Representatives from Harvard University traveled to Havana last weekend to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Cuban Ministry of Higher Education. The agreement signals renewed commitment between Harvard’s 12 Schools and the ministry to support faculty and student research and study in Cuba.The memorandum also enables expanded opportunities for potential collaborative research and cooperation between Harvard and Cuban universities, such as short courses, internships, research visits, publication of research articles, and academic workshops and conferences. The agreement encourages Cuban students to apply for admission to Harvard and programs through normal channels.The academic partnership was signed Saturday by Mark C. Elliott, vice provost of international affairs at Harvard, and Aurora Fernández, vice minister of higher education in Cuba. Harvard faculty and staff responsible for organizing and preparing for these activities and present at the ceremony at the Hotel Nacional were Alejandro de la Fuente, Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin-American History and Economics and professor of African and African American Studies and of history; Jorge I. Domínguez, Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico in the Department of Government; and Erin E. Goodman, associate director of academic programs at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS).The agreement designates the Rockefeller Center as the coordinating body for joint activities. The Cuba Studies Program at DRCLAS, co-chaired by de la Fuente and Domínguez, has supported Cuba-related research and study since its creation in 1999. The program regularly hosts visiting scholars from Cuba and runs a regular seminar series in Cambridge. Since 2007, the center has run a study-abroad program in Cuba in the fall semester in collaboration with the Universidad de la Habana.You can read more about the activities of the Cuba Studies Program here.
The SkinnyI live out in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, where residents share a certain affinity for homemade liquor. White lightnin’. Hillbilly pop. Kickapoo joy juice. The white dog. Call it what you will, but pour mine from a Mason jar that doesn’t have any fancy label, and keep it clear. No apple pie or blueberry shine for me, if you please.Considering my love of corn liquor, you can imagine my interest was piqued when I discovered The Moonshine. I thought to myself, “Well, I just might have something in common with these folks.” And I do. A love of fine acoustic music.This Portland, Oregon, quintet gets the musical heritage of my Appalachian Mountains. I hear The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers in their music, but the influence doesn’t end there. There is conscious blending of the old and new here, sort of like moonshine in a martini glass . . . . except this works better.As far as Oregon’s illegal liquor scene goes, in the finest tradition of discretion, I couldn’t get songwriter Michael Gerard to spill much.“I plead the fifth when it comes to the current state of the bootlegging business out here in Oregon. The name means a lot of different things to us,” says Gerard. “We love the DIY idea behind making it yourself if you can’t get it elsewhere, and the idea of taking care of business by cover of night appeals to us, too. We are definitely a band that likes to stay up well past most folks’ idea of late. We’re a bit like the moon that way, too . . . shinin’ high and up all night.For Fans OfThe Head & The Heart, Elephant Revival, Spirit Family ReunionOutside Looking In“We decided to ask The Moonshine to do a long term residency with us because of the reactions the band was getting from the people walking by the shop on the street. There’s not much going on most Monday nights, but service people often have the night off and there are people out and about. The music would start and, over the course of the night, more and more people would wander in, excited to find this gem of a moment going on when they least expected it. These people came back again and again and, as the year progressed, became staples of our community. People who love all sorts of music really connect to the band.”—Stephen Ferruzza, of Portland’s Al Forno Ferruzz, on The MoonshineOn StageA glance through The Moonshine’s tour schedule finds a bevy of dates throughout Oregon. The upcoming show at Edgefield in Troudale, Oregon, on March 17th has me contemplating a trip to the Pacific Northwest. Being a young band, they haven’t had much time to head east yet, but there is something you can do about that. Call your favorite indie record store or radio station and hassle them until they get the band’s new record, And Now . . . , on shelves or on the air.In His Own Words“’Never Know’ started out as a home recording on the same day it was written. Sometimes a song just comes to me fully formed, and this was one of those to some extent. That demo recording is really just this little rhythmic mandolin figure played over a sort of reggae beat that I programmed into my drum machine software. It’s really quite different from what we ended up with in the studio, although I feel like the album version retains some of the strange juxtaposition of pseudo-Cajun melodic content over the clearly pop leanings of the beat and the Beach Boys backing vocals. The song is really an ode to getting out and doing whatever this life moves you to do before it’s too l ate. It’s a bright song of hope wrapped around the dark fact of death. I think that’s what it’s one of my favorites.”—Michael Gerard, of The Moonshine, on “Never Know”On The World Wide WebFor more information on The Moonshine, when the band will take to a stage near you, or how you can get the new record, surf over to www.themoonshinemusic.com.