Category Archives: Diversions

Diversions: Remembering singer-songwriter Bill Staines

Leo Coffeehouse, a Sunday night staple in Cincinnati for decades, is the kind of place where you would typically hear Bill Staines sing his songs. Run by the all-volunteer Queen City Balladeers, Leo has been meeting for the last several years in a church fellowship hall, charging modest admission and featuring regular open-mic sessions as well as mostly local artists…. Read more »

Diversions: Remembering singer Eva Cassidy

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Eva Cassidy

Twenty-five years after the untimely death of singer Eva Cassidy, a re-mastered version of her last recording, “Live at Blues Alley,” has been released. In the winter of 2000-2001 I was commuting about three times a week, fifty miles and twelve busy English roundabouts, from Berkshire west to Andover in Hampshire (the hometown of the British Invasion band The Troggs)…. Read more »

The best Beatles album you never heard turns 57

A Hard Days Night U.K. album cover

I grew up listening to the Beatles in real time as they hit the United States, and I learned to play Paul McCartney-style left-handed guitar and bass from their records and chord books. But I have to admit that I did not hear the best Beatles album until I moved to England in 2000 and bought the remastered compact disc… Read more »

Diversions: The end of the road in Michigan

Hancock Street Sign

I currently live a short distance from a permanently busy Florida street called Tamiami Trail, so named because it is the old pre-freeway route connecting Tampa to Miami, following the Gulf Coast south through Sarasota and Naples, where it then heads east across the Everglades on “Alligator Alley” to its southern terminus. That road is also designated as Route US-41…. Read more »

Diversions: When Jimmy Stewart played a Yooper lawyer

Jimmy Stewart

I’m on my first post-Covid trip back to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where I spent some formative years, and I realized that it was fifty years ago this year that I was the projectionist for an annual cinema tradition in Marquette, a small university town on Lake Superior. That featured film was itself another step backward in time. The on-location shoot… Read more »

Diversions: Remembering trumpeter Chet Baker

Chet Baker

Trumpeter and singer Chet Baker died 33 years ago this week in Amsterdam. He was found dead on the street underneath his room, and with traces of heroin and cocaine in his system. The circumstances behind his death were never officially determined, but one biographer has commented that it was equally likely that he either fell from the window, or… Read more »

Giving up Rush Limbaugh for Lent

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A coincidence, surely, that Rush Limbaugh and I share a birth year, or that he died of lung cancer on Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Christian 40-day “penance” tradition of Lent. When I would visit my then-88-year-old Norwegian grandmother while attending university near her Upper Peninsula Michigan home, she would open the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette in the… Read more »