Looking at the artwork of a friend of mine, I started thinking about how his work related to the fashion and style around us. Clint Colburn is a Lexington based artist known for using circles of all sizes to create a larger harmony within a larger picture. This works the same within the fashion realm. Each component works in harmony with the other components, resulting in a larger piece or product. There is a beauty and a science to it, all at the same time.
Here are complete tasting notes from the 11 bourbons sampled at the Deadwood Saloon during CityBeat’s Bourbon Tasting Panel. (See the complete article here.) They’re listed in the random order in which they were tasted. Notes are primarily mine, though select quotes from other panelists are included.
Old Forrester Signature (4 years old, 86 proof) There’s a greenish tint to the medium amber color. The nose shows a lot of oaky butterscotch and vanilla along with some graininess; there’s not a whole lot of heat, though. Medium bodied on the palate with a lot of cedar and corn flavor, but not a whole lot more going on. Lacking in complexity, but a perfectly fine cocktail bourbon. Composite score: 5.75/10; ranking: tied for 10th.
Black Maple Hill (8 years old, 95 proof) Light amber yellow with a very clear rim, it shows high-toned fruit along with toast and brown sugar on the floral nose. Alcoholic heat hits late, but is fairly strong. Light bodied, the palate is quite smooth and well balanced, with nice simple fruit and spice character. Not hugely complex, but good rocks bourbon. Kate calls it an “easy, girly bourbon.” Composite score: 6.375/10; ranking: 8th place.
Makers Mark (90 proof, no age statement) Light to medium amber with a highly alcoholic nose that shows vanilla, caramel and toffee in the background. On the palate, it’s very smooth, showing little of the heat you get in the nose. Approaching full bodied, it’s mouth filling and there’s no grassiness or spice, just loads of baked pear, caramel, toffee and roasted nuts. Finish is a bit short and lacking in character, but likeable, I suppose, for its extremely gentle personality. Composite score: 7.125/10; ranking: 5th place.
Jim Beam White Label (80 proof, no age statement) Golden yellow with a very clear rim, the nose is filled with aromas of wet earth, like walking along a dirt path after a rainstorm. Also shows crme brulée, a leafy, tobacco character and graininess. On the palate it’s medium bodied and shows lots of buttered toast character along with roasted stone fruits and cinnamon red hots. The alcohol strikes me as a bit out of balance, and it’s not hugely complex, but I like it anyway. Composite score: 7/10; ranking: 6th place.
Bakers (7 years old, 107 proof) Deep amber orange rust with hints of green at the rim. Lots of complex high-toned aromas come across in the nose: oranges and roasted herbs and grilled buttered corn. Beautifully textured, it glides across the palate coating everything it touches, but the alcohol is way too much… like rocket fuel on the tongue. Adding some water calms things down and brings out notions of caramel and honeyed fruit. Quite good. Composite score: 6.75/10; ranking: 7th place.
Jefferson Reserve Very Old, Very Rare (15 years old, 90 proof) Golden amber orange with a clear rim, it shows no heat on the nose — just loads of melted butter, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar and caramel. On the medium-bodied palate, everything is nicely balanced … flavors remind me of bananas foster, though the fruit tastes a bit under ripe. A bit of water brings out a lot more spice and roasted herbs. The warming influence of the alcohol lingers for a long time on the finish. Very good. Chuck says it’s, “complex, long, nice straight bourbon.” Kate’s a little more direct; she calls it, “fuck-me bourbon,” while Tom doesn’t like it at all. He says, “Heat overwhelms everything; Steelworkers wouldn’t do this as a shot-and-a-beer.” Composite score: 7.375/10; ranking: 4th place.
Bookers (120 proof, no age statement) Dark orangey rust color with a rich, complex nose of plum, caramel, coffee, mint and roasted nuts. Tons of flavor on the full-bodied palate that screams out for water to unleash all the latent complexity. Flavors remind Kate of "butter pecan ice cream" oranges and apricots. The finish is long and spicy and lingering with black pepper, rye and menthol character all taking turns at bat. This is the shit — excellent bourbon. Composite score: 8.25/10; ranking: 2nd place.
Elijah Craig (12 years old, 94 proof) Made by Parker Beam, Jim Beam’s grandnephew, at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown. At 94 proof, it’s maple-syrup amber color and gives off gorgeous aromas of fruit (oranges, peaches) and candy (butterscotch, chocolate, licorice). On the palate, it’s rich, smooth and lush. Honeyed fruit flavors and herby, spicy rye character balance the alcohol so it never comes across as hot. At only about $21/bottle retail, this is phenomenal bourbon that should be on your short list for holiday gifting. Composite score: 8.875/10; ranking: 1st place WINNER.
Knob Creek (9 years old, 100 proof) A lighter golden honey color, the nose is floral with a touch of burnt wood and roasted nuts, showing a bit of out-of-balance heat. On the palate, it’s got a nice creamy texture, but the overriding flavor is slightly burnt caramel. OK, but not something we’d probably go back to. Composite score: 5.75/10; ranking: tied for 10th place.
Basil Hayden (8 years old, 80 proof) Nice deep amber honey color with a clear rim, it has a real subtle nose with no alcoholic heat; reminds me of slice of toasted rye bread with honey drizzled on it. No fruit aromas, just a touch of vanilla and floral character. On the palate, it’s fairly light bodied and extremely smooth, showing hints of spice box on the subtle finish. Adding a touch of water just dilutes it and doesn’t seem to open up more complexity. A good intro bourbon, maybe, because it’s so smooth and gentle. Composite score: 6.625/10; ranking: 9th place.
Woodford Reserve (6 years old, 90.4 proof) Nice rich dark amber color, the palate strikes me as a little strange — very herbaceous and earthy and weedy. Very high-toned fruit and grassy. On the palate, it’s medium bodied and shows flavors of slightly under-ripe banana along with lots of grassy flavors; reminds me a bit of the peat smoke you’d find in an Islay Malt. The finish is long and lingering and fairly smooth with little heat. To me, though, this is idiosyncratic stuff — the kind of thing you like or you don’t. I wouldn’t expect there to be much middle ground here. Composite score: 7.625/10; ranking: 3rd place.
Note: In addition to these bourbons, I recommend you try the following super-premium American whiskeys: A.H. Hirsch 16 and 20 year old; George T Stagg; and Pappy Van Winkle 20 and 23 year old. And if you have a favorite that was not included in the tasting, feel free to include your own notes as a comment to this blog post!
For those of you who are in the loop of the fashion blog-o-sphere, you may already know of Style Rookie aka Tavi G. For anyone who has no idea what I’m talking about, meet Tavi, the 13-year-old girl who runs Style Rookie, a blog dedicated to clothing and all things fashion.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that it’s Shark Week, an annual weeklong series of programs on Discovery Channel dedicated to the underwater beast.
The hugely popular programming seems to generate more and more buzz every year — especially by online word-of-mouth. You know it’s that time again when Facebook and Twitter become flooded with updates and tweets like “OMG!!! Shark Week,” “Don’t text or call- Shark Week” and finally the ubiquitous expression: “Live every week like it’s Shark Week.”
Which is really catchy and all, until you stop to contemplate what it means. What does it entail, exactly, to live every week like it’s Shark Week?
I decided to ask around to gain some enlightenment. The responses ranged from clueless to philosophical to just plain unhygienic.
“I don’t know, man. No clue. Why?”
“Happiness, and the best week ever?”
“Shark Week is awesome and exciting and makes people want to behave like sharks. So I suppose it means to live every week like you’re the beast of the sea.”
“Watch Discovery Channel all day every day.”
“Stay inside and watch more 30 Rock?”
“Watch TV all day and never shower again.”
“Considering that I didn’t do shit for Shark Week, it means live life normally.”
“That is my mantra. Whoever told you that is a very wise person.”
“Live like it’s exciting and frightening? So laugh, cringe and be squeamish every week.”
“Live every week like it’s an adventure. Take advantage of every opportunity you’re given. And stay out of the ocean.”
To the Point:
“Live like you’re about to be eaten.”
“Live every week like it’s the greatest week ever.”
I don’t know exactly how to behave like the beast of the sea, and I don’t know about you, but “cringe and be squeamish” doesn’t sound like a great way to live. Still, there’s truth in these words. Shark Week is simultaneously entertaining and frightening, addictive and unwatchable. There’s something about sharks that both fascinates and scares the living bejeesus out of all of us.
I’ve deducted this much: Living every week like it’s Shark Week means to live life energized, on the edge and with just a little, healthy dose of fear — and awe — of the crazy world in which we live. It means to live life uncompromisingly, aggressively — to eat or be eaten.
In 1983 on a cold day in early January, my parents pulled a broken-in LP of Rumours by Fleetwood Mac out of its sleeve and proceeded to get it on. This is how I was conceived or at least it’s the story my mother told me.
This act set the course of musical life (the LP that is, not the sex ... well I guess the sex did, too). I am forever bound to have a deep love for bands that are legitimately talented but are cursed by mainstream appeal. I will now confess that I love Pearl Jam. Call them clique or sell-out, but Eddie Vedder sings better than you and most likely whoever you’re listening to right now. And any guitar solo from their early work would melt the fingers off most players.
Pearl Jam has just released a re-mixed version of their debut album, Ten. Brendan O’Brien took on the task of reconstruction. O’Brien has produced all of Pearl Jam’s albums since Ten along with albums for the Stone Temple Pilots, Korn, Bruce Springsteen, Dan Baird, Bob Dylan, Velvet Revolver, AC/DC and many others.
Pearl Jam was noted for their instrumental take on Grunge music, which some blame for their popularity. They took Grunge to the masses or possibly jumped on board as just before it arrived. But the instruments are the backbone of Ten. Hell, Vedder's audition into the band was adding lyrics to some already-formed songs.
For the uninitiated, the re-mix of Ten isn’t wildly different from the original. But O’Brien has brought the instruments forward, showcasing the complexity and originality of the guitar riffs and the no-speed-limit driving force of the drums.
Vedder was what brought me to Pearl Jam, but this new sound does not mask his influence or identity. It frames it better than before. Before you saw the image of the band rocking out together in a dirty room, trying to break free, like in the first Saw movie. Now you get The Shining with the guitar riffs hacking through a door Vedder sticking his head through and screaming at you.
The re-released edition of Ten comes in four different packages. These range from a double-CD set to a monster $140 library including some vinyl LPs, DVDs, CDs, a cassette and other memorabilia. The marketing is good. It’s too good. $140 would have stocked the band’s shitty apartment with beer, pizza and weed for months in 1991 when the album was released.
For a fan and complete vinyl addict, I went for the double LP set that sells for less than $20. The set includes two 180 gram records (that's heavy for record); one record pressed with the original Ten and one with the Ten Redux. But I would recommend getting the digital download from your favorite online store. It will include the original tracks, the Redux tracks and some solid B-Sides that until now were really hard to come by.
My favorite track on Ten is "Why Go" about a girl in a mental institution. "She's been diagnosed by some stupid fuck, and mommy agrees, yeah," Vedder roars in the first verse. The entire album was forged out of the culture of the early 90's, and I hate to think that we're still stuck there, but the words are current. "Jeremy," with its Basketball Dairies/Pre-Columbine lyrics, was brought up in conversation the other day when I was speaking to a friend about the March 11 school shooting in Germany. In a sad way, the album showed me that very few of the problems of my generation have been solved.
For a Pearl Jam fan, this new release of a classic is perfect. Ten has those character-defining anthems that can reach down and pull the angst-ridden teenager out of the depths and into your passenger seat. But the new Ten is even more immediate, personal and close.
It is like walking down a dark alley after a long day at work. Steve Gossard, Jeff Amant and Mike McCready sneak up behind you and push you to the pavement. They stab their guitar and bass plugs into your spinal column. Dave Krusen starts beating out a rhythm on your bowels. And Eddie leans up to your face and spits into your ear. Lubing you up … for his comfort, not yours. After an hour of feeling them all inside you, Eddie says, “remember that.” It’s a question and a command.
Then you drive home in your Buick and wonder where those flannel shirts went that you had in high school. You throw your tie out the window. You feel like a sell-out and maybe you are, but that still doesn’t make what just happened any less amazing.
Last night around 9:30 I was just minding my own business,
watching some harmless comedy shows on demand when a commercial came on
that piqued my interest via a typically dumb interaction between a dude
talking to a babe in a bikini. I was waiting for some type of cliché to
end the interaction between the two — something like a beer-commercial
crotch shot or the woman doing something weird like licking an ice cube —
when the story took a most-surprising turn: the dude in the scene was
The woman sits down on a beach chair next to the guy, who
is squinting into his iPad-looking device like a dork. She starts
reading her Kindle like the sun is no big deal and he says: "That's a
Woman: "Yeah, it's the new Kindle Paperwhite."
Man: "I love to read at the beach, but..."
Woman: "This is perfect at the beach. And, with the built in light, I can read anywhere anytime."
Woman: "With your book?"
Man: Nope. "I just bought a Kindle Paperwhite." *Leans toward her.* "We should celebrate."
Woman: "My husband's bringing me a drink right now."
Man: "So is mine."
Husbands waive from the bar.
I watched it again this morning (the email I sent myself
on the subject after having several beers and talking about sports all
evening only says: “Gay kindle commercial. What does that commercial
mean?”), and it’s actually pretty genius. Gay-rights groups have pointed
out that this type of media is following steps taken by shows like Ellen and Modern Family, which depict gay couples as pretty much ordinary anymore.
Check it out here:
Naturally, some people on the Internet think it’s way icky.
And organizations like One Million Moms
(a weird, conservative Christian group that should be named something
more like “One Million Mean Moms.” Ha.) took exception to it. OMMMs
wrote this: “We have Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite commercial that
promotes gay marriage. Instead of Amazon remaining neutral in the
culture war while showcasing how their product has no glare even at the
beach, they chose to promote sin.”
People flagged the ad as inappropriate enough times on
YouTube that it was briefly taken down for review, but it was posted
back on the site later.
One of the most common complaints I hear about is that I’m writing financial suggestions for people who have already “made it.” To a certain extent, it’s true - many of the situations I write about assume you already have a certain level of income and financial security.
But what of those situations where such financial security isn’t a given? I hear often from readers who are truly stretching every dime they can get, even without the burden of a house payment or any significant debt - they simply aren’t bringing in much money, and they have to be creative with their choices. What can we learn from them?
That’s basically the premise behind Scratch Beginnings. The author, Adam Shepard, decided to take on the myths about what it takes to be successful in America. He started off with $25 in cash, the clothes on his back, and a gym bag (no job or anything else) and attempted to build the American dream in one year without using any of his contacts or personal accomplishments (in other words, a blank resume). His goal was to have, after one year, $2,500, a working automobile, and a furnished apartment.
With the federal income tax deadline looming next week, people can expect Tea Partiers and others to moan and shout about giving some of their money for the common good. If those tax protestors really wanted to make an impact, though, they’d focus on making sure large corporations pay their fair share.
Last week was the grand opening of Public Enemies, Johnny Depp's portrayal of John Dillinger. Maybe it was just Depp's charming good looks or maybe it was his effortlessness at being so cool, but I was hooked on the fashion from the sunglasses down to the shoes.
Popular standards vocal group performs Sunday at Riverbend's PNC Pavilion
Under the Streetlamp is a new act storming the nation that presents audiences with a vocal performance spotlighting what they call the "American Radio Songbook." The ensemble took its classic approach and turned it into a full production that has been drawing packed houses all over. Under the Streetlamp is currently barnstorming across the country on the heels of its PBS special and debut self-titled album, which showcases UtS's strong Doo-Wop/Pop/Motown/Rock & Roll-oldies sound.
CityBeat recently spoke with one of the vocalists, Michael Ingersoll, of Jersey Boys fame, and discussed the rise and evolution of the group as well as where the sights are set for the future. Under the Streetlamp performs at the PNC Pavilion at Riverbend Music Center on Sunday night.
CityBeat: You guys have been around for a couple years but you are a fairly new group. Can you tell me the story of how Under the Streetlamp formed?
Michael Ingersoll: Absolutely. The four of us met when we were doing a play called Jersey Boys. Chris Jones and I did the first national tour of Jersey Boys and then he went off on his way and I met the other two fellows in Chicago and we did the production there. While we were in Jersey Boys, on our nights off we were putting together these concerts for clubs and local theaters to sing other music besides musicals, like things from The Beach Boys, The Drifters, The Beatles and songs like that.
After the show closed in Chicago, the momentum for us was actually following this band; this "side-gig" took off so we decided to pursue it rather than pursuing our individual career as actors. So we took advantage of that momentum and submitted a five-minute demo of what we were doing to (PBS outlet) WTTW in Chicago and they said they were interested in helping us develop this project.
That is the really short version. Once PBS was on board, we were able to book a 27-city tour, which is pretty ambitious for a new group.
CB: What is the biggest difference between performing in Jersey Boys on stage and the Under the Streetlamp group?
MI: Well, Jersey Boys, first and foremost, is a musical with a story and a book. We are a band; we are a concert. There is nothing Broadway about us at all. We have full artistic control over everything we do. This is a project that we guide. This is a project that we own.
That was really one of the big motivations for doing this because our acting careers where we were doing pretty well in the acting business.
It is a concert and we have a lot of fun with each other. We have a lot of the fun with the audience. We take the music very seriously but we don’t take ourselves very seriously at all and the audience seems to enjoy that.
CB: I have been listening to the album this weekend. How did you pick these particular songs to perform or put on the album?
MI: The four of us — each of us is a lead singer. It is actually pretty rare for a band to have four lead singers. We wanted to lead with our strengths, our individual personality.
Michael Cunio, for example, has a crazy high singing voice so he did Etta James “At Last” in Etta’s original key and it is always a big surprise to the audience when it is coming. Chris (Jones) has got a very powerful, kind of balladeer voice so we sing “I Come For You” for him. I am kind of a Folk Rock/Rockabilly guy. Shonn (Wiley) is an incredible tap dancer and Broadway showman so we do “When You’re Smiling” for him.
So basically we just chose the songs as it suited our strengths and flowed for the evening. We also chose artists that are in that same genre that we learned when we were in Jersey Boys. So that’s where we get The Beach Boys and The Drifters and The Beatles.
Our music is fun, it is life-affirming, it is joyful, it makes people feel good. That is probably the biggest criteria for how we choose.
CB: I know your family was an influence musically to you growing up. I also know that you are from Dayton, so you are a local to us. Did you have a good music program in Dayton growing up or did your family give you private lessons? How did you develop musically?
MI: Well, there are two major factors. My grandfather was a professional Jazz pianist and so there was always music around in that environment. He taught me to play piano by ear and really get into Jazz primarily.
There is also an amazing arts program called Muse Machine in Dayton, Ohio. It is a program where kids come from all over — high schools from probably a 30-, 40-, 50-mile radius and every year they put on a musical and they bring in Broadway caliber directors and choreographers and producers. I was lucky enough to be cast into one of those shows and that is really where my interest exploded in performing and what led me to go to college and study acting.
Check out the Muse Machine website, you can learn all about it, it is an amazing organization. I would credit them with the biggest influence, the biggest push.
CB: You are on the road now. You said you were doing 27 cities, which is a lot to take on. Is there anything about home or here you miss when you are on the road?
MI: Obviously my family is there, but who doesn’t miss Graeter’s ice cream and Skyline Chili and the Cincinnati Reds. I love those things. Those are the things I do as soon as I come back. I usually go to Skyline Chili and Graeter’s and try to catch a Reds game. I am a huge Reds fan and Bengals fan. I live in Los Angeles now so I miss the change of seasons in Ohio, but (there are) good, friendly folks there and it was a wonderful place to grow up.
Cincinnati has a vibrant and rich arts community so we just can’t wait to play. I also did a year at the Cincinnati Shakespeare (Company). That was my first actual professional acting job to work there for a year, so I got my start in Cincinnati.
CB: Where do you see yourself in five years?
MI: I think that we are on track to be a top tier act in the Adult Contemporary market, with Michael Buble, Norah Jones, Diana Krall and artists like that. I think we have a product that makes people happy. I think we have a got a very powerful team with PBS and our management. We are determined to take this to as many people as will possibly let us do it. We are doing every single thing we can to make sure we are here to stay. As long as we make people happy, we are optimistic that will happen in big ways.
CB: You said you play piano, but do you guys play any instruments during the show or is it just singing?
MI: No, we are four singers and we have a seven-piece band of incredible world-class musicians. These are folks that have played with Sinatra and Frankie Valli and huge, huge names. We have a rhythm section and then three horns. That horn section helps kind of give it that "streetlamp" character. It helps with that distinctive sound.
CB: Tell us, in summary, what can the fans expect to see in the show?
MI: There is a lot more music we perform live than on the DVD for the folks that are familiar with us from PBS. There is a lot more music and people come away from it often saying, “I can’t believe I laughed that much” or “I didn’t expect the show to touch me emotionally like it did.”
I think people are going to laugh a lot. Hopefully they get up and dance a lot. When they leave, hopefully they feel better than when they came in from listening to this great, joyful music performed by people who really care about them having a good time.
And also, if you have got time, just check out the Under the Streetlamp Facebook page because our fans comment on there after every single show, and really their comments, and there are tons and tons of them, say it all.
CB: That was one of my next questions — are you guys using social media to promote the band?
MI: Absolutely. We have a great website and great designer. We use Facebook, we use Twitter. Any way that we can possibly interact with our fans, we do so. We answer our own e-mail. We maintain our own Facebook page. We spend a lot of time talking to our fans. Anybody that writes in and asks us a question or comments on Facebook, we interact with.
Without them, we are nobody. We make sure they not only feel welcome at the shows but feel welcome in the cyber universe 24/7.
CB: What music are you currently listening to or what is inspiring you right now?
MI: It is funny, a lot of the music that I listen to outside of the band is not music that has anything to do with what we do.
CB: That is pretty common though. I talk to Metal people all the time and they never listen to Metal music. It is really an interesting dynamic. I always find it interesting to see what people really listen to when they are not playing.
MI: Right now I am listening to Foo Fighters latest album, Wasted Life, (and) Ben Folds latest album.