Archive for October, 2010

Stardust

The Hokumburg Goombah is a local blog encountered via distant sites. NMissCommentor pointed to it in reference to an amazing discovery in photography. NPR‘s Robert Krulwich posted First Photo Of A Human Being Ever? on his blog Krulwich Wonders. It linked to the Goombah post Squail of the Day: September 8th, 2010 First photograph of a human being. The blog appears to be the creation of one Gig Thurmond. He seems to be a creative employee of local Druids custom woodworking.

I started snooping around the Goombah and found News alert: Scientist says we are stardust with videos of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Joni Mitchell referring to the famous notion that we are stardust or star stuff. It raised my curiosity about where the idea originated. “Synthesis of the Elements in Stars” (PDF) from Reviews of Modern Physics in 1957 was the pivotal paper. In it, the B²FH collaboration reviewed the nuclear physics of the time to outline how stellar synthesis produced most chemical elements. It is so wonderful that physicists have 63 year old papers available as free PDFs.

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Michael M. on October 29th 2010 in General

Carolina Chocolate Drops at the Sheldon, Banjos and Steve Martin

The  blogged Carolina Chocolate Drops visited the Sheldon Concert Hall on October 20, 2010. They are becoming frequent visitors here, and their draw has become strong. Saint Louis crowds tend to be very enthusiastic and complimentary. The Chocolate Drops played at 9 PM on a Wednesday, certainly a time challenging to my spirits, but that crowd was especially up for the show. It was stomp, clap and sing along from beginning to end. This Riverfront Times post about the show sums it up, and this earlier interview with Dom Flemons, previously blogged four times, gives some more background.

Who were those people in the crowd? I play old-time music here, and while I saw attendees I know to be players and listeners, many were not. The NPR crowd has some bearing. This search targeted to npr.org on Google gives 133 hits. I know local old-time musicians of their caliber and greater who never cannot evoke that reception. The band members are special people who have tapped into something big.

Like many concerts, it left me with the desire to play. If there was a lively afterparty, I lacked the endurance and, more importantly, invitation. I would love to play with them sometime.

In thinking about the show, I stumbled on The Banjo Project. This documentary hopelessly aims to profile the most American of musical instruments. The makers met with the Chocolate Drops, local picker Dave Landreth, blogged three times, and many more famous banjo folks. Steve Martin is the narrator. It is in production. I have the feeling that it has been and will be in production for a while.

It reminded me that H and I went to Steve Martin at the Steep Canyon Rangers at the Roberts Orpheum Theater back in the spring. It was a lot of fun. We got upgraded to box seats! The Steep Canyon Rangers are a very skilled bluegrass band, and Steve Martin is, of course, an all around entertaining fellow. The Orpheum is a cool old theater, but it still needs more renovations. The Riverfront Times had this preview, and STLToday had this one. After the fact, the Riverfront Times provided this recap. For a taste of the comedy and music, watch this video on YouTube.

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Michael M. on October 29th 2010 in General, Live, Music

Folk School profiles

Patch.com is a web site with a section for Maplewood-Brentwood. Lately, my favorite Folk School has been getting good attention in it. It started with “Fiddlers Fill Downtown During Maplewood ArtsWalk.” The Folk School sent volunteers to play at local businesses in downtown Maplewood for the ArtsWalk Fiddle Fest. H and I played in front of Gisèle’s as guests of Floyd and the Barbers mentioned in the article. It was a great time. Since then, the site has carried “Fiddlers Follow Passion Later in Life” about two of my fiddling friends and “Folk School Builds Community Through Music” about the Folk School itself.

I am a happy member of that community. Just last week, the twice yearly showcase overtook the upstairs room at the Schlafly Tap Room. I had a great time singing and playing guitar in the Classic Country Ensemble. For the Old-Time Ensemble, I sawed on my fiddle. For one of our numbers, I backed up a friend as he debuted his original song! Two weekends before, I managed to make it to part of the jam at the Kirkwood Farmers Market. Now I am looking forward to the next session of the Old-Time Ensemble starting tomorrow night.

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Michael M. on October 25th 2010 in General, Live, Music

Bricks and fire

Thieves Cart Off St. Louis Bricks” in The New York Times tells the story of an ongoing local architectural travesty. The city is being carted away a truckload at a time. In reaction ot the blogged Great Saint Louis Fire of 1849, building codes here were greatly strengthened coincident with the city’s boom. This television feature about Thomas Targee, hero of the fire, aired on KPLR 11. There were also many local factories producing bricks of high quality. A century later, a great number of those solid buildings are not so solid anymore while the demand for the brick itself is undergoing a resurgence.

This post on Urban STL has much more information. This post on Preservation Research Office leads to a song about the problem by blogged Pokey LaFarge. I cannot think of a realistic solution. Having people move back into the neighborhoods and repair the houses is happening, but far too slowly to counter the problem. I want this Brick City to stay that way.

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Michael M. on October 22nd 2010 in General

American Streetballers

I watched American Streetballers over a couple of nights. It tells the story of two Saint Louisans, one African-American players from the northside and one Irish-American from Dogtown. They meet as junior college players at Saint Louis Community College Forest Park. Everybody who has spent some time in Saint Louis should see it. I got a lot out of recognizing the familiar scenes. The movie’s plot is predictable in some ways, but completely enjoyable.

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Michael M. on October 22nd 2010 in General, Movies

LouFest

I managed to attend multiple days, if barely, of LouFest in Central Field of beloved Forest Park. It drew in multiple excellent acts with an overall indie rock approach.

Broken Social Scene put on a great show. For the most part, they just had guitar after guitar crunching it out on stage. Just when I was getting bored with so many guitars on stage, they started playing horns. The music was both catchy and rocking. The crowd loved it, and I count myself among them.

The  blogged Carolina Chocolate Drops played Sunday afternoon. Running late, I caught just a little of “Old Corn Liquor,” a tune I play.  Three times blogged Dom Flemons invoked blogged throat singing cowboy  Arthur Miles. I made my way into the background of a photograph in LouFest 2010 Sunday, August 29: In Pictures on the KDHX Blog. I was not as miserable as I look there, but the sun was brutal. After the show, I tracked down Dom Flemons and asked him about throat singing. Sure enough, he had come to it as I had through blogged Genghis Blues and Arthur Miles. I messaged him later about blogged The Quest for Tannu Tuva / Last Journey of a Genius with a link to the video. I stopped by the STL Style tent and showed off my St. Lunatics t-shirt. If you see me, ask to see this wonder of design and production by me and H.

Soon after, I had to ditch the rest of the show for call night at work. Although I was disappointed at missing so much of the festival, I did manage to catch a good chunk of it. I hope it was sufficiently successful to make it an annual event.

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Michael M. on October 22nd 2010 in General, Live, Music

Crooked Still at Off Broadway

I saw Crooked Still, the Boston band inspired by old-time music, tear it up. They visited Off Broadway in what I believe was there first visit here. It has been over a month, but my memory has not faded completely. I did find this review in the Current, the UMSL student paper.

Come on in My Kitchen” was a favorite. They took an already slow song by Robert Johnson, mentioned in four posts, and slowed it down. It had a drag in the tempo and for the audience. It just sucked everybody in.

I have wanted to see them for years. I was happy when I learned that they were coming and happier yet when my lousy schedule was actually open enough to go. I hope they return soon.

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Michael M. on October 22nd 2010 in General, Live, Music

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