Weekend of local rock volume 74

October 28, 2018 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music, Personal stuff · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 74 

This will be a unique post in the WLR annals because I’m going to depart from chronological order.

As I noted the other day in discussing the AWF, I wasn’t there as long as I had been in the past – so out of six bands listed here I only saw the last two.

By the schedule in front of me, we came while The Haymans were playing.

These guys really looked cold. “Yeah, a ‘second season’ outdoor show – that should be fine!” Uh-huh.

While this duo plays often about town, this was the first time I saw The Haymans. I call it a duo because there’s two of them, but they also incorporate a backing track into their set to provide the rhythm section. That was a bit distracting and somewhat a bummer because I like watching musicians play.

Now if you liked watching a lot of women who had sampled the grape dance, this band was just the ticket.

I don’t know how many consecutive years they’ve done it, but I’m certain that some people go to the AWF on Sunday just to see On The Edge close it out.

If it was that “funky music” recorded between oh, maybe 1964 and 1994, and you can dance to it, On The Edge most likely plays it. And the fun part (besides watching the lead singer test out the limits of his wireless microphone circulating through the crowd) was seeing the migration up front.

This is almost the same shot I used Friday to show where everyone was at 3:00. They were waiting to dance it off.

The guy in the red Phillies regalia by the sound board? Yeah, he’s the singer next to the few dozen already shaking their groove thing. Pay attention to the picnic table at photo right.

Fast forward about a half-hour…

You probably couldn’t walk through up front by this point. Just two left at the table…

…and now they’re gone too. Had to join the rest of their crew.

On the way out I met up with Jim Mathias, who was coming in to sing with these guys. He thanked me for being engaged (presumably in the political realm) so I thank him for supporting local music, which is much better for the sanity in this current climate.

Maybe this current climate needs a dose of part 2 of this piece. As I said, I usually work in chronological order but in this case I saved the best for last. I’ve often bent the “local rock” definition to fit national acts playing local shows, and the AWF weekend kicked off with a trio of Christian artists at the Civic Center. Here are some of my favorite shots from the concert featuring MercyMe, Tenth Avenue North, and Tim Timmons.

Timmons was the opening act, and while he only played three songs he got some assistance from the headliners at the end.

First up was Tim Timmons, a walking miracle: he was given five years to live with his cancer 14 years ago.

A little help from his friends.

Tenth Avenue North is a high-energy group. It’s unfortunate that I couldn’t get a good shot of the singer milling through the crowd.

I really only got one good shot of Tenth Avenue North, but this was a cool moment too.

I actually liked them a shade more than I did MercyMe, but to each his or her own.

This was from the opening song MercyMe did.

Maybe the best shot I got all night comes from MercyMe.

We ended up doing the Happy Dance to close out the night. It was a long show – 7:30 until almost 11.

They were doing the Happy Dance in the Civic Center as the confetti blasted out.

So that, folks, was the weekend in local rock.

2018 Autumn Wine Festival in pictures and text

October 26, 2018 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva items, Personal stuff · 1 Comment 

Just like the Good Beer Festival last week, my photographic series on the Autumn Wine Festival returns after a three-year hiatus. And like the GBF, a lot has changed over the last three years, but not necessarily for the better. The best thing is that it gives me a break from political posts.

Once again, I can allow the captions to help tell the story.

As we arrived about 1:30, the party was already underway despite a blustery, chilly Sunday.

I’m not going to have a ton of photos this year. Unlike other years when I was somewhat of a captive to the event as the guy who coordinated the GOP tent for almost a decade and hence was there almost the entire time, this time I was a “civilian” who was simply serving as DD for my wife and generally just tagged along for about 2 1/2 hours Sunday – enough to get a flavor of the place. So a lot of my photos were taken of the two bands I saw as part of an upcoming WLR segment.

Speaking of political hostages…

Notice anything missing? The Democrats didn’t have a tent – however, they were not the only ones baring it in the sunshine.

This was the Democrats’ space. In looking at it in the photo, I’m wondering how much extra property they took outside the 10′ x 15′ square you’re usually assigned to get all those signs up – including perhaps the only two Ben Jealous signs in Wicomico County. (Okay, I’m kidding on Jealous – but I don’t think I’m kidding by much.) But seriously – it looks like they are way outside their boundaries.

Shawn Jester (behind table), Woody Willing, and a little of my finger were representing for the GOP.

By comparison, the GOP wasn’t overstepping by too much. They had a reasonable business going, but not spectacular. Nor did I see a whole bunch of folks at the competing spaces for Bo McAllister and Chris Welch. I got Welch’s space in the photo below.

On the left is the tentless space of Chris Welch, whose crew abandoned the tent on Sunday morning thanks to the high winds.

I thought I caught McAllister’s tent in a shot but it turns out I did not. It was just to the right of this photo, and you can see the dearth of people on this side.

Just off the right side of the photo would have been Bo McAllister’s tent. By the time 3:30 rolled around this end was about dead.

I’m looking up toward the food court here. The arrangement was somewhat similar to the GBF as far as the food and stage were concerned.

I will say the food selection was excellent. I tried a place called The Street Kitchen, which is the white truck way off in the background of the shot – good pulled pork and outstanding slaw some may kill for. Come on back to the next festival!

Unlike last week, those who wanted to sit and watch the game on a comfy couch were indulged. Or maybe they had the Hallmark Channel on, I dunno.

One thing I did before piecing this post together was read my previous posts (2007-15) from the AWF. (2007 was the first year I worked it, so the cool thing is the institutional knowledge – which will get even better when I dig up the photos missing from a couple of those years.) Once upon a time they had a VIP area, so I wonder why they did away with it?

The real VIP area on this day would have been smack dab in front of this fireplace. If you could see the stage from this spot I think there would have been a whole cast of people camped out there – including me!

Here is another vendor who can come back. I walked by there coming in and felt the heat.

I noted the stage in my last caption. These are views looking toward the front of the stage at 3:00 and 3:30.

They were already beginning to camp out in front of the stage by 3.

I’m looking down from the south end of the winery tents toward the stage. People had pretty much vanished from the end tents by 3:30-4:00.

Even the lines to the porta-potties were practically non-existent by the time we left, right around 4:00. To be perfectly honest, the vendors could have packed it in about 3:30 and Kim said a couple were.

So I took some shots of signs and wine bottles I liked.

Love the play on a phrase.

New variations on the old Gollywobbler theme. It’s a popular drink.

The old sun + wine bottles shot, in this case courtesy of il Dolce Winery.

Olney Winery had the neatest bottles, though.

In speaking to a vendor (in this case, the wife of a candidate) I was told they had 2,400 people there Saturday – in that case it seems like a down crowd. Granted, it was cloudy but it was also about 10 degrees warmer and about 1/4 as windy. According to the vendor application, though, the county expects an attendance of 3,500 for the weekend.

So I think they were probably about there, and even though I’m not a great judge of crowds it’s sort of sad to see the lowered expectations. In doing some digging I found out the event eight years ago drew 4,651 (and the first-ever GBF had 2,378.) But the problem for the vendors is that they need to sell probably a net $500 worth of merchandise just to cover all the fees associated with the event, let alone make up for the time. My older pictures of the event show long rows of vendor tents, but this year’s had some large gaps in them.

And when you think about it, what is the county providing? It’s their property, but it’s paid for. You have to pay for two nights of security and rent of generators for a couple days as well as pay the talent and for the printing of the tickets, I know this (as well as the GBF) is supposed to be a fundraiser, so then the question becomes how cheap is too cheap?

I’m a guy and I don’t drink wine, so right there I seem to be eliminated from their target audience as Women Supporting Women is a lead sponsor. But I am also the DD for someone who is in their target audience, so you may want to rethink a couple things next year.

In the more immediate future I’m thinking you’ll see two WLR posts over the weekend as I clear out that docket.

Weekend of local rock volume 66

October 25, 2015 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 66 

(As opposed to Order 6-D6, a long-defunct local group I really liked.)

I’m not going to stretch the definition of local too much with this much more brief look back at the Autumn Wine Festival, but it will do a lot of bending to the rock part. Here’s the six-band lineup over the two days.

We  got things underway with alex&shiloh, who perhaps were the most conventional acoustic group there insofar as style and playlist. I think they have done the bar stage at the Good Beer Festival, which is a handy measuring stick for that sort of thing. You’ll have to deal with the sun-splashed photos – the stage faces more or less northwest so the sun is behind it most of the day.

They yielded to the familiar local strains of Randy Lee Ashcraft. He’s been around long enough to become a legend around these parts by being not quite country but not so much rock, either. Just good listening, I guess.

Last up on a pleasant Saturday was Front Page News, which cranked out a number of familiar tunes.

They had the biggest crowd of the weekend.

Sunday started with its perennial opening act, the Backfin Banjo Band. They always start out with standards and take requests.

Instead of playing the middle on Saturday as they did last year, Such Fools played their unique style on Sunday.

We wrapped things up with the danceable On The Edge, and we needed something to dance to just to stay warm as the temperature struggled to get above 50 and we endured a couple brief showers while they were up.

Originally I thought the Sunday lineup was exactly the same as last year, but upon further review I found Such Fools switched days. Still, out of six bands three were holdovers from 2014. In fact, it seems like the turnover for the event is shrinking, and the last non-local act they took a chance with was Tim Reynolds and TR3 two years ago. Certainly I’m the first to support local music, but variety is the spice of life and the AWF used to bring in some interesting acts – onetime Bad Company touring bassist Paul Cullen played here a few years back, as I recall.

By design the Autumn Wine Festival features many of the same Maryland-based vineyards year after year. But does it have to keep the same bands, too?

Autumn Wine Festival 2015 in pictures and text

October 18, 2015 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva items · Comments Off on Autumn Wine Festival 2015 in pictures and text 

For the thirteenth year, Wicomico County hosted the Autumn Wine Festival on the grounds of Pemberton Manor.

There was one notable difference in this year’s event as opposed to previous ones, even at the ribbon cutting.

It was the usual assortment of politicians, but in addition to Senator Jim Mathias in the pink shirt, there were members of the Women Supporting Women group making sure we remembered October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This as if the entrance sign wasn’t enough.

Then you had this raffle table up front.

If you wanted to buy a bottle of wine, they were there.

They were selling merchandise, too.

You could even make a game of it.

Listen, I get it. When the attendance at the event appears to be 60-70% female it’s a good marketing play. But it may be a little hypocritical to use the AWF based on one recent study. Nor is there nearly the push for lung cancer or prostate cancer awareness despite their similar incidence. Just adding perspective, folks.

It seemed to me as well the crowd was a little thinner. I like taking crowd shots to watch the evolution, as the four shots from Saturday taken from about 12:30 to 3:30 show.

Today with the brisk weather and a couple spotty showers, it was fairly slow. The shot below was taken at 1:30.

By 2:45 the end tent farthest from the stage and food area was all but deserted.

At least one vendor pulled up stakes early based on this sparse gathering. There was still over an hour left at the time.

Just the couple businesses I spoke to would have liked better sales.

There were some other nice touches, though, The VIP section for the Wine Festival is much larger than the one for its beer-based counterpart.

On Sunday it becomes an artisan section where they can sell their wares.

As always, we Republicans were there too.

Like last week, we did a “corn poll,” but this time we had a different winner as Donald Trump prevailed. Participation was significantly less this week, though.

I generally have a few favorites in the marketing department and a bottle photo to conclude with. Based on the number of stickers I saw with this logo they were a hit.

St. Michael’s Winery does the Gollywobbler, the subject of the shirt below. What I didn’t know is that they’re next door to the St. Michael’s brewery. Can you say road trip?

Finally, the bottle shot brought to you by sunshine and Linganore.

Hopefully the weather will be warmer next year!

Weekend of local rock volume 63

November 2, 2014 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 63 

Unlike its younger brother the Good Beer Festival, this year the Autumn Wine Festival had more local bands – and arguably more rock – than the GBF. It is also much easier to compile this summary, as the AWF only had one stage and just three bands daily, as the photo below will show.

One other advantage to this system was that we could hear all the bands. So we could attest that the Soulful Tones Band indeed lived up to its name, with a heavy emphasis on that musical style.

As I noted in volume 62, Such Fools played both the GBF and AWF with a unique blend of instruments.

But Anything Goes did its usual outstanding job of closing Saturday’s festivities with a cornucopia of classics. It was strange being done while it was still light out, though.

On Sunday morning, well before the advertised 11 a.m. opening, the traditional Backfin Banjo Band got things underway. And when I say traditional, I don’t just mean they always seem to be the Sunday morning staple at the AWF.

So when Picnic took the stage, it reminded me that fully half the groups also played the AWF last year. In fact, Picnic played in the same slot, too.

But what was needed on a chilly, windy afternoon was someone to get the crowd moving and On The Edge was just the ticket.

Yet there’s even a political side to this post. Near the end of their set the band introduced “our Senator” Jim Mathias, a politician the OTE lead singer enthusiastically endorsed from the stage. (If Jim was there, he didn’t stop by our space.) Obviously Mathias is a familiar figure in Ocean City, where OTE frequently plays.

As I suggested in my initial report on the AWF, I think a two-stage system is in order for this event. Not only would it move the crowd around a little for the vendors, but it would enable more bands to play for the generally larger crowd – try as it might, the Good Beer Festival hasn’t caught up to the Autumn Wine Festival yet. Since the participants in the AWF are generally the same because it’s a Maryland wine festival, there may need to be an additional entertainment option to promote further growth in the event.

That’s my two cents, anyway.

2014 Autumn Wine Festival in pictures and text

October 21, 2014 · Posted in Business and industry, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Personal stuff, Politics · Comments Off on 2014 Autumn Wine Festival in pictures and text 

Yet again I was found at Pemberton Historical Park for an event involving potent potables. But this one was more like work for me because I’m simply not a wine drinker – didn’t have a drop. Yet I did take a few photos.

So once the ribbon was cut by (among others) County Council members Matt Holloway, Stevie Prettyman, Gail Bartkovich, and John Hall, we were underway. I was really there for our Republican booth.

Carol Rose is a big fan of monoblogue and now she’s famous. Actually it gives me an opportunity to thank a whole crew of people who helped out for at least part of a day for the two events: Jackie Wellfonder, Shawn Jester, Carol Rose, Greg Belcher, Linda Luffman, Phil Adkins, David Warren, and Larry Dodd, who you’ll see in a little while. Jim Jester didn’t sit with us, but he was valuable for helping me to set up and take down for each event. That’s a job in and of itself.

But I wasn’t the only person helping get out the vote. Circuit Court judge candidate M.J. Caldwell had his own space.

These were the Ritz crackers with cheese. Sunday visitors got the upgrade to Triscuits.

On the other side of the aisle (literally) were our friends, the Democrats. Pete Evans was there most of the weekend, and as I noted this morning I spoke to Delegate candidate Rod Benjamin for a bit while I was there. I also saw Laura Mitchell from afar.

I was a lot closer to Mike McDermott and Chris Adams, who stopped by Saturday to try and collect votes.

As I noted, District 3 contender Larry Dodd was by on Sunday checking out my neighboring tent while helping man the table.

It’s worth pointing out that attendance between Saturday and Sunday was like night and day. While I took these from different vantage points, the time of day was pretty close between the Saturday photo on top and the Sunday one at the bottom.

Something else a little different was the use of one space. On Saturday, the top photo shows a VIP area. On Sunday it was converted to an artisan’s tent with some of their wares put out.

For a few extra dollars on Saturday, you got the nicely appointed tables, a bigscreen TV, a large sectional sofa, and private restrooms. With the exception of the tables, they kept those things on Sunday but very few were there.

Of course, the weather had a lot to do with the spotty Sunday attendance. While it was in the 70s and balmy Saturday, a chilly, cloudy morning and gusting gales on Sunday reminded me again why I call it the Autumn Wind Festival. And those gusts created havoc at the other political tents, oddly enough.

M.J. Caldwell’s tent reared up on two legs before being corralled. But as David Warren saw with his photo, the Democrats weren’t as fortunate.

You’ll notice how devoid of people this end of the festival appeared on Sunday. Unfortunately for a lot of vendors, it was that way Saturday, too. I took this about 3:45, just at the end of the peak time.

While a few were playing games and some watched the college football – granted, the television tent was a little busier on Sunday afternoon for the Ravens game – there was another place people stayed.

Bear in mind I took the next picture Sunday, with the smaller crowd.

Practically every section of this fence had a group staked out. They were close to the wine tents, lucky ones had a view of the stage, and they had their chairs for the duration. With the layout of the event, it was tough on the vendors beyond the last tent – we were lucky enough to be on the back side of it so at least we had some traffic.

If you noticed the chair Larry Dodd was sitting in, it was part of a collection from this vendor.

They have an interesting story since this couple, who I presume are married, traveled from Ohio to the AWF – apparently they do several similar shows a year around the country with the next one in Texas.

So if you wondering who the couple in the Cleveland Browns gear was, there’s your answer. And the chairs seem to be fairly comfortable based on my limited experience of sitting in one for five minutes, so why not give them a plug as thanks? Besides, at $139.95 I figure a year’s free advertising on my site is a fair trade for an air chair. (Never hurts to ask!)

Of course, my better half might prefer the Gollywobbler.

That was fairly good marketing, but not as unique as this tagline.

And since I had the hop head from last week, why not the grape guy?

Still, I favor the more traditional. I really liked the usage of the barrel.

And, of course, the more colorful the bottles in the sunshine, the more likely it is I’ll use the shot. The Winery at Olney gets that honor this year.

But as a vendor, I want to close with my two cents. For those at the south end of the festival, it was pretty brutal. One thing about the layout they use is that 80% of the people can conceivably cluster around the four large tents and the stage in the middle all day. I saw a few people who brought their lunch so they were all set aside from the bathroom breaks.

What I would suggest is a two-stage setup like the Good Beer Festival employs, because it may entice a little more churn in the crowd. Yes, you will get your campers but they may be more inclined to move during an hour break between bands than a 30-minute one.

I’m sure we’ll be back next year, even though it’s pretty much an off-year election (except for the city of Salisbury, which will be in campaign mode.) We may have a little Presidential material as well as those who may run for the Senate, but we won’t have a lot to give out. I would like a little more traffic, though.

The final appeal

June 23, 2014 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Personal stuff, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The final appeal 

Tomorrow the vast majority of those who will participate in our primary process this year will go out and vote. While early voting did bring a few to the polls, about 70 to 75 percent of the overall vote is cast on election day, based on previous results. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m on the ballot tomorrow as I run for one more term on the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee.

Perhaps some of the others who are running have spelled out their agenda for the next four years, and we on the Central Committee have a lot to do in the next 4 1/2 months – our terms do not end until after the polls close November 4. I’ll be busy trying to find volunteers for the Farm and Home Show, Good Beer Festival, and Autumn Wine Festival. All these events are important for voter outreach and I have served as a coordinator on all these the last several years, along with being the Secretary this term.

But a couple weeks ago, before early voting began, I wrote a piece on my campaign’s social media page outlining my goals for the next Central Committee should I be fortunate enough to be re-elected.

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Now we’ve begun the actual voting process, the culmination of a campaign which began for me when I filed back in February. I could only imagine how it is to toil for 18 months or more to win a regional or statewide office, and several candidates have gone that long in their quest. The beginning of the end of my quest for a third (and final) term on the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee opened last Thursday morning at the Civic Center when the polls opened.

Bear in mind that, win or lose, my current term doesn’t end until the polls close on November 4, 2014. We all have a single-minded goal to win as many elections as we can for local Republicans, particularly in races where we can unseat longtime Democrats like Rick Pollitt, Norm Conway and Jim Mathias. With that said, while I’m pleased with a lot of what I’ve done over the last eight years, I have some unfinished business I’d like to attend to over the next four.

First and foremost, candidate recruitment has to step up. We have a good team in place right now, but there are some holes we need to fill around the county, and a particular focus for the next four years is finding people willing to participate at the community level in towns like Salisbury, Delmar, Fruitland, and the others around the county. These local elections are stepping stones for eventual candidates, but they’re also the place where prospective campaign managers and treasurers can learn the ropes as well. This even extends to recruiting for other appointed posts such as zoning boards and similar local openings which can use a dose of conservatism. I would like to see a well-connected member of our group be the point person for knowing which openings can be filled and looking for the right people to apply.

A second focus is the quest for an elected school board in Wicomico County. Obviously we can go a long way toward that goal by making a couple changes in our elected officials this year, since Rick Pollitt and Norm Conway have been the roadblocks in place over the last four years. If not, we have to aggressively pursue other avenues such as a petition drive. We believe the county should join much of the rest of Maryland in pursuing that course; personally I think we could model it on our existing County Council districts.

Lastly, there should be better organization at the precinct level. Now that we’ll have an idea of just where precinct lines will be, the next step is to seek out and find local leaders who can work at the grassroots level. It’s a role which can evolve, but as an example when I led a precinct over a decade ago I printed and distributed a quarterly newsletter to my GOP constituents alerting them to candidates and issues we as a party were promoting. Some of us are already developing databases which can be of assistance in this regard.

Don’t forget you can vote for up to nine of us. I can work with any of the other twelve on the ballot, but the key for me is making it into the top nine once again. In 2010 I made it by just 30 votes and I wouldn’t be surprised if things are that close again.

You can make the difference. Ask yourself: what other candidates have spelled out their agenda to such a degree? Only a few of us bothered to fill out the League of Women Voters questionnaire, but I’ve not been shy about saying exactly where I stood on the issues.

So this is my case. I’m asking for and would appreciate your support between now and June 24.

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I was also one of the few Central Committee candidates to fill out a survey from the state’s League of Women Voters. Bear in mind I had to stay under 400 characters, so it was a tough editing job.

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1. Qualifications: How do your qualifications and experience prepare you for the duties of this office?

I have already served on the Central Committee for eight years, currently acting as the Secretary. It’s the culmination of nearly two decades of political involvement both here in Maryland and in my native Ohio. I also serve as the Secretary of the Wicomico County Republican Club, and have been entrusted with a leadership position there for the last several years.

2. Priorities: What should be the priorities of the party?

As a local Central Committee, our most important job is recruiting and supporting Republican candidates for elective office. But a key secondary duty is registering new voters as we try to make this a Republican county. Our candidates should stand for limited government which exists at the level closest to the people, so that local matters are handled here in Wicomico County and not Annapolis.

3. Filling Vacancies: If the Central Committee is called upon to choose a candidate to fill a vacancy in the General Assembly or other office, what would be your criteria for selecting the replacement?

In my time on the Central Committee, we’ve had to replace Page Elmore in the House of Delegates and Bob Caldwell on Wicomico County Council. While the rules are different in each case – particularly in Elmore’s case, where he passed away during a contested primary – the aim is to find a good, conservative candidate who will best represent the people as well as hold the seat in the next election.

4. Open Primary: Would you support opening the party’s primary to voters who have not chosen a party affiliation on their voter registration?

I do not support an open primary. While there are compelling arguments for an open primary, I believe that the closed primary represents an incentive for interested voters to choose a party. Unless the primary is opened up for both Democrats and Republicans so that unaffiliated voters have that choice, the GOP should maintain its closed primary system.

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In closing, I should remind voters that many of those who are or seek to be on the Central Committee will be in attendance at the Wicomico County Republican Club meeting tonight. We’ll be meeting at the Chamber of Commerce building, 144 E. Main Street in downtown Salisbury. The social time begins at 6:30 and meeting at 7.

Several members also attend a pre-event Happy Hour at the Cellar Door Tavern, which is located at 111 Camden Street. That begins around 5-ish and runs until around 6:30 – we’re informal like that.

And despite the fact it’s elsewhere on the page, let me note: For items which pertain to my campaign Michael Swartz for Republican Central Committee – Authority: Kimberley Corkran, Treasurer, Michael Swartz, Candidate.

There. Now I’m covered. So if you want to cover the common-sense conservatism space on the Central Committee, I would appreciate your vote tomorrow.

A monoblogue year in review

Having a holiday schedule based on Wednesday holidays seems to play havoc with the news cycle, as there’s not much going on with Maryland politics right now. By the time the holiday hangover is done, it’s the weekend.

So over the next four days I’m going to provide for you a look back and look forward. As part of that, tonight’s post will be the look back, with some of the highlights of my political coverage – and a couple other items tossed in for fun as well. This is the first time I’ve tried this, so I’ll see how it goes.

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The year began, as it always does, in January. As will be the case even moreso this year, political fundraising was in the news as there was a surprise leader in the gubernatorial money race on the GOP side. Another highlight of the month was a spirited and enlightening discussion of state issues at the Wicomico Society of Patriots meeting – something all too infrequent this year, unfortunately.

But the highlight of the month was my two-part coverage of the Turning the Tides conference in Annapolis. which had a plethora of good speakers and discussion. It was so good I had to post separately on the morning and afternoon events.

In February my attention was turned to several topics, particularly providing coverage of the financing and the events surrounding the Salisbury municipal elections, for which the primary was February 26th. A key issue brought up was a state mandate for the city to help pay for cleanup of Chesapeake Bay, to the tune of $19 million a year.

Another state mandate took center stage in February, as the Wicomico County Council held a Tier Map forum to find out citizens weren’t exactly enamored with the idea. As part of that I read from my written testimony on a Tier Map repeal bill, which wasn’t the only testimony I wrote – I also put in my two cents on the gun grab bill.

We also found out that month that the Maryland GOP would get new leadership following the resignation of Chair Alex Mooney.

March found me continuing my coverage of the Salisbury city elections, but only backing one candidate. More important were local developments on the state level, where the Second Amendment was a hot topic for a local townhall meeting and our county’s Lincoln Day Dinner.

But the highlight for me, by far, was my day at CPAC. That turned out to be a two-part set of posts.

As the area began to wake up from a winter slumber in April, so did the political world as it turned from the General Assembly session to the 2014 campaign. The Salisbury city elections went as expected, so I turned my attention to the race for state party chair. Interim Chair Diana Waterman ran a campaign which was at times embroiled in some controversy, but prevailed on enough supporters to make it through the lengthy grind of campaign forums (including one in Cambridge on the eve of the state convention) and win the remainder of Alex Mooney’s unexpired term. But even the convention itself had its share of ups and downs, particularly a chaotic ending and a rebuff to new media.

While that was happening, the 2014 election was beginning to take shape, with familiar names both trying their luck again and trying for a promotion. Others had interesting endorsements as feathers in the cap.

But it wasn’t all political in April. The outdoor season began with two local mainstays: Pork in the Park and the Salisbury Festival. I also found out I was immortalized on video thanks to Peter Ingemi, better known as DaTechGuy.

Those things political slowed down in May, with just a little reactionary cleanup to the state convention to begin the month, along with other reaction to the recently-completed General Assembly session. In its wake we also had turnover in Maryland House of Delegates GOP leadership.

But one prospective candidate for governor announced other intentions, leaving another to confirm what we knew all along.

On the fun side, I enjoyed Salisbury’s Third Friday celebration with some friends and stopped by to see them at another barbecue festival, too.

June began with a visit from gubernatorial candidate David Craig, who stopped by Salisbury and in the process gave me an interview. And while he didn’t make a formal tour, fellow Republican Ron George made sure to fill me in on his announcement and establish tax cutting bonafides. We also picked up a Republican candidate for an important local seat and found out political correctness pays in the Maryland business world.

A local doctor gave us his perspective on Obamacare and our area celebrated the chicken in June, too. I also learned of a special honor only a handful of political websites received.

As is often the case, our wallets became a little lighter in July. In the aftermath, we found out who David Craig picked as a running mate and welcomed both of them to our Wicomico County Republican Club meeting. I also talked about another who was amassing a support base but hadn’t made definite 2014 plans at the time.

On the other side of the coin, we found the Democratic field was pressing farther away from the center, a place the GOP was trying to court with the carrot of primary voting. Meanwhile, the political event of the summer occurred in Crisfield, and I was there.

There were some interesting developments in the new media world as well – a plea for help, a shakeup in local internet radio, and my annual monoblogue Accountability Project all came down in July.

The big news in August was the resignation of State Senator E.J. Pipkin, and the battle to succeed him. And while one gubernatorial candidate dropped out, another made his intentions formal and stopped by our Wicomico County Republican Club meeting as well. Even Ron George stopped by our fair county, although I missed him.

It seemed like the gubernatorial campaign got into full swing in September – Charles Lollar announced in an unusual location, the Brown/Ulman Democratic team came here looking for money, Ron George tangled with Texas governor Rick Perry and showed up to make it three Wicomico County Republican Club meetings in a row with a gubernatorial candidate, and Doug Gansler decided to drop by, too. On the other side, Michael Steele took a pass. I also talked about what Larry Hogan might do to fill out the puzzle.

Those up the Shore made news, too. Steve Hershey was the survivor who was appointed State Senator, and I attended the First District Bull Roast for the first time. I’ve been to many Wicomico County Republican Club Crab Feasts, but this year’s was very successful indeed.

September also brought the close of our local baseball season. As is tradition I reviewed the season, both to select a Shorebird of the Year and hopefully improve the fan experience.

October was a month I began considering my choice in the gubernatorial race. That became more difficult as Larry Hogan took an unusual trip for a businessman and Charles Lollar’s campaign worked on self-immolation, while Doug Gansler needed his own damage control.

I also had the thought of going back to the future in Maryland, but a heavy dose of my political involvement came with the tradtional closing events to our tourist season, the Good Beer Festival and Autumn Wine Festival.

Most of November was spent anticipating the Maryland GOP Fall Convention; in fact, many were sure of an impending announcement. Honestly, both may have fallen into the category of “dud.” But all was not lost, as the month gave me the chance to expound on manufacturing and share some interesting polling data.

Finally we come to December. While the month is a long runup to the Christmas holiday, I got the chance to again expound on manufacturing and come up with another radical idea for change. We also got more proof that our state government is up for sale and those who are running for governor place too much stock in internet polling. My choice is still up in the air, even after compiling an 11-part dossier on the Republicans currently in the race.

Locally, we found a good candidate to unseat a long-time incumbent who has long ago outlived his political usefulness. And the incumbent will need to watch his back because Maryland Legislative Watch will be back again to keep an eye on him and his cohorts. I’ll be volunteering for a second year,

And while I weighed in on the latest national diversion from the dreary record of our President and his party, I maintained two December traditions, remarking on eight years of monoblogue and days later inducting two new players into the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame.

You know, it was fun going down memory lane for 2013. But tomorrow it will be time to look forward, beginning with the local level.

WCRC meeting – October 2013

October 28, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on WCRC meeting – October 2013 

This meeting had a much different vibe than the previous three simply because there was no guest speaker. Instead, we broomed the speaker’s portion of the agenda in favor of catching up on old business and soliciting ideas for new ways of conserving our funds and raising more. Suffice to say there were plenty, which worked out well given club President Jackie Wellfonder’s request in her report to make suggestions. (One other suggestion was to post minutes rather than read them at the meeting, which took effect this month. Soon minutes of meetings extending back to 2010 will be available for online inspection.)

Now we did get our treasurer’s report, but without the physical reading of the minutes or speaker we moved rather quickly into the Chairman’s Report from Dave Parker. He related that we have a “bunch of candidates” for County Council but none had given the green light to make their plans public. Parker also reminded those attending that the Central Committee would meet one week hence in the same location so we can make plans for our state convention November 22-23 in Annapolis. He also spoke a little about the issues of gun control in the state, pointing out problems with our registration system and remarked that “everything about Obamacare is botched.”

The abbreviated schedule also enabled us to hear from a number of candidates, who updated us on their efforts.

Mary Beth Carozza, running for Delegate in District 38C, let us know she was “staying on her three tracks”: door to door, fundraising, and events. She commented that her reception had been great thus far, and “folks do want to believe” they can make a difference.

Christopher Adams, a Delegate hopeful in District 37B, credited his work over the last three years on behalf of a business group as providing the motivation for him to run. New regulations were “unpalatable” to him. He also recalled the situation where he was to testify on a sick pay bill but was cut off because the gun law had to come to a vote at the behest of the Obama administration.

Turning to local races, Marc Kilmer mentioned his work in his district as well as meeting voters at the Autumn Wine Festival. He contended, though, that “rural Wicomico County has a lot of challenges.”

Meanwhile, Muir Boda was also a fixture at many of the same events Marc had attended, but his focus of late was on local land use issues, as people were showing “a lot of concern about that” as well as about property rights. He was planning on visiting a number of local municipal meetings over the next month or so to familiarize himself with those communities.

Since the tier maps subject had come up, I took a moment to remind people that our lack of an approved map meant we could not subdivide any parcel into more than seven lots.

A less weighty subject was our annual Christmas party, which promises to be quite an event with a buffet dinner, cash bar, live and silent auctions, raffles, and entertainment by Peter’s Voice – all for $20 (or $35 for couples) with advance purchase. It will be held December 15 at Mister Paul’s Legacy from 5 to 8 p.m.

We also had a discussion of whether to enter into the Jaycees Christmas Parade, which was left unfinished until more information was gathered. Much of the conversation was about just how much exposure we would receive.

I gave an update on our candidate recruitment, which Dave Parker remarked was as good as he’d ever seen. I added that interest in the club and its events was quite strong, which led me into a report on the Good Beer and Autumn Wine Festivals. Despite the poor weather, I assessed them as vital to our mission in gathering exposure for candidates – a point echoed by many who were there.

We then batted around ideas for a spring fundraiser, with a number of recently popular events in mind. We just had to work around the Lincoln Day Dinner to be held in March 2014.

Opening up the meeting to comments from the gallery, we were asked about the idea of a “Contract with Wicomico” – an idea some favored while others disagreed.

It was also brought up that the WCRC would soon be able to accept payments online through our website, which will be of great benefit for fundraising.

Since County Council member Gail Bartkovich was in attendance, an onlooker asked what the body was up to. They had taken a short break but were preparing to tackle the aforementioned Tier Map issue in a work session, said Bartkovich.

Woody Willing piped up that 32 precincts and 10 polling places had been approved, with some more work to finish before all is complete. One new wrinkle is a requirement that all polling places allow electioneering, which some had forbidden in the past. Those will no longer be used.

This was a productive meeting – a work horse as opposed to a show horse, if you will – but our next meeting November 25 will feature local 2014 candidates as well as reaction from the state party’s Fall Convention.

Weekend of local rock volume 58

October 26, 2013 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 58 

As is often the case, when I do this post for the Autumn Wine Festival the definition of “rock” is tossed out the window. Much of the musical selection there would be classified as jazz, with a few other genres thrown in. Moreover, with just six bands playing on one stage the menu is more limited and this post will be appreciably shorter than the last one.

And yes I said six bands, which I’ll explain in due course.

The jazz theme was firmly established early on with the group Sideways.

And while it was music which would make the aficionados of the genre happy, I have to point out that I have never heard an instrumental jazz version of Nirvana’s ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ before. It was an interesting take on what is probably among my top 10 favorite songs.

They gave way to a more traditional classic rock and pop cover band in Naked Blue.

It may not show up in the smaller resolution I use for the site, but those vertical streaks in the photo are raindrops, as we battled a steady drizzle to light shower through most of the day.

It only dampened the crowd a little for the main attraction, TR3.

Most famous for his collaboration with Dave Matthews, Tim Reynolds (top) and his band of bassist Mick Vaughn (center) and drummer Dan Martier (bottom) stopped by the AWF in the midst of a brief East Coast tour which had them over in Cambridge the night before and in New York City the following evening before more stops in New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. (The last stop is tonight in Ridgefield, Connecticut.)

Buoyed by a number of originals, TR3 also put its stamp on rock classics like ‘Kashmir’ and the old Focus song ‘Hocus Pocus.’ Yes, they yodeled to close out the show.

So when Sunday dawned I wasn’t expecting any yodeling from the traditional Sunday opening act, the Backfin Banjo Band.

Instead, theirs was a collection of traditional music. As you can see, the day turned out much brighter as well. It was a good day for a picnic, and Picnic indeed was the middle band of the Sunday trio.

They went through a group of songs ranging from oldies to classic rock, but I think they improved once they added the female vocalist.

Oddly enough, it turned out they were the only Sunday band with a female singer, and this lent them a dimension missing from the initial songs.

The Larks were supposed to be the penultimate band on the posted schedule, but as late as the bands were running I think the posted schedule was in error and The Larks were supposed to be the closers.

While they had more of a “wall of sound” with the horn section, they took us back around full circle to that which Sideways had begun on Saturday, with a jazz-heavy final set punctuated with originals.

It’s interesting to me that both venues mixed a number of local or semi-local acts with one or two more nationally-recognized acts. This is a pattern which seems to work for the local festivals as they continue to be successful despite adverse weather for most of the four days they occupied this year.

2013 Autumn Wine Festival in pictures and text

Let me say right up front that if you can’t tell the difference between photos I took Saturday and those I snapped Sunday, please make an eye appointment.

It was definitely a tale of two days, but those who showed were welcomed.

While the event serves as a fundraiser for the local tourism board (as well as a signature event), the chief aim is to showcase the state’s wineries.

We’re not California, but over twenty Maryland vintners answered the call and a line stood Saturday afternoon waiting for the ribbon to be cut.

Among the local elected officials looking on were County Council members John Hall (in the blue shirt on the left) and Gail Bartkovich (next to Hall) as well as State Senator Jim Mathias (looking over the scissors in the center). Our State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello was obscured on the right, in the red.

Matt was first at our tent as we got set up. Here he’s flanked by County Council candidate Muir Boda on the left and Hall on the right.

We also had District 2 Council candidate Marc Kilmer out campaigning in the drizzle, as well as District 37B hopeful Christopher Adams. Kilmer is pictured immediately below, with Adams in the next shot.

Also dropping by but not pictured was District 38C hopeful Mary Beth Carozza.

Now one of those pictured above spent the extra money and bought the VIP pass. This entitled him to spend time and get food in this special area large enough to need two photos.

If you weren’t a VIP but wanted to learn more about wine, there was an educational tent as well.

I never noticed a lot of people in there, though. To be fair, I probably took this after the last class let out so it may not be the most flattering illustration.

As you may be able to tell, the above photo was taken on a sunny Sunday. But as Saturday wore on I took crowd photos about two hours apart – 1:30, 3:30, and 5:30. Notice the 3:30 picture and hang onto it in your mind. Yes, it was taken in a different location but that’s not why.

I like to use these to illustrate the attendance, which was shockingly good to me considering the drizzle to light rain which fell for much of the day.

So when Sunday dawned sunny and bright, it allowed me to enjoy one of my favorite parts of the day, getting those still life shots with the color a wine rack can provide. In order, these come from Costa Ventosa, Boordy, Solomons Island, and Legends wineries.

I couldn’t decide which I liked best so I said “screw it, this is my site and they’ll get all of them.” It’s the nice thing about showing up two hours before the event opens so I can set up. Beats the obligatory 1:30 crowd shot – oh wait, I think you should see that too.

Now, do you remember the 3:30 shot above and the lady mugging for the camera at the bottom? Well, she wanted her photo taken but I didn’t know how to get it to her. She and her friend were having fun. I think they said they were both middle school teachers.

This guy is always there, too.

Now I didn’t get Joe Cool from Layton’s Chance, since he managed to stay put this year, but I noticed the new Gollywobbler sign with the great classic cultural reference.

So I’m guessing we were some of the more serious people there, but I had a fun group to work with. Besides the elected officials and wannabes I already mentioned who sat in, I should thank Jackie, Shawn, Woody. Melinda, and Ann, plus Mark for the use of the tent and chairs over the last two weekends. We had a lot of fun, and it wouldn’t have been nearly as much so without their help.

So as the sun set on another October festival season, it’s worth pointing out that the stakes will be a lot higher the next time this rolls around. You can enjoy your beer or wine with the full knowledge that we will be there to spread the message to those willing to hear it. I had one lady today who was disgusted enough with the Democrats to fill out a registration change form on the spot – soon she will be in the GOP fold.

While we may be a small cog in the so-called “One Maryland” machine, we will have even more success with our festivals if the powers that be allow it by freeing those who produce from the shackles of taxation and regulation, growing the economy and producing more disposable income. If a family or couple is barely scraping by, they’re not likely to buy Maryland wine or show up for a festival. Keep that in the back of your mind for next year, and hope for good weather too.

Weekend of local rock volume 51

November 30, 2012 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 51 

Now that the hurricane season and the election are both bad memories, I can finally get to this post I’ve been meaning to work on for over a month. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to do a WLR post on the Autumn Wine Festival because the musical selections truly aren’t “rock” but some of the bands were relatively close and I’m not going to play favorites. In fact, going back through my archives this is a first. So here goes with the handy entertainment schedule which will tell you in what order I present the pictures to you.

By looking at this, you’ll notice that the Backfin Banjo Band is first up.

It’s worth noting that these guys begin playing before the event actually opens, so those in line are able to hear them play their mix of standards in old-fashioned jazz and ragtime. They’ve played the AWF a number of times (as have at least one other band in the lineup) so obviously the management is familiar with the band and likes to keep them around. (Interestingly enough, they’re also playing our WCRC Christmas Party on Sunday evening.)

Next up were The Larks.

The musicians in this group are quite well known locally, both collectively as the Larks and in a host of other projects. I’m most familiar with Pete Bozick as a member of the Permilla Project. So they had a lot of influences and it showed in their set, which I enjoyed from my seat out among the vendors.

Another group which mixed in a number of different styles enjoyable were the Bullbuckers.

They even brought their own swag, which was great self-promotion on the AWF’s bigger day.

The Saturday afternoon affair wrapped up with Anything Goes, which lived up to its name by having a playlist featuring interesting takes on a number of songs.

Some had enough wine to put on their dancing shoes.

But the large crowd enjoyed the classic hits Anything Goes strung together.

There were only three bands Sunday, since the proceedings began 90 minutes later. First up was another jazz trio familiar to area listeners, Dark Gold Jazz.

People were already relaxing to their sound, as the chairs were filled from time to time.

Those of us who also attended the Good Beer Festival got a rerun of sorts because Interesting Monsters played at both. And yes, the bagpipes were put to use.

Finally, the event closed with a traditional finishing band, On The Edge.

It seems to me that this band has closed the AWF more often than not in the six or seven years I’ve participated in the proceedings as a vendor. They played their usual menu of Motown-influenced rock and soul, but it was interesting to see people dancing with Obama or Romney signs. I used this photo in my original post for another reason but there were dueling political signs on the dance floor as well.

Now if you want to go see local rock before next year, tomorrow is the annual 12 Bands of Christmas show at the Pour House in Ocean City, beginning at 2 p.m. and running for 12 hours. Unfortunately, it’s fairly doubtful I’ll make it since I have this previous commitment called the Fall Convention and Lord knows what time we’ll finish arguing in Howard County.

Thus, this edition of Weekend of Local Rock will have to suffice for awhile.

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