Posted by: suek2001 | July 20, 2020

“..seems we’ve gotten lost on our way”…

Honesty is something people seem to either love or hate….I seem to recall this exchange in reference to honesty from the movie Jerry Maguire..

Kelly Preston: Do you remember what we promised each other at the start of our relationship?

Tom Cruise: I think so..(typical guy, guessing what the woman wants to discuss)

Kelly Preston: Honesty. Brutal honesty.

Tom Cruise: Oh yes, honesty, I promised you that but you added the “brutal” part…

That part always made me laugh as brutal honesty is something not everyone can take…and I have some honesty to lay out to all of my readers.

I haven’t written much lately..I have a few ideas rolling around in my head but my head has been too caught up in the high art of writing. I have written some great entries that encapsulate my college education and life experiences but I fear that brilliance is short lived or worse, a fluke.

It’s not just in my blog but on Facebook as well. I am not that verbose there lately, either. It’s true that social media can have a negative effect on the brain but I choose to view social media as a conduit to friendships. Although, these past few months have challenged a lot of those friendships too.

It’s been an interesting time in as the pandemic rages across the nation and the world. Leaders of all professions jockey for airtime on network news broadcasts to reassure us or scare the hell out of us. It depends on the day and what the statistics say. I am not going to write a blog for or against mask wearing, COVID tests or say that I’m love with Dr. Fauci or think Trump is doing a great job. After awhile, it’s all noise.

The truth is I have fallen into a depression. I am not trying to be dramatic but I really have. I don’t think I need drugs to cure me or a string of sunny days to break me. It’s not that deep but it’s just this sense of the world passing me by.  If I am being honest, I don’t feel hopeless or faithless, just plain sad…

I have spent the past four months watching way too much TV..binge-watching  crime shows and really bad movies and eating every salty snack I can. I have only been going to church sporadically(due to shutdowns and watching online) and have grown accustomed to ordering groceries online.  I live alone so my social interactions consist mainly of working my job and talking with my co-workers…and anyone who work a “9 to 5” type service job knows that you’re self-worth should never be your job  and there’s a difference between real friends and work friends. I can almost guarantee that my co-workers tolerate me and like me only because they are stuck with me for eight hours.

I have said it so many times, I like myself more when I am not at work..as my church friends and my Camp friends remind me of the best part of me without expecting anything in return. Yet, I haven’t had much interaction with anyone these past few months.  Honestly, I have a fear of being left behind as those with lovers and families reconnect and forget their real-world friends, like me. Social Distancing is a great phrase but a lousy lifestyle. This pandemic has hurt a lot of businesses and changed the lives of those who have contracted it. I am not even remotely saying that the pain and suffering of those who have COVID 19 is not worth noting. It is. I am grateful not to have it and grateful my Mom doesn’t have it.  I am just sick of the isolation and I am bit jealous of those who have families and lovers to quarantine with. I wish I did but all I have is my TV, my fridge and my laptop.  I could go out for a walk in my lovely city but the process of doing that is a bit of a pain. I wear a mask for my job in a hot building for a eight hours a day. Walking around the neighborhood is just too much to ask…and besides, how many times can one go walking alone to not feel isolated?

One other source of my sadness is the cancellation of two trips due to this wretched virus. The first came in April when I had to postpone a trip to see my Mom and even the Folk Legacy Trio(that gig was eventually cancelled). It’s now been more than a year since I’ve seen my mom and neither one of us are getting any younger. Each day that goes by, scares me a bit more but I postponed the trip to October for her safety and our eventual fun. So, it better happen or I will surely go mad.

The other cancellation was my annual trip to Americana Camp in Scottsdale, AZ. I’ve written about this plenty of times in my blog so you know it means a lot to me. This trip made all the crappy days at work worth it for each hour I put in at work, the money went to pay for my trip. Now, it feels weird not to have anything to countdown for, save for or yearn for. I loved the feel of Camp as I felt a part of something that was as close to being in the “cool kids” club as I am ever going to be.

I will miss the music, the banjos, the hotel but most of all, my friends…Messaging and Zoom are not the same…and the yearlong postponement seems like an eternity. I understand the whys and wherefores of the postponement but it still really sucks and it has hit me harder than I imagined. My soul is crying for this trip and the only answer I get is silence.

So, there you have it. I’m being honest. I am not being overly-dramatic. I know this will pass and our lives might get back to normal at some point but I feel so isolated and at a standstill it’s hard to figure out how much longer to hang on to hope.

God’s got a way out of this. I am sure of it. I am sure we’ll all think we’re better people for it  but for all the endless memes about how this year is a horrible year, there’s been way too much sorrow to go with it to really laugh about it anymore.

This took me about a week to want to write but I figured getting my feelings out was worth it so I could start writing again and feeling something besides sad. Productive, I’ll take that…and as I said at the beginning of this blog, I just want to be honest…as Billy Joel once sang, “Honesty is such a lonely word”…

Well, I must be going, my Blue Bunny Ice Cream is calling to me and we’re very close now.

 

 

 

Posted by: suek2001 | June 3, 2020

“Don’t You go down to that city, I say”..

It has been a beautiful weekend in my city..Sunny, breezy and in the mid 60’s..Spring is in Duluth….and yet, there was the sound of voices throughout the Downtown area..Mostly saying one thing “George Floyd”…all in unison..as people peacefully march in protest to the horrific and very public death of George Floyd…

George Floyd was murdered by a police officer, in front of a crowd, in front of other police officers. This isn’t hyperbole. Two separate autopsies bear that out. A man wearing a badge and wearing the uniform of a police officer put his knee on George’s neck and caused him to die..and it’s all on video…Imagine your death being witnessed by a crowd, by police officers and all on video with your desperate cries for air and for your Mom. For anyone that has a good mom, a cry out to Mom when you’re hurting is a desperate child-like cry…and for all that has been written about this tragic moment in time, the end result is the same. Someone took a mother’s child from her too soon…too damn soon….

Yet, for many a mother and father of mainly African American heritage, the fear and the reality is theirs. They could lose their sons and daughters too through violent racism and a power trip. That’s really what something like this is…a power trip….when someone puts their knee on the neck of someone handcuffed and on their stomach for NINE minutes, that’s a power trip and a God complex from the pit of hell.

So, the protests have been in earnest..and rioting too..and politicians using this moment for their own gain..one tries to look tough after coming out of his bunker to escape the angry shouts outside his office and another, comes out of hiding after being absent from public view for two months, with a mix of empathy, rage against his opponent and an aura of political opportunism in his manner.

Leadership has seriously been lacking this past week on so many levels. I don’t want to waste blog space on how I feel about the power vacuum this past week but we all know it’s there. Yet, none of it really helps, not the earnest celebrities in their mansions and comfy lifestyles who raise bail money for protesters, or the lectures from the media and pundits on what we must do to move on from our racist tendencies, or the changing of our social media profiles to some catchy phrase of the moment. None of that brings George Floyd back…or the countless others that have died and promptly forgotten by a culture that wants to feel progress so badly, we move right past it on to the next crisis.

What does help is understanding…what does help is love…what does help is community stewardship….I’ve seen that several times in the last week…The Churches running food drives for families and businesses lost to the violence. I see people volunteering to tend to the wounded by the tear gas and the rubber bullets. I see that in the police who walk with the protesters and take a knee with them and then have a BBQ with them. I see it in the protesters giving the police hugs…and thanking them for protecting their rights to free speech..I see protesters stopping looters and protecting people from mob violence..and giving the police a 12 pack of bottled  water to keep them hydrated while they stand watch.

I see it in a private Evangelical Christian university in the heart of the city answer a call from the family of George Floyd to hold a memorial service in it’s chapel.

This is the answer…this is the first step….this is a chance to ask myself, what can I do to make for a better world, for a peaceful world, for a safer world..so, that no parent has to live in fear of losing their child, no matter the age, just for going to the corner store….

 

 

Posted by: suek2001 | October 12, 2019

“Oh my home is in the mountains, I am free…I am free”

I had a moment today…I had to work….we were short staffed as usual..I was a bit cranky…and then I had some time to listen to some music on my lunch break…I have been listening to John Denver a lot lately as today is the 22nd anniversary of his passing…so, I was listening to a playlist I had of only off-album cuts..no hits…revelling in the beauty of some of John’s hidden work….

..and then the opening notes of this one song started…Cowboy’s Delight….I think I have written about this one before but I’m getting old so I am allowed to repeat myself in my blog….So I will…

Cowboy’s Delight is a song written by a songwriting team of Bob Carpenter-John Holster..As far as I know, it’s the only song they wrote for John Denver…I have not a clue who they are or if they are even alive…but that song was an earthquake to me…and today, it jolted me. It’s the second song on John Denver’s “Windsong” abum.  Here it is…

 

Sitting in the breakroom, it seemed all the world faded away…and John carried me out west, where freedom is felt in the wind and the sky…and a song…It carried me back to the year 1976….My Aunt had bought the cassette tape and put it in her car…and we listened to it as we made our way from the suburbs of Minnespolis to the open spaces and fields of Chaska and Chanhassen…

It was the first John Denver song I fell in love with…and hearing those notes nearly brought me to tears…as John’s music cut through all the noise like nothing else did.

John used to say that nature was his best friend when he was a kid. He was shy, never really knew how to connect with people as his family moved around a lot due to being in the Army.  That all changed when his grandma gave him a guitar(YAY Grandma!!!) He learned to open up to others through music.

Well, I was a shy kid..felt like an outcast at times..and didn’t have any real friends…Music was my best friend…and from 1976 on, John Denver’s music was all I listened to. It would be what I wanted when I woke up and when I came home from school. John was singing right to me. John was telling me how much of life is precious and what a joy it is to be alive…and when  alone, you’re not really for life, God, nature, music…all of it surrounds you…that’s what I felt in John’s music…

His critics never got that…They never gave him a real chance…they still aren’t giving him a chance…Only the fans can do that now…Ken Burns had a chance to mention him in his Country Music documentary but chose to use HIM as an example of carpetbaggery in music…and that was not fair….and not right…as 22 year later,  a lot of people only know of their music history what documentaries and preprogrammed radio stations tell them what’s important….

So, as long as I have breath…as long as I have this weird, sporadic gift of writing, I will use it to tell the world..and future generations of the greateness of John Denver…

I am going to close with a few more clips that show the true artist that John Denver is/was….and most were NOT hits…

Here’s an early tune about how he felt about his place in life…

 

Here’s a hidden gem written by John about prisoners of war…written at the height of the Vietnam War:

Skipping ahead about ten years, here’s John writing a song that seems like a prayer…for unity ,understanding and peace…

I will insert a song that not many know called “On the Wings of an Eagle”..It came out on an album of outtakes a year after John’s death..but the song was recorded in 1980….the opening line is where my blog title comes from and it is the closest to autobiographical about John as you can get….It still gives me chills…

 

 

One of the best songs of a political nature John ever wrote came out in 1983…title track from the album called It’s About Time:

 

John could also write some great folky tunes…and a few years later, he would write this classic…called Whispering Jesse..(personal aside, I’m waiting for someone to cover this and make it a monster hit, as it should have been)..

 

I will close my musical portion of my blog with one of John’s epic songs..He always said that he wanted to write a bluegrass symphony…and yes, John Denver did just that…with lyrics echoing the Appalachians and the bluegrass touch, it’s song that carries the album it came from….a bit over nine minutes long, it is worth every moment…

 

I will say that I am heartened that some of his music still hits the airwaves through movie soundtracks..and groups like the Avett Brothers and The Folk Legacy Trio include John’s songs at times. This past year at the 2nd annual Americana Music Camp, I heard four covers of John Denver songs from the stage alone. His music still reaches..still matters….and we will sing it for as long as we have breath…

 

Posted by: suek2001 | September 6, 2019

“…..any old love song will do..”

I just wrote a blog in honor of John Stewart’s birthday…It’s a rainy, chilly Thursday night as I write this…and John’s music has this knack of clearing the grey skies away or giving them deep perspective….I’ve been toying with a way to get me writing in my blog again on some consistent basis…so I think I have something that might work…writing about music…not just “hey, this song/album/artist” is groovy…I think I’m a bit deeper than that..and want to take a bit more of a personal stake in the music I write about…It’s a chance to share what the songs mean to me and how they have shaped my life. I plan on doing this with movies too…Don’t worry, you’ll still see random stories..memories and rants for causes and such…This will just augment things….

So, my first album I want to blog about should be a John Stewart album. He’s been gone from this side of the earth for about 11 years but his music really is eternal…and the album is…(drumroll please)…Lonesome Picker Rides Again…

I will be honest and say this is my favorite John Stewart album. I know there are others that are perceived as greater but this album means a lot to me..(even if John dismissed it but artists are harder on themselves)…

The album was released in 1971..the year I was born…so it’s influence is only recent on me. Someone sent me a copy of this album back in 2001. I was starting to get into John Stewart music thanks to friends in his internet fan club called Bloodlines. Something about this album got me…knocked me down emotionally and threw the vision I had of life into overdrive..

I had just turned 30 years old…moved to my dream city and still hung on to hopes and dream of a career and a relationship and a life in my dream city. John’s music spoke to all of that….and this album is filled with those images..

The album opens up with “Just an Old Love Song”, a song that some dismissed as a bit lightweight(for John anyway) but John knew he wanted to ease people into his vision of America..from that opening harmonica to the lyrics that speak to the working class of guys pumping gas..and girls that can be dismissed as “dumb and dirty”…to the verse about kids finding fun in the back of a car..(long before Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane”)…God love ’em for doing what kids do…

The next track is quite possibly my favorite John Stewart song…called “The Road Shines Bright”..with lyrics about a church burning down but the service goes on in a gym..and a wonderful gospel feel to it…the banjo that accents the second verse about seeing the road before you as a blessing and knowing that it leads to the light, gets me every time.

 

I have written about this song elsewhere on my blog and have talked endlessly about why this song is so important to me..even did my first open mic at Camp with this song..To the 30 year old version of me that heard this song for the first time, it was a lightning bolt from heaven. A song to feed my dreams…a song that allows me to question why my “personal church” burns down when I know this is my dream..a song that tells me to keep moving forward even though a cat may cross my path and temporarily block my vision. It’s all that and so much more. I tried telling John when he was alive what that song meant..and he even did it a couple of times live…I’d like to think that was because I wouldn’t stop begging him to do it…

The next song has a great tropical feel as John writes about the road again…and the hope that even though there’s a whole lot of rain, we need a “Touch of the Sun”..Lyrics express his frustration with his lack of reception for his talents but we all know better….and then there’s that great keyboard break, followed by that yodelling fade out…a great, catchy song…

The next song is called “Bolinas”…about a town in Marin County, in Northern California…It’s a quiet ballad that features the shimmering beauty of a vocal by John’s wife, Buffy Ford. The town is real and has a reputation for being very private and having an immense distrust of outsiders. John’s lyrics are word pictures essentially..from a clock that doesn’t work and a mayor digging for clams…

 

The next song is a great one for all the road warriors whether they be musicians or truckers. John captures the allure and frustration of life on the road. The song is called “Freeway Pleasure”. The guitar work is exquisite and gives the feel for travel. This is one of those songs I wish John Denver had covered as I know the road was a mistress to him as well…a fan favorite to be sure…

The next two song on the album are great live tracks recorded at Chuck’s Cellar in Los Altos, California. The first one is great jam called “Swift Lizard”..the lyrics are fun but not really that deep..although the line about “burning barefooted boys walking home from school” makes me smile…as I recall those days of being brave enough to walk barefoot….I love to crank this one up especially during hot weather.

The next track is another fantastic song by John called “Wolves in the Kitchen”..I have written why this song matters to me before so I won’t go into detail but the song is an angry one..first to all those that might try to take advantage of a young girl and then to all those politicians who sell us “blue sky that we’re never gonna see”..it is a timeless anthem of rage and warning…and one I play quite often..

 

Wolves concludes Side One on the LP. So the next side starts us out in a mellow groove..”Little Road and a Stone to Roll” is a simple song, lyrically but the words can be taken in so many ways. We all have our own dreams, burdens and fears…no matter who or what we are, we all have our own stone to roll….The verse that gets me is this one:

Everybody needs a fire inside
Everybody needs a dream to ride
Everybody with a growing soul
Everybody needs a stone to roll

 

John knew how to reach the dreamers and that verse gives the dreamers the courage to keep dreaming..without it, our souls won’t grow..

The next song is a cover of sorts….John wrote this one for the Monkee’s and they had a runaway hit with it. It’s pretty much a staple on oldies stations…Everybody knows “Daydream Believer”..but John takes his song back..adds a folkier vibe and keeps the original lyrics in the second verse…and adds a hilarious shout out or two at the end. The original lyrics that Davy Jones was supposed to sing was “Now, you know how funky, I can be”…the record company changed it to “happy”  much to John’s chagrin but he lived with it and the song became “couch money”…

 

The next song is a fantastic mixture of wordplay and a great ballad of a girl that had been married three times. John’s gift of writing about people that feel real and could be your next door neighbor come alive in this song…”Crazy”….with that prophetic line “you’ve gone crazy, you gotta be to face the world”…and his fear of her going out into the world and yet thinks “there’s hope for you”….John’s message of hope is a thread throughout his music.

The last two songs have been sung by John as a medley…the first is called Wild Horse Road…the bluesy guitar gets me every time….and it took me years to realize he wrote it after Robert Kennedy was killed..grief and loss..and dream that died..all that anguis spilled out into “Wild Horse Road” and “Shoot All the Brave Horses”…

The two songs carry beautiful western imagery of horses that used to rule the west…as John repeats to get the point across “They’re ain’t no wild horses on Wild Horse Road”…the guitar fade out meshes in with “Shoot All the Brave Horses”..as John’s wife sings a high, lonesome harmony that carries the grief of a nation over the loss of Kennedy…and yes, to the West that a lot of us know is disappearing…..

Here’s “Wild Horse Road”…

 

..and now, “Shoot All the Brave Horses”..

Both songs again, seem simple yet evocative….and a great coda to a fabulous album.

I want to reiterate, this blog is only my interpretation of this album. It’s not meant to be a critique or an authorative look at a great album. Others can do that better. I will also say that my song preferences are mine alone. Different songs, different albums speak to different people.

We were blessed to have John Stewart for as long as we did…and I wish him a hearty Happy Birthday….and tell him, we still care…and we still sing…

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: suek2001 | September 5, 2019

“Some to the stars for the heavens for to see”

Today is a great day in musical history….It is John Stewart’s birthday……I have written about John before..but talked about his music…and as a fan, I love so much of it….but have never seen him in concert or met him personally. I have met members of his band…talented and great to be sure but not quite the same…

Although, I get to feel like I’ve been at a John Stewart concert every year at the Americana Music Folk Camp in Scottsdale, AZ. Here’s a taste of what they sound like from a fanastic live album called “One Night in Prescott”.. with John’s big hit “Gold”..(dare I say I like this more than the original?)..

 

One of the common refrains amoung fans is that John’s work is largely absent from the conscience of the American music fan. This year, though one song has been given wide publicity. The song is from an early John Stewart solo album. The album is called “California Bloodlimes”..recorded with legendary players in Nashville around the time of Bob Dylan’s much more visible “Nashville Skyline”.

The song is called “Mother Country”..a song that has a spoken narration that stirring with lyrics that are evocative….

 

This is one of those songs that stops me in my tracks…from that opening bass line to “There was a story that I forgot to save”…and the song explores themes from the Johnstown Flood to a man that wanted to ride his horse, one last time before he died…Talking about the lyrics and the flow of the song, does NOT do it justice. It is an aural experience to be sure.

Here’s what is amazing about John’s music. He may have written it one way to have one meaning but someone else could take it and spin it to mean something entirely different and add a whole new layer of appreciation to a song that so many John Stewart fans know by heart.

I will say that one of my favorite moments connected to this song happened about 16 years ago. I had made a tape for my Aunt Betsy to introduce her to John Stewart music. His songs of horses and rivers and Americana were right up her alley but again, his music eluded her all those years. So it was my job to introduce her to his music. Mother Country came on…and I watched her as the tears slowly formed in her eyes…I think we sat in her car as the guitars bounced off the walls of her SUV and she was immersed in the song. At the final notes faded, I asked her, “Well what do you think?” She was silent..a stunned silence. She finally said “I swear this guy has been writing songs about me, my hopes and dreams for all my life”.

That was John Stewart’s gift..taking our hopes, our dreams and formulating them into epic songs, love song, quiet songs that can hit us over and over in ways we’ll never see coming….

This year was the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing. A lot of hype was built around it. I half expected John’s tribute to Neil Armstrong to make the rounds.. It did amoung fans but not on a wider scale…In case you’ve never heard it, Here’s John’s amazing song Armstrong..

 

Some southern stations refused to play the song as John calls out some of the sadness that enveloped the world at the time..(and frankly, still does)…but the song really has a theme that no matter where we are, what we are or what we are doing, the Moon shines on us all and the acheivement we made on July 20th, 1969 unites us more than divides us….

John Stewart’s music played a role in the Moon Landing..and I don’t think John ever realized it. In the new documentary, Apollo 11,  Buzz Aldrin is seen playing with a tape deck in the capsule as the Apollo makes it’s way back to Earth. The Moon landing is a success and he wants to celebrate with music. I would post that clip but it isn’t available yet on You Tube or elsewhere. I will share a link to an article that talks about the selection process for the music on those tapes played by all the astronauts (and there IS an Apollo 11 playlist in Spotify)..

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/12/mickey-kapp-apollo-11-astro-mixtapes

 

Besides, the film is available on Hulu and is well worth watching. The whole project is amazing but hearing Mother Country as the boys head home and the lyrics are intercut with faces from all the men and women that made the moon landing possible, brought tears to my eyes.

So, John’s music may not be on everyone’s hit parade but it is truly NOW literally universal..He reached that New Frontier and he didn’t even know it..

So, I will close with a song that has new meaning for a lot of us..a song written a few years before he passed away in 2008…I Still Dream I Will Walk on the Moon….You did John…you really did…

 

Posted by: suek2001 | September 4, 2019

“…I am older than I once was…”

It’s been a nice, quiet day in my city. The sun is mixing with clouds and the air is hinting of Fall. Our local news is filled with “back to school” pics and tips…So, the year is rapidly passing me by…and my birthday has come and gone…

I turned 48 years old on Monday…Labor Day this year…and I worked at my job. They were nice to me there..presents..candy..food…and endless birthday wishes…Afterwards, my friend and I went to a local steakhouse in Superior, WI. I found it ironic that for so many years, all I wanted was to be in Duluh, MN on my birthday and now that I am, I go to Superior for dinner. Maybe I’m a cheesehead at heart?

I’m a bit melancholy around my birthday this year. The seasons are changing, Camp is over and the winter is coming. It also reminds me that the one person that I could talk to about all the esoterica of life and all of it’s passages, is gone…been two years…My friend David indulged me every year..every random anniversary..we pondered on the passage of time..where we’ve been..where we are…and where we are going.

So, I don’t have him as a sounding board anymore.  So, I’ll use my blog. I have changed a bit since I was born…My tastes have evolved..my sense of fashion has changed….if I ever DID have one. My politics have changed since I knew what liars were and are….

My musical tastes have remained basically the same…folky..acoustic with some good, pop, rock…as long as the voices don’t sound like nails on a chalkboard…that leaves a LOT of Top 40 music out…and listening to a bunch of 80’s music, I realized how randomly bad the lyrics were to the Top 40 back during that time..but to be fair, every decade has lousy, weird songs that people adore.

My taste in food has changed. I no longer eat bread and I love yogurt. You would have stunned me with that fact, 20 years ago…and I finally have an appreciation for coleslaw.

Still, the plethora of readers I do have don’t really care what my taste in food is..or what brand of tennis shoes I wear (Sketchers!) but they wonder, what’s in my heart and soul.  Truth be told, I have no idea….I have no idea where my life is going. I have faith in God that He has a plan. I have faith that it will all make sense one day. I have faith that God has placed me in my job, my apartment building, my city and within my circle of friends for “such a time as this”….

I still want to be a writer but fear keeps that from happening. I find it amusing that fear still holds me back at the age I am. I wonder, what am I afraid of?  So, I pray for guidance and then go on with my life..and then realize, I haven’t prayed for guidance in awhile and then wonder if God is patient enough to forgive someone like me with enough insecurities to fill Lake Superior.

So, I write this, thinking of that missing verse from Simon and Garfunkle’s “The Boxer…one of the lines, is the title of this blog:

“Now the years are rolling by me
They are rockin’ evenly
I am older than I once was
And younger than I’ll be and that’s not unusual.
No it isn’t strange
After changes upon changes
We are more or less the same
After changes we are more or less the same”–Paul Simon

 

There’s lots of truth to that verse…In many way, I am still as scared and shy as I was when I was ten..wishing I had the talent of others while fully ignoring the talent of my own. Hoping that there’s a special someone out there who will love this weird package of joy, fear, love and insecurity that is me and yet being content with being alone with my music.

 

Still, for all the confusion on my life’s purpose, I still trust that God will give me the strength to go on…and pray that my daily life of smiles to others, encouragement to friends and wacky hilarity means that I am just more than breathing. I am living.

I don’t want people to think that I am battling some dark, demon of depression. Beleive me, there are those that do that on a daily basis in much worse states than I. I am just trying to figure things out with the faith that I have in God…the trust that sometimes shrinks smaller than it should and the defiance of someone who has been kicked to the ground too often, to say, I am here and not going anywhere…

So, I will end my blog with a song…as music is the lifeline for me on so many ocassions….and no, I won’t close with The Boxer but a song that John Denver wrote in 1983. What I loved about John Denver was the man was a lot like me..and in reality like a lot of us..more than we care to admit….He loved life yet wondered why he was here…felt the love of so many and felt so distant from that love as well. His songs always had a ray of hope…and this one really became one that reached me in high school years…It’s from a time in his life that was focussed on the geo-political state of the planet…and also his own broken heart…but in music, he found a rope ladder to climb out of the darkness…Here’s “Hold On Tightly”, from It’s About Time.

 

I will have many more blogs to write….and if I ever figure out what I wat to write about, a novel, one day…So, keep with me on this journey. I would like the company.

 

 

Posted by: suek2001 | August 16, 2019

“Come and take a walk with me…”

I just back from my annual journey to Arizona. I go there every August to gather with friends to celebrate the folk music we all love…banjos and all…

It is usually a week filled with music and joy and friendships renewed and sleep is denied. We stay up half the night singing and talking and munching on wheat thins. I will write a more detailed blog about my experience another time as I want some visual evidence of my observations. The great people that shoot quality videos of the musicians are no doubt tired and resting from all their hard work.

So, I will write about something that doesn’t really need the visual to tell the story. I will write about the newest and hottest band in the land…The Folk Legacy Trio!

I am thrilled to say that I finally got to see a full presentation of this marvelous act but before we go any further, a little history is needed to fully appreciate the gift this group is to so many of us, including the members themselves.

Around 2017, George Grove, Bill Zorn and Rick Dougherty were members of The Kingston Trio until they weren’t…It’s hard to describe what happened and the truth lies within only a few and some lawyers…Needless to say, they were out of work….

It is still hard to conceive how three, extremely talented gentlemen wound up unemployed. It broke their hearts, angered fans and put a lot of us in a musical funk that we may never fully climb out of….Yet, George Grove and Rick Dougherty had a plan…to keep singing and bringing a broader view of folk music to the masses…but they wanted a third voice..Bill Zorn had decided to pursue his own mysterious path in music, retirement, living abroad? Who knows but wherever he is, I do hope he has found peace with this new direction.

So Rick and George wanted to form a new band..People auditioned..and one seemed right but not quite right…and then a mutual friend introduced them to a man named Jerry Siggins. He was a touring member and leader of the music group The Diamonds. I will admit, I had never heard of him and was slightly skeptical if he could fill Bill  Zorn’s shoes but two things changed my mind. One, George Grove raved about Jerry to me in emails..about how the chemistry was there and a folk brotherhood was born. Two, Zorn’s shoes didn’t need to be filled as they weren’t even there anymore. This was not some new incarnation of The Kingston Trio. This was an entirely new act and a new sound was needed…a new presentation was needed and on Sunday August 11th at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort, they blew the doors off the place.

I saw this group for the first time. I was in the front row. I took no photos or video. I wrote no setlist down. This was a musical experience for the moment..and yet, for a lifetime. The energy on that stage between the three men backed by Paul Gabrielson on bass was so full that I felt musically blasted out of my seats. The arrangements of songs I had heard before “Homeward Bound”..”Today”….”Jamaica Farewell”..”City of New Orleans”….”Country Roads”..just to name a few..were so exquisite in their design, they left me gasping.

Rick Dougherty’s voice soared to new heights, while Jerry’s voice could easily modulate between brash and tender, while George Grove’s voice explored deep resonance and a great sense of love and history in each song. The freedom these men had to sing these songs we all knew in fresh ways made their impact immediate..and not just a jukebox musical of sorts. This wasn’t nostalgia or playing into people’s memories. These songs felt real and touched the heart. Music is not just to be played but felt in the soul and the Folk Legacy Trio did just that.

The guys all played instruments and George’s banjo solos were fresh for the songs we all knew. Jerry’s rhythm guitar playing meshed well with Rick’s playing as well. The instruments brough the foundation of the music but their harmonies made the music soar to heights I haven’t heard before.

The harmonies…..oh those harmonies…..When Rick and George dueted on “Homeward Bound”, it was elegance personified…When Jerry added his voice to any number of songs, the heft of musical authority was personified. When the three of them sang together, it was a musical statement of faith for the rest of us.

They closed their show with a gospel number…Early in the Morning by the Peter, Paul and Mary..made me feel like I went to church..a folky church if you will….fantastic fervor in that song…and a joy to be embraced by all.

After the show, I had the chance to buy their new CD “Standing on the Shoulders”…a collection of live and studio recordings to give the listener a feel for the Folk Legacy Trio. Some of the clips come from last year when they were starting their tour. Listening to it, I was brought back to the concert Sunday Afternoon but the musical presentation is even better live…So, do yourself a favor, get their CD to introduce yourself to a fantastic, new musical treasure and then go see them live to experience folk music like you’ve never heard before…I highly recomend the Folk Legacy Trio and I deeply thank George Grove, Rick Dougherty and Jerry Siggins for giving me and so many others a new musical hope….

If you want to see the hottest band in the land, check out their website:

https://www.folklegacytrio.com/shows

 

If you want to order their new CD “Standing on The Shoulders”..

https://www.folklegacytrio.com/listen

 

..and here’s a sample of what they can do…

https://www.folklegacytrio.com/video

 

 

Posted by: suek2001 | June 22, 2019

“I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on”

We are in the midst of June…In my home city, today is Grandma’s Marathon day. Everything else in town is forgotten for this long running tradition..and no it is not a bunch of elderly ladies running for honor..(my late friend David thought of that image)..it is a real marathon that fills our city with runners, their families and our cash registers.

There is another event that happens every June…Pride Month…It used to be just a weekend but it has grown into a whole month. It used to be called “Gay Pride” but now it’s just pride…I’m sure it’s to be inclusive to all those who don’t fit the “gay” category just right.

I have never really written my feelings on the Pride  movement per se. It really isn’t a passion issue for me. I have written blogs that touch on gay marriage and other things…

When Minnesota legalized Gay Marriage, I wrote this:

https://suek2001.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/a-day-of-change-in-minnesota/

 

When a church in Colorado refused to hold a funeral for a family of a lesbian woman, I wrote this:

https://suek2001.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/a-farewell-party-interrupted/

 

..and one more..written on the day the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage..

https://suek2001.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/on-this-historic-day-love-is-law/

 

So, maybe I’ve written about it a few times but never anything definitive for or against…after all the internet is filled with people who MUST make their opinions known….

So, I guess I should finally say what I’ve been thinking all along..and it is a difficult thing for me to say..as I come from an Evangelical culture that has a different worldview than most.

I was thinking about the many definitions of pride and how they all can mean different things to different people. The Bible talks of pride as being one of the deadly sins.  Pride is sometimes associated with arrogance…and believe me, I’ve known enough Christians to have that sin that it’s a wonder, they still walk the earth.

Pride also is a deep love and appreciation for something..like having pride in your son or daughter for what they did or who they are. I guess it’s a variation on the word proud….

So, maybe that’s what I am..proud…proud to know the friends I have…proud to root for their accomplishments, their relationships and their journeys in life. So, yes, you can say I am am ally of sorts for the LGBTQ movement…I have my issues with people being forced to accept someone else’s truth they may not agree with but that does NOT stop me from loving these people I am PROUD to call friends.

It may seem almost fashionable to say I am an ally as most corporations do that now…(after all, Gay money spends just as well as straight money but with better taste?)…but this is not an easy moment for me. I still have theological questions of what God says about homosexuality…1 Corinthians 6:9 is clear on what the consequences are..but later in the same book, Paul says “women are to remain silent”..something I have trouble with and regularly disobey with reckless abandon. So, who knows?

The interesting thing is that the verse that condemns homosexuality does it through labeling people by their sin. I have never been into labels. I have never quite fit into a label anyone had for me. I choose to see people as individuals.  Although, I have more favorably opinion of people if they love the banjo….

So, Let me be clear, I am not abandoning my faith..not abandoning my Evangelical background. For the truth of the Gospel and the Spirit of the Living God, still flows through me. I just figured it was time to step out of the shadows and say “I really want to try to LOVE my neighbor..and treat them with respect”…

It’s too late for Matthew Shepard and for those poor souls that perished in the Pulse Nightclub a few years ago…but maybe, there’s someone out there that just needs to know they matter, they are loved and their lives are needed on this planet just like mine is.  Judgement isn’t really my thing…All I can do is love..or try to love…and so this is my declaration to love more…

 

Posted by: suek2001 | April 3, 2019

“Communication is the problem to the answer”

I think my phone was trying to tell me something..in a subtle way….Last week, I got the dreaded “Low on space” notification on my cell phone..so I had to figure out what I had to delete…and I admit, trying to delete pictures off my phone is torture to a pack rat like me..I never know when I might need that almost glorious shot of the Lift Bridge in the morning….

Still, I deleted all the blurry ones and figured that bought me some time.  Then, last Friday, I received some news via text that changed my attitude towards the photos in my collection.

It was my day off. I slept in and got up to check to see if I received any texts or messages via Messenger. I saw one from my boyfriend…expecting the usual “Enjoy your day off sweetie” type thing, I saw instead, “I’m sorry, this isn’t going to work, we’re just to(sic) different”….and with that, I was single again.

Now, this wasn’t the greatest love affair of all time so my weeping didn’t really begin. I actually laughed at first. I knew it wasn’t a joke but I was being dumped in the digital age.

We had been going out for almost a year. I saw him first in the hallways of my work place. We worked in different departments. He was eye candy to me for a long time. I didn’t approach him because I was shy and also I just got sick of asking guys out and being turned down. So, I figured, if it was meant, he would be the one to make a move. Word got around and he asked me out.

I couldn’t believe it. He actually asked me out. That rarely happens with me but he did. So we went out a few times..bowling, dining, mini-golf….I met his parents at a local Christmas display. We traded gifts for Christmas..and he gave me roses for Valentines Day.  All of this was a slow process over almost a year. I can’t say I was crazy in love…I don’t think he could say it either..I was afraid that I might hurt him eventually as I wasn’t sure that this was my “happily ever after”. I just wanted to see where this went. Well, I did…it ended…

 

I’ve been told that my heart will heal. God’s taking care of that. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t feel alone. My friends on Facebook, work and church made sure of that. Being dumped is a new one for me. I’ve been rejected before any dating has begun but being dumped is a new experience. I hate the feeling as it goes right to my insecurities and yes, my pride. He asked ME out and he has the nerve to dump me?

I would have almost preferred it if I had asked him out and he turned me down. It’s a narrative I was used to. I knew how to react to that…this?  A whole different level of suck…

I don’t hate him. I gave him back a token of the relationship and gave him the advice that dumping via text is not the best way to go…I hope that at some point we can wave in the hallway but what makes me the maddest is the WAY he dumped me..via text..

I told my mom and she said ‘Well, that’s how these kids do it these days”.. Maybe true but this “kid”  just turned 32 a few months ago…and I talked to some younger “kids” and they all said the same thing, it’s a lousy way to go about things. I’ll give my ex this, He really wasn’t that much of a talker during our relationship. I was..and will likely be in whatever relationship happens next, if any.

So, he was true to form in sending it via text..he never called me on the phone..just texted and we went out.. I hold no ill will against him. He has an amazing background of a story of revival in his life. I wish he would share it with the world. It is not mine to tell but I encouraged him to tell his story. He still hasn’t on a wide scale. I hope he does someday. He has a lot of hope to share. I think he will settle down and maybe marry someday. It just won’t be to me.

The whole text message thing made me think deeper about communication in this world. We try so hard to have fast and easy communication…and think that we are really in touch with so much more of the world around us but in the end, to some people all we are is names on a screen or avatars floating on our phones. We aren’t as connected as we think. If breaking a heart over a text message is this “new wave” of communication, then we have lost empathy and sympathy.

Texting is seen as this instant communication that bridge distance and time yet, all it does it cheapen both a bit. Just think about it..all the ways there are to communicate..are we any better at it? Is there more love and understanding in the world? I am not so sure.

So, yes, I will survive this rite of passage of being dumped..Thanks to my great friend Theresa Lippert for giving me that advice. I feel like I am a part of a club now.

As for my love life, who knows where it will end up? I have not a clue. I am trust in the ONE who IS love to show me where to go next. God has a way of knowing what is best for me.

I haven’t been listening to any “woe is me” type music since the break up. Although, I had “Total Eclipse of the Heart” stuck in my head the night BEFORE my breakup.  I will close with a song that has been in my head all day…and has a great line that is the title of this blog….

I have more in my head but right now, I have a lot of pictures to delete off my phone…

Posted by: suek2001 | March 12, 2019

“All of the magic, the music is you”

For anyone who has ever listened to music, the following statement might ring true. I love music.  As a kid, I would read the liner notes of albums for John Denver and the names of the musicians would become my friends. Granted, I never met anyone from those albums but seeing the names made me feel like I knew them.

Hal Blaine was such a name…and reading of his death today at the age of 90, that felt like a personal loss to me. Of course, I knew him through John Denver music but as I got older, I knew him from so much more. Hal was a part of an amazing collection of studio musicians known as “The Wrecking Crew”. They were an LA-based band that played on some of the greatest records we’ll ever know.

For years, the problem was…we didn’t know…record companies made millions in the 1960’s..put out record after record and nary a liner note…so no one knew  James Burton, Carole Kaye, Joe Osborn, Bill Pitman, and one very famous graduate of the Crew, Glen Campbell. Thankfully, in the 1970’s, record labels started listing session credits…and the names came to life!

I never met Hal. I wish I had. The closest I came was an exhibit in Phoenix, Arizona at the Musical Instrument Museum. I took a picture of one of his many drum sets:

Image may contain: 1 person

 

 

Any musician will tell you that there is a certain level of trust in who backs you up. You’ve got to trust, they know what they are doing because the vision you have for your music is in their hands. I was blessed a few times when I’ve taken the stage to have fantastic help in making me sound good.

I can just imagine what it was like for John Denver, the first time he worked with Hal Blaine and others. As I recall in his bio, John said that he was really intimidated and worried he couldn’t keep up. Hal and John would have a lasting friendship. John was best man at Hal’s wedding and John flew from Aspen to Australia to visit Hal in the hospital after a car accident in 1997..a few months before John, himself perished in that plane accident.

Hal’s percussion can be heard on so many John Denver classics, it’s hard to list them all…this is one of Hal’s #1 records:

 

Hal’s playing is really the driving force behind one of John’s biggest anthems. Calypso. Here Hal is clearly visible right behind John:

 

 

This next one wasn’t a hit but the “live version” certainly was kicked up a notch from the studio version…Listen to those cymbals on the opening:

 

Of course, Hal didn’t just play on John Denver albums…His work is on so many other classics..

This opening makes me stop in my tracks….

 

Who can forget the percussion on this classic?

 

Hal’s reach stretched to the classic crooners like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Here he is on a duet written by the late, great Carson Parks…

Hal would go on to work with Nancy as part of her solo career..and do one of  my favorite guilty pleasure songs of the ’60’s…

I’ll conclude the musical portion of this blog with a song that is my favorite song from the 60’s..and easily one of the great pop records of all time..Brian Wilson’s vision was wonderfully amplified in “Good Vibrations”…Here’s a rare look at the making of a classic. Hal Blaine is featured in this clip…

 

I really can’t say anymore about the sheer awesomeness of Hal Blaine’s talent. This is a huge loss for the music industry.

Here’s a link to a more in depth obituary:

Hal Blaine, Wrecking Crew Drummer and Rock Hall of Fame Member, Dies at 90

Here’s a link to show how many songs Hal performed on:

https://www.revolvy.com/page/List-of-recordings-of-songs-Hal-Blaine-has-played-on

 

..and I will close with an interview from Hal Blaine himself…a thoughtful piece on his career. What a career it was…every beat of so many songs belongs to him…and the beat goes on…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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