Tag Archives: Mr. Rogers

The musical handyman

This evening, the guest performers playing with the Butler Symphony Orchestra for their concert titled “Jazz” were Joe Negri and his trio.

Joe’s a well-known and uber-talented jazz guitarist, and an exceedingly nice person. He soloed on a number that is a signature tune for him, an adaptation of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee. Here’s a clip of him playing it with the Wheeling Symphony.

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Cocktail time in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood

On a day when things just aren’t going right, when every small step morphs into a major climb, when the sky is gloomy and dark, on such a day it can seem like what one needs is someone like Mr. Fred Rogers — someone kind and gentle who will say, “You are special. You are my friend. I’m glad you’re here.”

But when one is a grownup, one feels strange tuning into Mr. Rogers Neighborhood after work. Sure, the sentiment is right and maybe just what’s needed, but the delivery doesn’t quite work.

One those occasions, here’s the solution: Those well-known songs of Fred Rogers — warm and friendly lyrics and oh-so-familiar melodies — delivered in a swanky, grownup style. A jazzy, cocktail style.

What you need is “Mister Rogers Swings! Holly Yarbrough Sings the Fred Rogers Songbook.”

All the classics are here: “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” “Please Don’t Think It’s Funny,” “You Are Special,” “It’s Such a Good Feeling,” and more. You can hear many of them on Holly’s MySpace page.

My particular favorite is “It’s You I Like,” which comes across a bit sultry but still wholesome enough to play at a preschool. I think of it as a counterpoint to the backhanded compliment of anyone’s version of “My Funny Valentine.”

Ms. Yarbrough was kind enough to send me a special edition copy of the CD to review, and the case and CD themselves are special too. The CD looks like a little vinyl album, and the case is a beautiful three-fold number. If you’re able to order one of this limited pressing of 5000, you’ll enjoy it.

Let’s make a snappy new day.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor Day this Friday, 3/20/2009

This Friday, March 20, will be the second Won’t You Be My Neighbor Day, a tribute to Fred Rogers and a way to promote neighborliness throughout America.

To participate, wear a sweater on March 20. Doesn’t have to be a zippered cardigan — just has to be “special to you.”

You can also send a photo of yourself and your friends to Family Communications, Inc., the nonprofit Mr. Rogers founded, and they’ll post it on their website: www.fci.org/neighbor

You’ll find full details and photos from last year’s event there too.

And there’s more. This is from the press release:

As part of WYBMND, a number of Pittsburgh organizations have signed up to participate in the event by hosting activities to celebrate what it means to be a neighbor. On March 20, the Pittsburgh Zoo and the PPG Aquarium, The National Aviary, the Mattress Factory, the Westmoreland Museum of American Art and Photo Antiquities will offer free admission. Neighbors are also invited to visit Mr. McFeely and members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum and join community sweater drives sponsored by The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (at its Liberty Avenue and Hill District locations) and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (in the first floor lobby at 925 Liberty Ave.).

In addition, the movie My Tale of Two Cities, which encourages everyone to be a caring neighbor, will have several benefit screenings the week of March 15. The film is a comeback story about the real-life “Mister Rogers Neighborhood”.  Featuring Franco Harris and other famous Pittsburghers, screenwriter Carl Kurlander’s story documents the “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” spirit that can be found across the country. The film will screen in Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., and then, on March 20 in Pittsburgh at The Waterworks Cinema.

“What’s been so encouraging,” [Margy Whitmer of Family Communications, Inc.] says, “is the continued enthusiastic response from people all over the country. We’ve marked this date to give  organizations and institutions the opportunity to create an event that encourages the people in their communities to be caring neighbors.  We’re also hoping that individuals will connect one-on-one with their neighbors in caring ways and that it will become an annual national day of community service.”

For more information about “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Day (WYBMND) visit www.fci.org/neighbor.