All posts filed under: Acoustic Music

Few things are better than the sound of acoustic instruments

Flux

Jerry “Flux” Douglas is among a handful of innovators whose life work has defined, transformed, and elevated the dobro, taking it from a little-known instrument used primarily in bluegrass to the point today where it is heard and welcomed in a wide variety of musical styles. Much of the credit for the dobro’s growth in popularity results from Jerry Douglas’s skillful musicianship and free-wheeling approach. Several years have passed since I last heard Douglas take front and center in the instrumental spotlight. He is much more likely to be showcased playing his role as sideman extraordinaire, as with Alison Krauss + Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas (longest band name ever) or on more than 1500 albums. Thus, last evening promised to be special. I joined friends at the Rams Head in Annapolis to hear Douglas front his own trio and show off his monster instrumental chops (and idiosyncratic singing voice). He didn’t disappoint, playing a generous set of almost two hours and covering a range of musical styles. A couple of my favorites were from …

A Human Touch

I first saw Jackson Browne in the 1970s. Today, at 70 years of age, he is still writing and singing some of the most beautiful and heartfelt music around. A Human Touch is among his most moving. Written with Steve McEwan and Leslie Mendelson for the Paul Haggis documentary 5B, the song captures the compassion of the caregivers in the 1980s in San Francisco General’s Ward 5B, the world’s first AIDS ward unit. The video of the beautiful Browne / Mendelson duet includes footage of how courage and compassion changed the way doctors and nurses approached and treated AIDS as the epidemic spread fear and hatred throughout the world. “You can call it a decision I say it’s how we’re made There’s no point in shouting from your island Proclaiming only Jesus saves There will always be suffering And there will always be pain But because of it there’ll always be love And love, we know, it will remain Everybody gets lonely Feel like it’s all too much Reaching out for some connections Or maybe …

Create at the Intersection of Experience and Innovation (Or: If You Never Invent Yourself, Reinvention Won’t Be Necessary)

In the recently released documentary Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, country music legend Dolly Parton comments that “Linda could literally sing everything.” The film cuts to Ronstadt — who famously sang folk, pop, rock, country, R&B, Cajun, operetta, the Great American Songbook and traditional Mexican music in a long and successful career — as she dryly remarks, “People would think I was trying to remake myself, but I never invented myself in the first place.” There is a great deal of wisdom in those few words. Today we hear about reinventing yourself for the information age. Creating your new personal brand. Unmooring yourself from your past to create a new you. Most of that reinvention messaging is . . . what’s the technical term again? Ah yes. Hogwash. The assumption that you need to jettison the past as if it never existed and doesn’t matter is central to the modern idea of reinvention. Many writers have commented that the American myth is built upon jettisoning the old in order to glorify the new. …

Blowing the Doors Off the Joint

“You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” is the theme of this week’s AFI Docs Film Festival in Washington, where some 70 documentaries will be shown in theatres across the city over five days.  To get myself in shape, I spent Sunday and Monday watching two documentaries that are not part of the festival but are currently playing in the area. One tried — and only partially succeeded — in reaching the standards suggested by the theme. The other is a masterpiece simply because it captures a treasure at the height of her powers.  As one reviewer phrased it, “She blew the doors off the joint.” But let’s start with the less-satisfying of the two. Echo in the Canyon, currently playing at the E Street Cinema, is a documentary about the legendary Laurel Canyon music scene in Los Angeles from the mid-1960s. The film focuses on the music of The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, and The Mamas and the Papas, and the hook is a 2015 tribute concert from current-day fans Jakob Dylan (Bob’s …

About “More to Come…The DJB Blog”

Hi.  I am David J. Brown (hence the DJB) and I originally created this blog more than ten years ago to send random thoughts on a few things I care about to friends, family, and others who may share the same passions.  I began this as a way to capture photos and memories from a family vacation.  After the trip was over, I simply continued writing. Over the years the blog has changed to have a more definite focus, which is reflected in the new menu items and new look.  Several years ago I began writing a Monday email to my staff about things that were on my mind, and this discipline led to a regular feature on the blog which you can find under “Monday Musings.”  Professionally, I am a national nonprofit leader with a four-decade record of growing and strengthening organizations at local, state, and national levels. In this work, I combine deep industry knowledge in historic preservation with proven fundraising experience, national program conceptualization and delivery, effective public engagement, extensive governing board …

Patty Griffin

Last Wednesday, singer-songwriter Patty Griffin performed to a large and appreciative audience at Washington’s 9:30 Club. Featuring songs from her recent self-titled album, Griffin showcased her significant songwriting chops and wide-ranging musical interests from rock to Latin romanticism to gospel to beautiful acoustic folk. It was my first time to see Griffin live, but not the first time I was smitten with her work. No, that would have been about fifteen years ago while standing in a record shop listlessly flipping through CD bins while fixated on the sound of Griffin’s 1000 Kisses album and the unique, emotional vocals coming out of the store’s sound system. I’m happy to report that the decades haven’t diminished that vulnerable voice. Wednesday evening she performed Long Ride Home, one of my favorites from that 2002 album, as well as the rousing Move Up from the remarkable Downtown Church album, recorded in a historic Nashville house of worship that is an architectural masterpiece and, from a personal interest standpoint, was founded by a great uncle of mine six-or-seven times back. Patty Griffin remains on tour …

I Hate to Say Goodbye, So I’ll Just Say So Long

NOTE: The following is adapted from a message I wrote to my staff at the National Trust for Historic Preservation on the Monday of my last week as the EVP and Chief Preservation Officer with the organization. In a typical three-point sermon from the Baptist church of my youth, the preachers would:  1) tell you what they were going to say (the introduction); 2) then say it (the sermon); then 3) tell you what they had just said (the conclusion).  To keep up the symmetry, the sermons themselves often had three points.  The last of my Monday morning emails will be my personal three-point sermon. The Introduction  I’m going to expand my audience beyond the Preservation Division and write to the full Trust staff along with a number of friends outside the organization.  In doing so, I’ll use the first part to explain a bit about these Monday emails.  Second, I want to say a few words about what the past twenty-two-plus-years at the National Trust have meant to me, both professionally and personally.  Finally, …