It doesn’t seem that long ago that Matisyahu was a burgeoning name on the scene, making a career-altering appearance with jam icon Trey Anastasio at Bonnaroo back in 2005. Now, twelve years later, the reggae-rock artist has toured the world over, released multiple albums, and evolved both personally and artistically. The former Phish tour kid will be playing a special late-night performance at NYC’s The Cutting Room following Phish’s performance at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, August 2nd as part of their Baker’s Dozen run.Phishin’ With Matisyahu: How LSD “Turned My Entire World Inside Out”Matisyahu just released his latest album, Undercurrent, on May 19th, and will be on tour in support of the album throughout the summer. The album was created and produced by Matis and fellow band members Stu Brooks (bass, keys, musical director), Time Keiper (drums), and Aaron Dugan (guitar) only. No outside producers, no post-production — to put it plainly, no compromises and no frills. What came out of these sessions is music in its purest form, with special guest spots from friends and longtime collaborators BigYuki and Joe Tomino adding some timely flourishes throughout the album.Before Undercurrent, in September, Matis released the single “Love Born” (listen above) and discussed the track and its deeper meaning in context to both the good and bad that each of us goes through. “‘Love Born’ is about accepting pain and learning to transform it. It’s the ability to look back at one’s history and bring close those moments of pain and confusion and work with them in the present to evolve with strength to one’s future,” explains Matisyahu. “Life has no cushion, music has no net. This approach requires trust, patience, and a leap of faith that each player will listen to, and absorb what is happening around them, and be able to transform it into a collective whole.”Tickets for Matisyahu’s late-night performance at The Cutting Room are currently on-sale and can be purchased here. For show updates and additional information, join the Facebook Event page.Check out Our Official Guide To Phish Baker’s Dozen Late Nights for a full slate of what’s happening after the party ends at Madison Square Garden.
Shareff is walking alone.The other campers have gone ahead, scrambling, scuffling, stumbling up the trail, eager to find what lies around the next bend, but Shareff has fallen behind. His pace is slow, so slow that it’s hard to find a word for it. Deliberate doesn’t begin to describe it; plodding sounds too speedy by half. We’ll put it somewhere between a tortoise and a sloth. The reason: Shareff is paying attention. Close attention.Shareff is blind, but that’s not unusual on this day. We’re at a camp for kids with no or low vision. Two of our hikers are totally blind, and two nearly so. The rest have visual impairments of varying scope and severity—severe enough, in most cases, to turn the leaves and rocks and roots of the woods into a blur of bright color and indiscriminate shapes. Still they are up ahead, halfway to the lunch spot, while Shareff still navigates the first five hundred feet of the Warren Wilson River Trail.Shareff has been blind since birth. He has light perception, but no usable vision. He’s the first to admit he doesn’t spend much time in the woods. It’s a novel experience for him, a world truly wild, and so he pays attention. He’s paying attention with his feet: his light-soled sneakers help him feel the forest floor. He’s paying attention with his hands, collecting information with two trekking poles as he feels his way along the trail. But mostly he’s paying attention with his ears. He listens for the voice of his teacher, the song of the stream, the rustle of his peers shuffling into the distance. Above all, he listens to his clicks. All blind people use sound to orient themselves—the footfalls of a friend, the echo of a cane tip in an empty room—but Shareff is an active echolocator, clicking his tongue and waiting to hear the reflected sound, using a hundred tiny snapshots to construct an auditory image of the world around him.Shareff has never been in woods so dense. When his clicks come back to him soft and muffled, he knows that the leaves are thick and close. And when he hears a short, sharp report, he knows he’s found the trunk of a large and sturdy tree—the kind it’s best to step around. He turns his head left-and-right, clicking to map the space around him, hearing the path ahead and using his trekking poles to confirm his impressions. He has not taken many steps, it is true, but he has taken each one of them alone. His teacher watches from a distance as Shareff makes his way over rocks and roots, upslope and down, taking stock with every step.Other hikers will log more miles today, but it’s hard to imagine one more immersed in nature than Shareff is at this moment. This is why we came.In June of this year, I launched an outdoor adventure camp for kids who are blind and visually impaired. It’s part of a family of camps run by A Brighter Path Foundation, collectively known as the SEE (Student Enrichment Experience) Camps. The camps are staffed by certified teachers for the visually impaired—together we have dozens of years of experience—and are the brainchild of Chris Flynt, the director of A Brighter Path programs, who lost his own vision to retinitis pigmentosa in early adulthood. The campers are kids we have met over the years, and our goal this week is to get them off the couch and into the woods—to hike, zip, climb, and raft in the wilds of western North Carolina.Adults are constantly conspiring to plop kids into the backcountry, and we’re no exception. We do it for all the usual reasons: to build confidence and competence, to encourage teamwork, to improve problem-solving skills. Essential traits for all children, but perhaps more critical for the blind and visually impaired. Our campers grow up in a world that is skeptical of their skill. They hear too many messages of blindness as a disability, and live in a world of overabundant caution, with too many can’ts in the places of cans. Internalize this message, and it becomes all too easy to sit on the sidelines and let the world whirl by unheeded. In hitting the trail, we hope to fight this impulse: to expand possibility, reward curiosity, and nurture the spirit of adventure that beats in every heart.And so we hiked, rambling down the River Trail and giving new meaning to the word treehugger. (Every now and then, our camper Jordan would give a nearby trunk a healthy squeeze, to better sense its size and shape.)We zipped, soaring through the Nantahala River Gorge at speeds approaching fifty miles per hour, on lines up to a half-mile long. As each kid flew from view, and even the sighted teachers lost track of our charges, we tuned our ears to the tensile whine of the line, following each zipper’s progress by the pitch and volume of the returning sound.We climbed, scaling a fifty foot vertical wall at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly, and found that wall to be a great equalizer. The sighted and blind alike struggled with floundering feet and outstretched fingertips, climbing higher through grit and grimace in equal measure, fueled by the shouts of our groundbound friends.We floated, rafting down the ancient French Broad, our paddles dug deep and true, as the waves and ripples and eddies spoke from all sides in a constantly shifting soundscape. We smelled the rich and redolent bouquet of wild waters, of river rocks drying in the vanishing sun, and now and then felt the stray spray from the whitecaps alight upon our cheeks.The bus ride back from the takeout was a sensory garden of its own: the thick smell of packed rafters on wet vinyl, the too-still breeze from half-jammed schoolbus windows, the wheeze and choke of diesel fumes, the obligatory raft guide jokes emanating from the front of the bus…we had all of this and more to savor as we snaked our way back to base camp.All in all, it was a glorious week, a success by any measure. Our campers had a blast. They were active and engaged, heedless and reflective by turns, challenged and animated and triumphant. The same goes for the teachers. When it came time to say goodbye, we all walked away with a little more bounce in our step, a little more hope in our hearts.There were plenty of priceless moments during the week—many set against soaring mountain scenery, accompanied by whoops of joy—but the picture I return to time and again is the quiet intensity of Shareff’s walk in the woods. While he never ventured further than a half-mile from the road, Shareff was in a wilderness unlike one I’ve experienced in quite a while. The trail was new to him, and strange, and he had little idea what lay five feet ahead. His approach was one that we would all do well to heed as we confront our own personal wilderness: neither fearful nor fearless, cautious but curious, open to what the world has to offer, and patient enough to listen to its call.He knew what I once knew, and what I hope all our campers come to know in time: the world is open, wonderful, and wide. Dive right in.Jay Hardwig is a certified teacher for the visually impaired and Orientation & Mobility specialist, and the Asheville manager of A Brighter Path programs. He can be reached at [email protected]
VESTAL (WBNG) — The Children’s Charity of Greater Binghamton was at the Vestal Mirabito across from Target Friday morning to host the 13th annual Give Back Friday Toys for Tots campaign. Santa and his elves were out front of the convenience store collecting new toys and monetary donations from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. “We are firm believers of giving back to our community and this is such a great partnership. It makes us feel like we are supporting the people who need it the most especially this year,” said Lindsay Meehan the Public Relations Manager for Mirabito. “This year we definitely feel the community needs us more than ever with the COVID pandemic still going on, and a lot of families have needed us for several years. We think that it’s obviously more of a need this year,” said Liz Bucci the Spokesperson for the Children’s Charity. The virtual event will go live on the charity’s Facebook page at 7 pm Friday, Nov. 27. In conjunction with the toy drive, Mirabito was offering a gas sale at the location and was also serving up refreshments and cookies to those who came out in support. During previous years the toy drive also featured a live event at night that had live entertainment and raffle drawings, however, due to the pandemic this year the event was moved to a virtual format. For several years Mirabito has provided a convenient location for the toy drive This year the charity hopes they bring in more toys than ever to benefit the children in the community.