Archive for September, 2008

jayhawks landing

mark olson (left) and gary louris, founding members of the jayhawks, are among the featured artists performing this weekend at the christ the king oktoberfest on saturday. photo by steven cohen.

mark olson (left) and gary louris, founding members of the jayhawks, are among the featured artists performing this weekend at the christ the king oktoberfest. photo by steven cohen.

When is a Jayhawk not a Jayhawk?

For Mark Olson – co-founder and, for a time, co-lead singer/songwriter for the fabled Americana band The Jayhawks – it can be when passion is reignited for the folkish, alt-country music he walked away from in 1995. While he is again recording and touring with fellow Jayhawks chieftain Gary Louris, the music they are now creating is, in essence, something entirely new.

“It’s sort of a brand new beginning in a way,” Olson said by phone last weekend from his Joshua Tree, Calif. home. “When we started in The Jayhawks, Gary and I would always get together and write songs on acoustic guitars. Then we would go play them with the band and the music would change. Now we’re writing songs together, again on acoustic guitars. Only this time, we just went in and played them that way in a studio.”

As one of the featured acts in this weekend’s Christ the King Oktoberfest, the longtime fall community event which received a wildly popular musical makeover in 2006, Louris and Olson will play one of only three national shows they have scheduled as a duo this year. But don’t think either has been idle of late.

After resuming their artistic partnership in 2005, the two recorded an album of new songs in early 2007 called Ready for the Flood. But when album’s release was delayed, both refocused on solo recordings – Olson on his novella-like The Salvation Blues and Louris on his more Jayhawks-savvy Vagabonds. Ready for the Flood, which was produced by Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson (as was Vagabonds) is now slated for an early 2009 release.

But that isn’t all that has fanned the flames of the Jayhawks faithful. As recently as two weekends ago, the entire mid ‘90s lineup of the band (Louris, Olson, bassist Marc Perlman, keyboardist Karen Grotberg and drummer Tim O’Reagan) reunited for a full concert at the Azkena Rock Festival in Vitoria, Spain.

“It was great,” Olson said of the performance. “We rehearsed two days, although we all worked on the songs prior to that. We did basically everything from the Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass albums (the 1992 and 1995 recordings that solidified much of The Jayhawks’ international fanbase). There were lots of other bands there that night, including Los Lobos and Dinosaur Jr. They were telling us, ‘Hey, you guys sounded great’ and ‘Way to go.’ It was really fun.”

Olson’s alliance with Louris began in Minneapolis. After forming the Jayhawks with Perlman in 1985, the band strived to find a niche within the musically fertile metropolis to fit into.

“We had listened to the Flying Burrito Brothers and to soul music, gospel and early country and blues – music that spoke to a real tradition. But when we first came out, it was almost like we were a little out of time.

“There were these two major scenes in Minneapolis – the rock scene and the folk/country scene. We worked within both of them and began making records and writing songs together. There’s no book on how to write songs. Well, I’m sure there is, now that I think about it. But most people work songs out for themselves. That’s what Gary and I did. It was almost like there was a sort of hands-on carpentry to what we were doing. We worked on the songs together and we worked on how to sing harmonies together.”

Curiously, The Jayhawks had just scored a breakthrough hit with the harmony rich Blue when Olson left the band to pursue homier folk sounds with then-wife Victoria Williams in the Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers.

“With the Creekdippers, I played more of a supporting role. I started playing different instruments – specifically bass and piano. That was my post-Jayhawks experience until I made my own record (The Salvation Blues). The music had become more about growing in a direction where I wasn’t a lead vocal person. But when I came back to playing acoustic guitar, and, especially, to writing with Gary, there was this whole new desire to play that music again.”

Olson also has a good handle on the workings of Oktoberfest. Festival co-organizer Kevin Wilson has featured him the last two years at the event without Louris, although Olson’s 2007 visit included a brief impromptu jam with several of the festival’s other guests. Among them: longtime pal and fellow Joshua Tree dweller Tim Easton, R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and Minus 5 frontman Scott McCaughey.

“Kevin really seems to have a taste that runs to the kind of music I play,” Olson said. “And what he has come up with there in Kentucky is a really wonderful festival. I wish there were more like it in the country.

“There are always lots of people that come to hear all the music. But when I went into the bingo tent last year after my set… man, that’s where the real action was. It just brings a smile to your face. There are children running around outside having a great time. When you get down to it, the festival is just good clean fun.”

Gary Louris and Mark Olson perform at 1 p.m. Saturday as part of the Christ the King Oktoberfest, 299 Colony Blvd. Admission is free. Call: (859) 268-2861. Olson will also perform a program of folk-oriented children’s music at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Here is the complete Oktoberfest lineup…

Today – J.D. Crowe and the New South (4 p.m.); Tim Krekel (5 p.m.); A.A. Bondy (6 p.m.); The Felice Brothers (6:30 p.m.); Todd Snider (7:30 p.m.); The Sam Bush Band (9:30 p.m.).

Saturday – Children’s Music Hour with Mark Olson featuring traditional American folk songs (11 am); Slo-Fi (12 noon); Gary Louris and Mark Olson (1 pm); Andy Mason and Friends (2:30 p.m.); Ed McClanahan reading (3:15 p.m.); Born Cross Eyed (3:30 p.m.); Peter Rowan (5:00 p.m.); Paul Burch (6:00 p.m.); Justin Townes Earle (7:00 p.m.); Tim Easton (8:00 p.m.); The Yonders (9:00 p.m.); 8 Days a Week (Beatles tribute, 10:00 p.m.).

on with the duo

the benevento-russo duo: drummer joe russo (left) and keyboardist marco benevento. photo by michael didonna.

the benevento-russo duo: drummer joe russo (left) and keyboardist marco benevento. photo by michael didonna.

By his own admission, Marco Benevento doesn’t travel light. When the keyboardist plays one of his jazz-savvy, improvisation-heavy and groove-friendly performances with drummer Joe Russo, he hits the stage with “enough gear for a five piece band.”

As jam band fans will quickly point out, Benevento and Russo usually tackle a performance on their own. Occasionally, a pal, like former Phish bassist Mike Gordon, might sit in. But Benevento and Russo play, in the truest sense of the term, as a duo with a jury-rigged bank of keyboards and a drum kit facing each other onstage. And from there, the fireworks fly.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on during a show,” said Benevento, who along with Russo, will be among the featured performers at this weekend’s Terrapin Hill Harvest Festival in Harrodsburg. “For the past three years, especially, I’ve been getting into playing bass lines (on pedals) with my feet. That frees up the hands to do a lot of other things.

“At first, making that change from playing bass with the left hand on the keyboard to playing foot bass was tough. There was a lot of looking down instead of looking at the audience. We’re at a pretty comfortable place right now. The music has been really, really fun. But a 90 minute set is still pretty exhausting.”

The music the duo creates, especially the modestly abstract orchestration that dominates its most recent studio album, 2006’s Play Pause Stop, sports a highly organic sound that seems quite appropriate when you consider the two started playing together essentially on a whim.

The duo, you see, was initially a solo project for Russo. But when the drummer secured a regular gig at New York’s Knitting Factory in 2001, he called upon Benevento, a friend since junior high school, to flesh out the largely improvisatory nature of the performances.

“At every gig, we were in awe at how cool it was to play off of each other and how easy it was to kind of play the mind-reading game,” Benevento said.

Some of the keyboard sounds lurk and swell like a far off fog, others invade with a one-man-band might that is full of melody, bass and solo space. Similarly, Russo, especially on Play Pause Stop, can provide a steady, syncopated beat or intrude with earth-rattling aggression.

A conventional jam band, though, this isn’t. Benevento became fascinated with the New Orleans-bred, organ fueled funk music Art Neville created with The Meters at an early age. Then he gravitated to the muscular, melodic jazz of such piano giants as Bill Evans. Benevento also recalls a five-and-a-half hour lesson with new generation piano jazz great Brad Mehldau – at his home, no less – as being especially inspiring.

But at the top of Benevento’s list of keyboard influences is Joanne Brackeen, a pianist who has recorded with a who’s who of jazz immortals (Stan Getz, Art Blakey and Joe Henderson are but a few). She was one of Benevento’s piano instructors when he attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.

“She was the big one. That’s was the moment where I went, ‘OK, I can see myself doing this for a long time. But then she helped me realize the sort of lifelong dedication to the music that I was getting myself into. She would say, ‘OK, you’re stuck now. You’ll be playing music till you die.'”

Of course, taking on that journey with Russo means Benevento is spending most of his waking musical hours side by side with only one other player. To shake that regimen up, the duo sometimes plays entire evenings of improvisational music. They also participate in larger ensemble side projects, like Bustle in Your Hedgerow, which is devoted to the music of Led Zeppelin.

And there are times Benevento and Russo simply go their own ways. Last winter, Benevento released a solo album called Invisible Baby that was full of jazzy abstractions, animated pop romps, meaty piano excursions and amped up keyboard experiments.

“Sure, there will be little ruts where we’re just sort of sick of playing with each other and times where we just need a break to find that spark again.

“But one of the hardest things for the duo to do is just to accept that the music is going to move at the rate it’s going to move at. You can’t force anything. I mean, we’ve known each other since before we were ever in a band. We’re friends that are making music. So what’s the rush?”

The Benevento-Russo Duo perform at 9 p.m. Saturday  as part of the Terrapin Hill Harvest Festival at Terrapin Hill Farm, 3696 Mackville Rd. in Harrodsburg. Tickets are $20-$95 at the gate. Call (859) 734-7207. The festival runs today through Sunday. Other performers include Keller Williams, James McMurtry, Tea Leaf Green and David Gans. For a complete schedule, go to

UPMC urgent care center eyed for fall go to site concentra urgent care

Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review August 20, 2009 | Sam Spatter UPMC has decided to test whether it can compete in the stand- alone urgent care clinic market.

Officials of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center told representatives of community groups at a meeting of the Baum Centre Initiative this week that it will open a stand-alone clinic in a building it owns at 5231 Centre Ave., Bloomfield, and be operational as early as late fall.

“We will test the market for these types of clinics and if successful, could expand the stand-alone clinic program,” said Mark S. Sevco, UPMC’s vice president of operations.

Urgent care clinics — such as MedExpress and others — have grown in the region and nationally, and are usually found in stand- alone buildings or in pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens.

The idea behind the clinic is to relieve the long waits in emergency rooms, where people often go for treatment of minor ills and injuries, and reduce the waiting time for treatment for more seriously injured or ill patients, Sevco said.

The clinic would operate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., 365 days a year. It will staffed by one physician and four nurses in two shifts, said John Krolicki, UPMC’s vice president of facilities and support services. Sevco estimated the clinic will initially serve about 60 patients a day.

The clinic will not be a part of UPMC Shadyside Hospital, but will be known as UPMC Urgent Care Center at Shadyside, Krolicki said.

UPMC expects to spend about $1 million to upgrade the building for the clinic and provide a 12-car parking lot. It expects to obtain City Planning Commission approval in September.

There are 37 urgent care clinics in Southwestern Pennsylvania, according to the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine, a trade group, They include 12 TakeCare centers in Walgreens, eight Minute Clinics in CVS Pharmacy, 10 MedExpress Urgent Care centers, four Concentra Urgent Care Centers, a Washington Hospital Urgent Care Center in McMurray, and Wexford Health Sources in Foster Plaza, Green Tree. web site concentra urgent care

Nationwide, there are more than 8,000 stand-alone clinics, with 1,200 of them hospital-owned.

West Penn Allegheny Health System operates several urgent care centers, but they are located in hospitals. They are at the former South Side Hospital and the Citizens Ambulatory Care Center as part of the Alle-Kiski Medical Center, in New Kensington. UPMC plans to have a similar center at its new Monroeville hospital.

Sam Spatter

critic’s pick 37

loudon wainwright III: "recovery"

loudon wainwright III: "recovery"

The story goes that the seeds for Recovery were planted while Loudon Wainwright III and Joe Henry were recording tunes for the soundtrack to Judd Apatow’s film Knocked Up, which was released in 2007 as a sublime album called Strange Weirdos.

When work on the business music was complete at Henry’s home studio, requests were made for Wainwright to dig out and re-record some of his much older material with the studio musicians on hand, as they were already “paid for and willing.”

Hence Recovery, a batch of new recordings of vintage Wainwright tunes pulled from the songsmith’s first five albums. In fact, 11 of Recovery‘s 13 selections come from the first three. But there’s nothing antiquated about this music. The lap steel guitar of Greg Leisz that wraps around the strangely sobering The Drinking Song (originally from 1972’s Album II) and Bill Frisell’s discreet guitar chiming on the literary coming-of-age saga School Days (from Wainwright’s 1970 debut record) sufficiently underscore the dutiful vitality in these long ago songs.

But Wainwright’s gift for narrative was worldly even in his youth. Sure, Motel Blues betrays a youthful promiscuity as it seeks overnight, aftershow companionship on the road. But even here, an astute dichotomy is at work. The lyrics seem more in line with the whimsical side of Wainwright’s artistic profile. “I’ll buy you breakfast,” Wainwright sings. “They’ll think you’re my wife.” But the music is so wistful that you are drawn into the inherent loneliness that triggered the liaison in the first place.

A fair more idyllic romance turns grey and desperate on New Paint. Written when Wainwright was still in his early 20s, the singer views himself as “a used up 20th century boy.” Seeing as Wainwright is now 61, the tune has almost uncomfortably come into its own. Again, the surrounding sound – Leisz on pedal steel and Patrick Warren on some especially ruminative piano backdrops – emphasizes New Paint‘s artfully peeling layers.

Some of the music’s perspectives emerge in a less weighty manner. Be Careful There’s a Baby in the House bears an especially bright family intimacy considering it was penned before Wainwright and then-wife Kate McGarrigle celebrated the birth of their first child (Rufus Wainwright). But on The Movies are a Mother to Me, celluloid fantasy seems to serve as a medicinal balm for family squabbles. Then as the song plays out, the demons are revealed to be internal and more than a little schizophrenic.

That takes us to The Man Who Wouldn’t Cry. Wainwright has previously cut this one twice, in 1973 and 1993. The song also served as the finale to Johnny Cash’s 1994 career redefining American Recordings. There, the song’s recital of Job-like misfortunes (the protagonist sheds not a tear after losing his dog, his wife, his employment, even his arm) are not at all dissimilar to the Cash novelty hit A Boy Named Sue. On Recovery, it is played eerily, almost nobly straight with Frisell again adding jangly counterpoint, this time to a string section. Throw is a modest shuffle underneath it all and the tune turns almost psychedelic in a Dear Mr. Fantasy sort of way. And those final verses, the ones set in heaven, now possess a level of retribution (it ends with Earth being scorched by unending drought) only hinted at in Wainwright’s previous versions.

Such is Recovery‘s ultimate history lesson: give a finely crafted song proper respect and musical attention and it will thrive in any age.

richard wright, 1943-2008

pink floyd, circa 1971: roger waters (top); nick mason, richard wright and david gilmour (bottom, from left).

pink floyd, circa 1971: roger waters (top); nick mason, richard wright and david gilmour (bottom, from left).

Richard Wright, keyboardist for Pink Floyd since its inception over 40 years ago, died yesterday after battling cancer. He was 65.

Pink Floyd has long been one of those iconic rock bands heralded for relatively small portions of its musical history. But even on those terms, Wright was a quiet giant. If fans choose to remember Pink Floyd for nothing other than 1973’s The Dark Side of the Moon, then they will still have some of Wright’s most compelling music instilled in their psyche.

He composed the glorious The Great Gig in the Sky, a meditative dialogue for piano and gospel vocals that was the spiritual core of an otherwise deeply psychedelic album. Wright also co-composed the more popular Us and Them with Roger Waters – a stunning collaboration given that Waters supposedly booted Wright out of Pink Floyd before the making of The Final Cut in 1983.  No wonder the latter record remains the weakest album in the Floydian domain.

But set sail from the moon and you will hear what an anchor Wright provided Pink Floyd’s music, from the poppish psychedelia created with Syd Barrett in swinging London to the darker Pink Floyd albums made as the ‘60s gave way to the early ‘70s.

On albums like Atom Heart Mother (1970) and Meddle (1971), especially, Wright could be the band’s most tripped out musical voice one minute and the weaver of comforting melodic warmth the next.

He also cut two solo albums that were as underappreciated as much of his Pink Floyd work.

In its heyday, Pink Floyd was a quartet, a band of four seeming equals. Pop historians have chosen to re-write its later chapters as one giant, cosmic hissy fit between Waters and guitarist David Gilmour. But Wright quietly prevailed. He provided the distant hum of madness to Shine You Crazy Diamond in 1975 and helped keenly orchestrated the unjustly slammed The Division Bell, Pink Floyd’s swan song studio album, in 1994.

Throughout, he was a quiet presence with a mammoth sound.

You miss him too? Then grab a copy of MeddleWish You Were Here (1975) or, of course, The Dark Side of the Moon. Now, turn out the lights, crank up the volume and kick back. You journey has begun.


The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY) March 12, 2003 Byline: AL FASOLDT STAFF WRITER No Mac is an island, and that’s true for OS X, too. Here are my Top 10 free (or almost free) utility programs for modern Unix-based Macintoshes.

1. Pic2Icon. Mac OS X can show every image on your desktop and in other folders as a miniature of itself – a thumbnail, in other words. The Jaguar version (OS X 10.2) creates thumbnails automatically, but Pic2Icon does a better job. Just drop a folder that contains images onto Pic2Icon. You can even choose how the thumbnail should be displayed.

Web site: www.sugarcube . Cost: Free.

2. Tinker Tool. Adjust dozens of hidden settings in OS X with this gem. Running OS X without Tinker Tool is like riding a bike backwards. Sure, you can do it, but why would you want to?

Web site: . Cost: Free. website best web browser

3. ClearDock. I love the OS X Dock, but how come Dock icons look like they’re pasted onto an odd strip across the bottom (or top or sides) of your screen? The Dock background is dumb. Get rid of it with ClearDock. Once you see how cool your desktop looks with Dock icons that hover in space, you’ll never go back to the ugly old look.

Web site: www.unsanity.

com . Cost: Free.

4. MacJanitor. OS X is Unix, and it does all those housekeeping tasks that Windows never bothers with. (Ever wonder why a Windows computer runs so badly? How about a zillion temporary files that never get deleted?) But the OS X housekeeping sticks with Unix tradition and is automatically scheduled for the middle of the night. If your Mac isn’t running then, OS X skips the cleanup … unless you use a utility such as MacJanitor to run the cleanup jobs at another time.

Web site: www.macupdate.

com/info.php/id/5856 . Cost: Free.

5. Meteorologist. When I typed my home zip code into the location form while setting up this weather reporter, it came back in a few seconds with “Baldwinsville, N.Y.” I was hooked.

A quick click on the menu bar lets you see the weather in other locations, or you can just take note of the weather in your home town by looking at an icon at the top of the screen. (It’s always visible.) Full reports are just a click away, too. . Cost: Free.

6. PTHClock. If Apple’s menu bar clock is too wimpy for your tastes, this will make you happy. You can see both the time and the date at the same time and you can change the way each one is displayed.

com/PTHClock/ . Cost: Free.

7. Safari Enhancer. Safari is the best Web browser for Mac OS X, but Apple kept a few tweaks out of sight. Safari Enhancer even gives you a one-click way to add your Internet Explorer bookmarks (or the bookmarks from any other browser in OS X) to Safari. Cost: Free.

8. MacVCD X. Need a good way to play video CDs? Cough up a pair of ten-spots and get this VCD player. You’ll never look back. Web site: www.mireth.

com/text/macvcdsp.html . Cost: $20. in our site best web browser

9. iCal. You might argue that iCal, one of the best personal information managers yet invented, is hardly a utility. But I think it’s more useful than a zillion other programs, and usefulness is what utilities are all about. iCal has a problem or two – it uses colors that are too faint, for one thing – but you just might fall in love with this wonderful calendar and scheduler.

Web site: . Cost: Free.

10. PCalc. Everybody needs a good calculator. Don’t put up with a one that’s almost good. This one has it all, and it even includes a “tape” so you can keep a record of your fidgeting.

Web site: . Cost: Free.

Coming Sunday in Stars Al Fasoldt tells you how to tweak pictures you take with a digital camera as part of the annual Stars Digital Photo Contest winners issue.

in performance: woodsongs’ 500th broadcast/richie havens

richie havens. photo by jean-marc lubrano.

richie havens. photo by jean-marc lubrano.

There was an equal air of formality and familiarity last night at the Kentucky Theatre.

That a string quartet greeted the sold-out audience – an ensemble that grew to five string players (six, if you count electric bass) when it backed up host Michael Johnathon on a show-opening version of the folk meditation Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream) – signaled this wasn’t the typical pageantry for a Monday taping of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. Neither was the fact that several on air/camera staff for this “celebration of grass roots music” were decked out in tuxedos.

But between the string flings, Judge Ray Corns warmed up the crowd with a one liner he has delivered so often that it has become a ritualistic part of the program. “As Elizabeth Taylor said to each one of her husbands….,” he began. “I won’t keep you long,” answered the crowd. All that was missing was the rim shot.

In essence, it was business as usual last night for WoodSongs. But the occasion was clearly anything but routine. The program celebrated its 500th taping, a milestone well worthy of the evening’s modestly celebratory feel.

Johnathon used the occasion to fill in the crowd on the show’s latest multi-media adventures, such as scheduled broadcasts of the program in New York and New Jersey cinemas this fall and the fact that the show’s weekly listening audience was now in excess of two million.

And, yes, there was a legion of sponsors to thank and a few high profile pals in the audience to acknowledge, including Mayor Jim Newberry. But the program’s focus remained on music. In the case of program 500, the attention was placed on one guest, veteran folk singer Richie Havens.

A renowned songwriter and interpreter, Havens remains best known for his festival opening appearance at Woodstock 39 summers ago. But in listening to Havens sing last night in his deep, regally raspy voice with open guitar tunings that revealed a richly percussive feel, little has changed.

Some of the vocal creases have been ironed out, giving Havens a more sage-like singing quality. You heard it in original works like The Key and the war requiem Say It Isn’t So, both tunes from his new Nobody Left to Crown album. But the best evidence as to how rustically Havens’ music has aged surfaced with the evening’s most familiar song.

Havens’ recorded a hit version of the George Harrison signature tune Here Comes the Sun over 37 years ago. While last night’s version benefited from a backup duo that added colors of steel guitar and cello, the songs seemed altogether lighter than the rugged one Havens took to the airwaves.

Maybe it was the reality that Harrison has been gone for nearly seven years or that the spiritual cast Havens brings to Here Comes the Sun has broadened. Regardless, it was a gem of a performance. Tacking on The Beatles’ Abbey Road vignette The End as a coda made the song seem nothing short of enlightened.

By the end of the night, Havens was officially dubbed a Kentucky Colonel and, in a proclamation by Gov. Steve Beshear, Monday became “WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour Day.”

But to enforce the program’s musical fortitude, Havens raised the storm flags to perform Bob Dylan’s Maggie’s Farm with a verse of The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again as an encore medley. The voice was still warm and fatherly. The intent, though, clearly did what all great folk music strives to achieve: it spoke from the heart and to the times.  

Last night’s performance and archived broadcasts of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour are viewable at   

the dame lives!

Well, it looks like The Dame is going to rock again after all.

Following its June closing and August demolition, little in terms of concrete news of a new location for the venerable downtown music club – Lexington’s only real showcase venue for local bands and national touring acts – surfaced.

There were rumors. Man, oh, man, were there rumors – the most persistent being that The Dame would move closer to campus to the Woodland Ave. space once occupied by Lynagh’s Music Club (as well as two subsequent businesses that tanked). For much of the summer, phone messages and emails filed in from editors, other reporters and, mostly, music starved fans. All asked essentially the same thing: Have you heard anything about The Dame yet? Shoot, people were stopping me on the street asking that.

But like everyone else, I didn’t have a clue. And as the fall etched closer, it seemed less and less likely we would ever hear from the club again.

Well, Beverly Fortune brought us the good word this morning that The Dame will re-open on Oct. 3 at the old A1A location as part of the complex now known as Main Street Live. It’s a different, larger hall and, given its shoulder-to-shoulder proximity to other clubs, the feel and vibe is likely to shift a bit, as well.

But at this point, this can only be viewed, in the midst of one of the dreariest years ever for the local music community, as euphoric news. Should you think otherwise, you might want to take a walk by the corner of Main and Upper where the rubble and wreckage of The Dame’s former life sits in heaps.

So, Oct. 3 it is. Mark it down. You’ve got a date with The Dame.

Barbers do new looks, but based in tradition

AZ Daily Star November 24, 2008 | JOYCE BERTSCHY NW Side hair pros ‘going great,’ specialize in men’s cuts When co-owners Gabe Romero and Nick DeBaca remodeled the interior of their new barbershop, they mixed the contemporary with the old- fashioned.

The barber chairs, wood floor and baseball posters are reminiscent of the past. The big-screen television set, computerized cash register, haircuts and the owners are solidly in the present.

London Town Barber Shop, in a shopping mall on the northeast corner of West Ina and North Shannon roads, opened April 1. Romero, 32, and DeBaca, 23, met while working together at a different barbershop for about 18 months.

“I was thinking about opening a shop and so was Nick,” Romero said. “We put our heads together and it’s been going great ever since.” On a recent Friday afternoon, DeBaca used scissors and a trimmer to transform Raymond Ortega’s hair into a razor fade cut. DeBaca explained that this type of cut takes longer than traditional men’s haircuts. As DeBaca carefully snipped and trimmed, the complicated cut took shape: A gradual fade from hair on top of the head to skin at the bottom. men s haircuts

Ortega, 23, lives near Green Valley and makes the drive so his longtime buddy DeBaca can cut his hair.

“The environment is nice,” said Ortega. “They’re quick. It’s a cool place.” Both men have taken up the scissors to become the next generation of haircutters in their respective families.

“My mom was a licensed cosmetologist so I kind of grew up watching her,” said DeBaca. “I was one of those kids who did all the other neighborhood kids’ haircuts.” And Romero?

“My grandpa was a barber and I was raised in the barbershop,” he said.

The suite was a shell with plumbing for the sinks when the business partners signed the lease. They remodeled the space themselves because they didn’t have the money to hire anyone to do the work.

The task proved challenging – “especially for two barbers. We’re not plumbers,” DeBaca said. “Gabe and I did the floors, the paint and the bathrooms.” Romero and DeBaca hired four barbers: Frankie Valles, Kurt Wirth, Henry Rodriquez and James Leitschuh. All six of them worked together at another barbershop. go to website men s haircuts

Valles brushed cut hair from the smock of another Friday- afternoon customer.

“Everybody is laughing and joking,” said Josiah Thomas, 21. “It’s real nice.” The shop is definitely a man’s place. When couples come in for haircuts, “We send the wife next door to KC’s Hair & More,” Romero said.

“I was thinking about opening a shop and so was Nick. We put our heads together and it’s been going great ever since.” Gabe Romero, co-owner of London Town Barber Shop * This story originally appeared in Thursday’s Northwest Star. Contact news assistant Joyce Bertschy at 434-4076 or


safe havens

richie havens will perform at tonight's 500th taping of the woodsongs old-time radio hour. photo by jean-marc lubrano.

richie havens will perform at tonight's 500th taping of the woodsongs old-time radio hour. photo by jean-marc lubrano.

In more than a few ways, Richie Havens seems the ideal invitee for Monday’s 500th broadcast of the WoodSongs Old-Time Hour. Over the years, both have been fiercely independent in establishing their respective folk music followings.

In the case of WoodSongs, the program has grown under the direction of host/founder Michael Johnathon from a coffeehouse-style broadcast with a small, devout recording studio audience to an enterprise heard on nearly 500 stations worldwide. It is additionally broadcast in televised form on the internet and PBS stations. WoodSongs’ Monday tapings at the Kentucky Theatre have also become regular sellout events.

For Havens, a veteran of a famed Greenwich Village folk scene during the ‘60s, being his own boss followed initial flings with major labels (Polydor, A&M, Elektra) and high-profile management (by Albert Grossman, whose other clients included Janis Joplin, The Band, Odetta, Todd Rundgren and, most famously, Bob Dylan).

Learning to map out his career as a concert performer wasn’t too daunting a task. Many of his New York contemporaries helped guide him along that path. But as a recording artist, the road ahead was a mystery and an adventure.

“I’ve been sort of managing and taking care of myself since 1970,” said, Havens, 67. “I learned how to enter the market because I was a total independent that still had the luxury of being with some of the guys who mentored me in the Village. But one of the things they didn’t want to bother with was making records. For them it was, ‘I like playing onstage to living people.’ But then record companies came around.”

The first lesson on independence was a victory that seems larger now than it may have at the time it occurred. After a string of albums for MGM (a deal secured with Grossman’s help), the label was promptly sold. But in an almost unheard of turn for a then-new artist, Havens secured the master tapes of those recordings, which included his acclaimed 1967 debut album Mixed Bag.

“Only two guys got their masters back when MGM was sold – Frankie Valli and me.”

So beginning in 1970, following a career-defining appearance at Woodstock the previous summer, Havens issued recordings on his own Stormy Forest label. Albums such as Stonehenge (1970), Alarm Clock (1971) and Richie Havens On Stage (1972) underscored a folk avenue that possessed a deep strand of social awareness in its lyrics, a pop sensibility in its choice of cover material and a musical makeup built around acoustic guitar and congas. And then there was Haven’s voice – a rich, reedy singing tool that could sound alternately warm and desperate.

Return associations with major labels would follow in ensuing years, but those relationships were invariably brief. The labels fired the executives that championed Havens’ music, were bought out like MGM or else folded altogether.

“That’s probably happened to me about seven times,” Havens said. “But it somehow gave me a better pacing for myself and my career. It also made me seek out and work with people that really liked music still.”

As to the latter, Havens points to a song on his new Nobody Left to Crown album. The tune is Lives in the Balance, a 20 year old slice of heated social commentary written by Jackson Browne. But adding to the performance’s rich musical fabric is an ambassador of a new rock generation: guitarist Derek Trucks.

“Working with Derek was extraordinary. I actually have a video of him playing music when he was about 10. Watching it, I was listening to this kid and looking at his face. And he was just gone. He was playing away but had total control. I just went, ‘Wow.'”

But what continues to astound most about Havens’ music is that, despite the immediately recognizable tenor his singing, it has become adaptable on so many different projects.

His 2000 collaboration with the electronica duo Groove Armada, Hands of Time, was used in several film soundtracks, most notably the Tom Cruise/Jamie Foxx thriller Collateral. Havens was also part of the artistic team hand-picked by Peter Gabriel for his millennium performance piece called OVO.

“Peter is such a melody himself,” Havens said of the OVO experience. “What comes through him is very high end reverence.”

Last year, though, Havens, in effect, came home. He was offered a cameo role in the Todd Hayne fantasy biopic of Bob Dylan, I’m Not There. He also teamed with producer Joe Henry to record a propulsive and percussive version of the Dylan classic Tombstone Blues for the soundtrack.

Given how Dylan was a contemporary of the same New York folk scene that nurtured Havens, the project resonated in strong personal terms.

“So I went to Canada where they were shooting and to see what it was I had to do,” Havens said. “And I was immediately going, ‘Oh boy, this is really far out.’ Because, you see, I knew who they were talking about. And I tell you, Dylan was in that movie – especially with Cate Blanchett. It is so ironic, but so unbelievable at the same time. Once she starts, you cannot not see Bob Dylan. And it was the Bob Dylan I know, too.”

WoodSongs’ 500th Broadcast with Richie Havens will begin at 7 tonight at Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St. Tickets are $30. Reservations are not being taken for this taping. Doors will open at 6:15 p.m. with pre-show music by the Hippy Chick Quartet. A lobby reception for the audience and artists will follow the taping. For information, call (859) 231-7924.

in performance: tift merritt

tift merritt headlined the original highland art and music festival last night in louisville. photo by mark borthwick.

tift merritt headlined the original highlands art and music festival last night in louisville. photo by mark borthwick.

“Well, I’m glad it’s still summertime in Louisville,” remarked Tift Merritt as her headlining set last night at the Original Highlands Art and Music Festival got underway. To be sure, with an outdoor stage set up where Bardstown Rd. gave way to Baxter Ave. and evening temps still hanging in the mid ‘80s, it could have been mid July. But then again, there was already a hearty, summery vibe in the songs the Americana songstress served up.

The show opening Morning is My Destination, one of six tunes performed from Merritt’s recent Another Country album, set the performance tone. The song was fueled by a percussive, keyboard driven melody that hinted at gospel and soul and a lyric that served as an unassuming affirmation. Merritt’s vocals, which never seemed weighty throughout the performance, colored the music with knowing country intent.

And then there was the foot. Pity the poor keyboard pedal, because Merritt slammed her heel down on it like a jackhammer during the tune. Ditto for When I Cross Over, another Another Country gem where the footstomping moved to the stage floor to enhance the tune’s makeshift spiritual fervor.

The show nicely slimmed down to essentials at times, as when two acoustic guitars and three voices dressed up Supposed to Make You Happy. It also hushed enough during the more bittersweet Hopes Too High that a neighboring chorus of cicadas, not doubt in the midst of their own street festival, could be heard chirping along as dusk set in.

Merritt’s secret weapon in this homey mix was guitarist Scott McCall, a sharp, understated support player that helped flesh out the wistful contours of Stray Paper on slide guitar. He similarly fortified the soul/funk jubilance of Merritt’s take on James Carr’s Your Love Made a U Turn and the jangly electric pop of Broken.

Late in the set, when Merritt doubled McCall on electric guitar, the show blew wide open with My Heart is Free. It hardly broke down into a punkish brawl, mind you. But the sheer exuberance of Merritt’s performance drive gave the show a fun hullabaloo attitude as it headed into the home stretch.

The best, not surprisingly, was served last. With her band’s work done and the early evening sun having given way to a lustrous full moon that hung over the stage, Merritt returned to the keyboard to sing one final gospel-soul testimonial, Good Hearted Man, without accompaniment.

The band was dynamite. But when Merritt took to the stage on her own, the rootsy fervor of her singing was as big as… well… all outdoors.

fair weather tift

tift merritt. photo by tony nelson.

tift merritt. photo by tony nelson.

When the Americana songstress Tift Merritt made her local debut in 2005 for the Kentucky Women Writers Conference, she played a solo set on a slab of concrete outside the Central Library. Having taken a red eye flight the previous evening following a West Coast concert with Elvis Costello, she worked her way through the gentler tunes from her regal 2002 alt-country debut album Bramble Rose and the spunkier soul music suggestions of 2005’s Tambourine. But after an hour, the chill of a late March evening had set in and Merritt, politely stating the cold was making it too hard to play in tune, called an early end to the show.

Flash forward to Louisville last March. At the Bardstown Road record store haven known as ear-x-tacy, Merritt set up for another unaccompanied performance to promote her just released Another Country album. She came armed with a portable Yamaha keyboard as well as an acoustic guitar this time. So there, in the jazz section under the large sunglassed portrait of Miles Davis, she was to perform music prompted by a solo journey overseas.

The liner notes to Another Country offer fascinating insight into the travels that inspired the album’s highly reflective songs. Merritt outlines her trip to Paris and how unsure she was of when (or if) she would return home. She knew only two people there, had a minimal command of the French language and spent most days and many nights writing feverishly at pianos. But the culture, by her account, embraced her as warmly as she took to it. There’s even a cabaret tune she sings in French, Millie Tendresses, to close Another Country.

But we were discussing winter, weren’t we? The day Merritt played ear-x-tacy, two storm fronts ripped through Kentucky. Louisville wound up with nearly a foot of late winter snow before the storms passed through. Much of the eastern half of the country was paralyzed. But Merritt’s show went on as storefront windows behind her offered a view of the Louisville highlands that became whiter almost by the minute.

This weekend, we get two full band encounters with Merritt. She plays tonight at the Southgate House in Newport before headlining in the great (and hopefully warm and dry) outdoors for Louisville’s Original Highlands Arts and Music Festival. The Saturday event will be held along Baxter Ave., between Highland Ave. and Breckinridge St.

Hearing Merritt on her own is always cool. But a band just seems to bring out the gutsier side of her songs. You hear it in the churchy country jolt of Morning is My Destination, the Another Country tune played with regal country charm earlier this year on the Late Show with David Letterman. And for a full tilt sample of the rocking band attitude Merritt can summon in concert, track down a copy of her 2005 indie live document, Home is Loud. At the title suggests, the native Texan recorded the album in her long ago adopted home state of North Carolina in 2005. And, yes, it’s feisty and loud, when it wants to be. The seven minute version of Tambourine, in fact, sounds like Dusty Springfield meeting Cheap Trick.

We certainly hope Merritt can find her way back to Lexington again before long. Until then, key your fingers crossed that all wintry thoughts are absent from the weekend shows at hand.

Tift Merritt performs tonight at the Southgate House, 24 East Third St., in Newport. Tickets are $18. Call (859) 431-2201. She will also headline Saturday’s  Original Highlands Art and Music Festival along Baxter Ave. in Louisville. That performance is free.

hicks up

dan hicks and the hot licks perform tonight in newport.

dan hicks and the hot licks perform tonight in newport.

Anyone up for a trip to Hicksville tonight?

If so, Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks are back in the region to perform at the Southgate House, 24 E. 4th St. in Newport. A longtime veteran of the golden age of San Francisco pop, Hicks has long favored a hipster variation of swing, jazz and blues that never steered far from the city’s inherent psychedelia.

His initial spin on that music culminated as the ‘60s bled into the early ‘70s with albums like Last Train to Hicksville and the still-classic Western lounge crooner I Scare Myself.

Over the years, Hicks has reflected on that sound, adjusted its contours – as shown by the Acoustic Warriors band he toured with in the ‘90s – and, at times, disappeared altogether. But he has been a busy hombre in the 21st century. Hicks ushered in a new lineup of (as well as a new era for) the Hot Licks with 2000’s Beatin’ the Heat. The album was released that April. In the late fall – on Thanksgiving night, no less – Hicks held court at Jim Porter’s in Louisville with nearly two hours of songs, sass and jive that covered vintage Hot Licks fare (the boozy Canned Music, the swing savvy How Can I Miss You When You Don’t Go Away), a wildly broad array of cover material (by Duke Ellington, Bob Wills and Tom Waits) and new, offbeat (way offbeat) tunes like I’ve Got a Capo on My Brain.

Word has it another new Hicks record is due out in early 2009. All we know about it at this point are three tid-bits of info leaked by a recent press release.

+ Chris Goldsmith, who has helped fashion records for the Blind Boys of Alabama, will produce.

+ Some of the new songs will be previewed at tonight’s show.

+ Within those tunes is the promise that Hicks has “found three new rhymes for the word ‘orange.'”

Showtime tonight in Newport is 8 p.m. Tickets at the door are $20. Call (859) 431-2201.

Compass Biotechnologies cobi:ob Announces Memorandum of Understanding With Arecor Ltd., of Cambridge U.k. to Develop Heat Stable Hepatitis B Vaccine.

Biotech Week May 11, 2011 Compass Biotechnologies Inc. (OTCBB: COBI) is focused on the development and commercialization of generic, biosimilar and bio-better therapeutic products. In continuation of executing on its business plan, the Company is pleased to announce an agreement to develop a heat stable Hepatitis B vaccine formulation based upon acquiring a worldwide exclusive license from ARECOR Ltd. (Cambridge U.K.), using its proprietary Arestat™ formulation technology (see also Hepatitis B Virus). see here hepatitis b vaccine

Globally Hepatitis B virus (HBV) causes about 4 million new infections per year. Of the over 350 million chronic carriers of HBV worldwide, 25% are expected to die within the next 5 to 25 years because of liver disease complications caused by the HBV infection. In the USA more than 620,000 will die from Hepatitis B liver-related disease within this same period.

The market for current prophylactic vaccines against hepatitis B is estimated at $800 million, while the global 2010 travel vaccines market was estimated to be worth $2.7 billion. By 2017, the travel vaccines market is estimated to reach $6.6 billion, indicating a CAGR of 13%. None of these vaccines are heat stable and if improperly stored they can lose their effectiveness in a short period of time.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global immunization against Hepatitis B is estimated at only 60%. Areas with high rates of infection such as S.E. Asia have coverage of only 28%, while Africa has 49% and the Americas 89%. One of the main constraints in achieving higher immunization targets is maintaining proper refrigeration of the vaccine product. The use of a heat stable Hepatitis B vaccine has the potential to increase the availability and the immunization coverage. Also this strategy may avoid problems with freezing, noted to be one of the primary cold chain problems threatening vaccine integrity. hepatitis b vaccine

Currently most protein based drugs need to be kept refrigerated in order to ensure their stability and effectiveness. Arestat™ is a formulation technology that stabilizes proteins to prevent the loss of their biological activity when stored under non refrigerated conditions. The development of a heat stable Hepatitis B vaccine able to be stored at room temperatures will create a large market opportunity and expand the use of this vaccine not only in the developed markets but in those markets where keeping a vaccine under refrigeration is impossible.

Studies with the Arestat™ heat stable formulation of Hepatitis B vaccine have demonstrated:

o greater than 70% potency being retained after 12 months of storage at 37degreesC (98.6degreesF).o that the Arestat™ heat stable vaccine proved to be just as effective after the 12 months storage at 37degreesC (98.6degrees F) when compared to it being stored at refrigeration temperatures.o In contrast, a commercially available Hepatitis B vaccine completely lost its effectiveness and showed a 100-fold drop in the anti-hepatitis B titer when stored at 37degreesC. (98.6degrees F) “Arecor has successfully applied Arestat™ to a wide number of therapeutic proteins and vaccines to minimize degradation in storage. Arestat™ provides enormous benefit to patients in both developed and developing countries by providing assurance of potency despite potential mishandling or lack of refrigeration,” said Thomas Saylor, CEO of Arecor Limited.

Dr. Joseph Sinkule, a Director and Co-Founder of Compass Biotechnologies, agreed, saying, “Current Hepatitis B vaccines require refrigeration and a cold chain to maintain stability and viability, yet freezing must also be avoided. Transportation, storage, and delivery to the end user require an intact cold chain, which is difficult and exceedingly costly to maintain. Successful development of heat stable vaccine products will simplify vaccine storage and delivery, reduce waste, and improve vaccine availability.” “We are very pleased to be partners with ARECOR and will proceed immediately to complete a definitive licensing agreement for this important product,” commented Mr. Garth Likes, CEO of Compass Biotechnologies. He went on to say, “C-Pharma, our wholly-owned subsidiary company, will be responsible for development of the heat stable hepatitis B vaccine as the product lies within our ongoing strategy to develop a comprehensive Hepatitis franchise. We will obviously look at other heat stable formulations for products within Compass as well.”

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