Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Some Memories of Merlefest 2008

I turned 43 last Saturday whilst nestled in the foothills the mountains of NC attending Merlefest with some friends. It was only my second year attending and I'm already looking forward to next year. Not sure what makes it so great, the music or the friends--probably both--but it is an awesome time. Just a bit of who we saw (sorry for my blurry pics):

Tift Merritt

Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys

Roy Book Binder

Levon Helm

Cheick Diabate

MerleFest Main Stage at night

Carolina Chocolate Drops

Donna the Buffalo

Jorma Kaukonen from Jefferson Airplane

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Nick Lowe really is the Jesus of Cool

Update: Holden Richards has a great review of the evening at his blog.

Before leaving town for MerleFest tomorrow, we were lucky enough to catch Nick Lowe's show tonight at the Carrboro Arts Center. Ron Sexsmith was the opener.

Lowe was fantastic, as was expected. My companion for the evening is a Nick Lowe disciple so she was in heaven. It was great to hear "What's So Funny About Peace Love & Understanding" and "Cruel to be Kind" but the few he played off his recent album were catchy tunes as well. He played for 90 minutes to a crowd that was obviously way into him.

We are lucky to live in a place with such good music happening all around us all the time.

I snapped some pix with my camera phone:

Ron Sexsmith is a talented singer-songwriter as well. They also did a duet together at the end of the show that was outstanding.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Heading out to Merlefest 2008 for a few days

Friends and I have tickets for Merlefest and I'm excited to be heading out of town to attend. It's approximately a 2 hour drive from Durham and it is well worth it.

Hosted by Doc Watson "(t)he four-day-long festival was founded in 1988 and now attracts more than 85,000 participants, making it the largest folk music festival in the United States." Link

The 2008 line-up is here.

The performance stages:
The Watson Stage features the biggest and the best in Americana music.
The Cabin Stage offers some of the finest acoustic music available.
The Mayes Pit Learning Stage provides intensive instructional sessions on mandolin, guitar, dobro, fiddle, banjo, bass, and more.
The Traditional Stage features the best in traditional music.
The Dance Stage offers everything from clogging to Cajun dances, all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and Friday/Saturday nights.
The Chris Austin Stage is the place to be for some of the best songwriting and blues to be heard anywhere.
The Creekside Stage has proven to be a favorite spot for workshops in everything from instruments to vocals and is the location of our huge gospel-fest on Sunday.
The Little Pickers Family Area offers a lot of fun and games for the children (and the young at heart) as well as some fine storytelling, songwriting, and music.
The Hillside Stage offers an opportunity to see many MerleFest artists up close and jamming.
Walker Center performances offer a chance to relax in comfortable seating in one of the finest acoustic halls in the Southeast. Friday and Saturday night special concerts and performances are scheduled.
The Americana Stage offers a relaxed presentation of festival artists on the lawn across from the WCC Visitors Center.
The Lounge, inside Alumni Hall, hosts the MerleFest Guitar, Banjo, and Mandolin contests. Also come by on Friday night for the Songwriters Coffeehouse starting at 8:00 pm.

There's a lot to see and do there but if it is as fun as it was last year, when Elvis Costello headlined on Saturday night, I'll be happy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Indy endorsements are online

I just figured that out. They can be found here. I don't always agree with them, and usually also see what endorsements People's Alliance puts out as well.

I have to say I'm leaning more toward Perdue than Moore mainly due to the death penalty issue.

Happy Earth Day

Enjoy a tiny part of our freakish but amazing world:

Disclaimer: not my photography, found on the internerds . . .

The Durham Bull is a two-faced so-and-so

And doesn't he look grand? I get to see him from my window at work now in a whole new way. I earlier worried about the changes coming, but this will do nicely, although frankly I had no problems with the old bull.

A view from my office today:

Old view:

The new bull does give me the uneasy feeling he's not paying attention to what's going on in the stadium with the Durham Bulls, even though I know it's a double-sided bull.

No "Hit Bull Win Steak" on my side either. Offer only available stadium-side.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Durham's Early Voting began today for primary!

I try to take advange of early voting, so I thought I'd post about it here so you can take advantage too! Truthfully, I get pretty jazzed about voting, so early voting is GREAT for me, although I feel a bit left out on voting day itself, but at the same time smug that I've already voted. (Click on the page below to see a bigger picture of the schedule and information.)

Go here for more on Schedule, Absentee, Early Voting, and Sample Ballots.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

This Friday night, lots of music in Durham

First up, a fund-raiser for Urban Ministries (non-denominational) is being sponsored by St. Philip's Episcopal Church. In 2003, St. Philip's launched Strings Attached Productions, a concert series to help raise funds for the good works of Urban Ministries.

One of my all time favorite artists, Kate Campbell, will be performing this Friday night. If you haven't heard of her before, here's a little about her:
Originally from Sledge, MS, the daughter of a Baptist preacher, Kate's formative years were forged by the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and those indelible experiences continue to inform her music. Her eloquent gift for storytelling draws repeated comparisons to such southern writers such as Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor, and William Faulkner. NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Car Talk, and Mountain Stage often feature Kate's music. She performs around the country and abroad, including such prestigious festivals as the Cambridge Folk Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Philadelphia Folk Festival and Merlefest. In an especially unique collaboration, Ballet Memphis featured songs from several of Kate's albums in a ballet based on her music entitled South Of Everywhere.

After taking in that excellent show, head on over to Broad Street Cafe and take in the next excellent show of the evening. My pal Jeff Hart, along with Jeffrey Dean Foster and Bill Noonan Band will be getting underway at 9pm. Broad Street Cafe is always a comfortable and easy-going place to take in a show, and this show is sure to be a good one:

Instead of being a Friday night couch potato, treat yourself to a night of music on the town!

No, this wasn't at the National Gallery of Art

On my recent trip to DC, I was strolling in a Crystal City mall when I happened upon this painting hanging in a display window. I had to snap a picture of it because I was afraid no one else would believe it if I tried to describe it. Enjoy. (Click the picture to see it larger if you are brave.)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Cherry Blossom Parade in DC

Despite the ominous clouds at times, the rain held off. The big helium balloons were great but admittedly I'm a sucker for stuff like that.

I'm not sure what Garfield has to do with cherry blossoms or DC, but there he was floating down Connecticut Avenue anyway.

The Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival on Pennsylvania Avenue was awfully crowded. The performances and exhibits were worth checking out. I had a young anime fan along with me and the street festival was nirvana for her.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Arlington Cemetery

Yesterday I visited Arlington Cemetery for the first time. The juxtaposition of the the beautiful cherry blossoms and the acres of stark white grave markers was a bit discordant. May they all rest in peace.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Out of town a few days . . .

I hope to be able to update a few times while I'm out of town. Maybe some cherry blossom pictures and Saturday I hope to attend the Sakura Matsuri -- Japanese Street Festival.

Monday, April 7, 2008

First time making sushi

A few pieces of our homemade sushi.

Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to be invited over to hang out and make sushi with some friends. My pals had made it only a few times before themselves, but I'd never had the experience. Thanks to them for pulling all the ingredients together and making the rice just perfectly.

Our ingredients were: cucumbers, carrots, cream cheese, avocado smoked salmon, crab sticks, roe, sushi rice, nori (thin, dried seaweed sheets), asparagus, natto (fermented soybeans), pickled ginger, wasabi.

There are a lot of places to learn to make sushi on the internet, one great one being How To Make Sushi. Instead I'll show you what we did and how it looked. It was much easier than I thought and very fun to do.

Some prep work first, including cutting the veggies and making the rice:

Next lay out a sheet nori and spread the sticky sushi rice over about 3/4 of the nori, along with strips of whatever other ingredients you want in the roll:

Continue to roll the nori tightly.

This one was sticking out its tongue (it was a strip of salmon):

Cut the roll into pieces:

Take turns making and cutting rolls and having a great time together until you get this:

Then enjoy a tasty and pretty dinner with friends.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Wisteria Gazebo in bloom right now.

It's at Sarah P. Duke Gardens where I often take a stroll on the weekends. The wisteria gazebo smells so sweet and is wonderful to see. It's only in bloom a few short weeks each spring, so if you want to see it and smell it, go now. (Click on the pictures to see them larger.)

From the inside:

Afternoon film at The Full Frame Documentary Film Fest

We took in the documentary Body of War at The Carolina Theatre in downtown Durham this afternoon as part of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. It was truly as phenomenal as I thought it would be based on what I'd already seen and read about it. Because we Durhamites were lucky enough to have this screened at the film festival this weekend, the filmmakers Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro were present and took some questions after the screening. The following is a low res pic from my cellphone camera:

Fletcher Theatre inside The Carolina seats over 1,000 and was full from what I could observe.

I'm hoping the film makes a regular run at The Carolina Theatre soon for anyone who wants to see it but didn't see it at the film festival. It was very warmly received today, which was not lost on the filmmakers.

I also highly recommend the CD that Tomas Young put together for the film and all the profits from the CD go to the Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Also, this was just another of the innumerable reasons why Durham rocks. I heard about this film only 2 weekends or so ago, saw the Bill Moyers show on it, and today I saw the movie at The Carolina Theatre and had a chance to hear the filmmakers talk about it in person. How cool is that?

Friday, April 4, 2008

I was just shy of 3 when he was taken by bullet

I don't remember that day. But you don't have to be old enough to remember him in person to remember him in your heart.

Edited to add that the above picture (not mine) was taken at The Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery Alabama designed by Maya Lin, who designed The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Orange traffic cones laid out, banners hoisted: now with pics

Just to supplement my previous blog entry on The Full Frame Documentary Film Fest that's cranking up downtown, I snapped a few of pictures today.

Carolina Theatre as it looked today, before most of the filmmakers and filmgoers descend on it:

Lanes fulls of orange cones and blocked off beside the Carolina:

Signs around downtown pop up for the weekend:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Orange traffic cones laid out, banners hoisted

Downtown is humming with activity this afternoon and will soon be inundated with scores of film folks because it's time for the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

From my observations in the past, the attendees tend to travel in little groups, wearing their Film Fest creds on a lariat around their necks. Fun to see them looking down at their maps and up at the street signs, trying to find Bull McCabe's or Brightleaf Square. Other times they have cell phones pressed up against their heads and gesticulate wildly. Also interesting to see the press satellite trucks line up beside the Carolina Theatre if a celebrity or two is in town for the festival.

Full Frame is recognized as the premier documentary film festival in the United States by both The New York Times and indieWIRE and is well-known for its southern hospitality, relaxed atmosphere and walkable venue layout. During the past decade Full Frame has welcomed both first time and celebrated filmmakers including Martin Scorsese, Abbas Kiarostami, Michael Moore, Syndey Pollack, Errol Morris, Barbara Kopple, Ken Burns, Ric Burns, Charles Burnett, Mira Nair and Jonathan Demme.

We scored tickets for Saturday to see Body of War, which I blogged about here earlier.

You can check here to see if there are any films you'd like to catch.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Top 100 April Fools Day Hoaxes of All Time

This tends to be a day when you figure out which of your friends knows a friendly prank from an idiotic heart-stopper of a lie. I tend not to like the "Hey your mom died" kind of April Fools "joke."

Anyway, here's a good compilation of April Fools Hoaxes.

Here's one:
In 1996 the Taco Bell Corporation announced that it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell was housed to express their anger. Their nerves were only calmed when Taco Bell revealed, a few hours later, that it was all a practical joke. The best line of the day came when White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale. Thinking on his feet, he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold. It would now be known as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.