Sir James’ most recent production was a weekly video podcast series that ran from October 2020 to January 2021 entitled “Stringing Along with Jim Donio and Ronnie King.” During the challenging times last fall with no 2021 Mummers Parade on the horizon, we thought it would be fun to reflect on and celebrate the colorful and entertaining history of our beloved Philadelphia Mummers String Bands... and engage the community. In each episode, we had a different concept as we took a retrospective look at performances through the years, shared our opinions, insights and memories...and hopefully created some new ones.
Episode 1 - The Amazing Eighties
The first episode featured a review and discussion of four of our favorite Mummers String Band performances from the decade.
Episode 2 - America On Parade
Three cheers for the red, white and blue! Our second episode highlighted the genre of themes that have been done the most in string band history, with flag-waving celebrations and patriotic fanfare as we recalled the Bicentennial, Broadway’s favorite son, the U.S.O., and the space program, among others.
Episode 3 - The Winningest Captain
Our very special guest on this episode was Bill Bowen, Jr., who was captain of the Fralinger String Band for 27 years. We strolled down Mummery Lane with Bill as he reminisced and recalled some of his unprecedented 10 first prize performances as Captain of Fralinger.
Episode 4 - Animal Attractions
We welcomed Tom King as our special guest for this show as we remembered a menagerie of creative themes, including Ferko’s 1985 performance of “Silly Symfunny” and its late, great Captain Bill Speziale.
Episode 5 - Island Hopping
We went “Island Hopping” to the Caribbean, Hawaii and Cuba with our guests, Woodland String Band father and son duo George Balzer III and Captain George Balzer IV. Other bands included in this show were Greater Kensington, Quaker City, Avalon, Fralinger, Aqua, Polish American, and Uptown, with a very special Thanksgiving performance by Broomall.
Episode 6 - Ladies Night
Here’s to the ladies who Mum! We celebrated the trailblazing women who made history as string band captains. Our special guests were South Jersey’s Fern Dorfman (Mary Poppins) and Mary Shaw Geiser (Queen Bee). Plus, we got a unique behind-the-scenes perspective from the woman who produced the entire Parade for 12 years, Suzanne Hansberry.
Episode 7 - Just Picture It: Designing & Creating Costumes
We began examining the anatomy of a string band theme with an expert panel who shared their insights, including renowned costumer James May, and designers David Rigler and Sean Graser. We also paid tribute to the great Bob Finnegan. Featured bands included Harrowgate 1976, Hegeman 1978, Trilby 1998, Duffy 2018, and South Philadelphia 2020.
Episode 8 - Serving Up The Holidays
We gave you food for thought when we featured themes about baking, cooking and dining, including Duffy 1998, Hegeman 2000, Uptown 2013, and Polish American 1991. Plus, we celebrated with two Christmas shows...Greater Overbrook 1979 and Durning 2011. Bon Appetit & Happy Holidays!
Episode 9 - Tradition!...New Year’s Memories
Our special New Year’s Eve edition featured traditional performances by Hegeman 1971, Palmyra 1972, South Philadelphia 1980, Harrowgate 1982, and Ferko 1989. Plus, we shared some of our own memorable Parade experiences. The show also included remembrances of the late musical impresarios John Jordan and Don Morrissey.
Episode 10 - Season 1 Finale...That’s NOT All Folks
On this epsiode, we highlighted themes in which we participated, and shared behind-the-scenes trivia and surprising back stories. Featured were Hegeman’s 1984 and 1990 shows, Quaker City 2011, and Trilby 1996. We also previewed a few of the topics for Season 2 this coming fall.