Our show this week from Kent, Connecticut - the site of this year's Litchfield Jazz Festival - reminded me of some truths we've found over the years on the show. Despite the clear logic of larger regional cooperation for the state, there's something to be said for the uniqueness of each individual town - and Kent is absolutely it's own place.
Nestled right on the Housatonic, Kent seems to be a world away from just about everywhere, and once you get there you have a sense that you've escaped to some impossibly beautiful New England ideal. The people in Kent seem very happy about the mix of weekenders, old-time Yankees, and permanent New York transplants. This gives Kent a kind of cosmopolitan (if not exactly diverse) feel, that the farmers who lived there 50 years ago probably wouldn't recognize. The last time I really spent any time in Kent was back in 2004, when I covered the disputed federal recognition of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation for NPR - and I was happy to return.
The Festival makes sense there - adding to a solid restaurant scene, a film festival, and art galleries - to provide the state another destination spot.
Our show was at one of the "old school" establishments in town - the Fife'n Drum - owned by pianist/storyteller Dolph Traymon. He shared some of his stories, about escaping New York and life on the road (with Sinatra, among others) to come to a place with "cows on this side of the road, and cows on the other."
We heard rather amazing, and mature-sounding jazz from the young Litchfield Jazz Festival campers, led by saxophonist-educator Don Braden. And, we talked a bit about town history and politics (no resident state trooper anymore, "interesting" relationship with the resident Native American tribe, restoration of the Housatonic).
The Waterbury Republican-American was there, too. The picture on their website (left) is not...uh...flattering to me. But we'll take the press we can get. Thanks to everyone in Kent, at the Fife, and the Festival for making our show a success.
More Media Love
Hartford cultural critic Colin McEnroe said nice things in his blog this week about Catie Talarski's Radio Adventure Theater debut on Tuesday. The crowd was a who's who of Hartford-area celebs, writers, artists, pundits and performers. Colin's right when he says that Catie's "on to something" here.
Meanwhile, Ed McKeon's blog Caterwauled says he likes our show more than Jim Vicevich on WTIC! That's something...right?
Finally, I have to give a shout to colleague Paul Pfeffer, and the amazing work of his CPBN Media Lab team. Paul has assembled a talented crew of interns, hungry to learn the craft of multi-media storytelling. They've done a series of specials, blogs and other programs - including a pretty interesting series called (I)nterview. They talk to local "celebrities" and ask the kinds of questions these folks rarely get asked - about their lives growing up, their motivations, and their loves. I was the subject of a recent (i)nterview, and despite the fact that I blink far too much on camera, it's a nicely done piece. Kudos to Paul, and to budding star interviewer Sara Ponticelli - who does a great job putting guests at ease and asking interesting questions. The Media Lab is helping to create what tomorrow's media will look like - and it's exciting to watch it happen.