Letter to my Tailgater

Dear Tailgater:

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed me here on the road right in front of you. I know I’m driving a car much smaller than yours, but I do have my lights on, so surely you see me? Speaking of lights, do you have your hi-beams on, or is it just that you’re so @*&#ing close?! Oh sorry, am I holding you up? I guess I’m only doing the speed limit; that must really suck for you. What the…?! Oh man, I wouldn’t do that if I were you! Passing on a double solid line on this stretch of road? Don’t you know the cops are always sitting at the bottom of this hill? Geez, you must be doing 120! Oh, I see, you’re from Ontario… Listen man, you should trust the native drivers – we actually know what we’re d… Oh shit, see those flashing lights? Yeah, that’s a cop car – we’ve got those here too – uh, I think it’s a little too late to slam on your brakes. Yep, you’re busted. Bummer. Then again, with an SUV that size, you’re probably not too worried about a li’l ol’ ticket – a drop in the bucket compared to how much it must cost you to run that thing, eh? Hopefully they won’t take off too many points though. Hey, my turn to pass you! See you later! Maybe you’ll catch up again a little further down the road – then again, I might be home by the time you’re done here. Say Hi to Officer Bob for me!

Damn Island Driver

Posted in Life on PEI | Leave a comment

Royal Tandoor

When the Royal Tandoor opened in Charlottetown last summer I was VERY excited. Finally, an Indian buffet in PEI. I went twice a week, between Anne shows on double days. Over the winter I only ended up going a few times, and the last few were rather disappointing. Reasons included:
1) food not heated up enough – I don’t know whether it had just come out of the fridge, or whether the food warmers just weren’t turned up high enough.
2) food sometimes dried out – hard crunchy rice, and food with a dried out layer on top – not very appetizing.
3) food not up to its former quality – flavours were off somehow – I occasionally didn’t go back for seconds – that says a lot!
4) fewer vegan options – sometimes I would only be able to have one of the vegetarian dishes because most of them were cream based or contained cheese.

So, after avoiding the place for a while, I finally gave it another chance today, and I am happy to report that things seem to be back to normal. They have a new chef, and the food was fresh, very tasty, heated properly, and I was able to eat all 4 vegetarian dishes. Only further visits will tell for sure, but I am optimistic that the Royal Tandoor has returned to its former glory.

I must also mention that the buffet is now available only at lunch time ($8.99), and supper is now a la carte.

Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment

Subterranean Summer Reading Club

The orchestra started rehearsals for the Charlottetown Festival last Thursday, and we were thrown straight into the fire – a gruelling 7 rehearsals in 3 days. And just so things wouldn’t get stale, we had our first show on Monday. Just like that we are in full swing. Aside from the weekly paycheque, the greatest thing about starting up a new summer season in the orchestra pit is that I can finally get some reading done! Which means, dear reader, that you will finally see some action in my “Currently reading” sidebar. Along with getting to a few books that have been on the back burner for a while, I will be catching up on all the magazines that came through the door over the winter.

Now before you start imagining that I must have very little to play in the shows, let me assure you that I earn my pay. Anne of Green Gables-The Musical is full of notes (some of them quite challenging!), but we do get breaks while they yak about stuff on stage, and during my 17 years playing in Anne, I have honed my peripheral awareness skills to the point where I can drop my book in my lap, pick up the trombone and start playing, all in a heartbeat and right on cue. And while Anne is rich in music, it is also rich in dialogue, leaving me with enough breaks to actually be able to tackle some fairly substantial reading. Two summers ago I managed to read The Hobbit and the complete Lord of the Rings trilogy, and still had time for some Far Side collections! Stay tuned here to see what’s on my Pit Reading List this summer.

And since we’re on the topic of the Charlottetown Festival – If the audiences’ reactions the last two nights are any indication, it seems that British Invasion! is going to be a huge hit this summer. The sets and costumes are amazing, the tunes are great, the cast is fantastic – I think it is even better than Canada Rocks! If you enjoyed that, then you are in for a treat with British Invasion! Mick Jagger’s antics alone are worth the price of admission. Then again, how would I know? I’m too busy reading in the pit!

Posted in Books, Stories from the Stage | 2 Comments

Distress in Desable

It is almost a perfect day today – sunny but not too hot, with a nice breeze to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Almost perfect, except that the pleasant chirping of birds is being punctuated by the sound of fake gunshots created by some stupid machine placed by a local farmer in his field to scare away the crows or raccoons or something. How stupid does he think they are?

So much for peace and tranquility in our woodland refuge.

Farmer Featherbrain started using his “gunshot machine” a few years ago, and some of the neighbours registered complaints about it. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could be done – although it is extremely annoying, it does not exceed the decibel level allowed by noise bylaws. So, all we can do is put up with it and curse him under our breath. I suppose we should be grateful that he’s not starting it up at 5:00 AM anymore. After a couple of mornings of that, one of our neighbours would go over and shut it off, but when Mr. Muggins found out, he put up “No Trespassing” signs, and threatened to shoot the guy if he caught him on his land. Nice. He eventually listened to reason – well, sort of – and compromised by holding off until 7:00.

One of Herr Brain’s latest projects is to cut down all the trees surrounding his fields. I guess he figures if the crows have no place to perch, they won’t come around. Hmm, is it possible he hasn’t figured out that THEY CAN FLY…

Killing trees generates quite a pile of brush which our resident genius disposes of by setting on fire. Because they are green, the burning brush piles generate great plumes of smoke, polluting the air for miles downwind and adding to the sensory overload. And of course, our neighbourhood numskull doesn’t worry too much about acquiring burning permits, or the attendant bans of such on dry days.

One interesting fact that has arisen from all of this is the discovery that he has had corn in the same field for 3 or 4 years straight, which is a blatant contravention of PEI’s Agricultural Crop Rotation Act. As a result of this discovery, Farmer Featherbrain was fined – some consolation for the neighbourhood perhaps, although I honestly doubt the consequences amounted to more than a slap on the wrist.

How do you talk sense into someone like this? Hmm, I wonder what he would think of me practicing the trombone across from his house…

Posted in Environment, Life on PEI, Wildlife | 2 Comments

Petition to Restore CBC Radio Two

A couple of months ago, CBC Radio 2 made some changes which resulted in the cancellation of its evening classical music programmes, including my favourite: Two New Hours with Larry Lake. Two New Hours was the only radio programme to exclusively feature contemporary classical music, and its cancellation has ramifications for all of Canada’s composers and musicians, not to mention the audiences who relied on this particular programme as the only one of its kind to present the music of our living composers, as interpreted by Canada’s best, most creative musicians. It allowed us to travel all across the country from the comfort of our own homes, to hear great concerts such as those from the Winnipeg New Music Festival, and to feel connected with the new music community. It was one-of-a-kind, and now it’s gone – there is no alternative.

Critics (myself included) are condemning the changes as a “dumbing down” of CBC’s programming, that it unnecessarily duplicates other radio stations’ programming and leaves a big hole in fulfilling its mandate “to provide rich, original content that reflects the diversity of Canada.” Some lively discussions about the issue can be found here and here, as well as this letter to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage by composer Paul Steenhuisen.

A petition to restore CBC Radio Two has been initiated to try and convince those in power to undo these changes and reinstate “the type of intelligent, provocative and informative programming that has long been a hallmark of Radio 2.” Feel free to sign this petition if you have any interest in the issue. And be assured, this is NOT one of those silly chain emails that goes around; it is a legitimate petition.

Here’s hoping I get my CBC back.

Posted in Music | 12 Comments

Win CF Light Bulbs!

If you are the owner of a single family dwelling on PEI, and are interested in finally making the switch from incandescent to compact fluorescent light bulbs, why not get some for free! Green Light Prince Edward Island is holding a lottery draw in which 1000 winners will be chosen (the week of June 11) to receive up to 12 CF light bulbs to replace any existing incandescents in their homes.

This contest is the second phase of Green Light PEI’s A Bright Idea project, the goal of which is to “help homeowners save energy and money, and in turn, reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” The results of their pilot project in 2006 demonstrated that the average household retrofitted with CF bulbs reduced their energy use by 2.6 kilowatt hours per day (worth about $95/year), and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 0.65 tonnes per participant. It is another example of how a small action can make a big difference – imagine how much greenhouse gases could be reduced if everyone made the switch.

Check out Green Light PEI’s website for more details on the contest. It is a great project, and a great chance to win some free bulbs. And with 1000 winners, the odds are pretty good!


Incidentally, our house is outfitted completely with CF bulbs (which makes us ineligible for the contest), and although the initial cost was higher up front (compared to incandescents), we have not had to change a single bulb since we installed them over six years ago!

Posted in Environment | 1 Comment

Music Festival – on marks and competition

My daughter sang in the Kiwanis Music Festival today. It was so sweet. All the girls who sang were very cute. I love the fact that Riley likes to perform in front of an audience – she’s really into it, and I hope she will always retain that joy for sharing music. Last year was the first year she sang in the festival, and it was a non-competitive class – everyone got a participant ribbon, no first-second-third nonsense. If only life could be so, well, non-competitive. Although Riley’s classes were competitive this year, she still didn’t seem too concerned about whether or not she would win, although she very much hoped to get a ribbon (colour not important), just because she likes ribbons – and she came home with a blue one and a white one (even better – two different colours!).

You might wonder what would be the point of having competitive classes at that age – is there any real purpose to being marked and ranked when you’re seven? I suppose it prepares kids for “real life” and the reality of sports and spelling bees… and jobs. Having gone through that whole music festival experience myself, as both participant and adjudicator, I am cognizant of the somewhat subjective nature of music competitions – of how the adjudicator’s own musical tastes, biases and expectations come into play in their evaluations. When I adjudicate, or when I have to mark my university students on their progress, I always find myself wishing I didn’t have to assign a mark – that I could just relate my comments and constructive criticism, and leave it at that. Of course, that would be taking the easy way out – and what kind of message would that send to the kids? There’s already an attitude (borderline epidemic?) of entitlement apparent among today’s youths. Perhaps we should embrace any opportunity to demonstrate to kids that success requires effort, that hard work is rewarded – and that you don’t automatically get something just because you want it.

While we may worry now about our desire to keep the music festival experience a good one, it is inevitable, if the adjudicators are doing their job, that Riley (and Bailey, in his turn) will experience disappointment along the way. And rather than try to negate or temper the impact of such an experience, perhaps the best thing we can do as parents is to make sure our kids learn something valuable in the process – how to deal with disappointment, to see it as an opportunity to build character, and to always look for the positive in any situation. Lifelong goals, for sure. And if we can keep music-making fun through all of that, then I will be very happy.

Posted in Kids, Life, Music | 2 Comments

My 1200 Calorie Breakfast

I’ve always believed in having a good breakfast, although the actual content has changed a lot over the years. As a kid, bacon and eggs were the usual thing; now, as a vegetarian, I start my day with a base of whole grains. What has remained consistent is that my breakfast is BIG. Today, I decided to find out just how big – here is a typical morning meal:


That ought to get me through to lunch!

Posted in Health, Vegetarian Food, Wheat-free | 1 Comment

Music from CTV Ad

We don’t have cable TV, so the only channels we get are CBC, CTV and Global on a clear day. Honestly, though, who needs more than CTV? With Criminal Minds, Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, and all the CSIs and Law and Orders (and yes, even American Idol), CTV is it for me. One could easily spend their whole evening glued to CTV, although thanks to facebook, this doesn’t happen so much anymore!

I’ve been really enjoying the music on one of the CTV ads – it’s the ad with the bouncing “C” ball and pretty much all the stars of all the shows on CTV – the one which starts with Jon Stewart doing air grafitti, and where George from Grey’s gets it in the you-know-what. I was determined to find out what the song was, and have learned that it is the title track from Natasha Bedingfield‘s album Unwritten.

According to her website, Natasha Bedingfield is “the UK’s biggest female pop star bar none”. And I’ve never even heard of her. But then, that genre isn’t really what I stay on top of. I do like that song though, and once I figured out what it was, I downloaded it from Puretracks so I could listen to the whole thing. I like it! I also like expanding my musical horizons, and that means keeping my ears (and my mind) open – inspiration can come at any time and from any place, even from a simple ad on TV.

Posted in Music | 1 Comment

First Blogiversary

Exactly one year ago I made my first post to this blog. 84 posts later, I have averaged 7 per month, a little short of my goal of 2 or 3 a week, but not too bad I guess. My most verbose month (with 15 posts) was the current one, April 2007, which is not surprising since this included all the International Trombone Week posts. September 2006 was my least loquacious month, with only 3 posts.

My blogging goals have been:
1) to keep in touch with friends,
2) to initiate discussions on various topics, and
3) to practice writing, and work on improving my writing skills.

Regarding this last goal, one important component of being a successful writer is the ability to communicate effectively. One of my first posts (which I ended up deleting) caused quite a controversy, and precipitated a period in which I have given much consideration to the adequacy of the written word in communicating ideas. Malcolm Gladwell, in one of his books (Blink or The Tipping Point, I can’t remember which), reported on the significance of facial expressions and body language in communicating – the actual words themselves contribute only a small percentage to the message. That makes one stop and think about how easily the written word on it’s own (in a format such as a blog), without the context of expression, can be misinterpreted – and that is exactly what happened to me with the aforementioned post. As a result, I have become supersensitive to this aspect of writing, and continue to strive for greater clarity of meaning.

One unexpected (and very rewarding) result of blogging is reconnecting with old friends. In November, I related a story about one of my former colleagues with the Hamilton Philharmonic, with whom I had not been in touch for several years. A few weeks after posting the story, I received an email from him. His brother had stumbled across the post somehow, and emailed the link to him. We have now reconnected and gotten caught up-to-date with each other’s lives.

I have had 8,297 total views, an average of 22 visits a day, with a single-day high of 157 – not bad, really, for a trombonist from little old PEI. All in all, it’s been fun. Thanks to all of you who have stuck with me over the year – hopefully I can come up with another year’s worth of stuff to write about.


Posted in Blogging | 1 Comment

Pearls Before Breakfast

Here is a very intriguing article about an experiment undertaken by the Washington Post to see what the public’s reaction might be when famous violin virtuoso Joshua Bell busks in a subway station (at the centre of federal Washington D.C.) during the morning rush hour, and for 43 minutes performs (on his 1713 Stradivarius, worth $3.5 million!) some of the greatest musical masterpieces ever written.

Before you read the article, try to guess what would happen: How many people might pass by during those 43 minutes? How many of those would stop to listen? How many would recognize (or even notice) who was playing? How many would throw money into the open violin case? How much money would be collected by the end of the performance? The actual results may surprise you. It certainly provides a very interesting commentary on our society, and is definitely worth reading.

Posted in Life, Music | 1 Comment

Running/Shoes – Cause and Effect

I am currently experiencing a shoe shortage – all my shoes have gradually been falling apart. So yesterday, when I was heading out the door to drive to the Halifax airport to pick up my brother, I was down to a few unappealing choices: my black dress shoes, my winter boots, or my rubber boots. Oh man, something comfortable would be really nice for the six-hour round-trip. Then I spotted my running shoes. Lightweight and comfortable – yes, they would do nicely.

Then, at my first pit-stop, I made a discovery: simply wearing running shoes seems to make me want to run. As I stepped out of the car, I was taken over by an intense desire to RUN! So run I did. I felt so light on my feet. I FLEW across the parking lot, the wind whipping through my hair – runner’s high taking over almost instantly. I was a cheetah in pursuit of its prey, an Olympian sprinting to supremacy – a child loving life.

This is completely opposite to how this usually works – usually, you wait until you feel like running, then you put on your running shoes and you go for a run. This time, putting on the shoes made me want to run. It’s “cause and effect” in reverse. Just think of how one could apply this process to life! Some possibilities: put the trombone to my lips – presto, I feel like practicing! Put a saw in my hands – wow, I feel like cutting wood!

I think I might be on to something here. Try it. See if you have the same experience. Don’t wait until you feel like doing something. Just do it, and then see if that inspires the feeling. Hey, the worst that could happen is that you actually get something done.

Well, I’m off to bed, to see if that makes me feel like sleeping. Good night.

Posted in Health, Life | Leave a comment

Two New Features

Just wanted to bring your attention to two new features on my blog. On the right-hand column you will now notice links to my websites: 1) my trombone website, which contains my bio, musical activities and resources, 2) our house website, which describes how we are living off the grid, and 3) Pine Grove Music, my music publishing business. Someone mentioned to me recently that they wanted to be able to find these sites more easily. My Flickr photos link is further down the column.

I have also added a note which lists the book I am currently reading, in case anyone cares. I always find it interesting to know what people are reading. I haven’t made much progress on the current book, thanks to facebook!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Facebook Has Consumed Me

OK, so last week I got an email from a friend (and 2nd cousin) inviting me to sign up with Facebook and join the “Bluefield Class of 1986” group he’d created. We were in school together at Englewood from Grades 1-9, and then Bluefield for high school. The class of ‘86 was a very spirited bunch, and I have some great memories of many of those classmates. We had our 20-year reunion last summer – what a trip! Some people I hadn’t seen since the 10-year reunion; some, not since graduation day; some I run into all the time. Some had changed very little, some were almost unrecognisable – but everyone was excited to see everyone else. We all agreed that it would be really nice to stay in touch, especially those of us who were together since Grade One at Englewood. Twelve years – we did all of our growing up together – that makes for a bond with some strength behind it! It’s only natural we should want to maintain ties. But of course, it’s always easier said than done.

When I first came across Classmates.com, I thought it might be the answer, but it didn’t take long to figure out that it is pretty much useless, unless you pay for their premium service. While it’s standard fare for a website to offer both free and paid services, I believe that the free service should at least be functional. Classmates.com is not. You can write your profile, but friends can’t read it. Friends can leave you a message, but you can’t read it. Useless. And really, how many people are actually going to pay for the upgrade? A quick browse through the list of classmates reveals that next to none have. Classmates.com, move over – Facebook has achieved what you have failed to do. And finding old classmates is just the tip of the iceberg.

I’ve always thought it would be nice to keep in touch with every friend I’ve ever had – but of course, that’s just not possible. Everyone moves on – starts a family, gets a new job – and every phase brings with it a new set of friends. As we move from one thing to another, we have to come to terms with the fact that friends will come and go. That’s life. We enjoy the memories, and look forward to the reunions or chance encounters that temporarily bring us back together. After this week though, I think Facebook has the potential to shatter that notion. I now really believe it could be possible to stay in touch with everyone.

Facebook has it all: profiles, photos, blogs, email, discussion groups, fun features (check out the Friend Game for example), all with a user-friendly interface. You can participate in whatever capacity you choose, from social director to voyeur. Beware though – it’s TOTALLY ADDICTIVE!!! I’ve really been racking up the hours online this week – it’s INSANE! Hopefully once the novelty wears off, I can streamline things a bit – just check for updates a couple of times a day, and leave it at that – maybe reconnect with my children… 😉 Until then, see you on Facebook!

Posted in Life | 1 Comment

“Spring”, a poem by Riley

My Dad just emailed me this photo of their white board:
She must have been feeling very optimistic,
because it hasn’t felt much like spring yet.

Posted in Kids | Leave a comment

Read More Blogs in Less Time

If you’ve been reading blogs for any length of time, you know how quickly you can find a couple dozen blogs (or more!) in your bookmarks. If you’re really organized, you’ll create a separate bookmarks folder just for blog sites, but even then you still have to check each one individually. This can take some time (especially if you’re on dial-up like me), and usually there’s a good percentage of them that haven’t been updated since you last visited.

The solution? News aggregators, or feed readers. I use Bloglines*. In a nutshell, I subscribe to the blogs I want to stay on top of, then I go to one website, my Bloglines page, where all the new posts of my subscribed blogs appear in one window. It is so simple, and such a time saver. I am currently subscribed to 16 blogs, and it actually takes me less time to keep up to date with those than it did when I was checking 5 or 6 individually. And I don’t have to worry about forgetting any.

Here’s a screenshot of my Bloglines page. In the left column are the list of subscribed blogs; the unread posts appear in the right column, either separately (if I click on an individual blog on the left) or all together (if I click on the “Dale’s Blogs” folder). Only the unread posts will be shown in the right column, and after they are read they will not appear again – unless you want them to, in which case you simply check the box marked “Keep new”.


And I have it set up so it’s really easy to subscribe to a blog. In my Bookmarks Bar (see above) there is a link called “Sub with Bloglines”. When I visit a blog that I decide I want to subscribe to, I simply click on that link and it takes me to my Bloglines page where I add the new blog to my list.

Incidentally, aggregators such as Bloglines can also be used to subscribe to online newspapers, comic strips, weather forecasts, podcasts and more – anything with an RSS feed. I think this is an incredibly useful tool.

* Update (January 2016): As explained here, Bloglines is no longer available.

Posted in Tip Jar | Leave a comment

It’s Snow Fun

Well, we finally used our snowshoes this season. I’d been sort of keen to get them out in January and February, gradually lost interest in March, and now – I suppose I should just be grateful that we got to use them at all…

We only went as far as the end of our driveway (which is better exercise than it sounds – it’s 900 metres long, and uphill in both directions 😉 ), and once we made it to the end, we had to dig out the car which the snow plow had graciously buried just so we could get even more exercise. On the way out, we had to ditch Bailey’s snowshoes because a strap snapped, and then he decided it would be fun to somersault his way out – what a circus! Then Riley gets herself stuck up a tree, and – You know, I’ve really been identifying with Bil Keane’s Family Circus lately. My kids’ tracks through the snow are a perfect reproduction of Keane’s cartoons showing the kids’ paths through the yard or whatever. So much energy…

I think this was the first time I did any significant shovelling this winter – other than clearing a path for our chihuahua to get from the door to her “spot”. I was thinking about how this season any time I saw footage on the news of somebody shovelling snow, they were using an overhand grip with their lower hand. It made me wonder – did I miss some sort of press release about the proper way to shovel snow? I’ve always used an underhand grip with my lower hand. I tried both today, and I didn’t find the overhand technique to have any particular advantage, so I guess I’ll stick with what I’m used to. Has anybody out there ever thought about this? Or do I just think too much…

You can sure work up a sweat shovelling snow, so I make sure to dress in layers so I can strip down if I get too hot. In the last couple of years I have discovered the benefit of wearing clothing made of synthetic material for my base layer, to wick away moisture. You don’t want the clothes next to your body getting all wet, because eventually they end up cold and wet – a very uncomfortable combination. I started with polyester shirts, and have branched out to include socks and underwear – but maybe you didn’t need to know that…

On a more sober note: I think about my great uncle every time I shovel snow. He died one New Year’s Eve after suffering a heart attack brought on by shovelling snow. It was one of the saddest days of my life. Uncle Lorne loved to work hard, and probably never thought twice about it that day. That’s the thing about shovelling – it doesn’t seem like it’s that strenuous, but it’s very deceptive. So, make sure you take it easy. Slow and steady, and take frequent breaks.

Our Driveway

Posted in Kids, Life | 1 Comment

New Trombone Collective

Thank you to all you non-trombonists for sticking with me through eight posts about the trombone this International Trombone Week. I hope you found some of them entertaining and/or interesting. As today is the last day of ITW, I will now return to blogging about anything and everything – but first…

The New Trombone Collective is a group of nine young Dutch trombonists who met while studying at the Rotterdam Conservatory, and who now all play in professional orchestras in the Netherlands. They have created a very unique set of three recordings which feature the different sides of the ensemble. The first CD, Collective, features works for trombone ensemble from the Renaissance to the present; the third CD, New includes new works that have been written for the ensemble. I bought the second CD, Trombone, a few weeks ago, and it follows a very creative format: each member of the group is featured as a soloist in a piece of his own choosing. It makes for a very eclectic programme; the pieces range from a 17th century work for unaccompanied solo trombone to a contemporary work for solo trombone with trombone choir. The playing is wonderful and the repertoire is fantastic. I just love the whole concept – it’s a great idea that gives us a more personal glimpse of the individual members of the group.

I was particularly excited to see David Popper’s Requiem included on the CD. Originally for three cellos and piano, the piece works very well for three trombones. I got to hear the trombone section of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra perform it on a recital they gave at the University of Toronto in 1998 when the Concertgebouw was in town to play at Roy Thomson Hall. It was an inspiring performance, and their rendition of Popper’s Requiem made quite an impression on me. Jörgen van Rijen was one of the trombonists that day, and is also on the CD, so that’s kind of cool.

Trombone is an excellent CD for anyone wanting to hear some not-so-standard repertoire played by a world class group of trombonists. I highly recommend it.


I close my International Trombone Week blogfest with the following quote:

“In my opinion the trombone is the true head of that family of wind instruments which I have named the epic one. It possesses nobility and grandeur to the highest degree; it has all the serious and powerful tones of sublime musical poetry, from religious, calm and imposing accents to savage, orgiastic outbursts. Directed by the will of a master, the trombones can chant like a choir of priests, threaten, utter gloomy sighs, a mournful lament or a bright hymn of glory, they can break forth into awe-inspiring cries and awaken the dead or doom the living with their fearful voices” – Hector Berlioz, from his Treatise on Instrumentation

Posted in CDs, Trombone | 1 Comment

Two Trombone Legends

I first came across Ray Anderson in the spring of 1991 when I went to Chicago to audition for a Master’s program at Northwestern University. While I was there, I was browsing through the CDs at Rose Records and came across Anderson’s 1990 recording, What Because (Gramavision R2 79453). I’d never heard of Ray, but I am always game to hear someone new, so I bought the CD. At first, I have to say I was not overly excited – Ray’s sound is a little on the rough side, and it took a few listens before I got used to that. Once I did, I could then focus on what he was doing musically, and just let myself get caught up in his contagious joy and energy. Since then, I have bought many more of his recordings, but What Because has remained a favourite. Coincidentally, when I returned (with my wife Sandy) to Chicago that fall to begin my Master’s degree, the first night we were there we got to hear Ray Anderson live at a bar downtown. What a thrill that was! I have since seen a few of his performances, and they are always FUN!

I’ll never forget how excited I was in my 1st year at UPEI to find Christian Lindberg’s first solo recording The Virtuoso Trombone at the UPEI Music library. Lindberg did things on that record that I hadn’t even imagined possible on the trombone. Since that first record 20-odd years ago, Christian has released 30 solo CDs, performed as a guest soloist on another 30, and gives around 100 live performances each year, all over the world. It is truly remarkable what he has accomplished. I have seen Lindberg live a couple of times, but the most memorable performances were at the International Trombone Workshop in 1994 in Minneapolis. There I got to hear him perform a solo recital of all unaccompanied works, and two nights later, the world premiere performance of Toru Takemitsu’s “Fantasma/Cantos II” for trombone and orchestra, with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Amazing!

Here’s a photo of me with both Ray Anderson and Christian Lindberg (and a friend of mine) taken at the ITW in Minneapolis:

L to R: LC, CL, me, RA

Posted in Trombone | 2 Comments

Trombones in Space

The world is full of trombonists who are doing wonderful things to promote the instrument. Yet, however successfully all the CD recordings and live concerts increase the profile of the trombone, they just don’t pack the same punch as the television in reaching the masses.

Considering this, special mention must be given to that high-flying ambassador of the trombone, Commander William T. Riker of the Starship Enterprise. Who has not seen at least one of the episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which Riker dusts off his trombone, gives the swagger a rest, and bares his soul?

Jonathan Frakes, the actor behind the character, does actually play the trombone, reportedly having played it in the marching band while attending university – he is even credited with performing on the twenty-second song “Riker’s Mailbox” on the 1994 Phish CD, Hoist.

Who could resist such a heartfelt show of emotion?
C’mon Deanna, can’t you sense he has feelings for you?!

Riker’s clone, Lt. Thomas Riker, gets in on the action too. In 2369, Will gives his trombone to Tom as a memento (Season 6, Episode 24: “Second Chances”). And check this out: you can even buy a collectible action figure of Tom Riker – complete with trombone! It’s comforting to know that the trombone will still be around 360 years from now. I wonder if they’ll be able to replicate the really good ones!


“A frisky spirit makes my trombone sing.” – Chris Barber

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