LEAF Fall 2010

The Lake Eden Arts Festival in Black Mt, NC has come and gone again this fall.  We had a great time as always!  The weather was beautiful, the people kind, and it is always such a great time to reconnect with family and friends!
Graham once again made record bowls to sell at the Children’s Market this year.

He expanded his line though to include record cover bookmarks and wine cork earrings.  Such a little entrepreneur!

Surae, of course, worked as the record bowl apprentice!

He did a great job selling all weekend.  He loves to make some Lego money!!

The Weisers camped with us along with 2 other families from Atlanta.  We had a big group and lots of kids running around all weekend.  It was wonderful to get to spend some time with Chris and Tammy and to let all the kiddos play together!

The music was super as usual.  The Secret B Sides played all 3 nights which was fantastic.  Surae even got to go on stage with Juan!  Such the little groupie!!

Lots of fun was had by all as always.  I was once again blessed by the blue fairy and I’m hoping that will hold me over until the spring!



LEAF Fall Festival


The Lewis family has been having a really, really busy month of October.   We’ve been squeezing in quite a bit of fall camping which has been so fun.  In mid October, we made our annual pilgrimage to the LEAF Festival in Black Mt, NC.  Boy, were we happy to have that pop-up!  It was a cold, cold weekend, but luckily fairly rain free.  We arrived on Thursday and were actually able to get electricity in the camping lot, so we had lights and heat all weekend.  The Weiser’s camped right next to us in their pop-up, so we had a great set up with both of our pop-ups and Halloween lights and decorations strung about the site.


Musical highlights of the weekend were the Secret B Sides in the barn.  They are out of Asheville and super funky.  They played Friday night and the barn tuned into a huge dance party.  It was so fun.  The Cowboy Junkies played Saturday night and that was incredible.  I spent many a night in college listening to the Cowboy Junkies, so this was a serious treat for me.  The lead singer’s voice was perfectly heart wrenching.  Great show!  And then on Sunday, Arrested Development played again.  They played at the last Fall LEAF and it was certainly my favorite at that fest and they did not disappoint.  Their energy is amazing and that was another huge dance party.  So fun!


Graham also sold at the Kid’s Village for the first time this year since he is now 5.  Michael came up with the idea for him to make record bowls which was a great idea since they are easy to make and we were able to get the records for free.  He sold them for $5 a piece to start and then marked them down to $3 on Sunday.  They were a big LEAF hit and he ended up making about $150!  He doesn’t really even have any concept of how much money he made, but he was able to buy several ice creams at the fest for he and Surae.


The kids both had a great time as always.  They both marched in the kid’s parade on Saturday which is always a blast.



LEAF has become part of our family tradition and one that everyone looks forward to and I am sure we will be back in the Spring!




Michael is 40!!

On May 2nd, Michael turned the big 4-0!  We celebrated by first opening presents and having cake with the kids.

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Then, we headed out to Cafe Paulista with Andy and Iris for a delicious Brazilian feast.  That place is fabulous!  http://www.cafepaulistagrille.com/


After that, we asked Michael is he wanted to have a drink at Barley’s where a birthday crew was waiting to surprise him upstairs.  He was truly shocked which was great.  We got him all dressed up for his 40th in Depends, rainbow suspenders, huge glasses, and a blinking 40 year old pin.  It was hysterical.

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For his big celebration, we had planned a getaway to one of our favorite cities, New Orleans.  Michael had not been back since Hurricane Katrina and was ready to see the city again.  We left on Wednesday after work after getting the kids all settled in with my dad (Thanks dad!!!).  We drove to Montgomery and spent the night there and then headed out early the next morning.  We rolled into New Orleans around 2ish after stopping for some gumbo and po boys on the way in Gulport, MS.  We stayed at the Hotel Villa Convento on Ursuline.  This is a family run hotel that I had heard great things about and I was not disappointed at all.  We had booked the cheapest room available which was supposed to be on the bottom floor with no view.  We received a free upgrade though when we arrived and were given a room on the 3rd floor with a great balcony overlooking the street.  The staff at the hotel were so helpful and sweet.  We only paid $80 a night which is nearly impossible to find in the French Quarter.  The only scary part was the elevator.  It was very old and kind of scary, but only added to the charm of the hotel really.  The location was excellent and an easy spot to walk to everything quickly.

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Now, on to food!!  I had done a lot of research prior to the trip and had all of our meals planned out.

The meal rundown was:

Thursday- Dinner at Acme Oyster House

Friday- Breakfast at Croissant D’Or, Lunch at Commander’s Palace, Dinner at Acme again (we were kind of obsessed with the Chargrilled Oysters)

Saturday-Breakfast at Cafe Du Monde, Lunch at Bayonas, Dinner at Adolfos

Sunday- Breakfast at Elizabeth’s, Lunch at Johnny’s Po Boys, Dinner at Muriels

Every meal was really fantastic.  Highlights were the above mentioned chargrilled oysters.  I just found found a recipe for them that we are going to have to try.  Those oysters were heavenly.  We sat at the bar both nights and talked to the oyster shuckers which was very cool.  http://www.grouprecipes.com/sr/36688/chargrilled-oysters-acme-oyster-house-style/recipe/

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Other highlights were the ham and cheese crossaints at Crossiant D’Or (totally light, fluffy, and delicious)

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The turtle soup and bread pudding at Commander’s Palace

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The duck and peanut butter puffed pastries at Bayonas

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Fried Boudin Balls with Mustard Sauce at Elizabeths, and Ocean sauce at Adolfos.  The ambience at Adolfos on Frenchmen was very cool- small place upstairs with not many tables and a bohemian vibe.  The food was inexpensive and wonderful.

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All of our New Orleans meals were seriously delicious overall.  I don’t think people make bad food in New Orleans!!

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We also were able to see some fantastic music while we were there of course.  How could you not see great music in New Orleans??  On Thursday, we headed over to the Maple Leaf to see Johnny Vidacovich on drums.  That is a very cool place and was a fun night.  The rest of the time, we caught music in the quarter, in the streets and in the clubs.  There were lots of great street musicians out and it was great to see them back out after the storm.  Someone has actually written a book about the street performers and I bought a copy from a magician that Michael got dragged into a show with.  http://www.sidewalksaints.com/

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The Maison Bourbon and Fritzels had great music and we spent some time at both.

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It was great to see New Orleans making all of that wonderful music and delicious food again.  Things have changed of course, but the essence of the city still seems to be there.  I can’t wait to go back again.  This was definitely a great birthday for Michael.  Happy 40th!!

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LEAF Festival 2008

Last weekend, the family headed back to our favorite festival, LEAF in Black Mountain, NC.  The weather was cold, but that didn’t stop us from having a blast.  We arrived on Thursday night and got a great camping spot right on the edge of the woods.  Michael packed the whole house it seemed like which I was a little frustrated with at first, but then so thankful for once we arrived and got set up.  His greatest item he brought that I protested was our fire pit which turned out to be a lifesaver Saturday night.  We really had a great camp set up thanks to Michael!  People walking by even commented on how awesome it was.

Thursday night, we got set up, put the kids to bed, and cooked dinner.  It was a laid back night and so enjoyable.  On Friday, we began exploring the festival in the morning.  Graham played in the sand some, Surae and Michael carved a pumpkin, and I was able to enjoy a much needed afternoon nap. 

 That night we caught my favorite band of the weekend, Vieux Farka Toure, the son of Ali Farka Toure.  He and his band were so moving.  At night, we made a fire and cooked some homemade pizza.  The people camping next to us were actually vendors with a big camper and they even contributed some fresh basil to the pie- Yum!!

On Saturday, we explored the wonderful kids market in the morning which is always one of my favorite things to do at LEAF.  It’s hard to believe that Graham will be able to make his own wares to sell soon if he wants to.  I think he will make an excellent salesman! 

We took it easy during the morning and afternoon: catching music, eating ice cream, and just enjoying the day. 

Late Saturday afternoon, the LEAF Kid’s Parade was held.  It was a visual treat as always and the kids had a blast participating in the parade of puppetry arts.

The musical highlight of Saturday night was definitely Betty Lavette, a soul singer who has been making music since 1962, but was just discovered in 2005!  She was overflowing with emotion and a true joy to watch. 

That night, we froze our butts off.  Man, was it cold!  That fire the next morning was much appreciated.  Graham had fun popping Jiffy Pop and roasting marshmallows though.

Sunday’s highlight was definitely the Shangri La Chinese Acrobats.  We saw a similar show in China, but from farther back in the audience.  This time, we had a front row spot and boy, was it amazing.  I am so glad that LEAF was able to bring that experience to the festival this year.  There is no other place around where one can experience so many cultures in one spot. 

We ended the day with Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet featuring Bela Fleck.  I always love seeing Bela and this was no exception.  He is one amazing musician and it was the perfect way to end yet another fabulous LEAF experience. 


Lake Eden Arts Festival LEAF Spring 2008

Last weekend, we attended the Lake Eden Arts Festival in Black Mountain, NC.   This was Surae’s first festival and she did great!  We arrived Thursday night along with our friends Chris and Tammy and their kiddos Ben and Noah.  We were able to get everything set up right before the rain began.  It was a nice, relaxing night and going to the sleep to the sound of rain was quite peaceful. 

On Friday, with everything set up, we were able to enjoy the afternoon at our own pace.  We took a walk, played on the beach, took long naps, and then welcomed our friends Andy, Iris, and Satty to camp.  Chris and Tammy’s friends Diane and David arrived as well with their 2 sons, so we had a really big camp set up by Friday afternoon. 

The music started up around 4 and we began the weekend with some African Dance in Eden Hall.  It only got better from there.  The Friday night music was definetely the highlight of my weekend.  Corey Harris played at Lakeside and was really incredible.  He plays roots/reggae with lots of African influence.  He was very smooth and just as wonderful as I remembered him at a previous concert. 


 Following Corey Harris was Arrested Development.  I have been a huge fan of Arrested Development since their album 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of… I played that CD over and over in college and never got sick of it.  When I saw them show up on the bill for LEAF, I was psyched.  Of course, I also wondered if they would live up to my expectations.  Did they ever!  They were phenomenal.  This concert was one of the most high energy shows I have ever seen and with a super positive message.  It was truly an uplifting experience. 


After that, we had to take the kids to bed as they were exhausted from a long day.  I was able to sneak out though for a bit while Michael watched the kids to catch some of the Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys show.  I have seen Big Sandy a few times before and always had fun and this was no exception.  This was actually the best Big Sandy show I had ever attended.  Big Sandy plays swing and rockabilly and he had the whole crowd on their feet in Eden Hall.  I got a serious workout at that show from just dancing.  It was too fun!


We caught lots of great music again on Saturday.  The highlight for me on Saturday though was the LEAF parade.  I think this parade was the largest it had ever been.  There was the blue fairy of course granting wishes.  Surae got her first wish!  There were also the most amazing puppets, jugglers, and stilt walkers.  Graham and Surae both got flags to wave in the parade and had the most fun.  It was a blast and truly my Saturday highlight.


Sunday started out incredibly with a gospel show from Big Sam’s Funky Nation.  These guys got everybody moving with their New Orleans style sound.  Their energy level was intense.


After that, we packed up camp and then headed back down to the festival to walk around a bit more.  I also found out that I had a won some amazing natural earrings from the LEAF raffle which benefits their school outreach.  I was so excited because I desperately wanted these earrings, but had held back and then ended up winning them instead.  After that, the rains started coming in again and it was time to head home.  The weekend was fantastic with lots of good music, time with family, and friends.  If you ever get a chance, check out LEAF!



Michael’s Top 10 Records of 2007

Joe Henry – Civilians:  A masterpiece from a musician who has several astounding ones already.  Intimate, burnished, chamber folk-jazz made with a huge cinematic scope.  It’s the slowburning record of the decade.  Bill Frisell on guitar, Van Dyke Parks on piano, Joe Henry writing majestic poetry and using his trademark production that makes a small, intimate set-up sound like the largest soundstage you’ve been inside.  Thoughtful, personal, brilliant.
Robert Wyatt – Comicopera:  Perhaps the only 60’s relic who’s still producing records as good as his old stuff?  Which says an awful lot here with the legacy involved…  A three movement concept record with topics ranging from war and religious hypocrisy to communism and Che Guevara.  Sung in English, Italian and Spanish, it’s the rare record (nowadays) that demands that you release all expectations of content, both lyrically and musically.  At times really a jazz record, even when played with traditionally un-jazz instruments, and sung with Wyatt’s traditionally intimate, other worldly vocals.  A second masterpiece for the year.
Tinariwen – Water is Life: Further proof that the new prog movement is in West Africa.  Hyponotic re-constructed Danelectro blues by a nomadic group of desert musicians.  It’s refreshing to hear guitars played in completely new ways; indeed the group began 25 years ago when members stumbled upon a room with dilapidated old electric guitars, and began to completely learn in isolation with no one to influence or copy.  Banned by the government for years, these protester/soldier/rebels have only just now started to be able to record songs that have been developed for decades.  Mojo Magazine’s 2007 Best “World” CD.  (God, what a stupid term…)
Dungen – Tio Bitar:  Schizophrenic Swedish psychedelia wearing all sorts of influences on it’s sleeve: Tull, The Who, Donovon, Hendrix, Can, Gong, Coltrane, etc.  Gorgeous analog production recorded all on tape, and it makes you realize you forgot how bad digital sounds. 

Grant Lee Philips – Strangelet:  Another dreamy, floating trip with Philips’ hypnotic vocals, beautiful poetry, and meticulous orchestral arrangements.  The best voice in rock today produces his finest solo album that rewards more and more with repeated listens.

Chuck Prophet – Soap and Water:  Another great record from Chuck that just keeps on growing on you, with Chuck’s usual flair for mixing R&B,  roots rock, old and modern, with minimalist arrangements.  One minute you think you hear Television, the next you hear Lou Reed, then Zappa, then…

Richard Thompson – Sweet Warrior:  A great return to form with Thompson’s usual intelligent, mature,  metaphorical lyrics, mind bending guitar work, and very live sounding band arrangements.  Can’t wait to hear these live!

Corey Harris – Zion Crossroads:  One of a small handful of journeyman dedicated to traveliing to musical headwaters (Africa and delta America) and preserving and restoring it’s original art forms, Harris here records a fantastic roots reggae album with a tight band that he’s toured for some time with now. 
Iron and Wine – The Shepard’s Dog:  Acoustic psychedelia with a dense but delicate mix of wonderful analog instruments.
Amy Winehouse – Back to Black:  Ok, go ahead and laugh.  Were there many other, better records out in 2007?  Sure, but two things:  One, I liked it, Ok?  Two, let’s face it: the greatest thing that modern pop has aspired to for the last 20 years or so, with a small handful of exceptions, is to affectionately or accurately copy old music.  Is this new?  Certainly not.  But it is a fun “update” of some of my favorite music, and if this causes one kid to become curious enough to discover Phil Spector, The Ronettes, Billie Holiday, or the others she’s channeling, then it’s all good.

And my favorite reissues of the year:
Bonzo Dog Band – Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse
Pylon – Gyrate
Flying Burrito Brothers – Live at The Avalon Ballroom 1969
Roland Kirk with Jack McDuff – Kirk’s Work
Pretty Things – S.F. Sorrow
Monk in Paris- Live at the Olympia