Art and Culture

Art and culture

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Virgil Thomson, who wrote memorable music and wrote about music memorably, was an insightful artist whose opinions on art remain fresh more than 30 years after his death.

The other day a book arrived in my mailbox that I was really looking forward to receiving.  It was the Library of America’s edition of the music writing of a critic and composer named Virgil Thomson, an artist who ought to have greater name recognition among the American public.

Thomson was born in Kansas City, Missouri the year William McKinley beat William Jennings Bryan the first time.  He studied piano from an early age and after high school went off to Harvard where he studied music, specifically the piano works of Erik Satie.  He also sang with the Harvard Glee Club which took him to Europe for the first time.  He loved it and after graduation moved to Paris where he lived from 1925 until 1940.  There he fell in with an impressive crowd of artists including 

The multi-talented Alex Bradford conquered Broadway as well as gospel music during his amazing - but far too short - life and career. 

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I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry.

Richard Ford has twenty plus novels to his credit, and nearly all are excellent reads. However, some stories in Sorry for Your Trouble are tiny bit weak.  These are samples of my favorites.


The Cotton Brothers' soulful gospel stomp "Be There Directly (Sitting Down) is a throwback to the glorious days of Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. 

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David and Art - "Deaccessioning"

Oct 5, 2020
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Museums sometimes sell pieces of their collection, but it’s sad to think that the public loses its chance to see them.

The little Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse New York specializes in American art and its roots go back to 1897.  In addition to occupying the first museum building designed by famed architect I. M. Pei, it has a collection of American ceramics that’s the envy of much larger museums.  Right now, however, it’s making headlines for quite another reason.  It’s putting a work from its permanent collection up for sale at auction. 

Jane Austen is one of the most beloved writers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  Her novels have been widely admired read, re-read, and read again.  Gill Hornby, in his book, Miss Austen, has taken up the threads of the works of Jane. 


Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

An original painting on the cover of a magazine reminds us that we’re all human, and we’re in this together.

The September issue of Vanity Fair has a cover that will catch your eye, even from a rack of nondescript magazines.  It features an original painting of Breonna Taylor in a wash of bright turquoise and teal.  It’s one of the most striking magazine covers I’ve seen in a long time.  And it puts the power of art on clear display.

Breonna Taylor was a young woman who was killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky back in March.  She was 26.  The artist commemorating her in this painting is Amy Sherald.  She’s originally from Columbus,

"Ashamed of Jesus" was R&B legend Cliff Butler's lone gospel recording as part of the Spiritual Keynotes for Nashboro Records in 1960.

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Conversations with Creative Waco - Chris Ermoian

Sep 25, 2020

On this month's episode, host Kennedy Sam sits down with Chris Ermoian, local musician and founder of The Texas Music Café. Fiona Bond joins the conversation to help introduce "Texas Music Café: Destination Waco", a new TV show highlighting local musicians and live music venues.

Final air dates for the series had not been confirmed at the time of taping this 

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry.

James Wood is a respected journalist and author.  He is an English literary critic, essayist, and novelist. The Book Against God is his first Novel.  Thomas Bunting is a charming but exasperating writer working on his PhD, which he seems unable to complete.  He has spent seven years on his degree. 


David and Art - Friday Night Lights

Sep 21, 2020
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

High school artists are also found beneath the famous Friday Night Lights

For better or worse, the pandemic version of the 2020 high school football season has begun.  Its kick-off sends an electric charge through a lot of people who’ve eagerly looked forward to Friday nights this fall.  The coaches and players, however, are just part of the excitement.  Friday nights also mean marching bands, one of the most visible art programs in the public schools.

Like the football teams that perform before and after halftime, all high school marching bands begin working on their craft in the heat of the summer, weeks before you get to watch them.  When I was in high school at Irving High, we started practicing on the first of August and began every day at dawn so we could

For more than 50 years, the Sweet Singing Cavaliers have been the most beloved gospel group in South Central Los Angeles.

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I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry.

It is not often I see a new novel, open to the first page, and then buy and begin reading.  But it has happened now.  Furthermore, Charlotte McConaghy’s first novel Migrations, is by an unknown writer.  As I began to read, I gathered the subject of the novel revolved around the effects of climate change, overfishing in the oceans, and attempts to find the last flock of Arctic terns.  I was immediately overcome with the beauty of her prose.  She—and several other characters--also migrate.


David and Art - "Remembering Bird"

Sep 14, 2020
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Remembering a sax player who changed the course of American music

Last month was the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of America’s most influential musicians.  Charlie Parker was born in Kansas City, Kansas on August 29, 1920 and began playing the saxophone when he was 11.  At age 15—which would’ve been 1935 and in the depths of the Great Depression—he dropped out of school to pursue music full time.  He once told another sax player that when he was young, he’d practice as much as 15 hours a day.  He joined the local chapter of the musician’s union and for four years played the very lively Kansas City jazz and blues circuit.  Soon he was touring with bands as far afield as Chicago and New York.

In 1939 he decided to stay in New York City and dive into its music scene.  He initially got by working as a dishwasher to make enough money to live on.  He was a 

The Roscoe Robinson-led New Heavenly Wonders recorded the Philadelphia soul-inspired "Ain't No Love (Like Jesus Love)" in the early 1970's.

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