Rolling Stone magazine named them the Greatest singing duo ever. They influenced everyone from the Beatles to Simon and Garfunkel. Phil and Don Everly, brothers whose artistic and business partnership was famously contentious, make some of the most beautiful harmonies ever in pop music.
They called “Let It Be Me” the most beautiful song they had ever recorded.
The amazing African-American tap dancer, Lois Bright. She was married to Dan Miller one of the two tap-dancing Miller Brothers that you see in the clip above. Unfortunately, Lois Bright Miller never got her full recognition in show business, as the act was called simply, The Miller Brothers and Lois. But as you can see, she did everything that the brothers did and more.
Clearly, if you’re talking about the great female tap dancers of the last century such as Ann Miller and Eleanor Powell, then Lois Bright Miller is right up there.
In this installment, we’ll be getting into more specialized and advanced books, yet I think the information in each of them is valuable no matter what area of magic most intrigues you.
TheDai Vernon Book of Magic by Lewis Ganson: Some of the classic close-up routines of magic, including The Chinese Coins, that should be in every magician’s repertoire.
Restaurant and Bar Magicby Jonathan Kamm: Kamm is a bar magician, and in this slim book of effects he explains some wonderful mainstays of the bar magician. If you’re not a drinker, don’t let the appellation of bar magic worry you. Bar magic is close-up magic that requires little in the way of props, but it has a very clear plot, is visual, often modular, and has high impact. There’s a great repeat card under deck routine here as well as seven other routines which, as they say, are workers.
Marked for Life by Kirk Charles: This is a slim paperback on how to create your own deck of marked cards and tricks to do with same. There’s a hilarious trick done with a rubber stamp imprint of a cat’s paw that I used to have a lot of fun with. But the real winner here is the system for marking cards that Bob Farmer came up with that requires only a red Sharpie on a red Bicycle deck which produces marks that can be seen from a good distance.
Expert Card Technique by Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue: This one may sit on the shelf until you’re ready for it, but once you are, you will be amazed at the gems of advanced card magic sleights and effects it contains: passes, glimpses, transpositions. Though written before Royal Road to Magic and Card College, this is the post-graduate course.
Taschen Magic Posters: I’ve written about this book before, and I continue to feel that it’s one of my favorite magic books of all time. This multi-lingual large-size edition pictured above is out of print and hard to find now, but there’s a smaller sized abridged version available at very reasonable cost, which is still quite wonderful. It’s beautifully put together with glorious reproductions of hundreds of years of magic posters interspersed with essays from the likes of Jim Steinmeyer. It’s big, heavy, and an absolute pleasure to pull out on a rainy day.
An Actor Prepares by Konstantin Stanislavski: while this volume was meant for theater actors performing in a scripted play, there is much here to be learned here about communicating with an audience. The Spanish magician Juan Tamariz summarized some of this information in The Five Ways of Magic, but An Actor Prepares goes more deeply into some important aspects of performing and getting ready to perform. Pay special attention to the sections on Relaxation, Concentration, Units and Objectives, Faith and a Sense of Truth, The Super-Objective, and Communion.
Act Two by Barrie Richardson: There’s more great mental magic in this sequel to Theater of the Mind. If you’ve always wanted to learn a memdeck, but don’t think you’re quite up to it now, there’s an easy to memorize half memdeck here that’s very useful. In particular, it’s used in a easy-to-do stage ACAAN that plays big. There are many other mental effects and techniques here that are worth exploring as well.
Card College, Volumes 2, 3, and 4: by Roberto Giobbi: Card College is a massive achievement but I think Royal Road substitutes well for Volume 1 and has better tricks, and Volume 5 is largely a book of pleasant but unessential card tricks. For me, the real stars of the CC series are Volumes 2, 3 and 4, which form an excellent detailed reference for learning and executing the most common card sleights one might come across in other sources.
Magic is My Weed and How to Make Love the Steve Spill Way both by Steve Spill. I put these two books together because frankly it is hard to decide between them. Simply, read them both. They are not cheap, but if you are planning to set foot onstage before a large audience in a regular professional capacity, these books would be a very wise investment. I did detailed reviews of the two books here (Weed) and here (Love). If you want to be a performer and not just a guy or gal doing tricks, these books are a goldmine of information. Wonderful effects, jokes, scripts, but even more wonderful advice about how to construct an act and entertain an audience.
With the madness of the last week it’s nice to just relax and give oneself up to an artist who is totally in control of her talent.
Lady Gaga sings a jazz/pop version of the Rodgers and Hart standard that promises a lot and delivers a lot.
She sang this often on her 2015 tour, and if you look on YouTube, you can see that in every performance the vocal arrangement is different, she’s clothed in a different costume and wig, and yet every performance is right on the money. Really a rare talent.
Monday Morning in the Park (Prospect?). Carson McKee takes the lead on a lesser-known Beatles song by Mr. Lennon. (The brass figleaf with bronze oakleaf palms if you can guess which album it’s from. Careful–it’s a bit of a trick question.)
Josh Turner on guitar, and guest Jim Hogan with the terrific harmonies.
On the last day of the month, we think of Septembers past. Though there are many fine versions of the Tom Jones/Harvey Schmidt classic from The Fantasticks, in this case, schmaltziest is best, and that inevitably means The Brothers Four.
Dave Van Ronk claimed that it was really Tom Paxton of the NYC folk scene who first claimed the mantel of singer/songwriter among folkies, daring to sing mainly his own songs in the cafés, which led the way to Dylan and Ochs. Here’s a great Paxton song from fifty years ago that could have been written yesterday.
Some say magician David Blaine is just regurgitating old material, but he didn’t have to take it so literally. Anyway, come for the announcement of his newest hair-raising stunt, but stay for the cuisses de grenouilles.
It’s August and that’s the month poet Charles Bukowski was born in 1920. With over 5000 poems and six novels and hundreds of short stories to his name, he’s become a kind of cult figure over the last decades. While his writings have stamped him with the indelible persona of an alcoholic anti-social misanthropic and misogynistic git, yet there’s also a gentler humanness in Bukowski.
He died at the age of 74. On his gravestone the epitaph reads, “Don’t Try.”
Come with us now as we go out to our favorite virtual watering hole, knock down a couple of drinks, and listen to a performance of some of Bukowski’s poems as broadcast today on Arts Express radio on Pacifica stations across the nation.
Click on the grey triangle or mp3 link above to listen.