Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Watching "In Search of the English Folk Song"

Here's a fascinating thing. In 1997, wonderfully weird director Ken Russell did a special on Channel Four in the U.K. called In Search of the English Folk Song. It's just now come out on DVD.

It starts with "Brigg Fair" in a version for voice and orchestra by Percy Grainger, while a white-haired Ken Russell dances about in the woods. From here, Russell makes his way from rocker pub locals to folkies in home studios to protest singers who were arrested in the early 80s. "We made a nuisance of ourselves," says one of a fierce trio of women who protested the placement of cruise missiles in Greenham, and they sing one of the feisty ditties that they entertained themselves with in prison. I wish I had the conviction and the courage to make that kind of a nuisance of myself.

Then Russell finds the riveting June Tabor, who explains a folk song as profoundly as she sings it. That voice is hypnotic. The song she sings must have a dozen verses, but you never want her to stop.

Then there's Eliza Carthy, whom I've had the good fortune to see twice, singing "Good Morning, Mr. Walker" -- oh! such energy. It's '97 and she's a mere whippersnapper and not quite as smooth as she is now, but you can feel that love for the music just oozing out of her. She was meant to be a folk singer. It's clear. Especially once you see Waterson Carthy doing "Stars in My Crown." They have no choice but to sing. Or rather it is their choice. It's their breath.

Fairport Convention show up eventually, and even Donovan makes an appearance. Does that guy ever age? "Nirva-a-a-a-ana," he sings in his treacly voice as Ken and his producer drive off, calling, "Bye, Donovan! See you there!"

There's plenty of the island beat thing that the English love, too, and there should be. It's fun, it's folk, it's George Michael and it's Mika. "We've always plundered other people's cultures!" cries Russell before gamely bellowing snippets of various music-hall ditties, football chants, war songs, broadside ballads, and nursery rhymes by way of example.

Extraordinarily, the whole thing ends with a chamber ensemble called the Percy Grainger Orchestra playing the tippy-toes silliness of "Country Gardens."


Okay, I'm watching it again.

Tenors are a girl's best friend

A fabulous shot from my dad's "Ti Tenorer" (Ten Tenors) event in Karlskrona, Sweden, along with the luminous Swedish soprano Cecilia Hjortsberg.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Birthday shenanigans

Here are some photos from Barb's delightful birthday dinner Friday evening, held in a hyggelig private room at the excellent Quarter Bistro, where everyone sampled some serious Cajun/Creole/European deliciousness and enjoyed a good dose of banter.

And now my artsy shots... taken through my glass of white wine!

Evelyn and Kathy swooped in for a visit the next night, bringing the charming Della... as well as fabulous Eiffel Tower wine glasses for the birthday girl in honor of her upcoming trip to France.

(I particularly love this one, since it looks as though Evelyn and Barb are listening in rapt attention as Della shares a serious story...)

I'd say this birthday was well-celebrated!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Happy birthday x 2!

Today's Penny's birthday and Barb's birthday, so it's a big one. Wheeeee! Happy birthday to a crazy coupla chicks!
See... 'cause it's a chick in the picture... and that's why I said "chicks"... never mind.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Photos from TigerFest last weekend:

Jim Leyland's office.

No, we didn't try out.

What an odd place to run into a long-lost cousin. Suddenly, there were Stephanie and Pete - in the visitors' dugout at Comerica Park!

Here's the important one: Magglio! Waving! And smiling! At me! ;-)

(Don't worry: Mr. Ordóñez has not shorn his lovely locks! They're just hidden.)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hurray for the Friends of Fiona!

Today was the happy delivery of the news to Barb that we had raised more than $600 as a memorial fund in honor of her recently-lost dog, Fiona.

See Fiona's blog for details!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Merry Christmas -- all over again!

Andy and I went to the holiday concert with the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra and Measure for Measure tonight, rescheduled from the crazy snow day back in mid-December.

I had worried that I couldn't get all cranked up up for the holidays again at this point, but I have to say -- I managed it! Thanks to an exciting musical program and some fabulous performers.

Little did I know, for example, that the Christmas Festival medley by Leroy Anderson was the very medley to the animated tones of which I danced around my childhood living room on Christmas Eves long past. I found myself whispering to Andy, "This is the best part!" more than once.

And King George II would be pleased to know that the Pease Auditorium audience stood up for the Hallelujah Chorus. With that kind of enthusiasm being invested in it, how could we not?

Good stuff all around. Especially the tubist and the principal violist...! :-)

Afterwards, Andy and I went for a glass of wine, some saganaki, and a little chatter at the Tower Inn, and I found myself wishing that there were people carrying teetering stacks of parcels down Cross Street, through flurries of snow, with Christmas still a week away.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Flashback photo trip

Here's Scott back in the early 80s, playing guitar in the Detroit band L-Seven. Click on it to see more L-Seven and other Detroit bands of the moment.

I love how in this one it looks as though there are some Scott "stripy-shirt" imitators in the crowd:

Wish I'd been there!

Thanks, Davo, for putting all these out there.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Auld acquaintance shall not be forgot!

Happy new year, everyone!

May 2008 be kind to us all.