in performance: steve earle/allison moorer

steve earle performed to a sold out audience last night the opera house. photo by herald-leader staff photographer mark cornelison.

steve earle performed to a sold out audience last night the opera house. photo by herald-leader staff photographer mark cornelison.

Upon exiting Steve Earle’s sold out solo performance last night at the Opera House, an audience member made a point of letting me know that the show was “too political.” Another, outside on Short St., was ecstatic about the evening, waxing on about how the concert was the best of Earle’s many outings in Lexington over the past two decades. While it was hardly their intention, both underscored a fascinating duality that has long existed within Earle’s music. Admittedly, the contrasts run more to the emotive and, at times, spiritual extremes of the Texan-turned-New Yorker’s songs than to political ends. But they were in glorious abundance nonetheless during the two hour performance.

An opening set of Townes Van Zandt tunes set the attitude in motion. The late, legendary Texas songsmith proved to be a massive presence during the concert. Earle played a total of nine Van Zandt songs, eight of which came from his recent Townes tribute album (the lone exception was Rex’s Blues, which Earle has long performed as a medley with his own Ft. Worth Blues). But the show opening Where I Lead Me and Colorado Girl also emphasized the extraordinary contrasts within the music and the performance itself. The chilly world cast of the former (“the street’s just fine if you’re good and blind, but it ain’t where you belong”) was enforced by Earle’s magnetically weatherbeaten vocals. The latter song’s honestly country mindset was open, almost romantic in comparison. Earle responded in kind with vocals full of folky solace and hope.

And so it went, two by two, for much of the evening. The almost Dylan-esque narrative of Van Zandt’s Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold prefaced the dire, destitute Marie, a song Van Zandt introduced to Earle at the height of the latter’s early ‘90s drug addictions. At the end of the set, Earle slammed two extraordinary Van Zandt opposites together, using the ghostly Lungs as a lead in for the striking reawakening of To Live is to Fly.

Earle approximated such pairings with his own music as well. Wife and opening act Allison Moorer joined in as two songs from 2007’s Washington Square Serenade album were placed side by side (the global village reverie City of Immigrants and the more overtly romantic Days Aren’t Long Enough) while wildly differing tales of rural strife played out when the violent airs of Taneytown gave way to the pin-drop-quiet of Goodbye. Similar rural boundaries were drawn during an encore that placed the faithful Harlan Man next to the renegade Copperhead Road

But the most homespun duality surfaced late in the performance when Earle matched an immoveable song of rural tradition and survival (the title tune to 1999’s The Mountain) with his most profound prayer of peace (the title tune to 2002’s Jerusalem)

Political/entertaining; dark/light; romantic/worldly – those were just a few of the epic contrasts on display during this sublime performance. How appropriate it was, then, that it took to the music of two master songsmiths last night to stitch such myriad themes and emotions together.

Moorer’s sadly brief opening set was a delight as well. It mixed inspired covers (Patti Smith’s Dancing Barefoot), homeland inspired originals (Alabama Song, Getting Somewhere) and few fine unrecorded previews from a forthcoming album. But it was Moorer’s vocals – clean, unforced and regally Southern – that gave her luscious Americana portraits such rich, electric vitality.

Swiss Army opens Monroe headquarters

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) October 2, 2007 | Cara Baruzzi Employees and company officials, some from as far away as Switzerland, gathered Monday to celebrate the grand opening of Victorinox Swiss Army Inc.’s new North American headquarters at 7 Victoria Drive.

The 160,000-square-foot building, which the company began constructing in June 2006, is “an important milestone in the history of our company,” said Charles Elsener, president of Victorinox Group, the Swiss parent company of Swiss Army.

He traveled from Switzerland to attend the grand opening. “I already got the impression from our employees that they are enjoying their new surroundings,” he said. “The building is beautiful.” Elsener’s great-grandfather, Karl Elsener, created the original Swiss Army knife in 1897. Prior to opening on Victoria Drive, the company’s North American headquarters was in Shelton for 30 years. web site victorinox swiss army

Company officials said they decided to relocate operations to Monroe because the new site allowed them to expand their office and warehouse space, as well as house both under the same roof.

The new, two-story state-of-the-art building, where 175 employees work, has 40,000 square feet of office space and 120,000 square feet of warehouse space.

“We worked very hard on this, on making sure Swiss Army came to the town,” said First Selectman Andrew Nunn. “It is a great day for the community.” The $26 million headquarters project received more than $2.1 million in financial incentives, mainly tax breaks, from the state and town, said Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele.

“We wanted to help and make it a reality,” he said. “We are committed to the Swiss Army Brands because they are committed to Connecticut.” Rick Taggart, president of Victorinox Swiss Army Inc., said that, when deciding where to relocate the North American headquarters, company officials wanted to remain in Connecticut. site victorinox swiss army

“We’re very proud to be a Connecticut-based company,” he said.

Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, who is Connecticut’s business advocate, and state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal also attended Monday’s event, where guests were given tours of the headquarters.

Swiss Army Brands manufactures knives, watches, multipurpose tools and cutlery that are marketed throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. It also markets Victorinox apparel and travel gear.

Cara Baruzzi can be reached at or 789- 5748.

Cara Baruzzi

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