Month: February 2009

March Promises Some Wonderful Music

As we head into March, the Institute of Musical Tradition has some terrific music lined up.   Those in the Washington area should check out one or more of the great musicians in town. I been listening to bassist Missy Raines for years – first with Cloud Valley, then Eddie and Martha Adcock, and more recently with Claire Lynch and in a duo with flatpicker Jim Hurst.  She’s a seven-time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association bassist of the year, and she’s just formed a new band named Missy Raines and the New Hip in honor of a new body part!  She’s at IMT on March 9th. On March 23rd, flatpicker extraordinaire Steve Kaufman plays at IMT.  I haven’t seen Kaufman live, but I’ve heard and admired his music for a long time.  Kaufman runs a series of well-respected guitar camps during the summer and is a great teacher.  He’s also known for his long list of banjo jokes on his flatpik website. A little boy told his mother that when he grew up he wanted …

My New Favorite Off-Season Sport, Part II

In late January, I wrote a post about the Washington Capitals and how their exciting brand of play was making hockey my new favorite off-season sport.   A play last night by Alex Ovechkin – the “Great 8” – just solidified that feeling. First some background as to how I came to watch an entire hockey game uninterrupted at home.  Candice and Andrew were out while I was battling both a computer with a virus and a head cold, both of which came from my teenagers.  As for the computer, I normally have my laptop with me as I watch TV sports but Claire was using it last night. On Monday  Andrew had ventured off on the home computer into web sites where viruses lurk, and so we were down one computer waiting to get it debugged.  The head cold came, on the other hand, from Claire’s recent sickness.   I finally decided to just give in, curl up on the couch, and watch the entire Caps vs. Canadiens game. And what a great decision that was!  After a wide open first period …

Willie and the Wheel

Fresh off their performance at the National Preservation Conference in Tulsa last fall, Western Swing band Asleep at the Wheel has joined with country music legend Willie Nelson for a new CD of Western Swing classics entitled Willie and the Wheel.  The Washington Post’s J. Freedom du Lac wrote a strong review of the album in which he said, For several years, the iconoclastic singer-songwriter Willie Nelson has been surrounding himself with unlikely musical collaborators, from pop ditz Jessica Simpson and jazzman Wynton Marsalis to the rapper Snoop Dogg, with whom Nelson shares an abiding love of lighting up — and seemingly little else. The pairings have produced more misses than hits as Nelson’s musical proffer has become wildly uneven. (Witness Nelson’s dreadful 2005 reggae experiment, “Countryman,” which should be filed in record bins under Jamaica Mistake.) But for Nelson’s new album, “Willie and the Wheel,” he found the perfect partners: Western swing preservationists Asleep at the Wheel, who helped the aging country outlaw get in touch with his inner Bob Wills, to marvelously vibrant effect. …

The Chattering Class and President’s Day

Regular readers know I don’t delve too often into politics.  There’s just so many more interesting things to write about (such as the Nats finally landing a good free-agent in Adam Dunn – more to come on that in the near future). But today’s Daily Kos had a posting by Markos that hits on an issue that I think deserves widespread reading:  the cluelessness of the Chattering Class.  Or perhaps that’s too charitable.  The issue may be that they are working to protect their own interests instead of seeking the truth. This was all too clear during the campaign debates.  The instant polls were terrific because they showed – in real time and all too clearly – how out of touch the cable TV political commentators were with what the rest of the country was thinking.  As Kos says today, In 2008, those snap polls made fools of the talking heads until the last debate, when they finally shut their traps and let the snap polls determine the winners. Because according to them in the previous …

Two Modest Milestones

This week I passed two modest Internet milestones:  More to Come… welcomed the 4,000th visitor and I reached 100 “friends” on my Facebook page. Stop laughing… I take the blog milestone as the more satisfying.  My children won’t even let me friend them on Facebook, so I don’t put a great deal of effort into rounding up friends or in keeping my status updated.  (My most recent status update is from last Tuesday when I said I was ready for more news about the game of baseball and less (or no) news about A-Rod.  I still feel that way, so why change.) More to Come… is much more like writing letters to friends.  The blog now averages almost 25 readers a day, which is fine with me.  And occasionally someone picks something up I’ve written and spreads it around, which is nice recognition as well.  That actually happened today, although the link was to a slightly altered version of my recent Readyville Mill post that was also posted on the blog at PreservationNation, the National Trust web site.  Mike …

Lilly is Our Best in Show Every Day

We all jumped for joy this morning when we opened the Washington Post and saw that Stump, a 10-year-old Sussex Spaniel, won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club show at Madison Square Garden last evening.  That’s because we have a 12-year-old Sussex Spaniel, Lilly, who we consider our Best in Show every day of the year. Lilly came to us after life as a show dog, having won all the competitions her breeder thought possible.  The weekend before Thanksgiving in 2000 we went to a dog show to begin to get an idea of what type of breed we may want.  Like President Obama, I had been promising Andrew and Claire that we’d get a dog once we found a permanent home in Washington.  As seven-year-olds, they were searching the Internet nightly for information, and Claire would often bring printouts with pictures and information about a certain breed’s “kid friendly virtues” to the dinner table. Sussex Spaniels were not on our radar screen, but as we stepped into the main building at the show …

Restoring the Readyville Mill

The Readyville Mill sits on the Rutherford/Cannon County line near the town of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where I spent my childhood years.  At that time it was one of two mills remaining in the vicinity and was still in operation as a working mill for area farmers.  Some time in the early 1970s I played some bluegrass at the mill as part of a heritage days festival.  It was always a community center in this still-rural area of Middle Tennessee. However, in the 1980s the mill was abandoned, a four lane highway opened up Cannon County to rapid development, and the mill seemed destined to either fall into the river from neglect or to be torn down for someone’s vision of a better community.  Luckily Tom Brady (not the Patriots quarterback) stepped into the breech. A local website describes the mill’s background: The Readyville Mill is the sole vestige of what was once a flourishing industry on the Stones River in Middle Tennessee.  Dating from the 1870s, the current Readyville Mill is a three-story building with an open …