Category Archives: Reviews & Shoutouts

Shout Out: Bringing Music to Life

bringing music to life logo

Al Bruno - promo photo circa 1940 - 1950

Dad’s (Al Bruno) promo photo ~ Chicago, circa 1945 (?)

Shortly after my jazzman Dad passed away last year, I received a letter in the snail mail announcing a contribution had been made to the Bringing Music to Life’s instrument repair fund in his memory by one of my cousins* and her husband.  What a perfect way to honor my Dad!

Founded in 2010, this non-profit organization not only provides musical instruments to students in underfunded schools throughout Colorado, but refurbishes each donated instrument before being placed in their eager hands.

“If you take a musical instrument that is in bad need of repair or even partial need of repair and put that into the hands of a 4th or 5th or 6th grader, they’re going to be very defeated when they try to play that instrument.  They’re going to think it’s them – they’re not gonna know it’s the instrument.” (Dan Parker, pres. Colorado Institute of Musical Instrument Technology)

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And The Winner Is…

“Admit it. You tuned in to see who won a copy of “What I Wish I Could Tell You.”  Well, I’ll get to that right after this…”

Thus begins a typical winner revealing post from the blog of L.Marie with my own book offering inserted into the original text.  That great opening line is in fact taken from one of my favorite posts of hers called “Wall-to-Wall People.”   It is a fine example of how easily she articulates thoughts I am only able to think. Continue reading

Camden Writers – “What I Wish I Could Tell You”

Transitions.

The officially stated theme for the 2016 Camden Writers Anthology #2.

Starting in January, I pulled about four pieces from my stash of vignettes relevant to the 2016 anthology theme – some started but unfinished, others already firmly written and in need of my critique group’s keen insights and suggestions, still others with germinal ideas and notes-to-self on how to proceed.

I discovered early on during critique presentations that even the one piece I thought was 99.9% ready to go, wasn’t. And that really was fine with me.  I decided I’d use the submission deadline as the catalyst for getting those pieces and ideas in shape for publication.

Meanwhile I was deeply ensconced in a regular routine spent on the practice stool prepping in anticipation of upcoming recording sessions for my Swimming with Swans: the music project.

Progress towards both project milestones were rolling along smoothly. However, I didn’t factor in the possibility of Dad entering into hospice care in April.

Transitions.

Thus began my precious Summer of Dad. Continue reading

The (Unwanted) Power of Three: Roland, Leonard and Leon

Whether superstition, or relative to some innate programming within the natural world, death often occurs in multiples of three. My own family has recently experienced two losses close together and I hold out hope that the power of three will not prevail in our case.

However, in the musical world, I have a tally of three personal favorites who have passed within weeks of each other. Like my taste, each one is different from the other in genre, temperament and level of public awareness.

The first to begin this trio was Roland Dyens. Continue reading

ShoutOut: Hospice is a Godsend

note: click here for hospice information

I’m gearing up for another trip out to visit Dad.  I’m officially on a ‘four weeks here and two weeks there’ schedule that is subject to change as Dad’s situation escalates; these next two weeks I’ll be ‘there’.

Dad’s steadily declining, but in a good way…not a panic stricken, fearful way because he is in the compassionate and knowledgeable hands of hospice and the Ashley Manor caregivers – all of whom I believe to be extensions of the Lord’s own hands here on earth.  During my recent five week visit, I interacted with the staff, healthcare professionals and other residents while visiting, sitting with, and eating with Dad.  They all have hearts of gold and strength coming from somewhere beyond the realm of human ability…I stand in awe and in deep appreciation of all they do on behalf of my dad and their 5-6 other elder-housemate residents.

Hospice is a Godsend.

New Book Release: Home to Cedar Branch by Brenda Bevan Remmes

                                 Waiting for Brenda
Home-to-Cedar-Branch-Novel-by-Brenda-Remmes
Of course wouldn’t you know, the day’s dark grey skies decided to pour forth a drenching rain the moment I stepped out of the car. Brenda and I were meeting that morning at the FloTown Starbucks on Palmetto for a quasi-interview, so I wanted to get there a bit before the appointed time.
After my mad dash into the tiny building, I quickly scanned the area for an available table. As a veteran of numerous coffee shops, I know that claiming one’s territory is best done first.  I planted my book bag atop my find as evidence of ownership then proceeded to redeem my empty bean bag* for a free cup of coffee.
Returning to ‘our’ table with java in hand, I settled in to read a few pages of ‘Home to Cedar Branch’ while waiting for Brenda’s arrival…

Home to Cedar Branch is Brenda’s second novel in the ‘Quaker Café’ series.  While not intended to be a part of an actual series, this stand-alone book clamors to be part of something larger than itself. Writing has a way of making demands on its author and Brenda is accommodating those demands by crafting yet a third book in the ‘Quaker Café’ series as of this posting.

Both novels, along with an in-progress third, are centered around the fictional community of Cedar Branch.  I asked Brenda if she would like to live in Cedar Branch.  Surprisingly, she told me that she Continue reading

Poetry Shoutout: “Heading North” by Andrew James Murray

Heading North book coverAndrew James Murray“I am a northern guy. I have lived the whole of my life in the north west of England. I feel northern. It is in my accent. It is in my attitude. It is in my preferences: my favorite season is winter…”

Thus begins Andrew James Murray in the Forward of his new collection of poems, Heading North.

 

This idea of ‘northern-ness’ in a non-American context intrigued me.

A mere 35 miles west of Manchester where Andrew resides lies the infamous town of Liverpool. I never thought of The Beatles as being ‘northern’.

And yet, thinking on this further, it begins to fall into place – this marriage of blue-collar work ethic to the arts and education; a gritty, earthy element evident in both (he)artists’ life-work.

Damp, dark mists surround day-to-day living in the North, where cold light slants in mysterious angles. This is where Andrew draws inspiration. Continue reading

Three Novels: Giving Them a Second Chance (with Quotes)

Have you ever picked up a best-selling novel or classic titled tome, started to read and then realized, “Nope, don’t like this, even though I’m supposed to because it is a best-seller/classic/got rave reviews”? Continue reading

Camden Writers Group Workshop

Camden Writers at Books on Broad

Camden Writers* at ‘Books on Broad’ book launch

 Here’s something one of my Camden Compadres wrote concerning the up-coming Writers Workshop our group is presenting September 26th.  If you live near here or are in the area at that time, please consider joining us in this event. Thank you Jayne, for making passing on this information easy…just copy and paste and away we all go!

First One Word, Then Another

At least twice a month, something magical happens in Camden. That’s when the Camden Writers meet to critique one another’s work, share writing advice, and offer support. To say that I’ve learned a lot from this group is an understatement. Without them, I’d still be flagrantly using adverbs and overdoing what Mindy calls “Those Be Words.”

While we all enjoyed the social aspect of meeting with like-minded people, our group began to want something that would compel us to write and submit our work. We noticed that many of our entries centered on family, tradition, and the power of memory. Soon an idea was hatched to develop a communal document, and we published our first anthology, Serving Up Memory, in October 2014.

At one of the first meetings of 2015, one of our members suggested that we publish our collectivejayne's writers workshop image work every other year and have a workshop in the intervening one. I could have hugged Ari Dickinson for that stroke of genius. Not only did it give all of us some breathing room, but it also provided an opportunity to tackle another project, one that would offer help, encouragement, and information to writers in South Carolina.

After months of planning, we have a date, a venue, and a splendid line up for our first Camden Writers’ Workshop. First One Word, Then Another will be held from 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM Saturday, September 26, 2015, on the downtown Camden campus of Central Carolina Technical College at 1125 Little Street. Late registration and a “mix and mingle” with light refreshments will take place at 8:30. Continue reading

In Search of a Replacement Classical Guitar Case

In 1994 I purchased my first custom handmade classical guitar.  A Thomas Prisloe.  Crafted with an Englemann Spruce top, Indian Rosewood sides and back and customized features, it came housed in a Pro Tec International case.

My 1994 Prisloe nestled in its original Pro Tec International case, 2015

My 1994 Prisloe nestled in its original Pro Tec International case, 2015

Both have served me well these past 21 years of gigging, performing, recording, teaching and traveling.

The woods of this guitar have long since opened up, developing a tone quality shaped by the touch of my fingers and style of playing.  The case remains a stalwart protector of its charge.

Heavily padded, yet extremely lightweight and durable, this case kept the Prisloe at a consistent temperature and humidity level as well as safe and secure during transport.  It didn’t show signs of falling apart until we ended our between homes journey in July 2012. Continue reading