Tuesday, August 24, 2010

tiny avetts and art stuff

Looks like the kiddos were happy about their Avett Brothers "I and Love and You" T-shirts. Blue heard his first Avett concert from the womb and saw his first one before his first birthday. Violet is terribly jealous but just as happy about her shirt.

That's Lucille on the table. While we were at concerts last weekend, she was working. Saturday night she was awarded 1st place in the sculpture division at the 37th Annual Juried Exhibit sponsored by the Spartanburg Artists' Guild. She'll be on display at Carolina Gallery, 145 W. Main Street, Spartanburg through September 18.
There will be more sculptures and drawings making appearances around the country over the next few months:

*Sept 12 - Oct 15, 2010 - 19th Annual National Juried Exhibit, Art Institute & Gallery, Salisbury, MD
*Sept 14 - Oct 10, 2010 - "Sculpture in the 21st Century", Towson University, Towson, MD
*Sept 17 - Oct 15, 2010 - "A Sense of Place 2010", National Juried Exhibit, Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art, Augusta, GA
*Oct 1 - Nov 15, 2010 - "Without A Map" National Juried Exhibit, Northbrook Public Library, Northbrook, IL

Sunday, August 22, 2010

the avett-cation

alicia, ginger, georgie, sandy

What started out as "Girls' Weekend" somehow became "Girls' Weekend with Doug Driving". I'm not sure exactly how I got talked into this, but I had sworn off concert going in large venues and informally declared myself too old for standing in a crowded room for hours. I tried to get a couple of guys to come with me so I wouldn't feel quite so out of place but both of them were better decision makers than I.

So. The Avett Brothers were playing 3 nights in a row at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach. I love the Avetts, but I really love the beach and that surely had something to do with my decision to tag along. We all understood we were too old to drive 4 1/2 hours to see a concert and then turn around and drive back home so this trip would mean a mini-vacation. Ginger secured a place to stay and we all signed on.

We headed out Friday morning - at least I think it was still morning after Ginger temporarily lost sight of her car keys and we had to do a bit of backtracking. But let's not dwell on that, right Ginger? Sandy met us for a nice lunch in Columbia and then we piggy backed the rest of the trip to the coast. Sandy was one of our newer Avett converts but on this trip it was Alicia who had never seen the Brothers live.

These shows were sold out in advance and we had no interest in camping out in the August sun all day to get up front, so we accepted the fact that we'd hang out near the back of the auditorium. This freed us up to take our time getting there. We had a nice dinner after the thoughtful gentleman of the group got completely soaked in a summer downpour trying to get the ladies a better place to eat. It's OK, I'm not bitter. But we took our time and cruised into the House of Blues after the doors opened and walked right in with no wait. Then it was a short walk to an open area just a few feet from the stage. We were in luck and we were feeling pretty good about how things worked out.

And then things got better. When the Brothers took the stage, they were in good form. They always give off a ton of energy but Friday night they were outdoing themselves. The setlist was great, the room was electric, and the sound was amazing. There were even a couple of stagedives.
scott surfing on the pit-dwellers
joe comes to the rescue
and he's back on stage
There's no way to describe an Avett concert to someone who's never experienced it. Banjo, cello, upright bass, crowd surfing, screaming, and family values all somehow mingle together into an experience for the eyes, ears and mind. I could tell you it was wonderful or amazing or awesome and it just wouldn't communicate the experience.
I mean, how do you describe a classically trained cellist and and upright bassist rocking out this hard? Whatever it is that these guys give off in their playing....it's contagious. It makes even the most stoic concert goers sing along and sway to the beat.
And apparently it makes people want to come back. And I mean....come back the very next night.
Ginger has done this before and I've mocked her pretty hard about it. There's no way you could get me to go see the same band two nights in a row. Just like there's no way you could get me to tag along on Girls' Weekend.
Alicia and Sandy had to see them again. We explained the shows were sold out and while they might be able to get one ticket or maybe two, there's no way we would be able to get five tickets to a sold out show. Especially not a couple of hours before the show started.
In less than five minutes Alica and Sandy hopped back to the car with five tickets and some leftover cash. We're still not certain how this happened but we just figured our luck was still working for us. We grabbed an even better dinner and walked on over to the House of Blues again right at the same time we'd arrived the night before. We figured we'd walk right in without waiting and everything would be the same.

We figured wrong. This was the line in front of us waiting to get in. The other half of the line ran in front of the building and there were at least as many people in line behind us. I was starting to think I was too old for this again.
Still, once the line started moving we got in relatively fast and once again we walked right up to the corner of the stage and got even better standing spots than the night before. But my knees did hurt and my feet were aching and I was seriously considering buying one of those little motorized scooters like you see in Walmart to transport me around for the rest of our weekend.

Saturday's show did not match the level of greatness of Friday's show. Sure, it was still great and you'd have to call it a wonderful concert by anyone's standards. There was even a moment when Georgie was jumping up and down to the music and that almost never happens. These guys leave nothing in the tank when they perform and their efforts are appreciated.

Just look at that expression on Ginger's face during the show. I realize it's a fake smile, but Ginger hates it when I take her photo and under normal circumstances she would have hid her face. Here though, in her preferred environment, she's enjoying herself too much to waste any effort on me.

A few odds and ends:
1. Sandy embraced the laws of physics and chemistry and managed to get a bottle of wine to explode inside her car. If she gets pulled over in the next few months she's guaranteed to get a field sobriety test.
2. Apparently when Girls' Weekend involves going to the beach this does not actually mean the girls will ever really see a beach.
3. If you are talked into tagging along on aforementioned Girls' Weekend with promises of actually going to the beach, you will end up following 4 ladies around at the factory outlet stores instead of putting your toes in the sand.
4. Should you ever get the chance to road trip with someone who owns a restaurant and bakes chocolate chip cookies on a daily basis...this is something you should certainly do. They will bring cookies and you will enjoy them.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

the new office

All those lasts have now turned into firsts. First day, first meeting, first time cracking my head open in the bookstore and bleeding all over myself. I'm told the dust will settle soon and the days will become more organized. Until then, here's what 4 or 5 trips to Greenwood can amount to:

in this photo: chihuahua bobble head, some hooligans and the hand sanitizer

in this photo: hudson the hawk, the 3 stooges, the avett brothers and my orange chairs

in this photo: the mac and the pc having a staring contest, the magic 8 ball and my autographed photo of mean joe greene

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

more perks

Our tour of I-26 continues with :

farmer's market

feeding biscuits to the southern lizards

breakfasts overlooking the garden

georgie in the water

steel sculpture and steeple

big boy


parking space

touristy things

loud planes

dining with famous folk

the perks of unemployment

Summer is kind of nice when you don't have to get up at 5:00am every day. As I'm between jobs....I have two weeks of technical unemployment and here's what I've been doing:

late afternoon swings

delivering art downtown with blue

celebrating birthdays and watching blue get his first gift of "monies"

hanging out with rum swilling pirates in Columbia

teaching blue to drive the ship

violet escaped from the zoo

blue and i hand fed the giraffe. i was just as excited about it as him.

we saw elephants too

we have nightly nerf sword fights, but blue got to play with the real thing

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

end times

turning in my keys

last work coffee

the last box of stuff

last guard dog lick

and the last log off

Sunday, August 1, 2010

now is the time when we dance

The economic landscape of the musical industry has changed vastly over the last decade. For many aspiring singer/songwriters the idea of getting signed to a major label is no longer “the dream”. The internet and it’s many new connection sites have allowed musical artists to attract attention and income with some do it yourself practices. There are even websites available with the specific intent of helping musicians raise money for a recording project through pledges of financial support from their fans.

photo from Clem Snide's Facebook page
More creative musicians are even developing their own ways of raising money for projects. Going in a totally self reliant direction, one such example is Eef Barzelay and his band Clem Snide. This band enjoyed some respectable commercial success a few years ago and they ended up suffering with their label through the downward spiral of the music industry. They reemerged recently and have struggled a bit to find their economic footing in a very uncertain market.

After their last album was released Barzelay seemed to realize the potential support already existing in his fan base. Seeking to tap into that resource, a new offering was made on the band’s website. For the price you’d expect to pay for a tour shirt Barzelay decided to offer to make fans a personalized 3 song EP album. Fans simply request their 3 favorite songs by the band and Barzelay sings and plays those songs acoustically on a one of a kind recording. Fans get an impromptu mini concert on their iPods and the band gets funding for the next album.
Sure, the band gets money for their effort, but that’s not the noteworthy aspect of this deal. What Mr. Barzelay has done here is stumble into one of the more attractive and important facets of fine art: the ability to make personal connections.

Think about the music you enjoy or maybe the books you’d list among your all time favorites. We all must realize that there are very real and specific reasons why we like things. When you think about those favorites, chances are you like some of them because you feel you can relate to the story or the song or the author in some way. You’ve been in a situation just like the one described in that song. You’ve felt just like the writer did when he wrote that chapter. These are personal connections.

photo from Clem Snide's Facebook page

Barzelay takes the idea of a personal connection one step further with the personalized 3 song EP. The recordings are rather raw. You can hear the tape start and stop before and after songs. You can hear him tuning his guitar. And just when you get the feeling that you’re sharing some small interior space with the artist, he calls you by name and makes some one-sided small talk.

I ordered one of these EPs mostly for the opportunity to contribute to the next album financially. I chose my 3 favorite Clem Snide/Barzelay songs and asked for one to be dedicated to my kids. I didn’t know if he’d actually do it but this song in particular has made a personal connection with me regarding the huge shift that the birth of a child can cause. Just like you, I felt like I knew exactly what the writer was saying in that song.

Violet, Blue, & G dancing (photo by me - not dancing)
After a few weeks an email showed up from Mr. Barzelay with the EP attached. I turned up the volume and watched the kids shimmy and sway to the music. Then my son heard his name spoken on the recording by the guy who was singing and he froze in his tracks. First his name, then his sister’s name, and then a short little chat about what the song meant to him when he wrote it. Now, of course, Blue requests this record every time we get in the car. Personal connection made.

Great art has the ability to tap into that shared area of consciousness. There are feelings, thoughts, desires that translate over state lines, cultural biases and religious beliefs and when an artist gets lucky enough to make those connections with other human beings - that is truly the measure of success.
*Get your own personal connection to a great singer/songwriter here: http://clemsnide.bigcartel.com/