They Started a Karaoke Club in Their House Because the Internet Wanted It – By Lauren Vespoli -The New York Times


“It was another typical Friday night in Brooklyn, as a middle-aged husband and wife, tired from the workweek, settled into their domestic routine.

“Mic check, one, two,” Roberto Williams said from his office, while Zaida Soler-Williams cleared a refrigerator shelf in the kitchen and arranged microphones on a coffee table in the living room. A fireplace with lapping flames played on an oversize screen while two disco balls slowly rotated.

Soon, their home would be full of strangers belting out “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Drops of Jupiter.”

As the proprietors and residents of Lion’s Roar Karaoke House, Mr. Williams, 52, and Mrs. Soler-Williams, 47, have hosted up to 30 singers and carousers at a time in their living room almost every weekend for four years.”

Billy Elliot at the Goodspeed Opera house last night – by David Lindsay

David Lindsay

We saw Billy Elliot at the Goodspeed Opera house last night, and it is good news and bad news. The good news, is it a great production with amazing music and dance. An 8 out of 10, with a complicated dark story full of huge laughs. I laughed harder than at The Book of Mormon. The bad news, it closes after this Sunday, and there are limited seats left. I learned today at the Trinity Christmas Market that there is a movie version I was unaware of! The music is by Elton John, and story, is about a young boy’s courage to pursue ballet, wich is seen as totally gay, in a coal mining town of northern England as the town goes through the hell of the only mine closing.
Sept 12 – Nov 24, 2019 at The Goodspeed, East Haddam, CT Young Billy Elliot is pulled between his family’s coal-mining roots and his newly discovered passion…

The Weight Meaning, Take a Load off Fanny!?

The Weight
I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin’ about half past dead
I just need some place where I can lay my head
“Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?”
He just grinned and shook my hand, “No” was all he said
Take a load off Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny
And (and) (and) you put the load right on me
I picked up my bag, I went lookin’ for a place to hide
When I saw Carmen and the Devil walkin’ side by side
I said, “Hey, Carmen, come on let’s go downtown”
She said, “I gotta go but my friend can stick around”
Take a load off Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny
And (and) (and) you put the load right on me
Go down, Miss Moses, there’s nothin’ you can say
It’s just ol’ Luke and Luke’s waitin’ on the Judgment Day

“Robertson was intrigued, in particular, by films like Nazarín (1959) and Viridiana (1961), which deal with people who try, but find it impossible, to do good. “The Weight,” Robertson says, explores the same theme. “Someone says, ‘Listen, would you do me this favour? When you get there will you say “hello” to somebody or will you give somebody this or will you pick up one of these for me?’ . . . So the guy goes and one thing leads to another and it’s like ‘Holy s–t, what’s this turned into? I’ve only come here to say “hello” for somebody and I’ve got myself in this incredible predicament.'”

From its very conception, then, “The Weight” taps into both the spiritual and the real. It chronicles the increasingly complex trip of a sainthood-seeking errand boy—a do-gooder pilgrim who finds his progress hindered by a cast of curious characters. But these characters were pulled from the streets of Fayetteville and Turkey Scratch, not from the New Testament. The temptations, complications, and growing burdens of the narrator’s errand were proffered not by visitors from the other side, but from the common-yet-fantastic characters who walk life’s very real streets.

Inspired by Buñuel but populated by Arkansans, the song is most simply about the burdens we all carry. The “weight” is the load that we shoulder when we take on responsibility or when we try to do good. But it’s also the heaviness that presses down on us when we fall into “sin” or wrestle with “temptation.” It’s a song about a universally human dilemma. But, just as the writers drew from their own pasts in fleshing out their cast, it’s conceivable that they also drew from their own experiences in conceptualizing the “weight.” Perhaps the song refers to the very real loads shouldered by Band members, the very real burdens that resulted from the good and the bad in their own lives.”

A Star Ascends To Bluegrass Heaven | New Haven Independent

“Dobro master Stacy Phillips, who died Tuesday at the age of 73.Watching Stacy Phillips contemplatively smoke his cigars in baggy pants and a T-shirt outside his Alden Avenue apartment or pass the hat between sets with his “bluegrass characters” at the Outer Space, you might not guess he won a Grammy.You might not know that he played with some of the leading lights of the acoustic music revival of the 1960s and 1970s. You might not guess that he wrote books on music or that he had spent decades studying the intricacies of musical genres ranging from Hawaiian to hillbilly, from klezmer to gospel, from Ukrainian to Middle Eastern. You might not know that he was considered a master of the Dobro guitar on top of playing a mean fiddle.

Stacy Phillips didn’t consider himself a big shot. He scraped together a living here, gigging with multiple New Haven-area ensembles, teaching students, and writing books for more than three decades. With an easygoing demeanor that masked an intense commitment to the highest standards, he kept old-time music alive, imbuing it with new meaning. And he inspired fellow musicians and roots-loving audiences alike.

That all came to an end Tuesday when Phillips died in St. Francis Hospital in Hartford after lying in a coma for three days, according to bassist David Chevan, whom the family designated to speak publicly about the death. Phillips was 73 years old.

Source: A Star Ascends To Bluegrass Heaven | New Haven Independent


My casual friend and talented associate in contra dance music Stacy Phillips passed away yesterday. He was an extraordinary bluegrass fiddler and dobro player and author of music books. It was a privilege to hear him perform. We will miss his music and mirth. My condolences and love to his close friends and family.

Caring for your Piano – from Steinway South Africa

Wood and felt are highly sensitive to extreme changes in temperature and humidity. During the heating period a standard good-quality humidifier should be used to control and regulate humidity. The most favorable environment for your piano is a relative humidity ranging between 45% and 70% and a constant temperature of approximately 20˚C. Sudden fluctuations in temperature must be avoided as the tuning and regulation might be influenced negatively.

via Caring for your Piano

The Diva Departs: Renée Fleming’s Farewell to Opera – The New York Times

“Robert Carsen’s new staging of “Rosenkavalier,” which had its debut in London this winter and opens at the Metropolitan Opera on Thursday, April 13, emphasizes the theme of change and upheaval by moving the setting from 18th-century Vienna to the moment when the piece was written, at the twilight of the Hapsburg Empire and the eve of World War I. It becomes an opera about the end of an era, or even the end of the world.

For Renée Fleming, the superstar soprano who will sing the Marschallin at the Met, and for music, this really is the end of an era: This “Rosenkavalier” may well be her farewell to staged opera. She will sing her final performance on the afternoon of Saturday, May 13.”

My goodness, being a folk music and dance fanatic in Connecticut, look and listen to these videos. See and hear what I have missed.

The Smothers Brothers: Laughing at Hard Truths – The New York Times

“Two weeks later, the “Comedy Hour” beat “Bonanza” in the ratings. After a few weeks more, the brothers who had seemed so nonthreatening became more daring, making political and topical references and booking musical acts with new, often anthemic songs to sing. Censors in the network’s standards and practices office began cutting jokes, comments, even entire skits. The brothers’ challenges to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration and comments on other political issues became sharper. Battles with the network censors became more frequent. The brothers took their dispute to the press and became national symbols of countercultural resistance. A little more than two years after the show’s debut, CBS fired Tom and Dick Smothers and canceled their still-successful show.”

For Confucius and His Descendants- a Cultural Comeback – by Amy Qin – The New York Times


“XI’AN, China — Among the qualifications Kong Dexin had to direct and choreograph a flashy new dance-drama about the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, one in particular stood out.According to Ms. Kong, 34, she is a 77th-generation descendant of that revered sage, known in Chinese as Kongzi, or Master Kong.“

Growing up, it was something we talked about casually in my family,” Ms. Kong said in an interview before a recent performance of “Confucius” in this former dynastic capital. (The production will make its American debut in January at the David H. Koch Theater in New York.) “The way my grandfather talked about him, Confucius felt more like a great-grandfather than a very distant relative.”“Very distant” is an understatement. More than 2,500 years separate Ms. Kong, a soft-spoken woman who wears pearl earrings and carries a Louis Vuitton bag, from her ancestor, who was born around 551 B.C.”

Source: For Confucius and His Descendants, a Cultural Comeback – The New York Times

The Presidential Debate in Song: Who’s Gonna Work It Out? – The New York Times

The Presidential Debate in Song: Who’s Gonna Work It Out?Op-DocsBy THE GREGORY BROTHERS and JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT OCT. 10, 2016Continue reading the main storyShare This Page Share Tweet Email More SaveContinue reading the main storyVideoThe Presidential Debate in Song: Who’s Gonna Work It Out?Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the Gregory Brothers team up to present a musical mashup of highlights from the second 2016 presidential debate. By THE GREGORY BROTHERS and JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT on Publish Date October 10, 2016. Photo by The Gregory Brothers. Watch in Times Video » embed ShareTweetAbsurd. Surreal. Farcical. Freakish. Unfathomable. These are just a few of the words that we’ve heard used to describe the 2016 election, plus several synonyms that we just looked up in a thesaurus to make the list look even longer and more weighty.And sure, last night’s debate was strange. A first lady turned senator turned secretary of state versus a landlord turned reality TV host turned semiprofessional birther turned amateur horror movie lurker who creeps up behind you. Yeah, that’s pretty weird.

Source: The Presidential Debate in Song: Who’s Gonna Work It Out? – The New York Times

How Pop Culture Wore Out Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ – The New York Times

“Leonard Cohen’s ballad “Hallelujah” has become so inescapable that the songwriter once asked for a break from his own track. “I think it’s a good song, but too many people sing it,” he told the Guardian in 2009, agreeing with a critic who asked for “a moratorium on ‘Hallelujah’ in movies and television shows.

”It appears that the producers of Sunday night’s Emmy Awards were unaware of the unofficial ban. When the In Memoriam segment began, it was accompanied by Tori Kelly’s gentle acoustic guitar strumming as she started its first verse: “Well, I heard there was a secret chord.” ”

Source: How Pop Culture Wore Out Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ – The New York Times

I love this song, and was inspired to write the following comment for the NYT.

The folk anthem of my teens was possibly “Kumbaya.”  “Hallelujah” is such a lovely improvement. If it has become a candidate for the current national folk anthem, a folklorist and folk singer like myself might argue, it can’t be over-sung. I haven’t memorized the words yet, but it is such a gorgeous piece of music and poetry, it is on my list, senior citizen that I am, of new songs to possibly learn and perform.

For centuries, even millennia, people learned songs through the oral tradition, which has been short circuited by the advent of electronic media and inexpensive print communications, in just the last century. Before radio and phonographs, everyone sang, or danced, or played an instrument, or did all three, because you couldn’t get these arts out of a box done by others, unless you went to the theater.

At some point, I will review all the listings in this article, but my guess it that I will find it hasn’t been done enough, because so many of us don’t know it well enough to perform it ourselves yet. What makes an anthem or community song truly great, is when the audience also knows it well, and sings along, in four or six part harmonies. TV and movie directors will have to indicate to audiences, when it is polite for everyone to sing along with the performer on the screen.