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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.

 

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.

Rhine took pics too.  It was hard not to.

We got lucky and found another human who told us how to cross the highway, go down the stairs and find even more art.  Or rather more art places with not much art.  Something like that.

Rhine woke up from his long nap, dreaming of Sleestaks and late 1970s TV.

The space rang a long cool echo of lost civilizations and the empty planet to come.

So there was dance.

And reflection

We climbed back down to reality using a ladder that was too short to reach the sky.

And then we left.

 

Creating a New Art Form

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Eight of us have convened in Rialmosso, Italia to create some art together.  Sadly, three of us were almost immediately infected with COVID from the trip across the ocean.  So far, the other five of us are healthy and working together to create, well, something.  Here’s how that is going.

We have a movement artist, a painter, and three musicians.  For one section of the show we are performing this Sunday we’ve decided on an art form where we pass a token between us, one after another (and sometimes to a group).  The idea is for each artist to improvise in their medium given what the artist before them came up with in another medium.

This set of videos shows our second attempt at this performance game.

It all starts with April Claggett

 

Who passes the token to Rhine Singleton (uncharacteristically playing the dobro).

 

Who passes the token to Sogol Shirazi.

 

Who, uh oh, passes the token to me (Gary McGraw).  Fortunately, I was unable to film myself playing the violin.  (Though you can find some video on Rhine’s blog Blame it on Sally.)

Now that Matt Savage has joined us on the piano, we have five players.  This is an interesting experiment that we’re having fun with.

 

Ready…

Set…

Go…

We are also performing some classical music.  Here is some Vivaldi being worked up.  Sogol will dance to this once we figure it out.

A more pedantic video of the Vivaldi sessions.

There is Bach being worked up, and Chopin too.

 

And we’re spicing up some Where’s Aubrey tunes with simultaneous art and dance.

The incredible result of one of our improvisations

Our time together at Villa Emma has been filled with ideas, collaboration, and the joy of creating something together.

 

Making music Near Biella (Miagliano)

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What happens when you convene an eclectic group of artists with a vague plan to “make something” involving music, dance, drawing, and possibly opera?  Well who knows.  We haven’t been able to find out yet as one of the dancers came to Italy with COVID (everyone tested on arrival) and spread it to two others in our group before proper quarantine set in.  The biggest impact involved our fearless leader and chief convener Shooka taking to her bed.

The upshot on Sunday about three hours after landing in Italy was a hastily constructed spettacolo involving Bach, improvisational movement art to unplanned spontaneous music, and Where’s Aubrey in Miagliano, Italy. Amazingly, the people who came to see us actually enjoyed themselves.

We fittingly call ourselves, Into the Unknown.

Instruments fly from Germany

 

Giant guitar case travels well

 

Sogol plays Bach to open the show

 

The audience mostly avoided the actual amphitheater seats, instead opting for the shade

We shifted the “stage” to face the shade loving audience.

 

“Backstage” with a dobro

By far the most interesting part of the show was when the musicians played whatever occurred to them (us?) as the dancers moved to the improvisational music and the artist drew what she heard and saw.  We divided that piece into eight parts defined by the artist.  We also asked the audience to participate by drawing as well.

Movement art

 

Sogol and Dani and April

 

Where’s Aubrey performs with a kluged up sound system

 

Paparazzi

 

Sure

Ultimately, we all had a good time at our first performance (one of three planned so far). Benvenuto in Italia.

More about the show can be found on Rhine’s blog.

 

Machine Learning Security in Berryville July 1st

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Get your tickets for a public general interest talk on Machine Learning and Security here.

Summer Solstice 2022

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We’ll start in the middle, with a video of the lighting of the summer solstice bonfire of 2022.  The weather was absolutely perfect and the crowd friendly and warm.  Every year the size of the fire seems to come as a surprise.

This year the weather was so cool that a dip in the river was not in the cards.

Rewinding a day, Aubrey provided another great iteration of the smoked salmon Messerhead feast helping to set the FOOD stage.  Speaking of FOOD, Chef Michael was down from Chicago with Astro.  That means we were spoiled rotten on the food front for days on end.

Salmon feast table

Any solstice that starts with caviar is destined for greatness.

Before.

Prepping for late night tacos

It seems that Chef Michael can’t cook for less than 700.  But that’s OK.  We just need to make the solstice party seven times bigger.  Pork shoulder in the firepit by the shrine.

We had a mid-day break to tour Eli’s fantastic art show at the Barns of Rose Hill.  The show continues through July 2nd.

Then it was time for the pre-game Negroni.

And we were officially underway.  Esther and Cora presided over the opening.

The sufferin bastard made an appearance

After an outstanding potluck feast, replete with fresh flowers, it was time for one quick song (thanks guitar week fellers) and FIRE.

By far the cutest thing at this solstice iteration was the jumping of the gun by Brantley the marshmallow boy.  The fire was still a bit young.  But that did not deter Brantley.


The fire burned for two days.  In fact, it is still smoking as I write this.

Thank goodness for Alec, David, and Gina.  We had a few hours of music by the bonfire.

Rumor has it that absinthe hour stretched from 3am-6am.

The next day happened fast.

Morning after breakfast

The chef outdid himself three times.

Party cleanup was a breeze with Aubrey in charge.  The weather cooperated the entire weekend.

What is left of this fire?

 

Are there coals down there?

 

Fresh veggies from the Berryville farmer’s market (thanks to Chilly Hollow Farm)

While the

veggies roast, we hang by the fire.

Donkey Hodie says “sup homey?”

Astro has the best home

 

The garden

 

Roast veggies

 

OMG more food

Even moonshine is in a food coma.

What do you do with recd currants?

You make a fresh tart.  Then mezcal straight from Mexico City?!  Yup.

Morning never arrived for some of the mezcal participants.

And then a visit from Iulie.