Saturday, November 25, 2006

Dedication of Wesleyan's new theater, plus a pair of Graces

November 17 - Wesleyan University, Middletown CT — Performed my score for Keaton's Sherlock Jr. at the dedication/naming of the Goldsmith Family Cinema. The cinema is part of the university's new film building, and I'd played for Safety Last there in January. I'd been invited to perform for the evening by the department chair, Jeanine Basinger (author of "Silent Stars" et al). Played the Miditzer, as I'd done before. Set-up was a snap as usual, and the sound was tremendous. I'd forgotten how good the sound system there was; in January the show was my maiden voyage with the Miditzer and so I was probably too absorbed with possible MIDI and Windows issues to take in the sound system. It was the first exposure to silent film with theatre organ accompaniment to most of the audience, made up of students, members or heads of the board of trustees, and people from the community. The photo (taken with my phone...) shows my set-up, with keyboard, pedals and MacBook pro near the theater's "smart podium" (where the stereo audio-in was).

The day before and the day after I played at Grace Church...Thursday at Grace Church in Jersey City and Sat at Grace Church in White Plains. NJ was DVD projection of Langdon's The Strong Man, and White Plains (for their Downtown Music series) was 16mm projection by Bruce Lawton, who programmed and introduced four Roach shorts: The Finishing Touch, Pass the Gravy, Limousine Love, and Saturday's Lesson. The odd thing about this show, as was the case when Bruce and I did King of Kings there in March, was that Bruce was set up in the organ loft, right behind me. It's the only time I've played a show...from the booth. Since I was facing away from the screen I used my wireless video baby monitor set-up.

Am now finishing up revisions on my orchestral score for Chaplin's The Adventurer to send off to the Boise Philharmonic; their youth symphony will perform it in Feb '07. Also have a few scores to record for a new Kino DVD set.

Shows coming up: "The Immigrant" and "The Crowd" (twice each) for AMMI education groups, the Silent Clowns "Keaton Stunts" show. More things for 2007 being booked each week, so stay tuned...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

4 shows a week - 3 weeks in a row...

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Am on a busy schedule, averaging 4 or 5 shows a week, plus the usual 'being-my-own-agent' workload. Here's what's been goin' on since 10/24...

Sat Oct 28, NYC РBruce Lawton and I did a program of "spooky silents" for the Turtle Bay Music School. Bruce programmed The Red Spectre (an early Path̩ trick film), Felix the Cat in Sure-Locked Holmes, a Tyler Brooke-Jimmy Finlayson two-reeler, and L&H in Habeus Corpus. Program went well, the room was packed with kids and parents; the program was part of the TBMS's day-long open house events. We'd done a program for them in Oct of 2005, a bunch of music-themed shorts (since it's a music school) -- Langdon in Fiddlesticks, L&H in You're Darn Tootin', and a couple of others I'm not remembering right now. That's Bruce and his projectors on the right.

Mon Oct 30, Great Barrington, MA – Simon's Rock College. Did a show of Nosferatu at Simon's Rock for Larry Burke and the college's student film society in their relatively new film building/theater. Used the Miditzer for this one, and oh man did it sound great. Biggest sound system I've used it with so far. First time I used Miditzer in a theater where, when I hit one of the pedals, I felt the bass. After warming up for a while, a teacher came in and asked if we could turn it down a little. That's when I knew we had the right sound. Show went really well, and the students loved the film. A couple of seniors – senior citizens, I mean – came up to me afterward and told me how thrilled they were to hear the theatre organ sound, and how it brought back memories of going to the movies in the 30's.

Weds Nov 1 and Fri Nov 3 - Astoria, NY – did another couple of Immigrant shows at AMMI. One show was a big group of 5th graders. Best age group for that picture.

Fri Nov 3 – Walter Reade Theater, NYC – ahhh...at long last, the Mabel Normand show at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. This showing of the newly discovered and restored (by the AFI) lost Normand feature Head Over Heels (1920/22) was a year-and-a-half in the making. Had first pitched this to FilmLinc before Slaptsicon 2005 when the film was having it's "re-premiere". We had a great turnout and FilmLinc folk were pleased. A number of the recent "Golden Silents" programs had not done well, and so we were happy with the turnout. Steve Massa did the film intro and I accompanied on Miditzer. Another opportunity for NYC classic film fans to hear the theatre organ sound, and it was a big hit. Program itself was good, and well-rounded; Steve and I filled out the show (HOH is only around 55 mins) with the newly preserved (again, the AFI) Mabel's Dramatic Career (1913), which had 3-4 mins more ftg than the version we've all seen, plus F&M's Simple Life (1915) and Should Men Walk Home? (1927) co-starring Creighton Hale, the latter two titles being good 16mm's from Bruce Lawton's collection. It was interesting seeing Mabel in the F&M short in the context of a Mabel program, where you're watching her more closely, after watching this a few times in the context of an Arbuckle series.

Mon Nov 6 – NYC – Silent Clowns program at the Museum of the City of NY, presenting Louise Brooks' 1926 Love 'em and Leave 'em, to celebrate the Louise Brooks centennial (Nov 14th). Small but enthusiastic crowd.

Tues Nov 7 – AMMI, Astoria, NY – back at AMMI for another Immigrant. This time the audience was all music teachers, K-12, all from the same school district. Inadvertently wound up taking over the discussion as all questions were directed to me. Plugged the fact that I go to schools, and that I had written orchestral scores for two Chaplin shorts and two Keaton shorts which, while appropriate for a regular orchestra, could easily be accomplished by a decent high school orchestra.

Thurs Nov 9 – Goethe House, NYC – presented and played for a pair of Vitagraph shorts at the Gala for the 60th anniversary of the New York Film & Video Council. Had attended an event they'd held at Kodak in the spring where there was a lecture on the history of the magic lantern, and then over the summer the NYFVC president (and his wife) turned up at a show I did at the Mahaiwe Theatre in Great Barrington. Wanted to show something related to indie NY filmmaking, and immediately thought of the Vitagraph shorts A Vitagraph Romance and the hilarious Goodness Gracious: or Movies As They Shouldn't Be. Got the prints in 16mm from MoMA's Circulating Film Collection. As it turned out one of the people being honored that night was Bill Sloan who, in the 1950's started the Donnell Library's Film Collection and then moved to MoMA and started their Circulating Library. The films went over really well, and GG killed.

Fri Nov 10 - MoMA, NYC - played for a program of John Bunny shorts, part of a series showcasing Vitagraph product organized by Charles Silver (who gave me my first paying job as an accompanist in 1981, playing for a class he was teaching at Bridgeport Univ.). Picked running speeds for the shorts (they'd not been assigned any) and after the show, consulted with comrades Steve Massa and Rob Arkus who were there to revise any that seemed not quite right. Had actually been asked to play for the opening night of the V series on 11/9 but had already been booked for the NYFVC event and, ironically was showing the same films.

Sun Nov 12 – Silent Clowns, NYC – our annual "Forgotten Clowns" show programmed by Steve Massa, using films from the collection of Dave Stevenson. A great program, although not as well-attended as usual. We're not getting listed in TimeOut NY this fall for some reason, and we're usually always listed; the TONY listings always bring us 15-25 walk-ups (or more). Grrr...

Coming up next: more Vitagraphs at MoMA, shows at two different Grace Churches, and Sherlock Jr. at the dedication of Wesleyan's new theater.