Thursday, June 30, 2011

Come Together: The Abbey Road Show

Provo Rooftop Concert Series
Friday, June 1st 8:00 p.m.
Provo Town Square Parking Terrace Rooftop

1969. It was a very good year. The year 1969 gave the world Sesame Street, Monty Python, the Apollo 11 moon landing—and me. And, more to the point here, the Beatles’ album Abbey Road.

Of course the Beatles split up while I was still a squalling infant, but thanks to their ubiquity and musical genius (and the tutelage of my sister’s high school boyfriend), I grew up to be a Beatles fan. Like, a really big Beatles fan.

Like, I own all the Beatles albums, films, anthologies, and special editions of Rock Band. I’ve seen both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr live in concert. I’ve seen Julian Lennon in concert. I’ve seen any number of Beatles tribute bands in concert. I’ve even made the pilgrimage to Liverpool.

Oh yes, and to Abbey Road itself—the now-famous street in London where the Beatles recorded at EMI studios.

Abbey Road has been ranked the 14th on Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums of all time list. Which is pretty good, especially considering it’s only the fourth or fifth best Beatles album of all time. And which is why, if you’re in the neighborhood, you won’t want to miss Downtown Provo’s free Rooftop Concert Series this Friday night.

(Oh, hey! Do you know who else enjoyed free rooftop concerts?)

If you’re a Beatles fan, you already know that John, Paul, George, and Ringo never performed the Abbey Road songs together in concert; they had long since quit touring by 1969. All the more reason to hear their music performed live this weekend!

And even if you’re not really a Beatles fan, you still know the songs from Abbey Road: Come Together. Something. Octopus’s Garden. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. Here Comes the Sun. You’ll be singing along, trust me. (You might not be singing along throughout the less-familiar Side Two epic medley, but you’ll enjoy it. Trust me.)

To get you primed for the Abbey Road Show, here are some of my favorite insider tidbits about Abbey Road. Now you can be a Road-ie too:

- Abbey Road is a very busy street. If you go there and if you insist upon recreating the album cover photo in that famous zebra crossing, be prepared to cross quickly and get a few grumpy looks from passing motorists—not to mention interference from other tourists there ruining your shot. (“Zebra crossing” is what the British call crosswalks. You are not likely to spot any actual zebras in one.)

- Take a closer look at that album cover. Notice that Paul is the only Beatle crossing the street barefoot. This is allegedly one of the clues that contributed to the whole “Paul Is Dead” conspiracy theory. Also, do you see that man standing on the right-hand pavement, next to the black taxi? Turns out that guy was a passing American tourist who had no idea he was photographed until he saw the album cover. Well, that’s the official story, anyway; I think maybe he is the Angel of Death, stalking Paul.

- “Something,” one of two George Harrison classics on Abbey Road, so impressed Frank Sinatra that he hailed it as “the greatest love song ever written.” Sinatra may just be right about that.

- John Lennon hated “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” (written by Paul) and refused to participate in recording the song. I kind of don’t blame him.

- “Because” features producer George Martin on the harpsichord and George Harrison on the Moog synthesizer. Moog is a funny word.

- The translation of John’s chorus in “Sun King”? “Mundo paparazzi mi amore chicka ferdy parasol”? Yeah, it’s gibberish. A faux mix of Romance languages and Liverpuddlian nonsense.

- Nobody really has an explanation for “Octopus’s Garden.” Not even Ringo, and he wrote the blooming thing.

- “Her Majesty” is the shortest song in the Beatles repertoire at 23 seconds long. (Tip: Try singing it in the shower. Hair care experts recommend massaging your scalp for 30 to 60 seconds while shampooing. Sing “Her Majesty” through twice and you’re pretty much on the money. You’re welcome.)

- “The End” was, appropriately enough, the last song recorded collectively by all four Beatles. And in the end, the love you take / is equal to the love you make….

One more thing. If the Abbey Road Show only whets your appetite, there’s more where that came from. Southern soul band Booker T. & the MG’s recreated Abbey Road (with Moog!) as an R&B album, McLemore Avenue (1970)—McLemore Avenue being the street in Memphis where the legendary Stax recording studios were located.

P.S. I’ve made a pilgrimage there too.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Strawberry Days!

In 1792, a young pioneer, missionary and husbandman named Darryl Strawberry trekked across the U.S. frontier, planting strawberries and sharing the word of God.

Okay, not really. That was Johnny Appleseed. But the strawberry is the fruit of choice in Pleasant Grove, and we're celebrating it in a big way this week!

I've lived in Pleasant Grove for seven years. I love this little community. From the annual Firemen's Breakfast to the concerts in the park, P.G. loves to get together and celebrate. The City of Fun carnival is in town this week, located at the city park right on Pleasant Grove's historic main street. In addition to the carnival there is a pie eating contest, art show, parade, charity chili challenge,and of course, the nationally famous Strawberry Days Rodeo.

A friend recently clued me into a Strawberry Days tradition I hadn't yet participated in, Huck Finn Day. They flood Battlecreek Park, stock it with fish, and allow everyone in the community to bring fishing poles. There are also pony rides and pioneer games. You can view a list of Strawberry Days activities and their details here.

For the past couple of years, I've had a booth at the Strawberry Days Boutique in the Old Community Center. I make bits and bobs with paper, each year experimenting with something different. The booth is actually an indulgence in my hobby rather than a money-maker. You've got to have a lot more artistic talent than I've got to make a profit. But every year, somebody buys a thing or two and I feel validated in my crafting craze. Some people have enquired about my website...I don't have one. I'm not that organized, but this year I set up a blog where people could go to see the kinds of things I'm making. If you're interested, you can take a gander at "Your Picture Here." It's not a blog that I update on a regular basis. I've simply created an entry for each type of craft I'm working on.

This weekend, consider coming to Pleasant Grove and getting a cup of strawberries and cream for $1. Take a whirl on the ferris wheel. And be sure to try the fresh cut fries!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Donald Where's Your Troosers?

Utah Scottish Festival
Friday June 10th 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Saturday June 11th 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Thanksgiving Point in Lehi

I got my love of hunting through junk shops from my father. Some of his more…er…unique finds, informed our lives in creative ways. Such as…the White Heather Club LP. The White Heather Club was the U.K.’s answer to Lawrence Welk. It was a Scottish televised variety show in the 1960’s.

As kids, our favorite song on the album was "Donald Where's Your Troosers?" Our dad’s name was Donald, so this song used to have us kids rolling on the floor in laughter. As adults, my brother and sister and I can all still sing the chorus:

Let the winds blow high,
Let the winds blow low,
Down the street in my kilt I go
And all the ladies say hello
Donald where's your troosers?

We never tired of reminding our dad to wear pants.

This wasn’t our only tie to Scotland. Apparently I’ve got Scottish ancestry on both sides of the family. On my father’s side, we belong to Clan Lamont. Family legend says that our surname was originally Lamont and all of the family members were blonde, except for one son. He was called “Black” because of the color of his hair, and the name stuck.

So, in honor of my black sheep relative and namesake, this weekend I’ll make my annual pilgrimage to the Utah Scottish Festival at Thanksgiving Point.


Bagpipe bands
Meat pies
The Wicked Tinkers
Celtic dancers
Authentic Scottish wares
Clan booths
Molly’s Revenge
Highland Games
U.K. wares
Wide variety of food and drink
(including haggis)

This is a fantastic event for the whole family. Utah really embraces its Scottish heritage, and this is well-attended event. There is so much to see, and the entertainment is top notch. One of the most popular draws is The Wicked Tinkers. These guys are incredible musicians and entertainers. It’s impossible to sit still in your seat once their pipes and drums get going.

There are two places you can go to see more details about this weekend’s festivities: the event’s official website, and Thanksgiving Point’s website . Here you’ll find ticket prices and a schedule of events. Kids 11 and under are free!

Haste ye back, we loue you dearly, call again you're welcome here.
May your days be free from sorrow, and your friends be ever near.
May the paths o'er which you wander, be to you a joy each day.
Haste ye back we loue you dearly, haste ye back on friendship's way.