Month: May 2009

Jazz Brunch

You gotta love search engines and teenagers. Today is Candice’s birthday.  She loves food and loves listening to jazz.  So I asked Andrew to find us a place for a Sunday jazz brunch. Typing “Jazz Brunch Washington DC” into Google turned up a range of options.  We skimmed them, realized that Chef Geoff’s in Wesley Heights was a five minute drive from the Cathedral, made sure there was something on the menu for everyone, and then Andrew made our online reservations. Just like that we had our birthday plans covered and earlier today were introduced to a new (for us) restaurant in Washington.   The two guitar & bass jazz trio was good.  The food was vary tasty.  And the time to celebrate with Candice couldn’t have been better. All in all, a delightful way to spend a couple of hours on a beautiful spring Sunday. More to come… DJB

Bluegrass Hair and Obscene Solos

The bluegrass world’s answer to the satirical paper The Onion – the always off-kilter Bluegrass Intelligencer – is at it again with several not-to-be-believed posts from the world of roots music. In the wake of last weekend’s DelFest Bluegrass Festival and bad weather in the mid-Atlantic region, BI’s intrepid staff reports on how rain, hail, and gale-force winds could not dislodge the “bluegrass hair” of the host Del McCoury band. As reported by BI online: On Saturday, an unfortunate combination of gale force wind, torrential rain, powerful lightning, and crushing downfalls of hail rocked DelFest, the popular musical event hosted by the Del McCoury Band. Importantly, the relentless onslaught of life-threatening weather was not sufficient to disturb the hair of anyone in the McCoury family. Another BI post reported on the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that a solo by  guitarist extraordinarie Bryan Sutton was “pornographic and obscene.”   What, you didn’t hear about that one from Nina Totenberg?  Well, the NPR legal affairs reporter can’t be expected to catch everything.  That’s why we depend on the …

My Mama Done Told Me

Yesterday’s mail included a package from my father with a note and three CDs.   My father likes to make “remarks” at family gatherings, and so recently he compiled a number of those comments, plus other letters and notes of personal meaning to him, and sent them all on CDs to his children, grandchildren, and close friends.  I’ve spent more than a few minutes crying this morning as I’ve read through remembrances he wrote of my mother. One of the things he passed along on the CD was a compilation of things his mother – my grandmother – told him through the years.  He titled it My Mama Done Told Me after the line from the great Ella Fitzgerald’s Blues in the Night. My grandmother, Mary Dixie Bearden Brown (pictured as a young bride with my grandfather, George Brown), was a wise woman, and I remember so many things about her.  She lived with us the last 10 years of her life, but she was always one of my favorite people from the time I was a little …

Matt Flinner’s Music du Jour Satisfies

The Matt Flinner Trio’s Music du Jour is another in a string of strong new releases this year from Alison Brown’s Compass Records.    Flinner is one of the country’s top mandolin players, heard in recent years with David Grier and super bassist Todd Phillips as well as with Missy Raines and the New Hip. In 2006, Flinner’s trio (Finner on mandolin, Eric Thorin on bass, and Ross Martin on guitar) began to perform what they termed “Music du Jour” tours.  Each band member agreed to write new music to be performed that evening.  The only rule:  the music be started, completed, and performed all in one day.  I’ll let the website Jazz News pick it up from there: The players continued with their daily musical challenge, giving birth to the concept of the “Music du Jour” tours and later the Music du Jour album (out now on Compass Records). Between Flinner, Ross, and Thorin, over sixty new tunes were composed during three western U.S. tours, and in December 2008 the trio committed the twelve best to …

Restored Midland Theatre Among Kansas City’s Gems

It is always a treat to travel to a city and find an unexpected gem.  That was the case this past week in Kansas City. While on a tour of Main Street in downtown KC, we stopped in to see the magnificent Midland Theatre.  The historic photo at left comes from the website Cinema Treasures, which catalogs great historic theatres and gives you a sense of the beauty of this amazing place. The Midland was built in 1927 for $4 million – a huge number for the period.  But once you step inside and see the restored and opulent interior, you’ll know where the money went.  Once a movie palace, the Midland is now home to live events.  It was easy to see the role this landmark plays in the downtown’s renaissance.   Do yourself a favor the next time you’re in Kansas City and find a way to visit this beautiful place on Main Street. More to come… DJB

Great Day for a Ballgame

Check one more off the list of MLB ballparks visited as I joined several friends and colleagues to take advantage of our work trip to Kansas City and catch the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  Barb, Dolores (pictured with DJB at left), Barb’s husband Rob, and Royce joined our hosts the Kempers for a great day at the ballpark.  Kauffman, built in 1973, is one of the earliest of the new modern baseball-only stadiums that helped turned Kansas City into a mecca for sports architects.  They just completed a major $250 million renovation before the start of this season.  The clean, modernist design has held up well and helped end the era of cookie-cutter multi-purpose stadiums. With two architects and the rest preservationists in our group, we spent a lot of time talking about the architecture.   But we primarily spent the day having a great deal of fun.  From the beginning, the Royals have come up with some great activities that make you smile.  It was Kids Day at the ballpark and kids …

Majestic Kansas City

In Kansas City for work, some colleagues and I went in search of some live jazz last evening.  Our host suggested The Majestic Steakhouse – just two blocks from our hotel. The Majestic is located in the historic Fitzpatrick building (the name is still outlined in tile on the entranceway), a building with a colorful past.  Built in 1911 as a saloon and bordello, it became a popular speakeasy during prohibition – and that basement hideaway is now the home of the jazz club. The Bram Wijnands trio (piano, drums, and sax/flute) was good – and made up of a couple of colorful characters.  For many people, Kansas City is a real surprise in the heartland.  I had been in town before with a group of National Trust supporters and knew we were in for a treat.  We heard last night they are “down” to only 70 barbecue joints and they have about an equal number of jazz venues. The Majestic and Kansas City – recommended! More to come… DJB