Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook, Season One
Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook starts viewers on a multi-episode journey through the glorious history of 20th Century popular music. Follow Feinstein on stage as he performs familiar standards and little-known gems. Then peek behind-the-scenes into the surprises and challenges of life on the road. Even with a private plane, it’s not easy doing 150+ shows a year!
Amazingly, Michael also finds the time to maintain a vast personal collection of music, recordings, and memorabilia. And much of the material was acquired from show business legends who he’s known personally. Actually, Feinstein admits, if he weren’t such a busy entertainer, he’d spend all his time collecting. Thus, we see him combing through flea markets, basements, attics, even storage lockers. It’s all part of Feinstein’s lifelong mission to find and preserve the treasures of classic American popular music. Rare archival audio and film footage are woven throughout each episode. Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook offers a close-up portrait of a unique entertainer as well as an illuminating cultural history of the American Century.
SEASON ONE EPISODES
Putting on the Tailfins
In the 1950s and ‘60s, the Great American Songbook was in competition with new forms like rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm & blues. But iconic singers like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Rosemary Clooney kept the Songbook alive by reinventing pop standards of the 1930s and ‘40s. Feinstein continues the tradition, with new interpretations of the classics.
Best Band in the Land
During World War II, popular music provided both emotional solace and patriotic inspiration. Big bands, USO shows, V-disks, and war bond rallies boosted the nation’s morale. Feinstein illustrates how the American Songbook became the soundtrack of “the Greatest Generation.” Guest appearances by Margaret Whiting and Marvin Hamlisch.
A New Step Every Day
Back in the 1920s and ‘30s, credit was loose, illegal booze flowed freely in underground speakeasies, and jazz was smoking hot. Talking pictures, the dawn of radio, and the fledgling recording industry promoted this subversive new style of music. Feinstein introduces us to collectors and musicians who keep the spirit of the Jazz Age alive today. Guest appearances by Vince Giordano and Joe Franklin.
PBS National Broadcast: October 6, 13, 20, 2010
UK Broadcast (SkyArts, series of all 9 episodes:) November 2012 – January 2013
Season One Production Funding provided by Sara P. Carruthers, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, The Lizzie and Jonathan M. Tisch Foundation, Peter O. Hanson, Irwin Helford, The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, The Ted Snowdon Foundation, The Thomas and Agnes Carvel Foundation, The Scherer Foundation, The Ruder Bever Family, Diane P. Kranz, Jamie deRoy Charitable Trust