Archive for September, 2013

Our Voice Is Heard… Truth Is Truth

September 29th, 2013 25 comments

From Apprenticeship Of The Mule
Charlie Mehrhoff

‘They hand you a pen and perhaps some small corner to make
your home. And if you discover the strength which carries one
past exhaustion, if you are blessed, perhaps someone will arrive
to look over your shoulder and read what you are doing,
what you have done.

And if you are of the word, and if you have the duende,
they’ll be standing there, reading, long after you have gone.’

(Duende or tener duende (“having duende”) loosely means having soul, a heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity…)

I was moving some of my books around so I could free up two shelves in our library so Izze, our daughter, would have accessible room for her school materials and I came across a book… The Apprenticeship Of The Mule by Charlie Mehrhoff. A sliver of a book with no more than twenty poems in it… hand bound… fragile but compelling. I opened it without thinking and the poem above fell into my hands and pulled me in.

‘…And if you are of the word, and if you have the duende,
they’ll be standing there, reading, long after you have gone.’

As an older artist, I think of these things. The things of this world are not designed to last long without some sort of providential intercession. And so with these thoughts circulating in my mind, I drove up to Columbus with my friend Jerry Sullivan to pick up Wes Wilson as well as Jerry Miller, Terry Haggerty, Fuzzy Oxendine and Keith Graves. Wes Wilson, of course, is probably most remembered for his psychedelic band posters from the 60’s. Needless to say, in his late 70’s, Wes has continued to be an artist of significance, and if indeed our legacy has been engendered by something that brought us notice in youth… well then so be it. Not much grass has grown under Wes’ feet. Anyway, the same could be said of Jerry Miller. I remember when I first heard Jerry play with Moby Grape. He was such a sophisticated player at that time that I found his prowess to be both exciting and intimidating. The same could be said of Terry Haggerty who was playing with the Sons of Champlin at the time. I was just breaking out of being a finger picking follkie at the time, and these guys could really play the electric guitar. Yow!

Anyway, when we put together yesterday’s Psylodelic Gallery Event at the Fur Peace Ranch with all these characters, frankly I had no idea how compelling I would find the day.

Now, our little gallery celebrates not only the art, music and spoken word of what we gratuitously call the 60’s, but also the intellectual and spiritual veritas of those moments.

Now time is time and I’m not sitting here writing and ruminating about the lost voyages of the ‘good old days,’ but you know, there was a special magic in the air in San Francisco in that time.

As I was talking to Wes Wilson, he pointed out after sound check with the guys, that artists, (in this case, graphic artists,) create artifacts, whereas the true art of music is constantly evolving even within arrangements played often. When a painting is done, it lives in that state until it is vanquished by time. For live music in any given moment, you have to be there. It comes, it surrounds our spirit and it leaves for the next town.

With this thought in mind, I looked forward to hearing what my old musical friends from the 60’s would bring to life here in the present, in Southeast Ohio of all places. I would not be disappointed. We have had so many great players grace our stage here at the Fur Peace Station and for many of them their art seems to be etched in crystal… sharp edges surrounded with prismatic clarity. It has been a long time since I lived in the San Francisco Bay area and a longer time since those halcyon days in the mid 60’s to early 70’s. The magical creative mindset that accompanied the creative community in those moments was one of those once in a lifetime comings and to have been present then was, in retrospect, an honor and a blessing.

What am I talking about? It’s really simple. Terry and Jerry didn’t just replicate their musical identity of almost fifty years ago… they gifted us with a vision of their ongoing musical journey. There was a mindset of exploration prevalent in the musicians of that time. The use of mind altering substances were indeed sacred doors to perception and the time had not yet come when the opening of the third eye would be accompanied by the blurry party epithet, ‘I’m fu……..d up.’ The search for a parallel universe was a sincere vision quest.

That spirit of being the ‘Intrepid Explorer, ‘ to borrow one of the names from Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters, was a badge of honor.

Fast forward to today where we all live the different lives that are bestowed upon us by the reality of age. Where to go and how to get there? Well… Jerry and Terry and Fuzzy and Keith play together on a regular basis, obviously but like a GPS with a penchant for back roads I can tell that they seek their destination with no regard for the ‘quickest way.’

How would I fit into all this? When artists come to the Fur Peace Ranch to play at the Station, I do not presume that I will sit in with them. Sometimes bands need to do their show and their show has no room for outsiders. I related these feelings to the guys and they graciously asked me to join them, which I did. Two songs at the end of the first set and about a third of the second set. As always, at moments like this, I said, ‘Be gentle with me guys. I’m a simple man.’ Of they threw a bunch of tunes at me some of which I knew intuitively and others where I just tried to follow the roadmap they were handing me. Of course as a third guitarist in a band with two great guitarists, it is easy to lay out and just join in when the moment is right. There’s more frosting on the cake though. When I do my shows with either Jack Casady and Hot Tuna or my sundry incarnations with Barry Mitterhoff, (all of which I love) there is always room for improv, but for me it’s more clearly architected. Playing with these guys last night threw me into a heightened state of excitement where the journey was fresh in a way that that I haven’t experienced in many years. It was like discovering the fountain of youth for a few moments. Now this is something that doesn’t happen to often in any universe.

The musical evening rolled into closing time and they got ready to come in for a landing. I played the last song with them and then left the stage as they played their well earned encore. This was a long day but what a rainbow of experiences.

The San Francisco Sound as nomenclature, was certainly a bit of 60’s hyperbole but it was grounded in reality… a mindset rather than a technique… a place in the heart and the spirit rather than a number on a Billboard chart.

It was alive and well in a small town in Southeast Ohio last night, and you know, perhaps somewhere in the universe, someone will look over our then distant shoulder and read and listen to what we have done!

Puttin’ & Pickin’

September 25th, 2013 10 comments
The pink light of early Autumn

The pink light of early Autumn

‘A city rose red… half as old as time?’ Nope… just my back yard last week on a lovely Autumn day. By the bye, this is not a photoshop modified picture. The light really made it look this way!

Indeed, last week we were getting ready for our Pick ‘n’ Putt weekend at the good old Fur Peace Ranch and some of our friends came in early requiring a Thursday ride.

The boys... and a covered bridge

The boys... and a covered bridge

Yep, we’ve got covered bridges all over the place down here in Southeast Ohio. Here’s one in Athens County. Gotta love it.

The ride continued with a stop here and there

The ride continued with a stop here and there

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch...

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch...

Friday morning our week at the Ranch began bright and early and I decided to bunk over with the rest of the campers. I filled my little cabin with all the things I though I might need over the weekend from a guitar to a rain suit. Rain came in of Friday and lasted until Saturday evening stopping just in time for to acoustic Hot Tuna show. Jack Casady, Marjorie Thompson and Steve Kimock a well as myself were the teachers and Saturday night was an Acoustic Hot Tuna show in which we were joined by the incomparable Steve Kimock. Here is our set list:

Hot Tuna 40, 2013
The Acoustic Duo
Jorma Kaukonen & Jack Casady
With Special Guest
Steve Kimock
Fur Peace Station
Darwin, Ohio
Saturday, September 21, 2013

First Set:
1. True Religion
2. Children Of Zion
3. Second Chances
4. Hesitation Blues
5. I See The Light
6. Mama Let Me Lay It On You with Steve Kimock
7. 10 Minutes of Steve… his wizardry
8. Barbeque King with Steve Kimock
9. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out with Steve Kimock
10. Keep Your Lamps Trimmed And Burning with Steve Kimock
Second Set:
1. I See The Light
2. Candy Man
3. Things That Might Have Been
4. 99 Year Blues
5. I Am The Light Of This World
6. Ten Minutes of Steve with more musical Magic
7. Come Back Baby with Steve Kimock
8. Trouble In Mind with Steve Kimock
9. Good Shepherd with Steve Kimock
10. How Long Blues with Steve Kimock
11. Nine Pound Hammer with Steve Kimock
12. Encore: Uncle Sam Blues with Steve Kimock

When we are graced with Steve’s presence I always like to let him just… well, do his thing. The two sections of Ten Minutes with Steve are just that… Each one is a tune created on the spot for the audience. He’s always brilliant.Thanks Steve… so very much!

Sunday afternoon became the de facto time for the Big Ride. The rain had passed and it was a simply beautiful Fall day!

Mylan getting fitted for a helmet in the Ural sidecar

Mylan getting fitted for a helmet in the Ural sidecar

One of the campers brought a Russian Ural with a sidecar… Everone turns into a kid when you get into this thing.

The view of the dam and the old hotel in Stockport

The view of the dam and the old hotel in Stockport

Lock #6 on the old Ohio and Erie Canal lies on the Muskingum River. The old hotel and restaurant which lies across the river has been refurbished a number of times… but the structure has been there for a very long time.

Nessa and her Hard Candy Sportster

Nessa and her Hard Candy Sportster

There was a gaggle of us on this run who were accompanied by our wives who ride too. How good does it have to get?

Meanwhile... back at the Ranch...

Meanwhile... back at the Ranch...

After a 130 mile run, we got back to the Ranch… had dinner a got together for a student performance at the Fur Peace Station. this is the class and instructor snapshot. What an august company!

Monday morning, a last class and then it was goodbye to our merry band of men and women. but first… Vanessa took me for a ride in the Ural sidecar.

Vanessa rides... I review the troops!

Vanessa rides... I review the troops!

Good times indeed.

This coming weekend we have Jerry Miller and Terry Haggerty coming with their band to grace the stage at the Fur Peace Station. We also have Wes Wilson the great San Francisco artist coming to oversee a showing of his works and be a part of the the San Francisco drenched weekend.

That’s if folks. I’m off to pick up my second grader at school.

More anon…

Waning Days Of Autumn,Paw Paw Festival And The Sternwheeler Festival

September 15th, 2013 46 comments
Relaxing whilst I put money in the meter... meeting in town for dinner...

Relaxing whilst I put money in the meter... meeting in town for dinner...

The heat wave vanished and Fall rolled in with beautiful blue skies and white clouds.

That blue, blue sky...

That blue, blue sky...

Life is indeed like a roll of toilet paper… the closer to the end you get, the faster it goes. It seems like only yesterday it was the Fall of 2012. The time it just rolls on by and each moment becomes more precious. This weekend I went to the Paw Paw Festival at Lake Snowden. We had a Psylodelic Museum booth their with special Fur Peace Ranch Notice. Vanessa was already there with the gang from the Ranch so I rode over with Izze, my sister in law Ginger and her son Montana. When we got to the lake, one of the cats we knew. Mamerto Tindongan had carved a couple of dugout canoes. Mamerto is from Ifugao in the Philippines… and I was there when I was a teenager. How about that? Anyway, a dugout is a great place for four people… so off we went.

Getting ready to set wait... I mean paddle

Getting ready to set wait... I mean paddle

Heading out for parts unknown... prepare for ramming speed!

Heading out for parts unknown... prepare for ramming speed!

Hanging with the kids makes it all worth while… a Fall day, water, a boat… and good food in the concessions.

After my sojourn at the Paw Paw Festival, my sis in law dropped me off home and I picked up my scoot and to a ride to Pomeroy to shee what was shaking at the Sternwheeler Festival.

I didn’t stop to take pictures but here’s a paste from their website.

Typical Sternwheeler day...

Typical Sternwheeler day...

Today I took Izze to a bowling party in Athens and then back to the Fur Peace Ranch to host the Children’s Yom Kippur service. We played a lot of traditional Jewish music, but our show stopper is the Yom Kippur I’m Sorry Blues.

Jack should be in from England soon… this week is the Pick ‘n’ Putt weekend at the Ranch with a Tuna Duo Show Saturday night…

Good times… always!

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Hot Tuna, Thoughts Tags:

Nine Eleven 2013

September 11th, 2013 35 comments
David Weiss RIP

David Weiss RIP

Foto by Brian Sobie

My friend Jerry and I have dedicated a memorial 9/11 run every year to my departed buddy David Weiss. David worked at Cantor Fitzgerald and vanished from this earth twelve years ago when the first plane struck the World Trade Center. A monsoon swept through our tri county area today and so the ride didn’t happen… perhaps this weekend. Anyway, we all lost so much and so many that day that day. I think of Tom Kelly, firefighter… gone with honor… I think of my friend Bob Kelly still with us… a first responder survivor of that day. I remember it all well…

Forever etched in my memory... with love and respect

Forever etched in my memory... with love and respect

So much changed that day and is still changing. Another year passes and I believe we are stronger but we must never forget!

We are challenged to hold this moment in our hearts

We are challenged to hold this moment in our hearts

What difference can it possibly make?

It makes a great deal of difference to me.

I miss you all… and I shall never forget!

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

Interlocken And Monticello Wrap Up

September 9th, 2013 15 comments
Stillness at Appomattox

Stillness at Appomattox

Great weekend down in Virginia. We stayed in Lynchburg where most of the music guys stayed and before we headed over to the Interlocken Festival Site we went to Appomattox Courthouse and spent some time paying our respects. Powerful… quote powerful.

Living history

Living history

Brothers in arms... brothers in death

Brothers in arms... brothers in death

Of course we were in the part of the world where I come from so to reacquaint myself with this American history was a welcome interlude.

That night at the Triangle Stage we played the following:

Jorma Kaukonen And Barry Mitterhoff 22, 2013
Interlocken Music Festival
Triangle Stage
Arrington, Virginia
Friday, September 6, 2013

1. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
2. I See The Light
3. Children Of Zion
4. Hesitation Blues
5. Barbeque King
6. San Francisco Bay Blues
7. How Long Blues
8. I Know You Rider
9. Encore: Embryonic Journey

The next day we had two sets to do. The first involved a trip to Monticello to the Harvest Festival.

Haven't been here since I was a kid... I've changed... it hasn't!

Haven't been here since I was a kid... I've changed... it hasn't!

The little day trip to the Harvest Festival was fantastic. I got to hear Pegi Young and her fabulous band and then we played the following:

Jorma Kaukonen And Barry Mitterhoff 23, 2013
The Heritage Harvest Festival
Monticello Afternoon
Charlottesville, Virginia
Saturday, September 7, 2013

1. True Religion
2. Children Of Zion
3. Been So Long
4. Second Chances
5. Hesitation Blues
6. Come Back Baby
7. River Of Time
8. 99 Year Blues
9. Good Shepherd
10. Vicksburg Stomp
11. Nine Pound Hammer

After we played I got to hear Sarah Jarosz and her band of merry men. Outstanding… we’ve got to get her to the Fur Peace Ranch!

We drove back to Arrington with only six or seven hours to kill before our set at the VIP tent. We did get to hear John Fogerty backed by Widespread Panic. John was better than ever.

The backside of the main stage with Fogerty and Panic

The backside of the main stage with Fogerty and Panic

A couple more hours and then we got to play again… as follows!

Jorma Kaukonen And Barry Mitterhoff 24, 2013
Interlocken Music Festival
VIP Tent Saturday Night
Arrington, Virginia
September 7, 2013

1. That’ll Never Happen No More
2. Candy Man
3. Let Us Get Together Right Down Here
4. Death Don’t Have No Mercy
5. Keep On Truckin’ Mama
6. Keep Your Lamps Trimmed And Burning
7. I Am The Light Of This World

In bed by 0430 up at 0900 and a quick three hundred miles back home…

More anon…

Guitars And Gigs

September 6th, 2013 19 comments
The old Carlton Church at dawn

The old Carlton Church at dawn

So last week I hopped in my truck and drove on over to Myron Hart’s place to cut a guitar part on a project for our drummer, Skoota Warner. It was just a vignette part so I figured we could do it easily… and I was right. For this application, I selected my Robert Lee Jorma guitar plugged it straight into a Boogie Maverick and let her rip. Yeah, I know the Mav’ is out of production, but we’ve still got one one. Rockin’ dude! Actually, I’ve still got a Strategy 400 but that’s another story for another time.

Anyway, the tracks went great and I love the way the guitar performed. You need to check out Robert Lee’s site and see the beautiful stuff he has to offer. Amongst the myriad custom builders out there… he’s tops!

Yesterday, Myron and I drove from the Fur Peace Ranch to Lynchburg, Virginia to meet up with Barry Mitterhoff and Phil Jacobs in preparation for our shows today and tomorrow at the Interlocken Festival in Arrington, Virginia. We have a midnight show tonight and tomorrow we have an afternoon show at Moticello (yes… THE Monticello) and a midnight show back in Arrington.

Lynchburg is a beautiful small town with no access by Interstate… I love it. Great drive through the mountains yesterday.

I look forward to the shows and I’ll keep you posted…


Labor Day Weekend 2013

September 1st, 2013 44 comments

Another Labor Day Weekend
Hillside Farm
Meigs County, Ohio
September 1, 2013

We still make gags about not wearing white after Labor Day. What century did that come from anyway? Well, since I never wear white anyway, I guess a pass will be issued to me on this one.

To me, each season has become a milestone on the road of time. Of course, the road of time is a one way street so if you miss something en route, don’t look back… remember it if you must but accept the fact that it will never come again.

I have spent my life trying to find my right place in the world, and indeed I have wasted much time looking in all the wrong places… and that was my path. In today’s life I find that G_d indeed gives, and takes away. Some days He takes away more than he gives, but the gifts are always transcendental in a spiritual way.

Some of my friends who are younger than me say things like, ‘Seventy is the new fifty,’ or ‘You don’t look that old.’ Or whatever. Seventy is not the new fifty. Seventy something is well, seventy something. There are many things I used to do with ease that are difficult for me now. ‘Adaptation,’ my Dad used to say, ‘is the key to aging with grace.’ Easier said than done sometimes.

As an artist, I look at what is important to me in my art and craft. Sure, as a guitar player, I always look forward to improving my vocabulary. In my teaching and performing life I look at songs I wrote many, many years ago and I find that I still like and approach with fresh wonder on a regular basis. I taught my son, Zach, Been So Long while he was here this summer and he nailed it. I relearned Hamar Promenade so I could teach it to my Quah Class last weekend. I decided I’m going to bring the song back to our repertoire but the real point was I wondered about the creative process that was natural for me back then. I would never write a song like that today… I just don’t think musically like that any more. I used to focus on music first, now it’s the story… the lyrics that drive me. Today I see myself as a story teller and my music is the supportive wing that lets my little stories fly.

So much remains the same, but so much changes and sometimes one’s past life seems as ephemeral as a dream. You try to catch it in the morning… you can see it but it is as intangible as morning mist.

Labor Day Weekend… another year starts to slip away. I find myself starting to make mental lists of things I would like to accomplish while these goals are still realistic… Even as the list gather coherence, so of the items are already telling me, ‘You’re not going to get to me… but that’s all right.’ In the spirit of ‘Progress not perfection,’ it truly is one day… one mission at a time.

The world (which seems to keep turning in it’s own time regardless of my opinions on anything) is fraught with dangerous choices that I have little to say about. Trying to keep it real I just finished mowing about seven or eight acres and picking up all the grass clippings. Yes, yard care enthusiasts, I broke down and bought a grass sweeper to pull behind my tractor. When I went Lowe’s, I could have bought the thing assembled, but I figured, ‘How hard could it be? I’ll save fifty bucks this way!’ The instructions gave me an hour to complete the task… it took me two. BUT, I got it done and not only did I not lose any of the myriad parts, there were none left over. Reading instructions… what a concept!

My seven year old daughter is reading another chapter book upstairs. My almost sixteen year old son is enjoying the last couple of days of freedom before he is incarcerated in the system we choose to call High School. He is a sophomore and does not quite get the fact that the next three years will go by in the blink of an eye. I would like to slow down time for him but it would be like trying to hold back a river with your fingers. His moment of seniority will come.

Me… I’m going over to the Psylodelic Museum at the Fur Peace Ranch in an hour or so and sit around with guitar in hand hopeful that some citizens will stop by to enjoy what we have to offer. Perhaps I’ll get to share some stories, pick some music.

How did I get here today? Where did I come from? It just happened… like that dream I think I had.

There is still more to be written, but for now, I think I’ll cook my daughter some lunch.

Happy Labor Day Weekend everyone!

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags: