ALISON “NIGHTBIRD” STEELE: WOMAN PIONEER IN PROGRESSIVE ROCK RADIO

If you were a New Yorker in the late sixties and seventies, liked music and were a night owl…you definitely remember “The Nightbird,” Alison Steele.

A NYC native–Brooklyn–she was a member of a 1966 “all-girl” WNEW format. The show didn’t prove popular and all the “girls” except Alison were let go. She stayed on as the station’s night DJ–10pm-2am. Steele created a sexy, soulful “Nightbird” persona…WNEW became the flagship station for progressive radio in NY…and Alison was a big reason they succeeded.

She recited poetry, read Shakespeare and the Bible and more than anything she communicated…particularly with males. She played the Moody Blues, Incan tribal music, Andean flutes and other eclectic pieces.

“The flutter of wings, the sounds of the night, the shadow across the moon, as the Nightbird lifts her wings and soars above the earth into another level of comprehension, where we exist only to feel. Come fly with me, Alison Steele, the Nightbird…” A number of you will remember her voice, her style, so unlike all the male DJs at the time. 

Do you remember the music Allison played to close her show…pretty famous group  

 

Facebook Comments

OFTEN SCORNED/ALMOST FORGOTTEN: MY NINETEENTH CENTURY ANCESTORS

Ireland’s Great Famine, which began in 1846, was marked by eviction, starvation and death. Many Irish peasants, tired of their hopeless existence, fled to America. The majority of Irish immigrants were poor, unskilled, often illiterate and predominately Roman Catholic. Their poverty and religion were considered a threat to Americans and, as is too often the case with immigrant groups, they were demonized and treated as an intellectually inferior race.

The Irish were mocked in caricatures that often dehumanized them; cartoonists such as Thomas Nast often portrayed the Irish as brutes with ape-like features. In addition, the belief that the Irish drank excessively, which often led to brawling and rioting, was widespread. In truth, a number of Irish did drink heavily, which created two powerful dynamics; it created a community among the Irish, which was good, but it provided a convenient stereotype for Nast, which wasn’t good—the brawling Irish drunk.

A number of years ago, I discovered a cartoon that was drawn by Frederick Opper, entitled “American Gold.” Opper’s cartoon, which appeared in Puck Magazine, depicts a group of Irish laborers at a work site. A number of the workers, particularly the man with the pick-ax, are depicted with simian-like features, primitive and seemingly less than human. These hardworking immigrants struggled to put food on their family’s tables; yet, the workers were often pictured with disdain.

I thought of these cartoons when I found the following article in the New York Times while researching the life of one of my ancestors.

The day after this story was published, on the morning of September 21, 1868, my great-great-grandfather James Tobin, an Irish immigrant, died at the age of thirty-eight.

James was hauling bricks to the top of the building, just as one of the men in the cartoon is. It was men like my great-great-grandfather whom Nast and Opper portrayed as an inferior species.

I think about James’s life: What was his day-to-day existence like? What was his last day like? How can I breathe of his space and time?

A number of years ago, I walked to the Lower East Side of Manhattan; I planned to trace the steps that James Tobin took on the last day of his life. I began where his tenement would have been located, at 62 Rutgers Street. I imagined the fetid smells of poverty. The cries of the animals and the stench of death emanating from the nearby abattoirs would have filled the air of the neighborhood known as the Place of Blood.

I walked north to Canal St and turned west toward Broadway, through what is now Chinatown. I pictured the sights and sounds: people spilling out from the tenements and streets lined with pushcarts and horse-drawn wagons. I continued along the sidewalk on the north side of the street, imagining the awnings that extended from the butcher shops and groceries that lined the streets. Horse drawn wagons rumbled along Canal Street, which was made of cobblestone taking workers to and from work.

I walked three blocks to Broadway, turned right, and walked a few yards to number 424, a cast iron building, in the Soho neighborhood. I stood in the lobby. The level of fright that James must have felt as his hoist plummeted into the basement of the building is inconceivable.

I left the building and turned back toward Canal Street. I crossed Canal and continued south on Broadway to Duane Street where the New York Hospital was once located. I visualized James’ broken body being transported in a horse-drawn ambulance, with metal wheels, pounding over grimy cobblestone streets. I imagined the sounds; the pain, however, is unimaginable. And I thought of the shock that my great-great-grandmother, Grace, felt upon hearing the news that she was now a widow, and her two-year-old son, Rickard, fatherless.

I wonder what my great-great-grandmother Grace thought of cartoonists who portrayed those like her husband, my great-great-grandfather James, as an intellectually inferior species, something less than human? I can only imagine.

I am, however, strengthened by my ancestors’ tolerance and moved by their suffering. My ancestors arrived in New York City during the mid-nineteenth century. Like many, I’ve spent years trying to uncover my family history in order to understand the nineteenth-century Irish immigrant experience and its impact on who I am. The personal stories of many famine immigrants, like mine, are lost; it’s now left to those like me, the descendants, to piece together shards of memory into a coherent and useful tale.

Facebook Comments

WWII and NEW YORK CITY: CONNECTING TIME and PLACE

I recently returned from France, which included a two-day stop in Normandy. I was pursuing the story of a Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City born soldier, John R. Simonetti, the son of Italian immigrants, who was killed during the Battle of the Hedgerows, on June 16, 1944, in the fields of St. Germain d’Elle, France. (Photo attached.)  

John’s name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France since his body was not recovered from the battlefield where he died. It was a tragedy that the family lived with for generations. In the years that followed his death, the family was in contact with the Army and pursued various paths to determine what had happened to their son and uncle on that fateful day. Finally, in May 2009, while doing some minor excavation work, the skeletal remains of an American soldier, with his dog tags still around his neck, was unearthed in the center of the town. It was John Simonetti.

It’s stories like these that will be included in my show, “New York City and WWII: Connecting Time and Place,” on October 26, 27 and 28, 2020 at The Cell Theatre, which is part of the series, “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads.”

For more information on the series and to purchase a subscription for all eight events at 25% discount CLICK HERE.

Facebook Comments

“GREAT DUETS: MUSIC, HISTORY and STORY” at LEHMAN COLLEGE

Thrilled to be presenting my new series, “Great Duets: Music, History and Story,” at Lehman College this Spring.  These are free events sponsored by the City and Humanities Program and Professor Joseph McElligott

Here’s the lineup:

Feb 13:         Pianist/vocalist Nicole Zuraitis and songwriter/vocalist Clare Maloney present “From Opera to Pop and Jazz,” 12:30pm at Lehman College, Lovinger Theatre, 250 Bedford Park Blvd, Bronx, NY.

March 26:   Violinist Jiin Yang, pianist Wayne Weng and narrator Charles R. Hale present “Connecting the Masters” at Lehman College. 12:30pm, Lehman College, Lovinger Theatre, 250 Park Blvd, Bronx, NY.

April 16:      Pianist Baron Fenwick, tenor Robert Anthony Mack, in “Performance and Discussion” with narrator Charles R. Hale at Lehman College. 12:30pm, Lehman College, Lovinger Theatre, 250 Park Blvd, Bronx, NY.

April 30:     Guitarist Yuri Juarez and pianist Renato Diz present “From Classical to Jazz.” 12:30pm at Lehman College, Lovinger Theatre, 250 Bedford Park Blvd, Bronx, NY.     

 

Facebook Comments

“BENNY MEETS ARTIE” with the ANDERSON BROTHERS at THE CELL, APRIL 28

 

If you haven’t heard Peter and Will Anderson yet, you are in for a big treat. On April 28th as part of the 2020 series, “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads,” presented by Charles R Hale Productions and Musical Solis and produced by  Nancy Manocherian’s “the cell,” the brothers will perform “Benny Meets Artie.”

Raised in poverty in Chicago, Benny Goodman was a classical clarinet prodigy who sparked an international swing craze in the 30s, and premiered the first jazz concert at Carnegie Hall in 1938. Artie Shaw was a composer, author, and master clarinetist, pushing musical boundaries by blending American swing with European and Latin styles. Both swing-era bandleaders were among the first to racially integrate their bands, and their musical legacies have helped define the cultural identity of America. 

Here’s all you need to know about Peter and Will: “Virtuosos on clarinet and saxophone.” New York Times. And that is the truth. Have a listen: CLICK HERE

Peter and Will are two of the most extraordinary  jazz woodwind players on the scene today. Born and raised in Washington D.C., the Andersons moved to New York City to attend The Juilliard School.  They’ve performed with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Wycliffe Gordon, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Paquito D’Rivera, Wynton Marsalis, and can be heard on the 2014 Grammy-winning soundtrack of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire with Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks.  They’ve headlined at Carnegie Hall, The Blue Note, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, New Orleans Jazz Festival, Feinstein’s 54 Below, Blues Alley, Birdland, and live on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion Radio Program.  The Andersons have performed in over 40 U.S. states, throughout Brazil, Japan, the U.K., and six times in NYC’s famed Highlights in Jazz series, alongside Lou Donaldson, Jimmy and Tootie Heath, Ken Peplowski, Steve Turre, Warren Vache, Frank Vignola, and Jimmy Cobb.

Individual tickets for all events, including  the Andersons’ show, will be on sale shortly. But a subscription–at a great discount–is on sale now. CLICK HERE FOR A LINK TO ALL EVENTS and  CLICK HERE FOR A LINK TO PURCHASE A SUBSCRIPTION

BE

Facebook Comments

MUSIC of the LOWER EAST SIDE: THE MUSICAL HISTORY of NEW YORK CITY

A few years ago, a group of musicians and I performed “The Musical History of the Lower East Side” in a number of venues around the city. We featured music from the many immigrant groups that have arrived on the LES over the past 400 years. Most of the groups, including the Italians, Irish, Hispanic, German and others brought music from their homeland…in many cases it connected them to their past and was one way they could pass along their heritage.

I was particularly struck by the audience and friends response to “Oyfn Pripetshik,” written by Mark Warshawsky, a Yiddish speaking Russian composer. Many told me how, when they were young, their Jewish, Eastern European/Russian grandmother, living on the LES or in the Bronx, sang this song to them, one of the most popular songs of the Jews in Eastern Europe.

You may remember the song from the film “Schindler’s List: CLICK HERE

“When, children, you will grow older…You will understand…How many tears lie in these letters…And how much crying.”

 

Facebook Comments

TICKETS NOW ON SALE for CLASSICALLY EXPOSED: MUSICAL CROSSROADS

Charles R. Hale Productions​, Musica Solis​ and Nancy Manocherian’s “the cell” are pleased to announce that subscriptions are available for another season of ​Classically Exposed. This season is called ​”Musical Crossroads,” in honor of the confluence of musical genre that we are presenting. Our goal is simple: To present outstanding music at a great value; accordingly, w​e have assembled a fabulous collection of artists who will performing a variety of musical genre including classical, jazz, theatrical, rock and more. ​Based on the comments we received after last year’s series, it’s fair to say “this is a one-of-a-kind” series here in New York.

DUE TO THE CURRENT HEALTH EMERGENCY IN NYC, WE HAVE SUSPENDED SUBSCRIPTION AND INDIVIDUAL SALES. HOPEFULLY, WITHIN IN THE NEXT TWO MONTHS, WE WILL BE ABLE TO START UP SALES AGAIN

.

POSTPONED:      Charles R Hale Productions and Musica Solis Series present “Benny Meets Artie ” with the Anderson Brothers, part of the series “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads” at the Cell Theatre, 7:30pm, 338 West 23rdSt, New York City.

POSTPONED:        Musica Solis Series and Charles R Hale Productions present “Bacharimba” with marimbist Mika Stoltzman and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, part of the series “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads” at the Cell Theatre, 7:30pm, 338 West 23rdSt, New York City.

POSTPONED:       Musica Solis Series and Charles R. Hale Productions present “Port Mande” with the Mark Dover Quartet, part of the series “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads” at the Cell Theatre, 7:30pm, 338 West 23rdSt, New York City.

Sept 9:          Charles R. Hale Productions and Musica Solis Series present “Stride Piano Master” Rossano Sportiello, part of the series “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads” at the Cell Theatre, 338 West 23rdSt, New York City.

September 25:   Musica Solis Series and Charles R Hale Productions present pianist Igor Lipinski’s “Piano Illusions,” part of the series “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads” at the Cell Theatre, 7:30pm, 338 West 23rdSt, New York City

Oct 28-30:    Charles R Hale Productions and Musica Solis Presents present Charles R. Hale’s “WWII and NYC: Connecting Time and Place” with vocalist Robert Anthony Mack, vocalist Clare Maloney, pianist Baron Fenwick, violinist Sara Caswell and narrator Charles R. Hale, part of the series “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads” at the Cell Theatre, 338 West 23rdSt, New York City.

Nov 18:          Musica Solis Series and Charles R Hale Productions present “Bach to Brazil” with the Bridget Kibbey Trio, part of the series “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads” at the Cell Theatre, 338 West 23rdSt, New York City.

Dec 11:           Charles R. Hale and Musica Solis Series present an evening of “Soulful Americana Rock” with guitarist/vocalist “Walter Parks,” part of the series “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads” at the Cell Theatre, 338 West 23rd St, New York City

Facebook Comments

ROSSANO SPORTIELLO and the ANDERSON BROTHERS at FEINSTEIN’S 54 BELOW

.
I heard these three tonight at Feinstein’s 54 Below….Rossano Sportiello, William Reardon Anderson and Peter Reardon Anderson. If you’re looking for a fabulous evening of music…you couldn’t do better. Talented musicians and a wonderful program.
.
We’re thrilled to announce that Charles R. Hale Productions and Musica Solis will be presenting these wonderful musicians in this season’s series “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads,” at The Cell.
.
More series’ info to follow shortly.
Facebook Comments

CHARLES R. HALE’S UPCOMING EVENTS

 

Feb 13:       Charles R Hale Productions and the City and Humanities Program at Lehman College presents pianist/vocalist Nicole Zuraitis and songwriter/vocalist Clare Maloney. 12:30pm at Lehman College, Lovinger Theatre, 250 Bedford Park Blvd, Bronx, NY.

POSTPONED Mar 14:       A reading from Kathleen Bennet Bastis’ “As Ever”– Letters from 1936 to 1943. With Charles R. Hale, Renata Hinrichs, John Moran and Jack O’Connell. 7:00pm at First Street Gallery, 526 West 26thSt, New York City.

CANCELLED March 26:   Charles R Hale Productions and the City and Humanities Program at Lehman College presents violinist Jiin Yang, pianist Wayne Weng and narrator Charles R. Hale at Lehman College. 12:30pm, Lehman College, Lovinger Theatre, 250 Park Blvd, Bronx, NY.

CANCELLED April 16:      Charles R Hale Productions and the City and Humanities Program at Lehman College presents pianist Baron Fenwick, tenor Robert Anthony Mack and narrator Charles R. Hale at Lehman College. 12:30pm, Lehman College, Lovinger Theatre, 250 Park Blvd, Bronx, NY.

POSTPONED April 28:      Charles R Hale Productions and Musica Solis Series presents “Benny Meets Artie ” with the Anderson Brothers, part of the series “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads” at the Cell Theatre, 7:30pm, 338 West 23rdSt, New York City.

CANCELLED April 30:     Charles R Hale Productions and the City and Humanities Program at Lehman College presents guitarist Yuri Juarez and pianist Renato Diz. 12:30pm at Lehman College, Lovinger Theatre, 250 Bedford Park Blvd, Bronx, NY.     

POSTPONED May 15:        Musica Solis Series and Charles R Hale Productions presents “Bacharimba” with marimbist Mika Soltzman and clarinetist Richard Stolzman, part of the series “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads” at the Cell Theatre, 7:30pm, 338 West 23rdSt, New York City.

POSTPONED June 18:       Musica Solis Series and Charles R. Hale Productions presents “Port Mande” with the Mark Dover Quartet, part of the series “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads” at the Cell Theatre, 7:30pm, 338 West 23rdSt, New York City.

Sept 9:          Charles R. Hale Productions and Musica Solis Series presents “Stride Piano Master” Rossano Sportiello, part of the series “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads” at the Cell Theatre, 338 West 23rdSt, New York City.

SepT 25:       Musica Solis Series and Charles R Hale Productions presents pianist Igor Lipinski’s “Piano Illusions,” part of the series “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads” at the Cell Theatre, 7:30pm, 338 West 23rdSt, New York City.

Oct 28-30:    Charles R Hale Productions and Musica Solis Presents presents Charles R. Hale’s “WWII and NYC: Connecting Time and Place” with vocalist Robert Anthony Mack, vocalist Clare Maloney, pianist Baron Fenwick, violinist Sara Caswell and narrator Charles R. Hale, part of the series “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads” at the Cell Theatre, 338 West 23rdSt, New York City.

Nov 18:          Musica Solis Series and Charles R Hale Productions presents “Bach to Brazil” with the Bridget Kibbey Trio, part of the series “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads” at the Cell Theatre, 338 West 23rdSt, New York City.

Dec 11:           Charles R. Hale and Musica Solis Series presents an evening of “Soulful Americana Rock” with guitarist/vocalist “Walter Parks,” part of the series “Classically Exposed: Musical Crossroads” at the Cell Theatre, 338 West 23rd St, New York City

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Comments