Month: December 2012

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

On a bright, clear, and wintery Sunday morning – December 20, 1992 – two infants, each barely over 5 pounds in size, entered and forever changed our world. Of course, we didn’t know it at the time, because we wouldn’t learn of their birth from the adoption agency until the next morning. But when I heard that they were born around 11:50 a.m. (and Claire will know who came out first and how much older that twin is than Andrew), I recalled that at the  very moment of their birth I was singing the ancient carol There Is No Rose of Such Virtue on the last Sunday of Advent. Knowing that their birth mother could deliver at any time, we were certainly – in that Advent season – looking forward to those births. And we’ve been singing ever since. Claire and Andrew came home with us on January 14, 1993. They received a royal welcome from friends and family, who decorated the house with balloons, left strollers and diapers on the front porch, and brought …

A December Celtic Tradition

If it is early December, you can count on “Celtic Guitar God” Robin Bullock heading up a holiday concert for the Institute of Musical Traditions. So tonight, Candice and I joined about 150 other traditional music fans for the 2012 edition of the IMT Celtic holiday concert. Bullock was joined this year by Scottish champion fiddler Elke Baker and hammered dulcimer player Ken Kolodner. The evening was filled with traditional Christmas carols as well as Scottish and Irish old time music, all played with great enthusiasm and musiciaenship. Baker and Kolodner played several beautiful duets, including two of my favorite holiday tunes:  the haunting In the Bleak Midwinter and the French carol Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella.  All three joined together for extended sets of Cape Breton, French Canadian, and Celtic fiddle tunes. However, my favorite parts of this concert each year focus around Bullock’s solo guitar work. Tonight he had beautiful arrangements of The Wexford Carol and a great mash-up of classical carols as played in the style of Mississippi John Hurt. But one …

Honoring Mike Auldridge

Tonight was bittersweet. Three of the founding members of the pioneering urban bluegrass band the Seldom Scene gathered this evening in Silver Spring to pay tribute to their ailing partner: dobro master Mike Auldridge. Original Scene bassist Tom Gray, shown at left onstage with fellow alumnus John Starling, alerted me at this morning’s Farmers Market that the folks at the Maryland State Arts Council had added the tribute to their annual ALTA (Achievement in Living Traditions and Arts) Awards show as a way to honor Mike’s 2012 NEA National Heritage Fellowship. The tribute came at the end of an entertaining and informative night.  The Old Bay Ceili Band from Baltimore opened with a spirited Irish set in memory of former ALTA award winner Joe Byrne, the late proprietor of J. Patrick’s Pub. Flutist Laura Byrne told of hearing the master traditional flute player Chris Norman while she was studying classical flute at the Peabody, asking him where she could learn to play that style of music, and being told to go to J. Patrick’s. Other …