100_0665100_0670100_0671100_0664100_0669100_0679100_0684100_0688100_0676100_0686100_0693100_0678100_0694Our annual get-together was held this year at the home of Paul and Marcia Buckhout. At Paul’s suggestion, this year’s entertainment was given over to story-telling. After a little bit of reluctance to talk about oneselves, many of us donned the green story-teller’s cap and plunged in. As usual, fun was held by all.


Cathy, Tim, Greg, Susan, Jo, Dave, Ginny and I hit Town Hall on Saturday evening to attend a taping of the radio show Prairie Home Companion. We enjoyed Garrison Keillor‘s low key, folksy, whimsical fun, and his guests Gillian Welch, Joel Grey and especially Itzhak Perlman (with a very fine Klezmer orchestra!) were a treat. I do have to say that if and when I return to Town Hall, I’m definitely sitting in the orchestra, where we sat for Thursday’s Wainwright concert; sitting in the balcony for Keillor wa terribly tight and uncomfortable. After the show, however, we creaked ourselves to our full heights and walked around the block for an excellent dinner at a French restaurant on 44th Street called Saju Bistro. My friends ate things like rabbit, octopus and beets, and the food and the company were top notch.


On Saturday night, Ginny and I and our friends Cathy, Tim, Greg, Susan, Jo and Dave took a limo (!) up to Woodstock to see the legendary Levon Helm perform at his studio/home. In this warm, intimate atmosphere (the audience couldn’t have numbered more than 200), Helm and his wonderful band (among the players: Larry Campbell, Amy Helm, Jim Weider, Brian Mitchell, Teresa Williams and Jimmy Vivino) offer a performance based on old time medicine shows: a mixture of blues, country, bluegrass, gospel, New Orleans-style jazz, Texas swing and rock and roll. Helm has had throat cancer, and so sang little and talked not all, but he played the drums and the mandolin and when he did sing, it was a pure pleasure to hear the 71 year-old trouper, hoarse as he was, throw himself into the roots music that has been his life-long love; indeed, the great pleasure of the evening was hearing all these virtuosic musicians throw themselves into these songs with such passion and enthusiasm and delight. Among the performances I most enjoyed: “The Shape I’m In,” “Ophelia,” “Bourgeoise Blues,” “God Never Changes,” a beautiful Spanish love song, and the closer, “The Weight.” The opening act, a young quintet from Knoxville called The Dirty Guv’nahs (boisterous, derivative, thrilled), came onstage and joined the band for this, and to hear seventeen musicians–the grandfatherly Helm and all his spiritual sons and daughters onstage–as well as the faithful in the audience, sing and play the great, mournful, enigmatic ballad was altogether like being in church. It was a singularly wonderful experience.



We had a swell time the day after Christmas by hydroplaning down to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx and joining the gang for dinner at Dominick’s. The always-crowded family style restaurant DSCN1202DSCN1203DSCN1205DSCN1207DSCN1208DSCN1209had long been one of favorite haunts, and though Ginny and I had not eaten there for ten years or so, we had spent many a happy evening there in the company of Anni and Greg Montaneno, Jim Noonan, Tom Manning, Mary McCartney, Holly Brubach and other friends. It was still fun. I had baked clams oregenata and flounder francese, but I should have had the veal.


The usual Christmas Eve gang evidenced some new tricks the home of Cathy Gallagher and Tim Hart, pulling out the old chestnut, charades. Smooth Criminal. Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb. Avatar. The Audacity of Hope. Going Rogue. Tiger Woods. Up. Smiles all around.
UP: Greg and Susan; Jo and Ginny; DOWN: elements of the Top Hat team; the Santa Hats plot

UP: Will and Greg, distracted; all eyes fixed; DOWN: Tim and Cathy celebrate; Cara is amused

UP: Top Hats transfixed; Cathy and Marly; DOWN: Greg: Little word; Ginny: Two words

UP: Dave has the floor; Jo’s game face; DOWN: Molly delivers; Margaret presides

UP: Happy Cara; Susan rules; DOWN: Looking feztive; the youth of America