Sunday, September 29, 2013

Serbian American Museum St. Sava

***Iskreno izvinjenje za Nobi urbanistički ovog blog***


Pazdrav svi blogspot čitaoci iz Srbije!
(Hello, to all blogspot readers from Serbia!)

In honor of World Music Festival that was happening in Chicago, SouthSide spent a unique Friday night not only enjoying classic jazz standards but also learning a little history and culture at a local museum, blogspot readers. The Serbian American Museum St. Sava opened its doors welcoming all to its Art Month - a music-art event that features performances by new or established Chicago artists of Serbian and non-Serbian descent like tonight's performer Jesse Charbonier ( inside a stunning mansion. Located within the Lakeview neighborhood, this hidden gem also has a theatre for theatrical and musical performance (on the 3rd floor), library and exhibits on Serbian culture including rooms dedicated to Nikola Tesla (the famous physicist who invented alternate current and wireless signal transmission) and famous Serbian American athletes (on the 2nd floor) and a basement area (known as Cave) for movie/music and fashion shows. Believe it or not, there's no other Serbian American institution like this museum, blogspot readers, and it gained well-known visibility by a recent visited from the Crown Prince and Princess of Serbia.

It was a friendly, welcoming atmosphere inside the Serbian American Museum St Sava, blogspot readers. Instantly, SouthSide went from guest to honored friend amongst the few in attendance for  tonight's event. She was greeted with smiles and warm hugs and handshakes ...happy to see that she was there documenting the night. Before tonight's jazz performance by local vocalist, Jesse Charbonier, SouthSide spent the early part of the night browsing over the lovely jewelry pieces on display by designers Dobrila Pintar and Milicas. Both artisans showed off handcrafted neck pieces to earrings (all available for purchase) in such blue, blue-green, red and amber tones that would bedazzled fashion style from casual to elegant, blogspot readers. Though designer Dobrila Pintar was unable to be here herself, her friend advised in signing up for one of her jewelry classes and/or workshops as a way to appreciate the artistry that goes into her metal or beaded pieces. She also has a glass ornament workshop and open studio (for up 2 hours) where you can work on your craft at your own time. For more information about Dobrila Pintar and her workshops, email at To view jewelry designed by Milicas, you can email her at And next it was time to try some Serbian smoked meat (in which had this reviewer fooled she was snacking on smoked ham) and cheese. Yum.

After more had arrived and Jesse and the musicians had finished setting up, it was time to serenade the audience with his repertoire of jazz favorites (and some rarities) from the 40s to 60s as he dedicated the opening song Love Is Here To Stay (by Ella Fitzgerald) to old and new friends with an toe-tappin' rhythmic beat. There's love and magic in air whenever Jesse Charbonier shares his love for jazz greats like Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole and many more to the world whether he's performing at the legendary Coq d'Or (located inside the famous Drake Hotel) or a place like this museum. And due to that love and attention he places on each song like Time After Time (from the 1947 movie It Happens In Brooklyn) and Unforgettable (1951 by Irving Gordon), his audience feel that urge to dance and/or fall in love with that special someone all over again, blogspot readers.

It's not the first time this reviewer has seen this happen during a Jesse Charbonier performance ...with confidence she can say it happens every time this vocalist croons a ballad (Chet Baker's Let's Get Lost) or lively tune (Frank Sinatra's The Lady Is A Tramp).  For example, while performing Elvis Costello's Almost Blue (originally by Chet Baker before his death), SouthSide noticed the way Jesse's eyes lit up the room almost brighter than his smile as he sang this contemporary jazz song. It's all in the eyes especially when he focuses on the audience. And with his gentle falsetto voice  on the lyrics, he sang it to make you feel the heartfelt sentiments behind each word which may give you some spine-tingling shivers upon feeling that emotion tugging on your heart. You may even shed a tear or two without even knowing it, blogspot readers. Let's not forget the band behind Jesse Charbonier - professional musician who bring to the life the songs with such vibrant gusto or a slow downtempo rhythm to allow the senses to bask in the music glow of each song performed. They do have their moments to shine throughout Jesse's performances whether it's Adrian's lively piano rhythms or Nils' toe-tappin' drumming ...each one adds a touch of their own style during the instrumental bridges and/or solos, blogspot readers.

During the break, blogspot readers, SouthSide took a private tour of the 2nd floor of the Serbian American Museum St. Sava where she learned some interesting
facts about Serbian history from religion to Tesla and famous athletes many of whom she didn't know were of Serbian descent or Serbian American. Upon reaching the 2nd floor, turn to your left and enter the room that houses the exhibit about the last Serbian King and other artifacts. Besides Polish immigrants making Chicago the place to emigrate, did you know there are approximately 200,000 (probably more) Serbians living either in the city and elsewhere? She also learned about King Peter II who was the last reigning monarch of Yugoslavia who lived in exile after Hitler invaded his country during World War II and his parents who were King Alexander I (who was assassinated in 1934 in France) and Queen Maria (Princess of Romania).  Originally the only royal to be buried in 1972, King Peter II was buried in Libertyville IL. However, a state funeral was held at St George's Church (near Belgrade) where his remains were reburied along with his wife, Queen Alexandria, his mother, Queen Maria and his brother, Prince Andrew in May.  Almost diagonal from this room,  there's an exhibit dedicated to the Serbian Orthodox Church and St Sava who laid the foundation for the Serbian religion, blogspot readers. It also has interesting artifacts such as the bishop's and priest's attire, ceremonial cups for communion and displays about Serbian religious holidays and customs.

Leaving that room, SouthSide's next stop was to the room dedicated to Serbian descent and/or Serbian American athletes - from baseball to racing cars to basketball and more, blogspot readers, this culture has made its mark in the world of sports. Featured in this room are jerseys, displays on more notable and famous Serbians like Gregg Popovich (current head coach of the San Antonio Spurs basketball team), Rhonda Rajsich (two time racquetball World Champion) and Vlade Divac (retired basketball player who played for LA Lakers and Kings).
The museum even has an autographed display from the Serbian Olympic football (soccer ) team and Olympic tennis player - Novak Djokovic. The piece de resistance within this museum is the room dedicated to Nikola Tesla. History buffs will definitely enjoy spending time within this particular space learning about how his Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing company illuminated Chicago's 1893  World's Columbian Exposition with his alternating current invention and did it cheaper than what Edison was going to charge the city. Also, he was the first to investigate the "invisible" kinds of radiant energy (i.e. X-ray),  had theories on the possibility of transmission by radio waves in which lead to a patent for the radio 4 years before Marconi (it's known that Tesla held 17 patents) and experimented with high-voltage, high-frequency tests inside a lab located at Colorado Springs. Upon his death, this Serbian American inventor was given a state funeral at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York but currently his ashes are now located in the third room of Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade.

Jesse was already into the second half of his set when SouthSide returned to the main floor. Songs performed during this set included Chances Are, What A Difference A Day Makes, All Or Nothing At All and Billie Holiday's Don't Explain, blogspot readers. Dancing and music until midnight as Jesse and the band winded down with the song I Wish You Love. It was a lovely evening ...everyone had fun and enjoyed themselves.

SouthSide highly recommends visiting this unique museum dedicated to the Serbian American culture and heritage. For more information, email

Until next time, support your local scene,

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