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3 Parts U. City + 1 Part Harlem = New Orleans

Rod Milam, director and executive producer of the project here.  As we get ready to do the official, full-blown launch of the Sounding The Chord website in the next day or so, I figured that it'd be a good time to really put up some nice video entertainment for all of the folks that have been early followers of this project.  You deserve a real treat, and you're about to get one.

One of the reasons that this whole project got started was because of the impact of the high levels of musical talent that I was surrounded by during my era at University City High.  Now I played in multiple bands...the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band II, the marching band...but that doesn't really mean much.  So did other people.  Even though I was really in to playing music and loved it, I never thought that I was going to go on in live to be a musician.  But it was always clear that there were other people that I was playing with on a daily basis that not only had the desire to go on a play professionally, but the ability to go really far with it.

In my class of 1988, there were many talented artists and musicians; however, there was little doubt about 3 people in the bands that would go on if they so chose: Peter Martin, Jeremy Davenport, and Chris Thomas.  These three close friends didn't just play in the bands together during school functions, but they performed at other times and had professional (low paying) gigs to boot.

As you will find out throughout the course of this search phase of the documentary project, there are many U. Citians that have taken many different paths throughout their careers.  Some stayed in the St. Louis area.  Some left music for a while and then went back to it after school.  Others changed their interests to areas other than music.  But for many U. Citians, their path in life took them down to the end of the Louisiana Purchase to New Orleans for at least a short stint.

Chris, Peter, and Jeremy have all spent at least some time in bayou country and have added their own flavor to the musical gumbo that is one of the signatures of the Crescent City.  The three of them no longer live in NOLA at the same time, but during one of the early concerts that Peter held in his concert series Peter Martin Music: LIVE! in 2010, Peter invited his old buddies plus another musician (Ulysses Owens Jr., originally from Harlem) also steeped in the New Orleans tradition to "The Reunion" show in April 2nd at the Sheldon Concert Hall in Midtown St. Louis.

One of the many great songs that these musicians performed was a standard written by Hoagy Carmichael, "New Orleans", that paid homage to the city that they'd all called home at some point.  Below is this great rendition of this classic, and it features great solos by all 3 U. Citians. (Jeremy Davenport: Vocals/Trumpet, Peter Martin: Piano, Chris Thomas: Bass, Ulysses Owens Jr.: Drums)

I'm sure that we will be featuring some other songs from this concert throughout the course of Sounding The Chord, but this will have to tide you over for now.  Don't worry though, there is so much more music out there by U. Citians that we've captured and, surely, some that we haven't even gotten to yet. It is my firm hope, and almost need, to be able to find as many people that have called U. City home in their formative years and have taken up music as a profession at some point in their lives.  This pursuit of the arts and music seems to be part of the culture of my hometown.  And hearing, recording, and broadcasting music and performances like this does nothing to dissuade me from that belief.

Stay tuned to the site.  Spread the word.  Join the mailing list.  And let's get ready to begin this trip, OK?


Rod Milam

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