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I got a great birthday present yesterday, a chance to see this one man show at the Stackner Cabaret Theater, Milwaukee,WI where Stephan Wade was performing The Beautiful Music All Around Us.
This is how the Stackner Theater describes it: Legendary musician and 2013 Grammy-nominee Stephen Wade brings his near-lifetime exploration of Southern musical traditions to the Stackner. Best known for his long-running one-man show, Banjo Dancing, Stephen's newest piece is based on his award-winning recent book that uncovers the largely hidden but surprisingly influential makers of iconic American folksong. Drawn from the celebrated Library of Congress field recordings of the 1930s and '40s, this exhilarating theatrical concert features spoken word, projected images, and live music-making. The Beautiful Music All Around Us is guaranteed to be a performance unlike any you have ever seen.
Mr. Wade had a plethora of instruments on stage, all of which he used to tell his story, many of which were the actual instruments of the musicians he learned from and talked about in the show. He even had a mountain banjo that Frank Profitt made. Some of the songs that he played or were part of the production were, Bonaparte's Retreat, Shortenin' Bread, Coal Creek March, and Goodbye Old Paint. His skills on the banjo are second to none!
The way he weaved the history of the original performances and performers and how their music came to be, really brought the them to life and connected dots you never knew existed.
I suspect that many banjo players and builders are actually historians in a way and by building and playing their music and the music of others, it keeps tradition and a little bit of history alive. Something that gets passed down to a new generation. That is pretty much the focus of Stephan Wades work. By telling the stories of others in his show, he keeps past musicians and their songs alive for all to enjoy.
If you get a chance to see this show, I would definitely recommend it. The price may be a little steep at $65, but maybe a birthday present to yourself will rationalize that price away.
Overall Rating: 9
'Apple Blossom' 1 hr