Blitzen Trapper Goes On A Sonic Journey ‘All Across This Land’

first_imgOn their latest album, All Across This Land, Blitzen Trapper has finally achieved a true balance between the abandon of their live shows and the intricacies of their studio work. The band’s main songwriter and creative force, guitarist Eric Earley, set out to unify the more intricate and lilting compositions with the rock-influenced live sound. Much like the later works of Early’s oft cited influences, R.E.M., Blitzen Trapper is finally learning to not just walk the fine line between rock and folk, but to STRUT it.Listen to a playlist of All Across This Land below: The title track, “All Across This Land,” is a pure blast of feel good rock and roll. The song shows a band honoring the roots of classic rock, but with a fresh spirit free of imitation that automatically raises the bar for the songs to come. The follow up track utilizes aggressive air to its advantage, with a clean thin opening that invokes the earnest nature of fledgling garage bands. It’s a bold and daring statement, showing them fuse their sounds with a defter touch than before.A pair of meditations on love and loss, “Mystery And Wonder” and “Love Grow Cold,” illustrate the importance of seamless craft in successful pop songs. Here, singer Eric Earley utilizes his clean, tightly compressed voice to lose most distracting personal inflections. Listeners have a blank slate to project themselves upon, with just the slightest nasal hint of his hero Bob Dylan.“Cadillac Road” and “Let The Cards Fall” demonstrate the benefit of a visionary songwriter at the helm. Stripping down to their barest folksy roots, “Across The River” finds the band telling of a golden hued vision from the banks to the empty imaginary city. In this deserted land, Earley contemplates his and all of our mortality, and finds it worth fighting for.When a band is known just as much for the sheer poetry of its lyrics as it is for the range and diversity of its musical arrangements and performances, expectations among fans can’t help but be high. With All Across This Land, Blitzen Trapper managed to craft a modern rock classic, using a style and world view distinctly their own.Don’t miss Blitzen Trapper on the road this summer, including a show at Garcia’s in Port Chester, NY on June 19th!last_img read more

Building a robot, developing a nation

first_imgSela Kasepa first heard about the Pan-African Robotics Challenge while channel surfing in her living room in Kitwe, Zambia. The program enthralled her. Kasepa thought a robotics competition could inspire her fellow Zambians to take an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects, fueling technical advancement in the developing Central African nation.Fast-forward a few years and Kasepa was a Harvard freshman taking “Computer-Aided Machine Design” (ES 51) at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences when that fascination was rekindled. Watching the robot she built maneuver around a competition course, she felt empowered.“Many people would say robotics is a far-fetched idea, but there is so much more involved than building a robot,” said Kasepa, who is now a sophomore. “You think, ‘I have made this with my own hands, and I could make more things.’ Robotics can drive a change in mind-set. If we can help young people have that feeling, that can drive technological advancement.”Kasepa began looking for a robotics competition Zambian youth could join, and found FIRST Global, an annual student robotics Olympiad founded by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen. Zambia was not among the 162 countries participating, so she asked about future contests. Organizers urged her to launch a team for 2017, even though other nations had already begun raising money and training students.A robot was at the center of seven teens’ lives as they worked to catch up to their international competitors for the FIRST Global annual student robotics competition in D.C. The Zambian team earned 32nd place out of 163 teams. Photo courtesy of Sela Kasepa“It felt like such an outside idea. I wondered if it was even possible,” she said. “I decided to take up the challenge. If you never dare to start, you probably will never end up starting at all.”Kasepa called her mentor, Peter Lungu, director of the Zambian Institute for Sustainable Development (ZISD), a nongovernmental educational outreach organization that had awarded her a scholarship, setting her on a path toward Harvard. Lungu agreed to help recruit students and mentor the team in Zambia, since Kasepa was now deep into her college coursework.They enlisted seven students, set up a robotics shop at ZISD headquarters, and ordered the FIRST Robotics kit of materials to build the machine and basic construction guides.The competition theme was clean drinking water, and robots were designed to collect and sort color-coded bowls signifying clean and contaminated water. Kasepa coached the team via Skype and recorded demos of fabrication techniques on YouTube.Passionate and dedicated, the students worked from sunrise to sunset as they caught up with their international competitors. Kasepa’s long-distance encouragement boosted team members when they hit roadblocks, like when parts broke and they lost valuable time waiting for replacements to pass through customs.“With every building process, just when you think it works, technical or design faults always develop,” she said. “The robot had to be rebuilt a number of times.”But as the robot came together, a new worry emerged — how to fund the journey from Zambia to the international competition in Washington, D.C., in July.Kasepa began making cold calls, but couldn’t get a response. Then she shared her frustrations during a casual conversation with Evelyn Hu, the Tarr-Coyne Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering. Hu offered to help, and secured a grant from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research that would cover travel expenses for the three team members required to qualify. Using Lungu’s contacts at an Ethiopian airline, they negotiated sharply discounted airfare and were able to pay for all seven teammates to attend. Kasepa was elated, but lacking funding for her own travel, she would have to watch the competition streamed live online.The first match ended early for the Zambian team; one of the robot’s chains was displaced and they were unable to fix it before time ran out. Devastated, the students worked into the night making repairs.On the second and final day of competition, Kasepa tuned in, leaning close to the computer screen as the day’s frenzied contests began. The Zambian robot ran seamlessly. When the dust settled, her team had earned 32nd place out of 163 national teams.“I am extremely proud of them,” she said. “I hope they learned that they are more than capable of being innovative and creating something. As a nation, Zambia needs to drive toward innovation, and these students can be leaders in that arena.”Kasepa, who also organized a robotics showcase for Zambian children during a school holiday, wants the country’s participation in FIRST Global to continue. She hopes that with the support of mentors and the excitement of the young students who saw their country compete on a global stage, they will be able to sustain the program.“It is now clear to me that a country’s greatest resource is its people,” she said. “If you have people who are willing to work toward something, I definitely think a country’s future can be bright. The minerals or raw materials in the earth are not as valuable as the ideas that people step up to achieve together.”last_img read more

Goodrich Vermont gets $31.5 million Army contract helicopter diagnostics unit

first_imgSenator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) says a new $31,497,430 US Army contract with Goodrich for additional units of the company’s groundbreaking helicopter maintenance diagnostic system, produced by the firm’s facility in Vergennes, will further extend the plant’s planning horizon and underscores again how firmly the advanced system has quickly taken its place as a key maintenance feature of US military helicopter programs.  Leahy just last month announced an extension of a Navy contract for the system.Goodrich’s Health and Usage Management Systems (HUMS) give mechanics feedback on a helicopter’s engine performance, structural performance, and rotor function and wear, allowing a helicopter to be serviced before major systems fail. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and of its Defense Subcommittee, Leahy was instrumental early on in promoting the concept and technology behind HUMS.  Through those efforts HUMS units have become standard equipment on U.S. military helicopters.Leahy announced that the modification to an existing Army contract will allow for the additional purchase of 135 new on-board HUMS, as well as 170 new ground support equipment modules for on-board HUMS.  These systems will be used in UH-60 “Black Hawk” and HH-60 “Pave Hawk” helicopters.Leahy said the contract extension has been hoped for and expected, and with it the new business will keep the HUMS production line going and protect Vermont jobs.  With each new HUMS contract extension, Vergennes attracts more investment by Goodrich and new product lines for design, development, and production, including the company’s new Guidance, Navigation, Control, and Targeting System and the expansion of HUMS into the civilian aircraft market.Leahy joined Goodrich employees twice this year to mark shipment of the 2000th helicopter system and other successes of the workforce at the Vergennes facility.Source: VERGENNES, Vt. (FRIDAY, Oct. 1, 2010) – Senator Patrick Leahylast_img read more