Cuba! Dallas and More

6/18/2011 Saturday 8:13 pm

…My newest guest-blog at Guitar Salon International!…

Cuba! was a huge hit last week.  Here’s a review… but it’s in Spanish… in Ahora Si!

We had two near sold-out shows on Saturday.  La Sombra provided an amazing reception, and Rene and Edel treated us to a simply magnificent set of concerts.  Cookbook author Lucinda Hutson was there, along with former Austin Mayor Gus Garcia, Mexican Consul Rosalba Ojeda, Univision Station manager Javier Ramis, Time Warner YNN’s Barry DeCrane, and many, many more!

Our highlight Sunday was dinner with Tim and Karrie League – owners of the Alamo Drafthouse – at The Backspace… hello delicious pizza!  Tim and Karrie were fresh from a roller-coaster national media blitz of attention following the Alamo’s screening of an unbelievably funny call from a patron who got booted from one of their theaters for texting during the movie.  Wow, if you haven’t seen it – check it out – I’ll link to the cleaned-up version here – though I recommend the uncut version!  Something like 3 million hits in 3 days for that video!

Our ACGS Membership drive launched Monday.  We need to kick our membership and donations into high gear to sustain the amazing work the team is doing right now in education – so here’s to hoping.  We got 15 or so new ones in the first few days with several $500 donors – for which I’m extremely grateful – so I hope the trend will continue!

Monday also held a wonderful lunch with Ut Butler School of Music Development Director Lauren Zachary-Reynolds.  She asked me to lunch to get advice on a giant event prospect they have coming up (hush hush).  But while we were there I bumped into MexNet’s Monica Peraza and well as Teresa Long (as in the “Long” Center for the Performing Arts)!  Then, as Lauren and I were finishing up, up walked my board member Penny Jamrack with our Cuban artist Edel, who she had been hosting!  So we had a wonderful visit.  In fact, during lunch I learned they’d be heading to dinner with my board president Michael Fields on Monday night at Fonda San Miguel.  Have you been?  Fonda San Miguel is quite simply one of the most remarkable culinary experiences I have ever had.  …and it’s only about 4 blocks from my house!  So after I finished teaching at 9 on Monday night, I went back over to join Mike and his wife Carol, Penny and her husband Bill, along with Edel, for drinks and dessert!

Tuesday began early, in the car, en route to Dallas.  I was to give a talk at 12:45PM at Booker T Washington School for the Performing Arts in Dallas for the Texas Music Educators Conference.  It was marvelous.  I was speaking about the work we do at ACGS building guitar programs in school – with an extra dose of detail about the curriculum we’ve developed.  It was well-attended and well-received.  I also had the special treat of seeing my friend and colleague, John Truitt from Albuquerque New Mexico.  John is one of the most wonderful people in the world – and he’s a pioneer of classical guitar in schools.  It was John who invited me to conduct in Albuquerque in January, when I worked with 72 amazing youngsters from around the State.  John had brought 10 of those kids to Dallas to perform in a select ensemble.  It was a remarkably emotional reunion for me, to see those kids on stage after they played.  John and I then had a marvelous two days together – along with my friend and former boss from UT San Antonio, Gene Dowdy – with whom I was rooming in the Fairmont Hotel.  John and I were also on a round table together on Wednesday morning, and I stuck around long enough to hear his talk on developing the New Mexico All State initiative, before heading home.  But John gave me an amazing gift before we parted.  He gave me a CD recording of the performance I conducted in Popejoy Hall at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in January!  I listened to it over and over again on the way back to Austin – with tears streaming down my face! What an amazing honor it was to work with those marvelous young people for those three intense days back in January.

I teach guitar on Wednesday evenings to the Chancellor of the UT System, Dr. Francisco Cigarroa.  Francisco is a terrific guitar player and I saw him Wednesday night!  It’s notable because this week he had requested an “Eyes of Texas” arrangement.  Inspiration struck on the drive back from Dallas and I managed to commit it to paper before he got here Wednesday night!

Thursday was crazy catch up mode from around 6-9am.  Then Chuck Lutke (my development director) and I met with the leadership of Austin Shakespeare to talk about a possible education collaboration.  From there I headed over to my colleague Klondike Steadman’s school where he asked if I’d teach a few master classes to kids in guitar summer camps he’s offering.  Amazing program and school he and his wife, Wendy, have developed – I’m always so impressed!

Friday and Saturday have been quieter.  This is good, because I managed to start feeling lousy in Dallas, so some down time has been welcome!  We had a wonderful dinner with our friends Daniel and Meleah at Clay Pit last night – but today we stayed in and made gazpacho – my dad’s recipe!

The next few weeks are big, big, big from a development standpoint.  I need to raise some money for our education initiative, develop all of the major components for promotion of our huge October 1st Austin Pictures project, and make major strides in our online training program work.  No more major events, thankfully, until July 16th.  In the middle, I’ll head to Georgia for four days for GFA.

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