Month: October 2009

Christ Church Lutheran Minneapolis: A Sacred Place Captured in Photos

I am in Minneapolis/St. Paul for two days of meetings on saving Modernist and Recent Past places.  Minnesota and the Great Lakes region has a strong collection of buildings and landscapes from the Modernist period, so we’re in town to work with and learn from our local partners. Last evening’s opening session was held in a beautiful space:  the Eliel Saarinen designed Christ Church Lutheran sanctuary.  His son Eero designed the adjoining educational wing.  This supreme example of the Modernist movement is Minnesota’s only National Historic Landmark listed for its architectural importance rather than as a site of historic significance. The church – now working with a newly formed Friends of Christ Church Lutheran group – has done a wonderful job of preservation and stewardship of this place.  I spent a great deal of time last evening with Pastor Kristine Carlson, who opened with a moving testimony as to why this place matters.  As I said in my opening remarks, preservation generally happens when people – not necessarily professional preservationists – see the connection between …

Ralph Stanley Memoir: The Man of Constant Sorrow

An American treasure – Dr. Ralph Stanley – has just released a memoir entitled Man of Constant Sorrow:  My Life and Times. Many people came to know Stanley through his haunting rendition of O Death in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?.  But longtime bluegrass and old-time music fans know of Stanley from his days with his late brother Carter when they performed some of the most moving music ever heard from the mountains of Virginia. Mother Jones online has a good review of the book.  Here’s an excerpt of Stanley talking about his childhood: “There were no books I can recall, save for the family Bible,” he says of the home place. “There wasn’t much in the way of toys and playthings like children have today. My parents wouldn’t allow even a deck of playing cards in the house, because it could lead to gambling and all kinds of trouble. For Christmas, we’d get an orange, one for Carter and one for me, and a handful of rock candy. Maybe a cap-gun, too. …

Terrific Roots Music Coming to Washington This Fall

We’re into fall here in the Washington region and that means that the acoustic music scene is busy pointing toward those holiday concerts.  But before December arrives, there are a few highlights for lovers of bluegrass, Americana, and roots music in the District of Columbia. This Monday, the Blue Moon Cowgirls and flatpicking champion Orrin Star are featured at the Institute of Musical Traditions concert in Rockville.  I’ve heard Star before, and he’s a treat for those who like the old flat top. Country singer extraordinaire Patty Loveless will be at the Birchmere on November 1st.  She’ll no doubt be featuring tunes from  her new album, Mountain Soul II. The original Mountain Soul was a terrific album, and the follow-up begins with a great version of that old country classic, Busted. (Well the bills are all due and the babies need shoes, we’re busted…) Sure to be a great show. For those who don’t mind a bit of a drive, folksinger John Gorka is playing on November 20th at the historic Avalon Theatre in beautiful …

Success and Excellence

When Thomas Boswell decides to write a baseball column, we are all the richer. Thankfully we’re in luck, as today’s Washington Post contained a Boswell gem entitled Phillies Thrive on the Quirky Wisdom of Charlie Manuel. There’s a lot to savor in this column: Many have been amazed at the Phils’ gift for clutch play in this postseason, including late heroics by Werth and Ryan Howard that were topped here Monday night when Jimmy Rollins, the 5-foot-8 shortstop who is the core of the clubhouse, turned around a 99-mph fastball from 290-pound Jonathan Broxton and became the fifth man in postseason history to turn a defeat into victory when he represented the last out of the game. But Manuel isn’t surprised at all by the Phillies’ comeback knack and their ability to shake off blown saves all season by their dubious bullpen. He and others in the front office, like Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro, believe you can identify players who are at their best under pressure because they are both energized and focused by …

Don’t Give Up Your Day Job

We’re back to reality following the National Preservation Conference last week in Nashville. As you saw in earlier posts, I spent some time playing a little old-time and bluegrass music with friends and colleagues.  At one venue,  the playing was captured on video. So click below to see yours truly playing a couple of fiddle tunes.  We picked the key for ease of playing, so the singing’s a little low.  These tunes were performed at the Patrons’ Dinner for the conference sponsors and all seemed to have a good time. Enjoy. More to come… DJB

Sitting In With Off the Wagon

Earlier this week, fellow preservationist and bluegrass lover David Price came up at the National Preservation Conference and invited me to sit in with his band, Off the Wagon, when they played the Southern Regional Reception on Thursday evening. I jumped on the wagon! Off the Wagon is a good young bluegrass band in Nashville (the next night they were playing at the world-famous Station Inn).  So as you can see from the photos, I enjoyed the chance to sing and play Sitting On Top of the World. Twas in the spring, one sunny day, My good gal left me, Lord, she went away, And now she’s gone, but I don’t worry, “Cause I’m sitting on top of the world. The band helped cover my mistakes (and my lapses in memory) and I had a great time.  Lots of friends and colleagues from our Southern Regional Office and beyond had a chance to enjoy it as well. I’ve inserted a video of Off the Wagon – without the interloper – playing New Camptown Races. Enjoy. …

From the Stage of the Ryman Auditorium…

Even for a guy who gets to work with some amazing people and visit some of the country’s most wonderful historic places, yesterday was an extraordinary day.  (And not just because I passed 10,000 visitors to More to Come…the DJB Blog – thank you readers.) Nope, the picture says it all.  I was privileged to open the National Preservation Conference from the stage of the historic Ryman Auditorium. For a bluegrass loving preservationist to have a chance to speak from the place where Earl Scruggs came onstage some 60 years ago with Bill Monroe to play White House Blues and give birth to bluegrass music was an honor.  To be able to tell 2,000 conference attendees why this place matters was a thrill.  To be able to hear the bluegrass I’d chosen over the Ryman’s speakers for the 30 minutes before we kicked off the conference was just a rush.  I knew it was going to be a great evening when the Laurie Lewis tune Who Will Watch the Home Place? – with its haunting …