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Some Time Out

One of the most iconic views in Jim Thorpe is actually inside the the Strange Brew coffee house. The mural of various iconic rock stars is hard to not stare at and muse over.

Not to mention, having an iced latte on a hot day is one of those sublime pleasures in life. Walk a couple of blocks up the main drag and there it is on the left just before Quarry Street.

Relax over a cup here sometime.

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This article is taken from the New York Times, Sunday Review, August 9, 2014 edition. The original can be seen by clicking here.
As we contemplate the people that come to visit the Jim Thorpe area, in the summer and indeed in all seasons, we think about the nature of time off itself, and its many benefits. And Jim Thorpe is a great place to spend that time off and leave it all behind, even if for just a day or two.
Here are some things to ponder while doing whatever you do here – whether it’s rafting down a river, reading a book, sipping some coffee, or taking in a show.

By DANIEL J. LEVITIN AUG. 9, 2014

THIS month, many Americans will take time off from work to go on vacation, catch up on household projects and simply be with family and friends. And many of us will feel guilty for doing so. We will worry about all of the emails piling up at work, and in many cases continue to compulsively check email during our precious time off.

New York Times Reset Your BrainBut beware the false break. Make sure you have a real one. The summer vacation is more than a quaint tradition. Along with family time, mealtime and weekends, it is an important way that we can make the most of our beautiful brains.

Every day we’re assaulted with facts, pseudofacts, news feeds and jibber-jabber, coming from all directions. According to a 2011 study, on a typical day, we take in the equivalent of about 174 newspapers’ worth of information, five times as much as we did in 1986. As the world’s 21,274 television stations produce some 85,000 hours of original programming every day (by 2003 figures), we watch an average of five hours of television per day. For every hour of YouTube video you watch, there are 5,999 hours of new video just posted!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s a reason: The processing capacity of the conscious mind is limited. This is a result of how the brain’s attentional system evolved. Our brains have two dominant modes of attention: the task-positive network and the task-negative network (they’re called networks because they comprise distributed networks of neurons, like electrical circuits within the brain). The task-positive network is active when you’re actively engaged in a task, focused on it, and undistracted; neuroscientists have taken to calling it the central executive. The task-negative network is active when your mind is wandering; this is the daydreaming mode. These two attentional networks operate like a seesaw in the brain: when one is active the other is not.

This two-part attentional system is one of the crowning achievements of the human brain, and the focus it enables allowed us to harness fire, build the pyramids, discover penicillin and decode the entire human genome. Those projects required some plain old-fashioned stick-to-itiveness.

But the insight that led to them probably came from the daydreaming mode. This brain state, marked by the flow of connections among disparate ideas and thoughts, is responsible for our moments of greatest creativity and insight, when we’re able to solve problems that previously seemed unsolvable. You might be going for a walk or grocery shopping or doing something that doesn’t require sustained attention and suddenly — boom — the answer to a problem that had been vexing you suddenly appears. This is the mind-wandering mode, making connections among things that we didn’t previously see as connected.

A third component of the attentional system, the attentional filter, helps to orient our attention, to tell us what to pay attention to and what we can safely ignore. This undoubtedly evolved to alert us to predators and other dangerous situations. The constant flow of information from Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram, text messages and the like engages that system, and we find ourselves not sustaining attention on any one thing for very long — the curse of the information age.

My collaborator Vinod Menon, a professor of neuroscience at Stanford, and I showed that the switch between daydreaming and attention is controlled in a part of the brain called the insula, an important structure about an inch or so beneath the surface of the top of your skull. Switching between two external objects involves the temporal-parietal junction. If the relationship between the central executive system and the mind-wandering system is like a seesaw, then the insula — the attentional switch — is like an adult holding one side down so that the other stays up in the air. The efficacy of this switch varies from person to person, in some functioning smoothly, in others rather rusty. But switch it does, and if it is called upon to switch too often, we feel tired and a bit dizzy, as though we were seesawing too rapidly.

Every status update you read on Facebook, every tweet or text message you get from a friend, is competing for resources in your brain with important things like whether to put your savings in stocks or bonds, where you left your passport or how best to reconcile with a close friend you just had an argument with.

If you want to be more productive and creative, and to have more energy, the science dictates that you should partition your day into project periods. Your social networking should be done during a designated time, not as constant interruptions to your day.

Email, too, should be done at designated times. An email that you know is sitting there, unread, may sap attentional resources as your brain keeps thinking about it, distracting you from what you’re doing. What might be in it? Who’s it from? Is it good news or bad news? It’s better to leave your email program off than to hear that constant ping and know that you’re ignoring messages.

Increasing creativity will happen naturally as we tame the multitasking and immerse ourselves in a single task for sustained periods of, say, 30 to 50 minutes. Several studies have shown that a walk in nature or listening to music can trigger the mind-wandering mode. This acts as a neural reset button, and provides much needed perspective on what you’re doing.

Daydreaming leads to creativity, and creative activities teach us agency, the ability to change the world, to mold it to our liking, to have a positive effect on our environment. Music, for example, turns out to be an effective method for improving attention, building up self-confidence, social skills and a sense of engagement.

This radical idea — that problem solving might take some time and doesn’t always have to be accomplished immediately — could have profound effects on decision making and even on our economy. Consider this: By some estimates, preventable medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. You want your diagnostician to give the right answer, not always the quickest one. Zoning out is not always bad. You don’t want your airline pilot or air traffic controller to do it while they’re on the job, but you do want them to have opportunities to reset — this is why air traffic control and other high-attention jobs typically require frequent breaks. Several studies have shown that people who work overtime reach a point of diminishing returns.

Taking breaks is biologically restorative. Naps are even better. In several studies, a nap of even 10 minutes improved cognitive function and vigor, and decreased sleepiness and fatigue. If we can train ourselves to take regular vacations — true vacations without work — and to set aside time for naps and contemplation, we will be in a more powerful position to start solving some of the world’s big problems. And to be happier and well rested while we’re doing it.
Daniel J. Levitin is the director of the Laboratory for Music, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University and the author of “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.”

The Randy Rabenold Art Show will exhibit the collective works of local area educator, known to many as a living legend and an inspiration to many who have pursued art in their life, Milan Melicharek, Doug Rontz and Tracy Everett among the many., August 24th.

featuredA thirty-seven year veteran art teacher, Randy’s art roots were anchored in the Great Depression and baptized in the cruel winters of the Korean War, Rabenold’s works bear witness to a soul born in stark loneliness, his subjects often faceless forms traversing shadows toward a destination unclear.

Rabenold’s art also intersected the sporting world.  A founding member and director of fifty-years of the Jim Thorpe Summer League and a basketball coach most of his life, he published over 100 sports cartoons featured in the Times News.   Showing the lighter side of life, noting the milestones of athletes and their coaches, these cartoons contain snapshots into the feats and heartbreaks of the late 1970s sports scene.

Perhaps most interesting to many who know the man and his art, one will be able to view the genesis of his creative life as the show will include the pencil sketches of the young Rabenold at war during the Korean Conflict of the early 1950s.  Capturing the daily life of defense of remote ridges of an unforgiving and rugged landscape, one will see the untrained talents of a man who achieved what few can claim: the status of a living legend within one’s lifetime.

Go here to attend this show.

“Such seeds, though planted in bitter soil, still yielded the tenderest of men.”

Artistry Weekend Friday and Saturday at the Opera House

Two shows at the Mauch Chunk Opera House this weekend capture the very soul of different, but equally transcendent, types of music: on Friday, August 1st, Flamenco and World music are at the heart of the Latin guitar sound of Incendio, while on Saturday, August 2nd, the acclaimed Philadelphia entertainer Eddie Bruce pays tribute to the great Tony Bennett, on the eve of the icon’s 88th birthday.

incendio at the Mauch Chunk Opera HouseCapture a raging firestorm – that’s the music of Los Angeles-based Incendio!  At the heart of every song is the bold, romantic Spanish guitar, its timeless sound recast in powerful modern arrangements.  They create a polyrhythmic swirl of multiple Latin American music forms (boleros, cumbias, salsa, tango, mambo) and passionately combine them with Indian, Arabic and Celtic flavors.

The veteran songwriter/musicians knew the kind of inspired passion and energy they wanted to convey when they named their band in 1999. The Latin guitar world fusion sound created by guitarists Jim Stubblefield, Jean-Pierre Durand, and Liza Cabre’ has received international acclaim, and their reputation as a dazzling live act has spread.

On Saturday, August 2 Eddie Bruce, ably backed by the talented Tom Adams Trio, presents a heartfelt tribute to Tony Bennett, on the occasion of the great singer’s 88th birthday. Adams is a highly respected pianist, having performed with a host of legendary singers including Mel Torme, Petula Clark, Bette Midler, Eydie Gorme and Steve Lawrence – even pop singers such as Jewell.

Eddie Bruce Sings Tony Bennett at the Mauch Chunk Opera HouseAfter sold-out performances at New York’s Feinstein’s and the Metropolitan Room, Philadelphia’s Prince Music Theater’s Cabaret, and many other venues up and down the East Coast, Eddie Bruce brings “Bruce on Bennett: A Birthday Tribute,” to Jim Thorpe, PA.

Tickets for each show are only $20. Those attending both shows can attend the second show for half price by calling SoundCheck Records in downtown Jim Thorpe at 570-325-4009 or by visiting the Opera House for tickets on Friday from noon until 5 PM. You can also call the box office at 570-325-0249. Showtime for both nights is 8 PM.

incendio at the Mauch Chunk Opera HouseThe Weekend of August 1st and 2nd features two shows at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in downtown Jim Thorpe that you won’t find together anywhere else. Both will both be immensely enjoyable, they’re very different from each other, but similar in terms of virtuosity and both won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Friday, August 1st features the world music ensemble Incendio, from Southern California, and led by the brilliance of their two lead Spanish guitarists. The first thought is that it’s flamenco, then you hear the overtones of Celtic, trance, classical, and New Age, and you can only conclude that it is a particularly absorbing, all-encompassing brand of world music.

It is particularly enjoyable in the relaxed space of the Opera House, with the delicacy and nuance of the sound heard as beautifully as it would be in a far bigger theater. While the skill level is there, the cost is most definitely not!

Eddie Bruce Performs the Tony Bennett Songbook at the Opera HouseCelebrate the 88th Birthday of a musical icon on Saturday, August 2nd! On the eve of the great Tony Bennett’s 88th birthday, Eddie Bruce and the Tom Adams Trio pay tribute to the music and magic of this American treasure.

Wish Mr. Bennett a Happy Birthday at the Opera House. This crowd-pleasing show, which is a favorite in New York City, Philadelphia, and the Jersey Shore, captures all of your favorite Tony Bennett classics, performed by the premier interpreter of Bennett’s music, Eddie Bruce, accompanied by the remarkable Tom Adams trio.

Fresh from appearances with the Philly Pops and the Ocean City Pops, you can see this show just as it heads to the Atlantic later in August!

Both terrific offerings appear at the Mauch Chunk Opera House. Tickets for each performance are only $20 and two-for-one for Carbon County residents. They’re available 24/7 on the Opera House website, http://www.mcohjt.com, by visiting SoundCheck Records in downtown Jim Thorpe from 10 AM to 9 PM, or by calling them at (570) 325-4009.

The Opera House is open on show days from noon to 5 PM, or you can call Monday through Friday at (570) 325-0249. Tickets are also available at the door when they open at 7 PM. Both shows begin at 8 PM.

 

The McLovins play Jim Thorpe’s Mauch Chunk Opera House on Saturday, June 26, 2014.

Tie-Dyed Soul
A Q&A with Atticus Kelly
Of the McLovins

By Geoff Gehman

Atticus Kelly has a 21-year-old body and a 63-year-old soul. The guitar-playing keyboardist for the McLovins deeply admires Garth Hudson, the Band’s saxophone-playing keyboard wizard. Allen Toussaint’s horn charts for the Band’s live “Rock of Ages” album inspired Kelly’s horn charts for the McLovins’ new EP “Funk No. Uno.” Thanks to him, the McLovins’ version of the Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek” is marvelously, deliriously funky. And, thanks to him, the band’s new album “Beautiful Lights” is sequenced like an old-fashioned, story-spreading vinyl LP.

The McLovins at the Mauch Chunk Opera HouseKelly and his McLovin mates—bassist Jason Ott, guitarist Justin Berger and drummer Jake Huffman–will make their Jim Thorpe debut on July 26 at the Mauch Chunk Opera House. Expect an invigorating, turn-on-a-diming blend of jazzy rock, quicksilver R&B and tie-dyed soul, all of which can be taped freely.

This smooth, soulful mix has made the group popular at hip venues like the Brooklyn Bowl and hep festivals like the Gathering of the Vibes. Among their marquee fans are Phish lyricist Tom Marshall, who co-wrote “Cohesive,” a McLovins signature tune, and former Spin Doctors guitarist Anthony Krizan, who produced “Beautiful Lights.”
Below, in a recent interview from his first time in Colorado, Kelly discusses his passion for a crazy, charismatic organ built during World War II and his major jones for Steely Dan, another band with members old enough to be his parents.

Q: What was the first song you couldn’t forget, that wormed its way into your ears and soul?
A: You’re going to laugh at this answer: Smash Mouth’s “All Star.” I’m not deeply moved by the song, but it’s stayed with me for many years [at least 13]. I wasn’t thinking about it analytically when I was listening to it, which is something I can no longer help but do.
I can hardly remember one song in my pre-analytic period. On the other hand, I could probably name a million Beatles songs before I understood music. My parents played a lot of Beatles music when I was growing up; I heard the Beatles before I could talk. I have the most bizarre relationship with that band. It’s probably been two or three years since I’ve voluntarily put on the Beatles, yet their music is so ingrained in my memory, pre-analytically, that I can no longer listen to it objectively. It’s a weird dynamic, but I treasure it.

McLovins at the Mauch Chunk Opera HouseQ: Who were your first musical mentors, the people who convinced you that playing music could be a calling?
A: Probably my parents. My mother is a vocalist who has sung around the world in different choirs; my dad is a guitarist and a jazz bassist. He gave me my first guitar lessons eight years ago and—zoom!—that was it. My parents gave me a lot of encouragement from the start. They raised me in a climate extraordinarily conducive to progress. With two musicians, and two good role models, in the house, I could think: Wow, this is a little easier to imitate.

Q: Why did you join the McLovins, besides a desire to expand your friendship with Jake Huffman, your colleague at an arts academy in Hartford? What did you think the group could give you, and what did you think you could give the group?
A: I’ve known Jake for years. At the academy, which is a very serious performing-arts school, we played together five days a week two hours at a time for three years. After we graduated, he did his thing and I did mine. I was a jazz snob, which meant that I made fun of this jam-band stuff that Jake played with the McLovins. But then I met [McLovins bassist] Jason [Ott] in my freshman theory class [at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music] and started hanging out with him. And then I caught wind that [McLovins guitarist] Jeff [Howard] was leaving the band and I started jamming with Jason and [fellow Hartt student] Justin Berger [now the McLovins’ lead guitarist]. And I began to think: Wow, this shit is whack.

There’s an old saying that if you learn another language, it will make your own language stronger. Well, I learned a lot about jazz from playing rock. It’s a totally different discipline, and it opened me up to some realizations I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I realized that any recording the Band made is just as complex as anything John Coltrane did, to my ears. It’s apples and oranges, but you can still compare the two and come out with something similar.

Q: How has the band changed since you signed on in 2011? It seems you’ve guided the other guys more toward funk; a prime example is the new EP “Funk No. Uno,” which includes your horn arrangements.
A: I’ll try to answer without sounding self-congratulating. I guess I bring some different ideas to the table, like having horns with real arrangements. Horns give us a sort of presence we could get without horns, but it’s a little harder to get; they bring the presence right away, which is nice. A horn section will make someone think you put time into making it happen; a band concerned with arrangements is a mature band.

McLovins at the Mauch Chunk Opera HouseSome parts in the charts [on “Funk No. Uno”] I deliberately lifted from the Band’s arrangements on records like “Rock of Ages,” with all those great arrangements from Allen Toussaint. Specifically, I lifted stuff from “Life Is a Carnival.” I remember [Band guitarist] Robbie Robertson saying that Toussaint said: “Just give me some headphones and some manuscript paper” and he just came up with the arrangements, he didn’t need a piano or anything. I feel that if I can enhance these songs I’ve done my job. My job is to make something melodic and natural, to never distract.

Q: What are your major contributions to the new CD “Beautiful Lights”? Jake has said it’s the group’s most approachable, tangible record, with shorter songs and fewer long solos.
A: I contributed to the programming of the album; I tried to make it like two sides of a vinyl record. We start out with the dance stuff of “Flavor of the Week” and “Man in a Blue Coat.” We switch over with the title track, which has four-part a cappella, and then the record becomes more roots influenced. There’s some country and some Little Feat stuff on “Yankee Rose” and “Shivers,” which is a straight-ahead jam sort of thing. On the final track, “Birthday,” there’s this long vamp with organ and flute sounds that’s supposed to be like the buzzy voicings at the end of Steely Dan’s “Aja.”

Never underestimate the significance of Steely Dan. I think I know every one of their tunes, inside and out. “Haitian Divorce”? Me and the bass player [Ott] are such nerds for that song.

Q: You guys are pretty new to crisscrossing the country; the Mauch Chunk gig is part of your first tour of the Mid-Atlantic and South. What wisdom have you received from road warriors about keeping physically and mentally healthy?
A: Don’t party every night, or you will run yourself absolutely ragged. If you argue with someone, that shit has to be resolved right away or that show will be a real stinker. With four to 10 personalities in the car there’s going to be some bickering. There’s always going to be some turmoil in a band, especially in a band like ours with a democratic say. But life doesn’t end with bickering.

Q: Can you remember a magical moment onstage, when something  came from nothing and became everything?
A: You mean a moment when we went into a whole different dimension? That hasn’t happened yet on this tour. We’re working out some stuff with the horns; we’re learning each other’s language. In January we played a Webcast in Boca Raton and I think it was our best performance of the whole tour. We didn’t have any issues with the sound; we could hear ourselves well; our playing was very informed. You lose some clarity when you can’t hear yourself; you can lapse into some territory that’s not so tasteful.
I think we’ve nailed it every time we’ve played Nectar’s in Vermont. One time up there we played “Up on Cripple Creek” and it turned into this moody, spooky jam. We really played the shit out of that song; we played with perfect economy. It’s hard to get four minds thinking that way, to have really good economy when you’re improvising.

Q: The band’s Facebook page includes a photo of you giddily embracing a newly acquired organ. How was it acquired and why were you so giddy?
A: It’s a Hammond Model D from 1939-41; it predates the Hammond B3 by maybe 20 years, It’s an ancient instrument; it’s all tubes and transistors. It’s a heavy, geriatric, idiosyncratic monster, and it needs some work. That stuff can be a whole lot of fun to troubleshoot, but for now I’d rather spare myself the trouble of taking it on the road. It also gives me small shocks; I’d like to spare myself the trouble of being electrocuted onstage.

I’ve been wanting to get an organ for a long time. I love harmony and rhe organ is a perfect instrument for harmony. I sold a Telecaster to buy it. I hated that guitar; it had always been a bummer.

I’m a big fan of Garth Hudson from the Band. He’s an absolute genius on the organ. A lady interviewer on this Web site tried to get the members of the Band to talk about the importance of classical music and if it related to rock music. And most of them said: I don’t know—ask Garth. Garth doesn’t usually open up, but this time what he said was fascinating. He said that when the Band was living at Big Pink [the group’s pink-painted rental home/studio in Woodstock, N.Y.], he was practicing Bach. He also said his organ playing was influenced by playing in his uncle’s funeral home. Maybe he was trying to catch the interviewer off guard; Thelonius Monk spoke gibberish to throw interviewers off his trail.

Q: What’s on your Bucket List and what’s on your Fuck It List?
A: Can I start with my Fuck It list? Sometimes I make a mistake and I automatically assume someone else messed up. Then I realize: Oh, it’s me. It’s not intentional; I trust the musicians I play with. But it’s a total bad habit.

Another Fuck It item is I never want to play with another amateur musician in my life. And by amateur I mean someone who isn’t organically inclined to understand what’s occurring musically. I mean someone who is absolutely stumped whenever you play a song that goes 1-4-5. I want to play with people who on a dime can play a simple song in a high-pressure situation. In our band Jason [Ott] is the best one at doing that. He can hear a song one time, get the feel of it, and pretty much from there he has it nailed.

As far as my Bucket List is concerned, I’d like to improve my arranging; right now, I’m totally self-taught. Maybe I’ll bring in another party to nudge me in the right direction. I’d like to write for a big band. And I’d like to have absolute infallible relative pitch. Don’t get me wrong. My pitch is good; I can get by very well because I’ve done so much ear training with jazz and rock. But, obviously, it can improve a fair amount. Although, at this point in my life, perfect pitch is not going to happen.

Q: What’s on the band’s Bucket List? How about persuading McDonald’s to start an ad campaign starring the McLovins?
A: We already eat so much of their food, we do them a favor [laughs]. Actually, they put a hold on our copyright for “McLovins.” We passed the [legal] test and we own the word, so at least someone in the McDonald’s corporation knows who the McLovins are; they probably have a dossier on us. We do have a new song with a motif—“Bah-dah-dah-dah-dah”—close enough to pass [for the McDonald’s theme tag]. It probably lasts all of two seconds.

I’d like us to get some radio play. I received an email from a friend of the band who’s been a radio personality for many years. He told me that our song “Catch the Ball” is great but that it doesn’t really fit the format [for regular rotation on radio], which is leaning more towards alternative these days. I can’t expect to compete with that sort of marketing and corporate promotion, although I would like more spotlight presence.

Q: Speaking of successful spotlight presence, what do you remember about being the house band for a few episodes of the ESPN show “SportsNation”?
A: I remember that we were so out of our element. We can all pretend to know a thing or two about sports but, gee, we are a bunch of dumpy musicians. My brothers played baseball and soccer and I went: Ehhhhh–I don’t want to do any of that.

We did run into a bunch of famous people. I had my picture taken with Ice Cube; my girlfriend put his face on all of our faces on the band’s Facebook page. I met Teddy Bruschi [retired linebacker for the New England Patriots]. I thought he spelled his last name “Brewski”—like a beer. I emailed my brother “Who is Teddy Brewski?” and he said: Are you kidding me?

[Radio host] Colin Cowherd was a really cool guy. He’d say to us: “Do you know any [Lynyrd] Skynyrd?” And we’d play a little Skynyrd. And then he’d say: “Do who know any Nickelback?” And we’d play a little Nickelback. And then he’d joke: “Where do you get weed?”–because, of course, we’re a jam band and, of course, all jam bands do weed.
I have to say that the bread [money] was unbelievable, although I probably shouldn’t say any more about that.

The McLovins: The Scoop

The band’s name was suggested by viewers of a YouTube video of its version of Phish’s “You Enjoy Myself” who swore that two musicians resembled McLovin, the superbad geek in the film “Superbad.”
The group’s 2009 record “Conundrum” features songs shaped by material from “The Phantom Tollbooth,” Norton Juster’s immensely popular 1961 adventure novel for children.
“Who Knows,” the quartet’s 2012 CD, was produced by Tom Marshall, a lyricist for Phish, and former Spin Doctors guitarist Anthony Krizan, a recording engineer and studio owner.
The band’s song “Nightshades” honors Levon Helm, the late singing drummer of the Band.
The 200 copies of the group’s new EP “Funk No. Uno” are covered by suede-lined burlap and bound by an emerald from the collection of singing drummer Jake Huffman.
Huffman co-wrote “Counting the You’s in YouTube” for an episode of “Sesame Street,” a thank-you, sung by the Count, for a billion-plus views of the TV show’s Internet videos.

Geoff Gehman is a former arts writer for The Morning Call in Allentown. He shares Atticus Kelly’s major jones for the Band and Steely Dan. He can be reached at geoffgehman@verizon.net.

There are all kinds of B&B’s in and around town, making the experience of staying at a bed and breakfast unique and especially enjoyable.

B&B owners have put together a site to make it easier to see what’s available, and Amazing Jim Thorpe has information here.

bbjt

 

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