GOOD WAY TO START A WEEKEND

Saturday, Mar 16 @ 12:03 PM

I had a good time doing a private party with singer, Ashley Kisner, at the Inverness Hotel last night. This is about the third gig I’ve had the pleasure of doing with Ashley, and it’s getting more fun all the time. We are getting to the point where we can sense where each of us is going with the song and create a nice interaction. That, of course, is one of the reasons musicians have such a good time working together: that give and take and sense of communion. Then, this morning I found a message about a potential gig in Omaha. This would qualify as the first official date of the upcoming tour! More details as we firm this up, but it’s a lovely way to start the morning and what promises to be a fine weekend. A shout out to our friends, Bob and Sara, who are getting officially married today. Pony and I plan to be there to join in the celebration.

GETTING BUSIER

Thursday, Mar 14 @ 1:03 PM

Just added three dates at Kaos Pizzeria for this coming summer season. I will also be adding a lot more dates at Sonoma’z (especially as the weather gets more pleasant and we can have some fun out on the patio). And there is one house concert (well, sort of a house concert) at Victor Guitars, planned for July. Plenty of chance to come on out and share some good music at some great places. And I’m adding a bunch of new music all the time. Next week, we pick up the RV from the shop and give it a short, shake-down cruise, getting ready for the tour to come at the end of August. For my friends and fans outside of the Denver/Front Range region, I look to be somewhere near you in the months to come. Me, Pony, the cats and Rufus. Circus? What circus?

THE WILD ROVER

Wednesday, Mar 13 @ 11:03 AM

Being so close to St. Pat’s day and all, I was going through some of my Irish repertoire while walking around the lake with Rufus. It’s a good warm up for the voice, and some measure of good work on breath control, too, as I sing while doing a brisk walking pace with my personal trainer (who does not seem to mind my singing, so long as we can stop from time to time to check peemail). It’s one of those fun experiences to have one’s voice go sailing over the waters of the lake. At one point, a jogger approached me (running counter to us) and told me how much she loved hearing me sing. And the weather is beautiful this morning. It is sunny, with a promise of warming up to 50 degrees or so by this afternoon. The lake is swollen with the recent snows, the water looking more and blue and clear for it. The ducks and geese are starting to lay eggs. All in all, it makes for a nice way to start one’s day.

THINGS ARE GETTING BUSY

Thursday, Feb 21 @ 9:02 PM

Last week was a creative, productive week. I finished a couple of songs that I’d started and wrote another one entirely from start to finish. That’s 5 songs in about 3 weeks (give or take). The walks around Lake Arbor with Rufus are proving a valuable time to think about lyric ideas and other song-worthy things. Meanwhile, I have added a couple of dates at Gabriel’s, in Sedalia, to the upcoming calender, with the promise of several more venues to come through. The one set-back in all of my present activities has been the ProTools program in my home studio. It has developed a glitch which has been getting in the way of accessing the software at all (a big Aaargh!!! on that one). I am looking to call in an “expert” to help me deal with the matter. Meanwhile, a friend of mine has suggested using the facilities at Swallow Hill, and I think I may just do that. I’ve got a lot of new stuff that needs to get recorded and put up on the ReverbNation site and elsewhere. And finally, I plan to play the Open Stage again at Jefferson Unitarian Church on Friday, March 1st, where we look to video-record the performance in front of the great audience that tends to show up for that event. With any luck, I look to have some new videos posted at both YouTube and the ReverbNation site with a couple of weeks. Here’s a big shout out to all the new folks who have signed up as fans. Thank you so much, and I hope you’ll pass the word along to your friends. You never know when Pony, Rufus, the kitties and I will be in your neighborhood, but we look forward to sharing the new tunes and good times. Take it easy.

LYRICS – BUMBLEBEE WAGES

Friday, Feb 15 @ 12:02 PM

 Every day I wake up and say I’ve got another chance to make it

All day long I’m singing that song just to give me the strength to take it

But the boss comes around acting all hearts and flowers

Says he’s sorry but he’s gotta cut my hours

Milk’s gone up and the baby’s got the flu

And all the time I wonder just what I’m gonna do

 

Chorus

They say a bumble bee’s wings are built too short and she shouldn’t be able to fly

 I think about that when I look at my pay

How the hell am I supposed to get by

How the hell am I supposed to get by

on Bumble Bee Wages

 

The car’s acting up so I gotta take the bus, it adds an hour each way to my travels

 Another of the kids starts coughing and a hacking and my week begins to unravel

 My mom tries to help but she’s only gettin’ older

She’s got diabetes and arthritis in her shoulder

My nose to the grindstone, trying to make do

And all the time I worry that I got a sniffle too – Chorus

 

Bridge

They can’t figure out why the bees are disappearing

They can’t figure out why the colonies are dyin’

They can’t figure out how to keep it all together

But it ain’t for lack of a bumble bee tryin’

 

Friday night, I’m at my second job, flippin’ burgers with the sniffles and the shakes

 I oughtta be home, but I don’t get paid to sleep

And I need the little extra that I make

It’s a long ways away from the land of Milk and Honey

With not a lot of hope and damned little money

Troubles are plaguing me cheaper by the dozen

And all the time a hive of bees is in my head a-buzzin’ – Chorus

FUNK IN A

Originally published; Saturday, Feb 9 @ 12:02 PM

The first band that I actually went on the road with was The Bob Marriott Band, based out of Lawrence, Kansas. Somewhere, I still have a copy of the black and white glossy promo photo that we used for booking gigs and posting at the venues we played. I am more than a little glad that it’s in black and white, since otherwise you would see that we were wearing purple tweed jackets with hot-pink, ruffled tux shirts (and yes, we wore those at the gigs). Have you ever seen the original Blues Brothers movie? Remember Murph and the Magic Tones? Yeah, that was kinda us.

And speaking of that Blues Brothers movie, we had one gig (somewhere in the middle of Kansas; I can’t remember exactly where) where they liked “both kinds of music: country and western”; When we set up our equipment there, we found a big hole in the wall of the men’s restroom where a urinal had been. Somewhat ominous, that. The first evening of our gig, there were about four people in the room at the point we were to begin. Four people are still four paying customers, so we started the set. After about half a dozen tunes, Bob turned to the rest of us and said, “Funk. In A.” So we set up a funk groove in the key of A and jammed on that for about twenty minutes; at which point it was time for our break. It was at that point we met the reason for the hole in the men’s room. He was about 6-foot-seven (give or take) and almost as wide. He came up to Bob and me and said, “That last tune you did… Just what the hell sort of country and western was that supposed to be?” Bob looked him right in the eye and said, “Why, that’s back-beat country. ‘Comes out of Louisiana. Hank Junior plays it all the time.” You could see the handful of neurons firing in the guy’s brain. Then he said, “Did have kind of a kick to it.” He was our best friend for the rest of our time there. Some years later, I wrote “Funk In A” as sort of a homage to that experience.

BUMBLEBEE WAGES

Bumble Bee Wages

Originally published: Tuesday, Jan 29 @ 12:01 PM

I can’t remember when I first this little “factoid” where apparently engineers say that the wing span of a bumble bee should not be sufficient to sustain flight. The folksy bit of humor that accompanies that assertion is that “nobody told the bee”. The bee somehow manages to make it work despite the engineers. I remember this anecdote being applied to the guitar-playing of Chet Atkins. It was said that some of the things Chet managed to play on guitar should not be humanly possible. But, like the bumble bee, no one got around to telling Chet, so he just went and did it anyway. I was driving home a couple of months ago, and these thoughts had popped into my head, along with the hardship that a lot of folks are having with trying to make ends meet on minimum wage (there may have be a bit on NPR at the time, talking about the policies Walmart practices of keeping their employees just short of full-time hours, so as to deny them healthcare and other benefits). For a lot of people, wages have been stagnant for some years, or falling behind inflation in some cases. So, in the spirit of Woody Guthrie and other such heroes, I finished a song, called Bumble Bee Wages. Pony, and I spent last weekend in Breckenridge. It was a welcome break from routine. We wandered the town and enjoyed the ice sculpture festival that was taking place over the weekend. On Sunday morning, while Pony slept in a bit, I sat on a couch and mulled over the idea for this song, and began to jot down some lyrics. Within about forty minutes or so, I had two verses and a chorus that I thought were promising. Later that evening, after we had returned home, I came up with a bridge and a third verse. Yesterday was for setting the words to chords and melody that I could be happy with. There is something of a personal stake in this. Last December, Arapahoe Community College had a meeting of adjunct professors (which would include me). It’s sort of a dirty little secret of academia in that they employee a great number of part-time adjunct teachers (one figure I heard for Arapahoe College was that some 85% of the teachers were part-time adjunct). We get no benefits (I’ve been shelling out for my own healthcare for years on end), and contracts are from one semester to the next. The meeting began with some talk about changes in the grading software we are using at present, then the last half hour or so was an address by the Dean. We were informed that the Affordable Care Act would require every employer with 50 or more employees to provide healthcare for any employee working 30 hours or more per week. The community colleges have decided this a financial burden they cannot meet. They figured out that 12 credit hours is the equivalent of a 30-hour work week, so, effective with the Fall semester of this year, they will restrict the teaching load of all adjuncts to 11 credit hours. Since most classes are set at 3 credit hours, this will mean a lot of teachers will end up restricted to three classes, total. And it gets better: it is common for many adjuncts to teach at more than one college in an effort to cobble together something that looks like full-time employment. But since all the community colleges in Colorado are part of the Colorado Community College System, an additional policy will impose this work restriction system-wide. The bottom line is something like this: We (the administration of the community colleges of Colorado) have not paid for your healthcare, and we do not wish to pay for your healthcare. Therefore, in an effort to avoid doing so, we are going to restrict how much you can work, so that you can pay for your healthcare with the reduced amount of money you will be earning. Bumble Bee wages indeed. There is an open stage at Jefferson Unitarian Church, in Golden, this Friday (February 1st). I look to take part and test out the new song there. There is no charge for admission, so feel free to come on out.

BACKGROUND INFO: WAY OF THE WILD HEART

Originally published: Friday, Jan 11 @ 1:01 PM

The album,”The Way of the Wild Heart” was originally recorded in 1993 and released in 1994. All the songs, music and lyrics, were written by me. The title tune is either an allegory or a fable, depending on how you look at it. It is one of a couple of songs that came out of a painful divorce that I was going through at the time. One of the more cruel moments in the process of recording the album was when I masochistically asked my soon-to-be ex-wife to sing background on a couple of songs. She had a decent voice, and we had even done a few professional gigs together. I had also asked guitarist, Neil Haverstick to play on a couple of tracks. Next thing I know, Neil was hitting on my estranged wife (yeah, the divorce was pretty much inevitable, but it wasn’t official at that point). Suffice to say that created a bit of a strain between all parties. As something of a testimony to just how big town Denver can be, I have not seen my ex in the twenty intervening years (even though I know she still lives somewhere in the area). Shit happens, y’know?