Wednesday, March 15, 2006

It's Pronounced Lou-vul

Wednesday, March 15, 2006
A northern mockingbird photographed (digiscoped) at the Louisville Nature Center.

The Zick and I were invited to speak to The Beckham Bird Club of Louisville, Kentucky for their annual banquet, held last night. We talked Carol Besse, our BBC contact, into letting us perform our "Music of the Birds" program rather than one of our other more intellectually stimulating programs. Things went really well and the club seemed to dig the program (in spite of my totally choking on the changes for Woody Guthrie's "Way Over Yonder in a Minor Key." Duh!). More on that in a moment.

The journey to our Louisville show was as much fun as the actual show itself. We started off by visiting my bestest buddy John Kogge in Oxford, Ohio. Julie was getting her ivory-billed woodpecker painting framed by John at his biz, Frame & Save.
John Kogge and Julie focusing their energy on framing JZ's ivory-billed and pileated ID plate at Frame & Save in Oxford, Ohio.

Sunset over High Street, Oxxford, Ohio.

I first met John in 1981 through our mutual friend Mary, who told me I needed to meet this guy she knew who had my same sick sense of humor and who played music. At the time I was playing in a dead-end frat-rock band called The Shades (it was the 80's) and trying to play as many gigs as possible. John and I hit it off and I joined his acoustic group The Scratch Gravel Band. We played once a week for the next several years, but it was at least six months before we realized we had the SAME birthday, March 3. John, however, is 12 years my senior. These days, when I see him, I always ask him to treat for lunch since he qualifies for the Golden Buckeye Discount.
George Peppard plays the bouzouki.
From Frame & Save we went to John's house for the night, where we enjoyed (and continued to be reminded of for the next several days) John's jambalaya, lots of laughs with John, his wife Heather, and their two-year-old son Jesse (a copyright holder on cuteness). Jesse is a chow hound and immediately took to Julie, who helped him scarf down his dinner. Catching up with John and Heather was fab, and the Kogges and I stayed up until the small hours listening to music on my laptop and cracking wise.
John Kogge's Johnbalaya. Contact the EPA immediately.
Chowhound Jesse Kogge and proud parents John & Heather (above).

On Tuesday morning we blew out of Oxford town headed straight south to Louisville, which I now understand, having visited there, is pronounced Lou-vul. We were due in Lou-vul by noonish to apppear on the local TV station's news program (BT3) and to be interviewed by the local NPR affiliate (JZ). I am always amazed to watch a TV show from backstage. The one I was appearing on was the noon news at WHAS-TV, and the noontime anchor, Rachel, was a total pro. Besides reading the news, she also conducted mini-interviews with about a dozen folks, threw it over to the plastic weather guy, and did voiceovers for the taped news footage.

My appearance was designed to promote a community bird walk Julie and I were leading the morning after our bird club program. I thought I did OK, but Julie and Carol thought I did not smile enough. Hmmm...I forgot that being on TV is like being on stage--everything you do have to be slightly exaggerated. Smiles have to be BIG SMILES. I could only wonder at how tired Rachel must be at the end of the day.
Rachel was kind enough not to ask ALL the questions about my bald spot.

Next we high-tailed it to a quick lunch where Carol regaled us with stories about some of the touring authors she has hosted her really cool independent bookstores, Carmichael's. The best story concerned her hosting of a book signing by Gene Simmons from KISS. All you need to know about this guy he tells in his own words in his famous interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air. Or listen to the Al Franken story about Gene Simmons. Hilarious.
Carmichael's Book Store. Two convenient Louisville locations to serve you. Ask about their countdown clocks.

Next it was across the street to a new building that houses what must be the nicest NPR studios in the US. This is where Julie was to be interviewed by Heidi Caravan, show host and programming director for WFPL-FM. Julie and Heidi started talking about Newfoundland, Heidi's homeland, and a place Julie visited for a six-week sketching trip way back when, and that was it--the gals talked excitedly for almost an hour.
Zick needs a cup of hot water and a brandy snifter of green M&M's or she's not going ON.
Obviously, the hot water and M&M's were forthcoming, because the magic is being made inside the recording studio.
Soon we were back on the road, headed out to do a bit of light birding with some of the local bird club folks at the farm of Brainard Palmer-Ball's family, where we were also spending the night (beats the heck out of a hotel). We had a lovely hour or so of walking the fields and streams with Brainard and the club members--we saw a few nice spring birds, loads of early spring wildflowers, and a few salamanders, including a zig-zag salamander new for both Julie and me.
The zig zag salamander. Thanks Brainard!

Then it was time to prep for the evening's show which was held at a restaurant banquet facility. The venue was perfect for music, and our show, pictures of natural scenes, birds, people (including our kids) and creatures set loosely to our live singing and playing, went off without anyone screaming, breaking any bones, or catching on fire. So we count it as a success. Carol sold some books, we all ate too much good food, and the sun set on another day for Bill of the Birds.Zick live and on stage before the Beckham Bird Club.
This morning we converged on The Louisville Nature Center for a 90-minute bird walk. But we had so much fun (and surprisingly good birds including Cooper's hawk and yellow-bellied sapsucker) that the walk lasted three hours! After a good deli lunch and some book buying at one of Carol's stores, we hit the road for Ohio at 2 pm, taking the southern route through eastern KY and western WV.
Birding with Louisvillians at The Louisville Nature Center.

We decided we really loved Louisville, sorry Lou-vul. And we hope to go back again soon. Great people there, and a lot more to enjoy than we had time for.

It's nice to be home. But in 12 hours we leave for a flight to Chicago--the kids did not take this news well. We'll only be gone overnight, so we're looking forward to a relaxing weekend at home.
The first comma of spring.