In 2000 I was taking a tour of the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, MS and towards the end of the tour I noticed the background music contained sounds, riffs, and styles I could attribute to a couple of familiar blues players. I knew what my ears were telling me but my knowledge base just couldn’t make it real.
As I walked into the gift shop at the tour’s end I ask a clerk what the music was. He said it was Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert King playing together on a CD called In Session. So happened they had it in stock and I picked up a copy to listen to during the remainder of the fishing trip I was on.
Later I discovered The session had taken place in 1984 at a studio in Ontario, Canada and had been filmed. I learned of the film while channel surfing and coming across a PBS channel that was replaying the video during a fundraiser.
Obviously some are better at multitasking than others. I’m one that’s not too good at it and getting worse as time passes. I can still walk and chew gum at the same time but don’t ask me to throw in scratching my hair or rub my belly, let alone playing a guitar, blowing a harp, singing, and playing drums with my feet.
It’s March 5, 2015 and I’m looking out my window at a fresh five-inch coat of snow. This winter has turned into one of the coldest and snowiest in several years. Like a gift from on the wings of a snow-white dove, however, came a link to a Playing for Change video that brought sunshine and warmth into our living room. Sit back and enjoy a collage of P for C’s musicians, all located in warm places, playing Cottonfields.
Remember back to what happened in Ferguson, MO in August of last year. The police shooting of a young unarmed black youth. The protest that ensued, the brutal tactics used by police to suppress that protest and the riots that followed.
Then there was the grand jury investigation in to the police officer that shot and killed Michael Brown and the subsequent failure to indict the shooter.
All this resulted in a great division in America and a huge failure to understand and appreciate the reality of life in this country for blacks and other minorities. The suppressed anger that burst forth following so many unexplained fatal shootings of unarmed blacks by the nation’s police forces.
My French friend, Delbarjo, has a new toy and a new video. An American cigar box guitar builder who builds under the name Hobo 63 made a 3-string custom box for Delbarjo and apparently it just arrived on French soil. While it’s a couple of days late for Black History Month the theme certainly brings to mind a sad part of our nation’s history. To tell the truth, my old ears can’t pick out the words but the pictures tell it all. Whatever the lyrics the instruments sound and its playing are of the highest quality. Keep it sleazy bluesman!
Since becoming involved with cigar box guitars I’ve made a number of contacts in the world of these often weird homemade instruments. One of the newer friendships is with Ted Toscano who is a builder, musician, and member of a blues band named the Swamp Drivers. Ted and the band hail from Utica, New York and we are both members of a Facebook cigar box guitar group.
There are at least two histories in America, that which is based in historical reality and that which is based solely on accepted myth.
One of the things that contributed to my becoming a history teacher was taking the required class, US History 101. Fortunately I had a professor that didn’t teach straight from the textbook and loved to expose the accepted versions of history to the historical truths.
A classic example was the age-old story that George Washington cut down a his father’s cherry tree and because he was so honest he openly admitted his actions to his dad. The truth is that a traveling minister named Mason Locke Weems. To supplement his income Weems authored a few short books that he would sell along his travels. Since George Washington was such a famous and popular person Weems wrote a short biography shortly after Washington passed. There is no historical evidence proving that Weems’s story about the cherry tree happened but nevertheless it became accepted history and has been taught to centuries of American school children.
If you’re my age just consider that you know about the Battle of the Little Big Horn or what life was like in Tarzan’s jungle. Then read a book about either and compare the reality with what you learned watching Johnny Weissmuller in the roll of Tarzan.
What prompted this post was having read an article in yesterday’s New York Times about the reality of Muslims in America. Islam didn’t just get off the Boeing 747 at Kennedy International. It got off the boat long before there even was a USA. They have been here forever, they have been here in larger numbers than what you may think, and they are and never have been a threat to this nation or its way of life. What they have become is the most misunderstood and denigrated religion in our history. Just ask the Texas Muslim Imam how he was treated when ask to bless the horses, riders, and military personnel at a Fort Worth rodeo. One comment on social media read, “Outraged at a Muslim prayer at an all American event!” “Cowboys don’t want it!”
Well guess what dude? Muslims were riding herd and punching Texas cattle long before there was a Fort Worth. Furthermore, you cowboys didn’t invent rodeo, you borrowed it.
The Fall Creek Friends Church on Karnes Rd. is holding their annual Pancake and Sausage Supper on Saturday, February 14, from 4-7 pm. Always good, always fun, and always cost just a free will donation.
Just got a message from Shorter Chapel AME Church informing me they are hosting a “Love Fest” on Valentine’s Day, Saturday, February 14, 3-6 pm. They will be serving up a free spaghetti diner complete with salad, garlic bread, desert, refreshments, plus fun and games for everyone. Shorter Chapel is located at the corners of North and Second Streets in Greenfield and the community is welcome to come together in a spirit of love, harmony, and fellowship.
I’ve been learning the ins and outs of building cigar box guitars and other roots instruments for a couple of years now. Some of the earlier ones made better wall decorations than they did music. But as time has passed I’ve gotten better and before Christmas I created a nice 3-string, fretless, instrument made from a common cigar box and three 1/2″ dowels as the neck. Judy Beatty saw pictures of it on Facebook and purchased it as a gift for her son Lynn.
Lynn took a little time getting the hang of it and today sent me a video of him playing the Hank Williams classic, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Die” on my creation. I’m not much of a player and it is just overwhelming to see and hear something you created in the hands of a talented artist. Thanks so much Lynn!
I love music but I’m one of the most unmusical people on earth. It’s like loving to hear the French language but not being able to speak it. I love music but I have no fluency. Over the years, however, I’ve been fortunate enough to witness some of the best. Back in 2010 at the Wheeling Heritage Blues Festival I was first exposed to James “Super Chikan” Johnson and his band, The Fighting Cocks.” The Chikan may have been playing the first homemade guitar I ever witnessed, a real double-edged axe made into a playable guitar.
Super Bowl Sunday is just days away and the Mother’s Club will be assembling hundreds of sub sandwiches. As much as any single food, the submarine sandwich has become a Super Bowl staple.
In these days anyone in American can describe what a sub sandwich is. The most common fast food restaurant in today’s America is the Subway chain of sandwich shops. So, as the chain grew so did the use of the term sub to describe that pile of meats, cheeses, and toppings that get stuffed into a long bun.