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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

As Kansas City celebrates the legacy of jazz great Art Blakey, get in on the action with these examples of jazz on DVD available at The Kansas City Public Library.

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers (DVD 781.65 B63ZA)
Blakey performs with Wynton and Branford Marsalis, among others, in this entry in the Jazz at the Smithsonian program.

Dexter Gordon: Live in ’63 & ’64 (DVD 781.65 G66L)
Gordon is captured performing in Holland, Switzerland, and Belgium in this entry in the Jazz Icons series.

Jazz Giants of the 20th Century

Jazz Giants of the 20th Century (DVD 781.65 J4295)
The lineup includes: Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Count Basie, among others.

Louis Armstrong: Live in ’59 (DVD 781.65 A73L)
In another of the Jazz Icons series, the great trumpeter performs some signature pieces such as Basin Street Blues and Tiger Rag.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15) with some great books for kids and teens. Read a book with your children in both Spanish and English or pick up an award-winning novel for teens.

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Friday, July 3, 2020

Anyone listening to the radio in the 1970s certainly heard a song or two by the Red-Headed Stranger. Anyone reading the local Kansas City daily newspaper anytime from 1880 to the present is familiar with the name of its founder, William Rockhill Nelson.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Lots of things are growing on the farm where I live. Strange things. Pumpkins make me think of Halloween monsters. They grow in all sizes and many colors: reddish and warty, orange and ribbed, or smooth grayish white. I've seen gourds that look like little blue-green aliens that just hopped off of a spaceship.

What are gourds, anyway? Botanists, or people who study plants, say that gourds are fruit, like melons, cucumbers, and pumpkins.

Gourds have been around for a long time. People eat the pulp and drink the juice. The outer shell, when it's dried, makes a good musical instrument, basket, birdfeeder, nest box, or cup. People from Asia, Africa, and the Americas have used gourds for fine art. (Never decorate a gourd without an adult; the mold and dust can be harmful.)

The drinking gourd has played an interesting part in American History. Some people believe that "Follow the Drinking Gourd" was a folk song that contained a secret code. The drinking gourd was really the constellation the Big Dipper, which "points" to the North Star. The song was like a map that guided slaves north to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

Other people feel that the real path to freedom was much more difficult. Just "going North," or hearing a song, was too simple. Escaping slaves had to be creative, secretive, and extremely brave.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Are there any aspiring writers out there? In October and November 2008, acclaimed writer Ann Hagedorn presented four talks for hopeful authors. On October 15, she provided an introduction to this four-part writing course. On October 22, she focused on the technical aspects of writing. On November 5, Hagedorn discussed storytelling and structure. Her final session on November 12 featured tips on pitching your book and finding a publisher. Get ready with these books on writing for publication and how to get published.

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