Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Loufest 2010

It was Loufest's first year. I'm very glad to say I was there & a part of it!

Being the jaded ex-record retail junkie that I am, it's pretty hard to really impress me. I'm often beyond critical, especially after working my fat patootie off in the heat all day. But blown away I was. The Carolina Chocolate Drops were already on my radar. I'd heard some cuts, liked 'em a lot and was excited to be seeing them. To say that they did not disappoint would be the understatement of the year. The 'Drops exude passion. They are intense, fun, amazing musicians and freakin' musicologists on top of it! They didn't just learn old songs. No, they excavated them from the depths of history with the finest musical archeology tools imaginable, then made them their very own. Everything old really is new again when the Carolina Chocolate Drops are involved. Maybe I should have just said..... wow! Best set of the festival. (Sorry, Alejandro, but you were in the top three. Love the new record!)

Everyone knows I'm a Tweedy fan. Yes. Yes, I am going to gush over Jeff's solo set. All official day mayoral proclamations aside, it still sucks to play on a hot stage with the sun setting directly into your eyes. But the show went on and Jeff held the audience rapt with attention, hanging on his every word. Usually STL crowds are not respectful, but somehow it happened. It was fun to sing along to New Madrid again and be flooded with memories during Jesus, Etc & Misunderstood. After all these years, it seems Jeff has finally become at ease with his past. Maybe I should take a cue from him. For a thorough review & set list, click over to the RFT blog. You'll find reviews of the whole fest there, too.

One more shout out to Loufest..... It was clean! Tons of recycling stations, even manned ones to tell you what to put where, resulted in very minimal trash on the ground. There were tons of reasons to like Loufest, maybe next year you'll have the opportunity to discover some yourself.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why do I?

To answer the question, damned if I know.

Sometimes I wonder why I do the things I do. Hours of my life are spent taking pictures few will see, writing words few will read, composing songs few will hear, creating art few will experience. Is it time wasted? Is it a life wasted?

Yet there is that voice inside that pushes me forward to do these things. Without them, I am not whole, I am not true; I am not me. But like the tree that falls in the forest, if no one hears the song you sing, does your voice exist? Certainly it does, as does the tree. But does anyone care? More importantly, does it matter one way or the other if anyone cares?

Art for art's sake, art for the emotional sake of the artist, most likely describes the majority of notes, words and brush strokes created since the dawn of time. It feels good. It feels bad. It feels. A spirit from within is released as the soul of the work is captured. This is magic. But why do I feel the need to create?

As children, it seems we all have this creative urgency. Imaginations run wild in a world of pretend. Some never leave. Others do. Why? Doctors try to explain it away with left brain, right brain, nature and nurture. But it seems that there is something more. An secret yet undefined at the heart of art.

With the dawn of the internet, sharing art is a click away. Websites are filled with photos, drawings and MP3's uploaded by millions of people. You're reading my words, you see my photos, at another page you can hear my songs. Few of the many, but there nonetheless. It makes me no money, it gains me no fame, no one will remember me when I'm gone. So why should I do it? Why do I? Because.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Presto Pesto

Ah, pesto. So green, so fresh, so summer in a jar. Yes, it's the annual pesto post. Basil was plentiful this year. My plants loved growing in their five gallon pickle buckets, much more so than in the garden proper.

And why not? Although I cannot deceive or claim it to be organic, because the secret to their happiness was Miracle Grow Potting soil and those weird granules that turn into a gelatinous, water-holding goo in your container. So be it, I have basil to beat the band and it's delightful!

We've made caprese salad, put it in bruschetta topping, livened up drinks, dropped it into all sorts of recipes, but the main reason I grow so much basil is to make pesto. On pasta, on pizza, in salad dressing, on cheese garlic bread, in either a cream or red sauce as variation, stirred into soup, a jar of pesto can be a chef's secret weapon.

It can be a bit time consuming, I'm picky so I pinch or snip off only the leaves which takes longer. (You can use the stalks to make basil water. Bruise, steep, strain, freeze in cubes, use in soups, stocks & refreshing drinks. Thank you, Martha.)

Grind it up with garlic, pine nuts or cashews, really good extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of sea salt, some citric acid to keep it green, lemon or powder, and some romano or your choice of hard cheeses. Experiment! Everyone likes it a little different. Some like it chunkier, some like it smoother, some like lots of garlic, I like a lot of basil and less nuts & cheese, (I can always add more cheese when I use it).
There're even pestos made from parsley & cilantro... but to me that's just not "Pesto". Not really. Give that stuff another name and leave me to my basil. We're very happy together.