Entertaining the Troops
by Elliot Thorpe
The image of the British ‘Tommy’ marching resolutely in the face of adversity while singing spirited, patriotic, and catchy Music Hall tunes is one many are familiar with, and sometimes falls into cliché. In 1914, it was an optimistic view that many shared, believing the war would be over by Christmas.
By 1916, the long lists of the wounded and the dead had all but obliterated the notion of a quick conflict.
As the world began mourning, sparks of hope, that indomitable human spirit, were still being lit, and part of that process was taking morale straight to the fighting man. George Robey, an English comedian, singer, and actor was one such person who saw the necessity of this and raised thousands of pounds for various Armed Forces charities.
Yet, it wasn’t as easy as that to start with. The War Office was of the impression that soldiers made their own amusement with cards, dominoes, playing soccer, writing a few letters. When actress, impresario, and suffragette Lena Ashwell approached the generals … continue reading in the Winter 2018 issue of SEARCH.
by Elliot Thorpe
Asian Jazz, by its very nature, is a musical style that encompasses a varying number of influences. Of course, it originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans late in the 19th century but went on to incorporate Latin and Afro-Cuban themes over the decades with one of the more unique styles came to fruition sometime later, that of Asian-American.
Asian Americans have been performing jazz almost since the style’s birth, yet it took all those years for the brand to begin developing. The addition of Asian instruments gives it a wonderfully distinct sound that cannot be confused with anything else. However, the story of Asian Jazz doesn’t begin there.
In the mid-1930s, the American jazz trumpet player Buck Clayton moved to Shanghai. There, he led the band Harlem Gentlemen, playing for the wife and sister of Chian Kai-shek, the Republic of China’s leader, until 1948…. continue reading in the Fall 2018 issue of SEARCH.
The Sound of the Sea
by Elliot Thorpe
The sea has intrigued and called to humanity for centuries, and we take for granted now that the planet has been mapped to the nearest millimeter. Yet, take the idea, if you can, of standing in the relentless surf, looking toward the flat, wide horizon. Distant gulls swoop across the sky reaching even further still, and you wonder what it is about the oceans that tempts us so.
From such a rich canvas, we have seen much to fire our imaginations. From beautifully, emotive art such as Hokusai’s The Great Wave or Kensett’s tranquil Sunset to stories that bring to life the very sea itself as well as those who live on it, in it, or under it Hornblower, Moby Dick, and Ariel are three prime examples. Music, too, entices a … continue reading in the Summer 2018 issue.
Harp in the Garden
by Michele Roger
It’s a beautiful, spring night. I’m out listening to the peepers, young frogs, newly awakened after a long, hard Detroit winter and ready to sing. A small bonfire crackles at the edge of the deck. I hold a glass of Pinot Noir in my hand, and as I look over at my Kiwi partner in crime, I pick up the phone to set the wireless sound system to play.
It’s the first opportunity we’ve had to play music outside, and it’s kind of a big deal. For the outdoor speakers, it’s a maiden spring voyage. I’m a harpist and hence, I often enjoy listening to the work of fellow harpists crazy enough to fall in love, like I did, with an instrument that requires time, talent, and patience to handle an instrument twice my size. The sound system is primed, and the garden is under a blanket of stars.
Perhaps your garden is unpredictable and flourishes with colors and new shoots that are both beautiful and surprising. Then, you and your garden may love some jazz harp. I suggest streaming some tunes by harpist, Carolyn Sykes. While her list of music is vast, her most popular album… continue reading the Spring 2018 issue
Ella Fitzgerald, 100 Years
by Elliot Thorpe
Jazz is a music form that has, arguably, untold variations. Its back catalogue of artistes and hits is as endless as a hot summer’s day and as equally as evocative.
Once such artist was born a century ago, on April 25, 1917. From humble beginnings to an astonishingly talent-drenched career, Ella Jane Fitzgerald was determined to make the best of what she had, against challenging odds.
Her father disappeared when she was a baby. Her mother, Tempie, and stepfather, Joe, did all they could for Ella and her sister, Frances, until tragedy struck. Tempie died from injuries sustained in a car accident. Joe died some time later of a heart attack. After a few run-ins with the police, young Ella was sent to a reformatory, enduring endless beatings by the staff. Escape was the only option and proved to be the founding drive in her life forever after. She entered an amateur talent show in….continue reading in the Winter 2017 magazine.
Punk Drunk Love: A Detroit Story
by Michele Roger
With the expansion of the terminals at the Detroit Metro Airport (DTW), lots of people traveling from west coast to east coast are discovering a new layover. Flights with overnight layovers are vastly cheaper and built into some of the new flight and travel apps. Detroit has been out to shed its bad boy reputation, and I thought I would see what all the travel talk was about.
There is a huge artist scene in Detroit. Photographers, like my friend Erik Bucholz, suggested I check out the newly emerging music scene. UFO Factory (2110 Trumbull St), a venue located in Hamtramack, (the Polish sector of the city) is both a bar and a social club. Detroit has seen a reinvention of punk music. Whether it’s music or food, Detroit has been taking the great elements of the world and making its own versions for years. Punk music is no exception.
Photo by Eric Bucholz
One rising star, Mikal Bartee of The Idiot Kids, agreed to an interview to talk about his band and his city. Lead singer and song writer of the band, Mikal, describes the band, as punk with a story to tell. He, drummer Ryan Chlebek, and bassist, Nicholas Zambeck grew up together and were friends who just started playing music. Punk music was more befitting the energy level they had for the music they composed. Over time, they’ve developed their unique sound and say it’s “glam punk with theatrical aspects.” They attribute some of that sound’s influences to David Bowie and…continue reading.
5 Great Books to Read this Winter
by Valarie Kinney
You’ve been working all week and finally have some time to yourself. It’s cold outside, fat white snowflakes are drifting down from the sky, and you’ve got a cup of hot cocoa that is calling your name. What could be a better use of that perfect winter evening than to curl up with a thick fleece blanket and a good book? Winter nights and reading go together like peanut butter and jelly. With so many options available, how do you choose which books to read? Check out this list of great, winter-themed books of various genres.
1.The Christmas Shoes by Donna VanLiere.
Robert is the proverbial workaholic who has lost touch with his family. Nathan is a little boy clinging to the mother he is about to lose. When they cross paths on Christmas Eve, Robert must make a decision that will impact the rest of Nathan’s life.
Plainly put, this is a beautiful story that…continue reading.
Retro Cool: Vinyl Shopping and Gift Giving
by Kristin Battestella
Get ready to go knee deep in vinyl—and I’m not talking about cheap boots. Long play records are popular once again. Whether it be the quest for a special volume, unique gift giving, or a beloved holiday record, this snap, crackle, and pop of old adds extra warmth to the chilly seasons. Getting dirty in thrift shops for vinyl is a niche hobby. However, the pursuit of music from yesteryear can be an affordable and fun quest—if you know what sellers, pricing, shopping, and equipment work best for completing your collection or finding that perfect, sentimental holiday gift. Why not drag all the family members along to sift through the often unorganized, messy, perilous piles for more fun?
If you’re looking to add to an existing vinyl collection or are a newer enthusiast, here are a few tips when going hunting.
In thrift stores, records often sell for around $3 or less, significantly cheaper than Ebay bids, shipping fees, and potential in transit damages ruining a rare vinyl gift. At any second hand or thrift store you can examine a record for imperfections, smell it, even ask to test it—if there is also a working record player. Always check that the right record is in the right sleeve or a sleeve isn’t empty. Be sure to wear clothes you don’t mind getting dusty and keep wipes handy. Searching through piles and piles of vinyl can be a little dirty. Most corner thrift shops think of vinyl as an afterthought and generally don’t sort inventory, increasing one’s chances for finding a gem. If a run of the mill junk shop is charging higher prices for records, then they should not be moldy, coverless, and disorganized. Some sly places will mark up old records or all material by a particular artist just because…continue reading.
The Great Sammy Davis, Jr.
by Elliot Thorpe
Born Samuel George Davis, Jr. on December 8th, 1925 in Harlem, New York City, and from a family with a vaudeville background, it was inevitable that little Sammy would end up in show business.
When his parents split, he was just three years old, and his father took custody of him which meant the young boy followed Sammy Davis, Sr. onto the stage. Taught to dance by his father, Sammy Jr. joined him and entertainer Will Mastin, forming the Will Mastin Trio. It was a team that would see great longevity, interrupted initially by World War II and Sammy Jr.’s drafting. It resurfaced throughout Sammy’s high-profile solo career, and he made sure his father and Mastin received billing wherever he performed.
In the trio’s heyday, critics were singling Sammy out, taking note of his outstanding singing, dancing, and vocal impressions. He was signed in 1955 with Decca Records for his first vinyl LP “Starring Sammy Jr…read more in the Fall issue of SEARCH Magazine.
In the Summer Issue of SEARCH Magazine,
Music Snapshot in Time: San Francisco, 1959
by Elliot Thorpe
“Standing on the Embarcadero, the breeze coursing down from San Pablo Bay is warm, tugging at your hair, caressing your cheeks and the backs of your hands. You’ve finished work and exhausted. Ready to hit the sack, but it’s a Friday evening. There’s too much going on in town to miss it all by staying home, but where to go?
Back in your apartment, you stand under the hot shower, the force of water washing away the grime of the day. From beyond the open shutters of the wide and tall casement window, you hear the gentle strains of a sax. A muted trumpet joins its wind cousin in a smooth-blown medley of vibes.
It’s summer, 1959, and you live alone on Broadway, in a tiny but cosy room above a haberdashery. The landlady, whose husband owns the shop, is not to be messed with. She insists the rent is paid in full, in cash, and in advance, and you always comply. It’s better that way, and she leaves you alone…” to read the full article, check out the free eCopy here.