Saturday, February 19, 2011

A very interesting musical evening lies ahead...

...for those planning to attend NASA's big annual "State of the Program" dinner.

I have friends who are interested in NASA for various reasons and might be interested in this dinner, which turns out to be open to the public. But even for you guys who don’t care much about NASA, it turns out that the musical entertainment this year is an artist whom I like very much and have followed for several years as part of one of my favorite bands; her solo career is just now getting underway and I think you’re likely to find that the music that evening is quite memorable. For $15 – which includes dinner! – I think you’ll find it very far from a wasted evening. Of course, you’ll have to listen to a career bureaucrat give a speech…but still I think it’s a great deal.

Lydia Salnikova was the keyboardist and one of the two female lead vocalists for Bering Strait, one of my all-time favorite bands (as I explain at painful length here, ranking each of their songs in order of my personal preference). Bering Strait was composed of a bunch of young Russian kids who came to America because they wanted to be, of all things, in a Nashville country band. And they were AWESOME – Grammy-nominated, in fact – but, alas, ultimately headed in separate individual directions musically. Once the band broke up, Lydia put together a very nice little self-produced, keyboard- and lyric-driven indie album in her home studio which I’m enjoying a lot these days (you can buy it here), and in her spare time sang the role of Charlemagne’s wife on Christopher Lee’s bizarrely entertaining heavy-metal-opera tribute to his illustrious ancestor. (You can’t make this stuff up. Also I bought that album just because I had to hear Christopher Lee and Lydia Salnikova singing a heavy-metal rock-opera duet, and it was much less unintentionally comic than I had expected – actually surprisingly good. For days I found myself wandering around chanting under my breath, “I shed the blood of the Saxon men!”) So for this particular dinner she and Dane Bryant are both coming armed with pianos and are doing a bunch of space-themed songs in honor of the occasion…Salnikova’s actually soliciting suggestions on her blog as we speak. So far I think the two of them are looking at piano-and-vocal-only covers of songs by Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, the Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer and R. Kelly. Somebody has suggested that they cover Sarah McLachlan and Eric Idle as well, both of which sound like good ideas to me.

In short, I think this is likely to be a VERY interesting musical night. So even though it’ll only be a day and half after I get back from China, and even though I’ll still be jet-lagged enough to be deeply concerned about snoring during Director Coats’s speech, I’m planning to leave work early enough to hie myself to the Johnson Space Center to listen to, of all things, a career bureaucrat give a speech about why his department should get more money. (That isn’t the official topic of his speech, but what do YOU think he’s going to talk about??)

And I’d like company, and I don’t think you Gentle Readers will be sorry you went…so let me know if you’re interested and we’ll have a party.

And if I’m REALLY REALLY lucky and you guys pray a LOT, then maybe Helen will have come back with me and she might be able to join us.


At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Lydia Salnikova said...

Ken - thank you so much for helping me spread the word about this performance at JSC on March 24th! I really appreciate it and hope that you yourself will be able to come out.

BTW, you are funny... :-)

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