Blabbings about family, community, sustainability and life from Frederick, MD.

Funky India – Jazz Fusion July 16, 2007

Filed under: frederick,music — tobymurdock @ 3:49 pm

On Saturday I went and saw Satabdi Express at my church as part of its Second Saturday concert series that my friends Butch and Ed organize.

Every band says that they are a “unique fusion of blah, blah and blah.” But these guys are truly a unique fusion.

First, they are dead-serious jazz artists. Great stand-up bass guy. And then the kind of serious, precise drummer who uses the brush drumsticks and gets his head really close to  the cymbals as he taps on them ever so slightly.

But then the guitarist, Dave, plays a hybrid western guitar-Indian sitar. It has 19 strings. You can see it above. And he plays it with a bottleneck slide.

The result is fantastic. After a long day in the sun at the lake with the fam, this concert was a far-out, meditative experience. I bought the CD and continue to jam to it. You can jam to it here yourself:


Let’s Choose The Courageous Guy July 11, 2007

Filed under: education,obama,politics — tobymurdock @ 4:29 pm

Article in the Post today about Obama and the National Education Association (the teacher’s lobby).  The NEA is having their convention, and all of the presidential candidates are filing through, and they’re all telling the attendees, of course, just what they want to hear.

Except Obama. He’s supporting merit pay for teachers. And all of the union members are denouncing him for it.

Our politics are paralyzed. No big ideas are realized. Not even desperately needed changes occur. Instead, cowardly politicians who pander to fears instead of inspiring hopes wrestle for points in opinion polls. And nothing happens.

Merit pay is a great idea. I’m all for it. But the point is that I’m all for the candidate who will be courageous, advocate what is really needed instead of what is popular. Next year, let’s be sure to choose the courageous guy.


Welcome Noelle July 10, 2007

Filed under: Children,family — tobymurdock @ 11:03 am

I haven’t yet written about the biggest news in my life of late: the birth of our daugher Noelle on June 22.

Her arrival was a long road with some crazy twists at the end, especially for my anesthesia-foreswearing wife.

But she is here and well loved by her family, especially her big sisters, as shown above. In fact, we have huge surpluses of love in our family and it will never be in short supply for her. Especially as she remains a little doll that actually moves, squeaks, and is alive!


Bad News Tuesday June 19, 2007

Filed under: Children,co-housing,Community,devolution,Environment,Sprawl,transit — tobymurdock @ 4:54 pm

Some bummers today in the Washington Post.

First, all of the moron energy convened in Fairfax County yesterday as they decided definitively to have the Metro line in Tyson’s Corner to run above ground.  To the defense of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors, I think they would have all preferred a tunnel, but complexities regarding federal-state-local government dynamics (oh, how we need devolution!) prevented it. The end result is that hideous, pedestrian-repellent, ugly, post-modern, unlivable abomination that is Tyson’s today will remain . . . a hideous, pedestrian-repellent, ugly, post-modern, unlivable abomination. It is obvious: the contrasting results of the Orange line in Arlington County (below ground) and Fairfax County (above) is a famous case study.

Anyhow, there is another article in the Post about how the current generation of kids spends so much time indoors that they have no connection with Nature.  Oh Jesus. What could be worse. There’s much one could say here about the need for conservation, open space. That’s the obvious part.

But the more subtle and interesting part is on the parenting side. First is the need to have kids’ lives not so scheduled so that they have the time to experience Nature in an unstructured, spontaneous way (how pathetic to even have to describe it that way). More challenging is the need to have the courage to allow kids to roam about–the neighborhood and in Nature–in an unsupervised way. This takes faith in your kids, instruction, and the development of neighborhoods where everyone is keeping an eye on everyone’s kids: something that is becoming a relic (oh, how we need co-housing!). But it is the only way that kids can get out of their programmed, indoor existence and have a relationship with Nature: remembering that “Nature” is not some other category of life, but rather that it IS life, it is everything we come from, live on, and return to.


Photo on Flickr from zuki12


Summertime Perfection June 18, 2007

Filed under: Children,Community,family,frederick — tobymurdock @ 12:35 pm

Many of our friends and their kids camped out at Greenbrier State Park this weekend. With Noelle coming, we didn’t spend any nights there, but we were there from 10am to 8pm on Saturday.

What a day! Sunny, pleasant in the upper 80s.  Canoeing. Guitar and singing. Hanging out on the beach.

My best memory of it was heading across the lake on the canoe towards the end of the day. Breeze had died down and the water was smooth and glassy. The image of the mountains that ring the like was reflected in the water.

Awesome! I’ll take that one with me all week. And just 20 minutes from home. Thanks Frederick County!


Kid Camping May 25, 2007

Filed under: Children,Environment,family,frederick,Friends — tobymurdock @ 6:04 pm

On Mother’s Day weekend a number of other dads and I took all of our kids camping in a shelter on the Appalachian Trail in Frederick County.

It was great to be able to get the kids in the outdoors. And great to be able to do so so close to home.

And great, of course, to hang out by the fire after the kids went to bed.

Though it was a long night and a bleary morning.


Country Prodigies Dowtown May 9, 2007

Filed under: frederick,music — tobymurdock @ 1:47 pm

On Saturday Kita and I went to the West Side downtown saw Brennen Leigh, a country duo that we’ve seen before (forgive my horrible camera phone shot).

They a brother-sister pair and are insanely talented. Brennen has a beautiful country voice that has twang and “yipee-kai-yea’s” but is also strong and smooth. She switches off between guitar and mandolin. Seth is a pickin’ freak: he is playing a base line with his thumb while doing a melody with his fingers, all at turbo speed. He’s someone that has complete control of his instrument and can truly do whatever he wants with it.

They play really, really old-school country, the kind that is rarely played anymore. It is extraordinary music when it is played by such talented musicians. Kita and I discussed how the evening makes you feel proud to be American given what a beautiful art form our country has uniquely produced.

The nice thing about such small shows is, among other things, being able to talk to the artists. Brennen and Seth are really nice, but as always it is alarming to learn how hard going it is for the small-time musician. Especially Brennen & Seth who play a genre that is not perceived as popular today. Alas, the crazy music industry.

I’ve told them that they are much better live than on their CD’s; they jam much more live. Nevertheless, here is one of their songs, “Give It Up to Jesus”:

It was yet another great night in our beautiful city. The streets were packed with restaurant, gallery and concert goers. There was a great blues band playing in the street. Best was the old-school, chrome microphone and fedora on the steel-guitar playing lead singer: