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September 25, 2003
The past week has been a whirlwind for us, packing in what might normally comprise a few month's worth of social, cultural and semi-cultural activities. Here's the rundown:

It all started peacefully enough on Friday, with friends out here at the Pedernales Palace for dinner. Of course, the preparations for our friends' arrival might have been considered by some to be not so peaceful (even a tad on the frantic side), but it was actually a calmer, slightly subdued version of Annie's red tornado act.

Then, early Saturday, we lit out for Zilker Park for the second day of the second annual Austin City Limits Music Festival. It was a gas, near-perfect in every respect. Yes, we got rained-on but who cared?
Wide shot of  South Austin Jug Band We were delighted by how smoothly the mechanics ran - moving, feeding and tending to the other needs of 50,000 people. We quickly got a spot in one of the designated parking garages, hopped on a shuttle bus and, after a brief bus tour of downtown Austin (something we otherwise would never do), arrived at the Festival gate. We quickly passed through, were cheerily greeted by one of the hoarde of volunteer age-checkers, and handed our wristbands that made us eligible for alcohol. Then we sat down under one of the rare, Festival grounds trees and plotted our course. First stop - the noon concert by the South Austin Jug Band at the Heineken stage (right next to the Heineken tent).
These young guys are pretty cute, playing that hybrid bluegrass with age-belying virtuosity. This being my first time seeing them, I can't say it's a chronic condition, but my rhythmic sense was offended. They seemed to be having a hard time playing together. Seemed like the fiddler (not shown here) generally wanted to play faster than the others and that the bass player wanted to drag the tempo from time to time. Great musicianship all around, though, just not gelled as a group. Hopefully it was an abberation caused by the way-too-early-for-musicians start time. I'll have to give them another chance. Medium shot of South Austin Jug Band
South Austin Jug Band with dancers They did get the kids up and dancing though, and that's a very good thing.
After hanging with the young Turks, we moved clear across the grounds to the Cingular stage (one of the 2 big ones) for the old pros - Asleep at the Wheel. I don't think these guys ever do a bad show but this one was outstanding. Wide shot of Asleep at the Wheel
Medium shot of Asleep at the Wheel Old Ray was in fine, basso-profundo voice and they were hot, knockin' out a great mix of the old standards with the new. Can't say I liked a couple of the new, schmaltzy tunes but the crowd went wild for the whole enchilada.
This is how most of the crowd watched the concert. We watched it on these large projection screens and were most appreciative for their presence. Getting to see such a bold, bright video image in broad daylight is nothing short of miraculous. Some of you might know that I was there, running a camera, the first time (at least I think it was the first time) this was tried. It was the Woodstock Festival, in 1969. The projector was a half million dollar Eidophor. It was a monstrous thing that required two technicians constantly tweaking and nursing in an effort to keep the beast running. Then, we only got to do 4 sets of projected video before the screen came down in the rain. We have come a long way, baby. Medium sshot of video screen with Ray Benson
Bells of Joy get the crowd dancing Next, we moved over to the American Heritage tent for my favorite local gospel group, the Bells of Joy. These guys have been at it for a mighty long time. They had a million seller record (the first for a Black gospel group) back in 1951. 1951? Were you alive then? I was 7. This, my friends, is staying power. And these old gents are the real deal. They have the spirit, and the power to get a bunch of white kids up outa their seats and feeling the energy down to their feets.
And they got the spirit, too, raising their arms in that "praise the lord" gesture. I was almost moved to shout "hallelujah" myself and I'm a confirmed atheist. Bells of Joy get the crowd's arms up
Nickel Creek tear the place up

Revived, we now had serious appetites and had to partake of 5 of the hundreds of different treats that were offered for sale by an eclectic collection of restaurants who had set up booths. These were no run of the mill restaurants either. Among the many were Hudsons on the Bend, Satay, Jazz Louisiana Kitchen, Amy's Ice Cream (gotta stop, getting too hungry).

After lunch, it was time for Nickel Creek. This group was my main reason for attending the festival. It's a bluegrass configuration and they play it as well as I've heard it played. But they also stretch the borders out into several harder to define realms. These kids are hot. I believe I saw smoke coming from the mandolin player's instrument. Mindblowing!

Here he is on the big screen. See the smoke? Nickel Creek mandolin player on the big screen
Pink Floyd's pig

Last act of the evening was String Cheese Incident - heirs to the Grateful Dead's jam band legacy. Their set began in total darkness. First, on the screen was documentary footage of a giant inflatable pig being launched. This was followed by a bit from the Simpsons at a Pink Floyd concert, where the pig was used. Then, follow spots started sweeping the sky while the first chords of "Another Brick in the Wall" came from the speaker stacks. And then it appeared, Pink Floyd's pig, in the flesh (or nylon, whatever). The thing is enormous (did I read 60'?). A crew floated it around the outside of the crowd while the band played. It was a stupendous beginning to a terrific set. We left high as a kite without a drug in sight. Great festival! We'll be back.

Sunday afternoon, our friend Philippe Klinefelter (gesticulating skyward) had a studio showing of some work he had just completed and was about to deliver to the person who commissioned it. Philippe is a sculptor and often works on a large scale. These were some of his smaller pieces. Philippe Klinefelter gesticulating
Sculpture against an array of tools

While I love Philippe's work, I am just as fascinated by his studio. I guess I am just a sucker for tools, and so is Philippe. In fact, in addition to all these practical, everyday tools that he uses, Philippe has an amazing collection of ancient Mayan stone tools - gorgeous.

Here's a close look at one of the panels. This series is abstracted relief granite carvings of native Texas medicinal plants. I don't know what this is supposed to represent. I just like the shapes and textures. Close view of native plant sculpture
Table and colorful background

The most impressive piece in this collection was this table, made from a huge, ancient, single slab of an unknown hardwood that was imported from Bali.

Here's another view. That is one piece of wood. Spectacular, eh? Table and people
Tickets to "The Graduate"

After Philippe's show, we zoomed over to the UT Bass Concert Hall for an evening of theataahh. It was the touring company of "The Graduate" with ex Jagger, Jerry Hall. Sorry to say it was a big disappointment. The set was interesting but often too big for the intimate scenes. The lighting was terrific. That's all the good stuff. I won't bore you with the bad. Suffice to say that Jerry was stiff as a board and the rest of the cast wasn't too great either. Transitioning from the screen to the stage is tough for any script but this one was done especially poorly. Boo hoo, we were looking forward to something cool since we so rarely get out.

Last but never least, on Tuesday, I visited my brilliant and talented grandson, Zac, at Gullett Elementary School, where he is in kindergarten. His teacher is terrific and does many interesting things, not the least of which is having the kids grow a garden. Zac's class in their garden
Zac points to his plants

Here, Zac excitedly points out the plants that he has planted.

And here he is with the school's tom turkey. They have a whole big cage full of birds right outside Zac's classroom. A very rich environment, indeed. Zac and turkey

And, as is my routine, for those of you who have not yet gotten enough, here are links to former postings of the Pedernales Post and other sites of potential interest:

The August 30, 2003, "Persimmon" issue of the Pedernales Post
The August 9th, 2003 Pedernales Post on the Austin Anti-Redistricting Rally
The May 18th, 2003 edition of the Pedernales Post, the Big Bend and wildflowers post

An Austin peace march in the February, 2003 edition of the Pedernales Post
Our NY trip and Mary Jo Freeman (Annie's mom) Memorial in the October, 2002 edition of the Pedernales Post
The July, 2002 edition of the Pedernales Post, focusing on the July 6th flood
The June, 2002edition of the Pedernales Post - "What's New in the Neighborhood"
The April, 2002 (and inaugural) edition of same, highlighting the old garden, river & Zac
The world-renowned pictures of our house
The Susan Lee Solar Memorial site
The Century Management site that we have built and maintain
The grandparents' (potentially annoying to others) pictures of our grandson Zac
And, last but not least, our own Aim Productions site

All digital photos and text by Ric Sternberg. © 2003 Ric Sternberg. All rights reserved.