Lianne La Havas’ Debut Album


Lianne La Havas

Click here to listen!

Here’s what they’re saying about my beautiful cousin on Rdio:

Offering a mostly acoustic and hushed hybrid of alternative folk and soul, Lianne La Havas was born and raised in London, England, the daughter of a Jamaican mother and Greek father. The singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist was a member of the Paris Parade, but the act proved to be short-lived. La Havas eventually shifted to solo work and released Lost & Found, an EP featuring a duet with Willy Mason, in October 2011. Two months later — the same month she opened for Bon Iver during a North American tour — it was announced that she had been nominated for the BBC’s Sound of 2012 poll. La Havas’ debut album for Warner Bros. was planned for release in 2012. ~ Andy Kellman on Rdio

Act Justly and Love Mercy


It’s been two months since I attended the 2012 Justice Conference, in Portland, Oregon. It felt like coming home. It changed my life in a big way and many small ways. What I see in the rearview mirror is familiar, comfortable. I’ve been on this road before, but now I understand why.

He has shown thee, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

My journey to do justice began before I was born. I can’t pinpoint the actual “when” – it started with my Pappous (Grandfather), a Greek-Italian man who displayed humility in many tangible ways. Based on his character, I would hazard a guess that someone in his life influenced him to do justice. The best way to learn justice is to see justice in action.

Our childhood, my siblings and I, was sprinkled with fascinating stories of my Mother’s life in Greece and England. Those stories were the foundation, the mirepoix, that flavored the recipe of our lives. Here’s a little snapshot:

In 1940, during WW2, the “Battle of Greece” began with the Italian occupation. By 1941, the Germans advanced on Greece. In 1943, in the midst of death, and grief, and sorrow, my Mom’s older siblings (Uncle Gaby and Aunt Charlotte) befriended a British soldier. They brought him home, introduced him to the rest of the Cutayar family, and there they harbored him, on and off, for a few weeks. He was safe with them. In their naivety, they began introducing him to friends. Amongst their friends were some Italian soldiers. The “British” soldier turned out to be a Greek freedom fighter with an exceptional command of the English language. The Italians, when they found out the Cutayars had harbored the enemy, were not so agreeable.

Italian soldiers invaded the family home and turned it upside-down in search of the “British” soldier. He was not found. My Pappous, Uncle, and Aunt were taken away. Eventually, they were released. Sometime later, the Italians left Greece and those Greeks who supported the King were rounded up by the Greek communist faction. My Mom and her family were taken to a concentration camp.

When my Mom entered the camp, she had long, silky black hair. She was, and still is, a natural beauty. Soon after they arrived, the lice did, too. My Pappous made the decision to shave my Mom’s head rather than let her suffer. He was grieved at having to shave her head and asked her to never cut her hair again. My Mom honored his request for more than 70 years. Food was scarce and, that which was available, was barely edible. They scraped the mold off food and the adults sacrificed their portion so that my Mom could eat.

It came time to be questioned and the family was brought before the soldiers in charge of the camp. A man stepped forward and spoke on their behalf, the same man they had harbored in their home. They were set free and walked for miles and miles to reach their home. But they still weren’t safe. They packed as much as they could and crossed over to the “free” area and, eventually, moved to England.

For as long as I can remember, my Mom’s been scraping mold off food and re-warming leftovers. She doesn’t waste food and hates it when I do. She remembers the mercy God extended to her and her family and takes every opportunity to feed everyone who walks in her door. We laughingly suggest it’s a “Greek” thing, but her determination to do justice extends far beyond food. There is no doubt she passed the desire to “do justice” on to her children.

Justice restores hope. When you see injustice, it either breaks your heart or makes you mad.

Jesus intentionally and publicly chose his natural companionship among those disinherited from the power structure. Justice requires casting our lot with them. – Walter Brueggemann

An Evening of Bluegrass and Banjo

In August, I bought tickets to see Steve Martin in Spokane, at the Fox. Silly me, I thought it was an evening of Steve Martin the comedian – wild and crazy – or some variation thereof. A few hours before we (Paula, Doug, and I) leave for the show, I check online and find out that it’s actually an evening of bluegrass and banjo, and joining Steve Martin on stage is The Steep Canyon Rangers. He’s on tour to promote the release of his first bluegrass album, The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo (Rounder Records). The album was released in May 2009, and reached #1 on the Billboard Bluegrass Album chart where it stayed for 12 weeks. But it’s still banjo music.

I was a bit disappointed. I send my brother an IM to let him know just in case he was looking forward to a night of Funky Tut and Cruel Shoes. He already knew. And Paula heard Martin interviewed on NPR. And…we’re still going.  Banjos. Seriously? Banjos? I’m not sure I can do it. I throw a bottle of aspirin in my purse.

It’s a lovely theater. Our seats are dead center stage and very, very high up. Paula leans over to me, motions to the ceiling and says, “Watch your head.” Austin and Laura Storm come walking up the aisle and end up sitting next to us. Laura knows it’s a night of banjos, too. How did I miss this important fact? I say to Paula, “Do you think all these people know it’s banjo music?” She laughed and reminded me about the NPR interview. I look around at the crowd and wonder if they are a sampling of an NPR audience.

Well…shut my mouth! It was a fantastic evening of great music. The Steep Canyon Rangers , from Asheville, North Carolina, are very, very talented musicians. In addition to Steve Martin on the banjo, the Rangers are: Woody Platt (guitar and lead vocals), Graham Sharp (banjo, harmony vocals), Mike Guggino (mandolin and harmony vocals), Charles R. Humphrey III (bass and harmony vocals) and Nicky Sanders (fiddle and harmony vocals).

I’ll admit it. I was totally surprised by how much I enjoyed the music. The instruments and vocals blended flawlessly. The performers wore beautiful suits – no overalls, and not a jug, saw, or washboard was played. Steve Martin managed to weave his comedy throughout the performance. We laughed and clapped for eighty minutes. And, after three curtain calls, Steve graced us with King Tut. Born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia, King Tut. He was buried in his jammies.

Unfortunately, the tour is over. If you didn’t get the chance to see Steve Martin in concert…you missed a great evening of entertainment. You can check out his website here. And thanks to lala, you can listen to the album on that little gadget below. The album is good, but the live performance was priceless. I’m happy to report I lived through a night of banjo and bluegrass music, and I’d do it again if Steve Martin or The Steep Canyon Rangers were on stage.

The Crow – New Songs for the F…

Eat Like A Greek

I wasn’t raised in a traditional Greek family, with two Greek-speaking parents; nevertheless, my Mom and her family made it their quest to infuse us with a love for all things Greek. My Dad graciously allowed it to happen, although, over the years, he’s made every attempt to stick a Scottish label on us, but not much sticks to Greece (pun intended). Somehow, I managed to make it through thirty years of life before I realized my “Greek” family originated from Italians. So four generations ago, the grandparents of my grandparents left Italy and made their lives in Greece. And so, I willingly embrace all things Italian.

My Mom did a good job of incorporating American food in to our lives. I’m pretty sure she did it so my Dad wouldn’t starve. And though he loves her cooking, he doesn’t fully appreciate the more colorful aspects of Greek cuisine. Thankfully, I inherited my Mom’s palette and have no food fears. Well, except for lima beans, and badly cooked okra. Oh…and liver.

At an early age, I learned to eat first and then ask, “What is that?” When a plate was set in front of me, regardless of the smell, texture, or look of an item, I was required to take a bite. This small obedience was, as I look back over my life, one of the best gifts my Mom gave me. If not for that little rule, I would have missed out on so many wonderful and exciting flavors from many different cuisines.

When I was eighteen, my family, in different variations, spent the summer in Greece. We lived many days on the beaches of Glyfada, Tolo, and Vouliagmeni, only coming out of the sea for a few hours to eat a delicious lunch. We ate fresh fish, village salads, crispy potatoes, slabs of cheese, lemony horta, and loaves of fresh bread. With wet hair and wet bathing suits, sand between our toes, and sunburned skin, we took pleasure in eating the simple but scrumptious food. Bread was for dipping, lemons for squeezing, fingers for licking, and forks were, well, forks were optional.

The other night I saw an episode of FoodTV’s Chopped: When Chefs Collide (Episode 3.1). In the appetizer round, the chefs were tasked with creating an appetizer out of Manila clams, kumquats, and croissants. The Greek chef, Peter Giannakas, Chef and Restaurateur of Ovelia Psistaria Bar, New York, NY., was eliminated in the first round. He created a dish that, according to the judges, was difficult to eat. They also commented about the flavors of his dish; however, since they were too afraid to get their hands messy, I question whether or not they actually tasted the dish. As the chef was eliminated, he said to the judges, “Don’t be afraid to eat.” I laughed so hard I nearly cried. My Mom would be proud of him.

Thanks to her, and the generations of Greeks who came before me, I am not afraid to taste – even if it means getting messy or trying new flavor combinations. I believe my love for cooking is in the genes, seasoned by my Mom, and whipped in to shape by hours of practice. For that I am thankful and, Lord willing, I will have many more years to eat like a Greek.

Unveiling The New Website

image With a sigh of relief, Executive Auto Broker, launched its new website. Or, as we now call it – Phase One. Which means only one thing…I have more work to do. Older versions of Internet Explorer have “issues” with the site, which doesn’t surprise me at all. We’ll work on that.

For about a year now I’ve been working with a friend in his San Diego based company – in my spare time. I’ve enjoyed learning about a different industry and wearing a different hat. Basically, I work in media services (aka Marketing). With the help of Rachel Hoffman at Orangepeal Design, we’ve changed the “look” of EAB and still managed to keep the boss happy.

I’d just finished reading a book by Steve Krug entitled, Don’t Make Me Think: A image (1)Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (New Riders Press, 2005, Berkeley), when the boss said it was time to give the website a fresh look. Actually, I’d wanted to get my hands on the website from day one, but I was patient. Hey…I was. The idea was to create a website with minimal words that still manages to communicate the essence of our business in a professional and fresh way.

image (2)While the website was under revision, I had the opportunity to sell my first car – a Land Rover Freelander. It turns out the experience was extremely  beneficial. I got a chance to understand the whole process from start to finish.  And, as a result, I saw the website with new eyes.

My first client, my niece Amanda, loves her new car. The loan officer at the financial institution was so shocked by the low price, he thought the car was salvaged. Far from it. She paid slightly over wholesale and it’s a beauty.

If you’re looking for a pre-owned car in excellent condition, give ExecutiveAB a try. We’ll ship the car, free of charge, right to your front door. Use my marketing/ad code: LucyZoe on the Quote Form, on the website…and you’ll get a discount.

Meanwhile, I’m in my slippers, watching TV, working on Phase Two and the next email campaign, and resting my feet on the coffee table. Life is good.

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