Arnold Steinhardt, Violin Dreams, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006
Like the hundreds of other people who had gathered at Saint Pius V Church for Dan Horkheimer’s funeral last August, I was moving between despair and disbelief in trying to assimilate the fact of his murder. As I walked into the church, I saw at a distance a familiar face—Cece Weinkauff, who was playing violin before the Mass. Eleven and a half years earlier when she was 14, Cece played Massenet’s Meditation at Mev’s funeral in Saint Francis Xavier College Church.
A few weeks later, she and I visited at Kayak’s on Skinker. She enthusiastically recommended Arnold Steinhardt, Violin Dreams, which I promptly ordered and read. It’s a captivating memoir detailing his quest for the perfect violin, his journey to becoming a world-class violinist, and his routines and rituals, such as carrying photos of the greats in his violin case to remind him of the nobility of his calling (like Heifetz). There’s so much in the book he doesn’t address, as it evidently isn’t relevant to his dream life, his real life, that is, his immersion in violins, their power, pedigrees, “personalities,” and magic. Read the rest of this entry »
Last night I was reading Frances Fitzgerald’s Fire in the Lake:
The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam
This afternoon I listened to a playlist I made
Of songs from the Vietnam War era
(Or, as the Vietnamese call it
The American War)
One of the songs I first heard in 1975
John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over) Read the rest of this entry »
For years, I was obsessed with my mandolin. It was my travel companion–out of town, long walk, over night–I always had my trusty mandolin slung over my shoulder. It got worn down and weary looking, but it sounded bright every time I ran my hands over the wood and metal. A near perfect union.
I miss it. Ever since I played it at my mothers funeral, it won’t sing for me. It used to be I’d walk in the room and it’d wink and coax until I picked it up, like a persistent child raising its hands, wanting to be held. Now it’s an old piece of wood with a shadow over it. I try and play–but I always end up tossing it aside, upset. My mom wanted her sons to play “I’ll Fly Away” for her friends and family that day, as we did so many times by her bedside. It was a frequent request of hers those last months. I did not hesitate to oblige. In hindsight, I don’t know how I did it.
My banjo has no shadow over it, even though I played it for her just as much when she was sick, if not more, than the mandolin. But in that dark parting, it was the mandolin that accepted the burden of bringing that day to mind for years to come. Now my banjo is my best friend–I aspire to be the human equivalent of it: humble, goofy, nostalgic, playful, vaguely southern but in a welcoming way, happy and sad at the same time. We miss the elusive lady that made us a trio. She soaked up grief like a tired kitchen sponge. My old mandolin.
–Colin is taking my on-line class, Be in Love with yr Life. he is a student at Saint Louis University.
Courtney Barrett is wonderfully generous in sharing the wealth of her friendships! This past week, Andrea Scarpino graced us with her poetry. Here’s Courtney on this week’s friend who will share with us:
This week, you’re invited to join us for an evening of snacks, discussion, and music, as we welcome and express gratitude for the incredible Phil Cogley, as he tours the country doing the work he loves, work that is without question meaningful and valuable: “Music forges community, connects us to something larger, and helps solidify our identities as human beings.”
Philip Cogley, aka The Saturday Giant, makes no small contribution to the world. The Saturday Giant is the one-man art-rock band from Columbus, Ohio. Since 2010, The Saturday Giant has produced four releases, collaborated with technology conferences and performing arts groups, and given over 600 performances in 48 U.S. states. This innovative and compelling live show gives audiences a window into the songwriting process, as The Saturday Giant sculpts layers of guitars, drums, bass lines, beat boxing, keyboards and vocals into towering walls of sound, without the aid of prerecorded samples. Even while maintaining his rigorous touring schedule, The Saturday Giant is preparing his full-length debut for 2016. Read the rest of this entry »