Month: December 2020


PG&E power outages prompt new impetus for renewables

first_imgPG&E power outages prompt new impetus for renewables FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享San Francisco Chronicle:Facing the prospect of a decade of PG&E power shut-offs, Bay Area programs that buy energy for local communities are pushing for more solar-powered backup batteries to survive blackouts before next fire season hits.The goal is to install batteries in around 6,000 homes and hundreds of businesses in Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, with a focus on low-income residents and those with critical medical equipment that’s dependent on electricity.East Bay Community Energy, which buys green energy for Alameda County, is joining with several similar programs — Peninsula Clean Energy, Silicon Valley Power and Silicon Valley Clean Energy — to ask solar companies for proposals to install battery systems in more buildings, with the programs buying the energy that’s produced.Across Northern California, residents, businesses and municipalities are scrambling for alternatives as PG&E proves more unreliable. Last month, San Francisco bid to purchase the utility’s infrastructure, which was promptly rejected. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo wants to create a customer co-op utility and help people’s lights to stay on through renewable energy microgrids — isolated pockets of electricity supply and demand that can stand alone from the rest of the grid. And residential solar companies reported a spike in interest and sales before and after PG&E outages.More than 30,000 East Bay Community Energy customers have solar systems, but not all have batteries to store the energy for nights and cloudy days. Many people have bought gas-powered generators in response to the outages, but they produce carbon emissions and can pose risks if they are not installed properly.Experts acknowledge solar systems aren’t yet affordable for everyone. “They are historically on wealthier individuals’ homes,” said JP Ross, senior director of programs for East Bay Community Energy.The state offers subsidies and, under East Bay Community Energy’s current solar program, low-income customers can get reduced rates. Depending on what proposals the group receives from solar companies, the new battery storage program could have cost savings too, Ross said.More: PG&E outages prompt clean energy programs to focus on solar, batterieslast_img read more


New York state pension fund considering divestment from 27 coal companies

first_imgNew York state pension fund considering divestment from 27 coal companies FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:New York state’s top pension fund official said it was reviewing whether to divest from 27 coal companies and could make decisions on $98 million in holdings within two months. The reviews by the third-largest U.S. state pension system, with $211 billion under management, could set the tone for other retirement plans facing public concerns about climate change.New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in an interview on Tuesday said his office began reaching out several weeks ago to companies with at least 10% of revenue from thermal coal, or coal burned to produce electricity.The pension fund sent letters asking how much they are spending to move away from coal burned to produce electricity, and how much of their revenue stems from low-emission technologies, among other factors. He declined to estimate how many companies might be excluded.Under review are Arch Coal Inc, Consol Energy Inc, and Peabody Energy Corp, among others. The shares make up just a fraction of the $211 billion in total assets of the state public pension system, making any decision somewhat symbolic, DiNapoli acknowledged.Other pension systems have taken similar steps including the largest, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), which said in 2017 it had sold stock in 14 companies including Arch and Peabody, following a state law requiring it to study and potentially divest from the sector.DiNapoli intends to begin reviews of other energy holdings, such as for investments related to oil sands projects, as soon as this year, he said.[Ross Kerber and Gary McWilliams]More: New York state pension fund puts 27 coal companies under reviewlast_img read more


First solar-plus-storage project planned in Senegal

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:Energy Resources Senegal (ERS) has signed an agreement with South Africa-based investment firm Climate Fund Managers (CFM) for the co-development of a solar power plant in Niakhar, Senegal.The project consists of a 30 MW photovoltaic power plant combined with a battery system with a capacity of 15 MW/45 MWh. According to the investor, this will be the first solar power infrastructure integrating storage in the country. “This first project with ERS will provide clean energy to over 150,000 people,” said Sebastian Surie, CFM’s regional director for Africa.Under the terms of the agreement, ERS will be the infrastructure developer and will be responsible for the construction and operation of the $40 million plant. “After the commissioning of our first photovoltaic solar power plant in Senegal in 2018, this project confirms our ambition to become a key player in carbon-free energies on the continent,” says Moustapha Sène, CEO of ERS, who aims to set up 500 MW of renewable energy capacity by 2025.According to the latest statistics from the International Renewable Energy Agency, Senegal had an installed PV capacity of 134 MW at the end of 2019. Most of this capacity comes from large scale PV, but several off-grid projects were also built in the country over the past years.[Gwénaëlle Deboutte]More: Senegal to host 30 MW solar park coupled to 15 MW/45 MWh of storage First solar-plus-storage project planned in Senegallast_img read more


Lost Town of Lignite

first_imgPermanence. It’s the illusion that shapes our perception of the world, not in a small way, but on a fundamental level. We are hard-wired from birth to understand the world in stasis, as, at best, a set of conditions that are permanent until they’re not anymore. But it doesn’t really work that way.Generations of Americans lived and died thinking slavery was an inevitable and fixed condition of human existence, that it was simply the way things are and would always be. In recent decades, and in America in particular, we’ve been struck by the illusion of everlasting safety, a natural disaster on the scale of the floods that killed as many as 3.7 million Chinese in 1931 seeming an utter impossibility. All of recorded human history, in fact, has arisen in a period of stability, a lull between the cataclysmic events that have repeatedly rocked the world, nearly annihilating all life on the planet, for billions of years.It was with that less than cheery thought that I got to thinking about ghost towns. Ghost towns poke a hole in the thin curtain separating the illusion of permanence from the terrifying reality that we live in a world in flux. That’s their fascination—the glimpse into not a kitschy, ersatz past like you find in Colonial Williamsburg, or the living river spanning a preserved past and present that you find in the great cities of Europe—but the world’s true history. The knowledge that all that is or ever was or will be fades—but no, it doesn’t fade. It becomes obliterated, devoured by time and age.Ghost towns of the west, blessed by a dry landscape and scrubby, stunted vegetation, remain at least somewhat preserved. And in their perfect preservation, butterflies under glass, they become tame and easily dismissed. They inspire 30 minutes of gawking, the word “neat!” and a shuffle back to the family car. But back on this side of the country, ghost towns have no such luxury. Cannibalized by nature, they reveal where all our attempts at permanence really end up.So when I heard about Virginia’s one true ghost town, I knew I had to go. There are dozens of old towns in Virginia that get tossed on lists of ghost towns in the U.S., places whose evocative names—Bigler’s Mill, Ca Ira, Goose Pond Hollow—appear on yellowed maps. But most have been ground into the earth and paved over or lie under dark water where rivers have been dammed and the land flooded. There are far fewer whose gutted remains lie exposed to the elements, skeletal but defiantly there.Of those, there is perhaps just one that satisfies both criteria for ghost towns outlined by ghost town researcher and author  T. Lindsay Baker. According to Baker, to qualify as a true ghost town, a place has to not only have some extant sign of habitation, but also has to have become obsolete. A proper ghost town has to have lost its very reason for being; think abandoned gold rush settlements or, if trends continue, Flint, Michigan, in thirty years. In that sense, a ghost town is the cruel double of its former self, something less than a memory. In Virginia, the one place that arguably satisfies both requirements is Lignite.Lignite: the name alone speaks to decay. Lignite is the shabbiest, lowest-quality coal, the product of millions of years of decay. Named for the stuff its residents hauled out of the ground in the late 1800s, the town of Lignite was once host to homes, a company store, churches and a main street theater. It was populated by miners and their sturdy wives, hacking a living out of a single seam of coal up in the mountains, at infinite remove from, say, Roanoke, the nearest city of any size but still at least a day’s journey away in the days before cars and interstates.I set out for Lignite on a cloudy day, caught Interstate 81 and rode it down the spine of the Appalachians. I turned off at an old country highway in Botetourt County, amid rolling farmland beneath the Blue Ridge.I drove past stone walls, trailers plopped down in clusters opposite Victorian clapboard houses with fresh, proud coats of paint; past cows browsing in fields that sat in the shadow of immense, timeworn barns that looked like they had been built of driftwood and rust; past feebly trickling streams and a wide, glass-surfaced river that sat almost motionless beneath a dense canopy of still-orange leaves. Drove up and then down a switchback mountain highway, slaloming my way just feet from a sheer drop to the forest floor far below.The drive took me through Fincastle, a quaint and charming town that nevertheless seemed custom-built to maintain the illusion of permanence. The center of town was almost entirely comprised of buildings erected in generations long past but maintained with obvious affection by the locals.The last stop before Lignite was Oriskany, which consisted of a post office—open noon to 2pm, Monday to Friday—the size of a minivan; a whitewashed, steepled church that had clearly been hosting potluck dinners for over a hundred years; a handful of low-slung houses puffing woodsmoke from their chimneys; and a cemetery that spilled over into a small playground and was filled with dozens of tombstones from the better part of the last century, all bearing just a handful of names: Tucker, King, Horton.And then just past an Airstream trailer, a gleaming lunchbox of a home, I spotted a painted wooden mile marker pointing down a pitted gravel lane. One mile and I’d be in Lignite, according to the sign. I parked, got out of the car, and began to walk.Not sure what to expect, I felt a mounting sense of disappointment as I reached a mile and had seen no sign other than the worn gravel road beneath my feet that anyone had ever been to the area. I began scanning the area for something, anything, when I noticed two decrepit foundations—of houses? Churches?  The theater?Just as I reached one of the stone foundations, the gray husk of formless cloud that had enveloped the sky all day cracked. Sunbeams fell through the dead vines and bare, grasping branches that twisted overhead. Far from bathing the paltry remains of human habitation in newfound warmth, the sunshine only heightened the vulgarity of exposing the last vestiges of humanity to the elements.It seemed truly unbelievable that in a single lifetime, a living, breathing, praying, working town had been ground down into nothing but forest floor, right down to the now-naked cellar that may have once lain under a kitchen suffused with the smell of bread baking and the voices of children sniping at each other behind their parents’ backs, or a theater filled with the echoing footfalls of a traveling troupe of actors treading the boards in front of an audience of families, or a country store stuffed with sacks of sugar, coffee, cured hams, tobacco. In less than 200 years, this place had gone from wilderness to civilization back to wilderness without the outside world even noticing.Then I spotted something white and unmistakably building-sized on a ridge ahead. I fell into a jog, but stopped as soon as I got close enough to actually see what I’d only glimpsed. There, between two gutted chimneys, somewhat more substantial signs of life than the foundations, was a small encampment: an RV, a camper trailer, and a tent. Only the flags twisting in the wind, dangling from a rope tied to the highest branch of a nearby tree, gave away that this was more than a camping trip, but a home, at least for a while. That this clearly wasn’t land that they owned and that of the two flags, the Confederate was hung higher than the American made me think they might not be entirely eager to talk to someone tramping up to their door and asking questions.As I walked back to my car, I thought that a sense of permanence, illusory though it may be, might just be the one true necessity of the human experience. We adapt. We hold on to what seems permanent and constant and true for as long as possible until time or circumstance or loss or love forces us to create a new permanent for ourselves. The miners who abandoned Lignite en masse didn’t die with the town. They pulled up stakes, went to where there was work, and resumed life. And if they had children born after the death of Lignite, those children grew up understanding their own circumstances as permanent, knowing of Lignite only in stories and secondhand memories. The world is always in flux, but the illusion of permanence does more than just let us cope with change. It lets us live.last_img read more


Get in the Saddle

first_imgCome on take a ride, choo choo ride it.As July comes to a close and August claims its rightful place on the calendar, we are truly entering the dog days of summer. Hot, humid, and heavy are appropriate adjectives for the season in the mid-Atlantic, but do not let the oppressive weather get the best of you. This is a time to get out and get that wind in your hair, the breeze on your face, and your clips in the pedals. Sure, the uphills may be even more brutal than ever, but the downhills are more glorious than ever as the cool breeze of speed washes over you.Whether you prefer to shred dirt or asphalt, this weekend is the perfect time to get in the saddle and train for those fall races you signed up for last year and forgot about.Here are some good options for this weekend:Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Festival – Saturday, July 28For over 20 years, this annual ride has guided road cyclists over the beautiful, rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley. A casual ride, this fundraiser for Our Community Place has rides of 25, 50, and 100 miles to satisfy beginners to experts. All rides emanate from downtown Harrisonburg, so pick your poison and join the peloton.View Larger MapRide with the Legend – Saturday, July 28Abingdon, Va. local Lawrence Dye has ridden over 165,000 miles on the Virginia Creeper Trail in Southwest Virginia, and now you can too. Well, sort of. Although Dye rides the trail almost daily, once a summer, the Virginia Creeper Trail Club celebrates all he has done for the trail with a dedicated ride in his honor. Join the pack and see if you can keep up with this Legend of the Virginia Creeper on the 34-mile trip between Damascus and Whitetop Station.View Larger Map View past Weekend Picks!last_img read more


Trailer Tuesday: CONGO – The Grand Inga Project

first_imgTrailer Tuesday brings you the latest and most relevant outdoor movie trailers from around the web. Up first is CONGO – The Grand Inga Project:CONGO – The Grand Inga Project is a full length feature documentary following world renowned whitewater kayaker Steve Fisher and his crew (Tyler Bradt, Rush Sturges, and Ben Marr) as they attempt to run the 50-mile Inga Rapids of the Congo River. The first attempt at Inga was in 1874, and had not been run until Fisher landed in Africa. As you can see from the trailer, the Congo River is no joke and flow at 1.6 million cubic feet per second (!). This film is equal parts kayaking action and historical doc, so it has a wide appeal. The film garnered the “Best Film” award at the X-Dance Film Festival in Salt Lake City and Fisher was named the 2012 Outside Magazine Adventurer of the Year.As luck would have it, Fisher will be in Washington, D.C. on Thursday April 11, to present the film and talk about the expedition. The event is coming to the nation’s capital courtesy of DC Adventure Films and Active Nature and will include a raffle, discussion with Fisher, and or course, the film. One night, two showings at the Arlington Cinema & Draft House (my two favorite things in one place!?!?!)This is a Red Bull joint, so you know the footage, production value, and story line will live up to the epic adventure shown.Event DetailsRWhen: Thursday, April 11thWhere: Arlington Cinema & Draft House, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VAShowtimes: 7:00pm, 9:45pm, Doors 6:00pmHow Much: $12/ticket available online at Arlington Cinema & Draft House website or at the door. Click here for tickets.Who: Steve Fisher, Director and Expedition Leader, will be thereMore: Raffle Prizes Presented by DC Adventure Films DCAF and Active NatureFor Trailer and the full expedition story, visit: www.ingaproject.comTo purchase the Blu-Ray/DVD visit: read more


Daily Dirt: Ski Resort Attendance, Whitewater Paddling Race in N.C., Avalanche Deaths, Kayaking Legend

first_imgYour daily news update for March 19, the day gambling was legalized in Nevada in 1931.LATE-SEASON STORM BOOSTS SKI RESORT ATTENDANCEThe season’s latest winter storms are bolstering attendance at West Virginia’s ski resorts. A West Virginia Ski Areas Association spokesperson said the weather has produced some of the best ski conditions this late in the season in years.Snowshoe, Canaan Valley, and Timberline each received about eight inches of snow on Monday. Snowshoe plans to continue ski season operations through the first weekend of April, and the other resorts are currently re-evaluating their plans to extend the season.TOP WHITEWATER PADDLERS HIT NANTAHALA RIVER THIS WEEKENDThe nation’s best whitewater slalom and wildwater paddlers will hit the chilly waters of the Nantahala River this weekend for the Bank of America U.S. Open. This is the last major event before the senior U.S. Team Trials the following weekend in Charlotte.“The U.S. Open is one of the few events in the United States where all the best American slalom athletes participate and is the first indication of how well they are prepared for the season,” said U.S. National Team Coach Silvan Poberaj.Approximately 60 of the nation’s top slalom athletes are expected to attend this year’s event, hailing from as far as Colorado, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. The competitors include Olympian Benn Frakker, who competed at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.The races take place on March 22 and 23, with the competition beginning at 10 a.m. each day.Deadly Week of AvalanchesLast week saw another slew of deadly avalanches in the western United States.A snowmobiler triggered an avalanche in Montana that took the life of a fellow rider, 18 year old Zach Junkermeier. Junkermeier was found nearly two hours later in the debris, which was reported to be 500 feet wide and 20 feet deep in some places. Another snowmobiler was also trapped and killed by an avalanche in the Uinta Mountains of northern Montana on Friday, March 8.A backcountry skier was killed in southwestern Montana last Monday near the small town of Philipsburg. Peter Maxwell, 27, was with a group of six other skiers when he was trapped in the slide. He was recovered by the group but unable to be revived.Also last Monday, ski patrollers deliberately initiated an avalanche that gained more power than expected and wiped out a chairlift at Crystal Mountain in Washington. Thankfully no one was injured.Since December 26, 23 people have died in avalanches nationwide, according to reports from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.KAYAKING LEGEND STEVE FISHER TO PRESENT AT LOOKOUT FILM FESTIVALKayaker Steve Fisher, who has stared down the biggest rapids on Earth, will be sharing his story at the final day of the Lookout Film Festival on March 23 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.Fisher is an internationally known explorer and paddler, named “Adventurer of the Year” by National Geographic in 2013 and an Outside magazine “Adventurer of the Year” in 2013.His latest film “Congo: The Grand Inca Project” has taken the festival circuit by storm, including an award for “Best in Show” at the National Paddling Film Festival and “Best Film” at the X-Dance Film festival, the world’s premiere action sports film festival.The film follows Fisher’s team down the Inga Rapids on the lower Congo River, a 50-mile section of waterfalls and kayak-eating whirlpools known to be the biggest on the planet.“Congo: The Grand Inga Project” and 33 other outdoor adventure and conservation films will be shown at the second annual Lookout Wild Film Festival March 21 to 23 at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Centennial Theatre. Film descriptions and full schedules are available at here.last_img read more


Beer Blog: Catawba Peanut Butter Jelly Time

first_imgWhen I was a kid, I looked forward to movie releases. Batman, Indiana Jones…I looked forward to these movie releases for months ahead of team. When I got a little older, I looked forward to parties. Epic keggers in the middle of a farm. Now, as a grown-ass man, I look forward to beer releases. Seasonals, bourbon-barrel-aged stouts, spiced Christmas beers…these are the special moments that now define my seasons. Some how, that sounds sadder than I meant it to. Nevertheless, I’ve been looking forward to Catawba’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time for the last three months. It should be obvious why I’ve been anxiously anticipating this beer. Like all red-blooded Americans, I really like peanut butter and jelly. I also really like beer. You put those three together, and It’s gotta be like…well…like peanut butter and jelly and beer. Sounds great, right? The trouble with anticipation, is that the end product can rarely live up to the hype, so I was a little hesitant when I finally got to crack a can of Peanut Butter Jelly Time. Catawba snuck one into each six pack of their Farmer Ted’s Cream Ale, and I waited until I worked my way through the six pack before delving into this special release. My fear, of course, is that Peanut Butter Jelly Time would suck. It’s a weird concept for a beer. Sometimes weird things suck. Anyone see Hudson Hawk? Weird, and bad. Luckily, Peanut Butter Jelly Time isn’t as weird as it sounds. To create this beer, Catawba took a brown ale and ages it over peanuts and fresh raspberries. Breweries are doing much weirder things these days. The beer pours a cloudy raspberry color and doesn’t have much of a nose, but the taste is unmistakable jelly. Raspberry jelly to be exact. The beer has a creamy mouthfeel to it, which I guess is where the peanuts come into play, and pairs well with food. Particularly salty food. Maybe even something spicy. I drank the beer with pickles and Goldfish crackers because that’s how I eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Don’t give me shit, I’m a stay at home dad -— this is a staple of my diet. Peanut Butter Jelly Time is surprisingly refreshing, although I could see adding another element to the mix, like maybe use a sour beer as the base instead of a brown, or why not add some jalapenos for a bit of spice? I like peanut butter, jelly and jalapeno sandwiches. Sounds like a good beer to me. Something I’d look forward to like a new Indiana Jones flick.last_img read more


Straight from the Barrel

first_imgI don’t know why my ancestors decided to settle in the Southern Appalachians, but I’m glad they did. Because of their decision to head south after getting off the boat from Italy, I get to enjoy the bounty of life in the South. Fried chicken. Pisgah’s singletrack. and of course, whiskey. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that, like me, you’re within a half-day’s drive of some of the greatest distilleries on the planet–operations that are making bourbon, rye and Tennessee whiskey. It’s true that most of these distilleries distribute their whiskey all over the country and beyond, but there’s something special about going straight to the source for a taste. I recently had the chance to visit Jack Daniel’s in Lynchburg, Tennessee. I got to tour the facility and walk through one of their barrel houses, where assistant master distiller Chris Fletcher tapped into a barrel on the seventh floor and let us take a few sips straight from the vessel. The whiskey was dark, smelled a hell of a lot like oak, and tasted good as hell. Yeah, the spirit was hot—out of the barrel, Jack Daniel’s is anywhere from 129 to 140 proof—so there was a little burn, but beyond that heat there were big notes of caramel and vanilla, along with stone fruit like cherry and even banana. And of course, the oak was all over that whiskey. Imagine your last Jack Daniel’s experience, then multiply it by 100. That’s what it’s like to taste it straight from the barrel. While we’re closer to Jack Daniel’s distillery than most people in the country, it’s still a haul. The 2,000-acre property sits in the middle of Tennessee. Drive all the way to Nashville, turn south and keep on driving. It’s not exactly convenient. Luckily, Jack Daniel’s has taken some of the legwork out of the process of barrel tasting with their Single Barrel Barrel Proof whiskey. It’s big and oaky, with a hefty 130 (ish) proof, and as close as you can get to tasting whiskey straight from the barrel, on the seventh floor of one of their barrel houses.last_img read more


Trail Mix – A Tribute To John Duffey

first_imgThe first bluegrass song I ever loved was “In The Pines,” which I discovered on a 20th-anniversary concert recording from The Seldom Scene.I don’t think I had ever heard something so haunting as the harmonies in the chorus, driven by whoever was singing the high tenor. The sound was eerily intoxicating, and it is still cause for goosebumps at every listen. I later found out that the high tenor was John Duffey, founding member of two of bluegrass music’s most instrumental bands, The Seldom Scene and, earlier, The Country Gentlemen. Man, I was hooked. Since that early introduction, I have dug deep in The Seldom Scene’s catalog, and they rank as my favorite bluegrass band, with “Wait A Minute” ranking high at the top of of my list of the most beautiful songs ever written.Smithsonian Folkways Recordings recently released Epilogue: A Tribute John Duffey, a seventeen song collection chronicling Duffey’s bluegrass recording career and featuring some of the genre’s heaviest hitters. Guest musicians include Sam Bush, David Grisman, Tim O’Brien, Kenny and Amanda Smith, Tony Rice, John Cowan, and some of Duffey’s mates from The Seldom Scene.The project was fifteen years in the making, with recording sessions dating back to 2002, and was spearheaded by Akira Otsuka, whose love of Duffey’s work reaches back to his boyhood in Japan.After listening to the record a number of times, I reached out to friends in the music world about John Duffey to gauge his impact on their love of bluegrass. The responses were universally appreciative.Seldom Scene with Akira in Japan, 1985. From left to right: Mike Auldridge, Ben Eldridge, Phil Rosenthal, John Duffey, Tom Gray, Akira Otsuka. Photo by Michael Couzens.“John Duffey was a force, and a delight. He had enough love and respect for bluegrass to internalize all of the music’s traditions, yet he couldn’t help but turn all that on its ear, playing “Little Georgia Rose” in Spider Man tights and slurping whatever that godawful purple vodka drink was that he favored.”– Peter CooperSenior Director of Country Music Hall of Fame“I remember riding with my dad, as a teenager, in our old Chevrolet. It had an eight-track player and my dad had three or four bluegrass tapes in his collection. He was most proud of one by The Country Gentlemen. Listening to that tape was my introduction to John Duffey. Like most kids, I was a rock music fan, but I could hear the folk, rock, and jazz influences in their take on bluegrass. That drew in this teenager as a fan of the band. Later, when in the army, I discovered The Seldom Scene and learned that Duffey was part of the band. Hearing that first tape in a buddy’s van had me hooked. How could you not be a fan of this band? That was over forty years ago. I’ve been following bluegrass since the mid-sixties, promoting bluegrass events and working at radio stations since 1994. I like to feel that I owe my love of this music to John Duffey and the impact he had on me.”– Larry GorleyFestival promoter and radio host at WBCM/Radio BristolJohn Duffey’s flattop haircut and blacksmith’s forearms belied the beauty of his artistry. His glorious high tenor. His delicate mandolin runs. He seemed almost embarrassed at times to be so good at two skills that required such sensitivity, so much so that he seemed to revel in growling out his lead vocal lines or barking out high harmony parts inelegantly, shall we say, when the mood hit. As for his mandolin lines, he could start a solo as beautifully as anyone, but then it would start bouncing off the guardrails, and his car-crash cascades of notes would careen straight through the guardrails, all with a manic gleam in his eyes. But these different sides of John Duffey were all a part of who he was. John made sure that we knew he could sing and play as well as anyone. But he also took the time to remind us all that he was a master of a more rare skill. He was an entertainer. If I had a time machine, I would set it not for Imperial Rome, not for the Cavern Club in 1961, not for Paris in 1925, but for a Thursday night in 1975, at the Birchmere on Four Mile Run in Alexandria, Virginia, to watch John Duffey and The Seldom Scene do what they did so well and better than anyone.– Eric BraceMusician and former staff writer for the Washington PostJohn had a strong tenor voice and played a unique style of mandolin. Because he was responsible for bringing regional Appalachian music to a sophisticated urban sound, he is often called the father of modern bluegrass. I started listening to him when I was learning to play mandolin in junior high school in Japan and he was my idol. My band, Bluegrass 45, was invited to tour the United States in 1971 and we met John during the tour. He was kind enough to produce one of our albums and we became good friends. One neat part of this album is that I now own John’s Gibson F-12 mandolin and many of the mandolin players used it on this album.– Akira OtsukaMusician and producer/director of Epilogue: A Tribute to John DuffeyI don’t have many interpersonal stories about Duffey, per se. Although I knew him from the time I was a baby until I was fourteen, when he died, I can actually only recall a handful of direct interactions that I had with him. Despite his larger than life stage persona, he was actually very shy. I don’t think John knew how to interact with kids, so he didn’t. I remember the first time that he acknowledged me directly, as a person, shortly before he died. I was sitting backstage at the old Birchmere, noodling on a guitar, when John came up, scruffed my hair, and said, “Oh, hi there, guy!” I replied, “Oh, hi, John.” That was it. That was the extent of our interaction, but it felt like a big deal to me, because I had somehow crossed the threshold into being grown up enough to where John felt he could say something – anything – to me. This is the thing that people would never have known about him. He was sweet and gentle and bashful, a sheep in lion’s clothing. Personal observations aside, the sound of his tenor singing and mandolin playing is absolutely seared in my memory. It was raw, human, and powerful. He sang with the strength of ten men. But it was also sensitive. A key part of The Seldom Scene’s alchemy was the contrast of the band’s smooth, folk infected vibe with the sheer power of Duffey’s voice. He was truly one of the all-time greats of bluegrass music.– Chris EldridgeMusician and son of Ben Eldridge, founding member of The Seldom SceneFor more information on Epilogue: A Tribute to John Duffey, be sure to surf over to Smithsonian Folkways website.In the meantime, take a listen to “If I Were A Carpenter,” featuring Akira Otsuka on Duffey’s Gibson F-12, on this month’s Trail Mix.last_img read more