Monday, July 28, 2008

FloydFest 7 - A Family Affair

FloydFest Pan
Modestly sunburned, a bit poison ivied, aching in all the usual places - but all the better for the experience - we are back from the mountains of Virginia, our annual visit to FloydFest. The theme was A Family Affair; and so it was with my daughter joining members of my wife's family at our campsite. This was her first visit to the festival. It was a special treat to see the week-end through her eyes. Above is her panorama of the site taken from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Floydfest 7 will be remembered as the year with no rain, only partly cloudy skies, and pleasantly warm temperatures, fleeting conditions for these mountains at this time of year. Sunday night after most campers had left I even saw the Milky Way on my way to port at 3 AM.

I did not post about FloydFest 6 last year, more a reflection of blogging fatigue than the week-end. Last year's line up included Sam Bush, the North Mississippi Allstars, Donna the Buffalo, and closed with our house band, Railroad Earth. The musical surprise last year for me was The Waybacks. They were just totally awesome, to repeat a phrase.

Again this year it was performers I knew little - if anything - about, who made the musical weekend for me.

We were eating dinner early Friday evening when four men took the stage next to us dressed in black three-piece suits; they looked like young undertakers. Surrounding one microphone they went from one old-time traditional Appalachian song to another, just nailing them. These guys were good. It was only between songs when it slowly dawned on me that something was different. That...that European accent....they were Swedish! Pontus Juth, Peter Frovik, Ralf Fredblad, and Kristian Herner call themselves the Rockridge Brothers. Here is them on YouTube. Who knew?

Two weekends ago on my way to Charlotte I listened to that Saturday morning staple, NPR's Weekend-Edition. As they often do to wrap up the show, they interviewed a musical guest who played a few songs. This time it was Amos Lee, someone I did not know. I enjoyed the interview, listened to a couple songs, thought him pretty good, and moved on. This Saturday I was sitting on stage with him. Folks, he is the real deal. I have not heard any of his albums, but live he had my full attention for entire set. He is so good it is scary. I will see him again. Here is a link to the NPR interview.

Another high point was hearing Railroad Earth again. As I have been to about twenty shows now, the newness has worn off. It has been replaced by that warm feeling of seeing old friends and being transported out of the moment to a familiar, wonderful place. They have a new album, Amen Corner, which captures them relaxed, fresh with new songs. I had a chance to talk with Todd Shaeffer for a few minutes in the parking lot. I reminded him that he had sent me 20 CDs a year and a half ago after he had played solo at my daughter's wedding. Like a true musician (and gentleman) he had not bothered to enclose an invoice. So we settled up. Then that evening RRE closed the main stage in great style.

The three stories above were not the half of it. We heard four kids from Wise, Virginia, most just out of high school, who call themselves the Midnight Ramblers. They were just perfect, dressed and pressed, music as fresh and pure and timeless as spring in Wise County. San Francisco's New Monsoon rocked the mainstage. Kat Mills made sitting around the Pink Floyd Garden Stage just the place to be. The everybodyfields put on a wonderful performance at the Hill Hollar Stage. Rusted Root disappointed no one Saturday night. What a wonderful version of Cinnamon Girl. David Grisman's Dawg Music brought a smile and, for some, memories of Jerry. And words fail to describe the Avett Brothers, just fail. What energy, what honest music. What a way to end the festival!

anita b&wThe Best Camper Award this year goes to Anita. This was her sixth straight Floydfest and the driving force - literally up highway 8 - for keeping our family focused towards this annual event. Like the festival itself, each year she handles with grace whatever circumstances present themselves. She's nice, damn it!

A close runner-up for best camper is Virginia, who's health problems made attending this year problematical. Determination carried the day. She's nice too.

(Many) more photos, like the ones above, will shortly be posted on my daughter's flickr site.

After one drives away only does it dawn that Floydfest is not really about the music; in the end it is the people one remembers: the extended family of friends who put the week-end together, the vendors, the campers, the day-trippers, and the performers from all over the world and our backyard who share their art with us. I was just on the phone with my sister. I heard myself say that Floydfest is like a big family reunion where there are lots of relatives you just haven't met yet. That works for me, a Family Affair.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008



The next generation has arrived. This is William John Terminella, Wil, the son of Kevin and Heather, Kevin being my sister's eldest.
This photo was taken at 4 months. Look closely. Examine the expression on Wil's face. I was probably 30 by the time I learned how to arch my eyebrows like that.
That kid on E*Trade had better be looking over his shoulder.
Kevin and Heather, lotsa luck keeping up with this one.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Space...the Final Frontier

AtticWhen we first saw our current house we thought it had plenty of space: a great room w/17 ft ceiling, a huge master bedroom w/bath, two walk-in closets, a nice sized kitchen with attached - though small - dining area, and an attached two car garage and shop area. Add the two bedrooms, a bath, and office upstairs and how cluttered could it get?

We quickly found out.

So last year I converted the unused space over the garage for storage use. That quickly filled. I covered the walls of the garage with shelves. Not a lineal foot now empty.

So last week I began converting the last unused space under roof for additional storage, not a pleasant job in July. Access is by crawling through a two foot by two foot opening behind the guest bedroom door that is secured by a screwed in panel. A proper door is next. Above is what it looks like today, floored and lit, ~ 180 square feet more storage.

In the cool of the morning tomorrow it will begin to fill with boxes. Gee. How cluttered can it get?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Pop's Popcorn Popper

Buck & Popcorn PopperWhile cleaning up and cleaning out my family home - preparing for the eventual sale - we noticed our old popcorn popper recessed on a shelf in a closet. I remember mother letting me use it to make popcorn when I was "old enough." It was quite basic; it was plugged in or not, so inattention led to the scorched kernels I often served. But since the innovation of microwaveable popcorn memories of its use have faded into ancient history.

Sometime later we discovered this image among the family photos. It shows my father holding that popcorn maker with what was, unusual for him, a bemused smile on his face and a slightly askew bow tie. Better, someone had written on the back:
Dec. 1953 at American Legion Hall
Christmas Banquet
Contest Winners
Left to Right
E.C. Edwards, Jr.
Ellis Midkiff
Maynard Gillespie
This was obviously taken at the Christmas banquet of the Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative, where my father (and the other two gentlemen) worked. Since only two are holding something and are in the foreground - Mr. Midkiff seems to have an alarm clock - I expect Mr. Gillespie is just giving the winners a hard time. Thus we learned how the popper made it into our home. We had no idea.

PopperMy sister thought it only proper that I receive custody of both the popper and the photo. And I thought it only proper to see if it still worked. It does.

Just for the record, it was manufactured by the Dominion Electric Corporation, Mansfield, Ohio, U.S.A. - Model 1702, 400 watts. Although I cannot find it on our popper, it seems to have been introduced in 1948 as the Popper Chef. Ours would be at least 55 years old. Dominion seems to be no longer in business; a Google search yielded little other than Mansfield was once known for its manufacturing, especially stoves - Westinghouse and Tappan among them.

I'm glad Pop didn't win the alarm clock.