Archive for April, 2012

in performance: j. cole/gym class heroes

gym class heroes: matt mcginley, disashi lumumba-kasongo, eric roberts and travie mccoy

J. Cole knows a thing or two about star power. Based on his wildly energetic performance last night at the University of Kentucky’s Memorial Colisuem, he knew when to use it, when to lose it and when to let his own celebrity status take the wheel.

Much of his concert boasted songs released over the past year with some very high profile pals. But he dispensed with them rapidly, as though they were solo pieces from a mix tape. All I Want is You worked without the pop/soul support of Miguel, Nobody’s Perfect grooved without Missy Elliott (but with plenty of sampled harmony vocals), the electronica-saturated Mr. Nice Watch percolated with dub-style rhythms minus Cole mentor Jay-Z and the steamy R&B charm of Party rocked on without Beyonce.

j. cole

No, the guests weren’t in the house. But there was one very curious presence that made itself known above all the present day celebrities. Prefacing Grew Up Fast, a fairly routine school-of-hard-knocks saga, was a darkened stage and a blast of the late Motown great David Ruffin singing the 1969 hit The Double Cross. It was an impressive display of one’s artistic inspirations – and a dangerous one, as Grew Up Fast’s bravado seemed hollow next Ruffin’s seriously streetwise spirit.

But there were plenty of other moments for Cole own muse to shine. Opening with Cole World, the program eventually wound its ways into Lost Ones, a very plain speaking reflection of a young couple facing a surprise pregnancy. Musically, Blow Up, with its monstrous beats, maintained a momentum that slowed only when Cole briefly sat down on a stool to perform Daddy’s Little Girl.

A five member band backed up Cole. But aside from delivering overblown, time-killing solos, the ensemble played a secondary role to the sampled beats and the headliner’s confident and contained performance savvy.

Sharing last night’s bill was Gym Class Heroes, the popular upstate New York pack that backed the hip hop drive of frontman Travie McCoy with a more organic pop and rock base led by the effectively elemental charge of drummer Matt McGinley and the very alert solo and lead work of guitarist Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo.

Granted, one didn’t exactly need Cliff Notes to interpret mischievous narratives like Ass Back Home, Clothes Off or the show opening Cookie Jar. But there were a few inventive turns, like the anti-bullying anthem The Fighter and the intriguing appropriation of a verse from Supertramp’s Breakfast in America as the foundation for Cupid’s Chokehold.

Ultimately, though, it was the mix of hip hop stamina, pop lyricism and McCoy’s engaging showmanship that sold Gym Class Heroes to this collegiate crowd.

Have something to say?Send letters to Managing Editor Brett Johnson The … this web site online word count

The Doings, Western Springs, Indian Head Park, IL) February 16, 2012 Have something to say?

Send letters to Managing Editor Brett Johnson The Doings 3701 W. Lake Ave. Glenview IL 60026 All letters must be signed and include a daytime telephone number for vertification. this web site online word count

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levon helm, 1940-2012

levon helm.

During his late ’60 and ‘70s tenure with The Band, a decade-plus period that yielded some of the most enduring Americana-infused rock ‘n’ roll of this or any age, Levon Helm distinguished himself with an air of rootsy intensity. A lone Arkansas native in a pack of Canadians, he infused every song he encountered – be it through the drums, through the mandolin or through his distinctively rustic vocals – with regal country soul. And, boy, did ever pilot some great tunes. Up on Cripple Creek, Ophelia and especially The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down – when you listened to The Band on those gems, you were experiencing the full Southern drive and charm of Levon Helm.

But over the past 20 years, something extra distinguished Helm and his performances. Active in reconstituted versions of The Band as well as his own traveling roots-rock cavalcade known as the Midnight Ramble, Helm was a survivor. He was the artist who beat back, for a time, the throat cancer that had temporarily robbed the world of that extraordinary singing voice to play rock ‘n’ roll with sagely, ultra-dignified bravado.

So what was the distinguishing mark of the latter day Helm? His smile. You couldn’t find a picture of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee from the last decade or so that didn’t have him wearing a deep electric grin.

News of Helm’s rapidly failing health spread quickly this week. It was a hot topic, especially from the stage, during Tuesday’s Punch Brothers concert at the Kentucky Theatre. The band even closed the show by playing Ophelia in his honor.

Helm succumbed to cancer earlier this afternoon at age 71.

Of all the great musical gifts he has given us, one stands supreme – a cover of the 1964 Marvin Gaye hit Don’t Do It cut with The Band and a killer horn section arranged by Allen Toussaint on New Year’s Eve 1971. It became the leadoff track to The Band’s immortal live album, Rock of Ages.

How fitting. For so many of us, the rock ‘n’ roll of Levon Helm will remain forever ageless.

Pregnancy and rheumatoid arthritis

Indian Journal of Medical Sciences August 1, 2006 | Tandon, Vishal; Sharma, Sudhaa; Mahajan, Annil; Khajuria, Vijay; Kumar, Ajay Pregnancy has an important impact on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and on many other rheumatic diseases like systemic lupus erythematous, Sjogren’s syndrome, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, Reiter’s syndrome, scleroderma, dermatomyositis / polymyositis and psoriatic arthritis.[1],[2],[3] It is well known that females suffer more of musculo-skeletal and rheumatic complaints, including RA.[4] RA is three times more common in females.[5] Because of female predominance of this disease, it is likely that pregnancy will be a question encountered by patients and their practitioners. Hence, it becomes important for practitioners to know the course of RA in pregnancy, effect of RA on outcome of pregnancy for mother and child and fertility and disease management before, during and after the pregnancy. The present review will discuss all these aspects.

Pregnancy and rheumatoid arthritis Pregnancy results in an altered immune state which contributes to a change in the course of autoimmune illness, including RA. For decades, the ameliorating effects of pregnancy have been observed on disease activity in women with RA. Dr. Hench[6] in 1931, was the first to make this classical observation. A two to five fold decrease in risk to develop RA during pregnancy in healthy women, has been observed.[1] Retrospective[7] and prospective[8],[9] studies have confirmed improvement in the disease activity of RA. Silman and associates performed a case control study in 1992, with 88 women with RA and reported that pregnancy had a protective effect on disease onset.[10] Pregnancy is often associated with remission of the disease in the last trimester. More than three quarters of pregnant patients with RA, improve in the first or second trimester.[1] The improvement in arthritis during pregnancy tends to be short-lived and most patients who improve, relapse in the postpartum period.[9],[11] Ninety percent of these experience a flare of the disease, with a rise in rheumatoid factor (RF) tire, in the weeks (or 3months) after delivery.[1] Risk of RA onset during postpartum, usually persists for the subsequent 9 months.[10] It has been reported that rheumatoid arthritis is 5 times more likely to develop after delivery, than at any other time.[3] Barrett and co-workers reported in 2000, that a flare is more common if the woman is breast feeding.[12] While most of the patients with RA have some improvement in their symptoms during pregnancy, approximately a quarter of patients continue to have active disease or even worsening of the disease, requiring treatment throughout pregnancy.[13] face=+Bold; Pathophysiology:face=-Bold; The pathophysiology of improvement in disease activity during pregnancy, remains unknown. Various theories have been proposed.

The effect of hormonal changes during pregnancy Serum estradiol, 17-a-hydroxyprogesterone and 11-deoxycortisol increase throughout pregnancy.[14],[15] Corticoids are well known to exert a variety of important anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant actions, by virtue of which they can cause improvement in the disease activity of RA.[16] Estrogen can decrease the stromal cell production of interleukein-1 (IL-1), IL-6 and TNF-alpha, which are centrally pathognomonic in the pathogenesis of RA.[17] Similarly, progesterone is well known to maintain pregnancy by decreasing T-cell response[18] and exert an anti-abortive effect.[19] This progesterone-mediated immuno-modulatory mechanism may also contribute to amelioration of RA during pregnancy. However, there is no proof that increased levels of steroid hormones improve disease symptoms of RA, since steroid- binding globulins also increase likewise. Similarly, treatments with female sex hormones or oral contraceptives do not improve the course of RA.[13],[20] Thus, the opinion regarding the influence of hormones on symptoms and progression of RA remains controversial and unclear.

The effect of pregnancy on cell-mediated immunity (CMI) Pregnancy is characterized by decreased production of T-helper cell (Th1)-associated cytokines like IL-1 and interferon-gamma and increased production of Th2-associated cytokines like IL-4 and IL-10, as well as decreased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines like TNF-alpha and IL-12.[20],[21] This altered cytokine profile may be one of the mechanisms responsible for the ameliorating effects of pregnancy on RA. Two plasma proteins, pregnancy zone protein (PZP) and placental protein-14, also known as glycodelin-A, increase dramatically during pregnancy and are known to act synergistically to selectively modulate T-cell activation.[22] Inhibition of lymphocyte proliferation and activation, a function of the trophoblast to escape the maternal immune response, is also postulated.[23] Recently, one animal study provided direct evidence that pregnancy benefits in experimentally induced arthritis, by attenuating the cellular immune response.[24] The effect of pregnancy on humoral immunity A proportional decrease in immunoglobulin G (IgG) and an elevated serum alpha-2 pregnancy-associated globulin (PAG) level have been postulated.[1],[25] During human pregnancy, an increase has been detected in asymmetrical IgG molecules in serum and those bound to the placenta, which normally releases factors capable of modulating the immune response. Asymmetrical IgG molecules behave as univalent antibodies and therefore act as antigen blockers.[26] Few other mechanisms also have been proposed for the amelioration of RA in pregnancy.[27] Nelson and co workers reported in 1993, that amelioration of disease is associated with a disparity in HLA Class II antigens between mother and fetus. The maternal immune response to paternal HLA antigens may have a role in pregnancy- induced remission of arthritis.[28] Possible causes for flare-up during the postpartum period[11],[1] ?· Decrease in the anti-inflammatory steroid levels and other elevated hormones ?· Changes from a Th2 to a helper Th1 cytokine profile ?· Prolactin (pro-inflammatory hormone) exhibits Th1-type cytokine-like effects. A direct effect of locally produced prolactin in some Th1 diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis may flare up the disease and inhibition of its release by bromocriptine down- regulating immune reactions and ameliorates autoimmune diseases in which Th1 responses are predominant.[29] Hence, elevated levels of prolactin during the postpartum period may be responsible for a flare-up.

Effect of RA on pregnancy Few studies address the effect of RA on pregnancy. Most women with RA have an uneventful course, with no significant complications. Maternal morbidity during pregnancy and labor in patients with RA is comparable to that of women without RA.[1],[30],[31] However, some contradictory data also exist in the literature with regard to rate of spontaneous abortions and preeclampsia and preterm delivery among pregnant patients with RA.[32] In rare cases, normal vaginal delivery is not possible because of severe hip arthritis. If a caesarean section under general anesthesia is required, special precaution has to be taken about the atlanto-axis subluxation of the spine.[1],[33] Effect of RA on fetal outcome In general, no significant increase in maternal or fetal morbidity seems to be attributable to RA. It does not appear to adversely affect the fetal outcome. Pregnancy loss rate in RA has been recorded (17%), which is similar to a control population of (16%). A case-control study[34] reported premature birth and growth reduction as possible effects of RA, whereas, another study failed to show any adverse fetal outcomes in pregnant patients with RA.[35] Effect of RA on fertility Patients with RA do not have decreased fertility. Most, but not all studies show an increase in nulliparity, whereas parity rates in fertile RA women are unchanged.[36] However, they may require a prolonged time to conceive. Decreased sexual drive, pain, ovulation dysfunction and an impaired hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis may be responsible for these findings.[33] Clinical course[1],[33],[37],[38] Constitutional symptoms of RA may be present. Morning stiffness and fatigue may be diminished and extra-articular manifestations are not increased. Joint pain or stiffness improves in approximately 75% of patients. Decrease in pain as early as in the first trimester, is noticed in most of patients. In some patients, this improvement occurs later, during the second or third trimester. Some patients (16%) achieve complete remission. Nausea, vomiting and morning sickness that occur during the first trimester, may prevent absorption of medications. Pedal edema and back pain that is unrelated to RA, can occur in the later stages of pregnancy. Pallor may be present, as patients with RA can have chronic anemia. Patients on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can develop iron deficiency anemia from gastrointestinal blood loss. this web site countdown to pregnancy

Follow up of pregnant rheumatoid arthritis patients Joint examination should be performed to assess inflammatory activity and structural damage. Activity should be assessed by the number of swollen and tender joints. The range of motion of hip and neck joints must be assessed specifically, because patients may need to abduct and externally rotate their hips for vaginal delivery, as well as to identify patients with ligamental instability of the atlantoaxial joint. Assessment should be made for extra-articular symptoms. Examination to assess fetal growth and development as well as maternal health, should be performed according to the obstetrics protocol.

Lab studies[37],[38]Laboratory blood tests are the same as for any pregnancy. The presence of rheumatoid factor does not help predict or correlate with the outcome of arthritis during pregnancy. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate cannot be used to assess RA disease activity during pregnancy, because pregnancy alters the normal values. Closer monitoring of hematocrit values may be required, if patients are on disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. For sulfasalazine, a complete blood count (CBC), an aspartate aminotransferase assay and alanine aminotransferase assay are required, whereas, for azathioprine, a CBC is required.

Imaging studies[33],[37],[38] Radiograph of the cervical spine in patients with persistent neck pain and neurological symptoms is suggested. Ultrasound should be performed to assess fetal well-being according to the obstetrics protocol.

Pharmacotherapy[39],[40] A majority of patients with RA may go into remission and anti-rheumatic drugs (ARD) may not be required as soon as the women become pregnant. But other patients who continue with the disease activity require treatment. Many pharmacological principles and factors [Table 1] must be kept in mind while prescribing antirheumatic treatment, as some drugs carry teratogenic potentials.

Drugs used commonly in RA and their status in pregnancy [39],[40],[41],[42],[43],[44],[45],[46],[47],[48],[49],[50],[51],[52],[53] [Table 2] Aspirin in high dose[39],[41],[42] should be avoided during all stages of pregnancy, particularly in the last trimester, as it can inhibit uterine contractility and prolong labour. It can cause premature closure of ductus arteriosus, kernicterus, hemorrhage and renovascular complications.

face=+Bold; Aspirin in low dose:[39]face=-Bold; ??80 mg/day appears to be safe throughout the pregnancy without evidence of fetal malformation and clotting problems or premature closure of ductus. On the contrary, it can benefit the patients at risk for pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia.

face=+Bold; Non selective COX-Inhibitors:[39],[41],[42]face=-Bold; can be used in the first and second trimester of pregnancy if necessary, to control maternal disease. Paracetamol may be considered as a safe analgesic. There is no conclusive report of fetal malformation with the use of NSAIDs. They should be stopped in the last trimester of pregnancy due to associated risks like premature closure of ductus, pulmonary hypertension, impaired renal function and oligohydramnion.

face=+Bold; COX-2 selective Inhibitors:[39]face=-Bold; Theoretically, the effect of COX-2 selective inhibitors on duration of labour and clotting should be less, whereas the effect on fetal vasculature and renal function because of their mechanism, should be equal. However, there is lack of data on these drugs and hence they should be avoided as far as possible.

face=+Bold; Corticosteroids:[41],[43],[44]face=-Bold; are generally considered safe in pregnancy. Low dose prednisone is the preferred drug and is considered safe both for mother and fetus, because placental metabolism by 11-beta hydroxylase limits the exposure of the fetus to the active drug. However, large doses (1-2 mg/kg/day) should be avoided during the first trimester, because of the associated risk of cleft lip and cleft palate.[43] High doses can cause prematurity and intrauterine growth retardation in late pregnancy. In contrast, dexamethasone and betamethasone are fluorinated steroids that are much less metabolized by the placenta. They can have inhibitory effects on physical growth and, long-term alterations in endocrine, immune and neural physiology and should be avoided.[44] face=+Bold; Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ):[39],[45]face=-Bold; no adverse effects on the child have been found in doses of 200-400 mg/day, commonly used to treat RA. It is thus preferred as the disease-modifying agent during pregnancy, along with sulfasalazine. Because of the long half life and extensive tissue deposition of anti-malarial drugs, discontinuation of therapy at the time of conception or pregnancy does not prevent fetal exposure. Although the trans-placental passage of HCQ has been demonstrated, there is no evidence to support the harm to fetus. In RA patients, the decision to continue or discontinue anti-malarial drugs in pregnancy should be individualized, taking into account the natural remission in pregnancy and exacerbation in postpartum disease.

face=+Bold; Sulfasalazine:[39],[46]face=-Bold; is considered safe in pregnancy, as it does not interfere with conception in women with RA. It can be safely used prior to and during all stages of pregnancy.

face=+Bold; Gold:[39],[47]face=-Bold; In the current prescribing practices, it is prescribed in very few patients. However, injections can be used if the benefits outweigh the risks.

face=+Bold; D-Penicillamine (DP):[39],[47]face=-Bold; should be used if benefits outweigh the risks. If a patient with RA becomes pregnant while receiving DP, the drug should be stopped because of risk of serious congenital deformities, but termination of pregnancy is not indicated.

face=+Bold; Methotrexate (MTX):[39],[48]face=-Bold; is also contraindicated in pregnancy because of its teratogenic effects. Craniofacial defects, anencephaly, hydrocephaly, limb defects and increased rates of abortion have been reported following use of high-dose MTX. The late first trimester appears to be the critical period for these teratogenic effects. Because its active metabolites have a long half-life, MTX must be discontinued 4-6 months prior to conception and treatment with folic acid has to be continued. Strict contraception is needed when the patient is on MTX.

face=+Bold; Azathioprine:[39]face=-Bold; can be used if the benefits outweigh the risks. While fewer women on azathioprine for renal transplant completed their pregnancies, no increase in fetal anomalies has been observed. Women with severe RA that is difficult to control, may use azathioprine during pregnancy. No fetal anomalies are reported with a dose up to 2 mg/kg/day.

face=+Bold; Cyclophosphamide:[39]face=-Bold; Discontinuing cyclophosphamide 3 months prior to conception is recommended. Facial cleft, limb defects and craniofacial dysmorphism has been reported with the use of this drug in the first trimester, whereas, myelotoxicity and growth retardation have been reported in late pregnancy.

face=+Bold; Cyclosporine:[49]face=-Bold; is well studied and can be used throughout pregnancy. Doses of 2-3.5 mg/kg/day, do not increase the risk of pre-maturity or low birth weight.

face=+Bold; Leflunomide:[39],[48],[50]face=-Bold; is a new and effective disease-modifying antirheumatic drug. Animal studies have shown an increased rate of malformations and fetal death in various species, but there is no data on pregnancy outcomes in humans treated with leflunomide. Since the drug has a prolonged and unpredictable elimination half-life, it should be stopped during pregnancy. Because leflunomide can remain for periods as long as 2 years, administering cholestyramine (8 g tid for 11 days) and testing for plasma levels of the drug on 2 separate occasions after discontinuation, are recommended. Without a wash out, the levels of it may stay too high for up to 2 years. Women who wish to conceive have to stop treatment 2 years prior to conception, in case, facilities of drug monitoring or cholestyramine is not available. Otherwise, strict contraception is needed when the patient is on this drug.

face=+Bold; Infliximab:[51],[52]face=-Bold; Pharmacovigilance studies have not shown that the rate of normal live births, miscarriages and therapeutic terminations is different from the published rates for the normal population. It should be notedthat infliximab does not cross the placenta during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, at least in rodents. There is insufficient data to advise continuation or starting of anti-TNF therapy, if a patient becomes pregnant. More studies are required to determine infliximab’s safety during pregnancy. Hence, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-blocking agents, generally should be stopped when pregnancy is discovered. go to site countdown to pregnancy

face=+Bold; Etanercept:[53]face=-Bold; No human data exist, regarding the impact of this drug on human reproductive function. Recently, normal pregnancy and singleton delivery of a healthy infant following chronic (> 1 year) pre-ovulatory TNF alpha-inhibitor therapy for rheumatoid arthritis, has been reported. For this drug also, more studies are required to determine its safety during pregnancy. Hence, it also should be stopped when pregnancyis discovered.

face=+Bold; IL-1 blocking agents:[53]face=-Bold; The safety of IL-1 blocking agents is unknown or has not been established in the pregnancy. There is no data to advise discontinuation of anakinra if a patient becomes pregnant [Table 3].

face=+Bold; Contraception:face=-Bold; Combined oral contraceptives are a logical choice because of their effectiveness and possibility that they might improve RA,[33] although contrary reports are available, suggesting that female sex hormones or oral contraceptives do not improve the course of RA.[13],[20] In fact, all reversible methods of contraception are appropriate except intrauterine devices and should not be used in women receiving immunosuppressive therapy.[33] Conclusion In most instances, women with RA can be reassured that successful pregnancy outcome is likely. A majority of them may experience decrease in symptoms and some of them may even go into remission. The remaining patients who are likely to continue with the disease activity, can be effectively managed by adopting the proposed guidelines based on review of literature.

[Reference] 1. Hazes JM, Man de YA. Pregnancy. face=+Italic; Inface=-Italic; : (editors) Isenberg DA, Maddison PJ, Woo P, Glass D, Breedveld FC. Oxford textbook of rheumatology. 3rd ed. Oxford University Press: United States; 2004. p. 117-25.

2. Ostensen M. The effect of pregnancy on ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Am J Reprod Immunol 1992;28:235-7.

3. Kaaja RJ, Greer IA. Manifestations of chronic disease during pregnancy. JAMA 2005;294:2751-7.

4. Pietschmann P. Sex differences in joint diseases: Pathophysiological basis. Wien Med Wochenschr 2001;151:573-5.

5. Lahita RG. The connective tissue diseases and the overall influence of gender. Int J Fertil Menopausal Stud 1996;41:156-65.

6. Pura M, Kreze A Jr. From the history of endocrinology: Reminiscence of the discovery of adrenocortical hormones. Cas Lek Cesk 2005;144:648-50; discussion 650-1.

7. Nelson JL, Ostensen M. Pregnancy and rheumatoid arthritis. Rheum Dis Clin North Am 1997;23:195-212.

8. Ostensen M, Fuhrer L, Mathieu R, Seitz M, Villiger PM. A prospective study of pregnant patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis using validated clinical instruments. Ann Rheum Dis 2004;63:1212-7.

9. Barrett JH, Brennan P, Fiddler M, Silman AJ. Does rheumatoid arthritis remit during pregnancy and relapse postpartum? Results from a nationwide study in the United Kingdom performed prospectively from late pregnancy. Arthritis Rheum 1999;42:1219-27.

10. Silman A, Kay A, Brennan P. Timing of pregnancy in relation to the onset of rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Rheum 1992; 35:152-5.

11. Ostensen M, Forger F, Nelson JL, Schuhmacher A, Hebisch G, Villiger PM. Pregnancy in patients with rheumatic disease: Anti-inflammatory cytokines increase in pregnancy and decrease post partum. Ann Rheum Dis 2005; 64:839-44.

12. Barrett JH, Brennan P, Fiddler M, Silman A. Breast-feeding and postpartum relapse in women with rheumatoid and inflammatory arthritis. Arthritis Rheum 2000;43:1010-5.

13. Drossaers-Bakker KW, Zwinderman AH, van Zeben D, Breedveld FC, Hazes JM. Pregnancy and oral contraceptive use do not significantly influence outcome in long term rheumatoid arthritis. Ann Rheum Dis 2002;61:405-8.

14. Soldin OP, Guo T, Weiderpass E, Tractenberg RE, Hilakivi-Clarke L, Soldin SJ. Steroid hormone levels in pregnancy and 1 year postpartum using isotope dilution tandem mass spectrometry. Fertil Steril 2005;84:701-10.

15. Ostensen M. Sex hormones and pregnancy in rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1999;876:131-43.

16. Neeck G. Fifty years of experience with cortisone therapy in the study and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2002;966:28-38.

17. Spelsberg TC, Subramaniam M, Riggs BL, Khosla S. The actions and interactions of sex steroids and growth factors/cytokines on the Skelton. Mol Endocrinol 1999;13:819-28.

18. Canellada A, Blois S, Gentile T, Margni Idehu RA. In vitro modulation of protective antibody responses by estrogen, progesterone and interleukin-6. Am J Reprod Immunol 2002;48:334-43.

19. Szekeres-Bartho J. Immunological relationship between the mother and the fetus. Int Rev Immunol 2002;21:471-95.

20. Kanik KS, Wilder RL. Hormonal alterations in RA, including the effects of pregnancy. Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America 2000;26:805-23.

21. Munoz-Valle JF, Vazquez-Del Mercado M, Garcia-Iglesias T, Orozco-Barocio G, Bernard-Medina G, Martinez-Bonilla G, face=+Italic; et alface=-Italic; . T(H)1/T(H)2 cytokine profile, metalloprotease-9 activity and hormonal status in pregnant rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus patients. Clin Exp Immunol 2003;131:377-84.

22. Skornicka EL, Kiyatkina N, Weber MC, Tykocinski ML, Koo PH. Pregnancy zone protein is a carrier and modulator of placental protein-14 in T-cell growth and cytokine production. Cell Immunol 2004; 232:144-56.

23. Flaminio MJ, Antczak DF. Inhibition of lymphocyte proliferation and activation: A mechanism used by equine invasive trophoblast to escape the maternal immune response. Placenta 2005;26:148-59.

24. Gonzalez DA, de Leon AC, Moncholi CV, Cordova Jde C, Hernandez LB. Arthritis in mice: Allogeneic pregnancy protects more than syngeneic by attenuating cellular immune response. J Rheumatol 2004;31:30-4.

25. Alavi A, Arden N, Spector TD, Axford JS. Immunoglobulin G glycosylation and clinical outcome in rheumatoid arthritis during pregnancy. J Rheumatol 2000;27:1379-85.

26. Gentile T, Llambias P, Dokmetjian J, Margni RA. Effect of pregnancy and placental factors on the quality of humoral immune response. Immunol Lett 1998;62:151-7.

27. Crocker IP, Lawson N, Baker PN, Fletcher J. The anti-inflammatory effects of circulating fatty acids in obstructive jaundice: Similarities with pregnancy-induced immunosuppression. QJM 2001;94:475-84.

28. Nelson JL, Hughes KA, Smith AG, Nisperos BB, Branchaud AM, Hansen JA. Maternal-fetal disparity in HLA class II alloantigens and the pregnancy-induced amelioration of rheumatoid arthritis. N Engl J Med 1993;329:466-71.

29. Matera L, Mori M, Geuna M, Buttiglieri S, Palestro G. Prolactin in autoimmunity and antitumor defence. J Neuroimmunol 2000;109:47-55.

30. Weber T. Pregnancy, labor and puerperium in connection with rheumatoid arthritis. Ugeskr Laeger 2003;165:3075.

31. Nelson JL, Voigt LF, Koepsell TD, Dugowson CE, Daling JR. Pregnancy outcome in women with rheumatoid arthritis before disease onset. J Rheumatol 1992;19:18-21.

32. Chakravarty EF, Nelson L, Krishnan E. Obstetric hospitalizations in the United States for women with systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Rheum 2006;54:899-907 33. Cunningham FG, Gant NF, Leveno KJ, Gilstrap LC, Hauth JC, Wenstrom KD. Connective tissue disorders. face=+Italic; Inface=-Italic; : Cunningham FG, Gant NF, Leveno KJ face=+Italic; et alface=-Italic; (editors) Williams Obstetrics. 21st ed. McGraw Hill: 2003. p. 1394-9.

34. McHugh NJ, Reilly PA, McHugh LA. Pregnancy outcome and autoantibodies in connective tissue disease. J Rheumatol 1989;16:42-6.

35. Siamopoulou-Mavridou A, Manoussakis MN, Mavridis AK, Moutsopoulos HM. Outcome of pregnancy in patients with autoimmune rheumatic disease before the disease onset. Ann Rheum Dis 1988;47:982-7.

36. Silman AJ. Parity status and the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Am J Reprod Immunol 1992;28:228-30.

37. Da Silva JA, Spector TD. The role of pregnancy in the course and aetiology of rheumatoid arthritis. Clin Rheumatol 1992;11:189-94.

38. Barron WM, Lindheimer MD, Davison JM. Rheumatoid arthritis: Definition and Clinical Course. face=+Italic; Inface=-Italic; : Barron WM, Lindheimer MD, Davison JM (editors), Medical Disorders During Pregnancy. 3rd ed. Mosby Inc: New Delhi; 2000. p. 374-5.

39. Hazes JM, deMan YA. Antirheumatic drugs in pregnancy and lactation. face=+Italic; Inface=-Italic; : (editors) Isenberg DA, Maddison PJ, Woo P,Glass D, Breedveld FC. Oxford textbook of rheumatology. 3rd ed. Oxford University Press: United States; 2004. p. 126-33.

40. Temprano KK, Bandlamudi R, Moore TL. Antirheumatic drugs in pregnancy and lactation. Semin Arthritis Rheum 2005;35:112-21.

41. Ostensen ME, Skomsvoll JF. Anti-inflammatory pharmacotherapy during pregnancy. Exp Opin Pharmacother 2004;5:571-80.

42. Florescu A, Koren G. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for rheumatoid arthritis during pregnancy. Can Fam Physician 2005;51:961-2.

43. Carmichael SL, Shaw GM. Maternal corticosteroid use and risk of selected congenital anomalies. Am J Med Genet 1999;86:242-4.

44. Coe CL, Lubach GR. Developmental consequences of antenatal dexamethasone treatment in nonhuman primates. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2005;29:227-35.

45. Costedoat-Chalumeau N, Amoura Z, Aymard G, Le TH, Wechsler B, Vauthier D, face=+Italic; et alface=-Italic; . Evidence of transplacental passage of hydroxychloroquine in humans. Arthritis Rheum 2002;46:1123-4.

46. Mogadam M, Dobbins WO 3rd, Korelitz BI, Ahmed SW. Pregnancy in inflammatory bowel disease: Effect of sulfasalazine and corticosteroids on fetal outcome. Gastroenterology 1981;80:72-6.

47. Lee P. Anti-inflammatory therapy during pregnancy and lactation. Clin Invest Med 1985;8:328-32.

48. Chakravarty EF, Sanchez-Yamamoto D, Bush TM. The use of disease modifying antirheumatic drugs in women with rheumatoid arthritis of childbearing age: A survey of practice patterns and pregnancy outcomes. J Rheumatol 2003;30:241-6.

49. Ostensen M, Khamashta M, Lockshin M, Parke A, Brucato A, Carp H, face=+Italic; et alface=-Italic; . Anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs and reproduction. Arthritis Res Ther 2006;8:209 50. Kozer E, Moretti ME, Koren G. Leflunomide: New antirheumatic drug. Effect on pregnancy outcomes. Can Fam Physician 2001;47:721-2.

51. Shrim A, Koren G. Tumour necrosis factor alpha and use of infliximab. Safety during pregnancy. Can Fam Physician 2005;51:667-8.

52. Katz JA, Antoni C, Keenan GF, Smith DE, Jacobs SJ, Lichtenstein GR. Outcome of pregnancy in women receiving infliximab for the treatment of Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Am J Gastroenterol 2004;99:2385-92.

53. Sills ES, Perloe M, Tucker MJ, Kaplan CR, Palermo GD. Successful ovulation induction, conception and normal delivery after chronic therapy with etanercept: A recombinant fusion anti-cytokine treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Am J Reprod Immunol 2001;46:366-8.

[Author Affiliation] Vishal Tandon:? ? Post Graduate Departments of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Govt Medical College, Jammu Sudhaa Sharma:? ? Post Graduate Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Govt Medical College, Jammu Annil Mahajan:? ? Post Graduate Departments of General Medicine, Govt Medical College, Jammu Vijay Khajuria:? ? Post Graduate Departments of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Govt Medical College, Jammu Ajay Kumar:? ? Post Graduate Departments of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Govt Medical College, Jammu Tandon, Vishal; Sharma, Sudhaa; Mahajan, Annil; Khajuria, Vijay; Kumar, Ajay

critic’s pick 224

“I’ll do it ragged ,” says Janis Joplin during a studio exchange with producer Paul Rothchild as she braces for another stab at Get It While You Can. “ I’m not trying to sound like Dionne Warwick.”

While the finished version of the tune would soon serve as the finale to her classic 1971 album Pearl, this studio run-through, part of a fascinating new double-disc set titled The Pearl Sessions, is edgier, churchier and full of greater soul-infused charm. You could almost imagine Aretha Franklin singing with this righteous backdrop from Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band. But, no. This arrangement called for something more urgent, something more desperate sounding, something more ragged.

Less than three weeks after this version of Get It While You Can was cut, Joplin was dead. A mere three months later, the finished Pearl album was released. To date, it has sold over 8 million copies and remains Joplin’s signature work.

The first disc of The Pearl Sessions contains the original Pearl along with the lost mono mixes created for the singles released from the album. But the second disc is the killer. It boasts 13 glorious alternate takes (the majority of which have been unreleased until now) along with spoken studio segments with Joplin in obviously invigorated spirits.

What is especially fascinating about these recordings are the dynamics involved. With no performance crowd to play to, Joplin turns her gale force voice inward. A glorious outtake reading of A Woman Left Lonely simmers with bluesy solemnity. But a riveting Cry Baby seems to feed off the emptiness left by an absent audience. It is an astounding performance that all but thrives on solitude.

A very different dynamic is at work on Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968, a newly unearthed concert document cut when Joplin was still in the ranks of Big Brother and the Holding Company.

Timing was everything for Joplin at this point in her career. This performance came in late June of 1968. Her second album with Big Brother, Cheap Thrills, would hit stores in July. By September, Joplin and Big Brother parted ways.

So Carousel Ballroom is essentially a moment in time. It’s just that Joplin sings with an authority and command her Big Brother mates seldom match. Even the vocal charge for the album-opening version of Combination of the Two has the entire Big Brother quartet playing catch up. But Summertime unfolds with scorched but torchy authority, Piece of My Heart roars with combustible soul and Ball & Chain ignites in shades of psychedelic blues.

Carousel Ballroom is the first in a proposed series of “sonic journals” chronicling the onstage mixing of the late soundman Owsley “Bear” Stanley. Bring on chapter two.

dick clark, 1929-2012

dick clark.

Dick Clark was the greatest pitchman pop music has ever known. Whether he was introducing America to some of the most pivotal figures in rock ‘n’ roll or hawking the most laughably disposable acts of the moment, Clark was the pop carnival barker supreme of at least two generations.

He died yesterday at the age of 82.

An amazingly successful entrepreneurial figure, Clark’s career allowed him to work extensively as a game host, as head of his own production company and, of course, as the most visible TV celebrity to ring in New Year’s Eve since (and maybe even including) Guy Lombardo.

Above all of his other enterprises, however, sat a very simple premise. Clark knew the product he was selling (pop music) and, more importantly, the means to sell it (television, which was still in its infancy when his career began). The most visible and consistent vehicle for promoting both, of course, was American Bandstand. It was a blast of pop energy beamed into households nationwide every Saturday morning. The always exuberant Clark was its host, a pack of eager teenagers served as its studio audience and a list of pop notables several miles long lip-syncing their current single reflected the performance guests.

To many, American Bandstand was either a pop thrill of the most immediate order or a living example of pop culture at its most exploitive and shallow. To be sure, it presented the greats as well as some of the decades’ most nauseating stars. That was the price of being current. But the idea paid off almost immediately as the program gave home audiences some of its first performance glimpses – lip-synched or otherwise – of such pioneers as Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry.

Sure, all manner of trashy pop hitmakers made the rounds on Bandstand, as well. But get a load of some of the more unexpected heavy hitters that were also guests during Clark’s 37 year stay with the show: David Bowie, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke, Dick Dale, Devo, The Doors, Dr. John, The Everly Brothers, Al Green, The Jam, Jefferson Airplane, B.B. King, Los Lobos, Herbie Mann, Van Morrison, Pink Floyd, Otis Redding, R.E.M., Talking Heads and X.

My favorite Bandstand moment (my favorite that is, of the ones I still recall) came in May 1980 when the program presented Public Image Ltd, the abstract dance brigade led by ex-Sex Pistol frontman Johnny Rotten, who then went by his real name, John Lydon. As Bandstand performances were routinely lip-synched, Lydon made no attempt to appear like he was playing along. He simply rambled about the stage as the taped vocals swirled around him, nudged audience members onstage to dance and conducted the requisite interview with Clark by shouting his replies from a podium near the back of the soundstage.

Through it all, Clark never blinked. Ever the good sport, he simply flashed that eternally youthful smile and let his rock ‘n’ roll party roar on.

cursive storytelling

cursive: patrick newberry, ted stevens, matt maginn, cully symington and tim kasher. photo by daniel muller.

Together with his bandmates in the Omaha-bred rock collective known Cursive, he has designed musical novellas on recordings such as 2000’s Domestica and 2003’s The Ugly Organ. The themes are often dark, restless and even a little depraved. But they develop into narratives that color the band’s inherent post-punk foundation with accents of prog-ish complexity, metal-tinged tension and, even pop-inspired fancy.

In olden rock ‘n’ roll days, such a merger of serialized storytelling and musical variety was known as the concept album. But on its newest work, Kasher and Cursive up the ante. Instead of a story driven by a central protagonist, the band has forged a saga propelled by two characters with very different agendas.

The album is called I Am Gemini. The title can be traced back to Greek mythology, where twins Castor and Pollux exist as mortals with very God-like tendencies. Kasher offers a wholly earthbound variation. His twins – Cassius and Pollock – represent themes that predate even the Greeks: good and evil. As a result, their clashes provide inspiration for an album that employs a vivid electric vocabulary to further the storyline.

“It’s a really a very traditional storytelling device as far as basic songwriting goes,” Kasher said of the design to I Am Gemini. “We went with this idea of twin brothers, which in itself is a very old concept. You have the good twin and the evil twin. We kept with that idea as the album progressed – you know, sun/moon, cat/mouse, analogies like that. From there we kind of split the album into two halves, the first being lighter and the other darker. That kind of split personality is how the album played out.”

Musically, though, I Am Gemini moves at an even faster, more jagged clip than the story. A song like Drunken Bird, for instance, tumbles to earth in torrential guitar blasts but then eases into the more atmospheric Lullaby for No Name. Then Double Dead snaps the story back to life with music that falls between lean, ‘80s style No Wave rock and more prog-inspired pop. Imagine Jethro Tull crossed with Mastadon.

“There is a kind of kind of duality to the music, just as there is to the story. But that is really more the product of a band working together.

“The story structure and lyrics were all done prior to going into the studio. That made things really handy when we recorded. I had some chords and riff structures to go with the lyrics. That allowed the band to write the music and make attachments accordingly so that, say, track 8 would link with track 9.”

For Kasher, I Am Gemini is the culmination not only of the music Cursive has been generating since it formed in 1995 but also of the inspirations that began kicking around within a fertile Omaha music community.

“Omaha has this kind of middle-of-nowhere Midwest reputation,” he said. “But we grew up in this really cool music scene. I mean, we were never born and raised with the idea of ‘I’m going make it.’ We were making music for ourselves and for each other within this great community of musicians. We were playing for each other, but that was really important. Your expectations should never be low, even if they’re for your hobbies or your daydreams.”

That sense of community carried over into the music Cursive began to send outside of Omaha, first as a quartet augmented by cello and now with a core trio of Kasher, co-guitarist Ted Stevens and bassist Matt Maginn (the three are joined on tour and throughout I Am Gemini by keyboardist Patrick Newberry and drummer Cully Symington). Even then, the band’s artistic aspirations were modest but pronounced.

“Since I could remember, music was kind of my temporary career. It’s just that this temporary career now spans well over 10 years. To me, it’s all about sustainability. That’s all I ever really thought about. We want to keep putting out records that are relevant enough so that people would hopefully want to hear another one.”

Cursive with Cymbals Eat Guitars and Conduits performs at 10 tonight at Cosmic Charlie’s, 388 Woodland Ave. Tickets are $15 day of show. Call (859) 309-9499.

in performance: punch brothers/jesca hoop

punch brothers: paul kowert, chris thile, gabe witcher, chris eldridge and noam pikelny. photo by danny clinch.

By now, the virtuosity and stylistic cunning of Punch Brothers have so radically redefined the possibilities of conventional string instrumentation that one almost forgets that bluegrass roots still sits at the heart of every sound the ensemble makes.

Last night at the Kentucky Theatre, during what was easily the most exciting and inventive of its many Lexington area performances, the quintet covered music by The Strokes, Radiohead, The Cars and The Band while exploring original material that soared through all manner of progressive references, from rockish percussive riffs to fanciful swing-on-string runs that could best be described as psychedelic acoustic vaudeville.

In the midst of this entrancing feast sat an instrumental that took Punch Brothers back to the bluegrass woodshed. On a cover of Earl Scruggs’ Groundspeed (which was dedicated to the iconic banjo stylist who died last month), the group served up a round-robin series of efficient and lighting speed solos bookended by breaks from the Brothers’ own banjo ace, Noam Pikelny.

Everything else in this wonderfully paced program seemed to use the Scruggs piece as a diving board of sorts. The show opening original Don’t Get Married Without Me, the first of nine songs pulled from Punch Brothers’ new Who’s Feeling Young Now? album, operated off a country groove that bloomed into cartoon-like fragments of swing. Later, the new album’s title tune revealed a darker, tenser riff that, once colored by the harmonies of mandolinist Chris Thile and fiddler Gabe Witcher, built itself to an exquisite rhythmic boil.

As technically and stylistically accomplished as all this was, the band also knew when to simply hang loose. A lively (and eerily faithful) cover of The Cars’ Just What I Needed, with a dizzying banjo run from Pikelny subbing for the original version’s synthesizer  melody, was all pure pop fun while The Strokes’ Heart in a Cage was delivered with a decidedly Western swagger.

Thile remained the band’s focal point, introducing a reading of Radiohead’s Kid A as an “expressionist version of (Bill Monroe’s) Molly and Tenbrooks” before bounding about the stage with the elasticity of a rubber band.

The last word, though, went to Witcher, who sang a spirited barroom cover of The Band’s Ophelia, which was dedicated the gravely ill Levon Helm, whose vocals drove the original 1975 recording of the song.

California songstress Jesca Hoop opened the evening with a curious 35 minute set of songs that blended the vocal fancy of Kate Bush and the deceptive uneasiness of latter day P.J. Harvey during songs like Whispering Light (which Hoop introduced with a story about smoking pot, via a long distance phone call, with her cancer stricken, Morman-raised mother) and the title tune from her forthcoming The House That Jack Built album.

By now, the virtuosity and sheer stylistic cunning of Punch Brothers have so radically redefined the possibilities of conventional string instrumentation that one almost forgets that bluegrass roots still sits at the heart of every sound the ensemble makes.

Last night at the Kentucky Theatre, during what was easily the most exciting and inventive of its many Lexington area performances, the quintet covered music by The Strokes, Radiohead, The Cars and The Band while exploring original material that soared through all manner of progressive references, from rockish percussive riffs to fanciful swing-on-string runs that could best be described as psychedelic acoustic vaudeville.

In the midst of this entrancing feast sat an instrumental that took Punch Brothers back to the bluegrass woodshed. On a cover of Earl Scruggs’ Groundspeed (which was dedicated to the iconic banjo stylist who died last month), the group served up a round-robin series of efficient and lighting speed solos bookended by breaks from the Brothers’ own banjo ace, Noam Pikelny.

Everything else in this wonderfully paced program seemed to use the Scruggs piece as a diving board of sorts. The show opening original Don’t Get Married Without Me, the first of nine songs pulled from Punch Brothers’ new Who’s Feeling Young Now? album, operated off a country groove that bloomed into cartoon-like fragments of swing. Later, the new album’s title tune revealed a darker, tenser riff that, once colored by the harmonies of mandolinist Chris Thile and fiddler Gabe Witcher, built itself to an exquisite rhythmic boil.

As technically and stylistically accomplished as all this was, the band also knew when to simply hang loose. A lively (and eerily faithful) cover of The Cars’ Just What I Needed, with a dizzying banjo run from Pikelny subbing for the original version’s synthesizer  melody, was all pure pop fun while The Strokes’ Heart in a Cage was delivered with a decidedly Western swagger.

Thile remained the band’s focal point onstage, introducing a reading of Radiohead’s Kid A as an “expressionist version of (Bill Monroe’s) Molly and Tenbrooks” before bounding about the stage with the elasticity of a rubber band.

The last word, though, went to Witcher, who sang a spirited barroom cover of The Band’s Ophelia, which was dedicated the gravely ill Levon Helm, whose vocals drove the original 1975 recording of the song.

California songstress Jesca Hoop opened the evening with a curious 35 minute set of songs that blended the vocal fancy of Kate Bush and the deceptive uneasiness of latter day P.J. Harvey during songs like Whispering Light (which Hoop introduced with a story about smoking pot, via a long distance phone call, with her cancer stricken, Morman-raised mother) and the title tune from her forthcoming The House That Jack Built album.

Houp also joined Punch Brothers to swap songs later in the show. Thile and company backed her up on a pensive reading of Tulip. Hoop then supplied harmonies for the Who’s Feeling Young Now? requiem Soon or Never. Both songs beautifully brought two very different schools of pop construction together.

punch line

punch brothers: chris eldridge, noam pikelny, gabe witcher, paul kowert and chris thile. photo by danny clinch.

 That the string music renegades known as Punch Brothers are far removed from traditional bluegrass was a given before the band even had a name.

Convening in New York so that mandolinist Chris Thile could have an ensemble to perform his four movement contemporary string piece The Blind Leaving the Blind, the resulting unit became less a vehicle for Thile in his post-Nickel Creek career and more about a unified band spirit that allowed the newly dubbed Punch Brothers to draw from alternative pop, classical, rock and, yes, bluegrass.

So it was curious when the group wound up on late night television earlier this month that David Letterman introduced it as a bluegrass band from Nashville. Even on its own home turf, it seems, the musical invention of Punch Brothers has some stereotypes to contend with.

“Yeah, it was funny,” said Punch Brothers guitarist Chris Eldridge. “We noticed when we were introduced that the cue cards didn’t say anything about Nashville. I think Dave was just kind of freestyling. But that’s alright.”

By the same token, the Punch crew can at least count Letterman among a growing number of supporters for a string music sound that is scholarly, playful and unclassifiable. Among other pals is another well-connected New Yorker, Paul Simon, who invited Punch Brothers to open a series of concert dates for him last fall. Group fiddler Gabe Witcher was also featured on Simon’s excellent 2011 album So Beautiful or So What.

“That was so incredible,” Eldridge said. “Everybody, whether they realize it or not, knows Paul Simon’s music. I was born in 1982, so his Graceland album was kind of ubiquitous when I was a kid. To see him at 70 commanding an audience as he does and becoming so engaged with his band was really, really inspiring.”

But inspiration for the multi-directional string music of Punch Brothers seems to come from almost anywhere. The band’s third and newest album, Who’s Feeling Young Now?, opens with an alert dervish titled Movement and Location. It morphs from a rugged bluegrass rhythm into an almost minimalist melodic sweep accented by jazz like call-and-response between banjoist Noam Pikelny and bassist Paul Kowert before vocals from Thile sail into the stratosphere in almost Beach Boys-like fashion.

Movement and Location was the most organic tune on the whole record,” Eldridge said. “We wrote the music for that in about 15 minutes,” Eldridge said. “Thile had this mandolin rhythm that he didn’t think was very good. He was like, ‘No. Nothing’s happening with that. It’s too weird. It’s too esoteric for the band.’ But I came up with a guitar solo. Then Noam started playing these banjo rolls. It was a song that completely wrote itself.”

At the other end of the album’s vast stylistic spectrum is a cover of the Radiohead classic Kid A. Punch Brothers have been covering Radiohead tunes for years (Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box was featured as an encore at the band’s October 2009 concert at Natasha’s). But Kid A is distinctive because, with the help of producer/engineer Jacquire King (who has worked on recordings by Tom Waits, Kings of Leon and Modest Mouse, among others), the band mimics some of Radiohead’s pops, static and overall electronic ambience on acoustic instruments.

“One thing we definitely spent a lot of time doing when we moved to New York a few years ago was learning other bands’ material. I don’t mean learning covers, but really trying to see how these songs worked. Radiohead was a big inspiration, so we basically learned the parts to their songs verbatim and then figured out which of the instruments in our band could occupy the roles of the instruments in their band. It was surprising to me how little we had to contrive the electronic stuff.

“That’s been true for classical music, too. We worked up Bach’s third Brandenberg Concerto as a string piece. It’s a work strongly associated with a certain tradition and sound. But I don’t think it really matters what the medium is. As long as the music is great, the beauty of it will come through no matter what you play it on.”

Ultimately, what sells the music of Punch Brothers perhaps more than their technical command, compositional strength or interpretive skill, is their band spirit. Such a spirit beams during performances. The camaraderie that took these bluegrass pickers to New York to redefine the repertoire for what many might view as a bluegrass group (even one from Nashville) continues to forge a bond that is, well, brotherly.

“When we first started this band, I think we all felt we had discovered our musical soulmates,” Eldridge said. “It continues to be a wonderful thing to know these guys as musicians and as friends.”

Punch Brothers perform at p.m. 7:30 April 17 at the Kentucky Theatre, 214 East Main St. Tickets are $33.75. Call (859) 231-7924.

portugal, man

portugal. the man: jason sechrist, john gourley, ryan neighbors and zach carothers,

Listen to the music of Portugal. The Man’s 2011 major label debut album In the Mountain in the Cloud and you hear the work of a coming-of-age band sounding wildly at home with itself.

Singer/principal songwriter John Gourley presides over a pop landscape filled with inescapable melodic hooks and his own animated falsetto. The songs are also drenched in pure pop charm and come balanced with doses of psychedelic wonder and more traditionally minded compositional lyricism. The resulting music is as bright, engaging and spring-like a pop confection as one could hope for.

It’s also a sound that was murder to make.

Recorded in a series of 2010, cross country studio sessions (modestly described in the band’s bio material as “a nomadic stretch”) the making of In the Mountain was, in essence, a prolonged growing pain that captured the members of Portugal. The Man in varying stages of incompatibility.

That the album sent Gourley and company from the indie legions to the high level ranks of Atlantic Records might seem to outsiders as the catalyst for the recording’s eventually labored construction. Bassist Zachary Scott Carothers said, however, the move was merely daunting.

“Atlantic has these names in their catalog like Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones… and now us. Oddly enough, that didn’t put any pressure on what we were doing. All of that was self-inflicted.

“To be honest, the record almost killed us. We weren’t totally getting along as people. There were lots of issues. Some had to do with the band, some didn’t have to do with the band at all. We all lived together. We all worked together. I would see these guys every day except Christmas – and, usually, I saw at least one of them then, too.”

First, there was the simple work process. On earlier indie efforts like 2008’s Censored Colors and 2010’s American Ghetto, Portugal. The Man grew accustomed to working with producers that were longtime friends of the band (like Casey Bates) and recording whatever music Gourley had prepared for the band within whatever studio time was available.

“In the past, we just jumped in with whatever we had. If we had 2 ½ weeks to make an album, we would make do with that. If we had 6 weeks, then we would use that. And we never really went in with a bunch of material – certainly no songs at all. Usually, we had a few parts and melodies and recorded an album in whatever time we had.

“But this one (In the Mountain) was just not working at first. I mean, I’m glad we went through all of the turmoil. I think that made it a way better record. It turned into an example of how we work together as people and a metaphor for a lot of the things we were thinking about at the time.”

So what exactly was the problem and, more importantly, how did the band overcome it?

As Carothers explained, relations within the band were strained, fragmented material from Gourley was slow coming in and the recording locales were continually juggled. Sessions began in El Paso, Texas and went poorly. Then Gourley went to New York to work on the songs, sending what he came up with back to the rest of the band which was holed up in Portugal. The Man’s current homebase of Portland, Oregon.  That process, as Carothers recalled, “wasn’t working out so hot, either.”

Things lightened up when the entire band reconvened in San Diego and recorded at a more comfortable pace. The daily regimen called for burritos and daily trips to the beach before recording work commenced.

“We went down there and basically said, ‘No label guys can come in. No management guys can come in. In fact, nobody else is coming in.’ We were just going to try and have fun with the music again. That was the turning point.”

Los Angeles sessions with producer John Hill followed before the In the Mountain was completed with help from Bates in Seattle.

“The pressure was all in our minds, really,” said Carothers, who added that new sessions for a follow-up to In the Mountain will begin later this year. “I think it’s always going to to get like that whenever we go in to do any album. The record becomes, to us, the most important thing we’ve ever done in our lives. We’re always thinking that the next one is going to make us or break us.”

Portugal. The Man  and The Lonely Forest perform at 8 tonight at Buster’s Billiards and Backroom, 899 Manchester St. Tickets are $20. Call (859) 368-8871 or go to

Norway’s Henning Solberg powers Ford Focus RS during the first…

Getty Images February 29, 2008 | LUIS ACOSTA

Getty Images 02-29-2008 Norway’s Henning Solberg powers Ford Focus RS during the first… go to web site ford focus rs

Full Size JPG (1939 KB) Norway’s Henning Solberg powers Ford Focus RS during the first day of the FIA World Rally Championship in the Mexican state of Leon on February 29, 2007. AFP PHOTO/Luis ACOSTA (Photo credit should read LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images) here ford focus rs


divine carama's hip hop quest

divine carama. herald-leader staff photo by mark cornelison.

Forging a voice, much less a local fanbase, for hip hop music in Lexington has never been a cakewalk.You might blame that fact on the lack of exposure, the scarcity of appropriate venues or even audience demographics that seem to continually favor country, arena rock and indie pop over anything rap-related. But that hasn’t deterred the Lexington-based Divine Carama.

A leading hip hop stylist for nearly a decade, he is also responsible for organizing a monthly musical summit at Al’s Bar. While this weekend’s installment will double as a record release party for his new indie album Heart of a King, Carama sees the frequency of the Al’s shows as a way to raise the visibility of a hip hop community in Lexington and the artists that work within it.

“I think Lexington is learning,” Carama said. “I think they are learning to appreciate indie hip hop. They are learning to appreciate something alternative, because the hardest thing about a smaller city where they get used to the same things is getting them out of that mentality. The more we do these shows, the more the support will continue to pick up.

“But it’s tough to get heard. Honestly. It’s really, really tough. We probably have some of the most talented hip hop artists in the country right here in Lexington. But because the support and venues aren’t there like they are in some of the bigger cities, artists aren’t able to really thrive. But I think that has all just made me stronger. I feel if I can generate the buzz that I have in a place like Lexington, then I’ve got cred anywhere.”

To prove the point, Carama gave a pair of performances last week in New York and New Jersey. Next week, he heads to Chicago for a concert.

Helping spread the word on Carama as much throughout the country as on home turf is the narrative makeup of his music. His songs express themes that are urgent but upbeat, making Heart Like a King stand out from a rap pack consumed by violence, sexism, materialism and self-importance.

“My style of music is more socially conscious and a little more positive, a little bit more lyrical. Audiences seem to gravitate more toward that now in the bigger cities, especially in New York, where that style kind of originated from. It has been overwhelming, the support I’ve gotten up there.

“I wanted the album to present another side of hip hop, because I think hip hop gets such a negative perception sometimes. I wanted to express more soul, more of the positive on this album, but I also wanted it to be more honest. With a lot of music, everything is all good or all bad. And that’s just not reality. I’m not a perfect person, so I really like to show the struggle of good and bad in my music and how I’m trying to do good and how sometimes I fall short. I think I get that message across on the album.

But being an indie artist, Carama has also discovered a grassroots means of cultivating an audience that is decidedly modern in design.

“With the internet being so big, there are a handful of blogs that are really, really large. Millions of people check them on a daily basis for new music. So I’ve been blessed enough to get my music on some of those bigger blogs. That’s what has allowed my music, and the music of a lot of really big up-and-coming artists, to branch out.”

With followings in New York and Chicago, is Carama readying himself to relocate outside of Lexington?

“I have two daughters, ages 10 and 11. They’re a big part of my life. So until I’m in a position where I can really support my family with my music, I don’t want to leave. Besides, I think it would be great for the city if someone from here could kind of make it in hop hop from the ground up, you know?”

Divine Carama with Webb, Cazz Wonder, Alex Zayne, Yung Lex, Decypha, Scoupe, Just Me, Ntelligent and Starks perform at 10 tonight at Al’s Bar, 601 N. Limestone. Cover charge is $5. Call (859) 309-2901.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s the Chicago Air and Water Show!(Special Section)

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL) May 24, 2006 Byline: Dalia Hatuqa Medill News Service The hair-raising, jaw-dropping display of aerial acrobatics that is the Chicago Air and Water Show has been mesmerizing Chicagoans since 1960. And come August, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels will be back to dazzle once again at the 48th installment of the lake-front event. site chicago air and water show 2012

With plenty of wild blue yonder over Lake Michigan as the stage, military and civilian aircraft will perform their maneuvers along the lakefront from Fullerton Parkway to Oak Street. North Avenue Beach is the focal point of the daredevil aerial stunts.

The Shell Extreme Water Show kicks off the two-day event at 9 a.m. every day with the Liquid X Freestyle extreme water show, followed by the Munson Ski & Inboard Water Sports Ski Team.

More than 2 million people are expected to crowd the lakefront for the event, which also will feature the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights. website chicago air and water show 2012

The air show, which begins at 11 a.m., will include the parachute team plunging from high altitudes, a demonstration they have been performing for 44 years.

The aircraft will also thrill the crowd with death-defying stunts as they come dangerously close to the lakefront high-rises.

What started in 1959 as part of a “Family Day Celebration” has grown to be the oldest and largest free event of its kind nationwide, said Mary May of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events.

“It was started by the Chicago Park District at Chicago Avenue and Lake Michigan,” May said. “Ever since, we have had either the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds or the U.S. Navy Blue Angels,” she said.

The Blue Angels, named after a famous New York nightclub, entertained 17 million spectators in the 2005 season. Since its inception in 1946, the squadron has performed for more than 414 million fans, according to its Web site.

in performance: graham parker

graham parker. photo by jeff fasano.

 It was an evening where, in effect, Rumour became fact.

Last night at the 20th Century Theatre in Cincinnati, in his first regional headlining concert in 17 years, Graham Parker reteamed with Bob Andrews, keyboardist for the famed band The Rumour that accompanied the British songsmith on his groundbreaking late ‘70s recordings. To fan the retro flames all the more, Parker informed the crowd he has cut an entire album of new material with the entire Rumour lineup for the first time in 30 years. (The record is due out in September.)

With or without The Rumour, Parker has amassed a powerfully consistent but often shamefully underappreciated recording catalog. That extends to the prolific output he has issued on indie labels for most of the past two decades. While there were a few fine inclusions from the latter (2007’s socially-minded swing gem Ambiguous and 2001’s geriatric fashionista saga Socks ‘N’ Sandals, the two tunes that opened the performance), much of the 90 minute set was devoted to Rumour music that was old, new, familiar and wildly obscure.

Most of the Rumour material was either addressed with playfully dour commentary from Parker (such as his tagging of Waiting for the UFOs as “the worst song” from 1979’s landmark Squeezing Out Sparks album, even though it worked nicely last night as a slice of worldly folk with an unexpected sing-a-along) or was utilized as playfully dour commentary strictly on its own (as in a dark confession of a modern political pitchman titled Snake Oil Capital of the World, one of four songs previewed from the forthcoming Rumour album).

Those expecting familiar bits of Rumour history were rewarded with Passion is No Ordinary Word, served in a duet arrangement with Andrews that was both conversational and meditative, as well as the more soul savvy exchanges of Back Door Love and encores of White Honey and Soul  Shoes.

And then there was Problem Child, a completely forgotten delicacy from 1977’s Stick to Me that was fueled by a light reggae charge from Parker and Andrews and a sense of sagely angst that was part punkish unrest and part soul-style authority. It was the most urgent and satisfying bit of Rumour-mongering all evening.   

Spell-check those menus.(Spotlight)

Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO) August 4, 2006 | Lehndorff, John Byline: John Lehndorff, Rocky Mountain News I should be relaxing during these dog days of summer, but big questions plague my overheated mind. I get picky, picky, picky and wonder: website online spell check

* Why don’t people who write restaurant menus use spell-checker or have someone proofread them before they print them? I constantly catch spelling and grammatical errors among the starters and entrees. When I see “prosciutto wrapped shrimp,” I wonder why there isn’t a hyphen connecting the modifiers, i.e., “prosciutto-wrapped.” It makes me think there are other details that have slipped below the management’s radar.

* Why do restaurants insist on listing menu prices ending in .99? Do they really think the customer is going to buy a $39.99 Porterhouse steak and think it’s a bargain? They know it costs $40, and actually more like $50 with tax and tip. go to web site online spell check

* Now that we’ve eradicated smoking in bistros, when will the Colorado legislature enact a law banning cell phones in restaurants? The impact of inane, secondhand cell phone conversations on innocent, captive bystanders (and sitters) is well-documented.

* When will young servers learn that they will get a bigger tip if they do not ask a table of adult men and women: “What would you guys like to drink?” * Why don’t restaurant owners realize that they lose more customers with ill-maintained bathrooms than mediocre food? Women often decide where couples dine. If the bathroom’s dirty and there isn’t any hot water, they get grossed out and won’t come back. Ever. Guys aren’t thrilled by it either.

* Why don’t chefs realize that it doesn’t matter how good the food is in the kitchen, if the plates get air-cooled being carried across the dining room and the food arrives lukewarm at the table?

* If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we have restaurant tables that don’t wobble?

Just asking . . .


Photo Cell phones, like smoking, bother diners. M. SPENCER GREEN / ASSOCIATED PRESS Lehndorff, John

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