Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why I will never play at the Luthier's Co-op (or other free music venues in the Pioneer Valley)

I am a professional musician.  I started studying violin in 1966.  I went to the conservatory and studied very hard.  I practiced several hours a day.  I went to college and majored in Music.  I have three music degrees and several certifications.  I have published several of my own compositions and have recorded on over 50 others over the years.

I am a professional.  Professional means I get paid.  Passing the hat is not getting paid.

If you frequent these free places where you can hear music for free, please offer to give the band a tip.  I suggest $50, but then that's just me.

It's a shame that these venues make money off the backs of musicians.  I won't give them my business.  Not now, and not ever.  I won't tell my students to shop at their locations and I won't recommend their services ever to friends, colleagues or family.  Not now and not ever.

You shouldn't either.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Going Back To My Roots, To Discover My Musical Heritage

The Sweets were Tories during the Revolutionary War.  They fled to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia during the conflict.  They became ship captains, ship builders, carpenters and later bone setters and doctors.  Their music would have been the Maritime music of Cape Breton and Newfoundland.

The Merry Family was strictly Protestant.  The only music they enjoyed was devotional and that was strictly controlled.  They basically had no music other than what was allowed in church.

The Kieltys were Scotts-Irish, originally from western Scotland, the land settled by the Gaels in pre-colonial times.  Their music would have been the music of the Celts using bagpipes, fiddles, fifes and drums for war and good times.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Rhythmic Eight - It Looks Like Love (1931)

Published on Aug 4, 2013
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0Kyo5NvK

Bert Firman used the name "The Rhythmic Eight" for his small group recording sessions between the years of 1927 and 1932. These sessions featured both American and British musicians. The group under the direction of first Bert Firman and then his brother John.

Bert Firman (Feb.3,1906 - April 9,1999) was born as Herbert Feuerman in London. He wanted to become a doctor but was expected to study music because everyone in his family, as well as cousins and uncles, were musicians. After training on violin, he was granted a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music. At the age of 13 he played in a quintet providing incidental music at the Playhouse Theatre, and at 14 was a member of the orchestra at the Victoria Hotel.

A couple of years leter Bert hired in as violinist with the Midnight Follies Orchestra at the Metropole Hotel. After the leader of this ensemble, an American saxophonist, tumbled off the stage one night while drunk, 16 year old Bert was given the job of directing the band.

Between 1924 -28, he was musical director for Zonophone records, a division of the His Master's Voice. He recorded over 750 sides for this label, using some 21 names for his ensembles: in addition to Bert Firman's Dance Orchestra, the list included the Arcadians Dance Orchestra, the Cabaret Novelty Orchestra, the Carlton Hotel Dance Orchestra, the Devonshire Restaurant Dance Band, the London Orchestra, the Orpheus Dance Band, the Ariel Dance Orchestra and Eugene Brockman's Dance Orchestra. Firman also cut an enormous number of relatively jazzy sides from November 1927 through September 1932 with a smaller group known as the Rhythmic Eight. Firman regularly tapped into authentic jazz material, recording "Sugar Foot Stomp" and "Milenberg Joys" in May of 1927. In 1928 he made what is believed to have been the first English recording of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue".

The Firman ensembles featured quite a number of excellent players, including Ted Heath, Sylvester Ahola, Chelsea Quealey, Danny Polo, Freddy Gardner, George Melachrino and for a little while in 1925 an American saxophonist by the name of Rudy Vallee. In 1929 Firman relocated himself to New York City as a conductor for NBC broadcasts, then to Hollywood as arranger and conductor providing music for motion pictures. From there he moved back to London, assembled a band and descended upon Paris, where he settled into a steady pattern of performances at Les Ambassadeurs, with engagements in Monte Carlo every summer. By 1937 he was back in London, broadcasting for BBC.

During WWII, Firman enlisted in the Staffordshire Regiment, then toured Persia, Syria, Egypt and Palestine, entertaining the troops as a member of "Stars In Battledress".

After the war, Firman continued to make music in Paris. His very last gig as a leader was at the Bagatelle Club with Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli in the band. After this Firman withdrew entirely from the music business, working on the London Metal Exchange until he retired in 1976.

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