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Tag Archive: Georgia


I headed for Chattanooga two weeks ago Monday. I stopped over in Memphis and drove on in to Chattanooga on Tuesday. I played at Tremont Tavern Tuesday night. Then Wednesday night at Abbott’s Bar and Grill in Atlanta. I had a show on Thursday at Akademia Brewing Company with my friend, Joe Cat. So I was playing open mics on my way down. Hopefully setting up future shows.

Open mics are pretty much the same any where you go. The host is usually a popular member of the local music community. In the case of the Tremont Tavern, the host is Mike McDade. He’s pretty much a staple of the local scene.

I intended to get there when the list went out at 7 p.m., but I screwed up on the time change. Yeah, I know, but I did. When I got there, some of the local performers had already signed up. I added my name to the list, not all that concerned about the time. Check out was at 11 a.m. and I only had a two hour drive to Atlanta.

I got a beer at the bar and found a place to stand to watch the show and be out of the way. I missed Mike playing to open the show. But I only missed one or two on the list. I don’t know if it started on time or not.

There was the usual assortment of people playing the open mic. From those who don’t really have a lot of talent, but have friends who will show up and make noise to those who actually have a little talent and are working to get better. Needless to say, the latter had the most talent. Then there are those who think they are significantly better than they actually are. Yet they still need support, so I clapped too – but not too hard.

With the exception of those who showed up late because they only wanted to play for their own little group anyway, most of the performers stayed to hear other performers. Of course, two or three people played their set and left. Which is pretty standard for open mics.

I opened the out door for a guy coming in with a bag and a guitar case. His wife, I assume, followed him. He said hello to Mike, who told him he was next. Either the guy had showed up early to sign up and leave – which I doubt, or he had Mike put him on the list. Either way, he almost overshot his starting time.

He pulled his guitar out of its case. Then he opened the big black case he had. He pulled out three dulcimers. Then he pulled a stand out of the bag.  The third case – a bit smaller – held his pedal board, with looper. In the time it took him to get everything on stage and get it set up, someone else could have played. On the final of his three songs, he played all four instruments, two of them more than once, setting the loops up, and playing the one song – which took somewhere around six minutes. I understand that he had a show there that Friday and wanted to advertise. But all of that for three songs?

The girl pictured above was a regular who had a new song to try out. She was one of the performers who stood out from the rest. She was one of those people who make open mics interesting. As was another young man who played his songs in a practiced manner. He was playing a couple of places around town.

I played after the two people who followed the dulcimer player. I woke the place up to a degree with three songs from my Hello Out There cd in rapid fire delivery. After waiting to play – and having driven a good part of the day – I was fairly pumped. The crowd certainly seemed to enjoy my songs.

After a few more acts, I headed for the hotel. Next morning, I headed for Atlanta…

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

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The Yale Women’s Slavic Chorus presented a delightful performance on Sunday evening, March 13th, in the sanctuary at Christ United Methodist Church in Farmers Branch, Tx. The chorus is Yale’s oldest all-female ensemble, founded in 1969, the first year of undergraduate coeducation at the college. The Slavic Chorus is comprised of a group of women from a variety of cultural and academic backgrounds who share a common interest in Slavic music.

Using the traditional dumbek, or doumbek, hand drum, and clad in authentic Balkan garb, the nine young women performing on the 13th sang songs from the countries of Bulgaria, Croatia, Russia, Georgia, Poland, and the Ukraine. The “Slavs,” as they are affectionately called, moved effortlessly through the two sets of music with dissonant harmonies, syncopated rhythms, and distinctive vocal qualities. The folk songs from the different countries told of love, marriage, work, war, country life, and sorrow. The women took turns introducing each selection, giving a bit of the story line and background.

While primarily an undergraduate group, the chorus also includes members from the rest of the Yale-New Haven community. The chorus is entirely student-run and student-directed. Rachel LaViola, of Frisco, sings second soprano and is one of the three current tour managers. In her introduction, LaViola explained that the group was staying at her home during the Dallas tour. Sarah Larsson, singing second alto and one of the two current business managers, stated that some of the Slavs had been familiar with Slavic music before college, while others heard the music and instantly knew they had to audition.

With the constant sensory overload present in our lives, an evening of rhythmic, harmonic folk songs from other countries and cultures – allowing the listener to immerse oneself in that culture – is a welcome change. The enthusiasm of the Slavs was readily contagious. The hypnotic harmonies calmed the worried souls of the audience. The worries would return. Fortunately, so would the memories of an evening of beautiful music sung by women who truly enjoy the music they feel called to sing. More pictures will be found below.

Peace be with you.

 

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