Archive for July, 2008

in performance: alan jackson/lee ann womack

alan jackson at applebee's park. herald leader staff photo by david stephenson.

alan jackson at applebee's park. photo by herald leader staff photographer david stephenson.

“Hey, you’re pretty lively for the middle of the week,” remarked the ever-casual Alan Jackson last night at Applebee’s Park.

To a degree, the Georgia-born hitmaker had correctly sized up the crowd of 4,500. After all, major country concerts are, as a rule, risky business when staged on anything other than a weekend night. And as any veteran of Jackson’s numerous Rupp Arena shows will tell you, 4,500 is roughly half of what the singer draws when he plays a Friday or Saturday in the great indoors.

But if this inaugural performance of the Alltech Festival lacked the sort of reckless abandon of a weekend bender at Rupp, it compensated by capitalizing on the unforced traditionalism that has long defined Jackson’s music. From a performance, performer and audience standpoint, this was an evening of artfully designed, G-rated, ultra-family friendly country. And, frankly, it wasn’t until Jackson’s 9/11 postscript, Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning) wound down, that one sensed what a rare and inviting thing such music can be.

Aside from a brief blast of guitar boogie that introduced Don’t Rock the Jukebox – an early Jackson hit that, underneath its electric exterior, was an ode to George Jones – nothing approximated the sleek pop that passes for country music today. Similarly, the show-opening Gone Country aside, Jackson didn’t waste time having to boast to his audience of just how “country” he was – which has become another cloying marketing device of modern day Nashville. Jackson, with a conversational tenor and unhurried stage demeanor, had credible country spirit to burn. He remains the biggest country traditionalist on the road today outside of George Strait. But where Strait’s music reflects the swing and honky tonk of his Lone Star upbringing, Jackson’s music opens up.

Piano, for example, drove a surprising portion of last night’s performance. As such, the light melodic drive of Little Bitty (which projected live shots of gleeful and genuinely jubilant kids in the audience onto three video screens behind the stage), Small Town Southern Man and even a tempered and playful cover of Summertime Blues possessed a distinct Southern air that fell well outside the Texas state line.

And when the sentimentalism of the program became a touch extreme, as on Remember When and A Woman’s Love, Jackson responded by underplaying the pathos. In other words, he remained last night one of the few country singers from the video age that didn’t try to sell a song like a bad actor.

Curiously, the concert’s highlight was the one tune where Jackson deviated from straight up country tradition. On the title tune to 2006’s Alison Krauss-produced Like Red on a Rose album, Jackson designed a studious after hours sound that balanced country sentiment with stark jazz and blues. The record was a brave experiment that worked. The performance simply made one hope for another royally blue sidetrip in the future.

Clouds quickly covered the setting sun when show opener Lee Ann Womack took the stage with her hit version of Buddy Miller’s swampy, spooky heartbreak meditation Does My Ring Burn Your Finger? The promised evening rains never arrived, however, so Womack launched into a diverse 50 minute set that leap-frogged from the traditionalism of the pedal steel saturated Never Again, Again (where the higher ends of Womack’s plaintive singing brought early Dolly Parton records to mind) to the rockier terrain occupied by Rodney Crowell’s Ashes By Now.

But like Jackson, Womack’s most emotive moments came when she tossed a blue-dipped curve to the ball park crowd. In this instance, it was an update of the spiritual Wayfaring Stranger. The performance’s mood bordered on the haunting with Womack elongating vowel sounds into teases of vocal wails that were balanced by raindrops of Rhodes-style keyboards and a touch of Santana-ish guitar. It all made for a display of inventive country cool.

jeff coffin: three band man

jeff cofffin will fill in for saxophonist leroi moore in the dave matthews band this summer.

jeff coffin will fill in for saxophonist leroi moore in the dave matthews band this summer.

How fitting that Jeff Coffin will find himself in a downtown Louisville baseball park tonight. After all, the saxophonist is proving to be rock ‘n’ roll’s top pinch hitter of the summer.

When LeRoi Moore, longtime sax man for the Dave Matthews Band, was seriously injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident in late June, Coffin was given the call. Familiar to the Matthews team through his decade-long work with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, which frequently opened concerts for the band, Coffin was asked to fill in for the rest of what turned out a very full DMB performance year.

Though he immediately accepted the gig, considerable calendar juggling had to be done. There was promotion work on deck for a new album by Coffin’s Mu’tet band called Mutopia, which was due out in only two weeks. There were also high profile Flecktones performances in Philadelphia and Boston with the groundbreaking fusion band Return to Forever to consider. While clinics and big band performances planned for Australia this month had to be scrapped, Coffin seems to have life as a three band man in order.

“It turned into a crazy summer all of a sudden,” Coffin said. “In other words, I got called on a Monday and was playing with the Dave Matthews Band on a Tuesday night. The challenge, then, that exists for me is to really be able to jump into their river and serve their music while retaining who I am.

“I’m sure this is strange for them also. LeRoi has been with them since their very beginning.”

Coffin credits trumpeter Rashawn Ross, a touring member of DMB since 2005, for helping ease the adjustment to touring life with the hugely successful jam band.

“He has really been a Godsend, man. He’s such a patient teacher. He has shown me the parts for the songs, helped me sketch stuff out. A lot of times, he will sing me a part and four bars later we’re playing it. I’m really honored to be part of all this.”

The only interruption on the DMB tour will be the Flecktones dates next week with Return to Forever. For Coffin (and especially Fleck), the idea of playing with RTF – keyboardist Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke, guitarist Al DiMeola and drummer Lenny White – means rubbing shoulders that with strong formative influences that helped shape the saxophonist’s music.

 “All of us in the Flecktones grew up listening to their music,” Coffin said of RTF. “Those guys helped open a lot of doors for us. They opened up musical possibilities that are still being explored today. So this is going to be a thrill, man. Bela is about out of his skin, he’s so excited. He’s like a little kid.”

The Flecktones will release a holiday album called Jingle All the Way before touring South America and Hawaii in November. The band is also scheduled to play the Brown Theatre in Louisville on Dec. 6. (Tickets go on sale Aug. 15.)

Beyond the lands of Matthews and Fleck, though, sits a place called Mutopia. It’s an enticing little paradise with a mix of fusion, bop, world music, modern grooves and pure jazz adventure that defines a musical approach the saxophonist adopts when he sits in the pilot’s seat.

Coffin cut Mutopia in mid December 2006, roughly a week after his Mu’tet  – keyboardist Kofi Burbridge (of the The Derek Trucks Band), bassist Felix Pastorius (son of iconic bass guitarist Jaco Pastorius) and drummer Roy “Futureman” Wooten (Coffin’s longtime Flecktones mate) – introduced the album’s music during a concert at The Dame.

But things do indeed mutate. During the Dame show, One In,One Out was essentially a bop joyride. On Mutopia, the swing gets a modern bounce with turntable turns by Nashville’s Black Cat Sylvester. The results recall the vintage Blue Note albums of soul sax stylist Lou Donaldson, but with a multi-generational groove.

“To me, the record really exemplifies the idea behind the Mu’tet,” Coffin said. “It comes from the word ‘mutation,’ which reflects my belief that music always has to be changing, morphing and mutating to be alive.”

Dave Matthews Band and Willie Nelson perform at 7 p.m. Aug. 1 at Slugger Field, 401 East Main St. in Louisville. $55, $65. Call (859) 281-6644.

in performance: dar williams

dar williams. photo by traci goudie.

dar williams. photo by traci goudie.

For the better part of the past decade, New Yorker/New Englander Dar Williams has performed regularly in Lexington, refining a songwriting approach rooted in the more sentimental regions of traditional folk. While certain themes in her songs have evolved over time, Williams’ music remains fascinated with affairs of the heart pared down to conversational essentials that are conveyed quite credibly by the more delicate contours of her voice.

Her nine-song return to the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour last night at the Kentucky Theatre was more of the same, although that is hardly an insinuation her performance (she was the program’s only guest) was a rerun. In fact, Williams was in the early stages of previewing and promoting a new album, Promised Land, which is still a month away from release.

The four songs pulled from the new record didn’t initially seem like the sort of confessional coffeehouse music Williams established her career with during the early ‘90s. Buzzer, in fact, was inspired by the Milgram experiments of obedience – specifically, a measurement of a person’s willingness to follow orders, even to the point of inflicting pain upon another individual – conducted at Yale University in the early 1960s. Seemingly consumed by a fear of fascism, the tune ripped along at a frantic clip. Yet it was riddled with a more pervasive sense of self-doubt – a very unromantic sense, mind you – that suggested the protagonist had indeed de-evolved into “a face, a cause of war.”

Heavy stuff, perhaps, but the song still possessed a wicked confessional streak. More in line with the sentimental ties of Williams’ past music was You Are Everyone, a story that began as a sort of Hollywood blues that sought comfort along darker, more distant shores as it forged a story of chance and trust.

The other Promised Land tunes, The Easy Way and It’s Alright, were simpler in design and flew to less dramatic extremes. The former quietly embraced a sense of freedom both elusive and deceptive (“easy is never easy anyhow”) while the latter seemed at odds with itself as it sought, and then resisted, personal change.

The WoodSongs set – an unaccompanied program, which is always the most complimentary performance setting for Williams’ music – stopped short of a full promotion for the new material, though. She opened with a long time concert favorite, The Babysitter’s Here, a hippie snapshot recounted by a child with a bittersweet air and ending. It’s hard to remember a time when Williams didn’t perform this one. But after nearly 15 years, The Babysitter’s Here still reflects some of her most direct, emotive and, yes, sentimental images as well as her ability to translate them into compelling storytelling.

Similar childhood themes ruled the Peter Pan-like parable When I Was a Boy  while a comparatively obscure cautionary story from 2000’s underrated The Green World album, Spring Street, closed the show, in Williams’ words, “at the crossroads of spiritualism and consumerism.”

The highlight, though, was February, a slice of subtle romanticism chilled by temperament as much as climate. Williams remarked afterward that she grew up in an upstate New York community where the winters were savage enough that spring seemed as though it had to be earned. Maybe so. But an hour’s worth of Williams’ wintry fancy on a midsummer night proved to be cordial and beautifully cool.

critic's pick 30

"Deja Vu Live"

CSNY: "Deja Vu Live"

CSNY is the newly adopted initialization of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young, the Woodstock-era rock alliance that briefly spit sparks when the social idealism of the ‘60s gave way to the bleak reality and quagmire of the Vietnam War. Déjà Vu was their one and only studio album of the period – a 1970 record of jagged electric fire, lost American dreams and hippie hope.

All of which might suggest, Déjà Vu Live is an in-performance recreation of the original, which it is only in part. Recorded during a concert tour in 2006, only two songs from the original Déjà Vu surface. Instead, the bulk of the repertoire and entire impetus for the tour (as well as its resulting documentary film and this live album) is Young’s Living With War .

Recorded and released quickly in the spring of 2006, the record was Young’s manifesto on the current political war climate. It was perhaps stronger in theory than in execution. But given the topical fervency that surrounded the release of the original Déjà Vu, it proved a logical step to reunite CSNY – a group that, three-and-a-half decades ago, couldn’t stay together long enough to release a second studio album and whose subsequent ‘80s and ‘90s records were flimsy at best – to perform Young’s new music.

Déjà Vu Live begins not with Living With War material, but with Crosby’s What Are Their Names? In its 1971 studio version, the tune was a Grateful Dead-inspired psychedelic mediation that, engaging as it was, seemed more paranoid than political. On Déjà Vu Live, it is redone as a straight-up protest recitation fueled only by ragged harmonies, handclaps, a bit of gospel fervency and rabid audience participation. It is among the most stirring moments on the new record.

Nash sounds remarkably strong on Military Madness, another 1971 chronicle from another war era while Stills’ For What It’s Worth, a true warhorse anthem cut with Young in the Buffalo Springfield four decades ago, plows along with an aged, blues-savvy snarl and some rather weathered singing. But it remains a stark account not only of war, but of the strong generational division that existed in the late ‘60s.

Young’s Living With War tunes – all seven of them – are products of a war now divided more along party lines. The music is less cunning and, in many instances, less clever and insightful. But much of it is so wildly blunt that you can’t help but smile – providing where your political allegiances extend, of course – at how a 60-something hippie that was once as avid Reagan supporter can summon sentiments so vehemently pro and con from an audience.

Let’s Impeach the President, in fact, borders on the comical. It’s a sing-a-long style pop reverie that had to earn as much crowd ire as it did vocal support.

Nash’s Teach Your Children, from the original Déjà Vu, closes things out with a country-esque vision of hope. The voices sound a little scorched, but the vision of one generation learning from the previous one’s mistakes remains bold. But then again, had the lessons of war been better addressed in recent years, maybe this weatherbeaten but solemn protest record could exist today as a more purposely retro exercise.

As it is, Déjà Vu Live is long in the tooth, indeed. But its topical bite is sharp, exact and real.

CheapToday Survey: Walmart, Best Buy and Target Delivered Best Black Friday Deals

Wireless News December 8, 2009

Wireless News 12-08-2009 CheapToday Survey: Walmart, Best Buy and Target Delivered Best Black Friday Deals Type: News go to website best black friday deals

CheapToday, Inc., an online shopping network specializing in publishing quality deals from high profile brands, announced the latest results from its ‘Just Wondering’ survey of buying trends and attitudes of Power Moms.

CheapToday said that it regularly surveys its Power Mom subscribers to monitor their buying behavior, attitudes and trends. When asked, “Which one store lived up to the hype of Black Friday and delivered the Best Black Friday deals?” 250 Power Moms responded.

According to the survey, 33 percent of the respondents felt that Walmart delivered the best deals on Black Friday, with many respondents adding that the environment within the Walmart stores was very helpful and pleasant. 18 percent of respondents felt that Best Buy provided the best deals and many cited Best Buy’s “Door Busters” and their having many on sale items in stock as their primary reason in selecting Best Buy. 13 percent of respondents felt that Target offered the best Black Friday deals.

Rounding out the retailers within the top 10 identified as delivering the best deals on Black Friday were: best black friday deals


Gap/Old Navy

JC Penney


Banana Republic

Home Depot

“Power Moms are very discerning consumers in this economy and it’s clear that some stores did better than others this year in ‘wowing’ this important market segment,” said Chris Hill, President & CEO of CheapToday, Inc.

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where've you been, lee ann?

lee ann womack. photo by james minchin.

lee ann womack. photo by james minchin.

It’s not a comment Lee Ann Womack, a reliable country hitmaker for over a decade, was used to hearing.

“Where’ve you been?”

For the East Texas native, recording and road work have been a steady way of life ever since she issued her platinum-selling debut album and a couple of staunchly traditional country hits in 1997, all of which led to winning honors as Top New Female Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music that year.

While the 2000 Grammy-winning country-pop hit, I Hope You Dance continues to define Womack’s commercial profile, she has, indeed, been a little out of the spotlight in recent years. 2005’s There’s More Where That Came From, with its regally retro-designed album cover and reflections of Billy Sherrill-produced country hits of the early 70s, did nicely on the charts. But the release of a 2006 follow-up, Finding My Way Home, was delayed and eventually shelved. That’s when Womack did a little reappraisal of what she wanted from a country music career.

“I feel like I’ve been a part of this business since I was born,” said Womack, who returns to Lexington to inaugurate the Alltech Festival at Applebee’s Park with Alan Jackson on Wednesday. “And I think I’ll always feel like I will be in one way or another. I guess I just never thought of myself as coming or going.

“Now, people say to me, ‘Oh we thought you retired. We haven’t heard from you. Don’t you miss playing music?’ And I always say, ‘I still play music. I’m here at home playing, writing and recording music all the time.’ But I found I just had to keep my head and heart in line and in the right place.”

That’s where the fate of Finding My Way Home comes in. With a solid decade of recording and touring behind her, Womack admitted Finding My Way Home was simply “made for the wrong reasons.” The album’s title track was released briefly to country radio and quickly fizzled. Womack then asked for a delay in the album’s release. But management, record label executives and even the singer herself later agreed to can the record entirely.

“I felt like I went in and started making a record simply because it was time to make another record. It was about meeting the commitments of my record deal, that sort of thing. That’s not to say that none of that material won’t ever be heard. Just as a whole, though, I knew the album wasn’t going to come out. I think I was making that record more in my head that my heart. And I always have more luck and success when I follow my heart instead.”

That is pretty much what Womack has done throughout her life in country music. Where many singers have borrowed from the specific inspirations of musicians in their immediate circle of friends and family, Womack borrowed from an entirely different legacy. Her father wasn’t a musician, but a country music disc jockey. So for the better part of her East Texas youth, she did something few aspiring singers made time for. She listened. And listened and listened.

“I sat around and listened to records all the time. I’d dig through my dad’s collection and then dig through the records at the station he worked for. That’s all I ever did. I think my parents were worried about me.

“By the time I got to high school and could drive, I started going to concerts. I’d sneak into clubs when I wasn’t old enough. I’d drive to Dallas and not tell my parents. I did everything I could to go hear music.”

As Womack’s career began to take off, there were a few more mentors on her side. One was so taken with her debut single, Never Again, Again, that he began singing Womack’s praises almost as much as he was his own hit songs. His name was Alan Jackson.

“That song was just so very, very country. I think he had missed hearing that from any new artists that were coming out back then. I just really, really, really appreciate working with Alan more than any other country artist.”

Womack’s next career step comes this fall with another new album called Call Me Crazy, which teams her with veteran producer Tony Brown. A single from the record, a sterling bit of acoustic barroom heartache called Last Call, hit country radio late last month.

“I’ve taken some time off the road to write more and just to live more. When you’re on the road and totally immersed with your career, you’re not really living a normal life. It’s when I’m living a normal life that I come up with the best material for people to relate to.

“I feel like in order to be truly creative, you just need to pull out for a little bit. Now, you don’t need to be creative to be successful. But I have to be creative to be happy. And that’s something I have to do to make the best music I can.”

Alan Jackson and Lee Ann Womack perform at 7 p.m. July 30 at Applebee’s Park. Tickets: $50, $60, $85, $100. Call: (859) 422-7867.


time for a TOUCH-UP? Doctors report increase in elective cosmetic procedures including breast and Lasik surgeries and facial injections.(BUSINESS)

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN) October 18, 2010 Byline: DEE DePASS; STAFF WRITER Bryn Collins paid nearly $10,000 for a facelift and eyelid surgery 10 years ago. Now, at age 65, she could have another, but opted instead for “facial fillers” — those $1,500 injections that smooth eye wrinkles and marionette mouth lines for 18 months.

Though Collins’ psychology practice was still smarting from the recession, she found a way to finance the shots. She quit shopping, hoarded the change in her pockets, and set aside the first $20 of every ATM withdrawal until she’d saved enough.

“Psychologically, it’s healthy for us to feel good about how we look,” Collins said. “When I look in the mirror and see my grandmother’s lips and all, I say, ‘No!'” Collins’ willingness to part with hard-earned cash resonates with cosmetic clinicians who say demand for Botox, fillers, chemical peels, breast enlargements, nose jobs, Lasik eye surgeries and other out-of-pocket procedures are creeping back after a dismal three years in the elective surgery business.

“We have heard some recent rumblings that things are on the upswing,” said Brian Hugins, a spokesman for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Although hard numbers for 2010 are hard to come by, anecdotes and industry surveys suggest a mild comeback.

And economists are keeping a close eye. go to site deviated septum surgery

“We saw one of the biggest pullbacks in consumer spending and confidence in 50 years,” said Wells Fargo senior economist Scott Anderson. “So the fact that this demand [for elective surgery] might be coming back is the first sign that the consumer is starting to come out of its deep freeze.” As printing, manufacturing and retail were smacked by the recession, so were medical procedures that patients elected to pay for on their own. Cosmetic surgeries plummeted 9 percent in 2008 and another 9 percent in 2009, according to the 6,000-member ASPS.

And more expensive procedures such as liposuctions, tummy tucks and breast augmentation surgeries dropped dramatically. Breast augmentations, for example, dropped 12 percent in 2008 and 6 percent in 2009. Liposuctions dropped 19 percent in 2008 and 2009.

Practitioners blame layoffs, stock market declines, underwater mortgages and tightened home-equity and other loans for throttling the $10 billion industry.

But the siege may be easing. An ASPS survey this year found that 15 to 29 percent of respondents nationwide acknowledged wanting a beauty procedure that was not covered by insurance. Another ASPS survey of physicians found that minimally invasive procedures, such as the facial filler injections that Collins received, rose 6 percent this year after climbing just 1 percent in 2009.

Several Minnesota surgeons now report that more patients are pairing insurance-covered procedures, such as deviated septum surgery, with out-of pocket cosmetic work like rhinoplasty or liposuction. Others find patients forgoing vacations, new cars and clothes or working extra shifts to pay for the quick-fix surgery of their dreams.

The entire industry is coming back “a little bit by little bit,” said Dr. Joe Gryskiewicz (pronounced Gris-KA-vitz), who performs about 500 breast surgeries, tummy tucks, rhinoplasties and injections a year at the Minnesota Valley Surgery Center in Burnsville. “We are seeing more people go for the cheaper procedures. In the last two years, I would say business has tripled [for] lower-level entry procedures.” Finding a way To keep his revenues level throughout the recession, Gryskiewicz booked more shots and more patient consults. Before the recession, most of his clients qualified for surgery loans. Today five out of 10 discover just before the operation that they can’t get the loan because of poor credit or tighter lending guidelines, he said.

Still, some determined patients find a way to finance their procedures.

Lisa, a 32-year-old health care worker who asked that her last name not be used, has wanted to surgically enlarge her breasts for three years. “Breast feeding just sucked the life out of them. But once I was done having kids is when the recession started,” she said. “My husband is a Realtor, so that [meant there was no money for implants]. But now home sales are just starting to pick back up again and I just decided it was time.” Lisa doubled work shifts, brought in leftovers for lunch and quit shopping until she’d saved $5,500 to pay for her surgery.

One friend, who persuaded her not to wait any longer, had her own breast surgery a few months ago. Another friend goes in soon.

On Oct. 6 it was Lisa’s turn. “I’m ready and excited,” said Lisa while lying on a gurney, draped in blue surgical gowns that matched her eyes.

Dr. Gryskiewicz and his team soon put her to sleep, cut a one-inch slit in each armpit and used a dissector to open a pocket beneath each breast. Gryskiewicz rolled up each implant like a cigar and fed them into the slits as nurses injected saline to inflate the orbs.

It took just 30 minutes, some adjusting and lots of antiseptic and novocaine rinses to transform Lisa from an A to a C cup. “That looks good. Real good,” Gryskiewicz said rechecking her symmetry from every angle. Fifteen minutes later, a groggy Lisa was smiling and responding to nurses, while the doctor stepped out of the operating room to prepare for his third breast surgery that day.

“Business is actually up a titch,” he said.

Pent-up demand At the University of Minnesota Medical Center, plastic surgery chief Dr. Bruce Cunningham said he’s seeing more cosmetic patients because the economy’s improving and people finally feel comfortable taking sick leave again. website deviated septum surgery

“Early this summer suddenly we had a lot of people who came in. [They] were putting off health care that they thought was elective,” Cunningham said. “They noticed a lump in their breast but put off doing anything about it because they were working overtime, people were getting laid off and they felt insecure about their jobs. They just didn’t want to take the time off. But now we suddenly have a lot more breast” surgery patients opting for out-of-pocket breast surgeries as well as insured procedures such as lumpectomies, and post-cancer reconstruction.

Steve Parente, a health economics professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, said he is not surprised that several types of cosmetic surgeries appear to be improving.

“There is probably a little bit of pent-up demand in the market for that type of element,” Parente said. “It’s not unlike a kitchen makeover. Once people have discretionary cash again, they may say, ‘It’s time to get tuned up.’ ” LCA Vision Inc., one of the largest Lasik eye surgery centers in the country, sees pockets of growth in Minnesota and signs of stability nationwide after two years of pure misery.

The company shut 17 of 78 LasikPlus Vision Centers as recession-weary workers stuck with eyeglasses in lieu of corrective laser surgery that can run $2,100 an eye.

“Procedures at all of our vision centers declined throughout this recession. But now we do see signs of stabilization,” said CFO Michael Celebrezze. “We are just not sure it has been long enough for us to call it permanent.” Dee DePass – 612-673-7725 COSMETIC SURGERY TRENDS Total cosmetic procedures in 2009: 12.5 million, down 1% 11 million minimally invasive cosmetic procedures, up 1% 1.5 million cosmetic surgical procedures, down 9% TOP SURGICAL PROCEDURES 2009 vs. 2008 Liposuction down 19% Nose reshaping down 8% Eyelid surgery down 8% Breast augmentation down 6% Tummy tuck down 5% TOP NONSURGICAL PROCEDURES 2009 vs. 2008 Chemical peel up 9% Microdermabrasion up 8% Facial filler injections up 7% Botox down 4% Source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons

current listening 07/26

"the go sessions" (1976-77, 2005)

"the go sessions" (1976-77, 2005)

Stomu Yamashta’s Go: The Go Sessions – Finally, the recordings of Japanese percussionist and keyboardist Yamashta are starting to re-surface. The two-disc Go Sessions combines three albums (the third being a concert version of the first) full of fusion, prog-rock fire and an all-star band that features founding Santana drummer Michael Shrieve and famed jazz/rock guitarslinger Al DiMeola. But Steve Winwood’s otherworldly singing on Crossing the Line and Winner/Loser makes The Go Sessions essential late summer (night) listening.

"Vol. 1, Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails" (2008)

"Vol. 1, Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails" (2008)

The Baseball Project: Vol. 1, Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails – A farm team project that combines Steve Wynn (The Dream Syndicate) with Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck (The Minus 5, R.E.M.). Musically, the vibe runs more to McCaughey’s Minus 5 albums than Wynn’s solo projects. But the mix of countless rock references (Neil Young, World Party and The Kinks all figure into Past Time) and oddball baseball yarns (The Yankee Flipper) inject America’s favorite pastime with a hearty electric jolt. 

"koln concert 1976" (2005)

"koln concert 1976" (2005)

Bill Evans Trio: Koln Concert 1976 – Just as there appears to be no end of concert recordings by the late, great Evans, there seems to be no limit to the unassuming ingenuity of his playing and piano phrasing. The opening Time Remembered casually invites you in. But like so many Evans recordings cut from the stage, the tempo starts to steam in no time. From the cleverly paced material (Dave Brubeck’s In Your Own Sweet Way) to the muscular bass support of Eddie Gomez, Koln is cool. 

"from now on" (2008)

"from now on" (2008)

Michael Doucet: From Now On – BeauSoleil headmaster Doucet broadens his Creole music menu but cuts back on the ingredients. The fiddle, full of rustic and effervescent fancy, is placed out front with only occasional seasonings of guitar and accordion. In fact, Doucet is so string-minded here that his primary foil is fellow fiddler Mitchell Reed. The repertoire shifts from Allen Toussaint’s Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky to the playful original blues of Fonky Bayou. The mood is loose, rootsy and most funky, indeed. 

"american university 12/13/70"

"american university 12/13/70"

The Allman Brothers Band: American University 12/13/70 – A mail-order  archive recording that captures the initial Allmans lineup on the cusp of greatness. Not as primitive-sounding as Live at Ludlow Garage but not as supremely refined as its majestic Fillmore East album. Instead, the band mixes the blues spirits of Elmore James, Muddy Waters and Blind Willie McTell with its own seething compositions, a young guitar tag team of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts and a musical drive as relaxed as it was fearless.

forecastle calling

jeff parker, john herndon, john mcentire, doug mccombs and dan bitney. photo by saverio truglia.

tortoise: jeff parker, john herndon, john mcentire, doug mccombs and dan bitney. photo by saverio truglia.

Time to hoist sail and head to Louisville. It’s Forecastle time again.

The three-day outdoor festival, which prides itself in blending music, arts and activism, is staying put – at least, for now. After numerous home bases in parks around Louisville, Forecastle is spending its second year at the downtown Belvedere.

There will be film screenings, symposiums, a keynote speech from environmental lawyer and activist Robert Kennedy, Jr. on Sunday and three days of deliriously diverse music.

Tonight’s headliner is GZA. The set by the Brooklyn-born hip-hop stylist, solo artist and founding member of Wu-Tang Clan replaces the initially announced Friday show by Method Man.

The all-instrumental Tortoise, a cornerstone of Chicago’s long-vital indie pop scene gets Saturday rolling with music that mixes punkish inspiration with ambient touches of electronica. Phoenix’s DJ Z-Trip and Philadelphia jam band Disco Biscuits will conclude the evening.

Then on Sunday, things really open up. Following Kennedy’s afternoon speech will be sets featuring the newly topical but very traditionally rooted bluegrass of The Del McCoury Band (check out its new Moneyland album for proof), indie pop fave Dr. Dog (which has become a Louisville regular after opening for Wilco last fall at Slugger Field), the contemporary British funk of The New Mastersounds and jam band mainstay Ekoostik Hookah.

For a complete run down of all performances, talks, screenings and exhibits at Forecastle, go to

The Forecastle Festival will be held  July 25, 26 and 27 at the Riverfront Belvedere, 5th and Main in Louisville. Tickets are $18 (today), $21 (Sunday), $23 (Saturday). Call (502) 574-3768.

Sterling, Virginia Becomes Home to New Location of the Art Institutes.

Marketing Weekly News June 27, 2009 The Art Institutes system of schools announced the opening of a new school: The Art Institute of Washington – Northern Virginia, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta, will hold its first day of classes on October 5, 2009. see here art institute of atlanta

The new school will occupy approximately 19,000 square feet at 21000 Atlantic Boulevard in the Washington, DC suburb of Sterling, Va. The school will begin enrolling students immediately.

“Our expansion in northern Virginia enables us to offer quality creative arts programs to even more students in the area, preparing them to pursue their chosen careers and to make a meaningful impact in the community,” says John Mazzoni, president of The Art Institutes.

Initially, The Art Institute of Washington – Northern Virginia will offer bachelor’s degree programs in Advertising, Fashion & Retail Management, Graphic Design, Interior Design, Media Arts & Animation, Photographic Imaging, and Web Design & Interactive Media; and associate’s degree programs in Graphic Design, and Web Design & Interactive Media.

“We’re excited to open our doors in Sterling this fall, and to provide residents with the media arts, design and fashion programs they’ve come to expect from The Art Institutes schools,” says Sam Ortiz, campus director of The Art Institute of Washington – Northern Virginia. “I look forward to leading the school’s team and seeing The Art Institute of Washington – Northern Virginia become a supportive educational partner in northern Virginia.” The Art Institute of Washington – Northern Virginia will join The Art Institute of Washington, located in Arlington, Va., as the second Art Institutes school in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Art Institute of Washington is also a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta. in our site art institute of atlanta

For more information about The Art Institute of Washington – Northern Virginia, call (888) 627-5008 or visit the school’s website at

The Art Institute of Washington-Northern Virginia is a branch campus of The Art Institute of Atlanta. The Art Institute of Atlanta is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate and baccalaureate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404.679.4500 for questions about the accreditation of The Art Institute of Atlanta.

The Art Institute of Washington – Northern Virginia is certified by The State Council of Higher Education to operate in Virginia.

The Art Institute of Washington – Northern Virginia is one of The Art Institutes (, a system of over 40 education institutions located throughout North America, providing an important source of design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts professionals.

at the helm of forecastle

jk mcknight

jk mcknight

There is no mistaking the growth and visibility that continues to revolve around Louisville’s Forecastle Festival.

Event founder JK McKnight started Forecastle in the community confines of Tyler Park with a budget of $500 and a lineup of six bands. This weekend, the event is expected to draw 10,000 patrons to the Louisville Waterfront with a diverse lineup that includes hip-hop pioneer and Wu-Tang Clan founder GZA, the bluegrass mavericks of The Del McCoury Band, the instrumental indie brigade Tortoise and a keynote address by environmental lawyer/activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Throughout the growth, though, McKnight’s initial vision for Forecastle has remain unchanged: to have regional artists and activists take as prominent a role as the music

“We’re not putting this together because it’s a new cultural trend,” said McKnight, 27. “We’ve been doing this for seven years. So when you go to Forecastle, you see environmental groups represented equally from 10 cities in 6 states. You see groups representing communities that you’re coming from. That means something that’s a lot different than going to a music festival and just seeing a register-to-vote table.

“We want all of our cities represented. If you’re from Lexington, we want you to see WRFL there and see some of their artists and their musicians and leave with something that’s much more substantial than just going to a generic festival. And a lot of these festivals can be very generic experiences.”

McKnight has experienced more than a few festival atmospheres as a well-traveled songsmith and faithful patron.

“My parents sent me off to Lollapalooza when I was 15. They sent me off to the Tibetan Freedom Concert in Washington DC. I was always fascinated by large gatherings of people in an outdoor setting.

“But the template for something like Forecastle always is the music, arts, activism format. We need to be in a space where all three of those elements can be represented equally. People aren’t going into a music festival. They’re going into a completely different experience.”

While McKnight today views Forecastle as a regional event instead of a Louisville gathering (among the many ticket outlets are record stores in St. Louis, Nashville, Indianapolis and Cincinnati as well as Lexington’s CD Central), he prefers a steady growth over skyrocking expansion. He noted several young festivals around the country have collapsed after trying to grow too fast too soon.

“A lot of our success comes from smart growth. We grow because we want to grow not because external influences are telling us we should grow.”

“It’s not just about having the businesses, musicians, artists and environmental groups representing the different areas in the region. It’s the people, too. We’re providing a platform here for creative people all across this region and people in the activism communities to really mesh.

 “We’re not here to compete with something like Bonnaroo or Coachella. We here are to do something on a different platform.”

The Forecastle Festival will be held July 25-27 at the Riverfront Belvedere in Louisville. Tickets are $15-$50. Call: (866) 468-7630.

in performance: steve earle and allison moorer

allison moorer and steve earle. photo by ted barron.

allison moorer and steve earle. photo by ted barron.

As his two-hour performance began to wind down, a few of the many artistic personas of Steve Earle came out to play together.

On the Pete Seeger-inspired Steve’s Hammer, we heard Earle the folkie and protest singer with a fist in-the-air attitude that suggested music can (and will) change a war-torn world. There was also Earle the unabashed entertainer, who strived to chisel a work song sing-a-long out of the tune. And, finally, there was Earle the obstinate crank. That was the one that wasn’t taking no for answer from audience members who wouldn’t play along.

“And no mouthing the words, either,” he scolded. “I grew up in the Methodist church. I know that trip.”

Sure, such moves transported Earle’s Texas-bred folkie heritage to the chillier pastures of Greenwich Village. But the performance also possessed a bold modernist element, especially in the tunes that augmented Earle’s solo acoustic setting with DJ Neil McDonald. For roughly half of the show, McDonald was essentially a beat master. There were a few nods to hip-hop, like sampled mutations of Earle’s voice that proved an eerie foil for the real thing on Satellite Radio. Mostly, though, McDonald’s contributions were unobtrusive and, quite often, down right earthy.

His beats stamped out a militaristic step along Earle’s minor key banjo during the singer’s newest drug-themed horrorfest, Oxycontin Blues. They tapped along like tablas behind the vocal reverb that surrounded Transcendental Blues. And on Tom Waits’ Down in the Hole, they provided a simple, finger-popping click track.

The wildest and most progressive mix of electric groove and acoustic soul, though, was on Red is the Color, a multi-generational, multi-cultural montage that blended Earle’s wiry leads on harmonica and mandolin with McDonald’s crude thumps to sound, for lack of a better description, like an Appalachian version of blues giant Howlin’ Wolf. Throw in two love songs – one was about wife and co-star Allison Moorer (Sparkle and Shine), the other was sung with her as a duet (Days Aren’t Long Enough) – and you had a program that brightly brought 11 of the 12 songs from Earle’s killer 2007 album Washington Square Serenade, to life.

The new material obviously elated Earle, who regularly laughed and grinned along to McDonald’s more ingenious beats. But veteran fans had plenty to relish, too. The performance’s first nine songs dug deep into Earle’s past. Among them, a still topically vital Ellis Unit One, a still unsentimental but heartbreaking Goodbye and a still politically charged Christmas in Washington, which began the performance.

Guitar Town, a sublime Jerusalem and a rewired Copperhead Road (performed on 6 string guitar instead of mandolin) closed the party down.

Moorer’s 35 minute opening set was a treat unto itself. Drawn mostly from her recent Buddy Miller- produced covers album Mockingbird, Moorer quietly interpreted the songs of Ma Rainey, Julie Miller, Patti Smith and, in a beautiful bit of country longing, Jessi Colter with a lovely I’m Looking for Blue Eyes.

But Moorer’s biggest treats bookended the set. Mockingbird‘s title tune, a Moorer original, was delivered with a regally forlorn Southern vocal slant while a closing cover of the Sam Cooke staple A Change is Gonna Come (a tune not featured on Mockingbird) was presented as an unforced prayer of hope and faith.

Moorer’s version of the latter did more that merely respect and invoke Cooke’s sense of gospel fire and faith. It summoned a vocal wail full of grace and soul-savvy intensity. In short, Moorer managed the near-imposssible. She gave a new artistic vitality to an ageless soul classic. For the few minutes that it rang royally around the walls of the Kentucky, the song became entirely and inarguably hers.

critic's pick 29

"it's magic"

ahmad jamal: "it's magic"

Nearly four decades of age separate piano giant Ahmal Jamal and trumpet stylist Roy Hargrove. But on two feverishly streamlimed new albums, their grooves, if not their very jazz intellects, discover common ground.

Jamal, who turned 78 earlier this month, plays like a giddy, boppish teen on It’s Magic but displays the tough-knuckled tone of a prize fighter.

On Swahililand, a Jamal original the pianist first recorded in 1974, the introductory rolls on piano are dynamic indeed. Then the more modal turns in Jamal’s playing become almost symphonic. The richness of tone, performance power and changeling spirit all echo McCoy Tyner, but then the music brightens and, briefly, settles as a solo of restless melodic grace glides over the thick Motherland groove established by Jamal’s longtime touring band – bassist James Cammack and drummer Idris Muhammad augmented by veteran percussionist Manolo Badrena.

Jamal’s stylistic vocabulary is as vast as ever on It’s Magic. Though his band’s attack is full of boppish drive, Jamal is something of a jazz alchemist. He briefly quotes The Beatles in the midst of a fiery piano break on the album-opening Dynamo, tosses Ned Washington’s classic Wild is the Wind into a medley with the Sesame Street relic Sing and invests the album’s title tune, an Oscar-nominated gem by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne (from the 1948 film Romance on the High Seas) with a piano voice that sounds orchestral even without his band’s subtle support.

Aside from the addition of Badrena, there is no seriously uncharted territory on the album. Instead, it’s the continually youthful cast to Jamal’s playing that impresses most. On It’s Magic, he exhibits intuitive solo, compositional and interpretive skills that befit a jazz elder. But his tone and performance vibrancy remain outrageously youthful.   


roy hargrove: "earfood"

For Hargrove, part of a new traditionalist pack that emerged at the dawn of the ‘90s that hesitated for years before revealing their more contemporary leanings, Earfood is the sound of coming home. It’s a bright but often understated return to ensemble cool cut with his touring quintet. Here, Hargrove applies the lyricism, if not the very groove, of more progressive emsembles. No, that doesn’t mean the electric funk of Hargrove’s RH Factor band directly intrudes on these sessions. But there is a knowing lyricism, especially to the ballads on Earfood, that likely comes from some of his more stylistically daring globetrotting.

Brown, for example, flirts with post-bop before creating soulful dialogue between the trumpeter (especially in his muted solos) and pianist Gerald Clayton. Lou Marini’s Starmaker further hushes the tone to suggest Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage with more sustained cool and romanticism. But the killer is Mr. Clean, which was recorded over 30 years ago by Freddie Hubbard. The groove approaches funk while the piano becomes more strident and percussive as Hargrove unleashes his most unabashedly vibrant solos.

Capping it all, is a live version of Sam Cooke’s Bring It On Home to Me played as a gospel-tinged blast of soul and pop with Hargrove and saxophonist Justin Robinson engaging in playful tag team runs and boisterous unison leads.

Slap all of that on your plate and you will discover quickly what a feast Earfood is.

Schoolchildren suffer new loss with wipeout of honor rolls

AZ Daily Star February 1, 2004 | Bonnie Henry COLUMN There is no honor in the honor roll anymore.At least not in Nashville, Tenn., where, according to recent news accounts, schools have stoped publicizing honor rolls and are contemplating banning any display of good works in the hallways.

Naturally, the lawyers are to blame – as well as a few asinine parents who can’t stand the idea that their kids are being slighted.

Never mind that these particular children are turning out work not worthy of the honor roll – or a nail in the hallway.

Haven’t you heard? We’re all moving closer and closer to Lake Wobegon, where “all the women are strong, all the men are good- looking, and all the children are above average.” There’s only one little problem with that destination: Lake Wobegon is fictional. website blocked games at school

Meanwhile, here in the real world, honors – at least the ones that mean anything – usually go to those who excel.

They don’t give the Academy Award for best picture to “Dude, Where’s My Car?” – no matter how many adolescent males wish it were so.

They don’t pin the Medal of Honor on soldiers who toil in the typing pool.

And they don’t award the top prize in the National Spelling Bee to kids who can’t spell Mississippi.

Tell me, parents: Did your children feel like lesser human beings after hearing that 13-year-old Sai Gunturi nailed “pococurante” to win last year’s Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee?

If so, maybe your kids should have done what young Sai did. You see, this wasn’t his first time in the competition.

In 2002 he tied for seventh place. In 2001 he tied for 16th place. A year earlier, he tied for 32nd. place.

Rather than give up – or ask a lawyer to file suit against the contest because his feelings were hurt – he just worked harder.

But apparently, that sort of old-fashioned work ethic doesn’t apply in Tennessee.

For according to The Associated Press, some schools there have also stopped academic pep rallies and others are thinking about canceling spelling bees.

Ah, yes. The spelling bee – an activity likely to set off many a sweaty palm and churning stomach. blocked games at school

Friday afternoons were when ours were held back in elementary school. Thirty words on a list. Learn ’em or else.

I usually did, though some of the kids struggled. Sure, they probably hated the spelling bee more than I did.

On the other hand, we all knew who was going to be picked last once recess came and it was time to choose up sides for softball.

My particular hell was out on the playing fields. Theirs was in the classroom.

Somehow we all survived the trauma without the need for litigation.

Yet what are we to make of Steven Baum, principal of Julia Green Elementary School, in Nashville?

After sacking the spelling bee at his school, he told the press: “I discourage competitive games at school. They just don’t fit my world view of what a school should be.” Look out, kids. Today, the spelling bee. Tomorrow, the baseball game.

Actually, it’s already happened. When was the last time you went to a kids’ playoff game where everyone didn’t go home with a trophy?

Nothing wrong with that – if you’re 5 years old. But sooner or later, our children have to learn that excellence matters.

And in the real world it deserves to be honored.

Bonnie Henry’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Reach her at 434-4074 or at or write to 3295 W. Ina Road, Suite 125, Tucson, AZ 85741.

Bonnie Henry

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