Monday, June 30, 2008

Michelle's Softball Season Ends

Michelle Listened Intently To Coach Wallace

Despite having a roster of incredibly talented and experienced softball players, Coach Jerry Wallace's Richmond City League team lost early in the tournament. The talented Michelle Hall and her teamates did the best they could, but the coaching just wasn't there.

Lots Of Talented Players, Coaching Not So Much

Seriously though, we appreciate that our friend Jerry worked so much with the girls this year. His leadership and teaching of the team concept will surely benefit these girls in the future.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Working Vacations

Most musicians do not earn big bucks. The music profession is a lot of fun and a challenging one, but it rarely offers huge financial reward. I work more gigs than anyone I know, but while supporting a family of five, it's tough to accumulate a lot of extra cash to throw around on such things as extravagant vacations.

Last week Sharon, Melody, Michelle, and Matthew met my parents at Myrtle Beach to vacation. I determined that we could not afford for me to miss the nine scheduled gigs conflicting with the dates of the vacation, so I stayed home and worked while they enjoyed the beach and seafood. I'm not complaining, though I must admit that their description of the sunny weather and tasty fresh seafood made me a tad bit envious. I recall the words of immortal jazz musician Fats Waller, "Shrimp and rice, mmm, mmm, mighty nice".

I have learned from experience that the best way to take a vacation, yet not go broke while doing so, is to schedule some gigs near the vacation location. Over the years I have managed to set up some of these "paid vacations" to such places as Disney World in Orlando, Barren River State Park in Glascow, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Pineville's Mountain Laurel Festival, Nashville, and many more. I have been provided complimentary stays in nice hotels such as The Hyatt Regency, Sheraton, Executive Inn, The Peabody, The Brown Hotel, The Galt House, The French Quarter, and many others. This year I did not have time to set up gigs at the beach, but I was able to secure some work for a corporate convention in Louisville. Though not as sexy sounding as working the House of Blues or a beach party while vacationing at Myrtle Beach, I booked a gig to play the Kentucky Funeral Directors Association's annual convention and planned a mini-vacation in historic Louisville.

Dad & I Played At The 2008 KFDA Convention

Dad and I entertained the wonderful KFDA folks on Monday evening, Tuesday afternoon, and Wednesday morning at the Kentucky International Convention Center. The association provided me a complimentary hotel room at the adjoining luxurious Marriott Hotel. I tried to see as much of Louisville as possible between gig performances. My Derby City excursion is probably not as impressive to most people as the Myrtle Beach trip that my family enjoyed.

While at the beach my family browsed new beach recliners. At the convention I browsed caskets.

While at the beach my family browsed tanning lotions. At the convention I browsed embalming fluids.

While at the beach my family browsed gas grills. At the convention I browsed animal and human cremation equipment.

While at the beach my family browsed summer vacation lifestyle magazines. At the convention I browsed books about embalming, pathology, mortuary administration and funeral management.

While at the beach my family browsed luggage. At the convention I browsed bug proof and leak proof casket air trays.

While at the beach my family browsed pottery and ornamental vases. At the convention I browsed urns.

While at the beach my family browsed dune buggies and convertibles. At the convention I browsed hearse limosines.

While at the beach my family entered a contest to win free ocean cruise. At the convention I entered a contest to win a free casket.

As you can see, our vacations were very different, yet similar in certain ways. They spent money and I made money. They had a lot of fun on their vacation and I did too! During my stay in Louisville I checked out Fourth Street Live, Champions Sports Bar & Restaurant, The Kingfish, the Belle of Louisville, went to a Louisville Bats baseball game with cousin John Ray Wilborn, and saw lots of other neat places and things. Unlike my family, I didn't get to enjoy the smell of the ocean air and the feel of sand between my toes. I did manage to smell a lot of auto gasoline engine fumes and step into pile of dog crap while walking down by the river.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day At The 2008 Indy Jazz Fest

Jazz Fan Wayne Miller Had A Front Row Seat

Friend Wayne Miller and I made a road trip to Indianapolis on Father's Day to check out the 10th annual Indy Jazz Fest. Two nice band stages, lots of food & drink vendors, jazz merchandise booths, and great music were offered to the approximately 3500 jazz fans who entered Military Park in downtown Indianapolis.

Alex Brown & Paquito D'Rivera

Paquito Was Dazzling On Both Clarinet & Alto Sax

The highlight of the day for me was hearing Paquito D'Rivera again. This was the third time that I have had the opportunity of hearing the multi-Grammy award winner in concert. I am a huge fan of his music and am always mesmerized by his incredible mastery of the clarinet. In past concerts I had heard him perform with his touring quintet and with The Caribbean Jazz Project. Yesterday I thoroughly enjoyed the fascinating set he performed with 20 year old piano phenom Alex Brown. The music was filled with energy, beauty, fire, and extreme precision. They treated us to a couple of compositions from Paquito's newest and grammy award winning album "Funk Tango" along with pieces showcasing latin, jazz, and classical music styles. The entire set was very interesting and one that would be difficult for any other clarinet/sax-piano duo in the world to pull off to such perfection.

The Ramsey Lewis Trio

Opening with "Wade In The Water", the Ramsey Lewis Trio played a joyful set filled with finger popping grooves and some of his pop jazz staples including "Betcha By Golly Wow" and "Close Your Eyes And Remember". Bassist Larry Gray and drummer Leon Joyce smiled continuously as the kept their eyes on Ramsey Lewis for his musical ques throughout the performance. It was fun to watch and hear the musical conversation and interplay between the members of the trio as they played off each other's musical lines throughout the set. All three musicians had almost constant eye contact with each other and expressions of happiness as they played. The high point of the three time grammy award winner's set was a gospel medley that resulted in chants of "Hallelujah" and "Testify" from some in the crowd. It was an exciting set by an old pro who seems to still have a blast when he plays. At one point in the set Ramsey took the microphone and proclaimed "This a good day for jazz." I couldn't have agreed more with him!

Ramsey's Trio Found A Smooth Groove

Vocalist Robin McKelle and Her Jazz Trio

I enjoyed vocalist Robin McKelle's set very much. She displayed a wonderful, rich alto voice and was comfortable scatting, swinging, singing the blues, and making a ballad her own. McKelle opened with a swinging version of Steve Miller's "Abacadabra" and included a lot of jazz standards such as "Lullaby Of Birdland" and "Save Your Love For Me". After her set I was fortunate to meet her. She told me that some of her favorite singers include Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, Gladys Knight, and Nina Simone. No wonder I loved her style! She sounded to me a little like a modern day up and coming Dinah Washington, a little like Anita O'Day at times, and with swinging scatting skills and phrasing emulating the great Ella Fitzgerald. I told her that her version of "Never Make Your Move Too Soon" reminded me of one I love that Ernestine Anderson did with The Frank Cap-Nat Pierce Juggernaut Big Band. She replied that she had learned that song listening to the very recording I referenced. Robin's exciting trio included pianist Alain Mallet, bassist Peter Slavov, and drummer Jeremy Clemons.

Oliver Nelson, Jr. Was Featured With The IUPUI Jazz Ensemble

Oliver Nelson, Jr. joined the IUPUI Jazz Ensemble as they played some classic Count Basie charts including "April In Paris". They also performed a couple of tunes written by Jr's famous father. Jr's flute and piccolo chops were showcased on "Flute Salad" and "Reuben's Rondo". Their portion of the concert was dedicated to the late Jack Gilfoy, a drummer and instructor of the IUPUI Jazz Ensemble.

Guitarist Mike Moreno, Bassist Thomas Morgan & Drummer Eric Harland

The Aaron Parks Quartet was scheduled to play, but Cole Porter Fellow Piano Competition Winner Parks was ill and could not make the gig. The other members of his quartet played the set without him and did a nice job. Guitarist Mike Moreno displayed some nice technique as well as sensitivity throughout the set. Rhythm section members Thomas Morgan and Eric Harland were attentive throughout and blended well with the Mike Stern and sometimes Pat Metheny-like sound of Moreno's guitar. These young musicians displayed a lot of talent and should be making good music for many years to come.

Severe weather rolled in about 8:50 and did not allow for Fourplay to take the stage. It was disappointing and a drag to miss hearing those guys, but Wayne and I left the park feeling great about the jazz that we WERE able to hear. I hope Indy Jazz Fest continues to be successful in attracting great jazz to Indianapolis each year. I will certainly be checking the artist lineup next year and hopefully be able to make the road trip from Richmond to Indy once again.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Melting Pot VIP Grand Opening

Last night I played the VIP Grand Opening for The Melting Pot, a new restaurant in Lexington, KY. It features interactive fondue dining. The facility is very nice and should become a popular establishment in Lexington. Tops In Lexington was at the event and has posted a photo slide show on their website.

In addition to sharp dining room areas, they have an impressive bar equipped with high definition wide screen televisions. All of the employees were enthusiastic about the opening of the restaurant and hopeful for tremendous success. An extensive wine list is offered to go along popular cheese, beef, and chocolate fondue.

Owner Lori Hagen hosted the VIP Grand Opening

I enjoyed playing the gig and the guests liked my music very much. It was nice to see former Lexington mayor Teresa Isaac and other prominent people of the Lexington business community in attendance. I was asked many times for my business card during the evening, so this gig may lead to some nice private party work in the future.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Michelle Outfishes Me At Wood Creek Lake

An excited and happy Michelle let me know that she caught a bigger fish than me yesterday. She also empasized on numerous occasions during our drive home that she had caught the MOST fish.

Michelle and I went to Wood Creek Lake late yesterday afternoon after Matthew's baseball game. We were on the water around 5:00 and fished until 8:30. Michelle caught a three pound catfish using a night crawler as bait. She also hooked many sunfish and bluegill. I caught a decent bass and a few bluegill.

We had a great time and look forward to the next trip to the lake. I am probably even more anxious than Michelle to go back, as I need to catch more than her in order to quiet her fish smack.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Becoming Sexier

The following is an article by Associated Press science writer Seth Borenstein. After the article, I comment.

"Marked-up Birds Become Sexier, Exude Testosterone"

A little strategically placed makeup quickly turns the wimpiest of male barn swallows into chick magnets, amping up their testosterone and even trimming their weight, new research shows.

It's a "clothes make the man" lesson that — with some caveats — also applies to human males, researchers say.

Using a $5.99 marker, scientists darkened the rust-colored breast feathers of male New Jersey barn swallows, turning lighter birds to the level of those naturally darkest.

They had already found, in a test three years ago, that the marked-up males were more attractive to females and mated more often.

This time they found out that the more attractive appearance, at least in the bird world, triggered changes to the animals' body chemistry, increasing testosterone.

"Other females might be looking at them as being a little more sexy, and the birds might be feeling better about themselves in response to that," said study co-author Kevin McGraw, an evolutionary biology professor at Arizona State University.

McGraw said the findings are surprising, in part because the hormonal changes occurred after only one week.

The study was published in Tuesday's edition of the journal Current Biology.

In the 30 male barn swallows who were darkened, testosterone was up 36 percent after one week, during a time of year when levels of that hormone would normally drop.

At the same time, testosterone levels in the 33 birds that didn't get the coloring treatment fell by half, said lead author Rebecca Safran, an evolutionary biology professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

"It's the `clothes make the man'" idea, Safran said. "It's like you walk down the street and you're driving a Rolls Royce and people notice. And your physiology accommodates this."

Before you feel superior to these birds, Safran cautioned, people's mating systems are more similar to birds' than we might like to admit.

Barn swallows are "socially monogamous and genetically promiscuous, same as humans," she said. "There are some interesting parallels, but we do need to be careful about making them."

In people, hormonal changes have been observed after changes in behavior. A 1998 study found that loyal male fans of sports teams experienced a 20 percent rise in testosterone when their teams won.

The researchers aren't certain how the testosterone boost happens. It could be that because of the darkened color, the birds mate more often and that changes their testosterone levels.

It could also be that because of the darkened color, other males think the pecking order has changed and that boosts the darker swallows' hormone levels. Or it could be both. The authors said figuring out which theory is right is the next step.

The birds' weight loss is more easily explained, Safran said. The more macho swallows could be spending more time mating than eating or working off the calories, she said.

Most of the time it's the hormones that change the behavior or appearance, but this work shows "it can go more than one way," said study co-author James Adelman, a Princeton University researcher.

"It certainly is a very new and interesting finding," said Cornell University psychology and neurobiology professor Elizabeth Adkins-Regan, who had no role in the study.


My comment on this article: If this is true, I would imagine that New England Patriots male fans who wear tatoos, wear sharp clothing and drive nice cars are probably in tremendous physical shape and very popular with the ladies. I, on the other hand, am a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, don't have a tatoos, don't dress particularily well, and drive a Chevy van. Yes, I guess the findings of the study are correct.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Ecton Park Big Band & Jazz Series Back For Another Summer

The free evening concerts are at Ecton Park in Lexington from 7:00 to 8:30. Upcoming:

June 10 Custom Sounds
June 17 U.K. Faculty Jazz Quartet
June 24 DOJO (Dimartino-Osland Jazz Orchestra)
July 1 Lexington Concert Band
July 8 Jay Flippin
July 15 Dan Brock & Friends
July 22 David Hummel Octet
July 29 Colonels Choice Dixieland Band
August 5 Rick Cook Quartet
August 12 Jazzberry Jam
August 19 Lexington Jazz Project
August 26 Men of Note

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Free Music Concerts In Richmond On Tuesdays & Thursdays

I found the following article in yesterday's Richmond Register newspaper:

"RAAC Brings Music To The Park"

The Richmond Parks & Recreation Department and the Richmond Area Arts Council are proud to present the Free Summer Concert Series once again for the citizens of Madison County.

The series will be conducted at 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays in June and July beginning this Tuesday in the gazebo at the Irvine-McDowell Park, located off of Lancaster Avenue.

The first concert of the summer will be Dav “Fathead” Davis this Tuesday. Davis is known for his soulful vocals and electric piano chops. Those skills were not developed overnight. He has been rocking church services, juke joints, and concert halls for more than 30 years.

Make no mistake about it, his funky fingers and big blues vocals will still make your hip pocket “jump outta of socket,” according to his Web site,

The next concert will be the Blind Corn Liquor Pickers on June 10. Based out of Lexington, this group has put a unique spin on acoustic music. Influenced by the bluegrass influences of Bill Monroe, the storytelling lyrics of Texas country, the reckless slap bass of rockabilly and the progressive edge of early alternative pop, this group is sure to entertain a variety of music lovers.

The Bacchanal Steel Band will be performing June 17, featuring instruments made from 55-gallon oil barrels. Since 1998, the band has been entertaining and educating with its combination of calypso, soca, reggae, pop and classical music.

Bring a picnic dinner and sit back and enjoy the sounds of summer with this premier Caribbean ensemble.

Directly from the River City comes “Jerry King & the Rivertown Ramblers” one of the most-praised and talked about traditional Rockabilly bands on the scene today. Playing in Richmond on June 24, they will keep your hips shakin’, feet tappin’ and girls twirling to the unforgettable sounds of the 1950s.

This concert series is free and open to the public and is appropriate for all ages. People in attendance should bring their own lawn chairs or blankets and feel free to bring a picnic dinner. In case of inclement weather, the concert will be moved inside at 7:30 p.m. in the Richmond Area Arts Center, located off Lancaster Avenue and Water Street.

For more information or to ask about July concerts, call 623-8753 or 624-4242 or visit