Parent-Child Workshop @ Spark!

On Tuesday, February 17 Spark is sponsoring a 2-hour parent-child event in which a playable, take home, 1-string roots instrument will constructed. I’ll be leading the workshop and will guide attendees through the process of building a traditional roots diddley bow instrument. The cost is $30 for parent-child team and will include all necessary materials and use of basic hand tools. If the parent would like to build a second instrument the added cost will be $20.

Registration and payment is by major credit card at Eventbrite. Click the payment icon below to enroll.

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Typical version of diddley bow called a canjo.

Sanka Bow (7)

And Let There Be Sitar

ravi shankar
Ravi Shankar

Ever since George Harrison hooked up with Ravi Shankar I’ve loved the sound of the Indian sitar. I have several Shankar CDs, one of Indian morning ragas, and one he made with the American classical musician, Philip Glass. In the early 60s the music shop in Downey, CA had a sitar and while I never touched it I did spend lots of time staring at it, marveling at its complexity.

In the YouTube era I’ve watched many videos of Shankar and other sitar players and I’m always stunned by how much beauty they can create with this assemblage of a few boards, wire strings, and a gourd or two. Just as magical is the lightning that lives in their fingers. To move so fast lightning has to be somehow a part of it.

Playing for Change seeks out musicians from around the world and makes them know through video recordings. On a recent Asian trip they taped a young Southern Indian man named Rajesh Vaidhya. Rajesh has mastered a type of sitar called a veena.

Continue reading And Let There Be Sitar

Shades of McCarthy at Fox News

You either have to be my age or have paid attention in your history classes to know how Senator Joe McCarthy pulled numbers out of his hat regarding the communist threat inside America. He never showed anyone his proof and the size of the threat changed with every audience he addressed. On one day he might claim having a list of 100 names of government employees who were card-carrying members of the communist party. On another occasion the list may be 27. It was totally manufactured and it has been rumored that in the beginning McCarthy didn’t even know what communism was. He just realized it was something people feared and that he could use that fear to further his own ambitions.

Continue reading Shades of McCarthy at Fox News

The Men Who Made the Music

Several Facebook friends, knowing my love of the blues, sent me links to a recent Huffington Post article about some of the men who have helped formulate and spread the word about blues music. Over super chikanthe years I have had the pleasure and good fortune of seeing many great blues players in live performance. Among those listed and photographed in the article are three I have met, James “Super Chikan” Johnson, “Bilbo” Walker, and T-Model Ford, who passed away last year.

I saw Johnson several years ago at the annual Wheeling Heritage Festival and witnessing him play his homemade guitars prompted me to begin building cigar box guitars. Last June I took my grandson on a road trip and one of the places we visited was the legendary Clarksdale, MS juke joint, Red’s Lounge where Bilbo Walker was playing. In 2005 I was in Red’s and got to hear T-Model Ford play one number. At the end of the piece he left the floor and joined up with a group of young college girls who got to buying him whiskey and rubbing on his knee. I waited a couple of beers worth for him to pick up his old Peavy guitar but it wasn’t to be. The “Tail Dragger” had left the room!

If you like the blues, especially its roots, check out the photos in the HP’s article. Click HERE.

James “Super Chikan” Johnson on one of his simple homemade instruments.

Reggae Got Soul

reggaeAlthough this isn’t a new release from Playing for Change I’m bettin’ most of you haven’t seen this video. The one musician you may recognize is Taj Mahal who’s become very involved with the PforC movement.

So, pour yourself a strong shot of rum and put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up while enjoying this video. Hell, maybe it will even make you think for a moment you’re not in the midst of winter.

Just a Fad

I got a chuckle out of Lord Grantham’s comment during the second episode of Downton Abbey. His Lordship is not the most progressive looking character and when asked to consider purchasing a radio for the mansion he put up a wall of resistance. At one point he commented that radio was, “Just a fad.”

Once he relented it was historically interesting to see how involved getting a radio was in 1920 England. It required a technician to deliver and properly install it. A certain learning curve also had to be mounted.

Continue reading Just a Fad

My Sleazy Sunrise

This past Sunday the sunrise in parts of Eastern America were spectacular. Several of my Facebook friends posted photos they had delbarjophototaken. Since I’m not an early riser without their efforts I would have been totally unaware.

However, this morning I had my sunrise. A sleazy blues sunrise from my favorite sleazy French bluesman, Delbarjo. I woke at my usual time, sat at the computer with a cup of coffee and to my joy discovered Delbarjo had just uploaded his most recent effort, I’m Drunk. As if the music weren’t enough, Delbarjo even threw in some adult entertainment.

What a great way to begin my day!

For the Birds

greenbirdA friend of mine is in the business (GreenBird) of providing products that help improve the habitat for our bird populations. I recently received this post from him with ideas about turning your property into a recognized bird sanctuary. We have been ardent bird feeders for decades allowing

Continue reading For the Birds

Do You Really Care?

If you really care about America and your place in it the following article may be the most important you’ve ever read. It’s not left or right but a straight down the middle truth about the state of democracy in the United States today.

In case you only slightly care I’ll summarize the main point. In America today 100 people spend almost as much on influencing politics as all the rest of us combined. In the end, you’re vote and your opinion doesn’t mean crap and it never will as long as you continue to put the same politicians in office.

So, if you really care about America at least read this article and inform yourself about the reality of these United States. Otherwise, just STFU!

Click HERE to read about the chosen 100.

Charting 2014

Some place in American History Thomas Jefferson said an informed electorate was necessary in a democracy. Jefferson was a strong advocate for public education and taking his advice America has poured billions, if not trillions, into trying to create that informed voter.

Given the opinions so many Americans profess and how they vote makes one wonder if all the money has been well spent. Before the 2014 general election polls concluded that most Americans felt the economy was the number one issue and expressed the continued attitude that America’s economy was still in the dump.

Continue reading Charting 2014

Delbarjo’s Livin’ on Tulsa Time

delbarjo imageMy favorite French “sleazy” guitar slinger, Delbarjo, has a video I’ve not seen before, a cover of the country classic, Tulsa Time.

The one thing that caught my eye was in the beginning of the video there was a truck with a long extension on the gear shift lever. Reminded me of a 1960 Chevy I once owned with a Hurst shifter on the floor. Someone had given me a long wooden Busch draft beer handle that worked perfectly as a knob for my shifter. Gave no thought to possibly being impaled by it in a wreck. It was too cool for concern!

Purveyor of Fact, Fiction, Opinion and Rumor. Not responsible for lost children, pets, or souls. Read at your own risk!

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