Ithaca Blog

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Southern Fried Sampling: Cookbook Release Party at Simply Red Bistro

The Simply Red Bistro at Sheldrake Point Vineyards has a new cookbook, their first, of recipes for their acclaimed southern-style food. There is a late-breaking announcement of a book release party tomorrow, Monday 30 June, at the restaurant.

The vineyard is located about 20 miles north of Ithaca, off Route 89.

The party will feature free samples of food, and music from the Evil City String Band. The cookbook includes a music CD from the band, which regularly plays at Simply Red's southern nights, on Mondays, and will perform at the event.

Most of the week, Simply Red features American and Continental cuisine that is decidedly haute, and well-regarded. The Monday southern nights are homier, and well-attended, to say the least. At Simply Red's previous location, in downtown Trumansburg, reservations were necessary even for stools at the bistro's bar.

As of today, the announcement gives the time of the event as "around dinner time."

Sheldrake Vineyard's phone is 532-9401.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday Night Live Rebroadcasts First Show, With Host George Carlin

On Saturday, June 28, Saturday Night Live will re-broadcast its first show, from 1975, which featured George Carlin as host.

Carlin's historic performance is not included in any SNL compilation, nor re-run on any SNL forum. Our understanding is that SNL does not pay royalties to performers for these deals, and our surmisal is that Carlin was ready to eff with them mightily if they tried to exploit him like that.

Carlin performs three brief monologues in the course of the show, which features early stars John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Gilda Radner, Chevy Chase, and the rest of the original "Not Ready for Prime Time Players." The broadcast is also noteworthy for the first TV appearance of Andy Kauffman.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, June 27, 2008

Weekend Music, June 27 - 29

Fri. 6/29: Most of the action seems to start pretty early tonight. Happy Hours are the impetus, we reckon.

At Castaways, Rottweiller Nation starts a triple bill at 5:30. Ayurveda, with Absolution Project, play at 9:30.

At Felicia's, Aceto, Lieberman, and Shew play the bargain-laden happy hour, 5:30 - 8 pm.

At the Haunt, 505 Blues start at 6 pm.

At Micawbers, The Purple Valley, 6 pm.

In Trumansburg, Kelly Birtch is at Little Venice at 6 pm; El Caminos are at the Rongo at 7.

* * *

Sat. 6/28: The Yard Varks do particularly nice vocal work with golden oldies (or, classic rock?). At the Farmers Market, 10:30 am.

Hubcap, alt-country rock, at the Chapter House, 10 pm.

* * *

Sun. 6/29: Traditional bluesman Troy Walker performs at what we guess is the final live Bound For Glory of the season, at Anabel Taylor Hall at Cornell. First set is 8:30.

Have fun -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ithaca Carshare Is Rolling

Ithaca Carshare became a reality this week, with the arrival on city streets of 6 vehicles shared by members who pay for their use on an hourly basis.

Ithaca Carshare currently has 6 new Nissan Versa 5-door hatchbacks, and plans to add a pickup truck. We spied one of the cars at its permanent pickup spot at the Seneca Street entrance to the Dewitt Mall.

Members pay $50 annually, 20 cents a mile, and $7.95 an hour, or can pay $200 annually for a $4.95 hourly rate.

Ithaca is the smallest city in the country with a carshare program. It is the first in upstate New York.

More information is available at

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ithacan Remembers George Carlin's Protest Help

Ed McGowan, of Ithaca by way of New York City, went to Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx at about the same time as George Carlin, who died this week at age 71. They never met there, as Carlin was expelled rather precipitously for bad behavior.

McGowan laughs about it with the remove of years. "The place was run like a prison," he says.

Their paths ultimately crossed in the early 1970's. McGowan was a Jesuit priest and an activist against the Vietnam war. He was part of a group called the Camden 28, on trial for destroying draft records at a Selective Service office in Camden, New Jersey. (John Grady, Sr., of Ithaca's Grady family, was another of the 28.)

The group needed money for their legal expenses. Someone suggested Carlin as a headliner for a fundraising concert.

Though Carlin's comedy was often political, he wasn't known as politically active. None of the group knew him personally. But they thought perhaps his background - subversive city Irish - would help.

McGowan recalls they contacted Carlin's agent, Jack Morris. "Carlin asked a few questions, and said yes pretty much immediately."

The benefit was at a large concert hall in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. McGowan recalls that Carlin met with the group before the show, got some information about their efforts, and created some material around that. He also did much of his regular material - altogether, two hours worth, McGowan says.

"He brought the house down. Uproarious, gut-splitting humor." The show was such a success, McGowan says, "We were the only protest group in the black."

The Camden 28 defended themselves and were found innocent, in an historical trial McGowan recounts in his book, "Warriors For Peace."

We mourn George Carlin's death, and will remember his long and brilliant life of telling the truth.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

GrassRoots Festival Posts Schedule

The GrassRoots Festival has posted the full festival schedule at its website,

The most notable news is that Lucinda Williams is performing on Thursday night - an excellent tactical move, as Thursday is usually the sparsest day at GrassRoots, so there should be plenty of room for the scads of fans she is bound to bring.

A surprising detail is her scheduled space: not the Infield Stage (the largest, in front of an open field), but the Grandstand, with a finite number of bleacher seats and a small amount of real estate in front.

Ordinarily, it would be a big boost for whomever performs there before Ms. Williams, as earlybirds will be perching well in advance for seats. In this case, however, the performer before Ms. Williams is Eilen Jewell, who will not need any help.

Advance tickets to GrassRoots are on sale at Small World Music, along with music from many GrassRoots performers: Ms. Williams and Ms. Jewell, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Donna the Buffalo, the Flying Clouds, Plena Libre, and more.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Ithaca Festival Favorites, Concisely

There is more to see than ever at the Ithaca Festival this year, with activities at Stewart Park all three days instead of just Sunday. We contrive here to construct the concisest possible list of highlights.

Thursday: the parade. For us, the best part of the whole thing. Remember, as of last year, the route is now Cayuga St., not Buffalo. If history is any guide, prepare for some rain.

Friday: Boy With A Fish on the Commons, 6 pm.

Saturday: Wingnut, with Hank Roberts, in Stewart Park, 3 pm. Evil City String Band, featuring Richie Stearns and Pat Burke, in the park at 7:30. Traonach, the celtic outfit, on the Commons at 7:45.

Sunday: the Peace Rally, an attempt to form the world's largest human peace symbol for the Guinness Book of World Records, is at 2 pm at Stewart Park. The Sim Redmond Band closes the festival at the park, 7:30 pm.

Your Ithaca Festival button, $5, helps pay for the Festival. It also gets you free fare on TCAT buses to and from the festival sites all weekend long.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ithaca "Taste of the Nation" Tonight

Tonight at Ithaca College, the Share Our Strength organization holds its annual Taste of the Nation event to fight hunger.

Dozens of our area's finest restaurants, wineries, and other food and drink professionals offer samples of their fare to raise funds for local anti-hunger groups, such as Loaves and Fishes, and the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.

Tickets are $75. Sponsorships insure that 100% of ticket sales go directly to the charitable organizations.

The event is at the Emerson Suites at Ithaca College. It starts at 6:30 and goes until 10 pm. There is live music towards the latter part of the evening. Dress is business casual.

Information about tickets is available at

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, June 13, 2008

Weekend Music, June 13 & 14

Fri. 6/13: There's a convention of crooks at Castaways, with Urban Horse Thieves at 5 pm, and the Thieves Hymn at 9 pm. Maddy Walsh opens for the later show. Maybe she will steal it.

* * *

Sat. 6/14: Kevin Kinsella, ex-singer for John Brown's Body, brings his new band to the Chapter House: Food, Clothes, Shelter. 10 pm.

Have fun -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Foreign Language Songs Quiz: Answers and Winner

No one won the trifecta for our quiz question last week, asking for the only three foreign language songs - one in French, one German, one Spanish - ever to make the Billboard charts in the U.S.

That trifecta would be: "Dominique", by the Singing Nun; "99 Luftballoons", by Nena; and "La Bamba", by Richie Valens.

"La Bamba" has the distiction of being the first to crack the xenophobia barrier.

(Which brings to mind a popular joke in Queens, NY, purportedly the most ethnically diverse area in the world.

What do you call a person who speaks five languages? Multi-lingual.
What do you call a person who speaks two languages? Bi-lingual.
What do you call a person who speaks one language? American.)

We got a lot of correct answers identifying one or another of the songs in question. Also, some funny ones, like from Joe M., who knew "La Bamba", but also suggested "Tequila." We offered, in reply, that "Tequila" is a title, but only arguably a lyric. Also, that "tequila" might actually be considered an honorary (or adopted) English word, since it is commonly known, and has no alternative. Same as "vodka" (which is actually (we believe) a Russian word, an affectionate diminutive of "water").

Joe also nominated "Louie Louie" as a song that is not in English; but if incomprehensibility were a language, many rock singers would be bi-lingual.

The contest winner, selected at random, is Marc, who gets a $10 gift certificate to Small World Music, the college of musical knowledge. Congratulations to Marc, and thanks to all entrants.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Horseflies: Free Show Tonight, and New CD Sale-Priced Today

The Horseflies, central New York's most venerated music group, play a free concert tonight on the Ithaca Commons, kicking off the Thursday Night Downtown Ithaca Summer Concert Series.

The Horseflies are celebrating the release of "Until the Ocean", their first studio release in 17 years.

The CD is available at Small World Music today for a sale price of $13 to Ithaca Blog readers.

The show is scheduled for 6 - 8 pm, at the Bernie Milton Pavilion on the Commons.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Gardening Tip, Or Warning: Buckwheat Flour Repels Animals, Or Else Attracts Them

Gardening can be a pretty confusing proposition to a novice. There are as many different opinions about it as there are about health or dominoes.

Recently we heard that buckwheat flour is abhorrent to deer and rabbits and will keep them out of the garden. We heard that if deer even smell buckwheat flour on a hot summer day, something to the combination fills them with despair.

With a level of excitement we have sometimes experienced at the racetrack, we asked a knowledgeable friend, an actual farmer, about the tip. He said he didn't know, but he did know that when he has grown buckwheat as a cover crop on his farm, the deer take to it like a table of buffet.

Hope springs eternal, though, so we're giving it a shot, and will report our results. If they are positive, look for the price of buckwheat flour at GreenStar to balloon.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Music Quiz Question: Hit Songs Not in English

The sporadic Ithaca Blog quiz question surfaces again this week. It's driven by a piece of trivia arisen at Small World Music today that is too good to pass up, or not pass along. Namely:

The U.S. "Billboard" top 40 record charts have included songs in a language other than English only three times: one in Spanish, one in French, and one in German. Name one and we include you for a randomly-selected prize of a $10 gift certificate to Small World Music. Be the first to name all three, and you win a g.c. with no drawing: all yours, champ. (As of Thursday 12 June, no one has accomplished this wondrous feat.)

We'll take entries all this week and pick winners on Friday. You can e-mail your answer to SWM at

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog and Small World Music

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Weekend Music, June 6 - 8

Fri. 6/6: Pat Burke and Gregor Bone at Felicia's happy hour, 5:30.

Hometown rock-and roll pioneer Bobby Comstock makes a comeback appearance at the Haunt, 8 pm.

* * *

Sat. 6/7: The Crossing Borders series presents a program of young bands at the Lost Dog Lounge, featuring Sugar in the Raw and The Sauce. 8 pm.

* * *

Sun. 6/8: Kitchen Chair, fiddle and guitar, at brunch at the ABC Cafe, 11 am.

Jennie Stearns at Felicia's, 7 pm.

The Black-Eyed Susies at Korova, 214 E. State St.

Have fun-
Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Take Me Out to the Ballgame in Binghamton

The New York Mets have a minor league affiliate in Binghamton, and while a pro sports event is not the first weekend diversion one thinks of in our region, a ballgame in Binghamton is entertaining and affordable.

The Binghamton Mets are a mid-level minor league franchise. The team generally fields a few players who will eventually make it to the big time. A few years ago, we saw David Wright playing there, a week or so before he was promoted to the major league Mets, where he is now an All-Star third baseman.

The outing is easy and, as we say, affordable. Tickets are $8 and $9, which is less than parking at a big league park (parking for the Binghamton Mets is $2, if we remember right, or free and readily available on neighborhood streets around the park).

The park is intimate, seating about 5,000. It is clean and the atmosphere is wholesome and family-oriented. Concessions are reasonably priced, and range from good-quality spiedies (a Binghamton specialty) to steamed franks that require culinary courage more than coinage.

Weekend night games are followed by a fireworks show, which is not bad. Personally we prefer old-fashioned day games, on Sunday.

The B-Mets are home this Sunday for a game that starts at 1 pm. Good tickets are generally available at the gate at game time.

Some Ithacans will be making a group trip to this Sunday's game. Leading us is Kenny Ritter, who produced the Luminary News on local TV until illness deterred him. Kenny is still fighting his illness, but will be sitting behind home plate on Sunday. Come by and say hi.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

State Theater 2008 Subscriptions On Sale, Monday 8 June

If you're the type who loves good seats, saving money, and supporting the arts in your community, subscriptions to the State Theater's 2008 various series will go on sale this Monday, 8 June.

The State's slate for 2008 includes David Crosby and Graham Nash, Steve Earle, Billy Bragg, Sharon Jones, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Habib Koite, the Flatlanders, Cassandra Wilson, and many more.

Get details at the State's site,

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bo Diddley Dies at Age 79

Bo Diddley, a pioneering creator of rock and roll music, died of heart failure yesterday at his home in Florida, at age 79.

Ithaca Blog paid tribute to Mr. Diddley, with hopes for his longevity, in a post on May 18, 2007, after he suffered a stroke.

You can check that post for our feelings about Bo Diddley, and see today's New York Times for its thorough obituary and appreciation of his life and music.

For now, we say again, God bless Bo Diddley.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog