Archive for May, 2010

Outlaw Flute – The Ballad of Jesse James

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The Ballad of Jesse James

I have no idea why, but at times I feel like a bit of an outlaw flutist!

So you might imagine that I felt right at home playing in the Jesse James Museum while visiting Liberty, Missouri recently – such a renegade, asking if I could play my flute in the restored room that was the setting for the first daylight bank robbery in America, land-sakes, the audacity of it all!

On the lam during a lunch break while conducting music exams at nearby Jewell College, what better piece to play than the Ballad of Jesse James, especially in this evocative and even spooky space with its wood-stove, historic clock and original, creaky floors? Funny thing is that I hadn’t even heard of this piece until earlier in the day.

And perhaps odder still – a classic example of art imitating life – was that Frank and Jesse’s grandfather, a baptist minister, was one of the founders of resplendent Jewell College. How crazy is that?

I’ll put together a slideshow on Phanfare, Jewell is such a beautiful, quintessential American college campus, and I won’t get into how back in the mid-1800’s the college would only accept money from the outlaw brothers’ sister, or how the portrait of the minister that hung for generations on campus was, uh, recently donated to the Jesse James Society!

Back to the museum, it’s a rare example of pre-Civil War architecture, and it’s a good thing I didn’t play all 50 verses of the ballad – I was having such a fun time of it I near lost track of the time and had to saddle up and dash back to the Pillsbury Music Center for my afternoon session of exams!

Such a vigilante, I know, no wonder they gave me trouble at security coming home! And speaking of outlaw artists back here north of the border…

As if the rumors swirling about the infamous graffiti artist Banksy* and his first ever visit to Canada to tag random Toronto laneways wasn’t enough, I’ve heard on good repute that Greg Patillo, aka Mr. Beatbox Flute will be in town this weekend with his ground-breaking trio, Project – definitely worth checking out.

Too bad I’ll be in Denmark, but I’ve put members of my Urban Flute Ensemble on the case to sleuth out any workshops or guerrilla concerts!

Jesse James was said to be as iconic as the legendary Robin Hood, stealing from the rich, etc, and perhaps any art worth its salt also features a redistribution of wealth, at least in a fashion – the wealth that is to be found in the provocative nature of the shared aesthetic experience.

And the more daring and audacious the better, at least in my law books.


* Get it? Banksy?! -ed.

Postcard from Kansas

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Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Arlen & Harburg

With time on my hands waiting to board a flight back to Toronto from Kansas City MO how could I resist sounding the opening of this classic tune from The Wizard of Oz?

Hey, besides some pretty amazing mosaics in the flooring, they actually have tornado bunkers at the KC International – how cool is that?

Getting through security was another story. As it turns out tornadoes were the least of my concerns – stories to tell, but one rainbow at a time!

Here’s the space at the east end of the terminal where I recorded…