Silent Film Night
Saturday, January 31st at 7:00pm
Emery community Arts Center
Join us for a fun night for the whole faimly as Doug Protsik plays a live, improvised score to the Buster Keaton classic Steamboat Bill Jr.
Steamboat Bill Jr. is a 1928 feature-length comedy which Buster Keaton Made in his trademark style. William "Steamboat Bill" Canfield is the owner and captain of a paddle steamer that has seen better days. He eagerly awaits the arrival of his college student son, whom he has not seen since the lad was a baby. The son is not at all what his father expects, and the antics escalate from there.
Doug Protsik has been performing old-time piano for over 30 years, both as a solo artist, and with bands such as “The Old Grey Goose”, and the “Maine Country Dance Orchestra” He has learned the style and technique from piano players here in Maine, the elderly folks who played for dances, Grange meetings, radio programs, and for silent movies. The old time style became unfashionable in the 1930’s, but interest was reestablished in the early 1970’s from the Scott Joplin ragtime music of the popular movie “The Sting”.
Basically, an extension of the solo bar room/dance hall piano style developed in the mid 19th century, old-time piano encompasses elements of traditional dance music, ragtime, folk music, classical music, and early jazz. It is sometimes referred to as the “stride” style, with the all important left hand striding across the bass end to provide solid bass and rhythm for the melodies and harmonies of the right hand. This style was in it’s heyday when the first silent movies were developed, and a tradition of using these elements to accompany the films was established.
Doug learned the art of putting together a score appropriate for silent movies from Danny Patt, who first played for the movies when he was growing up in Union, Maine. Danny’s talent for this music was reestablished in the 1980’s as a growing interest in viewing old silent movies became of interest to the public once again. Now that Danny has past away, Doug is continuing this tradition of accompaniment once again, and has scored and performed for numerous showings. Using old sheet music from Danny’s collection, as well as researching at the Bagaduce Music Lending Library in Blue Hill, Maine, his scores attempt to capture the unique flavor of the music as it embellishes the action on screen, in an original and authentic way.
Traditional mood themes from composers such as M.L. Lake, J.S Zamecnik, and Erno Rapee, and popular themes of the era are used to create a unique score for each movie to be performed. All the music is memorized, arranged, and improvised by Doug to allow for a seamless flow from scene to scene. Attending a performance allows for a wonderful musical, as well as an historic and entertaining film experience.