Ithaca Blog

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Live Music in Ithaca, 31 July - 5 August

It is a robust week, not just weekend, of music in Ithaca.

Thurs. 7/31: Samite of Uganda on the Commons, free, 6 pm.
* * *

Fri. 8/1: Radio London plays that old-time rock and roll, outside & free on Cornell's Arts Quad, 7:30 pm.

Triple trouble at Castaways with Go Gone at 5 pm, then a break before a 9 pm show with The Thieves Hymn and Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band.

* * *

Sat. 8/2: Trevor MacDonald, ex- of Sunny Weather, has a new band call Who You Are. They celebrate a CD release tonight at a free (except for parking) show at Taughannock Falls Park. 7 pm.

Thousands of One at the Chapter House, 10 pm.

* * *

Sun. 8/3: Three nice shows at three nice eateries, spread throughout the day. Kelly Birtch plays guitar at ABC Cafe's Sunday brunch; music starts at 11 am. Kilpatrick's hosts its weekly Irish Music Session in the afternoon. At 6 pm, Pete and Taz play at Maxie's.

* * *

Mon. 8/4: Gerard Burke plays country blues at Micawber's, 6 pm.

* * *

Tues. 8/5: Hee Haw Nightmare plays for your down-home dining pleasure at Maxie's, 6 pm.

The Irish Music Session moves up hill to the Chapter House, 8 pm.

have fun -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Stewart Park Rehab: A Start?

A public meeting was held last night at the Stewart Park Pavilion to address the park's problems, and possible remedies.

About 50 people attended the meeting, which was initiated by a $15,000 grant to create a Stewart Park Rehabilitation Action Plan.

The most vexing negative of the park is lack of maintenance, particularly of the lake shore, which makes swimming ill-advised and illegal. And not even tempting, by the way.

About a year ago we wrote a couple of pieces here on Ithaca Blog about the park's potential. You can see them by typing "Stewart Park" into the Blog's search mechanism.

We're happy to see action (or at least an "action plan") and will follow this issue. We also urge everyone to take part in the project.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Brother, Can You Spare $118,000? America's Chronic Debt, and a Community Solution

According to the Federal Reserve, the average household with a mortgage in the United States has debt of $117,952. This includes mortgage debt, credit card debt, home equity loans, car loans, and tuition loans.

The annual savings of the average household is $392.

In 1957, in contrast, 42% of American households had no debt at all.

It must be galling for organized crime, which once had loan sharking all to itself, to have lost it to these supposedly legitimate banks and credit card companies, whose terms are also predatory, but somehow legal.

Ithaca has a local currency, Ithaca Hours, which addresses the scarcity of money in a productive rather than predatory way.

Over $100,000 worth of local currency circulates in Ithaca, creating an entirely new revenue stream which anyone can use.

Members join for $10, or one Hour, and get $20 worth of Hours to spend. Members also get a listing in the Hours Directory - its "Yellow Pages" - to offer goods and services, for whatever ratio of Hours and dollars they choose.

Like banks and credit card companies, Ithaca Hours makes loans of Hours to members. Unlike banks and credit card companies, Hours charges no fees or interest.

Besides benefitting individuals and businesses, studies show that local currencies promote a "multiplier effect" for communities.

If you buy produce at a farmer's market, for instance, with local currency, the money stays in the community (for products that, and vendors who, in this example, come from the community).

If you buy produce at a Wal-Mart store, and use a credit card, a percentage of that money is leaving the community for the credit card lender, some for the far-away grower, some for the food wholesaler, and some to Wal-Mart in Bentonville, Arkansas -never to return to your community. Certainly, never to you.

Local spending (particularly with local currency) means not saying "goodbye" to your hard-earned cash, but instead, "see you around. "

You can find out more about Ithaca Hours at, or by writing or phoning Small World Music, proud Ithaca Hours member ( ; 607/256-0428).

Regarding that credit card: they're good for emergencies, right? So, a friend of ours who got into some credit trouble a while back keeps one in the house. Literally. Not in his wallet. And the place in the house is in the freezer, in a coffee can of ice. Now if he really needs it, he can get it, but he has to wait for the ice to melt.

The can is metal, so it can't be microwaved.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pete Seeger, Not Stopping

The New York Times last month reported on folk singer Pete Seeger, who at age 89 doesn't appear on concert stages much anymore, but can be seen every Saturday on Route 9 near his hometown of Beacon, New York, keeping a roadside anti-war vigil with hand-painted signs for peace.

It's not a rally at the Lincoln Memorial. But that's the point.

"You do a little bit wherever you are," Mr. Seeger says.

He brings his banjo along and plays for people who stop to join him, or just recognize and want to meet him.

We had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Seeger two years ago, representing Ithaca Hours, the local currency system. Mr. Seeger wanted to start a similar system in Beacon and asked us to address a group he formed for the project.

Mr. Seeger had a particular goal in mind: to fund, with the new revenue stream and increased economic activity of a local currency, the creation of an aquatic pool cage that could be put in the Hudson River near Beacon for summer swimming for children.

It was a productive meeting, though we did mention to Mr. Seeger that a local currency takes a long time to develop. He asked, deadpan, why we would mention the issue of time and duration to him.

We sure retracted that remark. We said (and meant) that we hoped to be at 67 as he was that day at 87. (Mr. Seeger had organized the meeting, and arranged our participation, and his wife Toshi and he cooked dinner for the group of twenty people.)

Since last month's piece in the Times about Mr. Seeger's public vigil, we saw another news article about Beacon.

It announced a new pool cage in the Hudson River for summer swimming for children.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, July 18, 2008

During GrassRoots, Shorter Hours (But Lower Prices) at Small World Music

Small World Music will close at 5 pm rather than 6 pm for each day of the GrassRoots Festival. (Sundays, we are closed.)

If you are visiting Ithaca for GrassRoots, by all means stop in and see where music in Ithaca resides for the 361 days of the year there is no GrassRoots.

Show us your wristband - or simply mention this offer - and get 10% off purchases this weekend.

Small World Music is on the west end of town, on your way out of town towards Trumansburg, at 614 W. State St., down the driveway (that is, not visible from a moving automobile, but easy to see from an exited automobile). We're across the street from Kinko's, with parking down our driveway, or on the street.

You might also notice our sidewalk sign which currently is advertising the new releases by the Horse Flies and Donna the Buffalo.

Steve Burke
for Small World Music and Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

GrassRoots Picks

Regular readers (new and sporadic ones, too) might have noticed a profusion of GrassRoots material on the Blog lately. Part of the reason is simply that GrassRoots is a big deal around here.

Mostly, though, it was because we got so many hits from people, from far and wide, looking for information about GrassRoots, that we thought we would dedicate lots of posts to such info, and also keep the cyberspace gangway cleared for these seekers.

Anyway, we figure our final posting about GrassRoots 2008 will be this: our mail carrier today asked what we consider the don't-miss acts. While this is of course a matter of taste, we thought we would mention a few of our considerations.

We won't give exact times for the acts, but will list them from earlier in the day each day til later.

Friday: Bubba George String Band has the honor of kicking off the Festival, every year, with a set of old-timey beauty and fun. We remember when they weren't, but by now they are probably venerable. Personally, we are big fans of venerable tradition; and this is GrassRoots' own practice of it.

To prove we can be parochial, we recommend Burke and Bone, who do a mixture of traditional old-timey, country blues, and originals. Next in the Cabaret is Evil City String Band, a band with a similar mix and sensiblity, not to mention some overlap in personnel.

The night's headliners are Eilen Jewell and Lucinda Williams, who do back-to-back shows on the GrandStand stage.

Saturday: Ti-Ti Chickapea play early at the Dance Tent. Hank Roberts, Richie Stearns, and Eric Aceto do a very Ithacan turn on Americana (including Native Americana, if you will) mixed with acoustic jazz.

If you haven't caught up with the Balkan hoedown/New York underground thing that's going on, the Luminescent Orchestrii is your chance. They claim their music will make you "kiss and dance." Nothing wrong with that.

Etran Finatawa promise to be the new Tinariwan, which certainly should not be missed.

The Flying Clouds once again bring jumping, sweating salvation to the Dance Tent. They also have the coolest entourage (their families) and t-shirts (at bargain prices ... so they save you in more ways than one).

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band are big, big players in an old, old tradition in New Orleans, and are definitely a must.

We don't get much music here from Brazil, and you can't get too much music from Brazil; this year we have Nation Beat, in the friendly confines of the Dance Tent.

Saturday: The Horse Flies play early (1 pm ) at the Grandstand Stage. At about the same time, jazz guitarist Clay Ross, of Cyro Baptista's band, plays in the Cabaret.

Tobey Foyeh and Orchestra Africa bring a taste of highlife and Afrobeat and, no doubt, ruckus to the Infield Stage.

Galumpha (nee Second Hand Dance) return, at 7 pm. Then, stay in your seats for Cyro Baptista and Beat the Donkey, who also bring theatrics (along with very original music) to their performance, and were a big, surprise hit in 2006.

Plena Libre are big stars in the world of Latin dance music, and they will no doubt please.

Sunday: If you've never gotten it together to get up for the GrassRoots Chamber Orchestra, give it a shot. Beautiful music and a pleasing change of pace to remind us, as Duke Ellington said, there are really only two kinds of music. Similarly, the Bethlehem Youth Choir, from Ithaca, sing right after that, in the Dance Tent.

Jim Miller, longtime guitarist for Donna the Buffalo, returns with his new band, the Rough Gems.

Big Leg Emma are big Ithaca favorites and big favorites at clubs and festivals all over.

So. We have missed many, of course. We trust you won't. Pretty much no matter what you do, you can't go wrong. Have fun at this great event which so well represents our little town and its place in bringing bring this big world together through music, cooperation, understanding, respect, work, and joy.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Big Weekend of Pre-GrassRoots Festival Music in Ithaca

One might think there'd be a dearth of music in town before the Festival, but this is unso.

Thursday 7/10, reggae legends Morgan Heritage are at Castaways, at 9:30.

* * *

Friday 7/11, the Irish ensemble Traonach plays at Felicia's happy hour, 5:30 - 8 pm.

It's an all alt-country eve at the Lost Dog, with Steve Gollnick, the Urban Horse Thieves, The Black-Eyed Susies, and the Chicken Tractor. 8 pm.

Sim Redmond Band has a CD release party at Castaways, with IY opening, 9:30.

* * *

Saturday 7/12: Johnny Dowd is at the Chapter House. We have seen the showtime posted as 8 pm, and also as 10 pm. We tend to think 10, but the bar's number is 277-9782.

Chicken Tractor resurfaces at Castaways, with the Macgillicuddies this time. 9 pm.

Gadje plays gypsy music at the ABC, 10 pm.

Tarbox Ramblers at the Rongo in T-burg, 10 pm.

* * *

Sunday 7/13: Kevin Kinsella at Felicia's, 7 pm.

The Sillanpaa Family, from Scandinavia, plays bluegrass and American country, quite well. At Bound For Glory at Anabel Taylor Hall, Cornell. Free admission, and live broadcast on WVBR. First set, 8:30.

have fun -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

GrassRoots Tickets, and Music, at Small World Music

The festival approaches, and a week remains to get advance price tickets for GrassRoots. We have plenty here at Small World Music, but it's smart not to wait until the last minute, as there's no guarantee that the festival organizers will have time to replenish supplies as show time nears.

We also have a good selection of festival music here, and festival-style music. By that we mean, if you like Lucinda Williams (whose CDs we have), you might also like her musical heroes, whose CDs we also have, such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Robert Johnson, Hank Williams, et al.

We have the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Plena Libre. The new Hank Roberts (lauded in the NY Times). The new Horse Flies CD, "Until the Ocean," which is the #1 selling CD here at Small World Music. Jeff & Judy just brought us another case of 30.

For all you far-flung readers, we do mail orders. We do special orders. We have popular, obscure, new & shiny, used & cheap. Write us with inquiries here at the Blog, or at, or phone, 607/256-0428.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog and Small World Music

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Ride Share to GrassRoots? Post at Ithaca Blog

Maybe the only tough thing about GrassRoots is transportation to and from.

Parking is easy enough, and free, at the big lot on Agard Road, with free bus service to the Fairgrounds. Sometimes the wait for the bus can be long, though (they break down occasionally), and even crazy long, as is sometimes the case after the last big performance of each night. The lot can also be problematic with mud, after big rainfalls. The memorable deluge of Friday night, 2006, left many wheels interred, and people stranded.

Public transportation would be great, particularly with the price of gas these days, which makes a round-trip from Ithaca to T-burg about a $5 proposition. TCAT's Route 21 bus to T-burg is only 50 cents at off-peak times, and on weekends, in July. But the service stops early in the evening.

Public transportation would also be a great societal and personal boon in the cases of those who consume alcohol at the fest, then have to get home. Get caught over the limit, and you will bring misery upon yourself (hopefully, no one else). Police scrutiny on the roads to and from the fest seems to intensify each year. Fair game for those who drink and drive, we guess, but there are also people getting expensive tickets for going 5 miles over the speed limit, cracked tail lights, and other minor infractions, as the local cops increasingly seem to regard festival goers as cash cow driving ducks.

Taxi service seems out of the question unaffordable (although a lot cheaper than a DWI, of course). It is also probably pretty hard to access. We are not aware of a cab company in T-burg, so it would be a cab coming out there from Ithaca, then trying to find you.

A stop-gap solution might be ride-sharing. Ride sharing is economical and, lately, even trendy. But how does one find or arrange it?

Ithaca Blog will hereby get on board, as the (unofficial) ride board for the festival. If you have car space to offer (for financial recompense, we presume and/or suggest), or have need of a ride or rides, post here at Ithaca Blog, or drop us a line at, or phone us at Small World Music: 256-0428. We'll see what happens, and let yous know.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

GrassRoots Needs Volunteers

The GrassRoots Festival organization sent word today that they still have plenty of need for volunteers in plenty of capacities, particularly help with food prep for performers and staff; trash collection; and post-festival breakdown, which lasts a week or so.

Volunteers get free admission and fed. It's a good way to make friends and do valuable work in a fun setting.

Contact the co-ordinators at

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, July 04, 2008

July 4 Weekend Music in Ithaca

The July 4 holiday falling on a Friday sure gets it feeling leisurely, fast. Friday the 4th is a pretty sparse night for musical entertainment, and probably for restaurants, bars, and other indoor entities in general, as it is a number one picnic day.

Nevertheless, Pete Panek and the Rockers, hard-working men of show biz, are at the Lehigh Valley House for their usual Friday night gig, at 8 pm.

* * *

Sat. 7/5: Outside GIAC, at the corners of Court and Albany Streets, a "community unity" block party goes from 2 - 8 pm. Free music from Thousands of One, Mbusi, and Food Clothes and Shelter. Barbecue, and vegetarian food prepared by local churches and community groups. And more. Sponsored by the Race Liberation Alliance.

Thousands of One go from that gig to another at Castaways, opening for Jsan and the Analogue Suns, at 9 pm.

* * *

Sun. 7/6: Another day of good local offerings, as the Irish Music Session resumes its Sunday afternoon residency at Kilpatrick's. Time unspecified; phone is 277-8900.

And at Bound For Glory, local (and upstate NY) troubadour Joe Crookston rambles round in Woody Guthrie's shoes. First set at 8:30 pm.

Have fun -
Steve Burke
Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Daily GrassRoots Tickets Now Available In Advance, Online

Tickets for individual days of the GrassRoots Festival are now available for advance purchase at the Festival's website,

Previously, only 4-day tickets were available in advance. Daily tickets had to be purchased at the gate, that day.

The Festival website is the only place to get advance daily tickets. Retail outlets continue to sell only the 4-day tickets.

Daily ticket prices vary. Advance prices for Thursday and Friday are each $38; Saturday is $43; Sunday $28. Advance prices are $2 less each day than day-of prices.

Advance sale tickets for all 4 days are $95. At the gate, they will be $110. They are currently available at Small World Music, and other locations.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog (and Small World Music)

TCAT Bus Tries Off-Peak Fares

The TCAT bus system today started a 2-month experiment with off-peak fares of 50 cents, instead of the regular fare of $1.50.

Off-peak times are 10 am - 3 pm, after 6 pm, and all weekend.

The trial period is the months of July and August.

TCAT continues to show a progressive bent in the midst of the gas price crises. Rather than raising fares at a time when people might feel forced to use public transit, TCAT has sought ways to make its service even cheaper. Two years ago, TCAT eliminated zone pricing, reducing fares to destinations such as Trumansburg, Newfield, and Groton from $3.00 to $1.50.

The TCAT system has extensive service throughout the city and county, including campuses, shopping destinations, and parks.

For details, routes, schedules, maps, etc., see

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog