Music and Arts Monday October 23, 2017: Meet Mo

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Mo at home in his cigar shop Holy Smokes

It’s been a long time since I did a M&A Monday, so I thought I would start anew with a good one.

On Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting Holy Smokes Cigar and Pipe Shop during it’s weekly “Cigars and Guitars” night. It seems the turnout was a bit lower than normal, but that didn’t stop the shop’s owner Mo Leverett from treating us to a few of his songs.

I met Mo just before heading out on last year’s adventure to Arizona, and even from that brief meeting I knew I liked the man. Occasionally you meet someone who you just know has had an adventurous life, from his look, his manner, or his way with words. This is one of those men. That evening he told the men gathered at his shop  his testimony, and confirmed to me his interesting life. I remembered that much when walking in to Holy Smokes Friday night.

But I forgot about his music.

It’s not often that I get hooked on someone’s music from hearing a live performance of it,  possibly because I don’t get out that much, but largely because live music can often lack the quality and depth of music carefully manufactured in a studio. Mo proved to be one of the rare cases. His music almost begs to be performed live, just so he can pour his emotion into it time and time again.

So here’s my recommendation this week, go check out his videos on YouTube. In particular I really enjoy “Like Hell Inside“, “Florida“, “If You Know What I Mean“, “It’s Your Family”, and “His Claim To Fame“.

Then if you like what you hear, head on over to his site and purchase a CD or two. Or three.

You won’t be disappointed.

Music and Art Monday: February 6

Last week I discussed my musical past. This week I will address my art past.

Visual arts weren’t prolific in our home. Not like music was anyway. I can’t think of any art books lying around or even any major painter’s works on our walls.

When I was in 7th grade, Van Gogh came to the National Gallery of Art in DC. To be honest I had never actually seen a work by Van Gogh, but my friend Steve said he was his favorite, so of course I had to agree. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I did like it. So for awhile Van Gogh was my favorite artist. This was mostly a matter of not knowing any other artists.

Also in 7th grade we received a visit from Holocaust survivor Mark Strauss . He talked about his experience in the Warsaw Ghetto and displayed some of his works. This was my first introduction to art as political commentary. This was the painting of his that I purchased a print of:

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Final Days in Ghetto

I took a semester of art also in 7th grade. It was probably one of the worst classes I had. I didn’t have a natural talent for much of it, and my teacher wasn’t exactly helpful in molding skill. She critiqued me into giving up all drawing except for some very violent MSPaint works I did for Latin class in high school:

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Advertisements in a Latin “newspaper”. This would probably get me kicked out today.

After these brief exposures to art in middle school I did not get much more exposure to visual art until college. For my first semester I had to take an elective and I took the one everyone took, “Creativity and Aesthetic Experience”. This class had three components, one for theater, one for music, and one for visual art. I can’t say the sculptor we had to check out was very good, but the play we had to watch was something else!

I started getting into photography at that time, mostly because my brother was and I had to mimic. One of my favorite projects was for my English class, I went around town and took photos from certain vantage points and compared them to past photos. Sadly none of those are on my computer.

After college I got into digital photo manipulation, taking pictures and making them into something more interesting. I started a Flickr page and started posting stuff in the hopes someone would see them and perhaps offer me money for them. Alas, that did not happen, but it didn’t stop me from continuing.

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City

My photography eventually got me thinking “I’d really like to try painting”. It seems that middle school art class hadn’t scarred me too badly. I told Nicole this desire and she surprised me with an acrylic paint set for Christmas. So I started painting. And when you start painting, you start to appreciate other painters.

Of course I started with Van Gogh, which is pretty much a style to himself. Then I pretty much went everywhere. My personal favorites right now are Matisse and the Fauvists, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, and Lucas Cranach the Elder. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep a good dialog going with these artists and styles.

If not you’ll probably be seeing a lot of my paintings on this page.