Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook Season 2
The second season of the PBS series continues to chronicle Michael Feinstein’s lifelong mission to keep the Great American Songbook alive. While performing more than 200 shows a year all across the country that showcase the lyrics and melodies of songwriters like George and Ira Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer, Irving Berlin, and Rogers and Hart, Feinstein also devotes himself to collecting, preserving, and propagating the music he loves. Whenever possible, he will make a side trip to ferret out hidden treasures of sheet music, records, manuscripts and memorabilia, all in the service of keeping this music alive. Feinstein and his fellow collectors represent a tiny world devoted to saving a gigantic body of work, and their eccentricities make for a colorful cast of supporting characters.
SEASON 2 EPISODES:
Explores how technology has preserved–and altered–the way we think about the great songs and singers of the past. On a coast to coast tour that with stops in New York, Palm Springs, Kansas City, upstate New York, and even the storied Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, Michael Feinstein introduces viewers to Soundies (the original music videos,) the historic Kansas City building where “jam sessions” were born (which still hosts after-hours gigs,) and an eclectic array of performers and collectors who help keep the music alive, including the avid collector and music lover Hugh Hefner, who shares rare footage of cabaret legend Bobby Short, and the British crooner Al Bowlly.
Lost and Found
Reveals Michael’s discovery of an undocumented, unknown song by one of the giants of American popular music, and follows his quest to verify its authenticity. Along the way, he persuades another musical legend, Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman, to teach him an unpublished, unrecorded song from his songwriting “trunk” that’s never been prior to this broadcast. Between live performances in Dallas, Palm Desert, CA, and Clinton, CT, Michael’s journey takes him to New York, Los Angeles, and Madison, WI. Guest appearance by Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole.
Examines the allure of musical nightlife, from Mississippi juke joints (where Michael dazzles the crowd with some impromptu boogie-woogie blues) to the neon of Las Vegas, where he gets a private tour of the now-closed Liberace Museum, and plays one of the rhinestone encrusted pianos. While keeping up his own busy schedule of live performances at his New York nightclub, and the brand new performing arts center in Carmel, IN, Michael delves into the history of nightclub entertainment, from the Cotton Club in Harlem to Sinatra’s Rat Pack. He goes through the archives of composer Jimmy McHugh–whose career spans Vaudeville to Vegas–and visits with nightclub pioneers Rose Marie (she literally “opened” Las Vegas in the 1940s) and the poet and author Maya Angelou, who used to make her living doing a calypso club act in San Francisco.
PBS Broadcast: February 3, 10, 17, 2012
UK Broadcast (SkyArts, series of all 9 episodes:) November 2012 – January 2013
Season Two Production Funding provided by Sara P. Carruthers, The Shelly and Donald Rubin Foundation, Louise Kerz Hirschfeld and Lewis B. Cullman, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, Irwin Helford, The Lizzie and Jonathan M. Tisch Foundation, Peter O. Hanson, Hand and Susan Scherer