Posts Tagged ‘Vermont’

august first – on october first

September 24, 2011

at mad river glen

It’s been one crazy month, for sure. I left my job of seven years as the classical Director of Programming at Vermont Public Radio on September 9th. It was hard to do. There were so many things left to be done, and goodbyes to say to too many great friends to count.

You’d better believe every one of those special friendships is coming with me.

For the new chapter I’ve accepted a position in Boston, working as the Music Director of WGBH-Classical New England. So, since the 9th, my days have been consumed with packing, cleaning, organizing, and using every means possible to come up with a place to live in the city. No luck yet on that but I think I’m finally getting close – you can imagine it’s not easy with cats.

My writing here has necessarily slowed down too for now, but that won’t last – just wait ’til I get to Boston!

Along with all the moving stuff, another thing I’ve been working on recently is getting everything together for my upcoming show at August First bakery in downtown Burlington. I committed to doing it last June, and decided to follow through with it even after the Boston opportunity came up and my whole world began to change quite suddenly. This will be my first solo show(!) and I’ve picked out a wide selection of fall-inspired images for it: leaves, cows, horses, …Vermont at its beautiful best.

I hope you’ll be able to stop by sometime during October. You might want to make it a Friday night – that’s flatbread night at the bakery with a flat price for all you can eat of their eclectic, fresh, interesting offerings. A coffee date would be nice too, maybe in the mid-afternoon when the golden light is just right and the bakery’s own signature blend can take the edge off the new autumn chill.

Oh yeah, and – you didn’t really think I’d pass up a prime chance to make a poetry connection here, did you? You know me better than that. If you wonder where the name of the bakery comes from, it’s inspired by the typically touching Hayden Carruth poem of the same name. Which also explains the ubiquitous geraniums on the bakery’s windowsill…all the more reason to love August First and support its vision.

Here’s a preview of some of the pictures in the show, you’ll have to see the others in person. Come on by!

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in the aftermath

August 31, 2011

There is so much to say about the flooding from the last few days here in Vermont. Here are a few good places you can check for the latest updates:

Burlington Free Press

Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus

VT Digger

Vermont Public Radio’s storm damage coverage page

This blog isn’t about hard news, it wasn’t really created to be a forum for that kind of discussion. Not that it can’t be, but for the most part I am usually just focusing on those areas that don’t get attention from mainstream media: unique festivals, cool new recordings, local talent and concerts, international music.

Now that the flood waters are receding I’ve been noticing how the landscape has been transformed in both terrible AND, yes, beautiful ways. Today I discovered an entire area near the Winooski River near Richmond, VT where the water lines from the flood were well into the lower tree branches aroud the wetland: anywhere from 7-10 feet above where they normally are. The entire forest floor was a strangely serene scene of ghostly, wrecked beauty.

This blog is also about beauty, wherever it may be found. Here are some photos I took today as the residual floodwaters from Tropical Storm Irene are subsiding.

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three feet high and rising.

August 30, 2011

This past May you might recall an article here that was devoted to thoughts and photos from the spring flooding, along Lake Champlain…it was called “how high’s the water, mama?” and turned out to be one of my most popular posts. There are just some things that pictures can express better than words. At the time it seemed like that was a sort of final look at flooding in this area, at least for a while.

That all changed two days ago when Tropical Storm Irene swept up the East Coast, leaving devastating floods in its wake.

Vermont has been the hardest hit of the states touched by Irene. As I write this, Tuesday afternoon Aug. 30th, three people are confirmed dead and a fourth is still missing. Thousands of people are out of power, and thousands more are still displaced. Thirteen Vermont towns are isolated, with all of the roads around them being washed out. Three of the state’s historic covered bridges were also swept away in the deluge, along with untold numbers of homes, businesses, and personal property.

Here are some resources if you can volunteer, or if you need help:

#VTResponse – tag for volunteer information & requests

American Red Cross – VT/NH chapter

The Seven Days ‘blurt’ blog: How to Help

The VT Volunteer Resource blog

Road Conditions in Vermont

Vermont Public Radio’s storm coverage and stories

MSNBC Irene photo blog

It was strange and surreal to wake up yesterday morning to brilliant blue skies dotted by perfect puffs of white clouds – one of the prettiest VT days I can recall. The storm had passed, leaving behind a crystalline day with perfect temps in the 70s – and that was the backdrop, against which the shocking videos, photos, and personal stories from the storm began to emerge.  My own photos from the last couple of days are below.

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playlist #170 (8/29/11)-after the storm

August 30, 2011

World of Music
Pgm #170 – Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene made its way up the East Coast yesterday. Vermont has been the state hardest hit by flooding, with three confirmed dead, thousands out of power, thousands more displaced, and entire towns destroyed and cut off due to washed out roads and bridges. Today’s show is dedicated to the incredible people of my home state as we try to recover from this disaster. (The thumbnails above are all from photos I’ve taken over the last couple of days. There are no words to describe the breadth of this situation.)

I’m also sad to say this my last program, as life is taking me to Boston for a new job. It has been my great pleasure for nearly three years to share Monday afternoons with you and groove to great tunes at The Radiator (community radio 105.9FM in Burlington, VT and online at Check it out.)

And a great many thanks to everyone who makes the station possible: volunteers, staff, underwriters, and…you, the community. Here’s my last “World of Music” playlist.
Nas with Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry: Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling) / Open Remix / (download) – (USA / SENEGAL)
Langston Hughes: Our Souls Have Grown Deep Like The Rivers / Our Souls Have Grown Deep Like The Rivers-Black Poets Read Their Work / Rhino WordBeat 8012 – (USA)
Trombone Shorty: Hurricane Season / Backatown / Verve Forecast 14194 – (N’AWLINS, USA)
Black Kold Madina: Trouble The Water / Trouble The Water / BKM 1 – (N’AWLINS, USA)
Free Agents Brass Band: We Made It Through That Water / Treme HBO Soundtrack / HBO 14910 – (N’AWLINS, USA)
Sister Rosetta: Didn’t It Rain? / This Train / Proper Box 1304 – (USA)
Kermit Ruffins: I Can See Clearly Now / Livin’ a Tremé Life / Basin Street Records 107 – (N’AWLINS, USA)
Stewart Sukuma: Kadivaé Mõnõ / Mozambique Relief / Naxos World 76019 – (MOZAMBIQUE)
Allen Toussaint: Hang Tough / Crescent City Gold / High Street Records 10324 – (N’AWLINS, USA)
Stanton Moore: When The Levees Break / III / Stanton Moore (self-produced) 83648 – (N’AWLINS, USA)
Kronos Quartet & Nihavent Sirto: Tanburi Cemil Bey / Floodplain / Nonesuch 518349 – (TURKEY)
Tom Waits: More Than Rain / Franks Wild Years / Island Records 422-842-357 – (USA)
The Jim Cullum Jazz Band: Deep River / Deep River / Riverwalk Jazz Volume VIII 1998 – (USA)
Rebirth Brass Band: Tornado Special (Ooh Nay Nay) / Ultimate Rebirth Brass Band / MG 1085 – (N’AWLINS, USA)
Stevie Ray Vaughan: Texas Flood / Texas Flood / Epic 38734 – (USA)
Dr. Michael White: Katrina / Blue Crescent / Basin Street Records 504 – (N’AWLINS, USA)
Aaron Neville: Cry Me A River & The Greatest Love / My Greatest Gift / Rounder 2102 – (N’AWLINS, USA)
Gumbo: It’s Raining / Never Tell Me To Quit / Wild Rose Artists 2009 – (USA)
Allen Toussaint: Long, Long Journey / The Bright Mississippi / Nonesuch 480380 – (N’AWLINS, USA)
The Subdudes: It’s So Hard / Annunciation / High Street Records 10323 – (N’AWLINS, USA)
Louis Armstrong: What A Wonderful World / Louis Armstrong-Ken Burns Jazz / Columbia Legacy 61440 – (N’AWLINS, USA)
The Blind Boys of Alabama: I’ll Fly Away / Down in New Orleans / Time Life 19548 – (USA)


August 20, 2011

Summer’s slipping away fast. Here are some of my favorite shots from the season, …. so far.

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bread & puppet’s man=carrot circus

August 14, 2011

A circus based on the concept of “Man = Carrot”?

Well it’s the cycle of life, you see. Both are ‘born’, both mature and come into their ‘jobs’ in life. And then both die and return to dirt. Man was created in the image of Carrot. It’s that simple.

Except that in the counter-cultural world of Vermont’s beloved Bread & Puppet theatre, the colorful costumes and witty original songs convey real messages of politics, social commentary, and good-natured civil dissent. It doesn’t take long to see their point that nothing in life is very simple.

Today was the first time visiting the theater that I experienced the outdoor show, usually when I go the program is held inside the Paper Maché Cathedral next to the Museum. Nice to be sitting in on the hillside this afternoon in the partial sunshine, taking in the show on the field below. There were carrots on stilts, dancing bananas, and even an infant race where the contestants were several (very) junior audience members. And so much more. The band sounded great too.

You know the phrase: you had to be there. But since you probably weren’t here are a few stills of today’s subversion.

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happy 60th, marlboro!

August 13, 2011

the famous "CAUTION" sign at marlboro

There was a lot of talk about it among my colleagues from other stations over the last year: the Marlboro Music Festival is turning 60! What are we going to do?

Of course we all wanted to ‘help’ celebrate the prestigious Festival’s anniversary, but we soon acknowledged there was a bigger issue here. What does that really mean to radio folks, for a Festival that is completely self-sufficient, tremendously successful, and not in the least dependent on media for our help with publicity?

The Marlboro legend was established in 1951, rooted in the deep musicianship of a core group of recent European émigrés: pianist Rudolf Serkin and co-founders Adolf Busch, Hermann Busch and Marcel, Blanche and Louis Moyse. Its  fine reputation has been sustained the same way; through the dedication and consistent excellence of the musicians who play there. Its sole focus is creating the best possible supportive creative experience for the musicians. A popular Marlboro phrase is, “It’s about the music.”

So how could we media outsiders possibly hope to participate in some way in the famously sequestered Festival’s 60th anniversary plans?

Pretty easily, it turns out.

It began with a phone call, then an email – and then a lot of phone calls and emails as I worked to start up a relationship with folks at the Festival. To my delight they were very receptive to the idea of establishing a partnership and cooking up some kind of celebration for their special season. I purchased and sent them a 120 gig hard drive; they returned it filled with music performances from the last dozen seasons. Fantastic. Then my two fellow classical hosts and I planned our “Marlboro Month” celebration, mirroring the Festival’s performance season from July 16th  through August 14th. And I worked with the station’s online team (thanks Tim, Dan and Jonathan!) to create a special page and make a nice selection of performances available for online listening.

A highlight of the summer came with a visit to the Festival on Sunday, July 24th. It was a hot, sunny afternoon and the wooden beams of Persons Auditorium resonated with the sounds of Ravel, Brahms, and Shostakovich. At one moment during the Brahms (the monumental g minor Piano Quintet) a mocking bird outside the auditorium in a nearby tree could be heard echoing a rhythmic figure in the first movement of the piece. It’s just that kind of place.

One of my VPR Classical co-workers stayed over that night and returned to the Festival the next day to record interviews with many of the performers who were there at the time. I’ve been spending time over the last couple of weeks editing those interviews into clips we’ve been airing with our daily Marlboro Month selections. And those clips are now archived online on the “Marlboro Conversations” page. (I have around 1/4 of the interviews edited now – check back for more conversations to be added to the page later!)

Tomorrow marks the final performance of the 60th anniversary season. Around 4pmET the final chords of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy (the traditional closing piece) will resound on the Marlboro campus and another summer of practice, comraderie, partnership, sharing and learning will come to an end for the year’s talented participants.

In the words of veteran violinist Bella Hristova (now concluding her third and final year at Marlboro), “…I think this place is like home for a lot of people because we’re just here for so long, without a break, in the middle of nowhere. So it becomes like a family.”

I’m working on producing a video now that will incorporate the photos, some video footage and many of the Marlboro voices we recorded this summer. It’ll be done soon. Update coming soon here.

Further reading:

Alex Ross’ Marlboro tribute from his blog, The Rest is Noise

NPR’s “Deceptive Cadence” blog: New recordings from Marlboro

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cultcha, vt style

May 26, 2011

When people ask me, “what’s your blog about” I say it’s an arts and culture journal. The perspective is rooted in Vermont, where I live, but the content is world-curious and open-mindedly inclusive.

So let’s file this one under “culture” – in more ways than one.

Summer is coming and one thing you should know is that creemees are a BIG DEAL in Vermont ths time of the year. These are the delicious, soft-serve (but not too soft) ice cream delights piled precariously atop perfectly crunchy cones that barely contain all the melty goodness.

They’re readily found at roadside stands that pop up like dandelions when the daily temps top 65 or so and the last of the snow is gone, for sure, even from the sunless recesses between rock outcrops in the forest.

I enjoy creemees very much, with a mental list of where to find the ones with best consistency, flavor, size, accessories, service, price, or other considerations. While it can happen it’s rare to find all of the best qualities in the same experience.

All creemees are not created equal.

That’s why my good friend (and unfailing creemee accomplice) Michelle has an entire blog dedicated to this very specialized area of Vermont ‘cultcha’. We even got matching creemee t-shirts a couple of summers ago just to really geek out on the whole thing. They’re super cute.

So check out her blog idreamofcremee for photos, tips on what to look for in a good creemee experience, and recommendations for the place to go for just the kind of experience you want.

You’ll never be disappointed again. Not that you can ever go too wrong with a creemee.

watch your kids and mini coopers

March 26, 2011

How is spring coming along, you ask? Here’s a recent post from
my neighborhood Front Porch Forum. It’s one of many of its
kind to find its way on the Forum in recent weeks.


Tue, 22 March 2011

I haven’t been in Huntington very long so this is only my 2nd
mud season road experience but the Bert White Road could
certainly swallow my car, especially beyond Handy Road, but
in general just about anywhere. And it is only the 2nd day
of Spring!


(photo from my friend Rich. Who also lives in my area.)

the not-so-great outdoors

February 5, 2011

(That’s my road – what a change with just a few hour’s time!)

Pay no attention to the name of this article. The fault, dear Brutus, is not our grand environment but in our poorly fitting gear and under-preparation that we are underlings.

Today’s x-country adventure was a reminder that it’s best to be careful this time of the year in Vermont even when the skies are blue, the temps are above freezing and and everything seems perfect for outdoor fun.

The adventure began about a half mile from home, as I skiid to the top of my road and took off on the trail up there. I often walk it in the summer and snowshoe or ski it in the winter, occasionally encountering friends and neigbors from the area along the way. It’s a fairly straightforward path (no surprises) leading to the Beane Trail, which leads in turn to the Long Trail along the spine of the Green Mountains.

Today I was trying out a pair of boots I’d been given – my size, but more snug with heavy socks than they should have been. I thought it would be OK. I misjudged that situation.

At around the half mile mark I stopped along the trail to take off my right sock hoping it would  help the boot fit better. It did for a little while. Then the too-loose boot started rubbing. Great.

When a big blister seemed imminent on that heel I decided to call it and just head back home. Except I could no longer keep my foot in the boot with that nasty blister. So I skiid along, right foot on tip-toe with the heel out of the boot. In other words – unable to control that ski at all to any useful degree. That put most of the onus on my left leg to keep me upright and moving along. Clumsy and stressful, to say the least.

The trail never seemed so long and unfamiliar as it did today.

I fell a few times off the side of it and had to dig myself out of waist-deep snow to get back on the trail. At one point I lost a glove in the snow and the binding on my left ski popped out repeatedly with the stress of carrying most of my weight. The right heel continued to burn, mean and raw now as the skin rubbed off the nickel-sized blister and the exposed red skin beneath kept getting covered in snow. I was thirsty – the water bottle I had brought was crushed in one of the falls.

After a while, moving slow, I finally returned to the top of the trail where it meets my road. What a relief. But if skiing slowly on one ski was difficult in deep snow – it sure wouldn’t be any better fast on the slippery, snow-packed road down to my house. So I took off the skis and walked home, the whole way with my right foot still only partially in the too-tight ski boot.

Not the best day outside.

Still glad I did it though. And I made it back before the afternoon’s winter storm warning was realized. Within a couple of hours of my return to the house, the crystal blue skies turned thick gray and the snow started falling. There are already two new inches on the windowsills.

I’ll give it a week. Then I’ll trade in my boots somewhere, get better ones, and head out again.

(“Cross-country skiing is easier, if you live in a small country.” – Garrison Keillor)

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