Meeting Web Fleming via William Taggart
March 1, 2023 UPDATED INFO & LINKS: On January 15, 2023 … Baritone Web Fleming passed.
Psalms, book of the Old Testament is composed of “SACRED SONGS … SACRED POEMS … MEANT TO BE SUNG”. Psalm 30:5 … says, “WEEPING MAY LAST THROUGH THE NIGHT, BUT JOY COMES IN THE MORNING”.
LINKS below are for (3) MP3 RECORDINGS we did waayy back in 1998. The back-story of these newfound files follows. When Web returned from his Far East tour … he wanted to meet famed ERHUIST MA XIAO-HUI. Who? Headliner at the LUNAR NEW YEAR CELEBRATION (held earlier in the month at Li Wah Restaurant in Cleveland’s Asia Town). That gig was prior to this night of jammin’ (at our home here in Solon … hence my title of “A Musical Salon in Solon”). The jam was IMPROMPTU … STUNNING. The session made WEB want to sing for her … and he did. It made me want to record them … and I did, (thank God). Enjoy “Spirituals”. You will hear Web’s BIG Baritone voice. (BTW decades ago he had the honorific title “Hak San” conferred on him. Loosely translated it means “Black Mountain”!) Web is accompanied by Ma on her Erhu … an ancient 2-stringed instrument … and Dennis on piano.
Here are those 3 LINKS:
Spirituals © Baritone Web Fleming accompanied by famed ERHUIST Ma Xiao-Hui and Pianist Dennis Chandler. Amazingly they were sitting back to back … “speaking” … in the Universal language of Music.
Orient Express © An original impromptu instrumental … performed by famed ERHUIST Ma Xiao-Hui and Pianist Dennis Chandler. Amazingly they were sitting back to back … “speaking” … in the Universal language of Music.
Cityscape © Another original impromptu instrumental … performed by famed ERHUIST Ma Xiao-Hui and Pianist Dennis Chandler. Again amazingly done as they were sitting back to back … “speaking” … in the Universal language of Music.
To learn more about Web … please go to this website’s page titled “Asian Fusion: Making Music with Web Fleming and Ma Xiao-Hui”. It has some similar contents. BUT it also has different stories, paragraphs and photos. Web’s memory is a Blessing.
Plus about the incredible life that he lead … go Web’s obituary at …
Bears repeating … Bill, I know Hilltop Productions has you busy. But ‘tween changeovers … pause and reflect … and receive these GOOD VIBES. Please know we will be FOREVER GRATEFUL to YOU … for INTRODUCING US to WEBBY! Stay Healthy. Stay Safe. We love you, Dennis & Liz.
Youngins can learn more about George … go to … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_David_Weiss
We do NOT have Web’s rendition of George’s song … but here is the one who inspired Web …
About Ma go to … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma_Xiaohui
NOW BACK TO …
Ties That Bind: IATSE-Teamster-Tag Weaved Web & Den Together Again … Plus … Old Fleming Friend Lanny Shum
How Den met Web … It was thanks to IATSE Stagehand and Film Projectionist Bill Taggart aka William Taggart aka TAG. He introduced the two to one another back in ’93. He told them, “You two should get together to play!” But, first the long backstory of how they all met. (Get a BIG cup of coffee or tea … and toast Webby!) Soo … here goes … Actually it was back in the ’80s … that Dennis crossed paths with Taggart-as-stagehand. It was when Chandler-as-ring-announcer … worked some wrestling matches in the Northeast Ohio area …
But, it was the Summer of ’93 … when they caught up with one another again. It was at a classic car cruise out in Mentor, Ohio. Dennis was performing in the parking lot of “Annabelle’s Diner”. This diner was originally a “Kenny King Diner” and it was re-located to Mentor from Euclid. Co-incidentally this diner was one of Dennis’ favorite fun spots to play … not just today … but back in the day (the ’50s). Why? It was near where he grew up … in the Post World War II housing project called “Euclid Homes”.
Perhaps it was why musician-Dennis felt comfortable there. Plus he was in command of that … back-of-the-diner-stage. He felt at ease each and every time he entertained there. So when Dennis looked out at the audience … he thought he recognized old familiar faces. One in particular made him pause. From the back-burner-of-his-brain came … a front-of-mind-name … Bill Taggart. He also recalled that … stagehand-Taggart was also projectionist-Taggart. They realized that it had to be back in the ’60s when Tag worked with … “wife Liz”. Bill mentioned back then … he was called, “the NEW guy from IATSE”. As such he was a “Teamster-Swing” … working many different shows and events (like the above-mentioned wrestling matches that announcer-Dennis had MC’d.)
Now how … Bill brought Fleming into our world and how Web brought us into his. It was all because of some sharing … caring classic cruisers … like Joe Artale. Who? He had a critical role in helping the original Annabelle succeed in her vision (to have cruises at her Diner). In fact, he had his car club at the time … cruise out to Mentor regularly. Joe was the one who told me about Annabelle’s Diner … being the old Euclid Kenny King Diner (from Dennis’ old ‘hood). I put stock into his referral to cruise out there. Why? He was a fellow John Adams High School Rebel (from my ‘hood). Plus he use to help us girls top off our tank. … when we rolled into one of his gas stations. (But, that’s a story for another page!)
BTW … Musician-Dennis still enjoys playing in parking lots. Classic music for classic cars. And Artale still enjoys cruising … with yet another car club … that he started back in the day. The famed Rock’n’Roll Capital Street Machines. (But, that’s a story for another page!)
But back in time to the end … of that Summer of ’93. That’s when car enthusiast Bill came cruisin’ … with Web. He had hoped the two entertainers would hit it off. It worked. Web and Dennis fell right into playing and singing together … as if they had done it before. Yet, not until after they performed … were they formally introduced to one another. Photos of them meeting and then making music together … show clearly … how much they both enjoyed their first jam together, as did Tag. Here’s a collage of that classic night, (so to speak).
It was years ago that a very young Web Fleming sang baritone as a member of a world renowned choir. It was called, “Wings Over Jordan” … and they originated from Cleveland, Ohio. The storied history of that great choir’s effect worldwide can be found on Wikipedia. There is a LINK that I listed further down below. In the meanwhile … here is a page from Web’s copy of his “Wings Songbook” …
Suffice-it-to-say here … that when Web would be asked to “sing something from the WOJ Songbook”… he did … and boy, did he ever.
So once Den and Web got together again … they decided to debut a program of “Negro Spirituals & Gospel Songs”. They received rave reviews that garnered many invitations to perform. One particular performance was presented by Miss Martha Smith from New Day Press for 1994’s Black History Month. It was at Cleveland’s famed Karamu House. That one begot more than just bookings … fun fellowships, too.
One surprise fellowship … became a special one for Dennis. It happened because of some Fleming family members from Web’s hometown of Willard, Ohio. After Web and Den did their act at a “Home Church Anniversary & Family Reunion” (in Willard) … Web went to introduce “Accompanist Dennis” to “Cousin Dick”. That’s when Den found himself reacquainting with Dick Gregory. Who? Yougins learn more …
Dennis first met the renowned comedian-turned-humanitarian … years earlier. It was back during the social turbulence of the late 1960s. It was in Chicago that they first got to fellowship … (along with Rev. Jesse Jackson). It was all thanks to mutual music mates and dear friends, B.B. King and Wayne Bennett (Bobby Blue Bland’s guitarist). Then Dennis saw Dick again in Cleveland in the 1970s and 1980s. That’s when accompanist-Dennis did musical duty for another dear friend and mutual media mate … pioneer talk show host Bill “Smoochie” Gordon.
Vegetarians Dennis, Dick and Bill had fun practicing … what Dick Gregory was promoting. That “It’s Cool to be Healthy”, (to quote the title of one of D.G.’s books on nutrition). Great minds think along the same lines, (food lines in this case, too). Dick Gregory. Web Fleming. Bill “Smoochie” Gordon. What Lights.
Going back in his history … as a GOSPEL SINGER Web Fleming always enjoyed making a JOYFUL NOISE. That included the NEGRO SPIRITUALS he learned in his youth. As I wrote earlier … he becme a BARITONE SOLOIST … and he toured with the famed WINGS OVER JORDAN CHOIR. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia …
“Wings Over Jordan broke the color barrier as the first radio program produced and hosted by African-Americans to be nationally broadcast over a network. The program was the first of its kind which was easily accessible to audiences in the Deep South, featuring distinguished black church and civic leaders, scholars and artists as guest speakers. One of the highest-rated religious radio programs in the United States, it also had an international shortwave audience on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the Voice of America (VOA), and Armed Forces Radio.
Youngins can learn more about “Wings”, as they were affectionately called … go to … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wings_Over_Jordan_Choir
It was during the days prior to the turbulent civil rights movements. A very young Web Fleming saw the struggles and … for the first time … he also saw what fame can do. Web said, with his robe on and in good voice (read: BIG voice) … he was seen and heard … in a more (shall we say) … favorable light. Why? The choir was graciously received … for they were world renown. How so? Those early radio broadcasts of NEGRO SPIRITUALS were heard all around the world … as explained above. BTW where did those airwaves originate from? Right near where Web later lived … in his adopted hometown … Cleveland, Ohio. (I can NOT imagine what it meant to Web … to be asked to be a soloist with that Choir … and at that time!)
Back to Talking About An Early Asian Fusion … It was decades earlier when Baritone Web Fleming aka HAK SAN made a name for himself. Literally … for he was a show in himself. His name HAK SAN roughly translated … means BLACK MOUNTAIN in Cantonese. It compliments his big baritone voice.
Web was honored with that name decades ago as we said. It was conferred on him while he was living in Asia and touring the Far East. For that time and place … Web was unique, to say the least. He became famous as … an AFRICAN AMERICAN … SINGING CHINESE OPERA (and in a dozen dialects, too). Web Fleming also became known for his interpretation of JUSTICE BAO of the SUNG DYNASTY (999-1062).
Whenever Web does his fabulous imitation of LOUIS ARMSTRONG it brings back wonderful memories for both of us. The iconic SATCHMO aka LOUIS ARMSTRONG. We recall fondly watching that great performer and then getting to meet him, too. (But, that’s another story.)
Speaking of some “satchmo singing” … the photo below shows then Congressman Dennis Kucinich getting serenaded. DK serves all in the community … which this night included those in attendance (at Li Wah’s Lunar New Year Celebration). Baritone Web sang ala Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong style. The song? “What a Wonderful World” … and it was.
We do NOT have Web singing that song. But what we DO have is Web singing spirituals with famed Erhuist Ma and Pianist Dennis accompanying him. Click on the first link to hear Web singing … Spirituals © Baritone Web Fleming, Erhuist Ma-Xiao-Hui & Pianist Dennis Chandler
“Pal Dennis” aka Dennis Kucinich … “DK” deserves credit for some of those bookings he did for “DC”. He also deserves kudos for the devoted public servant he has always been. Plus he’s a good sport. The photo below shows how much so … as DK gets into the act at Asian Plaza.
Another Asian Fusion Friend we met through Tag and Web. It was at a LI WAH NEW YEAR CELEBRATION that Dennis got to play … with yet another renowned Asian performer. His name … LANNY SHUM. This artist came to Web’s hometown … from his home in TORONTO. He said, “for the sheer pleasure of playing for and with my mentor … Hak San!”
The late Journalist WILLIAM F. MILLER and his wife MARIANNA aka MARIA MILLER … loved to hear good melodic music. They and Bill’s brother, “Petey” aka Pete Miller (award-winning photojournalist) … would come to hear musician-Dennis wherever he was playing … whatever genre music he was making … and with whomever he was making it with, so to speak.
Often joining in on the fun … was his fellow columnist Mary, Mary Strassmeyer aka “Strassy” (What Lights)
“Who is that character?” Journalist William F. Miller answered, “Oh, wait. I wrote articles about that ‘Asian’ actor”. That’s Web on the left … portraying the mystical ‘Pao Kong’ aka ‘Justice Bao Gong’ aka ‘Bao Zheng’. Who? The ancient character considered by many to be … the origin of the tale titled, “Here come the Judge“. In the photo on the right is our “Pal Bill” joined by Baritone Web Fleming and a harmonizing poser.
About William F. Miller …
K. Michael Benz … knows WHAT ONE DAY can bring. In his case … it’s the day he raised … what? $100 Million in ONE DAY. To explain … the powers in charge at the time … city, state, etc. asked KMB … to raise the money to fund the ROCK HALL … and he did. I feel I should thank Mike Benz. (Who is he to little ole us? Dennis’ former boss. But still a mentor and forever friend!)
Now about this ONE DAY … pictured above and written about below. It caused some really neat rockin’ ripples to go out into the Universe. This crew of creative-types crossed paths … right in front of the hall. Here’s the story … it’s how Lanny and Web’s wonderful week-long reunion got extended, musically. From singing Opera Asian-style … to … Roots Rock and Down Home Blues, etc. It made for a nice memory. Thanks, Mike.
Here’s how the fellowship continued with those newfound friends. Literally, from where they found one another … in front of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum … to Dim Sum … to Desert … to Jammin’ with Dennis. It was a blast.
How it happened: To Cleveland comes a couple of museum-types … from Pearl Harbor to our North Coast Harbor, so to speak. A chance meeting occurred … when they struck up a conversation with Web and Lanny … in Cantonese! They discovered they had a mutual academic-friend … a professor at PEKING UNIVERSITY. As the song lyrics say, “It’s a Small World After All” … but … “What a Wonderful World”.
That chance meeting lead to DIM SUN for some … (Dennis was home).
That meant we had to move the party to … home … that lead to … Music, Music, Music.
(BTW: Since dear Web’s passing … I was looking for photos and found film from this night. I will have to handle the old VHS tape delicately to dub a DVD. I dunno what I’m doin’. But I’m gonna take a chance. What spontaneity … impromptu performances. It was a Jam. The love of Music … these guys showed … it was joyful. I hope it does NOT break. Wish me luck. If I get it right … I’ll upload!)
Recall our House Rules … “First you play … Then you eat”… (again). There’s always room for desert in GooGoo’s Maltshop … served Asian-style this night.
Oh, about that couple from Hawaii, Alice and Sefton Clark. They did extend Invitations to Lanny Shum, Web Fleming and Dennis Chandler to perform overseas at the beautiful HAWAII THEATRE in their CHINATOWN. Pat answer for such long distance travel invitations? “You buy … I’ll fly!” (Read: Funding is always appreciated by and for anyone, in the Arts).
From Pearl Harbor to the North Coast Harbor. The reference to being “museum peeps” is because Sefton Clark & Alice Clark served on the board for the PACIFIC WAR MEMORIAL in PEARL HARBOR, HAWAII.
As “Chairman Alice” and “Sec’y Sefton” said, “We’re on a much needed R & R”. You can be sure “Lanny, Web and Den Together Again” gave them a good shot of “R & R”… “Rock’n’Roll”, that is … (with a little rhythm and blues, too). Hence the invitation for a reciprocal “R & R” session.
Dennis thought it could be fun, like Tag said, “Getting their act together and taking it on the road”. “NORTH, SOUTH, MEETS EAST, WEST”… does have a nice ring to it. A New Year Ring?
So, one can see how CHINESE NEW YEAR aka SPRING FESTIVAL aka LUNAR NEW YEAR has become, for some creative-types … another wonderful holiday to celebrate. It continues to be a most welcome celebration of both cultural diversity and cultural similarity.
Go to the Detailed Bio to read more. It tells of other threads woven ‘tween. Here are a couple of those threads in the tapestry. The blending of Bluesmaster B.B. King, Robert “Jr.” Lockwood and Web Fleming, (Plus of course Dennis Chandler and Tag, too.)
By, the way … ’bout Bill. Tag’s still busy today, always sharing. Mostly teaching the craft of presenting film as an IATSE elder (read: Master Projectionist).
Also Taggart has tried to retire. But, Bill still gets tapped to do all the important film events … traveling ’round the world. Sundance, Dubai, Bahrain, DoHo Tribeca Film Festivals, to name just a few. Plus he’s “Run film for the Royals” … as in the land of … or should I say … in the sand of the United Arab Emirates. (I reference their penchant for tents pitched in the desert … BIG tents, Tag says!)
As for his stage work … when called upon Stagehand Taggart never refuses. Taggart’s a real trouper like that. Perhaps that’s why he was elected PRESIDENT of IATSE.
Speaking of troupers … In answer to the question, “Why’s Taggart called Liz’ pretend brother … or … play brother?” Bill does resemble my real brother Phil (tall and bearded).
Plus … when Dennis’ quizzed on the gig, he says, “Oh, those are Liz’ bodyguards”. Hence the joke about her having … “a Teamster for a bodyguard“.
Even now … Tag is probably on the road … on his way to who-know-where? Safe travels, Bill.
March 2023 To be continued…
Liz Chandler, Webwriter email: email@example.com
Dennis Chandler, Subject email: firstname.lastname@example.org