Archive for May, 2008

summer begins

Those prehistoric time keeping devices known as calendars remind us the start of summer is still nearly a month away. But as any champion of the season knows, summer as a state of mind and a means for all kinds of outdoor recreation, kicks off this weekend.

Our neighbors to the north are smashing the proverbial bottle of champagne against the hull of the season by christening a brand new outdoor concert venue on Saturday. Well, actually it’s a little addition to a big hangout we’ve known about for decades.

This weekend marks the opening of the National City Pavilion at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati. Located adjacent to Riverbend’s box office, the new venue is a smaller ampitheatre that seats roughly 4,000. That’s actually intimate when you consider the main Riverbend stage accommodates, with its massive lawn area, 20,000.

Sunday’s Sheryl Crow and Jason Mraz performance was to have been the first show in an inaugural season for the National City Pavilion that will include concerts by The Moody Blues (June 6), The Raconteurs (June 10), Stevie Nicks (June 26), Steely Dan (July 13), Merle Haggard (Aug. 7) an O.A.R. (Aug. 12).

But the venue decided to let one of Ohio’s own preside over the official grand opening. On Saturday, Over the Rhine will get the summer underway at the pavilion with a special performance program. Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler (pictured above) will perform Over the Rhine’s 2003 double album Ohio in its entirety for the occasion.

Tickets for all National City Pavilion shows are available through TicketMaster, (859) 281-6644.

Over the Rhine performs at 8 p.m. May 24 at National City Pavilion in Cincinnati. Tickets are $21.75, $31.75, $41.75.

Sheryl Crow and Jason Mraz play at 8 p.m. May 25, also at National City Pavilion. Tickets are $51.75, $66.25, $79.25.

biting the hand

Turns out Kenny Chesney’s fourth straight win as Entertainer of the Year at Sunday’s Academy of Country Music Awards wasn’t exactly a career defining moment.

An Associated Press story said Chesney ripped into the Academy backstage at the ceremony for letting fans, not actual ACM members, vote for the show’s top trophy.

Chesney reportedly claimed the Entertainer of the Year award had become “a sweepstakes to see who can push people’s buttons the hardest on the internet.”

“I’m surprised by that,” said James Otto in a phone interview yesterday. Otto, whose Just Got Started Lovin’ You currently sits at No. 1 on the Billboard country singles chart, will perform with Hank Williams, Jr. and Lynyrd Skynyrd at Rupp Arena on May 30. “I mean, he won. Again. I would imagine he’s got plenty of fans out there who are happy to vote for him.”

A follow-up AP story then mentioned Chesney’s MySpace page carried banners in recent weeks encouraging fans to vote for him at the ACMs.

None of this is food for debate, mind you. The ACMs are just another in a freight train of award shows that seem to ensure commercial country music is always getting a pat on the pack from somebody. Arts organizations, in general, seem sadly devoted to such ego stroking rituals. But it took Chesney’s hand biting remarks to unintentionally highlight the most numbing aspect of awards shows. In short, the more marginalized the product that’s being represented becomes, the more repetitious, predictable and shallow the award process is revealed to be.

Just look at the stats from Sunday’s ACMs alone: aside from Chesney’s repeat win, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood were crowned top male and female vocalists, just as they were last year. Rascal Flatts won for vocal group for the sixth straight time. Topping them all, though, was Brooks & Dunn. They took honors as top duo for the 13th time in as many years.

Kind of makes you think back to a remark Dennis Miller made ages ago as a cast member of Saturday Night Live about the pairing of Mick Jagger and David Bowie for a benefit recording of the Motown hit Dancing in the Street: “C’mon, guys. Kick back on the porch with a cool glass of Country Time and let the kids have the sandbox for awhile.”

So having fans decide, or not, the ACM accolades is a moot point. But what was underscored most by this little outburst was just how big the blinders have become that are being worn by the country music industry these days. Sure, other award shows championing other forms of music and art aren’t guiltless of this. But Nashville had to go to Las Vegas to emphasize it all with a live prime time TV ceremony that wound up with its biggest star crying foul because he won. Again.

As host Reba McEntire said, in commercials leading up to the ceremony, “It’s country’s night to shine.”

Yes, ma’am. Country was shining so bright on Sunday that it blinded itself.

(above copyrighted Associated Press photo of Kenny Chesney performing at Sunday’s Academy of Country Music Awards ceremony is by Mark J. Terrill)

Meet Mitt Romney.(News)

Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO) October 26, 2006 Byline: Rocky Mountain News Age: 59 Job: Governor of Massachusetts Party: Republican Family: Wife, Ann; five sons; 10 grandchildren Education: Brigham Young University, 1971; Harvard University Law School, 1975 Career: Vice president of Bain and Co. Inc., a Boston-based management consulting firm. In 1984, he founded Bain Capital, an investment company that founded, acquired or invested in hundreds of companies, including Staples, Domino’s Pizza and Brookstone. Elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002, he inherited a $3 billion deficit and turned it into a $1 billion surplus. mitt romney news website mitt romney news

Other claim to fame: With the 2002 Winter Olympics mired in controversy and debt, Romney took over as head of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. He wiped out a $379 million operating deficit, organized 23,000 volunteers, rallied the community to put on a widely lauded Olympics despite the intense, post-9/11 security.

Why him?

“Here’s a Mormon who won in a predominantly Catholic state. Here’s a Republican who won in an overwhelmingly Democratic state. The guy’s obviously got something going for him.” John Suthers, Colorado attorney general CAPTION(S):

Photo Mitt Romney

critic’s pick 20

The 30 compositions spread out over the 90 minutes and two discs that encompass History, Mystery echo the musical landscape of guitarist Bill Frisell’s concert performances. The setting is rich in Americana, from its stark atmospheric plains to elemental touchstones of tradition to occasional interpretations of pop, country and jazz gems that serve as guideposts when the music turns mercurial.

History, Mystery expands that view, though, in its stylistic reach, instrumentation and recording approach, which is an assimilation of studio and concert performances. The American imagery here is still strong, as in the dark atmospherics that summon the South of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird in Boo and Scout, the balmy blend of reverb and chamber-style intrigue on Struggle and the sweaty blast of churchy street soul that hits courtesy of the Sam Cooke classic A Change is Gonna Come.

The latter even uses the audience applause that begins and ends the performance as punctuation. It’s one of the few moments when History, Mystery‘s musical dreamscape halts even for a moment. A similar effect is used during the eight minute Waltz for Baltimore, a rumbling suite that initially sidesteps the blues before embracing them wholeheartedly. The rest of History, Mystery, however, runs like a freight train, a continuous, connected mix of meditation and musical cunning.

Most of Frisell’s original compositions on History, Mystery grew out of a multi-media program with animation artist Jim Woodring called Mysterio Simpatico. Woodring’s surreal cartoon creatures have graced the covers of several Frisell albums (most notably 1998’s Gone, Just Like a Train and 2001’s Bill Frisell with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones). That playful spirit surfaces here on the Zappa-like pizzicato of Question #2 and the giddy, broken swing found in a cover of Thelonious Monk’s Jackie-ing.

But as Frisell has always been more of an ensemble player than a grandstanding soloist, History, Mystery places his guitarwork in primarily supportive and collaborative roles.

Though he employs a full octet complete with a rhythm section and brass, the primary leads are provided by the strings of his 858 Quartet – namely, violinist Jenny Scheinman, violist Eyvind Kang and cellist Hank Roberts. At times, the strings (and that includes Frisell) collectively color History, Mystery, as in the plaintive, neo-waltz shades of What We Need and the darker gypsy cast of Onward. In other instances, Frisell steps back and serves as a sort of counterpoint commentator to the music, as on two takes of Lazy Robinson. The first is an odd ballet that lets Ron Miles set the tone on cornet before the strings ooze forth. The second is initiated by Frisell so that horns can straggle in prior to the strings to complete the tune’s staunch Southern attitude.

Finally, there are three versions of Monroe, the last of which concludes the album in a stirring, hushed string dialogue with Scheinman.

Woodring adds, in his hysterical album notes, that he and Frisell once engaged in hatchet throwing contests. That figures. Such mischief alludes to the daring, almost aloof sound of History, Mystery. But with this extraordinary ensemble music, Frisell hits his highly improbable target dead on.

current listening 05/19

Last’s week off-hours listening included…

T Bone Burnett: Tooth of Crime – Some of the most lavishly decadent music this side of Tom Waits, Tooth of Crime sets free songs Burnett penned for a Sam Shepard play of the same name nearly 12 years ago. Accompanied by a “torture chamber orchestra” that includes guitar renegade Marc Ribot and ex-wife Sam Phillips, the album boasts epic pop sweeps (Kill Zone) and percussive doomsday reveries (Here Come the Philistines).

Brad Mehldau Trio: Live – The only thing obvious about this two-disc set cut in October 2006 at New York’s fabled Village Vanguard is the album title. Captured in a seemingly less pensive mood than usual, pianist Mehldau presents the Soundgarden hit Black Hole Sun with a stride lyrical enough to make you think Vince Guaraldi was at the keys. Similarly, a nearly 15 minute take on John Coltrane’s Countdown emphasizes the trio’s keen swing.

Jefferson Airplane: Jefferson Airplane at the Family Dog – The latest in a series of archival concert recordings, Family Dog places the Airplane on home turf in San Francisco in September 1969. The music is scrappy and dark, with Volunteers material sounding righteously ragged. But the jams that open and close the album, the latter of which brings Jerry Garcia to the fold to foil with Jorma Kaukonen, are way, way cool.

Allan Holdsworth: All Night Wrong – An extraordinary but unflashy guitarist with a solid fusion sound and modest prog rock leanings, Holdsworth has been largely invisible in recent years save for the this efficient sounding concert recording from 2002 cut with two longtime pals: bassist Jimmy Johnson and one-time Frank Zappa drummer Chad Whackerman. The guitar tone is wiry, elastic, rockish and wily as all get out.

Larry Coryell: Private Concert – An altogether different guitar record by another fusion giant caught in a solo acoustic mood. Despite the title, this is a studio date. But the sense of intimacy is strong, from the opening, bluesy gusts of Sonny Rollins’ Sonnymoon for Two to the neatly crafted, multi-tracked “duets” Coryell plays with himself on a suitably warm sounding Hot House and a summery take on Dizzy Gillespie’s Brother K. A delight.


in performance: liam finn

In a robustly physical and thoroughly engaging set last night at the 930 Listening Room in Louisville that centered on the assembly, embellishment and rapid deconstruction of pop melodies, Liam Finn worked, in essence, as a one man band.

Sure, the New Zealand songsmith had a fellow down under pal, E J Barnes, along as a harmony vocalist, percussionist and all around onstage sparring partner. But Finn largely served as his own rhythm section by playing guitar and drums and then creating loops and delays that let riffs initiated on both instruments bounce about like jettisoned spirits in the sound mix.

On the show opening Better to Be, for example, a live guitar riff was quickly recycled as a loop. A second guitar loop was added. Then came a bass groove, a slashing surf-style guitar lick and a move by Finn to a stand-up drum kit. The tune swelled and then subsided with a very singular sense of orchestration that sounded as homemade as it did technologically stirring.

But such a literally loopy concert design would have quickly disintegrated into a tired, static novelty act if Finn didn’t possess a bold command of pop essentials to begin with. In other words, under all the loops and pedal effects was a keenly emotive singing voice that was equally at home with the melodic swagger of Fire in Your Belly and the more folkish reflection of Energy Spent.

Likewise, the songs – all of which, save a goofy mid-set improvisation, were pulled from Finn’s debut album, I’ll Be Lightning – possessed a literary wistfulness crossed with the kind of human conflict that, in lesser hands, would have come off as grossly sentimental. With Finn, such aggressions – like the “vicious love” saga spelled out during I’ll Be Lightning‘s title track or the more winter melancholy of Remember When – would have been electric had they been played completely straight.

In fact, if you zeroed in on Finn’s high, lyrical singing and the mix of pensive and passionate storylines, you heard the unmistakable sound of his father, Crowded House founder Neil Finn. But add in the loop effects and the like, including the blast of hair-raising, intensely fuzzy guitar that sent shock waves throughout Remember When, and you had a performance rooted in pure pop craftsmanship that was also ripe with a drive and urgency all its own.

When Finn took to the drums as guitar loops bounced around during Second Chance, the effect seemed – at least, initially – almost punkish. But in the end, Finn’s deliriously unhinged backbeat steered closer to unadorned garage rock.

Barnes (another pop celebrity offspring; she’s the daughter of Aussie rocker Jimmy Barnes) added nicely to the fun by sampling and looping vocal purrs and shrieks. But even she couldn’t help but crack up at times when Finn’s sense of instrumental devilry went into overdrive.

“That’s a beautiful sound,” she remarked with a laugh as Finn concocted a scorched solo guitar grind in the midst of Lead Balloon. Finn replied with another blast of ornery noise that sounded for all the world like electronic flatulence.

Killer songs, a performance drive both playful and inventive, and a mischievous spirit that was pure rock ‘n’ roll – all were parts of an evening’s work for this thoroughly modern Finn.

GOING GOOGLE+. see here google apps for education

States News Service October 27, 2011 WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The following information was released by Wake Forest University:

By Stephanie Skordas Office of Communications and External Relations Today Google announced that the social networking tool Google+ has launched for colleges and universities who are using its Apps for Education tools. Wake Forest is among the first in the nation to bring the new app to campus, making it even easier for collaboration to go viral.

While 62 of the top 100 universities use Google Apps for Education, only a handful committed to providing access to the Google+ social network as it launched on the Education platform on Oct. 27. And Wake Forest, which began using Google in June, is one of those launch partners.

More information Google+ ideas for students ‘ Google+ ideas for faculty and staff ‘ Google+ help site ‘ That means everyone at Wake Forest can sign up for Google+ immediately. The social networking site allows you to create a user profile; post items to your stream; easily create circles of friends, classmates, experts or more; and launch a video hangout with nine others. Using Hangout on Air allows you to record your session and broadcast it.

Fred Salsbury, associate professor of physics, imagines using Google+ for virtual office hours: “With one of my classes being held with students in multiple locations on multiple campuses, I can have a Google+ Hangout at specific times to make collaborating with students even more convenient.” How will you use Google+? Here are just a few ideas from students, faculty and staff at Wake Forest: website google apps for education

Create a shared Circle for a specific class Connect prospective Study Abroad students with current students who are overseas so they can learn more about the culture and challenges through Circles or Hangouts Hold a study group Develop a shared Circle of experts or sources for a class to follow Follow a Circle of alumni for networking or career development Stay in touch with fellow students over holidays or after graduation with Circles and Hangouts “When students are contemplating college, one of their greatest concerns is: “Where will I plug in, will I have friends and how will I find people who are interested in the same things I am?'” Dean of Admissions Martha Allman said. “Google+ provides a tool to help the students find communities and to belong – maybe even before they arrive on campus.” Matthews said that it’s natural to offer the service to the entire campus since Wake Forest is the first university in the world to hold a system-wide Cisco WebEx license and was the second university in the country to provide students laptops when they enrolled, a program which began in the mid-1990s.

know your own

Neighbors will be helping neighbors over at Al Bar’s tonight. The occasion is a record release party for the third and newest edition of Know Your Own, the free CD anthology series of local indie music compiled and overseen by the ever-industrious Ross Compton.

But that’s just half the agenda. The celebration, along with performances by four Know Your Own acts – Thee American Revolution, Bedtime, Matt Duncan and The Joybombs – will help raise further funds for WRFL-FM’s “Build the Tower, Boost the Power” fund.

There is barely a wasted second on the newest Know Your Own sampler – literally. It squeezes in tracks from 29 different artists onto a single 80 minute CD. The running time: 79:59. Really.

Among the many highlights: the jangly power pop of The High Water Marks’ Finding Clovers, the folk/jazz psychedelia of Eyes and Arms of Smoke’s In Your Room at Night, the flamenco-friendly strut of Noisycrane’s I’m Walking Through the Room and You’re Asleep, the cheery electronica of Big Fresh’s As It May Be, the organic hip-hop of Dialectics’ Incognito, the orchestral loops that give way to the wide-eyed pop of The Joybombs’ Washed Away and the aloof guitar beatfest of The Oxford Farm Report’s We Wear Blinders.

(Above photo of Jeremy Midkiff by Herald-Leader staff photographer Whitney Waters. Midkiff plays with The Joybombs, although this shot caught him in action earlier this month at FreeKy Fest with Big Fresh.)

The release party for Know Your Own, Vol. 3 gets underway at 8 tonight at Al’s Bar, 6th and N. Limestone. $5. Call (859) 252-9104.

the younger finn

It was an intriguing but intense few minutes when Liam Finn dug into Second Chance, one of the many fine pop delicacies from his debut solo album I’ll Be Lightning, in February on the Late Show with David Letterman.

First up was a fetching melody on acoustic guitar over which Finn’s airy and emotive vocals quietly sailed. Then Finn turned the guitar line into a computerized loop that played on by itself. Next, he tapped in a few guitar colors to embellish the groove. Those also bounced about in independent repetition.

With the delayed effects creating an orchestrated backdrop of sorts with help from vocalist/percussionist EJ Barnes, Finn moved over to the drums and bashed about like a child bent on making all the playful racket he could muster. Finally, without warning, the mix of live and delayed music stopped, Finn shot off the drum stool and the performance was over.

The effect of having a musical mood pieced together in almost piecemeal technological fashion and then halted with the immediacy of a light switch being turned off was rather dramatic. Even the tough-to-impress Letterman seemed momentarily stunned when Finn got to his feet.

“I’ve always played a lot of instruments and I’ve always dabbled with the loop pedal in the privacy of my own home,” said Finn, who performs tonight at The 930 Art Center in Louisville as part of a double bill with Oregon songsmith Laura Veirs. “So when I started doing live solo shows and trying my songs out, I knew how to utilize what I do on different instruments to make things more interesting than just a singer-songwriter kind of show.”

Such a singular performance sound backed by a solid sense of pop songcraft has given Finn a rich musical voice of his own. And when you’re a Finn, standing out among the family ranks, let alone a torrent of other new indie acts, is a tough task. After all, he is the son of Crowded House leader Neil Finn and the nephew of Split Enz founder, veteran solo artist and one time House-mate Tim Finn.

“I’ve tried hard not to use the family thing to get a leg up on anyone,” the younger Finn said. “But people are always going to ask about it.

“I mean, I love my dad’s music. I love my uncle’s music. I’m proud to be a Finn and would never be embarrassed by it or want to get away from it. But I’ve tried to make my music my first and foremost thing. And hopefully, that music speaks for itself.”

So far, it has and then some. I’ll Be Lightning has earned wildly enthusiastic critical praise since its release in late January and has kept Finn continually on the road for nearly a year.

As far back as last summer, Finn opened for, and served as an auxiliary member of, Crowded House. Then as recently as last month, he served as a warm-up act for Eddie Vedder’s first solo tour.

“That was amazing,” Finn said. “We got to play in some really beautiful theatres. I also got to play a few songs with Eddie himself each night, which was a real buzz. It was a luxurious little tour in the middle of all this little person touring.”

 Laura Viers and Liam Finn perform at 8 p.m. Friday at the 930 Art Center, 930 Mary St. in Louisville. Tikcets are $13. Call (502) 635-2554.

dottie rambo, 1934-2008

A few years ago, I was invited by the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame to sit in on a committee that reviewed potential inductees for its 2006 ceremony.

As everyone in the room represented varying degrees of musical interest and intent, our choices purposely ran all over the stylistic map, from obvious country and bluegrass celebrities to less heralded names from the worlds of jazz and theatre.

Curiously, one name popped up on everyone’s list: Dottie Rambo. The Madisonville native was a multi-generational voice of Southern gospel that also possessed an expansive and often fearless view of country music

How fearless? Well, these ears were largely unfamiliar with the literally thousands of songs she wrote that were subsequently covered by such varied artists as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Porter Wagoner, Charlie Louvin, Bill Monroe, Andrae Couch and dozens of others. It took newer covers of her music by Alison Krauss with the Cox Family and Rhonda Vincent to make her lasting influence more personally visible.

My introduction to Rambo came by way of an extraordinary 1974 country-roots solo album by Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickey Betts (who went by Richard Betts at the time). Titled Highway Call, the recording favored not Rambo’s songwriting, but her sterling singing alongside then-husband Buck and daughter Reba.

Hearing the Rambos harmonize with unspoiled country gospel cheer alongside Betts on guitar and dobro and the equally joyous piano playing of Chuck Leavell (now a co-hort of the Rolling Stones) was a wake-up call to then-teenaged ears that thought a Betts solo session would offer little more than a mild variation on the Allmans’ signature Southern rock recipe.

A Grammy winning artist, Rambo survived health difficulties and severe, almost soap opera-ish upheavels in her personal and business life. Last weekend, as we all know now, Rambo died in a bus accident at the age of 74 while enroute to a Mother’s Day concert in Texas.

Rambo’s veteran fans can likely reel off scores of appropriate song titles that would do a remembrance of her career proud. I can’t help but recommend Highway Call, which was reissued on CD in 2001.

Betts obviously dominates the album. But within its grooves, you hear a Kentucky voice full of country faith that never falters. 

critic's pick 19

Who else but the veteran European jazz label ECM would issue an album called January with summer at the proverbial doorstep? Who else would then conjure a session full of sparsely designed, sublimely executed piano trio chill and wrap it up in cover art of a twilight skyline blurred to obscure any identity?

In quiet but striking fashion, ECM has remained true on January to its defining sound. The label has veered off at times into more abstract exercises, taken boppish retreats and occasionally delved into electronic, even rockish diversions. But January boasts everything that has made ECM music so arresting over the past three-plus decades: an improvisational sensibility rooted in jazz, a soloist/leader with a sense of musical reserve as versed as the technical command of his instrument and compositions ripe with rich impressionism.

Last year, the trophy for the most ECM-like ECM album went to Norweigan pianist Tord Gustavsen and a recording of jazz sleight-of-hand called Being There. While 2008 isn’t even half over yet, the winner of this year’s prize will likely be Polish pianist Marcin Wasilewski. Unlike Gustavsen, Wasilewski has a prized apprenticeship under his belt. Since 2001, he and the rest of the trio on January – bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewicz – have played behind the celebrated Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko as the free-jazz pioneer developed more melodic form for his music. The group also issued an ECM record of its own called simply Trio.

January understandably places the focus on Wasilewski’s meditative playing, but its ensemble sound still underscores ECM’s warm but decidedly wintry timbre.

The First Touch sets the mood for January, albeit very slowly, with pastoral, mid-register piano and the slightest of brushed shuffles on drums. There are heavy suggestions here of the ‘70s improvised solo piano recordings of Keith Jarrett (which, what a surprise, were issued on ECM). Melodies are pronounced, but remain spacious and unhurried.

The January entries that spark the greatest contemplative warmth, however, are cover tunes – and pretty diverse ones at that. Ennio Morricone’s luscious theme to Cinema Paradiso glides along with almost the same airy tempo as The First Touch, with piano creating an icy glaze around a theme that stops just shy of melancholy.

Similarly, the trio’s take on Prince’s Diamonds and Pearls, with a theme introduced not by Wasilewski, but with the beautifully organic sounds of strings popping on wood by Kurkiewicz, is a ballet of sorts. The tune’s pop leanings melt into attractive, descending chords that are repeated just enough to remind you of the song’s origin. But once Wasilewski digs in, the tempo turns to the sort of rubato that recalls Lyle Mays’ late ‘70s piano orchestration for the Pat Metheny Group (also on ECM, by the way).

The modern and playful phrasing of Carla Bley’s King Korn kicks up some dust within these soundscapes. But a lovely reading of Stanko’s Balladyna, which cries out for a cameo by the composer, furthers January‘s blissful cool.

It should be noted that despite ECM’s preference for recording studios in Oslo, January was cut last year in New York – in February, no less. But when the music is so lusciously sedate as this, the times, locales, even season don’t matter. January, in this instance, is here and now.


States News Service February 8, 2012 WASHINGTON, DC — The following information was released by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform:

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) today announced that the committee will hold an official Congressional field hearing entitled, Exploring all the Energy Options and Solutions: South Texas as a Leader in Creating Jobs and Strengthening the Economy, on Monday, February 13, 2012, at 9:00 AM CST in the Performing Arts Center at Texas AandM University-Corpus Christi. The hearing, which is open to the public, will allow Members of Congress to hear testimony from experts about energy production in South Texas, the job creation it provides, and government red tape that impedes production efforts. go to web site corpus christi texas

Texas produces more energy than any other state. It ranks number one in crude oil production and Texas refineries account for one-fourth of the total amount of U.S. petroleum refining capacity. Texas also leads the country in natural gas production, producing approximately 30 percent of the nation’s supply. Over a one-year period from June 2010 to June 2011, the oil and gas industry added over 28,000 jobs to the economy, making up almost 13 percent of job growth in the state over that period. Texas is also the largest producer of wind power in the United States, since overtaking California in 2006. This hearing will analyze the contributions that Texas, particularly South Texas, is making to power the American economy and what could be done to ensure that this progress continues.

Details for Monday’s hearing in Corpus Christi:

What: Official Congressional Field Hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Corpus Christi, Texas – Exploring all the Energy Options and Solutions: South Texas as a Leader in Creating Jobs and Strengthening the Economy Date/Time: Monday February 13th at 9:00 AM CST (doors open at 8:30 AM) Hosted by: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform — Chairman Darrell Issa (CA) and Rep. Blake Farenthold (TX) have confirmed their attendance Location: Performing Arts Center at Texas AandM University-Corpus Christi 6300 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas Witnesses: go to site corpus christi texas

Ms. Elizabeth Ames Jones, Chairman, Railroad Commission of Texas Mr. Jeff Weis, Executive Vice President, Orion Drilling Company LLC Mr. Aaron Hees, President, Charro Operating LLC Mr. Charif Souki, Director, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Board, Cheniere Energy Partners, L.P.

Mr. Scott Stanford, Operations Manager, Royal Offshore, Royal Production Company, Inc.

Mr. Mark Leyland, Senior Vice President, Offshore Wind Projects, Baryonyx Corporation Mr. Roland C. Mower, President and Chief Executive Officer, Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation Mr. Robert E. Parker, President, Repcon, Inc.

fostering the blues

The longstanding definition of the blues has been one of hardship. Never mind how accurate that portrayal has been in reality, especially given that some of the genre’s most arresting music has been nothing sort of jubilant. The blues, as we have come to view them, have been marked by loss, solitude and no small degree of suffering.

Most of all, and this is one of the few points many major blues stylists tend to agree on, you have to live through life’s experiences to credibly sing about them.

If that it is truly the mark of vital, breathing blues music, then Janiva Magness is a scholar.

Just listen to her recordings, such as the forthcoming What Love Will Do album, her debut with the celebrated Chicago blues label Alligator Records after a nearly three-decade career. On it, you will hear funk fuming with brassy soul. You will hear deep pocket Southern grooves and chunks of churchy cool. You hear will tunes by Al Green (I’m Glad You’re Mine) and Annie Lennox (Bitter Pill) re-tooled to suit the sass and sensitivity of Magness’ fearless singing.

But look at Magness’ story, to the life that led her to music, and you discover a saga of survival.

A lost love? A broken heart? It’s nowhere near that simple. Magness has a tale to tell that is operatic in scale. And in recent years, she has been discussing it freely with lawmakers, care givers and victims of the same life circumstances she experienced.

That’s because Magness has discovered, in the midst of an extensive but still mounting blues career, the power to heal and the ability to share that resulting strength with others.

“There is a saying that tells us that which is your greatest tragedy can become your greatest asset,” Magness said. “I don’t know if my story would be my greatest asset. But it has awkwardly and unpredictably turned into a gift, one where I can now try to help other people as a result. Because I came out the other side.”

* * * *

At the age of 13, Magness’ mother committed suicide. A year later she ran away from home, lived on the street and began drinking and using drugs. During the two years that followed, she passed through 12 different foster homes and three psychiatric facilities. Just before Magness’ 16th birthday, her father killed himself. Following a subsequent pregnancy, she gave her daughter up for adoption. Her own thoughts of suicide were frequent.

She was finally placed with a single mother of five children who worked as a drug and alcohol counselor. To Magness, she became a mentor that helped piece together a shattered life. By the age of 18, Magness began re-examining a childhood loves of blues and R&B by auditioning for singing engagements.

Flash forward to a far brighter present. Magness has starred in the West Coast production of the Tony-nominated It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, has worked as a vocal sidekick to such varied blues and pop giants as Brian Setzer, R.L. Burnside and Jimmy Buffett and has recorded a string of critically acclaimed albums that led to her Alligator Records.

Magness also reconnected with her daughter. At age 51, the singer is now a proud grandmother.

“I can say to you honestly that I’m not hardwired for success in any arena,” Magness said. “I’m simply not. I’m obviously a fighter. But it’s been frightening because I’m not used to the idea of having a good life. And I have a remarkably good life for someone who came out of what I came out of. Experiences, I believe, form and shape our personalities.”

Living through the turmoil of her teen years was one thing. To publicly discuss her past was quite another. Initially, that wasn’t part of her new life. But that changed after talks with her publicist and long time friend Michael McClune. That’s when Magness realized she was in a position to help others.

“Michael knew me well enough to say, ‘You really should consider going public with your story.’ I was like, ‘I don’t think so.’ I mean, I never felt it was anybody’s business. But he thought I could help people. So I thought about it for well over a year because I really wanted to consider everything that might happen and that might be asked of me. That’s when I decided there was great merit in what Michael was saying.

“But here’s the prize I didn’t consider. Sharing my story with other people has helped me heal more.”

* * * *

Today, Magness balances duties as a blues artist with her work as national spokesperson for Casey Family Programs and their promotion of National Foster Care Month – which just happens to be May.

That means as she gears up for intensive summer touring behind the June 10 release of What Love Will Do, she is working just as aggressively as a public speaker for government organizations, care facilities and anyone who can benefit from her core message that one adult can make a substantial difference in the life of troubled child.

For Magness, such engagements focus on a very different means of performance to a very different audience. But the method of communication, she said, isn’t that removed from performing a blues tune at a club or festival.

“I’ve been taking money for singing songs for 33 years now,” Magness said. “The public speaking is something that became new to my world in the last couple of years. But in my experience and in my opinion, an audience is looking for a connection, whether it’s an audience in a club or an assembly of legislators. They are looking to relate. People want human connection.

“The experiences in the early part of my life no longer define me. But they are part of my landscape that feeds my music and informs my craft.”

(above photo of Janiva Magness by Paul Natkin)

Janiva Magness and Griffin House perform at 7 tonight at the Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St. as part of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. Tickets are $10. Call (859) 252-8888.

Food mag attack

Chicago Sun-Times October 14, 2009 | Janet Rausa Fuller Last week’s shuttering of Gourmet magazine leaves an emotional void in the hearts of many foodlovers, but it doesn’t exactly create a gulf on the newsstand. We counted 36 food glossies clamoring for our attention at the bookstore. Here’s what six of them offer up in their current issues. web site healthy breakfast ideas

Bon Appetit $4.50, 130 pages On the cover: A hunk of unnaturally shiny-looking short ribs.

Inside: Four sugar pumpkin recipes; a German Octoberfest feast for 12; eight menus using fall produce, and a luscious apple dessert spread. The “Family Style” column, appealing in theory as it promises a kid-friendly dinner for four, presents a turkey meatloaf that just looks lifeless.

What to make: Golden Delicious Apple and Cheddar Turnovers with Dried Cherries (page 112.) Why aren’t these on the cover?

Cooking Light $4.99, 204 pages On the cover: Braised beef, carrots and turnips.

Inside: Almost dizzying array of content: six 20-minute chicken dishes, a taste-test of boxed chicken broths, four pages of healthy breakfast ideas and more. We chuckled at photos for a travel story on Chicago that show Thomas Keller (with Alinea chef Grant Achatz) and Marcus Samuelsson. Achatz aside, they’re not exactly hometown talent, but oh well — we’re intrigued by the lightened-up recipes for Ann Sather’s cinnamon rolls, Italian beef sandwiches and deep-dish pizza.

Take-home tip: Stir a few tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce into homemade caramel sauce, then drizzle over ice cream or pie (page 48).

Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade $4.99, 106 pages On the cover: Sandra Lee in an orange sweater, holding a cake with orange fondant pumpkins.

Inside: Hard to tell where advertising ends and editorial begins, but then, there’s not much need for ads — recipes specify branded products (Knorr Asian Sides, Simply Potatoes). If you like Bisquick, you’re in luck — we counted six recipes using the mix.

Just a thought: Making the pinecone-dotted centerpiece (page 83) seems like it would take longer than making some of the recipes.

Saveur $5, 108 pages On the cover: Perfectly pink lamb chops with salsa verde.

Inside: The usual worldly mix of topics — a book review of chef-of- the-moment David Chang’s cookbook Momofuku; preserving heirloom apples, written by noted conservationist Gary Paul Nabhan; Italy’s craft beer movement; cinnamon’s history and eight recipes ranging from cinnamon hard candies to Indonesian chicken curry. Main feature on lamb is exhaustive — a guide to different cuts, eight recipes and marinade and sauce ideas. web site healthy breakfast ideas

Food porn alert: The photo of an herbed tomato tart (pages 70 and 71) nearly blinded us with its awesomeness.

Food & Wine $4.50, 212 pages On the cover: A rustic pizza and a fat glass of Pinot Noir.

Inside: Everything you ever wanted to know about wine but were afraid to ask. A clever story asks sommeliers to name their bacon, White Castle Slider and coffee equivalents of wine. Travel stories on Oaxaca, French wine country and vineyards by the sea, and a New York chef’s tapas recipes made easier.

Must-read: 15 rules for food and wine pairings. The companion recipes (pappardelle with veal ragu, honeyed fig crostatas) rock.

Everyday with Rachael Ray $3.99, 164 pages On the cover: Rachael Ray in an orange sweater, pushing a wheelbarrow full of leaves.

Inside: Surprisingly few photos of Ray. Plenty of loud graphics, and recipe after recipe after recipe. Octoberfest, tailgating and Halloween menus; a comparison of rice cookers (with four smart, quick recipes); five meals for less than $10, and a main spread on pasta by cookbook author Giuliano Hazan.

Woof: A soup recipe (page 160) — for the dog.

Color Photo: (See microfilm for photo description). ;

Janet Rausa Fuller

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