It's interesting how we make friends these days on the internet. Most of us with some degree of life experience can intuitively tell when we're meeting someone genuine, and it's really possible to form a "friendship" electronically. That said, when you lose a friend you've met this way, it's almost as intense as losing any other friend. My Canadian poet friend Maureen Glaude passed away this past week after a long battle with cancer. She was 53. She was well-loved on Pathetic.org, and she was a talented and active woman who always had kind words for everyone. She was a very good poet, and I especially liked her haiku, so in her memory I wrote a haiku for her:
her desk lamp turned out -
the Ottawa skyline
is one light dimmer
You can visit her library here.
On a somewhat more upbeat note, I will have a few poems appearing in a new online journal called Word Catalyst, in August and September. More on that later.
Music: I attended WXPN's "Xpontential Music Festival" at Wiggins Park in Camden NJ on Saturday. (It's actually a 4-day festival, but I could only get away for one.) The weather was picture-perfect, and a couple of my friends and I enjoyed some really fine music. In order of favorites, I heard:
1. Los Lonely Boys - I knew I liked these guys - I have a few of their albums - and I'd heard how they can tear it up live. Now I know. They were fantastic! The three Garza brothers, on guitar, bass and drums, are amazingly talented musically, a mix of Santana, Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, what they call "Texican rock n'roll". Some folks might think their performance was a bit showy and over the top, but they got everyone on their feet and got the biggest cheers of the night. And granted, they could be better lyricists. But man, that doesn't matter much when they play like they do.
2. The Cat Empire - The biggest surprise of the day for me. This six-piece band from Australia plays a blend of ska, rock, jazz and a pinch of hip-hop, with great percussion, keyboards, rhythm guitar, vocals and two trumpets. My son listened to them and said they sounded like what would happen if G. Love started a ska band. Sounds about right. They also remind me a little bit of Cake. They had lots of energy, and the majority of the XPN "boardies" I surveyed thought they were the best act of the day.
3. Will Hoge - This guy from Nashville had a cookin' roots-rock band, almost a Springsteen kind of vibe going on. The other pleasant surprise of the day.
4. Ryan Shaw - This young soul singer with a strong gospel background (and his frequent references to God made that obvious to the crowd) has an amazing set of pipes and sounds like a throwback to 60's and 70's Motown and Memphis sounds. No surprise, though, as I was already a fan - I downloaded his album from iTunes a few weeks ago. I got to meet him afterward and got an autograph - nice guy.
5. Hoots and Hellmouth - a local acoustic band that's getting some good national buzz, with an eccentric, passionate leader. Hard to describe them - kind of a bluegrass/folk-rock jam band. I liked them.
6. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - I left during their set only because I was getting tired and wanted to beat the crowds, but she and her band were a good blues-rock unit. A bit anticlimactic though, after Los Lonely Boys tore up the place.
7. Martin Sexton - a excellent singer-songwriter, but someone had to be last on this list. Suffice to say I didn't hear anyone on Saturday I didn't like.
There was one downside to the day, but not personally. Some drunk in an SUV rammed through the gates and plowed into a trailer in the festival area. A couple of people were injured, but fortunately not seriously. All in all, it was a good day for music.