Another wonderful performance tonight at the Poncan Theater this time by Silvan Zingg, the internatationally famous boogie woogie piano player who appeared at the theater only because one of his childhood friends, Martin Stucki, has made his home in Ponca City where he raises A1 Savannahs, the largest pet cat in the world. Silvan is godfather to one of Martin's children and used to play with Martin in concerts in Europe.
[Click on the small photos to enlarge them.]Silvan told the audience that he had been busy all day and had played at the High School, at Westminster Village, and at the Marland Mansion and that he was very impressed with Ponca City especially how the city has preserved its historic buildings. He even joked that one day he might like to have a home in Ponca City like his friend Martin. At his performance at the Poncan Theater, my Po-Hi 67 classmate Gary Miles furnished the piano for the concert and Gary talked about how the proceeds for the concert are going to Ambucs to help disabled children regain their mobility.
Highlights of the evening included Silvan's renditions of St. Louis Blues, In the Mood, All the Way, and What a Wonderful World. Silvan had the audience singing along with him as he performed "You Are My Sunshine." Then Silvan brought Martin onto the stage and Martin joined him on the accordion as they performed several numbers together including "Beer Barrel Polka," one of my mother's favorites from growing up in Minnesota. Just before intermission one member of the audience gave Silvan a gift of a western style hat that Silvan enjoyed wearing.
But the biggest surprise of the evening was to come after the intermission. Silvan organizes and headlines a Boogie Woogie Festival every year in Switzerland and Dave May made the surprise announcement that Silvan is receptive to organizing a Boogie Woogie Festival in the United States and that he was so impressed with the acoustic quality of the Poncan Theater and with the audience response, that he and Dave are going to organize the festival at the Poncan Theater in 2010. "What better place to organize a Boogie Woogie festival" said Silvan, "than at a theater that was built at the time the music was being created and performed."
Silvan is right about that. According to Wikipedia the precise origin of boogie-woogie piano is uncertain but it was influenced by early rough music played in honky tonks in the Southern United States. Blues historian Robert Palmer writes that the boogie-woogie style bass pattern may have been created in the oil boomtowns of Texas, Louisiana, and the Mississippi Delta in the early 1900's at about the same time Ponca City was starting its oil boom. Texas pianist George W. Thomas published one of the earliest pieces of sheet music with the boogie-woogie bassline, "New Orleans Hop Scop Blues" in 1916. The term "boogie" came into use with Wilbur Sweatman's "Boogie Rag" recorded in April, 1917 just a few years before the Poncan Theater was built.Anyway Silvan put on a great show and at three hours, it was a long show yet the audience didn't want to leave and at the end of the show they gave Silvan a standing ovation had Silvan perform two encores.Take a look at our photos from Silvan Zingg's concert at the Poncan Theater and click on each small photo to enlarge it or take a look at the slideshow from the performance.
Top: Silvan Zingg at the Piano and Martin Stucki on accordion.
Bottom: Silvan and Ponca Theater Executive Director Dave May make their surprise announcement.