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Since this portion of the documentary project is about researching the roots of the arts and music in University City, we want to report to followers some of the facts that we find.  We also want to tell some of the great stories that we pick up when we are out in the field getting interviews. Here we will have articles, pictures, videos, and recodings that show you some of our work ahead of whatever the eventual movie that this section of the project will produce.  Read, look, watch, and enjoy!


Spreading The Word About The Project In St. Louis (September 2012)

Project director Rod Milam here again, this time with a post event wrap-up.  My trip back to St. Louis from September 20th through the 23rd to do some promotion and presentations for the project was a success!  The main goals of telling the greater St. Louis area about this project, telling U. Citians directly about the project in U. City, and having a still  gallery show mounted in U. City can be crossed of the long list of mile markers that I've set out for the progress of this project.  And there were even added benefits too!!  Let's run though each of the events that happened one at a time.

We'll start with the radio interviews on the morning of Friday, September 20th.  First stop was to Downtown St. Louis near the Arch and the riverfront to The Charlie Brennan Show at one of my old stations News Radio KMOX - AM 1120.  It was good to see Charlie, Chris Mihiil, Brian Kelly, and other former co-workers as I ran through the station and had a nice chat on the other side of the mic that I was used to in Studio B.  Here's the interview in full:

Then I had to make a quick trip up Grand Avenue to Midtown St. Louis to the brand spanking new studios of another former radio station of mine, 90.7 KWMU - St. Louis Public Radio and the Cityscape program hosted by Steve Potter.

It was also good to see old co-workers Bill Raack, Mike Schrand, and Rich Herberts while walking through the vast new station with more studios that I could shake a stick at.  (Let's see if we can work with them in the future with the project and musicians on something...hmmmmm.)

Then I had to rush out of KWMU and head to The Loop in downtown U. City to the site of the still gallery show at the University City Public Library on Delmar.  With great help from the library staff of Patrick Wall, Christa Van Herreweghe, Annie Fuller, and Lexine Pranschke, 21 pictures of 24 different subjects of this documentary project were hung for a multiple week display on the 2nd floor of the building at the entrance of the gallery!

The subjects of the photos are: Peter Martin & Todd Williams, Kevin Batchelor, Don Wolff, Rosalie Will Boxt, Marissa Wilner Mandell, Jeremy Schonfeld, Kaoru Watanabe, Sara Lucas, Sandy Weltman, Billy Webber Savage, Wayne duMaine, Denise Du’Maine, Gloria Attoun & Michael Bauermeister, Christopher Edmonds, Mary Riles, Roger Warner, Jon-Carlos Evans,, Jeremy Davenport, David Friedman, Christopher Thomas, Harry Miller & Ronnie Burrage

Then with the pictures hung and the information about the project out and about in the library, the scene was set for the 2 hour talk about the start of the project later in the evening.

The event felt like homecoming!   Around 80 people filled the Dorothy Ulrici Auditorium!  People that I hadn't seen in decades came out to see what the hubbub was about.  My dad, sister and brother-in-law, 3 aunts represented.  Neighbors, old elementary, middle, and high school classmates where there too, and some parents of old friends as well!  I don't think I've ever seen that combination of people from my first 18 years of life at the same place and same time.  The feeling was mutual.  Many of these folks hadn't seen each other in many, many years either.

But the big and direct project related joys that occurred was the site of my of some of my first teachers at Flynn Park Elementary school together...more than 30 years after I left the building for the last time as a student.  (Left to right) My 5th grade teacher Mrs. Mary Allen, my 2nd ever music teacher Ms. Nicki McClusky, my 1st ever music teacher Diane Davenport, and my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Marylin Levinson.

And even more project related was the gathering of six of the music educators that were an inseparable part of the music program in the University City Public School District from the late 1960s through 1990 (back to front and left to right):  Brittany (Woods) Junior High music teacher Mr. Hiram Martin, choral music teacher Larry Thomas, U. City High Jazz Band director John Brophy, concert band/Wind Ensemble/Jazz Band director Casey Geisz, and district music director Diane Davenport and music teacher Nicki McClusky.

My talk went well and folks seemed to enjoy the information I presented.  But even more enjoyable was an actual demonstration of musicality by graduates of the district's music program. Everyone enjoyed 4 great live performances by U. Citians John Bolduan (who happened to be in St. Louis at the time visiting from his home of Bilbao, Spain), Linda Gurney, and Sandy Weltman:

John Bolduan perfoming at the University City Public Library (September 2012)

Linda Gurney at the U. City Public Library before her performances with John Bolduan and Sandy Weltman. She played both her clarinet and the library's piano, which apparently hadn't been played as part of a presentation in the library in more than 15 years.

Sandy Weltman in his home during our interview with him in September 2011A great time was had by all.  Many new connections were forged and many old connections were made anew.  The still gallery show will be up in the library until at least October 20th, if not longer.  So if you're in town, please make sure you go by to check things out.

I'll have more updates for you soon, but I was very glad to install the 2nd part of many parts of this project back in U. City for even more people to discover.  I look forward to even more displays in the future.


U. City Musicians Will Go Home Again In 2014

Hello again everyone. Before I shot the first frame of video for this project back in March of 2011, I thought long and hard about a couple of things.

First, I really thought a lot about how I wanted to distribute all of the different potential outputs that I'd be able to get out of all of the interviews I hoped to conduct and events I hoped to set up. (i.e. websites, social media, CDs, DVDs, gallery shows, concerts, etc.) Second, I knew that I wanted to try my best to involve as many different people from the University City diaspora as possible in the production and presentations for the project as possible. By having long time former U. City music teacher Diane Davenport and native U. Citian Cara Reedy on board helping with general project support early on in the process, I'd alredy kicked off fulfilling the latter of these two items.


Now I am very happy to announce a brand new output for the documentary project that will help fulfill both of the big objectives that I've set out so far. I, along with two fellow members of the University City class of 1988 (Traci Moore Clay and Tom Seltzer), will be creating the official University City calendar for the year of 2014 which will be based around the musicians, artists, and teachers captured on camera throuoghout this documentary project process.

Producers of the calendar (from L to R): Traci Moore Clay, Tom Seltzer, Rod Milam, all from the U. City High School Class of 1988

After getting her degree in Magazine Journalism at the University of Kansas, Traci moved back to U. City and has stayed. She is the owner of her own design company, Traci Moore Graphics, on the corner of North & South and Delmar (for us old heads...above where Petrosky's used to be), and is a graphic design instructor at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University. Traci has been involved with many St. Louis and national projects over her years in the business, proud to teach her craft to others, and very proud to still call U. City her home.

After getting his degree in History at Columbia University in New York City, Tom has called Brooklyn, New York home, but will always be a U. City kid. He is an illustrator, graphic designer, and marketing specialist as the owner of his own company, Seltzer Studio Graphics. Tom has been involved with many national and international design projects, his own original art exhibits, and is working on his first graphic novel "Part-Time Dog" which uses fellow UCHS c/o 1988 member Rob Brown as the physical model for the story's protagonist. Tom also designed the Sounding The Chord logo that you can see all over this website.

With thanks to the University City Municipal Commission of Arts and Letters for trusting this project to a trio of daughters and sons of the River Des Peres, we will be able to actually put all of the the artists that I capture on camera during this first Sounding The Chord phase of the project back in the homes that they spent at least some time growing up in AND put this collaborative piece of artwork into each and every home in University City. This calendar will truly be About U. City, By U. City, and For U. City through and through...and I can't think of anything more appropriate than that.

If you want to stay up to date on what pictures are likely to show up in this calendar, then make sure you check in regularly on this site at http://milamnyc.com/ucmusicdocstills since I try to post official versions of pictures that I take as soon as I'm done with interviews. You should also make sure to "Like" the Facebook page and join the main Pinterest page for the project and share the info with all of your friends.

Again, I'm very, very happy to have the opportunity to put some of this story and artwork into the homes of all of the people of my hometown so that U. Citians can see some of the history of what we have done in the past and see some of the promise that the future holds for the culture of the arts that embodies all of us. I can't wait to get going on this project as next summer's deadline approaches.


Rod Milam


Still Picture & Video Clip Presentation & Showing - Friday, September 21, 2012 - UCPL

I'm excited to announce the first step into the 2nd phase of presenting material collected during this documentary project. Coming up at the University City Public Library from 7:00pm to 9:00pm on Friday, September 21st I will be leading a showing of still images and never-before-seen footage that I've collected for the first part of the "Sounding The Chord" section of this effort. The UCPL has been kind enough to open up the Dorothy Ulrici Auditorium for the evening so that anyone that would like to see selections from the more than year and a half worth of photos and video that I've shot in 15 US states/territories and 37 cities.

I'll also try to address some of the most frequently asked questions about the project, give some history about how things got started, give a preview of all of the outputs that I hope to have coming up, and do some Q&A about the project from members of the audience.


But since this whole project is about art and music, I'll try to spare everyone from having to hear me talk for 2 hours and have some musicians play and possibly some of the other artists that I've gotten on camera come by to present as well.

In addition to the 2 hour presentation, the library has also been generous enough to offer some wall and display space around the entire building. In those carved out spaces will hang some of the still pictures of the more than 90 U. Citians that have been in front of the projects cameras with some explanation of who they are and where the shots were taken.

Overall, this is going to be the first of many times that I hope to start to show some of the work done so far that isn't distributed virtually so that all of the non-net-going public can get a glimpse at all of the musical talent that exists in the U. City diaspora. Again, I'm very, very glad to show the hometown folks some of what I've found in person and can't wait to do so. I encourage all of you that can to come by the library, spread the word about this showing, and let me know if you have any questions. Also stay tuned to this space for all updates and join our mailing list for updates on other areas surrounding The University City Musician Documentary Project.


UC In BK 2012 (or "A Great Day In Brooklyn")

One of the original plans for the Sounding The Chord section of this project was to eventually go back to some of the cities where U. City musicians have been found in clusters and get a group photo of all of them in a location that represents the particular city.  That plan still lives.  Since the director, Rod Milam, lives in New York City and that there have been so many U. City musicians found that are also based in the New York City area, Rod has decided to borrow an idea from a famous picture of musicians (and subsequent documentary) and give it a U. City twist for the first group photo.


The well known 1958 photo by Art Kane "Jazz Portrait" is a shot of 57 of the greatest, global jazz legends taken in front of a brownstone home in Harlem for a special edition of Esquire Magazine.  The Academy Award Nominated documentary "A Great Day In Harlem" was made in 1995 about the era, the people in that picture, and the day of the actual shoot. Rod saw this documentary in 1995 and immediately bought the poster.  And after more than a year of videoing and photographing more than 75 U. City musicians, the concept of doing a series of group photos merged with the brilliant documentary and picture of Art Kane's first professional shoot.  But he wants to kick it up a notch and give it an even closer meaning for the people of the St. Louis region and the project itself.

The picture above shows the 1958 Art Kane photo in the lower right corner. The color image of the brownstone builiding in the rest of the picture was taken a week ago in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn in New York City.  It's owned by U. City High School graduate Frannie (Seltzer) Mendlow and her husband.  They have both signed off on the idea that we'd try to take three distinct pictures in front of their house in a clear homage to the "Jazz Portrait" shoot last century.  Here are the pictures we will try to arrange:

1) A shot of all of the U. City musicians that we can find that live in the New York City area

2) A shot of all of the U. City musicians plus the actors, dancers, and other artists that live in the NYC area.

3) A shot of all of the people that have called U. City home that currently live in the NYC area.

The fact that we would be documenting so many people from the U. City diaspora that live in NYC area seems very groundbreaking and different.  And to cap that off by using a brownstone owned by a U. City native as the set and backdrop seems to be the icing on the cake.

So as of right now, there is no scheduled date or time for the shoot, but we'll be working on it.  (Scheduling will probably be the hardest part about getting so many working musicians together in one place at one time.)  You should stay tuned to the Facebook and Twitter feeds to stay up to date.  And if you have any questions or comments about this effort, please feel free to make those known below.


U. City Musicians Performing in Black & White and Gold 2011

It's the end of 2011 and it's been not much over 9 months since I shot the first interview with cellist Mary Riles in Seattle, Washington for the project.  And looking back on 2011 and all of the people that I've met and met up with, I think it's safe to say this baby has gone to full term and is ready to be nurtured out of the womb (financially) so that it can grow to it's full potential in life.  (Just what any proud parent would want for their child.)

Here are the stats for the project as of December 29, 2011:

154 Potential Interview Subjects Identified
60 Different Individuals Captured On Camera
30 Full On-camera Interviews
26 Cities Visited
13 States Visited
9 Countries Heard From

~6 Terabytes Of Video Shot


And, again, like any proud new parent, I'd like to share with you some pictures of the baby in the form of a slideshow (really...this will be enjoyable and not painful at all):

I hope that you've been enjoying what I've been posting and talking about here on the project site and that you're as excited about the potential for this subject as I am.  If you are, I hope that you would consider any level of financial support that you or your organization could muster.  Frankly, all travel and expenses that I have put into this project so far have stopped.  There's zero possiblity for me to add any further money to the project, so I'm seeking other funding sources.

If you'd like to help, it would be greatly appreciated.  You can click right here to check out our supporters and support page.

Thanks in advance and I wish everyone (and this documentary baby) a great 2012!!

Rod Milam - Director/Executive Producer of The University City Musician Documentary Project