In every country we visited throughout Europe we found pianos in public places available for public performance. This one was inside the mall adjacent to the Central Station in Amsterdam. The piano was in tune and pianist actually knew how to play.
I have seen Béla Fleck perform many times. Arguably the best Bluegrass banjo player of all time. I saw him perform a duet with Bruce Hornsby which was an amazing concert. However when you see him play with the Flecktones you get to to see the jazz and improvisational music of four exceptional musicians. In addition to Béla Fleck, there is Victor Wooten who is one of the top bass players in the world. The group is rounded out by Futureman (Roy Wooten) on drums and Howard Levy on harmonica and keyboards.
Last Wednesday we saw them play at The Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead in the first appearance this year. This was my seventh time seeing them and as always they were amazing and their music mesmerizing. Four days later and I am still humming their tunes. A couple of snaps from the show.
Trying to avoid politics at all cost on Father’s Day we watched The Grateful Dead Movie which I haven’t scene for a long time. I was taken by one scene when during a sound check Phil was talking to a cameraman. He became aware that the camera was causing feedback. He looked like a little kid as he made the camera move closer and farther to play with the feedback. They seemed so happy when they played back then.
This year was the 20th Anniversary of Pittsburgh’s unique art festival; Art All Night. It started in 1998 with 101 pieces of art and 200 all night art lovers. It now draws hundreds of artists and thousands of visitors. The show is not juried and free to enter and attend.
The festival runs for 24 hours beginning on Saturday and ending on Sunday afternoon in an empty warehouse in the Lawrencville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. There are two stages in that provide continuous music. Vendors sell food and beer. Volunteers tell stories to children and provide free face painting.
Saturday night is raucous with lots of beer and food being served. Sunday is relaxed and laid back and the music is less rock and more folk. This was our first year attending, next year we will go Saturday night and maybe shoot some video.
Recently we took a four week trip through Europe. We started in Amsterdam and finished in Prague. I made a vow to myself that I would take video of every street musician we saw. Some were great, some not so great but all provided an interesting taste of the countries we traveled through. What I like as much as the music is the action in the streets around the performers. Watch until the end and take a look at the “gold statues” behind the performers.
So we were on our way to Boston for Thanksgiving a few years ago and stopped at a rest stop on The Mass Pike. My daughter and wife found me standing in front of the Men’s Room door staring intently at the door. They gave me a strange look and shrugged and I said, “Any second Trey Anastasio is going to walk out that door.” They both laughed but I had seen him go in when I was leaving and almost on cue he walked out the door.
Predictably my wife and daughter both shrieked TREY and he smiled and walked over to talk to us. After a minute he asked an interesting question, “So how did this happen?” wanting to know how our family became Phish Fans. We told him that we had been taking our daughter to Grateful Dead shows since she was 7 years old and now she was taking us to Phish shows. He nodding saying, “That makes sense.”
So why am I telling you this? It wasn’t really accurate. We still bought the tickets and actually it was my Godson who really introduced us to Phish. However when my daughter was in graduate school she surprised us by buying tickets and taking us to our first Yo La Tengo show in Maxwell”s Pub in Hoboken. Last night we saw the band deliver an awesome performance at Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh. Of course it made me think of my daughter but also of meeting Trey Anastasio all those years ago and thinking he would also think that this also made sense.
When we moved back to Pittsburgh in 2014 we really lucked out in a lot of ways. Of course neighbors sometimes can be a liability when buying a house. Just ask me about Long Island sometime. However, Regent Square is a wonderful Pittsburgh neighborhood and we have great neighbors. One bonus we couldn’t have planned for is that one of our neighbors is a singer-songwriter.
I have great respect for songwriters, they are poets. As a novelist, yes I can say that, I am even more impressed. It’s hard enough to think up the words let alone set them to music. Our local poet is Matt Aquiline and he writes alternative country rock music that is humorous and heartwarming and never depressing. Last night he played at Club Cafe in Pittsburgh with his new band and they were awesome. They were proceeded by The Highballers with Belén Pifel, who used to sing with Matt when they lived in Washington. At the end of the night Belén Pifel and John Woolf joined Matt and his new band for a great finish. Here are some images from the show.