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I recently attended a new monthly event known as the Campfire Sessions that is held at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland. The idea is that local musicians play a 15-minute set then answer questions from the audience regarding their music.  This particular event was held on the last day in February, 2018.

The Bachelor from the Bachelor and the Bad Actress prepares his guitar for the upcoming show.

The evening began with a set from Christopher Bronholm and his percussion playing partner.

Here’s a video I shot of Christopher Bronholm and his partner performing the song “It Rains in Baltimore.”

You can learn more about Christopher Bronholm through another YouTube video that he appeared in (and was shot by someone else).

The next photo shows the second set the was performed by The Bachelor and The Bad Actress.

I shot this video of the duo performing “The Bicycle Song.” As part of this song The Bachelor and The Bad Actress handed out bicycle bells for the audience to ring at various parts during the song.

You can learn more about the music of The Bachelor and The Bad Actress through their Bandcamp page.

Last but not least Dar Stellabotta performed a set with her homemade guitar that she built using a cigar box.

After the show she had CDs on sale along with an extra cigar box guitar that she built. (I don’t know if anyone purchased that guitar or not. If I wasn’t so short on cash these days I would definitely seriously consider buying it. I managed to purchase one of her CDs for $10.)

Here’s a video I shot of Dar Stellabotta playing with her cigar box guitar.

You can learn more about Dar Stellabotta through her website.

Buy Me a Coffee at


Not too long ago I went to a fundraiser that was held at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland for Ben Jealous, the former leader of the NAACP who is running for governor of Maryland. He had previously worked on Bernie Sanders’ campaign back in 2016 and he was inspired by Sanders to run his own gubernatorial campaign where he is accepting micro-donations from average people instead of big corporate donations. In some ways that event was reminiscent of a similar fundraiser for Heather Mizeur’s ill-fated gubernatorial campaign that was also held at the New Deal Cafe back in 2014. Hopefully Ben Jealous’ campaign may have a better result this time around.

Anyway, I shot this footage of the band Kiva performing with a belly dancer.

Unfortunately I had less battery power in my camera than I thought so I basically used it up shooting Kiva. When Ben Jealous took to the stage at one point, I made these shots using the Photo Booth software on my MacBook.

I’ll end this post with a group photo that was taken by someone else and was later posted on Facebook. Ben Jealous is standing third from the left. I’m the woman who’s wearing the blue Eeyore sweatshirt in that photo.

I shot some footage of Honey Boat, which was once a band but, for now, it has been reduced to just Andy Weaver on guitar and vocals. This performance took place at an event known as the Campfire Sessions (where local musicians perform a short set then answer questions from the audience about their music) that was held at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland on January 31, 2018. Andy has a really pretty voice and her guitar playing is excellent as well.

Santa Claus

December 21, 2017 was the Winter Solstice, which means that it was the longest night of the year. The New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland was having an Open Mic night and, well, since it was the Winter Solstice I decided to actually go on stage and try being a performer. A few months ago I purchased this ocarina from Baltimore Comic-Con.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Since that time I’ve been teaching myself using some sheet music I downloaded from various web sites so I decided to try performing it in public for the hell of it. Most of my friends were there that night and they were polite in cheering me on as I performed songs like “Bingo” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” on stage. I hung around after my short set checking out the other performers, doing some socializing with my friends, and editing some photos for future blog posts and social media.

I ended up staying until closing time. I originally intended to just go straight home until I stepped outside and I saw a group of people sitting around a folding table that had been set up with lit candles while they were drumming. I asked them what was going on and it turned out that some people who are into pagan or nature spirituality had decided to set up an impromptu ritual late at night in honor of the Winter Solstice. They decided to wait until late at night because a few of the participants were working at the New Deal Cafe. Sure enough the New Deal Cafe employees and volunteers who wanted to take part in the ritual soon arrived after they did the last bit of cleaning up the place for the next day.

Basically the ritual consisted of some people chanting, some people drumming, and one man playing a didgeridoo. I ended up hanging around despite the very frigid weather that night. I was mesmerized by the lovely candles that were set up. I took a few pictures that night.

The ritual had pretty much ended by midnight due to the cold.

Santa Claus Baby New Year

One Saturday in early December a snowstorm hit my area. The snow lasted the entire day and into the night, it was ultimately somewhere between 1-2 inches, and it basically laid in the grass but not on the sidewalks and streets. The temperatures were below freezing the entire day. The weather wasn’t very conductive to doing much of anything outdoors. I decided to take a short drive to Roosevelt Center so I could check out what the Festival of Lights display looked like in the snow.

I’ve taken photos of the Greenbelt Festival of Lights before. The first time was in January, 2016 just before the festival officially ended. The second time I shot the opening ceremony in December, 2016. I skipped this year’s opening ceremony because I decided to attend the Holiday Warm-Up Party that was scheduled at my church the same evening. I decided to take pictures of what it all looked like in the middle of the snowstorm. Here is what I shot in the afternoon.

I briefly stopped by the Greenbelt Makerspace, which was deserted because most people opted to stay in their own homes instead of venturing out. That makerspace had its own decorations for Christmas and Hanukkah up.

I didn’t stay in the makerspace too long due to a lack of people plus I was in the mood for some hot chocolate at the New Deal Cafe. As I walked across the way I saw this squirrel who seemed to ignore the snowstorm all around it because it was more focus on satisfying its hunger.

I basically spent my time at the New Deal Cafe sipping hot chocolate, talking with the few people who were there (there were more people than at the Greenbelt Makerspace but it was still less crowded than usual on a Saturday afternoon), and doing some web surfing until sunset. The snowstorm was still going strong when I took these night photos of the Festival of Lights.

I began to feel some icy patches forming underneath my feet so I decided to return home. The snowstorm didn’t stop until around 9 p.m.

Early last month it was an unusually warm November day so I sat on a park bench outside the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland. One nice touch that the cafe has is that there is a dog dish filled with water that’s available for any dog to drink from. Except other animals besides dogs have also taken advantage of the cafe’s generous offer, such as this sparrow in the next two photos.

I really did a lot of things on the weekend before Halloween. Friday I went to the Final Friday Art Walk in Hyattsville then I went over to catch the tail end of the nearby Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival. While I was sitting in the New Deal Cafe recharging my camera battery, I had someone, whom I’ve done some work for on an upcoming documentary focusing on the musical acts who have appeared at the New Deal Cafe during the cafe’s 22 years in existence, contact me suddenly via Facebook Messenger saying that he needed me to shoot some more footage for his documentary. One of the acts, The Mojo Priests were performing that very night while the other act, The Wild Anacostias, were performing the following night.

I managed to film The Mojo Priests on a partially-charged camera battery. (That director was only lucky that I happened to be at the New Deal that night when he made that last-minute Facebook Message asking me to film that band. If I had been elsewhere like in DC or Baltimore or Montgomery County or Northern Virginia, there would’ve been no way I could’ve been done this on an extremely short notice.) As for the Wild Anacostias, I couldn’t stay for the entire concert mainly because I needed to be at church the following morning so I had to go to bed at a reasonable hour so I could wake up early the next day.

That afternoon I went to Annapolis to check out a few Halloween-related events. I managed to squeeze in the Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk in the early evening mainly because the Wild Anacostias weren’t due to start performing until after 8:30 p.m.

After I finished the Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, I headed straight to the New Deal Cafe where I shot some footage of the Wild Anacostias. Here is a Halloween costume fashion show, where the band encouraged audience members to take to the stage where they were showing off their Halloween costumes.

Here’s the band performing the song “I Got a Spell on You.”

The band performs the song “It’s Your Voodoo Working.”

Here’s the band performing “Fortune Teller.”

And, last but not least, here’s the band performing “Spooky.”

Like I wrote earlier, I couldn’t stay for the entire show due to church the next morning but I hope that he’s happy with what I shot. My friend is working on a documentary that’s supposed to feature all kinds of performances at the New Deal Cafe over the cafe’s 22 years in existence. He’s gathered older videos that I shot as well as what others have shot as well. For the past few months he wanted new footage of the latest acts and he’s also filming interviews with people who have either worked at the cafe or performed there. I know that there’s a certain wisdom in always having more footage than what you’ll really need so you won’t be short-handed when it comes to the final editing. But the challenge is to make sure that you don’t go overboard on this or else you can easily end up with a documentary running three hours or more that very few people will want to sit through because it’s too long.

In any case, after this post, I’m going to revert to my previous policy of not talking about ongoing work I do for others until after a project is done. If and when this documentary gets released, I will let you know in this blog.

On the Friday before Halloween I wanted to have fun. I found out that there were two events happening on the same night. One was the Final Friday Art Walk in Hyattsville and the other was the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival. I decided to go to the Hyattsville one first since that one was scheduled to end earlier. Costumes were encouraged for all ages so I put on my Rainbow Dash hoodie. When I arrived in Hyattsville I decided to check my smartphone to see if my camera was even working and—to my surprise—I found that it was working. I decided to use that opportunity to take a rare selfie.

A Rare Selfie

Sadly my smartphone camera stopped working after that selfie. At least I have my Canon camera with me to continue taking photographs with. The only bad thing was that I discovered that I didn’t have much battery power left. I managed to take a few pictures nonetheless.

The entire Art Walk trail was marked by orange balloons, such as the one in the next photograph.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I first went to the horn sculpture that is located outside the Hyattsville Court House.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Next I went to Art Works Now, which was all decked out for Halloween.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Art Works Now had this hands-on demonstration in a type of printing process using acrylic paint and glass plates.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Here is what I created.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I briefly visited this new place known as Uzu, which provides Japanese comfort food. (No, I didn’t eat there.)

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I went to the Artist & Craftsman Supply store, which had a special art exhibit done by the store’s employees.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I visited Tanglewood Works, which held a meade tasting by a local supplier who plans to set up shop in Hyattsville soon.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

A marching band was playing music as it walked along the sidewalk.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I went inside this haunted house that was created using upcycled and recycled materials.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I went inside this place that housed a recording studio and a tattoo parlor.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

The last place I went to on the Final Friday Art Walk was to the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center. By that point my camera battery had died and the art walk was going to officially end soon. So I took these last two pictures before I got back in my car and headed for the other event.

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

Final Friday Art Walk, Hyattsville, Maryland, October 27, 2017

I headed to the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival, where people were still carving pumpkins. I pulled out my camera in the hopes of being able to get one picture and, miraculously, I managed to take this picture of a pumpkin carving in progress.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival, October 27, 2017

But then my camera totally died. I tried my smartphone camera since it had worked earlier only to find that it wasn’t working either. I decided to duck inside the New Deal Cafe and make an effort to recharge my battery for a few minutes before I would go back outside and take more pictures of the lit pumpkins. I rested for a few minutes when I suddenly got this urgent Facebook Message from someone whom I’ve been doing some recent video work for.

On that note, I’m going to violate my own personal policy of never writing in this blog about ongoing projects I do for other people until after the project in question is done because I can’t really go any further in this narrative unless I write a little about this project. Here’s the thing. The New Deal Cafe is a non-profit cooperatively-run eating establishment that’s located in Greenbelt, Maryland. (You can read more about it here and here.) Ever since its inception it has hosted live music (mostly from local bands). The performers don’t get paid by the cafe (mainly because it’s totally run on a very shoestring budget) but the cafe provides tip jars and that is how the musicians make any money. From time to time I’ve shot videos there of various acts over the years, all of which I’ve uploaded on to YouTube and embedded in various posts throughout the seven years that this blog has existed.

A few months ago this filmmaker whom I’ve known for a few years came up with this idea of doing a documentary featuring the various music acts who have played at the cafe over the 22 years that the cafe has existed. He found out that I had been shooting some video and wanted to use what I’ve got. I gave him the video footage that I have on my laptop (and it’s also the same footage that I’ve uploaded on to YouTube) and he has been contacting other people who have also shot videos in an effort to obtain their footage as well. He also planned on interviewing various people to get their recollections of what it’s like to see these bands or work with them or even play in those bands.

Despite the video footage he received from myself and others and his plans to interview people, he still wanted new footage of recent band performances and he asked for my help in filming. Fortunately I had recently purchased a used Canon digital camera off eBay so I had a more reliable camera than my nearly four-year-old smartphone camera, which only sporadically works these days.

So I shot some recent footage of various bands over the past several weeks, which is why you’ve been seeing more embedded footage of what I’ve shot at the New Deal Cafe lately.

So I was sitting in the New Deal Cafe waiting for my camera battery to recharge so I could shoot still photos of the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival when this filmmaker came over on Facebook Messenger. He decided at the last minute that he urgently needed new footage for two bands—one that was scheduled to perform that very night I happened to be at the New Deal Cafe while getting his message. The other would be scheduled to perform the following night. He couldn’t be there for either band but he desperately wanted some footage of both bands. I told him that I was recharging my camera battery and I could try to record that night’s band but I couldn’t guarantee anything. (I had never tried shooting anything on a half-charged battery before.) He got me to agree to shoot both that night’s band and the other band the following night, even though I can’t stay too late most Saturday nights these days. (That’s because I not only attend church on Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. but I’m currently volunteering with the church’s program of teaching English to recent immigrants and those classes run from 1:15-3:15 p.m. On top of it, that Sunday was the Sunday before Halloween and I was among the adults who were involved with the Trunk or Treat event that was scheduled to run between the end of Sunday service and the beginning of English classes.)

By the time I got away from Facebook Messenger, I put the battery back into my camera and darted outside to see the lit pumpkins only to find that volunteers had already taken them away. Yeah, it sucked but I’ve shot photos and videos of previous Greenbelt Pumpkin Festivals so it’s not like I don’t know what such an event is like. I went back inside the New Deal Cafe and I managed to film one of the bands in question, The Mojo Priests. I didn’t film for too long because I only had a half-charged battery. But I managed to film some footage of the band in action.

I shot this video footage of the Linwood Taylor Band doing an awesome cover of Robert Johnson’s “Dust My Broom” live at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland on September 29, 2017.

If you like what you hear and see, you can check out some more of the band’s music at tunein.

Like I’ve written numerous times, I recently purchased a used Canon PowerShot ELPH 190IS for $80 on eBay (after the dealing with an increasingly erratic smartphone camera app and a Canon Digital Rebel DSLR camera battery refuse to recharge) and I’m fast falling in love with that camera. It shoots pictures and videos that are just as high quality (if not more high quality) than my Droid Ultra smartphone but it’s incredibly lightweight so I can carry it in my pocket or bag or purse (which is in contrast with the older and bulkier DSLR camera).

I recently used my Canon PowerShot when I saw the band Frenchy and the Punk when they performed at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland earlier this month. In some ways it’s appropriate that I used this band to test my latest camera. I went through my older posts and I found that the last time I saw this band perform was in 2011 when they performed at—you guessed it—the New Deal Cafe. I was still married and my husband and I had just gotten our first smartphones (a Droid 3). I had recently done a Google search for tutorials on how to shoot photos and videos with my Droid smartphone (up until that point I had a flip top phone that didn’t take pictures mainly because, at the time I got this camera, having a cell phone with a camera cost nearly twice as much).

So I used that particular Frenchy and the Punk performance to practice my video shooting skills using that smartphone. I shot and uploaded a total of four videos from that particular show: “House of Cards,” “Magician and the Dancer,” “Yes! I’m French,” and a jam session the band did while people dressed in gypsy steampunk costumes danced in the audience.

I still remember that night like it was yesterday. My then-husband was also at that show along with a few friends of ours. Among those friends was a woman whom my husband would leave me for her just a few months later.

A few years later I saw Frenchy and the Punk’s booth at the Maryland Faerie Festival where they sold their CD’s and some handcrafted goods as well. I didn’t see them perform that day because, if my memory serves me correct, they were scheduled to perform later at a nighttime party that charged a separate $25 admission that was not included in the festival day pass. I not only couldn’t afford it but I was leery about making a long night commute through unfamiliar roads all by myself.

Let me see. In 2011 I saw Frenchy and the Punk perform at the New Deal Cafe while I was testing the camera function of my first smartphone that I had just recently acquired and I was still learning how to use. So it’s now 2017 and I managed to see Frenchy and the Punk perform at the same venue while I was testing a new camera that I had recently acquired and I was still learning how to use. Sometimes the past DOES repeat itself. LOL!

Well, anyway, I took a few still photos with my camera, which you can see below.

I also shot some video footage as well. I didn’t shoot as many songs this time around. (Well, actually I only shot three songs this time around while I shot four songs back in 2011. So I only shot slightly less footage this time.) First up is a song about the Abraham Lincoln Brigade which fought in the Spanish Civil War titled “¡Vive la Quince Brigada!”

I wasn’t able to get the title of the song that the duo performed when I shot this next video but it was catchy enough to get quite a few people dancing near the front of the stage.

Last, but not least, I shot the song that the band closed their show with: a very enthusiastic cover of the Mary Hopkin song “Those Were the Days.”

The band put on a show that was just as enjoyable as when I saw them in 2011. It’s like everything was the same in that I was testing out a new camera on the same band in the same venue. The only major difference is my personal life in that I’m now divorced. Otherwise everything was exactly the same as before.

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