River’s Edge Gallery – A Change of Pace

20140622-112400-41040054.jpg

A friend invited me to the opening of “The Motor City Griot Society” by Steve Galzer, a ceramic artist, at the River’s Edge Gallery in Wyandotte,MI on June 20, 2014. Wyandotte is a community in the Detroit Metro area which is about 25 miles south of me. I have never been there so this was my first trip into a “Down River” community. During the last leg of the trip, I looked out my window to the left and saw that the community was on the Detroit River and had city parks to take advantage of the location. I soon arrived in the center of Wyandotte and went looking for a place to park. I got stuck in traffic.

20140622-113418-41658452.jpg
I found a place to park about a block from the gallery and considered myself lucky since the central business was alive with people and I could hear a performer singing under a tent about a block towards the river. As I got out of my car, I saw that I had beat the horse and carriage.

20140622-113839-41919681.jpg
It had been a rainy day and was still sprinkling at times. I walked across the street and wandered into a gallery that seemed to specialize in craft work. I wandered out again and decided to go to River’s Edge around the corner.

The gallery was a small gallery that had an eclectic assortment of art. They had paintings, mobiles, photos, sculptures, blown glass, ceramics, mixed media and more. I spotted the 40 piece griot collection on the far wall.

20140622-114501-42301136.jpg

I began to look around and saw some blown glass and ceramics.

20140622-114750-42470561.jpg

20140622-114750-42470104.jpg
The gallery was on three floors and they were serving snacks on the second floor. They had an assortment of hummus, crackers, cheese and fruits. I sat in one of the chairs to look at he art. I had a seat where I could see quite a few pieces. I like this method of looking. I allow myself to slow down and my eyes go from piece to piece. I first saw a sculpture of a hand..

20140622-115343-42823590.jpg At first glance, it was an accurate rendition of a hand. By taking my time, I began to see how complex it was. If I rush, I just see the whole and miss all the details that are so extraordinary.

I walked downstairs just as my friend came in. It was fun to watch her make some of the same discoveries. There was to be music which was billed as “soul hop”, a combination of soul and hip hop. We chatted while waiting for the music. When the sic started we listened for a moment and continued to chat.

After chatting and touring all three floors we went to a coffee shop on the corner and had coffee to end the evening.

Listening to Caravan….

20140620-091048-33048520.jpg

Last night I had planned to go out to Motor City wine to hear the Mike Jellick Trio. However, the power was out and I had to be satisfied with Wednesday night. I had seen the Wednesday night and I do like how they play. On Wednesday night though, the table next to me was talking all the way through the music. On the last number of the first set, they played “Caravan” which is one of my favorite songs. I talked to Mike Jellick about it a little after and how much I like the way he plays the song.

The song is a jazz standard made famous by Duke Ellington
and composed by Jaun Tizol. It was first recorded in 1936. The song itself has an exotic flavor which does set it apart from the average jazz number. The melody is immediately memorable. I had Duke Ellington’s version and I liked the song but it didn’t become one of my favorites until I heard a Thelonious Monk version. His playing let me hear how much versatility was possible in the song.

It became one of my favorites slowly over the last few years. I have heard it played by so many different musicians. What I began to hear is how the musician can put their own spin on the number ion so many ways. At one point about a year ago, the Mike Jellick Trio played the song for six weeks in a row. The amazing part was that he did it differently each week. Each time he played, I mentally started cruising along in my mind and then he took it in a new direction. The creativity is amazing. They did it again on Wednesday night.

Searching for the perfect Rueben Sandwich

20140619-094655-35215367.jpg

Ever since I had my first Rueben Sandwich, I have had a love affair with the sandwich. When I see the sandwich on a menu, my stomach seems to say please order the Rueben. The traditional Reuben is corned beef, Swiss cheese, Russian or Thousand Island dressing, sauerkraut on a grilled rye. Each restaurant seems to put their own twist on the Rueben. Some work and some don’t.

I went to the Stage Deli in West Bloomfield, MI where I had had good food in the past. I saw a Russian Rueben on the menu and ordered. This one was Pastrami, coleslaw, Russian dressing, Swiss cheese on a grilled pumpernickel.

Although this one was not the traditional, it was a very good Reuben. I tasted the coleslaw before biting into the sandwich and discovered that it was a bit bland so I added a spicy mustard to the sandwich. The pumpernickel bread added a robust flavor not usually encountered. The grilling adds a crust to the outside of the sandwich and aids in the eating process. The substitution of coleslaw for sauerkraut added a crunchy texture to the mix. So, the sandwich was a new and very good experience. I’m sure I will continue to seek the perfect Rueben. The Detroit Metro area is a big place and I don’t know where the journey will lead me.

Battling with Raccoons….

20140616-202358-73438149.jpg
The raccoon in the picture is a local raccoon but not the one who was in my house.

For about the last ten days I have been battling raccoons that moved into my home. At first, I thought the sounds were mice in my garage or their larger cousins rats. I put out mouse and rat traps and nothing. I put out mouse poison. There was not a nibble.

The sounds continued. The noises got louder. They were loudest at about 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.. After a few days with no results, I looked around and spotted a hole under and eave in my home. That day, that lady next door reported seeing a raccoon on the roof of my attached garage.

That evening. I was in my bedroom closet and heard a sound that sounded like birds chirping. It was a Mama raccoon and her babies. I shut the closet door. My ever attentive dog tried to open the door. She also started barking at walls.

Last Saturday, I called for help. I checked around and found a guy on Angie’s List who does live capture and releases the the invading wildlife back to the wild.

The first night, I heard the trap spring at about 9:30 p.m.. The cage was rattled periodically all night long. It was the Mama and she was not happy. From the sound showing the ability to rattle a rather large cage, I thought it was the Mama. When I checked in the morning, she was curled in a ball and sound asleep. I put in a call to my guy who said he would pick her up and set a new trap.

20140616-204134-74494506.jpg

Last night, one of the babes was trapped and was reunited with Mama at rehab. When the whole litter is trapped, they will go to the wild site. I have to say that the noise last night was so much less noise that I may just be able to get more sleep tonight. It is just before 9:00 p.m. and I can hear the rest of the babes getting ready to go out for the evening. There is a delicious can of cat food awaiting them.

Spencer Barefield Quartet at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe

20140606-182129-66089475.jpg
Last night on June 5, 2014 I went out to see the Spencer Barefield Quartet at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. This is a place where the food is also something to remember.

I got there in plenty of time and was seated at a table where it was easy to see and hear the musicians. There is a little note on each table reminding patrons not to talk during music. It did not deter the ladies next to me. However, they were talking quietly and were not really a disturbance. They had the special of three courses for $ 30 and I found that it was too much for me to eat the last time I went so I order a starter and an entree of things I had not ordered before. Taking pictures of the food is so difficult since the lighting during the music is red and it colors the food. So I will describe it as well as I can.

The starter I ordered was fried onions. They came after they served me some different kinds of bread with an herbed butter. The bowl of fried onions was large enough to serve as a starter for two or three. They were very thinly sliced sweet onions which had been dipped in a batter and fried to a crisp. They were served with a curry garlic aioli and with a spicy ketchup. They were great dipped in either sauce. I ate about half and the waitress asked if I wanted them to start the entree. I did.
I had ordered what they call the Fork and Knife Burger. It was once ground beef on a garlic toast with cooked spinach, mushrooms, a fried egg, a thin slice of foie gras topped with béarnaise sauce. It was large and more it was served with French fries. I was stunned by the size of the meal. It was wonderful. All the flavors went so well together. It was cooked medium rare just as I wanted.. Next time I ll order this alone. It is enough. I took home portions of the fried potatoes, fried onions and half of the burger.

20140606-184419-67459281.jpg
Left to Right: Djallo Djakte (percussion), Dave Young (bassist), Spencer Barefield (guitar) and Dwight Adams(trumpet).

Although I was eating and a split attention can make it harder to listen, they did a great job of having a balanced set that went with the atmosphere. I had not heard either Spencer Barefield or Dave young before. I can only say I enjoyed the set a lot. What I liked was that each of the musicians had a place to shine during the set and all of them did. None of musicians dominated and it was one of those times when you here people playing together and making each other sound better.

The two numbers I liked the most were “Nigerian Marketplace” and “A Night in Tunisia”. On “Nigerian Marketplace”, Dave Young took the lead since he had played this with Oscar Peterson. I liked it and came home to see other versions on YouTube. I am relatively new to jazz and sometimes when a song is in my head, I like to hear more of it. And this was one of those nights. The good thing about “A Night in Tunisia” for me is that it is familiar. When they play a familiar song, I like to see what they can do with it. And I enjoyed their version.

It is so good to hear a set of mature musicians who know what they are doing and do it so well.

Walking the Dog

20140604-112403-41043497.jpg

Yesterday I decided to walk my dog a different route in my neighborhood. It’s late Spring and this is the time of year the classic cars come out. The cars are in garages or storage all winter. Driving around you can see so many classics. And since I am driving, I can’t get any pictures except at the Woodward Dream Cruise in August when they all come out to drive on one street all day.

I was lucky to see this one in “cherry” condition on a street near me. The dog did not care one bit

20140604-112835-41315807.jpg

Acoustic Ambince

20140602-234636-85596649.jpg

The first place I went was Northern Lights Lounge in Detroit to see the Mike Jellick Trio. I usually have something to eat. It is usually an appetizer since they are half off on Wednesday evening. I ordered the beef nachos and waited. I did get my club soda and lime so at least I had something to drink.

This blog is specifically about the acoustic experience. On Wednesday evening, Northern Lights Lounge is a good experience. Each instrument is set up so the microphones pick up the sound. An extra microphone is on stage for any additions. There is an actual professional sound guy who runs a sound check and makes adjustments. This is an unusually good acoustic experience. The room is also set up for music. The musicians are on a stage and wood is the predominant material. The speakers are set up so the sound spreads evenly throughout the room.

Venues can have all sorts of things that make it difficult to get a good sound. The Detroit Institute of Arts has a music program on Friday nights. It is well attended and is free. However,the room is huge and over two stories high.

A lot of the time, the musicians just set it up for themselves. Most of them are used to it and do a good job. However, there is occasionally the rogue musician who manages to crank his amp up to the point that he is stepping on all the other instruments.

I went to another bar after Northern Lights and the whole experience was so different. The band shoes play on a stage up front. But, there is a brick wall and a glass wall. The speakers are hung on the ceiling and are between. the musicians and the audience. All the seating is either under the speakers or behind the speakers. The bar and table seating go back for fifty feet. In order for the back to hear, the music is turned up. In the front, it is not bad if you can get to one of the tables under the speakers. With the music turned up and in the back it is so hard to hear any of the words of vocalists. Sometimes the music is distorted. If I’m in the middle, I usually leave once my headache starts or go outside for a breather.

So what I’m trying to say is that no matter how great the music may be if it is not played well to the room it is lost.