Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Bela Fleck" or "An Omaha Trip Worth Taking"

I first heard of Bela Fleck in 2001, and it was really through the Flecktones bassist, Victor Wooten, that my fascination with Fleck began. Since then, I've ended up with three different Flecktones albums (Left of Cool, Little Worlds, and The Hidden Land), the Live at the Quick dvd, and given his albums as gifts. During a summer while I was in Colorado, the Flecktones came to the Rococo Theatre in Lincoln. Since then, I've waited and hoped for the time Bela Fleck would return to the area.

I'm tired of driving to Omaha. For anyone who knows me and knows about my Christmas/New Year treks to Omaha, I've become so tired of driving back and forth, putting hundreds of miles on my car, and spending hours of of life listening to music or not (this part can be pretty worthwhile).

Finally, Bela Fleck returned to the area. And finally, I was all too happy to journey to Omaha. It snowed the afternoon before I went, and I worried for a bit that I may be in for a longer journey than I had bargained for. However, the drive went splendidly and I got to talk tot my brother in Guam for over an hour (only the third conversation we've had since he left last summer).

The Holland Performing Arts Center itself was worth the drive. The hall was absolutely beautiful, and I could have sat and stared around for a long time. Design of such places intrigues me and brings me thoughts of the eternal. My brain drifted often to the thought of God's throne room. If people could create such a fantastic place, how much more magnificent will Heaven be?

I sat on the ground floor next to a couple on a first or nearly-first date. She was nice. He seemed like a tool. "I've been to almost every major city in the country," I heard him say. Who cares? Anyhow, when he left to go to the restroom, I talk with her for a while. She was from Kansas City and had never heard of Bela Fleck. "What brings a person from Kansas City to see a banjo player they've never heard of?" She enjoyed her evening, though, and said that it was worth the trip.

And worth it it was. I could feel myself getting a sore throat while I was there, and I was ill the following two days. Worth it.

After the show, I got to meet Bela. He's a cool guy. I had nothing for him to sign, and at first, I didn't much care. I'm not too into getting a signature if I get to meet the person. But as I stood in line, waiting my time with the Banjo King, I became self-conscious. Nothing for him to sign. Would he care? Probably not, but what if? With a very nice lady holding my place in line, I ducked out and ran to the merchandise table and bought more than I needed. I figured, if I'm going to have him sign something, he shall sign many things. I almost kept buying because I wouldn't mind getting my hands on the documentary. But I was spending up to 50 bucks, and that's more than I wanted. He signed them happily, thanked me for coming out. Earlier in the evening I had thought, "I wonder if he has ever dabbled in the idea of producing a crazy banjo gospel project." So I asked him. "That could be pretty cool," he said. "I could get a gospel quartet together and that would sound really cool." So I claim it now: if it happens, I told him to.

The drive home was accompanied by Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba. It was the best drive from Omaha I've probably ever had. My senses were tingling from the show, my mind sharp and alert. I've never been one for concerts (much to my wife's dismay), but seeing Bela Fleck along with such brilliant musicians makes me eager to see more and more shows. My standard now is exceedingly high, with the likes of Trace Bundy being one of few who will satisfy my musical performance hunger, but I am more on the look out for quality, unfamiliar sounds to sate my musical nature.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Beginning next school year, I officially get to teach a pop culture class. I taught such as a class while I was a student teacher a couple of years ago. Right now, I am unofficially teaching the class under a "General Literature" title. As I'm working my way through things on a trial run, I've come up against a notion that bothers me a bit: how should a Pop Culture class be taught to make sure that it isn't a history class. When I worked with the class before, it was just a smidge away from a history class (and an awesome one at that) that started with a 1950s culture and proceeded through the decades to examine how our culture came to be what it is. But for me and my stylings, I feel the need to firmly establish it as an English class.

My ideas came slowly over the past few weeks and started taking root over the weekend. It will take a load of work on my part, but my plan is as follows:

Our culture is several things. Our is a culture of fear, a culture of youth, a culture of infatuation. Culture can be dissected into several themes, each with a history to back it up. A culture of civil injustice. A culture of music. A culture of rebellion. A culture of media.

I want to establish units around a certain type of culture that has at one point or another made a significant impact on our culture as a whole.

I ask you, oh awesome reader, to add any other cultures you can think of for such a class.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

An Interesting Issue of Privacy

I like producing material. I enjoy writing because I enjoy the thought of people reading what I have to say. Since the creation of this page, I have been thrilled with every new person that mentions that they've read it, and even when my best friends talk to me about my blog, my heart beats a little bit faster with the knowledge that my words are not sucked into the internet as light into a black hole.

This lead to self-promotion, slight as it may have been. And with Twitter and now Tumblr, I can write something that is immediately published in two or three places, spreading my written word round the web. Has it become too much. I've felt several times now the urge to write something down, post it, wait to see if anybody shares similar thoughts or if inspiration reaches through them and jerks on the chords of their heart. But my hands stay, hovering over the keys. Though most of the people reading such things would look upon it in interest, I know where my sphere of influence reaches, and in the depths of Facebook, family and fellow church members await my proclamations, and I find that I've worked myself into a corner that requires my censorship. I've spent the time wanting to have my words accessible, not to be read and revered, but noticed. Now, when I am capable of tossing thoughts like kittens in a cotton factory, I worry who will walk in and find me.