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Von Cello 

Post No. 179
08/24/2006 01:37 PM
  
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Aha!

Interesting! So when I was down in Venezuela, back in 1981, I was actually witnessing a rennaisance in Venezuelan regional folk music! Most Venezuelans hadn't even heard much of this music. So, no wonder no one else had! I didn't realize how lucky I was to be there at that time. I assumed this music was always around and had been played on the radio for many years.

When I was in the Caracas Philharmonic, I was the only classical musician I knew who actually listened to Venezuelan music. In fact, that's about all I listened to for most of the time I was there. I figured it was a once in a lifetime chance to really experience another culture and to hear sounds I wouldn't otherwise hear. I remember thinking it strange the the "musicians" of the orchestra kept talking about various versions of symphonies conducted by this one or that one, while ignoring the amazing new creativity that was all around them in the country.

Believe it or not, a lot of the music of Venezuela sounded like acoustic Grateful Dead...which made me realize that Jerry Garcia's Mexican ancestry played a big part in his music. Yet most American Dead Heads have know idea that Jerry was anything but 100% the product of the U.S.

I also found out that a lot of South American music has a Jewish influence. After all, the Jews were a large and influencial part of Spain around the time of the Spanish conquering of South America, and they brought with them Jewish melodies that were then put to African beats. Listen to the melody of salsa tunes. If you slowed them down and took away the other instruments they would sound like Jewish synagogue chants! Yet this is all but unknown to most people.

You can hear in my cello etudes that I have a great understanding of latin music (Etude #3 - Three Concert Etudes) and Jewish music (Judaic Concert Suite). I am glad I got to spend time in South America and Israel. You can learn so much when you travel...if you are open to it.
Von Cello 

Post No. 178
08/23/2006 04:19 PM
  
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Andalucia

Von Cello 

Post No. 177
08/23/2006 03:30 PM
  
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Uncle Seamus's Band

Hey with the Dead you never know. Maybe they were just singing about an old string band playing by the river. You never know...but I doubt it.

Actually, it is also my belief that water in Dead songs almost always refers to acid. So when they say, "Come hear Uncle John's Band by the river side", they mean "Do some acid and check out our band". And then they say, "Got some things to talk about, here beside the rising tide". What are these "things" they've got to talk about? Probably the virtues of LSD. After all, they were the band of the psychedelic movement (Ken Kesey, the Pranksters, etc.)

I know today a lot of rock stars try to downplay the drug use of the past. But I remember hearing Jerry interviewed once and the reporter said, "In light of all the people who have become drug addicts, and had tragedies in their lives due to drugs, do you now feel that the promotion of drugs in the sixties was wrong?" And Jerry said, "Look, I'm not going to sit here and tell people not to take drugs!" At least he was honest and consistant. The Beatles tried to convince everyone that Lucky in the Sky with Diamonds did not stand for LSD! Guess they were more concerned with the bottom line.

I suppose with enough acid one could compose a reggae symphony! Could you imagine? I guess the timpani would take the place of the toms, and the strings would take the place of the guitar. The winds could do the organ part...and maybe an opera singer could do the lyrics..."Hey mon, hey mon". LOL!

Celtic with classical is an easier fit, but anything is possible.

Yes, you hear latin jazz and salsa on U.S. radio, but I don't think I've ever heard Venezuealan llanero, polyphonica, or musica national! There are very wide areas of the musical spectrum that are totally unknown in this country. I suppose it's a combination of cultural forces and economic ones. We also rarely hear music from the middle ages, but there was some great stuff written back then!

Now this is interesting. I heard a white supremisist on TV last night who makes pro white heavy metal music. Some of this music calls for violence against non whites. The reporter criticized him for this, but he replied by asking why it was okay for black people to make ganster rap which talks about killing people, and slapping hoes, etc. Hmmm....
eaburke81 

Post No. 176
08/23/2006 02:45 PM
  
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Literal interpretations, and an industry that changes it\'s mind

Well I would guess that's a pretty accurite interpretation of the song...i guess I was taking the song a little too literally...as if the band were actually playing violin by a rising river or waterfall, or asking a crow for a story....these are quite surreal images, I must say. I know the fire from the ice as well, fire is hot, ice is cold, and never the trains shall meet.
I can can see I am going to have to sharpen my interpretive pencil, as it were. All meanings aside, "Uncle John's band" has exellent, folwing lyrics, some good percussion work, and lush harmonies. I feel that the Dead were masters of vocal harmony.

I enjoy South American music almost as much as I do reggae, although I would have to say that salsa, latin jazz and other forms of latin music are really over-played on the major world music networks, Though noting get's a party started like Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va", as played by Santana. Roots reggae just doesn't get enough air-time.

A little off topic, but Celtic music used to be big here in the Western world back when Michael Flatley's "Riverdance" first came out, but now not it's not so popular interms of radio play. NPR's "The Thistle and Shamrock" with Fiona Ritchie is pretty much the only place to hear main-stream Celtic music.
Nowadays, the world charts are more in favor of Salsa, African, and Middle-Eastern music, so I'm trying to bring Irish and Celtic music back into the pop charts.

Even more off topic, I used the word "Waterfall" in the paragraph above. There is, I believe, a Jimi Hendrix song entitled "Waterfall", that my mom has been looking for for quite some time now. Would anybody happen to know which album it's on?

I guess I now retract my request for a compostion combinign reggae and classical music, and inquire about the possiblity of an Celtic/Classical composition? It's been done, I know, mostly by the likes of Enya and other new age types, but Von Cello hasn't done it yet! It woudl be awesome to hear the bagpipes and bizouki, (a long-necked, Greek mandolin which the Irish adopted) with cello. I have an Irish bodhran drum at home and am learning a few rhythms...I could join you!
Von Cello 

Post No. 175
08/23/2006 10:07 AM
  
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Uncle John's Reggae Band

Let me try to talk about the Dead and reggae in one post. (Which is not so weird since the Dead did some reggae too. Do you know Crazy Fingers?)

I guess in any genre you will start to notice more and more detail the more you get into it. I enjoy reggae now and then, and I certainly respect the fact that some people love it. Perhaps part of my view of reggae comes from the fact that I lived in South America for a while. Reggae seemed to come to popularity in the U.S. in the late '70s and early 80's. But I was in Venezuela in '81 and I learned about the music of many "American" countries. Venezuela has Llanero music (cowboy), polyphonica (polyphonic folk music), salsa, and musica national (the national music with groups made up of harp, quatro - a type of small guitar, and bass). Then there was also the black tribal music from the coast. And I'm not even getting into the other music, like that from the Indians of Peru and Bolivia, or the many styles from Brazil. Some of this music is incredibly complex with all kinds of polyrhythms and virtuosic instrumental playing.

When I came back to the states all anyone was into was reggae, reggae, reggae. I tried to get some friends to listen to some of my tapes from South America, but no one cared. It was like they were hypnotized into reggae because the corporations had fed them reggae. So, while I have nothing against reggae, I still do not really understand why Americans feel that somehow it is cool while every other music from South America is not. I guess it all comes down to economics. The Jamaicans have the connections and the business skills to promote their music in the U.S., whereas the Venezuelans don't. But to some extent I see the other music of South America like I see the cello, it is great but somehow not accepted into the American pop music party.

I always thought Uncle John's Band was the Dead's answer to Seargent Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band. The Beatles called themselves by another name (ending with the word "Band"), so the Dead did the same. And I thought that the Dead's song was their way of drawing a line in the sand. "God damn but I declare, have you seen the light?" In other words, "Dammit, we are American! So all you American kids out there, stop looking toward England for your music." Even to bring up "Don't tred on me" is a way of saying turn away from the country that tred on us in the revolutionary war. Come back to your Uncle...not Uncle Sam per se, but the folksy Uncle John.

And "the rising tide" I always thought was the rising youth culture. The Dead were the "house band" to the hippie movement, and they saw their numbers grow and grow like a "rising tide". However this rising tide was to a large extent lost. Hence lyrics like, "Please come to take his children home". Please help all these lost hippie kids to find their way back to a normal life. (After all the Dead were making a living, as opposed to the lost kids who were following them around.)

When they said that they live in a "silver mine", that is almost a brag about how much money the band was making. He brags further, "I got me a violin and I beg you call the tune. Anybodies choice, I can hear your voice". In other words, "We are a great band. Come on, name a tune and we'll play it".

And then they throw in some philosophy about life like they do in other songs, "You know all the rules by now and the fire from the ice". And trippy observations about how time goes by, and how we have to "think this through". I thought they said, "Let me know your mine", not "Let me know your mind". I thought they were saying to the audience that they should become the Dead's followers. As long as they were "kind". The Dead wanted a cool, peaceful following...which they got for the most part.

The thing with the Dead is you never know for sure what they mean. But I have always felt that I pretty much aced this one!
eaburke81 

Post No. 174
08/23/2006 08:40 AM
  
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Cryptic Messages

What does Uncle John's Band mean? It can mean what ever YOU want it to. For me, I see it as a song about someone trying to find himself "Where does the time go? How does this song go"?
Also it's about gathering together to hear a concert and to join a club (find a niche): "Come hear Uncle John's playing to the tide. Oh come with me or go alone he's come to take his children home".

Unless they just come right out with it, I don't think any band will just giv away the story/eaning behing thier songs. It helps us to exercise our philosohpical muscle to ponder on the song we're listening to...just like I did with "Vision of Eternity", which I can totally relate to now thagt I'm out of college.
eaburke81 

Post No. 173
08/23/2006 08:32 AM
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Well, rather then being "mellow and comforting" as you put it, I would say reggae, if it's good roots reggae and not dancehall, is more "upbeat and happy". Dancehall reggae is the genre being played most these days on the major music video shows, when pop and hip-hop aren't being played. It kind of sounds like reggae, but I like to refer to dancehall as "Jamaican hip-hop"...I don't know why the word "reggae" is used in the same sentance as "dancehall". Artists like Sean Paul, Bounty Killer, Elephant Man and T.O.K. are Dancehall artists. Buju Banton does dancehall, but he does cross-over into reggae occaisionally.
I'm talking about roots reggae, the kind Bob Marley put out in the 70's. Repetitive, true. But un-interesting? Not in the least. As someone who used to play reggae on his radio show more then any other genre, I can listen to several reggae songs in a row and notice major differences: reggae music does contain bridges and solos, along with all these crazy sound-effects and echos, and bright tom-tom fills....I just love listening to a new reggae song and wondering what wonderful sound it's going to send my way next.
Bob Marley is of course a favorite, but I enjoy Dennis Brown, who has a great voice, Jah Cure who writes really outstanding, meaningful lyrics (one of his songs is entitled "Love is the Only Solution"), Matisyahu is good, of course, I also love the "Cool Runnings" soundtrack and alot of my friends have picked on me for that. "Jamaican Bobsledding!" they say...but I love the movie. These are the same friends who even accused me of smoking weed back in college....so I said to them though, just becasue I regulalry listen to a genre long associated with smoking pot doesn't mean I smoke pot myself. I'm so tired of stereo-types and gross assumptions. Sure, I'm a white guy from Vermont, but reggae and a bunch of other unique music, (Von Cello included!), make me happy...I say what better reason to listen to music?
Von Cello 

Post No. 172
08/22/2006 11:49 PM
  
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Eggie Music

I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to put reggae down. I'd be happy to hear your points. After all, it says at the top of the page to "be controversial".

I thought it was understood that reggae was the music of the Rastrafarians (sp?) who have as part of their religion the smoking of ganja (pot). So I didn't realize that it would be offensive to say that reggae is music created by and for people who are high on pot. It is repetitious, but then again so are other types of music including modern classical "minimalist" music. But traditional classical music makes a point of being witty and inventive. For instance, in a typical piece by Bach he may go in and out of a half a dozen keys. In reggae the music stays in one key the whole way through (as it does in most pop music). But there have been groups like the Beatles that used sophisticated chord progressions and other complex devices, like arrangements using an orchestra. I don't think it's wrong to say that reggae doesn't seek to be complex. It seeks to be mellow and comforting. So enlighten me if I'm missing something.

I know the words to Uncle John's Band, but what do they mean? People sing songs, but have no idea what they are singing about. For instance I always thought the song said, "There was a built of cannon balls, their motto is Don't Tread On Me". And I thought they were referring to the colonial flag that had a snake and a pile of cannon balls on it and the words, "Don't Tread On Me". And I thought what the Dead were saying is, "We're an American Band, not an English import". "We are Uncle John's Band, a folksy American original, not Beatles, or Herman's Hermits". I thought the song was about how the Dead represented the counter culture of America...the true America.

But if I got the words wrong then my interpretation is probably wrong. And I'm back wondering what the heck that song is about!
eaburke81 

Post No. 171
08/22/2006 09:20 PM
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Wow...your thoughts on reggae leave a fan like speechless...There are loads of points here which i dissagree with, but I'll let it be.
I will however, give you the lyrics to "Uncle Jonh's Band": a bright, bouncy song that I love to sing:

Well the first days are the hardest days
Don't you worry anymore.
'Cause when life looks like easy street
there is danger at your door.
Think this through with me, let me know your mind. Wo ho what I want to know, is are you kind.
It's a buck dancer's choice, my friend, better take my advice.
You know all the rules by now and the fire from the ice.
Will you come with me, won't you come with me? Who ho, what i want to know, will you come with me.
Goddamn well i declare, have you seen the light (like?)
Their walls are built of cannonballs their motto is "Don't Tread on Me".

Come, hear, Uncle John's band, by the riverside. We got somethings to talk about, here beside the rising tide.

It's the same story the crow told me it's the only one he knows.
Like the morning sun you come and liek the wind you go.
Ain't no time to hate, barely time to wait. Wo Ho want i want to know, where does the time go?
I live in a silver mine and call it beggar's toumb. I got me a violin and i beg you call the tune.
Anybody's choice, I can hear your voice,
Wo ho what I want to know, how does this song go?

Come, hear, Uncle John's band, by the river-side, we got somethings to talk about, here beside the rising tide.
Come hear unlce john's band playing to the tide, oh come with me or go alone, he's come to take his children home.
da da da da na, da, da, da, da, na.....

There it is...may be a bit innacurate. i had the CD severla years ago but i lost it. the album's called "Workingman's Dead", it came out in 1970, I believe.
The song has a nice folksy quality to it.
Von Cello 

Post No. 170
08/22/2006 08:33 AM
  
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Classical and reggae...hmmm. That would actually be hard to do. Reggae is one of the simplist forms of music. And what makes it different from other musical forms seems to be the sound of the instruments, especially the drum groove. The songs are also repetitious and seem to be geared towards people who are stoned and want to hear the same thing over and over again. I don't quite know how you combine that with classical music.

Most people like songs even though they don't know what the words are. Do you know the words to Uncle John's Band, and what do you think they are about?
eaburke81 

Post No. 169
08/21/2006 08:47 PM
  
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oh,I forgot.....

"Estimated Prophet" is awesome too. I'm listening to it right now. I'm a bit of a reggae fan...actually a rather huge reggae fan. Would you ever consider writing a suite combining reggae with classical technique?
eaburke81 

Post No. 168
08/21/2006 08:41 PM
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A whole state (or city anyway) of Dead-heads

That\'s cool, Aaron. I hope your Dead Suite is approved....The Dead have been fairly popular here in Vermont ever since they played here in the summer of \'94. That was up North near the border at the Hinesburg air strip. My Dad went to the show but he didn\'t take me! Maybe I was a bit too young, though. All I got was a t-shirt from the concert he had bought me. I had to throw it out eventually becuase I wore it so much. I guess what I was saying is that your Dead Suites might do well up here. Burlington is a college town and so naturually The Dead are played frequently. There is a regular radio show on \"The Wizard of Rock\" WIZN 106.7-FM called \"The Grateful Dead Hour\", and Burlington\'s Radisson Hotel recently hosted an art show featuring works or reproduction of works from Jerry himself....I had never known he was a visual artist too....great stuff.
My favorite Dead songs would have to be \"Uncle John\'s Band\" and \"Terrapin Station\" if you were wondering. I like the early stuff.
Von Cello 

Post No. 167
08/21/2006 07:25 PM
  
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My bad too. You asked what the approval is for. Oxford has to approve the publishing of the suite. I know there is a lot of support for it but they have a complicated procedure that involves people on "both sides of the pond". So it's not over 'till it's over.

And, yes, playing strings has some real difficulties, but I have some ideas to make it easier which I hope to publish eventually.
eaburke81 

Post No. 166
08/21/2006 02:35 PM
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My Bad!!!

Oops, my mistake, Aaron, I should have read your previous post more carefully.
Upon reading your answer to my frets question, I now have a whole new respect for string players. I'll just say for my part that I'm really glad hand drums aren't fitted with strings! :^)
Von Cello 

Post No. 165
08/20/2006 09:58 PM
  
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Look Mom...no frets!

I did not say Dead Cello was approved. I said it looks good for approval. We should know for sure by September.

As to knowing where to put your fingers...that is something that just takes practice. You have to learn to use your ear and hear what you are playing. That sounds obvious, but guitar players have those frets so all they need to know how to do is tune the strings and then put their fingers inside the frets. With the other string instruments, you actually have to listen to every single note.

That also gives you certain advantages, because you can place a note a little high or a little low. This gives you a whole level of expression that the guitar does not have. It also allows you to play more in tune than a guitar. The fact is that fretted instruments are not really in tune! Compromises are made in order to place the frets on the fingerboard. So you could argue that the guitar is inferior in that you are not playing the real note that should be played, but an approximation. The same could be said of the piano, and the electric bass. The wind players can bend notes with their lips, and singers can bend notes with their throats.

When I play rock, I actually have to play out of tune in order to match the bass and the keyboards. I've had some frustrating conversations with bass players trying to explain that they, not I, are out of tune. But I have to play out of tune to match them, because they have frets and can't play the real note that should be played.

This is hard to explain in detail without being able to demonstrate it, but I think you get my drift. Anyway, after a while you just "know" where to put your fingers even without the frets. But it takes years to get to the point where you play in tune all the time. And even the greats occaisionally play a bit out of tune, because perfection is basically impossible. So, guitarists sound to the untrained ear that they are always playing in tune, but to those who get to know how music really sounds without the compromise of frets, you know guitars are always out of tune.
eaburke81 

Post No. 164
08/20/2006 02:29 PM
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Von Dead-Head!!!

Hi Aaron - congrats on the news for your "Dead Cello Suite". Soon the world will witness your powerful rendition of "Dark Star". But for what did you get approval exactly?
In other news: how do you know where to put your fingers on the neck of your electric cello to produce chords?
Von Cello 

Post No. 163
08/18/2006 11:41 AM
  
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We got the NYC Marathon gig! Now I'm working on gettng the band shell in Central Park for another event. I met with the head of Oxford, NY and it's looking good for approval of my suite, Dead Cello. Beyond that, I'm just playing classical and standards at gigs in Long Island this weekend. I'm looking forward to going to Roslyn. That's a cute town with a colonial section by a park with a lake.
Von Cello 

Post No. 162
08/14/2006 09:39 AM
  
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Dog Days

In these dog days of summer, after my big Vermont trip, things have calmed down a bit. But a lot is happening behind the scenes. Like tomorrow I have a meeting with the president of Oxford. I am also setting up gigs for the fall. And a great new article about Von Cello is circulating around the net. Check it out on this site:
http://www.spraci.com/news/articles/2713.html
Von Cello 

Post No. 161
08/11/2006 10:18 AM
  
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Don't Worry Be Happy

Von Cello 

Post No. 160
08/11/2006 10:01 AM
  
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How to reduce air pollution

10 Planes, 450 passengers each = 4,500 dead civilians. That was the plan of the terrorists just caught in England. Who was behind this plot? Christians? Jews? Buddhists? Hindus? No....it was, hmmm, well you know who.

Why were they going to kill so many innocent civilians? Were they being attacked? They were British citizens! I don't recall the British going around killing their own citizens recently. It seems the attack was driven by an ideology that sees all non Muslims as targets,. England is now in a similar position to Israel. Which brings us back to the point about what would happen if the Israelis and Arabs both dropped all the weapons.

The Jews truly want to live in peace, just like most people. Many Muslims do too. But those Muslims who share the ideology of those who were just busted in England (of which there are millions) are willing to kill themselves in order to kill non Muslims. It is very hard to accept, but there ARE such people. This is the hardest lesson for westerners, who have lived in a comfortable cocoon for so long, to learn.

It's not that these Muslims are "evil" in the conventional sense. They believe that if they can utterly destroy the west and force all inhabitants of the earth to submit to Islam, then, and only then, will there be peace. But is the west prepared to let itself be utterly destroyed? And, if not, what choice does the west have but to fight back?

I suppose they realize that the west will fight back, but they are so fanatically religious, that they believe that Allah will make them triumph in the end. And so, it will probably take a fight to the end to finally settle this matter. A problem that actually began around 1,000 years ago when a man named Mohammed commanded his followers to lauch a world wide jihad. And it was pointed out yesterday on the John Batchelor Show that there is a quote on the Hezbollah flag in Arabic that reads, "Perpetual Jihad"!

This is the sad reality of life on the planet earth today. We are at the beginning of a new "Crusades" that shows no signs of letting up for many many years. I once met a general's daugther who said that war was necessary to control the population. Maybe what we are seeing is nature's way of cleaning up the environment. What better way to reduce greenhouse gasses and carbon emmisions than to have millions of humans kill each other?
Von Cello 

Post No. 159
08/10/2006 08:44 AM
  
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Blues for Allah

Did you hear that Israel discovered some Iranian soldiers among the dead in Lebanon? That is earthshattering. It means that Iran is directly attacking Israel! And it means that Israel has the right to attack back, as does the U.S. which is Israel's greatest ally.

There is also the story being circulated around the Arab world that Iran plans to bomb Israel on August 22nd, which is a day in Islam that they believe the Muslim messiah will appear. It seems Ahmadinijad of Iran wants to create an "end time" scenario by starting an apocalyptic war. The trouble for the west is that even if fundamentalist Muslims know they will die in an apocalypse, they are happy for that because they can die as "martyrs" for Allah. So we can't depend on the normal "deterrents" to stop a war, like we could with the Soviets.

I know this sounds like a plot out of a bizarre novel, but this could very well happen. And it looks more and more likely that there will be a major war in the middle east, and possibly a world war within the next few years. Especially as Iran seems bent on obtaining, and using, nuclear weapons...something Israel and others will not be able to tolerate.

Yes folks, you heard it first at voncello.com. (May God help us!)
Von Cello 

Post No. 158
08/08/2006 09:55 AM
  
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Helping Haifa

Steve, that is very commendable! I have always thought that the most noble thing someone could do is to go to trouble spots in the world to help those in need. You went to Bolivia to adopt a baby who was in need. And now you will go to Haifa to help those in need there. Bravo!

One of the drummers for Von Cello is over there right now. Nadav Snir comes from Haifa, but has lived here for several years. But when he saw the war clouds hovering he went back to show support for his family and friends.

I hope to go back there at some point, but at this point I try to help financially and through communicating with people to get them to understand the terrible position the Jews are in over there. Unfortunately, many people think the Jews and the Arabs are both violent people who love to hit each other back and forth. But the fact is, if we had Lebanon as a neighbor instead of Canada, and we had our soldiers killed and captured over our border, and had rocket attacks on our cities, and heard our neighbors keep talking about how they want to destroy us and murder every last one of us....I think America, or any country, would be doing exactly what Israel is doing. Actually, many would be doing a lot worse. But people don't automatically realize that. So I spend a lot of time talking and emailing people about this. And in a subtle way I bring some of these ideas into my music.

Which brings me back to my trip. Yesterday I stopped off to see an old friend, Neal Ferenc, and his wife and son. The two men play guitar, so I broke out the cello and we played a number of Grateful Dead tunes. It was a lot of fun and gave me some new ideas for tunes to play. Then we headed down through the green mountainous corridors of the Vermont highways until we got home in New York. We are very lucky to live in America.
canarsie1 

Post No. 157
08/08/2006 03:38 AM
  
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lebanon and on and on

war? bombs? jets? killings? its hard to tell the difference between a good old movie with stallone and reality. Next summer we will be in israel for 2 months as volunteers in haifa. do you have any plans to go there to help out?
Von Cello 

Post No. 156
08/07/2006 07:57 AM
  
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VON CELLO RULES!

I was not sure how the show would go, but apparently it went great. Several people came up afterwards to siign the guestbook and/or to tel us how much they liked us. The soundman told us to make sure to come back, and the booker said he would get in touch. I heard that people were playing "air cello". And everyone loved the keyboard playing as well. So hopefully we will be back to Burlington in the fall with the full Von Cello Band!
Von Cello 

Post No. 155
08/06/2006 05:12 PM
  
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Von Dead Comes Alive

I'm rehearsing right now with Scott the keyboard player. We're working on some new Dead covers for tonight. It is sounding REALLY cool!
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