Monday, January 25, 2010

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings(!) and Nittany Valley Symphony

While I did not accomplish anything related to my work over the past weekend, I did have a fantastic time attending two very different concerts.

On Friday eve, I attended a show featuring Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings at The State Theatre here in State College, PA.  If you have never heard of her and her band, then you are seriously missing out!  Hubby and I got the chance to see her over the summer during our travels to Oregon (see:  Out West for a Bit).  I would say that she is the equivalent to James Brown regarding her energy, funky sound and soul, but she is just as dynamic, classy and polished as I would imagine Tina Turner is live...even though at 4'8" her legs aren't quite as long as Tina's.  I first heard of the amazing Ms. Sharon Jones during my early days of Pandora circa 2004 thanks to Grad School - on a side note:  all hail to Pandora for helping me discover some really awesome music!  You've probably unknowingly heard her band, though, on Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black" album, which (I'm just gonna say it) is all about the Dap-Kings' contribution...they KILL on that record.  Winehouse has on OK voice (in my opinion), but it's the music (aka the Dap-Kings contribution) that is more memorable to me.  Of course, Winehouse wrote the music (I think?) so I suppose she KILLS, too :-)

Before the show, hubby and I had dinner at India Pavilion (yummy Chana Masala for me!) with one of my former roomies and her hubby who were also attending the show with us.  I have a little crush on Ms. Jones, so I bought the tickets for the show literally seconds after they went on sale.  With that, I was able to score front row "seats".  I say "seats" because I really didn't expect to be sitting the entire show, and I was correct.  DJ Roman Oakwood from local station The Lion @ 90.7FM  "warmed us up" with his enthusiasm and funky spins...totally fun and appreciative guy.  Then soon after, the Dap-Kings came out and got us on our feet (after some initial uncomfortable eye contact associated with being so close to them) to introduce Ms. Jones.  The whole show was so entertaining - she's pulling people up and performing her ass off!  Two lucky ladies - me and my former roomie(!) - also got pulled onstage during "My Man is a Mean Man".

Yup, that's US!  (thanks to hubby)

We danced a bit, introduced ourselves, and then "shimmied" off the stage.  It was so fun!  Of course, she has to end the show at some point, but (of course) there was an Encore.  She performed "Answer Me" and also told us about enduring some of the criticism that she faced when trying to get signed - e.g., too black, too fat, and too old (she's 53!).  I would say she has prevailed, and I'm sure those music executives are kicking themselves.  We all got to meet her after the show, and she graciously signed two records for me.  I would definitely recommend all of their albums, and you should see them perform live if you can.  In fact, all of the Daptone Records artists are amazing.  On another side note - Grooveshark is another awesome online music site that I use to listen/sample several different artists and bands.  You won't be disappointed buying her albums, though.  I almost forgot to mention, too, that Ms. Jones will be singing a duet with Michael Buble on Saturday Night Live on Jan. 30!

Just for fun, here's another photo from Friday eve.

Yeah, I see you!

Hubby and I also attended a Nittany Valley Symphony concert on Saturday eve.  My former roomie (yes, the one dancing on the stage with me!) plays the violin in it.  While I do not have tales of dancing on the stage this time around, it was definitely a great performance.  I grew up listening to a lot of classical music, mostly due to my many many years of ballet dancing, so it's still fun for me to hear it live especially when you know someone playing.  They performed pieces from Dvorak and Bartok.  I love me some New World Symphony, so I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed Dvorak's Cello Concerto in B Minor (Op. 104).  I really (sadly) don't know Bartok, but enjoyed his Concerto for Orchestra, which seemed extremely difficult to play.  Nevertheless, the NVS performed it and Dvorak brilliantly.  It was a good change from the previous night, but still very enjoyable - two date nights for me and hubby in a row!  It's also fun to attend their performances, because I always recognize someone new in the symphony that I "know" - either they are professors or I just see them around the community at random places.

Overall, it was a very lazy weekend for me - we also managed to watch the last 5 episodes of Lost (Season 5) after the concert on Saturday.  I'm slightly ashamed of myself for spending so much time in front of the TV - but only slightly as we really don't watch anything else and it's taken us an entire year to watch all five seasons (I know people watch them over 5 least we spread it out!).  For now, though, it's back to work work work!  These experiments and dissertation aren't going to finish themselves!!!  All the best to you and your work - work hard!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Been Travelin'

Obviously, it's been a while since I've posted an update. While I definitely took some time off after passing my Comps, I've also been busy planning what's next and also visiting family and friends. I'll quickly give you the run down on the past couple months...just to keep you updated :-)

1. Thanksgiving at PSU with hubby. We brined the most delicious turkey (you must have some next time) mimicking the recipe here. We also made all the typical fixings (i.e., stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, potatoes, gravy) that you might have including the necessary macaroni and cheese that is a staple at my house at every holiday/celebration. I love to bake, so I also made a pumpkin roll that looked pretty lousy (due to wrong pan size) but was very tasty. I even convinced Lady Caroline to come for dinner (she took a break from cleaning her house to eat with us)!

2. Home to Ohio with hubby and Grady. My visit home was two fold - see my family and attend my 10 year High School Reunion. Per usual, we had good food at my sister's and we played a lot of Canasta. The reunion was fun, too - I got to see a lot of my facebook friends that I haven't actually spoken to in person since high school. Some didn't show, though, which was a bummer. Hubby came, too, and got to meet a lot of my friends from then.

3. Christmas at hubby's mum's house. This long weekend was filled with way too much food/cookies, multiple games of dominoes, and questions directed to me/us about when we will have babies. Example: "Isn't it time to have a baby? Sometimes it isn't good to wait so long." Even so, it was good to get away from State College. Prior to the trip, I made 4 more pumpkin rolls with this recipe here using my leftover pumpkin from Thanksgiving. I used the correct jelly roll pan, and they all turned out perfect.

4. Quick visit with my brother and his family. The last time I saw my brother and his family was when I had my foot in a cast, so that was a LONG time ago (almost a year!). His wife was also pregnant with their 3rd baby then. Needless to say, I was extremely excited to visit them even if it was just for a couple days. Hubby stayed behind, but I brought Grady along. I was a little worried how Grady would be with the kids and the baby, but I have to say that I was very proud of my little man. He listened to me like he's never listened before (or since LOL), and he was the perfect dog. The boys loved him, and the baby girl was in LOVE. It probably doesn't hurt that he looks like a little bear. Even my brother and his wife commented on how great he was - so proud! It was so fun to see my nephews and my new baby niece! I also had some good conversations with my brother and his wife, which makes me feel a little grown up! haha I don't feel like such a baby sister anymore.

5. New Year's celebration with college friends. Hubby and I spent the long New Year's weekend with some of my really good girlfriends from college: Diana (and hubby) from London, Meagan from California, and Celia (and bf) from Philly. We rented a cabin in the Pocono Mountains and pretty much didn't leave all weekend. We ended up leaving Grady at a local kennel, which was heartbreaking (to me) to say the least. It was my first time leaving him at a kennel, and it was a desperate move on my part. I had other plans for him but they fell through. I would have liked to have introduced him to the kennel better than just leaving him there, but sometimes you have to adapt. Turns out, he was fine at the kennel. And now, I am over it (for now). Our weekend was fantastic - it was filled with too much partying, Apples to Apples, Jenga, terrible Euchre playing by me (due to too much partying), football, and a lot of good food. We haven't all been together since my wedding (more than 2 years ago!), so it was great to see everyone and reminisce. We're hoping to plan another get together in a couple years at a more exotic location :-)

6. Rome for 10 days. Hubby and I just got back from visiting Rome, NY - that's right NY not Italy. He had some Air Force National Guard duties to attend to, and I didn't want to be left alone so, I came with him (Grady, too!). I haven't been to Rome since 2005! So, it was time that I went and visited his friends there (some of whom I haven't seen since my wedding, too!). We hit the usual spots in Rome: Teddy's for delicious Riggies, La Roma Pizzeria for Calzones, The Franklin for general good Italian food, and Black River Ale House for wings. We also visited Syracuse for a basketball game at The Carrier Dome followed by dinner at Dinosaur BBQ. We were also treated to more delicious Chicken Riggies at a friend's house and even some Mexican food at Juanita's at their newer location in Liverpool. You can see, our visit revolves around the local cuisine specialities. I managed to get sick for 4 days (still recovering!), but it was such a good trip. I didn't get much accomplished (if anything) either relating to my thesis or other publications...but, I did a lot of thinking about them :-)

7. Up next. I am working on an outline/draft for one or two publications based on my research so far - these will focus on my analytical work. I'm also building on my thesis, which is pretty weak so far...but, you gotta start somewhere.

I'll be more active on here now that the holidays are over. All the best to you!