I find there is never “nothing to do”

“This is theater as teaching tool, artistic expression and catharsis”

HersOne of my pet peeves – nah, it’s stronger than that, more an irritation – happens when I hear folks from around the Capital District say, “There’s nothing to do around here.”

For instance, last weekend was chock full. On Friday, author L. Lloyd Stewart spoke at my church about his 2013 book The Mysterious Black Migration 1800-1820: The Van Vranken Family and Other Free Families of African Descent in Washington County, New York.

Now mostly rural, Washington County, not far from Albany, is not a place people around here think of as an African-American stronghold. But the growth of free blacks, and slaves – the institution didn’t end in the Empire State until 1827 – was huge.

Saturday night, the Albany High School Theatre Ensemble challenged “gender conformity and misogyny in its… production of a student-written played called HERS: An Explanation of Our Expectations.”

Times Union newspaper critic Steve Barnes wrote: “This is theater as teaching tool, artistic expression and catharsis, for the performers and their audience, and it is often deeply moving to experience.” It was so much so that our daughter went AGAIN on Sunday afternoon.

Instead, I went to Remembering a Life of Words, Art and Music, celebrating the life of Greg Haymes, a/k/a Sarge Blotto a/k/a Will Bill Hayes, et al.: musician, writer, artist and Nippertown founder. I saw a LOT of people I’ve known over the years, such as intellectual property lawyer Paul Rapp, a/k/a drummer F. Lee Harvey Blotto, and photographer/critic David Brickman.

Peter Lesser from The Egg, the venue where the event took place, started things off. Sara Ayers, true love of Greg. was wonderfully gracious. Then Paul Jossman (guitarist Bowtie Blotto) and Bill Polchinski (guitarist/songwriter Broadway Blotto) gave touching and funny tributes to their band mate.

Michael Eck (Ramblin Jug Stompers) was particularly emotional. Local musician Bryan Thomas spoke of Greg’s encouragement. Kirsten Ferguson discussed Greg’s light touch as Nippertown editor. The aforementioned Steve Barnes marveled how Greg could know EVERYTHING about what was happening in the local music scene.

Rosanne Raneri and Steven Clyde sang and played a Jefferson Airplane tune. Then there was proper New Orleans sendoff with The 2nd Line Driveby Jazz Band. A wonderful celebration.

We were so busy that weekend, we didn’t make it to the annual Greek Festival. Monday night, I had three choices of activities, including something promoting the census; I did none of the above.

This is not a complaint, but most of my weekends have been very busy all year. There’s NEVER “nothing to do.” I can tell as my email queue gets longer and my prepared blog post list gets shorter.

Music Throwback Saturday: Neville Marriner

“Cliff Barrows has led more people in singing than any other man in the world.”

nevillemarrinerSir Neville Marriner died in 2016. Initially, I was going to get representative tracks from ALL the musicians who died this year, but that became too onerous. The list includes:

Pierre Boulez, famed French composer and conductor, died Jan. 5 at 90.
Otis Clay, soul singer and Blues Music Hall of Famer best known for 1967’s “That’s How It Is (When You’re In Love),” died Jan. 8 at 73.
David Bowie died Jan. 10, two days after his 69th birthday, after an 18-month secret battle with cancer.
René Angélil, musical producer, singer. Manager (1981–2014) and husband (from 1994) of singer Celine Dion, died Jan. 14, two days shy of his 74th birthday, of throat cancer.
Glenn Frey, The Eagles guitarist and co-founder, died at 67 on Jan. 18.
Paul Kantner, Jefferson Airplane co-founder and guitarist, died at 74 on Jan. 28.
Signe Anderson, the original Jefferson Airplane singer who was replaced by Grace Slick, died at 74 also on Jan. 28.
Continue reading “Music Throwback Saturday: Neville Marriner”

July rambling #1: Equality Feels Like Oppression

Smokey Robinson, a Leader of ‘a Musical Revolution,’ to Receive Gershwin Prize

synonym rolls

Refugees Encounter a Foreign Word: Welcome

‘When You’re Accustomed to Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression’

Whiteness.

Medicalization and its Discontents

Expats and accents

N.J. forces mom to pay son’s student loans: Murder ‘does not meet threshold for loan forgiveness’ Continue reading “July rambling #1: Equality Feels Like Oppression”

Music throwback Saturday: Blotto

Metalhead by Blotto featured guitarist Buck Dharma.

comboakimbo.jpegFor Ask Roger Anything, Tom the Mayor, who used to work at FantaCo, the now-defunct comic book store in Albany, NY, inquired:

What is your favorite Blotto song (For you Albany people)?

For you non-Albany people, Blotto was a popular local band who performed with humor and panache. Like the Ramones, the various performers took on the S-less band name as their surname. It was vocalist Sarge, bassist Cheese, guitarist Broadway, guitar-vocalist Bowtie , and drummer Lee Harvey Blotto. Female lead singer Blanche joined the band for a while, then quit, and was replaced by Chevrolet Blotto.

As you know, Tom, FantaCo sold the band’s various EPs, their single and the album Combo Akimbo during the 1980s. The cover was designed Continue reading “Music throwback Saturday: Blotto”

V is for Victor and Voice

I wonder if she knew about REAL kitsch, and a REALLY big dog.


The story of Nipper is rather interesting, involving struggling artist Francis Barraud, and his by-then deceased dog, which had previously belonged to his brother. The painting was originally called “Dog looking at and listening to a Phonograph”; only later would it be dubbed “His Master’s VOICE”. Through a series of transactions, as described here, Nipper became the trademark of the VICTOR Talking Machine Company. The original 1900 trademark is shown below. Continue reading “V is for Victor and Voice”