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The Midnight Ramble

21 Apr

This past Thursday – April 19, 2012 – was a very sad day.

The day Mr. Levon Helm lost his battle with cancer.

The Los Angeles Times ran a very nice obituary on Friday…

“…his approach to music throughout his life was “The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show,” an ode to the kind of freewheeling gatherings in which the musician, who died of cancer Thursday at 71 in New York, thoroughly reveled.

When your arms are empty, got nowhere to go

Come on out and catch the show

There’ll be saints and sinners you’ll see losers and winners

All kinds of people you might want to know”

…while reading it I was taken back a few years – to May 2008, in fact.

To my experience at Levon’s Midnight Ramble.

From the Ramble’s website:

“A gracious host, Levon invites you to his home studio in Woodstock, N.Y… Inside “The Barn,” which is really a large recording studio attached to Levon’s home, you’ll see a stage, a cozy fireplace and plenty of seating. The ambiance of the place will give you a feeling that is personal and intimate, casual and friendly, and you know you are about to be part of something very special.”

Very special, indeed!

I went with my music pals, M&E, to Woodstock for a Ramble.

Here’s the outside of the “Barn”:

And here are my pals, next to the sign that is the very bane of my existence:

“No Cameras” – how I HATE those words!

I knew that was the rule of the Ramble, so I didn’t take with me my good camera. I took along a little point and shoot – in case it was confiscated, or in case I was told to leave it in the car. And even though I got inside with it, I didn’t dare try to take any pictures during the show.

We were seated so close to Levon, that M (who was seated on the aisle) might have stretched out and touched the drum kit, if he had wanted to!

The Ramble was AWESOME. Levon seemed to have the energy of a 30-year old man, and his nonstop grin lit up the room. The band was tight and incredible and everyone was having a blast – especially the players. Especially the audience.

Especially Froggy.

Froggy was excited about having his picture taken with a couple of the Helmland Security men.

I was kind of hoping to loosen them up so I could sneak a picture or two.

(Now, I totally get it. No one wants flashes during a show, or people standing to to take pictures. But does a discreet snap or two really hurt anyone?)

No, I didn’t take any pictures during that magical performance. But here are a couple I grabbed as the players were leaving the room.

Daughter Amy Helm waving from the drum kit:

And here, you can see a bit more of the barn, and of the upstairs loft:

I always meant to go see another Ramble. It didn’t really occur to me that time was so fleeting…

I am proud to have this Elliott Landy original photograph hanging on my wall:

Isn’t it remarkable and bitterly sad that those three charming, handsome, talented young men on the left are no longer rambling around on this Earth??

Thankfully their music will live on forever and forever.

I know some of us are in The Helm camp – some in The Robertson camp – when it comes to The Last Waltz and the bitter feud that followed… I am simply in The Band camp.

Happy, thankful to have photographs to gaze upon, movies to watch, music in my soul, memories to cherish… I close today with:




My Little Dill-Weed’s Birthday Today!

14 Apr

Yes, once again the day has come – April 14th. This day in history: the Titanic struck the iceberg, and the day my sister’s youngest child was born.

Dyl is 21 years old today!

How did he ever go from this:

to this:

“Those awkward years have hurried by, why did they fly away?

Why is it Sir, children grow up to be people one day?

What takes the place of climbing trees, and dirty knees in the world outside?

What is there for you I can buy?

If you wanted the world I’d surround it with a wall.

I’d scrawl these words with letters ten feet tall: To Sir, With Love.”

Happy, HAPPY 21st Birthday, Dylan!!! Hugs, hugs, hugs and more hugs!

(Lyrics from “To Sir With Love” by Don Black and Mark London – one of my favorite movies of all time!)





22 Jan

Just the other day I was walking on West 57th Street near Carnegie Hall and I passed Steinway Hall.

Or, I should say that I passed Steinway Hall – did a quick double take – then backtracked to stare into their window.

For those of you desiring a bit of history, info and trivia:

Steinway & Sons is a premier piano manufacturing company; their handmade pianos are regarded by many to be the finest in the world.

Papa Steinway (Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg) started making pianos in his German kitchen in 1836. He and his family emigrated to the United States 1n 1850.

According to Wikipedia:

In 1853, H.E. Steinweg founded Steinway & Sons. His first workshop was in a small loft at the back of 85 Varick Street in the Manhattan district of New York City. The first piano produced by Steinway & Sons was given the number 483 because H.E. Steinweg had built 482 pianos in Germany. Number 483 was sold to a New York family for $500, and is now displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Cool, very cool! I want to go see that first American Steinway piano #483 at The Met!!

More from our friends at Wikipedia:

Steinway Hall  is the name given to buildings housing concert halls, showrooms and sales departments for Steinway pianos. In 1864 William Steinway (the son of H. E. Steinway, who is credited with establishing Steinway’s remarkable success in marketing) built a set of elegant new showrooms housing more than 100 pianos on East 14th Street in Manhattan, New York City. In 1866, William Steinway oversaw the construction of the first Steinway Hall to the rear of the showrooms.

The Steinway Hall seated more than 2,000 and quickly became an important part of New York City’s cultural life, housing the New York Philharmonic for the next 25 years until Carnegie Hall opened in 1891.

Concertgoers had to pass through the piano showrooms; this had a remarkable effect on sales, increasing demand for new pianos by four hundred in 1867 alone.”

Brilliant marketing!!

From the plaque on the 57th Street building, in part:

Steinway Hall was constructed in 1924-25… After Carnegie Hall opened in 1891, West 57th Street gradually became one of the nation’s leading cultural music centers. Steinway & Sons followed this trend, relocating to this area from East 14th Street… Steinway & Sons continues to be the city’s only remaining piano maker.”

It’s interesting to me that neither the entry in Wikipedia or the historic information on the Steinway & Sons website mention the move to West 57th Street. I wonder why??

Well, a bit of interesting Steinway/WWII trivia, again from our friends at Wikipedia:

During World War II the Steinway factory in New York City received orders from the Allied Armies to build wooden gliders to convey troops behind enemy lines. Few normal pianos could be made, but some 3,000 special models were built by Steinway, the Victory Vertical or G.I. Piano. It was a small piano, able to be lifted by four men, painted olive drab, gray or blue, designed to be carried aboard ships or dropped by parachute from an airplane, in order to bring music to the soldiers.”

Amazing, to think of pianos being parachuted out of planes, during the war!

Anyway, back to what draw my attention in the showroom window:

The John Lennon “Imagine” Series Limited Edition piano.

The sign in the window reads:

To commemorate the 70th birthday of a true creative genius – legendary musician and songwriter John Lennon – Steinway & Sons proudly introduced the “Imagine” Series Limited Edition piano. Modeled after the white Steinway that John presented to Yoko Ono on her birthday in 1971, this piano incorporates John’s drawings, signature, music and lyrics. Each piano bears a medallion indicating its uniqueness. “Imagine” was composed on a Steinway piano, and today the connection lives on through a piano that is a tribute to the man, the music and the message.”

“Excellent!” I thought. But then I thought, “John Lennon was born in 1940. He was 40 years old when he was murdered in 1980.”

I guess this sign and this piano have been here in the Steinway widow for a couple of years.

Brilliant marketing!!

Well, it made me stop and look! And who knows? If I had oodles of money (and space), maybe I’d be tempted to buy one of these Limited Edition pianos.

BUT, on the Steinway & Sons website pertaining to this series, the page is blank.

Have they have sold out of the series? Either way, they seriously need to update their website.

Anyway – before this post’s grand finale – here is one more bit of trivia about John’s white Steinway piano, again from Wikipedia:

The world’s most expensive upright piano was built by Steinway’s factory in Hamburg, Germany, in 1970. The piano was bought by John Lennon for $1,500; Lennon composed and recorded “Imagine” and other tunes on it. In 2000, it was sold at auction by a private British collector. Pop musician George Michael made the winning bid of £1.67 million.”

I don’t know what that was in 2000 conversion rates, but in today’s market, 1.67 million pounds (GBP) converts to about 2.60 million dollars (USD)!

Ponder that while you listen to this:

“Imagine” – By John Lennon, 1971

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say 
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, you may say 
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one





How To Stay Warm On A Cold Winter’s Day

16 Jan

When we woke up this morning, it was 17 degrees outside, and very little heat was coming up in our apartment.

Two blankies and one cat on the bed were not enough to keep us warm.

Now, I’m typing by a drafty window – what’s a girl to do?

Here are 3 things I’ve done to keep warm on a cold winter’s day.

They harken back to Christmas…

My dear and wonderful and talented Eva

knitted this scarf and surprised me with it at Christmas

It’s now wrapped soft and warm and cozy around my neck.

Thank you, Eva!

And, a few years ago for Christmas, someone gave me this delicious can of MarieBelle Aztec Hot Chocolate mix.

I just whipped up a cup – oh my! so very good.

1/4 cup chocolate mix with 3/4 cup hot milk and a tiny dash of cayenne pepper – Yum! Aztec hot chocolate.

From their website:

MarieBelle Aztec Hot Chocolate is made with rich, 65% South American single-origin cacao. This smoky, perfectly smooth hot chocolate is remarkably easy to prepare. Mix with boiling water to create a full-flavored cup of European-style hot chocolate or with milk for more traditional American-style hot chocolate. Refrigerate the European version to transform into a dark Creme de Chocolat, perfect alone or in pies.”

Yesterday on “CBS Sunday Morning” they did a story on hot chocolate, and I’ve been craving a cup ever since. How happy was I to discover this beautiful tin in our cupboard – and the chocolate mix was still just as fresh and tasty as the day it was gifted to me.

Thank you, my friend!

Thirdly, I thought of these special Christmas gifts – Christmas Mem’ries – which made me think of Rosemary Clooney’s incredible rendition of this moving song. So, I listened to her sing this touching song, with her unmatchable, emotional was of delivering the lyrics.

A warm glow has enveloped me – inside from the hot chocolate, outside from this soft scarf handmade by a loved one just for me, and all around from the joy that music gives.

Stay warm, my friends. Enjoy the little things that mean SO much, and be thankful for them.



Time For Reflections

10 Jan

At the beginning of a new year, it’s common to reflect back upon one’s past year.

What’s working nicely? What might best be changed?

As a photographer though, “reflections” take me to a whole other place…

There’s always an interesting reflection nearby, if I take the time to see it.

Car windows are fantastic “mirrors”.

As, of course, are water puddles.

Here are Hubby and I, looking rather “American Gothic”.

And another reflective view me (and do you see Hubby in the center? This one is a little freaky!):

In a furniture showroom:

Another puddle reflection:

A store-front window:

Snapped while browsing our local weekend street fair:

Winter trees:

Life is pretty good. I don’t think I’d change too much… maybe just one or two little things…

I can’t think of reflections, without thinking of one of my favorite songs from around 1970.

Reflections Of My Life, by The Marmalade.

What are you reflecting upon today?



Today Elvis would have been 77 – A Remembrance By Froggy

8 Jan

Elvis was born on this day – 77 years ago – in 1935.

Happy birthday, Elvis!

Froggy, here. I took over today’s blog, because I LOVE Elvis!

I had the great pleasure of visiting Graceland. I’ll show you some photographic proof, I will!

Here’s The King’s living room.

and here I am in his living room!

Elvis had this wonderful playroom – just imagine! THREE TVs!!

I could have stayed here all day…

Elvis’s room with walls and walls of gold records was mesmerizing!

After this swell visit to Graceland, I also went to Sun Studio, where Elvis made his great first recordings.

I even got to pose in front of a couple of his guitars!

To celebrate Elvis Presley’s birthday today, my friend Steve Forbert is offering a FREE download of his band performing live a ROCKING version of ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ – just by going here.

It’s FREE and it’s GREAT and it’s a WONDERFUL tribute to Elvis by my friend Steve Forbert.

“This is the rockabilly version of ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ that Elvis never recorded,” says Steve.

Yay for Elvis , Yay for Steve!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programing.

I’m going to go listen to ‘Heartbreak Hotel’!



Rest In Peace, Tommy Ardolino

7 Jan

This sad news was announced last night.

From the NRBQ headquarters:

We regret to inform you that Tom Ardolino passed away today. Tom will
be missed but his spirit lives on through those who were touched by him.

Jan. 12th 1955-Jan. 6th 2012

So sad and unexpected.

NRBQ was the reason Hubby and I met, 15 years ago.

Rest in peace, Tommy.




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