Felicitations From Fairhope #06
06 April 2020
[Squaring the Circle Sidebar - This series of postings - six in total - was completed before we were all engulfed by the advent of The Virus. Here is the final one…]
Six Postings on Five Continents (cont.)
Accra – Surprisingly good. Caught a major break when I became chummy with the French Ambassador, who invited me to his residence now and then to play with guest musicians, local and imported. I also led a community choir, performed for the President of Ghana, and made it on YouTube playing with Rachel Barton-Pine, a wonderful violinist.
Pretoria – Pretty dismal. Although Anne’s excellent boss did invite me to play at some of her excellent parties, which was very cool. I also put together a second solo CD and had some fun playing amplified accordion with other Embassy musicians in a pickup Blues band.
Washington, DC – Somewhat frustrating, since double-dipping military musicians had a virtual lock on local accordion gigs. But I played a little jazz in coffee houses with friends and even had a couple of students. Also performed with the Washington Balalaika Orchestra, practicing diligently in order to develop some reasonable proficiency with Russian music.
Buenos Aires – Amazing. I had great support from folks in the Public Affairs Section at the Embassy, which gave me opportunities to perform, and even managed to produce a house concert on my own. I also had the pleasure of attending concerts by accordionists Chango Spasiuk and the incomparable Raúl Barboza.
But, most importantly, studying with the great bandoneonist, composer, and arranger Rodolfo Mederos caused me to begin to reinvent myself as a musician. And at Torquato Tasso, the best Tango listening room on the planet, I had the privilege of hearing Rodolfo with his trio and orquesta tipica on numerous occasions. It was glorious and it changed my life. (Maestro, nunca puedo agradecerle lo suficiente.)
Yangon – Unexpectedly satisfying. The Shang had a meeting room that residents could book, so I put together a couple of pretty successful house concerts. I also connected with some Burmese musicians through my work with the Orchestra for Myanmar, and even did an accordion workshop at the Gitameit Music Institute in Yangon. And I recorded my third solo album - consisting entirely of Tangos - in a Burmese recording studio.
Rome – A disappointment. I concede that age and a lack of motivation on my part were factors, but there just didn’t seem to be any sort of meaningful musical outlet for me. (Although I did have a nice exchange with Alessandro, one of the guys in Facilities Maintenance, who is a terrific chromatic accordion player.) So, once again, I went to work on a new solo album, my fourth (and probably last), recorded in Verbania at the home of members of our famiglia italiana. It’s called “Loose Endz,” and it’s not bad. Not bad at all.
AND THAT’S A WRAP
We have been unbelievably fortunate to have led this life for the past 13.5 years. Thanks to all the wonderful local people we’ve met and worked with for their generous hospitality and gracious patience. We are inestimably indebted to them. We are also most grateful for the good friends we have made within the diplomatic community and hope to see them all again further on up the road.
Finally, a shout-out and big love to Anne, without whom none of this would have been possible. It has been my singular honor to be her wingman on this journey and I am immensely proud of her and her many accomplishments. Taxpayer money wisely spent… well done, A.J.
We love you all madly.
[Trump Virus Sidebar Update - Yeah, I know. The Moron-in-Chief is not directly responsible for the creation of COVID-19, but since (a) his response to the pandemic has been, to be charitable, disastrously incompetent and (b) he revels in having shit named after himself, “The Trump Virus” it is. Sue me.
Anne and I are in Fairhope, trying to get our home renovations completed to the point where we can actually move in before the apocalypse engulfs the state of Alabama. With a bit of luck, we may actually pull it off. Meanwhile, we are healthy, washing our hands (like 80 times a day), and trying to stay in touch with our friends. I plan to keep posting as time permits and motivation persists.
I sincerely appreciate all of you faithful correspondents who have gone to the trouble of actually reading these things and, on many occasions, responding kindly to them. I am honored that you have chosen to keep me out of your Spam folder. Please be advised: You may not be rid of me yet.]