The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players are a family musical group consisting of Jason Trachtenburg (on the guitar and keyboards), his wife Tina Pina Trachtenburg (on the slide projector ... seriously), and their nine year old daughter Rachel Trachtenburg (on the drums and harmonica). Thus far, they've released one album, Vintage Slide Collections From Seattle Volume 1 (2001), with a second volume to follow by the end of 2003.
What are the Slideshow Players?
The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players are probably best described by the phrase musical act. The family sings songs that go along with the theme of a slideshow, which is simultaneously shown during their performances. The slideshows are usually sets of slides purchased from estate auctions, meaning that they have a lot of variety and usually depict images from the 1950s through the 1970s.
Musically, the group performs catchy pop music with distinctive left-leaning themes, such as distrust of government and large corporations. Their music is entirely composed by the family as a group, usually inspired by the slides that they collect.
Jason Trachtenburg was a largely unknown member of the burgeoning open mic musical scene in New York City throughout the 1990s. Although he released one album on Orange Recordings (entitled Revolutions Per Minute), he never really reached a significant level of success.
He met his future wife Tina in 1991 while performing at the Speakeasy in 1991; they married not too long after meeting, and in 1993, their daughter, Rachel Trachtenburg appeared. Jason's family was a constant at his performances during this time, and his closeness to his family (and especially his daughter) made him consider giving up music. He began to train his daughter to read and play music on various instruments as soon as she was able, and began to slowly cut back on performing.
Then, in 1997, a couple of things happened that changed everything.
The first was that Tina acquired a slide projector at a yard sale. It was something of a random purchase at the time, but after acquiring the projector, she and Jason began to look for interesting slides, as a separate hobby.
Then, at an estate sale in late 1997, they found a set of slides depicting someone's trip to Japan in 1959. Enamored with the slides, the couple picked them up and viewed the slides repeatedly. Inspired by this slideshow, Jason wrote the song Mountain Trip To Japan 1959. He played this song at several shows, and in mid-1998, inspiration struck again: his daughter was getting very strong on the harmonica, so he invited her to perform the song with him. This was a major hit, as the then-six-year-old Rachel captivated the audience with her rather skillful instrumentation.
A few shows later, Tina brought the slideshow projector to one of Jason's shows and she showed the mountain trip slides while Jason and Rachel performed. This was the birth of the Slideshow Players.
Eventually, Rachel began to play the drums as well, and sang vocals on a few songs. The slideshow act quickly became popular, so the family began to collect slides and write songs devoted to them. They've gradually become more and more popular since.
Examples of Musical Slideshows
OPNAD Contribution Study Committee Report, June 1977 is the first part of a six-part suite of songs devoted to a committee report describing the business status and future plans of the McDonald's fast food franchise. This first song plays while just the first slide is showing, exhibiting the words of the song title in a nice 1970s color scheme.
Mountain Trip To Japan 1959 was the first song the group wrote for a slideshow, purchased at an estate auction in Seattle. The slideshow depicts what looks to be the most boring vacation in history, and the song itself is about the mind-numbingly boring recollections people often share about their vacations.
How To Hear Their Music
You can start off by visiting http://www.slideshowplayers.com, which is the band's website. There, you can read several articles about the group and purchase their album.
The group is currently touring as the opening act for They Might Be Giants and are regulars in the open mic scene in New York City. Also, they will be appearing on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on January 3, 2003, so if you want to see a taste of the act without buying a ticket, there's your chance.