Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society - A Netflix Original Film - Review




We first see writer Juliet Ashton in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society, a Netflix Original, as she's looking for a place to live in immediate post-war England, after her flat has been made uninhabitable by the German blitz. The war is over, and she's scheduled for a reading at a local book shop. Soon, she receives a letter from a reader on Guernsey Island, in the North Sea, requesting help in finding a copy of Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare, which she sends him. In the correspondence that follows, she becomes aware of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society. Sensing a story, she decides to take a brief leave from her new American fiance to explore the possibilities of a new book. When Juliet arrives on Guernsey, she is immediately captivated by its beauty and isolation. As she becomes acquainted with the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society, however, she becomes aware that there are secrets and deep anxieties leading them to refuse her permission to write their story. The resulting sleuthing by Juliet and her increasing closeness to the quirky members of the society leads to a deeply engaging story of love, discovery, and redemption. 

Guernsey is one of a group of islands located just off the coast of France in the English Channel generally referred to as "the Channel Islands." It is self governing, having a strange relationship with England, which serves to protect the island as well not regulating it as a part of England. As such, it's largest function has become serving as a banking center for English tax-free commerce. During WW II, it was occupied by the Germans, who exported a large number of children to Germany, although most were evacuated to England before the invasion. Much of the story revolves around incidents to occurred during this occupation about which there are still mysteries and bad feelings as the movie progresses. In many ways, the theme of the film examines the characters as they cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is accomplished through superb story-telling and dramatic interaction without preaching or excessive emphasis. At a little over two hours in length, The Guernsey Library and Potato Pie Society, takes its time to reveal the source of community anger and sense of loss in an entirely satisfactory manner. 

Lily James

Michael Huisman


Lily James as Juliet Ashton and Michael Huisman as the islander who first contacted her, Dawsey Adams, are restrained and pleasingly affective in their performances. A group of older acting warhorses, led by Tom Courtney (whose movie and tv credits go back to the 1950's and Penelope Wilson (perhaps best known for her role as Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey) also a veteran character actor, provide outstanding performances filled with warmth, pain, and humor. 

I think maybe my tear ducts have begun leaking more as I grow older, but I have to admit that this story had me dripping by the end. A first rate film that hits home on the emotional as well as intellectual levels, telling a fine story with elegance and restraint while moving viewers and making them think about the many layers of human experience. 

Official Trailer

Friday, January 25, 2019

Bosch on Amazon Prime - Series Review



Titus Welliver has long been a valuable and recognizable TV actor playing a variety of roles in commercial television. Now he's got the title role in the best police procedural I've ever seen on television. He's played featured roles in needle-moving television programs back to programs like Brooklyn South and NYPD Blue in the 1990's to That's Life early in century, the epic western Deadwood, and now forty episodes of the Amazon original Bosch, dating back to 2014. He's a distinguished and highly recognized actor who finally has a gripping, exciting television role worthy of his skills.

Titus Welliver


In the pilot episode of Bosch, we meet the title character, Detective Harry Bosch, as he and his partner Jerry Edgar, ably played by Jamie Hector, chase down a suspected child molester, separating to corner the fugitive, who Bosch confronts in an alley, shooting him when he appears to go for his gun. Bosch is brought to trial, obviously as much a victim of professional jealousy as he is a policeman who will ignore approved procedure as well as his own safety to achieve justice. In one taught five or six minute chase scene, Harry Bosch is revealed for his complexity and independence. This sort of revealing character study is rarely seen in today's commercial television, nor does it ever happen without commercial interruption.

We're now well into the third season of Bosch with its twists and turns as the underlying story continues in all the complexity and with all the nuance allowed by streaming series television. Bosch is a thorough, dedicated, smart, and tortured hero, who elicits both admiration, suspicion, and jealousy from his fellow police, as well as generating too much press for the politicians. The characters are well drawn, almost never cardboard cutouts, but real, complex human beings.

The locations drip with authenticity - the squad room, streets, bars, heat, and diversity of Los Angeles provide scenes of gripping tension as well as shedding bright sunlight, on the City itself as it comes to life. Meanwhile, the the series highlights political process within the police department itself, as well as the city as a whole.

In many ways, Bosch can stand, along with so many other distinguished streaming programs, as a new paradigm for how to make and how to watch television. Not constrained from having to shoehorn forty-four minutes of content into each hour of commercial television while breaking continuity into little bits, streaming allows stories to continue through ten episodes and link from season to season. Instead of a bungled short story, viewers can now consume an entire video novel at their own pace. 

Bosch currently has four seasons available on Amazon Prime Video with season five in production and a green light for season six. Perhaps the biggest problem with video streaming seems to be completing an entire season's shows, often ten episodes, in a binge of over a period of several days. The viewer doesn't have to wait until next week's show is released. In the end, however, we must wait several months, or even years, for the next season to be posted. However, the offerings of series and movies are so rich as to be difficult to resist. Streaming television has significantly changed our viewing habits.

Here's the official trailer for season one of Bosch. It's on Amazon Prime:


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Florida Bluegrass Classic - Brooksville, FL - February 18 - 24, 2019 - Preview



The Florida Bluegrass Classic, produced Evans Media Source will run from February 18 - 24, 2019 at Florida Classic Park, located at 5360 Lockhart Road near Brooksville, Florida. Featuring a solid mix of classic country artists, first rate bluegrass bands, on a large campground with numerous water/electric (30 amp) sites, and activities throughout the event, this festival offers an excellent change of pace for bluegrass fans, as well as lots of nostalgia for country music fans and twentieth century cover groups. Plan to join the fun at this centrally located and pleasant site. Here's the story:

The Music
Moe Bandy


Moe Bandy is a country singer who reached his greatest levels of popularity during the 1970's. Born in Mississippi, he moved to San Antonio, TX as a child, where he became more interested in the rodeo than in music. He emerged as a major country singer with his unadorned style just as country was moving towards more lush sounding country style developed in Nashville. The nostalgia for "real country" has revived his career and reputation. 

Moe Band - Someday Soon

IIIrd Tyme Out

Russell Moore is the founder and has served as lead singer in IIIrd Tyme Out, one of bluegrass music's most popular and enduring bands for over twenty-five years. The band continues to tour and present traditional bluegrass combined with a range of country and grassed popular music to great appreciation of old and new fans. Now located in Georgia, Russell is a native of Texas. Both sets of roots show and are appreciated in his music, as well as much more.

Gentle on My Mind

Atlantic City Boys

The Atlantic City Boys are a highly entertaining band combining recorded music with their own fine vocal stylings of popular rock and roll music from the sixties and seventies featuring the sounds of The Jersey Boys, Franki Valli, The Beach Boys and other vocal quartets of the period. They are lively, involving the audience in their show and creating a show environment reminding audiences of the days they themselves were younger and more active. Ernie Evans' son appears with one of the touring groups comprising the Atlantic City Boys and appears with them at some of their performances as Ernie's festivals. 

2018 Promo Video

The Grascals

The Grascals emerged fifteen years ago from a group of sidemen appearing at Nashville's Station Inn. The band had an immediate high impact, recording several major bluegrass hits, and earning a number of IBMA awards. Three of the founding members, Terry Eldridge, Terry Smith, and Danny Roberts, continue to tour with the band, while new members have helped to continue the distinctive sound and vibe of this hard driving and enjoyable band. Kristin Scott Benson has been named IBMA Banjo Player of the Year four times. We haven't seen this band in Florida for a few years, so enjoy the show at the Bluegrass Classic.

Delia

Sam Pacetti

Influenced by the Chet Atkins and Merle Travis, Sam Pacetti became a guitar player during his teen years as he came under the influence of the singer/songwriter style. He is recognized for his virtuoso guitar play and passionate songs. He has recently toured in Colorado, as well as playing regularly in and around his home base in St. Augustine. 

Sam Pacetti - Medley of Standards

Buddy Jewell

Buddy Jewell comes from Lapanto, AR, whrere he first learned to play guitar as a young teenager, and came under the influence of singers like Trace Adkins. Jewell was the first winner of singing competition Nashville Star, signing a recording contract with Columbia Records. He also worked in Nashville as a demo singer, recording over 5000 songs. He has had a number of charting singles and one album reaching number one on the national charts. 

Help Pour Out the Rain


David & Terri Church

David Church has been a featured performer on RFD-TV's Midwest Country for some years. He's had several songs chart at Reverbnation and has a busy national schedule of appearances. Along with his wife Teri Lisa, he will be presenting classic country songs, with a particular emphasis on the music of Hank Williams, Sr. He was well received last year at The Bluegrass Classic with a guest appearance. 

Medley - Promo


Michael Reno Harrell

Although I had heard Michael Reno Harrell on Knoxville's WDVX-FM from the porch of our home in New Hampshire, I couldn't imagine who this person was, as he set up for his Tuesday opener at the first Bluegrass Classic...until he struck his first chord and completely captivated the audience for a full hour. Noted nationally as a story teller, he's been featured story-teller at the National Story-Telling Festival in Jonesborough, NC. Combining his wonderful songs with his unique style of story-telling provides a rare treat. He'll be in the lineup on Friday, largely because of the very positive responses he's had at his two previous performances at EMS events. 

The Nickel

Roxeen & Dalrymple

Roxeen & Dalrymple are a folk/bluegrass duo from Nova Scotia, Canada. Some of you may recognize Gary Dalrymple as the mandolin player and hard-working side-kick of the Spinney Brothers. They present a pleasant program, sing well together, as well as mixing easily and comfortably with each other and the audience. 

So Lonesome I Could Die

The Swing Sisters


The Swing Sisters sing close harmony songs from 1940's - 1960's and beyond in a style reminiscent of, perhaps, the Andrews Sisters, whom I remember well. Based in Melbourne, FL, this group looks and sounds like fun. Not to be confused with a British group of the same name. 

It Don't Mean a Thing, If It Ain't Got That Swing

Nothin Fancy
Mike Andes - Singer, Songwriter, Emcee

Nothin' Fancy survived for more than twenty years as a band specializing in strong covers of Country Gentlemen songs, entertaining clowning, and novelty songs written by Mike Andes, as well as Chris Sexton's fine fiddle work which turned out to be broadening and simultaneously funny. A few years ago, after some band changes, they upped the ante, earned a contract with an important bluegrass label, and picked up a pair of brothers, Caleb and James Cox, who were serious about bluegrass and got Nothin' Fancy, too. The result has been a strong move to higher reaches in the bluegrass world. Much of their future will depend on who they hire to play banjo, the one hole remaining. They have already reduced the clowning and improved the music. The next move is up to them.

Simon Crutchfield's Grave

Blue River Grass

Composed of a bluegrass couple from Maine, and a father-daughter pairing who are long-time Florida residents, Blue River Grass brings a group familiar to jammers at Florida festivals to the Classic stage. They'll be fun and tuneful, presenting traditional bluegrass music.

Veteran emcee Jo Odom will keep the festivities moving along. At this time, a replacement for the late Les Sears has not yet been found.

Jo Odom


In addition to the music, a tribute to the military and/or civilian emergency providers will take place on Saturday. Also local Classic and Antique Car enthusiasts will exhibit on Saturday.

On Sunday, Jan Ladd and her team will present a morning Gospel Sing as the closing event of this fine festival.

The Details:

Tickets: You can still purchase advanced tickets at a sale price of $65 for the entire weekend until February 1. After that tickets for the entire weeken will cost $70.00 by phone or at the gate. 
Daily ticket prices are: Thursday =  $25, Friday and/or Saturday = $30.00, Sunday is free.
 Children 12 and under are free with an adult. 


Camping:  The campground is located on the side of a gently sloping hill. There are many campsites available for rough camping, 30 amp, and 50 amp users. A free dump station is available on site and pump outs can be arranged. I advise that RVers arrive with full water tanks, as the pressure is rather low with several rigs sharing each standpipe. Camping opens February 20th.
Electric costs: 30 amp = $27.00 per night (must buy three nights), 50 amp =$32.00


The Site: The performance area features a long covered building with a stage set to one side to provide more seat seats. It's only a few steps to a flush toilet facility. There are a few shaded sites around the perimeter, but most are in the open sunshine, usually welcome at this time of year. 


Vendors: A number of food, craft, and instrument vendors sell and display at this festival. Take time to enjoy some good fair food or to shop for crafts or gear. 

How to Get to Florida Classic Park
Place Your Location in the O and Click
for a Map to help Find the
Florida Classic Park


Debi Evans

Ernie Evans

See You There!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Palatka Bluegrass Festival - February 14 - 16 - Rodeheaver Boy's Ranch - Preview



The fifteenth annual Palatka Bluegrass Festival will be held at the Rodeheaver Boy's Ranch from February 14 - 16, 2019 featuring one of the strongest traditional bluegrass lineups you'll find anywhere. Multiple IBMA Entertainers of the Year and Members of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame will be performing over the three days packed with music and fun. Below, I've provided the details you need to know to enjoy the music and have a great time. The gates open on the Sunday before the festival begins on Thursday. Come early to jam, enjoy your friends, and get to know this history and nature-rich area along Florida's St. John's River. Promoter Norman Adams has provided the music, Rodeheaver Boy's Ranch the campground and facilities. All that's needed now is for you to purchase your tickets, come, and enjoy yourself while supporting a worthy cause.

Homer Rodeheaver

Homer Rodeheaver (1880 - 1955) was famed as an evangelist, band director, publisher, and composer of gospel songs. Along the way, he accumulated enough money to enable himself to purchase a large tract of land near Palatka Florida, establishing what later became the Rodeheaver Boy's Ranch, a home for abused and abandoned boys. The Palatka Bluegrass Festival is held on the ranch grounds to benefit its ongoing program. Boys at the ranch live in small residential facilities with house parents while attending the local public school and developing a work ethic through their chores on the ranch. While you're at the ranch, take the opportunity to chat with a couple of the boys and walk around the facility. Their's a new, and impressive, Ranch Museum, which details Rodeheaver's life and the ranch history. You'll want to visit it anyway, because the guitar raffle is held there.


The Lineup:

Thursday
The Crowe Brothers

The Crowe Brothers, coming from Maggie Valley, deep in the Smoky Mountains, where they developed their own style of rough edged traditional bluegrass, much influenced by Raymond Fairchild. Watch for brother Wayne's use of a small drum head under his strings, adding a new dimension to the music. 

Living in My Mobile Home

Donna Ulisse & the Poor Mountain Boys

Donna Ulisse's re-emergence about a decade ago, from a lengthy tour in the back rooms of tune-smithing is a success story of determination and hard work that should be constantly celebrated in bluegrass music. Her mellow singing voice combines with her fine song writing to produce a country tinged music right for the times. One of the sunniest personalities in the genre.....

It Could Have Been the Mandolin

The Gibson Brothers

The Gibson Brothers, always popular at the many Norman Anderson festivals where they play, bring their unique humor and North Country vision to the bluegrass stage. Incidentally, "North Country" refers to that vast rural area north of Albany, New York, including the Adirondack Mountains and the rugged northern area north of the mountains stretching toward to North Pole. 

They Called It Music

Larry Stephenson Band

Larry Stephenson, born in Virginia and a member of the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame and the recipient of numerous SPGMA awards through the years, his fine tenor voice is one of the clearest and most well-recognized on the contemporary scene. Look for two new members in the band this year as the great Kenny Ingraham has retired and Matt Wright moved on. 

Sweet Little Darlin' Don't You Cry


Dailey & Vincent (90 Minute Set)

Dailey & Vincent are a headline attraction at bluegrass festivals and other events. Their well-choreographed show with large production values, particularly within the festival format, are fast-paced, filled with variety, and always emphasizing patriotism and religious faith. This format strikes a strong chord with the traditional bluegrass audience making up the core of the crowd and Palatka, other Norman Adams festivals, and around much of the country. Their musicians are always first rate and their show keeps moving. 

Noah Found Grace

Friday
Summer Brooke & Mountain Faith

A couple of years ago, Irene and I visited the McMahan's Tire Shop featured in the song below. It's real and they work hard, long, often dirty days on the shop floor and in the store. And they almost won America's Got Talent a couple of years ago, gaining wonderful coverage for bluegrass music while sharpening and broadening their music. Since that time, they have continued to grow while always proclaiming the faith that's in their name. Enjoy this band!

The Tire Shop

Dry Branch Fire Squad


Dry Branch Fire Squad is well-known for its almost old-time renditions of traditional bluegrass music, while Ron Thomason adds a unique voice and much-enjoyed sharp social commentary along with down-to-earth observations of the world around us. Together, the package works, providing a show that's approaching its fiftieth year on the road. They will also perform on Saturday. 

Fifty Miles of Elbow Room

Doyle Lawson

Doyle Lawson has been a major figure, first as an able side man and then as  not only the leader of his own band, but a trend setter for bluegrass music for over fifty-three years. First with Jimmy Martin, and later with J.D. Crowe & the New South and the Country Gentlemen, he influenced and was influenced by each. His own first band emerged in 1979, rapidly morphing into Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. Over the years, so many great bluegrass musicians have worked in his band before going on to establish themselves in other settings that his mentorship has become known as the Doyle Lawson School of Bluegrass. Despite fairly constant change, Lawson has always demanded the highest in performing quality, and delivered it. 

Drivin' It Home

Penny Creek Band

Penny Creek has appeared several times at Palatka over the last couple of years. The band, based in Melbourne, FL features good singing, strong song writing, particularly by Chris Pagonini on guitar, and a well-paced, lively program. Always a good choice....

Catfish John

The Del McCoury Band (90 Minute Set)

Jason Carter & Rob McCoury

It's rare that two of bluegrass music's seminal pioneers and long-running headliners appear on the same day at any festival. With the Del McCoury Band closing Friday with a single ninety minute, set, Norman Adams has achieved an almost overwhelming day. Adding Dry Branch Fire Squad on the same bill delivers nearly a century and a half of great music. McCoury has recorded so many great hits that a highlight of his show consists of satisfying audience requests, a show in its own right. Every member of the McCoury band has been named Instrumental Player of the Year by IBMA during his career...and no-one sings like Del!

The Streets of Baltimore

Saturday
Dry Branch Fire Squad
Dry Branch Fire Squad returns for a second day of its own unique combination of music and humor. 

The Moron Brothers

The Moron Brothers, Lardo and, come from Kentucky where they polished their stories and songs into musical and narrative gems that tickle the imagination while both treasuring and gently satirizing rural American life. You'll enjoy them either for the first time or as repeat customers. Don't miss.....

Burglar Man

The Little Roy & Lizzie Show

Several years ago, I wrote this about Little Roy Lewis in my No Depression column, "His act recalls the baggy pants clowns and comedians of vaudeville, which had, by the mid-'50s, been completely lost to urban and suburban areas, but continued to exist at bluegrass festivals because Little Roy Lewis made gospel music attractive and entertaining on multiple levels. In the end, Little Roy remains a cultural icon, reminding us of where our music came from culturally and musically." Meanwhile, Little Roy's musical partner, Lizzy Long, continues to grow in stature and quality. Simply put, while the Lewis Family already has its own place in the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, Roy Lewis has represented a quality and character who deserves to be remembered as a central part of our heritage. At age seventy-five or so, I've searched hard for his birth date, Little Roy continues to make his own unique contribution. 
In Glory Land

The Inspirations

Each year at Palatka one fine Southern Gospel quatet performs. The Inspirations, founded in 1964, come from Bryson City, NC. During the 1970's the group was named the Favorite Gospel Group six times, but during the current decade the have been recognized as a leading traditional group, as other musical influences have dominated Gospel music. Over the years the group has had many members, but they have always maintained their quality. 

Wben I Wake Up

The Malpass Brothers

The Malpass Brothers beeb change of pace flavor of classic country to bluegrass festivals around the country. Blending fine voices, interesting, accurate, and evocative interpretations of country fans many bluegrass fans grew up listening to. Probably, many people who have been attracted to bluegrass when they began to feel that country music was leaving them and becoming something else. The brothers, Christopher and Taylor bring humor and fun to the stage with them, and always leave their audiences asking for more. 
Hello Walls

Rhonda Vincent & the Rage


Rhonda Vincent is one of the most popular performers at Palatka, as well as the many other festivals where she performs as one of the most loved and hardest working of all bluegrass acts. Rhonda's band includes some of the best individual musicians in bluegrass whose work together always performs like a well-oiled machine brought together to provide top-notch entertainment. 

All American Bluegrass Girl

Wernick Style Jam Camp Conducted by Gilbert Nelson


Gilbert Nelson has been conducted his Wernick sanctioned jam classes at Palatka for several years with increasing numbers of participants. If you've always wanted to jam or wished to jam better, Gilbert can help you learn the skills necessary or help you improve while having fun during the classes and developing in you the confidence to join jams. 


The Palatka Bluegrass Festival has a satisfying, often exciting program for traditional bluegrass fans in a traditional setting. While you enjoy the music, you can also jam with your friends, eat at the Ranch concession stand or from some of the food carts, and shop for a variety of merchandise. 

The Details:

Tickets may be ordered online (scroll down to Palatka (February) Festival to select ticket type and order) or by calling (706) 864-7203. Prices for Adams Festivals are:

Tickets Prices


Reserved seats can be selected by consulting the map here

Camping: The Rodeheaver Boys Ranch provides a campground with over 500 water/electric sites. For further information and to reserve a site call (386) 328-1281. The Ranch provides a convenient shuttle service for campers, as well as a large coral for golf carts and other conveyances near the music shed. Proceeds from the campground provide the Ranch with its major income from operating the bluegrass festival.



Other Accommodations: A list of Palatka area accommodations is provided here on the the Adams Festivals web site. We had booked what appeared to be a very comfortable AirBnB in the area, but it was cancelled by the owner. While such rentals continue to increase in the entire state of Florida, we cannot, at this time, recommend any place in the Palatka area, although careful research at AirBnB and VRBO might prove useful for people contemplating slightly longer stays.

The Performance Shed


Rules: The Palatka Bluegrass Festival, run by Rodeheaver Boys Ranch, a residential school with a strong religious orientation has a few rules, mostly to increase the pleasure for attendees and maintain the appropriate atmosphere for the venue. They're simple and easy to follow:
No Video or Audio Recording is Allowed.
No Alcoholic Beverages, Smoking, or Pets in the Concert Area.
Bring Your Own Lawn Chairs
No Highback (32 inches) or Rockers of any type.
It's also considerate for your neighbors to refrain from talking or singing along during the music. 

How to Get to Rodeheaver Boys Ranch:

On the map below, input your location in the space marked by a O and then click. A Google map will open with your route to the Palatka Bluegrass Festival on it. 




Your Hosts: Norman & Judy Adams