Archive for January, 2008

in performance: “three girls and their buddy” featuring emmylou harris, patty griffin, shawn colvin and buddy miller

patty griffin“Come out on your porch or I’ll step into your parlor,” sang Emmylou Harris at the onset of last night’s sold out Three Girls and Their Buddy performance at the Singletary Center for the Arts. “I’ll tell you how it all went down.”

Ah, yes. A cordial welcome laced with a suggestion of danger where the next step was seldom anticipated. The song was Grievous Angel – a landmark work by Harris mentor Gram Parsons. But for a frigid January evening where Harris, Patty Griffin (pictured above; photo by Traci Goudie), Shawn Colvin and Buddy Miller traded songs on a purposely level playing field, this opening bit of country salvation proved nicely appropriate.

The concert had as much the feel of detailed rehearsal as it did a formal recital. That shouldn’t suggest the audience was aboard a sloppy performance ship, though. It’s just that if the four artists needed to refer to a lyric sheet at times, they did. If a false start required a second take of a tune (or a third), so be it. And aside from obvious points intended as duets or group harmony settings, the four chimed in on backing vocals or miscellaneous percussion wherever they sensed they were needed.

Such was the spontaneous and genuinely cordial charm that permeated the show. Well, there was a pretty stunning repertoire of songs to go along with it, too. While the four performers are all learned songsmiths, much of the concert was given over to cover material. Over the course of two hours, the four interpreted music penned and/or popularized by The Stanley Brothers, The Louvin Brothers, The Everly Brothers, Dolly Parton, Richard Thompson, The Band, Bessie Smith and, of course, Parsons.

At age 60, it’s tough not to look at Harris as the stylistic elder of last night’s team. Certainly her singing during Parton’s Coat of Many Colors and The O’Kanes’ When We’re Gone, Long Gone melted country tradition into a more ghostly Americana sound that illuminated brittle but bold vocal colors as well as the songs’ inherent spiritualism.

Griffin, who has become as much a marquee name in recent years as Harris, was alternately the evening’s most studied and introspective voice – as evidenced by a lovely version of her grandmotherly portrait Mary, where all of the “girls” designed arresting harmonies – as well as the show’s biggest fireball. She began the title track to her 1998 album Flaming Red as a ragged blues before accelerating it into as a tent revival tabernacle piece.

Determined to “do what I do best and bring you straight back down,” Colvin was the program’s most sobering voice. In delivering her own That Don’t Worry Me Now and The Band’s It Makes No Difference (two different but linked stories of isolation), she made good, in the most poetic way possible, on her doomsday forecast. But when she teamed with Miller on the Everlys’ timeless Let It Be Me, the sense of innocence and light produced very honest chills.

Miller, in every sense, was the glue to the performance. He backed everyone on guitar, be it with nimble, country-style accents or, as was more often the case, atmospheric ambience that added to the evening’s unforced intimacy. But when the spotlight turned to his own music, Miller answered with the Louvins’ hearty testimonial There’s a Higher Power, Thompson’s cautionary romance Keep Your Distance (another duet with Colvin) and, best of all, an original gospel rocketship called Shelter Me where talking drum support by Griffin awarded her the nickname Patty Jean Krupa.

Ensemble versions of another Parsons diamond, Sin City and the O Brother, Where Art Thou-resurrected siren song Didn’t Leave Nobody But the Baby closed the program. Even Harris, who sang the latter on the O Brother soundtrack, had to refer to a lyric sheet for that one.

“We don’t like to get things too tight,” she said. “You can pay to see that anytime.” 

in performance: todd rundgren

Usually when pop artists with long expired commercial heydays hit the road, it is to either promote a recording of new tunes that older fans tend not to be terribly keen on hearing or parade old hits for purely nostalgic appeal. Guitarist, bandleader and overall pop entrepreneur Todd Rundgren did neither before a packed house last night at the Madison Theater in Covington. Backed by a trio of longtime musical pals – co-guitarist Jesse Gress, former Utopia bassist Kasim Sulton and longtime Tubes drummer Prairie Prince – Rundgren stuck to essentials by playing just under two hours of prime rock ‘n’ roll.

Those expecting hits left without hearing most of them. In fact, Rundgren only played 1972’s I Saw the Light as a “reward” for a preceding one-two punch of Mammon and Fascist Christ, a ferocious medley that underscored in broad electric terms the singer’s view of the modern side of “old time religion.”

Those hoping for the kinds of ballads that landed Rundgren on rock radio in the early ‘70s received only one – but it was a gem. For an encore, he dusted off 1989’s Hawking, a reflection of a more blissful and personal spiritualism that also showed off the healthy state of Rundgren’s vocal chops.

The rest of the show embraced huge, guitar saturated works – the kind Rundgren always pulls off with a gleam of humor and plenty of honest sweat. Once the show-opening Buffalo Grass peeled back the lid on the guitar fury Rundgren was capable of, the show’s energy level skyrocketed. Not until the final rapped verses, ensemble grooves and anthemic guitar hooks of Worldwide Epiphany were complete and the crowd exited to the single digit temperatures that waited outside did the show’s generous drive and spirit dissipate.


States News Service June 9, 2011 WASHINGTON, DC — The following information was released by the National Defense University Information Resources Management College (NDU iCollege):

The NDU iCollege is proud to announce that Ricardo Aguilera, Associate Professor of the college’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Academy, and Gary Maupin, Professor and CFO Council Faculty Chair of the CFO Academy, won the 2011 Educator Award from the Association of Government Accountants (AGA). AGA supports the careers and professional development of government (federal, state, and local), financial professionals and annually recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the education and training of government financial managers.

Criteria for the nomination directed that candidates show they have made a significant impact on government financial management or advanced the state of the art of government financial management. Both Aguilera and Maupin were chosen for the award due to their outstanding contributions in educating CFO students, developing educational curriculum, and demonstrating leadership at the CFO Academy. The U.S. Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Council, with the sponsorship of the Department of Defense (DoD) Comptroller, launched the CFO Academy in the summer of 2008 at the National Defense University’s Information Resource Management College (NDU iCollege). The CFO Academy offers graduate-level courses and services for mid-to-senior-level personnel in the government financial management community to prepare them to create and lead the strategic and financial aspects of the 21st Century government organizations. website national defense university go to website national defense university

Awards will be presented to recipients at the 60th Annual Professional Development Conference and Exposition to be held on July 10-13, 2011, at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta, Georgia. Congratulations to Ricardo and Gary!

About the College – The NDU iCollege, a U.S. Department of Defense educational institution, prepares leaders to direct the information component of national power by leveraging information and information technology for strategic advantage. Although most students come from DoD (military and civilians), the school also accepts federal agency, private sector, and international students into its graduate programs. Education is focused around CIO, CFO, Information Assurance/Cyber, Enterprise Architecture, IT Project Management, and other information leadership competencies. The NDU iCollege is also currently working with the U.S. Department of Education to obtain approval for its new Government Information Leader Master of Science Degree. Courses are completed on campus and/or online. For more information about the NDU iCollege’s programs, please contact: Jolly Sienda at ; or for general information about the college, visit

The National Defense University is the nation’s premier center for joint professional military education. The university is an accredited graduate-level institution that provides an educational and research environment to prepare future leaders of the armed forces and other civilian agencies for high-level policy, command, and staff responsibilities. For more information about the National Defense University, please contact: Dave Thomas, Public Affairs Officer, at 202-685-3140 or; or visit

critic's pick 2

marahAt the onset of Marah‘s Angels of Destruction! we hear what amounts to a jingle. An animated female voice beckons us to “go back to the devil” while brass bumps tentatively in the background. Though reminiscent of the playful tone that made the band’s  A Christmas Kind of Town one of the best holiday albums of recent years, this little reverie is a deception. The rest of Angels of Destructon! is pretty much a firestorm.

This latest opus led by Philly-bred, Brooklyn-based brothers David and Serge Bielanko winds up as something of a testimony. Once the intro fun settles down, a wondrous groove composed equally of bass propulsion and muted chants introduces Coughing Up Blood. Enter Brother Dave in his best Graham Parker-style vocal grind singing about the demons rising within him. “Up will come the cancer, up will come volcanic ash, up come sheets of red hot hail.” Mercy, boys. What kinds of devils are you doing battle with up in Brooklyn, anyway?

No sooner does the raunchy but funky mess pass than Bielanko suggests faith might be at hand. But in the other corner is Father Time tapping his wristwatch to a blend of brass and jittery guitar hooks on Old Time Tickin’ Away. Before long, the sermon starts rocking to a neo-revival piano strut and chatty guitar. Dashed dreams are at hand, but that doesn’t stop the Bielankos from poking them with a stick until everyone is dancing. “I bumped into the dream of us, but she was such a frenzied fuss,” he sings. “I only followed her home out of pity and lust.”

Such is the brutal and arresting landscape surrounding Angels of Destruction! But then, Marah has been fashioning killer records like this for the past decade.

The production, not to mention the overall performance mood,  is a touch looser this time so that Serge Bielanko and Adam Garbinski can create a big, cranky guitar sound. Toss in the keyboards of Christine Smith and the music becomes fit for honky tonks or high mass, whichever the Bielankos deem the better fit. Salvation, it seems, is not a quiet enterprise on Angels of Destruction!

There are a few contemplative reprieves. Blue But Cool briefly chills the spiritual ills while Songbirds, which sounds like a  boozy version of Wilco, is a predominantly acoustic call from home. Then the Rolling Stones-inclined strut of the album’s title tune is summoned and the good vs. evil party picks back up with the former finally getting the upper hand (“the angel of redemption has got you beat”). A banjo-fueled affirmation, Can’t Take it With You, follows before Angels falls back to earth with Wilderness and a coda of funeral bagpipes.

Marah tacks on a bonus track that mutes the finale solemnity of Wilderness somewhat. But that’s the only serious blemish. Otherwise, Angels of Destruction! is a fireball of salvation, spirit, edge and attitude.

The early days of gall bladder surgery

The Journal of Perioperative Practice April 1, 2010 | Ellis, Harold Gall stones have been found in ancient Egyptian mummies, and have presumably caused symptoms and suffering since the early days of mankind. ‘Inflammation of the liver’ was well recognised by the Greeks, and, in many cases, might well have represented attacks of biliary colic. Giovanni Morgagni, Professor of Anatomy in Padua, and regarded as one of the fathers of modern pathology, described, in 1761, 20 autopsies in which gall stones were found.

Interestingly, it was a physician, not a surgeon, who first suggested operative treatment for this condition. John Thudichum, physician and lecturer on pathological chemistry at St Thomas’s Hospital, London, studied the chemical composition of gall stones and published a treatise on this subject. In 1859 he published a paper in which he suggested that the surgeon could fix the fundus of the gall bladder to the anterior abdominal wall through a small incision, allow adhesions to form between the two, then open the gall bladder, extract the calculi and the resultant fistula would then heal spontaneously. Eight years later, in 1867, this was to be carried out by John Stough Bobbs, who was apparently unaware of Thudichum’s article. Bobbs was the foundation Professor of Surgery in the Indiana Central Medical School, Indianapolis -then pretty well at the extremity of the American Far West. The operation was carried out, not in a hospital operating theatre, but in a third floor room above a drug store, which Bobbs would hire when he needed somewhere to operate. here gall bladder surgery

The surgery was performed under chloroform, the use of which Bobbs had become expert during the American Civil War, but without any regard to antiseptic precautions; Joseph Lister was to publish his paper on antisepsis that very same year. The patient was a lady of 30 years of age who presented with a large painful mass in the right side of the abdomen, thought to be an ovarian cyst. At laparotomy, a cystic mass was found, with adherent omentum. When opened, it yielded clear fluid and between 40 and 50 calculi were evacuated. (Obviously it was mucocele of the gall bladder). Apartfrom a good deal of trouble with urinary retention and some superficial wound infection, she made a good recovery and outlived not only her surgeon, but six of the eight doctors who were present at this historic operation!

Bobbs published a detailed account of his success the following year, (1868), in a local journal, the Transactions of the Indiana State Medical Society, but another 10 years were to pass before there were further reports of the procedure. Marion Sims, of New York, published a successful case and introduced the term ‘cholecystotomy’ for the operation, (Sims is best known for his pioneer work on the surgery of vesicovaginal fistula). This was followed by reports of the operation by a succession of famous surgeons – Theodor Kocher of Berne, Switzerland, W W Keen in Philadelphia and Lawson Tait i? Birmingham. It was only after many years that John Bobbs received the well-deserved accolade for his surgical ‘first’. web site gall bladder surgery

The operation of cholecystotomy, although relatively simple and safe, and, indeed, sometimes carried out today to drain an acutely inflammed and adherent gall bladder, had the disadvantages of recurrent infection, residual stones and, often, of a persistent discharging biliary fistula. It was not until 1882 that the first operation for removal of the gall bladder – cholecystectomy – was performed. The surgeon was Carl Johann Langenbuch who had already performed another ‘surgical first’, the first nephrectomy for a renal tumour, in 1877. Langenbuch was born in Kiel, Germany, and qualified in medicine at its university at the age of 23. He must have been an exceptional young man, because he was appointed surgeon to the Lazarus Hospital, Kiel, at the age of 27.

He noted that elephants and horses, (and, indeed, the rat and the deer), do not have a gall bladder and concluded that human beings could also survive without this organ. He set about devising the operation in a scientific manner, by cadaver dissections, and , in the post-mortem room, practised an extensive exposure by means of a T-shaped incision. The transverse limb of this was placed along the inferior margin of the liver, while the vertical component ran along the outer border of rectus abdominis. He tied the cystic duct with silk, dissected the gall bladder from its liver bed, aspirated its contents to prevent spillage, and only then transected the cystic duct and removed the gall bladder. After these preliminary autopsy studies, the time came for the clinical experiment.

His patient was a male aged 43, a magistrate’s secretary, who had had repeated attacks of biliary colic and jaundice. He had lost a considerable amount of weight and was on repeated doses of morphine. The operation was performed under strict asepsis and was carried out exactly as in the autopsy experiments; the gall bladder was found to be thickened and contained two cholesterol stones. Recovery was smooth and the patient, two months later, was enjoying his food and had gained 13.5 kilos In weight! In his report, published that same year, 1882, Langenbuch recommended cholecystectomy, after preliminary ligation of the cystic duct, as a less dangerous and more effective treatment of cholelithiasis than cholecystotomy, something to which we would all agree in the great majority of cases.

Langenbuch died in harness in 1901 – of peritonitis due to a ruptured appendicitis.

[Sidebar] Provenance and Peer review: Commissioned by the Editor; Peer reviewed; Accepted for publication December 2009.

[Sidebar] It was not until 1882 that the first operation for removal of the gall bladder – cholecystectomy – was performed.

[Sidebar] Members can search all issues of the BJPN/JPP published since 1998 and download articles free of charge at

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[Author Affiliation] by Professor Harold Ellis Correspondence address: Department of Anatomy, University of London, Guy’s Campus, London, SEl IUL.

[Author Affiliation] About the author Professor Harold Ellis CBE, FRCS Emeritus Professor of Surgery, University of London; Department of Anatomy, Guy’s Hospital, London No competing interests declared Acknowledgement Ellis, Harold

in performance: peter rowan/tony rice quartet

Few artists in or out of bluegrass used familiarity so keenly to their advantage as guitarists Peter Rowan and Tony Rice did last night at the Kentucky Theatre. Aided by one time Lexingtonian/longtime Nickel Creek bassist Mark Schatz and current Mountain Heart/former Alison Krauss mandolinist Adam Steffey, the duo drew almost exclusively from music off of its two collaborative Rounder albums. But place the six tunes pulled from last year’s Quartet under scrutiny and you will find most have been part of their individual repertoires for decades. Break the full show down to its instrumental components and you will discover even fewer surprises.

Rowan still sang with an effortless clarity colored by shades of wild west mysticism (Wild Mustang) and sobering heartland reality (Dust Bowl Children). Rice remained the stoic soloist whose playing happily ran from patient, lyrical runs to solos that let bluegrass, jazz and folk phrasing collide (as in his instrumental treatment of Shady Grove). While the titles and, perhaps, performance strategies, seemed second nature to the players, the actual playing didn’t.

When the show’s second set opened with a trio of Bill Monroe classics, Rice answered with solos that embraced blues more than bluegrass. And when a 30 year old Rowan nugget like Land of the Navajo was summoned, Rowan’s vocal mix of chants and yodels made the show seem less like a progressive bluegrass outing and more like a Santa Fe séance. The repertoire seemed as old and obvious as time. The performance, though, was driven by a roots music ingenuity and vigor that was positively tireless. 

current listening 1/17

youssou n’doura few items that have earned some spins this week:

* Youssou N’Dour: Rokku Mi Rokka (Give and Take) – A blast of Senegalese sunshine and rich grooves from the veteran Dakar singer that sail from West Africa to New Orleans.

* Reverend Organdrum: Reverend Organdrum – There’s no Jimbo this time as the Rev. Horton Heat fronts a guitar-organ-drums-trio and a parade of cool tunes by everyone from Henry Mancini to Roland Kirk.

* Keith Jarrett: Changeless – A set of moody impressionism from 1989 by pianist Jarrett’s Standards Trio. Includes 10 luxurious minutes from an October 1987 concert at the Singletary Center for the Arts.

* Various artists: Broadcasts Vol. 15; 107.1 KGSR Radio Austin – The latest in a series of Texas-sized benefit compilations made up of acoustic radio performances. This one features Patty Griffin, Mindy Smith and Bruce Cockburn.

* Todd Rundgren: With a Twist… – His upcoming Covington concert inspired a new listen to this 1997 set of Rundgren hits done bossa nova style. It’s no joke, but rather a cool cure for dead-of-winter blues.

bluegrass boys

rowan/riceTo explain the depth and often literal closeness of the working relationship he enjoys with guitarist Tony Rice, Peter Rowan goes straight to the source. He recalls the kind of instincts that bluegrass boss (and one-time Rowan employer) Bill Monroe shared with one of his most celebrated disciples, Del McCoury. 

“Bill once said to Del, to get him to come up and really rub shoulders with him at the microphone, ‘Crowd me.’ That’s kind of how is it playing with Tony. We crowd up at the front of the stage, make sparks and then step back and let space develop. It’s a push and pull thing. In a sense, it’s almost like breathing.”

The ongoing partnership between two of bluegrass music’s most progressive stylists indeed sets off musical sparks. But take a listen to either of their two collaborative albums, 2004’s You Were There for Me or 2006’s Quartet, and what you hear mostly are quiet pleasures. The playing on both is as exemplary as any recorded project either has been involved in. Yet there is an unassuming air about this string music, especially on Quartet.

Much of that album relies on songs that have been staples of Rowan’s repertoire, including The Walls of Time (first cut with Monroe in the mid ‘60s), Midnight Moonlight (a favorite of his early ‘70s collective Old and in the Way, which also included Jerry Garcia, Vassar Clements and Rice’s one-time employer, David Grisman) and Dust Bowl Children (the title tune to a 1990 Rowan solo album than many fans consider his finest work). There are also songs spotlighting the more traditional slant of Rice’s playing (Shady Grove, The Sunny Side of the Mountain), along with covers by artists as varied as Townes Van Zandt (a lovely To Live is to Fly) and Patti Smith (Trespasses).

Rowan views Quartet, in retrospect, as “conservative.” Where You Were There for Me focused on newer material cut at various sessions with different recording engineers, Quartet spotlighted sound. In terms of emotive spirit, the resulting music is more folkish and conversational. In terms of tone, it’s spotless. And when it comes to group spirit, the record lives up to its name with subtle but vibrant harmony vocals from bassist Bryn Davies and mandolinist Sharon Gilchrist.

Quartet is kind of a resting place as far as the collaboration with Tony goes,” Rowan said. “We went for excellence in recording without so much emphasis on brand new tunes. You Were There for Me was all creative. It didn’t care about or have very much to do with making bluegrass. What you heard were the creative roots of what we were doing coming through.

“The material on Quartet is the basis of our live show. It’s kind of a retrospective of things we’re known for, whether it’s songs of mine like Midnight Moonlight or Tony’s hard driving, bluegrass-style picking. But it was also great having two great female singers like Bryn and Sharon in there, too.”

Despite their music’s quiet confidence, a meshing of two massive musical personalities occurs whenever Rowan and Rice play together. Rowan may have cut his bluegrass teeth with Monroe. But along the way he has explored western music that lets his vocals soar into a mighty yodel (listen to Wild Mustang from You Were There for Me for proof), country roots ballads, reggae and tunes like The Free Mexican Air Force, which blends masterful storytelling with a mildly provocative storyline (it deals with, shall we say, contraband). 

Rice, on the other hand, used Lexington as a launch pad for a masterful bluegrass career by playing guitar in the mid ‘70s with J.D. Crowe’s most acclaimed version of his New South band. After a second musical apprenticeship on the West Coast with Grisman, Rice explored traditional bluegrass, folk and jazz-inspired playing with equal relish.

Davies and Gilchrist have moved on to other projects after initial touring for Quartet was complete. Since then, Rowan and Rice have used a revolving lineup of all-stars as touring companions. For Thursday’s performance, they will be joined by bassist Mark Schatz (another veteran of Lexington’s ’70s-era bluegrass boom and, more recently, an auxiliary member of Nickel Creek) and mandolinist Adam Steffey (currently of the celebrated bluegrass band Mountain Heart and an alumnus of Alison Krauss and Union Station).

“We like working with people who are capable of hearing these songs a couple times and then being able to play them,” Rowan said. “After all, bluegrass is a felt music. It’s learned by ear mostly. That’s why when I wrote Midnight Moonlight, I aimed for a song that would be fun to play.”

But maybe another reason why the song remains a joy for Rowan to sing after three decades is that he continually affords it new performance situations. Surely taking another stab at it with Rice freshens the song’s perspective for him all over again.

“It freshens the perspective. That’s it exactly. But it’s also a challenge. Every night, Tony and I have to come up with the inspiration to deliver these songs. While our roles in finding that inspiration are very different, we do manage to spark off each other. And that is quite a lot of fun.

(Peter Rowan and Tony Rice perform at 7 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St. Tickets are $27.50 and $33.75. Call (859) 231-7924. Above photo of Rowan, left, and  Rice courtesy of Rounder Records)

in performance: rhonda vincent and the rage

One of the curious thrills of having major name acts play the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour – as bluegrass star Rhonda Vincent did before a sold-out crowd on Jan. 14 at the Kentucky Theatre – is getting to view how well they, in essence, present a performance that isn’t a performance. In other words, there is no purposeful concert flow to the broadcast as tunes are interspersed with interview segments and the sound favors mixes that seem slight and distant compared to “normal” concert settings. And, yes, there is the matter of negotiating cameras and such, although that burden falls more to the audience.

For Vincent, a return to WoodSongs meant cutting her set to lean essentials. Although she and the current version of her Rage band were the only guests for the program’s inaugural taping of 2008, Vincent offered tunes that boasted an unusually high cutthroat spirit. She delved deep into tradition with two versions of Muleskinner Blues, indulged in requisite three part harmonies (with help from bassist Mickey Harris and former J.D. Crowe mandolinist-turned-guitarist Darrell Webb) for the Jimmy Martin gem Hit Parade of Love and regularly triggered beefy solos from fiddler Hunter Berry and one time Lester Flatt banjoist Kenny Ingram.

In each instance, the performance pace was rugged and a bit on the breakneck side. The title tunes to her All American Bluegrass Girl and Good Thing Going albums let the dust settle. But on the Berry instrumental Wow Baby, the picking merrily shot into warp speed. Fasten your seat belts when this show airs. Your radio may get a speeding ticket.

help me, rhonda

rhonda vincentIn the waning weeks before Christmas, when the majority of America is stressing and fretting over holiday activities, Rhonda Vincent is kicking back. No snowy trip to the shopping malls for this bluegrass gal. After a year of near non-stop touring and the recording of a new album that slipped into music stores as recently as last week, Vincent is soaking up the mid-December sun in Palm Springs, California.

But then, if this is her only serious break for the year, why is Vincent wasting some of it talking by phone to a journalist in Kentucky?

“Actually, this is perfect,” she said. “When we’re doing shows, it’s really hard to do interviews because I lose my voice if I talk all day and then sing that night.”

So, in the midst of vacation, Vincent (who performs for a sold out taping of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour at the Kentucky Theatre tonight) seems happy to allow her work life to momentarily intrude. Her conversational tone, much like her music, is upbeat, bright and cheery.

Maybe that’s because after shifting back to bluegrass in 2000 following a brief detour into country music, Vincent’s popularity has continually gained momentum.

One star player after another has served time in her band, The Rage. Scores of awards have come her way, including seven consecutive trophies by the International Bluegrass Music Association as Female Vocalist of the Year. And, to top it all, she wears – in very literal terms – her hard earned crossover appeal very well. Check out the above photo (credit: Albert Sanchez) for proof. How many female bluegrass artists could pull off a leggy poolside shot in a sequined gown?

It’s no wonder then that Vincent has called her new record Good Thing Going.

“This is where we are in life,” Vincent said. “We’ve got a good thing going. The album simply sums up everything about what we’re doing. I feel I live my dream everyday.”

Within its 12 tunes, Vincent paints broad but vivid string music portraits that let The Rage stretch out, as in the dizzying picking and vocal harmonies of Jimmy Martin’s Hit Parade of Love. There is also an update of the centuries old folk favorite The Water is Wide rooted in more contemporary times. Vincent said she learned the tune from a ‘70s record by singer/songwriter Karla Bonoff and was subsequently inspired to enlist country megastar Keith Urban as a vocal partner for her own version. And then there are her own tunes. Vincent wrote or co-wrote five songs, although none is more commanding than the sustained vocal intro and mountain clarity of the album-opening I’m Leavin.‘ The tune encapsulates all Vincent’s bluegrass strength, vocal prowess and instrumental smarts. The music is like an alarm clock going off. It’s that immediate and commanding.

“I have my own studio now called Adventure Studios,” Vincent said. “After all, it’s an adventure each time I record. While we were working on the record there, one of the musicians said, ‘You’re not just recording. You’re creating something. And that’s what we want to do.

Vincent co-produced Good Thing Going with her brother, Darrin Vincent. The two began playing together as children in a family band called The Sally Mountain Show. While their collaborative working spirit has always been strong, making Rage records together presents a very distinctive technological challenge. Specifically, how do you take full advantage of the modern mechanics a recording studio can offer without drowning the natural, intuitive acoustics that are at the heart of bluegrass music?

“I think we know our parameters,” Vincent said. “Darrin and I have been creating music together since we were born. We were raised in a family group that allowed us the opportunity to make 10 albums where we had a lot of creative input. Making music is a very natural thing for us. But we also know when it starts to seem like too much.

Vincent cited the set up of her 2005 concert CD/DVD Ragin’ Live as an example.

“The technical people came in and set up a stage full of microphones and a full set of drums. We did a run through and said, ‘This is too much. We’re going to have to downsize.’ So they took out about 50% of the microphones. And since we listen with our hearts as much as our ears, we used a cardboard box with duct tape around it and a pair of brushes instead of the drums.”

A similar practice was employed on Good Thing Going‘s cover of Dottie Rambo’s Just One of a Kind. With Jessie McReynolds (of Jim & Jessie, the famed bluegrass duo that popularized the tune decades earlier) playing a feisty cross-picking mandolin lead, champion guitarist Bryan Sutton propelling the arrangement and brother Darin and Kathy Chiavola fleshing out a rich vocal harmony, Vincent invited a guest. His name was James Stroud, the celebrated country music producer for Toby Keith and Tim McGraw, among others. He also helped oversee Vincent’s country tenure in the ‘90s on the Giant label.

Stroud is a learned drummer, as well. But in keeping with Good Thing Going‘s bluegrass makeup, he chose an unusual source for a lighter percussive color: Pizza Hut.

“James checked out all their pizza boxes for the right tone – small, medium and large. He chose the medium.

“And, no,” she added with a laugh, “it was not deep dish.”

in performance: maura o'connell

Given the bounty of love songs that continue to make up Irish songstress Maura O’Connell‘s concert repertoire, it’s amazing she has not dissolved into a complete sentimentalist. Maybe that’s because this fine one hour and 45 minute performance at Cincinnati’s Seton Concert Hall on Jan. 12 allowed her to scatter the thematic perspective a bit.

There were songs of euphoric, gossipy, familial, cautionary and even violent love written by Van Morrison (the show closing encore of Crazy Love), John Gorka (a darkly melodic Blue Chalk), The Beatles (a soft but appropriately wary If I Fell) and Gerry O’Beirne (several, including a gentle remembrance of O’Connell’s native County Clare, The Shades of Gloria).

As fascinating as this emotional fragmentation was, the show didn’t spiral into a sentimental sinkhole because O’Connell’s confident vocal command never allowed it to. Her vocals were full of enough unadorned and unforced emotive detail that love ballads, as well as more despondent heartache tunes, were sold without theatrically inclined vocal tricks. Her only assistance came from longtime guitarist John Mock and bassist/harmony singer Don Johnson.

Appealing as the love notes were, the show’s most arresting moments came when O’Connell shifted gears to perform Holly Near’s Hay Una Mujer Desaparecida, a worldly lament for murdered and missing Chileans under Junta-led rule. Sung almost entirely in a capella Spanish, it conjured a chill that registered swiftly with a very different part of the heart altogether.


The Boston Globe (Boston, MA) December 11, 2005 | Megan Tench, Globe Staff “Who’s next?” shouts Muriel Taylor Kennedy.

It’s a typical Monday at Muriel’s Natural Hair Studio, and Kennedy is holding court.

Customers crammed in the corners of the modestly furnished Dorchester salon have come from as far as the Cape to wait hours for a spot in a stylist’s swivel chair. And here, the specialty is “locks.” One by one, patrons let down their nappy coils to have them tightened, dyed, braided, or cornrowed, an hours-long process to keep them growing healthy and looking fresh.

Kennedy’s work is well known in the city; Mayor Thomas M. Menino recently recognized her as “The Queen of Locks.” A framed certificate, signed by Menino and propped on a rickety display case by the front door, attests to her royal status.

“You, come here,” Kennedy says, pointing to a new customer, her Trinidadian accent echoing over the R&B music pumping softly from a compact disc player.

“Why do you want to lock your hair?” she demands of the startled patron. The small shop, functionally equipped with a few hairdryers, mirrors, and worn black leather chairs, suddenly goes silent.

Frequent customers are used to this kind of blunt questioning; still, they raise their eyebrows and exchange knowing smirks. Kennedy will not touch a client’s hair until she hears that the customer is committed to maintaining the style.

Muriel’s is where hundreds of dreadlocked Bostonians got their start in the world of natural coils and coiffures.

It’s where Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez gets his locks twisted by the stylists, who are known in the hairstyling world as “lockticians.” It’s where judges, police officers, and college students, among others, spend $50 to more than $200 for the expertise and support it takes to embrace a look that in the last 10 years has gone from taboo to trendy.

They wait their turn on a tightly packed row of uncomfortable chairs. They pass the time reading old magazines, chatting, or enjoying the spiced beef patties and ginger tea that street entrepreneurs sell from the trunks of their cars.

Far from the swanky salons on Newbury Street, Kennedy has carved her own niche on Blue Hill Avenue. She has also has a salon in Trinidad, and plans to open another in North Carolina in June.

Her path from homelessness to successful businesswoman was not easy. Kennedy came to Boston at 15 in 1974 a time when racial turmoil over busing erupted on the streets.

She completed high school and earned her cosmetology license, but commuted to New York to get her start in the world of black hair care. She briefly apprenticed at the famed salon Khamit Kinks in New York, where she helped to style stars such as singer Stevie Wonder and supermodel Naomi Campbell.

But then her apartment on Norfolk Street in Roxbury burned down. For a time she was homeless, then on welfare, and styling hair from her kitchen until her father saved enough money to help her open up the salon.

It was then, in 1995, when locks in Boston took off.

“Of course she’s the queen,” says Ulus Martins, 54, a Wareham construction worker, as he patiently waited for a seat under the salon’s bonnet-style hair dryer. “Muriel has been doing locks since locks started locking in Boston.” Black Bostonians, especially in the 1970s, shied away from the hairstyle despite its popularity in cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Atlanta, Martins said.

“If you wore dreadlocks back in the 1970s, you were a marked man in Boston,” Martins says. “You were seen as defiant. You were not accepted. You couldn’t even get a job.” Even today, the hairstyle is often associated with Rastafarians, political protest, and marijuana use, because of the popularity of such dreadlocked reggae musicians as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.

But Kennedy, who opened her tiny salon on Blue Hill Avenue nearly a decade ago, is quick to challenge the old stereotypes.

“Don’t tell me I have dread locks,” she snaps. “There is nothing dreadful about my hair. What I have is locks. There is a difference, you know.” The 48-year-old mother of three, who wears gold earrings, fur- lined winter boots, and locks down to her waist, takes her role as a natural stylist seriously.

She turns up her nose at the beeswax and chemical pomades used by some stylists to forge thick blocks of unruly matted hair into dreadlocks.

“That’s not what I’m about,” she says.

She prefers locks that are hand-rolled, twisted, and intertwined into cylindrical coils of hair. They take most customers six months to a year to grow.

“I always wanted to do it, but I didn’t have the guts,” says JoAnne Casmir, 26, a mental health counselor from Roxbury. She has answered Kennedy’s questions and now is ready to get started. this web site natural hair blogs

“It is a long process,” says locktician Peaches Taylor, Kennedy’s 25-year-old daughter. “But locks are clean and neat. It’s natural hair. Anyone can do it.” Kennedy recently signed over ownership of Muriel’s to her daughter as a birthday present. Taylor’s multicolored spray of knotty coils stands in contrast to her mother’s black twists, but she remains loyal to the queen’s philosophy.

It’s now Taylor’s job to make sure no one leaves Muriel’s studio without understanding the anatomy of a lock, the time it will take, and what the coils should say to the rest of the world. All new customers must agree to read Nekhena Evans’s “Hairlocking: Everything You Need To Know” while they wait.

“I wasn’t sure how people would see it, and how it would be at my job,” says Adrienne Alston, a Boston high school teacher, who started growing locks three years ago. “But, you know what? I got tired of spending all of that money on chemical relaxers, frying up my hair. Now, I see my hair as an acceptance of myself.” Megan Tench can be reached at

Megan Tench, Globe Staff

critic's pick 1

the johnny cash showVarious Artists
The Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show

In just under two years – from the summer of 1969 to the spring of 1971 – Johnny Cash pioneered a TV variety program that remains to this day one of the wildest genre-busting musical cavalcades ever to hit prime time. Among the guests appearing with the Man in Black were the top country stars of the day (Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Tammy Wynette), champion rock troupes (Creedence Clearwater Revival, Eric Clapton’s Derek and the Dominos), soul veterans (Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder) and members of folk royalty that seldom, if ever, promoted themselves on television (Bob Dylan, Neil Young).

Cash, of course, was hardly the first country artist to find a niche on TV. But where most distributed their programs through syndication, Cash had a national network (ABC) as his pulpit. And he was quite possibly the only one with enough artistic and commercial clout to select his own guest performers.

A new single disc anthology of broadcasts from The Johnny Cash Show covers only a modest portion of the program’s stylistic breadth. But what a ride it offers.

The country monarchs stick mostly to proven hits but still sound regal. Wynette performs Stand By Your Man with great orchestral clarity, Jennings gives a sly Texas twist to Brown Eyed Handsome Man that recalls his rock ‘n’ roll roots more than a then-blooming outlaw image and a largely unknown Kris Kristofferson comes across as a country-esque Leonard Cohen on his signature hit Loving Her Was Easier.

Then come the curve balls. Clapton performs a rare live version of It’s Too Late, the Chuck Willis heartbreaker that became a roaring anthem of torchy despondency on the Dominos’ immortal Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs album. There is a suggestion of country blues in its guitar work, but Clapton makes no concessions. It’s Too Late still pounds with reserved remorse and serves as one of the guitarist’s final recorded triumphs before sailing in a drug induced exile that would last years.

The great Charles, whose grand side trips into country triggered some of his most daring music, goes for broke by ripping into the Cash classic Ring of Fire and transforming it into a session rooted more in gospel cool than country. The song is still a fervent testimonial, though.

Cash uncorks a pretty wild surprise himself by performing Dylan’s Girl from the North Country with Joni Mitchell. The drama isn’t as deep as when Cash sang it with Dylan on the show (a performance released on a more comprehensive two-disc DVD set late last year) and Mitchell bows more to the pop conscious singing of Judy Collins than her own stark performance patterns. But as pure pop curiosity, the performance is spectacular.

Playing more to Cash’s mountainous country strength is the ‘50s gospel hit Daddy Sang Bass. Cash introduces it as the tune that caught the ears of Sun Records (“It was the first song I sang for The Man”) and then performs it with upstanding and, yes, righteous pride alongside The Carter Family, The Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins, The Tennessee Three and, of course, wife June Carter Cash.

Such company served as Cash’s concert entourage for years. But the coolest aspect of The Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show was how the singer made rock, country, soul and folk giants all sound like extended family. And with these long lost recordings back in print, we are once again made to feel like welcome guests.


US Fed News Service, Including US State News October 13, 2006 The University of North Carolina School of Medicine issued the following press release:

A new study from researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides evidence that excess abdominal fat can affect breast cancer survival.

The researchers followed 1,254 women ages 20 to 54 diagnosed with invasive breast cancer between 1990 and 1992. Women with a waist-to-hip ratio greater than 0.80, which indicates higher concentrations of abdominal fat, were 52 percent more likely to die of breast cancer in the next nine years compared to those with ratios at or below 0.80, after adjusting for the effects of obesity, the researchers said. People with a high waist-to-hip ratio typically have an apple shape, with fat concentrated in the abdomen.

The study also shows obesity has a detrimental effect on breast cancer survival, the researchers said. Women with a body mass index greater than 30, which indicates obesity, were 48 percent more likely to die during the nine year study period than women of ideal weight. If the study participants were both overweight (body mass index greater than 25) and had a waist-to-hip ratio above 0.80, their risk of dying increased by 92 percent. in our site debt to income ratio calculator

“These results demonstrate that obesity, particularly abdominal fat, decreases a woman’s chance of surviving breast cancer, even if she is premenopausal at the time of diagnosis,” said Dr. Marilie Gammon of UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and a professor of epidemiology in UNC’s School of Public Health. “Our goal is to identify factors that will enhance survival among women with breast cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight throughout adult life is something women can do to improve their survival.” The study appears in the Oct. 15 issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. Funding was provided by the National Cancer Institute and Public Health Service grants from National Institutes of Health.

Lead author Page Abrahamson, a postdoctoral researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, Wash., said excess abdominal fat may influence breast cancer prognosis in the same way obesity affects the odds of developing breast cancer. These influences include increased exposure to estrogen or developing insulin resistance. Abrahamson conducted the study as a graduate student in UNC’s School of Public Health. web site debt to income ratio calculator

To measure the effects of abdominal fat and obesity on breast cancer survival, Abrahamson and her colleagues followed 1,264 premenopausal women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer between 1990 and 1992 living in metropolitan Atlanta or a five-county region of New Jersey. Shortly after diagnosis, interviewers asked participants to report weight and height at 20 years old and the year before diagnosis. The interviewers also measured body fat indicators such as waist and hip circumference.

Study co-authors are from: Emory University, Atlanta, Ga.; Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, N.Y.; the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga.; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Wash.; and the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.

Dr. Gammon, 919/966-7421,; Dianne Shaw, 919/966-7834,; Becky Oskin, 919/962-8596,

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