Now that the whole snow thing is out of the way, it's time to think about summer. Colorado hosts some amazing music festivals. Big and small, single day and weekend affairs, there is something for almost everyone to enjoy.
To kick off the summer, my family is trying out Meadowgrass Music Festival near Colorado Springs on Memorial Day weekend. In its 6th year, Meadowgrass may be smaller (and more affordable) than it's Planet Bluegrass rivals, but it's beginning to draw larger crowds and a notable lineup.
I naively used to think that writers of short stories and essays simply didn't have enough good material to fill a traditional book. Fortunately some great teachers, and exposure to some of the best writers in the field, showed me the incredible art of short form writing.
The beauty of short works has become even more apparent as I've read too many books lately where I'm left feeling like a shorter essay or short story would've been more powerful. Often (like my college papers) they had a few great things to say but had used filler to make it fit a length requirement. As print magazines, the previous bastion of short form, are shutting their doors, I'm encouraged to see new outlets such as Kindle Singles and Ted Talks remind people that brevity can be a virtue.
This isn't the first blog post written about Red Rocks here at DPL, but if anything in our fair metropolis deserves renewed attention and accolades, Red Rocks is near the top of the list.
In high school, I was a Dave Matthews fan. Of course being in a suburban, middle class high school, almost everyone was a Dave Matthews fan and DMB's concerts at the local, grassy amphitheater were the peak of summer socializing. By the end of high school, I'd discovered punk and obligatorily disavowed any interest in Dave Matthews.
On the unique occasions that I listen to contemporary pop radio (usually caused by CPR pledge drives), I'm always struck by the superficiality of the songwriting. The songs aren't always of bad quality, but their priorities lie more with fun, sugary sounds. That's okay, but much like a nutritional diet, balance is key. In case your portion of substantial songwriting is meager, here are ten underappreciated artists just waiting to be discovered at the library.
I go through phases of saturating myself in the canon of older songwriters; Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Nick Drake, Gillian Welch, and Patty Griffin are among my favorites. But I've been fortunate enough to come across great young songwriters of different genres whose words stick with me long after I've turned off the stereo.
In this season of resolutions to eat better and work out more, the mind can often get overlooked as a vital place to make important changes. If you're looking to exercise your brain, here's a variety of books that provided me with a steady diet of challenging ideas and new ways of thinking.
Thinking Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman :: The title refers to the two systems of our brain which dictate our decision making. The first is fast, impulsive, and emotional. The second is slower and more rational. Although we think we are being rational most of the time, Kahneman contends that our brain in an effort to be more efficient takes shortcuts that lead to poor decisions made in complete confidence of the decision maker. Information and research heavy, but worth the mental workout.
Working with the DVD collection here at the library has reacquainted me with some of my favorite movies from childhood. My early years were firmly planted in the 80s which means most of these films are known more for their nostalgia-inducement and less for artistic merit, but at that point in my life, all I wanted was to be entertained and these fit the bill perfectly.
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure - This was a classic in my house (although trying to incessantly laugh like Pee-Wee became strongly discouraged). I can still recite way too much of this movie. Until recently, I had no idea it was directed by Tim Burton.
Are you one of the 450+ people waiting for the new Mumford & Sons album, Babel? No reason to sit idly by until that hold arrives at your local library. Check out these great artists who paved the way and discover the rich tradition of American roots music behind these British folksters.
Like other revivalists, Mumford & Sons have put their unique stamp on the sound but much of it harkens back to earlier eras of bluegrass and country. Here are some of my favorite artists and collections that exemplify some of the same soulful singing, tales of love and yearning, and driving instruments that have made Mumford such an exciting band to see rise up so quickly and pack venues with thousands of foot-stomping fans.
July 14th, 2012 marked what would've been Woody Guthrie's 100th birthday. Although he passed away in 1967, his legacy is as vibrant as ever.
Like many of my generation, I was introduced to Woody in my elementary school music class. Along with songs such as "And the Green Grass Grew All Around" and "Rainbow Connection," "This Land Is Your Land" was a staple of our teacher's singing selections. Of course we sang the sanitized version which excluded the political verses. I don't remember knowing who actually wrote it but it just went into the mental category of "Songs Everyone Knows."
With two weeks of 95+ degrees heat, it's easy to realize we're in the thick of summer. But at the end of the day, as the sun grants us reprieve, the evenings are ripe for spending time outside with a cold drink, friends, and music.
I can enjoy some of the catchy summer radio hits such as We Are Young or Pumped Up Kicks but here are a batch of recent albums that offer more substance without losing their backyard BBQ appeal.