Your Online Guide to the Arts in the Brazos Valley

Photos and articles by one of the Brazos Valley's leading artists... guiding you to great art and entertainment opportunities. For a blog about Brazos Valley Music History, Click HERE:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

MEGAN BERTI mezzo-soprano: A Twentieth Century Banquet!

An autumn Sunday afternoon in our Norman Rockwellian hamlet produced an unexpected journey for me. The kind of journey possible only through great art. And that was amply supplied by Megan Berti of Houston, who gave of her talent generously in the glow of the natural light and magnificent architecture of First Presbyterian Church in Navasota.

You can tell when you are experiencing great art, because it always trips multiple triggers... a banquet of personal wonder. Sounds and sights and forgotten thoughts expand and swirl like blackbirds in formation, and you never want it to end.

As one pushed through the mammoth Victorian doors you immediately stepped back in time, and the sparkling stained glass and austere, sunlit plaster walls promised that Andrew Wyeth wished he was still alive, if only to capture them. Performing Spanish and German classics, in their native tongues, Berti especially shined while presenting three of Manuel de Falla's Siete Canciones Populares Espanoles. I knew instantly that I had “heard” this music somewhere before. But I had not. Megan Berti was merely singing expertly the genre James Michener had perfectly described in IBERIA, his exhaustive book about Spain.

A great fan of Spanish culture, James Michener spent a great deal of his spare time in Spain, and considered Falla the most important composer from his favorite country. Michener often compared Spain to Texas, another of his favorite places, and he studied Spanish music like American teenagers did rock and roll. He thought Falla was the most original and inventive and inspired of all. And here a century and a world away Megan Berti brought Falla's legacy to life to an appreciative crowd. She sang Falla- saucy and evocative and even abrupt... as if she were raised in a Spanish carmen- (a rustic country cottage).


But then, just getting nestled into my cozy transportation, Berti began to sing Strauss and Brahms... with equal authenticity. I am not quite sure of all the reasons why artists choose to sing in foreign languages... But if they are going to, they must be convincing and artistic at the same time... and be able to convey emotions... and Berti prances through her cultural sampler flawlessly. It's true I would not know if she was singing, “I am going to kill you!” But whatever she sang, she has that special gift, not just that of a musician, not that of a performer, but that of a true entertainer.

Thank you to The Music Study Club of Navasota, for finding and showcasing Megan Berti and the art she lured out of the walls and out of my imagination.

Postscript: In my zeal for brevity ( a new goal of mine) I neglected to mention the equally precise and adoring accompaniment provided by her pianist... (please forgive me if I get this wrong!) Kathleen Kaun. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

NEXT DOOR In theTrinity Valley

39th Salmon Lake Park Labor Day Bluegrass Festival

My friend Scott Armstrong has been a lifelong music enthusiast and a significant force in an awesome Bluegrass gathering north of Crockett on the outskirts of Grapeland. Every Labor Day THOUSANDS of folks come from far and wide like geese in migration, to their musical home. Scott has been gently inviting me and his other buds for years, always trying to humbly encourage our attendance to the MOST AMAZING EVENT UNDER THE STARS IN TEXAS; GREAT MUSIC- wonderful people, and a glimpse of what America once was.

 Multi-talented Aggieland businessman-musician Scott Armstrong is the emcee for this Grapeland Bluegrass tradition.

Yes, Scott, you're kind of a big deal! (He will hate that) Thank you for your yeoman's service to the Texas music scene... and for inviting me!


 As Bluegrass echoes through the pines, children gallavant on a nearby green space with fireflies- some natural and some born of technology.

 Frontier Texas architecture lends character to the surroundings.

 Excellent food goes with classic music- and this classic food truck.

 Favorite Bluegrass acts like the Gary Waldrep Band are brought in from all over the country to play at this thirty-nine year homecoming.

 A covered market place offers souvenirs and recorded music.

Saturday night was topped off with rising bluegrass performer, Dylan Hall, thought by some fans to be representative of the future of bluegrass music...

The centerpiece event Sunday was a worshipful Gospel music concert... just one major distinction which makes this event something to support and emulate. Look forward to a similar event every MEMORIAL DAY.

America has been brought to her knees in many ways... but there is a window of opportunity as events like this prove that there can still be hope for our people and our culture...  Art and music and fellowship can be a powerful testimony for God and country... IF we support them. I'm in!