Monday, October 22, 2007

why i love people who love music

Current mood: indescribable
A friend invited me to a party in Nashville on Saturday night. It was an unexpected invitation -- an Oktoberfest Party in East Nashville -- at the home of some folks i didn't know. But, being an accordion player, I was adding to the party theme.

I would love to go into extreme detail, but i'm not sure i could do it justice. Here are the basics.

Just know that there was a sound system set up on the front porch ... Peter Cooper played first, followed by Four-time Grammy nominee Lynnmarie, the Polka Queen, followed by Brigid Kaelin (ME!!!!!!), followed by ... Cowboy Jack Clement whose drummer for the night was WS "Fluke" Holland, aka the only drummer Johnny Cash ever played with. Cowboy Jack is a legendary producer/songwriter (he discovered Jerry Lee Lewis, was a producer/engineer for Sun Records, i could go on.. read the Wiki entry)
And i played musical saw with Cowboy Jack. And he liked it:)
I also ate enough cheese to last me years. Then a bunch of us sat around the back porch and sang songs and played music for a few hours.
I forgot why i loved Nashville so much.
It's all about the music.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Accordions and smoking

Accordions breathe easier since smoking ban

I was talking to the Troubadours of Divine Bliss on Friday night about how annoying it is to play accordion in a smoky bar -- not only because smoke collects inside the bellows of the sensitive instrument, but because every time you squeeze it,it just blows smoke back in your face.

Excerpt from the above linked article, based on studies in Ireland, the first nation to go entirely smoke-free in all work places, including pubs (in early 2004).

"It's a remarkable analogy in that you've got an instrument that's basically performing much the same way as the lung and responding much the same way as the lung," added Kirby Donnelly, head of environmental and occupational health at Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health.

A study ... found a significant reduction in air pollution in pubs and an improvement in respiratory symptoms in Irish bar workers after the ban.

Musicians... frequently gather at pubs to play traditional music together. In addition to the accordion, these pub sessions feature concertina, melodeon and Uilleann (Irish) bagpipes, all of which are bellows-driven.

Anecdotal evidence had suggested that accordions subjected to heavy smoke collected particles inside, much like a person's lungs would.

Garvey and his colleagues conducted a telephone survey of all workers (a total of seven) involved in the cleaning, repair, maintenance and renovation of accordions in the Republic of Ireland....
Those interviewed noted that, when opened, accordions that had been played in smoke-filled rooms emitted a strong cigarette odor. Deposits of soot-like dirt were also found inside the instruments. One worker interviewed said that, in some cases, enough dirt could be deposited in the instrument to affect the pitch.

All interviewees said that both the cigarette smell from accordions and the dirt residue inside had improved since the smoking ban.

If you have no concern for my lungs, at least pity my accordions!!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Smoking, slavery, and Why i didn’t come to your show last night

Current mood: annoyed
Category: News and Politics
This might just be my most controversial blog to date. I'm not a confrontational person, but I do have a hard time keeping my mouth shut when I have an opinion. You're entitled to your opinion, as long as it doesn't bother anyone else. Obviously, that's a basis for a lot of our freedoms in this country. And smoking in my face at a non-smoking bar is extremely invasive, FYI.

To those bars in Louisville who are actively ignoring the city-wide smoking ban: just who do you think you are impressing? Are you proud to be making my throat hurt and my eyes water after playing what was supposed to be a non-smoking show? Are you happy that I stepped inside your bar for 30 seconds last night, and my hair STILL smells like an ashtray? Are you glad to know that my throat doctor told me to quit smoking, when I've never smoked a cigarette in my life? And that my throat looks like that of a smoker's because i used to sing in bars for a living? Do you honestly think that allowing smoking in your club despite the ban is something you will be PROUD of in 25 years? I think it's embarassing, especially having toured the country playing music over the last year, and noticing that the rest of the country figured out that secondhand smoke is hazardous YEARS ago, apparently.

Just like the rest of the country figured out that slavery was bad, and it took Kentucky until 1976, yes nineteen-seventy-six, not 1876, to ratify the 13th Amendment. And then there's the fact that slavery was legal in Kentucky after the Emancipation Proclamation. Way to go, guys. Did everyone back in 1865 just take up a collection pot for when they got busted with slaves? Still probably cheaper than paying minimum wage, i guess. (And to be fair, we should now laugh at Mississippi, who was officially the last state to ratify the amendment that abolished slavery -- they took until 1995.)

Has Kentucky ALWAYS had this i'm-not-gonna-play-along complex? Don't get me wrong, here, i love living in Louisville. Were my canvas not already covered in freckles, i, too, would have a fleur-de-lis tattoo. I have tobacco growing and flowering over 6-feet-tall in my front yard. (Hey, i'm into gardening, and the pink flowers are gorgeous). I'm typing this with my bare feet in the air, bluegrass on the radio, and a bourbon in my hand.

BUT... Why are we always so late to admit certain things? Not so long ago, all across America, people could smoke in grocery stores and hospitals. Hospitals. And elevators. I think I speak for the 80%ish of Americans who don't smoke when i say: Ewwwww.

So, d.w. box, I'm sorry I missed your show last night. I stepped in for about 30 seconds, and had to leave. Same for Johnny Berry. I wanted nothing more than to dance all night to my favorite honky-tonker. But I'm not spending money in establishments that flaunt their defiance of the smoking ban. And I'm sorry that YOU and your band had to breathe it when you were at work, putting on the fabulous shows that you do.

Have a little respect, folks.

And to the in-your-face-smokers, please don't give me that crap about your civil liberties. I'm not alone in wanting to listen to the fabulous music this town has to offer and still be able to breathe. I also saw several other people walk out of bars for the same reason.

I know i'm one of the few musicians with a loud enough mouth to support the smoking ban. But i know a TON of you music-lovers out there who have gone out for the first time in years because you can finally enjoy a smoke-free environment. Smokers, do what you need to do -- but please don't yell at me when I ask you to smoke outside.

And club-owners and musicians, i know a LOT more people who would come to your shows if they were promised a smoke-free evening. It's nice to be able to take a shower before you go out for the night, instead of right before you go to bed.

I also want to publicly thank a few of my favorite local bars that are smoke-free, fresh, and fun: Gerstle's Place (LOVE monday night bluegrass with Steve Cooley, Larry Raley, Stephen Couch)
Monkey Wrench (stopped in last night for the Wax Collective featuring Woodrow on the Radio, Matt Anthony, and Kim Sorise)
Nachbar (always a good time, and NEVER a cigarette inside)
thanks for helping me breathe easier. support the bars that support your health.