Not only at the Old Town School of Folk Music, but in real life, too.

One of the many great things about the Old Town School is that the classes are so diverse.  Every day of the week you can take classes in guitar styles of the Rolling Stones, taiko drumming from Japan, ancient hula, cajun fiddle, breakdancing, or join the mandolin orchestra.

So many times I have experiences with cultures coming together and I think, “Well, that can only happen at the Old Town School.”

I used to think of that a lot as I led the Thursday Night Jam in the lobby of the East Building, right underneath the staircase. As you can see in this picture, the Mary Lou Williams portrait is on the left and a screen printed Woody Guthrie poster is on the right.  Two of my biggest musical influences sharing the space at the Old Town School.

Lobby and Jam Space at the Old Town School of Folk Music's East Building

Lobby and Jam Space at the Old Town School of Folk Music’s East Building.  Mary Lou is on the left.  Woody is on the right.

And again, I would think to myself, “Only at the Old Town School are these two musicians, one a hero of the jazz age, and the other a hero of the dust bowl refugees, able to be celebrated in the same room.”

Then, my good friend, Chris Walz, Program Manager: Bluegrass, Old Time & Americana at the Old Town School of Folk Music, told me about this picture.

Mary Lou Williams second from the left in the back row, and Woody is on the right with his guitar.

This is taken from the FDR Bandwagon, a group of musicians and dancers in support Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944.  The group, which was organized by Moe Asch, founder of Folkways Records, never really took off.  But, there they are.  Mary Lou Williams on the left and Woody Guthrie in the right with the guitar.

Not only at the Old Town School of Folk Music, but in real life, too.

Mary Lou Williams – Featured Artist for January 2013

It’s been exciting digging deeper into the music of Mary Lou Williams.  While I don’t play jazz, I do love to listen to it very much and Mary Lou Williams has been a favorite since I was in college in the late 90s.

As and undergrad, looking for music by Art Tatum, I stumbled onto a recording of her song, Nicole, on a compilation called Smithsonian Collection – Jazz Piano.  It was one of those songs that I can still listen to over and over and over again.

The recording presented here, from the album Black Christ Of The Andes, is not the same as the one that caught my ears all those years ago, and I don’t find it quite as compelling.  But, it is still very enjoyable.

Description of the Staircase

Description of the Staircase

Description of the Staircase

From the poster
“The musical portraits lining our stair and balcony rails are the work of legendary cartoonist Robert Crumb. they were originally produced as parts of three sets of trading cards issued by Yazoo Records in the 1980s: Heroes of the Blues, Early Jazz Greats, and Pioneers of Country Music.
“Images were selected to include representatives from all three genres, male and female artists, soloists as well as ensembles, famous and obscure performers, and as many different musical instruments as possible.”
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“This project was funded through a generous contribution from Ken Pelletier and Amanda Lao.”
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Old Town School of Folk Music is extremely grateful to the artists, who generously granted permission to reproduce these portraits in our lobby. We also gratefully acknowledge Shanachie Entertainment Corporation for their permission to use these copyrighted images. Formatting and digital imaging was donated by Robert Petrick Design.