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Mitch Stein Discusses His NOLA Roots, Promoting Concerts, Playing With Members Of The Dead & More [Interview]

first_imgIn April, the world-famous New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will return to the Fair Grounds Race Course in celebration of the longstanding event’s 50th anniversary. Musician, bandleader, promoter, film producer, and modern-day musical Renaissance man Mitch Stein fell in love with Jazz Fest more than 25 years ago, and has been involved with the event’s annual festivities in some capacity ever since. This year, Stein will bring a plethora of hard-hitting late-night shows to Café Istanbul, including the 5th Annual all-star celebration of the Grateful Dead dubbed AXIAL TILT.As New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival approaches, Live For Live Music‘s Sam Berenson had a chat with Mitch Stein to discuss his love for New Orleans and its musical culture, the upcoming shows he’s promoting surrounding Jazz Fest, his love for the Grateful Dead and more.Sam Berenson: What initially inspired your interest in New Orleans’ music scene?Mitch Stein: I became familiar with New Orleans music at a relatively young age. My dad was a professional singer, and used to play big band and Dixieland/New Orleans records in the house on a very regular basis. I had already become a big fan of The Radiators by the late 1980’s, and my interest in them guided me towards my first trip to New Orleans. I first attended Jazz Fest more than 25 years ago, and it was on that first visit that Charles Neville (who I had booked years earlier with the Neville Brothers at a show in New York, when I was in college) invited me to sit in with him at Storyville.From that moment, I decided to attend every Jazz Fest I could, and with eternal thanks to Charles, I began my now decades-long immersive study of all things New Orleans. This also subsequently led to the formation of GATORATORS in 2012 with Dave Malone, Camile Baudoin, and Reggie Scanlan from The Radiators, plus drummer Eric Bolivar, with whom I had played music before he moved to NOLA from the Bay Area. The band has been playing together ever since.SB: What effect has being a musician and playing music had on your professional career in the industry?MS: I’ve been playing piano since I was 4 years old. I studied classical piano for 10 years, then switched to formal jazz training, including studying and performing at the Berklee College Of Music. In addition to my own projects, I have for years been a “hired gun” for other folks’ jazz, rock, blues, and funk projects, and my decades-long experience of being both a player and bandleader (and film producer) has provided me with the tools necessary to not only communicate and perform with other professional musicians and production professionals, but has paved the way for my now ongoing role as Exclusive Booker and Producer of the night-time Jazz Fest shows at Café Istanbul.SB: Is there anything you’re looking particularly forward to this year during Jazz Fest?MS: While I am extremely happy with this year’s calendar of phenomenal shows at Café Istanbul featuring New Orleans musicians nearly every night, I am admittedly very excited to host The Brecker Brothers Band on May 5th. The Breckers provided the soundtrack for a large segment of my musically formative years, and it’s pretty cool to have things now come full circle, resulting in the upcoming show. The level of musicianship in that band is way off the charts, and while every show on the calendar is worth catching, this show will definitely be a “you-should-have-been-there” experience.SB: What’s the history behind your relationship with Café Istanbul?MS: I first reached out to the owner of Café Istanbul prior to Jazz Fest 2015 to pitch him on an all-star, 2-night celebration of the Grateful Dead called AXIAL TILT (timed with the Dead’s 50th Anniversary). He explained that he was already booked on my requested dates, and we said our goodbyes. A few minutes later, he called to say that he had been contemplating my proposal and was going to go with his gut, allow me the chance to produce the shows, and shift the folks already confirmed to another date.Those shows went so well that he asked if I would be interested in being the exclusive booker for all shows at Café Istanbul during Jazz Fest, and I jumped at the chance. This will be my fifth year booking shows there, and I am extremely appreciative to have been given this opportunity. I am even happier that in addition to thoroughly enjoying the high-level music performed at the shows they attend, folks who pack the place every night really love the overall experience the venue and its staff provides.SB: You’re clearly a big fan of the Grateful Dead. How did you your relationship with the band/music begin?MS: As mentioned before, I had been studying classical piano for 10 years, and was then immersed in formal jazz training when a friend of mine called to tell me that he had an extra ticket for a rock concert and asked if I wanted to join him. I hadn’t yet heard of the Grateful Dead, and assumed by their name that they were some type of hard rock band. When I went to my first Dead show, I quickly discovered to my now lifelong delight that this wasn’t a rock band per se, but a jazz band performing in the rock idiom. The level of musicianship and onstage communication between the band members was stunning, and I was hooked from the first show.I bought a ticket for the following night’s show and was again delighted to discover that not a single song was repeated from the night before. I could spend a LONG time talking about the myriad ways that the Grateful Dead and their music has positively affected my life; suffice it to say that having seen nearly 400 Grateful Dead concerts (plus another 300 or so solo Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and other band members’ solo and collaborative projects), the Dead’s music—and its direct relationship to the world of Jazz—is very much a part of my DNA. I have now officially performed music with every living member of the Grateful Dead, and I feel very fortunate that living and working in the San Francisco area offers me regular opportunities to celebrate them and their music.As a New Orleans side note for those unaware, the Neville Brothers opened for the Grateful Dead at eight of their shows, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Michael Doucet & BeauSoleil each opened once, and Branford Marsalis joined them on several occasions. Other notable jazz-oriented live Grateful Dead show collaborators include Billy Cobham, Charles Lloyd, David Murray, Etta James, Flora Purim, Ken Nordine, and Ornette Coleman.SB: Tell me a little bit about the formation of your “AXIAL TILT” event.MS: As I mentioned earlier, AXIAL TILT began in 2015 as a 2-night celebration of the Grateful Dead’s 50th Anniversary. I assembled an incredible tribute ensemble comprised largely of members of the Dead’s extended family including Stu Allen (Phil Lesh & Friends), Rob Eaton (Dark Star Orchestra), Robin Sylvester (RatDog), Jay Lane (RatDog), original Grateful Dead member and vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux, and Charles Neville. We are now getting ready for the fifth annual AXIAL TILT (the same lineup but with Joan Osborne on vocals and Dino English from Dark Star Orchestra on drums; Charles unfortunately passed away last year), and will once again present two nice, long evenings of live Grateful Dead nuggets. Each performance will include one acoustic and two electric sets per night, with no repeat of any songs.SB: What’s your fondest memory of Leo Nocentelli?MS: I’d have to say the very first time I saw Leo with The Meters in New Orleans many years ago. I was familiar with their music, but watching the actual Godfathers Of Funk in person for the first time, and hearing Leo’s ultra-familiar guitar riffs in real time and in person, was one of the highlights of all of my years attending Jazz Fest. To now have him performing exclusively at Café Istanbul this year during Jazz Fest’s night-time shows is one long “pinch me” moment. And since I am also a member of Voyager, I’ll also get to check off a personal bucket list item when I’ll have the chance to actually jam with him on April 27!SB: I see Eric Krasno is involved with a bunch of your late-nights. Where did that friendship begin?MS: While our paths have crossed many times over the years, this will be the first time that we’ll be working together. I have been a fan of Eric’s for many years, and have actually tried to book him the past couple of years I’ve been booking the Istanbul lineup. This is the first year that the scheduling gods have paved the way for our collaboration, and I am more than excited to experience his artistry on my “home turf” in musical conversation with folks like Leo Nocentelli, Jason Crosby, Johnny Vidacovich, Renard Poché, Reggie Scanlan, Mark Brooks, Will Bernard, Wil Blades, Jason Hann, and others.SB: So you live in the Bay Area now. Do you see any similarities between your local music scene and New Orleans’?MS: I often tell people that if I didn’t live in the Bay Area, I’d likely end up in New Orleans. There are many similarities between the two scenes, with the most obvious being that both areas are overflowing with exceedingly talented musicians and appreciators of music, and both have provided the world with “signature” musical styles and sounds that continue to be celebrated not only in their respective locales, but throughout the world. I consider it a privilege to be affiliated with both areas, and will continue to do all that I can to celebrate that connection. YEAH YOU RIGHT!AXIAL TILT is set to take place once again on May 2nd and 3rd at Café Istanbul during Jazz Fest in New Orleans, LA. For more information and tickets to AXIAL TILT and all the other nighttime Jazz Fest shows at Café Istanbul, head here.last_img read more

Chile Emphasizes the Importance of Women in Peacekeeping Missions

first_imgBy Guillermo Saavedra/Diálogo January 29, 2019 Through the Joint Peacekeeping Operations Center (CECOPAC, in Spanish), the Chilean Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded 2018 with a course addressing the role of women in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions. The international course Women, Peace, and Security: Gender Integration in Peacekeeping Operations was conducted December 3-7, at CECOPAC in Santiago, Chile. Forty-five units from security and armed forces of the region, including representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, the United States, and Uruguay, took part in the course. Participants learned about gender issues, cultural diversity, human rights, and negotiation, among other topics. The objective of the activity was to share basic and fundamental knowledge on gender perspectives in peacekeeping missions to provide the proper tools and skills to the personnel deployed in these operations. The course also emphasized the role of peacekeeping personnel as protectors of the most vulnerable members of the population—women and children. “In the last two years, this has been a particularly relevant issue for us,” Chilean Navy Captain Marco Villegas Zanón, CECOPAC director, told Diálogo. “Basically, the course’s purpose and focus is to prepare monitors in these fields.” Troop requirement The course was conducted as part of the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), a program of the U.S. Department of State that seeks to reinforce partner nations’ capabilities in the execution of peacekeeping operations. CECOPAC conducted the third edition of the course with the support of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) through the Security Cooperation Office at the U.S. Embassy in Chile. “U.S. involvement is present in all areas,” said Capt. Villegas. “Professors come from the United States; they’re involved in the coordination of activities and program design, logistics, and the possibility of bringing foreign students to the country.” The course is the result of a partnership among GPOI, SOUTHCOM, the U.S. Navy’s Naval Postgraduate School, and CECOPAC that dates back to 2013. The activity also supports UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security, and is a requirement for troops that deploy in peacekeeping operations. “[Resolution 1325] extends the traditional concept of security to include more citizens, especially women and people who weren’t traditionally considered part of the security structure that a country was supposed to provide,” said Guillermo Holzmann, a Chilean defense and international affairs analyst. “It suggests who should provide those conditions, and who should be the participants, and this is where it advises on the inclusion of women […], in humanitarian situations requiring security conditions that will be much more efficient and effective when the gender perspective is addressed.” Better prepared The course was taught in a conference format, with several modules distributed over the course of five days. Activities included lectures on concepts of organizational change, stress management, and intercultural communication, among others. “The course addresses a full range of risks, from marginalization of women to sexual and gender-based violence,” Alex Concepción, GPOI assistant program manager at SOUTHCOM, told Diálogo. “We take the perspective that peacekeepers who understand the risks to women develop intervention skills and apply those skills to realistic scenarios. They are better prepared to act morally and effectively when they encounter a genuine threat in a conflict situation.” According to Concepción, CECOPAC played an important role throughout the initiative and demonstrated its regional leadership in preparing security and armed forces on women’s empowerment issues. He added that Chile showed great interest in helping regional countries to deploy in peacekeeping missions. “At a regional level, Chile is very progressive in these areas,” Concepción said. “Chile was the first country in Latin America to create and develop a National Action Plan for Women, Security, and Peace, which has inspired other countries in the region, [such as] El Salvador and Paraguay, to work on their own plan.” “I would like to emphasize the opportunity that the GPOI initiative gives us to teach these topics to national and foreign personnel,” Capt. Villegas concluded. “Also, [I want to emphasize] the fact that we can contribute to training people throughout Latin America.” The course was first taught in Uruguay, in 2015. It was carried out twice more in 2018, in Peru in May and in Chile in December. CECOPAC plans to conduct the same course in El Salvador in 2019.last_img read more

Danish roundup: Skandia Denmark, PensionDanmark, MP Pension

first_imgThe unit-link product Skandia Basic similarly ended the quarter with higher returns than those posted in the first quarter – 2.5% to 4.4% versus 0.7% and 1.3% – but underperformed the benchmark in the second quarter.“This is because the reference index is denominated in US dollars, which rose significantly in value during the period,” Skandia Denmark said.Because of this, the Basic portfolio – although it was hedged against currency risk versus US dollars – lost ground against the reference index, it said.Skandia said its investment department had decided to overweight equities in the portfolio compared with bonds because financial markets had been hit in the second quarter by a series of measures from central banks to ease credit.But with Danish mortgage bonds making up the bulk of Skandia Denmark’s fixed income portfolio, fixed income returns had been boosted by a further reduction in interest rates, as well as the European Central Bank’s lending programme to the financial sector at the end of the quarter.“On top of this,” it added, “as a result of positive tendencies in emerging markets, we increased our exposure to government bonds from these countries.”In other news, PensionDanmark is investing DKK175m (€23.5m) in a commercial property in Copenhagen already let to a government agency.It is buying the asset from MP Pension, the Danish labour-market pension fund for academics run by Unipension.The building in the Østerbro district of the Danish capital is currently leased by the Danish Working Environment Authority (Arbejdstilsynet), and contains 14,273sqm of space.Torben Möger Pedersen, PensionDanmark’s chief executive, said: “We see this as a good real estate investment in an attractive location close to the S-train (urban rail network) and the coming metro station on the Cityring.”He said the pension fund had a very solid tenant in the Danish Working Environment Authority – and therefore the state – so the investment would give scheme members a good and stable return.PensionDanmark said, since it sold its entire residential property portfolio in June, it now had just under DKK10bn in overall real estate investments.In the next few years, the fund said it expected to make new investments in residential as well as commercial property of DKK2bn a year.At the moment, PensionDanmark is the developer of six large commercial construction projects, either alone or in cooperation with other investors.These include the Alfa Laval headquarters in Ålborg, Semco Maritime in Esbjerg, Nordea Bank Danmark in Ørestaden, NCC in Gladsaxe and, soon, MTH in Søborg, as well as the new psychiatric hospital in Vejle.Its next big residential project will be the construction on Islands Brygge in Copenhagen, which will include 550 new homes. Investment returns on unit-link pension products at Skandia Denmark undercut benchmarks in the second quarter of 2014, prompting the unit of Nordic financial group Skandia to sell shares in US companies.Reporting some results for the April to June period, Skandia Denmark said its Skandia Match unit-link pensions product had produced between 2.9% and 3.8%, up from the 2.6% to 3.1% range reported for the first quarter but lower than the reference index.The company said: “A significant reason for this are the falls partly on the Japanese stock market but particularly on the US market at the start of the quarter.“Skandia’s investment department has since reduced the exposure to both small and large US companies.”last_img read more

Deal reached in Versailles counterfeiting case

first_imgVersailles, In. — Ripley County Superior Court Judge Jeffery Sharp has sentenced a Versailles man to two-and-a-half years probation in connection with four counts of felony counterfeiting.Court documents indicate Daniel Craig, 32, purchased fake bills at a flea market and tried to color them to make look authentic. Craig then used the $100 bills at Versailles-area businesses before he was charged in the spring of 2017.On October 4 Craig reached a deal with the prosecutor to plead guilty to one charge and three other counts were dropped. He was also given credit for 54 days served.last_img read more

Thomas F. Bliss, 86, Winfield: Feb. 9, 1927 – June 19, 2013

first_imgPreceding him in death are his parents, sister Bertha Ostrandar of Washington and brother Delbert Bliss of Kansas. Survivors include his wife Patricia of the home, daughters Carol Dick and husband Ed Dobson of Wellington and Cathy Bliss and husband Alan of Newkirk, OK, 4 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren, brother Albert G. Bliss of Canton, TX. Thomas F. Bliss, 86, of Winfield, died on Friday, July 19, 2013 at the Riverview Manor in Oxford.It was Tommie’s wish that following cremation no services will be held. It was Tommie’s wish that everyone do a good deed in memory of him.Thomas Fredrick Bliss was born on February 9, 1927 the son of Elmer E. and Florence E. (Crane) Bliss in Ashton. Tommie grew up on a farm in rural Sumner County until December 1947. He attended college at Southwestern for a semester before graduating from Wichita Business College.He was united in marriage with Patricia Walker on June 17, 1948 in Oxford. The family purchased the grain elevator in Oxford and Tommy worked there, until his retirement in 1985. The family continued to live in Oxford until 1995 and moved to Winfield. Tommy was a member of the Methodist Church and enjoyed travel, water sports and dancing.last_img read more