Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, solo artist and Byrds front man and primary songwriter Roger McGuinn has reached a point in his nearly 60 year musical journey where he has arrived back where he started. And the celebrated musician has found himself not only enjoying, but delving deep into the music of his youth - American folk. During a candid and exclusive interview with The Newtown Bee ahead of his planned June 12 solo appearance at the Ridgefield Playhouse, McGuinn chatted about the various flavors of folk he enjoys exploring and playing, from traditional cowboy songs, to American sea shanties, to music from the deep south and the often haunting melodies of Appalachia. He also deconstructed his “King of the Hill” single, and revealed how his endearing Byrds hit, “Chestnut Mare” originally came to life as part of a failed stage musical called Gene Tryp.
A cool and sunny Wednesday morning found Dawn Ussery pulling out weeds at The Victory Garden. She, Maureen Friedman, and Caryne-Lynne Davis, volunteers from The Taunton Press, cleaned up several rows at the community garden in Fairfield Hills, just one of many teams participating the United Way of Western Connecticut’s (UWWC) Day of Action on June 3. The garden’s harvest is donated to the town’s food pantries. The women were part of nearly 550 volunteers from 27 companies completing projects in towns including Newtown, according to UWWC. Also at work in Newtown was a team from Newtown Savings Bank doing outdoor gardening, yardwork and maintenance at the Children’s Adventure Center, and a team from UTC Aerospace worked on the exterior paint, driveway, and landscaping at the Ability Beyond group home, 2 Old Hawleyville Road.
Health Day, the online “News for Healthier Living” newsletter, notes in a November 2014 article that a study of more than 7,000 Americans found “the higher people scored on a ‘purpose in life’ scale, the more likely they were to get various [health] screening tests over the next six years.” People who found their lives to be purposeful tended to spend less time in hospitals and were more likely to spend time on preventative health care. Having purpose in life is vital to well-being, said Andrea Ellen, vice president of marketing and communications for Maplewood Senior Living, especially as people age. “As people coexist and go through life, people feel good about having a sense of purpose,” she said, and at Maplewood at Newtown there is a thriving example of the positive effects of having a reason to rise and shine each morning, she said.
“What does it mean to have a collection?” Writer Renata Adler considered that question one recent morning, passing her fingers down the long braid that drapes over her right shoulder, much the same as in the 1978 Richard Avedon photo of her that graces the cover of her latest book. “I guess I haven’t really thought about that,” she answered. It is a question worth asking, though, as "After The Tall Timber: Collected Nonfiction" by Ms Adler was released April 7.
Newtown native David Egee needed to have a project after retiring several years ago. He rented a small 10-foot by 9-foot office in London, where he has lived since 1979, “with bare walls and a skylight.” In it was “an empty desk with a spiral notebook, pencils ..." In that space Mr Egee over several years completed his memoir. Released in February, the book portrays his life of travel, family, business ventures, and memories of his time growing up in Newtown.
A special event showcasing the literary, performing, and visual artistic support of Newtown’s student community, “The Power of Purple: A Festival of the Arts” will be presented Friday, June 5, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, at Reed Intermediate School. Presented one week before Newtown’s 2015 Relay For Life, “The Power of Purple” will offer performances by students of local dance studios, works by students of four Newtown public schools, vocal performances, the screening of a student film, and poetry by students in one Newtown High School English class. In addition, there will also be performances by Connecticut recording artist Stevie Fresco, lyrical dance by Ridhi Sahani (NHS Class of 2014), a vocal performance by Michelle Zarifis (‘14), and the screening of a short film by NHS sophomore Collin Todd. The event is open to the public, free of charge. Newtown Relay For Life team members will also be on hand for “The Power of Purple.”
The first weekend of 2015 Open Day events hosted by The Garden Conservancy will be June 6-7. A number of gardens in Fairfield, Hartford, and New Haven Counties will be open to the public those two days. Included in this year’s program is Jean Sander’s garden in Sandy Hook, which has been included in the Open Day program once each year for the past five years. Jean’s garden is one of two in Fairfield County that will be open on Sunday, June 7, from 10 am until 4 pm rain or shine. It is the only one, once again, to represent Newtown this season.
Three years after the Civil War ended, a group of Union veterans held the first national memorial service on May 5, 1868 where organizers visited Arlington National Cemetery to decorate soldiers’ graves with flowers. Dubbed “Decoration Day” this practice grew by the end of the 19th Century into a national day of remembrance held annually on May 30. It wasn’t until after World War I that this Spring ritual expanded to those soldiers who died in all American wars. By 1971, Congress set the holiday as the last Monday in May. This past week, I noticed the American flags ‘decorating’ veterans’ graves at Newtown Village Cemetery and it made me think that not only were human lives sacrificed in wartime, but those of animals as well.
Music lovers and anyone looking for a family-friendly opportunity to get together with friends while benefiting one of Newtown’s five volunteer fire companies can mark their calendars for a first of its kind fundraiser. “Rockin’ the ‘Ville” is set for Saturday, June 13, on the grounds of Hawleyville Volunteer fire station, 34 Hawleyville Road. Rockin’ the ‘Ville is sponsored by the Stony Hill Four Corners (SH4C) Business Association, which promotes businesses in the Route 6 corridor and hosts community events in the area straddling the western Newtown and eastern Bethel town lines.