The weekend of August 24th to 26th in 1979 was supposed to be a significant one in Sullivan County, NY history. Plans had been made for some of the top musical acts in the business to appear at the site of the defunct and burned out Columbia Hotel in Hurleyville for a three-day festival that was envisioned as the precursor to an upscale performance venue that would have reversed the area’s sagging economic fortunes. [Read more…] about The Doomed 1979 Hurleyville Music Festival
Before the arrival of European settlers, the flatland area that would become Harlem (originally: Nieuw Haarlem after the Dutch city of that name) was inhabited by the indigenous Munsee speakers, the Lenape. The first settlers from the Low Countries arrived in the late 1630s.
Harlem was an agricultural center under British rule (attempts to change the name of the community to “Lancaster” failed and the authorities reluctantly adopted the Anglicised name of Harlem). During the American Revolutionary War in September 1776 it was the site of the Battle of Harlem Heights. Later, rich elites built country houses there in order to escape from the city’s dirt and epidemics (Alexander Hamilton built his Harlem estate in 1802). [Read more…] about Harlem on Fire: Langston Hughes & Wallace Henry Thurman
The 30th Annual Finger Lakes Grassroot Festival, featuring over 80 performers on 5 stages over the course of 4 days, has been set for July 21st through 24th, at the Trumansburg Fairgrounds in Trumansburg, in Tompkins County, NY. [Read more…] about 30th Annual Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival
Albany’s first museum was started in 1798 in a building on the corner of Green and Beaver streets. In the summer of 1808, two royal tigers were housed at the Thespian Hotel, a circus pitched its tent, and Ralph Letton started the Albany Museum.
The Albany Museum was located in the Old City Hall (Stadt Huys) on the northeastern corner of South Market Street and Hudson Avenue (today’s Broadway and Hudson Avenue). The Old City Hall was built in 1741 and was the site of the 1754 Albany Congress meeting where Benjamin Franklin first proposed the Albany Plan, a plan of union of the colonies that later was a basis for the U.S. Constitution. On its steps, the Declaration of Independence was first read to Albany on July 19, 1776 by the order of the Provincial Congress. With the construction of the new building on Eagle Street in 1808, the Old City Hall was converted into the Albany Museum. [Read more…] about The Albany Museum: Curiosities, Circus & Performing Arts
One of the top-grossing American films of 1940 was the western Santa Fe Trail, the seventh Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland collaboration. The story concerns John Brown’s campaign against slavery just before the outbreak of the Civil War. Starting out on an acting career, young Ronald Reagan appeared in the story line as George Armstrong Custer. [Read more…] about Wilhelm Grosz: The Red Sails of Forced Migration
Solomon Northup, the free black man who was kidnapped from Saratoga Springs and sold into slavery (as portrayed in the film 12 Years a Slave), was known locally as a good fiddler. Northup probably mostly played at dances, and there is no evidence that he played at any of Saratoga’s posh hotels.
But as a black musician, Northup probably could have found acceptance in such venues, because the way had been paved by Francis “Frank” Johnson. Johnson, a black resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, performed with his band during many summers at the best hotels in Saratoga. [Read more…] about Black Musician Francis Johnson at Saratoga, 1822-1843
On February 4th, 2006, La Repubblica reported the funeral in Rome of Romano Mussolini. His death had been made public by former actress and politician Alessandro Mussolini, Romano’s daughter out of his first marriage to Maria Scicolone (the younger sister of Sophia Loren) on the website of her neo-Fascist party Alternativa Sociale.
The church service began with Gershwin’s “Summertime” and ended with “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Outside the church hundreds of mourners paid their respect with Fascist salutes.
Fascism, jazz and black gospel mentioned in the same context and a service that had started with a classic tune by a composer of Ukrainian-Jewish ancestry. What brought this contradictory intertwining about? [Read more…] about Jazz, Mussolini and Italian Fascism
Thomas Jefferson, America’s first Ambassador to France and the nation’s third President, developed a liking for the more genteel aspects of life in Europe. The man who requested that a cellar be constructed at the White House, has been named the first American wine connoisseur. He ordered his supplies directly from the finest French vineyards.
Jefferson also had a passion for music and was a devoted violinist. As part of his early ‘gentlemanly’ education he had been taught to play the instrument. Later in life he compiled a music library at his Monticello estate in Charlottesville that contained works by Vivaldi, Corelli, and Handel, and compositions by contemporaries such as Haydn and others. [Read more…] about The Violin, George Gemünder & The Sound of New York
Kingsley, who was 44 when he enlisted in the Union Army, was older than many of his fellow veterans, who averaged 25.8 years old when they served, according to the American Battlefield Trust. [Read more…] about Truman Kingsley: ‘Boss Drummer’ of the Civil War
This week on The Historians Podcast, Upstate New York musicians Cosby Gibson and Tom Staudle have a new CD and concert featuring history songs about the labor union movement in America. [Read more…] about Hard Times in the Mill: Songs of the Labor Movement