Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Still spreading the word

I love libraries; I faithfully biked to our local library every Friday afternoon after school, pretty much from the time I was old enough to make such a trip (about four miles) on my own. This continued through high school, at which point I then transitioned to the majestic main library at UC Davis, where I completed my undergraduate work. I subsequently learned that it's by no means the largest library in the University of California system, but it sure impressed me at the time: four floors of books, plus a basement, in a structure so immense that one could get lost in the crazy-quilt section between the second and third floors, in the oldest part of the building. (Indeed, one freshman rite-of-passage involved getting "accidentally" locked in the library overnight, a feat easily accomplished in that section.)

More recently, I lost myself for untold hours, days, weeks and months in the UC Davis library's microfilm section, poring over old newspapers, while researching Vince Guaraldi at the Piano. (Sadly, they've a long way to go before that entire newspaper archive gets digitized.)

I'm therefore delighted to be presenting my Guaraldi dog-and-pony show in a library this week: the first time I've been able to "give back" to one of the venerable lending institutions where I've derived such pleasure over the years. I'll be reading an excerpt and then giving a brief overview of Guaraldi's life, accompanied by photos, audio and video clips: a program very similar to the one I gave at the Charles M. Schulz Museum, back in late June. This one will take place in a few days, at 7 p.m. Thursday, September 13, at the St. Helena Public Library. That's part of the wine country, as folks in Northern California know: very close to Charles Krug, one of my favorite wineries.

This gig was set up by one of my partners in crime — and publishing — Don Fraser, a longtime Peanuts licensee who retired from active duty in that realm, but has remained quite active among those of us devoted to highlighting Charles M. Schulz's fame at every opportunity. Don and I co-edited Security Blankets: How Peanuts Touched Our Lives a few years ago, a project that (alas!) delivered far more delight in prep and production, than in eventual sales. (Ah, well; they can't all be winners!) Don and his wife live in St. Helena, so it came as little surprise when he contacted me one day and confessed to having rather aggressively pitched me as a worthy candidate for his local library's speaker program. Apparently, they weren't able to refuse.

My presentation will be free, so if you've no other plans Thursday evening — and the commute wouldn't be too onerous — please drop by.


KCSM Jazz Radio, not too much farther away in San Mateo, aired its Guaraldi special — Vince Guaraldi: The Story of Dr. Funk — last Friday between 7 and 9 a.m. (PST); the show, divided into distinct parts, was one of the featured specials presented during the station's pledge drive. On-air host Alisa Clancy interviewed quite a few folks for the show, including Colin Bailey, Eddie Duran, Dean Reilly and Lee Mendelson; she also spent a delightful 90 minutes with me earlier in the summer. She did an accomplished job in production, blending music, commentary and interview material, and I'd like to think it was the highlight of that day's pledge activities. Alisa and colleague Chris Phillips also maintained a lively patter during the pledge breaks themselves, and I was delighted to hear that copies of my book were among the thank-you gifts for pledges at or above a certain level. (Frankly, Alisa enthused about my book so much that I blushed.)

Why do I mention all this, since the show aired last week? Well, The Story of Dr. Funk was such a hit that KCSM will repeat it this weekend: from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, September 16. So, if you missed it the first time, you've got a second chance. The station streams its content from its Web site, which you'll find linked above, so you can listen from anywhere in the world. Best of all, Alisa admits that last Friday's version was truncated a bit, since the morning activities also included a birthday tribute to Sonny Rollins; she promises that her complete edit of Dr. Funk will air this Sunday.

Heck, I thoroughly enjoyed the "short" version; I can't wait to hear the rest!

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