Old Town School of Folk Music

November 2, 2011 (NEWS RELEASE)

"Keep a Song in Your Soul: The Black Roots of Vaudeville"

The Old Town School of Folk music is making its first foray into the world of theatre with its commission of the World Premiere of "Keep a Song in Your Soul: the Black Roots of Vaudevill." The show was developed by the Grammy Award winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Award honoree Reginald R. Robinson, best known for his performances of Ragtime era music, and legendary Chicago tap icon Reggio "The Hoofer" McLaughlin, all of whom will perform in the show. Featuring more than 20 historic songs written and performed by African- Americans between 1830 -- 1930 on the Chitlin' Circuit, as well as original music and new arrangements of the classic songs by the creative team, the production explores Vaudeville's African-American heritage through music and dance to reclaim the spirit and substance of this rich taproot of American entertainment.

Set in the Great Migration era of 1910 - 1930, "Keep a Song in Your Soul: The Black Roots of Vaudeville" tells the story of a young woman who is lured from the rural South by the promise of a better life in a northern city, followed by her devoted boyfriend. There, the two encounter further challenges, finding the realities behind the city's false gleam.

Thursday, November 3, 8PM
Friday, November 4, 8PM
Saturday, November 5, 3PM & 8PM
Sunday, November 6, 7PM

Old Town School of Music
Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall
4544 N. Lincoln Ave
Tickets: $45
Box Office: 773-728-6000 www.oldtownschool.org

More about the developers:

The Carolina Chocolate Drops is an old-time string band based in Durham, North Carolina. Their 2010 album, Genuine Negro Jig, won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, and was chosen as one of fRoots Magazine's top 10 albums of 2010. Participating in the show are members Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons and Hubby Jenkins. In their performances, the musicians all sing and trade instruments including banjo, fiddle, guitar, harmonica, snare drum, bones, jug, and kazoo. The group learned much of their repertoire, which is based on the traditional music of the Piedmont region of North and South Carolina from the eminent African American old-time fiddler Joe Thompson. The Carolina Chocolate Drops have released three critically hailed CDs (in 2006, 2008, and 2010).

Reginald R. Robinson is an internationally recognized pianist, composer, recording artist and lecturer of traditional African American folk and Caribbean music. His passion for jazz music started in 1985 when his brother Marlando began listening to big band music of the 1930's and 40's. In 2004, Robinson received the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's rare and prestigious "Genius" award for his ragtime compositions and recordings. He was honored in 2006 by National Association of University Women as a Chicago legend and was also honored in 2010 by the ETA Creative Arts Foundation for upholding the tradition. He has self-released two albums: "Man Out of Time" (2006) and "Reflections" (2010), and also has several albums on the Delmark label.

Reggio "The Hoofer" McLaughlin has travelled all around the world, contributing to the preservation of authentic and traditional tap dance. As a dancer starting in the subway of Chicago, he brought smiles to the faces of many commuters and developed his unique and extraordinary style of footloose and fancy free hoofing. After 20 years of dancing, McLaughlin has amassed a remarkable catalogue of achievements: profiles on WTTW's Center Stage and Art Beat Chicago; dancing on Broadway; playing principal roles in the theatrical version of the Sammy Davis Jr. Story and two Duke Ellington Musicals, "Jump for Joy" and "Beggar's Holiday." As an ambassador for tap, he has travelled the globe, and is a recipient of the Illinois Art Council Master/Apprentice Award. He is the producer and writer of his annual Christmas Show called "The Nut Tapper" - a unique, spirited, exhilarating and multicultural percussive variation of the classic ballet from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. He is on the teaching faculty of the Old Town School of Folk Music.

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