Letters to the Editor - June 14

June 13, 2011

Guitarist picks her way to the top

To the editor:

I’m a big music fan and love the Western Maryland Blues Fest. Always try to be there for as many performances as I can squeeze in. This year’s lineup was exceptional. But let me tell ya about Joanne Shaw-Taylor, the 2011 Sunday headliner. She was spectacular!

You know that male players make up the majority of guitar soloists. It’s unusual for a woman to display such talent. But the Gibson Guitar website recently identified the top 10 women rock guitarists. Joan Jett and Bonnie Raitt made the list; Joanne Shaw-Taylor was mistakenly omitted. She’s simply too young.

Well, Shaw-Taylor stands at average height, slight of build, and with a shoulder-length, flat-ironed, blond mane.
She looked totally feminine dressed all in black. Not the type of twenty-something that stands out in a crowd but on stage, illuminated by long rays of afternoon sunlight, she completely commanded your attention. Then the drums and bass start driving a primordial rhythm and solid, palpable sound churns up like fresh, homemade ice cream.

Sweet, loud, technically pure possessing a breath-taking chill.  Every note, every verse, every lick and blues cliché, outstanding.  Next, a vocal style borrowed from the ’60s, from Janis Joplin and Tina Turner. Curiously raspy.  A modern siren’s song.

This lithe, young, woman grips her guitar with steady firm manicured hands as if it were a weapon. Pale fingers cover the fretboard like a swarm of bees and a pick hand carves out note-after-note and chord after shimmering chord like a Japanese chef.  

She lays her music upon the altar of that band shell stage like it was her infant offspring. Then moves about like a maternal panther protecting her young with defiant flips of her long hair.  The music calls out: Hey! You boys with your little guitars like so many plastic ukuleles. Listen to this. It’s real! Take notice! Feel the power of my rock ’n’ roll!

I’ve twice heard Joanne Shaw-Taylor wring all the music from an electric blues guitar. This young Brit is “something else,” a great guitar player — period.  

Doug Becker

Boonsboro schools have been neglected for too long

To the editor:

The updated Facilities Master Plan for Washington County Schools, which was released recently, gives one pause.

First, the opening of a new elementary school in the South County area has been pushed back from 2015 to 2017. This decision — when Boonsboro Elementary has four portable classrooms, and  some students from Keedysville are bused a considerable distance to Rockland Woods Elementary — seems questionable.

Many traditional school boundaries throughout Washington County have been disrupted in recent years. I understand the need for some of these  decisions, however I cannot agree with all decisions.

The renovation of Boonsboro High School — although some work is being done this summer — has been a concern of many for over 20 years. Boonsboro High opened in September 1961, and except for an expansion in the mid-1970s, has had no wholesale renovation.

The core classrooms, auditorium and office space are the same ones in use in 1961. The master plan projects a renovation of the school in 2012. The students and staff are being asked to function for 10 more years in a school that should be renovated today.

I realize funds are tight, but from my perspective the Boonsboro-area schools have been ignored for to long.

The students and families have been asked to function in portables, endure busing and conduct classes in an outdated high school for too long.

Meredith Fouche

Bogus claims are easy to spot

To the editor:

One of the quickest ways to recognize that an anti-evolution argument is bogus is when the author leads off with a story of the boogie man, for instance he invokes the name of Alan Powell (See Richard Giovanoni, June 9).

Another giveaway is when the author throws in metaphysical double talk. For example, linking evolution to “the nature of being,” or implying that pre-Socratic philosophers somehow understood how the world worked as accurately as modern scientists.

Toss in an unsupportable claim, such as “every day, fossil finds revise current models of the ‘tree of life’ or the relative ages of all sorts of species” and you have a hat trick.

Finally, insinuate controversy by claiming that “plenty of Ph.D types” disagree.

True, you can find a fringe that will support almost anything. But not all Ph.D’s are created equal. This is also true of doctors, lawyers, authors, auto mechanics, plumbers and hair dressers. Someone had to finish last in their class.

There are no better arguments than Giovanoni’s to demonstrate why science curriculums should maintain an evidence-based approach.
Larry Zaleski

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