What the Heck?

Summer came in. Covid did not go out, but life goes on.

At Art Mob Central, we still meet, virtually, once a week on rehearsal night to have fun, check in and chat. But we don’t sing as a group. And that is tough on us. So, what the heck ARE we doing? In a quarantine food experiment, Dean (bass) and Leslie (goddess) cultivate their garden! Here’s what Dean says:

Leslie and I are not just doing a lot of cooking during quarantine. (Well, to be fair, it’s Leslie who’s doing all the cooking. One hundred percent.) We’re growing herbs and vegetables to eat as well.

Dean and Leslie's garden
Here’s our little garden, consisting of three raised 3’ x 6’ planting beds and a few plant pots. This year we get to watch it grow.

We’ve had a garden every summer since we bought the place in 2013. Each of the three raised beds was our building project over a separate winter. We’ve accrued the pots from a variety of sources, including our own NYC apartment, whence we salvaged them when the indoor plants in them died during our total absence of over two months, from mid-March to the end of May. (Luckily, a few plants survived.)

What’s different this year is that, thanks to the coronavirus, we’re here. Every other summer, we’ve been traveling while the plants we had put out were struggling to survive on their own. Now we’re constantly out there weeding and watering, and it turns out to make a huge difference! Who knew?

We’ve already harvested oregano, chives, and four kinds of mint, all of which wintered over from last year. We planted the other things mostly from seedlings that we bought at Northern Dutchess Botanical Gardens, a very nice outdoor plant nursery a few miles from here. Spring comes very late here, and we lack a greenhouse, so we have not had a lot of luck growing from seeds. This is the first time we’ve planted tomatoes, but not the first time we’ve had the plants: A multitude of volunteer tomatoes has sprouted every year from the compost soil that fills the beds.

This spring we’ve gotten volunteer oak tree seedlings. The tree that overhangs the beds dropped an uncountable number of acorns last fall, and this spring they’ve been sprouting up like mad. They especially like the rich soil in the beds, but they’re also growing on the lawn and everywhere else. Every morning we rid the garden of dozens of would-be oaks. 

We’ll be spending more time in the city now that the reopening has begun, but this, at last, is the year we will not abandon our garden to the ravages of nature. Wish us luck with, besides those plants already mentioned, our basil, zucchini, winter squash, tarragon, thyme, marjoram, lavender, arugula, sorrel, parsley, leeks, sage, bell peppers, shishitos, snow peas, pole beans, cilantro, cucumbers, radishes, radicchio, and whatever else comes up out of the ground, is edible, and is not devoured by the deer. Cheers!


Curtain Up! Light the Lights!

We got nothing to hit but the … yeah, we got nothing.

We’re cancelled. It’s Concert Weekend, and we’re locked down. Shut in. But wait! Who says we haven’t been busy, creative, mentally agile? Yes, we have! Even in lock-down, the Art Mob has been meeting every Monday evening, our regular rehearsal night. We’ve been safe, we’ve been virtual, we’ve been virtuous. We have not been singing! It’s almost impossible to be in sync on Google Meet or the like. Heck, it IS impossible.

We’ve continued with our mission to entertain ourselves and others—ourselves, first—with recitations, show and tell, games, and, most successfully, poetry (of a sort). They’re linked below. Let us entertain you!

Like a timely limerick? We’ve got some doozies! Challenged to write from a sharp-edged list of prompts, our imaginations took flight.

PLUS, a multi-stanza ‘stravaganza; a video QVC-esque limerick from Bree!

Are Clerihews news to youse? Meet an oddball, light-verse form from the oddball past—exactly right for the Art Mob, you’ll agree.

So, we do have something, after all. Enjoy, and have faith that the Art Mob will celebrate Year 41 in December—somewhere, somehow, some way safe.


Art Mob Spring 2020 Season Cancelled. Duh.

We can’t sing. It’s not allowed.

We had a great theme this time: “Slings and Eros.” Maybe we’ll use it for next fall’s season instead. We were scheduled to sing on May 15, 16, and 17. Now we won’t even be able to get our hair cut by then, or, in a few isolated cases, discreetly colored. And we’ve forgotten what it’s like to wear actual clothing, certainly from the waist down, since pants at a Zoom meeting are as superfluous as a surgical mask in the bathtub.

But there is some good news! Ruby Truong, née McNeil, former Art Mob soprano and the daughter of Art Mob founder Marcia Tucker and her husband Dean McNeil, has given birth to the next generation of the Mob: Margot Star Truong. Mother, baby, and father Huy Truong are healthy and happy. What a blessing. Margot’s maternal grandparents would have been beyond ecstatic.

The Mob will be back, so don’t forget us! We’ll be singing on December 18, 19, and 20; we’ve already (before all the craziness began) booked Tenri Cultural Institute for the Friday and Saturday shows, and we’re looking for a Sunday venue. Who knows, maybe we’ll have to stand six feet apart. We probably won’t be wearing masks, since it’s hard to sing in those things, but we’ll try to avoid using too many explosive consonants.

We send you our heartfelt wishes for your health and safety in these dangerous and disorienting times. Thank you so much for your support. See you later!


From the Desk of the Treasurer

I’ll be direct: We need money. If you can give us some, it would really help us out. It’s tax deductible.

See my postscript.

I could have stopped there, but I feel the need to explain things. The Mob for its first thirty years or so operated on nothing, or as close to it as you can get. Now, our spending is still low relative to larger arts non-profits, but more than we can fund internally. The reason is very simple: Space. Our rehearsal spaces used to be free; now we have to pay. Performing spaces haven’t been free for a while, but they haven’t gotten any cheaper; quite the contrary. Our other expenses—printing and mailing postcards, printing programs, and very little else—are minor.

The music director needs to get paid as well, but I didn’t list that expense because we singers take responsibility for covering it ourselves. Which means we can’t afford also to pay for space rental and the rest.

Please donate right now, before you forget or chicken out.

The math is simple, too: What we take in at the box office is several hundred dollars short of what we must spend each season. That’s why we ask you, the Best Friends Forever of the Art Mob, to consider a tax-deductible donation to our very worthy little group.

We have remained true to the independent, intensely curious, non-conformist spirit in which Marcia Tucker founded us back in 1979, and we can keep doing that with your support. Even a small amount is helpful, a larger one that much more so.

Please donate right now, before you forget or chicken out, and use our Paypal link to send your donation to us. We will not waste it. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your generosity in the past and the future!!!

p.s. A confession: This is from me, the Treasurer, myself; my desk can’t write. It has legs, but no arms or hands, and it frankly has very little to say in any case.


Save those Dates or Pay the Price!

It’s autumn! We’ve been reviewing our faults and our misdeeds, resolving to do better, and gathering songs for our fall concert, “Sin Tax!” (December 13, 14, 15).

Charlton Heston as Moses
Is it repentance time yet?

And how appropriate a theme it always is. For some, fall is atonement season. But why atone for sinning when you can celebrate it in song? Not only are there oodles of songs about sins, an awful lot of them seem to be country songs. So we’ll be sinning—pardon me, I mean singing—“sad-ass songs,” as Dolly put it; love and loss as only Elvis could croon it; gamblin’ and robbin’ via Jimmie Rodgers; prostitution, thanks to Cole Porter (how’d he get in here?). We will not ignore lying, maternal neglect, corporal punishment, and murder, Appalachian-style. And because, as Wynton Marsalis said in the Ken Burns documentary, all country songs are about sin and repentance, we’ll have some repentance songs, too.When we chose the theme for this fall’s concert, I expected to be singing about grammar and sentence structure. But I was surprised at how few really good songs there are in that category, outside of Schoolhouse Rock! No, sin is a far richer vein to mine. (Yes, we’ll also sing about mines.) And we’ll feel free to drop the final g’s from our participles.

10 Commandments + Moses
Unfortunately, we will not be singing “The Ten Commandments” by The Fugs.

A bushel of these songs are arranged and expertly set on us Mobsters by some of us Mobsters (Dean, Connie, and Brent, that is), keeping it in the Family. And making their Mob debut this season are two new members, Tenor Avi and Soprano Raelyn, helping with the chores and beautifully filling out our sound. We’re sure glad to have them.

So mark your calendars to hear our newbies, relish our misdeeds, wallow along with us in regrets, and oh, yes, close with our annual Xmas singalong, and we’ll all feel better.


At 40, a View from the Top

As the spring flowers begin to blossom, the Art Mob’s 40th anniversary concert program begins to take shape. We’ve got the songs and we’ve got the order in which we’ll sing them, and some of them are sounding like music in our Monday night rehearsals.

The Mob is like a shark that must move forward to keep breathing, so we’re not looking to the past for our anniversary program: there is more new material than old, and we can once again guarantee—as always!—that you will hear music you’ve never heard before and may never hear again. We’re willing to bet that the number of living ears that have enjoyed the strains of When George III Was King, Over the Top for Jesus, or I’ll Do It All Over Again, divided by two, times the square root of all the vintage music videos on YouTube, is basically nobody. On the other hand, we’ve salted the program with a few popular favorites like As Time Goes By and You’re the Top, in world-premiere Art Mob exclusive arrangements.

In fact, there are no fewer than thirteen Mob arrangements on the list, some of which are reprises (Connie’s Come Home, Father, Dean’s Ruby), but most of which are brand new for this concert. Bernadette makes her Mob arranging debut, joining our veterans Dean, Connie, and Hannah.

It’s a bit late for us to take on new singers for this season, but we do hope you’ll try out for the next one. Male voices—a risky term to use in the gender-contentious present, but one still current in the world of vocal music—are in particu larly short supply, but that doesn’t mean you should stop reading if you’re an alto or soprano. We’d love to hear from you, and our corps of arrangers would be able to add more divisi to the parts.

Remember: Friday May 17 and Saturday May 18 at 8 pm, and Sunday May 19 at 3 pm. Friday and Sunday are at Ronald Feldman Gallery, 31 Mercer Street; Saturday is at Tenri Cultural Institute, 43A West 13th Street. In both venues you’ll get to see brilliant art while you listen to our enchanting music. Yes, this is a lot to remember. That’s why we wrote it all down for you.


The Art Mob Marches Forth

 

March 4th (get it?), 2019

It’s been a long, strange winter, but today we’re poking our heads up from under the snow and announcing our spring concerts, May 17-18-19.

And they will be the best concerts ever (at our favorite venues, Ronald Feldman Gallery and Tenri Cultural Institute). This entire  year will be the greatest Art Mob year ever, because, folks, it’s our 40th anniversary.

40 years ago, in 1979, the Art Mob was birthed by Marcia Tucker, whose next-best public accomplishment was to found the New Museum here in NYC. Since then, the Art Mob has rescued, revised, rearranged, and relished music of the Victorian era, Tin Pan Alley, shape-note, second-hand music collections, jazz, radio gospel, and much more.

Our theme this spring is “The Art Mob Tops 40.” You’d think the program will feature our greatest hits, our favorites, your favorites, top o’ the charts, something tops … but no.

When our theme was “In Gut We Trust,” we ended up singing not about feelings, but about digestion. In May we’ll be singing, not about aces, peaks and acmes, but about time: time going by; times past; grandfather clocks; time slipping away; do-overs and souvenirs, good years and bad; and, as always, much more. Yes, there will be a few “tops” tunes, and some of these songs about time did top their antique charts. Mostly, we’ll dig up more from that deep obscurity that so delights the Art Mob heart.

So mark all your calendars, please: the Art Mob Tops 40 on May 17, 18, 19.

And happy Spring.


Art Mob Muscles In On Giving Tuesday

We are deserving of your largesse because you love us; you know you do.

Donations, donations, donations.
You, you, you.

We all know that Giving Tuesday is a cynically contrived event, ginned up by the retail industry to salve the consciences of consumers who have just emerged from a luxuriant wallow in the cesspits of Black Friday. But we participate anyway, because Giving Tuesday has created an overflowing trough at which every non-profit organization wants to feed. With sharpened elbows, the Art Mob now presumes to vie for our share of the spoils.

We are part of old, authentic New York, before all the corporate development. Marcia Tucker, a curator before she was a singer, formed the group in 1979, before people like her were priced out of Soho. We have faithfully made our semi-annual appearances every December and May, to sing you songs you’ve never heard before and to fill the room with the sound of music made by people who do it because they love singing together. In this world of stress and bad vibes, that’s important.

We need money from you, and not just love, because it costs money to put on our shows, even with the minimal requirements that we have. When you last heard from us, a year ago, our expenses had ballooned because of performance venue costs, and we were hanging on only by getting free rehearsal space through the generosity of a local church. Guess what: that’s over, and a place to rehearse is now a recurring expense for us.

Because we’re on such a shoestring, even a small donation from you makes a difference. Go ahead and donate to larger arts organizations, and, for goodness sake, to humanitarian and environmental ones, too. Just carve out a little spot for us.

At artmob.org, you can donate using PayPal. You can also support us on Amazon Smile, as explained here.

Or just come to the concerts and drop some money on us there. Your donations are fully tax deductible because we are punctilious about discharging our obligations to the IRS and the New York State Charities Bureau.

We thank you a whole lot for helping us out.


Save Those Dates

Where does the time go?

Just yesterday it was August, hot as blazes. Suddenly it’s harvest moons, Halloween, and long underdrawers.

The Mob has been quiet but busy, gestating new music and more, and preparing for our December concert series: In Gut We Trust!

SAVE THE DATES!

In Gut We Trust! December 14, 15, 16! )

(Honestly, when we came up with the theme last May, this writer thought it would celebrate instinct and feelings, but as it’s turned out, we’re mostly singing about food and eating. And agita.)

By the time we’re ready for the concerts

SAVE THE DATES!

In Gut We Trust! December 14, 15, 16! )

I say, by the time we’re ready, we’ll know our post-election fates and whether eating—make that “stress eating”—will still be worthwhile. Or whether, as one of our songs says, we’ll get pie in the sky, by and by.

The Art Mob archivist has been busy, too. Now you can steep your senses in past recordings of glorious Art Mob tunes, in the bath or whenever convenient for you, on SoundCloud.

In addition to highlights from our latest, “Keep a Lid on It!,” featured albums are: the immortal “The Best Laid Planets”; the timeless “Pigments of Our Imagination”; the ethereal “How Can We Keep from Singing?”; and the unexpected “FlashMob.”  Click those titles, or gosh, just go to our entire trove of albums HERE.  We’ll keep adding to this collection until they demand more money.

Keep an eye out for sneak peeks of our forthcoming program and more treasures from the archives.

And don’t forget to

SAVE THE DATES!

In Gut We Trust! December 14, 15, 16! )


JOIN THE MOB THIS FALL!

JUST WHAT YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR!
The Art Mob (16-voice SATB, a cappella) is recruiting for all voice parts, especially male voices.

Since 1979 the Art Mob has entertained audiences and ourselves with a quirky mix of outdated and
unfashionable songs from a variety of ever-to-be-forgotten sources from the 18th through the mid-20th
centuries. Bravely singing without instrumental backup (or sheet-music coverup), the Art Mob pounces
on obscure pieces found in attics and tag sales, musty old hymnals and tattered choral books, offering
listeners a taste of what life may have been like way back before smartphones and cat videos, when
group singing was a popular form of entertainment. Plus, we’re good. Our music director, Brent
Frederick, brings out the best in the singers and the songs.

IF YOU LIKE gospel, Victoriana, children’s ditties, jazz, shape-note and Appalachian folk tunes,
temperance songs as well as drinking songs, Tin Pan Alley as well as country songs, along with who
knows what other styles;
IF YOU WANT TO write arrangements; collaboratively create programs; perform to a high standard with
a tight group of dedicated musicians; tell jokes and enjoy yourself; forge a new link in a musical chain
stretching back to the dim reaches of the 1980s;
CALL BRENT and arrange an audition. He and a thousand telephone operators are standing by.

*Rehearsal Night: Monday
*Neighborhood: Greenwich Village
*Next concerts:“In Gut We Trust” 12/14,15,16
*Contact: brent@brentfrederickmusic.com
*Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/artmobsingers/
*Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theartmob79/
*Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/theartmob