Photo of the Day (06.05.2008)

I love a good night photo, and this one by Trent Strohm (aka Strudel Monkey) fits the bill. It’s colourful, it’s clear, it’s well-composed, and most importantly, it fills me with the insatiable urge to go to China right-freaking-now. Taken recently, the photo is of the Huilan Pavilion in Qingdao, China. It was built in 1891 and might look oddly familiar for a very good reason: It’s on the label of all Tsingtao beer bottles.

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Midwestern Bluegrass in China with Ironweed

My aunt, Jane Accurso, is in a traditional bluegrass band; she plays lead guitar and sings. They’re called Ironweed, and they’re one of Columbia, Missouri’s most well known groups in a burgeoning local music scene. Columbia has a sister city in China: Laoshan, which is roughly 30km east of Qingdao (Tsingtao). A few months back, the Columbia Friends of China — an organization dedicated to promoting sister-city relationships — accepted applications from local Columbia bands to be considered for an all-expenses-paid spot playing on stage at the Quingdao International Beer Festival. Ironweed won the spot.

Until yesterday afternoon, Jane had never left the United States. “We leave for the airport in just a couple of hours,” she wrote on the band’s blog. “I don’t even know how to use chopsticks!”

The band will be updating their blog from the road, sharing the experiences of being one of the few traditional bluegrass bands to play in China. They’ve also got a Flickr page for photos. I can’t wait to follow along.