Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Concerts, Comments, and Updates

Back in 1981 Harry Chapin was on his way to a Free Concert (as many of his were) at Eisenhower Park in Nassau County when he was killed in a tragic traffic accident.

On August 31 the 6th annual "Wild About Harry" concert took place at that site and it featured a wonderful roster of talented people all of whom volunteered their talent for this benefit for Long Island Cares. The price of admission was some canned food for the local pantries. Even that was voluntary.

The annual commemoration of Harry Chapin started at a different venue but has been at The Harry Chapin Lakeside Stage at this site for over 4 years now and has, according to Stuart Markus, raised an enormous amount of food donations for the local organizations.

Stuart Markus (pictured here) has been putting these programs on for some 6 years now and they celebrate Harry Chapin and his music. All the while benefiting Long Island Food Pantries for the needy.

This year's concert attracted over 3,000 people on the lawn at the Harry Chapin Lakeside Stage at Eisenhower Park at a concert that featured, among others, Josh Joffen, Debra Lynne, Gathering Time, Ed Ryan, Howard Fields (drummer with the Harry Chapin Band), and ever so many more.

The performances were on a par with anything you might see at a stadium venue at great expense and all the while having a family friendly feel that is exactly what Harry Chapin exuded in his own performances. I do have to single out one of the artists for a truly great interpretation of a Chapin classic---WOLD. Ed Ryan. He brought the enthusiasm and meaning of the song to the life that, I am sure, Harry Chapin believed he created. Christine Solemino truly has to be singled out for her brilliant presentation of "You Are The Only Song". Along with her great piano work.

Suffice it to say that all the artists were---well, save one, to me, were just great and even that person has to be complimented for his participation and, judgemental as I am, he felt his interpretation of The Rock was valid. That's music and poetry. The program ended with a wonderful rendition by a truly talented group , Gathering Time followed by the entire ensemble doing the Chapin classic "Circle" with the audience joining in. The audience was a wonderful mix of young and old which made me wonder about the Chapin connection for some. I do believe it was manyfold--free concert, Chapin fans, Long Island musical devotees, and a beautiful weather evening for this event.

Wishing that I had a photo to show you of the beatific setting of this venue; unfortunately in this age of instant electronic gratifications---there is a double entendre if ever I saw one---I don't.

Which now brings up the mention of TRADITIONS for this Sunday(9/6). In the "Story Song" section it will be devoted to Harry Chapin and two pieces--The Rock which is very rarely ever heard (and the piece I felt was awful that evening---in all honesty) done by the master who knows how to bring it across. The other piece is the one that I felt should have been included given Pete Seeger's 90th year---Old Folkie.

A personal anecdote here. Many years back Harry Chapin and Pete Seeger were appearing at a long defunct Westchester venue. At intermission Pete just sat on the edge of the stage playing his Recorder. Harry, then, joined him strumming a guitar. That was intermission---in what really turned out to be more of a house concert in a large venue. Trust me---these two people were what they seemed---natural. You will not see that in any venue of major significance again. Only at Folk Festivals. Then, probably, not with "name" performers---only some really talented folks wanting to share some great music with you. Harry Chapin was the last of a breed. As is Pete Seeger.

Since this is Program Notes I do hope you will join me for both Sunday Simcha this week and Traditions. On both programs you will find some things that will intrigue and interest you and if not---hey, you have a dial and and on/off switch. Neither of which, I believe, you will need.


Anonymous said...

Great story.

I went to the concert. I have a fan video posted at youtube:

Kimberly Wilder

Anonymous said...

Thanks---unfortunately your link does not work. Any other way I can access it---you can e mail me


Stuart Markus said...

Thanks for the great posting! I am happy to report that this year's concert brought us to about 3 tons of food collected. I must disagree with your assessment of "The Rock," though. It may have offended the ears of some folk purists, but I thought it was well suited to a well, rocked -out version! It's an angry, sardonic, subtly political song, that I think the slashing guitars and pounding bass & drums served well.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps---but Harry Chapin was about words and rhythm. Not one word was understood by anyone I spoke with.

Discussions are good. Just my take---I bet some young "metal" folks might have liked it---but, my question is --for what reason?

Anonymous said...

I meant to sign the name