Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Day or night your visit to Memphis is not complete without an amble down historic Beale Street.  Here are some snapshots from our all too short visit to this famous thoroughfare to inspire you:

Blues Hall and Juke Joint – you just don’t hear those phrases much anymore, do you? Same with Drinks to Go-!
Juke Joint and Blues Hall


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As a holiday treat to my mother, sisters and the Retro Roadkids, I ventured to Massachusetts a couple of weeks ago to bring them to a holiday recital on the Great Boston Music Hall Organ, at the Methuen Memorial Music Hall in Methuen, MA. Listening to classic Christmas tunes played on this grand pipe organ, a splendid time was had by all!

The Retro Roadkids

Even Bach got into the holiday spirit!

Bach Goes Christmas

Originally built for the Boston Music Hall which opened in 1852 (now known clunkily as the “Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre”) the organ was inagurated into that space 11 years later, to great public acclaim.

However, much like we see today, times and tastes changed. In 1881 the Boston Symphony Orchestra was founded and drew the audience away from the great organ. With the orchestra’s popularity also came need for additional stage space, and it was deemed that this outmoded relic was too big for the hall’s current needs.

Despite vigorous protests the organ was sold and removed from the hall. Eventually the organ – which had cost over $60,000 to build, was resold for $1500 to Edward Francis Searles of Methuen.

Boston Music Hall Organ Christmas ConcertFinished in 1909, the Serlo Organ Hall in Methuen, MA where the organ now resides was built specifically for this great organ and is known for its wonderful acoustics and italianate decor. It is interesting to note that the organ was used only for the private entertainment of Mr. Searles, and the public was not admitted to the hall during his lifetime (he died in 1920).

Now on the register of historic places, you’d never know what a fabulous treat awaits you behind it’s classic brick facade. I would not have known about it myself except that I had attended a wedding there years ago. It’s a beautiful space for a wedding for sure.

Boston Music Hall Organ Pipes

I knew this was a place that my mother would enjoy, and the RetroRoadkids were amazed with the organ as well. I’m hoping the memories of seeing it and hearing it will last them a lifetime (an auntie can dream!)

RetroRoadboy is AmazedThe sound was just lovely, and while I did take some video of it, you end up hearing more of the woman behind me singing along to the carols than I would prefer. Here’s a video from YouTube that gives you an idea of the grandeur and sound of this great pipe organ:

We were lucky enough to attend this concert before they closed up for the winter (can you imagine how expensive it would be to heat such a place?!) but please keep this fantastic destination in mind and check out their website to learn when they re-open in the spring. It’s truly a hidden gem!

Methuen Memorial Music Hall
92 Broadway
Methuen, MA 01844
(978) 685-0693

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I think I’m still a little sad about yesterday’s post regarding old theatres that don’t make it, so here’s some holiday cheer coming from my local historic movie theater The Colonial Theatre in downtown Phoenixville, PA. Christmas movies and holiday music – live and on the big screen!

The Colonial Christmas

Here are some of the holiday films and events coming up at The Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA  this December!

City Rhythm Orchestra Holiday Style –  Sun Dec 5th 7:30pm

The 15-piece City Rhythm Orchestra presents Holiday Style, a big band concert that’s a perfect way to start the yuletide season!

City Rhythm Orchestra

A Christmas Story – Sat, Dec 11, 2:00 pm
A Christmas Story grasps the full scope of childhood injustice and obsession. A BB Gun! A Leg Lamp! You name it, they want it!

A Christmas Story Colonial Theatre Phoenixville PA

The Theatre Organ Society of the Delaware Valley Holiday Musical Extravaganza -Sun, Dec 12, 2:00 pmJoin TOSDV on the second of four shakedown cruises of the Colonial’s Wurlitzer 3/24 Opus 585. The concert will feature members of the TOSDV family performing holiday and seasonal favorites, along with a special holiday silent movie.

TOSDV Organ Concert Colonial Theatre Phoenixville PA

It’s a Wonderful Life Sun, Dec 19, 2:00 pm
Not a big success at the time of its release, it’s gone on to become one of the most popular movies ever made. One of Mod Betty’s favorite Phoenixville holiday traditions is seeing this on the big screen!

White Christmas Sun, Dec 26, 2:00 pm
“White Christmas” is a cracking musical….warm, sweet, and perfect for wasting a winter afternoon.”

Now that’s better! Fun stuff to look forward to!

The Colonial Theatre
227 Bridge St
Phoenixville, PA 19460

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Still saddened by the loss of Les Paul earlier today, I wanted to quickly remind the Retro Roadmap community about another 94 year old who is still performing music 6 nights a week in New York City. I’m talking about none other than pianist/songwriter Irving Fields who we had the pleasure of listening to and meeting with on my birthday last Friday.

As his website notes:

Trained in the prime years of Tin Pan Alley and immersed in the classic American popular music of the pre-World War II era, IRVING FIELDS is simply one of the last of a truly special generation who continues to perform to this day.

And indeed this is true! Every night but Mondays you can find him behind the piano at Nino’s Tuscany, as we did. We arrived early on a Friday (since the Retro Roadhusband actually had a gig of his own later that evening) to find Irving getting the star treatment with a photoshoot for an article for NYCgo Magazine which you can read here.

Irving Fields is ready for his closeup

(Side note: as you have probably noticed if you’ve read some of the posts here on Retro Roadmap, I don’t tend to take photos with people in them, and this stems from the fact that I personally don’t like to be in front of the camera. However some of the photos of Irving from our visit have me in them, so it’s a rare appearance I make here on my own website!)

Since it was so early we were lucky enough to have him practically to ourselves, so we sat at the bar, ordered a classic cocktail and became enraptured with his take on the American Songbook Standards that I love so much.


Nino's Tuscany NYC

During the first break he came over to greet us, and my husband was kind enough to drop the hint that it was my birthday. Well Irving could not have been more delightful! He perked right up and said, ” I’m going to write a song for you on your birthday!” While I was charmed by the offer, I told him that was not necessary, but if he knew any Cole Porter I’d be happy just to hear that.

He returned to his piano, took out his fountain pen and began to jot some notes down. We then got chatting with the photographer from the shoot (Malcolm Brown) and I was delighted to hear some of my very favorite Porter tunes coming from Irving. I raised my glass to him in thanks and he gave me a winning smile.
Soon after he came over, paper in hand and SANG THE SONG HE WROTE FOR ME, TO ME!!! I was so touched.

A Song Is Born!

He then gave me the lyrics to keep, and walking home I felt like Zuzu in It’s a Wonderful Life, protecting my precious gift with my life.

Mod Betty and her Birthday Song

I was ready to spend the rest of the evening there, but we had to head downtown to meet friends at the gig. We promised Irving we’d be back soon and bring friends- won’t you come along with us the next time we visit?

Our Evening With Irving

Irving Fields at Nino’s Tuscany
117 W 58th St
New York, NY 10019-1557
(212) 757-8630

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