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Modern Ambient Music: Heard but not seen, the anti-social, anti-rock-star form

Modern Ambient Music: Heard but not seen, the anti-social, anti-rock-star form
July 26, 2014 10:30 pm  • 

There is no easy way to enter this realm, nor is there a clear path back to the origination of the sound creation known as ambient music. When music scholars try to pinpoint where and when this kind of atmospheric music originated, most say that in the 1970s when the use of the synthesizer as an electronic tool in music-making, ambient was born.

These sounds were regarded as the musical equivalent of white noise and referred to as “furniture music,” by French composer Erik Satie. Ambient music also seems to have been influenced by John Cage, the most well-known composer using randomness in the creation of his works. Jazz great Miles Davis is also thought to have used ambient sound in his experimental mood music.

Many musicians in the 1970s used electronically-produced sound as a side dish to the main course served up by mainstream musicians such a German groups Popol Vuh, Tangerine Dream and other artists such as Mike Oldfield, Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis, (the Greek-composer best known for his Academy-Award winning original musical score for the 1981 movie, “Chariots of Fire”), also Pink Floyd, the Moody Blues and David Bowie. But the use of synthesizers quickly became absorbed into multiple musical ecosystems. The only artist who distinquished himself by trying to define and promote ambient music in the 1970s was Brian Eno, who has since been identified by scholars, particularly Michael Jarrett, as the person who acknowledged, defined and promoted the genre.

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Emotional Investor: Celebrating the Life and Digital Arts of O’Shea McCarthy

Emotional Investor: Celebrating the Life and Digital Arts of O’Shea McCarthy
July 26, 2014 10:51 am  • 

Have you ever listened to a song and been taken back to a place, a point in time or simply felt your emotions swayed by the music? O’Shea McCarthy spent hours on end building musical landscapes that were meant to illicit these feelings in the listener.

Sadly, O’Shea, who was only 25, was the victim of a deadly car accident last October and left behind many unfinished pieces, meaning he never had a chance to fully share his talents beyond his close friends and family. Nevertheless, Shea’s family and friends have come together to gather his art and music to share in a tribute to his memory and raise funds for a scholarship his mother, Heather McCarthy, has set up in his name.

Working in the ambient genre of music, O’Shea engineered tracks that would elicit powerful, visceral reactions from the listener. O’Shea believed that ambient music could transform a person’s mindset. Ambient music, an offshoot of electronic music, is not designed to have a specific effect---like electronic dance or trap music. Instead, Max Schrementi, O’Shea’s friend and collaborator, describes ambient music as “instrumental expressions of a moment or an emotion…meant to inspire the listener in the least obstructive way,” and, “not persuade the mind to one direction or another.”

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Scott Covert and the Forever Grateful Dead

Scott Covert and the Forever Grateful Dead
July 24, 2014 5:25 pm  • 

He who immortalizes the immortal through his innovative and diverse works, creates art impulsively and quickly standing in cemeteries with a canvass, pastels and the tombstone of a well-known name, has been laid low during his work season by the bite of a brown recluse spider.

Artist Scott Covert, has been hobbled when he should be headed South in the direction of burial grounds of baseball greats and Civil Rights heroes. “This was supposed to be my freedom summer,” he says, from his recovery car driving through southwest Michigan to his childhood home in New Buffalo, where he still lives off-and-on. Scott has two bases of operation besides Harbor Country. In New York City he is represented by Edelman Arts and in Southern California, where his work is shown by Skidmore Contemporary Art in Santa Monica and Malibu.

Though the artist has been doing grave-rubbings for close to 25 years now, his willingness to talk about his work publicly is a much more recent feature, for years he worried about being locked out. Though he is still “on the down-low” as he says, even though when he is working outdoors and in the moment, he doesn’t violate anything or anybody. There is nothing illegal or immoral about breathing new life into a dead somebody. His work has been characterized---correctly as Scott testifies---as the perfect synthesis of the celebrity-self-conscious-Andy-Warhol-like Pop Art (nothing more current, everyday or permanent than a gravestone) and the subversive-submerged-id-raging-through Abstract Expressionism, think Jackson Pollock. As if to seal the characterization, Scott has done a piece with those two tombstones as a vertical list. Warhol is on top.

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Quotes on O'Shea McCarthy and his music

Quotes on O'Shea McCarthy and his music
July 23, 2014 5:23 pm  • 

“Shea was just always musically inclined and artistic, even when he was little. He played the piano and then the guitar, but he was a drummer. He loved the jazz drums.”

“Of the pictures we have of him, the only ones where he doesn’t have headphones (on)... are the ones where I was like ‘Hey, please take your headphones out.’”

Heather McCarthy, O’Shea’s Mother

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AugSept 2014 Shore Letter from the Editor

AugSept 2014 Shore Letter from the Editor
July 20, 2014 9:00 am  • 

Let’s start with my most vivid Friday before Memorial Day memory when I went with a group of friends to tour, taste and sit on the terrace deck gazing out over the glowing sea of iridescent green vineyards at Tabor Hill winery headquarters in Buchanan. The first warm and sunny day of the season was a completely lucky coincidence, by the time our afternoon soiree was ending with a final champagne flute of Grand Mark, the restaurant and tasting room were teaming with patient dinner guests happy to take our places on that fabulous outdoor deck. Tabor’s GM Paul Landeck was the force behind that original gathering as he was again this year in re-creating a similar vista as a backdrop for FOTS model Heather Hoskins wearing one of Erin Johnson’s first-prize-winning creations.

The lush foliage covering everything in sight this summer has been a blessing after so much anticipation through the harsh days of April and May. Maybe I needed a Polar Vortex to intensify my appreciation of the good months. I have even started to appreciate the trivial joy of out-of-town guests and cruising up and down U.S. Highway 12, which turns into Red Arrow and eventually Blue Star. I am not alone with my pent-up energy and renewed enthusiasm for the Lake Michigan area from many points of view. Right after Memorial Day I had a great opportunity to spend some time touring the Johos remarkable home and barn in Michigan wine country, which doubles as a showcase for very unique and meaningful collectibles. Richard Hellyer’s gallery of photos from that day are so remarkable they showed me what I had missed with my own eyes. Like the perfect symmetry of the Johos’ home with the landscaped brick paths and placement of plants, the pond and the meadow and the breath-taking scene when you enter the main rooms in both. That’s what great photography does. And this issue is full of beautiful pictures, including Ryan Bolger’s take on the city from this side of the Lake, and many standout fashion photos by Tony Martin. Thanks to the hard work of Tony, Damian Rico, Laura Lane, Matt Sharp, Katie Dorsey, Brian Vernelis and Tara McElmurry from our team, the photos that we could not display here in print are available in online galleries and video coverage of our fashion event in May on VisitShoreMagazine.com.

So, I’ve been to Buchanan and environs a few times already this year, Beverly Shores and Bartlett’s on a regular basis, shopping in the suddenly alive Franklin Street district of Michigan City and, thanks to a very unexpected birthday present, managed to fit an entire day at Spa Blu at the Blue Chip, getting a tune-up from false eyelashes to silver toenail polish. In Michigan, I was lucky enough to preview the Customs Imports new space in Union Pier, the perfect place for a grand party, any day of the year. Also, made it to the Acorn in Three Oaks for Donna Blue Lachman’s outstanding production, “Mixed Nuts,” developed using an improvisational model into a totally engaging night of theater that got the rapt and deserved attention of the 300 people who packed the place. I love that the Four Winds people have helped Bob Swan’s opera series and adding Donna Lachman’s group to its repertoire is another Pokagon grant success story.

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July 2014 Shore Letter from the Editor

July 2014 Shore Letter from the Editor
June 21, 2014 9:00 am  • 

One bitterly cold, but not immobilizing, day during the winter I met with Susan Solon, marketing and communications director for the City of St. Joseph and her newly-acquired project cohort, former St. Joe Mayor Bob Judd to talk about the Lighthouse Forever Fund. Their fundraising project kicked off in April and May, but is still treading softly in the wake of the Senior PGA Tournament over Memorial Day, the opening of the new Inn at Harbor Shores, and scores of events and causes that seem to be going off at once and everywhere around St. Joe and Benton Harbor lately.

The conversation started out normally as these things go: In 2008, the city applied for and, in accordance with the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, took over the ongoing maintenance along with the deed to the property. The state historic preservation office got involved and costs were projected. (These lighthouses need work, who has money for lighthouses?) The former mayor is really good at discussing this issue as you would think he would be. Bob understands fundraising, the politics of the situation and the fact that $2 million is a lot of money to raise for something that is just a bit on the esoteric side. But he has a spin. There’s been some work done, he says, but “not lovingly done.”

“Our lighthouses are around anywhere you look, the whole of Southwest Michigan,” Bob says. “So the way we’re framing the project is what would [the area] look like if the lighthouse wasn’t there?” Pivot to existentialism. “Kids grow up here and the lighthouse out on the pier is an icon of our communities.” The former mayor has a cute story about a little boy he met who can tell you everything about every lighthouse around Lake Michigan. One of the projects in this friend-raising and fund-raising campaign is to help the Lighthouse Forever Fund by sending photos taken with you, your family, your pets for the giant community scrapbooking side note to the preservation fund.

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Capture of U-505 70 years later: German submarine tells story of technology, reconciliation and determination

Capture of U-505 70 years later: German submarine tells story of technology, reconciliation and determination
May 24, 2014 9:00 pm  • 

Everyone notices the massiveness first.

Even if you grew up around ships in a Navy town like San Diego or an historic East Coast port city. Even if you have gazed out onto Lake Michigan and seen a barge across the horizon that looks like a skyscraper on its side or if you’ve been on a casino boat when it set sail or a modern cruise ship that looks more like an apartment building.

The U-505, a 750-ton German submarine that fills a 35,000-square-foot space, is intimidating. It took weeks and millions of dollars to move inside in 2005, after braving 50 years of Chicago weather outside the Museum of Science and Industry.

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June 2014 Shore Letter from the Editor

June 2014 Shore Letter from the Editor
May 11, 2014 9:00 am  • 

I am convinced that fear of the unknown is something that has developed in human beings, probably through plain old mathematical calculation of how often what you don't know or can't control turns out to be that scary thing. For what is real about the unusual is never been as bad as what we've had time to sit around and contemplate anyway.

Journeys just bring these conundrums into high relief. I wasted so much time and money going places by myself when I was young; unable to speak the language—not very motivated either, as I imagined I could never have as deep an understanding and control of anything but my own poetic version of English—just to go. I would take on any mission as long as it involved a plane ride and ended up in a destination that held to a not very high standard of exotica.

Whereas I had previously been almost unable to find any differences in humans, now all I could see were the differences. What was wrong with these people in California that they didn't want to eat foie gras? Instead, they wanted to plant their own multi-colored bell peppers and make soup out of them?

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A mom monitor: Every move you make, every vow you break

A mom monitor: Every move you make, every vow you break
May 11, 2014 9:00 am  • 

About a year ago this time, I test drove a Jawbone UP bracelet and then went out and bought one of my own, even though I had seen the original red flag. David Pogue, who was still head gadget guide (and test tech driver) at the New York Times then, had raised the issue about the microphone jack on your iPhone as possibly not the best way to download the data the bracelet was collecting. Pogue sneered at this low-tech transfer mechanism saying that wireless is obviously a better way to deal with transmission. But he admitted what other critics had observed, that the UP software (like the hardware) on the bracelet, is well-designed, easy-to-read and fun.

Additional evidence, if I really needed more, included my son’s mother-in-law’s story about almost losing her pin-on Fit Bit (UP's closest competitor) as she went through the airport metal detector. My track record on losing small accessories like earrings and once an actual diamond out of an engagement ring was not too good. And then there was my store experience. Best Buy seemed to have more Fit Bits on the shelf after Mother’s Day than Jawbone UPs, which suggests that maybe the sales were better on the UPs. (Of course, this is ridiculous. Both device bracelets and pins sold very well. In fact, my son's mother-in-law had gotten her device as a Mother's Day present from her son. The price was the same no matter if you bought it in an expensive gadget shop in O’Hare Airport, a chain store, Amazon or on Jawbone’s web site: $129.99).

I was so happy with my UP bracelet that I got one for my husband for his birthday in July. So we could compare our sleep records with our activity records and possibly at some point our calorie-consuming records. He was the first person in the family to lose the cover for the phone jack plug. But I was delighted you could order three replacement caps for $9 plus postage and handling from Jawbone.

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Adventures in Everyday Living, Thursday, April 24, 2014

Adventures in Everyday Living, Thursday, April 24, 2014
April 23, 2014 12:00 am  • 

You will pay more at the door, so get your FOTS tickets in advance; shop your heart out at Art Attack in Harbor Country; find out if it’s treasure or trash in South Haven on Saturday and get one last bite at Bistro 157.

Mother-Daughter Night at Fashion on the Shore: If you have not yet attended our FOTS event, the third year will be the charm. Shore's co-sponsoring partner Millicent Huminsky and the Southwestern Michigan Tourism Council realized quickly that the 2013 FOTS had attracted a mix of mothers and daughters from across the Lake Michigan area. Though last year's show was on a splendid, warm Spring evening at the end of April, the optimum Friday would be just prior to Mother's Day. So May 9th at the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center was scheduled. All the aspects that made the show such a hit last year remain intact. The emerging designers' portfolios and their eclectic and imaginative fashions will be full blast again this year and we will be joined by at least one new design school. The brilliant, irreverent Robin Van Dyke will be the MC and narrator and of course, we have 30 models this year, many of the best professionals in the Lake Michigan area. Seating is limited so be sure to click on the link at the bottom of the newsletter to get this best deal on tickets. If you want to take a look at the photos from previous years, check out the photo gallery.

Art Attack in Harbor Country: Art Attack is all about teaching and learning this year. Starting on Friday you can take a lamp class at Catherine and Co.; give your home a makeover at The Shoppes of Michigan Thyme; try on the fabulous shoe collection from Helen’s Heart Trunk Show at Indian Summer Boutique and we haven’t even gotten to the art-art yet. Three Oaks has a half dozen gallery shows going but don’t forget to stop at Dee Dee Duhn’s Customs Imports in New Buffalo for her Bali Hai, Bali Hai sanctuary transformation. (Don’t you dare buy the blue chair if you get there before I do); the Robert Morse exhibition at Groundworkes; and Craig Smith Gallery’s show at the Gordon Beach Inn. Craig’s Sneak Preview Show begins Friday at 6 pm (ET). Much like Customs, Craig Smith’s Gallery is fatal to me; I can’t help but fall in love with some object or other.

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