Amzie Adams (photographer/”politician”/sculptor/musician/filmmaker/poet) is a French Quarter fixture. I met him for the first time several years ago when I was working in Jackson Square, as he was/is good friends with my boss over there. Many ‘Quarter Rats’ (established French Quarter residents) don’t know what to think of him, however he’s just as much a part of this city as the jazz, the streetcars, Ruthie the Duck Lady, or red beans & rice on a Monday. He’s part of the backdrop we’ve all been woven into, a functional character akin to seeing Mickey Mouse at Disney World – without the paycheck, with less clothes, and probably a little more frightening to little kids and their suburban parents.
So check out the instrument he has in this photo (taken 6/27/10). He stopped by our moving sale this past Saturday, and wanted to show K.D. (my wife) his new upright bass. He built it out of an old wooden dresser. The strings are weed-whacker line, and it sounds just like, well, a bass! Apparently he had purchased a new (traditional) upright, then liked the sound of his own better so he sold it and gigs around with the axe you see here.
You can read more about Amzie Adams here:
All Amzie All The Time
New Orleans Art by Amzie Adams
That’s my epiphany of the day.
I need to take bigger risks without minding so much if I fail at them. It’s hard because, quite frankly, I do mind. I think it’s important to be in a place where you can fail ‘safely’. This all stems from the idea of academic competition and not letting your weaknesses show. Today, for example, I was struggling with a particular aspect of written formatting that I probably should have learned years and years ago (and maybe I did), so I had to muster the courage to just say to a professor, “Wait a sec. I really don’t know”. I risked looking like an idiot, and I’m happy I did because I walked away knowing the answer.
Sometimes I forget that ignorance is okay if its mixed with curiosity and the ambition to change. The other part of me just smacks myself on the head for not knowing. I’m reminded that the largest proponent of a successful education is the desire to self-educate. That’s more than half the battle. The rest is just having access to resources and knowing how to use them.
And now back to writing and listening…
For those of you who have an interest in world military bands and/or early American/European wind music, check out this great resource I found while surfing for some archived programs of the Goldman Band:
World Military Bands
(**this link was also added to my permanent ethno resources section)
I’m reposting this video from one of my favorite blogs, Tibet Music World. I love this blog, because it integrates tradition with pop music.
They posted this video from the Spirit of Tibet UK Tour that’s happening right now in Colchester, UK at the Mercury Theatre. This performance is by the World Harmonious Theatre Group, composed of young artists who are trying to preserve the Tibetan culture of performing arts.
For many years I’ve learned to advocate for the field of music education. The concept of advocacy seemed so important even, that it became a main proponent of my first degree program. Early on through my mentors and professors, I learned which educational buzz words to use in conversation with educational stakeholders so that if the dreaded topics come up: Why is music education important in today’s society? Why should music be part of the core curriculum and not extra-curricular? Why does every child need a music education? … then I’d be armed with the right answers, which would change depending on the political, economic, and social climate of my surroundings. In essence, I became a lobbyist for music education. I think it’s a great thing.
Thanks to the extraordinarily-talented Marie Marshall (author/poet) for the introduction to a great band.
“Rolling Stone Magazine described the Carolina Chocolate Drops’ style as “dirt-floor-dance electricity”. If you ask the band, that is what matters most. Yes, banjos and black string musicians first got here on slave ships, but now this is everyone’s music. It’s OK to mix it up and go where the spirit moves.”
Check. Them. Out. Today.
If you’re interested in banjo music, check out this great resource:
Banjo Sightings Database
I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve walked home via Frenchman and heard the Young Fellas Brass Band. Last night on my way home from Port of Call, they were on their usual corner at midnight.
Once I got several blocks past them into the [marigny] rectangle, I realized I was still dancing and could still hear them – the entire way home.
My walk normally includes 8 blocks of shotgun houses, creole cottages, camelback and slave quarter apartments, lush courtyards with cats lounging on uneven brick sidewalks, blue-fonted street names engraved on corners, crickets and frogs singing at the top of their lungs behind a thick wrought iron gate of the Aquatic Gardens, and dive bars with inspiring names like “Lost Love Lounge”. I know I’m close when I see giant bloom of neon jellyfish staring my way as I turn the corner a block from home. Last night, even the jellyfish were charmed by the Young Fellas.
That’s my “I love New Orleans” moment of the day.