Public Access TV
I’ve long felt that public access television is potentially one of the few bastions of truly free public expression available to anyone willing to take responsibility for the content that they produce. But when I was first approached by director Gary Roberts to do music presentations for his ongoing production ‘Anything Goes’, I was a bit hesitant, at least until he mentioned that he didn’t want only music, but also dialogue that would give context to that music.
That approach was really what I was interested in. I’d long been in the business of presenting the music and biographies of the giants of the Tin Pan Alley era to senior groups and others who found this material interesting. In my own life, those great melodies and the clever lyrics (representing a whole range of human emotions) have proven an excellent source of inspiration as a text book guide to good songwriting. But beyond the intellect, there are many compositions from those days that still send chills of delight up my spine when I hear or play them!
The music of that time certainly speaks well for itself, but the stories of the lives of the composers and the time in America that they worked in and lived through, gives us a much deeper insight into the music itself, and humanizes these legendary figures, all while letting us peer into the collective psychology of the celebrations and travails of the nation in which this uniquely original American art form was born.
There was really no question but that my first presentation would be on Irving Berlin, and when you watch the video I think you’ll see why. Then an interesting turn of events interrupted my next presentation on the lives and music of the Gershwins; namely our own current political climate, especially as it pertains to our tolerance and acceptance of those individuals and groups being labeled as ‘others’.
After tracing the history of popular music from those early days at the start of the twentieth century, it was crystal clear to me that without immigration, hardly any of those musical giants of the time would have ever seen our shores, much less uplifted a desperate population through two wars as well as the great depression. This is why you’ll see that the next two shows I’ve done are dedicated to the stories and extraordinary musicianship of two more recent immigrants, Finn Juhl (Adventures of A Cosmic Nomad), and Olof Soderback (Swedish folk music and beyond)… musicians who play an important role in the fabric of our nation in the here and now.
Please check back on occasion for more ‘Anything Goes’ programs, as well as many other freely expressed ideas and performances available on public access television.