Monterrey, México, August 16, 2009

B.O. first took me to Soriana to buy new rubber sandals, since I had lost mine somewhere along the way (probably in the transfer from Hotel Ibis to B.O.’s parents’ house).

Afterwards, we stopped by OXXO, where I bought a chicken salad sandwich.

The Sandwich From OXXO

The Sandwich From OXXO

We split the sandwich as a light snack on the road, and we also snacked on tuna (the cactus fruit, not the fish).


After a while, we arrived to the Termas de San Joaquín (San Joaquín Hot Springs). A bath house was built around natural hot springs; it was essentially a shallow swimming pool, with the water coming up to about waist level. There was a distinct sulfurous smell.

Lantern In The Spiral Ramp

Lantern In The Spiral Ramp

Passageway

Passageway

B.O. and Me At The Termas

B.O. and Me At The Termas


We returned to Monterrey, and had a late lunch at the house of B.O.’s brother E., the father of little V. who was shown taking a swing at the piñata on August 14. who served us a gourmet Italian meal that he cooked himself. Also at the table were E.’s wife N., and his two daughters M.A. (whom we have seen earlier) and little V.


In the evening, we went to the Mall Valle Oriente, where I bought a tie at Scappino, and then stopped by Sanborn’s and had coffee. Afterwards, we saw the new G.I. Joe movie in a very fancy theatre at V.I.P. Cinépolis. Waitstaff is present so you can order out of a menu, and you can then have a meal (B.O. mentioned sushi as a possibility) while you watch the movie; but we didn’t order anything.

Here are some photos of the interior of the V.I.P. theater.

V.I.P. Cinépolis Theatre

V.I.P. Cinépolis Theatre


V.I.P. Cinépolis Seat (Close Up)

V.I.P. Cinépolis Seat (Close Up)

V.I.P. Menu (food and drinks)

V.I.P. Menu (food and drinks)


Finally, we had a late meal at Super Salads.


Trip Summary

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Monterrey, México, August 15, 2009

Apparently my clothes didn’t fit me that well. So B.O. took me to a tailor that she has used for years, Don Alejo, and had three of my shirts and the pants for my two-piece suit adjusted. Don Alejo had the adjustments done in time for the wedding later that day!

Camisa:

Cuello 15½”
Manga 31″
Talla 36″

Here’s a picture of Don Alejo’s shop (sastrería). That’s B.O.’s car on the right; B.O. is sitting at the wheel.

Don Alejo's Shop

Don Alejo's Shop

Don Alejo and Me

Don Alejo and Me


I had packed a bunch of dark socks. But I hadn’t brought any dress socks, figuring that I could get away with wearing non-dressy dark socks at the wedding and reception. After all, when was the last time that anybody paid attention to the socks I was wearing?

I also hadn’t brought a white undershirt, and B.O. said that wearing a white dress shirt without an undershirt was a social blunder. I guess I have to believe her.

B.O.’s sister, D., went out shopping and bought me a pair of dark dress socks and a white undershirt to wear to the wedding. Thanks, D.!!


B.O. and I then went shopping for men’s clothing at La Argentina.

B.O. and Me at La Argentina

B.O. and Me at La Argentina

Afterwards, we had lunch at Sanborn’s.

When we got home, B.O.’s nephew R. and his band were practicing some music (some of which they had composed themselves).

R. And His Band

R. And His Band


Soon after, we attended N.V. and R.C.’s wedding. The priest was Fr. Didier Marie Dugas; it was interesting to hear Spanish spoken with a French accent!

B.O. had the responsibility of making sure that small bells and bubble blowers were handed out as wedding favors. We left early to get to the reception hall, because B.O. was helping make arrangements there, too. I helped show guests to their tables; I am sure that many were wondering what an Asian guy was doing there at the reception.

The reception was held in the Salón Royal. The reception for another wedding was being held simultaneously in a nearby room across the hall.

Salón Royal (Lintel)

Salón Royal (Lintel)

Salón Royal (second door)

Salón Royal (second doorway)

Display Table

Display Table

Guest Book

Guest Book

Wedding Cake

Wedding Cake

Bride and Groom's Table

Bride and Groom's Table

S2, R, N, I., S., and B.O.

S2, R, N, I., S., and B.O.

R.C., N.V., B.O., and Me

R.C., N.V., B.O., and Me

Here’s a photo that came out with an interesting, ghostly effect — an accidental double exposure.

Dancing Men

Frolicking Men


Towards the end of the reception dinner, B.O. noticed that three women sitting to my right were sitting quietly, staring intently at their desserts but without touching them. B.O. was wondering, why aren’t they eating their desserts? Then she remembered: these three women were N.V.’s co-workers at Quitakilos, whose mission is to offer healthy food. (The name Quitakilos translates, roughly, to “Shed Pounds”; recall that B.O. and I ate at a Quitakilos location on August 11.) None of the three women wanted to be the first to touch her dessert, because each knew that her co-workers were watching.

This was a classic Mexican Standoff!

(Here is a famous Mexican standoff in film.)


After our reception was coming to a close, B.O. and I noticed a mariachi band assembling outside the reception room for the other wedding. I quickly had a photo taken with the mariachi band; seconds later, they marched into the room and began playing music.

Me With Mariachi Band

Me With Mariachi Band


Trip Summary

Monterrey, México, August 14, 2009

I checked out of Hotel Ibis in the morning, and for the rest of the trip I spent the nights at B.O.’s family’s house as their guest. Somehow, in the move I lost my beach sandals.

In the morning, we split a sandwich (I think it was queso y puerco) from OXXO as a light snack on the road, and drove to Coahuila state, to see the Museo de las Aves. Yes, it was a museum that was devoted exclusively to the birds of México; there were many fine specimens of birds were on display in various dramatic poses. There was a map at the museum that showed the various climates of México. It showed that Monterrey is in a temperate forested clime, not out in the desert.

Me With Display of Stuffed Ostrich

Me With Display of Stuffed Ostrich

Something that I got to wondering was, when a taxidermist is presented with a dead bird to mount for display, how do they decide what pose to put the bird in?

B.O. and Me at Museo de las Aves

B.O. and Me at Museo de las Aves

Comparing Crocs at Museo de las Aves

Comparing Crocs at Museo de las Aves

After the Museo, we visited B.O.’s friend V. in Saltillo, which is the capital of Coahuila. We didn’t stay long, since we needed to get back to Monterrey for dinner.


On the way back, we bought a braid of garlic (ajos) from a roadside vendor. The sign behind us indicates two local towns, Los Fierros and Rinconada; the vendor was from Rinconada.

Garlic Vendor and Me

Garlic Vendor and Me

Garlic Braids

Garlic Braids

B.O. has a ceramic container at home which she can use to roast the garlic. Roasted garlic — sounds delicious!

Roadside Landscape

Roadside Landscape


In the evening, I attended the weekly dinner of B.O.’s extended family. About 24 people were present. This photos is a little underexposed, but it gives a flavor of the setting.

Family Dinner

Family Dinner

Dinner was tostitacos, which looked like tacos in a red shell. B.O. assured me that this was the meal that they always had (i.e., they didn’t make a special meal just because I was visiting).

After dinner they threw a birthday party for me (although it wasn’t really my birthday), complete with birthday cake, to show me what their birthday parties are like. They give each birthday party a theme according to the particular celebrant’s in-jokes, personality, and history. In my case, the motif was Mr. Spock, which is a reference to an in-joke that B.O. and I have that I am very Vulcan. B.O.’s sister E. had spent a lot of time making cute table decorations; you can see one on the table in the foreground, in the photo above. They presented me with some birthday gifts, and then I showed them some old movies of my own family from the 70’s and 80’s.

Here are two of B.O.’s nieces.

M. and M.A.

M. and M.A.

Here’s B.O.’s nephew.

R. At The Computer

R. At The Computer

B.O.’s family had gone so far as to have a piñata custom made in the image of Mr. Spock.

Revellers and Piñata

Revellers and Piñata

Apparently, this helped drum up a little business for the piñata maker. I was told that two other customers saw the Spock piñata, and asked the piñata maker to make one for them, too.

The convention is that the celebrant gets the first swings at the piñata. But if the celebrant is an adult they take only “light” swings at the piñata without breaking it, to allow the children to take “real” swings. In any case, the piñata was surprisingly well-made, and didn’t break very easily (this one was not filled with anything).

Here’s A. taking a swing at the piñata. She is wearing her Snow White costume.

A. Having At It

A. Having At It

And here’s little V. taking a swing (with a little help from her father, B.O.’s brother E.):

V. Taking A Swing

V. Taking A Swing

According to this web page, the traditional piñata is shaped like a seven-pointed star to represent the Devil and the Seven Deadly Sins. So hitting it with a stick is symbolic of fighting evil.


Trip Summary

Monterrey, México, August 13, 2009

B.O., her sister E., E.’s daughter A., and I started the day with a light breakfast at Starbucks (I ordered a cinnamon dulce latte). Then the four of us went to the Bioparque Estrella, boarded an open truck, and went on a simulated safari. E. bought about five large paper cups of food to give to the animals, and we each had a cup. There were only four of us, so somebody, probably E., was holding two cups.

View down the length of the truck.

View down the length of the truck.

The camels were surprisingly, shall we say, forward.

In Your Face

In Your Face, and Up Close & Personal

Not expecting the animals to stick their necks within the truck, B.O. had been keeping the food between her legs. One of the camels (we think it was “Brutus”, a two-humped Bactrian camel) reached in and grabbed the food right out from between B.O.’s legs, giving her a HUGE fright! Afterwards, B.O. was muttering “Brutus, stupidus, idiutus…”

Camel Grabbing For Food

Camel Grabbing For Food

A man sitting just to our right had a similar fright. He was feeding a camel, and suddenly a second camel shoved its head in the way, trying to get some food, too. Everybody became wary of the camels, who were tall enough to reach into the truck and grab food!

From left to right: me, camel (Oliva?), A., and E.  Note our body language. :-)

From left to right: me, camel (Oliva?), A., and E. Note our body language. 🙂

The giraffe was friendly, too.

The giraffe was friendly, too.

E., B.O., and A. in front of whale skeleton

E., B.O., and A. in front of whale skeleton


E., me, and A. in front of whale skeleton

E., me, and A. in front of whale skeleton




Then the four of us went to a “magic town” close to Monterrey, the Villa de Santiago (here’s a description in English).

Street Scene in Villa de Santiago

Street Scene in Villa de Santiago

There, we went to a restaurant named Los Escamoles. Here is a picture of the wash basin in the men’s room. I was informed that the ceramic used for this sink probably comes from Puebla.

Wash basin in <em>Los Escamoles</em>

Wash basin in Los Escamoles

At this restaurant, I tried a distinctly Mexican/Aztec food called escamoles.

Escamoles

Escamoles

This has been described variously as either the eggs or the larvae of ants. Sounds a little scary, doesn’t it? But surely you’ve eaten caviar, perhaps on sushi? Think of this as an insect caviar. I was expecting escamoles to be salty, like caviar. But it wasn’t that salty at all. In texture, it was kind of like a pasta al dente; and in flavor it had a mild, nutty taste. (This reminds me: I read somewhere that wichetty grubs are eaten as an ethnic food in Australia, and that they have a nutty taste.)

Another dish that I tried was a pepper drenched in a nut sauce, studded with pomegranate arils. This was chiles en nogada, one of the most famous dishes in México, and the recipe is from the same place that produces the nice ceramics, Puebla. The colors (red, white, and green) celebrate the colors of the Mexican flag; and the dish is available only seasonally, in August and in September.

Pepper Drenched in Nut Sauce

Chiles en Nogada


E.'s daughter, A.

E.'s daughter, A.




Later in the evening, I attended a wine-tasting event at Buké Restaurant. The theme for the evening was wines from Piedmont, Italy. Three red wines were paired with food. Here’s the announcement for the wine-tasting:

Jueves de Cata en Buké
(8:00PM a 9:30PM)
Estimados amigos, los invitamos al jueves de cata en Buké. Este jueves, 13 de Agosto, el tema será “Piemonte, Italia” con el cual el Chef Roberto Navarro nos ha preparado un maridaje especial:

Gavi di Gavi DOCG San Silvestro 2007
-Salame di Tonno

Barolo “Patrem” DOCG San Silvestro 2004
-Bagna Cauda

Barbaresco “Magno” DOCG San Silvestro 2005
-Osso Bucco

Here’s a photo of me with the two owners of Buké, Gonzalo and Néstor, as well as with Luigi Travi, the wine expert who led the wine-tasting event.

Gonzalo Palazuelos, Luigi Travi, me, and Néstor A. Leal

Gonzalo Palazuelos, Luigi Travi, me, and Néstor A. Leal

Luigi works for a wine importer named Enotria; I gather that they actually specialize in Italian wine.

B.O. at Buké

B.O. at Buké


Afterwards, B.O. took me to an area high in the mountains named Chipinque, which is close to a famous mountain formation known as the “M”. There, we took some night-time photos of Monterrey.

Monterrey By Night

Monterrey By Night


Finally, B.O. and I went to the Monterrey Koldbar (Ice Bar).

Scene in the Monterrey KoldBar

Scene in the Monterrey KoldBar

Here’s a photo of an ice sculpture of a bear that B.O. took back in June.

Ice Sculpture of a Bear

Ice Sculpture of a Bear

B.O. and me in the Ice Bar

B.O. and me in the Ice Bar


Trip Summary

Monterrey, México, August 12, 2009

In the morning, B.O. took me to 24 Horas, where we had fruit smoothies for breakfast. I chose one named Murcielago (“bat”), which was a dark red color. Here’s a photo of our drinks; my Murcielago is on the right.

Fruit Smoothie Breakfast at 24 Horas

Fruit Smoothie Breakfast at 24 Horas

Here’s a colorful photo that I took of the menu. Above the post for Carolina, you can see the ingredients for the Murcielago: oranges, beets, and celery. I’m not sure what the numbers “20-28-36” under the ingredients mean. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium? (Just kidding.)

A Few Items on the 24 Horas Menu

A Few Items on the 24 Horas Menu

Afterward breakfast, we stopped by the Laboratorios Moreira, a private laboratory where B.O. had some routine bloodwork done for her annual medical check-up. Within hours, she was able to check the results via the internet, something that I am unable to do in the U.S. I believe that people can’t check laboratory results in the U.S. in general, possibly because HIPAA requirements may make it infeasible. California may be an exception; in 2001, bill AB 1490 was signed into law (see page 20).

Next, we visited B.O.’s friend N.V., to plan for her wedding and reception on August 15. Then we went to Divisas San Jorge Casa de Cambio, where I changed some dollars to pesos, and then went to B.O.’s office, Principal Financial. Here’s B.O. at her office:

B.O. At Her Office, 2006

B.O. At Her Office, 2006

Then we made a stop at Home Depot to buy blinds for B.O.’s room. The Home Depot felt like any Home Depot that I’ve been to in the U.S., except that all the signage was in Spanish.

In the parking lot of the Home Depot

In the parking lot of the Home Depot

Afterwards, we visited B.O.’s sister A. to ask her husband A. to install the new blinds. B.O.’s father E. joined us after several minutes. Then B.O. and I went to Carl Jr.’s to have burgers (yes, not very Méxican) for lunch. The Carl Jr.’s was crowded because people were watching the U.S. vs. México soccer game on the TV there. México won, 2-1.

Then we went to the nearby Gandhi Bookstore, but as we were just about to enter the store I realized that I had forgotten my mochilla (backpack) at Carl Jr.’s. Since it was so close, it was easiest for me to simply walk back to the Carl Jr.’s to retrieve it.

Backpack Retrieved

Backpack Retrieved

I bought several books, mostly having to do with Mexican culture and history.

At the end of the day, we had dinner at the house of one of B.O.’s other sisters, D., whose husband J.R. served up grilled vegetables (onions, peppers, and nopales) and meats (beef and sausage). Here is the official Mexican site for the nopal and its fruit, tuna, which are considered very healthful foods.

Here are some photos of the food as it was being grilled.

Dinner on the Mesquite Charcoal Grill

Dinner on the Mesquite Charcoal Grill

Close-Up of Vegetales

Close-Up of Vegetales


Trip Summary

Monterrey, México, August 11, 2009

In Reagan National Airport, we boarded the airplane in the standard way: from back to front in blocks.

The trip itself was uneventful. As the airplane was descending to land in General Mariano Escobedo International Airport, there was an overhead announcement stating that the airline was very sorry, but they didn’t have immigration cards to fill out. We were instructed to find immigration cards on some desk in the terminal. In the resulting confusion in the terminal, I was unable to find any immigration cards! I finally just went up to the immigration officer and asked for one. All told, it took me about one hour to get out of the airport.

Here’s a map of the airport.

Monterrey Airport Terminal Layout

Monterrey Airport Terminal Layout

B.O. was there to pick me up. After we bought some bottled water from a nearby concession stand, we walked over to her car. Driving out of the airport’s parking lot, my first comment was that it felt very much like the U.S. Even the makes of the cars looked pretty much the same; sometimes when I’m in foreign countries, the types of cars look very much different from the cars you see in the U.S. This made B.O. chuckle; she said that Mexicans from outside Monterrey often make the same observation, saying that Monterrey feels like the U.S.

From there, we went to QuitaKilos, where we had lunch. Here’s their menu for August 11:

Platillo Guarniciones
Pay atún
Pollo italiano
Pescado al vapor
* Crema de Coliflor

* Arroz

* Nopales rojos

* Calabacita rellena

* Ensalada de zanahoria c/piña

B.O. and I ordered the same meal: the Pay atún (tuna pie; the fish, not the cactus fruit), Crema de coliflor (cream of cauliflower soup), and Ensalada de zanahoria (carrot salad).

B.O.’s friend N.V., whose marriage we attended on August 15, used to work at Quitakilos. This resulted in a humorous situation at the reception, as you’ll see when I get to that post. For now, here’s a photo of B.O. with N.V. taken 22 August 2008, at N.V.’s sister’s wedding; it is a sort of preview of N.V.’s 15 August 2009 wedding.

B.O. and N.V., 22 August 2008

B.O. and N.V., 22 August 2008


We briefly stopped by B.O.’s home, to pick up B.O.’s laptop computer. Out front waiting to greet me were B.O.’s sister D., D.’s son R., and B.O.’s niece A. Inside the house, I met B.O.’s cousin A. and B.O.’S sister E. (the mother of B.O.’s niece A.) B.O.’s parents weren’t home; I believe they were out on vacation.

B.O. lent me her laptop computer so that I could have internet access during my stay at Hotel Ibis. They have Third Generation (3G) Internet in Monterrey.


Afterwards, we went to the Iglesia de San José en Monterrey, which you’ll see listed on this web page. B.O. would often pray to St. Joseph at this church, so it has special significance. Here are two photos of the church.

La iglesia de San José

La iglesia de San José

Another photo of la iglesia de San José

Another photo of la iglesia de San José


Then B.O. took me to the Ana Elisa Beauty Co., a hair salon, to get my hair cut in preparation for the wedding and reception on August 15. In the salon, there was a cute little doggie named Nini, a shitzu, I think. Here is a map showing the location of this hair salon.

croquis 2


Finally, B.O. drove me to the Hotel Ibis Monterrey Valle, where I checked in and got some rest.


Trip Summary

Summary of trip to Monterrey, México, August 11-17, 2009

The morning of August 11, 2009, I went to Monterrey, the industrial city of México, to visit B.O. Monterrey is the capital city of the state of Nuevo León; since it is surrounded by dramatic hills and mountains, one of its nicknames is City of Mountains. Here is a map showing Nuevo León and Monterrey.

Monterrey, Nuevo León, México

Monterrey, Nuevo León, México

In México, men from Monterrey are known as regios; women, as regias. Regio is a contraction of regiomontano, where regio refers to “king” or rey, and montano refers to “mountain”, or monte; hence Monterrey. This discussion of regional stereotypes indicates that the regios are known in México as workaholics. Indeed, the slogan of the state of Nuevo León is “The State of Progress”; e.g., see this 2008 business report.

Here are some photos of Monterrey and surrounding areas.


Here’s a dramatic photo of Cerro de la Silla (which translates to “Saddle Hill”, according to Wikipedia), a prominent geologic feature visible in Monterrey. The Wikipedia entry says that the hill is actually in the adjacent city of Guadalupe. Still, Cerro de la Silla is considered the symbol of Monterrey.

Cerro de la Silla, Nuevo León, México

Cerro de la Silla

Here’s a photo from the top of Cerro de la Silla (I didn’t take this photo).

View From Atop Cerro de la Silla

View From Atop Cerro de la Silla


Here’s a photo of B.O. with Cerro de la Silla in the background.

B.O. and Cerro de la Silla

B.O. and Cerro de la Silla


And here’s a photo of B.O. in Montreal, in 2006.

B.O. in Montreal, 2006

B.O. in Montreal, 2006


Below is a quick summary of my visit to Monterrey. I will go into more detail in a series of follow-up posts over the next few days; in the table below, each date is a hyperlink to my blog post for that day. I think I’ll do one post for each day.

Date What Happened
August 11 Took one hour to get out of the airport, I think largely because the airline had forgotten to bring immigration cards; lunch at QuitaKilos; went to the Iglesia de San José en Monterrey; went to a hair salon to get my hair cut, in preparation for the 8/15 wedding and reception; checked in to Hotel Ibis Monterrey Valle
August 12 Fruit smoothie breakfast at 24 Horas (natural, healthy fruits); stopped by the Laboratorios Moreira so that B.O. could get routine bloodwork done for her yearly medical checkup; visited N.V. to plan the 8/15 wedding and reception; changed dollars to pesos at Divisas San Jorge Casa de Cambio; went to Home Depot to buy blinds for B.O.’s room; visited B.O.’s sister A. to ask her husband A. to install the new blinds; lunch at Carl Jr.’s (it was crowded because people were watching the U.S. vs. México soccer game; México won, 2-1); went to Gandhi Bookstore, but forgot my backpack at Carl Jr.’s and had to walk back to retrieve it; dinner at the house of another of B.O.’s sisters, D., whose husband J.R. served up grilled vegetables and meats, including nopales
August 13 Had a light breakfast at Starbucks with B.O., her sister E., and her niece A.; then the four of us went to Bioparque Estrella; then we went to a “magic town” close to Monterrey, the Villa de Santiago (here’s a promotional video), where I tried a distinctly Mexican/Aztec food called escamoles (the restaurant itself was named Los Escamoles); later in the evening, attended a wine-tasting event at Buké Restaurant; afterwards, we went to an area named Chipinque, which is close to a mountain formation known as the “M”; then went to the Ice Bar
August 14 Checked out of Hotel Ibis, and for the rest of the trip I spent the nights at B.O.’s family’s house as their guest; B.O. and I split a sandwich from OXXO as a quick lunch on the road; went to the Museo de las Aves, in Coahuila state; visited B.O.’s friend V. in Saltillo; attended the weekly dinner of B.O.’s extended family (about 24 people present)
August 15 Visit to the tailor Don Alejo; shopping for fine clothing at La Argentina; lunch at Sanborn’s; B.O.’s nephew R. and his band played some music for us; then we attended the wedding of N.V. and R.C., followed by the reception
August 16 Went to Soriana to buy new rubber sandals, since I had lost mine somewhere along the way; went to the Termas de San Joaquín, snacking on tuna (the cactus fruit, not the fish) and sharing a sandwich from OXXO on the way; late lunch at the house of B.O.’s brother E., where he served us a gourmet Italian meal that he cooked himself; bought a tie at Scappino, in the Mall Valle Oriente; coffee at Sanborn’s; saw the new G.I. Joe movie in a very fancy theatre at V.I.P. Cinépolis; late meal at Super Salads
August 17 Split a sandwich at Starbucks with B.O.; then we visited the Sanctuario of Schoenstatt; then went to the airport to return to the U.S.
Published in: on 23 August 2009 at 4:52 pm  Comments (9)  
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Stephanie Trick, Virtuoso Stride Pianist

On Sunday July 19, 2009 D.G. and I attended a concert delivered by Stephanie Trick, as part of the Northern Virginia Ragtime Society concert series. Walking into the Jordan Kitts, M.C. and his daughter were ticking off names as NVRS members checked in, and M.C. said to me “Great license plate!” He was referring to my C.R.V.’s license plate, “FATS WLR”. Most NVRS members will know the reference; and my close friends know that Fats is my favorite classic jazz pianist.

Ms. Trick opened her program with Scott Joplin’s Pineapple Rag, which she described as “one of the finest rags ever written,” and she then proceeded with a mix of classic ragtime, stride piano, terra verde ragtime, and novelty piano pieces. Here is her program as per my notes (I cannot guarantee that my notes are error-free).

Piece Composer
Pineapple Rag Scott Joplin
Grace and Beauty James Scott
Pastime Rag No. 4 Artie Matthews
Viper’s Drag Thomas “Fats” Waller
Liza (from Show Girl) George Gershwin
Bethena (waltz) Scott Joplin
Maple Leaf Rag Scott Joplin (arrangement by Ms. Trick)
Carolina Shout James P. Johnson
Roberto Clemente David Thomas Roberts
… Dance (I didn’t quite catch the first word of the title, but after doing some Google research I believe this was Anitra’s Dance) Donald Lambert / Edvard Grieg (an example of “ragging the classics”, i.e., arranging classical music in the ragtime style)
Doll Dance (duo piano with Alex Hassan) Jacques Fray
Perpetuum Mobile (Perpetual Motion; duo piano with Alex Hassan) Ernst Fischer
INTERMISSION
Valentine Stomp Thomas “Fats” Waller
Solace Scott Joplin
Bach Up To Me Thomas “Fats” Waller / Dick Hyman
Dizzy Fingers Zez Confrey
Handful of Keys Thomas “Fats” Waller
Fingerbreaker Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton
Space Shuffle (duo piano with Adam Yarian) Robin Frost
The Royal Garden Blues (duo piano with Adam Yarian) Clarence Williams
I’ve Found A New Baby Clarence Williams
Poodlin’ With Pat Neville Dickey

The first duo piano pice performed with Alex Hassan, Doll Dance, is not the same piece that Mr. Hassan performed duo piano with Frederick Hodges in the May 10 NVRS concert; that piece was Wedding of the Painted Doll, also arranged by Jacques Fray.

The latter duo piano pieces were played with Adam Yarian, who is now studying law at the University of Chicago. Mr. Yarian started out on the upright piano with Ms. Trick on the grand; but then he requested to switch pianos. (I believe he was feeling claustrophobic, since the upright was right up against a wall.) Ms. Trick accommodated him and they switched pianos, but in mid-performance she gave up on the upright, strode over to the grand, took over the upper register of the grand, and finished the performance as an single-piano duet. I think that the audience was tickled by the mid-performance switch — it was completely unscripted, and totally cool.

(D.G. noted that Mr. Yarian himself was good enough to be a featured NVRS performer. And Mr. Yarian has indeed been a past featured artist in the NVRS concert series, on more than one occasion.)

Although her selection of pieces in this concert was a big mix — and Ms. Trick also has recorded classical music — I would classify her as a stride pianist. As supporting evidence for this classification, during the intermission I asked her who her favorite ragtime/stride/jazz/novelty composer was, and she answered “Fats Waller.” (I was immensely pleased.) Note that the word “virtuoso” in the title of this post is redundant, since the stride genre is in general very difficult. If you’re a stride pianist, you must be a virtuoso. In contrast, I think it is possible to be a ragtime pianist without being a virtuoso.

During the intermission, I bought Ms. Trick’s audio CD Hear That Rhythm!, and have been listening to it during my daily commute to work. The playlist has some overlap with the NVRS concert, so if you’d like a sample of what the concert was like you can listen to the CD. Sometimes contemporary pianists’ recordings of stride piano seem a little strained, as if the pianists were playing just at the limits of their abilities. Not so with Ms. Trick; I think she strides better than many other pianists, and seems quite comfortable in the genre. She sounds unstrained, as if she hasn’t yet reached the limits of her technique.

In the NVRS concert, Ms. Trick played a duo piano version of Space Shuffle, a piece by Robin Frost, a composer I have mentioned in a previous post on superhumanly difficult piano music. And her CD Hear That Rhythm! has not one but two performances of pieces by Mr. Frost.

I would be very interested in hearing Ms. Trick try her hand at some of Jelly Roll Morton’s more lyrical pieces such as The Pearls, or perhaps King Porter Stomp. (I have a soft spot for lyricism.)


Here’s a link to D.G.’s blog post on Ms. Trick’s concert.


If I recall correctly, when he was introducing Ms. Trick to the audience, Alex Hassan said that the existence of young ragtime/stride/jazz/novelty pianists of Ms. Trick’s caliber gives us hope for the future. I must heartily agree.