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Street Life in Spain

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Seems like our time on the streets in Barcelona and Madrid centered around Vermut (of the local variety) and Aperol Spritz (of the industrial variety).  Here are some random shots.

We might have found some gorgeous jewelry in Madrid.  Maybe.  Happy today day!

These handmade shoes were beautiful and very much local.

We found the barrel in Barcelona.

 

While waiting for fingernails.

Ayn Rand or Romey?

Dinner in Barcelona.

Flowers in Barcelona

The out take.

Walking with the hoards.

Beautiful dresses which may be too small?

A picture of the designer.

Random door.

Rubber ducky, you’re the one…  (memories of playing the bathroom song with Matt in Italy…LOL).

And now it is time to go home

Palacio de Cristal Madrid: El Retiro

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Crystal Palace they said.  Worth a quick visit.  But wear your sneakers.  We were dressed up for dinner on our last night out.

Wrong shoes and bad art aside, we were glad to walk through the Madrid equivalent of Central Park.

The art inside the palace was awful.  We think it was made by the box head guy below.

Spare no expense!  Use the GOOD duct tape.

Anyway, there were turtles and ducks.

Picasso and Ramen in Barcelona

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The Picasso Museum in Barcelona is an institution and is worth a quick visit.  But if you have been looking at Picasso for years, you won’t find much in the way of major works.  In any case, Barcelona is proud of what it has come to think of as its home town boy.  Lots of early work.

Lots.  Like an entire wall’s worth.

Set in four connected villas, the museum has amassed a very deep (but not very wide) collection.

This blue.

Avant guard in Paris with the Russian ballet.  Picasso was blending fine art, music, and dance in 1909.  (And here we thought we were onto something with Into the Unknown.)

After so much Picasso, Ramen is the answer.

 

Gaudi in Barcelona

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The locals didn’t like it much at first, probably because they were jealous.  They still call it “the quarry” (or la pedrera) because it was so dusty and noisy when it was being constructed.  But Gaudi had a vision.  And now all of Barcelona shares it.

This is not it!

Casa Milà is just up the street from Casa Batlló, which just so happens to be where our perfume shop is located.

We were told to do the night tour at Casa Milà, so we did.  Good advice.  The light and sound show on the roof is cheesy, but moving in a Disney small world kind of way.  But the views of night time Barcelona are worth the walk up with no shenanigans required.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves, though.  Lets go back to the beginning.

We walked one block from our hotel (the Alma) and arrived too early to be let in by ten minutes.  Though the cafe in the building was officially closed, we convinced them into selling us an Aperol spritz or two.

After gulping down our drinks, we wandered into the courtyard to await the guide.

This view reminded Romey of the new building in NY (still closed due to suicide risk).

Color and light for the first floor and the primary residents.

The public clamored to get in.

The servants’ quarters reminded me of the servants’ facilities at Falling Water.

Eventually we climbed the six floors to the attic.

Where we encountered the model of the building we were in (with tiny little us’es taking videos or an even smaller model, and so on).

All squares were run to the right.

Then the roof just after sunset.

With breathtaking views of Barcelona like this, we’re not sure why the light and sound show seemed necessary.  People.

And soon we were back on the ground enjoying a glass of cava.

On the Arts, Queens, and Democracy: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

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There is lots of politics pervading the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía which if you think about it is somewhat ironic. I mean, the place itself is named after a queen. And lots of anti-imperial politics pervades (including some well-deserved anti-Americanism). But a queen? What kind of democracy has a monarch? Or still reveres a monarch? Seriously. Those days need to be behind us as a species.

Anyway, the ill-begotten gains of monarchy are at least being spent on art and not on oppression. Or is art just an opiate slightly stronger than religion? These are difficult issues to plumb.

And are they old fashioned or what? No pictures of some of the pictures? Trapped in the past they are. The guernica room is a shrine that should be full of life, not a mausoleum. Spain still seems to have a Franco hangover.

But still, go.  The sound and the fury be damned.

 

The light is excellent.

Shadowplay.

 

 

 

 

Take a green break.

 

 

Watch mute.

 

 

And then coffee.

 

Lets Get COVID in New Hampshire!

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We thought we had narrowly escaped COVID with our collective departure from Italy.  But it was not to be.

Everything was looking good, from the could-have-been-worse schlep through the Zurich train station with the enormous guitar case (no carts?!  no humans who help?!), through wine tasting in SwissAir First Class, to smooth arrival in Boston.

My trusty ally and friend Spoolia was there to scoop me.

And driving into Newton it was as if we hadn’t even left Italy!  Heck, dinner even was Italian, but pronounced incorrectly.

Mabel was impressed, and this is a dog not really impressed by much!

So it was off to New Hampshire for some music.  And a side of accidental COVID.

Oopstock has been going strong for 29 years.  Many of the usual folks were in attendance. But get this: there was a professional sound guy, and there were high school kids manning the grill.  Holy cow, so upscale!!

This made my life much easier (not to mention Rhine’s).  Here are my feet on the table where the sound board USED to be positioned way back when I was the sound guy.  The hombre to the right is Steve.  He ran great sound.

The usual instrument pod.

The East German Gold Medal Swim Team Captain.

New blood with high charisma.

Where’s Aubrey did an iteration of the Into the Unknown game.  We all missed Sogol’s dancing.  But here is the picture that April made.

 

The Moose Hut guys also got whacked by COVID.  Chris was down and didn’t make the party.  As a result, a game of musical chairs around who plays what instrument resulted.  Zack played drums?!

Everybody missed Romey.

There was, in deference to Italy, a Negroni session mid-day.

The sun set.  The babies went to bed.

And the bands came out under the actual light show.  FWIW, LED lights still attract shit tons of mosquitos.

Guy Ferrari played some original music.  Tight.

Moose Hut became Moose Nut or maybe Moose Butt.

And then it was the Grayhounds (a quasi-iteration on Splatterfoot with a new guy named Paul whaling on guitar).

Sadly, Rhine was infected the whole time.  He started feeling symptoms Sunday.  And I got it from him.  I am pretty sure this all started with the Italian villa art collective (and I secretly wonder about their self-reported negative test results before our performance).  So many years of top notch risk management come tumbling down when you change your risk stance.  WHOMP.

A view from the stage.  We played electric until 10 then shifted to the campfire where this year’s highlights were a complete treatment of one side of the Pink Floyd Animals record, and a coveted iteration of Hangin.

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Then it was off to Spain to become a vector.  Unknowingly. Alas.

Special thanks to Spool for making this all possible and to Rhine and April for persisting with the music party even in a summer crammed with art and fun.

 

 

Play for Your Dinner

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The thing about Italians is that they love live music.  And they love Americans too (in spite of our recent proclivities for absolute dumb shit behavior).  Rhine and I took advantage of this by dragging around our instruments and playing for our supper where we ate.

The first great restaurant run happened after our worldwide debut as Into the Unknown in Campiglio Cervo.  The crowd converged and decided we needed a reservation subito subito.

In the end, I was spirited off with Santa Mariela so I could see the restaurant and meet the owners with my own eyes.  That’s because Ruers above Piedicavallo exists past where the road ends.  So you have to walk there once you ditch your car.  Incredible views await.  And the kindest people.

On the same fact finding mission, we also had to make a quick trip to visit Dick (a local Scott of great flare) and his cat, and catch up with pretty much everyone we encountered.  This was fun, but it made us late late late.

My scouting expedition revealed this view (that is Biella down there somewhere).

We returned (very late) in the Fiat 500, parked at the edge of the world, and proceeded to have an excellent dinner replete with local wine house made cheeses,  polenta, roast beef, and even gluten free stuff for Matt.

 

After dinner we got out our instruments and played a little music.  Here is part of the “first song” (a song by Bob that we always play first so we never have to figure out what to play first).

Then we entered the kitchen to play for the cooks.  This was a blast, and the staff was most appreciative.  Lets just say we are welcome back any time, forever.

Check out the face on this guy.

This kind of experience is what makes a trip to Italy an amazing, humanizing experience.  And to top it all off, the Signora would not let me pay all that I owed.

Of course, once we did it once, we had to do it again.  That’s just how it goes.

Rhine and I scouted out a restaurant run by the slightly pazzo Roberta in Sanctuario San Giovanni.  The moon was almost full, and the werewolves were awakening.

The local Barbera was outstanding.  This was one of the best simple meals we had on the trip.

Top of the world to you.

If you look closely, you will see Rhine.

Roberta recognized us as part of the concert crowd from Campigliano Cervo and asked if we had brought our instruments.  Since we rushed to arrive by 8:30 the answer was no.  Roberta asked us to return the next evening after our big opera, and a plan was born.  We promised to arrive a punto by 8:29pm.

She sent up home with a 100 year old plate for April and some goodies for breakfast.  We shared some grappa.

It took some doing after the big opera performance, but we did make it.  The moon was full.   Everyone else arrived shortly thereafter.  I played my violin at the edge and made Mariela cry.

And, once again after dinner, we played in the kitchen for the cooks even as the vegan meal was blitzkrieged on the massive stove.  The floor was sticky, but the love was palpable.

We stayed until the grappa ran out.

And we will return.

 

 

 

 

 

Performing in Campiglia Cervo: Into the Unknown

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The stadium in Campiglia Cervo is scaled to match the interstate highway system that blazes through the center of town.  We packed the stadium to the gills with what I am told was 65 people, including the vice mayor who introduced us, but not including the mayor himself who had more important things to do like look at himself in the mirror.  Just so you know, this was a much bigger show than the show Metallica put on at the same stadium!

The show was actually very good.  Intimate. Interesting. Tight.  During the rest of our time in Rialmosso we ran into lots of people who either attended or heard through the grapevine about our performance.  That was both really cool and very gratifying.

So what happened, exactly?

First we invented the idea.  And we practiced.  Then Matt arrived and things got remarkably much better.  in the end, the performance included:

April Claggett, realtime art

Gary McGraw, violin, mandolin and vocal harmony

Matt Savage, piano

Sogol Shirazi, piano and dance

Rhine Singleton, guitar, dobro, vocals, songwriting

The road crew set the stage after arriving the day before to check electricity levels and make sure all of the seating was available.  We have nothing but admiration for our intrepid road crew.  They work so hard so we can do what we do.

The show consisted of three parts as shown on the billboard above.

Here is a stage floor view of the set list for those of you collecting bootlegs.

And a view of the nosebleed seating in the back before anyone was in the house.  You can see the dancing props professionally built by our dedicated construction crew.

Publicity was run by our crack PR team who were able to put up a poster with the last of the tape.

Fortunately that poster was all it took to fill the space to the gills.  When we started (only 5 minutes late), people were standing because the seating was gone.  Even the reserved section for mastiffs and toddlers was full.

We sincerely appreciate the willingness of the locals in the area to support our art with enthusiasm and love!

The stage is set.  The weather is perfect.

And we’re off. Sogol and Matt play Bach together.

Dancing to Vivaldi Concerto in G major for Two Mandolins, Strings and Continuo, RV 532 (re-re-arranged for violin, guitar and piano).

Realtime art during We Will Float Away.

Then the game.

Here is a (raw) video compilation of the show, barely edited.  This is six minutes of an hour long show.

A complete properly-produced video will be available someday (or so we believe). We are told it is being edited by the BBC in cooperation with NPR.

Another view of the Finale from the audience.

We had so much fun inventing the game and performing it that we want to do it again.

 

 

How many paradises are there, anyway? A visit to Terzo Paradiso in Biella, Italia

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You might die, but if anything is noted as the cause of death, it will be loneliness.

There are no people doing art or even visiting Terzo Paradiso unless you count our unruly bunch.  Here’s what we saw (and what we did).

First we explored random spaces.

And then we found some art to see (but only after getting lucky).

After a short nap in the hammocks near the circles, we found the projector and those glowy rocks from Land of the Lost.

There were no Sleestaks. So here are two for good measure.  They covet the glowy rocks.

There was dirt.

There was also very silly science.  But it was arty.

Not surprisingly, the room was better than the dirt.

Watch this video. Really.