As some of you know, for a number of years in the early 2000s I was the editor of a fishing and boating magazine and television show here in New England called On The Water. Fishing is a close third in my passions right behind my family and music. Having the opportunity to solicit, write and edit fishing stories, take part in television production, hold seminars at fishing shows, write guide books and interact with readers, writers and characters in that world was a blast…..for a while, anyway. It’s not worth getting into why I chose to leave that world (not the actual fishing part, I still do that on almost a daily basis!) but one of the main reasons was I found that essentially I was reading and editing the same story over and over and over. Some might say I was not enough of a hard-ass with the writers; I should have pushed them harder to produce more interesting and unique content for the magazine. But frankly, most stories about fishing tend to be the same with slightly different spins on well-known subjects. Also, advertising prerogatives began to overshadow editorial content. I was a dinosaur I guess… Thinly disguised “adver-torial” stories began to dominate magazine content (not just in fishing magazines, I might add) with the blessing of publishers, something that was abhorrent to me. Time to move on.
At the same time, music was calling me back. I never really was away from it, how could I be? My whole family on my dad’s side were professional musicians back many, many generations. My brother John had a wonderful career in symphonic classical music and he still teaches and performs from time to time. I think I did a pretty fair job of handing down my love of music to my son and daughter. And I’m blessed to be married to a lady who understands the hold that music has on me.
This blog is nothing more than an outlet for me to document things I’ve learned over the close to 60 years (!!!) I’ve been playing the guitar. Observations, hints, experiences, victories and defeats, they’re all here for anyone to see. It’s therapeutic - yes! - but I hope I’ve tweaked curiosity in my faithful readers and also contributed to some extent to their understanding and ability.
Which brings me around to why you haven’t heard from me for quite a while. Sometimes what I’ve posted is nothing more than random snippets of information and observations. Whenever possible I try to go into the writing of a post with a general outline in my head and a fairly clear idea of what I want to put across. I always welcome comments and suggestions. But…I don’t want to be like some of those so-called “outdoor writers” that I used to deal with at On The Water and just rehash subjects with tiny differences in subject matter. If I don’t have anything to say that will be of interest to my readers, I just wait until something that I hope will be interesting comes to mind. Sometimes that takes quite a while! So - again - sorry for my lapse in posting blog entries for the last few months and I sincerely hope you enjoy them. So, if you’re still with me, here goes. I’ll file it under something like “Music heard and played in Florida, 2022.”
Our first month was spent in Sarasota. It was our second time staying there for a month and we have come to really love that small city; the options for activities are many and often surprising. One of the best was a classical guitar concert by Peruvian-born guitarist Jorge Caballero and it was absolutely phenomenal. We had great seats thanks to a friend from Falmouth who subscribes to the seasonal concert series put on by Guitar Sarasota, a very active classical guitar society who sponsor five concerts every winter and early spring. My knowledge of current classical guitar masters is almost nil, something that is truly embarrassing. My last full concert of classical guitar music took place at Boston’s Symphony Hall in the mid 1970s, by the legendary Segovia, who passed away soon after. It was fantastic, one of my life-list concerts that I treasure.
Jorge Caballero is known for his transcriptions of full symphonic works by composers such as Claude Debussy and Rimsky-Korsakov. His physical technique was mind-blowing. I swear, his fingers appeared to be 12 inches long and he took on some pieces that would never be even attempted by anyone less than a master-level guitarist. His concert was in two parts and he concluded the first part with a piece called Capriccio Diabolico (Omaggio a Paganini) by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Before he started that piece he said to the audience, “Wish me luck on this one!” You hear this sometimes from musicians of all genres and I always take that statement with a grain of salt as it often means: Listen to this really, really hard piece I’m about to play. I can play it really well and I want you to know how good I really am!
But in this case, I had the feeling he really meant it. It is a monster piece requiring everything a master classical guitarist can muster and Jorge totally owned it, although I thought I heard a sigh of relief when he reached the end! I am looking into buying tickets for Guitar Sarasota concerts for next March and April when we will return for a full two months.
Also in Sarasota, we went to a great funky bar/showroom called the Blue Rooster that is designed as a New Orleans-style food and music venue. The food was authentic and tasty and the 6-piece ‘80s style funk-rock band playing that night was GREAT! There is nothing like a great band with horns. Sadly, soon after we left Sarasota the place closed for good as the 71-year-old owner wanted to step away from the business. We’ll just have to some other places for music and there are many of them in and near the city. I may even try to pick up some gigs there.
There are plenty of bars and restaurants in the Sarasota area that feature a wide range of music. It was gratifying to find that almost all the places we passed or heard about do not take the easy way out and default to karaoke in place of live music as often seems to be the case up North.
In Part 2 I’ll get into the music scene (and other observations) in Key West where we spent the second month of our Florida adventure. Yes, it was fun as always in that town but things are changing quickly there, and in many cases not for the good. I’ll get that post up in the next few days, promise!
And again, thanks for hanging in with me.
Peace & Good Music,