Tuesday, February 28, 2017

admirable man

Tonight we heard one of the good guys perform... good on so many levels - a consummate musician and songwriter as well as a fabulous storyteller and homespun comedian... he also has an outstanding command of both history AND folk music roots and history... a true Renaissance man... OH and I forgot to mention his community service LOL... I don't know exactly what the boy scout list of positive traits is but I think he must meet all of them LOL

from the program for tonight- (photo above from the Internet)

you can see this bizarre stage he was playing on- with all kinds of glitzy background LOL he said this might be the first glam-folk concert in history LOL

wikipedia has this to say about him- (excerpted)

John McCutcheon (born August 14, 1952) is an American folk music singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has produced 34 albums since the 1970s. He is regarded as a master of the hammered dulcimer, and is also proficient on many other instruments including guitar, banjo, autoharp, mountain dulcimer, fiddle, and jawharp.  

McCutcheon was born to Roman Catholic parents in Wausau, Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Saint John's University in Minnesota. While in his 20s, he travelled to Appalachia and learned from some of the legendary greats of traditional folk music, such as Roscoe Holcomb, I.D. Stamper, and Tommy Hunter. His vast repertoire also includes songs from contemporary writers like Si Kahn, as well as a large body of his own music.

When McCutcheon became a father in the early 1980s he found most children's music "unmusical and condescending", and sought to change the situation by releasing a children's album, Howjadoo, in 1983. Originally, he had only intended to do one childrens' record, but the popularity of this first effort led to the production of several additional children's albums.

Much of his work, however, continues to focus on writing politically and socially conscious songs for adult audiences. In his performances, McCutcheon often introduces his music with a story, and has become known as a storyteller. He has made multiple appearances at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, Tennessee. He is married to children's author and storyteller, Carmen Agra Deedy.

McCutcheon's music has, since the 1990s, increasingly evolved into heartland rock-influenced ballads, while he still occasionally performs purer folk music, particularly when playing the dulcimer.

A very nice evening - worth the trek an hour north to hear him again... none of us getting any younger (boohoo) so we try to take advantage while we can... we last saw him on December 6, 2015 (15 months ago at Craftsman House) my glowing review is included in this post-

and to almost catch up- last night we heard John McCutcheon- an amazing talent who can apparently play any instrument you put in front of him as well as tell you stories, sing songs he wrote and at the same time tell you incredible music history from his font of musicologist's knowledge -

guitar (of both twelve and six string variety LOL)

 auto harp-
 hammered dulcimer (he's a master!)

we laughed - we cried - and we laughed while crying- he's that kind of artist... the venue is extremely intimate- kind of a semi house concert style- and is easily reached from our winter home so we will be back in the new year for other concerts!

sadly he did not return to this more convenient venue but was playing in the Straz Center a huge complex in downtown Tampa (albeit in a intimate venue there called the Jaeb Theater) - hope he finds his way home to Craftsman House again next year - we will be there if he does!

stay tuned for more fun and games as the Salzburgers gather over the next week for a reunion of the 1970 trip... 47 years and counting- Jean arrives on Thursday...

Monday, February 27, 2017

a new place

I know a lot of you think all I do is go out to eat - LOL- and yes it is true that we do a lot of restaurant exploration but really if I had to give it up and eat at Red Lobster I could do it. What I could NOT do is stop exploring the world.  No matter how many fabulous restaurants I went to or how much amazing wine I drank my life would be diminished without travel.

And since it has been a few months (three to be exact) since I left the country I am well and truly ready to be on to my next adventure in exploring our world...

Luckily today my paperwork arrived for my upcoming trip to Uzbekistan - so I can start thinking of packing and preparation for my departure in three weeks-

Caroline Eden is a travel writer from the UK and she is hosting this trip of ten plus ME! (max12 - so if you are thinking this might be of interest - there is still time!)

So much new to see and learn about- this will be my first trip to the Caucuses and this part of the Silk Route (which we have touched the fringes of from the China side when we were in Lijiang and Zhongdian a couple of years ago) - have wanted to do "the stans" for more than a decade (since traveling with my buddy Oscar in India in 2005) but the timing never worked out for it... until now!
below a map of the China end of one of the numerous trade routes that make up the "silk route."

History of Silk Road. From the second century BC to the end of the fourteenth century AD, a great trade route originated from Chang'an (now Xian) in the east and ended at the Mediterranean in the west, linking China with the Roman Empire.  Because China silk comprised a large proportion of the trade along this ancient road, in 1877, it was named the 'Silk Road' by Ferdinand von Richthofen, an eminent German geographer.

The Central Route ran west along the southern foot of Tianshan Mountains, passing Loulan (now Ruoqiang), Turpan , Korla, Kuche (Kuqa), Aksu and Kashgar, afterwards went over the freezing Pamirs, wound to Mashhad via the Fergana Basin, Samarkand, Bukhara and finally joined the Southern Route.

From wikipedia-
While the term is of modern coinage, the Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative trade in silk (and horses) carried out along its length, beginning during the Han dynasty.  The Han dynasty expanded Central Asian sections of the trade routes, largely through missions and explorations of the Chinese imperial envoy, Zhang Qian. The Chinese took great interest in the safety of their trade products and extended the Great Wall of China to ensure the protection of the trade route.
Trade on the Silk Road played a significant role in the development of the civilizations of China, the Goguryeo kingdom (Korea), Japan, the SubcontinentPersiaEurope, the Horn of Africa and Arabia, opening long-distance political and economic relations between the civilizations. Though silk was certainly the major trade item exported from China, many other goods were traded, and religions, syncretic philosophies, and various technologies. Diseases, most notably plague, also spread along the Silk Routes. In addition to economic trade, the Silk Road was a route for cultural trade among the civilizations along its network.
Chinese, ArabsTurkmensIndiansPersiansSomalisGreeksSyriansRomansGeorgiansArmeniansBactrians, and (from the 5th to the 8th century) the Sogdians were the main traders along the route.  In June 2014, UNESCO designated the Chang'an-Tianshan corridor of the Silk Road as a World Heritage Site.
so all of this is kind of "ancient history" because after the Mongols left the area the various tribes and factions fell into warring and made the route impossible to use - improved seagoing vessels became the carriers of these goods and trade- and here is where things headed to once the North American continent was "discovered" by Europeans... the map below is from the 16th century 
the flow of history reminds us that once great empires and nations do not always remain in their leadership roles forever...LOL a lesson learned again and again on this planet - or perhaps never learned... but I will leave you there - as the time nears for us to leave for today's events and our concert for tonight! more later as always- so stay tuned!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

change of pace

This afternoon Barb and I went to see the Paul Taylor Dance Company presented by the Sarasota Ballet.  It was a very fun way to while away a few hours enjoying something different.  The review in the local paper was mixed and it turns out that I liked the things the review was tepid about and she loved the one I was neutral on... this is what makes things so interesting when it comes to "art"...

here is the program for the performance-
the performance was held in the Mertz Theater at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts-

My favorite was the Brandenburgs- the complex movements that Barb likened to a Kaleidoscope were amazingly beautiful and tightly executed in a way that was completely exuberant as well as technically outstanding.  Of the three pieces performed this was the most balletic and if they had put on shoes you could easily mistake it for a ballet (perhaps an avant-garde ballet LOL)

The HT critic was less enthusiastic than I was and less generous in her review-

"Paul Taylor Dance Company's program of three works, spanning from 1988 to 2007, provided a refreshing opportunity for locals to expand their dance horizons. This is a very different looking company than the Sarasota Ballet, made up largely of veteran dancers, many of whom have been with Taylor for a decade or even two. Their maturity, in particular the men, provided a startling visual contrast to the youthful slightness of the local dancers, provoking one patron near me to remark: "Isn't it fun to see grownups dancing?" Taylor is, of course, one of modern dance's most seminal figures. His body of work is immense, diverse and still growing — he continues, at age 86, to make, on average, two new dances a year.

"Brandenburgs," created nearly 30 years ago, opened the program. Set to Bach's familiar Brandenburg Concertos, with five men in green velvet, tank-topped unitards, three women in muddy brown dresses with embroidered ribbon trim and one male soloist (Michael Trusnovec) with a bare chest and mustard colored tights, it reduced Taylor's enormous vocabulary to an eventually tedious barrage of leaps, skips, runs and twirls, frustratingly choreographed with a step matching almost every note. 

"The dancers were heroic in managing to make it through this marathon of activity. The corps men skipped and bounced and leapt gaily through changing patterns while the women, with lots of scooping arms and off center leg extensions, twirled like whirling dervishes, seeming almost drunk on their movement. Meanwhile Trusnovec did a lot of slow walking about, looking intently at this bevy of handmaidens and begging us to admire his lean and chiseled torso. (Given that he has been with PTDC for two decades, it was, in fact, pretty admirable.)"

The second piece was quite somber- the set was lovely and the stark lighting in silhouette as the number opened, promised great things but I wasn't moved by this piece in the same way as the first - but the critic preferred this one over the other two numbers- 

The last number was called Black Tuesday and used the music of the Great Depression for the basis of the referential dance movements - Charleston and other roaring twenties styles flitted in and out of the entire piece- 

The critic was a bit easier on this than the first number-
"The final work, "Black Tuesday" — referencing the crash of the stock market that catalyzed the Depression — was a series of character studies of human gaiety amidst economic adversity. Danced in front of changing backdrop projections (the space under an elevated trolley system; a city skyline at night; a plethora of stars), in period costumes (hose and garters, shabby rags and slinky dresses) and to popular songs of the era, it tapped the company's considerable acting skills, mixing the comic with the tragic.
"Drawing from the vintage dances of vaudeville, ballroom and softshoe — the shag, the Castle Walk, the Charleston — it provides short stories of triumph and disappointment. An obviously pregnant woman (Paris Khobdeh) dances alone among happy couples in "Sittin' on a Rubbish Can"; a swaggering, cigar-chomping man (Kleinendorst) parties with his three ladies of the evening in "Are You Making Any Money?"; and a female soloist (Heather McGinley) remains fiercely proud and independent in "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."
"My favorite was the tomboyish Walker, hair tucked under a newsboy cap, whose crispness and spunk in "I Went Hunting and the Big Bad Wolf was Dead" was a real treat. The final segment, to "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?" ends with an indelible image created largely through the lighting (original by Jennifer Tipton) alone."
I agree with the conclusory remarks of the critic- 
"This is an accomplished troupe, dancing the work of an acknowledged icon, with an ease and professionalism to be much admired and the Sarasota Ballet is to be acknowledged for providing this opportunity to view a different flavor of the month."
as I mentioned an enjoyable afternoon - and a nice change of pace -

up tomorrow a concert in Tampa by John McCutcheon... and later in the week - a Fogartyville concert and a visit from friend Jean (one of the Salzburg group- currently living in Maine)--- stay tuned...