Street Games

Street busking is an ancient trade, going back at least to medieval and Renaissance times, with actors and entertainers displaced by enclosure and plague making their living on the streets, dependent on their spectators for their livelihood. Their descendants are still among us today, and modern-day busker Todd Various is one of the best I have ever seen. The cups and balls is the bread and butter of the traveling magician, illustrated in Renaissance woodcuts, but Todd’s execution of it is so sublime, and his manner with an audience is so thoroughly engaging and cunningly crafted, that one wants to reach into the video and put a couple of dollars into his hat.

More at todd various

“A Spectre is Haunting Europe…”

It’s May, and May brings up thoughts of Mayday and revolution and Karl Marx’s birthday, May 5,1818, so I thought it might be worthwhile to read from the surprisingly readable Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.

Click on the grey triangle or mp3 link above to hear the reading as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.

Mighty May’s Magazine

This month in the Arts Express Magazine:

** Veteran Actor Jim Broadbent on playing a true-life working class hero in The Duke

** Artist Tom Keough shares scenes from his graphic bio about the Irish revolutionary, James Connolly

** Dennis Broe on the constructed media representations of Zelensky in “Mr. Zelensky Goes to Washington”

and more!

View online here: May 2022 Arts Express Magazine

Get your free subscription to the Arts Express Magazine, the companion magazine to Arts Express Radio, by sending an email with the word “subscribe” in the subject line to: artsexpresslist@gmail.com

Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, Pts 1 and 2

Josh Turner with his wife Kelly Oden travelled across the country this summer stopping at several points along the way to reconnect with old friends and make music. Here they are in Denver with Bob Barrick, Valley Lopez, Stu Garney, and Sam Dorrance covering the Flaming Lips and fighting off the evil-natured pink robots.

More at Josh Turner Guitar

How To Get A Seat

There’s no one quite like Todd Robbins, a trained Shakespearean actor who went wrong somewhere and made a career as a magician and carny sideshow performer. Here Todd helpfully illustrates how to guarantee a seat on the subway.

Thanks to YouTuber travsd

Ain’t Misbehavin’: Joe Pass

I like Joe Pass because he always has such taste. You know that he could do whatever he wants to do on the guitar, but he holds himself back just a bit, restrains himself from showing off too much.

When I was a teenager I worked on a play as a stage manager with a very good professional older cast who I looked up to. I remember one actor, Gene, who came off stage into the wings where I was, after playing a very emotional scene. He was still crying from the scene, and I was impressed by the real tears. I congratulated him on how powerful the scene was. But he shook his head, and said to me, no, he didn’t get it right; he didn’t want to cry at that point in the play, it didn’t serve the playwright. I never forgot that.

The Five-Foot-Shelf of Magic: Foot Four

It’s been quite a while since the three prior installments of this series (which you can see here, here and here) but perhaps the time off has been a good thing. In the previous installment, I limited myself to books that were generally in print–this time I went a bit more afield, though most of these books below are still pretty obtainable, though not necessarily in print anymore. I’ve also included books that I had either overlooked, or had already written about in other contexts, or simply had not owned or read before.

Switch by John Lovick: This is the last word in what has come to be known as the Hundred Dollar Bill Switch. There are dozens of variations and techniques taught in close detail, both tip and tipless, worth getting under your belt.

Act Two by Barrie Richardson: Richardson is one of my favorite magic writers and his books are overflowing with excellent mental magic plots, scripts, and methods. This book contains my favorite—and possibly easiest–parlor ACAAN effect.

Before We Begin by Asi Wind: This is a brilliant book that fills a neglected but important technique of mentalism. After reading this book with its very detailed scripts you might change your mind as I did, and consider the usefulness and effectiveness of this technique.

The Devil’s Staircase by Greg Chapman and Details of Deception by Greg Chapman: I’ve written about these two books on this blog before, so see those essays for more details, but in brief, these two books of Greg’s are filled with unique gambling type card routines, sleights and tools that will leave audiences with no possible explanation.

Approaching Magic by David Regal: all of Regal’s material is great, and in this big book there is a wealth of card, coin and parlor effects. Regal’s magic always has a strong premise and script, and his methods are often ingenious. This book also has some wonderful essays and will keep you busy for a long time. A desert island kind of book.

Smoke and Mirrors by John Bannon: Like David Regal, Bannon’s close-up card and coin effects are fun and ingenious, and any of his books are worth picking up. I like this early book best as I think it has some of his strongest magic in it for casual tabletop performance.

Magic For Young Lovers by Andy of the Jerx: this book is probably the hardest book on the list to find now–it was offered a few years ago to subscribers to Andy’s blog. When I read it, I thought it was one of the best magic books I’d ever read, outlining an approach to magic that really resonated with me. It conveyed what a true magic experience should encompass. This may sound strange, but I’ve never opened it since my first reading of it, because I’ve been reluctant to disturb the memory of what a great experience it was to read it that first time.

Outs, Precautions and Challenges by Charles H. Hopkins: I’ve written about this before on my blog, and it’s a fun little booklet to read. It’s kind of old-fashioned and maybe promises more than it delivers, but it presents a good outline of the problems a performer can face and some possible solutions.

In Order To Amaze by Pit Hartling: This is a must for memdeck workers. As powerful a tool that a memdeck is, the most difficult part of devising magic for it in my opinion has always been in creating entertaining plots and presentations for those effects. Pit Hartling’s ideas and scripts are superb and set this book apart from many others using the same tool.

The Magic of Alan Wakeling by Jim Steinmeyer: I don’t do much stage magic so I can’t say this is a book that I go back to many times, but it is a fascinating look at the mind of an incredibly ingenious designer and performer of stage illusions. The section alone on the Think-a-Drink plot and apparatus is inspiring.

The Annotated Erdnase by S. W. Erdnase and Darwin Ortiz: Eventually if you’re into cards you know one day you are going to have to eat your spinach, and Ortiz’s annotated version of Erdnase is a delightful way to do it. In this large hard bound book, Erdnase’s text is on the inside portion of the double page, while Ortiz’s commentary is in the outer margins. The commentary covers much historical and technical information that makes the journey even more tasty.

Routined Manipulation Finale by Lewis Ganson: I included this book because I think poor Lewis Ganson generally gets a raw deal as a magic writer. He tends to be dismissed because he is generally describing the work of other great magicians such as Dai Vernon, but his books are generally full of wonderful material. For the life of me, I can’t understand why this book, available in paperback, is not referenced more often. I think the contents rival the material in the Stars of Magic book. There are effects in here from Fred Kaps, Pat Page, Ali Bongo, Al Koran, Alex Elmsley, and more.

Faro Fundamentals by Greg Chapman: I’ve written about this book on the blog before so see that essay for more detail. This 52-page booklet would be my go-to recommendation to learn not only how to faro but some excellent uses of it. Even if you already do a faro, you’ll find information in here that you may not have seen before that will help you get the most out of it.

Rhythm Tap with John Bubbles

John “Bubbles” Sublett, who taught Fred Astaire how to tap, and played Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess, was a master of rhythm tap. He appears in the clip above in the 1937 film, Varsity Show, with his long time partner Ford “Buck” Washington.

Thanks to YouTuber AndresDCE

The Company Way

One more lesson in obsequiousness from How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. The late Robert Morse rings every bit of humor from the song. The clever lyrics and music are by Frank Loesser.

Thanks to YouTuber Movieclips

“Who Would Believe Me?”: Measure For Measure

It’s April 23rd, and for us it marks the anniversary of both the birthday of William Shakespeare and the day he died. In celebration of the date, we have produced a new radio version of one of the most intriguing of Shakespeare’s plays, Measure for Measure. I call it Shakespeare’s #Me Too play, and with its up to the minute Me Too themes of sexual harassment and hypocritical Puritanical seeming lying politicians, it couldn’t be more relevant to today. Of course, we couldn’t broadcast our entire play in our Arts Express time slot, but we are happy to present to you a key scene featuring two of our Arts Express stalwarts, Mary Murphy and KeShaun Luckie.

So let’s set the scene: We’re in 16th century Vienna and the newly appointed interim Mayor, Lord Angelo, has just declared a new Puritanical ban on out-of-marriage fornication, punishable by death. A young woman, Isabella, learns, just as she is about to take vows to become a nun, that her poor brother Claudio has run afoul of these laws and is about to be executed. She runs to Lord Angelo to beg him to spare her brother’s life, but Angelo insists that the law must be done. However, Angelo is secretly enamored by Isabella and he wants to see her again, so he tells her to come back the next day and maybe he will reconsider. And so, Isabella returns to Lord Angelo to plead again for her brother.

And now what happens next, from Measure For Measure.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the segment as broadcast today on Arts Express radio, heard on WBAI FM and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

And If you’d like to listen to our entire production of the play, you can hear it here:

https://artsexpress.podbean.com/e/shakespeare-s-measure-for-measure-an-arts-express-special/

Dust In The Wind

From Wikipedia: “Kerry Livgren [ of the band, Kansas] devised what would be the guitar line for “Dust in the Wind” as a finger exercise for learning fingerpicking. His wife, Vicci, heard what he was doing, remarked that the melody was nice, and encouraged him to write lyrics for it. Livgren was unsure whether his fellow band members would like it, since it was a departure from their signature style. After Kansas had rehearsed all the songs intended for the band’s recording sessions of June and July 1976, Livgren played “Dust in the Wind” for his bandmates, who after a moment’s “stunned silence” asked: “Kerry, where has this been? …That’s our next single.”

More at KANSAS

Laurel And Hardy: Tit For Tat

As a youngster I didn’t much like Laurel and Hardy, but viewing this short recently, I couldn’t help laugh at their absolutely perfect timing. I’m assuming that part of the way it comes across on this film is due to the director, Charles Rogers.

Thanks to YouTuber Culture & Education

The Frim Fram Sauce

Monday morning have breakfast with Nat King Cole calling out his order:

I don't want French-fried potatoes
Red ripe tomatoes
I'm never satisfied
I want the frim fram sauce with the Ausen fay
With chafafa on the side

I don't want porkchops and bacon
That won't awaken
My appetite inside
I want the frim fram sauce with the Ausen fay
With chafafa on the side

A fella really got to eat
And a fella should eat right
Five will get you ten
I'm gonna feed myself right tonight

I don't want fish cakes and rye bread
You heard what I said
Waiter, please serve mine fried
I want the frim fram sauce with the Ausen fay
With chafafa on the side

A fella really got to eat
And a fella should eat right
Five will get you ten
I'm gonna feed myself right tonight

I don't want fish cakes and rye bread
You heard what I said
Waiter, please serve mine fried
I want the frim fram sauce with the Ausen fay
With chafafa on the side

Thanks to YouTuber TheNewFormat

April’s Artists

April issue here

** Veteran Danish Director Bille August discusses his new film, The Pact, and Ingmar Bergman

**An Arts Express exclusive excerpt from the re-release of the Ballad of An American: the Autobiography of Earl Robinson, the composer of “Joe Hill,” “The House I Live In,” and “Ballad for Americans”

**Our April Fools “Dear Ethicist”–advice for the morally confused

**The Freebie Zone: The best of the free ‘net

and more!

Listen to Arts Express Radio Saturdays 6AM ET on WBAI.org and WBAI 99.5 FM NYC

**Arts Express, Always Fresh —

Never A Repeat Show**

Ballad Of An American: The Autobiography of Earl Robinson

Earl Robinson may not be so well known nowadays as he once was, but in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, a huge number of Americans knew his music. He was the composer of “The House I Live In,” “Joe Hill,” “Ballad for Americans,” and many others. Singers of his works included Paul Robeson, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Joan Baez, and Three Dog Night. His music crossed the boundaries of folk, Broadway musical, classical, and even rock. Throughout his life he was driven by a need to improve working people’s lives, and he was a longtime member of the Communist Party, which resulted in his being called before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. His autobiography, Ballad of an American, written in collaboration with author Eric Gordon, was released in 1998, and has been out of print. Now it is being re-released, and we are happy to bring you, through the permission of Eric Gordon, this extract from the book, where we enact, in Earl’s words, his tangle with the House UnAmerican Activities Committee.

Click on the triangle above to hear the reading as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI-FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.