Max Davidson and Dmitri Kirsanov

Here’s a shot of the Yiddish Book Center, on the campus of Hampshire College. Nearly every summer for the last 5 years or so Bruce Lawton and I do a show there. This year was (yet) another program of Max Davidson comedy shorts. At right you see Bruce, me, and Jane Gronau, Director of the Visitors Center. Jane helped get us settled in the theatre and did a very nice intro before the show. Not shown is Nora Gerard, Program Director, who wasn’t at the center that day. She’d contacted us initially after a colleague saw Pass the Gravy in Pordenone and raved about it and Max to her.
The theater is very nice, and their Knabe baby grand is always tuned the day of the show. Because the screen is right at the lip of the stage, just downstage of the piano, I use my special high-tech video monitoring system. Okay, it’s a baby monitor that has video (so you can watch your baby sleep). The monitor sits on the piano and the camera is in the booth (it’s the little item at the bottom of the picture on the right that looks like a Martian flying saucer).

The show went over quite well. The program was part of the opening weekend of the Yiddish Book Center’s annual “Paper Bridge Summer Arts Festival”.

We only had time to run three 2-reelers, because I had to hop into my Avis rent-a-car (a convertible!) and drive from Amherst to Annandale-on-Hudson for a 7pm show at Bard Summerscape.

The next town over from Bard is Red Hook, where I stopped to stretch my legs after a 2.5 hr drive. I remembered from two years ago – I did the same double-header in ’06 – an antique center that was the town’s original movie theater:
It was closed this time but when I passed thru in 2006 I went inside, and some of the decor is still intact. But get this…way in the back, behind the theater is a real single-screen platter theater showing first-run films.

Anyhoo…the show I played at Bard went great. The place was packed, and it was great to see John Pruitt again. John is one of the film teachers at Bard and, over the years, I’ve played for silents at his classes. John also programs the summer film series that runs alongside Bard Summerscape. Piano was a Yamaha upright that probably hadn’t been tuned in a while but played fine. The films – Menilmontant and Brumes d’automne – shown in nice 35mm prints from the BFI went over well as did the scores. Stayed overnight with friends in Garrison, then headed back to NYC next morning…for a double-header at MoMA Monday night (piano) of Sherlock Jr. and The General.

Can’t believe Slapsticon is a little more than a week away! Still have eight shows at MoMA, a show at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, and a bunch of shorts to score for AllDay and Kino before I take the Amtrak to DC on Thursday the 17th.

See you at the silents!

Ben Model
silent film accompanist/composer

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