Monday, August 29, 2005

I'm not really back - I'm actually in Martinsburg, WV, at the moment, using a "guest PC" in the Comfort Suites lobby. Yesterday we spent the afternoon at the Antietam battlefield, the one-day struggle that saw over 23,000 casualties (and in the context of a far smaller nation), at least half of them fatal. Not unlike Gettysburg or Manasas - it reminds me more of the latter, visually, because of the rolling hills - having turned this site of carnage into a park filled with historic markers has transformed it into one of eery pastoral beauty. This was the first battle ever documented by camera - also the first to use ambulances to evacuate the wounded - and many of our mental images of the Civil War can be traced to Matthew Brady's assistants here. The absolute horror of hundreds of bodies rotting in "Bloody Lane" is jarringly unlike the beautiful tree-lined path it is today.

Then we spent the evening at Shepherdstown, at a recording of a show of Mountain Stage that will be broadcast sometime in October. The Alison Brown Band (with Joe Craven & John Doyle sitting in) and an Italian folk group from the Emilia Romagna region, Fiamma Fumana , were beyond fantastic. That old time bagpipe, accordian, synthesizer combination is pretty hard to beat. Jessica Lombardi of Fiamma Fumana carries the flute like a light saber & plays the rockingest bagpipes I ever saw. Suzzy & Maggie Roche and Beth Nielsen Chapman were fun also. Doyle did his own fine set with a great 16-year-old violinist from North Carolina. And Bob Thompson of the house band did a version of a Coltrane tune on the piano that I hope doesn't disappear when Larry Groce and his engineers edit the three-hour event to the one-hour 58 minute product that will be broadcast over PRI.

Today marks the third anniversary of my very first weblog entry, an idea I similarly got while "vacating" mind & body, in that case on Brier Island, Nova Scotia. I've been doing a lot of reading, some playing of games, sight seeing & sleeping what for me are very long hours indeed. Later today we head over to Bethany Beach, Delaware, for another week of vegetation.

Will someone tell Jim Behrle - whose play I have nothing to do with, tho I'm more amused than appalled - that my beard is far too short these days for a swatch of anything? He'll have to concoct his voodoo with something else.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The 2005 NewSong Contest Co-Winners are: K.J. DENHERT, Ossining, New York. She was also picked to perform on today's Mountain Stage NewSong show. DANIEL LEE, Oakton, Va. MICHAEL SHERIDAN, Portland, Oregon MEG HUTCHINSON, Cambridge, MA. CLINT COLLINS, Bluefield, W.Va. 'BEST SONG': "Washington Street," by JONATHAN POINTER, Los Angeles. Having watched the finals last night, I have only a couple of quibbles with the selections. Antje Duvekot, an honorable mention, was slotted in at the last moment when another finalist was unable to perform - I thought she was terrific. Michael Sheridan's two-man group - acoustic guitar & saxophone - was the bravest musical combination. The group name is Michael Meanwhile. They're not to be missed, and neither is Daniel Lee, the most energetic guitar player I've ever seen (and I do mean ever).