Recent Reviews

Recent Reviews of Performances or Recordings I’ve Participated In

Many of these are from Classical Voice of North Carolina,
an excellent resource for upcoming events and reviews of events.

The Messiah at Duke Chapel – 12/6/09 – This is my favorite annual event. Review at

Choral Society of Durham – 3/1/09 – Fairly large orchestra for this one. Review at

Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle – 2/22/09 – I got called in when their bassist broke her arm. Review at

Ciompi Quartet and guests – 2/14/09 – Schubert Octet – I get special mention in paragraph six. Thanks, John! Review at

Don’t Get Me Started

It’s too late. I’ve started. Upcoming rants and raves have started brewing in my head. I’m a slow writer – it can take me hours to do a post. Things that keep me up at 3:00 – the fretting hour:

  • Freelancing and Contractors – fear and loathing in the music world. No, I’m not going to rewrite Blair’s Book but I’ve got a few thoughts about this.
  • When is it time to get out of the way of the “hot, young players”? (and when did I get so old?)
  • How do you figure out when you’re wearing too many hats and starting to not look good in any of them? Focusing on a career instead of being jack of all trades, master of none.
  • Is the pencil mightier than the computer? When a fascination with technology gets in the way of creativity and productivity.
  • Floods of memories about places and people not thought of in years when an old friend finds you on the net.

OK. I’ve dared myself. Stay tuned. But time is scarce so don’t hold your breath. Give me a year or so.

Cassandra’s Nightmare

Cassandra’s Nightmare by Kitty Mitchell

Friend Kitty Mitchell sent this back in July and I meant to put it up then but never got back to it.
Many on Ocracoke Island are opposed to offshore drilling for oil and Kitty paints the picture well.
Here’s what she said back in July – some things have changed since then, obviously, but the issue
still needs to be addressed strongly.

I know I’ve stepped in it this time, but I don’t care. The visions come for a reason so I’m passing it on. My newest painting is a post card to Senators Dole & Burr, and also to Congressman Walter Jones, and to Mr. McCrory. Three cheers to Bev Perdue who is the ONLY candidate so far that has refused to endorse off shore drilling. This will not be good for our economy. We have a thriving tourist and fishing industry that does not need to invest our resources in old polluting technologies when we are so capable of doing better for ourselves, our children and our planet. We have more wind than oil, it’s ours and it can’t be shipped to China. Feel free to use this image to save our coast, I only ask for artistic credit.
Painting by Kitty Martin Mitchell

 Painting by Kitty Mitchell


2008 MS Bike Tour Report

On September 13th and 14th Karen and I rode the Bike MS Historic Bike Tour out of New Bern, NC to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. We rode a total of 175 miles – 100 on Saturday and 75 on Sunday. For both of us Saturday was our first “century” (100 mile) ride so it was an extra special occasion. We also both raised over $1000 (over $1350 for me) for MS thanks to the generous help of our friends. This is the third year that Karen has done this event and my second year. Last year I was moved to tears at the start of the event – over 2000 riders massed together at the start at the waterfront park in New Bern, all the volunteers cheering – so many of them living with MS themselves, the sidewalks lined with well wishers. It was last year’s ride that made me aware of the scope of this disease. Almost all of you who donated wrote back to tell me of friends or family members who had been diagnosed with MS. Realizing that so many of the volunteers working the rest stops for the ride also had MS was a big shock to me. It turns out that I knew some of those people. This year I started noticing the number of riders who also had MS. Many riders wore a sign on the back of their jersey listing the names of the people they were riding for. On some of those signs I saw that the rider had also listed him/herself. It also turns out that one of the guys we ride with almost every Tuesday night has MS. I just always assumed this middle-aged slightly overweight person who is usually the slowest rider in the group was just trying to get back into shape. He’s riding to save his life.

Most of us know someone with cancer or AIDS or some other life threatening or debilitating disease. There are so many opportunities to volunteer or raise money for worthy causes. I like doing this ride because 60% of the money we raise, that you donate, stays here to directly fund services, programs, and advocacy for the 4,300 people living with MS right here in Eastern North Carolina. The rest of the money supports national research to find the cause and cure of MS. And I benefit, too. Getting to the point where I can ride a bicycle 100 miles has made me so much healthier and happier. It’s a wonderful form of exercise and I’ve seen more of our beautiful part of the state in 2 years of cycling than I ever did in 25 years of driving around in a car. I’ve also met a lot of great folks and so many of them participate in these fund raising rides. You could do this, too! There are MS rides all over the country and the one we do out of New Bern has added a 30 mile course for those of you frightened by the idea of peddling a bike 75 or 100 miles in a day. 30 miles still sound scary to you? Really, it’s not bad and it’s FLAT in New Bern (well, there are those bridges to go over….). A little bit of training over the summer and you could join us next Fall.

The weather for the ride this year was great though a bit hot. On Saturday there were over 2100 riders at the start. As you can imagine the first 10 miles or so things are a little thick but the group stretches out pretty quickly. Four of us more or less rode together – Karen, myself, Karen’s brother in-law Rich, and our friend Joanne. Sometimes we’d be four or sometimes we’d be two in various combinations. You could go for miles and not see another rider once the group got spread out. The rest stops, of course, were teaming with people. Lots of food, water, and the life saver on this ride – Gatorade. There are rest stops every 15 miles or so and I think we stopped at all of them. The lunch stop on Saturday even had a band. There are church ladies with home-made desserts, various companies sponsor some of the stops, and there are even some impromptu things like the woman on Sunday with a sign in her front yard thanking all the riders and her standing out by the road with a garden hose spraying anybody who needed cooling off. Sunday was very hot and, sadly, we lost Joanne 11 miles from the finish. She had been feeling bad and at the previous rest stop sat in a van with the air conditioning running for a while until she felt better but I was riding with her a few miles down the road when she just veered off into a shady place, got off her bike and lay down in the grass. She was cramping so bad she couldn’t move at all. We called for help and eventually a van took her to the civic center in New Bern to rest but they promptly sent her on to the hospital where she spent the evening getting fluids to bring her electrolyte balance back up. Other than that it was a pretty uneventful ride but oh so satisfying. That’s us in the picture at the start on Sunday. From left to right – Robbie, Karen, Joanne, Rich. You ever wonder about that spandex stuff that cyclists wear? It’s all about the padding. Those shorts are very padded on the seat and I can’t tell you what a huge difference that makes on a 100 mile ride. The jerseys are all about being seen on the road – some motorists are not very observant. Bright, obnoxious colors keep you safe. Just so you know – I’m not into fashion – it’s about comfort and staying alive.

Thanks again for your support. A whole lot of people appreciate it!
2008 MS Bike Tour


Thank you Brother Yu

bro_yu_funeral_annoc_copy.jpgBrother Yusuf was the person responsible for me coming to this area in the early 80’s. He brought me into the jazz community here and saw that I got good work. I had the honor of playing with him for several years along with Bus Brown, Eve Cornelius, Al Neece, Ray Codrington, Steve Wing, and many others. His greatest contribution to the community was in his bringing together people of all races and religious beliefs through his spirited music. Everyone was his brother or sister – even those that started out hating him for his race or religion. He overcame all with love and grace. All hatred, all bigotry, all intolerance melted in his beaming, joyful presence. He was a damn good jazz pianist, too, and brought up more musicians than any univeristy professor could ever lay claim to. Patience, love, encouragement, joy. Peace and love to you, Brother Yu!

Special Guests

The Bernie Petteway Trio gets a new look and a new sound for this Thursday’s gig at the General Store Cafe in Pittsboro. Sadly, Ed Butler can’t be with us this time but we’re making up for his smile and great playing with not one, but two of the area’s most loved percussionists: Beverly Botsford and Sara Romweber.
Plus, the GSC’s new music room is a treat for both performers and listeners alike, and the food just gets better every time I go there. Come on out Thursday, June 5, starting at 8:00 pm. There’s no cover charge but we do rely on the generosity of your tips!

“Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss”

I don’t have a dog in this race but I watch with great interest:
As artists seek to bypass the RIAA/Mafia and turn to the web and self publishing/promoting, interesting things happen. Sites have sprung up to help fledgling artists get their work out to the masses but who benefits? One new site – Bebo – has just been sold to a subsidiary of Time Warner, generating some controversy. I like the reference to “sharecroppers”. The ever-wise Burning Bird has this to say. The plot, as usual, thickens.