Friday, January 14, 2022

Music Matters: 2021, In Memoriam

On this episode of Music Matters, senior Bill Waltz takes us through the artists and musicians we lost in 2021. He plays the hits of many, including The Monkees, Kansas, DMX, BJ Thomas, Lloyd Price and many, many more.

Nearly 1000 notable artists in the music world passed away in 2021,, and by no means do we cover them all. For a complete list visit We Heart Music.

Listen below, or on the MixCloud app. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Some Like It Hot -- The next ARCLight Film!


Some Like It Hot is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made, and one of the funniest. Set in 1929, Joe and Jerry (played by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon) are jazz musicians who witness a prohibition-era mob killing (inspired by the St. Valentine's Day Massacre). When they are discovered as witnesses to the crime and the mob sends out hitmen to "off" the duo, they dress like women and join an all-female jazz ensemble.  And hilarity ensues, especially when they both try to win the attention of Sugar Kane (played by Marilyn Monroe), the band's lead vocalist and ukulele player -- while trying to keep their identities hidden.

The film is critically acclaimed. Due to the themes, however, the film was made in 1958 outside of the "Hayes Code."  They Hayes Code was the prominent  self-censorship system that ruled Hollywood from the mid-30s to the late 60s.  The Hayes Code was strictly enforced for much of that time, and the filmmakers were afraid that the crossdressing displayed in the movie would be subject to censorship. The film was made anyway without approval.  And it became a hit.

This signaled the beginning of the end of the Hayes code. It would be replaced in 1968 by the ratings system that we have today.

This month we are proud to screen Some Like it Hot. Open to the public. 

Tuesday, December 14 at 7pm in the ARC.

Artist of the Month: Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra was born on December 12, 1915.  This month would have been his 106th birthday.

I have been a Sinatra fan all my life. I am not sure where that came from, though. Sure, Sinatra was played at my house as a kid. My grandparents often had big band music playing at their house, too. 

But it wasn't until college when I truly became a fan.  I even saw him in concert in 1991.

When I first started teaching, I tried to impart my love of Sinatra's music onto my students. I placed extra credit Frank Sinatra questions on every test and distributed Frank Sinatra extra credit tokens for good work.

Plus, I created the Frank Sinatra Detention Club. If a student got a detention, then they would have to listen to 30 minutes of Sinatra (and me, singing along). 

It was a slow news day in September of 1992. A reporter had contacted me a few days earlier because there was a blurb put in the school board minutes about my detention club. Little did I know that my Frank Sinatra Detention Club story was going to be front page news in Chicago Sun-Times. The following day: nationally on the front page of USA Today. Calls started coming in. The story was one the wire. I did interviews in Canada, Tokyo and other places. Jay Leno even made a joke about me on the Tonight Show. The joked bombed. 

This was my 15 minutes of fame. 

Photo by Rex Chapman, Chicago Sun-Times (1992)

I haven't given detentions in years. But the "Club" lives on in a radio program that I do for Vinyl Voyage Radio

Why Sinatra? That's a hard question to answer. There is a certain "coolness" about Sinatra. He was a product of his times, for sure.  And much of his persona would most certainly not be acceptable today. But as a singer, he was unparalleled. In fact, he approached songs first as poems. He first read them without the music, and then listened to the accompaniment. He couldn't read music, and so his approach was always centered on the emotion of the lyrics. And he had a way of bringing that out in the song itself.

As a fan, here are my TOP FIVE Sinatra tunes:

5. "The Wave"
This is just an all around groovy song that screams late 60s Bossa Nova. 

4. "McArthur Park"
This song is pretty stupid. Except when Sinatra does it. He cut out the corny "someone left the cake out in the rain" lyrics, and what is left is sublime.

3. "Summer Wind"
Best. Summer. Song. Ever. 

2. "One More for My Baby"
Sinatra was known, for much of his career, as a "saloon singer." And this is the best.

1. "Cycles"
Hands down, this is my favorite Sinatra tune. When he sings, "And Friday, I got fired" you can just feel it.

Check out our specially created Spotify Playlist.

Monday, December 6, 2021

ARCLight S01E6: Weasels, Blackouts and an Angel Named Clarence: A Conversation with John Jughead

John Jughead Pierson is, among other things, a musician, podcaster, actor and novelist. 

Plus, he is a 1985 Hersey graduate.

On this podcast, we sat down to talk with him about his novel, The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody. This novel reimagines the classic holiday movie, It's a Wonderful Life.  What if the angel, Clarence, did not save George Bailey on that Christmas Eve many years ago?

We discuss how he came about to write such a novel and the difficulties in writing a novel based on a beloved holiday classic.

We also discuss the various other things he has done since graduating Hersey:

He formed the influential punk band, Screeching Weasel in 1986. After leaving Weasel in 2006, he formed Even in Blackouts and currently put out an album with the Mitochondriacs.

He performed with the Neo Futurists and could be seen for over a decade in Chicago's longest-running play, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind.

He has played the wizard Ollivander in the wand shop at Universal Studios, Tokyo.

He learned puppetry from a group that had trained with Jim Henson.

He wrote two novels: Weasels in a Box and The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody We have a couple of copies of The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody in the ARC.

He hosts a podcast called Jughead's Basement, where he interviews prominent musicians.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Music Matters - Music of the Native American Music Awards

The new episode of Music Matters is available, featuring winners of Native American Music Awards. This show features a wide variety of music. From pop and rock, to hip hop and country, to gospel and traditional, the Native American Music Awards represents a cross-section of the diversity found in contemporary music of First Nation peoples.

The Native American Music Awards were founded in 1998 to highlight and celebrate the music of contemporary Native musicians, artists and bands. This playlist on Music Matters has a wide variety of music, including tracks from Jim Boyd, Redbone, Twin Flames, Joanne Shenandoah and many, many more.

Join us for this special episode, and then head on over to the NAMA website to dive further into the wonderful world Native music.

Listen below, or on our Mixcloud channel.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Harold and Maude -- TONIGHT -- 7pm

 Why come to see Harold and Maude? This trailer has three great reasons:

Harold and Maude was released in 1971. When it was released, people didn't know how to take the film. After all, it is essentially a love story between two people nearly 50 years apart in age. I remember renting it on VHS in high school in the 80s, and was really taken with its dark humor. By that time, public opinion had changed and Harold and Maude was considered a classic. 

Despite all of its darkness, there is a tremendous amount of heart in Harold and Maude. Ruth Gordon is a treasure. And the soundtrack from Cat Stevens is a classic.

The film screens as part of our ARCLight Film Series, bringing you classic films, cult films and films of cultural significance. Harold and Maude definitely fits that bill.

The screening starts at 7pm. I will briefly introduce the film, talking about its historical place and a little about director Hal Ashby. Then, stay for a discussion.

See you in the ARC!

Sunday, November 7, 2021

The ARCLight Podcast Explores Native history on the Next Episode

You ever wonder what is was like here before there was Arlington Heights, or Chicago for that matter? On the new episode of the ARCLight Podcast, Joe Podlasek, the founder and CEO of Trickster Cultural Center, talks about Native history and reminds us that Indigenous people are not just found in history, but continue to impact the region and country today. This area is home to the largest population of Native people outside of traditional Tribal lands. And the Trickster Cultural Center aims to raise awareness and place indigenous people rightfully in the present.

Listen to the episode below or in your favorite podcast app.

This short video is an introduction to the Trickster Cultural Center. Stop down and take a look at the ARC display case to see more videos from Trickster.