Writer and musician. Emery & McKnight Duo, Cleaver Smith Swenson & McKnight Band. www.itsthemusic.com Recent compositions and songs: "Ninth Street Rag" for clarinet, "In the…
We ought to draw a distinction between the procedural accountability of public institutions and the personal constitutional rights and liberties of individuals working for those public institutions. A person does not check his or her individual constitutional rights and liberties at the door in reporting to work for a state university campus or other public institution.
A measured and reasonable confidentiality of personal communications within a public institution or even an office or department of government at the federal, state or local level is not out of harmony with the principles of timely and responsible public disclosure of the ultimate decisions made and actions taken by those institutions and organizations.
A proper expression of views and opinions on public issues and public policy by those in the employ of public institutions need not be accompanied by a breach of constitutional rights pursuant to the preparation of those views and opinions for those eventual forms and forums of expression.
David Proctor McKnight
I like the fact that Madison felt that the Constitution could help nurture republican democracy over a large geographic area. Perhaps the Russians, Chinese and Brazilians can find some features of our federal constitutional system helpful in their future domestic political development.
I am proud to share initials with Dolley Payne Madison, who was born in Guilford County, N.C..
David Proctor McKnight
Virginians' Contributions to the Anti-Slavery Stands of J.Q. Adams and A. Lincoln
The Ordinance of 1784, to which Thomas Jefferson contributed primary authorship, prohibited slavery in all territories and future states west of the original states. It came within one vote of passage in a time when, prior to the drafting and ratification of the U.S. Constitution of 1787, a three-fourths majority vote was required to enact measures under the Articles of Confederation then in effect.
Besides Jefferson's vote of approval, the Ordinance of 1784 received one other "yea" vote among Southern delegates--from Hugh Williamson of Edenton, N.C., who three years later was one of this state's signers of the federal Constitution drawn up at Philadelphia in the summer of 1787. Jefferson was to travel to France in 1786 to succeed Dr. Benjamin Franklin as U.S. Minister to France, whereupon another western territorial ordinance was approved but lamentably did not apply to the region southwast of the Ohio River. The Ordinance of 1787, prohibiting slavery in the Northwest Territory and its future states, did garner the necessary votes for approval, and in the 1850s and '60s, Abraham Lincoln was to cite these early federal legislative initiatives in arguing against the introduction of slavery in such prairie states as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.
Lincoln also cited the organizational ordinances of 1784 and 1787 as proof that the meaning of "Union" had been secured for the Nation even before the U.S. Constitution itself went into effect following the ratification of North Carolina in 1789 and Rhode Island in 1790.
A number of President Kennedy's college and university addresses, including at the University of North Carolina in October 1961 and Vanderbilt University in May 1963, cited the political and literary writings of Virginia's Thomas Jefferson and Germany's Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in linking the opportunities of education with the responsibilities of citizenship.
The western section of the original Commonwealth of Virginia of Jefferson, Madison and Monroe, chose to join the Union as a new state in 1863, and the region of East Tennessee also remained loyal to the Union in the Civil War without actually splitting off politically from the rest of the Volunteer State.
Jefferson's letter of December 20, 1787, from France to Madison in America, after he had received a copy of the original federal Constitution from his fellow Virginian, included a strong statement in behalf of international bills of rights, Jefferson, after telling Madison about the features of the new federal plan of which he approved, then expressed concerns about some features he did not like, among these being "the absence of a bill of rights." Jefferson contended that "a bill of rights is something to which the people of every country are entitled and which no just government should rest on inference."
During the presidency of James Monroe, the "Monroe Doctrine" of 1823 asserted important protections to the emerging nations of Central and South America as indeed, this declaration was primarily the work of Secretary of State John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts who, after his own presidential term (1825-1829) was to return to the U.S. House of Representatives where, among other issues, Adams continued his ardent opposition to slavery as well as his devotion, shared even with his former presidential adversary Andrew Jackson of Tennessee, to the principle that preservation of the Union under the U.S. Constitution was the right and just course for the United States more than half a century after its founding.
Thomas Jefferson's advocacy of a Bill of Rights for this country was also a factor in the decision by delegates to North Carolina's first constitutional convention in Hillsborough in July-August 1788 to defer ratification of the 1787 federal Constitution pending the addition of a Bill of Rights, which after Madison introduced the original constitutional amendments to this end as a member of the U.S. House of Representations from Virginia, then prompted North Carolina to vote in favor of ratification of the Constitution at its second constitutional convention in Fayetteville on November 21, 1789, by which time George Washington had served half of his first year as President.
President Kennedy's brothers Robert and Edward Kennedy both received their legal educations at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and did much to bring these cherished legacies of constitutional justice and equality forward through the second half of the 20th Century and, in the case of Sen. Ted Kennedy, on into the 21st.
David Proctor McKnight
This bluegrass classic will go great with the Governor's new hit country song, "Steppin' on Toes," sung to the tune of "Digging Up Bones."
Fiddlin' Dave McKnight
Corrections to the previous comments post:
"wandering around on stage"
"a former clarinetist with the North Carolina Symphony"
I am really shocked by this "assessment" by the person who is privileged to serve as Music Editor of Independent Weekly. I am a free-lance writer myself and I respect the right of journalists to make critical comments in reviews, analysis pieces and commentaries in columns and articles so designated as opposed to straight news reporting.
But these editorial aspersions against the musicianship of Jason Harrod of Durham and New York are like ice hockey infractions such as cross-checking, interference and tripping. This journalistic slight is blatant, out of the blue, highly unjustified and not related to any thoughtful or sincere reviewing of the concert Jason Harrod brought to The ArtsCenter in Carrboro. Of course, the Indy Music Editor probably didn't even attend the concert, no cierto? I don't like press fights because they just make everybody feel miserable, but as one who has been playing music for many years in the clubs, coffee shops, restaurants and also showcasing "public arts in the streets" of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill as an ongoing protest against career-ending partisan political regulation of journalism in the Triangle, I am really upset that a star writer from such an important publication as Independent would "skate across the ice" to deliver a hit on such a creative, thoughtful and kind individual and marvelous singer-songwriter as Jason Harrod.
Maybe Independent has it in for songwriters and bands which can attract a following among the young people of the Triangle without subjecting them to the horrors of perdition and moral condemnation. Maybe Indy thinks that people such as Delta Rae and Jason Harrod should be targeted for ridicule because parents can bring their children to their concerts without fear or trepidation that their kids will be subjected to negative, abusive or violent song lyrics but instead wholesome sounds of songs about life, adventure, friendship, romance, discovery and personal fulfillment.
As for what Grayson Currin called Jason Harrod's "milquetoast folk-rock," I wish to state my view that Harrod's songs are of the highest musical and harmonic sophistication. I was pleased to be invited to play violin on Jason's great song "Carolina" at the Aug. 9 ArtsCenter concert. In fact, Jason also asked me to play on two other songs in the same concert, and I needed to call upon all the string music training I have acquired in playing classical orchestral music and "fiddle parts" for other folk, country, jazz and rock singer-songwriters in the Triangle in order to render a pleasing and harmonious "string section" parts for those inspiring Harrod originals. I wish we had had a "live recording" capability for this concert because then, as a violin-viola-mandolin-guitar player, I could put at least these three songs with violin accompaniment on a web site so that readers of Independent could listen and decide for themselves how these guitar-bass-violin-drum arrangements came together on the stage of the ArtsCenter auditorium. Then they could vote on whether the level of musical depth attained the level of good traditional "milquetoast folk-rock" or maybe even exceeded it!
I saw a number of people from the Triangle at the Jason Harrod concert who had heard me play in other settings but not with Jason, as we have only met a few times in the 20-plus years since Jason, as an aspiring young Durham singer-songwriter first jammed with our musicians on Ninth Street in Durham, including at the old Ninth Street Bar and Grill. Jason was well-received back in the early '90s, and we are proud of his artistic and musical successes in going on the road all across this country in all the years since we first played on Ninth Street as well as his fine recordings through the first two decades of his music career.
Did Grayson Currin even listen to the most recent CD released by Jason Harrod? And as far as "wondering around on stage" is concerned, Harrod was anything but spaced out at his ArtsCenter concert. He was very focused, had excellent rapport with the audience, performed his two sets with great style, technical mastery and personal charm, and was enthusiastically received by those in attendance, answering their enthusiastic request for an encore at the close of the concert.
I wish I had seen this "pasting" of Jason Harrod by Independent before and not after I participated in the concert as a guest player at the acoustically pleasing ArtsCenter because I could have told my friends there that I would try to exceed the expectations of "milquetoast" fiddling and try at least for some crispier Melba Toast string work! Indeed, even in these later years of instrumental performance, I was just as "keyed up" for this show as for those "in the good ol' days of the '70s and '80s." I consider Jason Harrod's great singing and guitar-playing, as well as his fine band accompaniment, as being on a similarly high level of artistic tone, quality, content and exposition as the music of other great Triangle musicians I have worked with including the late Brother Yusef Salim, Rebecca and the Hi-Tones, the Duke Street Dogs, Pattie and Jack LeSueur, Jewelsong, Bruce Emery, the David Spencer Band of Raleigh, Alan Wolf, David King, the Triangle Folk Jam, and Cleaver Smith & Swenson.
Maybe it is Independent's philosophy that people who simply live and work in Durham and the Triangle cannot be considered candidates for compelling vocal and instrumental musicianship. Oh well, all is not lost. It won't be long before the Ciompi Quartet will be firing up on all cylinders for the 2013-14 season. The Ciompi Quartet will be teaming up in September with the highly popular folk duo, the Kruger Brothers, in the refurbished Baldwin Auditorium at Duke, and I already have a ticket, so I am hoping there will be plenty of wine and cheese, or at least some fancy milquetoast, at any receptions marking this promising classical-folk concert collaboration.
Oh, I forgot to mention that the three Jason Harrod songs I played on at The ArtsCenter were in the keys of F, G and A Flat. Just as the key of E Major has four sharps, the key of A-Flat Major has four flats. So if you play a major scale from bottom to top in A Flat Major, you will be these notes: A-Flat, B-Flat, C, D-Flat, E-Flat, F, G, A-Flat. If you start out on the G string of the violin, you play the low A-Flat note with the first finger just a half step away from the "open G," then a full step to the B-Flat with the second finger, another full step to the C with the third finger, then a half step to the D Flat with the fourth finger, then cross over to the D string and do the same thing beginning with the first singer a half step up from the open D string without playing the open D itself!
Our friend Don Martin of Raleigh, a former clarinetist with the North Carolina, likes to play a lot of songs in B-Flat in his popular music combos. The key of B-Flat has two flats--B-Fat and E-Flat. So one time when guitarist David Spencer was bantering with Don Martin after another B-Flat song call, Spencer said, "I'll see your two flats and raise you one to E-Flat." (The key of E-Flat includes the notes E-Flat, A-Flat and B-Flat.)
For fans of bluegrass music, you'd have to wonder if even the great Lester Flatt himself would ask his band to play a song with four flats. Someone faced with four flats would be better off just getting a whole new set of tires. But for Durham-New York singer-songwriter Jason Harrod, a song can be arranged in any suitable key, and you can take your pick of sharps and flats.
If this is "milquetoast" instrumentation, then somebody please pass the chips and dip!
As for Jason Harriod's new CD "Highliner," I just hope all fair-minded friends of folk-rock music in the Triangle will give it a listen regardless of whether they prefer milquetoast, bagels or sausage-egg-and-cheese biscuits to start their day.
David P. McKnight
Emery & McKnight Duo
Cleaver Smith Swenson & McKnight Band
"Misty" with Johnny Mathis:
"And a thousand violins begin to play..."
Oh, to be one of those thousand fiddlers! Yes, folks, as baseball season approaches, any violinist who plays for Johnny Mathis can truly say: "I am batting a thousand."
I was listening to Johnny Mathis even before I had to decide between going to Carolina and Duke in the 1960s. Thanks to Johnny, all shades of blue look good in matters of the heart, mind and spirit.
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