beers, a love story

"11 - beer festival" by Dave Morris
“11 – beer festival” by Dave Morris

I drink beer because I’m a librarian. Or, more accurately, I started drinking beers with my library school classmates in grad school. Mainly because bars in Lexington (Kentucky) didn’t carry wine coolers or Zima. Yeah. It was that bad.

I remember my first NASIG conference in 2002. We were staying in dorm rooms and meeting in classrooms at the College of William & Mary. Back then, NASIG had a tradition of having an evening social with snack food and buckets of iced beer (and probably wine, too, but I definitely wasn’t drinking that then). One of my sharpest memories from the conference is of fishing out a Corona Light because it was all that was left by the last night of the conference. And discovering Purple Haze with Bonnie at the Green Leafe Cafe.

The next year we were in Portland, Oregon. I was introduced to many craft beers, and my journey towards becoming a beer snob was set.

Three years in Washington state taught me to appreciate well-balanced hoppy beer, which was hard to find my first year back on the East Coast. But I soon discovered Mekong, and began my now four-year romance with Belgian beers.

Most recently, I’ve discovered that I do like sour beers, and I suspect that is part of the reason why I’m incorporating more wine into my beverage consumption. That, and maybe the semi-regular meetups with a friend (also a librarian) at Virginia wineries.

Librarians. Who knew they were such lushes?

ER&L: You’ve Flipped – the implications of ejournals as your primary format

Speaker: Kate Seago

In 2005, her institution’s were primarily print-based, but now they are mostly electronic. As a graduate of the University of Kentucky’s MLIS program, this explains so much. I stopped paying attention when I realized this presentation was all about what changed in the weird world of the UK Serials Dept, which has little relevance to my library’s workflows/decisions. I wish she had made this more relatable for others, as this is a timely and important topic.

and am I born to die?*

My father recently attended the 2008 Ohio State Sacred Harp Convention. Over the past nine years or so, he’s become one of the shape note (Sacred Harp in particular) fanatics who will travel all over the region to attend big singings. He loves it, but I find those types of singings to be terrifying.

When I began to sing shape note music, it was with a small Sacred Harp group in Lexington (Kentucky) that met monthly. They were very casual and spent time learning the songs. Eventually, I ended up signing with an even more casual group that met weekly. It was fun and I became a better singer because of it.

At some point, I attended the statewide singing in Kentucky, and it was such an overwhelming and frustrating experience that I never wanted to go back to anything like that again. They sang songs I didn’t know too fast for me to even think of learning them. What kind of fun is that except for the handful of speed demons who may have known the tunes? What kind of community does that build? What kind of worship experience?

The thing is, the Sacred Harp is named thusly because all of the words are based in Biblical scripture. Shape note singing is fun, but it’s also kind of like being at church, and for a long time, it was the only place where I felt safe enough to be in the mental state of worship. No matter who you were or where you came from, if you wanted to sing with us, you could sing with us, judgment-free.

Maybe my father can experience that at the big singings because he is a shape note fanatic. He has audio files and CDs of recordings of songs, and listens to them to help learn them. He also practices at home, reading from the songbook and beating out the measures until he knows the tunes well enough to lead them.

I could do that, but frankly, I’d rather have that worshipful, musical experience with others than practicing alone. If that means I don’t do it very often, and on my own terms, then I guess that’s what I’ll have to do.

* This is the first line of Idumea, my father’s favorite tune.

#5

Puss ‘n Cahoots: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery by Rita Mae Brown

Meh. I’ve been a fan of the Mrs. Murphy series from book one, and this is the first to disappoint me. The author spent more time describing the setting and the technical elements of saddlebred horse shows than on character development or suspense. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem because most of the rest of the books take place in one area (Crozet, Virginia) and with some of the same characters throughout.

Brown usually has only a handful of newcomers to introduce and maybe one or two new locations. However, this time all of the action takes place in Kentucky, and the only constant characters are Harry, Fair, Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and Tee Tucker. Everyone else is new, and frankly by the end of the story I could care less about what happens to them.

I guess this is one problem with long-running book series — there is an expectation that each book will be as good as or better than the last one, but sometimes the author can’t deliver on that promise.

petticoat, petticoat

This up-and-coming pair of singer/songwriters are creating modern tunes that are reminiscent of 1960’s pop, rock, and folk.

cover of Every Mother's ChildYou might not know it, but Lexington and Louisville (Kentucky) are hotbeds of modern music. The bands and solo artists range from country and folk to rock and pop, with all sorts of variations and experimental genres in between. One such group is Lexington-based Petticoat, Petticoat, who create songs that are reminiscent of 1960’s pop, rock, and folk.

The core of the band is Kristin Messina (vocals/harmonica) and Dickie Haydon (guitar/vocals/keyboards/harmonica). The rest of the band members vary over time. For the purposes of this review, you may be interested to know that Scott Overall (drums/percussion) and Jackson Silvanik (bass) appear on Every Mother’s Child (Kalmia Records). Kristin Messina and Dickie HaydonThis is Petticoat, Petticoat’s first album, which surprised me because it is so good I expected that they would have had several previous recordings to fine-tune their studio skills in order to produce this one.

Haydon is the primary lyricist, and he stays firmly in the realm of rock and pop lyrics, never straying too far into the storytelling of folk. Regardless of the style of music that is used to dress the song, Hadyn keeps the message simple and direct. He sings “you’ve got tank tops and orange tans / and we’re bathing all dressed in sand / give me your longest finger / ’cause I’ve got a ring for your hand” in one of the verses of “Crosshair,” and the rest of the album isn’t much more complicated than that. Compared to some of the pretentious lyricism prevalent in indie music, it is refreshing to hear someone writing straightforward lyrics while maintaining the poetry of the form.

One of the highlights of Every Mother’s Child is the waltzing “Love In An Alley,” which shows off the warm tones of Messina’s vocals. Another gem from the album is “We’re Gonna Be Poor.” The song is a blues-rock romp through the economical trials and tribulations of musical couples. “Maria the Tour Guide” is a sun-drenched acoustic pop for modern-day hippies. Finally, “Glittering Heels” concludes the album with the satisfying crash of electric guitar and percussion that is guaranteed to make pop-rock fans squee with delight.

Every Mother’s Child is a promising beginning for Petticoat, Petticoat. I look forward to hearing what they will do next.

If you want a copy of the album, you’re going to have to order it directly from the record label or pick it up at one of their shows.

An Interview with Susan Werner

“I believe that we can be a diverse society of extraordinary creativity and innovation and vitality and freedom, and those things are the best things that we can be.”

Susan Werner, PatriotMy introduction to the music of Susan Werner was in the fall of 1999 when a friend who produced a local acoustic music radio show lent me copies of Time Between Trains and Last of the Good Straight Girls. I was instantly enchanted with the sincerity and wit that Werner brings to her music. Her last album was a thematic collection of songs that sound like they are from the 20s and 30s, but are all orginal and new. Recently, Werner made available for download a song she describes as an alternative national anthem. “This is a song that takes the National Anthem and turns it on his head,” says Werner. “It’s Francis Scott Key meets Arlo Guthrie.” I had the pleasure of speaking with Werner about the song a few weeks ago.

Continue reading “An Interview with Susan Werner”

the pen

Music for the literate masses.

John McCutcheon - Mightier Than the SwordBefore I listened to Mightier Than the Sword, my experience with John McCutcheon’s music consisted of one track from his 1987 Step by Step, which featured the hammer dulcimer. The song is “Babylon is Fallen,” which is an old Sacred Harp tune, and one of my favorites to sing. When I bought that CD some years ago, I was singing with a shape note group in Kentucky. Now I’m in Washington, surprised to discover that this hammer dulcimer player is also a guitar-playing contemporary singer/songwriter of repute.

Mightier Than the Sword first attracted my attention because of its theme. McCutcheon has been a voracious reader for most of his life, and the themes from the books he read found their ways into his songs. For this recording, he took that a step further and collaborated with willing authors to write a collection of songs inspired by a particular book or poem of each author. I haven’t read any of the works that inspired this recording, but after having listened to it, I feel like I know the essences of them.

Continue reading “the pen”

feeling empty

Wishing Chair
I spent the past four days with my friends Kiya & Miriam. They’re in a folk-roots band called Wishing Chair, which I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog. They flew out here on Thursday, and until this morning, I was their driver for the PNW part of their west coast tour. Despite the hours spent in my cramped and crowded Toyota Tercel, it was wonderful to be with them. Now they’ve gone on to the Northern California portion of their tour, and I feel empty. I have to re-adjust to being alone. To living in a place where all of my relationships are new and without the depth of the friendships I left behind in Kentucky and elsewhere.

I have to keep reminding myself of the joy of this past weekend. I produced a show here on Sunday. Wishing Chair has arranged some of their songs to be performed by/with a women’s choir. The concert included two of those songs performed by/with the Ellensburg Women’s Chorus, of which I am a member. It was amazing to be up on stage with my fellow choir members, singing Wishing Chair songs. Normally, I’m just sitting in the audience quietly singing along. This time I was up there with them. With my friends.

wishing chair

I’m in Kentucky this weekend, visiting old friends and celebrating with my friends Kiya and Miriam of the band Wishing Chair. They’ve been making music together for ten years and are releasing their sixth CD. I’ve had Underdog on repeat in the rental car as I drive around from here to there over the past twenty-four hours, and I must say, it rocks my world. I am biased, but I also know good music. This is good music. Support my friends and support independent music by picking up a copy for yourself (and/or your loved ones).

this land is your land

A geographic meme, courtesy of Sorcha. Also, places where US paper currency I have spent in the past four and a half years have gone.

bold the states you’ve been to, underline the states you’ve lived in and italicize the state you’re in now…

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.