The Unexpected Present
Starting out as introverts, both Yuri and I read voraciously and were proliferate in writing cards, responding to letters, and sending postcards to friends. We kept diaries, calendars, writing tablets, and leather-bound journals for most of our lives. Scraps of paper, postcards, and small calendar books mark my events and journeys. We have letters, photos, and ticket stubs. Ephemeral things. Tactile items that trigger a memory. A moment in time that makes us who we are.
Over thirty years, our lives crisscrossed from the early 1970s at Dodd’s to our connection at a 2009 Kinderhook reunion event. During the after-party, I asked him to be a guest on my podcast Film Festival reViews – we had such a great conversation that it turned into a two-part podcast.
Music-making and the art of conversation finally merged into a match. I adore his syntax. We have been together ever since taking the less well-traveled route, taking the opportunities that make our lives an adventure of a lifetime. These stories are one of a kind, one in a million. Here’s a bit of who we are.
Her background in art and design includes a B.A. in studio art and graphic design and an M.A. in fiber and textile graphics. She worked in a “Mad Men” world of advertising, garnering awards for print publication, radio, and television. She became quite good at it and worked from freelance gigs to full-time art director and creative director in the NY/NJ metro area. Eventually, she found her niche as a tech chick, transforming from analog precision to digital professional. A forever Macophile, she adopted an integration philosophy refusing to give up her Mac in a PC work environment.
She completed an M.A. in Producing for Film and Video from American University, Washington, DC, and looked forward to a future in filmmaking when the disastrous 9/11 happened. The whole world stopped. When the third plane crashed into the Pentagon, I volunteered with the Red Cross to organize the massive outpouring of material support coming from all around the country. It was a reaction to wanting to do something during a traumatic time.
It took a while to get back into the game. I worked for an international Public Relations firm on K Street, a wildlife sanctuary and pet cemetery, eventually moving back to New Jersey and becoming managing editor for Film Festival Reporter’s print publication. Connections with Fort Lee Film Commission introduced me to the first woman film director Alice Guy Blache and I fell into a rabbit hole. This led me to find stories about other women directors in the biz that I wanted to have conversations with them. The analog merged with new digital technology on New Year’s Eve 2006. From then on, I was a Reel Jersey Girl, founder and host of Film Festival reViews when no one knew what a podcast was.
His entire being embodies music – mind, body, and soul. Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, he began playing violin at age six and continued into his high school years, winning the Mercer County String Competition. He studied International Relations and Russian Poets at Rutgers University and was accepted into the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow, UK. Instead of a career in symphonies or the international political stage, he turned to guitar and wrote lyrics about the state of affairs in the world and in his life.
He moved back into a Rutgers dorm and became a founding member of Kinderhook Creek (later dropping the “Creek”), playing guitar, fiddle, writing tunes, and learning classical voice techniques with his vocal coach, Tom Rexdale, a prominent ragtime piano player and “Professor of Singing” out of the Julliard School, New York City. Not surprisingly, Yuri took a teaching approach with fellow players, often referred to as “Professor.”
Kinderhook, arguably one of the most popular country-rock bands during the 1970s, contributed to the early establishment of the New Jersey music scene. Yuri famously performed Jean Luc Ponty’s New Country during Kinderhook’s performance venues, including the Stone Pony and the Capitol Theater, and before a 25,000 Schaeffer Summer Music Festival crowd. Subsequently, he performed original music with Bombay, traditional Irish band Trinity II; and was a substantial contributor to the compositions of Gunther Ford in The World.
Over the next decade, Yuri turned to harmonic influences of Steely Dan, Manhattan Transfer, with a progressive rock approach for his vocally-infused band, Now, Voyager and its critically acclaimed Currents, a CD made up of original compositions. Drawing poetic inspiration from other genres including classical, jazz, indigenous folk, and World music influenced original compositions forming his instrumental quintet Grupo Yuri Jazz. In March 2021, he released a collection of work, Undiscovered Country, many coming from the Permafrost Tapes rescued during the 2012 Hurricane Irene flooding. Yuri’s songs are poetic and soul-searching, full of political irony and heartfelt love stories– finding it, living it, breaking up from it.
The calico feline came along with Christina on many journeys, making herself an indispensable member (she is a mouse catcher extraordinaire) and accepting Yuri as part of their permanent entourage. She mostly taught them the art and meditation of napping, good catnip, and double harmonic purring.