Florian Larousse in town… this week!

1/20/2011 Thursday 7:52 am

Florian Larousse arrived earlier this week in Austin.  He’s playing this Saturday night on the ACGS International Concert Series.  He had a break on his GFA winner’s tour and decided there was no better place to spend the extra time than right here in Austin, TX!  Yesterday I drove down and grabbed him for lunch – we went to Corazon on 5th and Baylor where I had their delicious Veggie Relleno and Florian had Mole Enchiladas.  It was Florian’s first time having mole – and he loved it!

We had a terrific conversation.  He told me about his amazing guitar that has an optional extra 4 strings he can add and remove whenever he wants!  He uses the extra 4 strings (all basses) for Bach and Dowland on this program.  Speaking of which – Florian is toying with the idea of doing an all-Bach first half beginning with the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro of Bach, and moving to the First Lute Suite!  I’m personally very excited by the prospect.  Hearing Bach played really really well is one of the great joys of the world for me – and honestly I feel like we don’t hear all that much Bach on our programs these days.  Both pieces are amazing, of course.

We’re on Eklektikos with John Aielli today (Thursday, January 20th) at 11am on KUT 90.5  FM – so tune in and listen if you like!

Sitting next to us at Corazon was Rikki Hardy, co-chair of “Good Eggs and HAAM” an event supporting Health Alliance for Austin Musicians.  We hadn’t met before, but she heard us talking music and media and that was enough to get the ball rolling – so I took her picture too!

Sunday was fun.  Glenda and I went to one of our favorite programs at the Alamo Drafthouse: Cinema Club.  It’s a program where Lars and Daniel host an expert panelist to discuss a historic film before the audience watches it.  And then they return after to have a discussion and the audience can ask questions.  On Sunday the guest was the great director Richard Linklater (!) and we had a terrific time hearing him talk about the movie: Some Came Running.  It starred Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine.

Here's Lars, Daniel and Richard (left to right)!

On February 27th I’m playing a private concert in the lovely Hyde Park home of Suzee Brooks for the SIMS Foundation.  SIMS is an organization led by Tricia Forbes that provides critical assistance for musicians with mental illness or addiction recovery needs.  Suzee home is like one giant work of art, but I was particularly taken with her kitche, the tile-work, the vintage stove, the mural… We visited Monday to get organized.
So much more is going on!  We were at One World Theatre yesterday having our final major planning meeting for our giant gala there February 12th.  I’m giving a whole bunch of talks very soon, next Tuesday at the School of Social Work, next Friday at UT continuing ed program, the Tuesday after for the Texas Commission on the Arts, and then off to Boston 2 weeks after that!  Our 2 new series are beginning: Austin Guitar Salon and Classical Cactus.  And tons more.  Fun!

20% off my book on Lulu – feedback – blogs!

1/17/2011 Monday 9:50 pm

Today I had fun broadcasting that between now and the end of January my new book, Creativity to Community, is on 20% off discount on Lulu.com.  As part of the message I mentioned that I’ve got several consulting gigs coming up, one in Boston and the other in Sacramento, where I’ll be doing workshops, and I invited folks in the area to c’mon out!

I have gotten a wonderful response.  Folks from all over the place have written back.  I’ve also gotten some really fun feedback from people who had bought the book and taken this occasion to write and tell me about it.  I have to say, I simply overjoyed at the feedback, here’s a small sampling:

“…your book is A GEM! Your step-by-step, thought-by-thought, coffee-by-coffee manual of how to run a small non-profit is so spot on, in my humble opinion, that it should really be required reading for anyone intending to seriously engage in the administration of such an organization! Congratulations on organizing and presenting the issues and topics in such a clear, methodical way!”

“…I’m almost through your book, and I’m absolutely loving it!  Very valuable stuff, presented with humor and insight.  Bravo!”

“I just finished reading your book and am on a second read to take notes…Do you think you might come to speak to our Board?  I have some things to say to them, but it would be better coming from you.”

I’m really encouraged that folks are finding some of the lessons helpful – I think that each time an artistically-minded community organizer gets motivated, the arts get stronger in America!

Several blogs picked up the story today too:




My friend Kai Narezo (from the second blog, Guitar Salon International) asked if I might consider contributing as Education editor for the GSI blog!  I’m excited about the opportunity – and said yes, of course!

Things are moving a mile a minute here.  Much more going on – including the Austin arrival of Florian Larousse who will play for us (ACGS) this Saturday.  We’ve got one radio and two TV appearances between now and then!

Yum! A few weeks of tasty food highlights!

1/14/2011 Friday 8:57 pm

One of the great things about the holidays – every year – is the food.  I love the time the holidays afford for us to cook and enjoy meals together.  Growing up in my house, the holidays smelled and tasted good, and always meant time in the kitchen baking cookies or making tasty meals together.  I grew up in the middle of New York State, so being in the warm kitchen was an especially wonderful place with the wintry cold swirling around outside.

Here in Austin, Glenda and I are fortunate to live in a place where there is so much tremendous culinary culture.  And we’re fortunate that we’ve found each other (for a lot of reasons!) – two people who both love to cook and eat… a lot!

Here’s a couple of shots from the past few weeks in our kitchen:

One of my favorite things to make, as far back as I can remember almost, is quiche. I love pies and pie dough in general, but I especially love quiche. Here is a Christmas Eve Quiche in progress. You can see the spinach in the foreground, the pie dough in pie plates in the background, and the egg custard in the middle!

And voila! The quiches are done. These had spinach and crimini mushrooms, and gruyere. Yum.

In the last few years, Glenda has struck on a whole new level of artichoke preparation. Here she is rubbing an artichoke with a half-lemon. She preps 'em, stuffs 'em with delicious garlic and herb goodness, and then steams them in this white-wine/olive oil mixture that she then reduces for dipping sauce later. This was Christmas Eve too!

We enjoyed Christmas eve dinner with our dear friend Kain!

Christmas Morning began with Citrus Cream Cheese Pull-Apart Rolls. See how fluffy and crusty they look? We love this recipe because we can make it the night before and pop it in the oven in the morning and smell the goodness while the coffee is brewing!

From time to time, for special occasions, Glenda will ask me what I'd like to have for dinner. I don't know why she asks me anymore - because I'll always say the same thing! Fondue. There's just nothing like white wine-melted Ementhaler and Gruyere with a hint of garlic and Kirchwasser. On Christmas night we dipped steamed-chilled broccoli, crusty bread, and pears.

So I think I mentioned in an earlier post that we made a sherry-pecan christmas cake? This is one of these deals with a lot of ingredients, that's super heavy, that you cover with cheese-cloth and put in a tin and then pour additional sherry on it every night for a few weeks? I don't know why more people don't do this!!! Anyhow, after the New Year Glenda and I still had a fair amount of Christmas cake and Glenda discovered a phenomenal recipe for a trifle, made with Panetonne, where you layer the Panetonne with laboriously-prepared apricots, cover with cardamom-infused whipped cream and greek yogurt... you get the idea. She figured: why not try this with our left over christmas cake? Here she is having just drizzled honey over top...

Oh, and we musn't forget the chopped almonds and pistachios!

Trifle Triumph! Here is her masterpiece served. Wow, it was delicious... and very rich!

We've had tons of fun in the past year "cooking with Manjula". Manjula is on You Tube, and she leads us through all kinds of Indian food adventures. Here is Glenda with our first-ever samosas (actually not a Manjula recipe). They were delicious - and the freeze well too!

We prepared a veggie korma dish (this WAS a Manjula recipe) to have with the samosas. Mm mm korma.

Indian meal served! We had rice and samosas, naan, and our veggie korma, with mint relish. Yum!

And my last dish to share is the Tom Kha, Thai soup that Glenda has made twice. She loves Tom Kha, and decided to try making it. It came out really well - so well, in fact, that she decided to make a vegetarian version for me (the original has fish sauce and shrimp). Pictured here is my veggie Tom Kha, a coconut milk-based soup with tons of spices that begin as a paste - this one has shitake mushrooms and tapioca noodles. Incredible!

Happy New Year!

1/6/2011 Thursday 10:31 pm

Wow!  I have to stop letting so much time pass between posts.  So much happens and it’s hard to keep up!

Glenda and I had a simply marvelous Holiday.  That’s the big, important news.  We spent Christmas Day together, in our home, just the two of us, for the first time ever – in 14 years!  It was relaxing and full of love and laughter.

New Year’s Eve was spent with good friends, in between we took a quick trip to Houston for a nice visit with Glenda’s family.

And then whoosh, 2011 began. Let’s see:

I’m in New Mexico conducting 78 high school classical guitar students for about 20 hours in 3 days for New Mexico’s All State Guitar.  New Mexico is the first US State to have All State Guitar, it’s an incredible honor for me to be here, the kids are a joy to work with, and my colleagues in New Mexico – dear friends John Truitt, Mickey Jones and Jeremy Mayne – are taking great care of me.  Today was a long day, we have another tomorrow, and then we perform at noon Saturday and I’m on a 3:10 flight back to Austin!

Today we closed all the loose ends on a super-cool new concert series at ACGS I’m calling: Austin Guitar Salon.  It’s a partnership we’ve forged with the Heritage Society of Austin, Twin Liquors and Antonelli’s Cheese Shop to do 3 intimate concerts in breathtaking historic Austin homes with premium wine and cheese.  Oh yeah!

Speaking of new series… we’re also beginning Classical Cactus, which is our new partnership with KUT and the Cactus Cafe that will allow me to hire more local talent and more variety in terms of genre.  Both series begin in February!

OK, here’s some highlights:

We have a big new project in the works with the Austin Museum of Art.  no news, until it’s news, but I’ve enjoyed setting up some meetings regarding that.  A week from Monday I visit a Hyde Park home owner who will host a salon style benefit for the SIMS foundation that I’m actually performing on February 27th.  Next Wednesday I’m going to Walnut Creek Elementary for career day to talk to the kids there!  Dr. Cal Streeter, today, asked if I’d come talk to his seminar class at UT on January 27th at the UT School of Social Work about building community based nonprofs.  Our Board meeting is Thursday.  Friday morning I’ll get to see Yvonne Darrah Steckel, a parent of a student we’ve had at Lamar Middle School and now McCallum, who has been instrumental in turning Lamar into a Fine Arts Magnet Middle School!  2 days ago 2 new education programs started for us: our class at Gardner Betts of the Travis County Juvenile Justice System, and a new class we’re helping out with at St. Gabriel’s Middle School.  The week of the 17th of January our French artist Florian LaRousse arrives in Austin, we’ll be live that week on KUT, Fox 7 and KEYE!  His concert is Saturday night, January 22nd.  On the 28th I’ll give a talk at UT for a continuing ed series for retirees on classical guitar and community arts programming.  Then the following Tuesday (2/1) I’ll speak at the Texas Commission on the Arts for a state-wide conference they’re giving for arts leaders and community organizers: I’ll talk mostly about concepts in my Creativity to Community book.  That same day, incidentally, is Austin’s first All-City Guitar event!  So great the AISD is supporting guitar so avidly!  We’ll be there with bells on.

Perhaps the thing I’m most excited about, apart from this All-State event I’m in the middle of, is a mid-February trip I’m taking to Boston where Eliot Fisk and Zaira Meneses and David Patterson are hosting me through the New England Conservatory, North Eastern University and Longy School for the Arts to give an evening address and an all-day workshop (February 17-18) about Community Arts Advocacy.  They’re calling it affectionately: “Bringing Austin to Boston”!

So much more is happening, but I felt it was important to get at least some of these details and engagements out there.  More than anything, 2011 has affirmed for me that where creative, energetic, resourceful individuals who value the arts, decide to put their energy behind promoting them, the arts thrive.  And as the arts thrive, diverse peoples’ lives are changed for the better in the most beautiful ways.