A couple years back, while looking at a slate of bands that might be booked for a festival, a good friend accused me of being fixated on acoustic guitar duos. Two guys. Two guitars. That’s it. I was told that was all I liked.While his proclamation was a bit tongue in cheek, and wasn’t entirely true, I must admit to a certain fondness for a stripped down acoustic duo. There is something about the intimacy that two musicians can create with their music that I find alluring.The songs don’t get lost within the dynamic of a larger band and the listener is free to hone his focus on what is happening between just two people. There is some validity to the statement that, sometimes, less is truly more, and the simplicity of what is taking place between the two musicians can be fascinating.I do believe it takes a certain caliber of musician to make a good duo work. First, both musicians have to have chops. A good chemistry between the partners also helps. Good songs are a must, too. There are certain duos out there that share this mojo; Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott, Russ Barenberg and Bryan Sutton, and, when both were still alive, the partnerships between Jerry Garcia and Dave Grisman and John Cephas and Phil Wiggins were beyond extraordinary. When listening to these duos, I never lament the fact that there are just two musicians on stage. The music they make is perfect as is and wants for nothing.I am ready to add another duo to this list. Billy Strings and Don Julin, who have just released their latest record, Fiddle Tune X, are a study in contrasts, a cross-generational coupling, with some thirty years separating the close-cropped Strings with the longer haired Julin. The distance between their birthdays is aptly bridged, however, by the affinity they share for the music of the Appalachian coal country.Both Strings, on guitar, and Julin, on mandolin, are impressive pickers. Strings pulls from his Martin tonal sounds reminiscent of the great Tony Rice, and Julin calls to mind mandolin pickers like the aforementioned Tim O’Brien. As evidenced on Fiddle Tune , they also share great chemistry.Fiddle Tune X, recorded around a single microphone in a variety of live settings – you can hear audience chatter and even traffic sounds in the recording’s background – is a collection of old standards and original tunes. The record brilliantly captures the magic Strings and Julin create when they play together. Take a listen to “Walk On Boy,” featured on this month’s Trail Mix, which highlights Strings’ bluesy tenor and tasty guitar licks, or the tender tones of Julin’s mandolin on the duo’s rendition of Bill Monroe’s “Lonesome Moonlight Waltz.” Strings and Julin also rip through old standards like “Shady Grove,” “How Mountain Girls Can Love,” “Little Maggie,” and “Sharecropper’s Son” on the record. I have heard each of these songs many, many times by many other bluegrass bands, but Strings and Julin add a new spice to each, mainly because the instrumentation – just guitar and mandolin – is so varied from the banjo driven traditional bluegrass line up.When Billy Strings and Don Julin flank their condenser microphone, they command my rapt attention. It takes a special musical pairing to captivate me that way. After each listen, I am not left wanting more musicians, just more songs.
The largest Austrian pension fund is set to grow further by taking on Porsche’s retirement plan, one of the last remaining company Pensionskassen in the country.On 2 April the general assembly of the €7bn VBV Pensionskasse will vote on the takeover of the Porsche fund, according to a notice in Austria’s official gazette. The vote is understood to be a formality, but it has not been disclosed when the transfer will be finalised.It is also unclear by how much the VBV will grow, as Porsche has not disclosed any details of its Austrian pension plan. Over the past decade various other company Pensionskassen in Austria have been transferred to multi-employer providers. The main reasons cited in most of these cases were complexity in regulatory requirements, and asset management having led to increased administration costs.In addition, many companies did not want to build the in-house expertise to deal with the increased complexity of Austria’s pensions system.In several cases the complete transfer was preceded by outsourcing asset management to one of the multi-employer Pensionskassen.Among the larger transfers were Unilever, Shell, Generali, Siemens, Infineon, Austrian federal energy company Verbund, regional energy provider EVN, and the economic chamber WKÖ. Now, there are only two independent company Pensionskassen left: IBM Austria, and the fund for Austrian social insurance (Sozialversicherungen).In early 2016, the first sale of a multi-employer Pensionskassen provider since the initial consolidation phase in the early 1990s was finalised, when Bonus bought Victoria-Volksbanken’s Pensionskasse and Vorsorgekasse. Read more about the VBV Pensionskasse in the upcoming April edition of the IPE magazine
BC Hydro is working to restore a small power outage north west of Charlie Lake.The outage is affecting 274 customers near the Halfway Reservation and Wonowon. The outage should be restored by 11pm Friday night. The outage was caused by trees that had fallen on power lines. The outage started at around 5:30pm.For further updates, visit www.bchydro.com/outages – Advertisement –