Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holiday Special 2010 - Summer

Continuing the retrospective view of 2010's bluegrass festivals, here are pictures from the Jenny Brook Family Bluegrass Festival and the first two days of Musicians Against Childhood Cancer.  I've chosen pictures because I like them.  Some have been previously posted in this blog, others are new.  The previously posted ones leaped out at me as I scanned the archives, so rather than look for inferior ones, I've taken the liberty of repeating myself.  I hope you enjoy these.

Jenny Brook - Late June
Setting Up the Stage

Jenny Brook is genuinely a family festival, run by a family and very family friendly.  Now moved to the wonderful Tunbridge World's Fair Grounds in Tunbridge, VT, Jenny Brook will be held from June 23 - 26, 2011.  Through hard work and thoughtful programming, Jenny Brook has risen to among the top four New England bluegrass festivals.

Smokey Green

 Leroy Troy

 Candi Sawyer - Promoter

Mack & Herman Magee
Dudley Connell

 Lou Reid
Ben Eldridge

Don Rigsby

 Bo Isaac

Alan Bibey

Adam Haynes
Joe Walsh
Mike Barber

Alan Bibey, Justin Jenkins, Steve Gulley

 Audie Blaylock & Redline

 Clayton Campbell
Eric Gibson
Joe Walsh

 Leigh Gibson

Bruce Stockwell
April  Hobart
Kelly Stockwell

Musicians Against Childhood Cancer - Columbus, OH
Wednesday - Thursday
MACC is one of the most important and enjoyable festivals in the country.  Held each year in the Hoover-Y Park, the next one will be July 20 - 23, 2011.  See you there.

Terry Eldredge and Kristin Scott Benson
Terry Eldredge

Kristin Scott Benson

Russell Moore

 Russell Moore
Wayne Benson

 Sierra Hull
Clay Hess
Tom Adams

 Leigh Gibson

J.D. Crowe
David McLaughlin

Mike Cleveland
Mike Andes
Chris Sexton
Alan Mills

Randy Graham
David Parmley
Rhonda Vincent

Rhonda Vincent

More coming.  Probably later in the week.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Star Island by Carl Hiaasen - Book Review

Carl Hiaasen is, without a doubt, the most reliable humorous writer I've ever found.  His wicked sense of irony, crazy wacked out characters, and social satire combine to make me laugh and think simultaneously.  His latest, Star Island, stands up to his best previous novels, now at twelve and counting.  He's also written children's fiction and some non-fiction. I'm looking forward to reading his golf book and the one he wrote about Disney called Team Rodent.  Hiaasen's usual theme's are found in this hilarious romp through the celebrity-soaked world of Miami Beach and environs: the emptiness of popular culture, the corruption of politics, the despoilation of Florida's natural beauty, and the evil of rapacious real estate developers.  Reader's of Hiaasen's previous books are familiar with these themes and the author's genuine anger at what has been done to the state he loves combining with his knack for creating grotesque characters who rub up against ones you care about to create a wacky, but strangely believable, comic world. 

All of Hiaasen's novels are stand-alone efforts, but one of his most lovable and strange characters makes a return appearance in Star Island.  Former Florida governor Clinton Tyree, elected many years as a reform candidate and driven to madness by the combination of his experiences as a Vietnam vet and his disillusion at the depth of depraved corruption he experiences in the state's political system.  After abruptly resigning, he disappears, only to reappear in several of the books as the seemingly deranged Skink, a one-eyed, swamp rat who lives on road kill and finds it nearly impossible to function in modern society.  The sadness of his quest is lightened by the quirky solutions he devises to right the wrongs in society.

Cherry Pye is a completely unwound and untalented pop singer, a strange simulacrum of Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan, managed by her exploitive parents and a group of leeches living off the very much threatened gravy train she keeps threatening to wreck through her continuing use of drugs and nutty sexual exploits.  Bang Abbott, the absurdly smelly and fat papparozzo who follows her from rehab in California to near self-destruction in South Beach, Miami.  Cherry is kept from total annihilation by her delightful double, the unflappable Ann DiLuisa, who is kidnapped by Bang Abbott and  helped along the way by our old friend, Skink.  Chemo, a scary body guard with a weed wacker head for left hand, adds to the merriment.  Hiaasen has a Dickensian facility with naming his subsidiary characters: race driver - Nils Creosoto, porn star - Rod Harder, and clothing designer - Ermengildo Zagna.  There's no use trying to reprise the plot. The secret of really enjoying a Hiassen novel is sitting back and enjoying its progress while being drawn in by his dead-on caricatures of people those of us who've spent time in Florida have come to loathe for what they've achieved.  

Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiassen has been a reporter at the Miami Herald since 1976.  He spent several years doing investigative journalism specializing in environmental and development issues before becoming a regular columnist. In recent years his column has appeared weekly in the Herald.  As with many fine humorists, Hiaasen has serious ends in mind while managing to remain almost endlessly entertaining.  Also, as with much humor reading, I wouldn't recommend reading his books one right after the other.  Rather, allow some time between books to let the previous one settle out before starting the next.  That having been said, however, he maintains a remarkably high level of performance between books.  In Star Island Hiaasen is at the top of his game.

Star Island  is published by Knopf and sells in hard cover for $26.95.  It's available in trade paperback, e-book format, and as a recorded book.  Support your local independent book store.