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November 14, 2012

For Midweek Madness, Daltrey, Townshend, The Who, a worthy charity, and Streisand video

Excuse the shameless name-dropping, but I had lunch this week with Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend.

OK, a whole bunch of other members of the National Press Club and their guests did, too. But, hey, I was at the head table, so there.

The main reason why the surviving original members of The Who stopped by the club the day before their Washington concert was to discuss a charity they are heavily and admirably involved in -- Teen Cancer America. (You can watch the whole thing, thanks to C-Span.) 

The project is based on a successful program Daltrey and Townshend support in the UK, Teen Cancer Trust, which helps provide dedicated spaces for teen cancer patients in hospitals. This allows teens to be grouped together in their own area, complete with common kitchens.

As Daltrey, sporting a terrific Victorian-influenced outfit, explained at the luncheon, teens "don't want teddy bears, and they don't want to be with adults." Being a teen is difficult enough; being a teen with a major illness adds extra layers of stress.

Daltrey said that a soon-to-be-released study in the UK will report ...

a 10-15 percent improvement in survival rates for teens hospitalized with cancer since the teen-friendly facilities were introduced there. That sounds "f***ing amazing," to borrow a phrase from Townshend, who was quite the entertainer when he got his turn at the microphone.

So far, hospitals associated with UCLA and Duke University have embraced the project. Others are likely to follow (how about it, Johns Hopkins?), especially as Daltrey and Townshend continue helping to raise awareness and money. As Daltrey said, "All you rich rock stars out there: Get off your butts."

During the extensive Q&A, after the focus shifted from the cancer project, I especially loved how Townshend answered a question about his early musical influences, giving a whole lot of credit to Ella Fitzgerald. "No one can come closer to her," he said. Amen.

And it was pretty cool to hear him also mention that he had been listening to the late eminent Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti on the plane to the States. (Never mind that the name is properly pronounced with the accent on the first syllable. I wouldn't dream of ruining Townshend's little joke about enjoying a piece by Ligeti "as I ate my spaghetti.")

OK, now that I have covered all of that, it's time for your Midweek Madness treat. The experience of hobnobbing with The Who made me think there must be a way to work some sort of Who-ness into the picture. I remembered a droll music video Daltrey made with Barbra Streisand and Mikhail Baryshnikov way back in the heyday of music videos. Perfect choice, I thought. So here goes:

GETTY IMAGES PHOTO

 

Posted by Tim Smith at 10:46 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens, Midweek Madness
        

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at baltimoresun.com/artsmash. This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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