July 14th, 2012 marked what would've been Woody Guthrie's 100th birthday. Although he passed away in 1967, his legacy is as vibrant as ever.
Like many of my generation, I was introduced to Woody in my elementary school music class. Along with songs such as "And the Green Grass Grew All Around" and "Rainbow Connection," "This Land Is Your Land" was a staple of our teacher's singing selections. Of course we sang the sanitized version which excluded the political verses. I don't remember knowing who actually wrote it but it just went into the mental category of "Songs Everyone Knows."
With two weeks of 95+ degrees heat, it's easy to realize we're in the thick of summer. But at the end of the day, as the sun grants us reprieve, the evenings are ripe for spending time outside with a cold drink, friends, and music.
I can enjoy some of the catchy summer radio hits such as We Are Young or Pumped Up Kicks but here are a batch of recent albums that offer more substance without losing their backyard BBQ appeal.
The recent death of The Band's Levon Helm brought back fond memories of watching The Last Waltz. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the film documents The Band's final show in 1976 at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom and is considered one of the best concert films ever produced.
Listening recently to his 2007 Fresh Air interview, I learned that Helm wasn't very keen on having a big farewell but went along with it. The concert featured all the major players in the folk, country, and rock scenes of the time including Clapton, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Van Morrison (in a very memorable bedazzled maroon leisure suit giving a passionate rendition of Caravan complete with high kicks).
Beginning May 11th, Icelandair will be offering direct flights from DIA to Iceland's capital, Reykjavík. A paltry 8 hour flight will get you to this geothermal wonderland where 10% of the population believes in the existence of elves* and phone directories are organized by first names.
While you can always pick up a travel guide, it can be much more interesting and engaging to do some primary source research when visiting a foreign culture. Whether you are seriously considering a trip to Iceland or just curious about their cultural exports, get started with these items from the library:
This week, bluegrass legend and musical innovator, Earl Scruggs passed away in Nashville at the age of 88.
Scruggs revolutionized string bands and bluegrass music by developing the three-finger banjo picking style and launching the instrument past its traditional use in comedy acts into a prominent musical role. Growing up in the infamous Piedmont region of North Carolina, he supposed started playing banjo at age four and started working on his signature three-finger rolls by age 10.
Although it may not go down in the annals of history, February 3rd, 2012, marked a momentous occasion. After 60 years of being banned, Disney Parks "cast members" aka face-to-face employees may now sport a beard.
The change in policy allows neatly trimmed beards up to a quarter inch in length which doesn't mean they'll be joining the ranks of the seven dwarfs anytime soon but it is the biggest step against facial hair oppression since employees were allowed mustaches in 2000.
Have you heard about Ernst Cline'sReady Player One? Filled with tons of 80s pop culture references, it might be worth doing a bit of extra research to keep up. We can help.
Set in the near future, Ready Player Oneis the story of Wade Watts, a poor, orphaned kid whose only escape is entering the vast virtual world of OASIS. In OASIS, Wade's avatar spends endless hours attempting to solve clues and puzzles in order to find the three keys that will unlock the vast inheritance left by the company's founder, Halliday, who created this hunt as his legacy. In tribute to his 1980s upbringing, Halliday has loaded the game with all sort of cultural icons and trivia. Wade and&n
After years of hearing respected musicians and music-loving friends laud Bruce Springsteen, I've finally resolved to give him a chance.
My previous experience with Springsteen is limited at best. I know most of the hits, his rendition of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" actually stops me from flipping past the Christmas radio station, I own a well-worn vinyl copy of Nebraska, and I had a brief, but intense love of Born In the USA during elementary school (although mostly just the song, "Da