Sunday, August 13, 2017

Day 231 Million Dollar Quartet-Pittsburgh CLO- peak experience of music from the soul

Martin Kaye (Lewis), Billy Finn (Perkins), Derek Keeling (Cash) James Snyder (Presley)

Self-actualization or reaching one’s personal best according to my blog inspiration psychologist, Maslow, is measured by “peak experiences” of the world. With a peak experience “there are feelings of euphoria, joy and wonder”(see simple psychology).  A  peak musical experience is what happens in Million Dollar Quartet, a show about a single jam session with four rock and roll/country legends, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley in 1956. This show  dramatizes  the historical  one time musical moment that took place at  Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee  and was latter known as “The Million Dollar Quartet”.  This play captures the  intensity and feeling of the music that came from the artists’ soul.

Lewis, Perkins, Cash, Presley in 1956
The show  would never have worked if the actors were not talented beyond belief  and able to pound the piano, play the guitar riffs, resemble and produce the mannerisms and sounds that were classic to each of  these four legends.  Because they did this, we are all part of this jam session,  experiencing  it as if it was just an impromptu combustion between these musicians. We feel their excitement as they each add  their musical talents  to each others songs. We are privy to the jam session in 1956 which was so unique because they were only together on this one occasion. 

The show opened with  Perkin’s (Billy Finn) original “Blue Suede Shoes”. He is in the studio to record  with the new comer, “Real Wild Child”, Jerry Lee Lewis (Martin Kaye).   Finn started off the show with his rockabilly sound and skilled guitar playing and  Keye  pounded the  piano with fast paced precision  in the “Lewis energetic  style”.  Keye ignited the stage especially later with the song, “Great Balls of Fire”.   My 21 year old son asked, “Wow, did that guy really act like that?”  I answered, “Yes -google him!” (see vintage Jerry Lee Lewis here)

Billy Finn (Carl Perkins) and Derek Keeling (Johnny Cash)
There were so many  classic moments   like Johnny Cash’s (Derek Keeling) “Folsom Prison Blues” and “I Walk the line”, one of Elvis’ (James Snyder) first hits, “That's All Right Mamma” and Perkins' (Billy Finn), “Who Do You Love?”.  A female addition to the quartet was Elvis’s girlfriend, Dyanne (Zurin Villanueva) who injected a  sultry rendition of “Fever”.

This show gave us a glimpse of how it might have looked as they improvised and jammed together, especially when they all united during, “Down By The Riverside” and the finale, "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On".  

The show was narrated by the founder of Sun Records, Sam Phillips (Christopher Ryan Grant). Phillips discovered them and gave them all their first break into show business.  He encouraged Lewis saying,  “Do what you love. Let me hear your soul the way you sing to Jesus !”  That is just how it felt watching this show as the audience experiences  "a peak musical moment" with songs from the heart which made rock 'n'  roll  history with this "The Million Dollar Quartet"!

(What a way to end the Pittsburgh CLO 2017 season. Can't wait for  CLO 2018 summer season.)

Spiritual Reflection
"...Whatever is in your heart produces what you say" (Luke 7:45)

Other sources
 Original Dollar Quartet in 1956
Vintage Great Balls of Fire (Lewis)
Folsom Prison Blues( Cash, Perkins)
That's All Right Mama 1968 (Elvis)
1957 Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’On (Lewis)