Friday, August 27, 2010

Mountain Man

<a href="">Soft Skin by Mountain Man</a>

Mountain Man, a trio of three  beautiful young women, were a unexpected treat and a highlight of my festival experience and I want to share them with you.  They and their voices in harmony (with simple guitar at times) were an authentic breath of fresh air that literally brought tears to my eyes.  I bought their cd, Made the Harbor to take with me so I can try to recreate the magic moment of hearing something so sincere. Go hear them if you ever see that they are in your neck of the woods.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Solid Sound Festival, curated by WILCO

I've been wanting to write about my experience at the Solid Sound Festival two weekends ago but having house guests during the festival then leaving for a whirlwind vacation during the last day totally made it hard for me to sit down and write my thoughts.  I'm home and it's a rainy day.  I can reminisce now.

The festival was unlike any music festival I've ever been to because it was SO multidisciplinary.  It was not just about music.  It was a festival of the arts.  I loved that at any given moment during the program there were so many choices to witness.  It was hard to chose what I wanted to be a part of and I wish I could have been omnipresent and taken it all in.  The galleries at MassMOCA were open for viewing, there were comedy performances, live music performances, live theater, puppetry, special workshops given by some members of WILCO, specially selected movies to view, good food and lots of drinks to choose from.  

For two days I was a part of something big, yet accessible, connected and thought out and I liked that.  I felt like I was living and breathing the arts and I enjoyed being part of a bigger thing that made available the witnessing of other artist's ideas, talents, energy and creativity.  

Usually music festivals are so predictable.  You walk around from stage to stage, pushing through crowds of people, trying to take in different acts and maybe in between musicians and group performances you grab a beer or a bite to eat.  Solid Sound was totally different.  The campus of Mass MOCA was our playground for the entire weekend.  We could be inside one of the redesigned, old industrial buildings, outside at the dining and drinking patio, we could be in a myriad of industrial courtyards with colorful lighting, interesting textures and sculptural installations, there were indoor state of the art performance theaters, an outdoor movie screen, outdoor stages and one big grassy field with a big stage for the headlining acts, Mavis Staples and WILCO. 

Personal highlights for me were....
...seeing Kristen Schaal's live comedy.  I laughed so hard during her last skit I was crying. 
...Mountain Man's exquisite set of three part harmony singing (more to come on them later)
...viewing WILCO's poster art in one of the gallery spaces
...unexpectedly walking past John Stirratt (bassist for WILCO) twice early Friday evening 
...witnessing Mavis Staples own the stage with such grace and power
...being about 20 feet away and dead center in front of Jeff Tweedy during WILCO's killer, over 2 hour long, set.  They put on a fabulous show.  I was thrilled to witness what monsters/masters Nels Cline (electric guitar) and Glenn Kotche (drums) were on their instruments.

THANK YOU WILCO FOR A FESTIVAL LIKE NO OTHER!  I hope you do it again next year!

Here are some photo's from Friday evening before it got dark and the space filled up with people:

Monday, August 23, 2010

10 Fabulous Architecture+Design Highlights in Toronto

Josh and I just returned from a full and busy trip to Toronto and while we were there we explored a lot of sights.  I was struck with how architectural and design elements threaded different parts of the city together in an interesting way.  I love how contemporary architectural elements juxtapose against and mix with older styles in Toronto.  Here's what I'm talking about...

1.  The view down from the glass floor of the CN Tower.  (My knees were shaking as we took the glass elevator that looks out on the skyline up over 340 meters).
2.  The CN Tower in the distance and a black and white building on colorful stilts which is part of the Ontario College of Art and Design.
3.  Victorian and Contemporary as neighbors
4.  Steel tree trunk like supports hold up a vaulted glass ceiling which connects old and new buildings.  Standing here was reminiscent of standing in a Gothic cathedral.
 5.  A spiral staircase in the Art Gallery of Ontario
6.  Store front in the design district
7.  The Royal Ontario Museum in between older buildings that house Toronto's orchestra and performance space.
8.  Entrance to the Royal Ontario Museum
9.  Tables and chairs at the Distillery Historic District
10. An alien being watched over a sitting area

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lake Champlain Twilight

Here are 3 pictures taken from a lookout on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain over a period of 10 or so minutes.  I love how the color changes and deepens as the sun sets further below the horizon.  It was a perfectly beautiful late summer evening.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Travel Bug

Oh my, as I enter my blog I glance at the last post date and feel a bit disappointed in myself for not posting anything in over two weeks.  I love being home but I feel that my busy daily routines in summer are not conducive to blogging.  So many other projects call to me when I'm at home plus earning my daily bread factors in to the mix.  It takes getting away for me to sit in a more focused way and post an item or two.  Ok, apologies over (and yes, they're more for myself than anyone else I'm sure) and on to a new entry.

I'm on the road again after a whirlwind weekend spent attending WILCO's Solid Sound Festival at MassMOCA in North Adams.  I had friends staying at our home and on Friday and Saturday I road to the festival with them.  The festival was a great and magical time and I'll dedicate my next post to that occasion.

We drove up to Burlington, Vermont yesterday and what a beautiful drive it was.  The day was cool and overcast and as we headed north the landscape gently turned to a lovely lush green.  I'm saying this because in my area we are experiencing a big drought and I've become accustomed to brownish, parched looking vegetation.

In a way, this a kind of homecoming for me.  I was born in the Champlain Valley over on the other side of the lake, in Plattsburg NY.  It really is beautiful up here!  In my head flashes of old memories and photographs that my parents took while we lived up here run through my head.  We moved away from here when I was three back around 1978/79.  I believe that we hold places within ourselves... feelings, memories, essences.  So, I look forward to heading out shortly to wander around the town of Burlington, meet with an old high school friend and reconnect with the big lake.  On Wednesday morning we will take the ferry across the lake to Plattsburg as we head onward to Toronto.

I'll leave you now with a good taste in your mouth.  Here's a nice photo of an awesome lunch I had yesterday in Brandon, VT at the Cafe Provence.  Pan seared scallops wrapped in smoked salmon served over polenta with a parsley cream sauce and a topping of green asparagus spears.  Yum.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Desert Hideaway

I was at a party this past Thursday night and talked with friends that I'm getting to know better a little bit at a time.  You know how it is when you're getting to know someone...  you share with each other and slowly reveal yourself and your history.  The subject of Southern California came up a couple of times in our conversations since Josh and I lived there right after we got married for 3 1/2 years.  The conversations got me to thinking that...

I often reminisce of our time in San Diego since there were so many special qualities to being way out west.  The pacific ocean was 15 minutes away, we could be across the border in Mexico in just a half hour, the LA metropolis was 3 hours away on a good day, the mountains east were a gateway to the desert which was only an hour and a half away. 

I was telling my friends that my ideal living situation would be to live here in western Massachusetts mid-April through mid-January then spend the rest of the time in the desert somewhere in Southern California.  Perhaps out in Anza-Borrego or in Joshua Tree.

I really love the desert.  There is something so timeless, haunting, big, heightened and magical about the desert landscape.  Being surrounded by the desert gives me feelings like nothing else.  Possibility looms, openness abounds outside but mirrors itself within.

I'd like to share some of my favorite photographs taken by me during a weekend trip to Joshua Tree back in the spring of 2005.
The motel where we stayed... I highly recommend it.   Spin and Margie's Desert Hideaway

 Joshua Tree at twilight.  Magical.

I had to include the rock that looks like an eagle head, taken the next day in the bright sunshine.