Road Trips and Folk Songs
The Platt crew on the road (photo courtesy of John Platt, WFUV)
This is the final installment, for the time being, of "Three From Me," an outlet for WFUV's DJs and staffers to write about three things that they love — and think you might too.
"Sunday Supper" host John Platt hasn't "retired" at all in his retirement; instead, he's using that time to be a culture vulture and road tripper. He also continues to build his passion project: The New Folk Initiative. Catch up to all of our DJ's "Three From Me" picks over 2019.
Since I retired from my full-time job at WFUV last fall, my wife and I have hit the road for some far-flung destinations (not counting visits to grandkids in Brooklyn and Massachusetts). In February we trekked north of the border for the Folk Alliance International conference in Montréal – not the ideal time to be there, but one of our favorite cities. As with all Folk Alliance conferences, it was a veritable smörgåsbord of artist performances, with time out to slog through snow-clogged streets to the Museum of Fine Arts.
Then, being gluttons for punishment, we added a visit to Ottawa, which, it turns out, offers many delightful wintertime activities. In March we sensibly headed south to visit friends and family in Florida, and in June we enjoyed a week traveling through California. The weather was perfect, and nature was in full bloom, as we caught up with friends in San Francisco and Sonoma County (not missing a couple of wineries), then with my hale and hearty 98-year-old aunt with two of her daughters in Aptos.
Following that, we headed down the coast to Monterey, Santa Barbara, and Ojai, finishing up in Thousand Oaks – spectacular views, of course, we never tire of. Our last road trip took us to Pittsburgh for an overnight with my cousin (for many years a producer for Mister Rogers!) and his wife, then a couple of nights in Louisville, where our Bosnian daughter and her family are making a good life. A bonus in Louisville was taking in a production of "Carmen" at Kentucky Opera with a family friend who was captivating in the title role. From there it was a short drive to Nashville for another stay with friends. We took a ride on the Cumberland River, went honky tonkin’, absorbed as much as we could of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and, of course, made room for barbecue!
With our spare time, my wife and I realized that we don’t have to go out of town (see above) to patronize museums, especially since New York City is replete with them. This fall there were two extraordinary exhibitions for music lovers. In September, just before it closed, we got to see "Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything" at the Jewish Museum (the exhibit's title comes from a line in “Anthem” that goes “There is a crack, a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in”). More than two dozen artists and musicians were inspired to interpret his work visually and through covers of his songs. In addition, one gallery projected performance footage from concerts through the decades, while another let you hear him read from his poetry. The net effect was an even deeper appreciation of his profound art and eloquence.
Then, true to our procrastinating nature, we got to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for literally the final day of "Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll." Curated in a partnership with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the exhibition was a dazzling display of artifacts – from pioneering instruments like Muddy Waters’ and Chuck Berry’s guitars to Keith Emerson’s Moog synthesizer to Lady Gaga’s white Lucite piano. Name a guitarist and his axe was there: Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Steve Miller, Prince. There were full set-ups of The Beatles’ and The Who’s stage gear, plus video explanations by Mark Knopfler, Keith Richards, and others about their approach to playing. Quite a cultural leap from the Temple of Dendur, but just as meaningful to devotees!
The New Folk Initiative
“So,” people would ask me, “how will you spend your time in retirement on a regular basis?” Obviously, I’m grateful to WFUV to let me continue “Sunday Supper,” especially after taking a hiatus for health reasons. Listening to new music and preparing the weekly program helps keep me busy, but I realized that there was a wider platform than the station could provide, so I incorporated as the not-for-profit New Folk Initiative. With a mission to be “an inclusive resource for the propagation and promotion of folk music in its multi-faceted forms,” the website has previews of “Sunday Supper,” select FUV interviews, playlists, concert listings, updates for my monthly “On Your Radar” artist showcases, and blog posts about things that interest me, such as concert, movie, and theater reviews. “Better busy than bored” was always my mantra and still is!