Month: September 2008

David Lindley Featured in new Fretboard Journal

Regular readers of More to Come… will know that one of my favorite magazines is The Fretboard Journal, which bills itself as “Not Just Another Guitar Magazine.”  The Fall 2008 issue showed up in the mailbox the other day, and it contains more great articles and photos of the world’s most beautiful acoustic guitars.  Multi-instrumentalist David Lindley is featured in an extensive interview with Ben Harper, while banjoist Tony Trischka talks about the banjo as the great antidepressant.  That article begins with a great quote from Pete Stampfel, banjoist in the Holy Modal Rounders, the anarchist folk group from the 1960s: “The real reason the Great Depression happened was that people quit playing the banjo.” An interesting thought for the day when the Stock Market dropped 777 points. More to come… DJB

Thank God for the Mariners

Well, last evening our hapless Washington Nationals lost their 100th game of the season…an easy-to-understand measure of futility in a 162-game season.  While the Phillies and Brewers are hoping to finish off the Mets and snare the last two spots in the NL playoffs, and the Twins and White Sox battle down to the wire in the AL Central, our Nats are fighting with the Seattle Mariners for worst record in baseball.  Going into the last two games, the Mariners have lost 101 and the Nationals 100.  That rainout for the Nats on Thursday evening, which won’t be replayed, may keep us out of the cellar! Wait ’til next year. DJB

John Work, III: Recording Black Culture

My father recently sent along a copy of a new CD from Spring Fed Records entitled John Work, III:  Recording Black Culture.  This is a recording of great interest for anyone who cares about African American culture in the South in the mid-20th century.  A Fisk University professor, Work helped the better-known folklorist Alan Lomax collect songs in the African American community, but he also collected songs on his own.  Late last year, the New York Times published a terrific article on this CD and Work’s efforts to record African-Americans. Where Mr. Lomax tended to treat black vernacular music as an artifact in need of preservation, Mr. Work sought to document it as it was unfolding.  Thus on “Recording Black Culture,” instead of spirituals harking back to the 19th century, we hear febrile gospel shouting set to the cadences of what soon would become rhythm and blues and rock ’n’ roll. Bruce Nemerov, who won a Grammy Award for the liner notes to Recording Black Culture, spoke at the Rutherford County Historical Society, which was …

Two Months of Great Acoustic Music Coming Up

For all lovers of traditional and acoustic music in the Washington, DC area, there are some terrific concerts coming up over the next two months. Monday, September 29 – The Carolina Chocolate Drops at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage (Free!).  A terrific band playing in the African American string band tradition of the Southern mountains.  Check out the video below. Monday, September 29 – Kevin Burke and Cal Scott for the Institute of Musical Traditions.  Yes, this day brings an embarrassment of riches, as just about the best Irish fiddler on the planet plays at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church on Old Georgetown Road in Rockville. Monday, October 6 – Nightingale, a great contra band, for IMT at St. Mark’s in Rockville. Saturday, November 1 – The Infamous Stringdusters play for the DC Bluegrass Union’s fall concert in Falls Church.  Catch one of the hot young bands in bluegrass. Monday, November 24 – David Grier, one of the great guitar flatpickers of his generation, plays for the Monday night IMT concert at St. Mark’s. Use the comments …

A few more Memphis Highlights

A few quick observations after spending the last 24 hours in Memphis… Any first-time visitor to the city has to make time to see the National Civil Rights Museum.  (Photo at the beginning of the post.)  I spent an hour on a tour with the museum’s curator and the head of Memphis Heritage this morning, and I’ve seldom been as moved as when standing between the restored rooms 306 (Dr. Martin Luther King’s room) and 307, viewing the balcony at the Lorraine Motel.  One listens to excerpts from his final “Mountaintop” speech, delivered the night before, and then looks up to see the boarding house across the street where history changed.  Later in the tour, the view is reversed, as you stand next to James Earl Ray’s bathroom and see the balcony, with the historic cars parked outside beneath a large wreath.  Very powerful. Tracey gave us an insiders tour.  We talked a great deal about the decisions behind the original exhibit and the thinking now underway for future exhibits.  I was pleased to see a section added with the support …

Passing 1,000

Sometime between leaving Memphis this morning and arriving home this evening, More to Come…the DJB Blog passed 1,000 page views.  I started this blog less than 45 days ago as a way to update family and friends on our western trip this summer, but it has become a bit of therapy over the intervening six weeks.  Some fun stats:  the highest day of activity had 73 page views; the lowest had two.  I only started to figure out how to use this tag thing to attract visitors in the past two weeks, so my numbers since then have been much higher.  I realize 1,000 page views isn’t a lot in the blogosphere, but I’m okay with that.  Thanks to you for reading and for passing along some great comments. More to come… DJB

Modernism, Ribs, and Wynonna

I’m in Memphis for a talk sponsored by AIA Memphis and Memphis Heritage and I soon discovered that this is a city that surprises. Nothing catches your eye so quickly as the wealth of historic buildings that remain throughout the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.  In fact, according to Memphis Heritage the city ranks sixth in the nation in the number of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The day began with a tour of a terrific preservation project at the Lincoln American Tower.  In the past ten years, the downtown has seen a number of buildings brought back online by enterprising developers such as Willie Chandler and architect Chooch Pickard.  (The “Chooch” is a high-school nickname for “Choo Choo Charlie.”)  Willie and Chooch gave me a top to bottom tour of the Tower and adjacent Lowenstein Building (see photo at right) which is under renovation right on Main Street.  This mixed-use development has incredible views of the downtown, Court Square Park, and – of course – the Mississippi River.  Downtown housing units …

Bang-Bang Plays

With two bang-bang plays at the plate, I may have been an eyewitness to the week when we see the crowning of the Philadelphia Phillies as repeat NL East Champions amidst another historic Mets breakdown. Friends will know that a couple of years ago I started on a quest to visit every Major League ballpark.  And in the last week of the 2008 season, I was lucky enough to squeeze in my fourth new stadium visit of the year. Don and Nancy, friends and great preservationists from Philadelphia, read of my goal on More to Come.  Don called a week ago and said “I have three tickets – two for Nancy and me and one for you if you can make it.”  That was all I needed to hear, and I was on I-95 for the short two-hour drive to Philly yesterday afternoon. Citizens Bank Park is a beautiful stadium, opened a couple of years ago.  After a short walk around the park and picking up my free “Fightin’ Phils” rally towel, I joined Don and …

Tough Time to Be a Nats Fan

Last night’s game between the Nationals and Padres was tough.  It is bad enough when two of the three teams with the worst records in baseball are playing.  But when the Nationals enter the game needing to win 5 out of the remaining 8 games to avoid losing 100 games for the season, there’s extra pressure. The pressure won. Routine grounders that should extend a shutout pitching performance turn into 3 unearned runs.  Balls lost in the lights turn into triples.  And the explanation for the latter shows just what we’re facing.  In this morning’s Washington Post, Nats left fielder Willie Harris provides the following explanation for his adventure in lights: “They’re among the brightest (lights) in the league, he said.  Sure, they’re a problem for opposing outfields, too, ‘but, I mean, we haven’t been hitting many balls in the lights.  They’ve been hitting the balls in the lights.’” Say no more, Willie.  It is a tough time to be a Nats fan.  But hey, let’s go win 5 out of 7.  And remember, the …