The best part of any reunion is the people, and I’ve learned an important lesson this time: get here early. I was never rushed, had enough time to spend with everyone, and lowered my blood pressure probably 20 or so points.
The shenanigans of our group of friends shall mostly be lost to the mists of time (or behind private walls on Facebook), but a few things stand out:
- Lunch from Take It Away on Friday afternoon, sitting under the tree in front of Pavilion VIII and watching the world go by.
- Bringing beer to the gentlemen of the Virginia Glee Club at the Glee Club House
- Meeting alumni from several generations of Club and seeing a program from the Founders Day 1943 debut of The Testament of Freedom – autographed by Randall Thompson
- Closing down Millers on Thursday night listening to John D’Earth
After Saturday’s banquet, I had reached my quota of extroversion, and my claustrophobia kicked in. So I took my leave of my friends and walked up East Lawn, then cut across to West. As I passed Pavilion V, I was hailed by strangers sitting outside one of the Lawn Rooms, who pointed out my absence of beverage and rectified same; we exchanged pleasantries and University personal histories. Walking back down East Lawn again, I was stopped by alumni of the class of 1974, sitting outside another Lawn room drinking bourbon and smoking cigars. They pointed to my orange and blue bow tie and said, “Now that’s how it’s supposed to be done!”
I got a special behind-the-scenes tour of the Rotunda on Saturday. The Rotunda, Jefferson’s library and the centerpiece of his Academical Village, just got done with a roof replacement and now enters the second, more extensive phase of its renovations as they redo the mechanical systems and get ready to return it to a building more integrated with student life. The guide said that they were inspired by the way students took to the McGregor Room in Alderman when it was turned into study space after Special Collections moved into its new dedicated building, and hope to recreate that effect in the oval room across from the Board of Visitors meeting room on the second floor. I can’t think of anything better.
The tour itself was fascinating. We stood in the lower oval rooms on the ground floor and learned what they’ve reconstructed about the larger role of the chemistry labs in the earliest days of the university, when the Rotunda was not just library but also science classroom. We marveled at the graffiti left by builders in the portland cement lining the cistern buried in the east courtyard, long hidden under a fountain. And we got to ascend both tiers of balcony above the Dome Room floor, which have long been off limits to regular tours.
The last part was the most special. Behind an opened panel on the north wall was a small chamber housing the machinery for the north clock. There was a 1970s era unfinished wood structure around the clock mechanism. And the wood structure was covered by signatures of probationary classes of the University Guide Service. The Guides’ secret hideaway had long been a legend, and seeing it in broad daylight was surprising at first. But as I wrote to a friend, I felt that the Guides found a way to become part of the historic fabric of the building in an intimately familiar and ultimately respectful way, just like the builders who left their names in the cement of the cistern. Seeing the signatures meant that my friends had found a way to become a deep part of the history of the University.
Check the Flickr photoset for more.
My 20th reunion has been a great time to connect with friends, gawk at the architecture (again), and disappear into the library. —Wait, what?
I got into Charlottesville on Thursday for reunions weekend, and headed straight to the library. I was on the trail of the mysterious Glee Club concert program. I found the mention of William Wood Glass‘s correspondence with Ada Bantz Beardsworth in January of this year, and one sentence in the finding aid was electrifying: “He also included programs for the University of Virginia Glee Club.”
In the end, the discovery was simple. I went to Special Collections, requested the box of correspondence, opened it, and there it was: a program for the February 12, 1894 Glee Club concert. Featuring E.A. Craighill, author of the Good Old Song, and the same concert program that the Club took on that 1893–1894 tour, the program formed the second earliest record we have of an actual Glee Club performance. It also had a human dimension: Glass wrote a letter to Ada on the front and back, describing the concert and its aftermath. He notes, “We had a fine time, but not as large a house as we anticipated. I made a great mash on one of Miss Baldwin’s girls.”
I’m getting the program scanned properly. It should be part of our permanent record of Club’s history.
I returned to Alderman on Friday to dig through other holdings. I finally laid eyes on the January 1871 copy of the Virginia University Magazine, which fixes our earliest date for the Glee Club, and made my way through much of the collection of Corks and Curls. I’ll post about some of those findings another time.
And now we have the odd phenomenon of designers dumping on Helvetica.
Percolating this one for a while, as usual. Genesis has been the end of a long hard winter, some outstanding old gospel 78s that washed up on Bandcamp, and a few songs (“Headspins,” “Genius of Love”) that seized my playlist and wouldn’t let go.
- In Your Eyes (Special Mix) – Peter Gabriel
- I Won’t Be Long – Beck (I Won’t Be Long)
- City With No Children – Arcade Fire (The Suburbs)
- Man – Neko Case (The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You (Deluxe Edition))
- Headspins – Splashh (Comfort)
- Little By Little – Radiohead (The King of Limbs)
- Weightless – Brian Eno (Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks)
- Root Down – Beastie Boys (Ill Communication)
- White Girl – Soul Coughing (Irresistible Bliss)
- Can You Get to That – Funkadelic (Maggot Brain)
- Borrowed Time – Alexander O’Neal (Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound)
- Bittersweet Me – R.E.M. (New Adventures In Hi-Fi)
- Genius Of Love – Tom Tom Club (Tom Tom Club)
- Patience – The Men (Campfire Songs)
- What Are They Doing in Heaven Today? – Dixie Hummingbirds (When the Moon Goes Down in the Valley of Time: African-American Gospel, 1939-51)
- Stones In My Passway – Robert Johnson (The Complete Recordings)
- Royals – Lorde (The Love Club EP)
- Deeper Into Movies – Yo La Tengo (I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One)
- Too Much of Nothing (take 2) – Bob Dylan (A Tree With Roots)
- That Was My Veil – June Tabor & Oysterband (Ragged Kingdom)
- Wash. – Bon Iver (Bon Iver)
- Avalanche (Slow) – Zola Jesus, JG Thirlwell & Mivos Quartet (Versions)
- Green, Green Rocky Road – Dave Van Ronk (Inside Llewyn Davis: Original Soundtrack Recording)
- Water Wheel – Steve Gunn (Time Off)
- Ceremony – New Order (International: The Best of New Order)
- One Day – Angelic Gospel Singers with the Dixie Humming Birds (When the Moon Goes Down in the Valley of Time: African-American Gospel, 1939-51)
- Winter’s Come And Gone – Gillian Welch (Hell Among The Yearlings)
Why are some sources hard to find? There are usually a couple of reasons–either the item hasn’t been digitized (but thanks to references in other sources we know that it exists), or the item has been digitized but Google, in its infinite wisdom, isn’t making a full copy of the source available.
The current list:
- Corks and Curls volume 1 (1888). According to the snippet view search, Page 92 contains a description and information about that year’s Glee Club, about which we have very little information.
- Corks and Curls volume 2 (1889). Again, tantalizing glimpses indicate that pages 10, 96, and 97 reference the Glee Club. This is especially tantalizing because our only prior evidence about the group says that it did not organize in 1888-1889.
- Corks and Curls volume 3 (1890). Page 106ff appears to supplement what little we know about the group in 1889-1890.
- Additional papers of Ada Bantz Beardsworth, Box folder 23:2. This is a funny one, but apparently the subject had a former boyfriend in the Virginia Glee Club (William Wood Glass), who sang in the Glee Club in the 1895-1896 season. And they corresponded, and he sent her concert programs! We only have one concert program of the Club prior to 1900 so this item, in the UVA Library Special Collections, would be quite a find.
- Programs from the 1980s and the 2000s. For whatever reason, we have more knowledge about concerts in the 1940s through the 1970s than we do about the 1980s, 2000s, and even 2010s (thanks to a few generous alums we have the 1990s mostly covered). Anyone holding a cache of concert programs from these eras?
So if there are any sleuths out there with access to the UVA Library or other repositories of rare Virginiana, who can help me out with a scanner, I’d be eternally grateful.
I’ve devoted some of my Virginia Glee Club historical research time to non-Glee Club topics in an effort to better understand the life of the average Club guy across the decades of the group’s existence. In the process, I’ve learned some interesting things about Club itself.
First, other musical groups, namely the University Band. If you think the Club has had a checkered history, what with multiple potential founding dates and occasional fallow years, then check out the band! Though instrumental music has an earlier start date than organized glee clubs, with the first reference to student instrumental groups coming in 1832, there were not only many starts and stops but also outright faculty opposition. In a foreshadowing of this year’s performance space flap, students were forbidden in the late 1830s from practicing instruments except between the hours of 2 and 3 in the afternoon, or from four to eight o’clock at night—and never on Sunday. So formal bands died out, to be replaced by the Calathumps — not a good tradeoff for order at the University. New organized bands sprouted in the early 20th century but seemed always to die away, so you had a founding of a band in 1908–09, another in 1910–11, another in the 1920s, another in 1934, a dwindling to almost nothing in the early 1960s, and then a resurgence with significant donor money in 2004. The last refounding of the Band, with the clear goal of the extinguishing of the Pep Band, doesn’t reflect well on student self governance, but at least it got a band that had instruments and practice space.
Second, the Arcadians. I’ve written about them before, but it’s interesting to study this group in a little more detail. The University had had a small dramatic group, the VVV Club, in the early 1900s, but the Arcadians were something else—seriously organized, putting on big shows, and apparently sucking in all the musical talent. In 1904 the University only had 662 students, not reaching over 1000 until 1915–16, and the pool of available students wasn’t big enough to support both a Glee Club and a dramatic group that performed musicals. So, after five musicals, the Arcadians were bankrupt and no student groups remained to put on entertainments. Enter the Glee Club of 1910–11. And, given that there were only a few additional fallow years from this season forward, we can really thank the poor financial management skills of the Arcadians with giving the Glee Club the opportunity to get back on its feet for good.
Starting with this. I completed something other than regret, my 33rd mix in the modern era, on the 10th of November, and it’s all over the map, but with some pretty strong thematic material running through as well. I especially love the way that Laura Marling excavates on the three tracks from Once I Was an Eagle, which is my favorite album of 2013; the woozy, witchy, R&B-driven silliness of “Nommo (The Magick Song)” (“All praises due to the Black man,” indeed); the light touch of Antony’s “Crackagen”, and the way that John Fahey’s riff on Clarence Ashley’s “The Coo Coo Bird” fits so seamlessly with gospel. I’ve definitely got something other than regret.
- Song-Song – Brad Mehldau Trio (The Art Of The Trio Volume 3)
- Nommo- The Magick Song – Gary Bartz And NTU Troop (I’ve Known Rivers And Other Bodies)
- Is That Enough – Yo La Tengo (Fade)
- Blue Light – Mazzy Star (So Tonight That I Might See)
- Life & Soul – The Sundays (Blind)
- Take The Night Off – Laura Marling (Once I Was An Eagle)
- I Was An Eagle – Laura Marling (Once I Was An Eagle)
- Crackagen – Antony and the Johnsons (Another World)
- Everybody’s Heart’s Breaking Now – Lavender Diamond (Incorruptible Heart)
- Variations On The Coocoo – John Fahey (The Dance Of Death & Other Plantation Favorites)
- Where Shall I Go? – Sister Marie Knight (When the Moon Goes Down in the Valley of Time: African-American Gospel, 1939-51)
- Don’t Give Up – Peter Gabriel (So (Remastered 2012))
- Incinerate – Sonic Youth (Rather Ripped)
- Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes – Sun Kil Moon (Tiny Cities)
- We’ll Sweep Out The Ashes In The Morning – Gram Parsons (G.P. / Grievous Angel)
- Breathe – Laura Marling (Once I Was An Eagle)
- Turn Your Color – The Men (Campfire Songs)
- I’ll Fly Away – Southern Sons (When the Moon Goes Down in the Valley of Time: African-American Gospel, 1939-51)
Dave reminds us that it’s almost ten years to the day since the first BloggerCon. I was highly invested in blogging at that juncture of my life, having tried and largely failed to figure out where I fit inside Microsoft, and so I managed to combine a recruiting trip back East and attendance at the first day of BloggerCon.
I liveblogged much of what I saw of the day. I’m sure most of it is redundant with the other coverage, but in retrospect it’s interesting to read through the coverage and see how much of it was on target, or just off-target. I think the biggest bit that surprises me is the collective failure to imagine that blogging, per se, was just one manifestation of a million ways for individuals to share ideas and feelings with the world, or that most people would be most interested just in sharing those ideas and feelings with a few friends and family.
No real notes here, except to note that Jonny Greenwood’s Bodysong, from 2003, is an unlikely sleeper album. There are bits that remind me of Ravel, and Berg, and glitchy techno, and sometimes they come in the same song.
Also: why did it take me so long to listen to Bruce Cockburn? He would have been right up my alley in 1988 or 1989.
Also also: I’m in the crowd for that 2004 Sonic Youth performance at the Showbox. This one.
- Burning Of Auchidoon – Maddy Prior (Silly Sisters)
- Tree (Today is an Important Occasion) – David Byrne (The Knee Plays)
- Ready to Start – Arcade Fire (Ready to Start – Single)
- Lovers In a Dangerous Time – Bruce Cockburn (Stealing Fire (Deluxe Edition))
- Wiggle-Waggle – Herbie Hancock (Warner Archives)
- Everything In Its Right Place – Radiohead (Kid A)
- 24 Hour Charleston – Jonny Greenwood (Bodysong (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture))
- Concorde – Modern Jazz Quartet (Concorde)
- Track 4 – Sigur Rós (( ))
- Chemtrails – Beck (Modern Guilt)
- Sorrow – The National (High Violet)
- I Should Watch TV (M. Stine remix) – David Byrne & St. Vincent (Brass Tactics EP)
- Pattern Recognition – Sonic Youth (Live at the Showbox in Seattle (2004))
- Milky Way – Weather Report (Weather Report)
- Alone And Forsaken – Neko Case (Live from Austin, Texas)
- Hi-Speed Soul – Nada Surf (Let Go)
- After All – Christian Scott (Yesterday You Said Tomorrow)
- Bode Radio/Glass Light/Broken Hearts – Jonny Greenwood (Bodysong (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture))
- I Wanna Dance With Somebody – David Byrne (David Byrne: Live from Austin, TX)
As I was getting ready for the procedure, I realized that there were a lot of songs that were inadvertently funny in the context of a colonoscopy, and that there didn’t seem to be a lot of people putting them together in playlists. So I figured I’d do it so you don’t have to. (You’re welcome.) I posted a request for help on Facebook and got a lot of suggestions from my friends, so this was a real labor of love…from the bottom to the top.
- Baby Got Going – Liz Phair
- I Like to Move It – Reel 2 Reel
- Relax – Frankie Goes to Hollywood
- Shout – Tears for Fears
- Take It Easy – The Eagles
- When the Levee Breaks – Memphis Minnie
- Medley: Highway to Hell -> Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC
- Highway to Hell – AC/DC
- It Looks Like I’m Up Sh*t Creek Again – Tom Waits
- Medley: “All Stripped Down” / “The Earth Died Screaming” / “The Ocean Doesn’t Want Me” / “New Coat of Paint” / “Chocolate Jesus” / “Take It With Me” ” / “Tango Till They’re Sore” / “Don’t Go Into That Barn” / “The One That Got Away” / “How’s It Gonna End” / “Make It Rain” – Tom Waits
- All Things Must Pass – George Harrison
- Chocolate Rain – Tay Zonday
- Everything Must Go – Manic Street Preachers
- The Waiting is the Hardest Part – Tom Petty
- Pants on the Ground – Larry Pratt
- From the Bottom to the Top – Frank Sinatra
- Way Down in the Hole – Tom Waits
- I’m Looking Through You – The Beatles
- Wide Open Spaces – Dixie Chicks
- I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash
- Back Door Man – Howlin’ Wolf
- In Too Deep – Genesis
- Da Butt – EU
- Mega Colon – Fischerspooner
- I’m Beginning to See the Light – Bobby Darin
- Shine a Light – Rolling Stones
- The End – The Doors
- Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden
- Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash
- Moon River – Henry Mancini
- Boogie in the Butt – Eddie Murphy
- Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-A-Lot
- Show Me the Way – Peter Frampton
- Stinkfist – Tool
- John Mayer – Inside Wants Out
- Up in the Dark – The New Pornographers
- Searching With My Good Eye Closed – Soundgarden
- Shot in the Dark – Ozzy Obourne
- Way Down Now – World Party
- Already in a Daydream – Freddy Jones Band
- Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
- Scatman – Scatman John
- Into the Great Wide Open – Tom Petty
- Tighten Up – Archie Bell and the Drells
- Supermassive Black Hole – Muse
- Broken Hearts Are For Assholes – Frank Zappa
- Black Tongue – Gene Simmons
- Medley: ‘Fire in the Hole’->’Do It Again’ – Steely Dan
- Shake Your Booty – KC and the Sunshine Band
- Dig for Fire – Pixies
- Medley: ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ -> ‘Moanin” -> ‘Walkin” -> ‘I’ll Never Be The Same’ – Frank Sinatra / Art Blakey / Miles Davis / Art Tatum
- Better Days (And The Bottom Drops Out) – Citizen King
- Rolling in the Deep – Adele
- My Face Your Ass – Lambchop
- Pretty on the Inside – Hole
- The End – The Beatles