Paul Meyers 

Benefit for Tedra Cobb’s
Campaign for Congress

Monday, July 30, 7 PM

The Hermitage (Robin McClellan’s)
Stockholm

Paul is a world-renowned jazz guitarist based in New York City. He spent his high school years in Potsdam and studied at Crane with Dick Stephan. Since then, he has had a career of touring, teaching, and playing the New York scene with an amazing number of stellar musicians (for a more complete bio, see his website). Every summer, though, he comes back to the North Country to relax with family and grace a few local audiences with his beautiful sound. 

Paul was the second person to play a house concert here and has come back on numerous occasions, sometimes alone and sometimes with other musicians. I’m thrilled to welcome him back, this time to play a benefit for another old friend of mine, Tedra Cobb who, you may have heard, is running for Congress. I hope you’ll be able to come to hear Paul play, talk with Tedra, and donate a little (or a lot) to her campaign.

For more information click here to go to my website where you will find directions to the Hermitage.

This is an open event so please disseminate this invitation or its contents widely. The campaign is also trying to gauge how many people will be coming so RSVP to events@tedracobb.com if you can…but if you find yourself free at the last minute, come anyway.

If you can’t make the event and want to donate to Tedra’s campaign you can do that here.

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Mark Lyon

Update:

Saturday, January 27 at 7:00 PM

At The Hermitage
(Robin McClellan’s)
in Sanfordville.

Unfortunately, Mary Ann has come down with double pneumonia and won’t be able to make it. Mark will be here and I hope you’ll come out for his debut at the Hermitage!

Mary Ann approached me about doing this concert with Mark Lyon last year to help him get some exposure to the local music scene. I didn’t have to hear or meet Mark to agree, I know I can trust Mary Ann’s judgment in this regard, but looking over his bio (below) I’m more excited than ever about this concert! This is a new pairing of musicians and they are still working out the performance; I can only tell you that they will play individually and together and, if past performance is any gauge, delight us.

Mark and Mary Ann are going to donate 50% of the proceeds to Tedra Cobb’s campaign for the 21st Congressional Race. I have known Tedra for many years and worked with her on energy, environment, and social issues in the region. She combines a passion for the region and those of us who live in it with the ability to work with people of all stripes to craft policies that are effective and fair. This is something sorely needed in these divisive times. For more information on Tedra go to her web page or her Facebook page.

The suggested donation is $10 and reservations are not required.

Mark Lyon

 

Mary Ann Casale in electric mode (she’ll be playing acoustic here, though)

 

Mark draws from folk, blues, country, and bluegrass and is guided by nature and ethereal influences. He teaches guitar with the Musical Way Academy. Mary Ann says, “He is a very very very VERY good guitar player. He is very engaging with the audience and his easy way is something that you don’t find too often. He plays to play, not to perform.”

He is also interested in the use of music in the healing arts and has been accompanying Becky Harblin during Tibetan Singing Bowl Sound Baths. “It is my goal to make people feel when they listen to my music,” said Mark. In addition to playing, he built his own guitar in local luthier, Tracy Cox’s shop.

Mark is in the process of recording his first album. I’m hoping that his appearance here will help grow his dedicated following!

Mary Ann has had a busy year of touring both as a duo with Tas Cru and a member of his Band of Tortured Souls. With over 60 performances from the famous Rum Boogie Café on Beal Street in Memphis to a summer filled with festivals throughout the northeast and Canada, this has been a year of travel. She has also logged in hours recording full backup vocals for 2 of Tas’ albums at Subcat Studios in Syracuse. Her Sammy Award (Syracuse Area Music Award) nominated album, Restless Heart has gotten a good amount of national and international airplay.

2018 will be starting off busy as she sets out to join the band mid-tour with a lineup of 7 shows in Topeka, Kansas, and Memphis in mid-January. This tour has also earned her a spot on the acclaimed Women in Blues Showcase Stage in Memphis. Mid-March starts a round of gigs around NY State and radio performances which include a stop at McGeary’s in Albany and Caffe Lena in Saratoga. More performances and tours are pending. While local performances are few and far between, she calls the North Country of NY State her home and still finds great joy in performing in this area. Feb. 24 starts performance on her 3rd album…soon to be named. All of the music is written and she is in the process of lining up musicians to perform on this new venture.

In other news, Tas Cru, a frequent performer here with Mary Ann, had his album Simmered and Stewed nominated for a Blues Music Award. This is, indeed, a high honor. Congratulations, Tas!

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Alex Smith Returns

Friday, December 1
7:30 PM

Robin McClellan’s
(The Hermitage)

Sanfordville

$10 Admission

Alex 01

It’s late fall so it’s time for Alex to grace the Hermitage again. He is on the verge of releasing the live album he recorded at the legendary Caffè Lena’s and it should be available in time for sale at the concert. He is also coming to the end of a record 200-show year and he’s still working on his new studio album, “Fuel, Air, Compression, Spark.” And he still has found time to get in a little bow hunting here and in Kentucky. Ah, youth! But his singing and songwriting reflect a far older soul.

Alex grew up in Long Lake, in the heart of New York’s Adirondack Park, and his music strives first and foremost to echo the culture of that area. He builds songs from a blend of traditional folk harmony and strikingly modern lyrics, confronting today’s most pressing issues with grace while paying homage to the musical tradition of the region.

Alex’ characters, though fictional, live and breathe a balance between beauty and imperfection. His stories draw on the triumphs and hardships of friends, relatives, and neighbors near and far, and he has worked tirelessly to carry the music of northern New York to audiences nationwide.

I hope you will come by and enjoy his deep, sonorous voice and words.

Robin
Alex 02

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Tas & Mary Ann, Benefit for Local Living Venture

Featuring music by Rick Bates (aka Tas Cru) & Mary Ann Casale

Saturday, November 4 at 7:00 PM

At Robin McClellan’s 
(The Hermitage)
in Sanfordville.

These two talented and generous musicians are once again playing to raise money, this time for the benefit of the Local Living Venture. I hope you will come and listen to their beautiful music and support the tireless work of the Local Living Venture. The suggested donation is $10 and reservations are not required.

Mary Ann’s CD “Restless Heart” continues to garner critical acclaim:

“You can’t put a label on her music. It is blues & folk with a fine dose of soul & jazz. Twelve fine songs that are worth listening to.”
~ Eric Campfens, Barn Owl Blues, The Netherlands

“With a real ‘when music was music’ vibe running throughout, this singer/songwriter in bluesy trappings hits it out of the park with just the right sound & fury.”
~ Chris Spector, Midwest Record, Lake Zurich, IL

“Whatever the styles, Mary Ann’s vocals will snare you with their honest emotion.”
~ Music Morsels Reviews

Tas Cru’s new album Simmered & Stewed is a collection of previously recorded material that has been re-mastered with new instrumentation, backup vocals, and a new sound. Like a fine wine, or a delicious stew that has mellowed over the years, Simmered and Stewed proves that some songs get better age. It is available on the VizzTone label.

For more information click here to go to my website where you will find directions.

I hope you’ll be able to come out and listen to great music in support of a great cause!

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Alex Smith

Saturday, June 3
7:30 PM

Robin McClellan’s
(The Hermitage)

$10 Admission

Alex is coming back for another concert! Everyone who plays here brings something unique and for me, Alex superpower is his songwriting. Not to diminish his skills on the guitar and his great pipes, but Alex is a master storyteller. Walking confidently in the footsteps of Bill Morrisey, Greg Brown, John Hartford, and, of course, Stan Rogers, he captures people in their relationship with each other and the place they live.

Since his appearance last November, Alex has recorded a live album at the legendary Caffè Lena’s, scheduled for release in mid-July. He is also on track for 200 shows this year though that hasn’t stopped him from preparing for a new studio album, “Fuel, Air,
Compression, Spark.”

Alex grew up in Long Lake, in the heart of New York’s Adirondack Park, and his music strives first and foremost to echo the culture of that area. He builds songs from a blend of traditional folk harmony and strikingly modern lyrics, confronting today’s most pressing issues with grace while paying homage to the musical tradition of the region.

Alex’ characters, though fictional, live and breathe a balance between beauty and imperfection. His stories draw on the triumphs and hardships of friends, relatives, and neighbors near and far, and he has worked tirelessly to carry the music of northern New York to audiences nationwide.

I hope you will join me in celebrating his return!

Robin
“Alex is a wonderful poetic writer who captures words full of meaning, matching them with creative music that creeps quietly into the past at the same time as dancing with the present, and sneaking a peek at the future.”
    – Bob Everhart, Country Music News International
“Alex is a natural storyteller with a rich voice who is creating poignant songs rooted in the heritage of his Adirondack home.”
    – Sarah Craig, Caffe Lena (Saratoga Springs, NY)

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Quartet Z

Contrasts

Music Old and New,
Near and Far,
Known and Novel

Benefit Concert for Potsdam Music Friends and Keene Valley Music

featuring
Quartet Z and Friends

Saturday, April 29, 2:00 pm
at my home in Stockholm

Program

Britten – Phantasy
Tann – The Walls of Morlais Castle
Telemann – Quartet in D minor from Tafel-Musik II

Potsdam-based Quartet Z is delighted to welcome guest artists to present a unique program of chamber music. I am equally delighted to welcome you to join all of them for a program of music that encompasses a wide span of both time and space.  Benjamin Britten’s Phantasy for oboe and strings (1931) was written in London and takes the listener on a delightful journey within the piece.  The Walls of Morlais Castle, written by Adirondack-based composer Hilary Tann, was inspired by the contrasts between the ruins of Castle Morlais (in Wales) and the surrounding landscape.  Finally, the unique instrumentation of Quartet Z will bring a new perspective to Telemann’s  Quartet in d minor from Tafel-Musik II (published in Hamburg in 1773).  This jovial work, somewhat reminiscent of a dance suite, is regarded as one of Telemann’s most innovative works.
Quartet Z
Laurel Kuxhaus (oboe)
Theresa Witmer (soprano saxophone)
Christina Xydias (cello)
David Katz (contrabass)

Guest Artists
Elaine DeWar (violin)
Peggy Wheeler (viola)
Esther Rogers Baker (cello)

Light Refreshments Following
Donations to  Potsdam Music Friends or Keene Valley Music Appreciated

For directions to Robin’s house, click here

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2 House Concerts in November: Alex Smith 11/5, Mary Ann Casale and Tas Cru 11/12

Mary Ann Casale and Tas Cru

House Concert Benefit

for
Local Living Venture

Saturday, November 12 at 7:30 PM

At Robin McClellan’s (The Hermitage)
in Sanfordville.

Suggested Donation: $10

These two talented and generous musicians are once again playing to raise money, this time for the benefit of the Local Living Venture. I hope you will come and listen to their beautiful music and support the tireless work of the Local Living Venture. The suggested donation is $10 and reservations are not required.

“You can’t put a label on her music. It is blues & folk with a fine dose of soul & jazz. Twelve fine songs that are worth listening to.”
Since they last played here, Mary Ann has released her CD “Restless Heart” to critical acclaim:

~ Eric Campfens, Barn Owl Blues, The Netherlands

“With a real ‘when music was music’ vibe running throughout, this singer/songwriter in bluesy trappings hits it out of the park with just the right sound & fury.”
~ Chris Spector, Midwest Record, Lake Zurich, IL

“Whatever the styles, Mary Ann’s vocals will snare you with their honest emotion.”
~ Music Morsels Reviews

Tas Cru’s new album Simmered & Stewed is a collection of previously recorded material that has been re-mastered with new instrumentation, backup vocals, and a new sound. Like a fine wine, or a delicious stew that has mellowed over the years, Simmered and Stewed proves that some songs get better age. It is available on the VizzTone label and releases Nov. 12th. Pre-release copies will be available at this show!

For more information click here to go to my website where you will find directions.

I hope you’ll be able to come out and listen to great music in support of a great cause!

Alex Smith

Saturday, November 5
7:30 PM

Robin McClellan’s
(The Hermitage)

Admission: $10

Sanfordville

As Alex Smith winds down his packed fair weather tour—performing over 150 concerts across the US and as far away as Vienna and Barcelona—he is returning home to the North Country. And he has agreed to play here at the Hermitage! I’m really looking forward to hearing what he’s put together over his touring season and I’m sure he’ll be playing some songs off his new album, Close to Home.

For those of you who haven’t had the privilege to hear Alex, this is a great place to do it. Alex is a lot like Stan Rogers whose sonorous baritone voice and moving lyrics captured life in Cape Breton and the Maritimes. Both of them are young (tragically Stan died before he turned 34 in 1983), both write about a sense of place, and both bring a sense of wisdom and authenticity usually only gained over many years.

Alex grew up in Long Lake, in the heart of New York’s Adirondack Park, and his music strives first and foremost to echo the culture of that area. He builds songs from a blend of traditional folk harmony and strikingly modern lyrics, confronting today’s most pressing issues with grace while paying homage to the musical tradition of the region.

Alex’ characters, though fictional, live and breathe a balance between beauty and imperfection. His stories draw on the triumphs and hardships of friends, relatives, and neighbors near and far, and he has worked tirelessly to carry the music of northern New York to audiences nationwide.

I hope you will join me in celebrating his return!

Robin
“Alex is a wonderful poetic writer who captures words full of meaning, matching them with creative music that creeps quietly into the past at the same time as dancing with the present, and sneaking a peek at the future.”
    – Bob Everhart, Country Music News International
“Alex is a natural storyteller with a rich voice who is creating poignant songs rooted in the heritage of his Adirondack home.”
    – Sarah Craig, Caffe Lena (Saratoga Springs, NY)

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What I Know: An Opinion

 

I am catching up on some Daily Show episodes I missed when I was away for a week and I was particularly taken by one of their pieces on the recent Brexit vote. It was interviews with a dozen or so people who had “voter remorse” and explained that they had not expected the “Leave” side to win so felt safe to vote Leave as a protest vote.

I was in Ireland during the vote and saw some of the coverage there with my Irish friends. For a moment I felt like that gave me some “special” knowledge about it because I was “there.” As I saw the coverage here I realized it was much the same. It’s certainly true that the impact on Ireland is orders of magnitude greater than here in the US, but that didn’t mean the coverage was different. It got me thinking once again about the information I use to form opinions.

The Daily Show coverage resonated with me because it fit in with my view of the world. I viewed the “Leave” case as being based on partial truths and lies and appealing to people’s discouragement with government. Much of the coverage I saw, or at least saw and remembered, supported this point of view.

The question I started asking myself was, “What do I really know about the EU and Britain’s relationship with it?” The answer to that is fairly straight forward: I know what I hear on the media streams I choose to glean for information. For me, National Public Radio is my most trusted source of information. I find its coverage “unbiased” but that is only because its biases are in harmony with my biases. Fox News seems biased because the conclusions they arrive at are different than my own and I suspect they report things that aren’t true. To a lesser extent MSNBC and Democracy Now don’t resonate either, but I don’t mistrust their “facts.”

Having said that, I wonder how I came to that conclusion? Did I “fact check” Fox? Probably not, instead I probably heard it fact checked on some other media stream. Do I fact check NPR? No. How does one “fact check” anyway? I’ve never been to Afghanistan or Iraq or Nigeria or even Flint, MI. I can only check “facts” that are reported by someone else. Ultimately we have to use the preponderance of evidence rather than facts, but more often than not, what we believe is based on who we believe.

Fiction (aka lies) aside, there are a vast number of facts and experiences that have relevance to a story and reporters and news curators must make decisions on which ones they report and send on to the audience. Judgments must be made and these result in an inevitable bias. As one journalist once said, “We can never be unbiased; the best we can do is to be ‘fair.’”

More than ever, media covers the “impact” of an event as much as the facts. Mass shootings are covered with interviews with the victims’ families, funerals, the outrage. More than facts this visceral reaction stimulates our emotional reaction. These visceral reactions can lead to good legislation, but Hitler rose to power not on facts but on emotional appeal.

So where does this leave me? First, it leaves me less confident that I know much of anything. To those who know me, this may come as a surprise as I do tend to state my opinions with confidence. I’m a master of self-deception. A mentor once said to me, “You said that with a lot of authority. Are you sure that’s true?” It was a pivotal moment for me. I realized that the less sure I was of something, the more authority I would add to my tone of voice. To this day, I use it as personal BS meter: I’ll say something, hear that tone of authority, and say, “Wait a minute, I take that back. I think I’m extrapolating beyond the data.”

Clearly this revelation has not stopped me from developing opinions. What it has done is help me remember that they are just opinions, not some ultimate truth. I still have trouble reinterpreting facts to allow my opinions to evolve and change, but I’m getting better at it.

Ultimately it’s how this plays out in how I live my life, that’s important. As someone who was once a strident activist, how do I approach controversial issues? Over the last 5 or 6 years I have been teaching (read learning) alternative and renewable energy at SUNY Canton. One of the biggest issues facing the North Country is wind power. At a cursory glance, it’s hard to see what’s not to like; the wind is there, why not use it? It’s not like we are going to slow down the spinning of the earth by adding air resistance (or at least we don’t think so).

However, there are significant issues, both for the community it’s sited in and the environment at large. And then there’s the wind business itself. What determines a person’s opinion about wind is as much how they weight the downsides against the upsides as it is the facts (and fictions) that they believe. One technical method for this weighting is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). It tries to take into account the long term costs of development and weigh them against the benefits. I like this method not because it arrives at some unassailable answer, but because it attempts to look at the big picture and it serves as a model that can take into account new information.

Where does it break down? There are two places: the accuracy and even availability of the data, and how “intangible costs” (like environmental, health and social impacts) are weighted. As wind farms have developed, there is more and more data on things like bird kill, but there is little quantitative data on health and social effects. Recent work on the impact of wind farms on property values, much of it done here in the North Country by Martin Heintzelman and his colleagues at Clarkson University, is starting to paint a picture, but it’s not a static picture.

Health effects, on the other hand, are primarily anecdotal. Another North Country resident, Dr. Nina Pierpont, has written a book on Wind Turbine Syndrome, but the dominant opinion is that health effects are rare. It is unfortunate that no one has seen fit to do a broader epidemiological study of potential health effects because as we know from tobacco, dominant opinions can be catastrophic.

In addition, there are social and economic factors that come into play. What is the value of the viewscape of hundreds of turbines? I can’t imagine getting approval for overhead powerlines today if none existed, but now we take them for granted. Leases are given for a relatively small plot around the base of a tower, but the impact goes far beyond the base and there is no requirement that impacted neighbors be compensated, partially because we haven’t quantified the impacts on them.

Wind power is an emerging industry and, like all other renewables (with the exception of large hydropower), is not competitive with traditional fossil fuels without government subsidies. Without these subsidies, new renewable energy sources wouldn’t develop until the depletion of fossil fuels raised their cost to a point where renewables could compete. Government incentives are designed to fast track the industry and get it competitive long before market forces could, maybe even before the world experiences serious impacts from climate change.

Finally there is the business of wind. Most of the wind power developed in the North Country is being done by Iberdrola, a Spanish company that dominates the wind industry worldwide. As with many controversial developments, these companies are less than transparent and tend to seek a foothold before going public with their plans. They have been accused of clandestine tactics such as offering leases to government leaders even if the potential for wind on that land is minimal. They operate in secrecy, insisting that lease holders sign non-disclosure agreements about what they are paid. All of these things raise red flags.

I’m sure that there are many other factors, some of which may turn out to be much more critical than the preceding inventory, at play. So I’m left with two options: evaluate the scanty evidence, weighted to my biases, and come up with an opinion, or withhold judgment. Opinions, flawed and otherwise, are what shape our future. Not having an opinion is like the “no-action” alternative, it plays a role in shaping the future, too.

At this point, I support wind power in general but there are places where it’s not appropriate.  I believe there should be changes in the process of development to address local concerns and openness would go a long way to allow the development of wind in a harmonious and appropriate manner. And I remain open to new facts and new points of view.

Wind power was a good issue for me to use to demonstrate the shift in my process. The progressive faction with which I identify is somewhat split on the issue, so like a good statesman, I am held upright by forces from both sides. On other issues, I have not yet become so pliable. On taxation and the redistribution of wealth, for example, I’m pretty dogmatic, supporting Bernie and Elizabeth Warren without a lot of fact collection and analysis.

I want to leave you with what started this inquiry back in 1974. I was listening to the ZBS radio serial, The Fourth Tower of Inverness, and one of the last parts was a reading of Hsin Hsin Ming. This quote stuck like a grain of sand in my shoe.

“If you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind.”

Hsin Hsin MingVerses on the Faith Mind by The 3rd Zen Patriarch, Sengstau

 

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A Visit to Abby Island

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After dinner Finbarr took me to see Abby Island. It is no longer an island–the small gap between it and the mainland has been bridged–nor is it still an active Abby, as you can see from the distinct lack of roof. Instead it serves as an active graveyard both inside and outside the walls of the ruined buildings.

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Paddling in Kerry

image

This morning Finbarr drove us down to his place in Castle Cove on the Ring of Kerry. It’s what you think of when you think of Ireland but, today anyway,  without the rain. What you can’t see in the photo is the seals that are basking on the narrow rock behind the large one.

After lunch we took the kayaks out and paddled out past them to the Kenmare River, really a bay on southeast side of the Iveragh Peninsula that the Ring circumnavigates. When we swung out into the incoming tide, it and the wind carried us back to his front yard where we started.

As we returned, so did the sun. A beautiful afternoon!

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