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Intown Rundown: Fight for your right
June 30, 2011 - April Diodato
Our 60-day summers move at breakneck speed here so take a deep breath – it’s already Fourth of July weekend. This, of course, means that it’s time to light up some sparklers, slob out on barbecue, toast to our founding fathers and, perhaps, reflect on what America was and what it has become.
The land of the free seems a lot less so these days. I’m not sure the patriots would be particularly amped if they saw the sad state of affairs we’re in now. The government is interfering in our lives more every day. A Canadian openly mocked my American dollar a few months ago! The Financial Times has just reported that the dollar is predicted to lose its status as the global reserve currency over the next 25 years — a strong indicator that it’s not looking good for our economy. What are we Americans to do?
Yes, it’s a major downer, but maybe it’s still possible to turn things around — if we take a page out of the revolutionaries’ book.
The legendary Steve Martin will be coming to Chautauqua Institution for a sold-out performance with The Steep Canyon Rangers entitled “An Evening of Bluegrass and Banjo” at 8:15 p.m. on Friday. Their new album is “Rare Bird Alert,” the title of which comes from an upcoming film with Jack Black and Owen Wilson called “The Big Year,” about competitive bird watching.
OBSERVER Editor Bill Hammond recalls seeing Martin perform at SUNY Fredonia when he was still a relative newbie – these were in his pre-“Saturday Night Live” days. (Martin recalls those early solo tours as lonely and much prefers to tour nowadays with his band). As he returns to Chautauqua County, he’s done it all and with aplomb — as an actor, an author and a musician. We all know Martin’s work in comedy — that is, with the exception of our intern who said at the mention of Martin’s name, “Who’s that?” (I weep for our nation’s youth) — but among his many recognitions include two Grammys: one for Best Comedy Album and, most recently, for Best Bluegrass Album in 2010.
I had the opportunity to participate in a conference call with Martin and asked him, “What inspires you?” His reply is most fitting for this upcoming Independence Day — it involves one of our American revolutionaries.
Martin said: “Well, you know, it’s funny, there’s a lot of things that inspire me. For example, I was just talking about reading David Hackett Fischer’s book on Paul Revere, and I’ll tell you how that process went.
“…You know, I’m interested in art and there is a beautiful painting in the Boston Museum. It’s painted by John Singleton Copley, and it’s a painting of Paul Revere. But, it was painted in 1768 and this is way before Paul Revere’s ride. It’s way before Paul Revere was Paul Revere. At the time, he was a silversmith and John Singleton Copley was pro-English, so he did not paint — at this time he did not paint Paul Revere as an American hero, he painted him as a working guy, but this painting is — it’s outstanding… I think of it as one of the First American Portraits because it’s spare. It’s not — it doesn’t have all the characteristics of an English portrait at the time of balustrades and everybody was very fancy looking and they wore their best outfits. And here’s the painting of Paul Revere with a silver bowl in front of him with some working tools, and he’s got his shirt sleeves rolled up.
So, I was interested in that portrait and then I found the book of Paul Revere’s Ride, and I thought — and it incorporates the history of that portrait in there, so I thought I would read that book and I got interested that. And so, I finished the book and I thought — and this — and he — as I said, he debunked a lot of the myths about Paul Revere’s ride.
So one day, I’m fooling around on my banjo and I came up with a little tune and I thought, ‘Hey, this sounds like a tune that could take lyrics, what if I wrote a song about Paul Revere’s ride, you know, based on these new facts?’ And then I thought, ‘Well, I just can’t sing about Paul Revere. I’ll have to make — what can be new and different about it?’ I decided to make it come out of the mouth of his horse, and that’s what — that’s where that came from.
And the other night I was — I went to see a play and it was — it’s called — it’s a very good play, by the way, with Chris Rock. It’s called the ‘Motherf@#$!& With the Hat,’ … and it sort of gets my mind going. I — because kept thinking I — that I could write a musical using some of my music and it — you just sit there and start to picture how would it — how would your play open? How would it — because you’re sitting there right in the spot, and you know just sort of let your mind wander.
…There’s a million ways to be inspired. Sometimes it’s somebody sitting around by accident, for example, playing the banjo and making a mistake, hitting the wrong chord and going, ‘That’s sounded good,” what was that? I’ve never heard that before.’ Sometimes you’re inspired by a deadline. It’s — you know, it’s mostly just letting your mind wander and finding something fresh that you never thought of before.” For those lucky enough to have tickets to Friday’s concert, enjoy the show!
- It's Fourth of July weekend! The City of Dunkirk will host the traditional Indepen-dence Day Celebration on Monday, July 4. Numerous vendors will be in Memorial Park with musical entertainment to begin at 5 p.m., and fireworks are scheduled for dusk . The community is welcome to come to the harbor front area all weekend long for various holiday festivities. And just in case you’ve never been to see the fireworks in Dunkirk before, leave early to find a parking space (good luck!) and choose your route home carefully. For additional information on Fourth of July fun in Dunkirk, contact the city clerk’s office at 366-0453.
- Coughlan's Pub is having a birthday celebration today. Help them blow out 25 candles with drink specials all day and night.
- La Krema will be performing at Music on the Pier tonight, with some spicy Latin tunes for anyone who just wants to dance. And why not? With the long July 4 weekend just around the corner, George Washington would certainly approve!
- Walleye Willie's will feature live music by Party Xpress on Friday,Passion Works on Saturday and Big Tone on Sunday.
- Bart's Cove will feature Hot Daddy Rocks on Saturday from 8 p.m. to midnight.
- BJ's is having their annual New Year's Eve and a Half party tonight, which is usually infinitely more fun than real New Year’s Eve — no pressure, no crowds, no snow. BJ’s will provide the noisemakers, hats, party favors and free champagne at midnight. If you didn’t ring in the New Year properly the first time around, this could be your second chance.
- Can your powerful vocals no longer be contained in your shower or car? Here’s an opportunity to show Fredonia what you’ve got. 41 West is having Karaoke Summer Idol auditions tonight from 9 p.m. to midnight, and then performances will be held on every Thursday up through the finals on Aug. 18. There will be guest judges every week. The grand prize is $250. Find the rules and register at 41 West or on the Karaoke Divas’ Facebook page.
- Cruise In at the Creek is happening all summer long on Thursdays at Willow Creek Winery in Silver Creek, with food and drinks, free wine tasting, music, raffles and more — including a chance to win a Camaro.
- At Demetri’s Patio Bar this holiday weekend, there will be live music by Trio at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Total Chaos at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Ozone Rangers at 6 p.m. on Sunday and on Monday, July 4, Tara Graves at 4 p.m. and Black Widow at 7 p.m.
- At the Clarion’s Dockside Cafe and Bar, there will be live music all weekend: Only Human on Friday, Ion Sky on Saturday, Sunday is to be announced, and on Monday, Ten Cent Howl from 3 to 7 p.m. and Side Effects from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
- Break out your Birk-enstocks and tie dye — it’s time for the Great Blue Heron Festival. It’s a weekend-long party out in the middle of nowhere (bring your camping supplies and bug spray, you can thank me later) — technically Sherman — held Friday through Sunday. It’s the Heron’s 20th year. The lineup of bands is too long to list – get complete details and tickets at www.greatblueheron.com.
April Diodato is the OBSERVER Lifestyles editor. Send comments and events to firstname.lastname@example.org