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Archive for the ‘Music: The Power to Enchant’ Category

Nov. 27, 2022.  We first met Mildred Hardeman in 2013.   Below is our article from then with an interview.  And below this is an update regarding her historic home.

 

 

Mildred Hardeman on the porch of her Ocean Grove home. Paul Goldfinger photo July 2013

Mildred Hardeman on the porch of her Mt. Tabor Way, Ocean Grove home. Paul Goldfinger photo and video.  July 2013

 

By Paul Goldfinger, MD, Editor, Blogfinger.net.  Ocean Grove, NJ.  update 11/27/22

 

2013:

Mildred Hardeman was born in Alabama in 1921.   At the time of the depression, her family moved to Texas so her father could find work. Then they moved to Georgia where she went to high school. Her mother urged her to seek higher education, so she obtained a scholarship to an all-girls college in Athens, Georgia in 1942.

Shorter College had 200 students then. They encouraged careers for women. Today it is Shorter University and has several thousand students.

While at Shorter, Mildred got a job as assistant to a faculty member who encouraged her to move to New York City. Mildred obtained a Ph.D. in philosophy and psychology at Columbia University.

No university in NYC would hire her to teach philosophy–that field was reserved for men— but Queens College hired her to teach psychology. Over the years she taught at the college level while living in NYC.

She purchased a home in Ocean Grove in the 1970’s after reading an article about the town in the New York Times. She came by train, and it was love at first sight.

 

 

 

The historic home that she purchased required a complete remodeling, but since then she has had to do very little work on the building. At first she only came here on weekends, but after her retirement, she moved here full time, leaving her beloved New York City behind.

Mildred used to love to walk all over town, but lately she pretty much stays home. Some years ago she bought a car, but she parked it in front and never drove it. It was sold after three years.

At the age of 92, Mildred’s love affair with Ocean Grove continues. She enjoys chatting with folks walking by. When I went over to interview her, she was sitting on her porch reading all the news that’s fit to print. She was happy to tell her story to me, but she was a bit baffled when I tried to explain Blogfinger to her (sometimes I baffle myself). But we’ll bring our iPad over to introduce her to the Internet.

Paul Goldfinger, editor @Blogfinger

MUSIC. What do you choose for a philosopher? We decided on “Across the Universe” by John Lennon and played beautifully by guitarist Bill Frisell. It is said that Lennon ‘s melody for this piece was influenced by his interest in Eastern religions.

(note: If you know any fascinating Grovers who might be willing to be interviewed, please send me a brief summary and contact info. )

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“Looking Back” at Ocean Grove, New Jersey. As seen from the OG fishing pier. May 8, 2008. Paul Goldfinger photo ©. Please do not reproduce.  Click left for large view.

 

This image is permanently exhibited on Blogfinger in the “about” section above. It appeared in Maine Ahead, a magazine which featured it in their January 2011 anniversary collectors edition. It is no longer possible to re-create this view — at least until they rebuild the pier.

Note that this special uncropped commemorative “print” of it includes a piece of the OG fishing pier in the lower left hand corner.

Here’s Bruce Springsteen;  a musical hero here at the Jersey Shore. He appeared in the 12/12/12 benefit concert in NYC  with the E Street Band — raising money for the hurricane victims. Below is a live recording of “Girls in Their Summer Clothes” — from the 2008 album “Magic.”

This song reminds me of the shore — you can almost smell the surf and see the girls walking on the boardwalk and the fishing pier.

“And the girls in their summer clothes
In the cool of the evening light
The girls in their summer clothes
Passing by.”

 

— PG

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Tony Bennett. Saturday, August 13, 2011. Photos by Tracey James, Blogfinger staff photographer

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor.  Blogfinger.net.  Great Auditorium.  Ocean Grove,  NJ.

 

I’m speechless!

The empty space here                    is for the indescribable wonder of Tony Bennett’s performance Saturday night in the Great Auditorium.  Mr. Bennett’s voice is as wonderful as ever, complete with a full range of emotions, volumes, textures, rhythms and key changes.

He wore an off white sport jacket, a white shirt and tie, and black pants. He was animated and he even sang and waved to the folks in the cheap seats on the lawn. Nearly 4,000 tickets were sold, but it seemed like the place was packed. Tony Bennett did not let the crowd down; he performed many of his hits and he received a few standing ovations. He seemed genuinely happy  to be in this venue. As expected, he arrived with four first rate musicians:  piano, stand-up base, guitar and drums. 

Mr. Bennett, as gracious as always, complimented Ronald Naldi on his performance of the Star Spangled Banner and he told the audience that the Great Auditorium was a treasure, unlike any other theatre in the world. He said that we should protect and support this unique building.

Recalling a prior performance in the GA over twenty years ago, he sang “The Shadow of Your Smile” without any amplification.

For those who witnessed the performance, it will be something unforgettable. It was musical perfection by a star unlike any other.

 

Here is a song that Tony Bennett performed on Saturday that captures the feeling of something magical that happens and then eventually vanishes.

 

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Gertrude Lawrence

Gertrude Lawrence (1898-1952) was a musical stage star–singer and actress. She was born in London. In 1923, she was introduced to American audiences when she became the first British female performer to star in a Broadway show. It was a musical review by Noel Coward called “London Calling.”   Subsequently she was featured in two Gershwin shows including “Lady in the Dark.”  The NY Times review called her “a goddess.” In 1951 she won the lead in the original cast of the” King and I” for which she won a Tony for “best actress.”

In 1933, she starred in a Cole Porter show called “Nymph Errant.” Wickipedia says, “The somewhat controversial story concerned a young English lady intent upon losing her virginity. Porter considered the score his best because of its worldliness and sexual sophistication. The musical was produced in London in 1933 and received its US premiere in 1982.”

Today, I heard this Cole Porter song, “How Could We be Wrong?”  by Gertrude Lawrence from “Nymph Errant” on the radio.  I thought it was beautiful, and the host agreed, although he commented  that the song sort of vanished over the years.

This is Gertrude Lawrence, but Maude Maggart has a current recording.   —Paul Goldfinger

 

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—Paul Goldfinger, Editor, Blogfinger.net

Some songs really need to be performed with a vocalist because the lyrics are so beautiful.  And that is true for the jazz classic “All the Things You Are.”  It was written in 1939 for a show called “Very Warm for May.”

Jerome Kern wrote the music while Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the words. These two musical geniuses collaborated for many great songs.  Here are some of the lyrics from the verse, so you can see how remarkable the words are:

 

“You are the promised kiss of springtime
That makes the lonely winter seem long
You are the breathless hush of evening
That trembles on the brink of a lovely song
You are the angel glow that lights a star
The dearest things I know are what you are
Some day my happy arms will hold you
And some day I’ll know that moment divine
When all the things you are, are mine”

 

But the music is so gorgeous on its own, that in the hands of a great jazz musician you can get this–

 

Ken.  Peplowski and friends:

 

 

BONUS TRACK:  This time with the words.  Carly Simon from her 22nd album “‘Moonlight Serenade.”  (2005)

 

 

Carly Simon

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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger    I like this post, so here it is again.    Read the comments.

It was 1991, and we were visiting Paris with our son Michael, who had just turned 21. We had been there before and we liked the Left Bank the best, especially the area near the oldest church in town  (St. Germaine des Pres)  located on the Boulevard St. Germaine.

You can walk that neighborhood and find bookstalls along the River Seine, Musee D’Orsay—home of the Impressionists, funky neighborhoods near the Sorbonne, antique shops, bistros where you can’t get a bad meal, small hotels with floor to ceiling windows and no elevators, and wonderful food markets.

 

Boats moored along the Seine. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Boats moored along the Seine. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

 

Behind the old church where the Blvd. St. Germaine meets Rue de Rennes, is a tiny park where you can relax, called the Rue de l’Abbaye—a respite from the bustle all around it.  But also at that intersection is the famous Café Les Deux Magots where Hemingway, Picasso and other artists and intellectuals used to hang out. It’s so much fun to sip an espresso there and people-watch.

 

Park adjacent to the church: St. Germaine des Pres. Paul Goldfinger photo ©. 

 

One evening Michael and I took a walk.  At the corner, in front of the church and across from the café, we heard a street band playing. They were called “The Lost Wandering Blues and Jazz Band,”  composed mostly of American musicians.  But we were most intriqued by their vocalist, a seventeen year old young woman from New York and California who sounded like Billie Holiday.

She had been living in Paris since she moved there at age 16 with her mom.  Madeleine Peyroux is now a jazz star who performs around the world, but we think of her standing on the sidewalk with a floppy hat on, charming the crowd.

As you can imagine, I took a lot of photographs there. Below is the Café Deux Magots which dates back to 1875—just a few years younger than Ocean Grove.

And below that is Madeleine Peyroux singing in French. The song is “J’ai Deux Amours”  (I have two loves).  It is from her album “Careless Love.”    That’s a good song for an album with that name.

 

Cafe Deux Magots. Paris. 1991. By Paul Goldfinger

 

Presenting Madeleine Peyroux:

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Long Valley, New Jersey. c.1999. By Paul Goldfinger ©

Long Valley, New Jersey. c.1999.  Christmas Day.   Silver gelatin print.  By Paul Goldfinger ©  click to enlarge.

 

 

LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA.  Orchestral Works by Aaron Copland.

 

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By Paul Goldfinger.  Eating goat can make you dizzy.   St. Thomas, USVI.

 

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor Blogfinger.net

 

It’s just a number, and we really don’t worry about the numbers.  It measures visits to our homepage since July 2009, our founding summer.  It only includes “hits,”  not Google attempts.      We’re still  having fun with Blogfinger.

Thank you to all those who have kept in touch,  made comments, responded to links, sent news or otherwise contributed to the festivities.

Thank you to those who just tuned in.  It gives us reason to re-post memorable articles.

And we appreciate those who have been FOBs. since the start. (That is “Friends of Blogfinger.”).

There’s one whom we have known since the start because she and her family have been our neighbors at the North End.. She eventually moved to California, but today she returned, organizing a reunion in the same Victorian home where she grew up.  Her name is Lorraine. She still reads Blogfinger daily.

The blog format lets us try to keep things simple. Music and art are ways of communicating that enhance the spoken word. And sometimes a photograph and/or a song are all we need..

Our lives have become so complicated, that getting down to basics is desirable.

So we will close out this post with a wonderful song by a great artist who conveys the idea of finding  simple joy in each other.  This is dedicated to Lorraine.

Tony Bennett does it, accompanied only by a ukelele and a clarinet.

 

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Thornley Chapel. Ocean Grove, New Jersey. ©  By Paul Goldfinger.  2012.

 

SOUNDTRACK:  The London Philharmonic and Choir

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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger on Martin Luther King’s birthday—-Re-posted 2022.    It was first presented on Blogfinger in July, 2014.

It was Saturday night, July 18, 1925, at 8:15 p.m., when vocalist Paul Robeson and his accompanist Lawrence Brown strode onto the stage of the Great Auditorium to present a concert of “Soul Stirring Negro Spirituals” (1)  to an integrated audience of three thousand people. Mr. Robeson, an imposing black man, was twenty seven years old. He was already famous as a screen and stage actor as well as a singer.  He was a true Renaissance man who would become one of the most popular performing artists of the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Robeson, who was born (1898) and raised in New Jersey, was an All-American football player and Phi Beta Kappa at Rutgers University and an honors graduate of the Columbia University Law School. As a college student, Robeson was friends with the Day family who owned Day’s Ice Cream “Gardens” in Asbury Park and Ocean Grove. He had a summer job as a singing waiter at Day’s. (3)  When he came to Ocean Grove for his 1925 concert, he had just completed a triumphant run at The Provincetown Theater in New York, where he performed the lead role in Eugene O’Neill’s “All God’s Children Got Wings.”

He had friends at the Algonquin Round Table in New York City, and it was there, with the encouragement of his colleagues, that he decided to do a concert tour with an entire program of “Negro” spirituals and secular songs also known as “slave or plantation music.”

This would be the first time that this music would be performed in concert, and he would appear with his close friend Lawrence Brown, also an African-American, who was a gifted composer, pianist and singer. The two would work together for thirty years. The first stop on the tour was The Greenwich Village Theater in New York City, and then, three months later, he appeared in Ocean Grove.

The concert was reviewed by the Asbury Park Press, which said, “Robeson showed an intelligent appreciation of his task and a splendid voice.” They called him “a talented son of this state” and they described “great applause” in the Auditorium. Among the songs which he and Lawrence Brown sang were “Go Down Moses,” “Weepin’ Mary” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.”

The following month he performed his concert in Spring Lake. They would tour for five years, all over the world, with this program. Later, Robeson would become the third most popular radio artist in the USA in the 20’s and 30’s. In the 1940’s he was the highest paid concert performer in the country and he was also successful as a recording artist. He would sing in the first production of “Showboat” and he would play Othello on Broadway and in England. He would star in eleven movies.

But his visit to OG that night was not only about music; it was also about recognition of African-American culture and the elevation of that folk music to high art. In addition, Robeson always was about hope for African-Americans, and performing that music was his way to offer pride and encouragement to his people. In 2004, when Barack Obama gave his “Audacity of Hope” speech at the Democratic convention, the first example he cited was, “…the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs.”

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Robeson would accomplish much in his life, but his greatest contribution would be his tireless and life-long advocacy for civil rights. In 1925, Martin Luther King wasn’t born yet, and the “civil rights movement” would not begin until the 1950’s. Imagine how much courage was required for a black man to step forward publicly on behalf of racial justice at a time when lynchings were still occurring in this country. In 1921 a race riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma resulted in the deaths of 20 whites and 60 blacks. In 1922, an anti-lynching bill was defeated by filibuster in the US Senate. In 1925, the year of the concert, there were 17 reported lynchings in the US. Jim Crow laws could be found in many states, but Paul Robeson pressed for racial justice wherever he went and for his entire life.

Robeson had been “eagerly” (1) looking forward to his concert in The Great Auditorium. It is likely that he was aware that many “extraordinary African Americans” (2) had appeared there in the past, including the famous Marian Anderson (1921),  Booker T Washington (1908), the singing evangelist Amanda Berry Smith (late 1800’s) and many renowned black  preachers. The Ocean Grove Historical Society has documented the African-American History Trail in our town. (2)

In 1998, the Ocean Grove Historical Society celebrated the 100th anniversary of Robeson’s birth by a day-long commemoration featuring lectures, dance, a book signing and an exhibition. The centerpiece of the program was a re-creation of the 1925 concert in the Auditorium. They brought the noted African-American bass Kevin Maynor, who used the original program and reproduced the concert from 73 years earlier. This remarkable event was made possible by a committee of Ocean Grovers led by Rhoda Newman (chairman), Kevin Chambers, Phillip May, Jr., and others.

Paul Robeson’s contributions have been recognized many times in the form of tributes at Carnegie Hall and NJPAC, plus many articles, books, exhibits and documentaries. He is a part of Ocean Grove’s musical heritage which includes Enrico Caruso, Duke Ellington, John Phillip Sousa, and Pearl Bailey (2). Paul Robeson died in 1976 at age 77. Five thousand people attended the funeral in Harlem.

Paul Robeson sings “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” from The Complete EMI Sessions 1928-1939, remastered 2008.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

1. Asbury Park Press Archives (Asbury Park Library)

2. Ocean Grove Historical Society Archives (Ms. Rhoda Newman)

3. Mr. Kevin Chambers, Ocean Grove Historian

4. Ocean Grove Times Archives (Neptune Township Library: Mrs. Marian R.Bauman, Director)

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