Category: Concerts

Message from the Memory Palace, or, Kringled Memes, Anyone?

If we were computers, this would be so much easier...

If we were computers, this would be so much easier…

“If he nabs you, jabs you, NO! If he nabs you, grabs you, jabs you!  He will bring you, fling you, NO! He will bring you, sting you, fling you…”

My neighbors probably heard something like this coming through our party wall this week. The singing, the reciting, the cursing, the repeating. . . They may have seen me on the sidewalk, silently mouthing some words, then slapping my head, shuffling index cards, then mouthing and slapping some more  It’s all part of Art Mob Cram School, a semi-annual event undertaken alone or in small groups.

Got. To. Memorize.

Everyone has their own methods. For the music, some of us listen to recordings of rehearsals, look at the sheet music, and ta-da! they’ve got it. I need to set an audio track of just my part on infinite repeat, and drill it into my brain.  This sometimes works.

Then there’s writing out the lyrics; typing out the lyrics; highlighting, underlining, coloring in, and creating mnemonic devices. (The three difficult entrances in “Crawdad” can be boiled down to OY, OY, WasIt?)

And there’s the Memory Palace, where you construct a mansion of many rooms, furnishing it with visual representations of whatever you need to remember. But tell me, where should I put the “dying worms”? (Shape-note lyrics have the most memorable images, but you still have to sing them in order. The great white throne sits in front of the crystal sea, and please do not rearrange the heavenly furniture.)

The Jukebox of My Mind

I wake up to “Ragtime Goblin Man” playing inside my head; by bedtime, I’m on “Enjoy Yourself, It’s Later Than You Think” (and it usually is), and round and round I go. I’ll be unplugging that particular jukebox on December 18…I hope.

Kringled Memes!

There are dangerous patches on the memory highway, though.  Like black ice, we can encounter inverted and mispronounced words, not to mention hysterically funny bloopers, at any moment.  And boy, do they stick; they move right in like field mice in autumn. Why, just the other day, Brent said “kringled meme” when he meant “mingled cream.” He probably doesn’t remember, but unfortunately I’ll never forget. Will I be blurting it out while we sing “Lines on Ale”? Come to the concerts this weekend and find out.

Hook, Wine, and Thinker! Concerts

Bad puns, low humor, sweet spiritualism, all in one evening!

 


Where Did You Find That Song?

The Art Mob has a particular fondness for overlooked or forgotten (sometimes justly), music of past eras. These rescued gems aren’t usually just lying around; we have to hunt for them. Here’s how Dean found one of our favorite entries for the December 2017 concert, “Hook, Wine, and Thinker”:

Yard Sale Treasure

Dean’s yard sale treasure

“Yard sales are a huge source of material for the Art Mob. That’s where several of us have gotten old songbooks that we mine for our obscure repertoire. The usual scenario is that a family is selling off an aged or deceased ancestor’s personal stuff, and that not infrequently includes sheet music. A couple of generations ago, it was as common for a family to own a piano and have at least one person who could play it as it is now for us to subscribe to a music streaming service. (I almost wrote, “to own a CD player,” but those are being dumped in the yard sale pile now, too.)

In 2014 I found, at such a sale in Rhinebeck, NY, a little book called “Jewish Folk Songs for the Young Pianist.” As the title suggests, it’s pitched to keyboard beginners, and the arrangements are very spare, just a melody and one or two notes in the left hand. All the songs have words, in Yiddish with a brief translation. And there are some great songs: the book has so far yielded up “Amol Is Geven a Mayse” (“Once Upon a Time”), which we sang in our “For Better or Voice” concerts, and now “Di Alte Kashe” (“The Old Question”) on our upcoming “Hook, Wine, and Thinker” program.

The melodies are hauntingly beautiful, and the minimal piano parts give the vocal arranger (me) maximum freedom. Besides, the songs are a healthy antidote to the overload of explicitly Christian pieces that end up in our repertoire simply because they are so common in the literature.”

Come hear us sing “Di Alte Kashe” in December and find out what the old question is that the world keeps asking us, but we can’t answer.

Hook, Wine, and Thinker! Fall Concerts

Bad puns, low humor, sweet spiritualism, all in one evening!


Songs for the End of Daylight Saving Time

The days are short now. It’s getting cold and depressing, but the Art Mob has its seasonal affective disorder under control, with a leafy pile of songs about the season: how it’s dark; how everything’s dying; how the weather portends the scriptural end of days … and makes us happy! Really.

Take the well-named Autumn, penned by Samuel Johnson, no less, in the 18th century. What’s his soothing thought for the season? Listen:

O, what remains, what lingers yet /To cheer me in the darkening hour?

The grape remains, the friend of wit /In love and mirth of mighty power.

Yes, wine will keep his pulse cantering and his girlfriend looking good.   Here’s what else we sing:

I’ve got the wonder where he went and when he’s comin’ back blues…

What care I how time advances, I am drinking ale today!…

The world asks an old question, to which there is no answer…

We’ve got more songs, more music, more proven remedies for the blues.

Come and hear us sing them all: December 15, 16, 17

Hook, Wine, and Thinker! Fall Concerts

Bad puns, low humor, sweet spiritualism, all in one evening!

  We’ll cheer you up.

 


Want to Sing with The Art Mob?

The Art Mob needs more singers, especially in the bass and alto sections. If you are are interested in joining us, or if you know someone else who might be, we’d be delighted to hear from you.

Our song selections, which are made by consensus, are notoriously quirky and eclectic. If you enjoy a program that includes gospel, Victoriana, children’s ditties, jazz, and country songs along with who knows what other styles, you might feel right at home with The Art Mob. We rehearse every Monday evening, with a break between the May concerts and Labor Day. If you want to join in the fun, get in touch with our musical director, Brent Frederick. His email address: brent@brentfrederickmusic.com.

Our next performances are December 16, 17, and 18 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, 31 Mercer Street, NYC. The singing starts at 8 PM Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday it starts at 3 PM.

Ronald Feldman Fine Arts