Archive for August, 2008
With Labor Day weekend upon us, I can’t help but think about people leaving town and picnics in the country. And when I think about a great picnic there is always one store that comes to mind, the Oakville Grocery in Napa.
Long before Whole Foods, and even before there was a Zabar’s or a Balducci’s, there was this little country store tucked away neatly in the Napa Valley on Hwy 29 called the Oakville Grocery. Located in the very small town of Oakville on the corner of Oakville Crossroad next to the town’s post office, the Oakville Grocery has had its doors open since 1881. Their shelves are filled with all that is right in the world, with delicacies from near and far, specializing in the local products of their neighbors, meaning some of the best wines, cheeses, and produce available anywhere in the world.
It is always such a treat to stop there on my way to visit some of the local vineyards or on my way to Calistoga for a good ole fashioned mud bath. Even if you’re going to cleanse the body it’s always good to have your toxins of choice ready and within reach. ☺ As far as I’m concerned there is no place like the Oakville Grocery, a small store with great made to order sandwiches, wonderful salads, multitudes of cheeses to choose from, all kinds of charcuterie, amazing mustards, olive oils, baked goods and homemade preserves. I can’t go to wine country and not make the stop. I would feel cheated! It is a food lover’s paradise, a little piece of “nirvana” on earth. And for those of you who like to cook, they have a special section of their website that is dedicated strictly to recipes such as Butternut Squash and Pear Soup, Gingered Pork with Blackberries, Pear Butter Nut Bread, or Cajun Bread Pudding to name a few. There’s something for everyone even if you can’t make it in person! But if you will be making the trip to Napa or you have friends or family who will soon be doing so, pass this tip along. You’ll be so happy you did and your friends will thank you.
If you’re not familiar with the CD “Long Black Veil,” it’s a compilation CD of traditional Irish folk songs that was put out in the mid 90’s by the well known Irish group, The Chieftains. The CD features The Chieftains who teamed up with a great roster of musicians to produce one of their most popular albums to date. With collaborations with Mick Jagger, Sting, Van Morrison, Ry Cooder, Sinead O’Connor (featured below), Mark Knopfler, Marianne Faithful, and Tom Jones, the album was a big success with the Van Morrison song “Have I Told You Lately,” winning a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
The Chieftains, best known for making traditional Irish music popular began in 1962 but it wasn’t until 1975 that they started to play together fulltime. Since they have performed with musicians from Elvis Costello to Ziggy Marley, Carlos Nunez to Lyle Lovett, a very wide spectrum of artists. They have been nominated for 18 Grammy’s, have won 6, and have been honored in their own country by being officially named “Ireland’s Musical Ambassadors.” The bands leader is Paddy Moloney who composes and arranges most of their music.
Below is the Sinead O’Connor and The Chieftains collaboration from the “Long Black Veil” CD. It’s an Irish song called “The Foggy Dew.” I hope you like it!
To view this video of Sinead with The Chieftains, cut and paste the link below into your browser.
Lately, no pun intended I’ve been tuning into “Chelsea Lately,” starring Chelsea Handler as its host. I love late night TV and find myself flipping through the channels to see who’s on, which are repeats, and who might be discussing a topic I find entertaining that day or night. Recently more than not the 11:30pm slot has been going to the E Network and “Chelsea Lately.”
I can’t quite tell you why, as I’m a big fan of Stephen Colbert, and I’m always curious as to who Charlie Rose is interviewing each night, and of course there are always “Family Guy” reruns, but unfortunately I’ve seen most of them. But for some reason I’ve really been enjoying the wit, humor, and banter of this 11:30pm show on the E Network.
I like her round table of comedians and guests that start off the first 15 minutes or so of the show, listening to their refrains and retorts to the topics she feeds them relating mostly to pop culture and pop culture icons. I enjoy seeing the crazy outfits her sidekick Chuy wears be it his plaid pants or some sort of other festive get up, and the symbiotic relationship they have with one another. I like her irreverence. She’s funny, she’s smart, she’s caustic but she’s not cruel, or terribly cruel. She’s got the timing of an excellent comedienne, knows when to cut someone off, and not only makes fun of others but herself as well, at times doing so by bringing up her Jersey roots, or her Jewish father and Mormon mother, and sometimes her older boyfriend.
The show is very loose. After the round table she usually interviews a guest or shows funny sometimes a little too over the top video’s that she and Chuy have made. When interviewing her guests she is very informal. Her guests seem to genuinely like her, and are comfortable revealing themselves to her. She likes to bait them and they usually go for it.
The show has aired on E for a little over a year and I’m told that E has ordered another 150 episodes. You can also see Chelsea Handler do her standup routine. It’s usually listed on the E Network website under her show or you can link from there to her Myspace page, which also lists her live performances other than “Chelsea Lately.” Chelsea Handler has written two books, the first a sort of memoir entitled, “My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands,” and her latest, “Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea,” which is a collection of humorous essays. Both books have been on New York Times bestsellers list.
So if you find yourself up around 11:30 one weekday night, and you don’t quite know what to do with yourself, give “Chelsea Lately,” a shot and turn on the E Network. Let me know what you think.
Brazilian singer from Bahia, Margareth Menezes gets you moving. Her African influenced Brazilian songs infuse a song with the best of both worlds, the beautiful sounds of the Portuguese language and Brazilian rhythms mixed carefully together with African percussion, drums, and sometimes reggae. She is an infectious singer very popular in Bahia and Brazil, and many other parts of the world.
An awarded Brazilian pop star she came to the attention of David Byrne when he was exploring Brazilian music and singers. She later toured with him in Europe and the U.S. Most familiar with her “Kindala” album, which has been a favorite of mine for a number of years, I have only had the opportunity to see her perform live, once. She played at Central Park’s SummerStage during the Brazilian film festival several years back and the audience loved her! The second she got on stage everyone got up and started moving to her grooves and didn’t stop until the end of her encore performances. It was truly energizing. Her second album “Elegibo” stayed in first place on the billboard world music charts for 11 weeks when it was released, and Rolling Stone rated it one of the five best in the world under its world music category.
Below is a YouTube performance I found of Margareth Menezes singing her song “Elegibo” in Brasil in 1994. It will give you a good feel for the love she has for her music and the love her fans have for her.
As the summer comes to a close, I need to mention one of my favorite places in New York City, The Cloister’s and Ft. Tryon Park. For those of us who live in NYC sometimes we forget it’s there, or it seems like a distance to go and too much out of the way, and for those of you who only visit NYC it could be a place you never even heard of before now.
The Cloisters are exactly that, architecturally speaking that is. The building is a castle like building that incorporates elements from five medieval French cloisters and other monastic sites in southern France, and houses the Metropolitan Museum’s medieval collection of approximately 5,000 works of art from medieval Europe dating from about A.D. 800 with emphasis on the 12th through 15th centuries. It is best known for its tapestries and also for the beautiful serene gardens incorporated throughout the museum building and its beautiful grounds, which are nestled in and a part of Ft. Tryon Park. Three of the gardens feature horticultural information found in medieval treatises and have been planted accordingly. It is a wonderful place to lose yourself either in the art, the gardens, or a little of both. The art at The Cloisters focuses on the Romanesque and Gothic periods and displays besides the beautiful tapestries a large collection of manuscripts, stained glass, metalwork, enamels, and ivories.
Visiting inside The Cloisters one definitely feels like they are out of NYC and this country for that matter. It is a wonderful place to escape to and once out of the museum confines you step into a New York City park treasure, Ft. Tryon Park.
Located at the northern tip of Manhattan both The Cloisters and Ft. Tryon Park offer some of the most stunning views of the Hudson River. Looking off into the distance there is just water, trees, and foliage, and an incredible sense of peace. In the park you will find absolutely beautiful grounds, wonderfully planted gardens, a great little café set up for outdoor or indoor dining, and many nooks and crannies you can claim as your own. It is less crowded then Central Park and as stunning in its own way. Also with fall coming soon you can see some of the best foliage NYC has to offer from this vantage point.
So if you haven’t been to the Cloisters or Ft. Tryon Park lately, consider making the trip while the weather is still beautiful and you can enjoy all it has to offer. If you’re visiting NYC and have never been to The Cloisters and the park, it is a NYC treasure chest and well worth the time it takes to get there. With easy access from both the Henry Hudson River Parkway and also the A train there is no excuse not to go.
For more information regarding The Cloisters including directions, hours, and suggested donation fees go to: http://www.metmuseum.org/cloisters/general
I was lucky. I got to see Stevie Ray Vaughan perform before he died. I was a big fan and had gotten tickets to a Bay area double bill concert where Stevie Ray and Bonnie Raitt performed both solo and together. Little did anyone know that such a young talented performer would not be around for much longer. The day I found out he had died, I cried. The world had lost one of its most passionate and talented guitarists, and I had lost a guitar hero of my own.
Stevie Ray Vaughan was born in Dallas, Texas. His older brother Jimmie (Fabulous Thunderbirds guitarist/vocalist), taught him how to play guitar and was one of his biggest musical influences. Stevie Ray started performing in clubs as a teenager and dropped out of high school permanently to pursue music full time when he moved to Austin, Texas. He never learned how to read music and played entirely by ear.
Having beaten his dependency on alcohol and drugs. Vaughan was straight the last four years of his life. The night of his helicopter crash he had been playing a concert in Troy, Wisconsin along side Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, and his brother Jimmie. After the show he was offered a ride back to Chicago in a helicopter with some of Eric Clapton’s crew. He opted for the helicopter over the two hour drive. The copter crashed soon after take off not far from the concert site, and Clapton and Vaughan’s brother Jimmie were called the next morning to identify the bodies. The music world was soon mourning a great musical loss, as was I.
But during his all too brief life Vaughan put out some of the most inspiring guitar work of the century. Ranked the 7th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone, and number 3 by Classic Rock Magazine, Vaughan was highly respected by all his peers. In the 80’s Keith Richards and Mick Jagger saw Vaughan perform and asked him to play a gig in NYC. This began his greater exposure culminating in his bands first big break in 1982 performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Soon after he met Jackson Browne who gave he and his band “Double Trouble” free studio time to record at his studio in LA. Also around this time David Bowie asked Vaughan to play on his album, “Let’s Dance,” which became a huge hit. In 1989 the band recorded their 4th album entitled, “In Step,” and it won the Grammy that year for “Best Contemporary Blues Album.” It was while touring to promote “In Step,” that on August 25th 1990, Stevie Ray Vaughan died at the age of 35.
The track I chose to feature is a live performance of Vaughan and his band at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1985. I hope you enjoy listening to one of my all time favorites and guitar heroes. Thank you Stevie Ray for all you gave us!
To view this video simply click on the link below or cut and paste it into your browser.