Friday, May 29, 2009

Weekend Music Game: June!

Well, for some people, Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer...but for me there is something special about the start of June. It just feels more like summer, and June is just around the corner. So why not a June themed weekend music game? This one is a little trickier. Put your music player on shuffle/random and let it fly. Just keep hitting skip until you find a song that fits the criteria. Here's what we're looking for:

Song 1: J - First song or artist that starts with J
Song 2: U - First song title that includes the word "You" (or any variation, i.e. "your," etc)
Song 3: N - First song or artist that begins with N
Song 4: E - First song or artist that begins with E
Song 5: A song that comes up that REALLY reminds you of summer.

And of course we'd love some comments and explanations on these songs.

And be always are. Doesn't matter if it's the first or last name that begins with the letter. We're all about creative license here on the porch! Oh, and feel free to do them out of order, because this one takes a little time. Just put them in order when you post them.

So I'll go's what I came up with...

J - Jimmy Jazz by The Clash - from one of my all time favorite albums. Great way to start!

U - Thank You by Dido - I met Dido when she was doing a private show at my workplace when she was touring in support of this CD. I'm still hooked. This album stands up well.

N - Numbered Lithograph by John Vanderslice - Not an artist I consciously choose to listen to, but every time he comes up on my mp3 player I really enjoy it.

E - The Envy Corps performing Keys to Good Living - Great indie rock band that you all should check out. Love their sound. I think my friend Lori turned me on to them.

Summer Song - And It Stoned Me by Van Morrison. I was just commenting the other day that Van Morrison's greatest hits compilation is the perfect summer driving CD...great for a road trip.

Alright then...your turn! Have fun with this.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'm On A Porch...

In case you haven't heard...I have a porch.

We moved to Lancaster city nearly two months ago, and the one thing this new house has that I've never really had before is a front porch. Not a stoop. A porch. About 8 feet above street level, set back from the road, with a railing, and two glider benches.

I've joked about the fact that I have a porch, and spend a lot of time on it, and this fact has pretty much gone viral. But it's more than just a joke or a diversion. The fact is, I love my porch. Because I work out of my home and have wireless, I can just as easily work on my porch. Just yesterday my friend Joel came over with his laptop, sat on the porch, and we both worked while we chatted. It was very relaxing. I can even have clients stop by for business. Much better than meeting inside in a stuffy office.

I can sit on my porch with my dog and relax. I can watch people as they pass by, figure out who my neighbors are (some might call that being nosey), and check on the steady flow of traffic. And of course, for those who follow me on Twitter, I can comment on what's going on around me.

Like at this very moment an ambulance is speeding by with it's sirens blaring...and my dog is howling. In his five years of live he has never howled until we moved to the city. Now it is a daily occurrence with the steady stream of sirens.

I also have a nice back yard with a deck...and lots of sun. I could spend my time there soaking up the warmth, but then I wouldn't be able to interact with Lancaster and its residents. I wouldn't see my friends as they drove by and honked at me. I'd miss out on a lot.

But for me, the porch is more than all of this. It is a symbol of community. For the five years that I lived in the suburbia that is Elizabethtown, I barely ever saw or got to know my neighbors. And not for lack of trying. But at the end of the day, they would drive home from work, the garage door would open, and they would drive in and close the door behind them...never to be seen again until the following morning when they left for work again. Here in Lancaster, in the two short months that I've lived here I've met quite a few of my neighbors. The couple two doors down made a point of coming over and introducing themselves. They told me that they really desire that our little slice of Lancaster would feel like a neighborhood. Like the kind of neighborhood I grew up in. Everyone knew everyone else. We played together. We worked together. We had cookouts together. I miss that.

So for me, my porch is really all about community. Or as one friend said, a "safe place." A place where friends can stop by and relax and chat. We can get to know one another over a cup of coffee or a glass of my home brewed sweet tea. Sure they have to deal with my over-exuberant dog until he calms down, but that's part of the charm as well. It's a place for both individuals and families. Grown-ups and children. To read one of my favorite authors, Wendell Berry, you will learn that community implies both "membership" and "interdependency." What I do has an impact on my neighbors. In his book, The Long-Legged House, Berry notes:
A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is
shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the
possibilities of each other's lives.
That is how I view my porch. It may be MY porch, but I want to share it with others. With you. It is a sanctuary of public solitude, and a refuge. At times it can be noisy because of all the traffic, but when I sit out here alone, I am in a place of silence. And when I sit here with friends, despite the chaos around us, it is a place of relaxed conversation.

So...with that, I invite you to my porch. Yes, you too can be a part of Porchapalooza 2009. And if you can't make it, enjoy your own porch, your own community...and be welcoming to your friends and neighbors.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Weekend Music Game: Summer's almost here!

Today is Music Friday in Lancaster and my family and I will be hanging out at Building Character on the 300 Block of North Queen Street, checking out the music of Katie Becker and Trash & Glory. Hope to see you there.

And since I'm bringing back the Weekend Music Game, let's look forward to summer. All of the big summer festivals are announcing their lineups. So I thought we could do our own festivals. Put your music player on shuffle/random and play the first ten skipping. Jot 'em down for us here and let us know what your personal summer festival would be like.

So now, here's the lineup for my Porch-a-palooza 2009.

1. R.E.M. performing "It's the End of the World as We Know It" on the Aging, but still very Hip, Rockers Stage.

2. Bruce Cockburn performing "Wondering Where the Lions Are" on the Straight from Canada, eh? Stage.

3. Mark Heard performing "It's Not Your Fault" on the Gone, but Defnitely Not Forgotten Stage.

4. Chatterbox performing "Fallen" on the Industrial Porch Stage.

5. Brandston performing "Breaking Ground" on the Back When Emo Didn't Suck Stage.

6. Eric Clapton performing "Let it Rain" on the Guitar Hero Stage.

7. Fleming & John performing "Don't Let it Fade Away" on the UberCool Married Couples Stage

8. Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash performing "Careless Love" on the Dead & Alive Stage

9. The Dingees performing "The World's Last Night" on Where Did All the Cool Punkers Go? Stage

10. Starflyer 59 performing "No New Kinda Story" on the Gaze at Your Shoes Stage

And ten more performers who MIGHT make surprise appearances:

The Lassie Foundation
The Vigilantes of Love
Andy Pratt
Pigeon John
The Fire Theft
The Promise Ring
Pony Express

Alright. Now it's your turn. If your music player programmed a festival for you, who would be performing?

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Shackeltons: An Inspirational Story

Been awhile since I've blogged and I know I need to get back into it, so when I read this story over at NPR, I figured this was as good a reason as any, since Mother's Day is tomorrow.

The Shackeltons are one of the coolest bands to come out of Central PA, and lead singer Mark Redding and the guys put everything into all of their shows. This story from NPR really shines a light on what Mark and his band are all about, and really gave me a new appreciation for their music and live performances. Read and enjoy...and make sure you get out and see them live. Can't wait to hear some new recorded music from them in the near future.

And make sure you do wonderful things for your mother (and the mother of your children) on this Mother's Day weekend.