August 20, 2012

Monday, August 20th 2012

Youth still being served – Birthday Cake!

It was an amazing weekend of music in Atlanta, thanks to Bucky Reddish who knows how to throw himself a birthday party.
“Bucky’s Big Birthday Bash” is an event he has staged in his Atlanta-area home for several years. It went from a fun day of theatre organ music featuring his Walker organ to multi-artist spectacular a few years ago when Bucky decided that his 60th birthday demanded something special.
Multiple artists – mini-concerts – great food, music and fun, and this year was amazing. The concert entertainment began with Dave Wickerham. After his 30 minutes of music, it was Donnie Rankin’s turn at the console. Then Jelani Eddington performed. After a brief intermission, along came the young Scotland native David Gray . The formal program concluded with Mark Herman. Talk about a WOW moment. Or better yet, several of them.  Your blogger provided some of what Spike Jones called “Dinner music for people who AREN”T very hungry,” making it an even half-dozen performers.
Larry Davis did the introduction and called it the Reddish “one-day ATOS Regional.”
Other funnies uttered during the event included the clever Larry Davis following Jelani Eddington’s performance of the march The Youth of Britain, introducing the REAL youth of Britain, David Gray.
Shortly after that, David Gray introduced his transcription of A Night on Bald Mountain saying, “I hope you will enjoy this…well, you’d BETTER enjoy it, I’ve worked hard enough on it!” Hilarious admonition that only a 21-year-old could get away with.
Mark Herman, commenting on all the fine players…and then referencing their ages. Mark in his mid-20’s…David now 21…Donnie is 21….it then got to “Dave Wickerham is still young….so is Jelani….and, oh, Hi Ken!!” I was the obvious elder statesman of the group, and felt compelled to respond that young Mr. Herman could only wish to look as good as I when he reaches 60! On second thought, that Hollywood smile of his will keep him looking youthful forever!
It was amazing to watch the other artists watch the other artists. There were some jaw-dropping moments provided by everyone, but I was enjoying watching Dave Wickerham’s reactions. Dave simply takes great joy in great music, whether he is providing the moment or he is enjoying someone else do the honors. And he sat there with an ear-to-ear grin while watching the kids wow us all.
Herman – 2012 Organist of the Year; Rankin – a growing concert artist with a most distinctive approach; David Gray – we have not heard him play a lot of theatre organ lately, but he’s been hopscotching the US all summer, and oh boy, has he grown as a musician. His studies at London’s Royal Academy of Music focus on piano, and he is absolutely brilliant, and for our benefit carrying that spectacular piano skill over to the horseshoe console.
It was a special weekend in Atlanta, and I was privileged to be a part of it.
Meanwhile, while we celebrated a birthday and the youth of ATOS, we take a moment to mourn the passing of one of the greatest pipe organ talents ever.
Carlo Curley passed away last week. He had not yet reached age 60.
While not a theatre organist per se, he loved the theatre organ. I saw him share the bill with Lyn Larsen more than once, and Carlo could entertain with the best of them. There are few who can carry the torch set forth by the late Virgil Fox, who brought classical organ music to the masses, but certainly Carlo Curley was able to accomplish that as well in a spectacular career that saw him perform the world over.
Thank you, Carlo, for sharing your gifts.
We will be sending another email message to ATOS members very soon with plenty to discuss. Don Phipps, Bob Evans, Tim Needler, Jack Moelmann and others are completing a full survey of all ATOS chapters to update our chapter list; know who is active and who is not these days; and generate an updated data base which will help us serve the organization better. Messrs. Phipps and Evans made this a high priority item coming out of the convention.
I hope you are enjoying these little missives. I am hitting the road again soon and will be reporting in from various locations around the country. I hope our paths might cross during my travels. Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin coming up.
California, Oregon, Washington, Florida before the year is out. I’ll keep the bags packed and be sure to take off my shoes and belt when I go through the scanner!