Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Rock 'n' Roll, Cooking And Baseball In Lithuania

It was a busy summer. James spent much of it working in the U.S. on Ford projects that he described as feeling like working on a Rock tour. Sarah actually did work on a Rock tour – and then some.

Singer-songwriter Steve Grand and his band made Lithuania a stop on his European tour to promote LGBT rights. He’s billed as an openly gay country singer – the denim and whiskey featured in his All American Boy video cemented that description, but he’s not really country. Sarah got to travel around with the band for its visit.

The exceedingly telegenic Grand did interviews, held a master class with aspiring young musicians, and gave two impressive concerts.

But Grand wasn’t the Embassy’s only star or LGBT advocate to visit Lithuania this summer. While Grand was touring, celebrity and Oprah’s former chef Art Smith was sharing his passion for healthful southern cuisine with local chefs and kids. Chef Art and Grand teamed up for a public interview event held by Lithuania’s LGBT community. The two knew of each other, but had not previously met. Chef Art attended Grand’s Vilnius concert and invited him and the band out for dinner. Sarah got to tag along.

Chef Art holding court, building appetites. The grand results.

Sarah and her Cultural Assistant Jurate posing with the visiting stars.

And that’s not all. The Embassy also held a baseball program with a couple of State Department “Sports Envoys” – Hall of Fame Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin and former Montreal Expos organization pitcher Joe Logan. The pair held baseball clinics for kids and members of the Lithuanian National Team. Yes, there’s a small, enduring baseball community in Lithuania – who knew?

The best part was Sarah’s idea to hold an exhibition game between young Americans and Lithuanians in a stadium named for two Lithuanian-American pilots, one of whom is credited with the bringing baseball to Lithuania. The Embassy served hot dogs and cracker jack.

Sarah, again, posing with her visitors – Joe Logan on the left, Barry Larkin on the right.

Time to play ball! Some scenes from the baseball game and clinic. A beautiful day at the park. Sarah addressing the crowd. Lithuania's finest youth players.

Barry Larkin surveying the competition.

Game action and a post-game clinic.

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