Monday, January 19, 2015

Private Show by a Generous Guy

A couple weeks ago I went to some banjo workshops that Richie Stearns taught as part of the Winter Village Bluegrass Music Camp: Bluegrass and Beyond.  We were the "and Beyond" with our old-time, clawhammer style played on open back banjos.  The whole thing was pretty frustrating for me; while I might be able to play a bunch of tunes relatively well and survive in a jam, I'm a slow learner and didn't pick things up fast enough to walk away with much more than a stronger realization of what I need to work on to really get somewhere in my playing.
To appease my damaged ego I thought I'd so something nice for someone else and asked Richie to visit Mary Ellen and play some tunes for her, and being one of the nicest guys ever he didn't hesitate to say yes.  So a couple days later he drove up to Hospicare with his banjo and to the delight of Mary Ellen, me, a family member of another resident and the very fine nurse and former Rongo (where I fell in love with Richie's playing) owner Mary Ott, we got to hear a bunch of songs we requested, some Richie picked out, had plenty of wonderful chit chat, and the promise of a return with the very talented and sweet Rosie Newton sometime to do the songs we asked for but Richie couldn't do because they are the ones Rosie sings.
I had my camera and took some video, but it's not great and I was trying to be "in the moment," just holding Mary Ellen's hand and listening and not worrying about getting the best shot, so most of it is taken from behind Richie without Mary Ellen in view. 
Fortunately there is youtube, and plenty of good video to give you an idea of what Richie is like if you don't know.  After he played a song I was hesitant to request but Mary wanted, Mary Ellen turned to me and said, "When I pass I want you to post a link to that on the Caringbridge site."  I dare say it's the song people around here say is their favorite more than any other.  No need to wait for her to pass, she's pretty stubborn about that and it could be quite some time, I'm linking to it here.  I like this version, one because it's with Rosie on fiddle, and two because it's shot by a friend I know from the Great Blue Heron Festival and I can here his giddy laugh at the beginning.  "Ribbons and Bows"
Here's another song he did for us, again shot by Steve, this time actually at Blue Heron. "I Am With You Always"
Now if I can just find a version of "Everywhere You Go" with the line "You are my brother and my friend..." that he did for us.  He usually does it on guitar but did a fine job on banjo, Mary Ellen told him if he screwed up she wouldn't "fire or refuse to pay him."
Thanks Richie, for being so talented and generous with your talent.  And thanks Mary Ellen for your graciousness and being generous with your spirit.  I love you both so much and treasure the influence you've had on my life.

Private Show by a Generous Guy


Mary Ellen alternated between listening with her eyes closed and giving me smiles that let me know I'd achieved one of my finest moments.
Richie alternated between singing with his eyes closed and giving me looks that let me know he was doing what he loves doing most, and that he has no shortage of finest moments.  Thankfully I've been around for lots of them.

Private Show by a Generous Guy

video
Here's most of a song called "Waterbound" that Dirk Powell wrote and a little indication of how low quality my camera is for video.  Mary Ellen remembered Dirk was the whole band for Joan Baez when she played the State Theater show we went to together a few years ago.  Not the show that led to the famous Bar Angus event, the other one, where I got sick of a woman shouting, "We love you Joanie!" every time it was quiet so one time beat her to the punch and yelled, "We love you Dirk!"  One of my finest moments.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Neighborhood Highlights


A nice snowfall between Thanksgiving and Christmas got us out on the skis a couple times. It also got me singing a song I love at this time of year, the first written by Richie Stearns when he was a wee lad.  For the record, I'm not tired of standing on this cold, cold ground.
Gail, Darby and I did the Rec Way and I was able to get into the woods adjacent to Six Mile Creek too.  After they turned back towards home I went down to check out the progress on the upgrades to Ithaca's water supply.  The bottom picture is the new infrastructure at the dam and reservoir.  They will be adding some chemicals to the water when it's pumped out of the creek that will mix in on the way to the water treatment plant.  They also built a landing area that will facilitate the dredging that's been put off for many years but needs to be done or we'll calling the reservoir a puddle someday.

Neighborhood Highlights

There's a pretty famous short story called "Lopper Man" about a guy who goes around trimming bushes and tree branches that obstruct the sidewalks in his city, I don't remember the author but it's worth reading if you can find it.  If you can't, contact me and I'll see if I can help you out.
We had neighbors who never trimmed the hedges along the sidewalk and rarely shoveled the walk in winter.  Since we live on a street with a pedestrian bridge at the end of it this has always bugged me (and many others I'm sure) to the point I would shovel a path past their property so at least I could walk by without it being icy from the packed snow, but I never did anything about the hedge. 
When new folks bought the house and started working their asses off to make up for 20 years of neglect I thought all would be good again.  They trimmed the hedge, but never quite got it off the sidewalk, and the first winter they had to move for a job so they rented out the house and thought they'd contracted someone to shovel.  It never got shoveled except when I did it and then contacted them and they found out the person they were paying wasn't doing it.
Recently there was an article in the paper about handicapped people and issues they have with sidewalk obstructions and I used it to my advantage by sending it to the homeowners and offering to cut the hedge myself to help everyone out.  I'm like that ya' know.
Three and a half hours of trimming and you can see the dark area on the sidewalk that had hedges draped over for over a decade.  Of course Bean has to pee on the telephone pole most of the time so we still walk to the left, but Gail and I can now remain hand-in-hand when we walk by together.

Neighborhood Highlights

One of the nice aspects of walking back and forth from Hospicare on King Rd. to our house is that it's mostly through Cornell and Ithaca College natural areas.  This is mostly new territory for me despite being so close, and I really hadn't spent much time there.  That's certainly changed, now I stop for this view of Cayuga Lake quite often.  At night all the lights of Cornell and Collegetown are visible through the trees to the right.  Really looking forward to snow to ski on many of the trails up there.  For now it's a nice walk and time to think.
Gail and I usually create a card to send to friends and family (some people are both) that we get lots of positive feedback on but this year just didn't get any creative inspiration.  We tend to make it a holiday card because we're devoted libtards who are waging a war on Christmas, but also because we send them to people who don't celebrate Christmas.
I've been looking at this picture of all the Mary's in the family who were gathered for my mom's 80th birthday party and decided to refresh my Fireworks Program skills and goof around with a little idea I got from it.  I like it.
And Happy Kwanza.