Sunday, October 19, 2008

Time for a Road Trip!!; Backlog - Oct. 19

Sometimes you just need to get out of town and experience different spaces and places. That’s what I decided to do this past weekend.

A few months ago I purchased tickets to see Cirque du Soleil’s Saltimbanco at The Bank of Kentucky Center in Newport, KY. Since the show was in the middle of the day on Saturday we decided to make a whole day of it. We wanted to experience some of the best that Newport had to offer.

We started our day with a trip to Newport on the Levee. This is an entertainment complex much like our own Fourth Street Live! here in Louisville. They have restaurants and bars, shopping, and it also serves as home to the Newport Aquarium which was our destination.

As I have mentioned before I am a huge fan of all things turtle so when I noticed a Sea Turtle walking around out side the aquarium you know I got excited. Don’t worry, it wasn’t a real turtle, it was the mascot for the Aquarium, Tango the Turtle. I got my picture taken with him and then we headed inside for some fishy good-times!

Neport Aquarium is home to 70 exhibits and 14 galleries and over a million gallons of fresh and salt waters! The whole place was alive with hundreds of different fish and other aquatic creatures. Among my favorites were the Angelfish, Seahorses, and, of course, the Turtles. There was one animal in particular that caught my eye though. It was the Sea Urchins. I never knew how colorful they actually were. Whenever you see them from a distance they look like spiny black porcupines and nothing more. But upon closer inspection I noticed they were actually quite colorful with blues and greens lining the spines, white spots that seem almost reflective around their mouths, and orange lips to draw in unsuspecting prey.
After walking the entire length of the Aquarium we ventured out to make our way to Cirque. As we were walking back to the car I noticed a couple of musicians playing in the court so we headed over to listen for a bit. We dropped a couple dollars into the guitar case and as we did they invited us to play with them for a few moments. I took up a small DJembe drum and had a blast playing with them. I wish it could’ve have lasted longer but it was time to get going.

Cirque du Soleil’s Saltibanco explores the urban experience in all its myriad forms: the people who live there, their idiosyncrasies and likenesses, families and groups, the hustle and bustle of the street and the towering heights of skyscrapers. Between whirlwind and lull, prowess and poetry, Saltimbanco takes spectators on an allegorical and acrobatic journey into the heart of the city.

Saltimbanco is a Cirque du Soleil signature show inspired by the urban fabric of the metropolis and its colorful inhabitants. Decidedly baroque in its visual vocabulary, the show’s eclectic cast of characters draws spectators into a fanciful, dreamlike world, an imaginary city where diversity is a cause for hope. At least, that’s what the billing says, and I agree!

The whole show was completely amazing. There were clowns, trapeze artists, a pretty amazing band, and even a Ring Master! It was like stepping out of our world and into this brightly colored playground of the imagination. This is the third time I have been to a Cirque production and I am completely hooked. Each time it’s something new and unexpected, but everytime is spectacular.

To finish our day we headed back to Levee for some authentic German fare and tasty beer. The Höfbrauhaus in Newport was the first to make the voyage across the pond from Munich, Germany. I have been lucky enough to visit both and our’s certainly does the original justice. They have great food and a new seasonal beer each month. This month they have “King Ludwig” the official beer of Oktoberfest in Munich. I opted for that and some Schnitzel with Noodles. Both were exceptional. For a moment, it almost felt like I was back in Munich.

To say we had a full day would be a severe understatement so I’ll simply say that we enjoyed every bit of it. Newport has tons of things to do and we weren’t even able to see a third. I definitely reccomend it if you’re looking to get away for a while. It’s close enough that you can make it a day trip but far enough that you could turn it into a weekend getaway. I will certainly be back there soon, there is plenty more I want to see and do before I’ll be satisfied!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Singing in Central Park; Backlog - Oct. 16

For the past 12 years I have spent the first weekend in October perusing the St. James Court area of Old Louisville. I’ve performed on street corners, had the best crab cake sandwiches you can get south of Maine, browsed through, and even purchased some of the most incredible art I’ve ever seen. What could bring all of these activities together with such regularity? The Saint James Court Art Show.

I remember the first year I went to the show in 1997. I was a freshman at DuPont Manual High School and studying at the Youth Performing Arts School. The art show is a huge fund-raising opportunity for the school every year because of it’s proximity and abundant parking space for show-goers. We were always out of school that day for an in-service day so it was the perfect arrangement.

I spent my first St. James Art Show with a group of four other singers from my school choir, singing madrigals in Central Park. The money we collected was pooled and added to our fund-raising totals for the day. This year as I remembered those happy high school years singing in the park I noticed how many other street performers have taken up residence at this yearly event. From a barbershop quartet and a Jazz Saxophonist to the littlest violinist I have encountered yet. There was music everywhere you turned which was a fitting sound track to the stunning visuals of art and artists that engulfed your eyes.

The little girl playing violin was concentrating ever so intently on her very slow but dedicated version of “Jesus Loves Me.” When I stopped to take her picture she faltered for a moment. Her mother, who was sitting behind her, urged her to keep playing but this little performer insisted that the”camera was distracting her.” Both her mother and I laughed and I replied that when she became a famous violinist people would be taking her picture all the time. The little girl smiled and started playing “Jesus Loves Me” with all the zeal she could muster.

Among the familiar faces of artists that return each year there were some very impressive newcomers. Among them was a man named Michael Rawson from Ohio. Mr. Rawson carves rocking horses. When I came upon him he was sitting on one of his rocking horses, eating ice cream, and smiling. If there ever was a “real” Peter Pan, I imagine he would look something like this. I was so drawn to him that I asked him right then if I could take his picture, ice cream and all. He laughed and there may even have been a little blush in his cheek, but he heartily agreed.

My last stop was to the Hosey Farms booth for some homegrown, raw honey. I bought my first jar of honey from them last fall and have been hooked ever since. I am especially fond of this honey specifically because it’s produced here in Louisville. If you’re like me and suffer from seasonal allergies this honey is heaven sent. A tablespoon of local, raw honey helps allergy sufferers by exposing them to local pollens in a non-harmful way. This in turn increases your body’s natural defense mechanisms that protect you from those sneezy, itchy eye, snuffly allergy attacks. Plus, Hosey’s Honey simply tastes delicious!
After a long day of looking at art I was certainly ready to find a nice comfy chair to rest my feet. It was another great Saint James Art Show and I can’t wait until next year!