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The Mystique of Martin Guitars

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Kennedy Space Center Delivers an Epic Journey


About Terry Conway

For the past fifteen years I’ve been a contributing writer to a variety of national & regional magazines, prominent daily news-papers and websites. I have written about an array of topics such as arts & culture, chefs, food & drink, business entrepreneurs, travel, history, thoroughbred racing, and the animal and natural world.

I'm currently a regular arts & culture contributor to WFIT's website (the NPR radio station in Melbourne.), Vero Beach Magazine and Florida Today newspaper on a number of topics. Over recent years my work has been published regularly in Blood-Horse, Long Island Boating World and The Hunt and PA Equestrian magazines. I've also contributed articles to the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, the Delaware County Times, and the Montgomery County Newspapers. I have been an Arts & Culture correspondent for Newsworks, the website for WHYY-TV (PBS in Philadelphia).

I have been a correspondent to ESPN.com, America's Best Racing, the Paulick Report and Thoroughbred Racing Commentary. I am a regular contributor to the following top-flight travel websites: JustLuxe, JustSayGo, Gallaghers Travels and SeeTheSouth, as well as the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association website.

After spending the past two decades in Wilmington, Delaware, my wife Jane, our Toller retriever Smarty and I have moved to Melbourne Beach, Fla. Located on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River, Melbourne Beach sits on the southern end of Florida's "Space Coast." The famed coastal highway A1A runs directly along the Atlantic. Melbourne Beach (pop. 3,000) offers unspoiled beaches with sparkling blue-green waters and thousands of beautiful seabirds and long-legged shorebirds.MB 04

Head north 35 miles on A1A and you arrive at Cape Canaveral, for decades our nation's gateway to exploring and understanding our universe. Today, Cape Canaveral is a hub for many of the most exciting new private space projects such as SpaceX, the rocket and spacecraft company founded by Elon Musk (manufacturer of Tesla vehicles). Upwards of 30 launches are planned in 2017.

Back down to earth traveling on two-lane A1A south from Melbourne Beach's compact business area brings you to a series of secluded and undeveloped natural beaches. Bonsteel Park's two-acre beach provides an excellent vantage point to catch glimpses of passing dolphins, while the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge is recognized as the most important nesting area for loggerhead turtles in the western hemisphere. It's also home to the gigantic leatherback turtles.

MB 02Nearby is Sebastian Inlet State Park which connects the Indian River Lagoon with the Atlantic Ocean. Its jetty break is recognized as one of the surf world's high-performance hot spots. Three generations of world-class surfers have surfed here, including 11-time world champion Kelly Slater. The 600-acre park is also celebrated for world-class fishing, and plenty of seabirds and wildlife.

Through my writing over the past decade I have traveled to spectacular destinations such as Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev. and Sun Valley, Idaho; Cody, Wyoming/Yellowstone Park; Saratoga Springs, the Adirondacks, Saratoga Springs and Rhinebeck, New York; Port Clyde and Monheghan Island, Maine; Avalon and Stone Harbor, New Jersey; Middleburg, Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia.

Other travel adventures have included Tampa and St. Petersburg, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, Florida; and St. Simons and Jekyll Island, Georgia. My travel articles thoughtfully explore the history of the region along with museums, music and the arts, chefs and restaurateurs, wineries and craft breweries, outdoor and sporting adventures as well as profiling intriguing personalities of those regions.

In addition to my writing career I owned a marketing company where I represented a diversified list of clients in the areas of publicity, marketing and business development-- such as the famed Baldwin's Book Barn, Thoroughbred Charities of America and the Kahunaville restaurant chain. In another life I was the founder, publisher and editor of Life Sports Magazine.

Along with Jane and Smarty I look forward to writing about new adventures in Melbourne Beach, the "Space Coast" and other Florida destinations. That's Smarty below with his pals Willie and Nelson.

Smarty XmasCard

Shining a Light on Autism Print E-mail

Vero Beach Magazine

November 2016

A dapper Fedora is tugged down over his shoulder-length hair. It's a late April evening and Jacob Velazquez is performing a recital accompanied by a trio of string players from the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra at the Florida Institute of Technology. He stole the show.Autism 1

Jacob is an 8-year old little boy. He was diagnosed with high functioning autism at the age of four about the same time his piano talents emerged. A year later he was admitted into the National Musicians Guild after perfectly performing ten classical pieces from memory. His parents, Willie and Tina Velazquez, report Jacob learned to play Beethoven's "Sonata Op. 49 No. 2" in just three weeks.

A showman to the fullest extent of the word, Jacob performed a classical and electronic dance music mix, singing, dancing, telling jokes, even mc-ing his concert. For someone so young his onstage presence was remarkable.

"Jacob's a smart, bright kid," says Aaron Collins, conductor of the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra. "He was playing cards before the concert, no jitters, cracking jokes. He was fully engaged. Singing and dancing, he received multiple standing ovations from the audience. Jacob also spoke about his personal experience with autism and his connection to his favorite performer Taylor Swift. All from the heart.

 
Championing Our Coastal Treasures Print E-mail

Vero Beach Magazine

October 2016

It started out as idle chatter over a few glasses of wine, a pair of college and surfing buddies exploring an exotic surf adventure. Thirty years had passed since they had last spoken. That evening evolved into a twice yearly "senior citizen surf tour" to some of the globe's most treasured surf spots.DeFreese 1

Last May Duane De Freese and Mike Ryan traveled to El Salvador's Pacific coast where mountains cascade to a rugged coastline. A weathered hand-painted sign welcomes visitors to the village of Mizata, long celebrated for its warm water and uncrowded waves. El Salvador's coastline is blessed with more than a dozen world class right point breaks which swell over rock bottoms on the ocean floor to form larger, faster waves that maintain their speed and size for the length of the ride. Mizata Point is one of a number of world-class surf destinations there that attract surfers from around the globe.

A few weeks after his El Salvador adventure I met up with De Freese at Sebastian's working waterfront on the Indian River. When I inquired about the Mizata Point experience De Freese nodded his head and delivered a wide, knowing smile. A trim man with a thatch of silver hair, at age 62, he has never quite shaken the surfing bug.

De Freese's affinity for the power of water took shape growing up in East Rockaway, N. Y. a half-mile from the Atlantic where he spent his time surfing and fishing, reveling in the beach lifestyle. As a teenager he worked in his parent's garage learning the art of building a surfboard-- the shaping, sanding and glassing. After acquiring a degree in zoology from the University of Rhode Island, De Freese packed his bags and headed down to Melbourne with its nearby beaches and earned a graduate degree and Ph. D. in marine biology at the Florida Institute of Technology.

 
Zoo's Oyster Restoration Programs a Big Success Print E-mail

 Melbourne Beach 32951

November 17, 2016

Chefs call it "merroir." The newly minted term refers to the flavors imparted by the different areas of the sea. It's the taste identifier which makes the oysters unique to a region's waters. For instance, Long Island's Blue Points are mild, pleasantly salty and very meaty, while Virginia's Chincoteagues are long and skinny, delivering plenty of salinity with a sweet finish.Oysters 2

Connoisseurs and newcomers to the oyster bar both debate salinity and complexity as well as the finish, perhaps with hints of melon, copper, or cucumber. As an added bonus the bivalves pack nutrients like zinc and iron.

Still, the biggest benefit is that oysters are self-sustaining and work as filter feeders-- improving water quality. Once found in abundance along the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), the Eastern oyster has now vanished from many portions of the waterway decimated by chronic pollutants that have resulted in algae super-blooms, massive fish kills and the deaths of a significant number of wildlife.

The humble oyster, living its life basically stuck in the mud, is playing a starring role in restoring the IRL's ecosystem. Ten years ago, UCF partnered with The Nature Conservancy, and later with the Brevard Zoo employing special oyster restoration mats in the knee-deep waters of the lagoon to rebuild oyster reef habitats in suitable areas of the Canaveral National Seashore.

 
"Ring of Fire" Print E-mail

 WFIT (NPR - Melbourne)

October 28, 2016

The late Merle Haggard described Johnny Cash as “Abe Lincoln with a guitar." Growing up on a farm in southern Arkansas during the Great Depression era, Cash went on to fulfill his dream of becoming a recording artist. Writing songs about the everyday man, his musical influence crossed generations and touched the lives of people far and wide.RingofFire Cash

Vero Beach's Riverside Theatre kicked off its 43rd season with the foot-stompin' musical celebration of Cash in Ring of Fire that runs through November 13.

Ring of Fire pays homage to the epic talents and rich legacy of the "Man in Black." A small-cast cabaret style show tells the story of Cash's life journey and touches upon his triumphs and struggles, rowdiness and redemption, heartache and faith as well as the great love story between Cash and June Carter.

Conceived by William Meade, created and written by the legendary Richard Maltby, Jr., the show initially played Buffalo’s Studio Arena in the fall of 2005 before opening on Broadway in March 2006. In the Riverside production Maltby has retooled the show to go beyond Cash's iconic image to concentrate on the meaning behind his lyrics. It is the only theatrical show Cash to which Cash gave his approval for and endorsed. He died in 2003 at age 71.

 
Songbird Soaring Into Breeders' Cup Distaff Print E-mail

Florida Today

November 3, 2016

From coast to coast Songbird is marching her way into the ranks of racing royalty.Sbird 1

A perfect 11-for-11, the 3-year old filly faces her stiffest competition yet in the $2 million Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff where she tackles older horses for the first time, including multiple champions Beholder and Stellar Wind at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 4. With a victory in the 1 1/8 mile race she will stamp herself as a champion for the ages.

Songbird has captured the imagination of racing fans all over the country not seen for a filly since the prime time of Rachel Alexandra, Rags to Riches and Zenyatta. Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, the big bay has dominated her competition in all eleven starts, winning by a combined 60 lengths. A daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, the same sire as Rachel Alexandra, Songbird's narrowest margin of victory recorded is 3 3/4 lengths. She has captured seven Grade-1 (racing's highest level) races faster than any filly in history and boasts earnings of $3, 372,000.

From her first start Songbird has exhibited exceptional speed and class-- traits of a champion racehorse. Rick Porter, a winter resident of Hobe Sound, Fla., races the filly in his distinctive red and white Foxhill Farm colors. I've covered Rick and his impressive stable of racehorses over the past dozen years as well as utilizing him as an insightful source for many racing stories. For a number of years we both lived in Wawaset Park in Wilmington, Del. Porter has been battling health issues for most of the year.

 
Star, Director of Riverside Theatre's "Ring of Fire," Jason Edwards Dies Print E-mail

 WFIT (Melbourne - NPR)

November 18, 2016

Jason Edwards was right at home on any stage as long as he was strumming his six string and singing a Johnny Cash song.JasonEdwards

Edwards died Wednesday on an extended fishing trip here with friends. The star and director of the just concluded run of Ring of Fire, The Music of Johnny Cash at Riverside Theatre, Mr. Edwards was 62. Lauded by critics and audiences alike, Riverside Theatre’s production of Ring of Fire became the most successful opening show in the Theatre’s 43 year history.

“The theatre community has lost a unique talent,” said Allen D. Cornell, Producing Artistic Director/CEO of Riverside Theatre. “My relationship with Jason goes back over twenty years as both a professional colleague and friend. We loved to shoot the breeze about fishing as much as how to create indelible moments on the stage. On his final day here among us, he caught a nice redfish on a special topwater plug I had given him a week or so ago. He played his last chords on his six string here on the Riverside stage, and they will long be remembered.”

 
Golden Autumn Getaway at St. Simons Island Print E-mail

 Florida Today

October 22, 2016

Best-selling antebellum novelist Eugenia Price often spoke of the "special light" on her beloved St. Simon's Island. Turning a beautiful golden color in autumn, the expansive salt marsh grasses are especially dramatic when lit by the setting sun.StSimons Marsh

The Golden Isles in southern Georgia have long attracted travelers with their astonishing beauty, abundant wildlife, and historic gems. About midway between Jacksonville and Savannah, the unspoiled barrier islands comprise St. Simons, Jekyll Island, Sea Island, and Little St. Simons Island, just off the mainland city of Brunswick.

The salt marshes here are a fragile yet an enormously productive ecosystem, considered as some of the most extensive and productive marshlands in the world. The incoming tide nourishes and feeds the grasses of the marsh. The outgoing tide harvests its products and, through the tidal energy, breaks down the grasses and feeds the resources to the sea. A nursery for commercial seafood, the decomposing plant material are a superb source of food for blue crabs, shrimp, oysters, clams and all manner of small fish.

Majestic ancient oaks line the Pier Village district located at the end of Mallery Street on the southern end. Overlooking St. Simons Sound, the pier provides benches along each side allowing visitors a place to watch fishermen and crabbers haul up their day’s catch or simply enjoy the views of Jekyll Island in the distance.

 
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