Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Who knew? Japanese influence in Inuit print art

Owl, Fox and Hare Legend, 1959 Osuitok Ipeelee Printed by the artist, with James Houston Stencil Photo: Marie-Louise Deruaz

“Owl, Fox and Hare Legend,” 1959. Artist:Osuitok Ipeelee
Printed by the artist, with James Houston, Stencil. Photo: Marie-Louise Deruaz (Image courtesy of Carleton University Art Gallery)

Peter Simpson’s Big Beat arts blog in the Ottawa Citizen often brings things to my attention worth sharing with NCPR’s audience. One of his recent finds is a specific exhibition happening at the Carleton University Art Gallery: Inuit Prints: Japanese Inspiration 29 September – 14 Dec.

From the event’s website:

Kinngait Studios, in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, is the oldest and most successful printmaking enterprise in Canadian history. In the late 1950s, James Houston studied in Japan with the master woodcut printmaker Un’ichi Hiratsuka, bringing his newfound knowledge of Japanese techniques and materials back to Cape Dorset. Inuit Prints: Japanese Inspiration tells the story of that momentous cross-cultural encounter and explores its extraordinary results. It features rare, early prints by such artists as Lukta Qiatsuq, Tudlik Akesuk, and Osuitok Ipeelee, juxtaposed with the prints by Japanese artists that Houston brought to the Arctic in 1959. The exhibition reveals the many ways in which the now-famous artists of Cape Dorset creatively “localized” Japanese influences.

You can see more about Kinngait Studios at their social media page.

Simpson reminds the reader that the 2012 exhibition of Vincent Van Gogh at the National Gallery in Ottawa included Japanese prints and that Van Gogh was deeply influenced by that style of art. Indeed, according to this excerpt from a letter Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo, Japanese prints imbued his artist’s eye with a whole philosophy of life:

“When we study Japanese art, we see a man who is no doubt wise, philosophical and intelligent. And how does he spends his time? Studying the distance between the earth and the moon? No. Studying the political theories of Bismarck? No. He studies a single blade of grass. But this blade of grass leads him the draw plants of all kinds, then the seasons, the overall aspects of the landscape, then animals, and finally, the human figure. This is how he spends his life, and life is too short to do the whole. Come now, isn’t it almost a true religion which these simple Japanese teach us, who live in nature as though they themselves were flowers? And it seems to me that we cannot study Japanese art without becoming much gayer and happier, and we must return to nature despite our education and our work in a world of conventions.”

Put that way, man-as-a-small-part-of-the-natural-whole also sounds very applicable to Inuit culture.

Simpson’s review adds this:

Exhibitions of Inuit art are now common down here in the southern parts of Canada, and justifiably so. Yet this challenges curators to find unfamiliar but meaningful ways to present the art. To see the work of Japanese and Inuit artists side by side is to see the art of Cape Dorset in a way that, for most non-experts, is fresh, and most welcome.

Really, it can sometimes be a surprisingly small and interconnected world.

Stone Image of Buddha at Usuki, ca. 1940 Un’ichi Hiratsuka Printed by the artist Woodcut Gift of Alice W. Houston Photo: Marie-Louise Deruaz

“Stone Image of Buddha at Usuki,” ca. 1940 Artist: Un’ichi Hiratsuka
Printed by the artist, woodcut. Gift of Alice W. Houston
Photo: Marie-Louise Deruaz (Image courtesy of CUAG)

Postcard from Raleigh: Bluegrass Awards!

 

Greetings one last time from Raleigh, North Carolina!  The IBMA World of Bluegrass week is wrapping up , and  tomorrow I’ll be driving home.

The pinnacle of the week is the annual IBMA Music Awards show, held this year at the Duke Energy Center for the Arts.    Just 24 hours after bluegrass fans vacated the premises, the Raleigh Symphony performed on the same stage.

I was lucky to get a sneak preview of the stage design and dress rehearsal.  In this photo, the all-star band is running through their performance for exact timing of the show, and awards presenters are practicing using the (very cool clear, almost-invisible) teleprompter.  Microphone heights are measured, so they’ll be reset perfectly for tonight’s show.

pre-show

Lisa Husted -who also works for the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival – helps to coordinate the lights and cameras with the music.  She charts every solo and every song, so the performers get a close-up on camera at the right time.  The details of a show this size are endless!

Lisa Husted

Here’s the stage design for tonight.  The Event Company designed it, and the moon even moved across the sky of twinkling stars.

pre-show2

At 7:30, all the glittered, high-heeled, suited,  tuxedoed, and potentially-award-winning  attendees were in their seats.  The booming voice of Syriux XM’s Ned Luberecki came through the speakers, and we were off!

5 IBMA awards program

Our hosts for the awards show, Lee Ann Womack and Jerry Douglas:

5 Jerry and LeeAnn

 

Meet the 2014 IBMA Guitarist of the Year, Bryan Sutton:

5 Bryan Sutton

 

… Frank Solivan, Mandolin Player of the Year.  He’s also a great cook, and his band is called Dirty Kitchen.  Don’t be misled  by the name- they’re all GREAT musicians.

5 Frank Solivan

 

Your 2014 Female Vocalist of the Year, Amanda Smith.  Her husband, Kenny Smith, is a might fine guitarist, and was also performing in the awards show.

5 Amanda Smith

 

Dobro Player of the Year, Phil Leadbetter!  I’ve always liked his playing, and his new album is spectacular – and he’s one of the nicest musicians you’ll ever meet.

5 Phil Leadbetter

 

Earlier in the week, banjoist Bill Keith was inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame.  Keith has influenced bluegrass music for decades with his writing, composing, transcribing, and teaching.  Here he is in his natural habitat – surrounded by banjo pickers.  That’s Tony Trischka on the left.

Banjo trio

Tune in to String Fever this Thursday for more award winners.

The convention ends with a 2-day music festival and street fest, with hundreds of vendors and 9 music stages set around the city center.  North Carolinians really put their best foot forward, showcasing the best of what the state has to offer: meats, wines, honey, barbecue (of course!), and even sweet potatoes:

5 street fair sweet potatoes

 

… and pigs.

5 street fair pigs

 

The free festival brought thousands of people in to the center of Raleigh. Here, folks enjoy listening to fiddler Michael Cleveland and his band, Flamekeeper.  Their new album is spectacular – and you’ll hear more of it on String Fever.

5 Michael Cleveland

 

A couple blocks away, at the Red Hat Outdoor Amphitheater, Chatham County Line is drawing a big crowd.  Hearing them a couple of times this week has really drawn my attention to their songwriting talents.  That’s what events like this are for, I guess.

5 Chatham County Line

 

Of course, we all know Ellenburg Depot’s favorite sons, The Gibson Brothers.  They are well-loved wherever they travel, and Raleigh loved them to pieces.  It was heartwarming to see what great ambassadors they have become.  They talk – and sing –  a lot about growing up in Northern NY; about dairy farming, and their parents and relatives.  They tell some wonderful stories through the songs they’ve written about their home.

5 Gibson Brothers

 

… and you’ll be hearing from Leigh Gibson this week on String Fever. Leigh is Eric Gibson’s younger brother, and he claims he’s got a bald spot because Mom liked Leigh better, and always brushed his hair at night.  Yup, it’s corny, but – like Carolina sweet potatoes – we’re all so proud of those boys from northern NY.  They are two-time IBMA Entertainers of the Year.

4 Leigh Gibson

 

Well, so long for now.  I’ve got to pack and get home.  I’ll see you soon on the radio — and please remember to give to ncpr.org this week!  YOU are the one who keeps the  music playing – and any amount makes a difference.  Measure by measure, note by note, and a dollar at a time is how we all get there, whether you’re picking a banjo, playing the mandolin, or running a radio station.  We want to keep making beautiful music with you.

Thank you so much – from all of us!

Honey, I shrunk the fundraiser

honeyishrunkFor the last few decades, public radio people have needed two completely separate skill sets. For most of the year the skills relate to making quality public media programming and everything that goes along with that. But then for a couple weeks a year a whole different set of skills is required for raising a huge amount of money in a short period of time through a marathon effort behind the microphone. The changeover is abrupt enough to give one whiplash. And while we try to make the on-air fundraiser as quirky and entertaining as possible, we know that it is truly enjoyed by only a few in the audience; it is tolerated as a necessity by most, and it is a misery for some. While we feel that it is important for public media to remain firmly within the gift economy, not the pay-for-play economy, we have often wished that there could be a better way to raise the funds we need from willing donors without consuming so much of the public airtime, and so much of the energy that could go toward making great public media.

So we’re giving it a shot. This fall we have started early with short messages that do not interrupt parts of the programs you are donating to support. This is what is known as a “quiet drive.” And it is quiet, in comparison to the full-tilt yabba-yabba of the traditional six-day on-air drive. We are reaching out more in other ways, by mail and email and social media, by being more assertive on our website. Our initial hope was to be able to maybe cut one day off the on-air fundraiser, at best two. We felt that the people who give to us each year would be amenable to responding early, and that we could focus the on-air drive toward newer audience members who may not have given before.

Somewhat to our surprise, the response from you all has been very strong and fast, so much so that we have now passed one-third of our goal more than two weeks before the on air drive is scheduled to begin. It leads us to think that it may be possible to reach that goal before we ever have to interrupt programming. That would be an amazing transformation in the way we do business, and I think, a welcome transformation for most listeners. We’ll see whether it is possible over the next few days and weeks. We have set a realistic goal–$325,000–that will keep us sustainable into  the coming year, and when we get there the drive is done. If that gets done before 6 am Monday, October 20, that would be–I can only quote Steve Jobs here–”Insanely great.”

So here’s another “quiet” invitation for you to be the insanely great listener you are:

Help “shrink the fundraiser” with your gift to NCPR now.

Everybody knows: It’s time to give!

Greetings again from Raleigh, North Carolina, where I am attending the International Bluegrass Music Conference and Wide Open Bluegrass  Music Festival.  The event includes a large 3-day trade show where vendors offer everything from folding banjos to buffalo straps.  There are also several non-profit organizations that support bluegrass music, and this is fundraising time for them.  They have a captive audience in Raleigh, and they’re doing what it takes to spread the good word about their organizations.

Every vendor is there to make money, but this post is about all the vendors that stopped their own sales pitches in order to stump for NCPR.  Each of them – from all over the US – knows the value of their own public radio station, and they were more than willing to help nudge NCPR listeners a little closer to giving.  After all, it’s really a way of helping your neighbors.  You don’t want them to have to pay your share too, do you?

I met up with former String Fever host, and old friend, Danny Gotham.  Of course NCPR is dear to him – you still hear him on our airwaves when he makes his semi-annual trek back to his native region.  Here he is with a timely reminder:

TTG Danny

Of course, it’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re surrounded by beautiful instruments and cool new kinds of picks.  Here he is, still strumming for the NCPR bucks:

TTG Danny strumming for dollars

He ended up buying a very cool guitar pick from this guy:

Yes!  These picks cost $30 each because a portion of that goes to support his local public radio station!  Incidentally, they have a lifetime guarantee.   Well, so does NCPR, with just a little help from our friends.

Yes! These picks cost $30 each because a portion of that goes to support his local public radio station! Incidentally, they have a lifetime guarantee. Well, so does NCPR, with just a little help from our friends.

Deering banjos just celebrated their 100,000th banjo!  Yes, that’s one hundred thousand.  Banjos.  Just imagine what that would sound like all together.  Well, that’s music to Janet Deering’s ears… and she would LOVE to see NCPR prosper (because she’s hoping for more banjo music on Thursday afternoons!).

The Deering family (makers of the famous Deering banjos) were recognized with an IBMA special achievement award this week, honoring their dedication to the art of making great banjos that everyone can afford.... just like public radio.  Your help keeps it affordable for all of us..

The Deering family (makers of the famous Deering banjos) were recognized with an IBMA special achievement award this week, honoring their dedication to the art of making great banjos that everyone can afford…. just like public radio. Your help keeps it affordable for all of us..

Deering banjos is based in California, but NCPR is well known to the Boston Bluegrass Union. Meet Stan Zdonik, former IBMA board member, and Boston Bluegrass Union member.  He supports WBUR, but  if he lived in Oxbow, he’d be sending his bucks to NCPR!

Stan Zdonik, incognito.

Stan Zdonik, incognito.

This is Lisa Husted, representing the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival.  She listens to NCPR when she’s visiting the Adirondacks.

TTG Lisa Husted

Check out some of the other public radio believers that I met today in Raleigh:

Bluegrass Today... and every day.

Bluegrass Today… and every day.

 

Yes, that's Ricky Skaggs' label.... but no, that's not Ricky! He's playing a show with Bruce Hornsby here in Raleigh this weekend.

Yes, that’s Ricky Skaggs’ label…. but no, that’s not Ricky! He’s playing a show with Bruce Hornsby here in Raleigh this weekend.

 

Stelling Banjos are some of the finest made.  What do you think they listen to in the shop?  Public radio, of course!

Stelling Banjos are some of the finest made. What do you think they listen to in the shop? Public radio, of course!

 

Meet Tim Stafford, the 2014 Bluegrass Songwriter Of The Year.   He plays guitar and sings with Blue Highway.  They were recently in the north country, performing in Clayton a few weeks ago.  Tim just released a new solo album of original songs, and one track is named for an island in the St. Lawrence River!

Meet Tim Stafford, the 2014 Bluegrass Songwriter Of The Year. He plays guitar and sings with Blue Highway. They were recently in the north country, performing in Clayton a few weeks ago. Tim just released a new solo album of original songs, and one track is named for an island in the St. Lawrence River!

Just so you don't think this convention is only about banjos, there are many guitar crafters at this trade show, and all of them are top notch.  This is one of them.... and he knows the value of public radio.

Just so you don’t think this convention is only about banjos, there are many guitar crafters at this trade show, and all of them are top notch. This is one of them…. and he knows the value of public radio.

And… lest you think that bluegrass musicians  don’t listen to anything but head-banging banjo music:

Driven is a bluegrass band from the mid-west.  Their slogan is "bluegrass without mercy".   There must be a public radio equivalent to that.

Driven is a bluegrass band from the mid-west. Their slogan is “bluegrass without mercy”.
There must be a public radio equivalent to that.

Public radio keeps you company.  Keeps you well-informed.  Makes you a more interesting person, and we hope NCPR can continue to bring out the best in you and our region.  Help us make  beautiful  music together–

by throwing a few bucks in our case.

Thank you from every one of us.

At IBMA: Postcard from the bluegrass trade show

If you’ve been reading the All In Blog this week, you already know that I’ve been attending the IBMA convention in Raleigh, NC.  Wednesday is the middle day of the conference, and one day closer to the IBMA awards gala, followed by a huge outdoor bluegrass street festival in downtown Raleigh.

There’s a lot of meet & greet here.  Cds and business cards exchanged.  Bands get booked.  Festival schedules get filled up for next summer.  Faces finally match up to the names.  Fame brushes anonymity.  Bands audition in every open space, for anyone that will listen.  Jam sessions pop up in every hallway.  Bands actually give concerts in the hotel suites.  Booking agents showcase their stables of talent for anyone wearing a name tag.  It’s bluegrass hospitality week on steroids.

My day was filled with seminars on how to improve your stage presence, your stage sound, your record label, understanding your insurance liability, copyright information, and just about everything else related to music performance and industry.

The bluegrass trade show opened today in the Raleigh Convention Center, and I thought I’d send a few photos along, since it’s impossible to capture it all in words.  There’s a little of everything:

... like bands looking for more exposure.

… like bands looking for more exposure.

... used instrument dealers.

… used instrument dealers.

Magazine subscriptions.

Magazine subscriptions.

 

... the Banjo Museum!

… the Banjo Museum!

 

Custom thumb picks.

Custom thumb picks.

Instrument stands.

Instrument stands.

Leather instrument straps.

Leather instrument straps.

… and a few non-musical vendors:
3 IBMA TRADE SHOW (15)

3 IBMA TRADE SHOW (3)

 

3 IBMA TRADE SHOW (2)

The IBMA has its merch booth here too:

3 IBMA Merch

 

.. and the networking continues on every flat surface in the area:

3 Networking Bulletin Board

I  collected new music from all of these folks:

 

Dan & Caroline Routh, a.k.a. Nu-Blu.

Dan & Caroline Routh, a.k.a. Nu-Blu.

 

 

Scott Anderson with his new cd, Tales from The Swamp.Scott Anderson with his new cd, Tales from The Swamp.

 

John Goad, a.k.a. the Bluegrass Weather Man, who is also a publicist for other acts, and a writer for Bluegrass Today.

John Goad, a.k.a. the Bluegrass Weather Man, who is also a publicist for other acts, and a writer for Bluegrass Today.

 

Tori Gold, from the 3 sisters band, Gold Heart.  Their new album is almost done, but Tori sent along a 2-track sample for you.

Tori Gold, from the 3 sisters band, Gold Heart. Their new album is almost done, but Tori sent along a 2-track sample for you.

Meet Driven - from the midwest - they are 'Bluegrass Without Mercy'.  Oh, Mercy!Meet Driven – from the midwest – they play ‘Bluegrass Without Mercy’.
Oh, Mercy!

Donna Hughes, with a new cd of original songs.

Donna Hughes.  Her new cd is called From The Heart.

Jim and Lynna Woolsey.  Their album is titled, The Road That Brings You Home.

Jim and Lynna Woolsey. Their album is titled The Road That Brings You Home.

It’s been a FULL day of meet & greet at IBMA.  The evenings and nights offer about 60 different concerts in a dozen different venues around Raleigh, with a free bus to take you from one event to the next. It’s called The Bluegrass Ramble…and a stalwart fan can ramble until about 2:30 in the morning, enjoying a different band every 45 minutes at most venues, then ramble off to a hotel suite and jam until dawn.

Thursday night is the biggest night of the week here:  the IBMA Awards.  You can stream the show live on your computer at www.IBMA.org, and tune in next week for the String Fever award winners show for this year.

Thanks for following me to Raleigh.  Wish you were here,  and I’ll see you soon on the radio!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give today, and maybe win the newest iPad tonight

ipadair2

Ooooh! Shiny!

We don’t want to eliminate the Fall Fundraiser, we just want to shrink it down a little bit. So start now and end early. As soon as we make our goal–$325,000–No mas! Done deal! Finito!

If that is before the on-air portion of of our fall campaign begins, great. If we end a day early or two, it’s all good. It’s time to give, right up until it we’re done.

But what’s in for me?” you might ask in your inside voice. Well, how about the newest iPad tablet computer. Everybody we hear from before the drawing on Friday is in the hat for a piece of gear so new it’s not in the stores yet, so awesome they haven’t decided whether to call it the iPad 6, or the iPad Air 2, or “The best thing since sliced bread.”

So here’s the deal:

Make your gift to NCPR now

Get your name in the hat for the latest iPad (and all the other drawings coming after) and help NCPR to be responsible stewards of your earlobes through reducing our self-promotional footprint.

Postcard: opening day at IBMA in Raleigh

I am attending the IBMA Convention in Raleigh, NC this week, and today was the official opening day.  Here are some of the highlights:

The city of Raleigh has made a huge effort to make bluegrass visitors feel welcome in "The City of Oaks".  These decals are strategically placed on the sidewalks in the downtown area, and there's bluegrass music playing from public speakers in  City Center.

The city of Raleigh has made a huge effort to make bluegrass visitors feel welcome in “The City of Oaks”. These decals are strategically placed on the sidewalks in the downtown area, and there’s bluegrass music playing from public speakers in City Center.  This decal is promoting the free city-wide bluegrass festival this weekend.

 

The front of the Raleigh Convention Center is decorated with this 2-story welcome sign.

The front of the Raleigh Convention Center is decorated with this 2-story welcome sign.

 

This is Sir Walter Raleigh - for whom the city is named.  His statue normally is unadorned (except for last year, when he had a huge banjo strapped over his shoulder).  This year, Sir Walter is decorated with an 'installation' of banjo parts - donated by the Deering Banjo Company - and designed by Bland Hoke.

This is Sir Walter Raleigh – for whom the city is named. His statue normally is unadorned (except for last year, when he had a huge banjo strapped over his shoulder). This year, Sir Walter is decorated with an ‘installation’ of banjo parts – donated by the Deering Banjo Company – and designed by Bland Hoke.

 

When I walked by, Bland Hoke was hand ironing the canvas skirting for the base of the statue.

When I walked by, Bland Hoke was hand ironing the canvas skirting for the base of the statue.

 

Here's a close-up of the banjo parts, re-purposed for the sake of art.

Here’s a close-up of the banjo parts, re-purposed for the sake of art.

These are banjo necks - all rejects - from the Deering Banjo Company.

These are banjo necks – all rejects – from the Deering Banjo Company.

Now it’s time for orientation:

IBMA board member Joe Lurgio filled us in on the logistics of the conference venues, music showcase locations, and all the free World of Bluegrass apps that can be downloaded on your phone (not my phone, unfortunately. I'm still carrying the print version).

IBMA board member Joe Lurgio filled us in on the logistics of the conference venues, music showcase locations, and all the free World of Bluegrass apps that can be downloaded on your phone (not my phone, unfortunately. I’m still carrying the print version).

My next meeting is hosted by Becky Buller, a bluegrass fiddler AND radio host.  Here she is, stumping for NCPR:

Becky Buller says, "It's Time To Give".

Becky Buller says, “It’s Time To Give”.

Next up: a couple of interviews, first with James Reams:

James Reams. Tune in to an upcoming  String Fever to hear our interview!

James Reams. Tune in to an upcoming String Fever to hear our interview!

Then Ira Gitlin.

 

Multi-instrumentalist Ira Gitlin.

Multi-instrumentalist Ira Gitlin.

A quick stop for a promo shot in the Convention Center lobby:

Yours truly.

Yours truly.

Then it’s time for the keynote address:

Meet Bela Fleck, world-renowned banjo player and composer, and our keynote speaker for this convention.  His message to all of us:  be yourself, because everybody else is already taken.  He infused his advice with some fun stories about some bluegrass icons.   After a standing ovation, it was time to seek out some more live music, which isn't difficult around here!

Meet Bela Fleck, world-renowned banjo player and composer, and our keynote speaker for this convention. His message to all of us: be yourself, because everybody else is already taken. He infused his advice with some fun stories about some bluegrass icons. After a standing ovation, it was time to seek out some more live music, which isn’t difficult around here!

Everyone seems to be very happy that this event now takes place in Raleigh.  It used to be held in Nashville.  Click on the link below to hear Chatham County Line, depicting the migration of bluegrass fans from Nashville to Raleigh with their song, Living In Raleigh Now…. enjoy:

Chatham County Line: Living In Raleigh Now.

So, the new home of bluegrass seems like a pretty good fit.  Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Bluegrass is hungry work: in the kitchen at IBMA in Raleigh

String Fever listeners hear a lot about the IBMA — International Bluegrass Music Association.  Every year the trade organization holds a week-long conference and music festival, providing opportunities for artists to connect with agents, DJs,  record labels, and their fans.  It also provides an opportunity for artists, DJs, agents, and other music industry folks to network with each other.

This is my second time around for IBMA week, now held in Raleigh, NC.  Folks here seem very courteous, warm and generous; the traffic isn’t too bad, and the weather is great.

A little later in the week I’ll tell about the people I’ve met, interviewed, and learned from, but for my first day in town, I volunteered to prepare food for a fundraising reception for Leadership Bluegrass, a professional training segment of IBMA which encourages greater participation and promotion of the bluegrass music genre. I’d like to participate in the class someday, but for this year, I volunteered in the kitchen.  This is where Day 1 in Raleigh begins for me:

I’m at the Raleigh, NC law firm of Williams-Mullen. They have offered to host our reception. This is one of the many conference rooms on the 17th floor, with beautiful views of the city.

I’m at the Raleigh, NC law firm of Williams-Mullen. They have offered to host our reception. This is one of the many conference rooms on the 17th floor, with beautiful views of the city.

It’s time to get to work, and the food is almost all set to go:

 

 I’ve been chopping, slicing, dicing (and shopping!). Things are looking pretty good here… and the view is amazing.


I’ve been chopping, slicing, dicing (and shopping!). Things are looking pretty good here… and the view is amazing.

This has been my view for most of today:

This is the catering kitchen - I wish we had one of these at NCPR!!

This is the catering kitchen – I wish we had one of these at NCPR!!

The crowd is gathering in that beautiful lobby.  The food is going over well, and bluegrass players, supporters, and alumni of Leadership Bluegrass are having a great time:

Plenty of networking going on here.

Plenty of networking going on here. These women are from all across the US.

Old friends are just arriving for the conference, and catching up.

Old friends are just arriving for the conference, and catching up.

 

Hey! Isn't that guy in the hat Bill Knowlton of WCnY in Syracuse?  Yes it is!  He's visiting with a friend from the Boston Union, a radio host & bluegrass photographer from Maine, and the band Nu-Blu from North Carolina. You never know who you come to IBMA week.

Hey! Isn’t that guy in the hat Bill Knowlton of WCNY in Syracuse? Yes it is! He’s visiting with a friend from the Boston Bluegrass Union, a radio host & bluegrass photographer from Maine, and the band Nu-Blu from North Carolina. You never know who you’ll run into during  IBMA week.

Meet The Bankesters, aour entertainment for the evening.  They're a family band - that you'll be hearing more of on String Fever!

Meet The Bankesters, our entertainers for the evening. They’re a family band  that you’ll be hearing more of on String Fever!

"Fill The Fiddle Case" was the theme of the reception. With money, that is.  In other words, bluegrass fans - through their love of the genre - have collectively created a 'bluegrass love child" ... and now it's time to pay child support to keep the next generation of bluegrass leaders moving forward.   Sound much like public radio??

“Fill The Fiddle Case” was the theme of the reception. With money, that is. In other words, bluegrass supporters need to keep the next generation of bluegrass leaders moving forward.
Sound much like public radio??

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen….

Meet Mary Burdette, my travel mate and hostess for this opening reception.

Meet Mary Burdette, my travel mate and hostess for this opening reception.

 

Now that the kitchen work is done, I’m ready to dig into some great bluegrass music and meet some new musical friends.  I’ll check back soon with another postcard from Raleigh.

Meanwhile, if you have a favorite musician you’d like me to interview, please email me – Barb@ncpr.org – and I’ll do my best to record it this week.  Check back here for more updates on what happened at the IBMA .

The annual IBMA Awards night is this Thursday — I’ll tell you ALL about it as soon as I can, and you can also stream the show live online via the IBMA website, IBMA.org. There are several other  award recipients that are recognized through the week, including new members of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame.  I’ll keep you posted.

See you on the radio, and thanks for tuning in!

1 IBMA Monday (1)

This blessing called Indian summer

The glory of fall and Indian summer. Photo by Peter Rufi, Creative Commons

A slice of Indian summer from 2005. Photo by Peter Rufi, Creative Commons

What a glorious week! Sunshine and delicious temperatures, against the backdrop of fall colors and the special quality of light that saturates our world this time of year.

This last gasp of warmth is often called Indian summer – more about that name in a second. And it really comes in handy too. A nice psychological boost, not to mention a final window of opportunity for weather-sensitive work.

Case in point: We had a deck repair that concluded the day before a two-week road trip. All that bare wood with winter on the horizon, not good! But no worries, I thought. It can be stained when we get back. Except that our return in mid-September was so cold and rainy people were turning their furnaces on. Darn it!

Thankfully, good old Indian summer did make an appearance. Nearly a whole week of sun, no rain and temps above any danger zone for the task at hand. I spent a few solid days sanding and staining and was very grateful that chance came. Of course, there’s more that needs doing in the garden too. But those chores still happen in the cold or the damp, however less pleasant doing it then may be.

Heres more on that term, from a .pdf supplement by Brian Pierce from the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

What is Indian Summer?

The first cold spell of the fall signifying the change of seasons makes many people long for Indian Summer. But what exactly is Indian Summer?

True Indian Summer is a period of abnormally warm weather following the first killing freeze of autumn. A killing freeze occurs when the overnight temperature reaches 28 degrees of cold…and may or may not occur with frost. Indian Summer typically occurs in mid to late autumn and can occur more than once.

In Europe…the equivalent of Indian Summer is termed Old Wives Summer or in poetry as Halcyon Days. In England…it is known as either St. Martin’s Summer or St. Luke’s Summer depending on the date of occurrence.

Apparently the term has become a standard term in English speaking countries. Indeed, the UK is enjoying an Indian summer this with mid-September temperatures that rival or exceed sunny Spain. This generated articles in the British press explaining that the term does not come from India, but (quite probably) from colonial days in North America.

One such explanatory item from the Guardian even cites an article from 1837 that expands on the term and its origins. A quote frequently used to source the term comes from Hector Saint John de Crèvecoeur, who wrote in 1778:

Sometimes the rain is followed by an interval of calm and warmth which is called the Indian Summer; its characteristics are a tranquil atmosphere and general smokiness.

But why call it Indian summer? Here’s what the Old Farmer’s Almanac says on that:

There are many theories. Some say it comes from the early Algonquian Native Americans, who believed that the condition was caused by a warm wind sent from the court of their southwestern god, Cautantowwit.

The most probable origin of the term, in our view, goes back to the very early settlers in New England. Each year they would welcome the arrival of a cold wintry weather in late October when they could leave their stockades unarmed. But then came a time when it would suddenly turn warm again, and the Native Americans would decide to have one more go at the settlers. “Indian summer,” the settlers called it.

A constant problem with Internet research is that so much of what is found simply copies and repeats sources, that may or may not be correct. So I throw this out to the collective and nuanced expertise of All In readership. Where do you think the term came from? Is it possibly offensive, as in the name of a Washington football team?

Whatever you call it, here’s to a grand spell of wonderful weather.

Quebec farm tries exotic crop: saffron

Crocus sativus plant, Peißnitzinsel, Germany. Image HeiWu, Creative Commons

Crocus sativus plant, Peißnitzinsel, Germany.
Image: HeiWu, Creative Commons

Do you cook with saffron? Me neither.

It’s rare and expensive. But then again “expensive” can also be worth growing yourself, or trying out as a cash crop.

I was surprised to read this recent CBC item about a farm in Quebec that’s giving saffron a try.

Pur Safran, located in the small Quebec village of St-Elie-de-Caxton, expects to harvest 450 to 500 grams of the precious spice before the end of October.

“We would like for Quebec to become self-sufficient in saffron production, because we can do it,”  said Pur Safran co-owner Nathalie Denault, who not only produces the spice, but teaches other potential growers the ropes.

Saffron comes from the reddish-orange stigmas of a particular crocus flower and is considered to be the most expensive spice in the world.

Crocus sativus, Atlas des plantes de France. 1891

Crocus sativus, Atlas des plantes de France. 1891

NPR’s food blog, The Salt, had an item in early September entitled: These 5 crops are still harvested by hand and it’s hard work. The foods listed were saffron, vanilla, chocolate, palm oil and cottonseed oil.

The tropical stuff isn’t going to do well around here. But saffron starts as a bulb and is pretty tough. Much of the world’s supply comes from places like Kashmir, which reportedly suffered severed damage to saffron production due to floods this year.

The Quebec saffron farm has a (French language) website Pursafran with more photos and info on their efforts. Saffron is famously associated with the yellow dish paella, but can also be used in many other recipes.

Actually, I did grow saffron from a few bulbs when I lived in Kars. It’s no harder than any other crocus. The hard part (for me) was remembering where I’d planted it and remembering to watch for the flowers and harvest the delicate stigma in the fall.

Having moved to North Gower, I can start that attempt again, if I mail order more bulbs and keep better track of where they are!

Harvesting saffron in Iran. Image:Safa.daneshvar reative Commons

Harvesting saffron in Iran. Image: Safa.daneshvar Creative Commons