Tag Archives: bloomington


Fatted Calf Stringband cover

Fatted Calf Stringband cover

I finally went to TD’s today, on a get-up-and-stretch break from doing homework at Soma. I walked out with 5 CDs for about $30, a couple used, and a couple brand new. Happy day.

The one I couldn’t wait to pop in and listen to was Fatted Calf Stringband. I just heard of the band about a week ago, that they sometimes played squaredances. I am not a squaredancer, but I do like strings! So when I saw the CD, I took a look. The first thing I do when picking out music is look at the album art and track names, but this simple, embossed cardboard cover didn’t say anything but “Fatted Calf Stringband.” It was also the most expensive of all the CDs I had in my hand at that moment (but still only $10!). What made me buy it? Well… 1) it’s local music 2) it’s strings and 3) the minimalistic, uninformative cover had red stars on it. I’m a sailor. I like red stars. If it had had one red star on the left and one green star on the right (red for port, green for starboard), I would’ve paid more than $10 for it, but then I would have expected sea chanteys. So the two red stars are perfect. (Your homework: Look for green 5-point stars. They are extremely hard to find. Scrapbooking supplies, rubber stamps, iron-on patches… stars come in red, white, blue, gold, silver, and sometimes white. No green. What does the world have against starboard?)

Anyway, I bought the thing, carefully unwrapped it, and pulled out the single-sheet insert. I didn’t recognize any of the track names. The straight-to-the-point liner notes say: “Recorded in one day with one mic by Mike Bridavsky at Russian Recording, Bloomington, Indiana. The Fatted Calf Stringband is: Brad Baute fiddle/guitar Joel Lensch fiddle/guitar Alex Mann bass Chris Mattingly banjo.” Just “one day.” Not which day, which year, etc. Just “one day… in Bloomington, Indiana.” I like it.

So how does it sound? It sounds like a fantastic sampler of a band you really want to see live. This isn’t surprising, given the genre. This is music that is meant to be seen, heard, and experienced. It’s best with a little give and take, a little audience interaction. For now it’s a substitute for “the real thing,” great for a work day you just can’t escape or a drive in the car.
To discover more of Fatted Calf, including streaming audio, check out their Myspace page


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The "Outsider Art" of Peter Gullerud

I once took a touristy picture for a man in Seattle, and as he shook my hand, he introduced himself the Japanese Ambassador to the United States. It was a staggering moment. I have also seen Tom Cruise in the flesh, and once I received a note from Johnny Depp. These are all “storybook” people to me, and these were all story book interactions, with no real sense of connection.

Recently my favorite character stepped outside the story book, and when I heard his voice and his sweet, nervous giggle, I realized that he is just another inquisitive soul, wandering through life with eyes wide open, looking for ways to express what he sees and loves. His name is Peter Gullerud.

I spent a day in the fall of 2002 painting with my friend Julie, and she looked at my painting and said “It reminds me a little of Gullerud.” I said, “who?” I didn’t remember that name from ANY of my art classes, books, museums… And yet she seemed shocked and horrified at my ignorance. Later that day I Googled “Gullerud” and discovered everything I wanted my art to be: varied, intense, yet at ease; imaginative, soulful, vibrant, at times simple & understated, detailed, expressive… something that just flowed, without hesitation or doubt.

I started a small collection of whatever of his art I could afford. Small pieces: pen & ink drawings, Prismacolor, even some pencil drawings. I’ve gathered mostly things of a gestural and not finely finished nature. For the past seven years I have adored Peter Gullerud’s “Insider-Outsider” art, and have at times, I must admit, passed on that shocked, disdainful, “What do you mean you’ve never heard of him?” look that Julie gave me that day.

Discover Pete’s Art

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Does Bloomington Really Bloom?

Today is the first day of Spring in Bloomington, Indiana. Yes, I’m aware that there are officially two more weeks of winter, but when it’s 60 degrees at 10 am and people all over town are wearing flip-flops and capris, I’m going to call it Spring.

If that’s not enough to dispel your doubts, here’s the real clincher: today I saw the first Spring flowers in bloom: crocuses. I felt like the guy in the Norman Rockwell painting, pointing and shouting. Suddenly I realized that I’ve never seen a Bloomington Spring. My first taste of the town was in late August last year, and there were still some flowers around. We were even able to find hydrangeas for our late-September wedding. But I’ve heard rumors that this place really lives up to its name and does indeed become a “blooming town” when the season is right. I think this may be just what I need to recover from the bitter cold of my first midwest winter. It’s something to look forward to.

Crocuses peeking through the snow

Crocuses peeking through the snow

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