Sunday, October 26, 2014

Small Town Rock and Roll

First of all, I must apologize that it has taken so dang long to get another post up here.  My life's flow was exquisitely interrupted a couple weeks back by a little physical malady called a perforated appendix.  Or more colloquially known as a burst appendix.  Pus.  Gangrene.  Flying monkeys with butcher knives.  Emergency night time surgery.  All up inside my belly.  What a world, what a world.

Rest assured there is a story here, a real fun stunner too!  But that's gonna take a little more time since I'm not quite up to sitting down for any extended period of time at this here keyboard quite yet.  "Angels On My Barcalounger" will be appearing as soon as it will. 

This little malady also interrupted a major ongoing late summer project I had hoped to have completed by this time, or Thanksgiving at the latest.  This may or may not happen by that deadline since I really need to take it easy for a while, especially at my tender young age.  However, "Wilson Pickett Fence Land" will also be forth coming before too long as well.

I have been working on a couple other offerings which have been primarily drafted for my second book, which will be a regurgitated compendium of certain Rooster posts along with a lot of new additions.  BTW, if you haven't picked up book one yet, there's still time and there's also a link for it somewhere around here.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy "Small Town Rock and Roll".  

Honestly, I can't constantly write about home improvement projects around the old homestead here, can I?  You're probably going to think that's all I do.

OK, it's just about all of what I do.  If you're not a home improver, my life's gotta sound boring as hell.  But there is a method to my madness.  I don't think we're out of this international economic mess yet and I do believe food and the transportation thereof will potentially become a problem in these here United States.  It is with this urgency in mind that I continue to strive for as much self sufficiency as is physically possible for me to attain for my family.  There's also a lot of ground to cover around here, and from what I can tell it ain't had a going over for just about, oh, forever. 

I do actually let me out of here every once in a while.  Last May, a scant 5 months ago, we took some friends of ours to see the international renowned musical artist Johnny Clegg at our local Center for the Arts.  Yes, South Africa's Johnny Clegg at a 300 seat venue.  This guy has played a sold out Royal Albert Hall for crying out loud.  What's he doing coming to our little Northern California Sierra Foothill town?

I must say our non-profit Center for the Arts has really been bringing some talent to the area over the last couple years.  Artists like Graham Nash, David Crosby, Kris Kristofferson, Chris Issac, Bela Fleck, David Wilcox, Jewell, Steve Earle, John Mayall, Melissa Etheridge, Joan Baez, Marc Cohn, and of course Johnny Clegg.  To name a few.  Sure beats having Blaine Tidswell playing accordion at the Holiday Inn as the only source of musical entertainment for miles around.  Right Des Moines?

This is a small country town, about 50 miles outside of Sacramento, the California state capital.  There have been a number of concerts, shows and events here over the years.  Some fairly large acts have stopped by, folks like Johnny Cash, CS&N, and The Band to name a few.  Our lovely county fairgrounds also hosts a World Music Fest every year, they just picked up the Strawberry Music Fest and there is a world famous blue grass festival held here every Father's Day weekend.

There's also several local bars that feature live music.  There's fewer today than when I was haunting the neighborhood.  Back then a few folks like Elvin Bishop would mosey on up and play this one place that was called Big Al's.   You could definitely get up close and personal in that type of atmosphere.  Plus, an old school chum of mine was then doing Elvin's sound board so I got a back party pass with the boys.  Back in the drinking days.  Poking fun at Elvin with way too many beers under my belt.  Ah, memories...

But the Center for the Arts is the first full time event coordinator we've had around here in like, forever.  If the artist is too large for the 300 seat Center venue, they get moved down the street to the Veteran's Auditorium, which seats 950.  That's where we saw Crosby and Nash a couple years ago.

We have seen that duo and all their many formats numerous times.  I mean, we were originally from the Bay Area in California, which I think had one of the best music scenes anywhere in the world in the 1960's and 70's.  Hell, they still do.

Back in that day we used to drive up to SF from our South Bay haunts and catch shows at Winterland as well as new artists a a night club called the Boarding House.  We caught Jimmy Buffet there a couple times just after Come Monday came out and before he went parabolic.  John Stewart, Arlo Guthrie, David Bromberg, Jesse Colin Young, Barry Manilow. To name a few.

The Center for the Arts brings back memories of the Boarding House.  It's about the same size, the sound is good and for folks who imbibe you can have cocktails.  I personally had to quit drinking a couple decades back.  At the rate it was going I was going to drink up all the alcohol in the universe.  Then there would not have been any left for you if you went to see a show at the Center, for instance.

You're welcome.

Going to a rock show these days is just about the same as back in the day when we'd lace up a watermelon with vodka and spend the day in Oakland at one of Bill Graham's Day on the Green concerts.   Maybe drop some stuff.  Smoke some stuff.   Eat some stuff.  Rock and roll baby.

Today everybody still rocks, everybody still rolls.  We probably don't drink, drop or smoke as many things though anymore.  Primarily because many of us have grey hair and are still here.  Those that continued on their hell bent lust for maximum overdrive generally aren't here anymore.  Or only speak in one syllable sentences accompanied by a look of satisfied confusion.

As I mentioned, my lovely wife and I have seen David and Graham numerous times in various formats.  But this was the first time we could see the color of their corneas since we were sitting about fifteen feet from the stage.   They opened with a stellar "8 Miles High", after which Graham commented that "the acid must be kicking in" when pointing out a girl who had already begun to dance.

Then David interjected, "No, I don't think it's acid.  This area's better known for it's agricultural pursuits."

Which, of course, brought resounding cheers from the audience.  This foothill locale actually does a remarkable amount of medicinal marijuana growing.  In fall, where ever you drive, the air is redolent with the scent of Cannabis.  Or Sativa.  Possibly both.   

It was a fabulous show.  And I have to say, kudos to our gray haired music loving mature audience up here in the hills.  I have heard Graham and David sing "Guinevere" live four or five times.  Every single time some putz in the audience has to let loose a coyote cat call somewhere in the middle of one of their soft, soaring harmonies.  There's always some Putz.  But that night was the first night I was able to enjoy that song in it's entirety without any type of putz intervention.  Here's to maturity!

I also must say that during intermission the parking lot was ablaze with glory.  The cloud of smoke was so thick they were diverting air traffic from Des Moines to Mars.  A Grateful Dead show had nothing over this scene.  Other dimensional UFO's were sputtering when trying to travel though the air space.  The low, thick fog at ground level was rife with gray hair and white rabbits with snorkels on their kazoos.

Ahem.  Where was I?

If you are not familiar with Johnny Clegg or his music, do yourself a favor and hit one of these links on You Tube: "Dela", "Take My Heart Away", "I Call Your Name", and "Asimbonanga".  I dare you not to tap your toes.  What you won't get from the videos is the amazing love and energy this man possesses.

His opening salvo blasted my heart chakra open like a power lawn mower would a tin can of sardines.  Gold fluorescence cascaded round the filigree like a kaleidoscope rainbow on the 4th of July.  The caress of  rhythm was transcendent.  My spirit danced, frolicked and cavorted like a puppy dog chasing a butterfly on a warm summer afternoon.

Did I mention I thought it was a good show?  I first saw Johnny Clegg on Johnny Carson around 1989 during a very dark period of my life.  His music was inspirational, and the one time I tried to see him in 1990, an outdoor show, was canceled due to rain.  I went home and faced some music of my own that day.  But that's a whole nother story, which can actually be found right here: Late Night Letters to the Moon.

There were a few folks under age 40 at Johnny's show up here, but I'd say 90% of the audience was over 50.  Most of them, men and women, were looking effervescently distinguished and gracefully cosmopolitan. You know, older and gray.  But that didn't matter as far as the groove went.  I would say that less than 5% of the crowd was NOT moving.  It was impossible not to move.  Such joyous sound, it lifted your caboose and turned it loose. 

And most of the crowd actually had decent rhythm.  That could be a testament to the artist, it could also be a testament to the experience of the audience.  I mean, I'm certain our friends and us were not the only ones that went to a few rock shows over the years with a vodka laced watermelon.  Or some acid.

My first show was actually a shared experience with good pal I shall call Miguel.  We went to school together and chummed around in the suburbs of the south bay area, which was a scant hour drive from the San Francisco music scene.  Every rock artist at the time came to San Francisco.  Or was from San Francisco.

It would have been tough to be a rock fan in the 1960's-70's if you lived in the middle of Montana.  Or Topeka.

We were big fans of Poco, one of the seminal country rock bands of the time.  They were playing at Winterland and were the 2nd act on a 3 bill show.  The opening band was a group called Focus, whose last yodeling song just didn't quite segue into Poco's country rock flavor.  Yep, yodeling.  And then country rock Poco didn't quite segue into the headliner Yes's unique sound.  Nevertheless, it was a fabulous experience for a first concert and it also turned me into a Yes fanatic for a number of years.

Miguel and I went to many many many shows together over the years, we were Boarding House buddies too.  Miguel is also a critically acclaimed musician as well as a bright and funny guy.  You can check out his music here at Sandbox Records.  OK, his real name is not Miguel.

One of the absolute best parts of having a music scene locally here is the lack of driving to get there.  Even back in the day it was an hour cruise up to the city.  Which wasn't too bad unless you discover you left all the tickets at home once you've almost arrived in the City and everybody in the car is just coming on to the acid you dropped on the way.  That makes the drive back home and then back up again quite arduous, extenuating and more than a little bit white knuckle interesting for the driver.  Quite colorful and usually funny as hell for the passengers.

Now we have a scant ten to fifteen minute ride to town, and there is generally ample and FREE parking within a short walking distance.  Who would have ever figured a rock and roll show could get this easy?

Small town rock and roll.  I'm a fan, for sure.

Fowl Update

Our little original flock of 8 has now grown to a robust 14, plus that rooster.  Besides the 3 surviving pullets I started this spring, a friend, who recently moved to one of the most loveliest spots on the planet, Late Tahoe, also gave me 3 laying Blue Andalusian hens.

Andalusian.  Sounds straight out of Star Trek.  But they're not, as far as I can tell.  Or maybe we are eating some space age eggs.   

 With our 3 self raised newbies now laying as well as the Andalusians, we are getting quite an assortment of colors and sizes of eggs these days.  The Blue Andalusians lay the white eggs.  The small, browner egg in the middle is from our Rhody, Rosy Posy Josie.  Guess who named her?  Our Americana and Speckled Sussex are also both laying a lighter brown egg.  And we're still getting a good assortment of AAA Large from the more established ladies of the flock.

The Speckled Sussex, who is named Flash, or Beatrix, depending on who you are talking to, has turned into the most amazingly loving hen we have yet met.  She is cute as hell, greeting us at the gate, even when all the rest of the flock is already perched up for the night.  She loves to be held and petted, and would easily come into the house, sit on the sofa and be treated like a cat.  If she were invited of course.  And maybe had fur instead of feathers.  OK, this drug addled brain appears to be heading off track again.

Happy  Fall Y'all.