Believe it or not, being the center of attention is not always my cup of tea. In my mind’s eye, I see some of you laughing and shaking your heads, but it’s true. In fact, there are times when I’m downright shy (hold the guffaws), so when I marched in to the Callicoon Brewing Co. (www.callicoonbrewing.com ) the other night under the guise of spending some quality time with my “work wife,” the amazing Amanda Reed, I was not prepared for a surprise party. Amanda, with the assistance of others at The River Reporter, had put together a birthday party of impressive proportions, replete with a band (Doug Rogers and the Backseat Drivers), a beautiful repast and a room full of people who showed up in an epic rainstorm to help me ring in a new decade. Yes, I’m old… but not too old to appreciate the time, effort and heaps of loving kindness (not to mention some swell gifts!) that rained on me that night and for that, we thank you.
Feeling celebrated (if not a bit creaky) was lovely, and instilled a little youthful vigor in me just in time to adjust the hitch in my git-along and take to the open road, the Wonder Dog’s ears flapping in the breeze, which led us directly to Livingston Manor, NY and its inaugural Garden Day. My events calendar promised “a day filled with neighborhood vendors tempting us with gardening-related wares” and “music on an outside stage, filling the air,” as Master Gardeners answered questions and beekeepers demonstrated how they keep track of their queen. With an eye toward making this an annual event, presented by the Livingston Manor Library, Sullivan County Audubon, the Manor Chamber and Renaissance Team, I was happy to see so many folks milling about, taking advantage of the dry weather and enjoying a spring festival that educated and entertained, keeping my mind off of turning 40. Oops, I mean 50. Wait. What?
Later that same day, avant garde artist extraordinaire Claire Coleman was hosting an opening reception for her new installation, “Chuck.” It chronicles the life and death of the previous occupant of her new home, which she and the husband found filled from top to bottom with what Coleman described as “detritus” (look it up; I had to), telegraphing that a hoarder had been in residence. Thousands of photographs, pieces of paper (what I call ephemera) and bits of flotsam and jetsam representing decades of life, death, neglect and decay fill the space on Main Street in the Manor, (www.facebook.com/theplunkshop ) including a tweaked “living room” featuring original wallpapers, furnishings and re-booted works of art created by a variety of local talent, utilizing materials found on-site. I peppered Coleman with questions, which she fielded while welcoming a swarm of guests, some of whom were dressed in period attire, complimenting the dizzying scene that unfolds as one absorbs “Chuck.” “Why didn’t anyone want it?” Coleman asked, sweeping her arms around the room. “It’s not all junk, you know,” she continued, “and we contacted family members. They weren’t interested.” When I suggested that it was dark and disturbing, Claire laughed. “Oh, it was great fun to put this together, but a huge commitment. Tell everyone you know,” she said, waving me out the door. “It’s here ‘til Labor Day.”
Overwhelmed and a bit too stimulated, I was still antsy when the time came to head out again to catch a show at the Dead End Café (www.parksvilleusa.com ) presented by Parksville Music Festival founder Tom Caltabellotta. The 2014 calendar for the season includes folk, blues, classical and jazz, including last Sunday’s offering, The Coyote Anderson Quartet. Anderson, who was born and raised in Glen Spey, NY, began playing at age 12 and has studied with several masters in his field. Featured in more than a dozen recordings to date, he recently received honorable mention in this year’s ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award and now I know why. Joined by cool cat Carl Limbacher on bass and the incomparable Max Maples on drums, Coyote has yet another trick up his musical sleeve in the form of astounding vocalist Corina Hernandez, who “is used to replace the traditional sound of the horn,” as Anderson explained. “This allows the ensemble to not only do instrumental’ tunes,” he shared with the boisterous, enthusiastic crowd, “but also the newer works that set the poetry of others into a jazz context.” Okay, then. Thinking that this was “just another gig,” I began my usual routine of taking notes and snapping pics, but then… I felt the music move me. I sat back, closed my eyes and luxuriated in what can only be described (IMHO) as the most amazing, exhilarating, neck-tingling, stylish, original fan-freakin’-tastic two (sexy) hours of pure musical genius. There. I said it. Up until now, my flirtation with jazz has been a cautious one, since I like to know where I’m going, with no surprises along the way. Therefore, I was totally unprepared to fall head-over-heels for the quartet (www.coyoteanderson.com ), Coyote, and all that jazz. Word on the street is that the band will visit again this summer, so I’ll keep you posted. Rocketing towards stardom, (mark my words) these guys are the real deal.