Tag Archives: Music

Dave Ruch Explores History of ‘The Erie Canal Song’


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low bridgeMusic researcher and performer Dave Ruch has put together a comprehensive new webpage exploring the iconic song “Low Bridge, Everybody Down,” more commonly known simply as “The Erie Canal Song.”

Originally composed in 1905 by Thomas S. Allen, “Low Bridge” has traveled the globe, becoming among the best known and most beloved Erie Canal songs. Yet, few know of its origins as a commercial composition by a Tin Pan Alley songwriter. Continue reading

New World Symphony With Puppets


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DvorAmHorejsLaMama Theatre on East Fourth Street is where puppets, monsters and actors cavort, presenting classic and cutting-edge performance, whooping and hollering in many languages to stage just about any variety of theater from around the globe.

In March, in the space named after the founder, Ellen Stewart, the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre partnered with Dvorak American Heritage Association to present “The New World Symphony: Dvorak in America,” by Vit Horejs. A jazz trio led by James Brandon Lewis on sax threaded musical commentary on the live and puppet action, adding a contemporary flavor to tales of Dvorak’s musical journeys through American sounds. Continue reading

The True Tales That Inspired American Folk Songs


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hear my sad story book coverIn Hear My Sad Story: The True Tales That Inspired Stagolee, John Henry, and Other Traditinal American Folk Songs (Cornell University Press, 2015), Richard Polenberg describes the historical events that led to the writing of many famous American folk songs that served as touchstones for generations of American musicians, lyricists, and folklorists.

Those events, which took place from the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, often involved tragic occurrences: murders, sometimes resulting from love affairs gone wrong; desperate acts borne out of poverty and unbearable working conditions; and calamities such as railroad crashes, shipwrecks, and natural disasters. All of Polenberg’s accounts of the songs in the book are grounded in historical fact and illuminate the social history of the times. Continue reading

Franco American Music and Stories Sought


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dave-ruch-540x366Buffalo based musician and teaching artist Dave Ruch is seeking information on Franco American musicians and singers, past and present, from the Northern New York area.

Ruch is researching French American musical traditions for an upcoming project with Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY). Past collaborations between Ruch and TAUNY have included the “W is for the Woods” website on traditional Adirondack music, and the Emmy-winning “Songs to Keep” project. Continue reading

Robert Henry Perkins: Opera Star from Glens Falls (Conclusion)


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03A 1917AdPerkinsThe emergency passport request of Robert and Margaret Perkins was granted, and a long, difficult journey began on the heels of what had been a very trying time. Besides the recent separation, their last year in Darmstadt had been spent in poverty-like conditions. Germany’s inflation rate had skyrocketed, driving up the price of everyday items. Robert and Margaret were forced to live on meager supplies and with little heat during the cold winter. They witnessed a food riot. All about them, men, even partially disabled, were conscripted into the military. Women were forced to fill the manual labor jobs normally held by men. And everywhere, soldiers marched off to war, spouting hatred for England and America, and confident of victory. Continue reading

Robert Henry Perkins: Glens Falls Opera Star


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01A RPerkinsImagine the drama of the moment: in a courtroom, Edward Perkins battling against the city of Beacon, New York, desperate to win on behalf of his poor family. The charge? They had been cold-heartedly evicted from their apartment by city officials, and for several chilly, rainy June days, he had searched for new housing.

Meanwhile, Edward’s wife and son suffered and his daughter fell ill, presumably from the terrible living conditions. The damages sought (in 1915) were $15,000 from the city, along with $30,000 from the police chief who had deposited all the family’s belongings on the sidewalk. The $45,000 total was equal to $1.1 million in 2015. Continue reading

Voodoo Opera from Harlem Renaissance


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Barry Robinson as Fojo, the voodoo priest and Janinah Burnett as Lolo, a thwarted lover who resorts to voodoo rites.Magic rites in the jungle seal the fate of a love triangle in the long-forgotten opera of H. Lawrence Freeman restaged on Friday and Saturday at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. Voodoo was composed in 1914 and had its last performance in 1928. The music and libretto come from a composer who was a friend of Scott Joplin. author of more than 20 operas, and founder of the Harlem Renaissance’s Negro Grand Opera Company. The revival features Gregory Hopkins of Harlem Opera Theatre conducting in a production that drew on collaboration with the Harlem Chamber Players and the Morningside Opera. Continue reading

NYC Hip-Hop History Photograph Exhibit Planned


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Hip-Hop - 1The Museum of the City of New York is presenting HIP-HOP REVOLUTION: Photographs by Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo, and Martha Cooper, an exhibition that shows the historic early days of hip-hop culture and music, with its roots firmly in New York, and how it evolved towards the worldwide phenomenon it is today.

Bringing together for the first time the work of three renowned photographers of the hip-hop scene, the exhibition shows the birth of a new cultural movement – with its accompanying music, dance, fashion and style – as it quickly and dramatically swept from its grassroots origins into an expansive commercial industry. Continue reading

The Historians: Ballston Spa Hangings; 20th c. Pop Culture


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The Historians LogoThis week on “The Historians” radio program, David Fiske of Saratoga County with stories of two 19th century hangings in Ballston Spa.  In the second half of the show I talk with pianist Stan Wiest who has tales about life on the road as a musician in the 20th century.

Listen to the whole program at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
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