At the end of the Roaring ‘20s, regional and national radio networks emerged to introduce a new form of entertainment: the big band radio show. Large ensembles of musicians backed singers who facilitated the spread of an American songbook.

When the Great Depression hit and Americans no longer had the money to go to dance halls, these shows broadcast regular programming to cash-strapped homes. The featured songs, musicians and acts wove together a national culture that would form an integral aspect of the coming war years. The emergence of television in the late 1940s spelled an end to this golden era of radio.

The Mystic Order of the Jazz Obsessed will try a little time travel when they stage their “1940s Radio Show” on Monday, Jan. 25, 6:30 p.m. at Gulf City Lodge, 601 State St., Mobile.Uncle Henry will emcee a show featuring the strains of Baldwin County’s City Rhythm Big Band. Also on hand will be vintage-adorned vocalists from the Camellia Bay Burlesque troupe.

Admission is $12, $10 for students and military, $8 for MOJO members and includes a light jambalaya dinner. A cash bar will be available.

For more information, call 251-459-2298, email or go to

Helen Keller show at USA library
Every year, artwork by visually impaired, blind or deaf/blind students of all ages across Alabama is collected and curated for the Helen Keller Art Show. The exhibit tours the state but is currently on display through May 31 at the University of South Alabama Marx Library in its first-floor gallery.

The young artists’ multimedia handiwork is unique, shaped by perceptions of reality apart from that of the average person. Selected pieces travel across the nation before exhibition in Washington, D.C., and in senate and congressional offices. The grand prize winner’s art is placed in a permanent collection at Ivy Green in Tuscumbia, Alabama, Keller’s birthplace.

Established in 1983 as a cooperative project between agencies serving children with visual impairments, support for the annual Helen Keller Art Show of Alabama is provided through the sale of the art and through sponsors.

The exhibit is free and open to the public during library hours. For more information, call 251-460-7021 or visit the Marx library website.

Classical music giant honored with USA series
Come October, one of the most notable of American composers will mark a milestone. That’s when Steve Reich turns 80, roughly a half-century after he added his contributions to the efforts of Philip Glass, La Monte Young and Terry Riley in bringing minimalist composition to new audiences.

Critic Andrew Guest once tagged Reich “one of a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the course of musical history.” Kyle Renn called him our nation’s greatest living composer.

His innovations employed emerging technology to implement phasing patterns to work. Deceptively simple, the slightly juxtaposed but repetitive rhythms and lines prefaced avant-garde work to follow. Reich’s Grammy-winning “Different Trains” would become a hallmark of his Pulitzer Prize-winning career.

To honor this titanic talent, the University of South Alabama has four performances planned for the upcoming year. The first in the series takes place Tuesday, Jan. 26, 7:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall of the Laidlaw Performing Arts Center, 5157 USA Drive S.

This first concert — The Early Phase — will cover the emerging development of his style. Department of Music percussion professor Dr. Luis Rivera and students of the USA Percussion Ensemble will perform four of Reich’s earliest works: “It’s Gonna Rain,” “Come Out,” “Melodica” and “Piano Phase.” These selections illustrate his nascent compositional techniques emerging in the mid 1960s.

The next show will be Monday, Feb. 15, when the musicians cover Reich’s revolutionary work “Drumming.” They will follow on Wednesday, March 23, with “Music for 18 Musicians.”

Tickets for this Musical Arts Series event will be sold at the door only. Admission is $8 general and $5 for USA faculty and staff, USA students, youth under 18 and all senior citizens, by cash or check only.

For more information about this event or for those in need of special accommodations, call 251-460-7116 or 251-460-6136.

Craft workshop looms in late January
As we ride technology’s wave, the practice of common arts and crafts that followed humanity through the centuries grows more scarce. The common example that leaps to the Southern mind is quiltmaking but another textile handiwork is even older and less common: weaving.

Some estimate the craft dates back to the Paleolithic era. Verified samples of woven hemp cloth from a Turkish Neolithic site were traced to 7,000 B.C.

You don’t have to travel to Asia Minor to learn this for yourself, just as far as Foley. That’s where a weaving workshop will be held Jan. 25, 9 a.m., at 7518 Riverwood Drive.

Participants will learn to weave a trivet on a 7-inch frame loom. The workshop includes a loom and yarn selection for use by participants.

The workshop costs $65 per person. Participants are encouraged to bring a lunch. Reservations are encouraged. Call 251-943-960 for more information.