Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
- Baroque Ale from Breconshire Brewery (Brecon, Wales) - smooth, little hop aroma or taste except in the aftertaste
- Dark Horse Stout from Elmtree Brewery (Snetterton, England) - light chocolate, black patent aftertaste
- Christmas Bock from Mahr's Brewery (Germany) - very tingly, sugar sweet, light hoppy aroma
- Cwrw Madog from Purple Moose Brewery (Porthmadog, Wales) - grainy taste, very light floral and sweet aroma, nice hop taste
- "Fresh Hopped Beer" from Grain Brewery (Waveney Valley, England) - faint earthy aroma, thick bitterness, pleasant session beer with no aftertaste, hops on the top of the palate
- County Ale from Breconshire Brewery (Brecon, Wales) - rubbery aroma (Simcoe hops?), hard water mouthfeel, crisp taste on the palate, gentle malt notes
- On the Huh from Beeston Brewery (Norfolk, England) - light caramel, fresh aroma, crystal malt thickness, bitter aftertaste
- Tradewinds from Cairngorm Brewery (Aviemore, Scotland) - acidic hop aroma which carries through to the taste, slight heather notes, beautiful amber color
- Harvest Pale Ale from Castle Rock Brewery (Nottingham, England) - wonderful creamy aroma, high on the nose hop taste, creamy mouthfeel, blonde velvety taste, great balance
- Hollyrood from Stewart Brewery (Edinburgh, Scotland) - mysterious aroma (what is that?), great balance!, lasting bitterness on the tongue and sweetnees on the palate in the aftertaste
- Big A IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company (Portsmouth, N.H.) - nothing subtle about this, like jazz on a banjo (just 'cause you *can* do it doesn't mean you *should*), incredibly aggressive hop aroma and taste, but still it didn't disguise the alcohol, this was the only beer I almost poured out
- Black Gold from Castle Rock Brewery (Nottingham, England) - distinct hop aroma, almost caramel malt flavor, some tingle in the mouth, aftertaste is like a soda, like 7-Up
- Preservation Fine Ale from Castle Rock Brewery (Nottingham, England) - great drinkability, some hops and some malt ... nothing to not like
- Golden from Winter's Brewery (Keelan Close, England) - aggressive hop aroma, very light body, no malt, lasting tongue-feel
Friday, November 12, 2010
Shindell left the guitar heroics to Shulman (he rubbed the strings with his palm and blew on them to make another strange sound) and concentrated on the vocals, to great effect. They opened with three new songs and then covered all the chestnuts, including: Fishing, Northbound 35, Arrowhead, Are You Happy Now?, There Goes Mavis, You Stay Here, Transit, Reunion Hill, and perhaps others I forget. This seems like a conservative formula and perhaps they were trying to pace themselves on the first of a two-night gig. But jeez, what powerful, wonderful, lyric songs he's written! The imagery of Reunion Hill, the wit and faith expressed by Transit, and the life lessons embodied in Arrowhead shone through, even if you've heard the songs a million times. To see Shindell himself preaching them to you in his mellow way is something not to be missed.
The band encored with a Dylan song and then wrapped up an early "school night."
Sunday, November 7, 2010
- I routinely describe Hot Rize as the best bluegrass band that's ever existed and I saw nothing Wednesday night to make me change my mind. They played an assortment of their fantastic songs and mixed in a few "new" ones (new to them at least) like Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman" and "Sinner" from Tim's new album.
- Brian Sutton has taken up Charles Sawtelle's lead guitar part and did a really fantastic job: no singing but some awesome leads and tasteful fill in the Hot Rize tradition.
- Speaking of vocals, Tim, Nick, and Pete sounded as good as ever, especially on chestnuts like "Colleen Malone" and "Won't You Come and Sing With Me." To me, their vocals was what sent me back to the days of yore and was the highlight of the show.
- But the real surprise of the show was when Hot Rize left the stage and some other act that wasn't on the bill came out and ripped it up with some good ol' Western tunes. Their steel player was quite a card, their guitarist was flashy like you wouldn't believe, and their repertoire was impeccable ... they even did a medley of 60s hits (in a better key). The sexiest guy there was their young bass player, "Suede," who almost spoke a few times.
- It's a %^*@ of a long drive to Marblehead, but I met Sarah at a great bar in Salem (Gulu-Gulu Cafe) and we had some time to get in the right mood before the show. We got there just as they opened the doors and grabbed a seat in the front row ... which isn't a huge victory for that coffeehouse (it's a small room) but counted aesthetically.
- Jim Lauderdale went on first and is a sincere, authentic, nice country singer with no ego, a great sense of humor, and a veteran's stage presence. If you've never seen him, run don't walk.
- Carrie came on next with her accompanist, Hans Holzen (who Sarah says is at least as pretty as Carrie is) and they did a flawless set. Two of my favorites were "50s French Movie" and "La Puñalada Trapera," which was much better live than on record.
- Sarah took some great videos of Carrie singing Waterbound and the two duetting on a Louvin Bros song for an encore.
- We weren't going to go to this, but at the last minute said "why not?" and got standing room tickets.
- Boy, was that place crowded. It sold out soon after we got there (though there was still an hour until the show), and you had to stake out a place if you wanted to get a good view of the stage.
- I had heard that they were going to start the show with a set of their Loretta Lynn material, but they bagged that (they just returned from a European tour and were probably sick of the routine) and only mixed in a few Lynn songs, like "Fist City" and "You Wanna Give Me a Lift" with their classic numbers like "Rain Roll In" and "High Shelf Booze."
- Of course they did "Shaking All Over" and there was some dancing going on during that.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
- Went to see Tim O'Brien at the Me and Thee Coffeehouse in Marblehead on Friday, 9/24. We'd never been to the Me and Thee before; after some confusion finding the train station in Salem to meet Sarah we went to the Boston Beer Works in Salem and had some excellent brews (which unfortunately aren't listed on their terrible website). Avi and Celia opened for Tim and made some fun music, including a soupcon of spirited washboard playing. Tim was as good as ever, playing most of the tracks from his latest release, alternating between guitar, mandolin, banjo, and fiddle, and mixing in other tunes from his solo repertoire and his vast reservoir of traditional music. He did Nellie Kane to tease the Hot Rize concert in November, and closed with Like I Used To Do. Here's an excellent cover of Nellie Kane with Sarah Jarosz.
- We've been looking for a next car after our Ford Windstar ... can't really call it a replacement because we're ready to downgrade to a smaller car. We couldn't make up our mind between a smaller minivan and a crossover-SUV but we had it down to the Mazda5 vs. the Subaru Forester. We made a spreadsheet of the differentiating factors (IOO) and showed it to the dealers on Saturday the 25th, pointing out that everything was filled in except for the price column ... what could they do about that? Both Liberty Mazda and Wakefield Subaru seemed to like this approach and offered us good prices. Even though it was several thousand more we decided to go with the Forester. It just seemed to us like we would enjoy the car for longer (which is very important to us) and it would give fewer worries when up in Maine in the winter.
- Went kayaking that afternoon on the Mystic Lakes and Tufts was hosting the Hood Trophy regatta with 20 teams from 20 different colleges. Very fun to watch! Quite skilled skippers and crew sailing Tufts' Larks with new rigging. Everything was color-coded and everyone was wearing a pinne with their college's mascot on it. Tufts came in second over the weekend.
- On Wednesday the 29th I put the kayak on the roof of the minivan for the last time and went to the Lowell St. put-in after work. We had a short but nice paddle up the low-low Assabet. Again, nobody on the Assabet though the Concord and Sudbury had traffic. The minivan has been a faithful kayaking companion for many trips and I'll often think of it with Blast or Sunny on top.
- Picked up the new car on Thursday the 30th after work at Wakefield Subaru. They hadn't yet installed the roof cross-bars, the bumper guard, etc. ... but it was basically ready and we settled final terms and signed on the dotted line. They had had to bring one up from Rhode Island to get the color we wanted in the right trim package. We plan to call her Ester ... for Ester that is. Had the final gewgaws installed on Saturday October 2nd and got her inspected.
- On Sunday the 3rd the tide was right so drove up to the Rowley River on a more-chilly-than-anticipated early Fall day. Saw a few boats powering at full-speed up and down the river full of people wearing foul weather gear. The sun came out at times, the clouds were high, the wind was up, and it was a beautiful day on the water. From the mouth of the river I paddled South between the shoals towards Ipswich, where the boats were tugging hard at their moorings against the tide and wind. As I watched though, the North by East wind shifted slightly to the East and the tide started to change, swinging the boats around one by one into uncomfortable postures. I took advantage of the incoming tide, though the wind was still stiff against me until I got into the river, and paddled back up North and then West back to Perley's.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Up in Maine for vacation from late on September 3rd to early on September 13th. Besides many paddles and one of the best sails I've ever had on the Bagaduce:
- 9/5 - Put in at Bakeman Beach and went clockwise around Pond, Fiddle Head, Hog, the Black Ledges, Green Ledge, and Western. I then scooted over to the head of the Cape and saw the cliffs up-close. Had to cut in front of a clueless cruise monstrosity named "Freedom" [sic].
- 9/8 - Put in at the Deer Isle causeway, cut to the West of Carney, cut through Bar Island, and then headed out past Little Pickering and Pickering to Crow. Went around Crow (there were a lot of crows there) and paddled over to Bradbury, but decided to leave it to port. A rainstorm started and fog was threatening so headed right back to Pickering and made a lazy circuit. Went straight to Scott and my usual lunch place, then headed back past Sheep against the stiff wind, couldn't go between Bar this time, and had to leave Carney to port on the return.
- 9/9 - Short trip from Naskeag Point around Hog, Sellers (lunch), and Harbor.
- 9/10 - Hike up Cadillac North Ridge Trail in Acadia NP and then down the Gorge Trail.
- 9/11 - Put in at Indian Bar, went around Smith Cove where the 420s from MMA were racing endlessly, and then over to Castine and along the waterfront. Went around to Trask Rock where the tide was so high I could circle it, and then back to the Head and straight past the bellbuoy over to Holbrook. The MMA J24s were racing endlessly out in the Bay and the sky and the visibility were incredible. Surprised some deer rounding Holbrook, then cut through Ram and back around past Nautilus.
Monday, August 30, 2010
He introduced himself and then let on that his name is actually a throw-away. He's in fact a CFO and comes from Alaska. He's landed in Boston and, though he went to college in the area, he's having a hard time coping in what is a very different world than he had been in since then. I seemed to him to not be freaked out by his talk of different worlds and mythic stereotypes, so he offered me a beer and we continued to chat. Had a nice talk and then left him there to finish his 24-pack and decide if he really wanted to go back to work the next day.
That's the wonderful thing about poking your kayak into out-of-the-way places ... you never know what kind of wildlife has carved out a foothold in that ecosystem.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Sarah and I arrived at 5:30 or so (two hours before the concert started) and luckily were able to squeeze our chairs into a small space next to the soundboard. Our friends Phil and Ann arrived about a half hour later and were lucky to get seats where they had any kind of view of the stage at all. We then watched over the next 2.5 hours as people argued about space and who moved whose chairs ... interrupting everyone's calm on a beautiful summer night and interrupting their enjoyment of the first act. The Lowell Summer Music Series gets some good acts but has to do something about this situation.
Anyway, blah blah blah. It was a great concert and I really mean that. The people who were there for a concert were dancing around to Church ... he did Loretta and closed with No More Cane. Fantastic stuff, including The Front Porch Song and of course, If I Had a Boat.
Other stuff from then 'til now:
-Wonderful kayak by myself from the Mystic Dam almost all the way down the River to the locks at Everett on Saturday the 14th
-Great time with Laura doing an after-work kayak on Wednesday the 18th, going from the Lowell St. bridge under route 2 almost all the way up to Fairhaven Bay and back
-Took Dave back to IC this weekend: delay for two hours Westbound on Saturday because of a stinking air show and delay for two hours back Eastbound last night because of a fallen tree ... and New Yorkers; miss Dave a lot!
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I headed to the other end of the parking lot and pushed my way to the river past hordes of ducks and geese who wanted to be fed. "Have you no shame?" I asked. No response. Put in and it was beautiful on the river but I've never seen so many kayaks in my life. Actually, in 10 minutes I saw more kayaks than I'd ever seen in my life, they were that thick. Two-seaters rolled by with couples, one of whom had obviously said to the other at some point that day, "Fine, but *I'm* not paddling." Four-seaters were the real hazard ... those people had no idea of what to do or control over what they hit.
Met up with my friends down half-way to the Waltham Dam and had some nice talks with riparian land-owners, then headed back South under the highway and had an excellent paddle. There were beautiful, luxurious wildflowers on the banks and as I say, it was an incredible day to be outside.
On Sunday Dave and I went paddling in the Upper Mystic Lake in the afternoon and had another wonderful time. It was a bit more humid and threatening to thunderstorm, but the Upper Lake was in full form with recreators all over it. We had fun.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Friend JohnM met me there on Saturday and Dave arrived after work, and then
Sarah, Dave, John, friend Matt, and I went back on Sunday. The weather was perfect mid-summer, ranging from hot enough to make your skin warp on Saturday at the JFK Plaza stage to large, non-threatening raindrops between the clouds, late Sunday afternoon.
Let me just say before I dive into it that the Hot Club of Cowtown is in the top echelon of bands in the world IMO and I was beyond thrilled to see them all weekend, especially at the beautiful Boardinghouse Park stage. How lucky am I that this FF exists and attracts such bands?
On Saturday I showed up at noon or so and was suddenly in a traffic jam trying to get into the heart of the city: a quite different story from 20 years ago. I parked on Jackson Street and shouldered my pack filled with liquids down to Boardinghouse Park, where I caught most of the Steep Canyon Rangers' set before heading over to JFK Plaza to meet up with John. We sat there and sweated through the Rangers' next set and it was well worth it. Nicky Sanders is an above-average fiddle player and Woody Platt is a fine singer. I don't want to damn them with faint praise ... they were a great band to start off the festival with ... I'm sure they didn't sound as muddy on their (#1) recorded hits.
John and I moved over the the Dutton street Dance Pavilion and camped out there for while; a real relief from the hammering sun and there was a tent selling Belgian beer nearby (pretty good, though produced by Anheuser Busch). The first band we saw was the Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band and that was a rocking good time. I was really looking forward to seeing him and he didn't disappoint: thoroughly vivid accordion solos, quintessentially heartfelt Cajun lyrics and a tight band.
Next up at Dutton Street was the Cape Verdean singer, Maria de Barros, and she kicked some serious island butt. Check this out.
After that was the real stuff as the Hot Club came on. My worldly friend John had never seen them and what resonated the most to me was when he laughed in astonishment about 10 different times at Whit Smith's fingering. No shit, they are musicians of the top-most quality and if your jaw doesn't drop when you see them your soul is dead. It's kind of like the Cirque du Soleil meeting the Grateful Dead, though in a much home-ier environment.
Dave showed up after work for the Hot Club set and then we drove home and had some chicken dinner that couldn't be beat. John was going to go back to NH after the show but was so gobsmacked by the Hot Club that he spent the night with us so he could see them again the next day.
We woke up Sunday and went back up to Lowell. The Hot Club kicked it off at 12:15 at JFK Plaza and there were some heavenly-sent clouds (Pennies From Heaven??) that kept us from roasting as much as the day before. They did their cover of a Reinhardt-Grapelli song, "Exactly Like You" and I would have died if not for having seen them do it before.
Bua followed them and was vastly entertaining, featuring a very talented bodhran player and a good singer. Sarah picked up some great beef kebab from a Portuguese vendor and I got a real nice "LFF" polo shirt with an embroidery of instruments being hauled by a trolley. I couldn't get over how smoothly they were dealing with an incredible crowd on an incredibly hot weekend ... I have to tip my hat to the organizers and again I ask, why can't a city like Boston do anything like this? I guess they can't. Lowell is the perfectly sized and laid-out city for a folk festival.
We drifted over to Boardinghouse Park, stopping to see craft and talent exhibitions lined up along a restored canal. We pulled up a prime piece of grass right in front of the stage (about where we sat for Hot Tuna the summer before). Michele Choiniere was about half-way through her set of Franco-American ballads, a nice interlude before the Hot Club came back on at 3:00.
OK, we toweled off after that and moseyed up to the St. Anne's Churchyard venue ...
... where they were having a "Squeezebox Summit," which turned out to be Bruce Daigrepont, Matthew Rosinski from the polka band ("Lenny Gomulka and Chicago Push"), and Brìan Ó hAir from Bua.
We were thinking about staying for another set but the rain started and we headed for the car BUT our path led us past the Dutton Street Dance Pavilion and we stayed and danced for another 45 minutes or so to the reggae of Clinton Fearon and the Boogie Brown Band while the sun came back out, all was peace and love, and our jaws dropped once again at the excellent saxophone/whistle/whatever tall and white (with red shorts) multi-instrumentalist in his band. This guy jumped off the stage between breaks and stood in front of the fan (I offered him water but he politely declined), and then danced among the crowd and jumped back onstage in time for his next wizardly chorus. Clinton's daughter grabbed the mike for some testimony and a good time was had by all ... they actually did a long encore because they were the last band of the day.
Drove back home and typed it up!
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
We went to Johnny D’s to see Elizabeth Cook last night and had a great time. She had a three-piece combo with her husband Tim Carroll on guitar and Tom ?? on huge bass. We had great seats at a table in front of the stage and downed Greek burgers and Lagunitas Pale Ale before the show.
Elizabeth came on and started crooning and impressed more and more through her two sets. She plays a great blend of tear-twangers, quirky alt-rock, slow but tough love songs, and traditional country with originals about evenly mixed in with covers from all over. As the evening went on her voice began to really shine until she was just commanding the room with her vocals. They played I Can’t Help It If I’m Still in Love With You and after a brilliant bridge by Carroll, Cook came in at full volume and boy, did she convey the heart-ache at the core of that song!
She did El Camino and Heroin Addict Sister of course, and also the great Blackland Farmer. She also played Mama’s Funeral followed immediately with a song that her Mama had written. Cook encored with her anthem, Sometimes It Takes Balls To Be a Woman (I noted that during her sets she reprised every song of hers that Cousin Kate played this past Sunday) … followed with (just to show how odd they are) the bluegrass-gospel song, Working On a Building.
Great show! This was her first time in the area and I’m hoping she comes back again.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
This past Sunday was chilly but sunny, with a wicked wind. I wanted to go kayaking but wanted to avoid struggling with the wind and so went up to the Ipswich River, looking for a sheltered paddle. I parked in Harold Parker State Park with a couple of other cars with kayak hooks on their roofs and put in.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
It's been a very early Spring this year for a lot of plants, most of all my hop plant. This started off as 4 rhizomes of different varieties (Cascade, Centennial,Chinook, and Willamette I believe) in 1995 and has now become a monster that produces what I call Aberjona hops (after the nearest river valley of course).
Monday, April 19, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
- Acorn Brewery (England), Golovka Imperial Stout - very similar to the Imperial Stout I make with a hoppy profile over the dark malts, just like mine
- Dark Star (England), Hophead - a nice session pale ale with some interesting flavors
- Elland Brewery (England), 1872 Porter - a recent contest winner and you can see why, beautifully full and smooth taste
- Fuller's (England), Gales HSB - a dry, classy bitter like they don't make in this country, I love Fuller's beers and wish the ESB had been on! (the Pride was but we didn't get to it)
- St. Austell (Cornwall), Winter Warmer - we've vacationed in Cornwall at Christmas right near the brewery and this was the first one I tried last night ... like going home
- Cairngorm (Scotland), Black Gold - rich and heavy Scots beer, is that possible??
- Fyne Ales (Scotland), Vital Spark - a fizzy bitter with a little taste of roast barley, kind of a Scots chick beer
- Harviestoun (Scotland), Old Engine Oil - my idea of a dark ale, reasonably tart balanced by some nice aftertastes
- Isle of Skye Brewing (Scotland), Black Cuillin - very complex but might have needed some more age for its gravity
- Brecon (Wales), Six - we've also holidayed in Brecon and I was really looking forward to Brecon's award-winning Rambler's Ruin, but it wasn't on; the Six is a lighter, rye beer with some high notes
- Günther Brau (Germany), Märzen - a nice Munich ... not used to a lager from a cask!
- Allagash Brewing (US), Black - wonderfully flavorful like an Bach (ah, Bach) organ romp
- Blue Hills Brewing (US), IPA - fresh hops, good malt, the kind of simple beer I love
- Moat Mountain (US), Moat Square Tail Stout on Oak - a remarkable beer that should be in a museum; an incredible assortment of flavors
- People's Pint (US), Pied pIPA - the hop champion of the day ... you could smell the hops from across the room but the beer was remarkably well-balanced for that
Thursday, March 11, 2010
- born in Brookfield, Mass.
- graduated Dartmouth College, 1791
- ordained in Rochester, Mass 1793 (Congregational Church)
- founded Hanover Academy 1808
- Representative to the General Court 1811
- fought in the Battle of Lake Erie (age 21) on Ticonderoga under Commodore Perry
- pressed into British Navy, escaped by swimming ashore to the Connecticut coast