Just the biggies

2/28/2011 Monday 9:48 pm

My last post was two weeks ago – Valentine’s Day!  The gala had just happened, wow what a ride that was.

So much has happened since I don’t know where to begin – so I guess I’ll just stick with the biggies!

Boston: I went to Boston on Wednesday the 16th.  I was there the give a public address presented by New England Conservatory, the Longy School of Music and Northeastern University on the subject of Community Arts Advocacy.  I gave the talk Thursday and a workshop Friday.  My hosts Eliot Fisk and Zaira Meneses were incredible, I met many amazing people including the President of New England Conservatory, and the response to the talk and workshop were amazing!  I took a train to Connecticut to visit my sister for 16 hours, then into New York to reconnect with my college friend Justin Hines – a phenomenal percussionist living in New York City.  Justin was playing a show at the Park Avenue Armory on Sunday afternoon with 99 percussionists including Eighth Blackbird (an incredible new music ensemble – also college friends).  There were 1,000 people.  It was fabulous.  And then I was on a 6am flight from La Guardia Monday morning the 21st heading back to Austin!

Classical Cactus: While I was in Boston, ACGS debuted our new series Classical Cactus to a standing room only crowd at the Cactus Cafe at UT.  The series is a partnership with KUT and the Cactus Cafe!

Austin Guitar Salon: The this past Saturday we debuted another new series: Classical Guitar Concerts in historic homes with wine and cheese receptions!  it’s a four-way collab with Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, Twin Liquors, ACGS and the Heritage Society of Austin.  It was sold out too!

SIMS Foundation: The Sunday I played a house concert in Hyde Park at the gorgeous home of greg and Suzee Brooks as a benefit for the SIMS Foundation.  I’m a big fan of SIMS (they provide mental health and addiction recovery services for Austin musicians).  I saw many friends there including my friend, and fabulous Austin musician David Garza!

Xuefei Yang: Our International Concert Series continues this weekend with the return of Xuefei Yang.  She arrives tomorrow so this week holds a bit of media and prep for the big night!

So those are the biggies!  Much, much more is happening.  It seems I get to the end of each day and have trouble remembering all of the cool things that happen and the amazing people I get to work with and talk to.  It’s an exciting time, that’s for sure, and we’re laying the groundwork now for some really big things I’m super excited about.  The first is our monumental online teacher training program and the second is a huge opening night event for our concert series next year on October 1st at the new ACL Moody Theater (2,700 seats) in collaboration with KLRU, AISD, and much more – I’m calling it “Austin Pictures”.  So stay tuned!


2/14/2011 Monday 10:19 pm

My book is at Bookpeople!  Hooray.  In fact, right now, if you walk into Bookpeople it’s on the “whale” right at the front of the store.  “What book?” you say?  My new book: Creativity to Community: Arts nonprofit Success One Coffee at a Time.

But before I say more about that, let me say a few words about life as of late.  Lessee.  Saturday night (Feb 12) was our gala, Guitars Under the Stars.  My early estimate is that we raised close to $90K Saturday for ACGS Educational Outreach – that’s a lot for our organization and more than 5X the largest amount we’ve ever raised before.  The night was great, people have been flooding my in box and voicemail with thanks and great reviews… we had a VIP reception, appetizers, full bar, passed wine, dinner, $100 glasses of champagne with chances to win a carat diamond valued at $4K (won, incidentally, by Tim and Karrie League of the Alamo Drafthouse!) a concert and much more.  We had about 260 people and we had a great time.  Far, far more to report but you can imagine that the past few weeks have been filled with a fair amount of prep for that evening.  Wednesday (this week) I head to Boston to talk for New England Conservatory/NorthEastern Univ./Longy School of Music about community arts advocacy.  Next weekend I’m playing a concert in Austin to benefit the SIMS Foundation.  The weekend after is our presentation of Xuefei Yang on our international Series, and then I’m off to Washington DC to judge a competition and do some consulting for a nonprof there.  In the middle we launch two new series: Classical Cactus, our new partnership with the Cactus Cafe which debuts this Thursday (we’re live on the radio with John Aielli on KUT 90.5 tomorrow, Tuesday, at 11am!), and then on Saturday Feb 26 our other new series Austin Guitar Salon debuts in Historic Home: a partnership with Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, Twin Liquors and the Heritage Society of Austin!

OK, back to the main subject of this post, my new book at Bookpeople:

When you walk into Bookpeople, here's the "whale" you pass just as you come in - do you see anything familiar?

And there it is! My book... right next to all those other... books!

It’s very exciting to see the book in the store.  I hope lots and lots of people buy copies!  Soon I look forward to reporting my book reading and signing time – should be in late March!

Guitars Under the Stars Gala this weekend

2/9/2011 Wednesday 8:42 pm

I can’t believe Guitars Under the Stars, our Valentines Gala at One World Theater, is this Saturday!  My staff and I at ACGS HQ have been busily putting together the final details, arranging the seating, the decorations, the menu, and much more!  Most exciting, of course, is that Saturday will be a rare chance to spend a special evening with one of our favorite guitarists: Bill Kanengiser.

Bill is a founding member of the Grammy-winning LA Guitar Quartet, he was Ralph Macchio’s guitar coach and hand double for the 1986 classic guitar movie Crossroads, and he is a phenomenal and engaging artist on the guitar.

If you’re so inclined, you can still Buy Tickets Online, or call ACGS at 512-300-ACGS.  A few tickets are left!

The $100 tickets buy valet parking, full, open bar all night, a stunningly delicious, sit down dinner prepared by Austin’s premiere caterer Kurant Events, an incredible, intimate concert by Bill Kanengiser in the breathtaking One World Theater, and an array of delicious desserts following the concert!  Proceeds benefit our Educational Outreach Program.

Here’s a small sampling of what the master chefs at Kurant Events have planned for us:Lemon and Herb-Paste Rubbed Chicken with Tangerine Jam and Wilted Greens, Herb Crusted Grilled Hanger Steak, with Maître d’Hôtel Butter and Smokey Balsamic Onions,Grilled and Roasted Vegetables: Asparagus, Red & Yellow Peppers, Baby Carrots, Squash & Zucchini, Portabello Mushrooms, Basil Infused Yukon Gold Whipped Potatoes.

And that’s to say nothing of the desserts ranging from Black Bottom Coconut Macaroons, toSalted Butterscotch Cookies, to Key Lime Tartlets with Rum Spiked Cream, to Petite Chocolate Midnight Tortes garnished with Fresh Strawberries!

Twin Liquors is providing a full, open bar for the entire evening, but did we mention that you can purchase glasses of champagne?  With each champagne glass, you will get entered to win a spectacular diamond from Joe Koen & Son Jewelers!  Proceeds from the champagne glasses, and from the evening overall, go to benefit the education program of the Austin Classical Guitar Society.

Guitars Under the Stars has been made possible this year by a generous gift from our Presenting Sponsor: Austin Asset Management Company.  ACGS is profoundly grateful toJoe Koen and Son Jewelers for their donation of a spectacular diamond for this year’s gala. ACGS would like to offer our deep thanks to Celestial Sponsors Carolyn & Marc Seriff and theLouise Epstein and John Henry McDonald Trust.  Special thanks to Twin LiquorsKMFA 89.5 FM, and Claudia Roeschmann of RoeschmannDesign.

Walnut Creek Elementary

2/9/2011 Wednesday 8:18 pm

I had fun several Wednesdays ago visiting Walnut Creek Elementary School and talking to the kids there for career day!

I talked to the kids about music and the guitar, of course, but we also brainstormed about ways - it being "career day" and all - that someone might be able to make money with music/guitar. The kids had lots of really great ideas!

I played for them too, of course. In all I visited 4 different classes. One bright boy in this class raised his hand and said: "I have a guitar too, but it doesn't look like your guitar... it's a... real guitar". To which I replied: "Oh yeah? What color is it?" and he said: "Red!"

One of the perks of going to an elementary school is that you get hand-made cards! I liked this one in which Ricardo wrote: "You are a good guitar". He handed it to me on the way out of his classroom!

Not to bring the mood down or anything, but it was ironic that my visit to Walnut Creek came on the same day that it was announced the school budget would call for the closure of 9 elementary schools in our district in the coming year.  Since then, of course, far more cuts of various kinds have been announced.