Tuesday, March 23, 2010


SPRING ARRIVED LAST WEEKEND with beautiful weather, a little unseasonably warm, but much appreciated. The nearby resort town Old Orchard Beach, saw visitors in summer like numbers. The beach was almost crowded with blankets, bodies stretched to get the most exposure possible, kids running in and out of the little low-tide waves. A perfect introduction to spring. BUT WAIT - like most good things, it came to an end with cooler cloudy skies and cold Atlantic breezes on Monday, and today, Tuesday, it is raining and the temperature is much more typically March in Maine. But at least, it's not "pushing snow!"

I must at this point refer back to the last blog in which I wrote about turkey antics. I was driving home from my son's business location in Yarmouth yesterday. Three or four turkeys were just crossing the road, and of course, I had to stop to make sure there were no more to come because traditionally there is one which does not stay with the group and then runs like hell to catch up. I glanced into the woods where the group had gone and saw something I had never ever even heard of let alone seen: A WILD WHITE TURKEY. A truck behind me was not being patient, so I drove on. I had my cell phone and should have gotten a picture, but I didn't. End of turkey tales for now. I know some people think they are ugly. I like them. They are totally indifferent to traffic and cross where and when they get the urge. Watch out for them. They make an awful mess when struck. And we need them to control the ticks.

Now back to music (No, not Turkey in the Straw!) SPRING
Many songs have been written about spring: Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year, It Might As Well Be Spring, Spring Fever, Spring is Here, and Spring Can Hang You Up The Most. And then there are the songs which allude to Spring like April in Paris and April Love. March used to be associated with windy weather which brings to mind Let's Go Fly A Kite from Mary Poppins. And how about Tiptoe Through The Tulips? If you are looking for a piece of music to celebrate the season, I hope the above list will help.

One of my favorite songs written about the season is the hymn PALMS. As this Sunday is Palm Sunday in the Christian faith, it is appropriate to mention that lovely composition. It is arranged in E-Z Play for piano, keyboard and organ; and it is available in many degrees of difficulty. If you have not played that piece, I urge you to.

Well, it's a "rainy, rainy day, so what ever you have to do, I hope it's something that can be be done by two ....." but if it's something that only you can do, do it with enthusiasm and enjoy the experience.

Keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing.


Thursday, March 18, 2010


Last week I read in the local paper that, in spite of the "early spring", the turkey hunt will not change. The article said that turkeys have an internal clock which governs the mating season. It went on to say purveyors of turkey hunting gear have seen a significant uptick in sales because hunters believe the early warm weather will change the turkey's habits. I cannot vouch for any of the above, but I will say that the lady turkeys have been taking their morning and afternoon strolls through my yard, much to my dog's distress. And on early on several recent mornings, Tom and Jake have been strutting up the middle of the street calling all ladies and fanning their feathers as they do some fancy footwork. So, it came to my mind - "Annie Get Your Gun, the turkeys are on the run.!"

Irving Berlin wrote that wonderfully entertaining musical about Annie Oakley, who was the best shot around. In the story she is taking care of her younger siblings and supplying the family table with game. She is discovered by Col. Buffalo Bill Cody and he persuades her to join his Wild West Show. There is romance, rivalry, intrigue and all sorts of clever and witty dialog. Annie Get Your Gun has been produced on Broadway with several different casts; has been made into a movie; and has been presented on stages across the country in summer theater, high schools and colleges. Bernadette Peters, Tom Wopat, Ron Holgate and a talented supporting cast made up the most recent Broadway production which had record attendance and received rave reviews.

Some of the songs from Annie are: There's No Business Like Show Business; Doin' What Comes Naturally, You Cain't Get a Man With A Gun, The Girl That I Marry, Moonshine Lullaby and the lovely I Got Lost In His Arms.


Irving Berlin, who created this musical, was born in Mogilyov which is now Belarus, in May of 1888. He moved to the US at age five and began appearing in vaudeville at the age of 22. He served in the US Army in WW1. Mr. Berlin lost his first wife, Dorothy Goetz, shortly after their honeymoon. He wrote "When I Lost You" in her memory. He married Ellin Mackay and they had four children. Their only son Irving Jr., died on Christmas morning 1928. Among the hundreds of song Berlin wrote, were White Christmas, Easter Parade, Blue Skies, Alexander's Ragtime Band
Always, and God Bless America. He wrote the major radio stations requesting them to no play Elvis Presley's rendition of White Christmas because it had been revamped.

Jerome Kern once remarked "Irving Berlin has no place in American music. He IS American music."

And Berlin said, "Never hate a song that's sold a half million copies." and
"The toughest thing about success is that you've got to keep on being a success."

Keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010


GRAND STATE OF MAINE ~ proudly we sing
To tell the glories of the land,
To shout it till the rafters ring.
Should fate unkind - send us to roam,
The scent of the fragrant pines,
The tang of the salty sea - Will call us home.

Oh, Pine Tree State,
Your woods, fields and hills,
Your lakes, streams and rock bound coast
Will ever fill our hearts with thrills,
And tho' we seek for and wide
Our search will be in vain,
to find a fairer spot on earth

The song was written by Roger Vinton Snow and adopted as the official state song in March of 1937. Mr. Snow was a Portland native who got his primary and secondary education in the public schools. There is considerable written about him (available on the internet, of course) including an extensive interview for the Portland Press Herald in 1999.

Maine has a very rich music history going back to the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy Indians. A gentleman known as the "Handel of Maine", Supply Belcher (1751-1836) compiled a "book of tunes" and organized the first choir in the Maine. The oldest continually active symphony in the country is the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. Portland also has a fine symphony, is home to the Choral Arts Society, the Portland String Quartet and the DaPonte String Quartet. And then there are two opera companies, The Portland Opera Repertory Theatre and OperaMaine.

On the lighter side and current are One Longfellow Square which presents music, poetry, writing and dance; and the St. Lawrence Performing Arts Center a beautiful renovated stone church on Munjoy Hill.

Throughout the state there are groups who continue to keep traditional cultural music alive. The Maine Indians still teach their children the dances and music of their various traditions; The Stockholm and New Sweden for Swedish music; the French-Maine communities across the state from the Upper St. John Valley to the Acadian area all the way south to the Lewiston-Auburn and Biddeford areas - all celebrate their musical heritage.

There have been long established groups that have become well known locally and nationally. The Meddiebempsters of Bowdoin College, the Bates College all-male Manic Optimists, The Freewill Society at Bates College, Schooner Fare are some. If Jazz is your choice, there is the MidCoast Jazz Society; the Maine Festival in Brunswick, the Boothbay Harbor Jazz Festival. Maine hosts several Blue Grass festivals during the summer also.

Popular music (so called!) finds several venues for bands that play funk, rock, metal, etc. You would find Rustic Overtones, Ray Lamontagne, The Elliotts,
Jeremiah Freed in these places. Actually, L.L.Bean Discovery Park also features concerts by some of these groups.

I will share something with you - one of the best kept secrets in Maine - a great group of musicians plays every Thursday morning from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. right on Forest Avenue in Portland. Free to the public via the side door entrance to Starbird Music Mall.

We are the STARBIRD L.I.F.E. PLAYERS. Drop in, have a cup of coffee and listen to the senior hobby organists play their favorite songs from the good old days.

"If you were blessed with the gift that allows you to play an musical instrument, always play it with your heart, so you can extend your blessing to those who are listening." Joan Baez

Keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing.