Month: June 2016

Acoustic Music is Alive and Well

“When you go to heaven and hear singing, it will sound like these three women.” So opined Chris Thile after the Americana trio I’m With Her finished a short yet moving set in the first half of an incredible three hours of music last evening at the Kennedy Center.  The concert hall’s acoustics were ringing all evening as the sold out crowd not only enjoyed the beautiful harmonies from I’m With Her’s Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan, but also the instrumental talents and music-making of mandolinist extraordinaire Thile and the Punch Brothers, along with Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyers, virtuosi of the banjo and upright bass respectively. The Kennedy’s Center policy against photography leaves me using old photos from other concerts, but that hardly matters. The music was the focus last evening. Thile was invited to curate a four-day American Acoustic Music Festival, and Friday evening’s show was clearly the headliner.  The Punch Brothers  opened the first half of the show with a tight set capped by the raucous Rye Whiskey.  I’m With Her followed, with …

Observations from the Road (The Celebrity Sighting – Obscure Music – Edition)

I have been on the road forever it seems.  So here are a few “Observations from the road…” posts which are – as always advertised – quirky and perhaps not ready for prime time.  You’ve been warned. Celebrity Stalking:  True story.  As I was walking through National Airport earlier this afternoon following a flight back from Chicago, I noticed two young ladies carrying cases for a guitar and mandolin.  I had been focused on getting something for a late lunch before rushing to the office, but my brain did engage to the point where I said to myself, “That sure looked like Aoife O’Donovan – and I bet that was Sarah Jarosz with her.” At this point you may be asking yourself, just who are Aoife O’Donovan and Sarah Jarosz? Well, for music lovers who veer away from the Taylor Swift variety of music, they are two-thirds of one of the most terrific – yet widely unheralded – music groups today:  I’m With Her. (And no, they are not connected to the Hillary Clinton campaign.  …

A Philly Family Weekend

Candice, Claire, Andrew and I gathered this weekend in Philadelphia to celebrate the wedding of Julia Pentz and Barry Katz.  It was a special time for us all. Gathering with friends from our fifteen years when we lived in the Shenandoah Valley community of Staunton, Virginia (and with their children – who now live around the world) was a special treat.  Candice and I remember when Julia was born. Over the years we have seen Julia and her parents at least once a year and we are delighted that she has found such a wonderful life partner in Barry.  The setting at the Curtis Arboretum was beautiful, the new friends we made were delightful (good people attract good people), and the threat of summer thunderstorms never materialized. We also had a great time getting acquainted with parts of the city.  As I posted earlier, Candice and I arrived first and explored some of the Philadelphia food scene at Amada on Friday evening.  By Saturday morning Claire had joined us as we wandered through the multitude …

The Value of Six

Leonard Pitts, columnist for the Miami Herald, has written a sobering column this morning entitled “Trust me, you know someone who has been raped.” “The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network says that one woman in every six has been the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault. It’s an awesome, awful number. Think about it in terms of women you know. Think about Bonnie, Kadijah, Heather, Consuela, Sarah and Kim. One, two, three, four, five … Six. Maybe she’s never told you, so maybe you think it didn’t — couldn’t — have happened, not to one of your six. But the numbers are what the numbers are. Maryum, Stephanie, Yumiko, Keshia, Laurie … and Pam. One, two, three, four, five … And six. It’s not a big number. You were counting past it in kindergarten.” Of course he’s right.  We all know someone who has been the victim of sexual assault. And we all know people – from work, social circles, extended family, really anywhere – who have been raped and never talk …

Fine Food in Philly

The Browns are gathering in Philadelphia this weekend to celebrate the wedding of Julia – the daughter of our dear friends Ellen and Lundy Pentz –  and Barry Katz.  Claire arrives from the west coast late tonight, while Andrew arrives mid-day tomorrow, after recovering from the adrenaline rush of attending tonight’s Beyoncé concert in Baltimore.  (Can we say “excited?!”) That left Candice and me to our own devices today.  Naturally, we found some fine Philadelphia food. Julia and Barry had included Chef Jose Garces’ Amada restaurant in their list of recommended places to eat near the hotel.  We checked out the web site and jumped on it.  Here’s the site’s description of Chef Garces: “Since opening Amada in Philadelphia in 2005, Chef Jose Garces has emerged as an enormous talent and one of the nation’s most gifted chefs and restaurateurs. Today, he is the owner and operator of more than a dozen restaurants across the country, plus a thriving event planning division and 40-acre Luna Farm. He is a 2009 winner of the James Beard …

Radical Common Sense

“Radical common sense” is a term used by some preservationists to describe a mindset that values repair over replacement. Writing in the Fall 2015 issue of Architecture Boston, architects Jean Carroon, FAIA and Ben Carlson explore why this may be seen as radical.   Carroon and Carlson note at the top of their article that “while reuse of water bottles and grocery bags is rapidly gaining ground, reuse of buildings and building components is not.” The authors note that it is “almost always less expensive and easier to replace a whole building and almost any of its elements — doors, windows, light fixtures — than to repair and reuse. Replacement also can offer measurable and consistent quality with product certifications and warranties not available for repaired items. Theoretically, a new building can ensure “high performance” and significantly reduce the environmental impact of building operations while creating healthier spaces. What’s not to like?” But if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  And in the course of their essay, they make the case that in chasing new solutions, …

The Age of Wonder

During high school graduation ceremonies for Andrew, one of the speakers built her remarks around a relatively new work at the time that captured the love of knowledge and learning. Five years later, I finally  picked up Richard Holmes’ The Age of Wonder (first published in 2008).  Sometimes it takes a while, but I try never to pass up a good book recommendation. And I’m so glad I did.  The Age of Wonder is a terrific work which looks at the growth of science in the Romantic Age.  Holmes tackles this broad topic with a blend of history, biography, art, science, and philosophy. In 500 pages that seem to fly by, the reader follows the intertwined stories of such historical luminaries as astronomer William Herschel and his sister Caroline, botanist Joseph Banks, chemist Humphry Davy, and writers such as Mary Shelley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and John Keats. The book rightly received stellar reviews from the start, which I cannot top.  “Flat-out fascinating,” “groundbreaking,” and “superlative” are just a few of the descriptions applied to this …