Monday, March 30, 2009

The Adventurer and the Nostalgic

There's something to be said for the adventurer. There's a level of respect and admiration for someone so willing to venture out into unknown places. This isn't about the adventurer. What about the nostalgic? The one who is content in reliving prior events. If the feelings are the same as the first time, isn't it a little like being there? I want to be an adventurer. I want to boldly go where no man has gone before. But, I'm just not that way; at least not 100%. Not even 70%. Most times I'm completely happy with doing things the way they've been done. I could sit around with my friends from high school, retell old stories, laugh my ass off, and be fine. Maybe it's because whenever I do try to be adventurous, I screw up. I break an ankle.
The Postal Service got me thinking about all this. The band, not the government run parcel service. I refer back to my lack of musical adventurism. When we are so concerned with finding what's new, what's cutting edge, what's original; we sometimes lose the ability to really fall in love with an old song or an old album. Have you ever known someone who was like that with people? They are so concerned with "networking" and "making connections" that they never really cultivate any solid friendships. I feel like I "should be" a musical adventurer. I should be a guy that people can go to for the new stuff. I'm not. I'm more likely to be found listening to an old Caedmon's album or, like I said above, a Postal Service EP. Am I resisting change? I don't know. Most of the time I'd simply rather listen to an old favorite for the 29th time and discover a new ride cymbal part I've somehow never heard before. What's the old saying? "All things in moderation". Perhaps I'd be best served by a healthy dose of both adventurism and nostalgic... ism.

Love whatever you're listening to.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


This weekend was great. Live music every day. On Friday we went to a really great bar in Opelika called 8th & Rail. We went to hear a band called Act of Congress. It was refreshing to hear good live music in the Auburn Opelika area. So many bars are full of no talent musicians and nobody seems to care because they just want to drink and have something going on in the background for them to drink to. Act of Congress was a mixture of folk, jazz, and bluegrass. It was excellent. The next night, we went back to the same bar. This time to hear a collection of artists that are touring together. David Berkeley, Micah Dalton, Ryan Horn, and Jon Black. This was even better than the night beore. The whole evening was great: great music, great drinks, great people, great atmosphere. Great, great, great. Ok then. See ya.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009


In these economic times, growth is not a word used to describe many things. Businesses aren't experiencing much growth. Stocks certainly aren't growing. My portfolio isn't growing. Wait, who am I kidding, I don't have a portfolio. People are scaling back; spending less. Less is the new more.
However, there is one sector that, early reports show, is on track to experience growth from 2009-2010. The Seventh Grade Choir at Drake Middle School is on the up and up! I got a list from one of my counselors today that included fifty-five current sixth graders who have signed up for choir next year! Wait, you say. That's thirty less kids than this year, you say. Hark! That's only students with last names M through Z! Only half the precincts are reporting, Wolf Blitzer! If the A through L contingency follows suit, I could have 110 kids in 7th grade choir next year! Wouldn't that be awesome!? We're gonna need a bigger boat. I'll keep you posted as more reports come in.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Over and Out

Well, Spring Break is over. I worked, I played, I had lots of fun. This weekend was my good friend Paul's wedding. I was in the wedding as a groomsman (so nice not to have to sing). A bunch of us went out Thursday night to my favorite bar in Birmingham, the Garage Cafe. What was so great was that, literally, as people were getting into town for the wedding, they were coming to the Garage. My new friend Martin flew in from NYC, my best friend Daniel flew in from Pasadena. It was almost as if we had predetermined that "when you arrive in Birmingham you are to go straight to the Garage." The next day I worked a half day with dad and then got ready for wedding festivities. I met the guys at our hotel room and we got ready for the rehearsal. Wedding rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, all great. That night we partied at the hotel. Here were fifteen people who some knew each other, some didn't know anyone, some from here, some from afar, and we just partied like we were all lifelong friends. We laughed more than I've laughed in quite a while. I'm talking sore abs the next day kind of laughing. The next day, the groomsmen woke up, ate some chicken, got dressed, and went to the church for pictures. The rest is pretty textbook: pictures, sitting around, ushering people in, wedding (nobody fainted), reception, game over. It was a great weekend and a great end to my Spring Break. I made new friends, hung out with old friends, met a very attractive young lady, and saw my good friend Paul get married on what was hopefully one of the best days of his life.

Now, it's back to work, back to school. I was always the kid that secretly looked forward to going back to school. Some things never change. I'm secretly looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. I miss my students and am ready to buckle down for this last nine weeks. See ya!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


As I write, I'm staring out at the gulf waves lapping the white sands of America's gulf coast. Actually, that couldn't be further from the truth. I'm here in rainy Birmingham. My spring break goals include a different type of tan; a farmer's tan! I'll be working landscape this week; the ole family business. Some families make their name in the restaurant business. Some families practice law. We push dirt around and cover it with grass. It's great! Hopefully the rain will move on so we can get some work done this week.

My father just purchased a piece of equipment for the company called a "boxer". Imagine a bobcat, without the rear-end, and you don't sit in it, you stand on it. It has tracks like a tank, but made of rubber. One can purchase or rent an array of attachments to do all sorts of different jobs. With this one piece of equipment, we can move thousands of pounds of dirt, till up the earth, dig trenches, drill holes under driveways, herd sheep, grill chicken, wash clothes, cast magic spells, rock babies to sleep, and do your taxes. Productivity and efficiency should increase, as well as fun-percentage.

My plan has been to work for Cater Design Landscape (heretofor referred to as CDL) during the summer. However, another opportunity has come up which might prove to be somewhat more lucrative for me. Last week, I received an email from the secretary at my school. Twas a forward from the Outreach Program Coordinator at Auburn University. Apparently, Auburn runs several week long camps during the summer for high school students focusing on different areas of study. There is an engineering camp, a fisheries camp, an architecture camp, and even a musical theatre camp. They are in need of "Lead Counselors/On-site coordinators" whatever that means. From what I can gather, it seems to be some type of "head counselor" position. I had to send my resume in! The kicker? One thousand US American dollars a week! We'll see how that plays out. I'm game for whatever! As long as I don't break any bones this summer (knock on wood), It looks like I should have some fun and make some money.

But for now, it's Spring Break '09. I'm going to get an airbrushed T-shirt at one of the 11 Wings stores within two miles of each other. Oh and one of those shirts that looks like I'm a girl in a bikini... but I'm not... it's just a shirt. SB09!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tempus Fugit

The third nine weeks started today. I cannot believe that this school year is three fourths over with! I got new sixth grade music students today. On the first day of sixth grade music, I do my song and dance, quite literally. We do a goofy song/dance called Singin' in the Rain (courtesy of Dr. Randall Hooper at Sumatanga this past summer). The kids LOVE it! It gives them a chance to let loose and goof off a little bit. I also go over rules, procedures, etc. Then, I sing for them. I figure their music teacher ought to be able to make a little music, right?

So here we go. The home stretch. In a way, each new nine weeks is a chance to start over. It's a chance to right the previous nine weeks' wrongs and repeat its successes. I wish you luck over the next nine weeks, whatever you may be doing.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The This Time Last Week Game

Whenever I return from a fun trip, I experience a let down in the absence of the previous week's excitements. Fun's over, there's nothing to see here. The people you laughed with are all back at their homes or their jobs. It's back to the "real world". As a youth, I experienced this let down after church trips like Mountain T.O.P., Ski Trip, Choir Tour, etc. In college it was usually after AU Singers Summer Tour. Currently, it's the ACDA let down. No more corny music references that nobody else back home would get. No more overly exhaggerated critiques of some of America's best choirs as if we're in any place to say so.

So, how do I cope? I play a little game called This Time Last Week. The rules are simple, think about what you were doing at this exact time last week. It conjures up good memories... well... memories nonetheless. It sweeps you back to the fun times you had last week. Here goes. This time last week I was with my ACDA posse trying to find somewhere to eat. We went to a place called Mantle's, but we didn't have reservations. So, on a tip from our cab driver, we went to Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill. Now, if you know me at all, you know I can't stand Toby Keith. He's slimy, his music sucks, and he just wants to profit off of America's war efforts and the feverish patriotism of some Americans. I digress. I sucked it up and went. We walked in and it wasn't so bad, save the larger than life mural of Mr. Keith holding his American flag painted guitar up in the air with a "we just won State!" linebacker look on his face. We had heard that the country fried steak was excellent here. Of course, I ordered it. When our food came there was a frisbee on my plate.... no... wait... that's the country fried steak. Toby, I gotta hand it to you, your music is crap, but your country fried steak is tops! I can't tell you much further, because then I'd be getting outside of the "this time last week" window. Ask me again in a couple hours... it involved lots of alcohol and intoxicated music teachers.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Time Shift

I love the spring time change. Sure, we lose an hour of sleep, but we'll get over that. It's worth the extra hour of daylight. Being that the time change always happens on a Sunday, I would always go to church that day. Then when coming out of MYF on Sunday nights, it would still be light outside! This would awaken within me that deep down longing for summer. The extra hour of daylight would begin to melt my summer heart, frozen from winter and caked with snow and ice. And so it has begun, the countdown to summer. Maybe not an actual countdown yet, but with every passing day we get one day closer to flip flops, sunburns, frozen drinks, and hot hot heat. Okay, for me it will more likely be workboots, farmers tan, jugs of water, and miles of sod. Nevertheless, bring it on.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


I had a great week in Oklahoma City. I really didn't know what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised. We stayed in an area of downtown OKC called Bricktown, named for its all brick buildings and red brick streets. There was a small river, more like a canal, that ran through most of bricktown. Above is the start of "riverwalk".
Here's John in front of the bus that bears his namesake. We couldn't resist taking a picture.
One of the greatest things about this week was all of the incredible music we were able to hear. There were two concert sessions every day featuring various choirs from around the world. Then, on Thursday night we had a huge concert involving several choirs from around the area and an area orchestra. They performed a commissioned work by American composer named Domenick Argento called Cenotaph. It was cool to see and hear a world premier performance by a composer who is still alive. Following that work, we heard Ralph Vaughan Williams "Dona Nobis Pacem". I had never heard it before, and it was incredible.

One of the things that's so great about these conventions is that you can hear a piece performed by an incredible choir. Then, when they finish singing, the conductor will turn around, scan the audience and acknowledge the composer, who is in the room because everyone who is anyone in choral music was at this event. I saw Eric Whitacre, choral music's rising rock star of a composer. I hate to use this phrase because it sounds so cliche, but it was just cool. We went to interest sessions and lectures given by prominent minds in choral music today. It made me re-evaluate my teaching and gave me a new fervor for my job. I plan to get back to school and hit the ground running with my choir. No, I don't have nearly the "program" that many of these other people have. I would hardly even say I have a choir "program" at all. But after this week, I'm going to work passionately and tirelessly to make my little corner of the choral music world the best it can be.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Plane

Tomorrow, I'm leaving for the rest of the week. No, it's not a vacation, it's a convention. The American Choral Director's Association National Convention in Oklahoma City to be precise. The week will be full of interest sessions, concerts, conversations with leading professionals in the field, and general musical merriment. I will learn alot, but will also rub elbows with some big names in the choral music community. I may or may not be blogging throughout the week, but at least you'll know what's keeping me if I don't.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Wacky Weather Weekend Without Women

This weekend was my good friend Paul's bachelor party. We all met in Atlanta for a Ben Folds concert. I know the picture isn't that great, but he's the one sitting at the grand piano. It was a crappy drive, because it was storming the whole time. I would soon learn that this was only the beginning of the strangest weather weekend!
After the concert, I drove to Birmingham and met up with the rest of the guys at a lake house on a small, private lake. I was exhausted, so I went straight to bed once I got there. The next day, we shot guns. It's been about six years since I've shot skeet. It's so much fun. I wasn't that great at it, but had a lot of fun doing it (and posing for pictures because the shotgun made me feel bad ass.)
Almost as fun as shooting the clays, is throwing them. There's a handheld plastic device from which the clays are launched. Here's Matt throwing a clay.
Here's John throwing a clay.
We woke up to a winter wonderland. That's right, snow in Alabama! We didn't have any food at the house, so some guys and I drove out to McDonald's to get biscuits for everyone. The drive was beautiful because it was still early.
Snowy lake.
After biscuits and cleaning up, I headed back to Auburn; completing my triangular weekend travel. Surprisingly, the snow was still unmelted. I had to play with Jenny in the snow, as well as do some of the things you ALWAYS do when it snows. Here we see Jenny in a haze of confusion. I think I had just hit her with a couple snowballs.

And finally, here's the snowman I made. What an awesome weekend.