Thursday, October 30, 2008

Local Writers to Read in Jim Thorpe

If you are in the Carbon County area (or if you are willing to drive there), consider stopping by the Sellers Book Store at 101 Broadway in downtown Jim Thorpe on Saturday, November 1, 2008 around 3 pm. Fiction writers from Pennsyl Pointe and from the Liberties Scribblers writers’ group in Philadelphia will be reading their work that afternoon. We also plan to make a community ofrenda to commemorate loved ones who have passed away. This is a common ritual observed in Mexico during the Days of the Dead. If you would like to bring an object of significance representing someone you’ve lost, feel free to do so. It will be returned to you once we take the ofrenda down. See the attached poster to get an idea of what an ofrenda looks like. The Days of the Dead are observed from October 31st to November 2nd. The theme of the reading is: Advice for the Dead.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Inspiration – Witness the Greats: Leann Rimes

My family knew the value of creative arts. Early in life my father made us listen to the remarkable musicians of his generation. We absorbed the power of Tchaikovsky while hiding behind our upright piano. From there, the Nutcracker Suite was like a soundtrack for space travel. Some days Nat King Cole brought the spirit of jazz to our house while Sam Cooke taught us something about soul. Since my father was a fine singer himself, he understood the power of great voices and wanted us to hear them – though we didn’t always know why. Last month when I learned that Leann Rimes was going to sing at Penn’s Peak, the chance to hear a great voice came my way once more.

Although we bought two of the last available tickets, our seats were terrific. We were up on the balcony but had a clear view of the stage. The theater at Penn’s Peak isn’t oversized like the Spectrum, so each performance retains a personal quality. With her down home approach to the audience, Leann Rimes made the show feel unscripted -- in a good way. Although I was there to hear her sing the country songs that made her famous before she reached the ripe old age of 20, her music has moved into a powerful rock and roll phase that took me by surprise. She has also begun writing her own songs. Over the next few years, she may evolve into one of our country’s greatest talents. Her voice is a gift – like Picasso’s sense of form or Fitzgerald’s skill with metaphor. Some songs required her to hit – and hold -- notes that stretched across several octaves. She sang with a depth of feeling that provokes a listener to share the highs and lows of love, the push and pull of family, and the challenges of living a life filled with events we can’t control. “What I Cannot Change”, her song based on the Serenity Prayer, was deeply touching.

When you hear someone with this kind of talent, you can’t help but feel inspired to work harder at your own art -- even if your primary art is living through one more day. I loved seeing that tiny little woman dominate the stage with her dancing and vocal presence. She looked like some genie released from the same bottle Elvis must have lived in before he came to earth.