Month: December 2013

Best Bluegrass of 2013

This year brought us some very good bluegrass music – much of it coming out of Alison Brown’s Compass Records in Nashville. In looking at the different albums that came to my attention in 2013, three of my top five bluegrass releases of the year came from this eclectic roots music label which has been stretching boundaries and introducing the world to exciting new artists for almost two decades. First up in the More to Come… “Best of Bluegrass 2013” list is the wonderful Claire Lynch and her Dear Sister project (and not just because she signed my CD cover).  This is a great group of songs that include tunes I began writing about almost two years ago.  The title track comes from letters written before the Civil War battle of Stones River – fought near my hometown of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I’ll Be Alright Tomorrow is a new working of the Osborne Brothers classic, that sounds just right in the hands of the newly minted 2013 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Female Vocalist of the Year. …

Farewell 2013; Hello 2014

It is the season for musing on the year that is rapidly passing away and making resolutions for the year ahead.  I tend to use this blog to reflect on items throughout the year (see – among many others – thoughts on the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service, preseason baseball, wonderful European travel, fathers, live music set in the midst of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, “stay-cations”, holiday weekends, our year in photos, and 21st birthday celebrations.) So I have only one additional reflection today…but I have several resolutions.  I’ve found that when I call out my resolutions publicly, I tend to keep them.  (Funny how that works!)  But first, let’s look back. I am a lucky man.  The picture above pretty much explains it all.  As Claire and Andrew have passed significant life milestones, I have often written about my wonderful children.  They aren’t perfect, but they do give me a great deal of pleasure (when they aren’t driving me crazy.  Have you seen those rooms!?!) However, I’ve been reminded over this holiday season how lucky …

Happy 21st, Claire and Andrew!

Today – December 20th – Claire and Andrew celebrate their 21st birthday. How did that happen?! It seems like their 20th birthday was just yesterday, and here it is – a year later – and we are celebrating their “legal” ascension to adulthood. Of course, truth be told, it really seems as if they just left the house for the first day of kindergarten. In celebration of the twins’ 21st birthday, join us on this visual walk through their lives (so far!) with a picture from each of their 21 years.  As always, just hold your cursor over the picture to see the caption. Let’s begin with that very short…but very important…birth year of 1992. 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 It has been a great ride, guys. We are both so proud of you – the people you are and all you have accomplished. We can’t wait to see what the next 21 years will bring. Love, Mom …

A Musical Weekend

Messiah.  Just a mention of the name of the famous Handel oratorio this time of year brings up thoughts of Advent. So it was only fitting that we settled in at the beautiful First Church of Christ Scientist in Providence on Friday evening for the first of two performances of this perennial favorite on our weekend calendar. Candice and I are in Providence to visit with Andrew and to hear him sing with both the University Chorus and the Brown Madrigal singers. Friday evening’s performance of Messiah was a double bonus, in that this was a “bring your own score” community sing-a-long.  It has been a long time since I sang in a regular performance of Messiah, but I do own a score and brought it along for the evening. Some choruses were like riding a bicycle – you never forget.  Others…well, I decided not to inflict pain on those around me and quickly dropped out of those where my muscle memory wasn’t very good. Andrew, as you already knew, did a much better job with …

From the Bookshelf

Despite a busy fall schedule of work and travel, I’ve managed to finish several books that have sat on my bookshelf for various periods of time. Some are hot off the press, others have been waiting for me to pick them  up for more months than I care to admit. All were worth reading, and two were terrific finds.  So here are a few thoughts on a season’s worth of reading – beginning with the one I finished earlier this week, and working backwards from there. Lawrence in Arabia:  War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson. This new work on the Middle East of World War I falls in the “terrific finds” category. Obviously much has been written about the exploits of T.E. Lawrence – the famous “Lawrence of Arabia.” In this book, however, the veteran war correspondent Scott Anderson weaves in Lawrence’s story with those of three spies from the era (German Curt Prüfer, American – and Standard Oil employee – William Yale, and Zionist Aaron …