Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

May 1, Last Day for $75 GrassRoots Tickets

Thursday 1 May is the last day for the Early Bird price of $75 for a 4-day ticket to the GrassRoots Festival.

On May 2 the price goes up to $95.

Tickets are available at Small World Music. We're easy to get to, at 614 W. State St., across the street from Kinko's. Plenty of parking on the street, or right in front of our store, down the driveway. Hours are 11 am - 6 pm. Questions? Call 256-0428.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog and Small World Music

Media Targets Rev. Wright, Not Justice Scalia

It's a good thing for the Pekinese of the press, as Jimmy Breslin calls them, that Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Chicago is running around making politically inflammatory remarks. If they didn't have him to target, they might have to talk about Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court, who is making some pretty wild remarks of his own to the press, and getting a free pass even though, unlike Wright, Scalia has power.

Scalia is hawking his new book about law. That's an important book, because he is a learned guy. On last Sunday's broadcast, 60 Minutes asked the Justice about the Supreme Court's role in the 2000 presidential election. "Get over it," he explained.

In a discussion about torture and the protection of the Constitution from cruel and unusual punishment, Scalia said that interrogation is not "punishment", because the person hasn't done anything wrong, so this protection does not apply.

In other words, you can torture someone, or inflict cruel and unusual treatment, as long as the person is completely innocent of anything. Because then it's not punishment. Because they didn't do anything to be punished for. So, torture away.

The framers of the Constitution probably never figured a mind like Scalia's could ever get within striking distance of it. But here he is.

Meanwhile, the press is busy following Jeremiah Wright, as if he were on the Supreme Court, or running for office.

Lesley Stahl interviewed Scalia for 60 Minutes. You would think she might have had a critical word to say about Scalia's dismissive remarks and dangerous rhetoric. She didn't. She referred to him as a great intellect. Straight-faced.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, April 25, 2008

Earth Day Quiz Question & Prize

Ithaca Blog got a lot of publicity this week, with a radio segment on WHCU and a presentation for the Chamber of Commerce, and got a lot of hits as a result, and some comments from long-time readers about the disappearance of the weekly quiz question.

We're not sure if we'll bring it back regularly or permanently, but we'll give it an appearance this week. The question is about New York geography, in honor of Earth Day.

It's not easy, but no one said Earth was easy. Plus, our policy is to have one winner from among the correct answers, and one from the incorrect, so go ahead and take a shot.

The question: Name three bodies of water into which New York lakes and rivers empty, and one instance of each. For example, the Hudson River empties into the Atlantic. Okay, now come up with two others.

The randomly-selected winners each receive a $10 gift certificate to Small World Music. Post your answer here on Ithaca Blog, or e-mail it to Small World at

Steve Burke
for IB and SWM

Thursday, April 24, 2008

New Transportation Initiative in Tompkins County

With gas prices near $4 a gallon, people are desperate to save some of the thousands of dollars a year they are pumping into their cars and burning into the sky.

Ridewise is a new project looking for answers to transportation issues, such as the expense and waste of individual car use, and the limits of our current public system, particularly its limited operating schedule.

Ridewise is a federally-funded initiative being developed by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. Its first phase will be a series of surveys and workshops for people looking for transportation alternatives. The information will go directly to TCAT and other transportation providers, including potential new providers such as car sharing services, and subsidized car pooling efforts.

Resignation to highway robbery, it seems, is no longer necessary. Ithaca Blog will continue to monitor and report on Ridewise's efforts.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Week of Music, 24 - 29 April

Usually we highlight Weekend Music. There's much more than usual right now.

Thurs. 4/24: Felice Brothers, with Judy Hyman and Richie Stearns, at Castaways, 8 pm (see yesterday's Ithaca Blog posting).

* * *

Fri. 4/25: Mike Hansen, recently featured in the Ithaca Times, plays old-timey music at the ABC Cafe, 10 pm.

Revision has a CD release party, with guest members of Thousands of One and others, at Castaways, 9 pm.

The Rongo is having an extended birthday party for itself (35 years old); celebrants on stage tonight are the Talktomes, Sim Redmond, and Trevor McDonald. 10 pm.

* * *

Sat. 4/26: the party continues at the Rongo at 10 pm again tonight, with Sim Redmond Band, Juge Greenspun, and Hank Roberts. Hank has just finished an extended engagement with Bill Frisell at the Village Vanguard in NYC.

Evil City String Band at the Chapter House, 10 pm.

Gadje at the ABC, 10 pm.

* * *

Sun. 4/27: A Benefit Concert for the Akwesasne Freedom School, supporting Mohawk culture, features Mary Lorson, Judy Hyman, Lydia Garrison, and Richie Stearns. Suggested donation is $8, and free childcare is provided. Music starts at 3 pm, at the Women's Community Building.

Radio London plays rock in an early show at the Common Ground, 1230 Danby Road, 4:30 pm.

The Small Kings at Maxie's, 6 pm.

* * *

Tues. 4/29: reggae legends Toots and the Maytals at the Haunt, 8 pm.

* * *

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

You Missed the Felice Brothers at Castaways? Thursday 24 April

Maybe you're the kind of strong, hard-headed music lover who won't mind hearing the incredulous query, "How could you have missed the Felice Brothers at Castaways?", for the next decade after they are enormously famous, rather than just potentially.

But if not, for the incredible bargain price of $10, you can see this acoustic rock combo who are being compared to the Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show, and even the Band. They are appearing at Castaways, Thursday 24 April, at 8 pm.

Intensifying the bargain is the opening act, Judy Hyman and Richie Stearns of the Horseflies.

Tickets are available at the door only. You might want to be early.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Poor Eat Cakes of Mud

Official apathy about mass starvation is certainly not new. Everyone knows the remark by Marie Antoinette when told the French people had no bread.

History repeats itself in Haiti, where the current world food crisis is particuarly severe. Haitians are eating mud mixed with oil and sugar, but the country's president suggested they must not be too desperate for money for food if they still had cell phones and other items of value that they hadn't sold yet. He said, "If there is a protest against the rising prices, come get me at the palace and I will demonstrate with you."

They did. In thousands. The president barricaded himself in, with soldiers. He remains in office, though his prime minister was forced out, and the government is in turmoil.

The situation of rising prices and scarcity of food is raging around the world. Experts are stumped, as experts often are. Ordinary people, however, know that oil profiteering and militarism are official policies now around the world, for the rich to bury the poor alive.

The leader is our leader, George Bush, who says the war in Iraq is great, not a disaster for Iraqis and Americans alike; who didn't know that gasoline has gotten prohibitively expensive for ordinary people; who has said that emergency rooms are a pretty good national health care policy. To the limited degree that he knows what he does, he cares even less.

They say the fluttering wings of a butterfly in the Amazon can create forces that in turn create tsunamis. Let's hope - and work for - new leadership in this country to create tides of change and ease.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Weekend Activities, April 18 - 20

Friday 4/18: Government Mule, southern rockers for a new era, at the State Theater. 8 pm.

* * *

Saturday 4/19: Independent Record and CD Store Day is celebrated at No Radio Records, Small World Music, and Volume Records in Ithaca. Discounted prices throughout the day.

The Crossing Borders series presents Pamela Goddard and Diamonds in the Rough at the Lost Dog Lounge, 8 pm.

The Cornell Folk Song Club presents David Mallett at 165 McGraw Hall at Cornell, 8 pm. Discount advance tickets available at Small World Music.

Thousands of One introduce material from their new CD at the Chapter House, 10 pm.

* * *

Sunday 4/20: Well-known folk vets Cosy Sheridan and T.R. Richie at Bound for Glory at Anabel Taylor Hall at Cornell. First set, 8:30 pm.

Have fun-
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Local Music Stores Have Ithaca Times's Ear

Thanks from Small World Music to the Ithaca Times, and writer Luke Fenchel, for a nice article this week on local music stores.

The impetus for the story in Independent Record Store Day this Saturday, 19 April.

As noted in the story, Small World Music will offer 20% off all LPs on Saturday, and 10% off all CDs, new and used.

Ithaca Blog readers can beat the crowds and get the deal all week long, starting today. Just mention the deal when you come in and we will honor it.

You can read the piece online at

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog and Small World Music

"Blogging for Bucks": Panel Discussion at Chamber of Commerce

Maybe you have an above-average interest in blogging, considering where you are right now?

If you are interested in the business side of blogging as well as the creative, the Chamber of Commerce is having a panel discussion called "Blogging for Bucks", Tuesday 22 April, 6 - 8 pm, at the Chamber building, 904 East Shore Drive.

Ithaca Blog will be among the participants. The cost is $5 for Chamber members, $10 for others. More information is available at

Yours truly of Ithaca Blog (and its sponsor, Small World Music) will also be on radio that morning, talking about the event with Dave Vieser of WHCU, 870-AM, at 9:45 a.m.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Thursday, April 10, 2008

NY Times in Praise of Indy Music Stores

The NY Times wrote a piece on the Princeton Record Exchange, an old-fashioned CD and LP store (in Princeton NJ) remarkably like Ithaca's own Small World Music.

SWM focuses more on new releases than PREX does (this week: new Rolling Stones, REM, Thousands of One, and K.D. Lang). And unlike PREX, we have never been compared to the shop in the movie "High Fidelity". Our store is a bastion of charm, if we do say so ourselves.

But we're similar to PREX in our unpretentious quarters (theirs is described as "appealingly ratty"; we are in a renovated garage), and our dedication to providing quality products at excellent prices to people who love music.

The link to the article:

Steve Burke
for Small World Music and Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

One Reason for War: Politicians Make Money

A new study reveals that members of Congress have almost $200 million invested in military companies under contract with the Pentagon.

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts is the largest investor, with an estimated $38 million. His profits in three years of the study were almost $3 million.

Democrats in Congress have more money invested in military companies than Republicans do.

Two old expressions come to mind.

One is "Follow the money" when looking for explanantions on what Democrats and Republicans do and how they vote.

The other is the notion that there is "not a dime's worth of difference" between the elected officials of the two parties - although the saying should probably be amended to reflect not dimes, but millions of dollars which politicians make through what is essentially corruption.

The war in Iraq, of course, is just one example of such personal profiteering and malfeasance.

The need for a third party grows ever clearer. Doesn't it?

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Farmers Market Hosts Cornell Basketball Meet-&-Greet

The Farmers Market is celebrating the championship seasons of Cornell's men's and women's basketball teams with a meet-and-greet this Saturday at noon.

Congratulate local heroes and shop for great local food at the Market, at Steamboat Landing, behind Aldi's market at the intersection of Third St. and Route 13.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Music in Ithaca, April 3rd - 6th

Thursday, 4/3: World music Grammy award winner Angelique Kidjo at the State Theater. Samite opens. 8 pm.

* * *

Friday, 4/4: Hee Haw Nightmare at Felicia's happy hour, 5:30 pm.

Two shows at the Lost Dog Lounge: Clayfoot Strutters at 6 pm, and Djug Django at 10.

Cornell Cinema presents Pete Seeger: The Power of Song, 9 pm, Willard Straight Hall.

* * *

Saturday, 4/5: Johnny Dowd at the Chapter House, 10 pm.

* * *

Sunday, 4/6: The Irish session returns to Kilpatrick's on Sunday afternoon. No time specified yet. Kilpatrick's phone is 277-8900.

Wingnut and Hank Roberts at the Lost Dog. 8 pm.

have fun -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

The Rolling Stones, the No-Memory Motel, and the Secret to Career Longevity

Keith Richards announced this week he is having trouble writing his autobiography because he can't remember his life.

"I can't remember yesterday," he said.

It must worry his publisher, which paid him an advance of over $8 million to remember beyond earlier today.

Richards blamed a marijuana habit for his foggy mentality, saying he smokes "all the damn time."

In the 1980's, Richards' bandmate Mick Jagger got a huge advance from a publisher for a memoir, a project he had to abandon when he discovered he did not have memories, per se.

Jagger said that, to his surprise, his amnesia spanned virtually his entire adult life and career, including tours and recordings. Like Richards, Jagger attributed the condition to drug use.

It suggests that when Jagger and Richards wrote "Memory Motel", it was an exotic rather than hackneyed notion.

Perhaps the secret to the Rolling Stones' career longevity is their inability to remember anything they have done, keeping their work constantly fresh, at least for them.

Steve Burke
entertainment and medical reporter -
Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Return of Music on Vinyl (With a Commercial Offer, and Give-Away Quiz Question)

A friend who works at a big box retailer tells us the latest product line in music is vinyl records.

Everything old is new again, as hip bands strive for a fashionable edge and marketplace distinction. On the bandwagon are White Stripes, Jack Johnson, Elvis Costello,Vampire Weekend, Fiery Furnances, Siouxsie Sioux, Over the Rhine, Bright Eyes, Yo La Tengo, and others.

There is a sentiment that the sound of vinyl is better. "Deeper" is generally the adjective.

There's also the happenstance, with digital music, of one's entire collection crashing and vanishing, as happened to our source in this matter, who is a real computer guy and not a careless, accident-prone hack.

As music retailers at Small World Music, we are happy that artists and manufacturers are offering choices of media. The old style of merchandising was to declare one medium obsolete and unstylish in order to promote a new one.

We are big believers in the joy of wax here at Small World Music, where we have over 1,000 LPs priced at $1, and not bad ones, either. A sample:

Bruce Stringbean
Paul Robeson
The Honeydrippers
Allman Bothers
Jerry Lee Lewis
Frank Rosolino
Lefty Frizell
Tito Rodriguez
Lynn Anderson
Paul McCartney
Procol Harum
Bob Dylan
Deep Purple
The Kinks
Rickie Lee Jones
Joe Walsh
Deep Purple
Rod Stewart
Rolling Stones

We also have plenty of premium and hard-to find things:

Led Zeppelin (first release, first pressing)
The Times They Are A-Changing, Bob Dylan, original pressing
Mitch Ryder
Charlie Parker
John Coltrane
Taj Mahal
T-Bone Walker
Muddy Waters
Tito Puente
Bob Marley
Mahlahtini and the Mahotella Queens
Sweet Honey in the Rock
Boys of the Lough
Kevin Burke
Joni Mitchell
Johnny Cash (on Sun Records)
East Flatbush Project
Sugar Hill Gang
Earl Scruggs
David Grisman
... and many more.

A special offer for Ithaca Blog readers: take 25% off all vinyl purchases this week (that's through Saturday, 5 April).

Plus a special contest offer for you vinyl know-it-alls (or talented researchers):

What is the ONLY Beatles album containing ONLY Lennon-McCartney compositions? (Hint: only the official British version was released this way - not the U.S. version.)

Answer that question correctly, and get $5.00 off any purchase in the store (CD or LP). Answer incorrectly, and get $2.50. No kidding. We just admire effort. Only one incorrect answer prize per person, however. Know what we mean?

Hope to see you soon.

Steve Burke
for Small World Music and Ithaca Blog

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog and Small World Music

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Angelique Kidjo and Samite: Making Music, Aiding Africa

On Thursday 3 April, the State Theater presents two prominent African musician/activists: Samite and Angelique Kidjo.

Ms. Kidjo is a native of Benin, and Samite of Uganda.

Samite is well-known in Ithaca, where he has lived for 20 years. He plays traditional instruments and songs of his native country.

Samite has developed a national and international standing in his musical career, and also in philanthropic work. He is the founder of Musicains for World Harmony, an organization of musicians promoting peace and justice, with emphasis on displaced persons and communities. Samite himself came to the United States to escape the political turmoil of Uganda in the 1980's.

Angelique Kidjo is a vocalist with four Grammy-nominated albums. Her most recent, Djin Djin, features collaborations with Alicia Keys, Joss Stone, Carlos Santana, Ziggy Marley, and Branford Marsalis.

Ms. Kidjo is founder of the Batonga Foundation, which provides schooling for African girls through scholarships, social programs, and actual building of schools.

Ticket information for the show is available at the State Theater's web site.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog