Newport, Beaulieu and New Orleans Jazz Fest: Three of the world’s best jazz festivals

There is no better way to appreciate the beauty and soul of jazz music than attending a jazz festival. In essence, a jazz festival is pretty great if you like outdoor musical settings. Besides, the music is usually incredible on its own.

So if you have the time and the budget, visiting a jazz festival is the best way to explore authentic and organic jazz music. As a guide, here are three of the world’s best jazz festivals:

Newport Jazz Festival. Held every summer in Newport, Rhode Island, Newport Jazz Festival is considered the “grand daddy” of North American Jazz festivals. The fest is known for its historic performances from legendary artists Bille Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Miles Davis.



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Beaulieu Jazz Festival. Compared to other fests, this music gathering is more modern and hosts more indie performers. What I like most about Beaulieu Jazz Festival is the experience the fact that visitors are allowed to camp, wear eccentric dresses, etc. The festival is held in the U.K. so you may want to save a few bucks for air fare, food, and accommodation.

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The place itself is special. New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz music and today it has the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Probably the grandest on the list, New Orleans Jazz fest has 12 stages offering jazz, gospel, Cajun, Blues, R&B, Rock, Funk, African, Latin and Caribbean music. It’s a mix of everything.


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Jazz festivals are often crowded, so it’s wise to book and plan everything months before your trip. Long live jazz!

Hello! It’s me Chrisopher J. Keehner, an average Philadelphia dad who loves sports and jazz music. Follow my Facebook page to learn more about the best Jazz festivals in the country.


Don’t Go, Dad: The Ill Effects of Absentee Fathers on Their Children

One of the most devastating issues surrounding the smallest unit of society is fatherlessness (either due to divorce, non-marital birth, or death). The most affected by this are, of course, the children. Here are just some of the ill repercussions of the absence of fathers:

Education issues

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Sara McLanahan, Laura Tach, and Daniel Schneider published a study linking a child’s engagement and attitude to studying with family structure. Children who grew up without fathers have shown poor academic performance. Most of them end up dropping out of school, which inadvertently affects their chances of landing high-paying jobs.

Mental health

The effects of absentee fathers on children’s mental health are obvious. A broken family may cause social-emotional development problems for children and adolescents. Cases of anxiety, depressions, and suicidal tendencies are among the most notable evidence of this.

Social implications

Children, boys especially, who grow up without fathers tend to display improper social behavior such as aggression. Others may show signs of identity crisis or trust issues.

Behavioral problems

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Without a fatherly figure, children may develop unwanted behavior such as truancy, premarital intercourse, chronic drinking and drug addiction. These behaviors manifest as a sort of coping mechanism for the loss in their lives.

Hey there! My name is Christopher J. Keehner, part-time businessman and full-time dad. Follow me on Facebook for more articles on fatherhood and business.

The jazz gods of the 21st century

Jazz was a popular form of music that swept the people in the early 1920s who danced to swing and attended lavish events where bands played as they enjoyed the night of their lives. Times went by, and jazz kept on pushing forward and today, it remains one of the most influential and soulful music genres. Throughout the years, it flourished and brought numerous influences to people. And to whom do we owe the pleasure of such glorious gift? The musicians of course!


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Musicians helped propel jazz, and by doing so, received adulation from the public. Whether they were the biggest names in the music scene or the folks who regularly played at the club, these jazz gods proved that music can be as soulful and beautiful as a child’s innocence.

But who exactly are these “jazz gods” who left a glorious legacy? And to what do we owe the pleasure of being gifted with their beautiful compositions? We have the likes of Ray Charles, a legendary pianist and songwriter who rose to fame despite his visual handicap, Nina Simone, who not only sang and played the piano but also became a civil rights activist, and Louis Armstrong, who by far was the most influential jazz musician of all time, who donned the trumpet and wrote many songs that were well-loved since they were first heard in the ‘20s and remained to be so up to today.

You’re probably wondering why they were referred to as jazz gods, right? It is because their talents remain unmatched up to this day. Jazz provided a way for people to express their soul, despair, and happiness all at the same time, and these jazz gods have perfected it to a point that their music has become immortal.

Music fills our soul and brings color to our life. I am Christopher J. Keehner, jazz enthusiast, educating people about the glory days of music. Follow me on Twitter for more good reads on music.

What Makes Jazz Music Different From The Rest

There is something special about jazz. I suppose that enthusiasts of any genre will say the same thing about their preferred category, but for me jazz music is the embodiment of soul and heart. There is just the correct balance of tragedy, sensuality, and happiness in every beat. There’s also a special feeling one gets when looking at one’s loved one under the dimmed lights of a jazz club.

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Don’t get me wrong, though: my attachment to jazz is not purely emotional. It’s intellectual as well. Jazz has a pretty interesting history, having arrived here in the early 20th century in New Orleans. Musical traits from the West African black people mixed with the light classical tendencies of the Europeans. The successful combination of the two developed into a unique blend of syncopated rhythms and voicing. Jazz, along with Blues, can arguably be considered a cultural revolution – shaping the American heritage and forming our national identity.

We must remember that America is a melting pot of cultures. Who we are today is the direct result of the struggle of many different cultures. This independence and freedom we are living in today are a reminder of how many people struggled and worked for it. So, in a sense, jazz is a memento of that change – a gift, if you will – of the change this great nation went through. Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, that separates jazz from any other genre and I think makes it pretty cool.

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My name is Christopher Keehner and I am a family guy with a love for jazz and sports. Learn more by following this Twitter account.

Parenting woes: How dads can handle child-rearing stress

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A father plays many roles: he is the provider, the disciplinarian, and the family’s protector. So when you come home from work, you can’t always have fun, chill with the family, and relax. Sometimes, being a parent can (literally and figuratively) be a handful. So how can men handle the responsibilities and stress that comes with fatherhood? Here are four tips:

Stay physically fit

This entails having a proper diet and regular exercise. Your body needs to be able to handle the strains of both work and family life. Eating healthily gives you the energy to keep up with your children even after getting home from the office. It’s so important for us to be active, so we don’t succumb to laziness and exhaustion.

Get enough sleep

Studies have shown that getting eight hours of sleep can significantly reduce stress. If eight hours of uninterrupted slumber is not possible, try and get power naps in the middle of the day to give you the extra energy boost.

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Proper time management

Your job is very important because it financially supports your family. However, pouring all your time on work will quickly burn you out. Try not to bring your work at home if you can help it. It’s important to keep your personal and professional lives separate. Also take advantage of your vacation leaves – people are more efficient with some R & R. Wisely manage your time between your family, your career, and yourself to avoid stress.

Learn to say ‘no’

Admit it now, you’re no superman. Frankly, nobody is, so don’t feel bad if you need to say “no.” You get stressed because there might be too much on your plate, and you’re biting off more than you can chew. Learn how to say no to unimportant things in order to avoid overworking yourself.

Hi, I’m Christopher J. Keehner and I’m both a dad and a businessman. Follow me on Twitter for more tips on fatherhood and business management.

REPOST: What does being a dad mean?

How do you know if you’re ready to be a father? John Crace of The Guardian talks about his experiences being a dad and what it means to him.

Safraz Manzoor with his daughter Laila. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian | Image Source:

Safraz Manzoor with his daughter Laila. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian | Image Source:

I thought I was ready for fatherhood. I was 40, married, and had had enough of the good life to be able to imagine it ending. Yet parenthood still came as a surprise. This was partly because most of what I had been told about it came from mothers; I rarely spoke to my male friends about it.

My wife devoured books on motherhood, but the few I saw on fatherhood tended to be written by men who deludedly believed they were funny. The blokiness was deeply dull. Then there were the online guides for first-time fathers, giving advice on what to expect during pregnancy and life with a newborn. They were well-intentioned, but not hugely helpful. Nothing I read told me the truth about how I felt.

I was mightily stressed in the months leading up to the birth and spent hours gloomily contemplating how everything I loved about my life would have to be sacrificed. With hindsight, if I were writing a guide, I would start by reassuring dads-to-be that nature knows what she is doing. It can’t be an accident that pregnancy lasts nine months as it gives men time to digest the reality of what is about to happen.

For me, one of the hardest things was seeing my wife’s body change during the pregnancy; I was not emotionally prepared for how different she looked as her bump became ever-more pronounced, but it was hard to admit to, or share my thoughts because, as I discovered, no one much wants to hear a man moaning.

The pregnancy taught me another lesson that was to be invaluable following our baby’s arrival: the important stuff happens to the woman and the man’s role is to assist and cope.

Childbirth is like watching a film after having read too many advance reviews. You have been told about the part where you will scream and the bit where you will weep, so it comes loaded with expectations. From a father’s point of view, giving birth resembles Keith Richard’s description of being on tour: it is mostly waiting around. My wife was in labour for 35 hours, and for most of that time I was hanging about, offering what support I could.

Men should be prepared to see their partners enduring a pain no man can comprehend and to make difficult decisions on their behalf. Seeing my wife – usually independent, strong and wilful – left weak, vulnerable and reliant on me was a painful surprise.

A father’s role is to hold his partner’s hand and weep manly tears at the sight of the new baby arriving. I was so aware that I was meant to cry that I was stricken with performance anxiety. While my wife was furiously pushing out our baby, I was trying to recall the video to Drive by the Cars, in the hope of mustering a few tears. The sight of my wife giving birth was fascinating and freaky, but not tear-inducing: I just didn’t feel like crying.

Not only would I tell new fathers not to worry about crying, I would also tell them not to worry if the newborn baby looks decidedly weird. I knew I was meant to think my daughter was the most beautiful thing on the planet. I had been told that I would fall in love with her the moment I clapped eyes on her. Instead, I found myself staring at her little face, thinking: “My God, she looks like a tiny alien.”

If I was surprised at my lack of tears, I was equally surprised by how much watching my wife give birth affected me: simply put, I felt an intense love, awe and admiration.

Having a baby ruins your sleep. That is one of the fundamental truths about parenthood. Except, that is, if you are the father of a baby who is being breastfed, in which case there really is no reason to wake up in the middle of the night. The honest truth is that, after the initial couple of weeks, my sleep was largely unaffected. I had thought it would be totally different, but that was because the people who told me were women and, frankly, it is different for them.

Laila is now 10 months old. Before she was born, people kept telling me life would change after parenthood. I hated hearing that – if you rather like your life, why would you want to change it?

Of course, life does change, but I have found that the extent of that change is partly in your hands. I would tell fathers-to-be that the fear of parenthood is much worse than parenthood itself. When you are waiting for the baby, you can see all the things that are going to change, but you cannot imagine the new things that will arrive.

To the man, the baby remains an abstract right up until it pops out. As a result, men are less prepared for it than women. It also means there is the delightful surprise of finding out that not only are things not so terrible, but also they can be rather wonderful.

John Crace with Robbie, 16, and Anna, 19. | Image Source:

John Crace with Robbie, 16, and Anna, 19. | Image Source:

However much your life changes, though, you have to accept that you have become the person who once annoyed you so much: the new parent on the plane with the baby everyone is praying won’t start screaming, the man pushing the tank-like buggy along the crowded pavement, the dad who can’t resist boring his friends with stories about the little love. Don’t think you are better than them: you are them. SM

‘Now we’re free to have a different relationship. Not to be friends, though’
July 1992. Anna doesn’t breathe when she is born and is rushed to intensive care. She remains there for several days, and I get quite used to it. Once I know she isn’t going to die, I rather wish she could stay in hospital indefinitely so that a doctor will always be on hand. The reality of what it means to now be jointly responsible for keeping Anna alive 24/7 has only just sunk in. It’s probably something I should have thought about rather harder before becoming a father, but there you are. By the time we get her home, I am already way out of my depth. Nothing has prepared me for this moment, and I am scared shitless. I pick Anna up. “I love you to bits,” I say. “But it would really help if you could tell me what the fuck to do.”

Nearly 20 years later, Anna is still breathing. As is her brother, Robbie, who was born just over three years later. Anna is at university and Robbie has just finished his GCSEs: both are bright, funny and argumentative. They get on well together – mostly; they have many more friends than my wife and I, and are certainly much better looking. These days the separation anxieties are all mine: I was the one who sobbed most of the way down the M6 after dropping Anna at Manchester.

It feels much better this way. I can’t say I’m thrilled to be in my 50s – one of the unavoidable consequences of having (nearly) grown-up children – but life is now generally more fun than it was in my 30s. I don’t love the kids any more than I always have, but I enjoy them a great deal more. I was never that great with them when they were small: I did all the stuff fathers are supposed to do – took them to the park, took them to the latest Disney film, read to them – but I generally did so without much enthusiasm. Who wants to go to the same park in the freezing cold for the fifth day in a row to push a sodding swing? Who really wants to see the Little Fucking Mermaid? And who really wants to read the same book, night after night? Not me.

The feelings of joy other parents seemed to experience in their children’s total dependency on them rather bypassed me. I just felt the weight of the responsibility: the fundamental deceit of trying to instil a sense of routine and security in a world that was self-evidently random and the certain knowledge that sooner or later the kids would see through this and feel let down by me. That moment has now long passed and we can now all be a normal family without having to act like one.

There are losses. I miss all four of us always being under the same roof. And there are still anxieties, albeit different ones: such as where the hell is Robbie, why isn’t he back when he said he would be, and why is his phone going straight to answerphone? But – the odd sleepless night permitting – these are a small price to pay. The occasional three-line whip apart, if Anna and Robbie do something with me it is because they have chosen to do so and not because they have been dragged along. That never fails to make me feel absurdly flattered. And if they don’t want to do what I want to do, they can do something else as they no longer require constant supervision. Either way, those areas of my life that went on hold – going to away football matches, for example – while they were young have now been reclaimed.

I also love it that I can now admire them both for real rather than imagined achievements. Congratulating them for the tuneless recorder solo never came easily to me; being gobsmacked by a piece of theatre or artwork they have created does. I like it that in many ways my job as a father is done: they have a clear sense of right and wrong, an emotional sensitivity I never had at that age, and a passion for Spurs. I also quite like it that they think they know more than me. Even though they don’t.

So we are now free to have a very different relationship. Not to be friends – who wants a dad as a friend? A dad should always remain a dad; someone to cadge lifts and money off, someone to turn to when things are shit, and someone to ignore when things are fine. But they are now able to see me as a person as well as a dad. I no longer have to pretend – too much – to be someone I’m not. They know my strengths and weaknesses almost as well as I know theirs and love me anyway. Well, they say they do …

Then again there are still some weaknesses I try to keep hidden. Such as writing sentimental pieces like this. But, luckily, as no one in my family ever reads a word I write, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Discover more stories about fathers and parenthood by liking this Christopher J. Keehner Facebook page.

The ups and downs of stay-at-home fatherhood

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If you’re considering quitting your job to become a full-time, stay-at-home dad, you’re not alone. Recent research show that more and more new dads are thinking of staying at home to take care of the kids and the household, while women are taking more of a career-oriented role.

Knowing the perks and perils of staying at home can help you decide if you should go down that parental path.

The ups: Security, less expenses, freedom and flexibility

One advantage of staying at home is being able to directly supervise the care and education of your child without the fear of a babysitter neglecting them or someone else teaching them what you don’t want them to learn. Because you’re always home, you don’t have to shell out more money for babysitters or daycare.

And because you don’t have to keep a schedule, you are in total control of your time; you can take the kids out whenever you want if the weather permits, or just stay home and watch movies if it’s raining or too cold to go out. No need to follow an itinerary – just go with the flow.

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The downs: Distractions and lack of social contact

Unlike the office where you can be very productive, the home offers a lot of distractions. Taking a nap, getting something to eat, and watching TV are some of the things that can take your attention away from your kids, unless it’s something you can do together. Staying at home all the time can also take its toll on your social circle, since you have to stay and take care of the kids the whole day. Nights out with buddies or a simple dinner with friends could be a thing of the past.

It’s best to talk about it with your wife to assess your current situation and see if staying at home will be beneficial or not to you and your family.

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I’m Christopher J. Keehner and I am a simple family man. To know more about my thoughts on fatherhood and family, subscribe to my blog.

The art of appreciating jazz

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Jazz influenced a lot of the popular music we listen to today. It is a genre that speaks volumes about the history of America but unfortunately not many know how to appreciate its sound. If you’ve started taking an interest to jazz, here are some tips on how to best appreciate it:

Trust your ears

We all have our own preferences when it comes to music and you may not enjoy all forms of jazz in its diversity. Jazz artists have their distinct styles that could only be distinguished by listening hard. There are many genres of jazz and listening to each will help you find out which suits your tastes best.

Don’t overthink it

Some people say that you should delve into the rich history of jazz in order to like it. While there is something to gain by researching on the roots of jazz, it is not exactly necessary. Jazz is good music; it can be as simple as that.

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Hear it live

There is much difference between listening to jazz on your music player and watching people play it live. Live music impacts you on different levels – emotionally, intellectually and physically.

Have an open mind

In order to appreciate jazz, you have to get rid of all your biases. Keep an open mind and understand the complexity of jazz in all its different forms and genres. You might think it’s boring at first, but give it a chance to tell its story, to take you to places you’ve never been and somehow you will find it easier to see its beauty.

My name is Christopher J. Keehner, a big jazz fan and businessman. Get to know my tastes in jazz by following me on Facebook.

Schmidt, Carlton, and Roberts: The greatest Phillies of all time

Living in a sports-crazed city, I can say without hesitation that the Philadelphia Phillies is the team I have cared about in baseball ever since I was a kid. From the likes of Grover Cleveland to Larry Bowa, the Phillies has provided me a reason to take baseball seriously—more than the cheesesteak rolls during matches.

With an appreciation of the past and a sense of the present, I have personally picked three of the greatest Phillies of all time:

Mike Schmidt

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Perhaps the greatest third baseman of all time, Schimdt’s name will be remembered for generations to come. Since his retirement, Mike had hit 548 home runs and won three MVP awards. His fame and hard work will always be associated with the greatness of MLB.

Steve Carlton

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In my opinion, the best pitcher that the league has ever seen. Name 10 Hall of Fame pitches, his name could easily make it to the top. Listed among Phillies Nation’s greatest Phillies of all time, this lefty holds the record with the second-most lifetime strikeouts of any left-handed pitcher and the second-most lifetime wins of any left-handed pitcher. What else can I say?

Robin Roberts

Like Steve, pitching for him was a piece of cake. A Hall of Famer, he holds a 286–245 record with 2,357 strikeouts, a 3.41 ERA, 305 complete games, 45 shutouts, and 4,688⅔ innings pitched in 676 games.

It may have been more than five years since their last championship, but my love for the Phillies will live forever. Here’s hoping for a triumphant 2015 season!

Hey buddy! Christopher J. Keehner here. Help he raise support for the Phillies this coming season by following me on Twitter.