Rhythm & Verse: A Literary and Music Salon

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December 18, 2014

Lu Ann Cahn
Reporter . Wife . Mother . Blogger . Cancer Survivor

Lu Ann Cahn is the author of the inspirational memoir I Dare Me, an entertaining look back on a year that changed everything for her. The book grew out of a blog called Year of Firsts, which chronicled this veteran journalist, mother and survivor's daily adventures as she pushed herself to try something new for every single day - an effort to get her life "unstuck," as her daughter put it.

She went on this year long adventure while working her full time "day job" as an 8-time Emmy award-winning journalist with NBC10 News in Philadelphia. She celebrates 26 years at the station-WCAU-TV-this year.

Cahn has filled many roles at WCAU TV-breaking news reporter, anchor and entertainment show host - but is mostly known as a hard-charging investigative reporter with a talent for uncovering scandals and scams. In 2005, Cahn won a National Emmy for her undercover investigative story "Dirty Little Secret" about an illegal bar run by elected officials in their dry town.

In 1991 Cahn made local and national news when she publicly told her story of battling breast cancer after a missed diagnosis when she was only 35. Her 1992 special report "Breast Cancer: My Personal Story" won her a national Clarion award and two Mid Atlantic Regional Emmys.

Cahn also had surgery for ulcerative colitis and kidney cancer. She regularly speaks on behalf of Living Beyond Breast Cancer, other area cancer support groups and the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. She hopes her survivor experience inspires others.

Earlier in her career Cahn worked at stations in Jacksonville, Florida; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Huntsville, Alabama; Little Rock, Arkansas; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Miami, Florida.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Cahn grew up in Atlanta and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Georgia. She is married to NBC10 Photojournalist Phil Houser. They're proud of their daughter Alexa, who dared herself to start her own company and is now the CEO of Bad Kids Clothing.

Michael Barnett
As a child, Michael Barnett enjoyed the ritual of swinging on his swing and singing his two favorite radio songs, "Puff the Magic Dragon" sung by Peter, Paul, and Mary and "Rag Doll" sung by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

To save his "horrible-sounding tenor" voice, Michael asked his father to take voice lessons in high school with Verna Kerr Rantz of Quakertown, formerly of the Metropolitan Opera. Michael joined the Verna Rantz Singers performing at summer carnivals,and on the Tony Grant Stars of Tomorrow on Steel Pier in Atlantic City.

At Boston College, Michael was selected as a freshman to play "Tony" in the college production of West Side Story. After graduating from Penn State Harrisburg with a Bachelor of Humanities, he headed straight to Manhattan to pursue Broadway musical theatre. Michael performed in club showcases and off-off-Broadway in "Naughty Marietta" at the Eastside Playhouse.

In Philadelphia, Michael performed in activist Tommi Avicolli's autobiographical plays and sang with him as the duo Finnochio. Moving to Santa Fe, he played the court singer and monk in Shakespeare in Santa Fe's "Romeo and Juliet" and a singing goddess in "The Tempest." He performed with The Food of Love Renaissance band before each performance for both summer productions.

From 1993 until 1998, he co-wrote, co-produced, and recorded the CD, "A Song for You," with musician and artist Ted Hallman as the duo Ted N' Turtle. Michael is an intuitive singer/songwriter and loves working with people who want to hone their singing craft.

November 20, 2014

Debra Leigh Scott
Debra Leigh Scott (www.debraleighscott.com) is a writer, playwright, filmmaker, educator, educational activist and the Founding Director of Hidden River Arts (www.hiddenriverarts.com) Current creative projects include a documentary film, ‘Junct: The Trashing of Higher Ed. in America (2255films.com) about the corporate takeover of academic culture, a second collection of short stories titled, Crossing the Line, a new novel, Land of Zebulun, Land of Naphtali. In addition to her university teaching, Debra offers creative writing workshops, classes and tutorials through Hidden River Arts. Her largest project right now is working with a small team of fellow university educators to build a network of international gap year programs dedicated to Arts and Humanities studies. Planned sites will include Dubrovnik, Prague, Budapest, Venice, London, Dublin, and Edinburgh.

Thomas Daniel Dwyer
After retiring from teaching English to high school and college students for 35 years, Tom Dwyer decided to move from the classroom stage to the television screen in 2008, first appearing on TV as a pallbearer in The History Channel docu-drama Stealing Lincoln's Body. Subsequent movie and TV roles in Hollywood, student, independent, commercial, and experimental films have seen Tom play principal roles as disparate as a priest, a professor, a psychiatrist, a psychopath, and a bartender, as well as Don Juan in Dientes de Arena, the 2010 Best Film in the Diamond Screen Film Festival and an entrant in the prestigious Cologne (Germany) Film Festival. Tom appeared as a singing Spirit in the 2010 Philly Fringe Festival original stage production, Week Between the Holidays, as Dominic Pontello in 2011's independent film A Rose on Ninth Street, and as a university dean in Rel Dowdell's 2012 major motion picture, Changing the Game, which was the featured film at the 2011 Hollywood Black Film Festival. Tom sang with the Choral Society of Montgomery County from 1987 until 2012; he has sung with (Peter Nero and) The Philly Pops Festival Chorus since 2007. Tom performed a recurring solo musical act monthly at a local convalescent home for several years, and continues playing Irish bouzouki and singing traditional songs regularly at local Irish music sessions. Tom also sings at various church events and weddings, and sang at Philadelphia Phillies games twice as an invited performer. He has studied guitar with Richard Thompson, Martin Simpson, Dennis Gormley, and Richard Dreuding, and Irish Bouzouki with Zan McCloud.

October 16, 2014

Susan Robbins
Susan Robbins is the creator and co-host of The Rhythm and Verse Salon.

Typically, we invite a literary artist to share his or her work with us each month. At the October meeting of our Salon, we will be trying something a little different. Susan plans to engage you in creating ‘Muse Boards’ based on a question she will pose related to your creative journey. To create the ‘Muse Boards’ you will intuitively select and arrange magazine images as a collage on your own small poster board. Then we will share our collages inspiring our evening’s conversation!

Jack Rosenbloom
Jack has been playing guitar for almost 50 years. Most of those years were focused on old time country blues and ragtime. He has studied these old music styles with Ari Eisinger, Stefan Grossman, Woody Mann, and Rolly Brown, all modern day masters of this music. In recent years, Jack has been arranging guitar instrumentals of old jazz standards and popular music of the 30's.

About 8 years ago, Jack has taken up banjo. Besides playing the usual blue grass music, the banjo has also become a new platform for his passion for old time music from the 20's and 30's.

Jack began his adult life as a professional cabin maker, designing and building custom furniture. After a 5 year stint of successful furniture building, he decided to give up the need to also be a business man and switched his career to engineering. Music has remained a constant passion throughout.

September 18, 2014

Helen Mirkil
Helen Mirkil’s poems have appeared in Ruah, Art Times, The Griffin, and Bucks County Writer. She is part of the Montco Poet’s Wordshop, a critique group founded by MCPL Grant Clauser. Mirkil also participates in readings around the Philadelphia area.

She is a visual artist as well. Mirkil earned an MFA and a four-year Certificate from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, as well as a BFA from the University of Pennsylvania. Her paintings and drawings have been shown in New York City as well as in museums and galleries along the east coast and in Wales, U.K.

Bob Meashey
Bob Meashey has been performing in Philadelphia and central Pennsylvania since he was seventeen. A graduate of Lebanon Valley College, Bob has been an active performer and teacher since his graduation, showcasing his unique approach to improvisation for numerous local ensembles.

Jazz artists that Bob has played with include Stanley Clarke, Eddie Daniels, Urbie Green, Walt Levinsky, Bob Mintzer, Joe Morello, Marvin Stamm, and Sir Roland Hanna. He continues to perform and record with several area jazz groups including renowned Philadelphia guitarist Steve Giordano, Peter Paulsen’s Quintet, 53 Stations, Andy Roberts’ Four Piece Quartet, and celebrated pianist and composer Ron Thomas.

Bob has taught master classes at the University of the Arts and Temple University. His show credits include the national touring companies of “Annie” and “Grand Hotel”, and performances in the 1997, 1999, and 2001 Mellon Jazz Festivals in Philadelphia. He recently appeared as a guest soloist at the Resorts Casino in Atlantic City. Bob is also a private tutor to students of the Lower Merion School District and the Philadelphia Biblical University in Langhorne, PA.

August 21, 2014

Brian Peterson
Brian H. Peterson has been an artist, curator, critic, and arts administrator in the Philadelphia area for more than three decades. He's had over thirty solo exhibitions of his photographs since 1980, and his work is in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Amon Carter Museum, the Library of Congress, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Denver Art Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Dayton Art Institute, the State Museum of Pennsylvania, the Danforth Museum of Art, and the Free Library of Philadelphia. He worked as a curator from 1990 to 2013 at the Michener Art Museum in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where he organized numerous historical and contemporary exhibitions including major retrospectives on painters William Lathrop (1999), Robert Spencer (2004), and Charles Rosen (2006). He was the editor and principal author of the 2002 publication Pennsylvania Impressionism (copublished by the Michener and the University of Pennsylvania Press), and his recent exhibitions included The Painterly Voice: Bucks County’s Fertile Ground (2011-12) and Making Magic: Beauty in Word and image (2012). His memoir The Smile at the Heart of Things (2009), was copublished by the Michener and Tell Me Press, and reviewed in USA Today, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Trenton Times, and numerous other publications and blogs. His most recent book, The Blossoming of the World (2011), also was published by Tell Me Press.

Peterson was a member of the Museums Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts in 2003, and has served on the Visual Arts Advisory Panel of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He received two Fellowships for Visual Arts Criticism from the PA Council on the Arts, and his critical writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, American Arts Quarterly, American Art Review, The Photo Review, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. He was the Founder and Project Director of the Photography Sesquicentennial Project, the Philadelphia-area’s major cooperative celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of photography funded principally by The Pew Charitable Trusts (1988-1990). He taught photography for more than twelve years, at the University of Delaware, the Tyler School of Art, and Swarthmore College. He received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Delaware (1985), and a Bachelor of Arts (in music composition) from the University of Pennsylvania (1981).

Fran Baird
Fran Baird is a poet, writer and musician who was born in Philadelphia and now resides in Fort Washington with his wife, Bernadette, and two of their three children. He has played sax, flute and composed songs for the contemporary rock group, Second Chance, and was a vocalist and horn player for the R&B jazz ensemble, Melange. Along with local poet Amy Small-McKinney, he studied with David Ignatow in 1980’s at the 92nd Y in New York City. His poems have been published in the Schuylkill Valley Journal and Muse Apprentice Guild. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry in 2009 and received the 2011 Judson Jerome Scholarship Award for poetry from the Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he studied with poets Cathy Smith Bowers, John Drury and Jamey Dunham. He is currently finishing his first book of fiction, an historical novel set in the first century.

July 17, 2014

Loretta Lombardi
Loretta J. Lombardi completed the macrobiotics Comprehensive Certificate Program (CCP) under Denny Waxman, a renowned, dedicated macrobiotic teacher and counselor, and Susan Waxman, a macrobiotic chef widely recognized for her culinary expertise and her understanding of the energetic properties of food. Loretta Lombardi plays an active role in the macrobiotic community by assisting Denny Waxman with scribing, a note-taking procedure that prescribes specific foods for clients. She also hosts openings of Intensive Study Programs and Comprehensive Certification Seminars. In addition, she lectures on macrobiotics at the Free Library of Philadelphia (the Fumo and South Philadelphia branch), and she teaches clients basic macrobiotic principles and cooking at home Loretta's passion for life, love, and good food led her to author a fun-loving cookbook. Have you ever heard of a romantic whole foods recipe book where aphrodisiacs flirt with the cook? Well, open up your heart to, "I'M Hot You're Hot", a 12 month whole foods recipe book with romantic overtones of her love quotes, kitchen and bedroom poetry, food banquets containing wine and food pairings, beer and food pairings, cut flower arrangement recommendations for the table, and other tips for the romantic table's appearance. Moreover, each food in the recipes contains a combination of its nutrition, energy, folklore, history, aphrodisiac quality and a sensual closing. All of the delicious recipes are easy to follow. Come join Loretta for a fun night as she helps you discover the relationship between food and sexual vitality.

Joseph Rossetti
Joseph Rossetti is known for his passionate piano performances, often playing by memory.
On several occasions, he has played at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York City. Two years ago, Joseph played with the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra at Bryn Mawr College. There, he commanded a piece by Edvard Grieg, where 65 instrumentalists accompanied his playing. Recently, he performed a Mozart piece with the West Chester University Symphony Orchestra, earning a standing ovation. Graduating summa cum laude in 2002, Joseph earned his master’s degree in music from Western University of San Francisco. While attending Western, he earned the Outstanding Achievement in Music Performance Award. A native of Italy, Joseph Rossetti came to the U.S. when he was 12-years-old. His mother was his first piano teacher, and he credits her as his true inspiration. He also finds inspiration from the great composers of yesterday like Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin. In addition, he has been influenced by the remarkable talent and example of Andre Watts. Joseph's philosophy in life stems from a favorite quote: "Devotion of thought to an honest achievement can make an achievement possible."

June 19, 2014

Mike Cohen
Reflective, philosophical, and humorous, Mike Cohen's writing is an ongoing attempt to make sense of this life and this universe It addresses the Big Bang and the little bumps as well. There is no topic too meaningful or too nonsensical. Mike's poetry has appeared in the Mad Poets Review, Poetry Forum Anthology, Fox Chase Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal, the Mt. Airy Times Express, and the Philadelphia Daily News. His poetic presentations have been featured in programs at various schools, bookstores, coffee shops, and libraries. His poems have been aired on SKN radio. Mike has served as a judge in the Montgomery County Poet Laureate competition. Mike's poetic philosophy is: "Poetry doesn't have the answers, it's just a beautiful way of putting the questions." Mike has performed as Editor Whedon and Lambert Hutchins in a presentation of Spoon River Anthology at Laurel Hill Cemetery as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.

Currently, Mike hosts Poetry Aloud and Alive, a popular monthly poetry program in its eighth year at Mt. Airy's Big Blue Marble Book Store. His articles on Philadelphia sculpture appear in the Schuylkill Valley Journal in which he is a contributing editor. Some of Mike's poetry can be seen and heard on the web by visiting http://mikecohensays.com/

Stephen Delia
Stephen Delia has been crumbling up balls of paper for 37 years. The ones he keeps he calls poetry. He has read in numerous coffee houses, libraries, book stores and other venues. He has read on WXPN, out in the street and even in a cemetery. He has five chapbooks. Revisited, Revised And Retyped volumes 1 and 2, 1622 Church Street, Haiku And Other Imaginings and Zoo Poetry. He has another in the works called The Alphabet Poems.

He likes listening to and collecting CD's, playing scrabble, the color green and is fond of trains. When he grows up he wants to be a poet and his ultimate goal is to sleep with Nicole Kidman.

Steve and Mike have been doing public poetry presentations together for a decade, since it was first suggested by Joanne Leva.

Rick Horner
Rick Horner is an improviser: founder of the Incubator, a biweekly improv jam / get-together in Philadelphia that has been central to the development of the city's improv scene. He is the Producer of the annual F Harold Comedy Festival which shows off and celebrates the amazing talent the city and area have to offer, and is a Co-Producer for Philly Improv Theater's Duofest improv festival which each year gathers some of the funniest people to Philadelphia . Rick runs HIVE Comedy, which unites the stand-up, sketch, storytelling and improv comedy that normally happens separately in the area. Rick performs with The Five Four Three, and once a year Rick transforms into Zacherle in a scripted/improvised performance as a "zombie clown”. Rick also coaches and teaches regularly. Check out http://hivecomedy.com.


May 15, 2014
Uriah Young
Uriah Young is an advocate for positivity, peace, and perseverance. As an educator, writer, and speaker, his message is as clear as his life's purpose: to leave the world a little bit better than it was before he got here. In 1999, Uriah passed on a career in acting and modeling to become a teacher, a decision he does not regret one bit. As his perspective on life expanded, he has branched out to arenas outside the classroom to share his message of positivity, peace, and perseverance. Uriah has been invited to speak at high schools and colleges, inspiring young people to persevere and become better leaders. He is the founder of Skies Without Limits Publicity Firm, and is the primary blogger for "Questions For the Driven." In December 2013, an article he wrote was published on the National Education Association Today website. He lives in Bucks County with his wife and cocker spaniel.

Stephen Hill
STEPHEN HILL is an award winning actor (Best Male Actor, ABFF 2010) and has done solid work in a variety of roles in film, TV, theater, web series, etc. Most recently he can be seen on Law & Order SVU, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Louie, Political Animals, and Do No Harm. He can also be seen in the award winning documentary, Jackie Robinson: My Story, as Jackie Robinson. You will find Stephen in a lead role in the upcoming features Christmas Wedding Baby, and Stay Cold, Stay Hungry. Hill stars opposite the Grammy nominated Carolyn Malachi in her next short film/video, and he guest stars opposite Jane Curtain in the CBS series, Unforgettable. www.stephenhillactor.com @StephenHillActs

Frank Sonsini
From the early age of 12, Frank began his musical journey. Performing in Rock bands that toured the NJ, Philadelphia and Delaware circuit, to composing and performing soundtracks for major TV cable channels, Frank has many years of stage and studio experience that he has brought to fruition in his current Blues/Rock band, The Blues Hawks. Recently, Frank's band has played at Parx Casino and will be playing at the Hard Rock Cafe in Philadelphia this summer! www.facebook.com/TheBluesHawks

April 17, 2014
Kristina Moriconi
Kristina Moriconi is a poet and essayist. She received her MFA in creative writing from Pacific Lutheran University's Rainier Writing Workshop in Tacoma, Washington. Her work has appeared most recently in Cobalt Review, The Schuylkill Valley Journal, Prick of the Spindle, Blue Heron Review and is forthcoming in Blood Lotus and Fox Chase Review. She is the author of a chapbook, No Such Place (Finishing Line Press, 2013).

Moriconi teaches writing workshops at Musehouse and in various local schools and libraries, and she is the director of the Arthur Krasnow Poets and Poetry Reading Series at Elkins Park Library. She lives in Jenkintown with her husband and two daughters.

Mark Kramer
Mark Kramer (November 3, 1945- ) is a Philadelphia-born jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and producer/engineer. Members of the Philadelphia Orchestra mentored him on violin from the age of five. His early jazz performances, in his teens and twenties included those with Michael Brecker and Randy Brecker, Charles Fambrough, Stanley Clarke, and Eric Gravatt. Over the next decades his trio went on to record a series of specialty productions including:

- the largest known body of jazz renditions of complete Broadway shows, including Evita en Jazz (distributed internationally by Telarc International records),[1] The Sound of Music/Jazz, Jazz Fiddler on the Roof, The King and I, Rent, Sophisticated Ladies, and others
- A recording and reharmonization of an entire symphony by a jazz trio: Mozart's G minor (K.550), Eroica label
- Jazz versions of principal themes from the John Williams score of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Eroica label)
- a compilation of jazz renditions of the music of The Rolling Stones.

Thus, to date, the main part of Kramer's musical career has been as an arranger and leader of his own trios. In addition, from the mid-1990s his collaboration with co-leader - legendary bassist Eddie Gomez - has produced a far ranging catalogue of duo and trio recordings, including the Art of the Heart on Art of Life Records (released May 2006.) These recording are reminiscent of those produced by pianist Bill Evans.


Paul Gehman
Paul Gehman likes to listen to, watch and play baseball (mostly this consists of having a catch) when not listening to or playing music. He prefers baseball on the radio and wishes they'd get rid of the delay in the radio broadcast so that he can turn the sound down on the TV guys if the game is on TV. Paul never thought of himself as a cat person, but a stray adopted him in the fall of 2010. He's all black and his name is Bony (short for Ebony Murray).

Paul doesn't have a smartphone. And he's not on facebook.


John Mosemann
John Mosemann is a graduate of the University of the Arts and has performed with Marian McPartland, Lee Konitz, Lew Tabackin and Eddie Gomez. He can be heard on recordings by the Mark Kramer Trio and Steve Giordano Spacetet. He currently teaches at Harcum College and Rosemont School of the Holy Child and lives in Lansdale, PA with his lovely and beautiful wife, Joanne.

Our 1st Year Anniversary on March 20th, 2014!!
Kathryn Craft
Kathryn Craft is the author of two novels from Sourcebooks: The Art of Falling, and the forthcoming While the Leaves Stood Still (due Spring 2015). Her work as a developmental editor at Writing-Partner.com, specializing in storytelling structure and writing craft, follows a nineteen-year career as a dance critic. Long a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania writing scene, she now serves on the board of the Philadelphia Writers Conference and as book club liaison for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She hosts lakeside writing retreats for women in northern New York State and speaks often about writing. She lives with her husband in Bucks County, PA.

Kevin Sloan
Kevin Sloan has been studying violin since he was six years old. He began his studies locally before taking lessons with Juilliard teacher Louise Behrend and Isaac Malkin of the Manhattan School of Music. Kevin is currently studying under Vladimir Dyo at Temple University. In 2012 and 2013, he participated in the Collegium Musicum Schloss Weissenstein in Germany, where he has been invited back to perfiorm as a soloist in the summer of 2015.