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secret agent man

Sitting next to me at the Daniel Lanois show was a guy who looked surprisingly like Buddy Miller. I had seen Buddy a few times, and spoke with him at last year’s SXSW. The same baseball hat. Unruly white hair bouncing out underneath it.Daniel LanoisDaniel Lanois

Daniel Lanois is in a mold all his own as both a producer and guitarist. A drummer appears behind him, and the new buddy next to me turns and says, “this is going to be one great show. That drummer is Brian Blade. He’s from Shreveport Louisiana. He has a brother who is also a great drummer.”

little or no compromise

James McMurtry has fierce dedication. SXSW began for me at the Coqueroo showcase at Mother Egan's. Small stage on the patio behind a deck with crowded tables. There is a chatter about the crowd. At a showcase of songwriters it seems a bit odd the songs take a back seat to the scene. James McMurtry stares down the chatter. His writing doesn't give in to commercial radio boundaries. In a moment, a song, he silences the crowd. There can be great power in uncompromised personal vision.

China trip I

In less than four months, I’m flying off to China to sing in the Pre-Olympic International Choral Festival with the Rochester Oratorio Society. My group will be first U.S. choir in history to perform in Beijing’s Great Hall of People, a venue usually reserved for political events.

To get ready for the trip, I’m learning new music and reading Fodor’s latest travel guide. But nothing captures the spirit of a place like a novel or movie.

Moon Man Latin

A faithful, sharp-eyed reader of this blog pointed out that in my recent post about singing, I never translated the Latin phrase from Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, “Tu devicto mortis aculeo.” This bugged her.

So here it is. It means “having blunted the sting of death.”

Welcome to Open Tunings

In this first entry, it is the night before going to Austin for the South by Southwest Festival. At this point we have only a rough idea of which of the 1,700 bands to try to see. It all begins tomorrow, Wednesday, afternoon with the Conqueroo Showcase at Mother Egan's on 6th Street. Afternoon showcases are sponsored by recording companies and promoters to feature the artist they represent. Very relaxed settings...

Tomorrow night the fun begins.

National Nutrition Month

Food and nutrition certainly seem to be in every headline that you see anymore and since March is National Nutrition Month, I thought I would share some resources and ideas for helping picky eaters try new (and hopefully healthy or healthier) foods.

Here are 3 of my favorite resources/ideas that just might help your picky eater turn into an eating explorer:

Echoes

Last week writer Rob Staeger offered his funny assessment of the radio show Echoes, calling it “music to scrape the guardrail by.” Host John Diliberto wrote back. He's on the prowl for Echoes-related cliches.

Hear Echoes on Friday and Saturday nights on WXXI from 9:00 – 11:00 p.m.

More thoughts on singing

In the middle of the concert, I suddenly realized I had no idea what I was singing. “Tu devicto mortis aculeo.” Activate dimly-remembered high school Latin. “Mortis.” That’s death. OK. That’s sad. But what if it’s victory over death or something? I study the conductor for clues. Normally leaning forward with a look of hawkish concentration, he’s tilted back on his heels, torso curved, mouth open, eyes half-closed. He looks enraptured, like the sound is a glittery syrup filling his spinal column. Arms swirl. No clues there. I slice a look to the tenors for help. Andy and Dennis are leaning forward, singing intently, expressions neutral. I reset my features and turn the page of Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna. I’m blanking out.

Mordecai Update

Two days after announcing his retirement, Mordecai stopped by the office today to check his mail. He's getting a steady flow of calls, e-mails, and cards. He joked that he was proud to be lining the bottoms of birdcages, since he was in the local paper yesterday.

I feel happy for him, but sad, too. I grew up listening to him. For a generation of Western New Yorkers, he’s as endearing as Mr. Rogers.
Mordecai LipshutzMordecai Lipshutz Philip LarkinPhilip Larkin

Music in our Schools Month

Music in Our Schools Month needs a serious overhaul. First of all, the phrase itself - used to describe a national, month-long festival of in-school performances - generates as much heat as Administrative Professionals Day, Root Canal Awareness Week, and Better Sleep Month combined. It smells like community service. It calls up images of gymnasiums awash with sweaty 6th graders, parents lolling like walruses on a beach. I hereby suggest that music teachers put their heads together and come up with a new title, one that preferably includes the words "righteous," "awesomemest," and "sweet."

Keep reading.