WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-
Last week I had the pleasure of appearing on WCAX- TV's morning news show, interviewed by morning anchor Ali Freeman. It ran live at 6:55 AM-- good thing I'm an early riser!
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
Saturday, June 07, 2014
In addition to the ambient/ textural steel guitar music I shared in my previous post, I have also been using my newly-discovered G6#11 six-string tuning to work out some more traditional steel guitar songs. This first piece is an original instrumental in the western swing style:
And here, just in time, perhaps, for summer weather, is a version of the Hawaiian classic "Sand." :
Big Hat, No Cattle.
Saturday, May 31, 2014
After spending more than a year babysitting a Fender triple-neck steel guitar, I found myself going deep into a very physical sensation of playing steel guitar as a journey; that the necks and tunings were a landcape to explore: hills and valleys, lakes and rivers and shorelines -- summoned in clusters and shapes of tones, in the line of the bar moving over strings. When the triple-neck went home, I found myself missing that new found expansiveness, and, in an effort to recreate it on my single-neck steel, eventually discovered a G6#11 tuning that opened things up for me again. Here is my first textural/ambient composition made with the new tuning, recorded with live delay and reverb in one pass.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
I returned last week to the deep quiet of Chickering Bog. This place-- actually a fen, as it is fed by underground water-- was formed when ice age glaciers receded and left in the bedrock a hole full of water, to be enclosed over years upon years by vegetation in mats and layers. A small patch of open water remains, rippling with wind, reflecting trees and sky. The place has the feel of deep and ancient quiet. The day we visited, turtles basked on the shore, a few spring peepers sang across the breeze, and a broad-winged hawk came in for a fast fly-by, calling a whistling pwee-pwee. The next day at home I found a patch of sunlight and began this painting, holding the quiet and mystery of the bog in my memory, and then building the painting over the next few days with more layers of glaze than is usual for me. -KMB
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Meanwhile, the book is available for purchase at amazon:
Would you like to start reading now? Here's a short excerpt:
I do my best to believe, in the light and shadow of what I came to know about Elaine Bliss and her quest, that the sounds of March snow-melt trickling from slate hills, of red-winged blackbirds echoing their hollow and rattling arrival calls from the marshy thicket, were the last things she took notice of as she lay—cold, in shock, and bleeding out—on wet sedges. That as she took her final breaths, those sounds called her to remember only the true meaning of her life and work, and replaced all fear and all thoughts of the cruelty of what had been done to her.
In my best moments I think these things and hold to them. Perhaps it’s because I have to.
I was home for the evening when Vermont State Police Lieutenant Timothy Handler called. It was Shawn who went for the phone, moving slowly toward the counter, her pregnant belly plowing through the warm and cozy kitchen air like a filled-up sail in front of her. We’d just had some of her slow-simmered chili for supper, and the beef and spice and hot pepper aromas were still strong, mixing with the fresh spring smells of mid-April mud and new green growth that came in through the open kitchen window.
“Hello,” Shawn said into the receiver of my old black bakelite rotary phone. I caught her quick frown, a narrowing of her mocha-colored eyes as she listened to the caller.
“Sure, he’s here,” she said, pushing dark curls away from her forehead, looking over at me. “It’s Handler…” The troubled look was still clouding her face as she passed the phone to me.
Now I understood the reason for the frown. Handler calling our home was a reminder to both of us of some dark and difficult things, things that all too often came back to us, and sometimes stole a good night’s sleep. Of memories we hoped might somehow go away forever, but that we feared never would.
“This is Liam,” I said.
“Are you still teaching history at that prep school, Dutra?”
Hearing Handler’s voice again, I could almost see his coiled energy and distracted manner, the tense light of his slate-colored eyes. I imagined I could see his relentless pen-clicking, the way he gulped hot coffee without seeming to taste it, to even know it existed.
“Part time. Yes.”
“Excellent. That means we can probably pay you. We’ll call it an expert consultant’s fee. Listen Dutra, what I’ve got is a research project for you. Nothing dangerous to you. It’s just that we have a possible homicide case that involves a University of Vermont history professor, and I’m thinking you might be able to give us some background, see if what she was working on, some of her research, might have any connection to her death.”
“Okay,” I said, “I’m listening…”
“It’s some stuff she seemed to be looking into, happened in the 1920s. Kind of things that you don’t necessarily think about when you think about Vermont, especially back then…” I remembered now I had heard mention of her death on the news, with very few details given beyond her connection to the university, UVM. That there might be something Handler thought I could help dig up got my curiosity stirred, of course. And if anybody knew how much I could get stirred up by the power of things that had happened in the past, it would be Handler.
And Shawn, too, who was seven months pregnant, and sipping herb tea now at the table beside me, listening in.
Just a few days back we’d been talking about how peaceful and settled and steady our lives had become lately, and about how much we appreciated this feeling.
Despite that, I found myself taking the bait that Handler put out. I wanted to know more about this strange story, whatever it might be… I pushed away the little waves of apprehension that I felt rising inside me. I told Handler he could come by my office at school after my late-morning class the next day.
The next morning, all caffeinated up with dark roast coffee, and wearing shorts, fleece shirt, and running shoes, I left Shawn still snoring, and headed out the door.
It’s a bit more than eleven miles from my house in Montpelier, Vermont to Granite Ledge, a boarding preparatory school where I teach American history to high school students. This spring I had taken to running the distance to work once a week, arranging for rides home with Shawn in the afternoons. A river fog hung blue-gray over the Winooski River, rising and engulfing my little white cape house and its neighbors as I loped down the hilly street. The maples lining the street were past bud-break now, I noticed. Their fresh, fragile green and russet, muted by the fog, had a slick, wet sheen. At the bottom of the hill, my street met the main route into town. Here I ran easily, at warm-up pace, along the flat pavement for a while, beginning to sweat by the time I reached the old iron truss bridge that crossed the river and led to long Barre Street, with its neighborhood lined with railroad tracks. From the fog rose the rectangular bulks of the big old sheds that had once housed a busy industry cutting and carving local granite, much of it quarried from the hills around Barre,
’s twin city, six miles to the east. A few of the old sheds
along the river had been renewed and renovated, converted to apartment and
office buildings. But most of the long industrial buildings were battered and
empty now, abandoned time-and-weather-worn hulks. Montpelier
I sometimes felt I could sense ghosts of the past here, especially on quiet mornings like this. I could almost hear the ring of hammers and whine of the big rock saw, the roar and rumble of trains that used to transport raw material and finished product, but now don't come through here anymore. Fully warmed up now, picking up my pace, I reached the end of Barre Street and turned onto Montpelier’s Main Street. The wood and brick downtown buildings were quiet in the grayness, a few people out starting their day, carrying coffee mugs, briefcases, cell phones. Just outside of the downtown, I slipped between two quiet backyards on a residential street, headed up a switchback deer path that made a good shortcut, through second-growth thicket, to the steep climb of the dirt road headed north. I was feeling strong and fast this spring, a benefit gained from a winter of long snowshoe runs on hilly trails. Free of snowshoes and winter layers of clothing lately, I was feeling light-- unfettered and invincible—totally in the zone.
( excerpt from SNOW-DARK CROSSING by Kevin Macneil Brown)
Sunday, April 06, 2014
Thursday, April 03, 2014
I am excited to announce that my newest Liam Dutra New England Mystery, SNOW-DARK CROSSING, will be out in late April!
Here is the Author's Note, which gives a sense of where this book came from:
In common with my other six novels, Snow-Dark Crossing was born when my own memories, imaginings, and explorations of certain places crossed paths with historical writings that showed up—fortuitously—on my horizon.
In the case of this book, there were two dominant places: the Barre Street/Granite Street neighborhood of Montpelier, Vermont, with its vestiges of the once-strong granite industry, and the rural River Road area along the Winooski, just outside of town. (This latter area also haunts much of Highway In The Blood.)
As for the history: in my first year of work as library assistant at Montpelier’s Main Street Middle School, I came across on our shelves a book by Maudeen Neill entitled Fiery Crosses In The Green Mountains (Greenhills, 1989.) The accounts inside, in particular those of the occurrences at Saint Augustine’s Church in November of 1925, stayed with me, eventually meeting up with the story emerging from my imagination as I explored the aforementioned places. This led to further research, and a deepening story.
While the events at St. Augustine’s really happened, there is no evidence, historical or anecdotal, that anything like the dark and depraved deeds described in this novel ever really took place along the River Road. But in writing mystorical fiction I have learned that it is crucial that I trust the story that arrives, and the voices that bring it to me.
I will be posting the first chapter soon-- I hope you will stay tuned!