Sunday, May 27, 2007

My summer of silents

On June 1st I begin a rather busy two months of silent film accompaniment, both on piano and on theatre organ. 16 dates in June and 13 in July, several of which have two (or three) shows on the same day. Some of these bookings just came in over the past week, and some were solidified (date was already set, but show time and/or film title was confirmed). Plus some more scoring for Kino popped up, for the Houdini DVD set now due out in September. I'd scored Haldane of the Secret Service (1923) for the set on digital orchestra a few months back, and now some extras are being added.

I'll be playing for MoMA's annual film preservation fest in June, a silent each month at the Cinema Arts Center on Long Island, a program of comedy shorts at Mamaroneck's annual street fair (in the town's 1926 movie theater), a pair of films at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's series of recent [theatrical] releases by Kino, a series of 1912-14 films at MoMA in conjunction with their gallery show of Danish film posters from those years, the annual 4-day Slapsticon in Arlington VA, and a show at the Museum of the City of New York of films from the Reel Baseball DVD set.

Check out my performance schedule on my website for details on dates, times and films.

I'm trying best I can to preview the films I have to play for; some are available on video, some are available on screeners from the venue (MoMA), and then Slapsticon is going to be almost all "sight-reading".

Check back for reports, photos and audio clips. See you at the silents!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Safety Last at the Paramount (Peekskill, NY)

Well, last night's show of Harold Lloyd's Safety Last (1923) was a blast. If you're within driving distance of the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill...go see something there. It's a beautifully restored 1930 Paramount Publix Theater. It originally seated 1500 or thereabout, but several rows had been removed in order to build a performing stage.

This was my second show there; I'd performed in the spring of 2004 -- did two nights, one of Chaplin shorts and another of Keaton's Seven Chances (plus One Week). In '04 they rented an Allen organ for the show; the instrument Allen provided was a nice-looking one but unfortunately was a few decades old and had that "ballpark" sound (their C19, which is a more recent model and has real TPO samples, was in the shop). This time I decided to bring the Miditzer. You can see it in the photo. The Miditzer was a quick set-up (15 mins) as usual and the Paramount's tech/audio crew had the sound level set within a minute or two...fastest audio tech I've had.

Jon Yanofsky and his team there are to be commended for making silent films with live music a part of their programming landscape. They're really dedicated to connecting their audiences with the theater's history as well as offering big-name acts. The place is a real treasure, and a real pleasure to work at.

Cliff Cronin, a silent film fan and stuntman who did a program in December '06 at my Silent Clowns series in NYC on Buster Keaton's stunt work, came to the show. Great to see him again, and hear that he was doing his presentation somewhere in Connecticut this month.

Have gotten videos of Dovzhenko's Earth (MoMA on Fri May 18 at 8:30), Ozu's I Was Born, But... (Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, NY on Tues May 22 at 7:30) and The Black Pirate (Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, NY on Tues June 19 at 7:30) out of the library to pre-screen and prep for those shows. Check out my performance sched at my website for a list of the 9 shows I have at MoMA in June during their annual film preservation festival called To Save and Project.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Lupino Lane at the Silent Clowns series

Shown here (R) is my Miditzer set-up at the New-York Historical Society from Sunday, May 6 at the Silent Clowns Film Series. I used the organ for the concluding program of the SCFS, a show of Lupino Lane comedy shorts, and it was a big hit. I'll be using it again this Friday at the Paramount in Peekskill, NY - a restored movie palace from 1930. Will also be using it for 5 or 6 shows in June at MoMA. The SCFS program was a lot of fun. Kudos to collectors Eric Grayson and Paul Lisy for prints of some real rarities.

The Reel Baseball DVD continues to sell, and was written up nicely in last week's NY Times DVD picks by Dave Kehr.

Last week I repaired one of the piano benches at MoMA. A couple of bolts had come out and its wobbling was driving me a little nutz. I contacted the mfr of the bench and got the "shoulder bolts" needed. My sacrum and that of Stuart O. will be safe for the preservation fest coming up there in June.

Will try to remember to get pics at the Paramount and postum here. Sorry I've not posted since March. Between April being rather busy work-wise, coupled with my disillusionment that very few people are checking this blog are the culprits. Will try to keep posting for those of you who do visit.