sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

July 26, 2005

37 cents
posted by soe 8:18 pm

On this day 230 years ago, the Second Continental Congress established the nation’s first post office department. So if the USPS has to raise prices in the next year or so and the price of a stamp goes up to 40 cents for a letter, just remember that that’s a ridiculously reasonable rate of inflation. (Plus, what else could you buy for 40 cents these days?)

Ben Franklin, our first postmaster general, earned a salary of $1000/year and had a secretary and a comptroller under him who each earned $340/year.

On a side note, Boston set up the first post office in the colonies in 1639. [Abby is correct; Massachusetts had finally approved the Constitution by 1939. Just shows I shouldn’t be allowed to play with numbers when I’m sleepy…]

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music music everywhere
posted by soe 5:23 pm

Well, we’re home. Vacation was just starting to get restful. Good thing we have another one coming up in September. And the cats were glad to see us roll in just before 3 a.m. Well, they might have been happier if we’d rolled in a little earlier, but that’s what happens when you’re driving home from vacation — you leave late, you drive slow, you stop to buy cat food…

I’ll post deeper thoughts on our vacation later on — after my brain has had a chance to regroup. In the meantime, I leave you with the list of new cds that now call The Burrow home:

  • The FRFF sets of Eddie from Ohio, Brave Combo, and Arrogant Worms — Eddie from Ohio were Eddieless so took on the moniker From Ohio for their festival performances (I also saw them hanging out waiting to autograph stuff in the cd tent and were impressed by their Nationals caps); Brave Combo is the headbanging, Grammy-winning polka alternative (way more fun than any of us thought they would be!); and the Arrogant Worms are a hilarious Canadian trio you should see live if you ever get the chance.
  • Erin McKeown‘s We Will Become like Birds — Erin wasn’t at this year’s festival because she’s busy being in demand — touring with Ani and getting ready to perform on Conan (Aug. 9!).
  • Crooked Still‘s Hop High — I was impressed by Aoife O’Donovan’s voice last year, but forgot to buy this disc then.
  • Signature Sounds Sampler #9 — This Connecticut-based independent label is home to many favorites — from Richard Shindell and Fred Eaglesmith to Tracy Grammer and Kris Delmhorst, as well as Erin McKeown’s early albums.
  • Paul and Storm‘s Opening Band — Two of the four members of Da Vinci’s Notebook, whom we discovered at Falcon Ridge a few years ago.
  • FRUiT‘s Burn — A catchy Australian band.
  • Tracy Grammer‘s Flower of Avalon — Sweet and soulful arrangements of Dave Carter-penned, but unreleased tunes.
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July 24, 2005

this is just to say
posted by soe 9:12 am

This Is Just to Say
— William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

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July 23, 2005

letter to n.y.
posted by soe 9:08 am

Letter to N.Y.
— Elizabeth Bishop

for Louise Crane

In your next letter I wish you’d say
where you are going and what you are doing;
how are the plays, and after the plays
what other pleasures you’re pursuing:

taking cabs in the middle of the night,
driving as if to save your soul
where the road goes round and round the park
and the meter glares like a moral owl,

and the trees look so queer and green
standing alone in big black caves
and suddenly you’re in a different place
where everything seems to happen in waves,

and most of the jokes you just can’t catch,
like dirty words rubbed off a slate,
and the songs are loud but somehow dim
and it gets so terribly late,

and coming out of the brownstone house
to the gray sidewalk, the watered street,
one side of the buildings rises with the sun
like a glistening field of wheat.

— Wheat, not oats, dear. I’m afraid
if it’s wheat it’s none of your sowing,
nevertheless I’d like to know
what you are doing and where you are going.

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July 22, 2005

past falcon ridge finds
posted by soe 10:04 am

This will be our sixth or seventh Falcon Ridge Folk Festival; we can’t quite remember which.

But in honor of yet another fun weekend of camping at an angle, I thought I’d share my top ten Falcon Ridge performers (the ones I was introduced to at the festival, as opposed to previous favorites):

  • The Paperboys — A fun Canadian band that plays great Celtic music. I love the fiddler, Shannon Saunders.
  • Meg Hutchinson — An amazing young woman, I was lucky to stumble across her at a vendor booth performance. We saw her open for David Wilcox a year or so later. Last year she performed in the New Artist Showcase and was voted one of the best from the showcase, so she’ll be back this year as one of the Most Wanted. It’s nice to be ahead of the curve for once.
  • Janis Ian — Yes, yes. I know she had a career in the ’60s and ’70s with “Society’s Child” and “At Seventeen.” But I hadn’t heard anything of her more recent material. But she’s definitely worth a listen-to.
  • Cheryl Wheeler — Absolutely hysterical. In addition to doing the pointed song “If It Were up to Me,” she also has performed songs about outhouses. Oh, and some more serious and tuneful things, too.
  • The Kennedys — Initially, I wasn’t as much of a fan of this husband-and-wife duo as Rudi was, but they’ve grown on me, particularly their live materials. It’s evident that they adore performing and will do it whenever and wherever possible. The year they weren’t invited to perform, they came as vendors and played backup for a number of artists. Last year, they came up after the stages closed at night and performed at some campers’ song circle.
  • Moxy Früvous — A “temporarily” defunct Canadian band reminiscent of Bare Naked Ladies. A ton of fun, if only they would get back together.
  • Erin McKeown — The first time we saw Erin, she was standing on an instrument case and playing at a vendor’s booth. We were totally taken by this huge, 1940s voice coming out of this tiny woman. I’ve seen her a number of times since then and am impressed anew each time. Clearly others agree, because she’s currently touring with Ani.
  • Vance Gilbert — The biggest voice in the festival. Huge. He goes off-mic on one song and is still audible at the top of the hill. He demands sing-alongs. He torments his ASL interpreters and, occasionally, a fan or two. He has a ton of fun, and so does his audience.
  • Eddie from Ohio — EFO is now a local band for us, and I’m so glad. Julie Murphy Wells has a huge voice, and she puts it to use on Sunday morning during the Gospel Wake-Up hour, as well as during EFO’s normal stints.
  • Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer — Dave Carter died three years ago just before the start of Falcon Ridge. It was a blow to every one of us who had ever heard his music before — to have him cut down before he’d had a chance to become better known, to share his gift with more people. Joan Baez played “The Mountain” for the Dalai Lama, who is reported to have liked it quite a bit. That was just the sort of writer he was. Tracy Grammer, his partner in music and in life, remains focused on furthering Dave’s legacy. I have yet to hear her new album, but the EP she put out last summer was utterly and completely heartbreaking. I promise to come home with her new album.
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July 21, 2005

cold and sweet, palpable excitement, and time away
posted by soe 10:32 am

Three beautiful things of the week:

1. Cold iced tea on a hot day. It’s been gross down here for the last week or two and iced tea has been the saving grace.

2. The atmosphere at Olsson’s last Friday night was one of quiet excitement. We arrived about 11 and were amongst the first ones there. The booksellers had put out cookies, soda, and Bertie Botts’ Every Flavor Beans (mine were okay, but Rudi ended up with a grass one). We worked on some trivia puzzles and then drifted into lines as the clocked ticked toward midnight. By 11:45, there was a good crowd, and you could feel the excitement growing. Finally, with a countdown from 10 that ended in a cheer, they started giving out the books. It was great.

3. We’re currently on vacation. We saw Spamalot on Broadway last night and are heading a little further upstate to Hillsdale today for the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. We’re going to camp with friends and their kids. We will barbecue. We will find some new music and maybe a wedding present for my cousin. We will see my folks and Gramma Sunday and Monday. We will hopefully come back relaxed and rested. Because that’s the whole reason behind a vacation.

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