Thursday, August 28, 2014

Coming Down To The COTA Wire

The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) held its general meeting at The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA www.facebook.com/deerhead.inn on Tuesday August 26th to plan their 37th Annual Jazz and Arts Festival which is scheduled to be held September 5th - 7th. I arrived at the meeting a bit later than usual and found the room packed with jazz and festival lovers eagerly absorbing the news shared by the Board of Directors and committee chairs. Unfortunately, from my vantage point, I couldn’t hear much of what was being discussed but I could feel the energies as they were focused upon making the final preparations for the festival.

One if these preparations manifested itself in the announcement that the New COTA Tee Shirt were available for distribution to volunteers who would support this year’s festival as staff members. So, when the members of the Tee Shirt Committee, Norma and Ron Hart, pulled one of the garments out of the box they were stored in, an enthusiastic round of applause filled the room. The reality of another festival and all the memories it will create became much closer to the attendees as they picked up their shirts at the end of the meeting.

The meeting came to a close and I shared some joyously thoughtful words with my friends before bidding them adieu. I then traveled to the neighboring Presbyterian Church of the Mountain www.facebook.com/pages/Presbyterian-Church-of-the-Mountain/234593743269661 who were hosting the second of three rehearsals for The Celebration of the Arts Jazz Mass which takes place annually on the Sunday Morning of the festival. Members of the Choir led by Teresa Marino and Orchestra led by Richard Chamberlain played together in the church’s fellowship hall as their harmonies blended into a beautifully appetizing foretaste of the wonderful spiritually nutritious meal that awaits all those who will be present at the Mass.

The final general meeting is scheduled to be held at The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA on Tuesday September 2nd beginning at 6:30pm. The public is invited and encouraged to attend this meeting as all ideas are welcomed and opportunities to participate as volunteers are provided. You’ll find more photographs taken during the Tuesday August 26th meeting at The COTA Meetings 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152423759645421.1073741897.636000420&type=1.

The mission of The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) is to present and to support the art of jazz in all its forms and historical breadth through youth education, performing arts presentations, scholarship opportunities, and community outreach throughout the Pocono area. Please Explore The Celebration of the Arts Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/COTA-Celebration-Of-The-Arts/234094683405815, their Website at www.cotajazz.org, or by calling 570-424-2210 to learn how you can become a volunteer and to learn for more information all about COTA has to offer.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Art of Dog

The School of Visual and Performing Arts (SVPA) in Stroudsburg, PA held an Artists’ Reception on Saturday August 16th for their exhibition titled, “Dog Days of Summer” featuring the work of local artists. To many, the term from which the exhibition’s title derives reflects the searing temperatures associated with the scorching aspects of the season which usually occurs at its zenith during the month of August. However, as the Summer of 2014 in the Northeast Section of PA has been a practically cooler one than normal, the atmospheric heat needed to be generated so the exhibition’s title would have any merit was left to the gallery and the work it presented.

The bright searing colors found in much of the work brought their sweltering essence to those who were drawn near to the warmth they emitted while some pieces shared their brightness through some cooler hues hinting at the temporal realities of the season. The well attended event also generated a warming trend as conversations filled with love and excitement for the art being displayed filled the gallery and hearts of those who engaged in them. The entertainment and creative demonstrations which took place throughout the evening would serve to enhance the congenial warmth shared by the gallery’s visitors.

These began with a Tai Chi demonstration which was proceeded by some welcoming words given by the gallery’s director, Jody Singer, along with several announcements relating to the school and future exhibitions. Shane Izykowski also shared his welcoming sentiments with the gathering along with news relating to the much publicized Street Art Project: II www.facebook.com/projectstreetart and how local artists and art lovers can become involved through their skills and support as the video found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=0s7lvad7jbw describes in detail. A special Fund Raising event will take place at the school on Saturday August 23rd. It was after these sharings did the Tai Chi demonstration given by Kevin Cormier of Glowing Energy Tai Chi www.facebook.com/pages/Flowing-Energy-Tai-Chi/216868115041521 begin.

Several members of the gathering took their places in their stoking feet upon the specially matted floor reserved for the dance lessons the school conducts while Mr. Cormier offered a basket filled with slips of paper to individual spectators so they could select from them a series of concepts in which those participating would explore through their movements. The gentleness observed by those who viewed the exercise found its way in the countenance of all as a profound quietness was felt among the entire gathering. In addition to his work at Glowing Energy Tai Chi, Mr. Cormier also teaches these ancient techniques at Ensley’s Martial Arts in Stroudsburg, PA www.facebook.com/pages/Ensleys-Martial-Arts/111545085551893 and owns Burnt Toad Studios www.facebook.com/burnttoadstudios offering screen printed tees and other items and art stuff. The demonstration came to its conclusion leaving all with an appreciated sense of peace and wholeness which enhanced their experiences of the reception as the evening moved on.

A delight filled the air as it was announced that a touch of musical theater was to be presented. The song titled, “So In Love” from the Cole Porter musical “Kiss Me Kate” was performed by the school’s Senior Theater class members Gil Janes as Joseph and Theresa Hunter as Olivia with direction provided by Shellie Bransford who is the course’s instructor. The presentation was a joy to watch as the talent of the actors danced lightly into the hearts of those who viewed them. The conclusion of the performance was followed by some appreciatory sentiments expressed by SVPA’s facilitator, Kathy Kroll, who also invited those present to explore the school’s schedule of classes and discover the enormity of their wonderful talents through them.

An opportunity to explore the work further and to purchase raffle tickets so those who did so would be eligible for a chance to win a piece created by one of the many artists whose work hung upon the walls was affored as a break in the evening’s entertainment ensued. While doing this, The Mountain View Vineyard and Winery www.facebook.com/MountainViewVineyardWinery which is located in Stroudsburg, PA offered a variety of their satisfying blends of wines for sampling. The tasty elixirs enhanced the conversation further as the musical performance of the evening began to take their place.

From the very first notes Jazz Saxophonist Adam Niewood played upon his instrument led those who gathered for the art and conversation to become transfixed to its melodious sounds. Mr. Niewood has gained a reputation for his talents in the local jazz community and beyond and those who listened to his musical blendings were pleased to learn this reputation has been well deserved. Mr. Niewood was joined by his musical friends which included Gene Perla on Upright Bass, Vaughn Soffey on Guitar, and Bill Goodwin on Drums. Each musician has become well known for their outstanding talent with their instrument in their own right, but, together, the gentle beat of the music they played filled the room as only the best jazz could.

It was when the performance given by Adam Niewood and his friends concluded did the invigoratingly soothing effects of the music soon became accentuated by the announcement that the evening’s Art Raffle, whose proceeds would be utilize toward the endeavors of The School of Visual and Performing Arts as it continues to serve the artistic community, would soon take place. Many hurriedly moved toward those who were designated to provide the tickets for purchase so they could be placed in cups corresponding to the coveted pieces of art that were offered as prizes. Last moment selections among the cups were being made as Jody Singer and Shane Izykowski joined together to begin the exuberant process of calling the numbers who would determine who won each item.

It was then when the artist who donated a piece for the raffle were invited to come forth in order to pick a numbered ticket from the cup that were placed before his/her creative endeavors which was held beautifully by the even more beautiful Ashley Catherine Fontones whose elegance enhanced the qualities of the work she touched. A quietness filled the air until it was shattered by an exclamation of piercing delight as the final digit called revealed the winning ticket’s owner. This joyful process of acquisition of art continued until the final item was awarded to its new owner and the evening began to experience a number of fond farewells that were shared among the company as they began to leave.

The evening proved to be a profoundly wonderful one reflecting the wonderful aspects of the Summer season through the marvelous work presented, the mindfully peaceful Tai chi demonstration, the delightful show tune performance, the delectable wines that were wantonly sampled, the mood enhancing jazz, and the climatic excitement that come from winning some wonderful art to adorn the walls of their home. Yet, everyone who gathered at the SVPA for the Artists’ Reception of their Dog Days of Summer Exhibition took something with them to adorn their soul as well. You’ll find more photographs taken during the Artists’ Reception in The SVPA 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152519973960421.1073741905.636000420&type=1.

The School of Visual and Performing Arts is located in Stroudsburg, PA and has been instrumental in the creative development of its students for over 20 years. The facility holds classes in dance, ballet, and movement led by Diane Verdi, Paul Heeschen, and Kathy Kroll as well as classes in the theater arts led by Jazmin Ospa and Shellie Bransford. The school also offers a number of workshops with each focusing on a variety of creative disciplines. You can learn more about The School of Visual and Performing Arts by exploring their Website at www.schoolofvisualandperformingarts.org.

The exhibition titled, “Dog Days of Summer” will be on display in The School of Visual and Performing Arts until September 15th. Their next exhibit is titled, “Changing Seasons, Changing Scenes” with an Artists’ Reception scheduled for Saturday September 20th beginning at 6pm. The exhibit will continue to be on display until October 13th. All area artists are welcomed to participate by placing their work related to the theme in the exhibit.  The drop off dates are September 18th and 19th. Please contact Jody Singer at mountainsidearts@hotmail.com for more information.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Threading the Needle for The COTA Tapestry

The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) held its general meeting at The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA www.facebook.com/deerhead.inn on Monday August 11th to plan their 37th Annual Jazz and Arts Festival which is scheduled to be held September 5th - 7th. A great number of Jazz and Festival fans attended the meeting while sharing the anticipation of another year filled with the magic of the event. These included a number of newcomers to the meetings who were eager to serve the festival and all it brings to the community through their willingness to volunteer in the many opportunities the festival provides those who want to help.

The meeting began with the introduction of Constable Jeff Williams of the Delaware Water Gap Police Department. He was welcomed by the gathering and a great deal of the ensuing conversation with him related to the relationship the department and the festival has had in the past and will have during the upcoming event. As the conversation with Constable Williams concluded, it was announced Bob Widner will now be the new official COTA Photographer as David Coulter has left the position. It was also announced a birth of a child to one of the celebration’s longtime volunteers but I neglected to get their name. Still, I shared with the gathering their communal congratulatory expressions to the parent and child as well as to all who were mentioned.

In the commencement of making the final preparations for the festival, some upcoming activities were shared with the group. These included the annual clean up of the site by the members of this year’s COTA Cats who are high school students who receive special musical training by seasoned Jazz musicians and will perform during the festival as an orchestra. The date for the cleanup is set for Saturday August 17th and those who wish to join these hearty students are welcomed to do so.

It was also mentioned that the process of preparing other physical needs of the festival site such as placing fences around the ground’s perimeter and the raising the stage’s tarp is scheduled to begin Saturday August 23rd. The later often proves to be a spectacular event reminiscent of tent raising events provided by traveling circus in days of old. Those who wish to partake these hearty endeavors are also welcomed to do so.

Many more topics were shared and discussed until the meeting came to its conclusion. However, the adjournment did not vacate the Inn as many lingered in order to share more conversations about the festival and how their lives were in general. The next general meeting scheduled to be held at The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap will be on Tuesday August 26th beginning at 6:30pm. The public is invited and encouraged to attend this and all future meetings as all ideas are welcomed and opportunities to participate as volunteers are provided. You’ll find more photographs taken during the Monday August 11th meeting at The COTA Meetings 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152423759645421.1073741897.636000420&type=1.

The mission of The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) is to present and to support the art of jazz in all its forms and historical breadth through youth education, performing arts presentations, scholarship opportunities, and community outreach throughout the Pocono area. Please Explore The Celebration of the Arts Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/COTA-Celebration-Of-The-Arts/234094683405815, their Website at www.cotajazz.org, or by calling 570-424-2210 to learn how you can become a volunteer and to learn for more information all about COTA has to offer.

A Decade of Blues

The 10th Annual Bushkill Blues Festival took place at the Lehman Township Community Park located in Pike County, PA on Sunday August 10th. SheilaMark, Teddy Young and the Aces, and The Merchants of Groove performed throughout the beautiful Summer day which was enhanced by the serene atmosphere provided by the park’s natural setting. Although each band played an individual set, musicians from all three ensembles played together in support of each other and the wonderful music they shared a love in.

I arrived at the festival site as Teddy Young (the festival’s organizer) and the Aces were performing. I immediately became transfixed by their musical stylings as I endeavored to set up my folding chair in order to enjoy the day. Their melodic riffs and chord changes inspired a soothing sensation among the crowd while leading them through a journey in which each note served as a stepping stone to their soul. The band consisted of Teddy Young (who is considered a world-class guitar player and has toured extensively throughout North America) on vocals and guitar, Rob “Frog” Fenstermaker on Bass Guitar, and Neil Longo on drums.

Mark Hamza of SheilaMark was also on stage to lend his talents to the performance with the Hammond B3 Organ. During their set, Teddy Young and the Aces were joined by Sheila Stratton (also of SheilaMark) who lent her incredible vocals to a number of pieces adding a nuanced substance to each song her soulful phrasing blessed. You can learn more about Teddy Young and the Aces by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/Teddy-Young-and-the-Aces/276059545819671 and SheilaMark from their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/SheilaMark-Band/152690641429026.

A break ensued after the performance and I took advantage of the time to explore the natural surroundings of the park as well as to engage in some delightful conversations with the many Blues Lovers who populated the grounds. I thoroughly enjoyed the discoveries I encountered in the visual and verbal scenes I came upon. I met a number of festival goers by the food concessions set up by The Bushkill Outreach who were also offering raffle tickets and other items whose proceeds were gathered to provide food, clothing, and services to needy families in the Pike County, PA area. You can learn more about Bushkill Outreach and all they do to enhance the lives of those living in their community by exploring their Website at www.bushkilloutreach.org.

As the break come to a conclusion, The Merchants of Groove came on stage to fill the air with their kick ass rhythms that shook the crowd with their beats encouraging many to bop and weave their heads while listening with their entire being. During their set, the high octane nature of the majority of the songs they performed allowed a contrast to manifest itself when they occasioned to present more thoughtful pieces that spoke to the heart of each listener through the language of pathos. The Merchants of Groove consisted of Paul Lyon on vocals and guitar, Joey “Hotbox” Simon on harmonica, and Mike Basalyga on drums.  Rob “Frog” Fenstermaker remained on stage with his Bass Guitar as did Mark Hamza with the Hammond B3 Organ and Teddy Young with his Guitar. You can learn more about The Merchants of Groove by exploring their Facebook Page at www.Facebook.com/merchantsofgroove.

The day was filled with sights and sounds to wander and ponder as the magnificence of the 10th Annual Bushkill Blues brought a delight to all who were touched and enlivened by the music. Although I left before the festival was officially over, I could already tell the many who attended the event would be eagerly awaiting the 11th Annual Bushkill Blues Festival which will take place in 2015 when it’s final notes did arrive. I count myself among the eager many. You’ll find more photographs taken during the festival in The Bushkill Blues Festival 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152627620760421.1073741908.636000420&type=1.

The Annual Bushkill Blues Festival is a free event and is open to the public. It takes place in the Lehman Township Community Park which located on Winona Falls Road in Pike County, PA. The Festival was founded by Teddy Young and is sponsored by Lehman Township Supervisors John P. Sivick, Richard C. Vollmer, and Paul Menditto. You can learn more about The Annual Bushkill Blues Festival by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/BushkillBluesFestival.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

A Storm of Sculptures for UUFP

On the final day of July (which was Thursday the 31st), members and friends of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Poconos (UUFP) ventured out of the Pocono, PA area and into the Hudson Valley region of New York State in order to explore the magnificence of a Sculpture Park located at The Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, NY. Many of the company of adventurers met at the UUFP location in Stroudsburg, PA around the 8am hour to honor the environment by practicing the art of car pooling. From there, two car loads of thoughtful Unitarians and friends left for the communal destination with each traveling different routes while a third vehicle left the site in order to pick up additional friends and members from their homes.

The route of the car I was in led us upon the highways that traveled across the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. This route proved efficient in regards to the time it took to arrive at the destination during the early morning hours. However, a number of scenic vistas came to our attention and we were moved to stop at one in order to partake of its life enhancing beauty. After journeying through more areas filled with the sights of tremendous rivers, flourishing forests, and impressive rock formations, we eventually took the exit ramp in New York State that brought us even closer to our destination which led us to discover several small towns that shared their quaintness with our wandering eyes along the way.

As we arrived to our destination, we went through the entry gate and moved our vehicle to the north parking lot where UUFP members Barbara and Bob Harteis welcomed us with an adorned picnic table with a few culinary goodies in place for those who wished to replenish their energies as they prepared for the art filled treks they would soon experience. The remainder of our company arrived a few minutes later and, being indicative of the independent spirit Unitarians are noted for, the gathering instinctively divided into smaller groups and began their walking tour of the site. The experience would later prove to be an even more individualist one as conversations later in the day would reveal that the work each viewer encountered effected the soul and thoughts in very unique ways.

I was immediately impress with the vastness of the site. The rolling hills with their staggering steepness, the endless fields with their towering blades of grass, and the variety of forests with some protruding from the ground like islands in a grassy sea while others framed the picturesque scene with their wooded beauty enticed the exploring nature of the human soul to delve deeper into its natural majesty. In more common words, it was wow.

Throughout the park, a huge number of sculptures were waiting patently to be discovered. The enormous presence of these gigantic structures touched the imagination through their ability to reach so high into the heavens while blending seamlessly into the topography of the landscape. In fact, it was near impossible not to cultivate a desire to be lifted up upon their pinnacles in order to partake of the breathtaking sensations their intoxicating dimensions while simultaneously immersing oneself in the earthy hues they submerged themselves in. Along with the multitude of pieces on permanent display, there were a number of them which were presented as special exhibits for the park.

One these exhibits was titled, “Zhang Huan: Evoking Tradition” which featured the incredible peaceful work of Zhang Huan who began his career during the 1990s in Beijing, China where he created a body of work that was frequently politically engaging as it touched on issues such as poverty and personal freedoms. He moved to New York in 1998 and expanded his skills there until his return to China in 2005 inspired him to reconnect with the traditional elements of Chinese society. The gentleness and peace found in the country’s Buddhist faith is found throughout the work presented at The Storm King Art Center whose size of the pieces magnifies their serene qualities.

In addition to the structures presented as a special exhibition in the park along with some that will remain on permanent display at the Storm King Art Center, some relatively smaller works created by Zhang Huan was on display at the center’s Museum Building. These include ash sculptures which are crafted from incense ash gathered from Buddhist temples along with Marquettes (preliminary models), drawings, and video offering insights to the artist’s inspirations and creative process. The entire display will be presented at the center until November 9th. You can learn more about the artist and the display by exploring the special Storm King Art Center website at http://zhanghuan.stormking.org.

Another of The Storm King Art Center’s special exhibits that was on display is part of their yearly Outlooks Series and features the work of Virginia Overton. Ms. Overton lives in Brooklyn, NY and has exhibited her work throughout the world. Her untitled piece can be found in one of the Storm King Center’s hay fields and consists of a brass tube which is four inches in diameter and is elevated above the ground. The length of this installation is 500 feet and those who visit it are encouraged to speak into one end as another person would be able to hear what one says on the other end.

Virginia Overton is the second artist invited to participate in the center’s Outlooks series which invites emerging or mid-career artists who has demonstrated a particular facility and promise in working outdoors to create a temporary work of art specifically for The Storm King Art Center. The installation was organized by Nora Lawrence who is the center’s Associate Curator. The work will continue to be on display until November 30th. You can learn more about the artist and the display by exploring the special Storm King Art Center website at http://overton.stormking.org.

After touring the grounds and partaking a portion of what the center has to offer, the company of friends and members of the UUFP gathered at the picnic table to share a meal with one another. It consisted of a variety of nutritious delights which were as lovingly unique as the person who bought the delectable contribution to the pot luck cuisine. It was during this time a number of topics were explored relating to the esthetic discoveries of the day. This did much to feed the soul of those who shared in this meaningful conversation and ignited a desire to explore more of the grounds when the meal had concluded.

While some sought to venture once again upon the landscape on foot, many took advantage of the tram that the park offers its many visitors. The vehicle traveled over a great deal of the park’s vast areas but, in recognizing it could not realistically touch every area of the site’s offerings in any truly satisfying manner, the tram frequently stopped so those wishing to partake of a more intimate experience with both the art and the natural surroundings could freely do so. While many members and friends of the UUFP of disembarked from the tram at different times, I chose to explore the park after the meal by tram and remained on it until it returned to the point which I embarked upon it. My feet was tired.

I was pleased to see several more of the sculptured pieces than I did during my walking expedition of the park before returning to its picnic area. It was a while after this time did my friends and I gathered together so we could embark on our journey home. Thoughts of returning to this serene park over a more extended period of time filled my mind as in doing so I could explore the work presented more deeply and learn more of each pieces essence and all it has to share with me. In a reflection of our unexpressed communal desire to linger a little while longer with the discoveries of the day, we found a scenic overlook before leaving New York state from which we found ourselves further enchanted by the beauty encompassing the Hudson Valley Region. The experience of viewing the splendor of the rock formations and the river that flowed through them reinforced by desire to return and I most certainly will. You’ll find more photographs taken during the day’s event in The Special Events 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152230295395421.1073741876.636000420&type=1.

The Storm King Art Center is located near the town of Mountainville, NY which is in the Hudson Valley region of New York State. Its season of operation runs every Wednesday through Sunday from April until November. The center complements its permanent installation of sculpture with a variety of special exhibitions which include smaller works and supporting materials shown in the center’s Museum Building. Exhibitions include both works from Storm King’s permanent collection and loans from artists, private collectors, galleries, and museums. In addition to the sculptures they have on display, the center holds special events such as screenings of short films presented upon a screen erected upon it’s vast landscape, weekend Wanderings and Wonderings programs designed to provide a more imaginative exploration of Storm King, and their Annual Gala Dinner and Auction whose proceeds are gathered to support the park. You can learn more about The Storm King Art Center and all their offerings by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/StormKingArtCenter or their Website at www.stormking.org.

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Poconos (UUFP) is located in Stroudsburg, PA housing a congregation which strives to create a place where people can feel inspired to see, hear, and think in ways that deepen their understanding of life, themselves, and each other. The excursion to The Storm King Center was introduced to the fellowship by member David Learn and supported by members Barbara and Bob Harteis. Service are held every Sunday Morning at 10am and all are invited to attend. You can learn more information about the UUFP and all they offer the community by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/UnitarianUniversalistFellowshipOfThePoconos or their Website at www.uupoconos.org.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Having Launch with the Sistahs

On a seasonally warm Summer day, a celebration was held on Saturday July 26th to launch The Sistah Chat Radio Show which airs on 90.3 WESS FM as well as on a number of additional internet platforms. The event was held at the residence of P. K. Middleton and his wife Alicia LaRaine Jenkins Middleton (aka Madame Raine) who, along with Aixa Teendeen Reina (aka ASK AIXA), Deborah M. Cofer (aka Mama C), and Karlene Ferron (aka Queen Karlene), co hosts the program. A gathering of friends, neighbors, and family members filled the day with an overwhelming sensation of loving support which touched the soul of each person who shared a thoughtful conversation upon the home’s lawn and/or deck.

The day began for many of us with a tour conducted by Ms. Middleton of her family home’s interiors. The building proved to be a spacious one with a number of rooms elegantly adorned with a beauty reflecting the attributes of its occupants. It was during this visitation that a great love was felt by those who explored its halls and the rooms that where connected by them. It was soon sensed by the company that this love originated from a Divine Architect whose loving hands had made not only furnished the home with the love shared by those who live in it, but now had re arranged our hearts so we could be at home within them.

It was after this tour did the company moved outdoors to enjoy sharing an ongoing meal consisting of foods their fellow guests had bought along with the delicious Barbequed cuisine that was offered from the grill. Children joyfully dove into the above ground swimming pool and many were delighted by the sounds of their splashes and laughter. Music played throughout the day by DJ Darren Bam Bam Butler enhanced the conversation and moved many to communicate with one another and their spirits through the art of dance.

The event also served to celebrate Ms. Middleton’s son Ray Jenkins (aka Yung Shredda) www.facebook.com/YungShredda1 receiving a USA Student Ambassador Scholarship. He will be studying abroad in the Netherlands in the very near future. There were also floral arrangements provided by Soulful Touch Roses www.facebook.com/pages/Soulful-Touch-Roses/431682500116 as well as Tee Shirts with the letters “TWIM” on them which represented the words “The Wiz In Me” whose meaning reflect the recognition of the individual Divine nature and his/her ability Conceive, Believe, and Achieve wondrous and life changing things though love.

As the day progressed, the time grew near to commence the celebratory live recording of a segment of The Sistah Chat Radio Program titled, “A Healthier You.....Mind, Body, Soul.” The show began with some welcoming words given by Ms. Middleton followed by those filled with wisdom that was shared by Deborah M. Cofer (aka Mama C). Her words encouraged all who were fortunate enough to hear them to take care of themselves even when life demands more and more from us. She furthered reassured her listeners that one can live one day at a time and life is best lived if it isn’t lived all at once. “And,” she continued, “we must listen to our bodies to learn who we are.” It was during her talk when members of the audience came upon the deck to share their thoughts on the topic.

Ms. Cofer was followed by a musical performance given by a woman known as Substance www.facebook.com/hforr. The Rapper presented her song titled, “The Wiz In Me” from which to slogan found on the plentiful Tee Shirts were based upon. During her set, she invited those who were seated to dance to the music. A number of young people readily began to move their forms along with signs whose words encouraged those who read them to live their lives to the fullest. They were soon joined by a number of older audience members who shook it. It was after this performance concluded did Aixa Teendeen Reina (aka ASK AIXA) take the stage.

Ms. Reina shared her perceptions of the topic which included how one can take care of oneself by expanding their understanding of the world and those they share it with. She also talked at length about the nature of stress and how stress in itself doesn’t normally cause harm to our physical form but it is our interpretation of it that determines its effects. As Ms. Reina concluded her thoughts, Substance was then re introduced so she could speak of her life and how it was transformed when she rediscovered the power to change it.

 As Substance concluded her thoughts, Ms. Middleton took the stage to introduce Tracey Hanton to the gathering. She serves as a career counselor at the Community College of Philadelphia, PA and had been Ms. Middleton’s mentor. She spoke at length on the show’s topic as it reflected on her areas of expertise. She was followed by Karlene Ferron (aka Queen Karlene) who began to share her perceptions.

Ms. Ferron spoke of taking care of oneself by seeking support and having the courage to ask for help. She then introduced Sharone Glasco who spoke on the opportunities for women in the Monroe County area although the area isn’t very progressive in regards to recognizing what women can achieve. She also shared information on events regarding promoting the empowerment of women that will be happening soon and invited all to be a part of them. As her words concluded, Ms. Ferron took the stage to encourage those who listened to know their worth in all aspects in their life. Her words were followed by more motivational music provided by Substance in which a number of dancers came upon the deck to share their talents. Some members of the audience who were upon the lawn danced as well.

This was followed by a song sung by Alicia LaRaine Jenkins Middleton and her daughter Lema Jenkins. Its profound message touched the hearts of all who heard it. It was after this time did Ms. Middleton introduce Apostle Isaiah Lewis, Jr. to the gathering who shared his closing remarks. He spoke of how one can restore the soul by feeding it with the love of the Divine. He concluded his talk with a powerful song of faith.

It was at this time did Ms. Middleton conclude the show and shared her appreciation with all who were involved and supported it through their presence. She then invited all to extend the celebratory mood of the day by dancing to their heart’s content upon deck and to partake of the cake commemorating the launching of the show. This is something everyone was happy to do as the feelings created by the day enhanced each individual’s desire to live life to the fullest with the affirming tools given to them through the love demonstrated by the radio show and those who participated in it. You’ll find more photographs taken during the day’s event in The Special Events 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152230295395421.1073741876.636000420&type=1.

The Sistah Chat Radio Show is presented every Wednesday at 5pm on 90.3 WESS FM www.facebook.com/WESSradio which is a student run radio station that broadcasts out of The East Stroudsburg University of PA. The show has its origins in Deborah M. Cofer’s self-help book titled, “Sistah Power” which serves women and men who want to grow in positive ways in all areas of their lives. The show’s hosts are Alicia LaRaine Jenkins Middleton (aka Madame Raine) who has a Masters in Education Degree and is, along with her husband P. K. Middleton, Founder of A New Life Ministry, Inc. www.facebook.com/anewlifeministry located in Stroudsburg, PA, Deborah M. Cofer (aka Mama C) www.facebook.com/deborah.cofer who is Women’s Empowerment Specialist and an Author of a number of books which can be purchased through www.amazon.com, Aixa Teendeen Reina (aka ASK AIXA), and Dr. Karlene Ferron (aka Queen Karlene) who has a Ph. d and is a Psychotherapist, Educator, and Behavior Specialist Consultant. The program discusses a variety of topics focusing on those designed to educate, encourage, promote, and support women’s ability to live their lives with greater passion, purpose, power, and wisdom.

In addition to the broadcasts aired on 90.3 FM WESS, The Sistah Chat Radio Show can be accessed from the internet from the station’s streaming services at www.tunein.com/radio/WESS-903-s28605. The show can also be heard on Sunday mornings at 8am on www.blogtalkradio.com/sistahpowertalkradio. In addition to this, the show has a Youtube Channel which can be accessed from www.youtube.com/user/sistahchatchannel/feed. You can learn more about the show, how to listen to it, and all it has to offer by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/SistahChat90.3.

Zydeco and Rock N Roll at The Bookhouse

The Eastern Monroe Public Library in Stroudsburg, PA presented Peter Gumbo and The Hot Peppers on Friday July 25th as part of their 2014 Bookhouse Season. A sizable gathering filled the library’s community room as the instruments the musician would employ to bring a joy to their hearts stood patiently in the performance area for them. Conversations were heard throughout the room reflecting an excited anticipation of the evening’s offerings until a quietness fell upon them as the Library’s host, Linnae Cintron, took the stage to share her introductory remarks relating to the event and the library itself.

It was soon after her words concluded did Peter Gumbo and The Hot Peppers take the stage to express their appreciation to the Library and all who had come to hear them play. The trio who performed that evening were a part of a larger six person band titled, “Zydeco-a-Go-Go” www.facebook.com/pages/Zydeco-a-Go-Go/91226005977 and consisted of Pete Gumbo on accordion, piano, and vocals, Bob Holden on Drums and Vocals, and Bobby Michaels on Tenor Saxophone. The group began with their rendition of the Fats Domino’s Classic “Blueberry Hill” which brought an appreciative smile to many in the audience as the fond memories the song inspired could be seen in their eyes.

The performance moved onto more classic rock n roll and blues standards centering around those written by New Orleans composers from the 1950s and 60s. The trio spun each song like a 45rpm with their voices and musical phrasings which many had played upon their favorite record player. The repertoire of songs they presented from this era included a number of sing-along compositions which included an impromptu performance by an audience member who sang the song titled, “Chapel of Love” made famous by the group known as The Dixie Cups in 1964.

Those who joined in the singing of this and other songs found that the recollection of their lyrics brought a reclamation of youth whose sing song memories reflected upon the times they lived when they first heard the tune. Their voices were carried by the emotions they were touched by the joy and the bygone thoughts they seemed to had shared. Some were of the first car they ever drove while others were of the time they shared an ice cream soda with so long ago. Regardless of what memories were brought to the fore, their lingerings were heard in the thoughtful pauses they uttered between each note they sang.

In addition to the memorable tunes they performed from the 50s and 60s, Peter Gumbo and The Hot Peppers also rendered a number of lively Zydeco compositions. These inspired a great deal of toe tapping and hand clapping among the gathering. There were also a number of waltzes in keeping with the musical style that inspired some couples to move from their chairs so they could share a dance with one another. The concert concluded with the Bill Haley and the Comets’ classic “See You later, Alligator.”

However, the audience requested an encore which inspired the musicians to move among the audience who followed them in a joyous parade as they danced and clapped toward the song’s conclusion. A great deal of laughter and memories were shared during the concert whose effect lingered with many long after the very enjoyable performance ended. You’ll find more photographs taken during the concert in The EMPL 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152258038885421.1073741878.636000420&type=1.

The Eastern Monroe Public Library (aka The Hughes Library) Bookhouse Series takes place in the Edinger Community Room which is located on N. 9th Street (aka route 611) in Stroudsburg, PA. The Hughes Library is the main branch of the Monroe County, PA library system which includes their Pocono Township Branch in Tannersville, PA and their Smithfield’s Branch in Marshalls Creek, PA. The library offers access to numerous books, DVDs, Audio Recordings, and cultural programs free to the public. The library’s BookHouse series is part of its cultural programming designed to provide a venue for literary and musical events which are outside of the commercial and literary mainstream.

The next program in The Eastern Monroe Public Library 2014 Bookhouse Series will feature Mustard’s Retreat www.facebook.com/mustardsretreat on Friday September 19th beginning at 7:30pm with the doors opening at 7pm. Admission to the event is free, but donations would be gratefully accepted. Refreshments will also be available for a small charge. Please Contact Linnae Cintron at 570-421-0800 x28 or explore The Eastern Monroe Public Library Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/EasternMonroePublicLibrary?ref=ts&fref=ts to learn more information about the library, their Bookhouse series, and all the institution has to offer the community.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Panty of Sax, Glitterus, Baby Names, and Jerry Fels at 84

On Friday July 18th, a porch full of friends were gathered outside the Stroudsburg, PA apartment (numbered 84) inhabited by Rebekah La Loi and Bobby Propst who, along with their pets, books, and an everlasting love for music and each other, presented a house concert. I entered the home and traveled up through its stairway corridor to found another gathering of friends relaxing in conversation with Rebekah in their living room as they awaited the arrival of other guests who shared a desire to partake of the evening’s festivities. These festivities included performances given by Jerry Fels and the Jerry Fels www.facebook.com/jerryfelsandthejerryfels, Emily Elizabeth, Baby Names (aka Andy Brooks) www.facebook.com/BabyNamesMusical, and the newly formed group known as “Glitterus” www.facebook.com/glitterusband. The passage of time filled the apartment with a sizable audience whose love for the camaraderie they immediately experienced collectively beckoned the musicians to share their talents with them.

The first to answer this clarion call was Jerry Fels of Jerry Fels and the Jerry Fels whose keyboard, guitar, and ankle tambourine lent their musical qualities to a series of compositions that filled the minds of all who listened to their nuances. An ocean of subconscious dewdrops whose ephemeral connections led to the creation of everlasting currents which flowed throughout the room on a tide of delightfully bemused laughter. While many were content to have their perceptions expanded by the music the solo performer as they were comfortably seated upon the furnishings and floor the apartment afforded them, some were spontaneously moved to manifest the internal truths they found within the songs he sang through the art of dance. This sight delighted the audience as evident in the numerous conversations that were shared about that and the intricacies of Mr. Fels’ performance during the break which occurred after its completion.

After the break, Jazz Saxophonist Emily Elizabeth took the stage and proceeded to share a number of Jazz standards with the gathering. Their melodies soothed the company with their vibrational charm as they flowed through the spirit of the instrument. Although the dreams of each composition originated with the composer, their soulful manifestations were brought to the fore through the deft musical skill of Ms. Elizabeth whose gentle phrasing and interpretation of each piece inspired a conversation to take place between each listener and the musical imaginings he/she experienced. This conversation was evolved to a more animated state as the performance concluded and many sought to explore their new found love for the art of Saxophonic Jazz and all of its nuanced qualities.

It was after this break filled with questions and discoveries did Baby Names (aka Andy Brooks) take the stage. After it was revealed Mr. Brooks had traveled from Boston, MA to share his talents with the gathering, he took his guitar in hand and began his set with a series of songs whose simple qualities soon lured the audience deeper into their essential elements through their hypnotic complexities until they joyfully found themselves in synch within each song’s communicative lyrics, chords, and rhythms. Mr. Brooks then changed the direction of his performance as he introduced his laptop computer to the session which contained a number of songs giving the later part of his set a karaoke fragrance to it. This pleased the crowd as the hip hop melodies flowed among the company leading to a number of rhythmic sways of delighted heads. After the conclusion of Mr. Brook’s performance and a break, the newly formed group known as “Glitterus” made their debut upon the stage.

On their Facebook Page, Glitterus claims to be “an all girl band from the planet glamtron” who occasionally lands on planets such as Earth to have fun. No qualified astronomers were present to dispute such assertions so their validity remained unquestioned. This was, however, until the music began and all doubt was removed. The group consists of Adolf Glittler (aka Zeke Cats) on vocals, guitar, ukulele, violin, and other forms of technology, Ambrosia Salad (aka Jamber Ade) on vocals, trumpet, keyboard, and theremin, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang (aka Katherine Freeman) on vocals, bass, accordion, and whistles, and zsa zsa BOOM unit (aka Renee Dee Moonunit) on vocals and percussion. They immediately conquered the inhabitants of the planet as represented in the room through their endearing attire which embodied an eclectic array of adornments including pirate hats, multidimensional eye wear, and feathered boas along with a clothes line filled with panties with the word, “Glitterus” printed upon them in glitter which served as their back drop.

After opening the cerebral centers of the interpretive mind through a series of conscious altering sounds reflecting the culture of their home planet, Glitterus soon moved into the musical realm of performance art that engaged and challenged the senses like a Russ Meyer Beach Party film starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello as produced at Andy Warhol’s Factory. The performance fascinated and delighted the audience as the multiplicity of allusions to popular culture and their transformative perceptions of it proved to be beyond entertaining. The performance concluded with an invitation to those present to be fitted with the panties that hung upon the line and have their photograph taken. Many accepted the invitation and gladly became models in order to enhance intergalactic relations.

A series of farewells spread throughout the apartment after the modeling session. The company of friends created throughout the evening made their way through the halls, down the stairs, and onto the outside porch where numerous conversations filled the night air. However, within the kitchen area of the abode, Bobby and Rebekah was found exploring a song together. The manner in which the individual creative approaches of the two artists combined to discover the intricacies of a song proved to be very insightful to the musicians who were present to witness the collaboration. However, as a non musician, all I saw was love. You’ll be able to find more photographs taken during the Friday July 18th house concert in The House Music 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152300688790421.1073741887.636000420&type=1.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

COTA Begins to Begin

The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) held its general meeting at The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA www.facebook.com/deerhead.inn on Monday July 14th to plan their 37th Annual Jazz and Arts Festival which is scheduled to be held September 5th - 7th. The day of the meeting proved to be a meteorological dreary one filled with rain and dark clouds. However, this did not dissuade the sizable gathering of friends to leave their abodes and venture out so they may partake of an opportunity to share their love for the festival and in the friendships they developed during its many years with one another.

As those in attendance began to take their seats prior to the meeting commencing, Board member, Christine Trembly, presented the company with several large bags of snacks to be shared and enjoyed. She gave me a bag of “Himalayan Popcorn” to open which I found difficult to do so. Throughout the process I asked myself if my attempts to open the bag was destined to become an Abominable failure to which I resiliently responded “Not Yeti.” Once I did open the bag, I felt a certain sense of machismo in accomplishing the task. Yeah.

It was shortly after I had discreetly flexed my flabby muscles for my own gratification did Ms. Trembly bring the meeting to order. A great many topics were discussed which were very important ones to address. However, many of them didn’t seem as significant to me as the fact that many of the issues address signified the time to end the planning stage for the festival had begun and the final preparation which will lead to the event creating new memories for those who are fortunate enough to attend it in September will soon begin. This observation was supported by the fact of the monthly meetings will begin their bi monthly schedule later in July which indicates even more time will be dedicated in assuring the 2014 festival will be a memorable one.

Beyond those topics relating to the near final completion ones, sharings regarding COTA collaborative endeavors with Main Street Jukebox www.facebook.com/mainstjukebox?ref=br_tf which is located in Stroudsburg, PA and the encouraging results of having a presence at the recent Delaware Water Gap’s Founder’s Day Celebration were offered to an enthusiastic crowd. The announcement of the upcoming Camp Jazz brought about further excitement from the gathering as it is scheduled to begin Monday July 21st with numerous workshops and opportunities for the young people who will attend it to explore and enhance their love for the musical form. There will also be opportunities for those who would enjoy experiencing these Jazz Campers newly found proficiencies in the art through a series of free noontime concerts held at The Deer Head Inn during the week along with a special concert given at The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain www.facebook.com/pages/Presbyterian-Church-of-the-Mountain/234593743269661 as part of the church’s Summer Gazebo Concert Series on the last day of the camp which is Sunday July 27th.

Many more topics were shared and discussed until the meeting came to its conclusion. However, the adjournment did not vacate the Inn as many lingered in order to share more conversations about the festival and how their lives were in general. The next general meeting scheduled to be held at The Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap will be on Monday July 28th beginning at 6:30pm. The public is invited and encouraged to attend this and all future meetings as all ideas are welcomed and opportunities to participate as volunteers are provided. You’ll find more photographs taken during the Monday July 14th meeting at The COTA Meetings 2014 Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152423759645421.1073741897.636000420&type=1.

The mission of The Celebration of the Arts (COTA) is to present and to support the art of jazz in all its forms and historical breadth through youth education, performing arts presentations, scholarship opportunities, and community outreach throughout the Pocono area. Please Explore The Celebration of the Arts Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/COTA-Celebration-Of-The-Arts/234094683405815, their Website at www.cotajazz.org, or by calling 570-424-2210 to learn how you can become a volunteer and to learn for more information all about COTA has to offer.