Monthly Archives: January 2016

Bowie Wowie

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The spirit of David Bowie has visited Valdosta.

Jessica Ganas’ downtown Cinema hosted the Bowiefest, pairing a young local band with one of Bowie’s movies for a fabulous evening of entertainment.

Captain Buchanan’s Rave Robbers, composed of several VSU music students, conjured up the spirit of David Bowie by covering the late star’s tunes with skill and enthusiasm. In the early seventies the Old Lady’s older brother’s rock band played “Suffragette City” which is the Old Lady’s very favorite bit of Bowie. She had despaired of ever hearing the tune live again… until Captain Buchanan’s Rave Robbers performed it so well that it brought tears to the Old Lady’s eyes. She rocked and boogied and wept with joy as these young musicians took her away to that head-banging, foot-stomping place that she loves so well. Thanks, guys! WHEN will y’all perform again???Labyrinth

The film that followed, The Labyrinth, was amazing. Millennia beyond Alice in Wonderland, with echoes of Snow White and more than a nod to artist M.C. Escher, the world of The Labyrinth is at the same time weird and wonderful and terrifying. Bowie himself turns in a performance as the Goblin King that is darkly delightful.

Cinema and Red Door Records are the best things to come to downtown Valdosta in a long time. If you haven’t checked out this scene you are missing out on the coolest events in town. Find the schedule at https://www.facebook.com/CinemaValdosta/?fref=ts and come on down, downtown!DSCF9754

The Mullet Band Fish Fry

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The Mullet Band Fish Fry is a slice of Valdosta history, served up hot with a side of cheese grits by what may be the most experienced band of musicians in town.

“About a hundred years ago,” one band member told me, “a group of men would get together and go fishing, then fry up the fish for dinner and play some music.”

The tradition continues today.

They don’t catch or fry the fish themselves anymore, they let the good people at the Holiday Inn do that, but they sure do still play some music.DSCF9696DSCF9697DSCF9699

From the Allman Brothers to Merle Haggard to BB King, this band knows how to keep a party going. It’s a family tradition; some of their fathers and grandfathers preceded them in the group. It’s also always changing, with musicians and singers moving in and out of the group depending on who’s available and what they feel like doing.DSCF9689DSCF9686DSCF9684

The Mullet Band Fish Fry is held at the Holiday Inn on Highway 84 (W. Hill Street) every third Thursday at 7 p.m. Your ticket gets you all the fish you can eat and all the music you need to accompany it. To reserve your seat email MikeDame@hotmail.comDSCF9700

The Bridge as Art

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From Highway 129 South between Jasper and Live Oak, Florida, just across the road from The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park and Campground, turn off at the sign that says Suwanee Springs. Signs along that road say Bridge Out but it’s not really Out, it’s just blocked off from vehicles. It’s perfectly safe to walk on the bridge, and people do.

They not only walk on it, they paint on it. The entire concrete and steel structure is covered with colorful artworks of varying skill.DSCF9657DSCF9658DSCF9659DSCF9660This is art with heart. ..  DSCF9661DSCF9662DSCF9667… made by people who saw this bridge not so much as a way to get from here to there, but as a place to stop… and to be… and to express the love that spills out of their hearts in splashes of color and creativity.DSCF9669DSCF9671DSCF9673Even nature is inspired, using wind and water to texture a concrete post so that lichens and the like may exhibit their muted colors of living art.DSCF9676

Che Acordeon!

Rodger French
Rodger French

This collection of tangos by soloist Rodger French makes the Old Lady feel as though she is sitting at a small table outside a café in Buenos Aires, sipping a glass of Malbec.

French has explored tangos on his own for years… he once headed a band called The Deluxe Vaudeville Orchestra which performed tangos on instruments including the banjo, washtub bass, and euphonium (played by the Old Lady’s younger brother!) – but when he had the opportunity to live in Buenos Aires, he took his studies to a new level. He sought out bandoneón master Rodolfo Maderos and convinced him of his desire to play proper tangos on the piano accordion instead of the traditional bandoneón, a “devilishly difficult” (French’s words) concertina-like instrument.

It worked, and this album is the result.

The Old Lady’s favorite cut is the last, Lee’s Tango. Slyly charming with hints of klezmer, this piece is fun to listen to! It is a delicious dessert to top off this tasty collection.

You can preview this album at https://soundcloud.com/rodger-french/sets/che-acordeon-tangos-from-buenos-aires and if you like it, buy one!

To add to that shameless plug, you can find French’s blog at http://rodgerfrench.blogspot.com/ and you will enjoy good writing as well as an insider’s view of the exotic place he now calls home.

More Noodling and Doodling

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Once again, the Old Lady feels compelled to sing the praises of Noodling and Doodling (see http://www.oldladyandpurpledragon.com/noodling-and-doodling/ ).

If you travel strictly by interstate highway you are missing any experience of your journey, any touch or taste or feel of what lies between where you were and where you will be. What a waste!

You might be missing:

Unusual shopping opportunities…DSCF9627DSCF9624DSCF9625

… interesting architecture…DSCF9631DSCF9638… and public art, both intentional… DSCF9619DSCF9643

… and unintentional.DSCF9647Now get out there and do some Noodling and Doodling!

life is a banquet

Empire of Necessity

Empire of Necessity

Greg Grandin’s book The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World is an eye-opener for the Southern-raised Old Lady.

Centering on one ship, the Tryal, and the slaves who took it over (a story which later inspired Herman Melville to write his book Benito Cereno) this book reaches far beyond the basic injustice of slavery culture and its abuse of the powerless.

Enslaved Africans made up the free… stolen!… labor which made the New World economy economically viable, in both North and South America. A culture in which human beings could be “owned” opened the way to rampant consumerism even before our current shopping-addicted culture. An entire continent based on theft might be expected to ingrain deep habits of acquisitiveness in its conquerors.

Mostly ignored by American historians, the uprising of slaves in Haiti and their subsequent defeat of the French military forces sent to retake the island resulted in the prevention of France from establishing any colonial presence in the Americas, leaving the English and the Spanish to duke it out for property rights. The establishment of a free Haiti also gave encouragement to slaves who dreamed of freedom elsewhere in the New World.

There is way too much of interest in this book to sum it up here. Painstakingly researched and sourced, this book is a valuable addition to the growing collection of works which tear away the veils of complacency which have, for too long, shrouded the violence and barbarism of the New World conquest in a soft, appealing patriotic mist.Read a book

Cooked

COOKED

Author Michael Pollan published The Omnivore’s Dilemma in 2006, a book in which he told us what we should eat for dinner.

In his 2013 book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, he tells us how we should cook our choices and why we should do that cooking ourselves.

But Cooked is much more than that.

In Cooked, Pollan looks at how the development of four different kinds of cooking – roasting, braising, baking, and fermentation – affected the development of human culture. For example: in the section on roasting Pollan opines how the acts of killing, butchering, and roasting meat over a fire led to the development of religious rituals and priestly hierarchies.

Part chef, part scientist, and every bit an excellent writer, Pollan entertains as he instructs. There are tips that will help you in the kitchen. There are explanations of chemical processes that you may never have considered. There are stories about people, how they prepare food and how they use food to enrich the lives of us all.

Read Cooked. It may transform your meals, and it might even transform your life.

The Last Blast of 2015

happy-new-year                The Old Lady is, well, getting older… so she was glad that there were places to go and things to do early on New Year’s Eve.DSCF9594First stop, Giulio’s Restaurant where Cindy Quick was serenading diners with jazz standards, accompanied by Nephtali Santiago on guitar. A fine meal, good wine, and wonderful live music from local musicians… you know the Old Lady was happy.DSCF9601

Then a stop by Jessica Donaldson’s Red Door Records and Cinema, where she was screening the movie The Great Gatsby and dressed to look the part. There was live music coming up later, but the Old Lady was tired and partied out and besides, the recreational munitions had begun to be deployed.

See, the Old Lady has gone out “for New Year’s” only once in her life. She and some friends took a taxi to the Moose Lodge for the midnight celebration, but about 11:45 some old geezer keeled over with a heart attack. A couple of people set in to do CPR and the victim was sitting up by the time the paramedics arrived. One of those who did CPR said it was the Scotch on her breath that brought him back. But it was really a buzzkiller.

HAPPY NEW YEAR from THE OLD LADY AND THE PURPLE DRAGON.purple dragon new year