Free Drum & Dance Performance

The best way to fight cabin fever is to embrace the cold and venture forth in search of entertainment.  The place you want to be on Sunday, January 26, 2014 is the Quiet Reading Room in the Main Library First Floor at 4400 Forbes Avenue.  I am a big proponent for all our local libraries and love to promote the wide scope of events they offer.  They are known for digging up the best talent in Pittsburgh and offering it to the public free of charge.  If you show up between 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM you can catch a performance of a unique African arrangement.

In December of 2007 Yamoussa Camara formed Camara Drum & Dance to perform the music and dance of Guinea and West Africa.   He includes unique and exciting arrangements of West African music punctuated by original choreography and authentic costumes made for the group in Guinea.  Camara was born in the village of Boke, Guinea, West Africa in 1966 and took to his drum at an early age. In 1995 he immigrated to the United States. He taught drum and dance at Yale University for 10 years then traveled the U.S. teaching, performing, choreographing and polishing presentations for various dance ensembles.  We are indeed fortunate that he has decided to call our region home and join the huge base of talent our city holds.

Mito Camara

Yamoussa Camara currently resides in Pittsburgh and teaches West African dance at Carnegie Mellon University, the African Drum Ensemble at the University of Pittsburgh and West African drumming at The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination.  This is a busy guy with lots of positive energy you can absorb from every performance.  Hey, maybe you even want to take a class.   He teaches drum and dance workshops for children and adults.   This Renaissance man can be contacted for private classes or performances as well.  What better way to warm up on a cold winter night.   You can reach him at 412-403-7502 or check out his website



Wet, Wild and Pittsburgh Proud

Anyone who can survive a Pittsburgh winter and the subsequent bad drivers can handle pretty much anything.  The people from this region are just naturally hardy and like to live life to the extreme.  A shining example of this is Captain Wild Bill Wichrowski.  He grew up in Irwin and ended up with the most dangerous job in the country.  Really, it has been tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Wild Bill must have craved the sea after traveling three rivers and headed out to the last frontier of Alaska to make his mark.  He worked his way up on a crab processing ship by developing a tough skin and resilient spirit.

True talent stands out like a sore thumb and it wasn’t long before Bill was made captain of a huge seagoing crab catching man bashing vessel.  Captain Bill spent 20 years fishing the Bering Sea before being captured by the Discovery Channel for their reality series Deadliest Catch.  You won’t find more swashbuckling, high end adventure fun anywhere outside of a pirate movie.  I doubt you will ever look at crab the same way again either.  The show highlights Bill’s notorious behavior and his potentially intimidating reputation.  But I think you have to be pretty tough to put up with perilous conditions at sea coupled with all the other risks inherent in his profession.  Not to mention the challenge of keeping a garrulous crew in check.  Remember Moby Dick!  Even though he has been known to use unconventional methods to keep his crew going strong, he is a really smart guy.  He has extensive experience as a naval engineer, boat electrician, and every aspect of  being a commercial fisherman.

Discovery Channel producers first approached Bill to join Deadliest Catch right out of the gate but he declined.  He had semi-retired leading high-end fishing expeditions but was lured back crabbing by their tempting  offer.  It was an excellent decision since the show has turned into an award winning hit.  It is heading into it’s tenth year and now includes Bill’s son Zack Larson.  It is as addictive as a soap opera with no dull moments.   And under his tough exterior Bill is a really  nice guy who puts as much energy into his nonprofit projects and charities as he does taming the high seas.  Don’t believe everything you see on TV.

You may want to watch from season one on Netflix or have a dinner and a reality show party with crab as the main course.  It is a great way to escape the rigors of your own job and rethink any complaints you have about your own hard demands.



Anti-Bullying Rock N’ Roll

Pittsburgh is home to a unique and unforgettable anti-bullying musical comedy program for children called the The Josh & Gab Show.  Gab Bonesso is a nationally renowned comedian, performer and comedy writer.  Josh Verbanets is an award winning songwriter, singer and musician.  Together they form an inspiring team that promotes positive behavior in young children.  Their performances utilize humor, original songs, interactive exercises and energetic storytelling in a very fun and heartfelt way.

Josh and Gab

The duo has performed their groundbreaking anti-bullying shows at over 75 schools, camps, and community venues that include Western Pennsylvania’s Montour School District,Carnegie Mellon University’s Waffle Shop and the Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival.  They target kindergarten through 8th grade audiences because they are most primed to receive and absorb positive influence.  By the time they reach high school it is a much tougher sell.  But this talented team take motivational speaking and singing to a new level.  It is almost impossible not be touched by their performance regardless of your age.  It truly inspires you to be a better person and help those around you.

You can check their website for an upcoming performance schedule or contact them to request an appearance.  I think every guidance counselor in every school should have them on speed dial.  Although most schools try to adhere to anti-bullying policies, it is always a challenge enforce them.  Plus bullying is fear based and my own daughter has been afraid to tell on people for fear of repercussion.  We have worked through a lot of issues and her school has a great staff that has been very helpful.  But it is a constant battle and can wear down the resolve of the most stoic victim.  Positive reinforcement is the best approach to keep self esteem high.

Make this a year for instilling positive values in yourself and those around you.  The rewards will be ten fold and each day will take on new meaning.