Monday, December 31, 2007

Recalling 2007

It's raining in Indianapolis on New Year's Eve, and the forecast has a snow advisory, so Debbie and I decided to settle down in our own living room to ring in the new year.  As the fire gets started in the fireplace, we're watching some video and recalling memories of the past year.

We watched the video of the evening when the Corner Coffee open stage visited our house.  We watched some video and looked at pictures from Christmas with Debbie's family here.

Music on the back porchWe celebrated as my brother and sister came to Indy for our annual gathering, and my friend Jen came from North Carolina. Frank and Barb joined us that evening for some porchside pickin'.

We welcomed family from near and far, and it was indeed a good year for reconnecting with cousins from all over.

The major event of the year, though, was moving Debbie's mom and brother from Georgia to Indianapolis.  It was certainly not without challenge, and it involved the longest day of my life. In one August day, we unloaded furniture at two apartments, then stayed up all night putting together the bed at Alan's place.  Not without challenge, but it all seems to be working out like we had hoped.

Through it all, we look back and see how we've been blessed throughout the year.  We are certain that if it were not for faith, we would not have made it through.  So as we wrap up 2007 and look ahead to 2008, we thank God for steadfast love and enduring faithfulness, and we wish for all our friends peace and joy in the new year.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Keeping Commitments

Snowman in a cup, courtesy of The Bread Ladies II

We had a winter storm move across the midwest this weekend. The snow started in Indianapolis on Saturday morning. On that morning I was committed to play at Irvington's best little coffeehouse, Lazy Daze. Lazy Daze has always been a great place to play, and it's even better now that they've expanded and share space with The Bread Ladies II.

The weather threat was serious, as the weather forecasts touted a winter storm warning complete with sheets of ice and several inches of snow. When the first wave of snow started, it would have been easy to pack it in.

Nevertheless, we all kept our commitments. Lazy Daze was serving coffee. The Bread Ladies II was serving up sandwiches, soup and salad. [Side note: Gotta love the Honey Wheat Beer Bread . . . and the chicken salad . . . and Rocky Raccoon!] Indianapolis Talent Search was there to take registrations for their upcoming competition and to give away a pretty blue Asheville guitar.

I kept my commitment as well. As a result, I got to entertain a woman and two children while they enjoyed hot chocolate. Several folks stepped in out of the cold and stayed a while to warm up with coffee and acoustic blend. I got to meet and hear a new group of young songwriters from Fishers called Un, Deux, Trois. All in all, it was a superb morning.

A friend dropped in toward the end of my set. She was killing a little time before she went to see her mother. Her mom is an Alzheimer's patient, and those visits are difficult more often than not. Yet, here she was, making the visit because she knew the weather was going to keep her in the rest of the weekend. It was the only chance she'd have to see her mom over the weekend. Even though mom may not know her or may say terrible things to her, she was going to see her mom.

Occasionally, the commitments people keep are nothing short of amazing.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Meredith Holland Jones Scholarship Fund

Meredith Jones was an extremely dedicated and well-loved elementary school music teacher in Rockdale County, Georgia. She had that gift that makes a great teacher. She had the capacity to love each and every one of her students. She also had the determination that everything she did was going to be the best that it could be.

Sadly, Meredith left us too soon at 29 years of age after ending her 18-month battle with cancer on November 30. I had been Meredith's pastor for a time and had the honor of hearing her vows as she married her husband Chris. It was especially difficult to then go just a few years later to participate in her funeral service. But it is because of the special person that Meredith was that I want to help spread the word about one memorial opportunity that her family has established.

The Meredith Holland Jones Scholarship Fund will be set up at the University of Georgia, Meredith's alma mater, where she earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees. She was doing work at Georgia toward her Ph.D. at the time of her death.

The scholarship will help supplement the cost for a rising Junior or Senior music major who wishes to pursue elementary school music education. The music department at the University is helping to set up the fund through the University of Georgia Foundation.

In order to contribute to the fund, make a check payable to "University of Georgia Foundation" and note "Meredith Jones Scholarship Fund" on the check. Mail checks to:

Dr. Mary Leglar - Hugh Hodgson School of Music
Univeristy of Georgia
250 River Rd.
Athens, GA 30602

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Kara Barnard and Co.

Kara Barnard brought her instrumental, lyrical and vocal talent to Boulevard Place Cafe last Friday night, along with her sister, Pam Barnard Hays, and their cousin Mary. (I am certain that Mary has a last name, but I looked back through a bunch of old email newsletters and can't find it.) Kara and Pam, with Mary on percussion, did several songs from their latest CD, Flying Down King Street, as well as from earlier recordings.

As if that wasn't pleasing enough for an evening of music, Kara, Pam and Mary were joined by Pennsylvania singer-songwriter Nicole Reynolds and Missouri singer-songwriter, Kara Kulpa, also known as Kara Jr. When all five shared the stage and found their resonance, the result was so invigorating that it's no wonder Kara Barnard, also known as Kara Sr., calls this ensemble her ideal band.

Nicole started the evening off with a solo set. I have to admit that I am not as taken by her songwriting as others seem to be. Her vocal performance is so understated that her lyrics are all too often imperceptible. However, Ms. Reynolds really shines when she steps out of the spotlight. As a supporting musician, her melodic instincts and sense of ensemble take over, and as a result anyone she plays with rises to another level.

Kara Kulpa (Junior) took the stage next. Kara obviously enjoys herself on stage and carries her songs with beautiful, strong vocals, although at times her vocal overwhelmed the room and the sound system and became cutting. Her song, This House, is Kara Kulpa at her best, and she closed the set with, well, a song in praise of her capo. Handy little gadgets they are!

Kara Sr. then took the stage with Pam and Mary. Opening with my favorite Kara Barnard song, Never the Less, from the Home CD, and moving on into the title track from Kara and Pam's latest release, Flying Down King Street, the rest of the evening was a musical joy ride. Kara Sr. is the kind of seasoned professional that welcomes the opportunity to let younger performers shine.

When Kara Jr. and Nicole joined the ensemble, the group hit a zone where they instinctively played off one another. Kara Kulpa's multi-instrumental skills shined. Nicole's burgeoning guitar virtuosity rolled the group along. Mary played the best percussion solo on a bucket I've ever heard. Pam delighted and engaged the crowd. The only disappointment was that Kara Sr. never strapped on her Jeff Russell custom-built banjo. Next time, please!

This was a delightful evening that blended the rawness of emerging musicians with the seasoning of experienced players. Check out any of these musicians any time you can hear them play.