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Posts from the ‘In the News’ Category

Photo Focus: Anders Osborne:: ‘Peace’ and New Glasses

By Louise Uznanski for OnTapBlog

©2014 OnTapBlog All Rights Reserved

Anders Osborne at World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA.

Anders Osborne at World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA.

At the start of his solo acoustic set at World Cafe Live, New Orleans blues singer/songwriter Anders Osborne announced he would run through the entire new album Peace, and then go from there.  Also announced was his return to touring after a three week hiatus.  AND, he bought new glasses.  They’re really sharp and go well with Anders’ newly cropped hair.  He didn’t mention the haircut.  I’m sure it was an oversight. Read more

Photo Focus:: Grand Ole Opry’s New Music Genre: ‘Discograss’

Photos by Louise Uznanski for OnTapBlog.

What do you get when you mix the Bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs with the Disco-era Jive Talkin‘ and Stayin’ Alive of songwriting legend Barry Gibb of the BeeGees? Ricky Skaggs coined the phrase Discograss after ending the Tuesday night at the Opry show by performing two songs with Barry Gibb. He mentioned it only briefly when taking their bows but then decided he really liked it and so it stuck. A new country/disco genre was born: Discograss. Read more

Westside Cultural Arts Center Opening Sizzles with Sandra Hall and Taylor Hicks

Opening night review and photographs by Jennifer Jacobs
Full building mural photography courtesy of HENSE

The Westside Cultural Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia held its Grand Opening ceremony Thursday night, September 19th, 2013.  The brainchild of local arts supporter Dr. James Chappuis, the new facility is located in a converted 12,000 sq ft warehouse in Atlanta’s revitalized Westside.  The aim of the facility is to provide an arts and performance space for the Westside community and Atlanta at large.  The completed two year development and renovation finds the interior of the facility remodeled into a first class meeting space with a full service catering kitchen, two bars, and performance stage with state of the art sound system.  The centerpiece is a gallery space, curated by renowned Atlanta art dealer Fay Gold, who featured at the opening “Art in the Streets”, a collection of photographs that celebrates graffiti art around the world.  Co-Founder Anthony Liggins will be the artist in residence. Read more

SPAH 50th Anniversary Convention Celebrates the Harmonica and the Players

by Holley Dey;   Photographs of the 50th anniversary SPAH convention courtesy of and copyright 2013 by Keith Mitchell;   Video courtesy of Hohner USA

The 50th Anniversary SPAH convention (Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica) is now complete.  For five consecutive August days there was music in the airport, on the stage, in the hotel lobby, down the halls and behind every door.  Ben from England claims to have located the only place you couldn’t hear a harmonica – in the pool and under water! Read more

Producers of Acclaimed Club 47 Folk Music Film Turn to Fans for Support


by Holley Dey

Do you remember your freshman year roommate?  Mine had clear blue eyes and a serious expression that easily gave way to a mischievous grin.  We studied the three B’s together: boys, books and booze, not necessarily in that order, and shared the secret understanding that comes from caffeine driven nights and front row seats in Biology 101.  Ours was a friendship that came by chance, yet came to stay. Read more

Photo Focus:: Rusted Root~It’s Always a Dance Party

By Louise Uznanski for Ontapblog

On the outside, New Jersey’s Ocean City Music Pier is a hot and humid mix of sand, sea and late summer vacationers. On the inside, it’s a dance party. Well, it is when Rusted Root is in town. My second venture to see Rusted Root in the past year, I was not surprised by the music. It pulses. It’s rootsy and thumps, thumps, thumps into your head. Read more

Penn Jillette Works Magic with Celebrity Apprentice Ice Cream Challenge

penn_apprentice15 All-Star Celebrity Apprentice draws to a close next weekend and Las Vegas headliner, magician and entertainer Penn Jillette is one of two finalists who remain in the competition. Jillette has been tasked with creating and marketing a new flavor of Walgreens Good & Delish premium ice cream. If “Vanilla and Chocolate Magic Swirtle” sells more units than his competitor’s product between now and Friday, then Las Vegas charity Opportunity Village* will receive a $100,000 donation from Walgreens.

The ice cream was delivered to local Walgreens stores on Sunday under a veil of secrecy. I’m told that the boxes and cartons were covered in black paper to conceal the names of the ice cream flavors before the products were revealed on national television. On Monday, May 13 stock was in the freezers and balloons were hanging from the ceiling. At our local Walgreens, the store clerk had already set aside her own pint of ice cream. She had chosen Jillette’s Magic Swirtle to take home with her that evening.

Good enough. We decided to ask two research subjects to taste test Vanilla and Chocolate Magic Swirtle, and watched through the viewfinder in order to gauge their reactions.

Here we go.

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Subject A: Quiet and reserved, highly analytical, national level bridge player. Photographed prior to sampling the test product.

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Subject A: Photographed while sampling Vanilla and Chocolate Magic Swirtle ice cream.

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Subject A: Photographed after exceeding the recommended serving size of Magic Swirtle ice cream.

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Subject B: Congenial and compassionate, martial arts enthusiast and current student.

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Subject B: Photographed while sampling Magic Swirtle ice cream.

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Subject B: Photographed after sampling Penn Jillette’s ice cream product.

Both subjects praised the  smooth consistency and sweet flavor of the ice cream; chunks of candy captured in each spoonful earned special mention.  Both subjects agreed that they felt happier after eating Magic Swirtle ice cream.  Subject A demonstrated increased energy and completed assigned tasks at a more rapid rate after product consumption; there was no change in Subject B’s work performance relative to baseline.

Observation Based Conclusions:

1) Mood elevation was clear in both subjects after sampling the Magic Swirtle ice cream product.

2) Exceeding the recommended serving size risks manic bliss.

3) In some cases, consumption of Magic Swirtle ice cream can boost work performance.

4)  Subject B has a better understanding of product placement than subject A.




*Opportunity Village provides programs to help men and women with disabilities reach their full potential.


                         Josh Smith at Life is Good Festival, September 25, 2011.   Photo by Richard Uznanski   ©2013 OnTapBlog all rights reserved


Singer-songwriter and blues guitarist Josh Smith takes to the road this month for his first Florida tour in nearly five years.  Josh will play in support of the newly released Don’t Give Up on Me, an album of eleven original songs steeped in the blues, featuring Josh’s smoky vocals and steamy guitar play. The album is backed by uniformly strong reviews.  One of our favorite write-ups from Gearphoria summarizes Smith’s work succinctly, “Mojo rising”.

His 2012 European tour was equally well received, citing Josh’s “dynamic, emotional guitar”.  Said one reviewer, “If this man was a parish priest – his church would definitely be full every Sunday.  An amazingly confident performance!”

Song samples and mp3 downloads are available at both Amazon and iTunes.

Upcoming tour dates:

May 24 – Funky Biscuit, Boca Raton w/Horn Section
May 25 – Burgee Bar @Ocean reef club, Key Largo
May 26 – Earl’s Hideaway, Sebastian
May 28 – Boston’s On The Beach, Delray
May 30 – Big Easy, Hollywood Duo Show Rhinocat Jam with Rick Cafaro
May 31 – Bamboo Room, Lakeworth w/ Jp Soars
June 1 – Guanabanas, Jupiter
June 2 – Bamboo Room, Lakeworth Dar’s Sunday blues anniversary
June 5 – The Van Dyke, Miami Beach
June 6 – Big Easy, Hollywood Duo show Rhinocat Jam with Rick Cafaro
June 7 – Southshores Tavern, Lake Worth
June 8 – Bayside Grille, Key Largo
June 9 – Fishtales, Ft. Lauderdale
June 10 – Hollywood Songwriter gathering….solo acoustic

Racing toward Derby Day with a Party in Mind

2013 Kentucky Derby - Previewby Holley Dey    ©2013 OnTapBlog all rights reserved

One of my favorite childhood memories is a day spent at Churchill Downs with my father and best friend when we took turns picking the horses and Dad plunked down two dollar bets on our favorites.  We watched every horse take the field, made last minute selections based on gait and spunk, then cheered until we were happily hoarse (but not horse).

I am long gone from Kentucky, but still have warm memories of the Bluegrass State.  We lived just outside Louisville, the same city that Rick Pitino now calls home and where basketball reigns supreme every day except Derby day.  More on Rick in a moment, but first, let’s pause a moment to review proper pronunciation.

The most important thing to understand is that the word does not have three syllables.  Oh no, definitely not.  Your goal should be two, at most two and a half syllables.  Louisville is never pronounced “Loo-e-ville”.  Shudder.  Now, relax your lips and tongue, allow the vowels to blend together smoothly and say “Looavull”.  Try it again.  Say it like you mean it.  Well, keep practicing.

We never joined the large crowds at the racetrack, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t celebrate the Kentucky Derby – not at all!  There are two weeks of festivities leading up to the event with widespread parties on race day.  If  Saturday, May 4 will mark your first Derby get-together, allow me to share some party essentials:

1.  Gotta see it to believe it

It’s been called the most thrilling two minutes in all of sports.  Your guests must be able to see the race.  Make sure that viewing screens/televisions are positioned so that every guest can enjoy the action.  Reminder:  Post time for this year’s Kentucky Derby is approximately 6:24 pm ET.

2.  Know the players

Be prepared to discuss this year’s Derby with your guests. Descriptions of the horses and their racing history is available at the official site; up-to-date information leading into the race is also available here.

The 2013 Derby won’t field a clear-cut favorite; there are a number of interesting contenders.  The horse shown above is Goldencents, photographed during a morning workout at Churchill Downs this week.  Goldencents recently won the Santa Anita Derby with jockey Kevin Krigger on board.  Krigger is the first black jockey to win at Santa Anita; he would be the first to win in Kentucky since 1902.  Rick Pitino owns a 5% share of the horse.  He could potentially win the the Derby, the NCAA tournament, enter the Basketball Hall of Fame, and get his first tattoo, all in the same year!  He’s only missing the Derby win.  Most analysts have Goldencents in the top five horses racing on Saturday.

3.  You can bet on it

The party is more fun if everyone has a stake in the action. Wagering on the horses can, but needn’t involve money.  Have guests randomly draw a horse’s name and starting position from a hat; if their horse finishes in the money, award a prize.

One of the most fun and successful Derby parties I’ve ever attended was also a wedding shower.  Rather than bring gifts to the party, the guests bet on the race.  A fixed percentage of each bet was set aside, those funds pooled and given to the soon-to-be-married couple as a shower gift.  The remainder was split between guests who had picked the winning horse.  Alternatively, the same method could be used to raise money for charity.

4.  You can leave your hat onmiranda lambert kentucky derby hat

It’s tradition!  Ask your guests to wear a hat to the party.  The ladies might choose a wide brimmed beauty, or one of the fascinators made popular by the Duchess of Cambridge over the past few years.  Country music superstar Miranda Lambert has tried both looks, opting for a small black fascinator in 2012.

Ladies!  If you’d like to virtually try on a selection of Kentucky Derby hats to find the style that best suits you, Lady Diane Hats of Louisville invites you to find your perfect match here.

Note that in recent years gentlemen have also been sporting hats at the Derby.  While the options available for purchase are more limited, home embellished and creative Derby wear is always in style!

5.  Raise a toast to the winner!

The traditional libation on Derby day is the mint julep.  Party expert and Food Network star Martie Duncan recommends preparing a mint infused simple syrup in advance.  The syrup can be used to flavor the Kentucky bourbon cocktail and/or iced tea on race day!  Martie’s mint julep and simple syrup recipes are here.

The official Kentucky Derby store sells glassware for the 139th running of the race.  If you’d like to splurge on a special gift, Martie suggests the elegant pewter or silver mint julep cups offered by the Salisbury company.

6.  Your just dessert

A variety of delicious appetizers and main course dishes are appropriate on Derby Day.  For an overview of traditional fare, several recipes from Southern Living including the open faced Kentucky Hot Browns sandwich and Derby pie are here.

For dessert, Derby pie – that delectable blend of nuts and chocolate in a flaky pie crust – is a must.  Serve it warm so that the chocolate melts, coating the pecans or walnuts, as well as the inside of your mouth!  Add whipped cream with or without bourbon for a flavorful touch.  Alternatively, a dollop of vanilla ice cream will top it off!  If you’re pressed for time, consider ordering your pies from Kern’s kitchen.  Kern’s original  and secret Derby pie recipe was developed more than fifty years ago.  On Derby day more than 25,000 slices of the pie will be served at Churchill Downs!

Most of all, have fun!  Enjoy the race, the day and the company of family and friends.  Cheers!!

Food Network Star Martie Duncan: She Brings the Party Wherever She Goes

martieby Holley Dey    ©2013 OnTapBlog all rights reserved

She’s throwin’ down the gauntlet.  Martie Duncan knows her music, and well, she’s ready to prove it.  The Food Network star has an idea for September’s exhibition in Texas.  She’s invited an American Idol winner and restaurant owner to join her on stage at the food-lover’s event, and when he does, Taylor Hicks had best be ready for the challenge.  Whether it’s music trivia or “Name that Tune”, Martie will surely be wearing her game face, lips turned generously at the corners and eyes sparkling with good-natured fun.  Martie’s gonna bring the party to Houston.  You can count on it.

Don’t be surprised if she hums a few bars from the stage.  Can she sing?  Says Martie, “There are people who can sing and people who will sing.  I will sing.”  Warm and delightfully chatty, Martie describes herself as a “party starter”.  She’s the kindling that ignites good times.  She’s the friend that will tell the bad joke, sing from the middle of the crowd or share a personal story to put everyone else at ease.  She has plenty of experience; the Alabama native has been hosting legendary parties since she was a teenager.

She funded those high school parties herself, you know.   In the process, Martie learned a little about the business of music, and plenty about the business of fun.  At only fourteen, or maybe fifteen years of age, Martie declared herself a booking agent and went immediately to work.  That’s right; she recorded her boyfriend’s garage band on cassette tape, snapped a promo picture with her Kodak and set about finding gigs for the guys.  Only charged the boyfriend ten percent by the way; the woman has always been a professional.

A professional, yes, but Duncan is also a lifelong entrepreneur.  She has a knack for putting herself in the right place at the right time and with just the right skill set to make opportunities happen.  There have been some impressive opportunities along the way.  Take, for example, Martie’s 2012 run on “Food Network Star”.  The home cook took on professional chefs and restaurateurs in a made-for-television competition, using her considerable life experience and engaging personality to competitive advantage.  Her appearance on the show came not by chance, but grew instead from a chance meeting some two years earlier.

She was waiting for the valet in front of a pricey Atlanta hotel when Martie was approached by a gentleman who needed directions.  He tapped her on the shoulder and asked, “Hey, can you tell me how to get to Buckhead?”  “Yeah, take a cab!” she replied.  There was an immediate connection.  One cheerful smart-ass recognized another, and Martie chatted easily with restaurateur and television personality Guy Fieri.  “What are you doing here?” he wanted to know.  “Why, same as you,” came her answer.  Both were in town to attend the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show.  It was Martie’s first invited appearance at the Show, and she had taken a room at the hotel she couldn’t afford, hoping to meet someone who might help her career.

That someone was Guy Fieri.  When he learned that Duncan is a blogger and writes the “Martie Knows Parties” website, he exclaimed, “You’re like a walking party!”  He immediately wanted to know why his charming new friend didn’t have her own show on Food Network.  Martie confessed to her inexperience and lack of formal training, but Guy was unimpressed.  Neither Paula Deen nor Rachael Ray have formal culinary training.  “Why don’t you do ‘Food Network Star’?” recommended Fieri, and his advice made sense.  After two years behind the scenes and in the kitchen learning technique, developing new recipes and building her confidence, Martie was ready to take her shot at television fame.

It wasn’t easy, and Martie insists that she won’t rewatch the first few episodes when Season 8 airs again later this year.  There are some painful memories including the tense and embarrassing critiques from her mentor, Alton Brown.  There were some great successes, too, like the “Signature Dish” episode when Martie planned to make individual chocolate souffle cakes with homemade ice cream, only to find that there was no ice cream machine in the Food Network kitchen, and her oven didn’t work!  Improvise, improvise.  She did, and the home cook was a quick study, beating out several professionals to finish among the top four contestants, earning the admiration and enthusiastic vote of viewers across the country.  Since the show has ended, one or more of those viewers stop Martie every day on the street or in the grocery, eager to explain how her Food Network journey has inspired them to take on a difficult new challenge.  “They make me cry almost every day of my life,” she says sincerely, “to think that I may have made a difference for someone.”

Rivers of tears may soon be flowing because Martie makes a difference wherever she goes.  She has partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a “Food Safe Families” campaign that offers meal preparation tips and encourages safe food practices.  She works with the state of Alabama to promote tourism and the local seafood industry.  (Did you know that 90% of all crabs caught in the United States are processed in Alabama?  Well, did you?)  She quietly volunteers her time where needed, recently making an unpublicized trip to Newtown, Connecticut where she helped throw a Valentine’s party for the Sandy Hook community, a heartwarming, cupcake filled event.

The Valentine’s party was one of several events on her February calendar; she averages two to four per month, all fit around her day job.  Martie produces a featured web series for and writes extensively on recipes, food and entertaining for her own website,  Her mission is to get people back to entertaining, and she is passionate about her work.  “America! Let me help you,” she pleads.  “Parties don’t have to be perfect; they just have to be fun.  Let’s do it!”  The food, the decorations and table settings are “just the icing on the cake”.  It’s the interactions with guests that make a party great.  Martie wants to teach us how to dial it down, make a party simple, affordable and most of all, fun.

She knows all the tricks.  During a twenty year career in the wedding industry she learned from customers, caterers, suppliers and stylists, and now Martie’s ready to share her tips for easy entertaining with us all.  Her web content will soon be supplemented by an eBook on appetizers.  A full length book on food and entertaining is in development.  Two or three different television show concepts are currently in the early stages of discussion, focused on cooking, parties and FUN!  Martie is also interested in producing a wedding segment for one of the major network early morning shows.  In May, she’ll help host one of Alabama’s biggest parties, the Hangout Festival, with music superstars like Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty and sixty other music acts.  She’s busy, but having the time of her life!

Despite her jam-packed schedule, when the call came from an old friend this spring she simply couldn’t refuse.  She used to book him gigs in high school, and now the former band member planned to get married… a week.  Just a simple wedding, that’s all he wanted.  Martie agreed to the challenge, and then a full week became a matter of a few days when rain precluded work at the outdoor wedding site.  On the morning of the event, Martie’s assistant spiked a fever and spent unexpected time at an emergency clinic.  The team’s wedding preparations began two hours later than scheduled.  Martie forgot to bring all the serving platters……

…..but she remembered to bring the party.  It was a perfect day.

Check out this newly released video and see if you agree!  We think party expert and Food Network star Martie Duncan is a natural for television, and we’re ready to bring the party home with Martie!

Follow @MARTIEparty on Twitter

Like Martie Knows Parties on Facebook

Join Martie Duncan and Taylor Hicks at the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show in Houston on September 15: Buy tickets


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