A Diddley Bow for Christmas!

I’m making a series of one-string roots music diddley bow instruments for Christmas presents. The profits go to Spark Creative Artspace to help meet expenses. Each will be unique, one of a kind, creations and will come with a metal slide which is required for playing. Prices range between $25 to $40 depending on time and materials required. As far as possible each will be made with “found” repurposed materials.

Diddley bows are an offshoot of the original stringed instrument, the hunting bow. In American music history they are the instrument that B.B. King, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and countless others learned their first guitar licks on.

If you’d like me to reserve one for you just call me on Spark’s phone number, 937 763 ART1 (2781). If necessary leave a message with your name and phone number and I’ll get back to you.

If time permits I’ll also be building several 3-string fretless cigar box guitars. Price will be $99 with profits going to Spark.

Below are a few photos of what I’ve recently built.

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Thanksgiving Navy Style, 1953

I served on the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (DD-850) in the early 1960s. On most occasions I chose to stay onboard during holidays so others, who lived closer to their homes, could get the day off. The Kennedy is today a museum ship and the organization that maintains it has a Facebook group on which I found this Thanksgiving Day Menu from 1953. The menu was very complete including complementary cigars and cigarettes.

Keeping the Blues Alive

Alan Lomax doing field recording.
Field recording by Alan Lomax.

Blues music was given rise by the horror of the African-American experience, both North and South. For decades it remained the unheard voice of that  experience  While most white Americans remained ignorant of the blues elsewhere it was gaining a huge audience. In fact, had it not been for attention of European whites the blues may have been killed off by a virus called rock ‘n roll.

Over the decades blues has more than just survived, it has arguably become the world’s music. Every time I’ve gone to the Delta I’m amazed at the number of foreign pilgrims seeking Mecca in Mississippi.

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slashUntil this morning I didn’t have a clue on earth who Slash was. But, while channel surfing I came across a PBS documentary about this guy named slash who grew up in Los Angeles and became a guitar player.

Later I did some Googling online and learned he was the lead guitarist for Guns and Roses and other groups and considered one of the world’s best guitarists.

I then turned to YouTube and found a video of him doing a blues jam and playing the theme from The Godfather.

I now know who Slash is and I agree that he is one hell of an axe man.

PFC 101 & 102

Playing for Change BannerWe’re going to double our pleasure today with the release of two new projects from Playing for Change. Project 101 features the world’s children telling us to Don’t Worry, Be Happy. Project 102 features four of the PFC band members taking a roadside break while on tour in Australia.

Homage to Blake’s

As most of you probably know, Blake’s Coffee Shop in Greenfield, blakescoffeeshopgooglehas been demolished. The local watering hole went out of business several years ago and in the interim the building rapidly deteriorated and became unsalvageable. Pat Hays purchased the property, which had become both an eyesore and safety hazard, and funded the demolition and conversion into a parking lot.

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No Coca Cola Here

I’m taking an online course in Southern folk culture and doing some added research about blues music history. With either topic it is coca cola signimpossible to avoid the racism and segregation that’s so closely associated with life in the American South.

Blues singer, Ruth Brown, talked about growing up in a Southern town with strict lines separating whites and blacks. At a local dance function the dancers were literally separated by a rope dividing the dance floor into white and black sections. The band, which was often black, would get to playing fast tunes and in the ensuing dance fury the rope often came down and social divides forgotten until someone would notify the police. Then the music would be stopped, the rope re stretched, and segregation restored.

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Subway Groundbreaking

After a couple of years of planning Desha LLC got to break ground this morning for their new Subway store at 203 Jefferson St. in Greenfield. A new facility will be constructed where Farmer’s Wholesale once stood. Besides a new building there will also be off-street parking and a drive through. They are currently operating out of a rented property in the fourth block of Jefferson St.

subway breaking

Delbarjo’s Latest

delbarjophotoMy favorite French musician, Delbarjo (aka Ludovic Fonteyraud), is back with a great cover of On the Road Again played on a 3-string cigar box guitar that was custom-made for him here in the states. Delbarjo aptly terms his style as sleazy blues and personally, I love it. I’m also a great fan of his video creations. He has the knack of matching the tone of the video to the tone of his audio.  Excellent travail mon ami.

Scotland the Beautiful

I’m not Scottish but I do enjoy the occasional wee bit of their whiskey. Back in the 1960s I had the excellent fortune of spending three months in Scotland, courtesy of the US Navy and I totally fell in love with the land and the people. We were the first American war ship to enter the harbor of Greenock, Scotland since the end of WWII and we were greeted as saviors. The hospitality and warmth of those people will always be appreciated and never forgotten.

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The Paxton

Recently my wife and I, for the second time in recent months, spent an evening at The Paxton Theater, home of Ohio’s oldest country paxton stagemusic jamboree. For fifty years now the Paint Valley Jamboree in Bainbridge, Ohio has staged country music programs most Saturday nights of the year. Earlier this year the  Paxton changed hands and the new owners have poured their hearts and wallets into rejuvenating the building and upgrading the technical aspects of what modern music requires; better lights, better sound system, improved acoustics, and much improved aesthetics.

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Down by the Riverside

New Orleans’ Grandpa Elliott is one of my favorite musical legends. For several years now he has been touring the world as part of the Playing for Change band. P for C recently released an album of Grandpa’s music and made available this video of Down by the Riverside.

Down By the Riverside from Playing For Change on Vimeo.

A library burns

I’m currently taking an online course via the University of North Carolina on Southern folklore traditions. It’s a free course offered through an organization called Coursera and this is the fourth book burningsession I’ve enrolled in.  Most of the offered courses offer the option of earning a certificate but I just proctor the lectures and take the quizzes just for the heck of it.

The professor who is teaching my folklore class titles himself as a folklorists and has done something in his life I’ve always kicked myself for not doing. Early on he took the time and effort to record the people and characters he met along life’s road. Armed with a decent movie camera and recording equipment he filmed many of the old timers from whom he learned life’s lessons. He has films and audio recordings of a well-known local auctioneer of his boyhood days in rural Mississippi, a local black preacher delivering a Sunday sermon in the call and response tradition of the black church, young black boys verbally competing with derogatory lines about each other’s family and friends, and many performers rooted in the traditions of storytelling, field chants, country music and the blues. Without this man’s efforts so much cultural richness would have been lost forever.

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