love + love x 32 years = love again

I don’t even know where to start, but …  I. Fell. In. Love. Twice.  I know I’m about to go out of order here, but when have I ever been one to do what’s expected?  Ever? _______________________________________________________ The 2nd Falling (aka The Epiphany)  Early afternoon Saturday, May 19 The Music Loft Carrboro, NC with Finney I spy with my little eye … a set of used conga drums. Black and shiny. Drawn like a raven to bling that glints and sparkles, I circle. I thump. Go through the want v. need discussion in my head. Circle some more. Tap. Sigh. Covet. Mine. The price tag dangles provocatively. Cost includes the stand and travel bags, which is a good thing ’cause I’m surely going to need those when I go on the road with Santana.  That thought makes me laugh at myself out loud. The musician behind the counter and Finney, who is deep in bass accessories, turn to look at me. Suddenly it hits me. All this time … the boomerang drummer mojo was pointing me toward PLAYING drums, not playing WITH drummers. Instruments of mass percussion have been hollering at me my entire life and I wasn’t listening. No. They didn’t come live with me yet, and I’m fighting the urge. Yay’s or nay’s? ________________________________________________________ The 1st Falling (aka what really could be considered The 2nd Falling if you want to get technical about these things) Late evening Tuesday, April 2 What goes around … comes right back ‘atcha.  Back in February, right around V Day, I got up on my lovelorn high horse and rode around a bit.  It feels funny quoting me, but if you can’t quote yourself, then who? “From the view from my heart, I’ve been lucky in love.  Lucky enough to have fallen world-spinning, vision-blinding, crazy-making in love three (okay, five, maybe six) times in my life.  You could say it’s unlucky that I’m not with any of them, but that would diminish the original statement.  Lucky that I’m still good friends with almost all of them … those that are still alive with a sense of humor and forgiveness anyway. A couple who left a sweet space in my heart just went permanently missing. The bass player with the crooked smile and the long blonde hair. The cowboy D.J with a heart of gold and a voice to melt … well … anything, including me.  The one from art school that broke my heart in a gazillion pieces. He’ll surface one day. I just feel it. ” Exactly 50 days later. My bestie in Richmond calls. “Guess who I’ve just spent 2 hours with?”  Never a big fan of guessing games, I made some attempts knowing that she’d never be able to out-wait my wrong answers before the name of the “one from art school” rolled off her tongue. “And he’s looking for you.” My heart did some crazy acrobatics and my brain turned to puffed rice. The three of us were roommates together way back in the early 70’s when I was studying painting at VCU.  One of us (he and I can’t remember who, but it was probably me) picked the other up in a bar. After all, he was exactly my long-dark-hair-mustachio’d type.  A bad boy bass player (yep, I’m recognizing a type here).  He just never went home after that first night; that’s how he became a roommate.  We pulled my twin bed mattress underneath the bay window so we could see the stars and lay there every night talking ’til dawn about everything under the sun, moon, and stars while listening to 8-tracks  (Peaceful Easy Feeling,  South City Midnight Lady, Can’t You See,  Dream On, etc.) and an old Roberts reel-to-reel.  He was my first reckless love and he was trouble plenty. The last time I saw him was in Nashville 1980 when I watched him ride off back to Macon on his big blue Harley. That’s not all that long ago, right? Armed with a phone number, a glass of Vinho Verde, and a healthy sprinkling of cautious curiosity, I dialed.  Two hours later and something I didn’t see coming was going on.  Or fixin’ to.  For the next ten days and ten nights we spent two or more hours every night on phones in separate beds under windows looking at stars talking about everything under the sun = crazy time. Then 170 miles, 38 songs on the IPOD, up I-85/I-95 into the arms of a man who years before at the age of 23 made the ultimate sacrifice for me.  Familiar, as if 32 years was really just last week, we held hands and jumped right over that edge one more time.  Me and Finney … all giggly and goofy like teenagers.  Go figure. On second thought, don’t.  Just let it be. _______________________________________________________

The Blue Note Grill X 3 Last week was a 3 night Blue Note Grill week starting with EG Kight. Goodness gracious, can that lady sing and play guitar!  From the first note of “At Last” I got chills and had to hold back tears (some of which had to do with sitting there with this long-lost, newly revived love).   We had such a good time, I dragged him back on Friday and Saturday night. The BNG is my second living room.  Ok, ok, I know that it’s really Bill and Andrea’s living room, but they seem content to share it with the likes of me and all the other regulars.  I keep threatening to move into the Boom-Boom Room (their back room.)  Thank you both for letting us hang out and feed our musical souls and mouths!  By the way, that bacon-wrapped, deep-fried hot dog with chili and slaw is a wonderous thing. COMING UP AT BNG and you don’t want to miss this!

WillFest II

WILLFEST II, A Musical Celebration & Jam Sunday, June 3 3-8pm @ The Blue Note Grill in Durham Mike “Howlin’ Wind” Davis, harp player extraordinaire sent this open invitation: Will McFarlane’s big six-o birthday bash, jam and 2nd annual potluck dinner. Come early and bring your favorite dish. Free admission and specially priced birthday drink specials will be available.  Musicians please bring your instruments and come early to sign up. Music begins at 3pm. Equipment will be provided. Come rain or shine it will be fine. See y’all there!!! Peace and love, Howlin Wind *Will played with Bonnie Raitt and was a member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. It’s free, like Mike said, but donations are encouraged to defray travel costs. _________________________________________________________ Shuffling through love in 3/4 time (flashbacks & flashforwards)  Click the links to open YouTube! Conversation (Atlanta Rhythm Section) Walkin’ to my Baby (The Fabulous Thunderbirds) Still Alive & Well (Johnny Winter) Moondance (Van Morrison) Can’t You See (Marshall Tucker Band)

Angklung + Mickey Hart + Trampled by Turtles + Catch/Wilmington + Angklung

There’s an Angklung in my backseat.
And it’s been back there for about a week. Yes, I put it there.  But we’ll come back to that.
Mickey Hart/Cat's CradleCat’s Cradle.  Early & late … all at the same time.

4/17/12.  Mickey Hart at Cat’s Cradle was an all-encompassing visceral experience. There was so much “bottom” in that room that my bar stool was vibrating. Sexy as all hell and back.  I was having lascivious thoughts about that stool, and I think my friend Liz was too. Permanent vibrations. To be sure, I’m not a Deadhead, but Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum is just one of my favorite percussion albums.  So I was in it for the boom-boom pow.  There were Deadheads out in force. Whirling dervishes in tie-dyed  tees spinning out in worship … gigantic blow up “planets” swaying gently from the ceiling … and the punctuation mark … an old friend next to me who leans over to yell in my ear that he wishes he’d waited an hour to drop that blotter acid since the band didn’t start until nearly 9 instead of 8.  It was that kind of night.

Listen to Not Fade Away (Mickey Hart & Band)

Come to think of it, I think the Angklung belongs with Mickey Hart.

Megafaun at Cat’s Cradle

4/19/12.  Megafaun & Drive By Truckers.  I’m a Megafaun fan from way back.  Well, at least since 2009, about a year after they got together. Banjo and harmonies done thoughtfully and right.  Wikipedia describes them as an American psyche-folk band from Durham, NC.  Pssst … I liked them better than DBT, if truth be told, because the Truckers were so loud I had to go buy ear plugs.  That’s something I never thought I’d see myself type.

Listen to The Longest Day (Megafaun.)

Trampled by Turtles

4/23/12William Elliott Whitmore & Trampled By Turtles.  Trampled by Turtles, an indie-bluegrass-folk band, from Duluth blew in and took the Cradle with it all night long, including 2 salutes to Levon Helm with “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “The Weight.” What struck me was how many of the mostly-younger-than-me audience knew every lyric to those two classics. They are as tight a band as I’ve ever seen and I loved every note.  Those boys can pick a tune every which-a-way and back. Don’t miss TBT tonight on David Letterman.

Listen to Alone (Trampled by Turtles).  Get past that commercial.  It’s worth every second.
The Angklung is at least behaving itself in the back seat.  No clanging aloud.

Catch (Wilmington, NC)
Crab Cake

Catch/Wilmington,NC Thursday, 4/5/12
Keith Rhodes was a cheftestant on the most recent Top Chef Texas series on Bravo. I followed and cheered him on proudly like the good Tar Heel I am.  Gathering in Wrightsville Beach, NC for a family beach wedding, I jumped at the chance to visit Catch with my sisters and brother (and their families).

Wow, wow, wow.  We’re a foodie family and we don’t impress all that easily.  The menu is simple with fresh, local ingredients, when available. I started with a grilled asparagus salad followed by the Pan Roasted “Oriental, NC” Back Fin & Lump Crab Cakes with a White Truffle Mash + Mixed Farm Greens + Lobster Cognac Bisque.  Lord, help me.  It was eye-rolling.  In fact, everyone at the table spent the first full minute in a stunned silence as they took bites of whatever they ordered. Well, maybe there were a couple of orgasmic groans that I’m forgetting to mention.  Keith came by the table to meet and check on us. His beautiful wife, Angela, is the front-of-house magician to whatever he’s conjuring in the kitchen.  From the minute you meet her you imagine that you’re suddenly best friends, sipping sweet tea on a porch rocker somewhere. She had to show me their hydroponic herb garden growing behind the bar, and pulled out a basil plant that had roots so long they just kept coming and coming.  I’ll go back and you should too.
Ok, the Angklung.  I was at the Chapel Hill Historical Society and someone said “I just wish someone would get that clangy thing out of the back.”  Now, being a fan of clangy things, I said “I’ll probably be happy to take it.”  So I did without even knowing what it was … though, from the look of it, it was definitely some kind of percussion instrument. Which I’m also a fan of. (Did I really just end that in a preposition?  “Of which I am also a fan” just sounds so … so … like I was trying too hard.  I’m allowed a little poetic license, right?)

The Angklung

I imagined it had Asian origins. And it does. Indonesian, to be exact, played throughout Southeast Asia, mostly in Sudan. Bamboo tubes, carved and tuned to octaves, attach to a bamboo frame.  Hold the base of the frame in one hand while the other hand strikes the instrument. There are actually angkalung ensembles where each player strikes just one note or more, that when played altogether produces complete melodies.

I have no idea what I’m going to do with this clangy thing, but don’t hold your breath waiting for a personal performance.

Listen to Bohemian Rhapsody performed by the amazing maestro Daeng Udjo with his students from Saung Angklung, Indonesia performing at the Washington Monument Grounds – July 9th 2011

If this doesn’t make you laugh out loud, then you ain’t right, I say … not right.

‘Splainin’ + if it’s the beaches + o Canada + music to ….

I know, I know … I got some ‘splaining to do.  It’s been a month.  Coming up in the next few days is a full blown rave on dinner at Catch in Wilmington. Chef Keith Rhodes (Top Chef Texas contestant) & his wife Angela blew me away.

Driving from here to there, or there to here gives you time to think.  My head was in a different direction while my car was busy on highway 87 south.  It went something like this …

Have you seen me except in light blue suede?

What the hell ever happened to that pair of baby blue Frye Boots I used to have?  I saved a long time to buy those boots. When and where was the last time I saw them?  You’d think I’d remember if I left them somewhere and had to walk home barefooted.  Would I have given them away? Sold them?  Not likely.  Or maybe someone stole them.  But I’d remember that, right? Or maybe not.  It was, after all, sometime pre-80’s. I wore them to that Fleetwood Mac/Livingston Taylor  show in Little Rock.  Wasn’t that was the last concert I saw Sweet Connie of Little Rock, the ultimate rock groupie?

Boots. I was talking about boots.  I got to imagining a parallel world where all my missing stuff  – Frye boots … green cut-glass necklace from Chelsea … Flash, a dog I had in Atlanta … a Fender Rhodes …  still lives, all accounted for and still perfectly good. It’s right next to to that world where all the dryer socks go.  They can practically wave at one another across that universe.   Maybe Jack Daniels, or the major beer companies, should start putting “Have You Seen My _________ (insert name of item here)? for missing possessions on each bottle to help people locate their lost stuff? Now there’s a public service that would get some attention.

I won’t numb you with every detail about the last month … just the highlights.
March 19

Crook’s Corner impromptu 30th birthday celebration!  Congrats, y’all!  I didn’t take any photos, I was too busy enjoying myself with the likes of Moreton Neal, Marcie Cohen Ferris, Bill Ferris, Claire Cusick, Whitney Brown, Nancie McDermott, Dan Shannon, and countless others.

Put a pig on it!  And Matt Neal, son of original Crook’s owner Bill Neal, did just that.

Bill Smith and Gene Hamer joined me to record an upcoming edition of SideDish this week.  Stay tuned for it to air Sat. May 12 & Sun. May 13 on 1360WCHL.

Sunset Beach, NC

March 21 – Sunset Beach, NC
You won’t often find me turning down an invite to the beach.  Sunset is just one of my favorite places in the entire world. I can get downright lazy in a hurry not long after I unpack my car and hug up on my cousins. I drive the back roads taking neighborly pleasure in swooping down two lane roads waving at strangers, seeing farms, fields and towns so small they don’t even have a stoplight.  I’ve been making this same trip for nearly 5 years and now anticipate my own designated landmarks along the way …  the Church of Praise just the other side of Fayetteville down 87 where I tried to wait it out once in a torrential rainstorm. (When I pointed it out to my sister, she thought it read Church of Pause, so that’s what I see now every time I pass).  The roadside picnic table on 701 heading into Whiteville. And then there’s the intersection in Clarkton that’s my cue to put Jimmy Buffett on for the last 45 minutes to ease into beach mode.
March 27, Il Palio @ The Siena Hotel
Wine and whine with Wendy Sease and Susan Reda, new Director of PR and Special Events for Il Palio … actually, we did whine for a few minutes, Susan and I with a Gruner Veltliner and Wendy with a sparkling Rose.  About halfway into a glass, we drew the line at whining and dove eagerly into the cheese plate expertly arranged with Looking Glass Creamery Ellington, Chapel hill Creamery Carolina moon, and Chapel Hill Creamery Calvander with fresh honey comb, membrillo (quince paste), and pear mustarda along with housemade crackers.

Adam Rose and Isaiah Allen are masters with a an empty plate.  I’d marry either one of them in a New York second except for one tiny little thing.  They haven’t actually asked.  That, and they’re both already married.  *sigh*
O Canada
Dear those of you who can’t live without me,

I will NOT be packing my bags to move to Canada.

I’m only including one paragraph of their rejection letter.  But let me just say this … I’ve applied for over 28 jobs at Duke and have yet to hear anything. Thanks. No thanks. Kiss my ***. Go away. Nothing.   One application to a Canadian corporation and I get a response within 3 weeks.  I’m not giving up on Cirque though.  They need caterers on those tours.

Bonjour Deborah,  (Bonjour, Deborah … don’t you just love the sound of that?)
We have received your application for the position of Publicist, Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour. After careful consideration, we regret to inform you that you have not been selected for this position.
Best regards,
Cirque du Soleil
So the job search goes on and on and on.  I’m over-qualified. I’m under-qualified. I might get bored. I might not.

I sent this out today as a cover letter.  What am I becoming?

Dear Company,
I’m absolutely, positively and completely out of my mind for even sending this. After all, my lifetime of public relations experience includes damn near everything BUT working in an advertising agency.  I came close one time though.  When working for IFusion in NYC, our offices were in the former BBDO space on 5th Ave so it stands to reason that I just naturally absorbed creative advertising energy by osmosis.  They left behind a state-of-the-art gourmet kitchen, where as High Priestess of Corporate Culture, I served up culinary genius in hopes of feeding the imagination while brainstorming in a room made out of white board walls.

Heck, I don’t even know who you people are … but …  I have a wicked (sometimes irreverent) sense of humor, am 80% right/20% left brained, keep a Gene Simmons action figure somewhere on my desk along with a Magic 8 Ball in case I don’t have a good answer at the time and because I once met the son of the inventor.

Thanks for listening!

Now that you’ve read my response I am including the Craigslist ad just so you can see why I went where I went with the cover letter:

Do not respond to this Mid-Level Public Relations Position (Triangle)

Date: 2012-03-14, 12:26PM EDT
Reply to:

(just FYI, this is a real company, with a real job. This morning in Raleigh, it’s actually warm – spring is here, and I-40 didn’t have any real slowdowns). If you’re a talented PR Person, you shouldn’t be reading this ad. After all, if you’re any good, you probably have a cushy job at a cushy place, running your brain on auto-pilot every day, for if you actually used more than 15% of your brain, you would completely befuddle those around you. If you’re that kind of PR Person, and we hear about you, we’ll more than likely offer you a job. And after that, your days of faking it will come to and end. And on some days, you might actually break into a minor sweat, because we might not like your first plan. Or your second. Or third. You might even be a part of some several ground-breaking campaigns, fueled by your brilliant strategy, that gets so much National attention, your Facebook friends will get jealous of you. Which will cause other problems. If your style of PR is sending a carefully-crafted press release out everywhere, we don’t want you. However, if you’re into coming up with guerrilla ideas that gets our client on the 11:00 news, or get a million hits on YouTube, we’re interested.So, you’re probably best off not responding to this ad, for it might turn your life completely upside-down. Which is what we do best – there are many employees here whose lives haven’t been the same since they walked in the front door years ago.Regardless, hopefully we won’t hear from you.PS: If you’re completely out of your mind, and do respond to this ad, we’d like you to have up to 3 years experience doing PR for an advertising agency. No whiners.
Music on shuffle while job hunting:
Je Suis Desole (Mark Knopfler)
Against the Wind (Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band)
Boom Boom Pow (The Black Eyed Peas)
Keep the Car Running (Arcade Fire)
Come See About Me (Tedeschi Trucks Band)
Somebody That I Used to Know (Gotye)
I Dug Up a Diamond (Emmy Lou/Mark Knopfler)
Life For Rent (Dido)

O yeah + the Sand Bar + 100 years of Oreo + shuffle off to somewhere

O Yeah
I haven’t quite decided yet, but as job piles go, I either sank to the bottom of or climbed to the top this week when I found myself actually applying for 27 jobs in Canada.  Not the “eh” Canada … the “oui” Canada.  Queest-ce que je pensais?

Truth be told, for about the last 10 years whenever I found myself getting itchy for change, I’d do one of two things … come home from work, pour a glass of wine and scour the web for

1. beach bars for sale in the tropics
2. job opportunities with Cirque du Soleil

Note that both things involve wine.  Crazy, I know.  Two such disparate callings … there is nothing I can offer in the way of explanation.  Nothing that makes sense anyway.  Well, there was that childhood fantasy of running away to join the circus …

Soggy Dollar Bar Jost Van Dyke, BVI

In my own private version of Fantasy Island, Ricardo Montalban and Hervé Villechaize would be welcoming me.  De Bar!  De Bar!

The Sand Bar.  Built close to the sea on the sand, I’d never have to … well, do things like vacuum, sweep or mop ever again.  My toes … your toes … all God’s chillun’s toes would always be in the sand.

I’d pour wines I would drink, grill extraordinary seafood and cheeseburgers on my oil drum Chargrill  … basically spending all my days and nights polishing glasses, listening to music, wearing flip flops (or not), and living the low life.

A couple of years ago I found what could have been THE perfect place.  Island Blues, a bar in Coral Bay, St. John, USVI that had also been the home of the St. John Blues Festival.  All the signs pointed to “yes” … it was even on Carolina Avenue. How’s that for a sign?  I had this great idea that I could help raise the money by selling endowed deckchairs.  Beautiful teak numbers with an engraved brass plaque on the back. Your chair. Your beach. Your view.  Why didn’t y’all fall for that?  All I needed was 350 of my closest friends to fork over 1k each. You could be there sitting in your chair right this minute. You know who you are.

There was also the vineyard on Crete.  The small beachfront hotel in Roatan.  The seafront B&B in Belize.  Good thing my credit card has a low limit.  Yet, in the immortal words of Aerosmith, Dream on … dream until the dream comes true.

But back to Canada … about as far away as you can get from a tropical paradise.  It’s the frozen north. It’s where you ran away to dodge the draft. It’s Hymns of the 49th Parallel.

The same country that had American kids everywhere singing Alouette.

Currently being used in a Target TV commercial, I found myself singing along with this French Canadian folksong the other day. Did I know what I was singing? Not really, so I searched for translated lyrics online.  This sweet sounding little progression song is disturbing on so many levels.

Lark, lovely Lark
Lark, I am going to pluck you
I am going to pluck your head,
I am going to pluck your head,
And the head, and the head,
O-o-o-o-oh …..

All followed by the successive plucking of various bird parts ….  beak, eyes, neck, wings, back, legs and tail. YOW!

What we have here is a perky, infectious melody about bird dismemberment, innocently and happily sung by little kids.  Coming from a country whose national sports are ice hockey and lacrosse, a little bird bashing isn’t really such a big deal. Sure, this could have been written by a chef plucking a bird prior to cooking, but how much sustenance could the tiny lark offer after all that plucking?  But, here I go getting off track again.

Cirque du Soleil
Pure take-your-breath-away magic.  A circus worth working for in any language. Every time I’d verbalize my wish to work for CdS, inevitably I’d hear “as a performer?”  Smack your own face for even asking such a silly question. Of course not as a performer. Do I look like I’ve had years and years of acrobatic training to the exclusion of all else?  Bend and twist like a pretzel?  Soar across a room on a scarf? I do not. I wear scarves, not hang on to them 50 feet in the air.  But I could help them do it from behind the scenes.  Can you imagine how many people it takes to make all that magic happen on stage?

So this was the week.   Oh, I don’t expect to ever hear from them, but I created my own internal magic just by hitting the submit button.  Under special talents, I listed “can ask how to get to the library, as well as sing Alouette, Frère Jacques, Dominique, and La Marseillaise.”  I’d hire me just for that.

Happy 100th birthday to Oreo!

Regular or Doublestuff?  Twist and lick?  Just bite?  As a milk dipper? How do you eat yours?

Did you know that Nabisco holds a worldwide Oreo Stacking Competition?  How high could you go?_________________________________________________________

Shuffling off to Buffalo, over the Rainbow Bridge and hang a right … a variation on hymns from the 49th:
Long May You Run (Neil Young)
River (Joni Mitchell)
Great Big Love (Bruce Cockburn)
Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye (Leonard Cohen)
Love is Everything (Jane Siberry)

Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees + the name game redux + shrimp & grits throwdown

We’re Too Busy Singing …
My friend Mississippi posted on Facebook this morning “Davey Jones has died. I thought the woman was joking when she told me, but then I saw her face and now I’m a bereaver.”   That made me smile so I’m stealing it.

Yesterday when I heard, I couldn’t ignore the ripple of sadness.

There goes yet another puzzle piece of my youth.  Got me puzzling about all the pieces. And how we often think they’re all in place, only to see them come undone.  Forcing new pieces in to the missing space just doesn’t work. What happens to us when we lose those pieces that have been so firmly in place for so long?

Misspent or not, my life was held in place by music.  Notice I didn’t say grounded … grounded was what happened when you got in trouble.  My parents, frequent grounders of me, did not like The Rolling Stones, but they loved the wholesome Monkees. Ha … little did they know.  They even took us  … well … I already wrote about this and couldn’t say it any better with new words, so I’m quoting/stealing from myself:

“But back to Dad … who Christmas of 1967 gave us four kids two tickets each, and piled eight kids in a car to see the Monkees in Winston-Salem, only to find me sitting out in the hall in a euphoric haze while the Monkees sugar-popped away inside. “You’re missing the Monkees,” he said. The opening act was Jimi Hendrix and I was now “experienced.” Had seen God. At seventeen, I was too young to recognize the gris-gris that Mitch Mitchell was throwing out there, but I caught it anyway. At the crossroads, I went left and never looked back.”
-excerpt from Come They Told Me. dpm 2011

My IPod carries a good portion of the soundtrack of my life – past and present. Most of it anyway … though there’s not a Monkee’s song to be found. Yet. But I still find myself singing along to “Daydream Believer,” and “I’m a Believer” whenever I hear them.  One of my favorites was the rarely, if ever heard, “I Wanna Be Free.”

Michael Nesmith

I was a Michael Nesmith fan. I don’t know why I liked that wool cap, but I did. He was my first “type” and would come to define the kinds of guys that made my knees weak and my resolve even weaker,  especially after he grew a moustache and beard.  Gotta love a man with a beautiful Gretsch guitar.

His mother invented Liquid Paper.

I even gave my virginity to a Michael Nesmith look-alike who worked at Harry’s on Franklin Street.  Whenever I saw a picture of Nesmith, it took me back to the note that Jim (the clone) wrote on an order pad sheet and handed to me when he came to take our order …  “coffee, tea, or me?”  I ordered and we went to his place.  I spent the whole time pretending it was Michael Nesmith. I still have that note.  No amount of White-Out will ever erase that.

Long story short. AT&T accidentally cut my phone line doing an install. Almost 2 weeks to get them back.  Assigned repair tech calls this  morning to confirm that he’ll be here between 1 & 6pm.  What’s his name?  Robert.

Lordy, Lordy … another phenomTuesday night blues jam at The Blue Note Grill!  Trust me. Just go. Be amazed.


After putting on my best  Shrimp & Grits Throwdown face for this sold-out event at The Carolina Inn here in Chapel Hill, I was ready to mingle with  5 of my favorite celebrity judges, 7 of my favorite local chefs, and over 225 guests. Can you  imagine anything other than a mouthwatering afternoon? I was even considering taking my favorite spoon, but that would verge on tacky.

We judges, sequestered in the Sun Room with bottles of wine and plates of cheese, were warned that plates would come every 7 minutes. And come they did … each a unique interpretation.  Or course we tried to match each dish to the participating chefs.  And the winner was Trey Cleveland from Top of the Hill. Following close on his heels by only one point was Jimmy Reale, Carolina Crossroads/The Carolina Inn.  Fan favorite went to Vimala Rajendran/Vimala’s Curry Blossom Café whose version was full of palate-teasing Indian spiciness.

The event raised it’s goal of $2,000 for TABLE, Inc., serving Chapel Hill and Carrboro children at risk for hunger.

Music on Shuffle

Do you believe in magic? + the name game + Sunday supper + music on shuffle

Will McFarlane & Band at The Blue Note Grill

Holy rock and roller! 
Where there’s a Will there’s a way …  a Will McFarlane, that is.  Way is for his playing … as in way great … as in the way that everyone playing with him just automatically amps way up a couple of notches … as in the way all of us witnessing said playing at the Blue Note Grill last night are jaw-droppingly mesmerized … as in the way it turned into a family affair with Will’s wife, Janet, sharing vocals and son, Jamie, on bass.  Well, you get most of the picture … the rest of which includes Clark Stern on keyboards and Justin Holder on drums.  If you don’t believe me, go google these players.

Three sets, three handsome men sharing my table (Robert, David & Mike), and three glasses of Matchbook Cab later and I still wasn’t ready to go home and break the spell.  The band brought their A-game with Standy By Me, Bring it on Home, Do Right Woman,  Nadine, My Little Runaway, Dixie Chicken … it was pure magic. I could go on and on, but then I’d just be rubbing it in.
Robert \r(o)-be-rt\ a boy’s name pronounced RAH-bert is of Old German origin and means  “bright fame.” A favorite name for boys since the Middle Ages. Especially favored by the Scots due to 14th-century king Robert the Bruce and to poet Robert Burns. (Credit:

I know how many of you are laughing already. I’d laugh too if it wasn’t just so damn weird … and a little creepy, if I think about it long and hard enough. If you’ve heard, or read, about my boomerang drummer phenomenon, then you shouldn’t be surprised here … this is just one further example of my inescapable universal loop.  (Jump over here to peek behind the cymbals if you have no clue what I’m talking about.)

Somewhere early in the Life of Me, “it” was written. Or maybe the “Bob” fairy waved a magic wand over my bald baby head or cut my baby powder with something dark and twisty assuring that I would forever have some sort of Robert in my life. What Dr. Seuss character was let loose in my life story, I wanna know?  Bob, I am?  And why a Robert, fer cryin’ out loud?  Why not a Willie or a Sam? What possible lesson could I learn by having a Robert … or a Bob … or a Bobby … or a Rob?  None, I tell you … none.

But have them I do. It’s not even something you can take precautions against.  About a year and a half ago I was actually seeing two Roberts’ at the same time … and I admit right here and now that I got a bit of a cheap thrill out of it. At least I didn’t have to ever worry about calling one of them the wrong name during an intimate moment.

When I meet a man and he tells me his name is Robert/Bob/Bobby, I just smile knowingly and say “of course, it is” … much the same way I respond  “of course, you are”  if they tell me they are a drummer.

Far be it from me to try to make sense of this cosmic name game.
Robert, Robert, bo-bobert,
fee-fi-m0-mobert. Robert!

I don’t make this stuff up.  Cross my heart. Hope to ….
Sunday just squawks for roast chicken and biscuits.  And this Sunday it’s supposed to be cold and rainy, with even a slight chance of snow in the mix … so there you go.

Just slide some garlic herb butter up underneath the skin, nestle that bird in a big old Le Creuset pot with some white wine, garlic, potatoes, carrots, onions, fennel, mushrooms, peas and some tarragon tucked in around it … pop that baby in the oven for a couple of hours.

Serve it with a salad, biscuits, and a bottle of pinot noir.   And for those of you who only drink white wine with chicken … yes, it’s ok to drink white wine before Labor Day.

Is this a good time to mention that my friend Robert is coming over for supper?
Music on ShuffleMusic to shuffle through while roasting a bird:
The Funky Chicken (Rufus Thomas)
Fire (Bruce Springsteen)
Wasn’t Born to Follow (The Byrds)
I’ll Fly Away (Gillian Welch/Alison Krauss)
How Long (The Eagles)
Fly Like an Eagle (Steve Miller Band)
Free Bird (Lynyrd Skynyrd)

Advice for the lovelorn + love at any age + Glasshalfull + music on shuffle

My friend, Laurie, told me this week I should write something that includes advice for the lovelorn.  According to Merriam Webster, the definition of lovelorn is bereft of love or of a lover, of which I wish to state right up front, I am neither.  But just to be sure, I looked up bereft … an adj. meaning deprived or robbed of the possession or use of something —usually used with of.   The online Etymology Dictionary indicates it’s a term from the 1630’s … love + lorn (see lose).

I’m not sure why she thinks I would qualify to expound positively, negatively or otherwise on love or lorn, me being single and all … but she had me in a position on her massage table where I was so relaxed and in a state of complete zen that I wasn’t likely to argue with her about anything.   My earlier comment that a man should woo a woman for a lifetime must have touched her soul.  And I meant it … even if he has been sleeping next to her for 50 years in ratty old flannel pajamas.  Before I get into trouble, here, I also believe a woman has her own longterm wooing to do … both have to commit from the get-go to making and stoking fire.  In this case, it IS about the little things.

From the view from my heart, I’ve been lucky in love.  Lucky enough to have fallen world-spinning, vision-blinding, crazy-making in love three (okay, five, maybe six) times in my life.  You could say unlucky that I’m not with any of them, but that would diminish the original statement.  Lucky that I’m still friends with almost all of them … those that are still alive with a sense of forgiveness anyway.  There’s one from art school that I can’t find, but he’ll surface one day. I just feel it.  The real unlucky part is that in one of those, I fell alone. Totally by myself.  Oh, he pushed me alright, but once I was headed over the edge, he didn’t bother to fall with me.  Kerplunk! And I dangled there for more years than I can count. Too many.

But that was a long time ago and Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Love is in the air, as it should be.  To you upstate … I will always remain wistful  … I wish I had taken better care of your heart … you are the pirate’s booty in my life even today for the friends we have become.  I love you.  You know that.  To you across town whom I’ve  never met …  somedaymaybebaby.

Is that lovelorn enough?  ‘Cause it’s a beautiful day and I’ve got places to go and people to see.  Looking for love in places I never dreamed I’d go 🙂
Carol Woods. Saturday morning before Valentine’s Day.  Love at any age.
For the last 11 years, A Helping Hand has been the driving force behind an annual Valentine Delivery and Serenade that actually gets out and delivers more than 3,000 hand-crafted valentines to older adults.  Oh, wait … I’m an older adult. I guess I should say seniors.  How many years before I qualify for that?

This year kicked off at Carol Woods Retirement Community in Chapel Hill with a capella performances by the UNC Achordants, the UNC Loreleis, and the Duke Rhythm and Blue, who shared love songs with residents.  After performing in the assembly hall, the 3 groups split up to visit the various assisted living buildings and health care center residents delivering valentines, long-stemmed roses and love songs.

The UNC Achordants

Earlier when I was talking about luck … this is where mine kicks in!  I got to escort the UNC Achordants around. Imagine. Me and some 15 or so adorable and talented men.  Seriously.   These guys are  … ok, I’ll just whisper it  … hurt me now … awesome.  Even their Facebook page states “Singing people’s faces off since 2011 and still going strong.”  And don’t even start with me about tiptoeing into cougar territory.  It was not, I repeat, NOT about that.  They went above and beyond.  Go take a listen to More Than A Feeling on Grooveshark.

In one of the dining halls, several of these young men circulated the room, going down on one knee to take the hands of a few of the women. To see the girlish blush of delight on the women’s faces at being personally sung to by a handsome young man … well … that’s wooing at its finest.   Made my poor romantic heart proud.  UNC Achordants, y’all done good. Real good!

Coincidentally, my parents live here.  I had to hold back tears at watching my Mom, who has fairly advanced dementia, flirt with one of the young male singers.  She can’t remember who I am, but by God, she remembers the words to songs.   When I can’t reach her, we sing together and for a whisper of a moment we are connected again.


Should have guessed with First Friday Artwalk that Glasshalfull would be jam packed, and it was. Good for them!  I love seeing my favorite places (this being one of them) owned by some of my favorite people (these being Mickey, Betsy and Jim) filled with happy customers.   I was contributing to the happy … dressed up and out with a charming man, and he was enjoying that I decided to go with a little décolletage.

GHF is always at the top of my “go-to” list.  Armed with a bottle of  Row Eleven Pinot Noir (2007 Santa Maria Valley, CA), we shared the Charcuterie and Cheese Plates, so as to leave room for dessert.

Music on Shuffle

January is the new spring + The Music Arc + Shrimp & Grits

Is January the new spring?  It appears to be. I’ve been out without a coat. Not just once.  There’s things blooming in my yard. They should be afraid. Global warning at it’s freakiest. 

There’s fun to be had tonight at The Blue Note Grill, since it’s blues jam night and all.  And the full moon’s bound to have somebody howlin’.  What if it’s me?  Look out!

 I’ve got my hair up in pink foam rollers and am ironing my new blue jeans.  Not really, but you get the idea. I do plan to put on some clothes before I go, however.  They’ll appreciate that.

So I’m getting my head ready by listening to a couple of favorite music mixes … a little blues, a little rock, a little of this and that.  I’m head-bobbing as I type even now.  Alejandro Escovedo’s People We’re Only Going to Live So Long is making me smile.  Color me curious … I just can’t seem to stop my fingertips from googling … they have a mind of their own.   I start with You Tube and find something described as a “CHURCH FRIENDLY VERSION of a song by Alejandro Escovedo.”   WTH?  (This is me being nice and replacing the “fword” with the “hword” just in case my future employers are googling me 🙂  A church friendly version?  I personally can’t see anything offensive, but it takes alot to offend me.  I may just try to find a church to take this to. It’s practically a dare, don’t you think?

So on I go. Wait.  There’s a connection to Chuck Prophet, singer/songwriter of Summetime Thing, an old favorite that shuffles through on my IPod with surprising regularity.  Seems Prophet was co-writer on Escovedo’s Real Animal. Really?  The google path arcs off to Prophet and, low and behold, he has a new album, Temple Beautiful, that comes out TODAY!  And that arcs back to Yep Roc Records …. who are located just down the road in Haw River, NC.    I’m pretty sure this all has something to do with that full moon out there. I’m not exactly howling, but I’m moaning a little bit.

This cracked me up this week … and is one of the best explanations I’ve ever seen … so without further blah-blah:
Social Media Explained:
Twitter         –  I’m eating a #Donut
Facebook     –  I like donuts
FourSquare –  This is where I eat donuts
Instagram    –  Here’s a vintage photo of my donut
YouTube      –  Here I am eating a donut
LinkedIn      –  My skills include donut eating
Pinterest      –  Here’s a donut recipe
LastFM         –  Now listening to “donuts”
G+                 –  I’m a Google employee who eats donuts
Shrimp & Grits Throwdown at The Carolina Inn

Shrimp~N~Grits Throwdown @ The Carolina Inn

Seven local star chefs from renowned restaurants will compete for the title and bragging rights of Shrimp and Grits Champion in the inaugural Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chefs’ Throwdown on Saturday, February 25 from 1-4 pm at The Carolina Inn.

Tickets are $15 per person and can be purchased online at

The competing chefs (as of now) feature Jeremy Blankenship, Chef of Tyler’s Tap Room; Trey Cleveland, Executive Chef of Top of the Hill; Adam Cobb, Executive Chef of Glasshalfull; Bret Jennings, Executive Chef and Owner of Elaine’s on Franklin; Vimala Rajendran, Executive Chef and Owner of Vimala’s Curry Blossom Café; Jimmy Reale, Executive Chef of Carolina Crossroads Restaurant and Bar; and Adam Rose, Executive Chef of Il Palio.

Aaron Nelson, President of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber, will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the Throwdown. The judging panel includes Andrea Griffith Cash, Editor for Chapel Hill Magazine; Deborah Miller, Host of SideDish on 1360 WCHL and Simmer2Sizzle Blogger; Laurie Paolicelli, Executive Director of the Chapel Hill-Orange County Visitors Bureau; Kevin Schwartz, Director of The Daily Tar Heel; and Andrea Weigl, Food Writer for The News & Observer.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to TABLE, serving Chapel Hill-Carrboro children at risk for hunger. Patrons are also asked to bring canned food and nonperishable items to donate at the event. For more information, contact
I know, I know …. music on shuffle.  But I’m tired and want to go to bed. I promise I’ll shuffle off some notes in the morning.  Stay tuned.

The Blue Note + The Cradle + Chirba Chirba + Music on Shuffle

Ok, I admit it … I’ve been a bit distracted.  It’s not you; it’s me.  Really.

Let me count the ways. Numerous visits to the Blue Note Grill, a night at the Cradle (just last Saturday), a trip to Memphis (2 weeks ago), discovering some new music while in Memphis (more about that later), the holidays, etc…

The Blue Note Grill

The Blue Note Grill

The Blue Note.  I could live here maybe. I hear they have a sofa in the Boom Boom Room.  And I guess before I go spending any nights in there, I need to find out why it’s called the Boom Boom Room.

I tend to get in trouble here.  The really fun part is that they let me and kinda watch out for me while I’m doing it.   It’s my goal to introduce TBNG to all the uninitiated. If you are one of them and would like to change that, let me know and go with me next time … which is likely going to be for the standing Tuesday night blues jam with Butch Haas. Expect the usual suspects, plus some, including … get this …. two kids, one around eight, the other around twelve and you won’t believe the chops on these guys.  Tell Bill I sent you and see what that gets you other than a knowing smile.

New Year’s Eve 2012 – Memphis

New Year’s Eve, Memphis, TN.  Waved bye to Memphis in 1992. Now I go back once or twice a year. One of those is New Year’s. It’s like I never left.  It’s even predictable.  The only variables are the number of people around the table and how close we make it to midnight – the near or the far side. In the chaos and unsurety of life today, that’s a big warm and fuzzy.

The piano is the centerpiece. There are guitars. There are instruments of percussion (I know ’cause that’s what I play :).  There are songs that always get sung. Bob’s new songs. Andy’s new songs. Carol’s new songs. Geo’s new songs.

Then come the tried-and-trues like this song written by Andy, Carol, Wayne & Rick a couple of years ago …  06 LookWho’sComingHomeForChristmas.  Listen to it now. It should be a holiday standard AND it should be recorded by someone well-known and famous. We need to get this song to Scotty McCreery or Alabama or some other country artist … can anybody help me with that? All my rowdy friends are settled in the ground.

Multiple bottles of bubbly and God-knows-how-much-fun later, we weave off to bed. Some mornings we count the bottles … mostly we just squint at them wishing the bottle top would stop gaping at us all judge and jury like while eating toast, drinking coffee, and reminding each other who did what to who and why.  It’s once a year, fercrhissakes.  

Cat’s Cradle A chilly mid-January Saturday just seems to scream for finding warmth by rubbing shoulders with, hmmmm, 600 of your closet neighbors, most of whom you hope you never cross paths with again by the end of the night.  

Out of the teeming, loud, obnoxious and disrespectful masses in the sold-out crowd, my friend Liz and I may very well have been the only ones who were there to actually see and hear Jim Avett. It was clear that no one else cared that he was singing and playing his heart out to an audience there to see the MIPSO Trio.  The good news is that he’s performing in Chapel Hill again on Feb. 3 at Local 506 with Dark Water Rising.  I’ll be there. Respectfully appreciative and expectant.  And you … if you are reading this … you know exactly what I mean by expectant.

Chirba Chirba Dumplings

Chirba Chirba!  Eat eat!  Hoo hoo!

Congratulations, my little dumpling makers and food truckers.    You’re really going somewhere ( I only wish that somewhere included Chapel Hill, who still won’t support food trucks). 

Chirba Chirba Dumpling was featured in an episode of My Family Recipe Rocks, a new show on The Living Well Channel (HD channel 1112 on TWC if you live in Chapel Hill). 

Click here to watch!   Just try to pretend that former boy bander Joey Fatone is someone else. Anyone else.  If you haven’t tried Chirba Chirba’s Sweet Sausage, a sweet and savory Hong Kong style sausage … you need to get on that right now. 

AND … click here to listen to my recent SideDish interview with Chirba Chirba’s Chela Yu.  This show taught me about something other than dumplings.  I started every single sentence with the word “so” … made me cringe outloud.  So … working on that.

Music on ShuffleMusic to make up for going too long between posts
Let This Heartbreak Begin (Carter, Doster, Sexton Band)
Walking in Memphis (Marc Cohn)
Pennies on the Floor (The Little Willies)
Moonlight Kiss (Bap Kennedy)
Love – Renaissance, Part 1 – Marc Almond
Lime on the Rim – Bob Cheevers

Introduction to Carter, Doster, Sexton Band from Austin came by way of my good friend, Bob Cheevers, over the holidays.  I’ve got them on permanenet shuffle for the time being ’cause I just can’t stop with these guys.  Only been to Austin twice … both times back in ’79 first with Eddie Rabbitt and then a few months later when I was working with The Cars. We stayed at The Driskell. It was the advent of the Car Wash, an after show ritual that involved getting wet in the dressing room … I’ll say no more 🙂  Use your imagination, people. 

But thank you, thank you, B for this.  And as the last shuffle … that’s Bob singing one of my favorites of his.

Joe Kwon on SideDish + Papa Mojo’s + Blue Note Grill + Music for Making Gingerbread + Foodimentary

Joe Kwon - Taste on Tour: Food on the Road blogger & cellist for The Avett Bros.

Joe Kwon/SideDish – Click to listen
Yes, I’m feeling full of myself right now.  Don’t get me wrong, I love all my SideDish guests … there’s something that happens in that studio every time that almost always amazes and tickles me.  But having Joe Kwon, cellist for The Avett Brothers and fellow food blogger with Taste on Tour: Food on the Road sitting across from me felt … well … double, triple, quadruple wondermous.  This is a gentle classically trained musician who becomes a bow-shredding fireball on stage. 

Raise your hand if you don’t know that The Avett Bros. are up there at the top of my favorite list. If you aren’t raising your hand, you clearly don’t know me well enough.  Give me an afternoon and I’ll convert you.  

Stay tuned for air dates!  And thank you, Joe, for being that guy that I imagined you to be and letting me behave like the huge fan that I am.  Enjoy that travel pepper grinder! 

Delta Moon at Papa Mojo's Roadhouse

Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse/ Delta Moon
Follow me down this circuitous path for a sec. I promise it will make sense.  

Even though they met in Atlanta (not exactly the Mississippi delta), a pilgrimage to visit the home of Muddy Waters down yonder in Clarksdale, MS inspired Tom Gray and Mark Johnson to name their newly formed band Delta Moon.  Somewhere around 2007 they bring in a new bassist, Franher Joseph, who just happens to be from Haiti … again, not exactly a hotbed of blues. So how the hell did this unlikely crew morph into a hot rockin’ blues band with two … yep … two slide guitar players?  They just did and, I for one, am damn glad.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to see these guys for a good while … pretty much ever since my good friend Dwight sent me “Goin’ Down South,” an album from 2004.  So, color me frisky with excitement to see them on the schedule at Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse on Dec. 10.   What a show they put on!  Chef and Papa Mojo’s owner Mel Melton offered up his own wicked  mojo as he stepped in to jam from time to time on harp.

The bass

The bass.  I couldn’t take my eyes off the bass  … it looked like an Eminence upright acoustic, but what do I know?

It was one gorgeous instrument. All marled and shiny. With a beautiful sound. And the  guy playing wasn’t bad either! 

Plan to see these guys next time they criss-cross into the area. You’ll enjoy. Would I lie to you?___________________________________________________________

Will McFarlane at The Blue Note Grill

The Blue Note Grill
Second Tuesday in December.  Temps are dropping.  All the more reason to warm up with a sizzling blues jam, right?  Something’s going on inside … you can tell even before you open the door. As if static electricity is in hiding just waitin’ to surprise you with a crackling zing.
We’ve hit the blues jam motherlode!  Will McFarlane is in the house, guitar, kilt and all.   Think you don’t know him?  Ever heard of Bonnie Raitt?  The Pointer Sisters?  Jackson Browne?  Then you’ve heard Will. And for a good while, he’s been right here living quietly among us.
He’s a regular at TBNG and just his presence brings everyone jamming with him up about 30 notches.  All I can do is stand there marveling with TBNG owners Bill and Andrea … something along the lines of “I wonder what the unfortunate people are doing tonight while we get to sit here and listen to this?” 
Music on ShuffleMusic for making gingerbread
Sugar, Sugar (Wilson Pickett)
If (Bread)
Ginger Baker Drum Solo
Stir It Up (Bob Marley)
You Send Me (Sam Cooke)
Brown Sugar (Rolling Stones)
Foodimentary:   Did I hear correctly that Dec. 20th is National Sangria Day?  Very odd, if I may say so myself.