Archive for July, 2010

summer album of the week 07/31/10

miles davis: in a silent way (released july 30, 1969)

miles davis: in a silent way (released july 30, 1969)

The moment the title track to Miles Davis’ still-sublime In a Silent Way album – a haunting, atmospheric reflection penned by future Weather Report chieftain Josef Zawinul – spills over into the discreet organ-fueled funk of It’s About That Time, the defintion unalterably blurred as to what was or wasn’t contemporary jazz. To those raised on the studied cool Davis established with two expert quintets earlier in the ‘60s, the move was as treasonous as when Bob Dylan jumped from folk to rock ‘n’ roll. For those prepared for a new jazz recipe, and Davis was absolutely one of them, the album was a call to arms with grooves both earthy and dreamlike. Electric jazz may not have fully started with In a Silent Way. And it wouldn’t strike a revolutionary blow until Davis unveiled Bitches Brew a year later. Still, it captured jazz at a cultural and generational crossroads. It remains a wondrous summertime listen to this day.


Federal Reserve Bulletin April 1, 2000

APPLICATIONS APPROVED UNDER BANK HOLDING COMPANY ACT By Federal Reserve Banks go to site rancho santa fe

Recent applications have been approved by the Federal Reserve Banks as listed below. Copies are available upon request to the Reserve Banks.

Section 3

Applicant(s) Bank(s)

Bank of America Corporation, Bank of America Oregon, National Charlotte, North Carolina Association, N B Holdings Corporation, Portland, Oregon Charlotte, North Carolina BB&T Corporation, First Banking Company of Winston-Salem, North Carolina Southeast Georgia, Statesboro, Georgia BB&T Corporation, Hardwick Holding Company, Winston-Salem, North Carolina Dalton, Georgia Calvert Financial Corporation, Bunceton State Bank, Jefferson City, Missouri Bunceton, Missouri Castle Creek Capital Partners First Community Bancorp, Fund I, LP, Rancho Santa Fe, California Rancho Santa Fe, California Castle Creek Capital Partners Fund IIa, LP, Rancho Santa Fe, California Castle Creek Capital Partners Fund IIb, LP, Rancho Santa Fe, California Castle Creek Capital LLC, Rancho Santa Fe, California WJR Inc., Rancho Santa Fe, California Eggemeyer Advisory Inc., Rancho Santa Fe, California Centerstate Banks of Florida, First National Bank of Osceola Inc., Winter Haven, Florida County, Kissimmee, Florida Community National Bank of Pacso County, Zephyrhills, Florida First National Bank of Polk County, Winter Haven, Florida Centra Financial Holdings, Inc., Centra Bank, Inc., Morgantown, West Virginia Morgantown, West Virginia Century South Banks, Inc., Lanier Bankshares, Inc., Dahlonega, Georgia Gainesville, Georgia Lanier National Bank, Gainesville, Georgia Columbia Bancorp, Suburban Bancshares, Inc., Columbia, Maryland Greenbelt, Maryland Commonwealth Bancshares, Inc., Commonwealth Financial Shelbyville, Kentucky Corporation, Louisville, Kentucky Commonwealth Bank and Trust Company, Louisville, Kentucky F&A Financial Holding Company, F&A Financial Corporation, Kittanning, Pennsylvania Kittanning, Pennsylvania First Community Bancorp, Rancho Santa Fe National Bank, Rancho Santa Fe, California Rancho Santa Fe, California First Community Bank of the Desert, Indian Wells, California First Mountain Company KSOP First Mountain Company, Plan, Montrose, Colorado Montrose, Colorado Gold Banc Corporation, Inc., CountryBanc Holding Company, Leawood, Kansas Edmond, Oklahoma Gold Banc Acquisition Corporation XII, Inc., Leawood, Kansas HSB Bancorp, Inc., Hebron Savings Bank, Hebron, Maryland Hebron, Maryland Lewisville Bancorp, Inc., Madison Lake Bancorporation, Lewisville, Minnesota Inc., Madison Lake, Minnesota Van Deusen Bancorp, Inc., Peoples State Bank of Madison Lewisville, Minnesota Lake, Madison Lake, Minnesota Mesquite Financial Services, Falfurrias State Bank, Inc., Alice, Texas Falfurrias, Texas Midland Bancshares, Inc., Community National Bank, Midland, Texas Midland, Texas National Commerce Bancorporation, First National Bank, Memphis, Tennessee Lenoir City, Tennessee NBG Bancorp, Inc., The National Bank of Georgia, Athens, Georgia Athens, Georgia Northern Missouri Bancshares, First National Bancshares of Inc., Unionville Missouri Gallatin, Inc., Gallatin, Missouri Pacific Mercantile Bancorp, Pacific Mercantile Bank, Newport Beach, California Newport Beach, California Port Financial Corp., Cambridgeport Bank, Cambridge, Massachusetts Cambridge, Massachusetts Cambridge Bancorp, Cambridge, Massachusetts Wells Fargo & Company, Napa National Bancorp, San Francisco, California Napa, California Napa National Bank, Napa, California Wewahitchka State Bank Employee Gulf Coast Bancshares, Inc., Stock Ownership Plan, Wewahitchka, Florida Wewahitchka, Florida Wewahitchka State Bank, Wewahitchka, Florida

Section 4

Applicant(s) Nonbanking Activity/Company

Barclays plc, Identrus, LLC, London, England New York, New York Barclays Bank plc, London, England Berkshire Bancorp Inc., To engage de novo in certain New York, New York credit card authorization and credit card processing activities Central Progressive Bancshares, To engage de novo in making, Inc., brokering, or servicing Hammond, Louisiana loans or other extensions of credit Citizens Bankshares, Inc., Citizens Bank of Farmington, Farmington, New Mexico Farmington, New Mexico Dakota Bancshares, Inc., American State Insurance Mendota Heights, Minnesota Agency, Inc., Olivia, Minnesota Olivia Bancorporation, Inc., Olivia, Minnesota Deutsche Bank AG, Keyboard Acceptance Corporation, Frankfurt, Germany Mason, Ohio Deutsche Financial Services, Signature Leasing Company, Inc., St. Louis, Missouri Mason, Ohio Deutsche Bank AG, InterSec Research Corporation, Frankfurt, Germany Stamford, Connecticut German American Capital Corporation, New York, New York Exchange Bankshares, Inc., Exchange Insurance Agency, Inc., Milledgeville, Georgia Gray, Georgia First Farmers Financial Corporation, Converse, Indiana Independent Bankers Life Reinsurance Company of Indiana Ltd., Turks and Caicos Islands First Western Bancorp, Inc., Kendall Insurance, Huron, South Dakota Lead, South Dakota Ellis Insurance, Lead, South Dakota Indiana United Bancorp, IUB Reinsurance Co., Ltd., Greensburg, Indiana Greensburg, Indiana Intervest Bancshares Corporation, Intervest Corporation of New New York, New York York, New York, New York Societe Generale, IMP. COM, Inc., Paris, France New York, New York Societe Generale Investment Corporation, New York, New York

Sections 3 and 4

Applicant(s) Nonbanking Activity/Company

Bank of Whitman Employee Stock Whitman Bancorporation, Inc., Ownership Plan, Colfax, Washington Colfax, Washington Bank of Whitman, Colfax, Washington B.O.W.F.I., Inc., Colfax, Washington Zumbrota Agency, Inc., Tri County Investment Company, Zumbrota, Minnesota Inc., Pine Island, Minnesota Pine Island Bancshares, Inc., Zumbrota, Minnesota

Section 3

Applicant(s) Reserve Bank Effective Date

Bank of America Corporation, Richmond January 25, 2000 Charlotte, North Carolina N B Holdings Corporation, Charlotte, North Carolina BB&T Corporation, Richmond February 25, 2000 Winston-Salem, North Carolina BB&T Corporation, Richmond February 24, 2000 Winston-Salem, North Carolina Calvert Financial Corporation, Kansas City February 2, 2000 Jefferson City, Missouri Castle Creek Capital Partners San Francisco February 23, 2000 Fund I, LP, Rancho Santa Fe, California Castle Creek Capital Partners Fund IIa, LP, Rancho Santa Fe, California Castle Creek Capital Partners Fund IIb, LP, Rancho Santa Fe, California Castle Creek Capital LLC, Rancho Santa Fe, California WJR Inc., Rancho Santa Fe, California Eggemeyer Advisory Inc., Rancho Santa Fe, California Centerstate Banks of Florida, Atlanta January 28, 2000 Inc., Winter Haven, Florida Centra Financial Holdings, Inc., Richmond February 16, 2000 Morgantown, West Virginia Century South Banks, Inc., Atlanta January 28, 2000 Dahlonega, Georgia Columbia Bancorp, Richmond February 17, 2000 Columbia, Maryland Commonwealth Bancshares, Inc., St. Louis February 18, 2000 Shelbyville, Kentucky F&A Financial Holding Company, Cleveland February 16, 2000 Kittanning, Pennsylvania First Community Bancorp, San Francisco February 23, 2000 Rancho Santa Fe, California First Mountain Company KSOP Kansas City January 25, 2000 Plan, Montrose, Colorado Gold Banc Corporation, Inc., Kansas City February 9, 2000 Leawood, Kansas Gold Banc Acquisition Corporation XII, Inc., Leawood, Kansas HSB Bancorp, Inc., Richmond February 15, 2000 Hebron, Maryland Lewisville Bancorp, Inc., Minneapolis February 2, 2000 Lewisville, Minnesota Van Deusen Bancorp, Inc., Lewisville, Minnesota Mesquite Financial Services, Dallas February 18, 2000 Inc., Alice, Texas Midland Bancshares, Inc., Dallas February 8, 2000 Midland, Texas National Commerce Bancorporation, St. Louis February 3, 2000 Memphis, Tennessee NBG Bancorp, Inc., Atlanta February 22, 2000 Athens, Georgia Northern Missouri Bancshares, Kansas City January 26, 2000 Inc., Unionville Missouri Pacific Mercantile Bancorp, San Francisco February 11, 2000 Newport Beach, California Port Financial Corp., Boston February 1, 2000 Cambridge, Massachusetts Wells Fargo & Company, San Francisco February 25, 2000 San Francisco, California Wewahitchka State Bank Employee Atlanta January 21, 2000 Stock Ownership Plan, Wewahitchka, Florida website rancho santa fe

Section 4

Applicant(s) Reserve Bank Effective Date

Barclays plc, New York February 11, 2000 London, England Barclays Bank plc, London, England Berkshire Bancorp Inc., New York January 26, 2000 New York, New York Central Progressive Bancshares, Atlanta January 28, 2000 Inc., Hammond, Louisiana Citizens Bankshares, Inc., Kansas City. February 7, 2000 Farmington, New Mexico Dakota Bancshares, Inc., Minneapolis February 24, 2000 Mendota Heights, Minnesota Olivia Bancorporation, Inc., Olivia, Minnesota Deutsche Bank AG, New York January 26, 2000 Frankfurt, Germany Deutsche Financial Services, Inc., St. Louis, Missouri Deutsche Bank AG, New York February 7, 2000 Frankfurt, Germany German American Capital Corporation, New York, New York Exchange Bankshares, Inc., Atlanta February 24, 2000 Milledgeville, Georgia First Farmers Financial Chicago January 27, 2000 Corporation, Converse, Indiana Independent Bankers Life Reinsurance Company of Indiana Ltd., Turks and Caicos Islands First Western Bancorp, Inc., Minneapolis February 7, 2000 Huron, South Dakota Indiana United Bancorp, Chicago February 1, 2000 Greensburg, Indiana Intervest Bancshares Corporation, Atlanta January 31, 2000 New York, New York Societe Generale, New York February 3, 2000 Paris, France Societe Generale Investment Corporation, New York, New York

Sections 3 and 4

Applicant(s) Effective Date

Bank of Whitman Employee Stock San Francisco February 3, 2000 Ownership Plan, Colfax, Washington Zumbrota Agency, Inc., Minneapolis January 25, 2000 Zumbrota, Minnesota Pine Island Bancshares, Inc., Zumbrota, Minnesota

the new times of a fast citizen

aram shelon quartet. clockwise from upper left: aram shelton, anton hatwich, marc riordan and keefe jackson.

the aram shelon quartet. clockwise from upper left: aram shelton, anton hatwich, marc riordan and keefe jackson.

What happens when a Fast Citizen decides to cool his stride a little? For tenor saxophonist and clarinetist Aram Shelton that means working with bandmates in his former hometown while residing at the opposite end of the country. But it also translates into establishing fresh musical directions.

Let’s rewind for a second. Just before Christmas, Shelton – a veteran of a vibrant Chicago jazz community now living in Oakland, Ca. – was onstage at Gumbo Ya Ya with Fast Citizens. The group is an indie jazz collective based in Chicago that shifts leadership roles with every album. Last winter was Shelton’s turn as chief Fast Citizen.

Friendships new and old within the band, as well as the desire to attempt a performance project that was a touch smaller, led to the formation of the Aram Shelton Quartet. That lineup – Shelton, fellow Fast Citizens Keefe Jackson (on tenor saxophone) and Anton Hatwich (on bass) along with Marc Riordan (who subbed for the band’s usual drummer, Frank Rosaly, on last winter’s tour) – plays Gumbo Ya Ya tonight.

“We definitely have a friendship,” Shelton said recently from his Oakland home. “I think that’s what’s coming through musically. We’re supporting each other. We’ve known each other for almost a decade. Even though we haven’t lived in the same space for a few years now, it’s still a classic case of picking up the conversation where you left off.”

Such camaraderie carries over to These Times, the quartet’s newly released debut recording. But while the album draws from the compositional strengths and improvisational invention of Fast Citizens, it also opens the music up.

For example, a patient, almost hushed, drum serenade from Riordan sets up the blue-tinged Relief while the minute-long blast of solo bass bliss by Hatwich on Rise and Set colors a contemplative Coltrane-like mood. Especially telling, though, is the animated harmony that ignites Rings and An Interrupted Stroll when Shelton and Jackson play off each other.

“I never really enjoyed playing with other saxophonists much,” Shelton said. “I always thought that was doing too much of the same thing. In a small group, a quartet, it seemed a little redundant. But in this group, it’s really fun to play with Keefe. Our styles compliment each other because we’re different.”

One thing that hasn’t changed from Fast Citizens is the challenge presented when a band chieftain lives in one city while the rest of the group resides in another. But Shelton said a little prioritizing keeps an ensemble spirit vital and alive with his Chicago mates.

“Whenever I’m in Chicago, I’m just a lot more focused. I can block out the other distractions. When you live in the same city as everyone else in your band, things can kind of get pushed off to the side. The good thing about doing the project from a distance, I guess, is that it’s a lot more focused. There is an urgency that can really push you along.”

The Aram Shelton Quartet performs at 8 p.m. July 31 at Gumbo Ya Ya in the Bar Lexington complex, 367 E. Main. $5. Call (859) 523-9292.

South Carolina Law Enforcement Back Child Tax Credit To Cut Crime.(Report) this web site child tax credit 2011

Biotech Week April 21, 2010 South Carolina law enforcement leaders called for the expansion of federal child tax credits for working families struggling in today’s recession, as a way to prevent future crime. At a news conference Wednesday, Rock Hill Chief of Police John Gregory, Fairfield County Sheriff Herman Young, Sumter Chief of Police Patty Patterson and York County Deputy Solicitor Willy Thompson called on Congressional leaders to allow more families to receive the child tax credit. Representative John Spratt of South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District joined them as they released new research about the link between low incomes and criminal activity. Click here to view the research report released at today’s press conference (see also Fight Crime: Invest in Kids).

While most kids who grow up poor never become criminals, growing up in poverty increases the risk of involvement in crime. Allowing more lower-income families to keep more of their earned income would help lift more children out of poverty and decrease the likelihood that the children will commit crimes as adults.

“This will really help many of our lower-income families keep more of their earned income,” Chief Gregory said.” It will also help make sure that this economic downturn doesn’t lead to a generation of future criminals.” Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that when parents’ incomes are increased to above the poverty level, children in those families exhibit fewer behavioral problems and, as a result, are significantly less likely to turn to a life of crime. By allowing working parents to keep more of their income, the child tax credit would help more families make ends meet and ensure that fewer children are exposed to the worst risk factors for crime, the law enforcement leaders said.

The law enforcement leaders called on Congress to continue to improve the child tax credit, which was expanded through the 2009 Recovery Act, by making room in the 2011 budget for a child tax credit refundable to the first dollar of earned income. Currently families only get the credit, which is 15% of earned income up to a maximum of $1,000 per child, once they have earned at least $3,000. If Congress does not act, the threshold will increase from $3,000 back to the previous amount of $12,850, excluding even more poor, working parents from receiving the tax credit.

In the United States, children are more likely to be living in poverty than any other age group. In the Carolinas, approximately one in five children are growing up in poverty. Unemployment rates in the Carolinas have spiked over the last year; between December 2008 and December 2009, North Carolina’s unemployment rate climbed from 8 percent to just over 11 percent, while South Carolina’s rate climbed from just under 9 percent to 12.6 percent.

“We know that we can cut crime by cutting child poverty. Congressman Spratt is a leader when it comes to fighting for policies that benefit children and increase public safety,” Sheriff Young said. “Law enforcement leaders will stand shoulder to shoulder with him as he makes sure that the child tax credit is a top priority as he works this month with his colleagues in Congress to draft the federal budget for the coming year.” The current Child Tax Credit, as enhanced by the recovery package, provides help to 253,000 South Carolina children in families who would otherwise stand to lose these benefits if Congress takes no legislative action. These are the families most likely to spend the money rather than save it, which also keeps more dollars flowing through the local economy. site child tax credit 2011

“From a law enforcement perspective, all the choices we make have to be in the interests of public safety,” Chief Patterson said. “This not only helps kids get the right start in life, it also will make South Carolina communities safer and better places to live.” Chief Gregory, Sheriff Young and Chief Patterson are members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, an anti-crime organization of more than 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and violence survivors, including 125 in South Carolina.

For more information, visit

party poopers

a prospective kings of leon fan prepares for a concert.

a prospective kings of leon fan prepares for a concert.

Bombarded as we all are these days by news reflecting all imaginable degrees of relevance and credibility, I try my best to filter out that which is obviously trashy. But the other day, I came across this headline from the Guardian newspaper in England:

“Kings of Leon forced off stage by incontinent pigeons.”

I’m sorry. I’m as serious minded as the next journalist, but there is simply no way I’m ignoring this. Here is, quite literally, the poop:

Turns out rock celebs Kings of Leon were performing an amphitheatre concert last Friday in St. Louis and were inundated by flocks of pigeons – or, as the Guardian piece termed them, “avian music critics” – with weak digestive tracts. After only three songs, the band fled the stage after being bombed by bird droppings.

On a serious note, bird poop is nasty stuff. It can cause histoplasmosis and God-only-knows what else. And, frankly, if I found myself a walking target for a swarm of poop-flinging birds, I’d run too. But you gotta admit this is funny. And talk about an event that effectively blows rock star canonizing to smithereens.

This week, all kinds of news stories have pooped – er, popped – up online about Pigeonfest. An especially imaginative E Online piece ran a supposed facebook commentary submitted by one of the offending birds (“Archie Pigeon,” he calls himself) while a CNN story comes with three pages of laugh-out-loud replies from readers (my favorite: “Fox should sign these birds as the new American Idol judges.”).

Kings of Leon is scheduled to play Riverbend in Cincinnati on Saturday of Labor Day weekend. The venue is roughly 80 miles from Lexington – as the pigeons fly.

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critic's pick 134

Let’s preface what we’re about to explore here by saying that this won’t be for everyone. On the table is a 5-CD boxed set of avant garde jazz – a veritable killing field of potent, abstract improvisations where melody has been all but banished.

Sounds like some serious summertime fun, doesn’t it?

But there is a reason for discussing music that might send even devout jazz fans for the Excedrin and casual fans for the door. And it’s not the fact that the leader of these recordings is Peter Brotzmann, an uncompromising leader of the Eurorpean jazz avant garde for more than four decades.

For the past eight years, Brotzmann and at least eight of the players making up his Tentet + 1 brigade have been regular visitors to Lexington thanks to the ongoing Outside the Spotlight Series. The Tentet, in fact, unofficially inaugurated the series eight summers ago at the University of Kentucky’s Memorial Hall. Brotzmann himself has played here twice already this year while four of the Tentet players have performed locally, in various groups, within the last six weeks. Obviously, Lexington has found a connection to this dissonant, demanding and, at times, confrontational music.

So here we have a mountain of it. Five discs of performances cut over three nights for the Nasjonal Jazzscene in Norway last year. Two detail the Tentet specifically with huge ensemble exchanges that are pure thunder. Such interplay sounds rich and almost violent at times, forming a torrent of brutal intensity that seems destined to implode on itself. Then the band gets crafty. On the fifth disc, a fascinating dialogue between Jeb Bishop and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm develops. Then Brotzmann, along with sax giants Ken Vandermark and Mats Gustafsson, brings the music back to the boiling point.

But 3 Nights in Oslo also offers three discs that break the music down into splinter groups. Among the highlights: a brilliant saxophone duet of bluesy, boppish and percussive beauty by Vandermark and Joe McPhee; the sax trio Sonore (Brotzmann, Vandermark and Gustafsson), which builds the music from a playful hush to spacious improvisational collisions; and the wild interplay of Survival Unit III (McPhee, Lonberg-Holm and drummer Michael Zerang) which similarly explores textures that patiently build into a rhythmic storm.

Of course, 3 Nights in Oslo has no designs on mass appeal. But for fans that have helped champion this music in Lexington over the past eight years, it’s something of a vindication. It’s a feast of a recording, an overview of the excitement created when you’re willing to engage in music that adapts without compromise to the moment.

Experts Suggest Motive Is Tied To Crafts Store; Others See Coincidence in Proximity Of Michaels to Sites of Shootings

The Washington Post October 16, 2002 | Serge F. Kovaleski and Margot Williams That first night, before the death toll began to mount and authorities realized a sniper was roaming the Washington region, customers and workers at a Michaels crafts store in Aspen Hill were startled by a loud crack. For a moment, they figured a bulb must have blown in a lighted sign over checkout lane No. 5.

In fact, a .223-caliber rifle bullet had pierced the front window of the store, in the 13800 block of Georgia Avenue, leaving a nickel- size hole in the glass a few feet above eye level. It was 5:20 p.m. on Oct. 2 — about 45 minutes before the first of 11 shooting victims now attributed to the sniper fell dead in a supermarket parking lot two miles away. The bullet at Michaels ripped a hole in the checkout sign, buzzed through the store and stopped near a display of autumnal decorations, injuring no one. website fitzgerald auto mall

“I was in the parking lot,” said a man who lives nearby. “I heard what sounded like a gunshot. But I didn’t see anything.” Two days later, the sniper’s eighth victim was wounded outside a Michaels at the Spotsylvania Mall as she loaded packages into her minivan. Then Monday night, the gunman’s 11th victim, and the ninth person to be slain, was cut down outside a Home Depot store at the Seven Corners Shopping Center in Fairfax County. On the opposite side of the complex, on an upper level, about 100 yards away, is a Michaels.

In all, 12 shooting incidents have been linked by police to the sniper — six in Montgomery County, two in Spotsylvania County and one each in Northwest Washington and Prince George’s, Prince William and Fairfax counties. Nine of the incidents occurred within three miles of Michaels stores. In six cases, the distance was a mile or less.

Some outside experts say the proximity of Michaels stores to many of the attacks could be a clue to the sniper’s motives and should not be ignored as investigators try to discern a pattern to the shootings and build a profile of the killer.

However, other experts discount the significance of the locations of some of the stores in relation to where the attacks occurred, saying that any connection is most likely coincidental.

One thing is certain, though: Police have been trying to determine whether the locations of Michaels stores are a factor in the sniper’s attack pattern.

Tom Clary, a spokesman for the Texas-based retail chain, which has 24 stores in the Washington area, said yesterday that “the police have been in contact with us” concerning the shootings. And he said company officials are “doing everything we can to assist” authorities in identifying the sniper.

Investigators have been interviewing employees of at least two Michaels stores — on Georgia Avenue and in Spotsylvania — about whether any disgruntled employees or irate customers might have wanted to exact revenge against the business.

But Clary said he believes that “the connection between Michaels stores and all of this is coincidental” and that investigators have not “shared with us any evidence that suggests that Michaels stores are part of a pattern or are being targeted specifically.” Indeed, several of the sniper’s attacks have been carried out in well-traveled commercial areas saturated with popular retail chains and restaurants.

Radio Shack, for instance: go to web site fitzgerald auto mall

The sniper’s Oct. 3 slaying of a cabdriver at an Aspen Hill gas station occurred about three-quarters of a mile from the Michaels in the 13800 block of Georgia Avenue. Even closer is a Radio Shack, at the same intersection where the cabbie died.

Another attack that day, near the Fitzgerald Auto Mall in White Flint, took place less than two miles from a Michaels on Rockville Pike — but less than a half mile from a Radio Shack in White Flint. And last Wednesday night’s sniper shooting at a gas station near Manassas, which occurred a little more than a mile from a Michaels, was also close to a Radio Shack, which was just over two miles away.

Michael Welner, a forensic psychiatrist at New York University School of Medicine, said he believes there could be a link between the shootings and Michaels because the sniper’s initial attack might have been at the Georgia Avenue store.

“Characteristically, people who are multiple shooters carry out their first shooting at a place that is closest to whatever emotional issue they have,” Welner said. “I would be more skeptical of a connection if Michaels was not so closely associated with his first attack.” He added, “As a forensic psychiatrist, you always look at the place and setting of the first shooting in terms of establishing the sensitive emotional connection between a multiple shooter’s fantasy of going out and shooting a number of people and his ultimate decision to go out and do it.” Eric W. Hickey, a professor of criminal psychology at California State University at Fresno and author of “Serial Murderers and Their Victims,” also said the Michaels question is important to consider.

“The victims are random, but there is always a methodology to this madness,” Hickey said.

“There always has to be reasons for how [serial killers] operate. If we can’t find the reason in the victims, then we look at other possibilities.” He said: “We don’t want to discount the victims yet, but we have to ask such questions as, ‘Have all of them recently gone to a Michaels? Or has [the sniper] seen them walking by the store? . . . Is the Michaels a catalyst for him shooting people?’ We don’t know. Maybe not. But it is amazing what sets some people off.” If Michaels “is a common denominator in many of the shootings, then Michaels is a lead we cannot ignore,” Hickey said.

James Alan Fox, a professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University in Boston, is less open to the possibility that Michaels stores are a factor in sniper shootings.

“I don’t think there is necessarily a connection,” he said, adding: “It does not appear to be a very fruitful avenue. But since they don’t have a lot of avenues, they may as well explore this one.” Other law enforcement specialists, such as William Hennessy, a former D.C. police homicide captain, also doubt there is a Michaels connection.

“It’s an unconventional case,” said Hennessy. “He’s not targeting specific victims” or locations. Hennessy said he believes that if there is a discernible pattern to the shootings, it is their proximity to major roadways — one reason the sniper has only struck once in the District.

“There are a lot of traffic lights” in the District, Hennessy noted.

Although the only sniper attack in the District occurred more than a week ago — near the Montgomery border, far from downtown — police in the city remain on high alert. The department opened its Joint Operations Command Center, where officers can sit round-the-clock watching video feeds from surveillance and traffic cameras monitoring downtown streets and suburban roads in Maryland and Virginia.

SWAT team officers have been stationed in areas near the Maryland- District line. Police said officers have been positioned on or near bridges leading into the city from Virginia, ready to seal off the routes if necessary.

Experts said other potential patterns that investigators likely are looking at include the fact that the sniper has not shot at anyone after 9:20 p.m. or before 7:41 a.m.

In each of the sniper’s attacks, he has fired just one bullet, striking all of his victims in the upper part of the body.

As the manhunt for the gunman goes on, Michaels stores have reacted much like other retailers in the Washington area — they are still open for business, though some of the Michaels have taken their sidewalk merchandise inside, said spokesman Clary.

“We are concerned about the people who have been shot and we have reacted to that,” he said.

Williams is a staff researcher. Staff writer Raymond McCaffrey contributed to this report.

Serge F. Kovaleski and Margot Williams

in performance: hullabaLOU, day 3

dave matthews and stefan lessard close out hullabaLOU. photo by reed palmer, churchill downs.

dave matthews and stefan lessard close out the hullabaLOU festival. photo by reed palmer, churchill downs.

4:32 p.m.: Okay, now we see where all the people are. The parking lot is packed, The Black Crowes are playing to field full of fans and HullabaLOU, on its last day, is starting to look, size wise, like a serious festival. The Crowes answer the masses with grooves lanky enough for guitarist Rich Robinson to color with equally loose, boogie-flavored solos. But things turn nicely churchy as Wiser Times intensifies the jams.

5:05 p.m.: “I don’t know what’s going on over there,” remarks singer Emerson Hart as a break between songs found his band Tonic caught between sets on competing stages by Justin Moore and The Avett Brothers. “I just hope they’ve got some funnel cakes.” Understandably, the guitar intro to Mountain is light enough for the infield’s other music to bleed over. But the tune soon toughens into a popish drive and Tonic is sonically isolated again.

5:22 p.m.: By the time I reach the Fleur De Lis Stage, country star Moore is sipping beer with fans in the crowd during an instrumental break from his hit Smalltown U.S.A. Then comes the breakthrough single I Can Kick Your Ass. He invites those offended by the song to leave. Happy to oblige. I’m not offended by the language, just the song’s juvenile sentiment.

the avett brothers: joe kwon, scott avett, seth avett, bob crawford.

the avett brothers band: joe kwon, scott avett, seth avett, bob crawford.

5:44 p.m.: The mainstage is back in swing with a Sunday evening, string-style sound courtesy of The Avett Brothers. Initially, the music boasts a plaintive back porch flavor centering around guitar, banjo, string bass and cello. That’s enough to propel Down With a Glistening Shine. By Go To Sleep and The Laundry Room, a drummer is added for a full quintet hoedown.

6:21 p.m.: Time is getting away from me – either that or Loretta Lynn cut her set short. Heard the Kentucky country music matriarch deliver a solid version of God Bless America Again after singers from her band took the reins for a song. Ran off for a bottle of water, returned and she’s gone. What a letdown.

rhonda vincent

rhonda vincent

6:32 p.m.: Bluegrass time. Rhonda Vincent and the Rage are ripping through a warp speed version of Bluegrass Express before serving up a new tune called The Court of Love. The latter is a classic cheating song that could pass for vintage country were it not for those sterling three-part bluegrass harmonies.

6:47 p.m.: Hadn’t planned on taking time for 38 Special’s set. Turns out, it didn’t require much. Over the course of about 10 minutes, the band crams Stone Cold Believer, Teacher Teacher, Caught Up in You and more into a one very homogenized medley. Only Second Chance, with its late ‘80s elevator sound, stands out because it steers the furthest from the band’s Southern rock roots.

steve miller

steve miller

7:02 p.m.: It’s Miller time with The Steve Miller Band sounding understandably tamer than the old days. But Miller remains a crafty stylist and a very industrious guitarist . He turns the 70s rumble Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma into a funk jam, delivers Wild Mountain Honey as a solo acoustic eulogy to late bandmate Norton Buffalo and ignites the sizable evening crowd with The Joker. He could cut Abracadabra, though, and the loss would be minimal. A surprisingly sharp set, though.

7:34 p.m.: Ever imagine what it’s like to walk in the tunnel under the infield at Churchill Downs while the Zac Brown Band is playing above you? It’s like being below a crumbling building. Everything shakes with one riotous, reverberating sound. So what a surprise it is to come out into the grandstand area and hear the band chilling with a neo-acoustic Free as We’ll Ever Be that bleeds into a tasteful cover of Van Morrison’s Into the Mystic. Never judge an imploding building by its cover.

dwight yoakam.

dwight yoakam.

7:42 p.m.: Finally, contemporary country as it ought to be heard. But that’s only because Kentucky native Dwight Yoakam has the heritage and the stylistic smarts to pull it off. He always did. Miner’s Prayer spells out his Eastern Kentucky roots with bluegrass flavored elegance and zero sentimentality while Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose backflips with a snippet of the Buck Owens classic Buckaroo to bridge Kentucky with the glorious Bakersfield Sound.

8:11 p.m.: “Welcome to Kansas,” said Steve Walsh as HullabaLOU heads into the home stretch. He means the band, of course. The greeting prefaces the hit title song from 1977’s Point of Know Return album – a blend of prog rock intricacy and Styx-like hokum. It proves an earnest enough delivery, though, with drummer Phil Ehart and eye-patched guitarist Rich Williams also remaining from the old days.

8:35 p.m.: The announcement is made that today marked the highest advance ticket sales of any portion of the festival. With that, Yoakam’s set ends and the evening’s headliner, the Dave Matthews Band, blasts off with Funny the Way It Is. Matthews isn’t the classiest raconteur in the world. “I expected this place to smell more like horse (expletive). Guess I’ll have to sniff some more.” Oh, that stoner humor. But the music is monstrous with the band’s secret weapon, violinist Boyd Tinsley, unleashed early on. Drummer Carter Beauford then pilots the groove as the band steers into You Might Die Trying and Stay or Leave. The sound, and its resulting audience zeal, ends the festival on many mighty notes.

in performance: hullabaLOU, day 2

the rev. al green

the rev. al green

4:34 p.m.: A solo trip to the second day of HullabaLOU begins in the infield with Philly-born Musiq Soulchild, a new generation excavator of old school soul who sometimes dabbles in hip hop. Today, songs like Teach Me with its decidedly ‘80s soul-pop sound, best fits Soulchild’s stratospheric crooning.

ben folds

ben folds

4:48 p.m.: On to Ben Folds, who is performing solo on a grand piano – and later, briefly, on drums. The years have done little to smooth the absurdist edge of Folds songs – specifically, the dark fantasies surrounding The Secret Life of Morgan Davis and the odd pop alliance of Zak and Sara. He can still pass for Billy Joel’s over caffeinated, foul-mouthed twin.

5:02 p.m.: The heat is more intense than yesterday – and yesterday was hideous. Still, it was a polite ploy by the veteran soul-funk brigade War, with keyboardist/vocalist Lonnie Jordan as its only founding member, to serenade the crowd with its 1976 hit Summer. But Why Can’t We Be Friends and the inevitable Low Rider establish a cooler, more Latin-savvy groove.

5:21 p.m.: Pass by a tent where a proudly inebriated female is singing She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy by the day’s headliner, Kenny Chesney. Or at least she is attempting to. No doubt about it. When sung from a woman’s perspective, the song looses all of its subtle, poetic allure.

5:25 p.m.: A literal gift arrives from the heavens – a breeze.

michael mcdonald

michael mcdonald

5:36 p.m.: Pop-soul mainstay Michael McDonald begins without a soundcheck and peels back the years to the ‘70s (for an overlooked It Keeps You Runnin’) and the ‘80s (the movie hit Sweet Freedom). His voice and band have to play catch-up with each other for a few minutes, then lock into a bright, poppish stride.

5:45 p.m.: Walk by the karaoke tent again. The Hollies’ Bus Stop is playing. No one is singing.

5:56 p.m.: Steppenwolf. That’s right, the Born to Be Wild guys. Founding singer John Kay, now 66, still runs the show. He’s fit and passionate enough to still credibly perform, though the rest of his current Wolf pack kind of lumber along. Still, hearing forgotten hits like Who Needs ‘Ya and Hey Lawdy Mama fronted by the still-assured voice that forged them was quite fun. For the record, Steppenwolf headlined the first rock concert I went to. Saw them play Freedom Hall in the spring of 1971. My poor father thought they looked like a biker gang. He was right. That’s why I wanted to go.

6:00 p.m.: Waiting by the Budweiser Stage for Louisville/Anchorage native Joan Osborne to play. She’s 20 minutes late. That’s nothing for a festival of this size. But it’s too damn hot and there’s too much to see and hear to stand around doing nothing. Sorry, Joan. Gotta go.

sara evans

sara evans

6:20 p.m.: The mainstage begins its all country lineup with Sara Evans. Possessed with a powerful, assured voice and fortified with harmonies by her two sisters, Evans creates an anthemic stir with the single A Little Bit Stronger. Later on, she shows her country roots by covering – what else? – Cheap Trick’s I Want You to Want Me.

7:17 p.m.: “Y’all ready for Kenny Chesney?” teases country star Jason Aldean from the mainstage. “Too bad. You gotta wait another hour.” To pass the time, he offers the rockish country drive of Amarillo Sky and the power ballad Why. His reverts to his “country” roots as well by adding in Bryan Adams’ Cuts Like a Knife. Have any of today’s country celebs even listened to actual country music?

ricky skaggs

ricky skaggs

7:32 p.m.: It’s bluegrass time with Kentucky’s own Ricky Skaggs. And, is that a sustained breeze in the air? Skaggs’ current Kentucky Thunder band, though comprised mostly of Tennessee pickers, proved remarkably versed on all things stringed in and out of bluegrass. It summoned a loose but learned set that covered Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers, in a feisty turn from fiddler Andy Leftwich, swing king Django Reinhardt.

7:49 p.m.: Bringing a little Sunday morning fervency to Saturday night is the Rev. Al Green who turns HullabaLOU into a tent revival with Amazing Grace. Seems the spirit wasn’t fully moving the Rev. He had some visibly choice exchanges with the sound crew that muted the impact of Let’s Stay Together. But by How Do You Mend a Broken Heart and Love and Happiness, that electric Al Green smile was back and the show moved from the heavens to a very earthy R&B charge. Lord have mercy.

warren haynes of gov't mule

warren haynes of gov't mule

8:12 p.m.: The jam band contingency, modest in size as it surprisingly was, got its say with the ever industrious Gov’t Mule. Guitarist/leader Warren Haynes remains a tasteful, unassuming instrumentalist who sparked the slow, soulful Beautifully Broken and a wildly inventive take on I’m a Ram that shifted from psychedelic inclined reggae to full tilt boogie.

8:27 p.m.: It’s the ‘80s all over again with a fit Huey Lewis and a new version of The News fortified by a horn section and a menu of hits (the brassy encore Power of Love), comparative obscurities (We’re Not Here for a Long Time) and covers (the great J.J. Jackson hit It’s Alright). Like Bon Jovi last night, there was nothing here to convert the unconvertible. But for those hopelessly lost in the ‘80s, Lewis delivered the goods.

kenny chesney

kenny chesney

9:05 p.m.: Country beachcomber Kenny Chesney has arrived with a full moon hanging in a sky that still registered 89 degress at showtime. Aside from presenting a band now fortified with horns, there was little to separate this outing from the literally dozens of shows Chesney has saturated this market with in recent years. But the crowd seemed to thrive on the familiarity, cheering on party rocking tunes like the show opening Beer in Mexico and Keg in the Closet as if they were greeting family members.

10:01 p.m.: Feeling not at all short changed for not staying long enough to hear She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy sung by its creator, I head home. The verdict on Day Two of HullabaLOU: a hotter but overall less frenzied set of shows that acknowledged the present day a little more, thanks to Ben Folds, Musiq Soulchild and Gov’t Mule. There was less confusion in getting around, too.  But that was mostly because I learned to stop asking questions.

in performance: hullabaLOU, day 1

kate pierson, cindy wilson and fred schneider of the b 52s. all photos by herald-leader staff photographer mark cornelison.

kate pierson, cindy wilson and fred schneider of the b 52s. all photos by herald-leader staff photographer mark cornelison.

As it was to be the only part of the three-day HullabaLOU Festival at Churchill Downs where we would have the benefit of Herald-Leader staff photographer Mark Cornelison’s visual assistance, we wanted to focus our coverage on the event’s inaugural day. Here’s the timeline of our Friday journey.

* 2:59 p.m.: While enroute to meet Mark at the Herald-Leader building, a preface to the 3 p.m. news on WEKU-FM spells out the afternoon’s heat advisory with this bulletin: “If you don’t absolutely have to go outside, don’t.” How encouraging. The forecast: a high in Louisville today of 97.

* 4:47 p.m.: Arrive at Churchill Downs. Despite warnings of impending traffic backups, we sail in – an early indication of a possible light turnout. Mark offers a tube of sun block with a protection level of 85. He claims to have one that goes to 100. 85 it shall be.

* 4:51 p.m.: The first audible sounds of a festival already underway hit our ears. It’s the veteran horn driven unit known as Blood, Sweat & Tears delivering a letter-perfect Lucretia MacEvil. Guitarist Steve Katz is the only original member left, although the younger recruits all exhibit an obvious, brassy vitality.

cheyenne kimball of glorianna.

cheyenne kimball of gloriana.

* 5:10 p.m.: After checking in and grabbing a quick bite, we discover the entire schedule is running almost 30 minutes early. So there is only time for a brief listen to another horn fortified unit: Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, serving up an impassioned Forever. An unlikely but welcome festival choice. Word is they were invited by HullabaLOU headliner and fellow Jersey boys Bon Jovi.

* 5:38 p.m.: Off to the infield where country-pop rock troupe Gloriana is leading a double life. The rocker How Far Do You Wanna Go bleeds into Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way while You Said includes bits of Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog. Then comes Bob Dylan’s It Ain’t Me Babe sung with a Johnny Cash drawl. Pass. Next, please.

fred schneider of the b 52s.

fred schneider of the b 52s.

* 5:57 p.m.: Reflecting a hearty level of stylistic diversity that has been quickly established as one of HullabaLOU’s finer attributes, we trek across the infield to the beckoning of Fred Schneider and the B 52s. “There’s a fun place everybody’s going,” he tells an eager but hardly packed audience. Everyone thinks Love Shack is at hand. Instead it’s Funplex, followed by a jubilant Roam. Fun indeed.

* 6:10 p.m.: A swing past the mainstage finds pop rockers Train in motion, Meet Virginia in the groove and singer Pat Monohan with guitarist Jimmy Stafford fully in charge. Efficient enough though hardly remarkable.

* 6:22 p.m.: The last of the infield’s three stages has old school soul on the front burner. Specifically, Gladys Knight is serving up the ‘70s soul-stirrer Neither One of Us with ageless and effortless drama. Very cool.

the travelin' mccourys

the travelin' mccourys: jason carter, rob mccoury, ronnie mccoury and alan bartram with guest dan tyminski.

* 6:33 p.m.: A retreat, for now, from the infield bring us to the paddock area and a stage devoted to bluegrass. Just beginning are The Travelin’ McCourys – essentially, The Del McCoury without father Del. Instead, Dan Tyminski from Alison Krauss and Union Station is handling guitar duties. But when mandolinist Ronnie McCoury takes the mic for Deeper Shade of Blue, plenty of dad’s regal high mountain tenor emerges.

* 7:43 p.m.: After a break for beverage and shade, I venture off alone to pick up where we left off. The Travelin’ McCourys are still in action singing Body and Soul to a still pitifully meager audience. World class bluegrass like this deserves better.

* 7:55 p.m: Am misdirected three times enroute back to the infield. “May I enter at this gate?” I ask. “No” is the reply. “OK. Where can I enter?” As mentioned, the first three answers are incorrect. A fourth security hombre simply admitted he didn’t know. Thus we have my only serious gripe about HullabaLOU – a clear lack of sufficient navigational guidance. Churchill Downs is roughly the size of a shopping mall. Directions to appropriate gates and entrances – preferably, correct ones – would seem to be essential.

gladys knight

gladys knight

* 8:01 p.m.: My unqualified HullabaLOU highlight of the night: The O’Jays singing Love Train. Call me corny, but it remains a powerful, unapologetically G-rated affirmation that was underscored with a verse from People Get Ready as a preface. The crowd size is still modest. But two nearby caterers wearing t-shirts advertising Big Momma’s Soul Food catch the groove but good. A blast.

* 8:10 p.m.: Country star Dierks Bentley makes this observation of the heat that is only now starting to relent: “There’s no hot that two cold beers can’t handle.” Cute. Returned to the gate I entered earlier to view Train, but am now denied access. Not worth it. I move on.

* 8:15 p.m.: Where Gloriana played earlier now stands alt-pop princess Colbie Caillat. This isn’t worth it, either. Caillat songs like The Little Things churn to neo-reggae-fied rhythms and airy, pedestrian melodies that sound like they were manufactured for cell phone commercials. A drag. I bolt.

* 8:28 p.m.: The Doobie Brothers. Oh, God – it’s the Doobie Brothers. Is the music of today represented here only by Colbie Caillat and Dierks Bentley? A programming note for the future: book someone from this century, please, with just a little bit of innovative gumption. But here’s the odd thing, the Doobies had their moments – including a credibly rootsy Black Water with guitarist John McFee switching to fiddle. Long Train Coming nicely followed. The past, it turns out, doesn’t sound so bleak on today’s turf.

* 8:42 p.m.: Pass by a sign giving these directions: “Jazzfest (as in the famed New Orleans event which shares booking organizations with HullabaLOU) – 700 miles” and “HullabaLOU – you are here.” If only the rest of the day’s directions were as succinct and trustworthy.

* 8:51 p.m.: Silence. The only point of the day – at least, the only one I noticed – where all five stages were quiet. The crowd mounts. Word is that nearly 50,000 tickets have been sold for the weekend. No one at the Downs has given official attendance figures, but today’s turnout seems about half of that. Still, the audience intensifies around the mainstage as the evening’s final act begins.

* 9:12 p.m.: Bon Jovi. Simply put, if you’re a Bon Jovi fan, then the Jersey band did itself proud. A healthy Jon Bon Jovi beamed during the opening Lost Highway, guitarist Richie Sambora blasted out anthemic solos during You Give Love a Bad Name and the entire band played with a hard rock pop sheen that made their newest music indistinguishable from its ‘80s hits. But, frankly, I’ve never been terribly taken with Bon Jovi, so the thrill was a little lost on me. But there was no denying a sleek veteran act that played well and honestly to its fanbase. 

jon bon jovi

jon bon jovi

* 9:38 p.m.: Bon Jovi’s It’s My Life fades as we walk back to the parking lot for the trip home. HullabaLOU is now officially on its feet. The verdict: an event with plenty of room, plenty of heart and plenty of variety. Give it some tweaking and, quite literally, a sense of direction, and Churchill Downs may have yet another annual, high profile party on its hands.

summer album of the week 07/24/10

r.e.m.: life's rich pageant (released july 1986)

r.e.m.: life's rich pageant (released july 1986)

I can’t think of a record I was more consumed with during the late summer of 1986 than  R.E.M.’s fourth album, Lifes Rich Pageant. The Don Gehman-produced work cleaned up the Georgia band’s murky sound, earned it a major radio hit (Fall on Me) and edged the quartet ever closer to the pop mainstream. But just because you cold hear Michael Stipe’s cavernous howl didn’t mean you could understand it. The guitar hook-happy Begin the Begin, the tango-friendly Underneath the Bunker, the wonderfully brutish Just a Touch and a still-fascinating ‘80s meditation called What If We Give It Away were just a few of the delights that sounded like they could have, at any moment, spilled over into a punkish brawl. The b-side cover of Aerosmith’s Toys in the Attic, included as a bonus on later CD editions, actually did. 34 years later, Pageant remains R.E.M.’s richest and, arguably, greatest  creation.

Nurses Improve Clinical Documentation with Celio REDFLY and Homecare Homebase.

Biotech Week October 28, 2009 For Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey (VNACJ), mobility is everything. To effectively provide and document the best in-home care and rehabilitation for newly discharged hospital and in-home patients they need mobile technology that complies with federal regulations and allows them to effectively document and track patient information. They found a solution in Celio Corp’s REDFLY Mobile Companion and Homecare Homebase Software (see also Celio Corp).

“Homecare Homebase software provides excellent documentation capability and immediate online access to patient records and service information,” said John Albright, Director of IT for the VNACJ. “For many of our nurses, the REDFLY offers the flexibility of using a larger screen and keyboard to input and review information or images. The additional benefit to the solution is that it gives our field staff a laptop experience in a more cost-efficient, travel-friendly and light-weight manner, without the costs or risks normally associated with laptops.” The REDFLY is a mobile companion device with a large screen and full keyboard that enables VNACJ’s clinical field staff to use Homecare Homebase’s PointCare application on their company-issued HTC Touch Pro PDAs. Since the REDFLY has no hard drive, the patient data stays entirely secure on an encrypted database on the nurse’s handheld device-an especially critical issue for the healthcare industry, which continues to drive procedures that ensure HIPAA compliance. in our site htc touch pro in our site htc touch pro

The VNACJ recently deployed more than 200 REDFLYs to its field clinicians, and has plans for a complete rollout of 300-400 units by the end of the year.

“Visiting Nurse of Central Jersey shows how a company can use REDFLY and combine it with a fully integrated software solution like Homecare Homebase to save money and improve efficiency and patient care,” said Kirt Bailey, president and CEO of Celio Corp. “The REDFLY is ideal for any company with a mobile work force that is looking to leverage their investment in smartphones and handheld software applications.” For information about the REDFLY Mobile Companion, visit

For information about Homecare Homebase, visit

a voice for everyone’s story

tift merritt performs monday at the woodsongs old-time radio hour.

tift merritt performs monday at the woodsongs old-time radio hour.

All aspects of songwriting tend to be personal for Tift Merritt. It’s just that the stories she weaves into her music aren’t always her own.

Take two tunes, for instance, from her fine new See You on the Moon album. The first, Feel of the World, is a letter of devotion to her grandmother, who died last spring as Merritt’s record was being cut. But it’s told from the perspective of her grandfather, who died in the ‘70s.

The other, the meditative After Today, came from conversations with a juvenile public defender that chronicled the lives – and, some cases, life sentences – of inner city children.

“It’s funny,” admits Merritt, who performs in Lexington and Louisville this week. “We’re talking about this record being so personal. And it is. But I feel very much like these aren’t really my songs. Feel of the World is very much my grandfather’s letter to my grandmother. After Today isn’t my story, either. But it deserves a microphone probably more than my stories.

“You just have to try and open yourself to what someone else has to say. You never know how affected you will be as a writer. Sometimes your own stories are the things you have so little perspective on that they come out really murky and horrible. And sometimes they come out crystal clear. It’s just one of those things where, as a songwriter, you keep you fingers crossed and try your best to get out of the song’s way.”

For the past eight years (longer, really, if you count her early tours with the alt-country band Two Dollar Pistols), Merritt’s songs and stories have been coming through loud and clear. When her debut Bramble Rose album was released, she was promoted as one of the leading new voices in Americana music. Successive records, though, were seldom tied to specific styles or sounds. Sure, elements of rockish country and folk are always prevalent. But it’s the narratives, and the perspectives surrounding them, that drive Merritt’s music.

That was especially true when Houston-born, Raleigh, NC-reared and current New Yorker Merritt set to work on her last studio album, 2008’s Another Country – a work that was literally written and fashioned, as the title suggests, by a brief residency in Paris. The music on See You on the Moon, thankfully, didn’t take her to the cosmos, but it did come from another place than Another Country.

“On another country, I was really isolated and on my own,” Merritt said. “I was kind of writing my way out of the woods, really. See You on the Moon was more seamless. I took a few months off the road and the songs came very quickly. It was an extension of Another Country in that I wanted to follow through on some of the things I learned while writing and making that record. The new record isn’t quite so introverted, though. But it’s just as personal.”

One noticeable tie to Another Country emerges in the song arrangements. See You on the Moon builds on its predecessor’s lean song structures. She credits the spaciousness of her new songs to listening to the early ‘70s pop/soul records of Bill Withers. You hear it especially on the hushed harmonies Kentucky’s own Yim Yames (otherwise known as My Morning Jacket’s Jim James) adds to Feel of the World as well as the subtle piano and brass setting that frames After Today.

“The songs tend to take care of themselves. They really dictate what needs to happen more than some idea of what you would like them to be. We just wanted to make sure we didn’t put too much on these songs. We wanted the open space to be like a member of the band.”

Then there are the instances where Merritt’s stories were truly not her own. See You on the Moon includes two cover tunes – Live Till You Die, by the overlooked ‘70s pop songsmith Emmitt Rhodes, and Danny’s Song, one of the first folk-pop creations of Kenny Loggins. But it was Anne Murray’s hit 1972 version of the latter that prompted Merritt and her band to record it – that and a bit of reflection on more far-reaching life themes.

Danny’s Song was basically a late night studio accident,” Merritt said. “We were having a studio discussion about Anne Murray’s hair along with a debate as to whether to she was cool or not. Tucker (Martine, who produced See You on the Moon) came to Anne’s defense. So did I.

“But we were also all at this point in our lives where things had come full circle. My grandmother had died, but I had also just gotten married (to her longtime drummer Zeke Hutchins). Our bass player (Jay Brown) was about to get married and Tucker and his girlfriend were about to have a baby.

“Suddenly, this song that we had really attributed to our parents comes along and has a very pertinent meaning to our lives.”

Tift Merritt performs at 7 p.m. July 26 at the Kentucky Theatre, 214 East Main with Dangermuffin for the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. $10. (859) 252-8888. She will also be part of a free 5 p.m. concert on July 28 at the Harbor Lawn of Waterfront Park in Louisville with Dawes and Robert Francis. Call (502) 814-6518.

in performance: indigo girls

emily saliers and amy ray of idigo girls.

emily saliers and amy ray of indigo girls.

Time was when an Indigo Girls concert around these parts would be as much about the audience as the two unaccompanied folk stylists onstage. With a very devout and heavily female fanbase schooled enough on their songs to sing entire verses back to the duo on command, an Indigos show was often as festive as a full blown rock ‘n roll outing.

Well, guess what? Absolutely nothing has changed.

Last night at the Kentucky Theatre, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers played the part of folk-pop tag team, switching off songs that shifted vocal colors (Ray’s deeper toned, more conversational leads with Saliers’ higher, richer and more overtly dramatic singing) and stylistic sentiments (Ray’s demonstrative Yield with Saliers’ more emancipating Run). Except for instances where the Northern California trio Coyote Grace (the evening’s show opener) joined them to create an unexpectedly Appalachian country air for Gone Again, Get Out the Map and the show closing staple Closer To Fine, the Indigos performed alone with only guitars and the occasional mandolin or banjo as support devices.

And to that, the near capacity crowd went wild. It quickly flooded into the aisles, sang rapturously along with most songs and greeted Ray and Saliers with such vocal glee that the veteran duo seemed genuinely surprised.

‘There’s great energy in here,” Ray remarked. And indeed there was.

Sometimes the fervor settled, as when newer or more obscure works were presented, like 2009’s What Are You Like? (with a neo-Cuban accent that brought some of Stephen Stills’ forgotten solo work to mind) and the genuine rarity Devotion (resurrected on the duo’s new live album Staring Down the Brilliant Dream).

But when the repertoire fell to more familiar, early ‘90s works later in the program that included the summery Power of Two and the set closing Galileo (the later was fortified nicely by Coyote Grace multi-instrumentalist Michael Connolly on violin), the audience mood became almost carnival like.

Ray and Saliers stayed the course for the 1 ¾ hour performance, presenting often reserved backdrops for their story-songs. For the unexpectedly rabid crowd, though, this was an evening of very vocal adulation. Sure, the Indigos were as unassumingly folky as ever at heart. But given the hero worship that never dissipated during the show, the two might as well as been fully licensed rock stars.

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