Posted by: suek2001 | August 7, 2017

“We’ll sing it out my brothers…” part 2

Continuing on with my Kingston Trio Countdown:

Coming in at #14 is a great tune..if unfinished one….released on an EP, it made it’s debut on an EP….Nick Reynolds takes a great vocal..while Dave does the “call and response”..Bob Shane gets a chance to vocally shine in the third verse…It needs banjo but the guitars with the tenor opening really make this a great song..Odetta influenced this version (God rest her soul)….This is a repeater for me….from The Capitol Years Boxed set…Here’s Sail Away Ladies…

 

Here’s #13 on my Kingston Trio Fantasy Camp Countdown..In light of the health news from Bob Shane, this seems a bit ironic to post but it is what it is. Actually, he told me about this song back in 2003 at the MN State Fair…He was still touring with the KT at that point…and was really excited about getting to sing this..They didn’t get the chance that night….but this performance is just stellar..it’s a Christmas album..but the album is one of the best live albums ever done by The Kingston Trio…George”s banjo is just fantastic..Bill Zorn‘s commanding voice carries the melody while the joy and hope of the song is captured through Rick’s voice…Coming in at #13 “All of the Hard Days Are Gone”…and let’s believe all of the hard days are gone…

 

 

 

Coming in at #12 on the Kingston Trio Fantasy Camp countdown is this rare song..rare 45…from The New Kingston Trio….great, catchy tune.Bob Shane  carries the lead vocal throughout..as Pat Horine and Jim Connors offer harmony..guitar and banjo..but the star of this one offers not a single vocal note but the drive of the song..Tom Greene..as far as I know is the drummer on this catchy tune…and one day, I counted it…13 drum fills…great song to air drum too..and instantly singable…I would love to hear a Camper Trio attempt this one…..At #12 it’s “Tell The Riverboat Captain”….

 

Coming in at #11 is a great track that is from the album “Looking For the Sunshine”…a great song with a gospel flair and a bit autobiographical for the Kingston Trio…a folk-pop song that has a great chorus…and great lead vocal by Bob Shane…with Roger Gambill providing the high harmonies and George Grove doing his great guitar work….Here is “Big Ship Glory coming in at #11…

 

.Coming in at #10 is a Dave Guard tour de force in vocals…tried by Campers and me and never quite duplicated..the guitars, the percussion..that opening bass riff…and those “Come To Jesus” gospel lyrics..Bob Shane and Nick Reynolds soar on their “responses” to Dave’s “Call”…The KT really nailed gospel songs..and this is my favorite and quite possibly their best…I used to open my shows with this in Bible College….and it still gets me going..Crank this one way up!

 

Continuing with our countdown to the KT Fantasy Camp…Here is #9..a song that my Aunt adored and Campers love to play..John Stewart’s banjo drives the track..while Nick Reynold’s carries the spirit of the joy…Bob Shane‘s rhythm guitar carries the bounce of the song…an excellent Sing a long…one of the four songs I played at my Aunt’s funeral.

 

A fantastic, tender song comes in on the KT FC countdown at #8. Nick Reynolds delivers one of the best vocals of the entire KT catalogue. The slow, waltzy tempo convey a sweet European flair. the guitars and bass are low key to exemplify Nick’s great lead vocals…On a personal note, I can see My Aunt Betsy slow the car down…and wave her hands around to the feel of the music…and then when the last note hits, she’d say “Let’s play that again”…Here’s the exquisite, Mountain’s O Mourne..at $8…

Coming in at #7, a song written by The Kruger Brothers…The Swiss really know their Americana…George Grove sings lead but also does the fantastic banjo work on this song about missing their mother…and the thrill and wonder of seeing this live is watching George Grove get really into the banjo fills on this..Rick Dougherty..and Bill Zorn offer their killer harmonies but this song is all George Grove and his musical prowess….from one of the best albums The Kingston Trio has ever done(Born At the Right Time)…at #7 it’s “Forever and a Day”…..

 

 

 

It is time for #6 in the KT Fantasy Camp Countdown…Here’s a great song written by John Stewart, whose banjo charges this song..the harmonies are killer by John and Nick…and Bob Shane give the voice of someone shouting to the masses that the road to freedom is a long way to go…a civil rights anthem for all time…the current(and I do mean current) lineup of George, Bill and Rick deliver a great version of this as well…So, #6 is “Road To Freedom” from the #16 album…

 

Ahh..Coming in at #5, is Colours..a cover of a classic song by Donovan…they add layers that the original doesn’t have..the tenor guitar opening is just splendid..the song is a bit sped up from Donovan’s…and I gotta admit, I air guitar to this…the key change of harmonies with Nick Reynolds on lead…John Stewart doing harmony and Bob Shane doing a sweet, smoky harmony that solidifies this as one of their best…and a repeater for me….Here it is…

 

Coming in at #4 is one of my favorite later Kingston Trio songs…the guitars really sparkle on this…the arrangement is tighter than the original.Bob Shane, John Stewart and Nick Reynolds trade verses on this trippy John Stewart tune…this comes from a collection of rarities…one of the best from this collection…

 

 

It is time for #3…This song will always hold a special place in my heart. I bought a “Greatest Hits” tape of The Kingston Trio in late 1987.( just discovered them that year)..and listened to this version endlessly. I found out years later, it came from a fantastic live album called Once Upon a Time(autographed by John Stewart and Bob Shane)…There is something in Bob Shane‘s voice that just is perfection. Sinatra said he wouldn’t try this song…Bill Zorn does it now in concert and as fantastic as he is, he still can’t stop the one..the only Bob Shane…..the guitar..the voice…the legend…the song…Scotch and Soda.

 

Continuing on with our countdown….Coming in at #2….the song that started it all for me…I was home on a Friday night..listening to an Oldies program…30 years ago this fall…I was listening for Beatles music..when I heard the opening..and knew the song was special. In my high school English class, we were studying satire..and this song grabbed me…from Dave Guard’s opening monologue to Nick Reynold’s exciting vocal…filled with the right touch of whimsy so you knew it was a satire…and Bob Shane‘s perfect high harmony on that chorus…after the song was over, I begged the DJ to play another song by this group…he did..Tijuana Jail..and I was a fan for 30 years….so here’s #2 MTA…

 

Well…it’s come down to the NUMBER ONE song on the Kingston Trio Fantasy Camp Countdown…….When I thought of what should be #1, I thought, what song has the way of getting to the heart of why I love the Kingston Trio? A John Stewart song about love..longing…friends..music and flowers…all the gifts that God has given us….John wrote and sang this for his album “Day The River Sang” CD..and this awesome gem can be found on The Kingston Trio‘s “Born At the Right Time” CD..a stellar album that I cannot plug enough…the song begins with that awesome guitar intro by George Grove…and Bill Zorn‘s tender, expressive vocal…one of the greatest on any KT record..and then add in Rick Dougherty‘s high harmonies and this song really is divine…and it takes me immediately to Fantasy Camp..I listen to it on my phone at work on my breaks…I can listen to this on repeat ten times and never tire of it..When I saw the KT at what turned out to be my last official KT concert this year, I requested this one..and they did it flawlessly…So, folks….Here is the #1 song on the Kingston Trio Fantasy Camp countdown..Thanks for counting along!

 

 

..and that’s the countdown…for those that missed the first half:

https://suek2001.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/well-sing-it-out-my-brothers/

Let me know what you think….

Posted by: suek2001 | August 4, 2017

“We”ll sing it out my brothers..”

Every year I countdown to Fantasy Camp….Well, this year, I took a bit of a different approach…I had dreams years ago…being a disc jockey…so I decided when the countdown hit 30 days…I would do a countdown of my 30 favorite Kingston Trio songs….I don’t think I’ve ever really ranked them before..and the list just came from the 30 songs I could think of….I’ve been doing this for almost a month on Facebook…so I thought I would share it with you…I won’t just name the songs..but provide my insights into what makes them good and use You Tube links wherever possible…

(Imagine my best Disc Jockey voice)

Coming in at #30 is a song that very few people adore..I love the guitar.Nick’s vocal..the interesting percussion…and the whimsy brought by Mason Williams lyrics….

 

..Here is #29…Nick Reynolds and Donovan songs really go well together…and John Stewart and Bob Shane providing great harmonies with a great guitar riff throughout…I know some say the stuff on this album shouldn’t have been released but this is a gem that I am glad was discovered. It’s Called “Try For the Sun”…

 

Coming in at #28…is this gem from the live album “Live at the Crazy Horse”..I had the awesome pleasure of seeing this configuration several times…George Grove, Bob Shane and Nick Reynolds….my Aunt bought this CD on the night we met George and Bob after their St. Paul show on 5/15/98…As I recall, she loved this CD so much, we took the long way home to St. Louis Park…the chemistry between George and Nick on this..along with Nick’s hilarious intro make this stellar..plus George’s great guitar work….a Billy Edd Wheeler number called “Ann”…

 

Okay…Coming in at #27…it’s another live track…and at one time was one of my favorite vocals by George Grove…written by Deena Kaye Rose(aka Dick Feller)….who also wrote John Denver’s “Some Days Are Diamonds”…a great song with a great story..get your tissues handy….This song has a personal meaning for me that some people know about…and for those that don’t..I’ll tell the story at Camp…Here is Jocko and the Trapeeze Lady…from the great album “Live at the Crazy Horse”…

 

Some of my friends will be surprised at where this ranks on the countdown. I love this song..but it is not my favorite. I embraced it years ago when there seemed to be hostility towards it..even took part of the title as an email address..David Ruiz del Vizo loved this one….mostly for the use of Mongo Santamaria and others to give this song a world music flair. Nick Reynold’s lead vocal on this is hilarious and it has one of my favorite insult lyrics..”You are paranoid and your head’s a void”….The Manhattan Transfer would cover this later…and suck the life out of it….still, this one has it all..David Wheat’s great bass intro..Bob Shane and Dave Guard repeating that question, we could ask our leaders…”How did you get so coo coo u?”..and that scream… Coming in at #26 on the KT countdown for me…is the one…the only…the genius of Coo Coo U…

 

This may be a bit divisive but I don’t care….there are days at work where this song is the only thing that makes me smile…Coming in at #25 is an oddity from an album where the orchestral arrangement was added after the KT wrapped the session..or so I read somewhere….Written by George Yanok and John Stewart, I believe this had it’s origins in a high school comedy skit…and it went from there…I heard that Yanok bought a car with the residuals made from just having this song on a Kingston Trio record….All of the guys take their humorous tone on it..with John Stewart showing off his great gift of narration with comedic flair…and Bob Shaneand Nick Reynolds get in on the act….I still think there’s a bit of subversive humor in the punchline of the song…so if you’ve ever had a strange day, this song may just be the remedy..

 

 

Okay…there is no You Tube link…and I think I know why..so I shall respect the author’s wishes….Coming in at #24 is a fantastic song called La Migra….with deep meaning…not really a protest song but one that gives a a great view into the issue of immigration…written by an former INS agent named George Weissinger…it is given beautiful treatment by Rick Dougherty on vocals….and George Grove on an almost flamenco guitar..Bill Zorn provides backing vocals on this as well..but in concert, it is a George and Rick showcase. If you have not heard this fantastic album, I beseech you to go to kingstontrio.com and order it….It is one that begs to be listened over and over…

http://www.kingstontriostore.com/boatriticd.html

 

Coming in at #23  is the first gospel song on the countdown….I truly believe The Kingston Trio were great at mainstreaming gospel songs to a record buying public..they lay the groundwork for the Christian Rock movement that began in the late 60’s..a great tune with biblical references…and Bob Shane‘s authoritave old preacha voice with Nick’s soaring tenor and John’s chugging banjo make this a great, great..gospel song…don’t want for another day….To Be Redeemed!

 

 

A medley comes in at #22 for the Kingston Trio countdown. There are two versions I love….the “Live in Reno” one where Bob Shane‘s voice takes the lead and adds a whole new shade of interpretation(can’t find that one)…and then a live version of this one..and I adore this video…Dave Guard’s take as the lead on this one in voice and banjo..and Bob does a superb job on backing vocals and rhythm guitar while Nick Reynolds adds the tenor guitar and those awesome high harmonies as well….So, here is #22 on our Fantasy Camp countdown..”Shady Grove/Lonesome Traveller”

 

Coming in at #21 is a great song written by Duluth’s homeboy, Bob Dylan….each member of the Trio gets the right verse to sing…John Stewart takes the first verse..with that urgent banjo riff to wail on…snarling that Dylan style….and Bob Shane has the rather intimate verse and shades it with swagger…while Nick Reynold’s voice captures the third voice of exasperation and peacemaking with the “you are right from your side”…the song is one of the best Dylan covers out there….It’s “One Too Many Mornings”…

 

Oh this song is perfection on so many levels….that interesting banjo intro..and then it’s quietly playing throughout…Steve Martin made an observation that the banjo CAN produce sadness..Dave Guard’s banjo is perfectly melancholy..Bob Shane‘s high melody is beyond compare…as Nick Reynold’s takes some lower notes instead of the high tenor…but his soft Hal Blaine-like touch of the congas is where the song’s heart is…a sad calypso song that has had a more aggressive and too cheerful arrangements later on disguise the real nature of the lyrics….and on a personal note, whenever I have a nasty day at work, I sing the chorus out loud….and it helps…So, coming in at #20 is Sloop John B…or the Wreck of the John B…

 

Coming in at #19 on The Kingston Trio Fantasy Camp countdown is a fantastic ballad..Bob Shane sings lead..John Stewart wrote this when he was about 19…together, this song is amazing…..

 

 

 

Coming in at #18 is They Call the Wind Maria….I first heard this on the Paint Your Wagon soundtrack..My Aunt and Grandma were huge fans of the soundtrack..and played it endlessly….I know some love the original of this but I have a strong fondness for this… Bob Shane is in strong voice…and George Grove’s vocal repeats…with the congas..and George’s great guitar flourishes make this amazing..and by the end, you have Nick Reynolds trademark high harmonies….I saw the current group do this…and Bill Zorn does a fantastic lead on this as well..for this countdown,we’ll go with this outstanding Crazy Horse version..

 

It is time for #17 on the Kingston Trio countdown….the hilarious intro by Dave Guard…had some semblance to the truth..although the Biblical translation can vary….Song of Solomon reads a bit racier than this folky interpretation..with that opening banjo…Bob Bob Shane and Nick Reynolds add a strong energy to this…a romantic gospel song…..and I post this…for those of you who read….

 

Ahhh…what an underrated classic this is..from the album New Frontier….a quiet bass riff..and then the congas come in..with Nick Reynolds and Bob Shane singing in unison…as John Stewart’s banjo rings a bit like church bells…this end of times gospel song is just way too catchy….and too often overlooked..maybe because it also competes with “To Be Redeemed” on the same album….perfect gospel tune…Coming in at #16 is “My Lord What a Morning”…

 

 

Oh this list was hard to compile.;…and I swear a lot of good stuff was left off…but I HAD to include this…. Bonnie Heilan’ Laddie..a great banjo masterpiece for Dave Guard…and that strumming he does in addition to the picking is just amazing…I’ve heard this done a few times at Fantasy Camp…with Ed Callahan delivering a memorable moment that most won’t seem to forget…but let’s not forget Nick Reynolds wonderful high harmony…and Bob Shane’s swaggering voice on the verses…perfection…and this comes in at #15…

 

——stay tuned for the rest of the countdown——–

Posted by: suek2001 | August 4, 2017

“Say the word and be like me”

This has been a long week..the week before my annual trip to Fantasy Camp usually is….and with all the drama behind the scenes, I haven’t gotten much sleep….and I need a distraction…

So, as Yogi Berra once said “Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be”….I started thinking back to old blog ideas that haven’t materialized yet….and one came to mind…

I love certain words…and I go through weird phases of loving words….thanks to my fairly corporate job, my newest word is “cohesion”..I love to drop that one in random conversation….

One of my all-time favorite words is “plethora”…ranks right up there with “perusal”….Back in the days of my job searches, I tried my best to work both of those words in my cover letters…(I hated writing those things!) I figured those two words showed off my college education…and gave me the illusion that I was still smart…

College shattered that illusion one day….I was typing a paper for a feature writing class(a class I should have sailed through but was giving me great difficulty)…and back then, Windows had a feature that not only spell-checked my work but analyzed it for reading level. At this point, I was in college for about four years(It took me six years and five majors to get that degree!)…So, I had this paper analyzed for “reading level”…Apparently, my  writing level stopped around the 8th grade….it crushed all my elitist attitudes and dreams…and returned me to my average reality.

I knew then, I wouldn’t be  a writer of in depth journals in college textbooks….Around the same time, something hilarious happened…

I was working my part time job at a local Target store….I happened to be that annoyingly chipper person that greeted people when they entered the store….(This was in the Mid’90’s when Target was desperate to be a trendier Wal-Mart)..and we had a teenaged boy who was the cart pusher. He’d round up all the shopping carts in the parking lot …One night, he seemed to be having a temper tantrum of some sort….the following conversation is to the best of my recollection..and remains one of the funniest moments of my entire adult working life:

Me: Ben, are you okay?

Ben: I’m fine…why do you ask?????

Me: You seem a little perturbed…

Ben:..What? I seem a little what?

Me: Perturbed…you seem a little perturbed.

Ben: What did you call me????

Me: Perturbed..

Ben:(yelling by now)..Why did you say that? Why did you call me that?

Me (I admit I wasn’t exactly clear to him but I enjoyed his reaction too much) Well, aren’t you perturbed?

Ben (almost screaming and pounding the carts) I am NOT PERTURBED!!!! YOU TAKE THAT BACK RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!

Me:(calmly) Why?

–at that point, Ben runs over to the Cashier supervisor…furious…

Ben(to Supervisor) “You have to talk to her…Do you wanna know what Sue called me? She had NO RIGHT to!!! She called me PERTURBED!!!!”

—At that point, my supervisor took one look at me and said “Sue, that is a serious charge….come to my office right now and we shall discuss this”…

So, I was dragged into her office and once the door closed, she let out a huge laugh…..We both laughed for about five minutes….and then she said “Well, which one of us ought to tell him the meaning of perturbed?”…I told her, it didn’t matter as it gave me great amusement…She agreed to tell him….

Ben was a good sport….although he wasn’t really happy with me for awhile…but after that night, he dropped the word “perturbed” into any conversation he could…..

Ironically, to this day…whenever I hear anyone use that word, I smile.

 

 

Posted by: suek2001 | July 23, 2017

“The best things in life are free..”

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog….I have been grieving the loss of my friend and my inspiration is a bit lacking…

Still, a liberal friend of mine posted something on Facebook..and it got me thinking…..something that can be dangerous at times but fantastic at others…it’s up to you to decide which time this is….

It was one of those “click bait” links that stated why people who live in Denmark are the happiest…moreso than the United States….

Liberals love to go on about how much better other countries are based on free or reduced government services…it’s the utopian dream for many of them….the thing that stuck out to me is the word happy….as if happiness is something you receive from something….

I will confess that I am conservative in my politics…but even that is up for grabs…as the right leans a little MORE right than I am comfortable with…and under this current administration, certain violations of privacy are worth it to deter voter fraud…so, on some level the current political parties mesh together although uncomfortably so….

…but this blog won’t really be about politics(as it relates to the current administration)…..It is about happiness….and from watching the link, I am guessing the key to happiness is not really freedom…but free stuff…free day care…free schooling…free healthcare…all the stuff that people say they want…and that will make them happy….

So, let’s take a closer look at the hypocrisy of all that…free stuff will make you happy….Americans are always told how materialistic they are for wanting stuff…and for wanting money for such stuff…but is wanting others to give you FREE stuff somehow more honorable? I guess that’s the key to happiness…have others pay for it….

..but is free stuff or subsidized stuff the secret to happiness? Why stop there? I want others to pay my concert tickets to Paul McCartney…Music is a human right…isn’t it? I love music but no one owes it to me…and no one should….

I have been given a lot in my life…and yes, had governmental programs help me out…but I give back…and I know what true happiness is….

Happiness is having the freedom to have the money to help others…without someone demanding I help them….I know that happiness comes from being able to worship in a church that I longed for……and I know the happiness that banjos and guitars can bring when played for fun…or played in worship…..

So, one of the ways to achieve happiness is to seek out the things that aren’t fleeting…although, this whole life is fleeting….so in whom do we seek our happiness? We can seek it in ourselves….we can seek it in others…We can seek it in the world of nature…we can seek it in God….

Governmental programs may bring some measure of peace and security..but it’s all surface joy….the role of government really shouldn’t be to make ones life happy…or even worth living…do we really want politicians and paper pushers in charge of our joy?

My liberal friends might say “Yes..in the long run, it benefits us all”….but I would counter that we are letting the leaders and paper pushers do our job for us…for it should never be up to nameless bureaucrats…or elected leaders to determine our joy….that’s not why God made us….He made us to love one another…and to serve one another….somehow the government took over that role….we need to reclaim it before it is too late.

 

Posted by: suek2001 | June 2, 2017

“Give us a wink and make me think of you..”

I was perusing the Facebook Live app..and saw some youngish guy sing ” With a Little Help from My Friends”….his voice wasn’t anything remarkable  but his southpaw guitar work was really good….

Then I realized why he was playing it….the Beatles album ..Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band is about to turn 50….and all the fanfare that will go with it. Spotify has a remastered, two disc version of the classic LP for streaming….and PBS has a special on the making of the album…and all the rock journalists will pontificate the meaning..and the baby boomers will once again embrace a memory from their musical culture.

I like Sgt. Pepper…but I don’t love it…the album cover is cool..(although Alistair Crowley’s face creeps me out) but I rarely listen to the album…the opening two songs get a lot of airplay on Classic Rock stations..and the Lennon/McCartney classic “A Day in the Life” is a bit overplayed..(when Taylor Hicks screeched the song on American Idol about ten years ago, it meant it was time to retire the song)..

As a personal preference…the album “Abbey Road” is my favorite..from start to finish..although “Rubber Soul” is close behind…I listen to those a whole lot more than “Pepper”…

To be fair…compared to Usher’s “DJ’s got us falling in Love Again” or The “Weekend’s , “I Can’t Feel My Face”…”Pepper” is close to Shakespeare…

I’ll never forget when I first hear Sgt. Pepper from start to finish…It was in the mid 1980’s….John Denver’s career was in a record low..;he had put out two albums that did absolutely nothing for me…and as a die-hard fan, I felt lost for a time….(even started listening to James Taylor for awhile..but that faded too)

I was in high school…probably about 15 years old…went for a weekend visit to Miami Beach with a group called Young Life. I loved this group..with a message of Christ’s love being open to all…and allowing kids to have fun at the beach..what’s not to love? Still, the weird thing about this trip was all the music I was exposed too..Midnight dances on the beach to Buddy Holly…Daytime volleyball games to Whitesnake (I still love the song “Slow and Easy” all these years later)..and then Beastie Boys “License to Ill” playing randomly…(I still love “Brass Monkey” too)…

So after a memorable weekend…we all piled into a couple of vans and prepared for the three hour drive across Alligator Alley from Miami to Fort Myers….and Robert Passcato pulls out his boom box….I tried to get Robert’s attention all weekend…He was easily the cutest guy on that whole trip…and yet, I got nowhere…but his music collection was great….

Robert’s boombox played the Sgt. Pepper album all the way home….and I liked it..but didn’t really get it…I loved “Getting Better” and “She’s Leaving Home”..was totally confused by “Within You Wthout You” and delighted to hear the original “When I’m Sixty-Four”…(John Denver had a great cover of it..I was familiar with that one)…and adored “Lovely Rita”….the rest of the album didn’t grab me…and I didn’t really seek to own it later…I loved the Beatles at the time, but I liked their earlier stuff…

I would get sidetracked in my Beatles love, when I heard the Kingston Trio for the first time in 1987….and that would send me on a musical journey that brought joy…and tight family relations for years to come…that still thrive today…

I would give Sgt. Pepper another shot a few years ago..and found that “Within You and Without You” and “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” to be super groovy tunes..and quite possibly my favorite…..although “Lovely Rita” remains a favorite..simply because of one line that I interpreted to be a bit dirty…and that made me smile…

—–“Got the bill and Rita paid it

took her home and nearly made it”

All these years later, that line still still gets me…So, the album that came out 50 years ago still means something…and for me, it means a time capsule to the mid 1980’s..when life was a lot simpler and less scary…and less sad….Young Life still thrives…Robert Pascatto is either a CPA or lawyer…I can’t recall…so we never did connect on any level….and I moved to Minnesota and live in one of the greatest cities in the world…and dream of going to to the Kingston Trio Fantasy Camp….

..and life flows within you and without you….and the music still lives…so shall we close this out with a bit Paul McCartney doing a version of Lovely Rita..

 

 

 

Posted by: suek2001 | May 22, 2017

“I can promise you a memory to keep”

It’s a misty Sunday evening here in my NE Minnesota city….the kind that can darken the soul….I don’t really need that…as my soul has been a bit grey lately…

It’ll be three weeks this coming Tuesday….and I am finally ready to blog about this….

On May 2nd, my friend of 19 years, David Ruiz del vizo, passed away….in his sleep at the age of 61…It was a sudden turn of events in his life. I talked with him earlier that day..He seemed tired and had a cold..and wanted to sleep the evening away…so he could be ready for his first day of work after orientation.

I have wondered for three weeks what to say about my friend. I’m still at a loss but something needs to be written.. and part of me knew this was my way of saying goodbye…something I wasn’t quite ready to do….As far as I know, there will be no service…..as finances restrict what some in his family can do for him….Still, no matter what happens to David’s remains, his spirit really does live on…and I know he is in Heaven right now…

It all started with one post…from me…I posted on a guestbook for the Kingston Trio  saying I was a 26 year old girl who was a fan of the group and wanted to visit San Francisco one day to see the origins of my beloved group.

That post resulted in two emails that would change my life…One from George Grove, the banjo player for the group..(I wound up purchasing his awesome solo album “Middle of a Life”-life changing in that regard) and David Ruiz…he lived in the Bay Area…

I was a bit freaked out at first that people would write me but the power of the internet was just beginning back in 1997-1998..

David and I would go on to have some great email discussions..covering our faith…our love of music…and views on so many things…I cannot begin to list all the topics we talked about…but there were many…and the interesting thing is, we always found time to write each other…

Now, let me be clear…there was never anything aside from friendship between us…we just wrote…and then later talked on the phone. It was a special friendship…and we cheered each other through the great times…and prayed for each other through the hard times…There were weeks where we would barely write to each other…and yet, we felt connected….We would often say that our friendship was meant to last…

One of the hardest times for him was these last few years..He had some personal struggles and health struggles….we talked and prayed a lot..I noticed a change in him through our conversations..He got involved with a great church and saw the love of Christ firsthand….and felt closer to God and the Spirit in ways I hadn’t seen before….He may not have been ready to face the challenges life threw at him but somehow he find his survival instincts…and he pushed forward through all the hard times….

So, his death is just a shocking end to a life that held more promise….and it left me speechless in terms of wording my grief…my loss…and our friendship…..as trying to explain to people what we meant to each other is hard to do.

I am not saying that David was perfect….he wasn’t..there were stories I heard about him from others that cast a negative light on his memory. For those that recall him in a less than positive way, that is their tale to tell. We had our moments of disagreement and he could be a jerk to me…but I learned to trust him enough to call him out on his jerkish  behavior…and that led to a greater understanding. I admit, I could be nasty to him…as my sarcasm to him would cut him to the core…he was one of the few people that knew all the sides to me..and yet, he still wanted to be my friend…

We did finally meet last year at the Kingston Trio Fantasy Camp…and we had a blast….When we met, we were awkward to each other for about 20 minutes and then we realized, how easy it was to be friends…as we already were…

I could share memory upon memory from my friendship with David but sometimes that’s hard to do..as certain moments lose their mystique when shared outside  the moment…

So, I will tell you how you can honor David’s memory….Share in the music that gives you joy…ask someone for a cup of coffee and talk and get to know them..and just be kind and always seek the truth of life….

I’m still not sure this blog conveys all that David means to me…but I think he would be honored that I tried….as he was a big fan of my blog…

One of our last conversations was about music…and John Stewart was one of the artists he loved….and this song exemplifies who he thought of himself to be….so I will close my blog with this song….and also a phrase he loved…I believe it’s from Pete Seeger…”Take it Easy, but just take it”….

Rest Easy David….I’ll see you soon…

 

 

 

 

Posted by: suek2001 | April 28, 2017

“We’ll share these tender moments”

There’s been one of those Facebook game things that’s trending this week..Name 10 concerts you’ve seen..one is a lie….I knew the moment I did that someone would spot the lie..so I put in a slightly trick answer…and that confused people….but it did get started on a conversation with someone I knew from a John Denver Fan page…which John Denver concert’s we’d seen…and it turns out, she was at the same two I went to in Minnesota in the ’80’s…

So, I thought about that…and then found myself shedding tears over a Kingston Trio song called “Real Old Style”…and then it hit me…

God is a giver..of life..of love…of experience….we think He’s up there waving a wand to make it all happen but He uses people….and then I realized that the circumstances of my life as I know it are the result of the influence of my Aunt Betsy….

Today is the ninth anniversary of her passing..and since I never miss a chance to be ponderous, I find myself in that state today…..and thankful…Oh sure, I mourn her like most do for late relatives…but when I think about what she did for me all those years ago….and how nine years after her passing, my life is still blessed having known her….I am amazed…

I have written a lot of blogs over the years of her influence when it comes to music…and also the trips to Duluth we would take…well, that music translated into Kingston Trio concerts…and meeting the members…and meeting fans…every year…and even this year, seeing them with my mother…for the first time…

So, it is because of her, I count down to Fantasy Camp…and have found a group of friends that feel like family…and ironically give me that connection to her that I was missing for years with her gone…

I am sitting in my wonderful apartment…on this cool, cloudy day..looking at my beautiful city…and seeing the result of all those road trips to Duluth when I was a child…as Betsy as our driver….and I see my bridge…my friends…my job (with great benefits including a retirement plan) and my awesome church…all of  that..because I fell in love with Duluth all those years ago…at her urging….

I recall the day of her memorial service…I thanked her for giving me music and Duluth….and at that moment I was only thinking of what I could see right in front of me…and not the results….and nine years later, I know the results…

It is interesting that to some death is an end with only memories collected for the living…but the impact of our lives ripples on long after we are gone…

I can’t weep for my Aunt’s passing any longer….she really isn’t gone…..she is here..every day I look out at my city….she is here every time I get a big bear hug from my Pastor…and her spirit floats in the music I listen to…and the gatherings of banjos and guitars I partake in every August….

I have had dear friends experience loss in the past year or so…and when that happens the rest of us are left to help them cope and figure out why…there may never be a reason as to why we lose someone but they are NEVER lost…we may not see the result of their influence in the midst of our grief but years down the down the road..we celebrate it…

So, I raise a glass of 7up in Betsy Scott’s honor today….she is home in Heaven..but she is here in my life…and I am grateful…

..and now…here’s some internet evidence of what she has given me:

 

 

…her favorite Kingston Trio song…at least her FIRST favorite Kingston Trio song….

my awesome hometown of Duluth, MN….

..and me singing John Stewart at Fantasy Camp last year:

 

..and an important part of my life is my fantastic church in Duluth….so here’s a promo for it..some pictures taken by me….and I’m in one of them..

Posted by: suek2001 | March 21, 2017

“Sing a song that you all know”

I am sitting in a hotspot at my Mom’s new apartment complex…a Senior high rise….perfect building in lots of ways….

So, this means I am down in Florida…in March…it’s a perfect time to visit..no humidity..weather is near perfection..although one serious side effect of Florida in season is traffic…I don’t drive but the traffic is insane…the level of cars with the endless road construction makes me long for the quaint travel issues of Duluth…

..and yet..all this is worth it because the Kingston Trio is/are here….

 

As frequent readers of my blog now, I love the Kingston Trio….and seeing them in Florida is a first for me…because I saw them with my Mom…I have seen them with friends..with fans..on my own…with my late Aunt..but never with my mother…

So, this was an experience…We got to our hotel about 5 hours before the show…so that gave us time to relax and watch the Tampa area news..and marvel at their world class reporters over the newbies they get to report the Fort Myers news…we stopped at a fast food place to get a bite to eat…and hailed a cab over to the theatre…

To call The Venice Little Theatre intimate, is not doing it justice….It felt like a club..but with about 500 seats or so…I think this is the smallest venue I had ever seen them on…As we went to pick up our tickets, I heard a familiar voice behind me…someone I knew from Fantasy Camp….we chatted for a bit..and then even hugged…

We made our way into the auditorium…our seats were about eight rows back…the seats were on a slope..and they were in an aggregated way…so no one could block anyone else…

The stage looked like it was set for a western musical…some local production…and then they took the stage…..and the songs rang out..I took no pics because my camera hates the dark..even with a flash…and an usher sat next to me the whole time….I also couldn’t hoot and holler..and yell out in affection for my banjo player…as Mom pleaded ” please don’t embarrass me”…

The crowd took a while to get into it…but once they did…the Trio fed off their joy and gave it right back…the show was so hot…to hilarious..and the banjo notes pitch perfect…it had to be one of the best shows I have been to in a long time…

..and because people want to know….here’s the set list:

 

Darling Corey

Sloop John B

Chilly Winds

Greenback Dollar

Shape of Things

Everglades

La Migra

Desert Pete

They Call the Wind Mariah

—Intermission——

New Frontier

Jasmine

Genny Glenn

Forever and a Day

Scotch and Soda

Tom Dooley

Worried Man

Where Have All the Flowers Gone

MTA

 

Some notes on performances..I don’t think I’ve ever seen them do Ballad of the Shape of Things live..outside of Camp…but this performance was crisp and tight….Mariah had great harmony…and watching Rick Dougherty tear into Genny Glenn is something that never gets old.. Scotch and Soda is a hard song for anyone but Bob Shane to sing but Bill Zorn did it well..and his guitar was amazing on it…and Paul Gabrielson let loose on the bass as well…The song “Everglades” is one they do whenever they are in Florida…a trip to hear…and that got everyone singing…and then Bill Zorn’s voice just nailed the song “Jasmine”…a tender song written by John Stewart…a song I requested…it reminds me of Fantasy Camp….and I wanted a taste in the midst of my trip..

There were moments of hilarity onstage…and off…and I won’t spoil them for those who haven’t seen them but I do urge all my loyal readers to attend a show…

My mom loved them and was blown away by the songs…and the comedy…and the part that warmed my heart was hearing her sing along…

We sat up  talking about the show..and watching Golden Girls reruns in our hotel room…

..and small moments like that will keep this night in my heart for a long time….

 

 

Posted by: suek2001 | January 24, 2017

Days of Future Passed……

I have no problem with getting older…although I curse my body for feeling every ache and pain longer than it used to….and my eyes are a bit more crinkly than I think they should be….

Still, with age comes understanding…and also leaving things behind…..

I am writing this on the eve of what would have been my Grandmother’s 104th birthday…..and I just posted pics of her on Facebook..and all those memories should come flooding back…and some do…but most of the time I spent with her was a blur….

I spend the first twenty four years of my life with my Grandmother in it…..and now 21 years later, all I have are photographs…..

Every summer from 1980-1989, I went to see her..and my Aunt Betsy…we did road trips through the American West…and the Canadian Rockies. I have memories of raft trips…and picnics next to mountains…and walking through old western towns to see the history of all the rough riders and indians….I have those memories….all wrapped up in a narrative from photographs and vague retelling of road stories to others over the years…

It frustrates me on some level. I know others who have worse memories than mine but with a small family such as ours, every memory is precious..With both Betsy and Grandma gone now…our road trips are now locked in a time warp of photographs….

I miss my Grandmother…there was a lot of love there..conditional as it was..I still recall some moments….like sitting on her sun-porch watching the moon come up….or the way she shouted out Betsy’s name whenever she needed help…..or when she told me that she wished I had gone to a “real college to get a real job”…as writing was nice but no career..and Bible College wasn’t going to teach me anything…

I think of her now…and how proud she would be of my life….I have a job…with benefits…pays decent…and I get to help people..She may have viewed it as grunt, service work but if she knew about my savings, she would think I had arrived…status was a big thing for her….maybe it was wrapped up in a hope for security for her family’s future….

..as for the future, I really hope to hang on to some of these memories but I am not sure I will…with each year that passes, the time I had with her becomes merely another chapter in my life…

At least, she left with musical memories….she loved musicals..some big band..and the Moody Blues of all things….So, whenever I hear those types of songs, I think of her…..

For now, all I have is photographs…so I shall close with one from my personal collection…and thankfully one of the few I can recall…even if I wasn’t there the day it was taken…

My Mom and I visited my Aunt for Christmas of 1983..Grandma had purchased a bright red scarf to brighten up her winter days…(the older I get, the colder the weather gets, I see her wisdom in this choice)…We teased her endlessly as she wore that sucker everywhere…but you know what? She was sure easy to spot in a crowd…..

About a month after we left Minnesota, Betsy decided to send some winter photos..She loved to do that to torture Mom and I with cold-looking photos while we suffered through a beautiful FLA winter…So, on a rather warm day after a deep freeze, they did what so many Minnesotans do on the first nice sunny day in January…they went out and took pictures…

Here’s Grandma in her red scarf glory…seated on a wall near the frozen Minnehaha Falls, in South Minneapolis….I now have this red scarf…and I wear it every winter…Happy 104th birthday Grandma..I remembered!

Image may contain: 1 person

 

 

 

I was going to write a deep and reflective note on 2016..as the years comes to a close…but this year has been SO strange..so dark..and so tragic that words really can’t describe….

It reminds me of a time around 1996..My best friend had died the year before…my Grandmother died at the beginning of 1996…too much death to handle for me..so I withdrew a bit…My Aunt did too….until…..one night…..

I was over at the house..my Grandma’s house…..which it was now theirs….when we decided to watch a movie…Albert Brooks’midlife crisis comedy “Mother”…with Debbie Reynolds as the title character…Brooks had a shtick that I never cared for..grown man whining about never quite getting his way and blaming others for his own screw ups….This movie was a showcase for that…but the best part was Debbie Reynolds…She had a comedic touch…a dazzling smile and a way that brought lines that should have been given a chuckle a real shine of truth and joy…..

I recall one scene where Brooks was watching Debbie Reynolds pull container after container out of the small freezer over their refrigerator..built it seemed back in the early days of cutting edge kitchen appliances…Brooks said the following line as Debbie just smiled and pulled out tupperware after tupperware….with chunks of ice attached to each one…”Mother. there’s a reason they make the freezer smaller than the refrigerator….”

At that moment, I looked over to the couch that had been in Grandma’s living room for about 20 years…and saw my Aunt..(in Grandma’s spot, of course) spitting out her popcorn….and laughing…but the dry heave laugh….My Aunt was not one to laugh a lot…Her sense of humor was not that great..but to see her laugh so hard…and so, so long, it made me smile…I laughed too but Betsy would say that Grandma would do that with her food….

..and then this scene came on and Betsy totally lost it…

 

We all laughed at this…a long time too…and in a year of so much grief for our family..it felt good to laugh….Debbie Reynolds gave us that laugh….and I never forgot it….

About a year or so later, Betsy called me to say “I have some leftovers for you..I know you can’t afford much so I am bringing some things over..Hope you can use them”…

I thought that she and Micheal went out a few times and gave me their leftovers from the week….I was wrong…I acquired about five different containers…most covered in ice…Betsy explained…she was cleaning out the freezer…and couldn’t identify half of the stuff in there..So, use or throw out whatever I needed…I reminded her of the movie and Betsy’s reply was “She was right you know..It’s never too late”….

So, no it’s never too late to appreciate a great talent like Debbie Reynolds…and Carrie Fisher too….and all the others we lost this year….

Grief will hit us but the gifts that our friends and the famous have given us will come back when we need them….and I am grateful for that…

 

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