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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!


Rod Milam On St. Louis' NPR Affiliate 90.7 KWMU Talking About "Sounding The Chord"


Hello from Rod Milam again,

I was back in the St. Louis area for the last 5 days.  I made a great deal of contact with many (22) different U. City Musicians and got most of them either on video or still camera.  I'll make another post about that with links to some great stories and pictures later.

Also while I was in St. Louis I was interviewed on the city's biggest NPR affilate, 90.7 KWMU, St. Louis Public Radio on the Citiscape program.  Click here and you should be able to hear the segement from the program where host Steve Potter and I discussed the project:


Also joining me in the segement were U. City musicians and brothers Rob and Mike Sliverman (UCHS c/o 1985 and 1989 respectively).  They founded and pulled of a VERY successful first iteration of the U. City Jazz Festival in the city's Heman Park.  More than 2,000 people showed up throughout the day of music and food.  You can listen to all of us talk about the projects in the segment of Cityscape linked above or just below this paragraph.

Rod Milam Interviewed On 90.7 KWMU (NPR in St. Louis, MO)


U. City Musicians All Over New York City

Rod Milam again.  We've hit the heat in August and the weather is not pleasant in St. Louis or New York City (where I'm based now).  There have been multiple days with temps over 100 degrees with Missouri-like humiditiy so far this summer.  This usually happens here one or two days in the year, but not nearly this many.

Most people up this way not from the feels-like-the-middle-of-a-non-concrete-jungle sections of the country complain a lot when the temperature gets above 90F (32C).  They'll whine and moan even though there's really not much humidity and there's actually a breeze blowing, a feature sorely missing from the steambath that is St. Louis in June, July, and August.  But, again, there are usually one or two days that I walk out of my door in Astoria, Queens, get hit in the face with what feels like one of the warm towels that you get before a meal at a Japanese restaurant, and I'll think to myself, "Ahhhh....feels like home."

During the research and recording of interviews for this documentary, I've come to find out that there are about 20 people in the Big Apple that are, or have been professional musicians, that would be very likely to have that same thought running through their heads on those same sweaty days.  Before February, I knew of about 20 people in general that were from U. City that were in New York, but no where near that many were musicians.  Now with this outreach, more and more people that know that "North & South" is a street as well as points on a compass.  It's been a good thing.

One of the people that we've recorded doing his thing is U. Citian and pianist Harry Miller (UCHS c/o 1980).  He's been in New York for many years and is a jazz musician and was a student teacher at the LaGuardia School of Music and Arts.  One morning a couple of weeks ago, Harry asked a couple of other current teachers at the school to come by when no students were around so that I could record them doing a bit of a jam session.  They all would like to play more than they do and the'd gotten together before just to work out some standards.  This particular morning Harry pulled out a very lovely, untitled ballad that he'd written some years ago but had never played with others.  These musicians being great professionals just took about 10 seconds to look over Harry's chart and then proceeded to play this lovely, chilled out piece that made everyone in the recording studio forget just how hot and uncomfortable it was on the other side of the outside walls.

Just click play on this, sit back, and enjoy some sitting-on-the-porch-with-some-lemonade music:

We haven't fully interviewed Harry yet, but that's coming.  Another U. Citian that we have interviewed fully and seen perform some great music in town is Kaoru Watanabe.  (Just click that link to see him playing the Japanese Fue (wooden flute) in Prospect Park, Brooklyn as a part of an experimental "Creative Walk" where he serenaded blindfolded attendees with the fue and a large taiko drum.)  Kaoru's musical story is interesting and we'll be bringing you more on that as the project continues.

We also had a great gathering of a lot of U. City people a couple of weeks ago at a special "listening party" for a soon to be released album by Jeremy Schonfeld.  To find out a bit more about that shoot, just click here.  I've actually done some work surrounding this album, Iron & Coal.  If you'd like to find out more about it, please just click here.

So since there are so many musicians from U. City in the New York area, we're going to concentrate on interviewing them for the next couple of months.  At the same time, we plan on raising a lot of funds and awareness so that we can go back out into the rest of the world to capture more of this great talent that has come through the black and gold city.


U. City Musicians In Paris and Around The World Got The Project Started

Rod Milam (project Director/Executive Producer) here again. I have to acknowledge some of the big influences in my life ahead of now that lead me to even consider taking on something like this project...especially since I am not, nor have ever been a professional musician.

Going to the public schools in University City in the mid 1970s & 1980s meant that there was a great chance that I'd wind up playing an instrument even though neither one of my parents ever played.  Music was everywhere...even on the streets and McDonalds.  I decided to follow my cousin's footsteps and take up drums in 5th grade in 1980 (surely to my parents' ears' delight).  I loved playing and loved being part of the band.

One of the biggest thrills was going on to junior high and not only playing in a bigger band, but was being around to see and hear the great bands that were playing in the high school.  At least once a year, the high school Wind Ensemble or Jazz Band would play a concert that we'd get to see in the big auditorium.  Hearing them was an inspiration for all of us in the band.  We wanted to try to be that good and be in that band when we made it to UCHS.

The Jazz Band 1 in 1983 was directed by John Brophy, a very talented drummer in his own right.  He'd not only put the talent of U. City musicians on the map in St. Louis, but they were eventually known around the US and the whole world.  The group of high schoolers was so good that they were invited to play at the famed Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and they played several gigs around Paris on the way to the big show.  Below is a clip of a documentary that was made by the St. Louis PBS station KETC Channel 9 about the band's trip to Europe called "Brophy And The Band".

The band cut an album and sold it around all of St. Louis so that they could raise enough funds to make that trip.  Everyone I knew wanted a copy of that album.

After I started working on the radio in the 1990s, I pulled out the "On The Threshold" album that I liked so much from the Jazz Band and I played songs from it on my non-news program "The Show with Rod Milam" on 88.1 KDHX.  I had a lot of pride in my fellow alumni that were able to pull of some great music at such a young age.  I never went on to be a musician, but I was glad that I could do my part to show my love and appreciation for that form of art by presenting it to all of the people in the St. Louis area.

Flash-forward to 2010 and New York City.  I'd lived in multiple countries and spoken multiple languages.  But the one thing that I knew was a constant around the world was the appreciation of music.  I'd widened my already broad palate of musical tastes over the years.  But recently, I'd been running into many people around town from my hometown of U. City and I was really happy to find out that many of them were professional musicians.  I decided that I wanted to use my old broadcasting bug and see if I could mix some of the old and new music of the players from University City into one piece and then use it on my project website The Global Loop.

I figured that I'd play some of this music on the network before and after any live events that I had scheduled to run on UStream so that people would know the programming was up and running.  I combined the music with some sped up sunrise videos that I'd since shot from many different locations so that people could see and hear that something was going on over the feed.  The result was this almost 2 hours worth of music by 15 different U. City musicians below.

Taking time to find and put together this music really was the last step for me to actually deciding to take on finding all of the professional musicians that had passed through U. City.  It was the final piece of the puzzle that let me know that the deep music tradition of U. City needed to be explored further and that I need to see where it all came from and how it lasted so long.

If you have some time to hear some great music, just click and enjoy.  There's a song listing below the player window:



Song #
Song Title
U. City Performers
Album Title/Performance Name
Sweet Georgia Brown UCHS Jazz Band 1 On The Threshold
Little Willie Leaps Jeremy Davenport, Chris Thomas & Peter Martin Peter Martin Music: LIVE! "The Reunion"
Lora With An O Jeremy Davenport, Chris Thomas & Peter Martin (Neal Caine on the album) Jeremy Davenport
Spain UCHS Jazz Band 1 On The Threshold
Spiritual & Blues Wayne duMaine New York Now
Spirit Of St. Louis Jeremy Davenport, Chris Thomas & Peter Martin Maybe In A Dream
All Of Me Eve Seltzer Franglais
Tuesday & Thursday Jeremy Schonfeld Drift
New Orleans Jeremy Davenport, Chris Thomas & Peter Martin Peter Martin Music: LIVE! "The Reunion"
Mardi Gras In New Orleans Jeremy Davenport & David Berger Jeremy Davenport Live @ Huckleberry Bar
Slice Of Life Marissa (Wilner) Mandell The Momentem - EP
Nobody Knows Your Name Larissa (Doczy) Rook Wormwood Scrubs
Waterfall Harry Miller Harry Miller Trio - Live at the Museum
A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing Jeremy Davenport, Chris Thomas & Peter Martin Peter Martin Music: LIVE! "The Reunion"
Threshold UCHS Jazz Band 1 On The Threshold
Upon Arrival Ronnie Burrage & Eric Delante Bluenoise
How Am I To Know Mike "Spike" Wilner 3 To Go
Intimate Dance Jeremy Davenport, Chris Thomas & Peter Martin Peter Martin Music: LIVE! "The Reunion"
The Meaning Of Stay Larry Krone  
Fair Weather Friend Marissa (Wilner) Mandell The Momentem - EP
North Beach Breakdown UCHS Jazz Band 1 On The Threshold

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


U. City On Stage: The Spring Musical "Fame" (1986) & People From The School Based On The Show & "The Wiz" (1985) (2 VIDEOS)

We've had a lot of coincidences in just the past couple of days as it relates to this project.  A lot of good and fun coincidences. TriBeCa Drive-In f. "Fame"A friend of the project and New York City native, Tanya Robinson, invited us to sit outside at the TriBeCa Film Festival to watch a screening of the movie "Fame" at the "TriBeCa Drive-In" section of the festival at the World Finance Center (in the shadow of the new World Trade Center main building taking shape).

We knew that Tanya was an enthusiast about the festival, but we didn't know that Tanya had a particular reason to be enthusiastic about seeing "Fame" at the festival.  It turns out that Tanya attended the LaGuardia School for Music and Arts High School, the very school that "Fame" was based on and where a great deal of the movie was filmed.  Who knew...?  It also turned out that Tanya arranged to have some other alumni members come down (many of whom were in the movie), get VIP seating, and get on stage to be acknowledged.  Very fun.

We got to sit with the group in the freezing, windy weather in New York harbor in the front row to screen the film.  Before things got started, we got to talk to the nice bunch a little bit about their school.  They all had very fond memories of the place and were extremely proud to have gone there.

They asked where we went to school, and we told them a bit about U. City.  We let them know that our public school (not designated as a "music and arts" school) reminded us a lot of the movie "Fame".  And as a matter of fact, we put on a musical "Fame" back in 1986.  They were shocked to hear that.  "How do you put on a musical version of Fame?  That hasn't been done."

Well...we did that...

That was just one of the songs from the first staging of a musical version of Fame.  The LaGuardia bunch thought that was cool.  We asked if we could interview some of them some time as a nice parallel to the U. City arts experience, and some said they'd be happy to do it.  We'll set that up later and let you know about the results.

In that clip above were Randy Carter, George Wright, Amy (Fisher) Abeyta and Emily Bruder singing (among others...any help with other names will be GREATLY appreciated).  The only person that wasn't singing was the piano player, the role of Bruno Martelli, Chris Edmonds.  We'd forgotten that Chris was in that musical and so we didn't put together that Chris was going to be the next subject of an interview for the project the next day in New York since he happened to be in town from his place of residence for many years, Kingston, Jamaica.Chris Edmonds & Greg Echols

We met up with Chris the next afternoon at the bar/restaurant of another U. Citian in NYC, Stephanie Schneider.  She's owned Huckleberry Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for a bit over 3 years now and her brother, Aaron Schneider, did most of the construction.  Steph had let us shoot 2 other interviews in off hours at her place and Chris would be the third.  During the course of the interview about Chris and his current work as a DJ and music producer, he let us know that the only musical that he was in was "Fame". He said that he was cool with taking the role of Bruno since he wouldn't have to sing.  The singing talent on stage with him would have been too much...especially Randy Carter.

With that, the string of coincidences continued because just before we took off to head to the shoot with Chris, a long anticipated delivery of a VHS tape had shown up at the studio.  That tape was of the high school's 1985 verision of "The Wiz" where Randy Carter (the Tin Man) and the other dancers brought down the house each night with the performance of "Slide Some Oil To Me"...

Well that was too much for us, but it's the way that the project has been going so far.  One person will mention something about another one that we just finished talking about and so on, and so on, and so on... We really look forward to where this string of coincidences is going to end up.  Our whole hypothesis is that the string of artistic connections can be traced back to the beginning of the city in 1906 and beyond.  And so far, nothing has happened to knock us off that track.