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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Marci Penner-Author, Kansas Traveler

© Lydia Lowe  7/23/2011

Marci Penner introduces her new guidebook - "8 Wonders of Kansas Guidebook"
Marci keeps the crowd engaged
Every seat was full and more had to be brought in for the talk.  What a great turnout!
 Marci Penner has just completed a new book, "8 Wonders of Kansas Guidebook".  She gave a talk and showed some slides with pictures of the eight wonders of Kansas at the Salina Public Library on Saturday afternoon. Marci kept the crowd engaged as she talked about how the various shots were set up and how she worked with the photographer to get just the right layout.  I was fascinated.  I also learned that photographers can be divas, so if you ever do a book with photographs it is important to pick your photographer carefully.  HA! HA!  Seriously, though,the photographs were well worth the effort.  They were amazing.

The eight wonders of Kansas fall into the following categories: architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography, history, people, and an overall category.  Marci stated that each community in Kansas that she visited had at least one item within the community that fell into all eight categories.  She believes that if you take a fresh look at your community you too will see that there is more to your town than meets the eye.  It provides a fresh prospective for viewing where you live in Kansas right now.

These guidebooks are available from independent outlets all over the state.  In Salina, the book is available at the Smoky Hill Museum.  You can find out more about the book, where the book is available for purchase, or you can even order it directly from the Kansas Sampler website.  The website is a rich resource for all things Kansas.

Marci will soon be at work on a new book which will feature all 627 towns in Kansas.  Did you know that half of all Kansas towns have 400 or fewer citizens?  A quarter more have only 1500 inhabitants.  This means that three quarters of Kansas communities are operating with all volunteer community leaders.  Folks that live in the towns are running their business' as well as running the town.  It's something to think about.  I believe that is a unique part of our state.

This book is a work of art.  I thought the price was a bit high.  But after considering all that went into it, and the look of the book, it is well worth the price.  Be sure and check it out, if you get the chance.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Marquise Knox

Thursday Night Concert Series
Eric Stein Stage-Oakdale Park
Salina, KS


Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe  7/21/2011

Unfortunately, I was unable to learn the names of the band members.  There was nothing on the website listing their names.  The band members are referred to simply as "his band".
Marquise Knox
"his band"

MARQUISE KNOX . . .I will have to say I'm torn about what to say about Knox.  I didn't think that this was that great of a show.  Knox really didn't do it for me.  There were a few in the crowd that seemed into it.  Those small few were very vocal about what they were hearing.  Apparently they were suitably impressed.  I'm just not sure what about.

The performance for me, was lackluster.  The music was O-Kay but nothing spectacular.  I didn't get a chill down my back over any particular song.  The music was good.  Everyone in the band played well.  Knox sang well.  I didn't hear any off notes and the lyrics were dead on with the music.  It was very polished and professional.  What I didn't hear was "joy".  There was nothing special.  There was no sparkle.  There was nothing that set it apart from any other polished and professional band.

Now, it was 100 degrees in the park, there was no air moving, the audience was hot, and I'm sure the performers on stage were extraordinarily hot; what with all the lights and sound equipment giving off extra heat.  So, I'm sure that this probably produced the end result.

As you can see, I'm torn over this performance.  Knox and the band were polished and professional, to a fault.  They sounded good, no off-key notes. But something was missing.  Perhaps Knox was just out of his element.  I've never heard him at "Blues Masters".  I may have to go and check that out, see if there's any difference in the performance.

You be the judge. . .go and check out Marquise Knox in concert and let me know what you think.  Did I miss something spectacular?  If so, what was it that I missed?  Was Knox and the band having an off night due to the heat?  Or is polished and professional all there is to Knox and the band?

Laura Milkins-Performance Artist

© Lydia Lowe  7/21/2011

Laura Milkins
Laura discusses her equipment
"I don't want to ever be as attached to my computer as I am right now"
. . . discussing some of her experiences on the road
Laura Milkins, a Tucson, Arizona resident and performance artist has not been home to Michigan to see her mother in four years.  On May 1, 2011, Laura set out from Arizona and is walking to Grand Rapids, Michigan to see her mother.  Along the way, Laura will stay in the homes of random people that she meets  and will repay them for their kindness by fixing them supper and breakfast in their homes.

Laura says that this has not turned out quite like she expected.  Universally every home she has stayed in has apologized in some way for their kitchen.  Apparently no one is satisfied with the cleanliness, the decorating, the amount or type of food available, or the overall look of their kitchen.  She has fixed meals for some, had her host fix meals for her, and has even been taken out to dinner at her host's favorite restaurants.  The kitchens that she has been allowed to cook in have presented a challenge with regards to what she will make for dinner.  She rummages through her host's kitchen cupboards, collecting a variety of ingredients and makes dinner from her finds.  Laura says that several of her viewers have suggested that she publish a cookbook with the stories and recipes from the various kitchens.  She is considering it.

Interaction between her and the people she meets is part of the performance art piece that she is doing.  While I spoke with her, she mentioned that our interaction was part of her performance.  I am now part of her performance art.  How interesting!  I had not thought of it quite like that before.

You can watch Laura's journey to Michigan, from now until mid-September, live, everyday at:  

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ride-N On Empty

Thursday Night Concert Series
Eric Stein Stage-Oakdale Park
Salina, KS

Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe  7/14/2011
Deena Duesberg-vocals; Jim Shepard-drums; Ken McCullick-bass; 
Clark Cumbo-guitar; Micah Gordon-keyboard 

RIDE'N ON EMPTY . . . I have to give this band credit for one thing, they throw themselves into their music.  The band has a signature look, they have a gimmick where they play "Wipe Out" and throw beach balls into the crowd, when the lights go down they light up the night with color, and they have a lot of energy.  The band plays their instruments well.  Deena sings like a dream.

However, put them altogether and something strange happens, they are awful.  No amount of enthusiasm can make up for the fact that they just aren't very good.  This band just sounds terrible.  Ride'N On Empty is a cover band, they do cover tunes and those cover tunes are barely recognizable.  I tried, I really did, try to find something that I liked about their music.  But try as I might there was just no redeeming quality to their sound.  I didn't like the songs they picked to sing and play.  The music wasn't done well.  It was just a sad experience.
I love the colorful lights on the drum kit.  Even Deena's shoelaces light up!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tom Morgan Quartet

Thursday Night Concert Series
Eric Stein Stage-Oakdale Park
Salina, KS

Lawrence, KS
© Lydia Lowe  7/07/2011

TOM MORGAN QUARTET . . . I love jazz music.  There is a lot of really terrific jazz music out there.  Jazz has a rich and varied history.  I don't think that I have ever heard a jazz piece that I didn't like.  Well, that is until I heard jazz played by the Tom Morgan Quartet.
This group played jazz pieces I had never heard of by people I didn't know.  Or maybe they just didn't play them well.  They played a Dave Brubeck piece that was done so poorly it was literally unrecognizable.  There were no up-tempo pieces during the first set.  It was just ponderous.  I'm not sure where one song began and the other ended.  People in the audience were getting up and leaving in the middle of songs.  I heard several people say, "I have a headache, let's go" and "I feel sick, I think it's time to go home now".  The music was excruciating to listen too.  

The drummer, and leader of the group, Tom Morgan, told some jokes at various times and his timing was just awful.  The jokes were told so that it took me a few moments to figure out what he was trying to say.  By the time I did, the joke wasn't funny anymore and I had lost interest.

Of course, then the band took a break.  They probably should have quit then.  Just called it a night, packed up and left.  But they didn't.  However, the audience did just that.  They grabbed their coolers, folded their chairs and headed off to their cars with their loved ones.  I didn't actually hear anyone squeal out of the parking lot, but it's a wonder that this didn't happen.  The Tom Morgan Quartet soldiered on with a vastly diminished audience.  So many people left the park that the noise level went from voices to crickets singing in the grass.

The Tom Morgan Quartet played on.  No one really knows why.  The audience that was left in the park was comprised of people who were too tired, to drunk or to stubborn to leave before the event was over.  And the band didn't seem to understand that their services were no longer needed.

At 10 p.m. the emcee took to the stage as he always does on Thursday nights to close down the show.  Usually he asks for one more song, a short encore.  The sound engineer seeing the emcee on stage muttered, "Oh dear God, please do not ask for another song".  Thankfully the sound engineer's prayers were answered and no encore was asked for on this night.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Soul Preachers

Thursday Night Concert Series
Eric Stein Stage-Oakdale Park
Salina, KS

Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe  6/30/2011
Aaron Householter, Dave Golden, and Bill Jones

What's with the UFF banner in the background?
During their show at Art Ala Carte in May; Aaron said, "If you came late don't worry, our show is always the same".
Like the sign says,  after the show it's "wreckage" among the band members.
THE SOUL PREACHERS . . . is most definitely a cover band.  With that being said, The Soul Preachers are one of the best.  They cover a wide range of rock music, everything from the Beatles to the present day.  Most of their music seems to come from the tunes of the 60's and 70's.  The band jokes around a lot while on stage and this only adds to the show.  Their jokes are more of the funny strange variety rather than the funny HA! HA! variety.  But hey . . .

They are very relaxed in front of a crowd and their natural showmanship pulls the audience in, so that you feel like you're just hanging out with your friends.  It's just you and the band.  It doesn't hurt that you could possibly see one of them around town, then just go up and start talking to them.  There's just a feeling of familiarity and friendship.

The Soul Preachers played the final concert of the Art Ala Carte-spring edition, in the park on the Oakdale stage.  We were a bit late getting there.  Not to worry, though, as they wrapped up the concert Aaron said, "If you came late, don't worry, it's always the same show and you didn't miss a thing".  Comforting thought.  And I would have said the same thing at one time.  But lately they have been playing a lot more tunes of different types and mixing up the order.  One song they use to sing with great frequency was, "The Tax Man" but they seem to have dropped that from the line up lately.

The next time the posters go up and the word goes out that The Soul Preachers are playing in your area, make sure to hustle on over, check them out.  It is well worth your time.  These guys are good and they always draw a large crowd.