(June 11, 2012) RICHMOND, VA — Today was a laid-back day. Maybe the most relaxed day of the tour so far. It started on that lovely porch you see above, which is where I made today’s episode of The Jazz Session, featuring Barry Kernfeld. Today’s show is a perfect example of the kind of interview that only happened because I went on this tour.
I’ve been going to State College, PA, for nearly two decades, starting in 1995. It’s where my former wife spent a lot of her childhood and where her family still lives. And now my children live there, too, so I go as often as I can to hang out with them. For all the years I’ve been going there, Barry Kernfeld, the editor of the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, has been living right in the same town and I never knew.
I wouldn’t have known this time, either, except that through a strange chain of events I ended up staying with a guy who works at Penn State and also directs local musical theater productions, in which Barry plays saxophone. It was this man, Russell Bloom, who told me that Barry was right down the street and gave me his number. For the rest of the story — and a look at Barry’s fascinating life — you can listen to the show.
After producing the show, I went with drummer Scott Clark to have some Thai food. Then Scott brought me to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which is breathtaking. The permanent collection alone is very impressive. I particularly enjoyed the South Asian art exhibit, which contained some very old Buddhist and Jain sculpture.
The museum is also hosting a traveling exhibit of artwork and artifacts from the maharajas of India. I saw about half of the exhibit and was captivated by it. I’d like to go back if I have time before I leave town.
I futzed around in a coffee shop for a while. The barista gave me the lowdown on some of her favorite vegan places in town. I also finished Ghost Trails, the first book by adventure cyclist Jill Homer. Reading her stories of riding the Iditarod in winter on a bike and having to dig a trench in the snow around her sleeping bag so she wouldn’t die … let’s just say those stories really put a late bus into perspective.
I also stopped by Chop Suey Books, site of my poetry reading Tuesday, June 12 at 6 p.m. If you’re anywhere near Richmond please come by. It’s a lot more fun to read for a room full of people. And I’d love to meet you!
The rest of the day was extraordinarily relaxed. In fact, I spent most of it sitting on a stoop and alternately reading a book or writing a love poem. If you know me at all, you’ll know the latter is a fairly common activity for me. Speaking of poetry, I also posted a poem that I wrote on my first night in Richmond. It’s called “eat at joe’s” and will probably be the first poem I read at Chop Suey.
And that’s about it. Other than arranging some things for future tour stops, that was my day.
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