has a following on the web in Israel and material has been received from the land that made the desert bloom which we shall be presenting in the next few weeks--starting November 18.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Continuing Sock Shortage

Those of you who have been listening to TRADITIONS know about the sock shortage. Lately I have had my socks knocked off by much of the material that has arrived to present to you. This week there were two that I want to tell you about now---it was my last pair of socks so I was in the studio barefoot.

We start with EMMA'S REVOLUTION . The group consists of Pat Humphries (left) and Sandy O (right).

Those of you who have heard me on the program over the years know that I refer to Pat as my favorite and best anthem writer to visit this planet in many a moon. Now she is multiplied by two. The latest CD moves them onto even richer and more nuanced material presented with some great feeling for a studio recording. While it is not a "live" concert recording you get the feeling of that on many of the tracks---"Choir" comes to mind. Their take on "If I Had A Hammer" shows you can that wonderful anthem by Pete Seeger/Lee Hays and put it into a whole new feeling---a Southwestern or South of the Border feeling. Unlike the Peter Paul and Mary version or, even, The Weavers now we have a melody with instrumentation that includes accordion (no bad jokes now!) and Latin instrumentation.

Suffice it to say that this is a recording you can listen to many a time and get a great feeling for the music and the messages it sends to you.

Since EMMA'S REVOLUTION is more than just about recordings one should visit their web-site to find out where they can be seen live and what you might learn from their appearances. In addition for you clothes conscious people--as I am---check this out:

On their web-site you can get this tee-shirt (or sweatshirts) inscribed thus---designed by these talents.

I look forward to sporting one of these myself.

Would that this world had more talents that made music that was singable, listenable and also have meaning and substance. EMMA'S REVOLUTION has that.

The socks are still off since there were two to the pair. The other one was blown off by SPOOK HANDY :

The latest effort by this meaningful and talented artist's "Whatcha Gonna Do?" So--watcha gonna do. Hopefully listen to this work and say you have to add it to your collection.

It may well be that all roads lead to Pete Seeger since so many artists have been influenced by him and credit him with those influences. Yet, they all have beaten their own path and their work stands on its own. Spook is no exception.

The title of the recording is quite apt. My take on it, given all the subject matter, it really fits. Watcha Gonna Do. Watcha Gonna Do with the world we live in which each of this tracks presents in a unique and interesting way.

The booklet that comes with the CD explains the thought behind each song. That always seems like a wonderful insight into the artist's thought process. An example---September 11 (which Rudy Giuliani is mayor of) and the invasion of Iraq prompted Spook Handy to to an interpretation of John Prine's "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore"---thinking, of course, of the ribbons and bumper stickers. "Mom and Pop's Small Townne Corner Hardware Store" is a gem in bringing, musically, to us the sad homogenization of our society.

Since, it seems all roads lead to Pete Seeger "Waist Deep In The Big Muddy" is interpreted by Spook on this CD. A Holly Near composition that has been done by her, The Klezmatics, and now Spook is included along with so many other tracks---12 in all--one cannot single out a best one. They are all good and make such valid musical points.