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Volume 28 Issue #19

Publisher - Bill Williams • Editor/Graphic Arts Director - Don Sprinkle • Office Manager - Luci Tate Cover Design - Bill May • Photography - Mark Marquette Advertising - Dave Carter, Akey Kincaid, Lisa Lyons, Terry Patterson Contributing Staff - Jim Kelly, Andy Ross, Ken Silvers, Mark Marquette, Pat Bussard Published by Tree Street Media, LLC., P.O. Box 3238, Johnson City, TN 37602 Phone: 423/283-4324 FAX - 423/283-4369 www.theloaferonline.com • info@theloaferonline.com e-mail: editorial@theloaferonline.com (editorial) adcopy@theloaferonline.com (advertising All advertisements are accepted and published by the publisher upon the representation that the agency and/or advertiser is authorized to publish the entire contents and subject matter thereof.The agency and/or advertiser will indemnify and save the publisher harmless from any loss of expense resulting from claims or suits based upon contents of any advertisement,including claims or suits for defamation,libel,right of privacy,plagiarism,and copyright infringement.


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While many of the holidays that we have come to know and love are often commercial inventions – Valentine’s Day, for example – the time honored tradition of painting or coloring hard boiled eggs actually predates the birth of Christ. In fitting with the arrival of Spring, a host of cultures actually consider the egg as a symbol of rebirth and new life. As a case in point, even Iranians decorate eggs on the Iranian New Year, celebrated on the first day of Spring. For Christians, the Easter egg is symbolic of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. While we all have memories of hunting Easter eggs as children, you may not know that egg rolling is also a popular tradition. It is said that rolling an egg is symbolic of the stone being rolled away from Christ’s tomb. Even the President gets in on the action with the annual Easter Egg Roll on the Monday following Easter on the White House lawn. Over 30,000 people are expected to attend, which marks the event’s 136th consecutive year. If you can’t make it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue this year, check out some of the area’s events. Stickley Farms in Bluff City Egg-stravaganza Easter Egg Hunt, Concessions, Hay Rides, and an appearance by the Easter Bunny Friday April 18th thru Sunday April 20th

Andrew Johnson Elementary School in Kingsport Hop to it Easter Egg Hunt Live music, inflatable rides, free food and prizes Saturday April 19th 11:00 am

Unaka Avenue Baptist Church in Johnson City Easter Egg-Venture Wednesday April 16th 3:00 pm

Glow in the Dark Easter Egg Hunt in Piney Flats Piney Flats United Methodist Church Saturday, April 19th 8:00 pm (Ages birth to Kindergarten) 8:30 pm (Grades 1 - youth)

Carver Recreation Center in Johnson City Easter Egg Hunt and Cookout Egg hunts, prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place Friday April 18th 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm Boones Creek United Methodist Church in Johnson City Community Easter Egg Hunt Prizes, and an egg hunt for ages 1 to 11 Saturday April 19th 2:00 pm Mountain View Baptist Church in Johnson City Saturday, April 19th 11:00 am - 1:00 pm State Line Baptist Church in Kingsport Easter Eggstravaganza Free food and fun Saturday April 19th 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Biltmore House and Gardens in Asheville Annual Easter Egg Hunt The Easter Bunny, magic shows, music and storytelling. Bring your own basket! Sunday April 20th 11:00 am to 4:00 pm Highlands Fellowship in Abingdon, Virginia 3D Egg Hunt with special guest appearance. One family to win a Disney Vacation. Sunday, April 20th See more at www.highlandsfellowship.com


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Praise in the Valley

and plays guitar. Andy Blanchard plays bass and violin. James “Earl” Greene plays mandolin for the group. Will Carter plays guitar, and Ben Bolden plays drums. After six independent releases, the group signed with Christian label Barner Records in 2010. Shamdonation of canned goods is requested rock Media Group handles booking and radio promotion for the group. to benefit local food banks. Roger Williams & the All Mixed- Their first major release with Barner, Up Quartet (AMUQ) is a Christian entitled A Different Road was prorock band based in Tennessee. Roger duced by Dove Award-winning and Williams does vocals for the group Grammy-nominated producer Travis Wyrick. Featured at Christian youth rallies like Resurrection – an annual event in Gatlinburg, Tennessee – the All Mixed-Up Quartet has played many major gospel events throughout the U.S. Entitled Praise in the Valley, their April 18th concert at the Carter Family Fold is geared to the youth of the region and presented by Mount Vernon United Methodist Church. A.P. Carter helped build the church in 1906 when he was 15 years old. The 7th and 8th generations of Carter descendants now attend Mount Vernon UMC. Bring along your family, your church’s youth group, and anyone else you feel might enjoy this concert. For information on the church, go to http.//holstonchurches.org/mtvernon/. Information on Roger Williams & the All Mixed-Up Quartet can be found at www.rogerwilliamsministries.com. Carter Family Memorial Music Center, Incorporated, is a nonprofit, rural arts organization established to preserve traditional, acoustic, mountain music. For further information on the center, go to www.carterfamilyfold.

at Carter Fold with Roger Williams & the All Mixed-Up Quartet Friday, April 18th, 2014, at 7:00 p.m. the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, and Mount Vernon United Methodist Church will present a concert of praise music with Roger Williams & the All Mixed-Up Quar-

tet. Entitled Praise in the Valley, this concert marks our second annual gospel youth rally. Last year’s rally was very well-attended and enjoyed by people of all ages. Admission to the concert is free. In lieu of admission, a

org. Shows from the Carter Family Fold can be accessed on the internet at www.carterfoldshow.com. Carter Music Center is part of the Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. You can visit the Crooked Road Music Trail site at http://thecrookedroad. org. Partial funding for programs at the center is provided by the Virginia Commission for the Arts the National Endowment for the Arts. For information on shows at the Fold, call 276386-6054. To speak to a Fold staff member, call 276-594-0676.


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MerleFest 2014 Announces

Midnight Jam Lineup, Special Collaborations for This Year’s Festival

MerleFest – presented by Lowe’s and slated this year for April 24-27, 2014 – has released the full lineup of confirmed performers for the festival’s Midnight Jam, the Saturday after-hours hootenanny that has produced artistic collaborations and oneof-a-kind superstar jams that have become legendary in the festival’s history. Additionally, the festival has provided a listing of many of the special collaborations expected at MerleFest 2014, pointing out the many “must see” artistic combinations that have made the yearly gathering in Wilkesboro, N.C., so legendary. Participants in this year’s Jam, hosted for the second year in a row by festival favorites Scythian, include Keller Williams, Nora Jane Struthers and The Party Line, Peter Rowan, Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen, Steep Canyon Rangers, Della Mae, Moore Brothers, The Steel Wheels, Donna the Buffalo, I Draw Slow, The Waybacks, Pete and Joan Wernick, The Deadly Gentlemen, Jim Lauderdale, SC Broadcasters, Mandolin Orange, Mark Newton and Steve Thomas, Town Mountain and Lynda and Pattie. The Midnight Jam, which this year will bear the stamp of The Bluegrass Situation, is a popular hub for everything central to the modern roots community. It is considered one of the more anticipated events at the yearly

festival. As in years past, the Midnight Jam will take place in the Walker Center; a separate ticket is required and available for purchase by fourday ticket holders and Saturday-only ticket holders. MerleFest 2014 attendees can also anticipate the following onstage collaborations: • Steep Canyon Rangers have announced that they will have several “special guests” as part of their set on Saturday night (April 26) on the Watson Stage. • Also on the Watson Stage, Ricky Skaggs and Jim Lauderdale will join Dr. Ralph Stanley during his performance on Saturday. • On the Hillside Stage on Saturday, fans can catch a performance with Keller Williams and Larry & Jenny Keel. • Keller Williams’ performance on the Watson Stage Friday night will feature The Travelin’ McCourys. • In addition to Friday’s BanjoRama event, a “BanjoRama, Part Two” will take place on Saturday afternoon at the Creekside Stage, with many of the all-star performers from the previous evening. • And who can forget the surprise lineup created by The Waybacks every year for Hillside Album Hour. “MerleFest fans already know about some of this year’s special ‘MerleFest moments’ we have planned, which in-

Midnight Jam 2013 clude Friday’s BanjoRama event, Dailey and Vincent’s special performance with Statler Brother Jimmy Fortune and Alan Jackson’s Thursday night performance of his recent all-bluegrass album, featuring some heavy hitters in the bluegrass world as part of his band,” said Steve Johnson, Events Artist Relations manager for the festival. “And so many of the special collaborations that have become part of MerleFest legend weren’t planned; they came together mere minutes before the artists hit the stage! “However, we became aware of so many interesting combinations and groupings this year that we didn’t want our fans to miss a single one, so we’re giving attendees an early ‘heads up’ regarding the ones we know about, so that they can use their MerleFest mobile app to plan ahead,” Johnson added. Ticket purchases for MerleFest 2014 may be made on the web at www.MerleFest.org or by calling 1-800-343-7857. With more than 130 acts performing on 13 stages during the course of the event, MerleFest is an excellent entertainment value. The annual event has become the primary fundraiser for the WCC Endowment Corporation, funding scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs.


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Spring Concert at VHCC The VHCC Choir and Old Time String Band-will be presenting their spring concert at VHCC in the LRC Theater at 7:30 on Tuesday April 22nd. All area students are admitted free. There is a 4.00 charge for the general public. The choir consists of enrolled students, retired faculty, and students that sing for enjoyment. They will be doing several Broadway tunes and a variety of songs from several genres including a Beatles tune and a Beach Boys song. The VHCC Old Time String Band is an exciting and fun performance class that has been offered on the campus of Virginia Highlands Community College each spring since 2012. The music director at VHCC Mary Munsey designed this class and has opened the class to students, faculty and community members from all walks of life. The class is MUS 150-50. It is a 3 credit course that counts as electives for students. It may also be taken for personal enjoyment instead of credit. The members have varying musical backgrounds and entrance abilities. Some are beginners and others have been playing for several years. Several of the members already knew how to play another musical instrument but chose to broaden their musical horizons by trying a new instrument or a different style of music. The class meets once a week for an hour and 45 minutes on Monday afternoons in the spring semester.

One of the class requirements is to attend a live Old Time or Bluegrass event at the Carter Fold in Scott County, Heartwood in Abingdon or at other regional venues. Students also research and present a short presentation on an Old Time, Folk or Bluegrass performer or band of their choice. In addition to playing at Heartwood in April 2013 and at the VHCC school concert, last spring’s group played during the summer at the Green Cove Train Station on the Appalachian Trail in July, the Teacher’s Symposium held for regional teachers at VHCC in July & for the Abingdon Farmer’s Market in August. The current group played at Heartwood on April 10th and enjoyed their debut. Playing in the Old Time String Band is a fun musical journey for all of the partici-

pants and for the instructor. This year there are 30 members of the group that range in age from 1681. If you are over 60 and wish to join the group, you may do so as long as you are a Virginia resident, sign a senior’s agreement and as long as the class has met its quota of paid student membership. The program is also accepting string instrument donations. If you would like to donate a guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, bass or other string instrument to the Old Time String Band program, please contact Mary Munsey at 276-7392454 or at mmunsey@vhcc.edu . You may also contact her if you would like information on how to join this class in the future or if you know of performance opportunities for the group.


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Ricky Skaggs

guest of ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic and Country Music Ricky Skaggs will be the guest of honor at the 11th annual Celebration of ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic and Country Music at the Paramount Center for the Arts in downtown Bristol on Saturday, April 19, at 7 p.m. Guest of honor Ricky Skaggs will present a selection of songs, accompanied by the ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band, during a special segment of the program. Skaggs’ recent autobiography, “Kentucky Traveler: My Life in Music,” will be available for pur-

chase at the concert. The concert showcases the ETSU program’s top bands. Among the performers will be the ETSU Celtic and Country Pride Bands, the newly founded ETSU Mandolin Orchestra and international students from Iran, England, Canada and Scotland. Offering the world’s first Bachelor of Arts degree in Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies, ETSU is widely considered the “home of bluegrass, old time and country music in higher educa-

tion.” Since 1982, students from around the world have learned traditional Appalachian music on the ETSU campus. Tickets are $16 for adults and $12 for students, children and seniors. For tickets, call the Paramount box office at (423) 274-8920. For more information, call the Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies office at (423) 4397072. For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at (423) 439-8346.


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Student Artworks

in Historic Downtown Bristol Inspired by Japanese Artist Hokusai The Arts & Entertainment District is hosting the 3rd Annual Student Art Gallery in Downtown Bristol. In an effort to “Cultivate Bristol’s Creativity,” the district has invited the local schools to help us beautify our community by providing art to decorate the front windows of the former Hayes Furniture Building on State Street. “I am always amazed at the number of artistically talented children that we have in our cities. It is a pleasure to see what they create,” says Candy Snodgrass, President of Art in Public Places. “I can only hope they have as much fun in the creation of their art as the public has in its enjoyment!”

Each school or group that participates has a month-long period to display their students’ art in the space. The sixth gallery of art went up on April 1, showcasing art from students in the 2nd grade at Haynesfield Elementary School. Hailey Eaton’s students have been studying the effects that cool colors have on the overall mood of an artwork. They explored the work of Japanese artist Hokusai and used the well-known artwork The Great Wave off Kanagawa as inspiration for the project. The students first drew a “Great Wave,” and then added hidden images and details to their work. Next, they used cool colored crayons to trace over their pencil marks, and

then added cool colored watercolors to finalize their piece. Artwork by the students from Haynesfield Elementary School will be on display at the Hayes Furniture Building until May 2, 2014. For more information, please contact René Rodgers at Believe in Bristol on 276-644-9700, rrodgers@ believeinbristol.org, or visit the website at www.believeinbristol. org.


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Skyflight Productions & The Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts present an evening with

Chad Elliott and The Dead Truth on April 23rd at the Renaissance Theatre in Kingsport

Skyflight Productions presents an evening with Chad Elliott on Wednesday April 23, 2014 at The Renaissance Theater in Kingsport, TN. Chad Elliott bought his first guitar at an Omaha pawn shop, a dreadnought next to the used guns and knives. He took it home, slowly taught himself to fingerpick and began transposing his poetry writing into original songs. Elliott always believed he’d be an artist. He spent his youthful years drawing, painting and sculpting, but the more he picked on those sixstrings, the ...more he found familiar ground with his words and the imagery he strived to achieve on canvas. Songwriting became painting with his words and performing on stage became his new exhibition. Averaging over 150 shows per year, Elliott has been on the road for more than a decade performing a blend of Americana, roots and country music. Along the way he’s collected more than a few interesting stories, many of which end up crafted into lyrics. Perhaps the most surreal moment in his career happened in 2009 while he was portraying Buddy Holly for the Surf Ballroom on the 50th anniversary of

the fateful plane crash which took the rock legend’s life. He was asked to sing “Oh Boy” with Buddy’s widow Maria Elena Holly. She whispered in Elliott’s ear after the song faded, “You’re my Buddy.” Elliott’s latest album, “So Sang the Crow” was released in March of 2013. Chad visited Basecamp Recording Studio in Montana to lay the tracks. Basecamp Recording is run by Chris Cunningham of the folk-duo Storyhill. Cunningham produced the album, adding his meticulous attention to detail to the well-crafted project. “So Sang the Crow” speaks to the souls of those “fighting the good fight” in a life of challenge. The Dead Truth out of Asheville, NC will open for Chad Elliott. The guitar first came to Max Doyle while he was living in San Francisco for a long, elated summer. He was hit by a car skateboarding down one of the steep hills SF is known for. A true blessing it was. As a friend came to visit, they sat with a guitar across each other’s lap, him with the neck playing chords and Max, with a background in percussion, had the strings learning to pick. He traded his wheels in for some strings and sat for the rest of the summer with the guitar under his broken wing. After leaving art school in Philadelphia, he lived in his studio across from the foundry he worked at. Some days would go on for twelve hours and crawling back to his studio at 10 or 11, Max would sit down with a guitar, blink, and hours would pass. Realizing this need to escape from the city, soon enough he found himself on a bus with 5 other musicians and artists heading across the country. And as the classic story goes, he was “passing through” Asheville and never left. He just finished putting together an album of one such tale, “SATYAGRAHA”, under the guise, The Dead Truth, as a proclamation to resurface the light within the cold, dark stones. Doors & Box Office open at 7 pm, Show starts at 8 pm Reserved Seat Tickets only $12 Book online, no extra fee www.EngageKingsport.com


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ETSU poets to read their work at Johnson City Public Library event

Writers Association Book of the Year Award in Poetry. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award given by Morehead State University in Kentucky. Joining Graves will be DeVan Burton, an ETSU graduate student and aspiring writer whose poem, “Visitation: Every Other Weekend,” was published in the Southern Poetry Anthology. Samuel Church, who holds an ETSU bachelor’s degree, is currently enrolled in the master of education degree program at Milligan College. His work has appeared in “Now and Then: The Appalachian Magazine” and “A! Magazine for the Arts.” Benjamin Dugger, an East Tennessean with roots going back to his family’s arrival in the region in 1760, has had his poetry appear in the “Southern Poetry Anthology,” as well as in Ohio anthologies “Common Threads 2013” and “Everything Stops and Listens” and in “A! Magazine for the Arts.” Dr. Ron Giles, a retired ETSU faculty member, has had poems, fiction and criticism published in various journals, as well as a one-act play, “Moses Otis Is Not a White Man,” which was given a staged reading at the Great Plains Theatre Conference in Omaha. For further information, contact Graves at (423) 439-6674 or gravesj@etsu.edu. Dr. Jesse Graves, a faculty member in the East Tennessee State University Department of Literature and Language, will speak at the Johnson City Public Library in the Jones Meeting Room on Wednesday, April 16, at 6 p.m. A free, public event, “An Evening with Tennessee Poets” will include readings by local poets from the “Southern Poetry Anthology: Volume VI, Tennessee.” Graves is launching his new collection of poetry, “Basin Ghosts,” published by Texas Review Press. For his first collection, “Tennessee Landscape with Blighted Pine,” published by Texas Review Press in 2011, Graves received the Weatherford Award in poetry and the Appalachian


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Weizenblatt Gallery To Feature Exhibition of Artwork by Art Professors Weizenblatt Gallery at Mars Hill University is proud to feature the work of professors from the university’s art program in the Art Faculty Biennial Exhibition, beginning on April 15 and running through August. The Art Faculty Biennial Exhibition will take place simultaneously with “an Introduction to Snooke,” an exhibit of comic book art produced by senior art student Ebony Simpson. The faculty exhibit will be open in Weizenblatt Gallery from April 15 to May 10. It will be free and open to the public each weekday from 10 am until 4 pm. The faculty artists are Dr. Rick Cary, professor of art; Scott Lowrey, associate professor of art; Phil Murray, assistant professor of art; Jane Renfroe, associate professor of art; Ken Gregory, assistant professor of art; Dr. Barbara Cary, professor of art education; and Kenn

Kotara, adjunct professor of art. Dr. Rick Cary, chair of the Department of Art and Theatre Arts, teaches art history and photography at Mars Hill. For the upcoming exhibit, he will be showing photographs from his series titled “Credo II,” which explores scenes from the lives of two congregations of “signs following” believers, one older persons, the other mostly young people. The congregations’ worship practices include handling serpents, drinking poisons and other practices mentioned in Mark 16 of the Bible. Cary’s photography is documentary rather than strictly fine art. “My primary interest is in making images that convey the lived experiences of real people, in real time, in a real place, doing real things that are meaningful to them,” Cary said.  “I never orchestrate the activities of my subjects, and I am present among

them with their consent. I work to make images that, although they are subjective reflections of finite moments, may serve as texts that embody universal human experiences, or at least fragments of them.“ Scott Lowrey teaches classes concentrating on painting. He will be exhibiting paintings from a collection called The Reliqueries.  Lowrey describes this work as an exploration of narrative symbolic imagery and its content.  He does this by subtlety altering the intended meaning, thus recasting or re-contextualizing it. The Reliqueries are paintings which recast the Marian representations from 14th-17th century Italian painting, which depict the “Seven Sorrows of Mary” with scenes from nature. “The Seven Sorrows are from Mary’s sorrow of certain events as they pertain the life of Christ. In this series I’m attempting to recast

“Morning” by Phil Murray them by juxtaposing images of nature and the environment in various symbolic ways thus visually retelling the Sorrows as the state of nature and the environment,”

he said. Phil Murray, who teaches graphic design, will be exhibiting both concrete and abstract images which reflect some type of interac-


www.theloaferonline.com “A process oriented technique, agateware emphasizes contrast, reveals the unexpected, and involves technical concerns and aesthetic considerations about the relationship of form and surface,” she said. Renfroe references historical forms of this pottery technique from China’s 7th century Tang Dynasty, Japan’s Momoyama period beginning in 1573, and England’s by Dr. Joseph Wedgewood in 1730. Agateware was made in France, Egypt, and in the West. Other known examples exist in Native American pottery and in the work of WNC potter Jane Peiser’s hand “Pigeon River Constellation” by Ken Gregory built pottery. Ken Gregory teaches both graphic design and photography, but tion. “The more abstract images exhibit, she will be showing wheel all are engaged with color shape, thrown stoneware and porcelain his personal art experiences have texture and line spontaneously agateware, which she describes covered wider fields, from phoevolving into what the viewer sees as the “combination and manipu- tography, to commercial graphic and can interpret for themselves,” lation of colored clays to achieve design, to publishing design, to he said.  More concrete images undulating swirls, striations, and landscape and home design. He include leaves and blossoms vi- random patterns intrinsic to the said he has found his media to sually interacting with the chaos pottery form.”  Potential results range from pens to brushes, from from this method range from sim- paper to digits, as well as making which surrounds them. Jane Renfroe teaches classes cen- ple bold effects to intricate multi broad “brush strokes” across large landscape to be filled with acres of tering on pottery. In the upcoming colored designs, she said.

April 15, 2014 • The Loafer, Page 13 rock-wall terraces. In this exhibition, he continues his life-long emphasis on landscape photography. “Always seeking to capture the light missed by others, I spend much of my time pursuing woodland, mountain, and island inspirations in the magic light of sunrise, sunset and storm,” he said.  Kenn Kotara will be showing pieces from his original works on canvas, paper and mylar; Braille; screens; Polaroids; sculpture and site specific installations that are contemporary, abstract and gridbased. Kotara says that many of his works are visual meditations about diverse human questions. In particular, works in the exhibit explore his curiosity about the mystery of how form comes into being. “Perhaps the internal push-pull that is not necessarily revealed in my art forms, but without a doubt leads me through them, is that I find the whole notion of chaos fascinating and want to somehow make sense of it,” he said.  “In the end though, the images in my

work speak for themselves. I believe they allude to an underlying universal harmony that is as hopeful as is the circle. After all, the circle is about democracy, unity and coming together.” Although Dr. Barbara Cary teaches in the Department of Education, her classes focus on Art Education.  She will be exhibiting photography in the upcoming faculty show.   Cary said: “I work in several art forms, including photography and textiles.  I try to discover the aesthetic qualities in the simple things around me, especially those that are often overlooked.” Mars Hill University is a premier private, liberal arts institution offering over 30 baccalaureate degrees and one graduate degree in elementary education. Founded in 1856 by Baptist families of the region, the campus is located just 20 minutes north of Asheville in the mountains of western North Carolina.www.mhc.edu.


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Appearing this week at

Acoustic Coffeehouse

Grey Revell Thursday, April 17th

Grey Revell is a music producer and songwriter originally from Los Angeles, California. In the late 1990s, he moved to New York City, where among other artists, including Kimya Dawson, Jeffrey Lewis and Regina Spektor, he found a creative home in the Lower East Side Anti-folk community. In recent years, he has produced numerous independent artists, most notably The Show Is On The Road, Anti-folk stalwart Paleface’s 2009 release on The Avett Brothers Ramseur Records Label. With a strong emphasis on melody and atmospherics, His own work has drawn comparisons to artists like Grant Lee Phillips, Joe Henry, and Brian Eno. “I’d Still Remember”, featured on 2005’s Little Animals, became a minor hit among fans of the National Lampoon film, Adam and Eve, starring Emmanuelle Chriqui. He has one son with New Orleansbased singer Patricia Grace, who he divorced in 2009, and is currently living in Charlotte, North Carolina. His song Gone Gone from 1999’s

“Crazy Like An Ambush” LP was featured in the Antifolk Vol. 1 compilation disc released by Rough Trade 2002, and later picked up for Hewlett Packard’s 2012-13 Impresora Deskjet Campaign in Central and South America. Spending most of 2012 on the road with Paleface as a guitarist, Grey released a new single, “I Don’t Leave Friends In Darkened Houses”, boasting a southwestern feel, and a new live approach, in November of 2012. He quit the Paleface touring band at the end of that year, and returned home. 2013 saw the formation of Grey Revell’s Roman Candles, his new group, followed by a tour of Argentina, further productions, notably Indie Songwriter Fountain Penn’s “Thermal Static” EP, and a 2013’s Winter Single “A Rainbow In His Hometown”, released in November. The Acoustic Coffeehouse is located at 415 W. Walnut Street In Johnson City. For more information call 423434-9872 or visit www.acousticcoffeehouse.net.


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April 15, 2014 • The Loafer, Page 15

Appalachian Trail Saturday, April 19th at Carter Fold

Saturday, April 19th, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, will present a concert of traditional bluegrass music by Appalachian Trail. Adult admission to the concert is $10, $1 for children 6 to 11, and under age 6 free. Appalachian Trail is a union of seasoned and innovative singers, songwriters, and musicians who are breaking new ground in the bluegrass arena. Ireland, Scotland, England, Russia, Sweden, Canada, Holland, and Switzerland are some of the countries that have hosted the talents of the individuals in this band, as well as coast-to-coast here at home. Formed in 1984, the band combines strong lead vocals, tight harmonies, and distinctive picking. Tommy Austin is no stranger to the bluegrass community. He started playing guitar and singing as a boy in local churches. Later, he moved to mandolin when he became interested in the bluegrass sound. Tommy helped organize the Rising Wind band which toured extensively in the 1980s and 1990s as well as Tennessee Skyline. Tommy has recorded with several groups, including Ray Harper, Carl Story, the Hopson Family, Trey Hensley, and the Linda Lay Cracker Barrel project. Currently he sings lead and harmony, plays mandolin, and shares the songwriting and arranging with the other members of Appalachian Trail. Vickie Austin has been signing for audiences since age six, when she caught the performing bug by winning two dollars in a school talent show. At age thirteen, Vickie became the church pianist. She learned how to play by watching her grandmother chord an old pump organ. Traveling to local churches in the east Tennessee/ southwest Virginia area as the Page Sisters, Vickie developed an extensive vocal range. Eventually joining Twin Springs Bluegrass Band, Vickie honed her skills on the upright bass. She plays bass for the group and sings

lead and harmony vocals. Allen Hughes has played guitar with Appalachian Trail for six years. Through the 1990s he, along with Tommy, played with the Rising Wind band. His distinctive style sets him apart from most guitar players. Allen took guitar lessons from G.C. Matlock, and has played with numerous other groups before joining Appalachian Trail. He adds some strong lead and harmony vocals to the group as well. Glen Rose has been playing the banjo since the age of 10 and was inspired by his cousin Buddy Rose who gave him lessons. Glen has performed on the Opry and been a part of the ETSU Bluegrass Band. When he’s not playing, Glen teaches guitar and banjo. For some of the best traditional bluegrass music around, don’t miss Appalachian Trail at the Carter Family Fold! For additional information on the group, check out their web site – http://www.appygrass.com/. Vickie has been playing on the Carter Fold stage since she was a little girl, and Appalachian Trail has performed many times over the years. The Fold is excited to welcome them back. Carter Family Memorial Music Center, Incorporated, is a nonprofit, rural arts organization established to preserve traditional, acoustic, mountain music. For further information on the center, go to www.carterfamilyfold.org. Shows from the Carter Family Fold can be accessed on the internet at www. carterfoldshow.com. Carter Music Center is part of the Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. You can visit the Crooked Road Music Trail site at http://thecrookedroad.org. Partial funding for programs at the center is provided by the Virginia Commission for the Arts the National Endowment for the Arts. For information on shows at the Fold, call 276-386-6054. To speak to a Fold staff member, call 276-594-0676.


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Two Apollo Missions: One Success; One Failure

Two of NASA’s triumphs of the Apollo Moon program happened this week more than 40 years ago—one an exploring success and the other a bitter failure. This week of April in 1970 the entire world was riveted to their radios and televisions awaiting news of the endangered Apollo 13 astronauts, while two years later Apollo 16 successfully landed two astronauts and their “car” in the mountains of the Moon discovering a landscape contrary to predictions. The drama of the oxygen tank explosion that disabled the mother ship during Apollo 13’s Moon voyage captured the hearts of a global audience. And four decades ago, that news was spread by daily newspapers, radio news

on the half-hour, and television bulletins between the regular news broadcasts in the morning, noon and evening. Well documented by the Ron Howard film called “Apollo 13,” the Hollywood version is an accurate portrayal of the scary, three-day return home across the 240,000 mile void of outer space between the Earth and Moon. By contrast with the world wide attention of unlucky Apollo 13, the three-day scientific exploration of the Moon by Apollo 16 garnered passing attention by the public. There was little live coverage, and Americans were reminded of the moonwalkers during regular newscasts. But Apollo 16 was an amazing mission, overcoming obstacles

ers picked up rocks disproving their volcanism theory, vindication of why humans explore to seek the truth. Of the millions of words written about the 1960s Moon Race between USA and USSR, one that exemplified the spirit of the times is apparently lost in today’s 21st Century space program: Dream. The conquest of the Moon was very much a climax for dreamers. America proved there is a human curiosity to pursuing dreams, and the bigger the more it triggers mankind’s attention. And the rocket scientists also and discovering a landing site of volcanism. had to dream big when overcomThat was the main discovery ing the slim chance of returning completely different than geologists had predicted. The moon of Apollo 16—that scientists were the Apollo 13 astronauts to Earth rocks of shattered breccias and wrong with the prediction that the alive. anorthosites picked up by the as- Descartes Mountains were formed And when was the last time that tronauts in front of cameras moni- by volcanism with the Cayley happened? tored by geologists were a surprise Plains flooded by lava. Geologists American history documents from the predicted igneous rocks watched on TV as the moonwalk- the mystery of the Native Ameri-


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cans to the Europeans; the curiosity of East Coast America with the westward settlers; the flight of the “Lucky” Charles Lindbergh and his historic airplane flight across the Atlantic Ocean; and the Apollo 11 moon landing, fulfilling a dream of mankind. The American dream of scientific bases on the Moon and eventual commercialization to the ultimate vacation lunar “get-away” was shattered with the reality of three Apollo 13 astronauts’ dangerous brush with death. Indeed, it was American ingenuity and the classic “can do” attitude that brought Apollo 13 safely home after an oxygen tank

April 15, 2014 • The Loafer, Page 17

explosion crippled the life support system of the Apollo command capsule half-way to the Moon. Using their moonship built for two, the three astronauts survived near freezing temperatures, suffocating carbon dioxide, and dangerously low power levels. The three astronauts who are alive today to share their harrowing lunar tale are: Commander James Lovell, 83, who wrote the adventure in the book “Lost Moon” and was a consultant on the 1995 Hollywood movie; Jack Swigert, deceased; and Fred Haise, 80. Apollo 13 was the third attempt at landing on the Moon, follow-

ing the epic Apollo 11 landing on July 20, 1969, and later that year the Apollo 12 touchdown on Nov. 19. Where the world was watching Apollo 11 with incredible intensity, just four months later the thrill seemed to be gone as the pinpoint landing of Apollo 12 garnered a fraction of the attention. It didn’t help that during the second moon landing the portable television camera was rendered useless when accidentally pointed to the Sun, so no live coverage of the two Apollo 12 moonwalks were broadcast. By the time Apollo 16 rocketed off the launch pad on April 11, 1972, three future Moon missions

were cancelled and the public apathy had been jaded by a $40 billion price tag for the Moon Race and questions about the tangible rewards on Earth. And, keep in mind that during NASA’s quest for the Moon, the US Congress also financed the expensive and divisive Vietnam War. Apollo 14 on Feb 5, 1971, was a confidence builder, repeating the intended Apollo 13 mission to the Frau Mauro valley and fulfilling a dream of original Mercury astronaut and moonwalker Alan Shepard. On July 30, 1971, Apollo 15 landed beside a huge, wandering lava bed. With the first vehicle to drive for serious exploration,

Gemini veteran David Scott, 81, and rookie Jim Irwin, deceased, brought back the “Genesis Rock,” a 4 billion year old piece of the Solar System’s creation. By the time of Apollo 16’s launch on April 16, 1972, America’s space dreams had shifted to the Space Shuttle on the drawing board. Commander John Young, 81, on his fourth spaceflight, would stand on the Moon on April 21st, Continued on page 20


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Skies This Week Celestial events in the skies for the week of April 15th - 21st, 2014, as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette. Full Moon on Tuesday is a predawn total lunar eclipse, and there will be plenty of photos on the Internet and news media of the event. The evening sky is rapidly changing with the bright constellations of Winter dropping below the western horizon one-by-one. Jupiter is among those exiting at midnight, but bright, red Mars is well above the eastern horizon at 10 pm. And it’s Easter Week, as that lunar eclipse Full Moon of Tuesday determines the Holy Days: Easter Sunday is the first Sunday (April 20) after the first Full Moon (April 15) after the first day of Spring (March 20). Tues. April 15 The Moon takes 89 minutes to travel through the Earth’s shadow from 3:06 am to 4:25 am. One website that will have dozens of amateur photos of the event is SpaceWeather. Wed. April 16 The Moon and planet Saturn rise together at 10 pm in the constellation Libra the Scales. In fact, the Moon passes over, or occults, the ringed planet as seen from Asia and Australia. Thurs. April 17 On this 1970 date in space his-

tory, America’s Apollo 13 aborted moon mission safely landed in the Pacific Ocean after a near-fatal four day emergency ordeal. The rescue mission of the three astronauts is aptly portrayed in the Hollywood movie “Apollo 13.” The world watched closely as an exploded oxygen tank on the way to the Moon put the crew in mortal danger and tested NASA space engineers with their biggest challenge ever. Fri. April 18 Orion starts to nod toward the western horizon as it sets around 10:30 pm, taking with it the bright

star patterns of Winter, including Taurus, Canis Major and Gemini. Sat. April 19 On this 1971 date in space history, the Soviet Union launched the world’s first space station, called Salyut 1. It was occupied for 28 days by the three man crew of Soyuz 11. But an air leak in the cabin during reentry killed the cosmonauts, quietly suffocating them as their spaceship landed safely. Sun. April 20 - Easter Sunday Springtime is Big Dipper time— just look to the north to see this all-time favorite star pattern. Its

two outside bowl stars are the “pointers” that guide a person to the North Star, Polaris. Follow the handle curve to bright star Arcturus, and continue the arc to blue-white Spica and red planet Mars above. Mon. April 21 On this 1972 date in space history, Apollo 16 safely landed on the Moon in a mountainous area called Descartes. John Young, 83, and Charlie Duke, 79, camped out for three days on the lunar surface, driving their Lunar Rover 17 miles during three, 7 hour exploration trips outside the safety of their moonship.


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Stargazer when CapCom would tell him Congress had okayed funding for the Space Transportation System, not realizing that nine years later on April 12, 1981, he would be the commander and Robert Crippen, 78, the pilot on the maiden voyage of Columbia—another of America’s bold adventures into space. Young and his moon-walking mate, Charlie Duke, 79, explored the highlands area called Descartes, spending three days and driving their Lunar Rover for 17 miles in a serious scientific exploration in the middle of a mountain range. The intense geology training on Earth paid off for the Apollo 16 astronauts as they were at first puzzled not to find the predicted igneous rocks, and instead rocks brought up from the upheaval of the Descartes Mountains. The 211 pounds of lunar rock, dirt and core samples were a scientific bonanza that is still be analyzed four decades later. When the final Apollo 17 Moon

voyage landed with Gene Cernan, 80, and rookie Harrison Schmitt, 78, NASA’s dreams had shifted to a space truck that was envisioned to pay for itself by hauling commercial satellites and experiments into low Earth orbit. That dream literally blew up with the Space Shuttle Challenger launch explosion on Jan. 26, 1986, after which

-- Continued from page 17

the expensive and inefficient Space Transportation System was revealed to be too complex and dangerous as a reliable parcel service to outer space. Now with the Space Shuttle retired after 30 years and 135 successful flights, America is without a manned spacecraft. As NASA builds the six-person Orion spacecraft for use hopefully by 2018, and three private space companies vie for their manned spaceships to fly to the International Space Station there is still much to dream about. But nothing like looking up at the big and bright Moon in the sky and dreaming of what it’s like to stand on the surface.

The return of the vinyl record The East Tennessee Vinyl and CD Collectors Show will take place April 27, 2014 at the Double Tree-Hilton on Mockingbird Lane in Johnson City TN, 10am to 4pm, $2.00 admission. This unique event features music dealers from all over the Southeast, who will offer rare vintage vinyl LPs and 45s, plus CDs, DVDs, memorabilia, and much more – at a variety of price ranges. This will be the “biggest and best one-day music store” in Tennessee! Please contact the show’s organizer and promoter, Gregory Neal, for questions or comments at GregNealShow@gmail.com or call 704-996-9945.


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Double Feature

This week I am happy to present a double feature. One film is a typical blockbuster and the other is an art house style film. First up is the comedy-drama “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, directed by Wes Anderson (“Moonrise Kingdom”). As most film fans know, Anderson has a unique directing style, which is on full display in this new release, based on the writings of Stefan Zweig, a novelist, playwright, journalist and biographer who died in 1942. The movie is the tale of Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), a concierge at the Grand Budapest Hotel, in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka, and his experiences during his employment. We also meet Zero Mousrafa (Tony Revol-

ori), who is hired at the hotel as a lobby boy and eventual confidant to Gustave. You see, Gustave, provides special attention to the hotel’s older female guests, and as a result, one of them, Madame D (Tilda Swinton), becomes so attached to the concierge, she adds him to her will. Gustave and Zero’s adventures led to a murder accusation, prison time for one of them, possession of a priceless painting, romance, and chaos in the middle of pending war. The film features many well know faces popping up, including Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, F. Murray Abraham, Jude Law, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, and Owen Wilson. The film, as eccen-

tric as the director, features wonderful performances for all the aforementioned actors and wonderful dialogue, especially from the always proper character Gustave. If you are in the mood for an offbeat cinematic experience, check into “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. (Rated R) B+ The second movie this week is the already blockbuster film “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, once again starring Chris Evans in the title role. The film is a sequel to the original Captain America film from 2011, and is presented in the 3-D format. This time out, Captain America is joined by Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Anthony Mackie as the Falcon, as they battle a covert enemy hiding in Washington, D.C. The covert enemies have created their own “super solider” in the form of the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), who just happens to have been a life long friend of the Captain. The battles in the film are fast and furious, and with so much going on, the plot can be quite confusing at times. All I can say is, pay close attention. The film also features Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, and Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, a senior leader in the S.H.E.I.L.D (Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division) organization. I found the film to be enjoyable, but a bit too long, as the editors could have done a bit more chopping on the film. I will alert you to stay in the theater after the closing cred-

its, as their are two separate bonus scenes, one after the first set of credits, and one at the very end. To me, as with the “Thor” films, the best part of the film was the performance of the villain. Of course most movies based on comic books have strong villains

that are so over-the-top they often overshadow the hero. While “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is not the best “comic book” movie I have ever seen, it certainly ranks in the top 10. (Rated PG-13) B


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“Skirts and Skirts”

Fashion Contra in Jonesborough!

The Historic Jonesborough Dance Society welcomes WinstonSalem based band “Contra Culture” with caller, Mark Langner for a contra dance on Saturday, April 19th, 2014 at the Jonesborough Visitors Center, 117 Boone Street. There will be a class for beginners at 7:00pm followed by the dance from 7:30-10:30pm. There will be a break at 9:00pm where dancers will parade down the runway showing off their colorful skirts and Hawaiian-style or tie-dyed shirts and socks The most colorful dance photo ever will be taken at the break while everyone enjoys Klondike Bars. The evening will begin at 5:30pm with a Family Dance for parents and children led by caller Christi Bothwell. Music will be provided by students from the ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music program. Adults $5, Children $3.

The beginner’s workshop gives the experienced dancers and first timers a chance to warm up together. The caller explains many of the calls such as balance and swing, star left and star right, ladies chain across, Do-si-do, courtesy turn, allemande and hey for four. Many of these calls would be familiar to anyone who has square danced. The contra dance employs a longwise set and allows couples to progress up and down the line to dance with all other couples. It’s a group dance where everyone in the longwise set interacts with everyone else during the song which lasts anywhere from seven to ten minutes. The “Skirts and Shirts” fashion idea came from the fact that many women shop for the prairie or stagecoach skirts at thrift stores, yard sales and other second-hard shops. While twirling, the skirts

splay out into a beautiful display of color and style. For the men, you will see many wear flowered or multicolored tie-dyed shirts. What fun it will be to see all the colors twirling down our center floor runway! Some door prizes will be awarded for the most creative and colorful. The grand prize for best lady and gent costume will be a FitBit Flex activity tracker. Of course, anyone can come dressed in the most casual and comfortable attire for dancing. The evening goal is to have the most colorful dance photo ever taken. Contra Culture is an exciting new contra dance band from the North Carolina Piedmont made of two established classical music teacher/contra dancers. Contra Culture plays a mix of contemporary fiddle tunes along with traditional Southern Appalachian, New England, Cape Breton, Irish and Scottish tunes. They create a beautiful balance in their sets by playing highly energetic tunes along with transcendent lyrical melodies. Guitarist Austin Murry began studies on the classical guitar at the age of seven and holds an undergraduate and master’s degree from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in classical guitar. Austin enjoys playing a variety of styles of music including traditional music. He was introduced to contra dance in 1997 and has been immersed in the contra dance scene ever since. Fiddler Jennifer Lane began playing violin at the age of 8 and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Jacksonville University in violin. She has been playing Irish, Scottish, and Bluegrass fiddle for 12 years and has a diverse background in dance including contra dance, English country dance, and ballroom. “We combine traditional live music and dances that anyone can do” adds Wiley. The dances are held two times per month in the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center. All the dances are taught by the caller. You don’t have to bring a partner. The dances are smoke and alcohol free. For more information, contact David Wiley, event organizer at 423-534-8879 or visit www.historicjonesboroughdancesociety. org and the Historic Jonesborough Dance Society on FACEBOOK.


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New Lights for the Blue Moon Dinner Theatre A Dream Coming True!

The Blue Moon Dinner Theatre has been entertaining audiences in Downtown Johnson City for the past 5 years. The Blue Moon has seen big changes in the dowtown over the last few years and itself continues to grow as an entertainment venue. However the lighting system at the theatre is out of date and uses a large amount of electricity thus inspiring the crew at the theatre to raise money for new

lighting through an internet campaign on GoFundMe.com. The Internet campaign has already raised half of the money for the new instruments with donations coming from places as far as New York and California and a huge support from the local community as well.    “It’s amazing how much support we have received and how generous people have been.  It’s good to

know that soon they will be able to come to see a show and see the improved lighting effects, what they won’t be able to see is the lower electric bills and the overall boost of moral something like this brings to a theatre” say Artistic Director Edward Breese “ We are hoping to reach our fundraising goal by this summer and it’s all possible because so many people believe in the Blue Moon”     The Blue Moon Dinner Theatre operates year round with no government assistance and produces comedies, thrillers, musicals, interactive murder mysteries, stand up comedy, comedy improv, and Comming Soon - Children’s Theatre. To help The Blue Moon reach it’s fundraising goal visit http:// www.gofundme.com/7blg14 for more information. 

The Council of Creatures A Musical “I’m Mad, good and mad at all of you!” says Brother Crab at the Council of Creatures. Seven creatures will now have a chance to speak their minds to mankind about the human destruction of God’s good Earth, and their suffering because of it. The creatures: Sister Gazelle, Brother Lion, Sister Worm, Brother Wolf, Sister Passenger Pigeon, Brother Crab and Sister Polar Bear each have a unique message and a song to sing. Celebrate Earth Day by attending this 1-hour program about caring for creation. The program will be presented by the Whitings,

professional musicians from Cookeville, TN. It is appropriate for all ages and hosted by the Erwin YMCA. This event is sponsored by Keeping the Valley Beautiful, a Unicoi County group of concerned citizens, working to educate and take action to protect our environment. Come, enjoy, and learn. When: Tuesday, April 22 at 6:30pm Cost: Free Where: Erwin YMCA; 601 Love St. Erwin TN 37650 For more information email: keepingthevalleybeautiful@yahoo.com


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Easter Eggs and Ruined Pears There’s a reason why I’m always offering to host each year’s Easter meal gathering at my house. The reason being I can control the food, and guarantee that I will have a good time regardless of what anyone else thinks. Selfish? Perhaps, but sometimes it’s better to deal with massive amounts of family on home turf than it is an away court. So it came to pass that as I was gearing up to host for the fourth year in a row, there was a twenty pound spiral cut ham in my fridge. This was an all natural beauty. This ham was the type of ham that inspired poetry. The type of ham that makes you proud to be an American. Sometimes on days when I was feeling at my lowest, I’d open up the fridge, put on a Christopher Cross album, stare at the ham, and let the muse take me where it might (Now you all know why I wrote Pride and Prejudice with Ham). I went to bed the Wednesday night before Easter feeling great, excited about the ham filled delights the weekend would bring. Then my phone rang. It always rings, and sometimes when it rings, plans get ruined. “Quick change of plans” my mother said

to me early that Thursday morning, “your Aunt Julie wants to host Easter this year, so we’re gonna go there.” Now, I know that ham is part of a dead animal, but I swore in that moment, I could sense that my ham felt betrayal. “You can still cook the ham, though. But Julie is gonna take care of everything else.” At least the gem in my fridge would still be on hand to save the day. The though of spending Easter at Aunt Julie’s house filled me with dread. Not because I dislike Aunt Julie, far from it, it’s just that Aunt Julie’s recipe folder hadn’t

been updated since 1972. It’s just that Aunt Julie is the type of cook who hordes Jell-O for use in SAVORY dishes. The type of person to whom gelatinized salads are a way of life. In that sense, I was glad there was twenty pounds of ham to be had, as I felt it might be all that would reside on my plate. The egg hunt came first, if my family has learned anything over the years of having kids at Easter gatherings, it’s that they won’t eat anything till they get a chance to scour the yard for eggs. While that’s going on I look at what is hitting the buffet table in the din-

ing room. It was about what I’d expected. There was my ham, and some fried chicken that looked quite nice. All of this was mixed in with the usual Ross family tradition of a sea of casseroles in various shades of green and brown. Not to mention Aunt Julie’s congealed salad. It looked to be the color of what a room in a really bad motel would be, some type of aqua meets off white. I didn’t want to eat it. When the meal began, I found it wasn’t as horrid as I thought it was going to be. The food was, mostly edible, and some of it was

in fact tasty. Just when I thought the meal was going to be one of a passing grade, up came the dessert. Now, I have no clue who in the hell thought this was a good idea. I have no clue how any human person of any moderate intelligence could have put these things together on a plate and said “yes!” Dessert consisted of half a pear, served on a lettuce leaf, that was then topped with a dollar of mayonnaise and sharp cheddar cheese. It was the only time in my life that I have ever dry heaved at a table. Family looked at me as if I was acting odd, and I ran outside and did the best I could to get the visage from my mind. On the plus side, I did find some double bubble hidden in an egg. Happy Easter.


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Are your cereal boxes staring at you? Ever since Vance Packard introduced us to his 1957 bombshell-of-a-book, The Hidden Persuaders, we have been living in a world where it is more or less taken for granted that advertisers are master manipulators who get their products into our hands by bombarding us with a series of messages—some subliminal and some in plain sight—designed to turn us into mindless consumers. As stated in a September 24, 2011 The Economist blog, Packard’s book “not only had a perfect title. It also revealed for the first time the psychological tricks that the advertising industry used to make Americans want stuff, instantly transforming the image of American advertising executives from glamorous Mad Men into servants of Mephistopheles.” The Cornell University Food and Brand Lab has recently given us a new and updated twist on Packard’s work. In a blog entitled “Eyes In The Aisles: Why is

Cap’n Crunch Looking Down At My Child?” (an excerpt from the full article published last week in the Journal of Environment and Behavior) the folks at the Cornell lab give us plenty of reasons to look twice at the cereal we eat each morning—or, perhaps more accurately, we should ask if our cereal is looking at us. The Cornell study focused on sixty-five cereal brands in ten different grocery stores. Particular attention was paid to the eyes of the cereal box mascots. This is where it gets a little creepy. In the study, “researchers found that cereals marketed to kids are placed half as high on supermarket shelves as adult cereals—the average height for children’s cereal boxes is 23 inches versus 48 inches for adult cereal.” Significantly related to this finding is “that the average angle of the gaze of cereal spokes-characters on cereal boxes marketed to kids is downward at a 9.6 degree angle whereas spokes-char-

acters on adult cereal look almost straight ahead.” In order to determine if the cereal box mascots were actually making eye contact with children and possibly influencing purchase decisions or cereal obsessions, the researchers studied eighty-six different mascots (I didn’t realize there were that many, did you?). Calculations were made relating to the angle of the mascots’ gaze toward a child’s height. And, guess what? “Of the 86 different spokes-characters evaluated, 57 were marketed to children with a downward gave at an angle of 9.67 degrees.” Adult cereal mascot gazes were generally straight ahead or with a .43 degree upward angle. Needless to say, the children’s cereals were located on the bottom two shelves and the adult cereals on the top two shelves of the aisle. If you are really into angular math, the findings of the Cornell group tell us that “the average height of the spokes-characters gaze was 53.99 inches for adult cereals and 20.21 inches for children cereals.” Guess we need to take our tape measures with us the next time we visit our grocery store. After all this mathematical calculation stuff was out of the way, the researches focused on more psychological issues related to how much influence the mascot’s gaze had on “trust and connection with a brand.” Sixty-three people

were used as a test group and were told to look at a Trix box “and rate their feelings of trust and connection to the brand.” Two boxes were used—one with the Trix rabbit staring straight ahead and another one with the rabbit gazing downward. Interestingly enough, the results showed that “brand trust was 16% higher and the feeling of connection to the brand was 28% higher when the rabbit made eye contact.” Therefore, cereal characters who make eye contact are more persuasive and instill more brand loyalty than characters who don’t. That’s why mascots on cereal boxes designed to appeal to children are gazing downward toward the eyes of the children who are shorter than their parents. And what are we supposed to conclude from all this cereal box mascot gazing stuff? Dr. Brian Wansink, Director of the Cornell food lab, tells us that “If you are a parent who does not want your kids to go ‘cuckoo for Cocoa Puff,’ avoid taking them down the cereal aisle.” Doesn’t sound like much of a solution to me, because kids will likely be exposed to gazes from mascots on other product packaging. Now that Easter season is upon us, I think we should be very careful of spending too much time in the aisle featuring Peeps, those delectable little marshmallow treats with the beady eyes that just beg us to sink our teeth into them.

I got really creeped out the other day when I was stared down by a package of oversized Peeps. Of course, I was compelled to drop a three-pack of them into my buggy. Their stare was just too intense for me to resist. And I think I impulsively picked up a can of Beefaroni just because Chef Boyardee was gazing at me in a mesmerizing and straight-ahead way from the can. My trips to the grocery store won’t be the same anymore thanks to that Cornell study. With every trip down a new aisle, my paranoia level will increase as I try to avoid those enticing stares coming at me from different angles and from various products. Of course, many products don’t feature spokes-characters, so I will feel relatively safe in the produce department and in the paper products aisle (don’t see too many staring mascots on paper plate or toilet tissue packages). However, I will steer very clear of the ever present Little Debbie display. However, she might not pose too much of a problem because she is gazing to the left instead of straight ahead. Too bad the Cornell group didn’t ask what a sideways gaze meant. Does this mean Little Debbie is trying to avert your attention away from her snack cakes? Not a bad idea for the consumer, of course, but probably not a good idea for the company that manufactures this wide assortment of tempting junk food. Maybe my column needs a beadyeyed mascot with a straight-ahead stare to convince more people to read “Kelly’s Place” each week. Of course, placing the spokes-character on the front cover would probably be more effective. Nothing like a little competition for the Trix rabbit. See you next week.


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