Posted by: suek2001 | February 22, 2018

“Hear me calling, I’ll lead you home..”

There are few forces of human spiritual power on this planet….some preachers think that money and church membership are what give them power…others think the love of their congregation gives them power….but the true  preachers know they are powerless without God…the author and finisher of our faith…Billy Graham was a true preacher…a true minister…

Today, Billy Graham is walking by sight today…today, he is home….he passed away this morning…but not really…as he put it “I am not dead but truly alive in Christ”…Hearing of his passing flashed me back to June of 1996….

It was an interesting time in my life. I was in the midst of Bible College…on my third Major change…and trying to figure out who I was without my best friend Dennis..and without my Grandmother…both passed away within months of each other…

The BIlly Graham Crusade was to be held in Minneapolis at the Metrodome…mere blocks from where I lived at the time.  I’ll admit I was a bit nervous about it..all that traffic..and the media coverage…I was worried the media coverage would be negative..as Christianity had taken a beating within the media…as they tried to show those of faith were somehow clueless to their intellectual ways….

I recall that some local bars weren’t happy with the Crusade either..as they were nervous that they would lose business due to no one buying their booze…

All of the fears turned out unfounded. The local media aired story after story all week of great things Graham had done…great things others had done for him…and even the bars made money..not from the booze but from food sales…

I went to the Crusades for two nights….I worked a lot at my retail job that week but I managed to go on two seperate nights. The opening night, I saw George Beverly Shea sing the old hymns and hear Grahams simple message of Christ’s love..in a stadium that seated 70,000, there was not an empty seat until that altar call….when the aisles were crammed full of people…all wanting to surrender it all to Jesus….

The  next night I saw Graham’s crusade was that Saturday night….the Youth Night..featuring music from two of the top acts in Christian music…DC Talk..and Micheal W. Smith…Those two acts alone could fill that stadium with their fans…and I recall that DC Talk rocked the house…I tried getting a seat closer but wound up getting their later than my friends. I sat in the nosebleed section..with the parents of the kids down by the stage….and true to my style, I didn’t care if no one around me got up and shouted and danced..I did…and then Michael W. Smith took the stage..did a handful of hits…and then did a special version of his song “I’ll Lead You Home”..with Billy Graham’s voice mixed in…

I will never forget..all these teenagers and young people went wild when they heard Billy’s voice. Even at the ripe old age of 76, Billy could get a cross-generational crowd  on their feet..Billy came out and delivered a fantastic sermon…and even though I felt my world was in a shambles, I knew that whatever path God set me on,  it would be His path…so I should trust Him….and then that song…the altar call…

“I surrender all, all to thee my blessed savior, I surrender all…”

It’s amazing what a gift surrendering is…surrendering confusion..surrendering fear…surrendering control…all to the One who Is in control…I did a lot of surrendering that night…..while I didn’t go up to the altar, I realized the truth of God’s love….even a Bible College kids needs to be reminded every now and then…

Billy Graham would preach more crusades…and pray with leaders and kings…but his message of Christ’s love and forgiveness goes far beyond a title…I know a few people who came to Christ through Graham’s ministry..Some are with him in Heaven right now…saying “Thank You”…

Today,  the internet is full of quotes from Billy Graham on Heaven…this is the one I will close my blog with:

“The moment we take our last breath on earth, we take our first in heaven.”–Billy Graham….

…and one last time…his altar call song…

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Posted by: suek2001 | February 13, 2018

“..and they’d sing in the real old style…”

(This will be an open letter to The Kingston Trio of 2005-2017)

To the gentlemen that made up this line up of The Kingston Trio for 12 years…..

(George Grove, Bill Zorn and Rick Dougherty)

It has been over four months since you last took the stage as “The Kingston Trio”.  It’s been longer since I heard that you would eventually leave the group I love. (For those reading this wondering what happened, I honestly don’t know and much has been speculated about the line up change…I shall not add to that..) I will admit that it’s been nearly impossible to think of this line up in the past tense.

I have been wanting to write this for months but I just couldn’t work up the courage. It takes courage to say goodbye to an entity I love..because then the grief happens..and I had enough grief last year..this seemed to add to it…

I had been a fan of The Kingston Trio since that fateful Fall Friday night in 1987 when I heard MTA on an oldies program. Something about the humor, the drive  and the chemistry that exuded from that record, cut right through me. I was about 16 years old…and teens are notorious for being fickle fans….so I expected to like The Kingston Trio for about a year or so…but my Aunt liked it too…and so , a love,  an obsession and an understanding of acoustic music as a whole was born.

The years went by and college happened and love bloomed with someone at the time so music became something to listen to in my spare time…so the fickleness of fandom settled in during the 1990’s….

Then, the internet was born and I decided to see if there were other fans out there of some bands I liked…The Kingston Trio was a part of that…and wow, were there fans…and then I found myself seeing The Kingston Trio in person in 1997…and the fickle fandom faded..and a real devotion to the music was born.

I won’t waste any more time detailing line up changes in this period…as telling you history seems redundant…but the moment I first saw you, George Grove, Bill Zorn and Rick Dougherty on stage in St. Cloud, MN around 2007, I knew I was witnessing something special.

Anyone can be in a band.. be it rock and folk…and think they are creating music..and they are..but what you gentleman did was create magic in that music. The chemistry in voices and instruments and even stage personas was like nothing I’d ever seen….

I love music…and if the voices are right..and the guitars are right…..for a brief moment, that can send me to another world…..George, Bill and Rick, there wasn’t just ONE moment, there were millions of moments….and the songs brought to life in concert…some never done by previous iterations…jumped into my heart like never before. Songs by the great John Stewart…”New Frontier”.. “Road To Freedom”..songs with great guitar and banjo that were sonic works of art.

George Grove , you are more than just a musician…you are an artist and a fan of great music. I love that you create your own verve with a lot of the banjo solos. You once told me it was like musical “self-defense” but I don’t think that is quite right…for in self-defense, you are taking a stand against forces trying to wear you down but that’s not what you did on stage….What you did onstage was bring to life the spirit of all those banjo players in The Kingston Trio before you, and incorporate them into your style….becoming the fan who pays tribute to the legacy every time you stepped out onstage.

George, you are an amazing human being…..more than just a first rate banjo player. You are a first rate friend….not just to me but to all those you mentored throughout your career and at all those Kingston Trio Fantasy Camps….I know my life is better for having your friendship…and your support of my writing and other endeavors means a lot to me. I don’t think this note can cover all that you’ve meant to me and so many others over the years. I hope it comes close.

Bill Zorn, what can I say? You were given a nearly impossible task..fill the shoes of the legendary Bob Shane when he retired….This is a man that even Frank Sinatra didn’t want to try to top…and somehow, the transition was seamless. Your on stage persona carried a gravitas of a leader and the banter carried history and humor. You invited the audience in to the show and let them feel like they were not only watching great music but folk history in it’s evolution. Your rhythm guitar playing sparkled on some of the great fast songs……and was the perfect accent on the ballads.  For years, fans have dissected the banjo and guitar solos but your rhythm playing gave such a great foundation that the sound of the Trio would suffer without it.

Bill, your voice needs to be mentioned. In the last 12 years your vocals have been some of the best I have heard in KT history. I tried telling you last year that “Jasmine” was a stellar vocal but I don’t think I conveyed it nearly enough. Your take on “Scotch and Soda” was very well done as you didn’t copy Bob Shane but added a great inflection of our voice into it to bring a different feel to a song that can intimidate the best singers.  I wish we had gotten to know each other over the years but I respected your privacy as to not intrude too much at shows. I will say thank you for all the times you did chat with me at Fantasy Camp and the endless pictures I made you pose for. They, along with all the great concerts, are my memories to keep…

Rick Dougherty, the new kid! You certainly proved your worth right out of the gate when you joined The Kingston Trio in 2005. I really believed that you saved this band on so many levels. You were the missing link, with your fantastic skills on the tenor…with that buoyant personality onstage…and with the purest high tenor vocal  that is otherworldly. I have a confession to make. I don’t just love your voice, I adore your voice. The joy, the heartbreak, those notes you hit all in a song amaze me.  This will probably be the ONLY time I will admit this in public, but your voice is better than John Denver’s..to my ears…and you know how I feel about Denver.

Rick, your generous with your musical talents…and you are generous with your time. There are so many great moments, conversations..both personal and professional than I cannot begin to count. All of these moments are locked in my mind and they delight me to no end. Thank you for your time..thank you for your generous spirit..thanks for all the laughter….

In closing, let me just say thank you to George, Bill and Rick..for the honor of seeing you bring to life the catalogue of the one of the greatest folk acts of all time. You were charged with keeping the legacy of a band that dominated the folk scene, inspired millions to pick up guitars and put banjo music on Top 40 radio….You did it flawlessly…from singing “MTA”…”Maria”…”Where Have All the Flowers Gone”..to new classics like “Forever and a Day”…and “Don’t You Let It Rain”…..the musical memories you have given to so many of us can never be supplanted.

There may be new members in the line up but it won’t be the same…and to paraphrase a John Stewart lyric “these are only folk groups but they’re folk groups without you”…this feels like the end of an era….

So, as you three go on to new paths, I do hope you’ll stay in touch..not just with us the fans..but with each other..for a brotherhood like yours is rare in this world. I do hope that you can come back to the stage…with a new name…maybe even new music but that fantastic dynamic won’t change. I just feel privileged to have been able to witness it.  Thank you for twelve amazing years.

May God richly bless you all,

Sue Keller

AKA Suzy-q

 

 

Posted by: suek2001 | December 31, 2017

“M is for the many things she gave me”

Today is my Mom’s birthday. I wish I could be with her..I really do…She had a bit of a lonely day but the joy and love she brings to my heart is never ending..

In the past couple of years, we have had some hilarious and weird conversations….I’ve posted them on Facebook…so I decided that I will copy them into my blog…and share it with the world…the awesomeness that is my Mom…and don’t ask me how old she is…as women rarely reveal their age….

Here’s a post from me about Mom’s take on fashion:

——I love my Mom for so many things but she blindsided me this morning. I told her of Kanye West’s assertion that he was a pioneer for black men in fashion and that no one else like him is at the end of the runway.

Mom’s reply” Hey what about that one guy? The one that likes to change his name a lot?”

I said “Combs?”..(Sean Combs to be exact)

Mom insists: “Yeah, Combs! He’s been at this a lot longer than Kanye has”. So I find it hilarious that Mom gave me a history lesson on black men in fashion.

 

Here’s another conversation about music:

It went something like this:

Mom: Hey Kid, I found a cassette tape of Led Zepplin…put it in my tape player to see if it works..
Me: Oh really? You listened to Zepplin? What tape? What do you think of it?
Mom:I don’t know..I think it was called “Led Zepplin” or something…
Me: What did you think?
Mom: It was really loud and annoying ..I was yelling “Make it Stop!” It started off nice and then got screechy..
Me: They are an acquired taste for some..I happen do dig them..
Mom: Oh, hey..I was going to ask you. Didn’t the lead singer have a kid with some weird name like Moon Pie?
Me: Moon Pie? I have no idea who that could be?
Mom: Oh come on..you know..Zap-something….He had a couple of kids?
Me: Oh you mean Frank Zappa?
Mom: Yeah..that’s the one..Didn’t he have a kid named Moonpie?
Me: No…that was Moon Unit….and Frank Zappa wasn’t the lead singer of Led Zepplin
Mom: He wasn’t? What was his band name?
Me: Mothers of Invention…
Mom:..and there was no kid named Moon Pie but Moon Unit?
Me: Right..
Mom: Well, I was close….
(We both laugh)…

Here’s one about Country Music:

Mom: Guess Who’s coming to Florida?
Me: Who?
Mom: Oh..come on Barb, what’s the name…a guy..singer..I’ll think of it…
Me: Any idea what songs he sings?
Mom: Yeah..what’s the name of that song?….(pause for a moment)..Oh yeah, “High People in Low Places”…
Me: Oh, do you mean Garth Brooks????
Mom: Yeah…that’s the song right????
Me: Well, sorta…it’s “Friends in Low Places”…
Mom: Well, I got it partly right..maybe they were high when he wrote it and that’s why they were in a low place???
(((((Both of us laughing hysterically))))

 

Mom also makes a great alarm clock:

Mom(rather loudly): GOOOD GOOOD morning!!!!!!! I’ve been up for awhile..ate my breakfast..took a shower..got dressed…took a walk..got a load of laundry in..all before 10am..and what, pray tell, have you been up to??????

Me: I rolled out of bed…

 

Sometimes conversations can be about the oddest things:

Me:(trying to tell her about an article I read) :Did you hear about the sonic booms—”
Mom(interrupts): “No, but if you hum a few bars, I’ll bet I know it!”(starts laughing to herself)
Me: Well, it seems NASA is trying to test Sonic Booms on the space coast”
(As I am telling her this, I hear Mom singing softly)
Mom: (to her own tune):” Boom…Boom..Boom..”
Me: Are you singing?
Mom: “Yep(still chuckling) Hoping to get that tune stuck in your head all day!!”
Me: So, even if you don’t hear them, you thought you’d bring them to your living room?”
Mom: “They’re in my head right NOW!” (Mom laughing hilariously)
(It actually worked!)–(we moved on to talking about the Northern Lights..)
Mom: “Some guy on the news was asked about seeing the Northern Lights…I guess if you could see them down here, they’d be the Southern Lights?”
Me: “Not sure you have Southern Lights”
Mom: “Oh there is..they are in Texas on a Friday Night!”

—-Mom needs to get her own RIMSHOT machine!

 

Mom recently got a cell phone and she had fun with it as in this example:

Mom:”Hey, I’m calling from my new cell phone, how does it sound?”
Me:”Sounds fine..a bit echoey but most cell phones are like that”
Mom:”Oh Really? It sounds good overall ,right?”
Me:”It’s better than most…most sound you’re calling from underwater”…
Mom:”Gurgle…Gurgle..gurgle…gurp”

 

This holiday season has had a few exchanges. I have found out that she is horrible about waiting to open presents…I recently ordered a Kingston Trio concert CD for Christmas…and that led to this exchange:

Mom: So, will you give me a little, bitty hint?
Me: a little hint?
Mom: Just a little one…
Me: Okay…it shipped from Arizona
Mom: What kind of hint is that? That’s NOT a big hint..
Me: Well, you said little hint…
Mom: I know what I said..but how am I(stops mid-sentence)..Oh I know what it is…
Me: What do you think it is?
Mom: I’m not going to tell you..
Me:Oh, why not?
Mom: It would ruin the surprise!!!
(Mom laughs…I bang my head on the table..)

..and this holiday classic:

Opening gifts with my mom over the phone…both of us have it on speaker…
The conversation went sort of like this:
“You there?”
“What?? I can’t hear you!”
“Open your gift”…
“Which one?”
“I don’t know..I can’t recall what I put in what gift bag”…
“What?”
“O..I love it….where did you find it?”
“Find what? What did you open?”
“What?”
….Christmas eve long distance…gotta love it….

…and when one of the gifts she found was a knife set:

She loves reading the “tips for knife safety” to me..
1. Never run with a knife…
2, Never test the sharpness of the knife with your finger…
3. Never try to catch a falling knife..
Mom thinks they are trying to ruin her fun. “Now I can be a cut up”, she said…

 

…and as a cold snap hits our area…my city has been featured on the news…She called me at work to let me know she saw Lake Superior on the News..

Mom: It looks really cold..They showed the lake and I KNEW it..I started screaming at the TV, “That’s Minnesota!!!!” So when you get home, kid, look it up online! They even show your bridge!!!”

Me: I will but you realize I see it outside my window right now as well!!!!

 

..and then later during the national news, this happened:

Mom has been unreasonably excited over something today…Apparently, on her local news(Fort Myers FL), they showed a clip of Lake Superior with steam and the Lift Bridge in the background…She had to call me at work to let me know..You’d swear Ricky Nelson came back to life….As I was watching the NBC Nightly News(the national one), they showed that same clip..and she called and screamed into my ear “DID YOU SEE IT???”..Seeing it was cool but Mom’s excitement about it made my day!!!!

 

 

 

..and then finally let us close with a conversation about life and death:

We were talking about life insurance and such…I told her that if anything happens that I will dig into my 401K at work to cover it..She felt that was sweet…and then this..
Me: I do have life insurance…
Mom: Oh yeah, how much?
(told her the figure..she seemed almost excited)
Me: ..and you are my beneficiary
Mom: So, slip on any banana peels lately?
Me: No but winter is coming and there’s ice…
Mom: Oh we shouldn’t joke about things like this…
—–pause on Mom’s side—-
Mom: On the other hand, you’ve got the hills…I’ve still got a shot..(she laughs hard)…

 

My mom..ever the optimist…🙂

 

I treasure every one of these conversations…and the thousands more we’ve had over the years…She is truly one of life’s constant blessings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: suek2001 | December 10, 2017

“I hate to see you get lost on a long, long ride”

There is a movement that is growing across the country….through politics..through entertainment, through corporate America and through the media…..the #METOO movement…

It is about bringing awareness to the issue of sexual assault/harassment…

I hope this isn’t a trend but a sea change….and I have been cheering on others as they bravely speak up…and I guess it is time to share my story….I have resisted because I didn’t want to be seen as jumping on the bandwagon of sorts…but the more I read the stories out there…the more I read the statements from the ignorant with their excuses for blaming the victim, the more I realized, my voice had to be heard.

The incident that comes to mind has several layers to it…and it is hard for me to even revisit in my head…It all started around 2001…I had just moved to my dream city in NE MN…and started going to a church…a small Pentecostal church….When I moved to this town, I knew no one…and I was scared..desperate to fit in..and determined to make the dream of living here a reality….

I made some friends from this church…developed a crush on a guy…let’s call him Arthur( for the sake of protecting names)…Arthur was a cute, young guy…I tried everything to get him to notice me as more than just a new woman at church….he did but in that “let’s be friends” kind of way…I was hoping he’d eventually change his mind…..then,  another guy came into my friendship circle…an older man..not really that attractive but a boisterous personality…let’s call him Bruce..(again name change to protect from any future claims)…He seemed to always be around me at Church…

One afternoon, it was a nice warm Fall day, I asked a bunch of my new friends from church if they wanted to take a walk by the Lake…the only one interested was Bruce…I was hoping Arthur would change his mind..nope…it wound up being just Bruce…….

As we walked along the shore, we talked…and I was impressed that he talked as much as I did…I wasn’t thinking romance with Bruce in any real way as I was just delighted to make friends…We stood along a pier and watched some boats go by…it was a wonderful day with a nice breeze..so, plenty of people were around..all of a sudden , he puts his arms around me…and I was a bit taken aback…but as a proud Midwestern girl, I didn’t want to make a scene..especially on such a lovely day..I just froze and looked for a chance to unleash myself from his unwelcome embrace…

He did..I said nothing..as I had no idea what to say…again, I was alone in a new city trying to find my place….so we walked back to a picnic table….and sat…all of a sudden, I got up and said “oh I must go..my Mom will be wondering why I haven’t called”…So, I bid him farewell…and walked as quickly away as I could….

I will admit, I was weirded out around him after that, but I didn’t tell anyone…as I really wanted to fit in around this new church..and I still was trying to catch Arthur’s attention…to no avail….

A few months went by and around mid-January..something else happened..I usually walk to church as it’s close by..but it happened to be chilly that day…..so Bruce offered to give me a ride home..so I wouldn’t  walk on the icy sidewalks….I figured, “why not, free ride?”….

He tried putting his hand on my knee..I quietly moved my knee out of his way…we pulled up in front of my building and I tried to just wave and say thanks….He hugged me…(and hugs don’t bother me, as I grew up in some Southern Pentecostal churches) His hug lingered…and his hands moved lower on my back…and the sounds he was making made my skin crawl…I freed myself…ran up the stairs…and ran to the bathroom and threw up….and cried and cried for about ten minutes….

It felt like a violation to me….and I ran through all the reasons in my head..Maybe I led him on…maybe I didn’t refuse enough..maybe I really was just too inexperienced to know anything…

That afternoon, I watched a football game on TV….My anger, my disgust…and my almost violent rage was channeled into watching that game….it released a lot in me….but not quite enough….

I skipped church for several weeks…finally worked up the courage to go and Bruce was not there…Arthur was but I didn’t greet him…

Throughout all this, I felt I had no one to turn to…except an online friend…David..He listened…and he believed me….if it weren’t for him and my Mother’s sheer outrage, I would have felt really alone.

Throughout this whole nightmare, my faith in God endured…until, I talked to the pastor of this church…He was young guy..he had known Bruce longer than he had known me..and he wanted the two of us to sit down and reason together….that I would not do….In my mind, he violated my personal space..and my trust…there was no way of reasoning over that. The Pastor did agree to talk with Bruce to hear what he had to say…

I saw the pastor a week later and was told that Bruce denied everything and said I was delusional…and as the pastor said “it’s really his word against yours..and with no evidence, there’s nothing we can do”….and then the rage of a faithless person took over in my soul..

I stopped going to that church..I stopped going to any for a few months…I couldn’t understand why a man called by God could take such a meager view of the whole situation…I found out months later when I ran into Arthur, that Bruce told him, I left the church because I pressured Bruce for sex and was rejected by him….Arthur, for his part, thought that didn’t sound right…I couldn’t tell Arthur the truth..as I felt a lot of shame..(Arthur would go onto the mission field and I lost track of him after that)…

For a time, music became my salvation….and songs by John Stewart became anthems for me…in my darkest, angriest days, there was one John Stewart song I played over and over…”Wolves in the Kitchen”…I wrote about why in this entry:

https://suek2001.wordpress.com/2015/09/06/you-better-wake-up-the-child/

 

Between that and my friend David encouraging me to keep my dream of living in my city a chance…and also being there to talk about the struggles of faith in my life, I survived and found my way back to church…it took a long time to find a fellowship I can trust…and even when I did, it took years to trust the people and the Pastor of Abundant Life Church in Duluth…and through example after example, they have shown me what true Christ-followers are….(too many to list here)..My life is different than it was when I first moved to my city. I have friends both in town and around the world. I don’t feel alone or lost anymore….that horrible incident is just a chapter…a painful chapter…but one that exists but also ended…

God is an amazing God….He knows that we have our issues…we need to work through them..and after all the fighting..all the arguing…all the raging..we can be welcomed back into His embrace….I forgave the pastor for his shortsightedness..as I felt I had to to move forward in my faith…I saw Bruce once on a bus…and realized I was still angry…and truth be told, in 2017,  I still haven’t really forgiven him for his actions….maybe this blog is my way of letting go…and maybe…just maybe, this will help someone else say…#METOO…

 

 

Posted by: suek2001 | September 6, 2017

“Rockin’ as the night rolls on”–John Stewart…

Just wrote a rather intense entry..and I rarely write two entries in the same day but John Stewart is worthy of two entries….

John Stewart is famous for his songs about trains..love…horses…and Americana…and a lot of his songs are acoustic based…and yet, the man could right some great, rambunctious tunes that you can’t help but crank…..

So, let’s talk about some of them…Well, first off is a song he wrote to GET a hit…and he did…and he hated it but for me it is THE song of summer….with Stevie Nicks….A great guitar opening..and that mysterious key…and the lyrics all about California…

 

Try not to crank that one up…..John also could take some great songs with great lyrics and breathe fire on them with electric guitars…I am not certain but I believe James Burton plays the opening on this blistering “Arkansas Breakout”…try not to air guitar to this one….

 

Then we have another great track from the early 80’s called “Judy in G Major”…from a rare album called Blondes….a short number but extremely catchy and great pop..

 

Then we have a great track that John wrote for Elvis to sing but he never got that chance….but we got a great rocker out of it…called Runaway Fool of Love…two versions exist..here’s the first appearance of this song…on the epic “Phoenix Concerts” album…(if you haven’t heard this album, it is a MUST own)

 

The Eagles were burning up the airwaves with a California Rock in the ’70’s but John Stewart could write songs in  fun and imagery that could rival anything the Eagles did…..this song seems deceptively simple in subject matter but anyone who has been to Arizona in August for Fantasy Camp knows how true this song is…Recorded live at Chuck’s Cellar in Los Altos, CA this song burns in the memory…

 

Here’s a great road trip song…you can’t help but love…released on an album called “Wires From the Bunker”..a collection of songs that John had hoped to be hits at some point…but remained hidden from the world until they were released in the late 90’s……this one is called American Way…Try NOT to sing along…

 

This next one came out on John’s first album “California Bloodlines”…and it ends that album with a thunderous roar…..however, this version just amps up the awesome even more…another great road-trip song…and a personal favorite….This one is called “Never Goin’ Back”…and like all great rockers from the 70’s, this is a loooooong version:

 

..and our next rockin’ track is an angry song…with few words but they make an incredible statement….and the verse about the “warlords” is my favorite lyrical indictment of the political system on record..the piano just makes this song…..Here is “Wolves in the Kitchen”:

..and as a bonus here is The John Stewart Band doing their rockin’ version of Wolves in Scottsdale, AZ last year…led by the awesomely talented Dave..”Dave” Batti:

 

..and speaking of Dave Batti…he was the subject of a John Stewart song..how many of us can say this? Here’s a song that John said he started in the ’60’s as “Judy on the intercom”..but then updated it for the internet age…written in the growing nature on the ‘net, some of the references are a bit dated but that doesn’t stop this song from rocking…from one of his last albums…here’s “Davey on the Internet”….

 

 

…and I will close with one of my favorite rockers…..and it will be the John Stewart Band that closes this blog out….The John Stewart Band closed out every Kingston Trio Fantasy Camp I went to..and they rocked the place….this song has become a favorite of mine…John originally did this song on “Havana”  as a soft spoken bluesy number but the JSB kicks it to a whole ‘nuther level…with shades of Clapton, this song delivers some punch….This version comes from their album, “One Night in Prescott”….If you don’t have it, find it and get it soon….you’ll be glad you did….

 

So, that should get your John Stewart celebration off to a great start…..After hearing John Stewart, you’ll be a daydream believer too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been four months since my friend passed away….and the grief still lingers and has manifested in away I don’t like…Some music is hard for me to listen to…and music is a healing force but it hasn’t done a great job lately…

I think I started to notice the change a few months ago…I would listen to John Stewart music…and stop whatever I was doing mid-song..and then start pacing….switch my music to something different…pop-ish or gospel….I could listen to that for awhile without thinking of stopping….

Every song..has some traces of conversation with my friend in it….California Bloodlines…Never Goin’ Back…Omaha Rainbow…Kansas…Gold…Looking For Jack…the list is endless…..and then I think of how much fun we had at the John Stewart Band concert last year….and the moments I really can’t communicate in a blog…but that smile….that beautiful smile of his…that smile was a long time in coming for all that life had thrown at him in that last year…and he was able to feel joy that night…at that concert….and earlier in the afternoon in the Suites at Fantasy Camp, he got to hear some John Stewart songs played by friends and fans…..and he felt a part of things…..

..and then David passed away…suddenly…and then I was left with silence….

Music was always an escape for me…but with David’s memory attached to so many John Stewart songs, it became a reminder….and one I wasn’t ready for…as it was too much to remember….

When the plans were made for Fantasy Camp, I was excited…after David’s death, I was nervous…at the thought I would be too weepy and not enjoy certain songs because of their memories attached…I was also hopeful…as going to Camp in 2012, proved to be a time of healing my Aunt Betsy’s passing..as hearing those songs she loved and then feeling her sing with me in the Suites made me smile….(I think the difference then was her passing had been a few years earlier not a few months)

This year was different on so many levels..there was drama around the Camp…(which I won’t go into)…so that allowed me to focus on the lingering questions about the future of Camp and some musicians I loved….so my grief wasn’t on display…although it came close to the surface..I noticed that I couldn’t sit still during an afternoon of singing John Stewart songs…I actually ran out into the hallway crying….at hearing “Dreamers on the Rise”….and that song is still tough for me to listen to….

So, here it is John Stewart’s birthday..and I am missing my friend David….as this was a day we’d pick to talk about John’s music….talk about his impact…and talk about Camp….the crazy thing he started all those years ago….and that led to our first meeting in person last year….So, John gave us that….

I celebrate John Stewart’s musical legacy…but this year I celebrate the friends he has given me through Camp…especially giving me the opportunity to meet David..in person..for the first time in 19 years…..

I hope that time heals my heart…John wrote “Time moves like a river, you can either sink or swim”…I’m swimming for the most part…I just pray I can enjoy the music again…it’s a long journey without it…

 

 

 

Posted by: suek2001 | September 2, 2017

“I’m 45 for a moment..”

It’s Friday evening as I write this…I am enjoying the last hours of being 45…..the first half of my 40’s is almost over…the second half is coming up fast.

I have felt twinges of a mid-life crisis hit me this year…..not sure what a woman’s mid-life crisis is versus a man’s…I heard rumors that women my age start looking at guys in their 20’s and seeing them as hot….and I will admit to some of that…eye candy is about as far as I will go….If I think any deeper, I wonder “what is in their music collection???”….and shudder….

This has been a year of change and challenge for me….I am willing to try things that a few years ago, I would have balked at…..like singing in front of a room full of people…I’ve done that twice now…and even participated in a song circle at Fantasy Camp….

I signed up with my church to volunteer at a local air show. After I signed up, I found out it was for helping to run the kids zone….ALL DAY! So, I spent nine hours in a hot sun hooking kids to some cording and watching them jump on a trampoline…I interacted with them and even touched them….

I could not have imagined a year ago that I would do that….

..and then the changes, I said goodbye to my favorite musical group..as the people involved got shoved out the door(that will be the subject of another blog for another time)….So, 30 years of listening to music…20 years of going to concerts….over…just like that….I may still listen to the music..for the memories….as that’s what I do with John Denver music now…but that feels different…It’s not a living entity to me anymore..it’s a musical relic…and that changes my fandom a bit….

I said goodbye to a dear friend…he passed away suddenly….I knew him for 19 years….and in the months since his death, I haven’t really enjoyed music online or at home….I find myself restless and anxious when I am home alone at night….and I noticed I was restless at Camp…never staying any one place..or even sleeping more than a few hours…

Camp was nice as that allowed for some healing and some joy…(a blog on that will come later as well…as soon as I figure out how to make banjos and guitars and folk music sound profound)….

So, with all these changes, I realized something…I trust God a whole lot more than I used to..I think back to when my friend Dennis passed suddenly..and how I grieved that change…sleeping a lot..eating little and begging God for more time with him…and seeing my reaction now as one of just “wait to see where this goes..”

I look back on a lot of times when life threw me curves…and how I just leaned in and went with it….and the weird and windy paths that got me to this point all teach me the same lesson…Wait….wait to see what happens next…try not to build too much of a future goal…as goals get ambition moving…but the road rarely is a straight one…

So, I wait…and watch….God once told me in a very spiritual way that “no matter what happens today or tomorrow…no matter what anyone says to you or about you..Never…ever..forget that I love you”….

I’ll be 46 tomorrow….and I feel that love…I feel that peace….I feel like God still has more to do with my life…I may write more…I may marry…I may sing praises to the Heavens….Who knows….but it’s weird and wonderful to be halfway through my life and feel that trust is a good thing….and so is waiting…..

 

 

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.

 

 

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