Spy Minute: St Patty’s on Harrison Street

Even with rain threatening and cloudy skies, the Irish of Talbot County, or those who are Irish for the day, gathered for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on Harrison Street on Saturday. The Spy gathered with friends at the Tidewater Inn outdoor patio to view the festivities with Irish Coffee and corned beef and potatoes and an excellent view of the county’s high school marching bands, fire trucks, in a sea of green that celebrates the Irish and all of us.

The Spy caught a few moments of the festivities.

This video is approximately one minute in length

Recovery: Healing Through Art at the Raimond Building in Chestertown

Art is perhaps at its best when it heals the human soul. While there remains an aesthetic enjoyment that comes from both the artist and his/her audience in most work of art, the use of visual creativity to help people overcome loss and addiction is a particularly forceful phenomenon.

That was the impression when the Spy stopped by the Vincent & Leslie Prince Raimond Arts Building yesterday for a look the recent art exhibition sponsored by the Kent County Art Council new show entitled “Heroin and Healing” curated by Baltimore artist Peter Brunn.

As the father of a daughter lost to a heroin overdose, Brunn is not a passive bystander in this show.  While it includes six remarkable artists that have used photography, video and visual art to express their journey of healing and recovery from their own addiction or those of loved ones, it is Peter’s work that the Spy found the most powerful.

An example of this is the overwhelming forceful visual graph entitled Toshio Hosakawa, Landscape II, which charts the extraordinarily painful journal of daughter Elisif’s arc of depression and addiction, ending with the unimaginable phone call Brunn received informing him of his daughter’s death with the words from a stranger saying, “Hello, is this Peter?”

This video is approximately one minute in length. “Heroin and Healing” will be on display at the Raimond Art Building 101 Spreing Avenue in Chestertown from March 2 to March 31. A Film and Discussion on the topic is scheduled for March 30 at Norman James Theatre at Washington College. For more information please go here



Easton Sidewalks: Every Coffee House has Its Place

Rise Up New Building Image

Since the Spy prides itself on being a faithful observer of downtown Easton sidewalks, it has not gone unnoticed that the town has seen the recent openings of more than its fair share of high-quality coffeehouse establishments. From Piazza’s expanded space in Talbottown to Federal Street’s Weather Gage, the addition of Evergrain in the Conservation Center, and Rise Up’s plans to expand on Dover Street, Easton now finds itself in the possibly awkward position of having too much of a good thing.


Just a few years ago, some excellent locally-owned breakfast and coffee venues had sadly come to an end.  The corner store on Goldsborough and Washington, the Bartlett Pear Inn”s small store on Harrison, followed by the Cafe in the Inn, and finally, and very sadly, the untimely end of Joe’s Bagel, Easton was looking mighty thin on the coffee house front.

And yet, within twenty-four months, all have changed again. Just as the general economy has improved so has Easton’s, and poof, the community is now blessed with four new great places to frequent.

Nonetheless, having grieved over the obituaries of these former morning hangouts, it’s instinctive to wonder if all can thrive in a small town of 15,000 or so.

The Spy thinks they will.

New Piazza Location

After mapping out their different spheres of operation, clientele, and unique circumstances, it seems quite possible that all of these terrific establishments can make it work.

Weather Gage

When one looks at the bigger picture and realizes the unique territory each coffeehouse serves, as well as differences in how one arrives by foot or car, what time the store opens, all add up to each venue having their own, and very vibrant subset, of the total population they collectively serve.

While Rise Up and Piazza generally can attract motorists, Weather Gage and Evergrain will be relying on much more significant pedestrian clientele. And while Piazza and Rise Up can offer more space for customers, the other two are far more intimate. And finally, like any genuine coffee place, they will establish, if they have not already, their unique idiosyncrasies, specialties, and ambiance to draw different kinds of customers.

And that is the Spy’s hopes for these very special places on Easton’s sidewalks.

Which coffee place do you go to daily?  Take the Spy poll here

From Above: Hunter Harris Brings Home Five Ribbons for Aerial Photography

There is no secret that the Spy loves the world of Eastern Shore aviation. And this is particularly true of the adventures of one of the Mid-Shore’s most well-known pilots and aerial photographers, Hunter Harris.  Whether it’s flying Fuji blimps, helping create safety regulation for drones, or his endless documentation of the Chesapeake region from above, the Kent County native, and now Talbot County resident, has had a remarkably diverse career in the exclusive world of flying.

This time around, we caught word that Hunter has just returned from the annual Professional Aerial Photographers’ Association conference in Charleston, and had been rewarded with not one, not two, but five award ribbons for his work in aerial photography.

The Spy chased down Harris in his downtown Easton office to talk about the three photographs that so vividly capture this remarkable region and his extraordinary gift of photography in the skies over the Eastern Shore.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Hunter and aria photography please go here.


The Spy’s Monthly Sprout: Kathy Foster

Over the next several months, the Spy will be doing short interviews with residents that have using the Trappe-based Eat Sprout prepared meal company. In a joint effort with Eat Sprout owners Ryan and Emily Groll, we wanted to hear first hand why both individuals and families decided to order using this new food option.

We start with someone that knows a good bit about nutrition. Kathy Foster worked for the Talbot County Health Department for 34 years, including serving as the Health Officer for Talbot County and Director of Community Health Nursing. In her Spy interview, Kathy talks about the importance of Sprout’s locally sourced food but also the desire to spent more time with her grandchildren than in the kitchen.

We spoke to Kathy at one of the Sprout pickup stations, affectionately known as Sproutlets, located at Lyons Distillery in St. Michaels a few weeks ago.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. Full disclosure, Sprout donates food to the Spy from time to time. For more information about Sprout please go here

Point of View: Talbot County Must Regulate Airbnb-Type Rentals with Robert Haase

It could have been predicted that the thorny issue of some communities wanting to regulate Airbnb-type properties in their neighborhoods would somehow wind up on the Talbot County Council’s desk in the course of their work to update the County’s zoning ordinances or Chapter 190 of the County Code this year.

Not only is this a national conversation but the Town of Easton had just recently decided to place some restrictions on such use in 2016.

The Spy recently sat down with Robert Haase from St. Michaels to hear his point of view. Robert advocates for the permitting for all hospitality-related businesses in the County. He also speaks as someone who is a building inspector in his professional life.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Talbot County’s Chapter Revision project please go here 

Mid-Shore Arts Minute: For the Love of Pippin with WC’s Ernie Green

For anyone who fondly remembers the Broadway musical Pippin as they were growing up in the 1970s, it is tough to imagine a bad version of that classic. Filled with memorable songs, a relatively simple plot, and lyrics that seemed universal, Pippin was, and is,  the kind of theater production that any would succeed anywhere if given the opportunity.

And one such opportunity comes to Chestertown fast and furious this week. As a project of the music department at Washington College, a very limited production of the such will be performed next Thursday and Friday in the Gibson Center for the Arts on campus.

This bit of news made the Spy curious about a few things about this “pop up” production and we tracked down the director and Washington College faculty member Ernie Green about this short-lived student effort.

While Ernie, a Peabody-trained conductor, lecturer in music, and director of Live Arts Maryland, is comfortable in the academic canon of classical music and other diverse, and sometimes very challenging, forms of music, he admits in the Spy interview of his lifelong love for Pippin. The project also connects him back to a former career when he often was a frequent collaborator with the late Marvin Hamlisch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, and Broadway talent.

As his cast of students prepares for their free performance on Thursday and Friday night at the Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts we talked to Ernie about the role of student productions, the magic of musical theater, and the endearing and enduring impression it can make on all ages.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Pippin please go here


Bringing Fun to Mental Health: Eddie Bishop, Hot Tub Limo, and Channel Marker Come Together

While it is sometimes hard to connect fun and good times with the challenges that come with mental illness, or the organizations that support those afflicted with brain disease, it may, in fact, be an essential bridge for better mental health for everyone.

Study after scientific study is showing documentation that the feeling of joy is an essential part of a human’s defense system against numerous conditions that wreak havoc on thinking and behavior.

So it should come as no surprise then to hear that Channel Marker, the region’s primary nonprofit organization providing essential support services to those in our community with severe and persistent mental illness, was using fun as part of their theme for their major fundraising event of the year.

And with that goal in mind, the organization could not find a better person to chair this venture than Easton native Eddie Bishop. A commercial airline pilot by day; devoted fan of local music scene when back home, Ed loved the idea of organizing a party with that theme in mind.

Eddie also knew the perfect band to headline the event. With a early exposure to the Hot Tub Limo band out of Kent Island, he felt there was a perfect match.

The Spy sat down with Eddie and Channel Marker executive director Debbye Jackson for a short chat about this decidedly “fun” event.

This video is approximately minutes in length. For ticket information please go here



Mid-Shore Education: Saints Peter and Paul School Rainforest Turns Nineteen Years Old

It may not be that unusual anymore for school to create a model rainforest as part of an introductory science course but when the Spy learned that the Saints Peter and Paul School rainforest is now going on its 19th year. It got our attention pretty quickly.

Ever since Lisa Morrell started to teach elementary science at the Catholic day school in Easton, the annual building of the rainforest has been one of the great traditions at a  school that already has a significant number of them. In fact, it’s safe to say that while only a handful of students create the rainforest every year, it’s also true that literally, every student at Peter and Paul’s lower school will walk through as well.

The Spy caught up with Lisa and a few of her students this week just before the rainforest was to be dismantled and stored while it waits for its 20th anniversary next year.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Saints Peter and Paul School please go here

The MSO Combines Silent Film and Music to End Winter Blues

The Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra had an interesting programming challenge a few months ago as they were flushing out their expanded schedule this season with a February concert. In short, what was the best way to beat the winter blues?

With the Eastern Shore just recently having to endure an unusually cold January, and with February’s forecast not looking that much better, this was not the time to roll out Mahler’s Symphony #9. But it was an excellent opportunity to reuse a popular strategy used since the arrival of cinema more than a hundred years ago when silent films were paired with symphonic sounds to chase away melancholy seasonal lows.

The answer, according to MSO president Jeffrey Parker, was to blend the pure brilliance of classic silent films with the sounds of Broadway and more upbeat classics. Add in the remarkable voice of soloist Alexis Tantau, and the Shore’s favorite orchestra will take the stage at the Avalon on Feb 8 for a particular tonic for the audience to withstand winter’s adversity, at least for another month.

We checked in with Jeffrey about the evening’s plans at Mason’s for a short overview.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. Please go here for ticket information here


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