Month: November 2009

This Holiday Season: Buy Locally

I have never been one to rush out to the local mall on the so-called “Black Friday” after Thanksgiving.  With a day off, and the opportunity to connect with friends, food, and football, what’s the point? But for the past several years we’ve returned to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley town of Staunton, Virginia, where we lived for 15 years in the 1980s and 1990s, to spend the holiday with good friends.  We make all those connections above (except for the football – our friends don’t have cable) but we add in lots of live music so it makes for a terrific respite. And we’ve taken to spending a good part of Friday in downtown Staunton.  I know this part of town intimately, having worked with the local merchants, property owners, residents and city officials to preserve it for 13 years.  My office was in the Wharf Historic District and our home was only 4 blocks away in the New Town Historic District.  Downtown Staunton is a National Trust Great American Main Street Award winner as …

Bush and Skaggs: Coming Home, Coming Full Circle

Two recent releases by Sam Bush and Ricky Skaggs – two superstars of Americana, roots, and bluegrass music – show both artists coming home in ways that bring them full circle with their own artistic travels. Bush’s Circles Around Me is a return to the bluegrass and early progressive newgrass of his youth in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  The album opens with the title track, a tune that celebrates “being thankful that you’re here” according to Bush.  His terrific road band – Byron House on bass, Chris Brown on drums, the amazing Scott Vestal on banjo and Stephen Mougin on guitar – plays on the majority of the 14 tracks, stretching out their musical chops on tunes such as the instrumental Blue Mountain and the old New Grass Revival song Souvenir Bottles. This latter tune, along with Whisper My Name written by original NGR bassist Ebo Walker and featured on their very first album, brings Bush back to the band where he made his name and helped shape a whole new genre of music – Newgrass. …

Our Year in Photos – 2009

As we approach Thanksgiving 2009, the Browns are taking the time to give thanks for a year full of joy, sorrow, good friends, good health and visits to wonderful places. Last year’s photos posted at Thanksgiving were a hit for family and friends, so I’ve again placed a number of photographs from throughout the year on More to Come….  They include places we’ve been, time with family and friends, and special events in our lives.  If you put your cursor over the photo, the caption will magically appear. At the top of the post you’ll see our lovely children, Andrew and Claire, on the night we were headed to the Kennedy Center for the Cappies.  Andrew was part of a musical quartet in his high school’s production of The Music Man that was nominated for a Cappie Award (the high school equivalent of the Tony Awards).  You’ll find more photos of all the Browns below. We had a blessed year and hope you’ll enjoy the photos. More to come… DJB  

It’s the Fearless Who Love…

…and the loveless who fear. Wisdom from The Flatlanders. New York City is not the place where you’d expect to hear great country music, but on a Tuesday night in Gotham, in the middle of Times Square, B.B. King’s was filled with the music and wisdom of Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, and Butch Hancock:  The Flatlanders. A business colleague, her college friend and I ventured out on a beautiful night in the city to catch the Zen Cowboy and his companions play a rollicking set of Texas country music.  The tunes were great with all three stars taking turns showcasing their work.  As they neared the end of the show, The Flatlanders worked in Gilmore’s Dallas – a wonderful song – and then rocked it out with the Townes Van Zandt tune White Freightliner before closing the show with Pay the Alligator. A night full of energy and great music.  Enjoy the video below of The Flatlanders playing – appropriately enough – in New York City on a recent Letterman show. More to come… …

A Little Bach on the Mandolin

The Fretboard Journal just posted this wonderful video on their Facebook page.  It features mandolin phenom Chris Thile playing the Bach E Major Prelude on his Dudenbostel mandolin.  I found the video compelling not only for the beautiful music but also because of the way it highlights Thile’s amazing right hand pick techniques. The guy is incredible.  Enjoy. More to come… DJB

Is This A Great Country or What?

If you have had it up to here with screaming right-wing talk show hosts or pontificating left-wing bloggers or just three days of rain, I have the perfect antidote:  the Vintage Roadside 2009 Road Trip Slide Show. Each year Jeff and Kelly from Vintage Roadside travel the back roads from Portland, Oregon to the host city of the National Preservation Conference and take pictures and blog about the experience.  (Vintage Roadside makes great t-shirts that honor the wonderful mom-and-pop roadside attractions, motor courts, motels, tiki lounges, drive-in restaurants, bowling alleys and roller-skating rinks found along America’s back roads.)  This year the trip took them to Nashville, Tennessee.  You will laugh out loud, you will be amazed at the quirky attractions that still remain on America’s roadsides, and you’ll marvel at what a diverse country we live in.  So take my recommendation – visit their slide show and spend a few minutes with this great country. Thanks Jeff and Kelly.  It was wonderful to spend a bit of time with you in Nashville.  Thanks for what …

Why Architecture Matters: I.M. Pei and Henry Cobb’s Hancock Tower

I’m reading Paul Goldberger’s new book Why Architecture Matters. As you would expect from Paul, it is a smart, well-written work that is designed to help the reader interested in buildings “come to grips with how things feel to us when we stand before them, with how architecture affects us emotionally as well as intellectually.” I’ve already come across numerous passages and examples that resonate, but last evening I was reading his take on I.M. Pei and Henry Cobb’s John Hancock Tower on Copley Square in Boston and was reminded of my last impression of that building when Andrew, Claire and I were visiting the city in March 2008. Paul, a Pulitzer-Prize winning writer and a trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is describing the Hancock Tower in comparison to New York’s Seagram Building and G.M. Building.  All three are postwar American landmarks. It was great fun to introduce Claire and Andrew to Copley Square when we visited Boston in 2008.  We toured the great H.H. Richardson-designed Trinity Church, of course, and took …