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Sheet Music

was produced this fall at the Booth Playhouse at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, NC. Opening night Sept. 19th. Review in Charlotte Observer. Show ran through Sunday Oct. 4th. The cast was Trip Plymale, Rebecca Koon, Mary Mossberg, Greg King, the marvelous Patty Cucco, Beau Stroupe, and yours truly. With the able backstage assistance of Sean Gray, Jonathan Hoskins and Ramsey Lyric.

Based on the novel by Clyde Edgerton (2015 recipient of the Thomas Wolfe Award btw! ), Book by Clyde Edgerton, Music and lyrics by Mike Craver, Additional lyrics and music by Clyde Edgerton, Directed & Developed by Steve Umberger, Musical Director John Coffey, Choreographer Linda Booth. Technical director Tim Kottyan, Lights by Eric Winkenwerder, Props by Josh Lucero, set and costume design by Bob Croghan.
I loved working with this excellent bunch of folks, and this masterful cast! FMI

The Chapel Hill Early '70's Reunion will take place on Sunday, September 6, 2015 (Labor Day Weekend) at Rolling View, Lake Falls Recreation Area, 10 Miles east of Durham NC, on US 98 -- at Shelter #13 (same shelter as 1997 & 2006 Reunions. The park has a boat ramp and you can hike and camp as well. There is a $6 car entrance fee. Call the Park FMI: 919-676-1027)
There will be a pre-Reunion "Get-Together" , from 6-7 PM on Saturday Sept. 5, in Chapel Hill, along the Franklin Street wall in front of Silent Sam!
Brought to you by Centipede Productions (aka Nyle Frank, of Invisible University fame). FMI from Nyle: 408-286-2257; nylefrank@hotmail.com

For many years Lillian Russell (1869-1922) was the foremost singer of operettas in America, performing continuously through the end of the 19th century. Her voice, stage presence and beauty were the subject of a great deal of fanfare in the news media, and she was extremely popular with audiences. Actress Marie Dressler observed, "I can still recall the rush of pure awe that marked her entrance on the stage. And then the thunderous applause that swept from orchestra to gallery, to the very roof."

When Alexander Graham Bell introduced long distance telephone service on May 8, 1890, Russell's voice was the first carried over the line. From New York City, Russell sang "Sabre Song" to audiences in Boston and Washington, D.C.

Russell was married four times, but her longest relationship was with Diamond Jim Brady, who supported her extravagant lifestyle for four decades. Russell rode a bicycle custom made for her by Tiffany & Co. It was a gold-plated machine that displayed the jeweler's art at its most opulent and unconventional - the handlebars inlaid with mother-of-pearl and the wheel spokes featuring her initials set in diamonds.

In 1899, Russell had joined the Weber and Fields's Music Hall. Weber and Fields began as a two man show in the genre of ethnic German humor. They were a funny man/straight man comedy duo, a precursor to such famous acts as Abbott & Costello and Laurel & Hardy. They later expanded their act into the genre of vaudeville known as "Burlesque" -- musical stage shows that broadly and somewhat raucously parodied other well-known contemporary Broadway shows, without the striptease acts with which the term was later associated.

After Russell retired from the stage she kept herself busy writing a newspaper column, becoming active in the women's suffrage movement (as her mother had been), and was also a popular lecturer on personal relationships, health and beauty, advocating an optimistic philosophy of self-help and drawing large crowds.

Before the 1902 production of the Weber and Fields revue TWIRLY WHIRLY, John Stromberg, who had composed several hit songs for Russell, delayed giving her solo to her for several days, saying that it was not ready. Stromberg, who had suffered severely from debilitating arthritis for many years, was also dealing with the failure of his investment in "Stromberg Park," a real-estate development in Freeport, Long Island, with streets named after various Weber and Fields performers. When Stromberg committed suicide (by ingesting Paris Green insecticide) a few days before the first rehearsal, sheet music for "Come Down Ma Evenin' Star" was discovered in his coat pocket. It became Russell's signature song and is the only one she is known to have recorded. Hers is a stunningly beautiful performance - and she and the orchestra seem to move and breathe freely together. One can almost feel the breeze and see the stars from a long ago enchanted night. (I got most of this info from Wikipedia, except for the last couple of sentence which are mine.)

"Ireland is the first country in the world to introduce marriage equality by popular vote. It's a massive statement." ---Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Irish Justice and Equality Minister

Craver Hicks Watson & Newberry did a little tour up North in the middle of April. We played at the Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music, in Wilmington, DE Fri. April 10th, then a house concert in Bryn Athyn PA on April 11, and the Susquehana Folk Music Society in Harrisburg PA on April 12th.
Kathleen Tannian Sheehan snapped this photo of us at the Bryn Athyn show. It was fun to be out with the boys again!

I found this clip of the 19th century Spanish opera singer Adelina Patti singing "Home Sweet Home". There is real truth and beauty in it. People don't sing like this anymore. Giuseppe Verdi described her in 1877 as being perhaps the finest singer who had ever lived. This recording was made in 1905 when Patti was about 62. Adapted from American actor and dramatist John Howard Payne's 1823 opera CLARI, the song's melody was composed by Englishman Sir Henry Bishop, with lyrics by Payne. Thanks to Edward St. Austell for posting it.

Making Music in the 60's

This book isn't new, but I just enjoyed reading it. Here is a sample from p. 43: (everybody in the world except me probably knows how Pink Floyd got their name -- but boy was I surprised!)

"In the mid-sixties, love of the blues united much of the American folk and English pop worlds. Most folk singers' repertoire included at least one song learned from a Leadbelly or Big Bill Broonzy record, while a large percentage of English pop groups started life as blues bands. Pink Floyd are named after Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, two obscure singers from rural South Carolina whose names appeared in the liner notes of a Blind Boy Fuller reissue. Every rediscovery of an old man whose name graced the lanels of our treasured 78s from the '20s or '30s was greeted with huge excitement. With astonishing speed, however, blues became a cliche. By the '70s, lurching, screaming - or, worse, polite - guitar solos poured forth from bar bands and heavy metal groups and decorated over-produced singles by mainstream pop singers. Blues phrasing now permeates most popular music: the ultimate postmodern artefact, complete with quotation marks."


A couple of weeks ago I began thinking, out of the blue, about Garth Beckington. I didn't know him well, but I remembered him (he was the kind of person one didn't forget) from the late 60's music scene in Chapel Hill. NC when we were both at the university there. I had no idea what had happened to Garth so out of curiosity I googled him and found out that he he was gone, that he had in fact died last summer. There is a very good remembrance of him in this wordpress piece written by Will Stenberg, one of Garth's bandmates in his most recent band "The Blushin' Roulettes". I myself was not in a band with Garth way back when, but he sat in once or twice with one of the bands I was in then. When Will's article mentioned how Garth (aka "Buddy Stubbs") sought the shadows on stage and secluded himself there while his music poured forth, it all came back to me. I remember being quite impressed with his sense of style, and his blues playing, which was pretty astute for a "college kid". I also remembered him as seeming unfriendly and on the cool and distant side. But after reading Will's piece I think Garth must have just been shy (as I was too.) Anyway, Will has remembered him very vividly, and with great depth and respect.
My article in

From the vaults of the L'ARGILE ROUGE RANDONNEURS, here's some sonic gems. First up is Tommy and the band doing "Twisted Laurel", recorded at the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, VA on April 24, 1982. Personnel: Tommy Thompson guitar and vocals, Jim Watson bass and vocals, Mike Craver piano and vocals, Clay Buckner fiddle, Jack Herrick harmonica. Then there's Tommy doing his hilarious version of "Oh How I Wish I Was in Peoria", Mike doing "Bidin' My Time", and Jim doing "Jerusalem Morning", a song he learned from his father. The three last tunes are from a gig at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, in October 1983. Special thanks to John Sheffler at WCMU FM for digging these up!
"Twisted Laurel" (live)"
"Oh How I Wish I Was in Peoria"
"Bidin' My Time"
"Jerusalem Morning"

"I Ain't Dead Yet" (Mike Craver) -- a new one, from THE QUEEN OF THE COWTOWNS
"Asenalooga" (Mike Craver) -- and another, from THE QUEEN OF THE COWTOWNS

2015 Gigs

Apr. 10 -- Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music, Newark, DE, Unitarian Fellowship Hall Craver, Hicks, Watson, and Newberry
Apr. 11 -- Asplundh house concert, Bryn Athyn, PA Craver, Hicks, Watson, and Newberry
Apr. 12 -- Susquehanna Folk Music Society, Abbey Bar, Harrisburg,PA Craver, Hicks, Watson, and Newberry
Aug. 13 -- Blue Note Grill, Durham, NC Craver, Hicks, Watson, and Newberry
Aug. 22 -- Pick 'n' Bow, The Murphey School, Durham, NC Craver, Hicks, Watson, and Newberry
Aug. 23 -- "Spotlight by Starlight Concert Series", Mason District Park Amphitheater, Annandale VA -- Craver, Hicks, Watson, and Newberry
Sept.17-Oct. 4 -- Lunch at the Piccadilly , Booth Playhouse, Charlotte, NC -- FMI
Nov. 21 -- Prairie Home Companion, Palace Theatre, Waterbury, CT -- Craver, Hicks, Watson, and Newberry

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