Julia Weekes loves to sing with a musical instrument and to bash out non-ukulele sounding songs like hard core rock on the ukulele she got from a jazz bass player friend of a friend who was giving out ukuleles to all his loved ones. She immediately fell in love with the instrument, which felt, to her from the outset like she was playing a heart that had been plucked out from the chest. At a Bar Mitzvah luncheon, your correspondent imposed on her to sing some impromptu Radiohead and more as if she were playing along with her uke. Your correspondent would like to video her singing these songs with her uke. Watch video here.
From the Al-Bustan website "We are thrilled to return to Morris Arboretum where Al-Bustan Camp started back in July 2002. In fact, it was Morris Arboretum’s beautiful gardens that inspired the name Al-Bustan (Arabic for “the garden”). Join us as we literally return to our roots in celebration of Arab heritage.
Guests will enjoy music and hands-on activities in traditional Arabic art: geometric pattern-making with Al-Bustan Teaching Artist Tremain Smith and Arabic calligraphy. Tours highlighting trees in the Arboretum’s collection that originate from Arab countries will be offered throughout the day." Saturday September 20, 2014
Eighty-seven year old Pat Sellers, laid off from the Philadelphia Cricket Club three years ago, has started doing what she has seen young people doing to try to make ends meet. Since July she has been busking on the street. She serenades passersby on her electric keyboard with show tunes and old time favorites outside Kilian Hardware, with electricity provided by the store, in the hope they will put money in her donation bag. On a recent Sunday, the musician, striking in her poofy, coifed silver hair and smart blue and white pants outfit, tapped out songs from Les Mis and Nat King Cole. Watch video and interview here.
When Tiffany Gaal is not selling popcorn or sweeping up spilled popcorn at the 100 year-old, one screen Hiway [Movie] Theater in Jenkintown, Pa., she’s auditioning for or appearing in musical theater. After the early evening screening of “Jersey Boys,” the story of singer Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, your correspondent cajoled Gaal into singing while she was restocking the snack stand. She chose “Come with me” from the epilogue of Les Miz, the musical she is most desirous of performing in. For good measure, I got her to sing some of Valli’s hit song, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.”
In the accompanying video, Andrew Heller, Gaal’s work partner at the Hiway, appears in a non-singing role.
Partners Robert Bynum and Chef Al Paris are excited that construction is nearing an end at the long empty site of the former Melting Pot Restaurant and that their French Bistro and Jazz Cafe is set to open in a few weeks' time. Watch video interview here.
Moviegoers attending the Chestnut Hill Film Group’s inaugural screening of the season this Tuesday evening were delighted by the artful musical accompaniment of veteran keyboardist Don Kinnear. Kinnear improvised as he watched, for the first time, two silent short films chosen by Jay Schwartz (founder of the Secret Cinema) and employed the operatic style of playing and interweaving themes assigned to different characters for the silent main feature he had seen before, W.C. Fields’ 1926 “It’s the Old Army Game.” With his electronic keyboard and a laptop loaded with a digital version of the Wurlitzer organ of the Virginia Theater in Champaign, Illinois he reproduced the music, sounds and special effects (“toy counter”) the original audiences in the 1920s may have experienced. Watch video interview here.
Mo Speller played the trumpet growing and now, as a singer with the Nothing Wrong Band, plays the trumpet without a trumpet – just using a supple voice. The self-described “polygenre” band of 20-30-50-60 somethings performed a rocking folksy mix last Friday evening to a receptive audience as part of Walk A Crooked Mile Books’ outdoor concert series in Mount Airy. This Friday August 23rd at 7 pm will feature a new band, Skyline, a group of 15-somethings and on Saturday August 31st, Rev. Chris and the High Rollers play their fast paced New Orleans jazz- blues.
Performing, Speller channels Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald and sometimes, when bored waiting in line, makes a little trumpet noise just to confuse people.
The story, according to Ron Kravitz, goes that some years ago, Elise Rivers of Community Acupuncture of Mount Airy called him from Ashland, North Carolina 9 pm one Saturday night where she was participating in a community drum circle and said, “Ron we got 85 drummers here. We got to do this in Philadelphia.” And so she arranged for a gathering space in the shaded park-like area adjacent to the Lovett Public Library in Mount Airy. The local drum circle is now in its third year. Along with Kravitz, Bobby Tyrone and Quint Lang, a drum teacher from Collegeville, help lead the sessions, open to novices and experienced drummers alike.
But Kravitz, of Glenside, appears to be the force behind the drum circle. He is well known in the area for his association with or founding of a number of other grass roots music ventures: Music in the Moment, Underground at Ron's, African drum classes and more. He brings a selection from his 1000 plus collection of Bata and djembe drums, bells, and other percussion instruments for anyone to use.
About 25- 30 people participated at the first Sunday of the month July session on a steamy hot afternoon including some kids who just had happened to be passing by.
Among the other attendees were several first-timers like 12-year-old Jacob Slifker who had discovered the existence of the circle while searching online with his parents for somewhere to use his djimbe. During breaks, he got some tips from the experienced hands on using it.
The afternoon heat and repetitive, shifting drum rhythms induced a hypnotic effect and Kravitz drew the circled drummers into chanting along and some into dancing. The circle next meets on Sunday August 4th from 1-3 pm next to the Lovett Public Library at 6945 Germantown Avenue.
“When certain events take place like this festival of Hidden City or different things like that. I don’t know if you’re part of Occupy but it tends to bring people out of the woodwork and put them in a certain space where they can share their talents and creativity. And my experience with these types of things is that it lends itself to a tremendous new and refreshing hope for mankind, for the state of affairs in the world. Because the tendency is to think we are all alone in our own head and even if we do come up with some positive ideas on what to do we feel pretty helpless because what can I do by myself.
When different things happen and people come together, we stand to get a tremendous new inspiration. And actually, ‘I can do something, I do count and there’s other people that think the same as I do.’ If we put our talents and our efforts together we can really make some difference.
I’m a yoga instructor. I teach yoga meditation and music is a big part of what I do. Because music and something that’s called Kirtan, sankirtan which means the congregation and glorification of the supreme joy of life. So basically, just like your drumming circle, same type of principal. People come together and they selflessly express themselves in such a way that the overall effect is that everyone feels a tremendous upliftment the environment becomes uplifted the community, neighborhood, like that. Just imagine if we could have this on a worldwide scale, every day then the whole planet the whole, the karmic pattern of the whole planet earth will be changed, will be uplifted.
It is possible. We don’t have to simply go down into the muck of gross materialism.”
Awbury Arboretum on Friday night, April 26,2013 was one of many venues set up throughout the city for stargazing as part of the 10 day Philadelphia Science Festival. A few dozen or so people showed up at the Arboretum in Germantown. Teenager Maya Anderson came to just hang out with her family and, as a choir student at Settlement Music School, sang impromptu from some of her repertoire. Katie Virtue, a meteorologist and volunteer with the Franklin Institute was on hand to guide visitors to the celestial sights. Some astronomy enthusiasts brought powerful telescopes and lines formed at these for viewing the four moons of Jupiter on this clear, cool spring night. Video story here. And here is Maya "Piping down the valleys wild" from Songs of Innocence by William Blake.