Today was the final meeting this semester for one of Sam’s favorite activities – The Music Class (more background on this program here). Founded locally in Atlanta, and now available internationally, The Music Class has sessions aimed at kids from birth on through their kindergarden years, and practices a beautiful philosophy of exposing kids to all kinds of music. This morning, Grandpa Marty, Grandma Sherrie and I took Sam over to Glenwood Park so he could enjoy the last class of the session. Focusing on the notion of ‘use it or lose it,’ the classes engage even the littlest ones with aural repetition, dance, and rhythm. It was a joy to see all these kids having so much fun. See the slideshow here.
In keeping with the gaming theme of recent posts, I must share the photo above. I used a gift certificate from my sisters-in-law they sent as a thank-you for helping them with their new jewelery business (their site will be unveiled soon) to buy the much-heralded Guitar Hero II. There is no doubt this is an amazing game – do not pass go, do not collect $200 – go out and get this game if you have an Xbox 360 or the Playstation. Sam, of course, loves it as well as you can see! Amy also manages to mostly kick my butt at this one – hmm, perhaps her years in the music conservatory finally paid off? Anyway, I’m just trying to figure out how to hold the darn guitar in a way that doesn’t result in the tips of my fingers on my left hand going numb and staying that way for going on 48 hours now. It seems to be getting better, but I’m so uncoordinated that I have to mash the buttons on the guitar neck far harder than necessary. I seem to keep playing Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend over and over again, but my scores are far behind all my Xbox Live buddies. I’m somewhere in the 350,000’s on the leaderboard, while my friend Juanita Winters is up around 25,000 worldwide. Scary, really. Can’t wait for the reported 2007 Summer release of their update with only 80s music, or the late-year Rock Band – where multiple players will be able to join together online on bass, drums, vocals and guitar.
I’ve meant to blog this earlier, but wanted to rave about the amazing performance Amy and I attended a few weeks ago of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s rendition of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana as well as Szmanowski’s Symphony No. 37. We enjoyed dinner at the nearby Veni Vidi Vici with our friends Laura Najarian (second bassoon) and her husband, John Warren, who was sitting in with the clarinets for this performance.
The nearly hour-long Carmina Burana was amazing. The 200+ voice chorale was so powerful, so rich and so intense that this well-known piece was really transformed into something I’d never heard before. This was the finale of the ASO’s 2007 season. I hope Amy and I can get to a few performances next year even with baby number two in the house.
Sad, but true. The Godfather of Soul, IronMan, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, and arguably the most famous resident of the greater Augusta, Georgia area has passed on. The photo below is an old favorite by my friend Blake Madden taken at one of the annual Birthday Bashes from his days at the Chronicle. James was a regular fixture around town in the years I worked for the Augusta Chronicle, and we were forever covering his antics and benevolent activities, or running into him at some dive bar on Broad Street. I remember a story by one of the ‘old time’ shooters who told tales of tromping through the woods alone with James, their only company the shotgun in the Godfather’s hands shortly after his release from prison. I will always remember catching one of his legendary birthday bashes at the local Bell Auditorium (now named for James Brown, and the likely location of his ‘homecoming’ event this weekend) – where various grade-B celebs from around the world would join the crowd to groove to guest artists, and ultimately, several numbers by the still-amazing master himself – even in his late 60s. He could dance and sing like a man in his 20s, keeping pace with the likes of MC Hammer and others. From annual Toy and Turkey giveaways for the holidays, to the bizzarre story of his wife’s OD after plastic surgery, James Brown was certainly an entertaining figure – in all sense of the term. Watch this video of James at his best – sometime in the 60s where he belts out an amazing improvisational accompaniment to Maceo Parker’s sax solo. And visit the extensive coverage online by the Chronicle.