Sunday, May 30, 2010



My very early memories of Memorial Day are of sitting on the curb in front of my Dad's business in Kennebunk waiting for the parade. The parade formed at the far west end of the town, stopped at the Mousam River Bridge to pay tribute to "..those who perished on the sea.." by tossing wreaths into the water. A bugler played taps and the march proceeded eastward through town to WWI Memorial, and then on to the cemetery where military honors were performed. Since I was only four or five my memories may be short a few details. I do remember we all had a flag to wave, and we were always dressed up. White patent leather shoes, ribbons in our hair and summery dresses. There were WWI veterans with their color guards. Henry Parsons, Earl Smith, Freddy Rouleau on his wooden bicycle with one enormous wheel and one tiny one. Someone, maybe George Cousins dressed up in an Uncle Sam suit..... We were well aware of the meaning of the day. There had been wars to establish America, and wars to keep it safe.
Many men had given their lives to those ends, and before we could celebrate their victories, we did honor their sacrifice. Commerce stopped and families held reunions.
Nearly all businesses closed. That was probably around 1935/36.

Since then there have been several wars which American servicemen have been drawn into by our government. I was too young at the beginning of WWII to have a real opinion of the merit of our involvement. My brother and most of his friends were in various services. Word came that a young pilot, only child of a well known family had been shot down; that another one had been taken prisoner in Germany; that a ship had sunk and a sailor was among the crew. The town population was around 3000 so losses were felt by everyone. These were the "kids" who played football, basketball, baseball and competed in track with everyone's kids. Memorial Day from then on took on a whole new meaning for me. There have been several wars and actions in my lifetime. Now Lowe's and Ace Hardware are declaring Memorial Day as a day for "fun and fixing projects" with no reference to the real meaning of the day. It makes me angry and sad. Yes, life goes on, but as it does we should always be mindful of and honor those who have made that possible.

There is a lot of music suitable for Memorial Day. America The Beautiful; God Bless America; God Bless the USA; You're A Grand Old Flag; Stars and Stripes Forever; and of course, the service anthems: American Patrol, Caissons Go Rolling Along, Air Force Song; Anchors Aweigh; Marines' Hymn; Coast Guard Song. Dennis Awe made a medley of the service songs which is very good. Choy Lozada, when he was with Lowrey, put together an organ medley of sounds which are very appropriate. Choy's arrangements are on a floppy disk but can be transferred to a USB stick.

Please enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, but don't forget the reason for it.

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


Saturday, May 22, 2010


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Yes, "I hear music -mighty fine music" - it sings in my head and lightens my heart.
Today there were eight of my MUSIC FRIENDS here from 10:00 a.m. until nearly 2:00 p.m. Over coffee, fruit and home baked treats there was talk of where the program is headed - and we still don't know. What we do know is that we are strong together when we play for one another. SO today, I heard a lot of beautiful music played on my Prestige. Among eight or nine people who were here today, the organs in their various homes are Prestige, Royale, Premiere, Legacy, Encore, Century, and Jamboree. Everyone who owns an older or smaller organ has to re-adapt their music to my Prestige. It is a good way to "stretch" our skills to play on different instruments.
When we play at Truslow Adult Daycare, we play a Century, and when we play at the Maine Veterans' Home it is on the Premiere. All are Lowrey organs but all quite different.

One way to move from organ to organ is to make sticky notes with the arrangements. They won't permanently mark the page, and they can be changed from organ to organ.
The newest Lowrey organs have USB sticks which will not work for presets in the older organs so "nag-notes" are important in preparing to play for others.

Next week, May 29, we will be participating in a Community Yard Sale in South Portland. Last year we participated for the first time and felt very satisfied to make nearly $200. We have a wider variety of "merchandise" this year and look forward to bringing in a fair amount of dollars. Money from our treasury will go to charitable use to be decided when we know what we have to work with.

The week after next, June 5, we will gather at Joyce's home in Steep Falls.

The more people who come, the more I feel we are staying together and making the limited time at the studio work for us. AS for what is going on at the studio - I really don't know. Everyone seems to have a different idea about what is happening and what will transpire as time goes on. It is midway through a "10-week session" so only time will tell.

Cameron Carpenter, who has performed at the local Merrill Auditorium on the Kotschmar organ, has a wonderful website. It shows him playing the organ and doing a large part of the piece with only foot pedals. I am sure if you Google Cameron Carpenter you can view and listen to it. He is one of America's current outstanding organists.

"Beautiful" songs -
Beautiful Dreamer
Beautiful Boy
Beautiful Friendship, A
Beautiful In My Eyes
Beautiful Isle of Somewhere
Beautiful Morning ( It's A)
Beautiful Savior
Beautiful Sea
Beauty and the Beast

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


Monday, May 17, 2010


The colorful musical "OKLAHOMA!" was Rodgers and Hammerstien's first collaboration. I have said, in past blogs, a lot about the duo, which went on to write a total of nine Broadway musicals. Oklahoma is considered to be the most important in the development of American musical theater. The plot which revolved around who would take a local beauty to a box social - the handsome, respected Curly or the sinister Jud. In Oklahoma they mixed story, song and dance and gave insight into the main characters' hidden fears and desires. The show opened in March of 1943 and ran for 2,212 performances with Joan Roberts as Laurey, Alfred Drake as Curly and Howard DaSilva as Jud. The 1955 film version featured Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones.

MISS OKLAHOMA won the Miss USA Contest yesterday.

This is a beautiful day in Scarborough Maine. The marshes viewed from Route 1 are getting very green; the winter browns and golds have made a mat for the new growth so it is all very colorful. This morning several small long legged birds were wading around in the pools, occasionally dipping their graceful necks to pluck some tasty morsel from the shallow depth. I love those marshes, they are constantly changing and always so colorful. We may not have a "bright golden haze on the meadow" but we do have a our beautiful marshes and sometimes they do indeed, have a haze over them. And sometimes, because they are filled with little twisting creeks, they are almost entirely under water. ++++ I am old enough to remember when those marshes were filled with "teds" as farmers hayed those marshes. A fast growing very tall reed was introduced to the marshes some years back to provide food for the geese, I have been told. Now that reed has taken over a large section, and I saw this year a small harvester was parked there in early spring. Apparently that reed has been "mowed" an there is new bright green low growth in it's place. More color in the beautiful Scarborough Marsh area.

Good or bad, things never stay the same. The music program in Portland is once again undergoing a transition. I am not attending classes for the present but I am in touch with them, and when things are settled and I know where I belong, I will most certainly return. The organ hobby serves those of us who regularly participate in so many ways. Friendship, activity, quiet moments alone; it brings me up when I am down, and relaxes me when I am fretful. No matter when or where I play, I enjoy myself. Yesterday, after a nice lunch with my daughter at the Bull & Claw in Wells, I spent two hours at the Maine Veterans' Home playing a variety of oldies, country, polkas and marches for a very appreciative audience. When I sat down there was one man. In a little while there were several people including a woman who was in the Navy. A resident and his visiting wife came for a while. Some drifted in and left but when I left there were four people still listening. The caring staff was setting tables and making coffee. I asked if the food is good and got a resounding "yes!" from the men waiting at their places to be served. If you have the opportunity to play for a Veterans' Center or Home, please do so. They are a great audience.

"All the sounds of the earth are like music -

Sometimes you have to stop and listen for them, but the sounds of earth are all around us. They are there for your listening pleasure without an iPod or CD player.

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


Friday, May 7, 2010

He's Got The WHole World in His Hands

Yes, He has the whole world in His hands - and I was never more sure than I am at this time. Yesterday I was driving on a very familiar street in Portland on my way home from having lunch with my organ friends. As I drove along I saw, on the right side of the street, on the sidewalk, a young man with three children, one on a bicycle at the edge of the road.
When I see children on the side of the road I usually slow down because kids are naturally unpredictable. So I was going fairly slow. From the left side a child about three years, if I judge correctly, erupted into the street right in front of me, headed for the children on the left. I stomped on the brakes and thank GOD my car came to a rocking stop. The mother stood in absolute horror unable to move, but the young man left his family, dashed into the road, snatched the little curly headed girl up, and carried her to - presumably - her mother. I have never come so close to being involved in a true tragedy. GOD WAS SURELY IN THE CAR WITH ME and HE WAS SURELY WITH THAT PRECIOUS CHILD. I would send a harness to the mother if I knew who she is.

HE'S GOT THE WHOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS IS A SPIRITUAL. I was unable to find the composer/lyricist but did learn that in 1958 an English singer Laurie London sang it and it went all the way to #1 in the "Most Played by Jockeys" list,and #3 in the R&B charts. It was also successfully performed by a British male. Mahalia Jackson's version made the Billboard top100 singles chart. To date it is the only gospel song to hit #1 on a US pop singles chart. Marian Anderson, Odetta, Perry Como, The Sandpipers and several other groups have recorded it. The Sisters of Mercy performed it at the Reading Festival.

The tune has been used with substitute lyrics for football teams and the movie Tootsie.
It is published in Hal Leonard books, both EZ-PLay and Fake. It's a great song to play at senior gatherings. The tune is simple and the words are easy to remember. It will be one of my favorite songs from now on!

I guess I should mention I get most of my information from the internet,and Wikipedia is a fountain that never dries up. I also go to various music sites and get quite caught up in reading what pops up.

Dennis Awe is arranging an Organ Extravaganza in Orlando in late August. I hate airports, and am not eager to fly with all the nonsense that seems to be going on. But my friend in Michigan says "when your number is up, it's up" and he and his wife are going with out hesitation. He, John, told me that there is a good organ event in Pennsylvania every year, and next year they will go to that one. I am considering the Orlando event. I do love Dennis' productions. He will have several other performers and the "day after" event looks very enticing.

Tomorrow is the day my organ friends gather here to enjoy music, conversation and good food. Good food, if I get up and make a lasagna, that is. Well, everyone brings goodies and fruit and nuts. Last time we ordered pizza in from a near-by shop. Whatever we have, and however many come, it will be a good time. Wish you were here.

Until next week ~

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


Sunday, May 2, 2010


MAY FIRST being written on MAY SECOND.
Last week I expressed - as in squeezed out - a lot of thoughts on the music program.
I promise not to make this another such diatribe.

Yesterday, May 1st, four of our organ group went as scheduled, to Kennebunk for the May Day Fair. We were set up and playing by 10:30. It was warm and breezy, a lovely day to be out in the fresh air on the edge of the Mousam River. Brian's friends, Mark who plays guitar and Mary who plays flute, joined him in some duets.

I have not seen such a turn out for any local event since last year in West Kennebunk at their Family Fun Fair. Those Kennebunk people (I used to be one) know how to have a great event. There was a parade with dozens of liittle baseball players proudly sporting their red, blue and black jerseys. There was a bagpipe band in pretty blue plaid kilts. The Shriners were there with both the moped team and the little yellow car team. The Shoe String puppeteers were there. That impressive group from Portland wear oversized wildly fashioned and colorful outfits, and oversized papier mache heads with rather grotesque features. They march in total disorder led by a character on stilts which elevate him to about twelve feet tall. They are a very special group. There was a drum corp wearing Mexican hats. (A bit early for Cinco de Mayo!) We don't have a significant number of Mexican illegal immigrants in Maine so no political statement was intended, I am sure. There was a parade of vehicles of interest, large wreckers and tow trucks, etc. The American Legion provided an honor guard and grand marshall. NICE PARADE.

Back to MUSIC - I went to GOOGLE to see what I could find in "Music about May". Google took me to Cape May, a list of people named May both first and last, and people named Musick. It further referred me to people named Mary. I actually thought it was pretty funny. I then went to Songs about May" and that was more interesting. I suppose I could have stopped at "A Tisket, A Tasket" which is apparently about a May Basket. Remember those? We delivered them to someone's door and then ran. Originally that little adventure was for girls and boys, and the "hangee" chased the "hanger" and gave her/him a kiss. In my childhood we hung them on everyone in the neighborhood. I remember my Mom making the baskets out of little paper cups and yards of crepe paper carefully crimped and pleated; then glued to the cups. Handles were made of braided crepe paper or pretty ribbons. Good heavens! Do any mothers today have time for such things? One year the minister's wife down the street from us, though not of our church, was very ill. Mom made a basket from a half-pint ice cream box - you know, the little square ones like gold fish used to come in - and filled it with vanilla ice cream for her. Once again I digress, which is a great failing of mine when I am writing.

May 1st it seems, is actually International Workers' Day. There are a number of songs written to that theme, one being Pete Seeger's "Talking Union". Continuing to look for some lovely music for a lovely month, I found a site with two Irish pieces, written in Gaelic! There were translations but no music. Following is a verse from Ecstasy of Spring:

May clad in cloth of gold
Commeth this way.
The fluting of black birds
Heralds the day.

The second had no name. They are both beautiful pastoral poems. If you are interested Google "Ecstasy of Spring". If you are inclined, try writing some music to accompany them. You never know how far that will take you.

SO, the only song I could come up with is from the wonderful musical "Camelot".

In brief, "It's May, THE LUSTY MONTH OF MAY, That lovely month when every one goes blissfully astray. It's here, That shocking time of year when tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear. It's May, That gorgeous holiday, when every maiden prays that her lad will be a cad. It's mad, it's gay! A libelous display. Those dreary vows that everyone takes, everyone breaks. Everyone makes divine mistakes - The Lusty Month of May" There is much more to it, this amusing light-hearted song which Guenevere sings so gaily.

Lowrey has this in EZ Play book #287 and Hal Leonard has published a complete souvenir folio of Camelot in traditional piano music with chords for other instruments.

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