Month: January 2012

A Quest for the Best (Picture, That Is)

Never in a single one of my 56 (almost 57) years have I seen all the films nominated for the Academy Awards Best Picture category.  Heck, most years I’m lucky to have seen one! This year will be different. What’s the use of having an empty nest if you don’t do things differently now that the kids are away, right? When the Academy announced its nominees for 2011 earlier this week, a light went off in my head.  Heck, I’d already seen two of the films:  War Horse and The Descendants.  How difficult could it be to see the others before the Academy Awards show late in February? How many do they nominate anyway, five? So I shot an email off to Candice and suggested we try to catch all the nominees before the show.  Candice – who would say my major failing as a human being is the fact that I seldom (read almost never) go to the movies – eagerly accepted. Okay, we’re on!  So let’s go to the Oscar website and make …

Celebrating 40 Years of Preservation

(Editor’s Note:  The following are excerpts from my keynote address at the 40th anniversary of Historic Staunton Foundation, delivered on Sunday, January 22, 2012.  To read the full address, go here.) Anniversaries are great times to reflect, celebrate, and resolve.  I’d like to do all three with you this afternoon. Let’s begin with some reflection.  I’ve always enjoyed the movie It’s a Wonderful Life – for the dramatic (some might say cheesy) way it showed the impact people have on others and on their community.   And while I’m no Clarence Odbody, the guardian angel who showed Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey the transformation of Bedford Falls to Pottersville as if George had never lived, I would like for all of us to reflect on how Staunton might have developed if HSF were not formed 40 years ago. Let’s begin down at the Wharf – where generations of visitors initially saw Staunton as they stepped off a train. The first thing you would notice is that there isn’t any Wharf…for the buildings that make up that unique …

Claire Lynch: A Wonderful Songbird Keeps Singing

At one point in Monday night’s thoroughly satisfying concert by The Claire Lynch Band at the Institute of Musical Traditions, the band leader mentioned that she started in the music business 33 years ago.  It doesn’t seem that long ago when I heard her play at the Shenandoah Valley’s Oak Grove Music Festival, but in fact it may have been two decades since I saw her with the Front Porch String Band. Thirty-three years is a long time to be on the road, but Lynch and her band of hot young phenoms supported by veteran bass man Mark Schatz, had the energy and sound to more than satisfy the sell-out IMT crowd. Lynch has been an impressive band leader, prolific songwriter (truth-in-advertising: some co-penned in the past with my musical cousin, Hershey Reeves), and all-around pioneer in the acoustic music world…but she’s still most impressive as a singer. She showed us all time and again on Monday evening why she won the 2010 IBMA Female Singer of the Year award. Standouts from a wealth of …

Fiddle Heroes

I’ve always enjoyed Mark O’Connor’s 1992 album Heroes – a series of fiddle duets that O’Connor plays with his musical idols and mentors.  There’s great music on the album – from jazz to bluegrass, western swing to world music – and listeners can easily see the range of O’Connor’s interest and his amazing ability to play comfortably in any idiom. The players are – to put it simply – amazing.  Ponty, Grappelli, Clements, Zukerman, Gimble and more. So I was thrilled to stumble across this clip on YouTube of behind the scenes footage of the recording of this album. Take ten minutes, sit back, and soak up the amazing musicianship of a dozen top fiddlers of their day.  Then if you don’t know the album, find it on iTunes and download it.  You won’t be disappointed. More to come… DJB