Michael Feinstein's American Songbook
This series is a documentary-style road trip and cultural primer with Michael Feinstein as the leader of an expedition through the history of American popular song. Viewers follow him both on stage and backstage, hear personal stories about the songwriters and entertainers he has known over a 30-year career, travel to flea markets, dig through dusty storage units, and swap treasures with fellow collectors. Rare archival audio and film footage combine to reveal the social and historical forces behind the music that helped shape the style, attitude, and self-image of America for more than a century. Filled with generous portions of live performance, this series offers both an intimate portrait of a unique entertainer, and a history of 20th century pop culture.
Michael Feinstein's American Songbook Previous Broadcasts
Lost and Found (Episode #202H)
KQED Life: Fri, Aug 24, 2012 -- 11:00 PM
"Lost and Found" reveals Feinstein's discovery of an undocumented, unknown song by one of the giants of American popular music and follows his quest to verify its authenticity. Along the way, he persuades another musical legend, Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman, to teach him an unpublished, unrecorded song from his songwriting "trunk" that's never been heard prior to this broadcast. Between live performances in Dallas, Texas, Palm Desert, California, and Clinton, Connecticut, Feinstein's journey takes him to New York, Los Angeles and Madison, Wisconsin. Tony Award-winner Christine Ebersole makes a guest appearance.
Time Machines (Episode #201H)
KQED Life: Fri, Aug 24, 2012 -- 10:00 PM
This series follows performer/historian/collector Michael Feinstein on a journey across the country and through time, examining 20th-century American popular music. Contemporary scenes of Feinstein onstage, backstage and foraging in attics and flea markets are interwoven with archival footage, creating a hybrid of live performance, personal biography and cultural history.
A New Step Every Day (Episode #103H)
KQED Life: Fri, Aug 24, 2012 -- 9:00 PM
Episode Three, A New Step Every Day, explores the fast and furious 1920s and 1930s, when jazz was hot, credit was loose, and illegal booze flowed freely in underground speakeasies. Between performances, Feinstein illustrates the impact of talking pictures, the dawn of radio, and the fledgling recording industry. Additionally, it introduces viewers to other collectors and musicians who keep the spirit of the Jazz Age alive today.
Best Band in the Land (Episode #102H)
KQED Life: Fri, Aug 24, 2012 -- 8:00 PM
The second episode examines how popular songs provided emotional solace and patriotic inspiration during World War II. While preparing an original patriotic song, Michael weaves in the history of 1940s big bands, USO shows, V-disks, war bond rallies, and the powerful role popular music played in boosting morale.
Putting on the Tail Fins (Episode #101H)
KQED Life: Fri, Aug 24, 2012 -- 7:00 PM
This episode focuses on the 1950s and 1960s, when the Great American Songbook competed with new forms like rock 'n' roll, and rhythm & blues. As Feinstein crisscrosses the country performing with big bands, symphony orchestras and jazz combos, viewers learn how iconic singers like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Rosemary Clooney kept the Songbook alive by reinventing pop standards of the 1930s and 1940s.