Archive for April, 2011

crooked roads and bands of joy

darrell scott.

darrell scott.

In the title tune to his 2010 album A Crooked Road, Darrell Scott tells a deceptively simple story with almost child-like candor. In essence, he explains that it is not until one completes a journey along a difficult path that the true depth of discovery relating to those travels is revealed.

“I walk a crooked road to get to where I am going,” the London, Ky. native sings in the tune. “To get to where I am going, I must walk a crooked road. And only when I’m looking back, I see the straight and narrow. I see the straight and narrow when I walk a crooked road.”

It’s a masterful peace of storytelling and song structure, augmented by a melody as wide eyed and wanting as the narrative. Scott designed the song – and indeed much of the two-disc album that bears its name, a recording where the songsmith wrote every tune, played every instrument and produced every participle – as an ongoing saga of chasing romance.

“Basically, there is a theme on the album that reflects 30 years of chasing relationships, marriages, divorces and affairs – you know, love and all that kind of stuff,” said Scott, who will perform a solo concert on Saturday at the Grand Theater in Frankfort

But if you were to look at what Scott’s career has brought him over the past year – namely, a multi-instrumental role in Robert Plant’s celebrated Americana all-star troupe dubbed the Band of Joy – a more complete view of what has transpired down that crooked road comes into view.

“The year has been much like that song A Crooked Road,” he said. “It’s like, when I look back, I get a very different view from what I thought would have happened a year ago.

“A year ago, I thought I was only going to be with Robert for July. Then July turned into September. That went into October and November. And we’re still out here now (Scott spoke by phone following a soundcheck for a Portland, Ore. concert with Plant). I didn’t really have any information to project on what would be the busiest travel year of my life. But it has been a good year.”

How busy has it been? For that, let’s examine the two instances responsible for landing Scott back in his home state again. First, there was his late February guest spot at the Opera House for the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. The program placed Scott in the company of the great Emmylou Harris and a host of other singers and poets speaking out against mountaintop coal removal.

Already on a break from a winter run with Plant and the Band of Joy, Scott interrupted a brief Florida vacation with his kids to make the gig. He only got to perform two songs, but they were beauts – You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive (a coal mining lament that became a career redefining hit for Eastern Kentucky-born country star Patty Loveless) and A Crooked Road, which won open and obvious approval from Harris.

“When I sat down after that song, Emmy and her band were so gracious,” Scott said. “That just felt great because she is one of my heroes.

“But I was just proud to be there. I wanted to be counted as a Kentucky voice that has written about my family and my rural roots in Eastern Kentucky. I wanted to be counted in with Emmy and all the people who think mountaintop removal is an atrocity. I wasn’t going to miss that.”

The other instance is this weekend’s Frankfort show, which was originally slated for last winter but was rescheduled in order to accommodate Plant’s rapidly mounting tour schedule.

Making it to Kentucky won’t be any easier this time, though. Scott is scheduled to play with Plant and the Band of Joy tonight for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and again Sunday with the group at Merlefest in North Carolina.

“When we found out this tour was going to last through April (it will resume for a final North American leg in June before finishing in Europe this fall), I knew it just wasn’t going to be right to move the Frankfort show a second time. So I insisted that I have to be in Frankfort this Saturday. And Robert’s folks very graciously moved things around to make that happen.”

“You know, an outsider looking in might say, ‘Well, what about your solo stuff?’ And at first, that was on my mind, too. For most of last year, I was like, ‘My solo stuff is who I am. Why would I give that up?’ I mean, I don’t play for anybody as a sideman.

“Then I just allowed myself to think, ‘Well what happens if my solo career isn’t the most important thing on planet earth for awhile?’ And as soon as I did that, a weight of the world fell off of me. I started enjoying the tour and working with Robert and the band and the very special gathering that it all is.”

Unlike Plant’s 2010 Band of Joy album and its long-running tour, where Scott is featured primarily as an instrumentalist playing guitar, mandolin, banjo, accordion and pedal steel and lap steel guitars, the Frankfort show will be a lesson in the simplicity fortified on A Crooked Road.

It will simply sport one singer, one guitar and a library of great songs.

“Being in the Band of Joy, I do stuff I would never do solo.  I would never drag a pedal steel around the country doing my solo thing, although it might be a good idea if I did.

“That’s the fun and abandonment of playing in the Band of Joy. It’s a vacation from my usual solo stuff. The beauty, though, is that I’m finally allowing myself to enjoy that vacation.”

Darrell Scott performs at 7:30 p.m. April 30 at the Grand Theatre, 308 St. Clair St. in Frankfort. $15, $25.  (502) 352-7469.

another kentucky morning

my morning jacket conjures a spirit at the louisville palace.

my morning jacket conjures a spirit at the louisville palace.

Not even two weeks have passed since My Morning Jacket renewed its Lexington ties with a sublime performance at Memorial Coliseum. Now we have word the band will play Kentucky again – specifically, it’s hometown of Louisville – to celebrate in full the release of its newest recording.

On May 31, the same day its Circuital album hits stories, My Morning Jacket will play at the Louisville Palace. Ticket presales for fan club members and some credit card holders have already passed. But general public tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through Ticketmaster. All seats will be $49.50. Showtime on May 31 will be 9 p.m.

The MMJ guys even visited the Palace recently to shoot an amusing 30 second video to promote the show with an emcee that may or may not be band frontman Jim James. Here’s the link.

since you asked…

jeff beck

We received more feedback to this morning’s review of Tuesday’s Jeff Beck performance in Louisville than we have for any posting here at The Musical Box in nearly three months – a fact both surprising and encouraging. It more than doubled the response to any of our My Morning Jacket stories and reviews from two weeks ago. Best of all, the comments were nearly all favorable. How nice it is to know that Mr. Beck still enjoys a healthy fanbase in the Bluegrass.

We only bring this up because several of the comments left our way asked for a setlist from the guitarist’s performance. And so, since you asked…

1. Plan B;  2. Stratus;  3. Led Boots;  4. Corpus Christi Carol;  5. Hammerhead;  6. Mna Na hEirean (Women of Ireland);  7. Rhonda Smith bass solo;  8. People Get Ready;  9. You Never Know;  10. Rollin’ and Tumblin’;  11. Over the Rainbow;  12. Big Block;  13. Little Wing;  14. Blue Wind;  15. Dirty Mind;  16. Brush with the Blues;  17. A Day in the Life . . . encore:  18. How High the Moon;  19. I Want to Take You Higher;  20. Nessun Dorma.

Greater Cincinnati Water Works Goes Live with New Release of Ventyx Customer Suite.

Science Letter October 7, 2008 Ventyx(R), the world’s largest private software provider to the energy and utility industry, announced that Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) has rolled out a new release of the company’s Customer Suite customer information system (CIS)/billing software solution. The rollout marks another in a growing list of Ventyx clients moving forward with the company’s new, Web-based version of Customer Suite to increase efficiency and optimize customer service (see also Ventyx). go to web site cincinnati water works

GCWW supplies more than 48 billion gallons of water a year through 3,000 miles of water mains to approximately 235,000 residential and commercial accounts. Over the past several years, GCWW’s service area has grown to include the entire Greater Cincinnati area, as well as Boone County and Florence, Kentucky. In recent years, GCWW has matched this growth with investments in people and technology to increase its ability to serve customers’ needs through more efficient business processes and greater access to customer service resources. Part of this investment included a CIS that could support best-in-class business processes and centralize all information needed by the call center in order to improve responsiveness to customer requests.

“At GCWW, we know that our customers need to reach us when and where it is convenient for them, which is why we offer convenient office hours for personal service as well as self-service by phone and over the Web 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said David Rager, Director, GCWW. “When customers do contact us, they want their issue resolved as quickly as possible. That is why we have continued to upgrade our technology with solutions like Ventyx Customer Suite to help our staff serve customers’ needs in the fastest, most efficient manner possible.” Ventyx Customer Suite is the most comprehensive customer management system available today offering unparalleled flexibility and workflow capabilities. It can manage all customer-facing processes, from simple inquiries, to marketing initiatives, to complex billing. The new version of Customer Suite provides personalized Web portals for customer service representatives with easy access to answers to customer questions, as well as customer self-service portals for account information, profile updates and billing data. site cincinnati water works

“Our experience with Customer Suite and Ventyx has been extremely positive,” added Rager. “We have had a very successful go-live, producing bills on the first night with the new system. And, our customer service reps have provided highly positive feedback on their ability to handle calls with the new system. We really feel that Customer Suite is the most productive CSR portal for the quick resolution of customer calls.”

in performance: jeff beck

jeff beck. photo by robert essell.

jeff beck. photo by robert essell.

What grabbed you first? The spectacular, though often thundering guitar tone? The mix of unassuming technique and giddy instinct? A performance attitude that was as vigorous and youthful as his appearance (which continually flew in the face of his actual age – 66)? Maybe it was the killer band that followed the guitar kingpin into fusion, funk, blues, gloriously rockish racket and even divine balladry. Or it could have been the repertoire, which, aside from his own exemplary material, covered works written or popularized by Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Curtis Mayfield, Tim Buckley, Muddy Waters, Les Paul, Sly and the Family Stone, jazz drummer Billy Cobham and, perhaps most improbably, Puccini.

Pick your poison. That’s essentially what Jeff Beck did last night with a dazzling performance at a packed Louisville Palace. The 90 minute show was continually fueled by a playful stage persona and a band that tirelessly followed the guitarist into whatever stylistic extremes that pleased him.

The predominantly instrumental performance opened with the overlooked 2003 Beck original Plan B and the Cobham fusion relic Stratus. Both tunes set the performance’s course with music than was jazz-like in intent but decidedly rockish in execution.

Next up was Beck’s brilliant guitar tone, which, with help from various jabs at the whammy bar, possessed a wonderfully elastic lyricism. By the time Beck worked his way into Buckley’s Corpus Christi Carol and an especially wistful take on Over the Rainbow, his playing reflected the high, fluid and very emotive curve of a musical saw.

And then there were the times when Beck simply roared. The fusion blast of Led Boots, the turbo-charged blues of Rollin’ and Tumblin’ and the meaty ensemble grind of Big Block matched a more volcanic and animated band sound highlighted by Narada Michael Walden’s unflinching work on drums. Song for song, Walden’s managed to match Beck’s performance tenacity. It was a joy watching him play.

One could quibble with the set list a little. It was great to hear Blue Wind back in the repertoire, complete with darting keyboard runs by Jason Rebello that brought to mind the music Beck (and Walden) cut with Jan Hammer 35 years ago. Sadly, the landmark 1975 album Blow by Blow was ignored completely.

But what delights were offered in its place, including encore covers of the Paul hit How High the Moon (with its delirious, swing-savvy guitar chatter) and Puccini’s Nessun Dorma (augmented with clean orchestral drama by Rebello).

Wrap it all together and you had music steeped in a rock ‘n’ roll fountain of youth, one that seemed to fuel Beck’s inexhaustibly playful gusto. Sure, he proved himself a guitar hero in the truest sense of the term last night. But the Beck onstage in Louisville, backed by a performance driven with the pace and might of a freight train, was also a young-at-heart disciple of guitar music still serving a rock ‘n’ roll muse both restless and jubilant.

critic’s pick 173

The somewhat squirrelly design of two new albums by Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle is first suggested by their titles.

Harris’ Hard Bargain is a faithful but world weary view of love, loss and solitude that finds the Americana matriarch penning 11 of the album’s 13 tunes – a feat she has equaled only on three previous albums during her 36 year recording career. But the title tune proves to be one of the exceptions. It’s a sublime Ron Sexsmith song set to banjo melodies and drum loops as it echoes the down but-not-at-all-out sentiments reflected in the original material.

“I’m a bit run down, but I’m okay,” sings Harris, who turned 64 earlier this month, at the onset of the Sexsmith song. “Just feel like calling it a day.”

Country renegade Earle named his T Bone Burnett-produced I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive after the last single Hank Williams released during his lifetime. It doubles as the title of a Williams-informed novel Earle will have published in May.

But the Williams song itself is absent. Instead, I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive is a crisp, band oriented, jamboree-style venture that runs from the ruins of morally destitute Washington (Little Emperor) to the oil-drenched waters of the Gulf Coast (The Gulf of Mexico).

The latter is an album highlight, a topical folk lament disguised as country/Celtic sea chanty that envisions the night the devil “spilled the guts of hell out in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Harris, perhaps understandably, confronts gentler demons on Hard Bargain, with the lean electric support of Cage the Elephant/Patty Griffin producer Jay Joyce.

For The Ship on his Arm, Harris creates a lovely waltz backdrop for a romance inspired by the enduring Korean War-era marriage of her parents. For The Road, she again summons the inexhaustible spirit of musical mentor Gram Parsons. “It seemed that we were traveling under some ol’ lucky sun,” Harris sings in the latter with a sage-like voice that regularly cracks and melts into aged sighs.

The heartbreaker, though, is Darlin’ Kate, a gentle eulogy to longtime folk friend Kate McGarrigle, who died in 2010. “I’m can’t say for sure where you have gone. But in that place, I’m bettin’ there’s a better song.”

“Ghosts sing sad Western songs” reads a credo on the inside sleeve of Earle’s album. On these two recordings, that is certainly the case. The melodies are not traditionally Western and the sadness is often laced with redemption and faith. But the spirits, in all cases, have lots to impart.

It’s like that scene in A Christmas Carol where a mortified Scrooge asks a disembodied Marley, “What do you want with me?” Marley’s ghost pauses before the stark, inevitable reply. “Much.”

beck in the bluegrass

jeff beck. photo by robert essel.

jeff beck. photo by robert essel.

For the past four decades, Jeff Beck has led something of a divided professional existence.

To many, he is the pioneering guitarist that has forged wildly original voices as an instrumentalist in fields of rock, swing, fusion and funk. To others, he is a rock ‘n’ roll hermit, an artist that emerges from seclusion to test the musical waters about him. He tours, records and then disappears again – sometimes for years at a time.

But for this double member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (he was inducted as a member of The Yardbirds in 1992 and again as a solo artist in 2009), both personas work hand in hand. If he vanishes from public view, it’s only to work on a new sound, style or concept to keep his more visible performance persona vital.

“I like to think I am always evolving as a guitarist and pushing and challenging myself in everything I do,” said Beck, who performs in Kentucky for the first time in nearly a decade with a Louisville Palace concert on Tuesday.

“If all my music was in the same style and format, it wouldn’t keep people guessing as to what I am going to do next. I take time off because I want to feel excited about the music I am making. And right now I am very excited.”

Judging by the fruitfulness of his career over the past year, Beck has every right to be excited. There has been the release of Emotion & Commotion (his first album of new music since 2003), a guest shot on Herbie Hancock’s all-star summit The Imagine Project, a concert recording that spotlights his current touring band (Live and Exclusive from the Grammy Museum) and a jubilant tribute performance with Irish singer Imelda May and her band to guitar pal and innovator Les Paul which yielded yet another album (Rock ‘N’ Roll Party).

There was also the no-small-matter of Beck’s triple win at this year’s Grammy Awards. He won two trophies for Emotion & Commotion and a third for the Hancock project.

Taking precedence this spring, though, has been a tour with May’s band supporting Rock ‘N’ Party. The trek was a major departure for Beck, as it was built around music popularized during the ‘40s and ‘50s by Paul.

“This tour was very different from anything I normally do, as I wasn’t playing with my own band,” Beck said. “So I was a bit apprehensive before it started

 “The main thing I wanted to achieve was to get the power, genius and the simplicity of Les’ music, and the music of that era, across to the audience. I think we managed to do that and put a smile on people’s faces.”

Beck has long been vocal in citing Paul (who died at age 94 in 2009) as an influence and friend. But what did the guitar giant, in turn, think of Beck’s music?

“Les definitely made me sweat when I played in front of him,” Beck said. “The first time Les watched me play, I was doing a gig at Avery Fisher Hall in New York with (fellow guitar star) John McLaughlin. Someone told me Les was in the audience, but I wasn’t sure he would stick around to see me as I was playing after John. To my surprise, he was standing in the wings when I came off stage.

“He told me that we were good and to carry on with what we were doing. Then he left. Les used to tease me about playing a Fender constantly, but that was purely because he was a Gibson man.”

Beck’s Louisville concert will put the focus back on his own band and the music from Emotion & Commotion – a recording that mixed orchestral collaborations (a fittingly grand treatment of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma), pop classics (an elegiac guitar treatment of Over the Rainbow), ferocious rock works (Hammerhead) and tunes that enlisted the talents of three stylistically different vocalists (May, British soul belter Joss Stone and the young opera stylist Olivia Safe).

“Some might say Emotion & Commotion was a risky album as it is different to what I normally do,” Beck said. “It was also my first studio album in seven years. But it has paid off. I always wanted to make an album with a full orchestra, a classical album with a twist, and I think I managed to get that across.”

The tour that brings Beck back to Kentucky strikes a somewhat unexpected balance of the old and new. While the repertoire will spotlight Emotion & Commotion songs, his band will include a longtime studio ally, drummer/producer Narada Michael Walden. Though Walden was a key player on such jazz fusion-based Beck albums as 1976’s Wired, he was never part of the guitarist’s touring band until last year.

“When I first called Narada in 2009, he told me he had been waiting for the call (to tour) for 30 years. He is a powerhouse with the most incredible energy on and offstage.”

Does such a fruitful recording and performance year mean that Beck is about to go into hiding again? The guitarist isn’t saying, mostly because he doesn’t chart his career beyond making room for the artistic opportunities that come his way.

“I don’t think anyone can envision what is going to happen in the future. But you can hope for certain things. I still can’t believe some of the successes and opportunities life has given me. And for that, I am very grateful – especially since I never followed certain paths in my career and didn’t conform to the musician people wanted me to be.”

Jeff Beck with Tyler Bryant perform at 7:30 p.m. April 26 at the Louisville Palace, 625 S. 4th St. in Louisville. Tickets are $29.50-$65. Call (800) 745-3000, (502) 583-4555.

current listening 04/23/11

+ Crowded House: North America Travelogue 2010 (2011) – A favorite among the releases issued last weekend for Record Store Day, Travelogue is also the sort of bargain that will make Crowded House fans drool. A 3-CD set with only perfunctory packaging, it gathers nearly 50 separate songs from the band’s summer tour last year – from House favorites to Split Enz gems, all beautifully performed and recorded. And all for $18. What a deal.

+ Poco: Crazy Eyes (1973) – The last studio album to feature Poco founder Richie Furay, outside of superfluous reunion efforts, Crazy Eyes was also the country-rock ensemble’s bravest effort. Furay’s nearly 10 minute title tune, a sort of ambient orchestral country fantasy, may just be Poco’s finest studio work. But the calming cover of J.J. Cale’s Magnolia and Rusty Young’s regal pedal steel playing ignite the rest of the album.

+ Melvin Sparks: Legends of Acid Jazz (1996) – The recent death of Texas-born guitarist Sparks went largely unnoticed by the pop mainstream. But this no-frills primer, which gathers two early ‘70s Prestige albums (Melvin Sparks and Spark Plug) asserts Spark’s sleek soul jazz lyricism on classics by Sly and the Family Stone, Rodgers & Hart, Eric Burdon and Kool and the Gang as well as some tasty Charles Earland-style originals.

+ Free: Free (2001/1970) – Part of an overhaul of the late ‘60s/early ‘70s Island albums by Brit rockers Free, this self-titled sophomore release comes with 10 bonus tunes, which doubles the album’s original running time. More important, multiple versions of acoustic works like Mouthful of Grass (especially Paul Kosoff’s killer solo instrumental version) and Mourning Sweet Morning help balance Free’s looser electric grinds.

+ Dewey Redman Quartet: The Struggle Continues (1982) – A departure from the ECM label’s usual school of Nordic jazz cool, The Struggles Continues is a wonderfully animated quartet session by tenor sax great Dewey Redman (father of Joshua Redman). The whole session swings with bright, immediate authority, from the summery Thren to the Monk-like Dewey Square. Drummer Ed Blackwell sounds like a million bucks, too.

a blessed weekend

lucinda williams

lucinda williams

Like so many songwriting greats also releasing new recordings this spring (Paul Simon and Robbie Robertson lead the list), Lucinda Williams explores notions of faith and mortality on her fine new Blessed album.

Not that this is exactly new territory. As long ago as 1992’s Sweet Old World, she pondered notions of a life left behind following a suicide. But Blessed, which Williams will celebrate with performances this weekend in Louisville and Covington, reverses the perspective. Sweet Old World looks back the earthy beauty that was. Blessed views a lesser defined grace still to come.

“We were blessed by the minister who practiced what he preached,” Williams sings in the album’s title tune. “We were blessed by the poor man who said heaven is within reach.”

Expect Williams’ weekend shows to move beyond Blessed, as well. The title song has been popping alongside Joy, the combustible and vengeful classic from 1998’s career-defining Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, in recent setlists. That ought to make curious neighbors out of heavenly contemplation and earthy rage.

Williams’ recent shows have also been spotlighting works from such overlooked post- Car Wheels albums as 2001’s Essence (Get Right with God), 2003’s World Without Tears (World Without Tears), 2007’s West (Everything has Changed) and 2008’s Little Honey (Honey Bee).

Lucinda Williams performs at 8 tonight at the Brown Theatre, 315 W. Broadway in Louisville. Tickets are $35- $50. Call (800)  775-7777. She will also plays at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Madison Theater, 730 Madison Ave., in Covington. Tickets are $25. Call (859) 491-2444.

the dead of night

In 1974, at the height of its tenure as a truly independent band that ran its own label and distributed its own recordings, The Grateful Dead filmed three fall concerts at the famed Winterland Arena in its home base of San Francisco.

The performances capped off a year where the Dead – consisting then of Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, Keith Godchaux and Donna Jean Godchaux – brought music from one of its most underrated albums, Grateful Dead from the Mars Hotel, to life with an imposing arsenal of gear and speakers dubbed the “wall of sound.” Following these shows, the Dead took an extended sabbatical. It didn’t return to fully active touring duty until 1976.

Oddly enough, it took until 1977 for the film to edited and released as The Grateful Dead Movie. Interspersed with suitably trippy animation and an intriguing debate among two audience patrons about whether or not the film crew was intruding or not upon the live Dead experience, the movie also captured one especially dramatic moment in time – the night drummer Mickey Hart rejoined the band after a nearly four year split.

The music remains exquisite, as well, from the achingly lovely Stella Blue to the half funky/half mystic Scarlet Begonias (both tunes were essentially new to the Dead’s repertoire at the time). For a full serving of the sounds, check out Rhino Records’ “soundtrack” that was released as a 5-CD concert set in 2005.

But tonight, you will have the opportunity to experience The Grateful Dead Movie in something other than your DVD player. For one night only, the film will hit cinemas – nearly 540 of them nationwide.

In Central Kentucky, four theatres will be getting in on the fun – the Fayette Mall Cinemark and the Hamburg Pavilions 16 in Lexington, The Shops at Richmond Hills in Richmond and the Grand Theatre in Frankfort.

All showings of The Grateful Dead Movie tonight will be at 7:30 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to

Say more with less: short and sweet phraseology keeps ATC informed during the critical transitions of your flight. Top form comes in both what you say and how you say it.(ATC NOTEBOOK)(air traffic control)

IFR March 1, 2010 | Kramer, Tarrance People are naturally social creatures, eager to converse with their own kind. While friendly chit-chat is great during quality time with the friends and family, when you key up a radio frequency, it’s time to pare back the language and cut to the chase.

Student pilots are taught to aviate, navigate and communicate–in that order. But once you start working on your instrument rating, your communications must be kicked up a notch. If you want to fly IFR, getting comfortable on the radio is not optional. ATC is expecting to hear certain things from you during different phases of your flight. Why are they important and what is the best way to say them?

Wheels Up An aircraft’s takeoff and initial climb are critical periods on both sides of the radar scope. While the pilot is ensuring his instruments are in the green, the controller has a few things to check, too. And the controller needs a good transmission from the pilot to make it happen.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] To understand why, let’s peek behind the scenes at the Tower-Approach Control relationship. A control tower and its overlying radar facility use a Letter of Agreement (LOA) to specify what altitudes and headings aircraft are assigned upon departure. The LOAs are unique to each facility. Our Tower uses 2000 feet for propeller aircraft and 3000 for jets. Departure headings are restricted to within 20 degrees of the runway heading. If I release an IFR Cirrus SR22 for departure off Runway 16, I expect the Tower to do two things: Assign him 2000 feet and give him a heading somewhere between 140 and 180 degrees. chase student loans

How will I know if that SR22 is complying? Well, it’s up to the pilot to tell me. When he checks in on departure, I’m expecting to hear a single, clean transmission from him that contains his current altitude, his assigned altitude and his heading. Good radio technique gets your information across in as few words as possible. Compare the following two transmissions:

“Greenview Departure, this is Cirrus Four Alpha Bravo, I’m with you, climbing out of 900 feet for 2000 feet, on a heading of 140.” “Greenview Departure, Cirrus Four Alpha Bravo, 900 for 2000, heading 140.” Say them out loud. As you can see, both transmissions get the important info across. However, that first one is chatty and less professional. There are 13 extra words in there, all useless. The “this is” and “on a” are just dead air. The “climbing out of” is redundant because, well, isn’t the airplane taking off? And if he’s talking to me on my frequency, isn’t he in fact “with me”?

The second one is short, sweet, and sounds far more elegant. It accomplished everything in far fewer words. If that Cirrus is the only plane on my scope, the long transmission doesn’t affect me. However, if I’m working 15 other airplanes, those seconds are precious. I’d rather hear the second version.

The more quickly you fulfill your end, the more quickly I can accomplish mine. When I look at the Cirrus’ radar target and see that it also shows him climbing out of 900 feet, that verifies his transponder’s radar altitude readout matches what he’s seeing on his instruments. I can therefore trust that altitude. Secondly, the “for 2000, heading 140” tells me that he is in compliance with the LOA altitude and heading assignments. Any discrepancies, such as a bad altitude assignment, incorrect altimeter setting or a faulty transponder, can be noted and dealt with sooner rather than later.

On The Way In While en route at your cruising altitude, it’s good technique to check in with each new controller by simply stating your altitude. “Houston Center, Cirrus Four Alpha Bravo, level 12,000.” [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] The controllers in the Centers and TRACON facilities along your route of flight will have your flight plan information in front of them, in either paper flight-progress strips or electronic form. This will display your requested cruising altitude. When you check in with your altitude, they’ll be able to corroborate the two.

However, once you begin the descent phase of your flight, it becomes extra critical to check in with your altitude. ATC is now dealing with an aircraft that is moving vertically, not just laterally at a fixed cruise altitude. The controller wants to confirm your current altitude and what you’ve been assigned, in case there’s any traffic that may conflict with your descent.

You can take care of it all in a quick, clean format: “Greenview Approach, Cirrus Four Alpha Bravo, 7600 for 4000, information Charlie.” So, why is checking in with your assigned altitude extra-critical during descent? Doesn’t ATC have flight progress strips showing to what altitude your aircraft is descending? Well, this may seem strange, but our arrival strips don’t actually display an altitude. Departure strips do. En route strips do. Why not inbound strips?

Let’s hit the LOAs again for a second. At my TRACON facility, our LOA with our sister TRACON to the east requires them to feed us aircraft landing within our airspace at one of three altitudes: 4000, 6000 or 8000. Radar facilities around the country operate under similar agreements with their neighbors to grant flexibility to put arrivals above or below other traffic. Because there are multiple altitude options, our flight progress strips for arriving aircraft have no hard altitude printed on them.

When I accept a handoff on your arriving aircraft, I know you’ll either be level at or descending to one of those three altitudes. How do I know which one? Well, I’m hoping you’ll tell me. If you don’t, you can bet your headset I’ll be asking you for the info: “Cirrus Four Alpha Bravo, Greenview Approach, verify assigned altitude.” Don’t wait for ATC to prompt you. Be ahead of the game and quick with the information. web site chase student loans

Going Missed A missed approach can be quite a thrill–especially in real IMC. While you’re cleaning up the airframe and otherwise convincing the airplane to fly again, ATC will probably see your altitude increasing and start doing some shuffling to fit you back in the sequence. Get on the radio and tell them your plan.

Missed-approach procedures can be either executed as published on the approach plate or manually issued by ATC. A published missed procedure contains an assigned altitude, a turn direction, a holding fix, and a frequency. ATC-as-signed procedures will contain the above as well, but are verbally assigned either by the radar controller or by the Tower.

For a published missed approach, include your altitude and the fix towards which you’re flying. Controllers have potentially dozens of instrument approaches in their airspace. It’s not likely they’ll have every single missed approach procedure memorized. log their memory: “Greenview Departure, Cirrus Four Alpha Bravo, executing missed-approach, turning right to GUNLY, 700 for 2000.” Manually-assigned missed-approach instructions can improve the whole operation. For example, if a student pilot is practicing several ILS approaches to the same runway, ATC may assign him a heading and altitude to fly that will put him in position for his next ILS. On the go, the phraseology would be, “Greenview Departure, Cirrus Four Alpha Bravo, executing missed approach instructions, 800 for 1500, heading 180.” Speak Well Fly Safe While ATC has the big picture, as you can see we often depend on you to fill in the details. What you say and how efficiently you say it is key to giving controllers the information they need to provide you with safety and service. Doing so ensures all parties are on the same page and keeps problems from becoming disasters.

It’s a skill controllers have to learn as well. When I began my ATC training, my instructor took a count of how many extra, useless words I used on the radio in one day. During our debrief, he told me to take all those words and multiply them by how many hours, days, and years were left in my 25-year career. I pictured thousands and thousands of pointless words clogging up the airwaves. He got his point across.

Years later, I’m not 100-percent chatter-free, but I won’t waste a pilot’s time with excessive babble. I’ve also come to appreciate pilots who are succinct and professional. Keep the transmissions quick and on point, and your next controller will appreciate you, too.

RELATED ARTICLE: THE QUIZ En route in hard IMC can be so … boring. But here’s a bright side: Use the time to see how well you know the rules about motoring on down the airways. Here are a few questions to get you started. Answers are on page 22.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] 1. Except when authorized by ATC, where on the airway are you expected to fly when you’re operating under IFR?

a. Anywhere within four miles left or right of the center.

b. In the center except when necessary for operational need, such as leading a turn or steering clear of weather, during which four miles left or right is available.

c. In the center except when turning on a bend in the airway.

d. Always in the center. Period.

2. When approaching a waypoint (fix or station) where there is a bend in the airway, the pilot is expected to:

a. Overfly the point, observe full passage and then turn.

b. Begin the turn at the first sign of station passage.

c. Lead the turn to roll out on the next segment as centered as possible.

d. There is no rule on this. It’s up to the pilot.

3. The total protected areas left and right along an airway segment that is 100 miles long or less are how wide?

a. Two miles left and right of course b. Four miles left and right of course c. Six miles left and right of course d. Eight miles left and right of course 4. In non-mountainous areas, airway MEAs guarantee at least 1000 feet of obstacle clearance. In mountainous areas, you’re guaranteed at least:

a. 2000 feet of clearance b. 1700 feet of clearance c. 1500 feet of clearance d. It depends on the terrain in question.

QUIZ ANSWERS [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] 1. c. Per FAR 91.181, when you’re flying IFR on an airway, you’re expected to fly dead-center. The exception pops up in AIM 5-3-5, which clarifies that leading a turn is considered part of adhering to a route. In practice, drifting a bit left or right to avoid a cloud top can be done without ATC permission if the frequency is crowded. But it’s better to ask for any significant jog.

2. c. This is further in AIM 5-3-5. You’d have to be cranking along at 290 knots or more to actually fly out of the protected airspace just because you didn’t lead the turn, but pilots are expected to take wind, degree of turn, true airspeed and other variables into account when planning when to start the turn.

3. c. Did you say b? Four miles is just the primary area. There are another two miles of secondary area, for a total of six.

4. d. Surprise again. The commonly-cited 2000 feet is the standard; however, clearance from the floor of the primary area to obstacles or terrain can be as low as 1500 in the Eastern U.S. or 1700 in other areas. Weather, actual terrain, distance between navigational facilities and the potential for major pressure changes along the route are all taken into account when evaluating a reduction from 2000 feet.

Tarrance still throws in the occasional (and sincere), “So long,” “Take care” or “Have a good flight”–when he can get away with it.

Kramer, Tarrance

critic’s pick 172

There is little within the new releases of Bob Dylan and Alison Krauss to suggest a stylistic or even cultural alliance – least of all, in the times they represent. Though new to record stores this spring, they were recorded some 47 years apart. Yet what they seem to share, especially when listened to in succession, is a curious folk-infused foundation.

Dylan, at least when In Concert – Brandeis University 1963 was made, represented the folk aesthetic in an indisputably pure form. Krauss’ Paper Airplane is all sweet despondency, the latest chapter in the career of a bluegrass-bred stylist that has forged herself into one of pop music’s most beautifully boundary-free artists.

There is a wild sense of stylistic reserve practiced on both albums, as well. Dylan’s archival release is a pack of angry protest songs sung largely without anger. In fact, the folk pop persona of a 21 year old Dylan was so unassuming that audience giggles abound as he outlines the saga of drowning deaths of elderly revelers that make up Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues. The laughter continues as the song’s hootenanny design draws to a close. Then Dylan lowers the boom.

“Don’t seem to me quite so funny what some people are going to do for money,” Dylan sings with sober resolve. “There’s a brand new gimmick everyday just to take someone’s money away.”

Krauss, on the other hand, has evolved into an expert torch singer. There are strong folk roots on display throughout Paper Airplane, but they almost exclusively belong to Dan Tyminski, who upholds the dark bluegrass undertow of Peter Rowan’s epic Dust Bowl Children.

Krauss, though, favors the elegant pining and longing of Richard Thompson’s Dimming of the Day and Jackson Browne’s My Opening Farewell. Both are exquisite love songs where Krauss locates and illuminates every restless crease. In doing so, her singing – which beams with a hushed glow on the Thompson tune and surges like a roaring sea on the Browne classic – retains a poetic desperation. It’s a decidedly non-torchy approach for a singer capable of conveying the kind of emotional depth only master torch stylists can muster.

There is another intriguing disparity between these recordings. Brandeis came from two short festival sets (totally less than 40 minutes) recorded roughly two weeks before the release of Dylan’s landmark second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. It is being billed, quite properly as “the last live performance we have of Bob Dylan before he becomes a star.”

Paper Airplane finds Krauss very much a part of bluegrass-pop royalty. But within its grooves isn’t the kind of glossy, affected affirmations that stars usually cling to. Instead, the recording sails through acoustic skies with subtle confidence, appealing grace and the might to endure – and, perhaps, even welcome – a little turbulence.

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