Thankful for Beautiful Music

On Thanksgiving morning, Candice and I visited our neighborhood Episcopal Church in Silver Spring.  We went to give thanks for all we have, but we also went to this particular church because we knew that one of the DC-area’s best hammered dulcimer players – Karen Ashbrook – was providing the music.

Over the course of the next hour, Karen played six beautiful tunes.  Of special note was the haunting O Savior Thee – a Scottish Christmas carol – which made for a wonderful time of reflection following the readings and sermon.

The small Gothic church was acoustically alive, providing a nice setting for Karen’s music.  It was a wonderful start to our Thanksgiving Day.

Check out Karen and her husband Paul Oorts on this video of Irish tunes.

More to come…


A Year in Photos

This Thanksgiving I’ve posted some photos from the past 12 months as a reminder of the many things for which we are thankful.  Scroll over the top of the photo for a description.  Click on the photo for a full-screen view.

Happy Thanksgiving.

More to come…


Candice & Margaret Cooking at Thanksgiving 2007


David at the Taj Mahal


David takes his first elephant ride in India last December


Andrew and Claire at the Bridge at Concord, March 2008


 Andrew in South Africa, June 2006


Acoma Sky City, August 2008, Photo by Claire


Coming down the Padres' Trail at Acoma Sky City, August 2008


Standing on the Corner in Winslow, Arizona


Grand Canyon Scene, August 2008, Photo by Andrew


Grand Canyon view, August 2008, Photo by Claire


At Mesa Verde, August 2008


Ready for Rafting on the Rio Grande in New Mexico


Rio Grande Rafting, with Hank the Guide


A Guitar Study, Photo by Claire


Lilly is blessed by Dean Sam Lloyd at the National Cathedral, St. Francis Day


Claire and Andrew, November 2008

David Grier at IMT

David Grier at IMTAll of David Grier’s guitar skills were on display tonight at the Monday evening concert of the Institute of Musical Tradition in Rockville.  Greir opened with a spirited version of Durham’s Bull, an old fiddle tune (and afterwards opined that all fiddle tunes are described as “old”), and then put on a two-hour tour de force of flatpicked guitar and bad jokes.

It is a tall order to keep an audience’s interest with two hours of solo flatpicked guitar, but Grier made it look easy.  With equal measures original tunes and flatpicking chestnuts – with the occasional popular tune such as Yesterday thrown in as well – Grier showed why he’s one of the best flatpickers on the planet. 

This was an evening of highlights:  the beautiful intro for Red Haired Boy, the original waltz High Atop Princess Cove, and the Stephen Foster tune Angeline the Baker among themOne of Grier’s best recorded efforts is the Bill Monroe tune Old Ebenezer Scrooge, which he worked as a duet with bassist Todd Phillips on the Grammy award winning True Life Blues:  The Songs of Bill MonroeTonight he played it as a powerful solo piece which fared much better than the “stupid fast” (Grier’s description) version of the other Monroe tune Roanoke that ended the show.

However, any complaints are nitpicking, and the numerous guitarists in the audience were there for a different type of picking.  Suffice it to say that Grier satisfied.

In poking around on You Tube, I found the following video that features a young Grier with other winners of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) instrumentalists of the year awards.  Enjoy Shenandoah Breakdown by Grier (displaying a fun use of time on his guitar break) with Sam Bush on mandolin, Jerry Douglas on dobro, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Tom Adams on banjo, and the late Roy Huskey, Jr. on bass.

More to come…


Slow Blogging

The Sunday New York Times included a story on “Slow Blogging.”  I had never heard of the term (although I am aware of the slow food movement), but I found myself agreeing with the rejection of immediacy, the thought of blogging as meditation, and the precept that not all things worth reading are written quickly. 

This approach is a deliberate smack at the popular group blogs like Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, Valleywag and boing-bong, which can crank out as many as 50 items a day.  On those sites, readers flood in and advertisers sign on.  Spin and snark abound.  Earnest descriptions of the first frost of the season are nowhere to be found.

In between the slow bloggers and the rapid-fire ones, there is a vast middle, hundreds of thousands of writers who are not trying to attract advertising or buzz but do want to reach like-minded colleagues and friends.  These people have been the bedrock of the genre since its start, yet recently there has been a sea change in their output:  They are increasingly turning to slow blogging, in practice if not in name.

The blogger profiled in the Times story is Barbara Ganley, and she has a lovely post in response to her new-found fame.  As is my habit, I searched through her blog and found several wonderful pieces, including this reflective piece on the morning after the election.  If you like thoughtful writing, Vermont, beautiful photographs and more, you may want to explore bgblogging as well.

As regular readers know, More to Come…is quirky and certainly isn’t tied to either the news cycle or my professional life.  Perhaps Ms Ganley and other slow bloggers have given me a context for what I’ve called my therapy.  That gives me something to ponder.

More to come…


Great Acoustic Guitar in Washington

There are few things in life I like better than the sound of an acoustic guitar.  So I’m looking forward to two upcoming concerts in the Washington, DC area by three terrific players.

On Monday night, one of the best guitar flatpickers on the planet will be playing at the Institute of Musical Traditions series at Saint Mark’s Presbyterian Church in Rockville.  David Grier is well-known to flatpicking aficionados and along with a busy session schedule handles the guitar duties in the supergroup Psychograss.  Watch the video below of Grier and Wyatt Rice – younger brother of guitar superstar Tony Rice – and you’ll see why we flatpicker wanna-be’s will be in attendance on Monday, flatpicks clutched in our right hand taking in every lick.

For those of you who prefer your acoustic guitar fingerstyle (which I also love), you only have to wait two weeks to December 8th for the IMT concert featuring Al Petteway, Amy White, and Robin Bullock.  Petteway and Bullock both have inventive minds and beautiful tones.  Their holiday-flavored concert, which features the silver-throated White on a variety of instruments, is always a favorite.  Make your plans now. 

I bought some new strings today in anticipation of the playing to come after I’m inspired by these terrific musicians.  Join me in supporting live music and your local music store! 

More to come…


Searching the Internet and Finding…The Edge of the American West

In yet another of my posts on very interesting web sites found while searching the Internet, I bring you today The Edge of the American WestThis is a site that contains writings by historians and philosophers, leading the site to suggest that “History is Philosophy teaching by examples. ”

The interests of these men and women run the gamut, if recent posts are any example.  They do a regular This Day in History type of post, one of the most recent being about the day that Richard Nixon declared he wasn’t a crook.  To give  you a sense of the politics here, the post is entitled Yes You Are.  And Also a Liar.”   There are posts on camel metaphors (having to do with choosing cabinet members), and the day in 1972 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average first closed above 1,000.  (We may be headed back there!)

But I knew this was a website worth checking when I read Aw, that could have been MY headHere the writer tells the story of how he “taught the future professional wrestler – and now Heavyweight Ultimate Fighting Champion – Brock Lesnar.”  It is a very funny post, where the writer notes that he, “was less than impressed with Lesnar’s academic potential; his essay on Kant’s anthropology of race was likely not his finest work.”

After noting that Lesnar had wrestled in college, the writer goes on to say  that:

Lesnar parlayed his amateur glory into a three-year run with World Wrestling Entertainment, during which time he evidently vaulted to the top of his profession, wrestling the likes of Hulk Hogan and The Rock on his way to becoming the youngest WWE champion in history. As I understand it, he was known for such moves as the “spinebuster,” the “scoop powerslam,” the “rear naked choke,” and something mysteriously known as “repeated turnbuckle thrusts.” His signature line, Wikipedia tells me, was “Here comes the pain!” — a phrase that I suppose I could have utilized whenever returning Mr. Lesnar’s written work.

You just can’t make this stuff up.  Check out The Edge of the American West.  You’ll probably find more than a few things of interest.

More to come…


A Case of “The Slows”

With two sophomores in Pre-Calculus, Spanish, Honors Chemistry, and the like, there’s not much I can do to help with homework these days.  So when Claire asked me to come over to her chair tonight to look over a review sheet, I went with some trepidation.  She must have seen my fear, so she added, “It is for history.”

Whew.  That I can handle.

Her note sheet had some smudges, obscuring some of the answers.  So she asked “Why did President Lincoln fire McClellan?” 

“The first or second time?”  My response surprised her, but she re-read the question and realized it was referring to the second time.  So I said, “because he refused to attack Lee’s retreating army after Antietam.”  She looked at her sheet, figured out the missing words around the smudge, and decided I was right.  One for the old man.

“How did President Lincoln describe General McClellan?” Claire asked.  “That’s easy,” I replied, “Lincoln said McClellan, ‘had a bad case of the slows.'”  

Now I had her!  “How did you know that?!” she exclaimed.  I smiled.  It isn’t often I get to bask in the glow of admiration from my teenagers’ when it comes to questions of homework.

Finally!  All those years of devouring Civil War histories paid off in the self-satisfied feeling you get when you come across as something less than clueless to your teenagers.  You’ll never know when you have to pull a quote about “The Little Napoleon” out of the air.  So study up!

More to come…