Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Peekskill NY. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unite us.
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Frankfort, KY for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Maryville, TN for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Iola, KS for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Bellefontaine, OH for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
by Kim Dower
Barbara, my childhood piano teacher
played Chopin like he was whispering
into her hands, all us kids from the building
had our Saturday morning lessons, apartment 6C,
our giddy fingers trotting in the key of G,
lifting high for Mozart, metronome ticking
as her coffee brewed, her sandy-haired husband
at the wooden breakfast table, mug, cigarette
tight in his hands, he was the man on the Winston
ads, I’d slide by him, eyes down on my way
to the bedroom where the shining black upright
Steinway sat facing Broadway, her daughter pirouetting
across the checkered linoleum floor, tiny yellow socks
collecting dust with each step, twirling to the music
we were all struggling so hard to learn how to play.
And here we are a lifetime later, arm in arm, walking
in the rain, joyous as a sonata on our way to 72nd street,
“visiting Eleanor,” she calls it “the only statue of a woman
in the entire city,” tightening her grip, her bicep strong
as a ballerina’s calf muscle, and it all comes back,
she and my mother close talking in our kitchen, Barbara’s pink
mohair sweater, hair in rollers, the two of them always
wanting to put things behind them, the music of their motherhood,
beat of secrets, music of being someone’s daughter. I still have
my music book filled with her notes: “moderate tempo, allegro,
practice! Here’s where you get into trouble.”
Kim Dower, “Visiting Eleanor” from Last Train to the Missing Planet. © 2016 by Kim Dower. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Story Line Press, an imprint of Red Hen Press, www.redhen.org. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of American blues guitarist Buddy Guy, born George Guy, in Lettsworth, Louisiana (1936). He made his own guitar when he was 13 and learned to play it by listening to the records of John Lee Hooker and other blues artists. He soon began playing clubs in Baton Rouge, and moved to Chicago in 1957 when he was 21. That’s where Muddy Waters discovered him, took him under his wing, and got him a gig at the 708 Club. He was popular in the 1960s, both as a solo artist and as a sideman for blues singers like Koko Taylor, Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Walter.
As rock music grew more dominant in the 1970s Guy’s career waned until young white guitarists like Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Jeff Beck said they owed their inspiration to Guy and other blues musicians. Vaughn said, “Without Buddy Guy, there would be no Stevie Ray Vaughan,” and Clapton said, “Buddy Guy was to me what Elvis was for others.” Even though he enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, it bothered Guy that the blues pioneers didn’t get much credit on the radio, even on classic rock stations. He told an interviewer, “If you get Eric Clapton to play a Muddy Waters song, they call it classic, and they will put it on that station, but you’ll never hear Muddy Waters.”
Guy continues to tour to this day. Buddy Guy: Chase the Blues Away, a new documentary about Guy, premiered on PBS’s American Masters on July 27, 2021.
Emily Brontë (books by this author) was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, England, on this day in 1818. She was the daughter of a clergyman, and the sister of Anne and Charlotte Brontë; there was also a brother, Branwell, who was an artist and poet. Emily’s mother died of cancer when Emily was only three, and because their father was a quiet, solitary man who spent much of his time in his room, the children soon learned to entertain themselves. They read Shakespeare, Milton, and Virgil, played the piano, and told each other stories. Charlotte and Branwell created an imaginary land, Angria, so Anne and Emily came up with the country’s rival, Gondal; the four children wrote histories of their imaginary lands and populated them with a rich cast of characters. Emily never outgrew her fascination with Gondal, and continued to think up stories and poems about it until her death. All three Brontë sisters were writers and they published under male-sounding pseudonyms: Acton, Currer, and Ellis Bell. Emily only produced one novel — Wuthering Heights (1847) — and many critics didn’t like it much, finding it too brutal and dark.
Most of what we know about Emily comes from things other people have written about her. She stayed close to home, mostly just talked to her family and the servants, and didn’t leave behind many personal papers: just two short letters, two diary pages from her teenage years, and two “birthday papers,” written when she was 23 and 27. Some historians try to infer things about her life or personality from Wuthering Heights but, of the three Brontë sisters, she drew the least from her own experience to write her novel, so it’s not a reliable source.
In 1845 Charlotte discovered some of Emily’s notebooks filled with poetry, which she had written in secret, and encouraged her to publish her poems. Emily was angry at the invasion of her privacy and refused, until Charlotte produced the poems that she herself had written, also in secret. As it happened, Anne had been writing poetry too, so the sisters self-published a volume called Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell in 1846. Reviews of the day were not good, but since then Emily’s work has gained in reputation and she’s now considered one of the great English lyric poets. Emily Dickinson thought so highly of her that she requested Brontë’s “No Coward Soul is Mine” be read at her funeral.
Emily’s health suffered in the months after Wuthering Heights was published, and she wore herself out caring for Branwell, who by this time was an alcoholic and drug addict and was dying of tuberculosis. She caught a cold at his funeral and refused all medical attention. She died three months later.
From “No Coward Soul is Mine,” which Charlotte later said were the last lines Emily ever wrote:
Though Earth and moon were gone
And suns and universes ceased to be
And thou wert left alone
Every Existence would exist in thee
There is not room for Death
Nor atom that his might could render void
Since thou art Being and Breath
And what thou art may never be destroyed.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®