November 2, 2015
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November Concepts

My memories of November are etched in my mind from childhood in Ohio.  They include tangible items with my associated feelings about them.  Trees (bare), leaves (fallen), weather (bleak), sky (dark), mood (somber), and colors (gray).  Quite an indictment of the month of November.  In my mind these represent a stark grounding and reality that sets up the light-hearted and fanciful holidays through December, and looks toward the coming New Year and a hard winter.  Anticipation. This is my concept, however narrow, of the month of November.

We are faced with many concepts in our daily lives.  Some we can comprehend and deal with , and some we deal with with absolutely no comprehension.  For example: a trillion, a terabyte, a light year, the universe, and, the Creator of our universe.  We use these terms daily, but the actual concepts are too immense to really understand, or even to comprehend.

We handle electricity everyday, but do we understand it?  We listen to organized sound (music) everyday, but don’t really understand the infinite variety of vibrations per second (pitch or frequency), width and depth of dynamic range (loud & soft), or the cosmic connection of rhythm (regularity of pulse).  We think we have control because we manage these things daily.  But if the regularity of anything in the micro or macro range changes, we are only caught up in its vortex, but definitely are not in control.  We can only hope to manage, not control.  Weather encircles the earth.  It consists of wind, rain, snow, fog and variations in humidity, and we depend and deal with its effects.  But we don’t control it or even manage it.  The earth’s crust which we exist upon daily is subject to the shifting of its tectonic plates over vast periods of geological time.  We neither control nor manage any part of this process.  We barely understand the laws of nature, physics, chemistry, and science in general.  We use the principles, but we manage them, not control them.  We manage some of what we comprehend, and when more is revealed to us, we manage that, but again, without control.

It seems like we know just enough that we can either damage ourselves or keep moving toward some measure of control.  Historically, the problem with moving ahead has always been ultimate control by weak minds that can’t comprehend the micro and the macro as we know it, but just want control for its own sake.  It is in this situation that everyone suffers.  We need a new “Age of Enlightenment,” an attempt to comprehend the incomprehensible.  Now we only exist by the illusion of control.  We need to increase our in-depth and far-reaching knowledge to gain some measure of actual control.

Music and the arts illustrate this attempt to make tangible the “intangible,” by controlling only what we can comprehend. The fine arts are the arts of “fine tuning.”  The ultimate existence of humanity will depend on our ability to gain control of that which we don’t now understand.  So when you listen to music of all types, think of the micro and the macro and stretch a little farther each time into the depth of vibrations, volume and pulse. The human race may depend on this for its very survival!

October 1, 2015
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October Moments

Fall, Autumn, is my most favorite season.  I especially like the changing of the colors of the leaves as they mature.  The myriads of colors from individual trees contrasting and blending in areas of the country where this regularly happens are beautiful, inspiring and awesome.  Wouldn’t it be much the same if people changed colors with their individual seasons as they grew and matured?  Wouldn’t it be a beautiful, inspiring and awesome sight?  And if everyone were doing this, then wouldn’t a lingering problem that we still experience disappear?  Racism based on skin color would be meaningless.  Everyone would be beautiful, especially when contrasting and blending together just like trees, only constantly moving, unlike trees. We find this kind of blending in music and various forms of art: painting and sculpture, and even some forms of dance.  Thinking beyond our normal parameters into speculation and “what if.”  So, hold that thought!

Creativity is a lot like the above.  It is a constantly moving, ever changing, individual view of any particular subject.  It resides in all aspects of our lives from cooking and other seemingly mundane jobs to science and math and quantum physics.  All of our minds are wired for it, but it becomes dormant if not recognized or used in some way.  Creativity is the force that has shaped our world from the earliest human footprint,   and creativity will take us to the stars and into the still hidden layers of the atom.  But we must embrace it.

There are times in music, science and everyday living that we experience moments of true  and total clarity.  A rush of inspiration.  The uncluttered answer to a problem.  Usually these moments are brought on by periods of feeding pertinent information, sometimes to the point of saturation, and sometimes over a very long period of time in the elusive search.  If or when the answer appears, it is usually a “golden” moment, a moment to be savored and cherished, for these moments are very infrequent.  And things in our lives then move forward another increment.  Progress is either made, or the foundation is laid.  And we move on.  Hold that thought!

The month of October is also reserved for all of us to remember to respect life.  All life.  This is not an easy concept, and does take some thought to understand what we live with and in every day of our lives.  In our busy, hectic and cluttered lives, this is not easy.  Finding time to really think about anything is also not easy.  But when we do, this is another “golden moment.”  And we should enjoy the moment itself and even the process itself that allows us to experience such a magical or spiritual event.  So here’s a toast to those “golden moments.”  They lie nestled in amongst the myriads of colors of the changing leaves in our lives.  The search is on! The game is afoot!  Happy harvest!

September 1, 2015
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September Streams

Our entire culture is experiencing, either individually or in various groups and in one form or another, a loss of faith..  This is manifested in ways that have started small and have grown larger in many different aspects of our culture. When faith starts to erode, the foundations in every part of our lives start to become shaky.  Ultimately there is nothing stable and we become fair game for the next easy fix, the next fad, food, religion, cult or any organization that promotes with an easy appeal.  The PC movement is trashing our cultural symbols, icons, slogans, conservative thinking and anything that doesn’t say equality, sameness, and the lowest common denominator.  There must be no anger.  We must love everyone and everything no matter what the circumstances. There must be no extreme highs or extreme lows; no white or black, just the mid-range rainbow of the spectrum. Due to this thinking and pressure, we will become merely cogs in the wheels of society.  No rich or poor.  The rich will fund the poor (and become middle class), and the poor will take the dole (and become middle class).  This equality will cause everyone to become happy and content with their lot in life.  Until the money runs out.  At that point everyone is in trouble.

We prevent the above situation by education, awareness and unwillingness to swallow everything whole.  In other words, by thinking about the ramifications and consequences of the many ideas presented daily to us by the media.  Let’s look at some of the consequences of our creeping loss of faith.  Then think about prevention and reversal.

Loss of faith in God means that you no longer have any hope, that this one life is all you have.  Then there is nothing.  This is why some members of our younger generation have been able to kill large numbers of people.  They have no conscience because there is no cosmic penalty, no cause and effect. They just give life their best shot, then they are gone.  Without a moral compass, the future effects of this are impossible to predict.  But the end result with no change doesn’t look good.

Loss of faith in country is the swiftest route to socialism in its worst form.  A younger generation who doesn’t care what happens will let the strongest, richest, most charismatic politician take over.  All he or she must do is to make appealing promises to large groups of  people which will make their already meaningless lives even easier.  This is being done more and more frequently.  Patriotism becomes just a father figure who provides necessities and asks nothing in return.  There is no longer any “quid pro quo.”  No “come to the aid of your country.”

Loss of faith in self means that one becomes literally selfless and unable to think critically or make meaningful decisions or creatively “think out of the box.”  Dependency is the norm. Neither yourself or anyone around you can be permitted to “rock the boat.”  Questioning authority  could result in a loss of the status quo which could cause a disaster.  Again, there can be no “cause and effect,” only stasis.

Loss of faith in children means a disconnect with education at all levels.  The children of the younger generation no longer have parents, they have guardians.  Parental discipline is almost forbidden by the parents themselves and by any figure of authority.  If the parent doesn’t allow discipline, then no one can.  School rules are thought of as restrictive and destructive as are the law enforcement of city, state, and nation.  “No one touches my child.” Result:  No cause and effect and no discipline. And very little actual learning or education.

We are experiencing the above in many ways.  And these attitudes are fiercely protected by “political correctness.” a nameless, faceless entity who uses intimidation and blackmail along with the court system of judges and lawyers to silence any non-participants with the threat of ruination by loss of their livelihoods, jobs, families and even their opinions until loss of faith in “anything” is the result.

Is there a solution that we can even talk about?  Are there enough people left with faith who are willing to stand up, state a position and face the consequences?  Faith means that we believe that there are, that we have hope, and that we trust that the younger generation will wake up and, using the “common sense” left over in small areas and groups of people, take control of their own individual minds.

AND, we need to demand music, both instrumental and vocal that expresses the above. Positive, uplifting, inspiring, spiritual songs and pieces that help us to think of our God, our country, ourselves and our children.  Our art doesn’t have to just reflect the seamy side of life. It can also help lead us to a better place in out thinking and even renew our faith.  Let’s look for some new and exciting songs…!

August 3, 2015
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August Augmentations


There are two processes that could help solve a great many of the problems we experience everywhere on earth if we can expend the time, money, and creative thought processes to make them practical and available cheaply to all countries:  Desalination and efficiently recycled waste.

Desalination:  All countries on every continent would benefit from pure water for drinking and cooking, agriculture and for solving basic problems of drought and desert conditions wherever they occur.  With this solution everyone, everywhere benefits,  from the rich to the poor. All would benefit economically and culturally with the advantages of plentiful crops, the beauty of plants, trees and flowers, and even ponds and lakes, both natural and artificial.  Water is essential to life, but with climate change occurring throughout the history of the earth, there are times when rainfall and snowfall just don’t fall where they are desperately needed.  However, with three-fourths of the earth’s surface covered with water, there is no reason to have to depend on rainfall or snowpack.  Technologically advanced peoples are capable of learning how to remove salt and other impurities from sea water to make it useable.  But this must first become a priority.

Recycling waste efficiently:  Throughout the history of the earth, humans have deposited their waste back into the earth and its lakes and streams.  This works, but it takes a very long time for the earth itself to accomplish the recycling process.  We technologically advanced peoples with our advanced creative abilities on the other hand should be able to accomplish this in a comparatively short time.  By reducing our waste products to a basic state that can be used again in many areas, it could become the fundamental for new plastics, metals, ceramics, etc, that would make it possible to make new building materials  for housing, new and more efficient machines, and cheaper and more efficient clothing.  All of these would become easier once again to recycle.  This would lessen the need to use natural materials and help to preserve the environment, and this should give nature the opportunity again to replenish and grow naturally.  The jobs that this would open would then be in completely new areas which could grow into new ways of producing materials for space travel, lighter and stronger building materials for space, and new possibilities for society’s needs in vehicles, clothing, food, water and medicines.   And, as new sources of power and drive are discovered, this in turn could facilitate cheaper and more ubiquitous space travel.  The probability then increases of reaching distant planets and galaxies where these same techniques for recycling would apply.

Socially, when everyone has enough to eat and is satisfied, territorial tensions of all sorts tend to decrease.  When you have enough, then the desire to take someone else’s (the grass is always greener tendency) decreases.  War just might become obsolete or at least no longer viable.  At this point a sort of calm could ensue.  Mind altering drugs for escape should no longer be as necessary, at least to the extent and for the reasons we now experience.  Peace of a sort may just be within reach.  (Maybe not perfectly for we are still human).  But in this way, science, religion and free creative thinking could all coexist.  The arts could once again bloom and flower.  And all of this could conceivably occur because of two processes:  desalination and efficient waste recycling.  Is this even possible?  Everything starts as just an idea…

Musically, we are increasingly dealing with recycled notes, forms and patterns.   There is very little that is new or innovative.  Creatively we are stuck in a system that is hundreds of years old.  Long, long ago only melody was necessary to express the ideas of the time.  This lasted through the ancient Greeks and Romans.  At some point 4ths and 5ths became consonant and relaxing to the ear.  Then there was a gradual change to the consonance of 3rds and 6ths which has continued through the present day.  Though there was a brief trial of the 12 tone system, it was still part of the scale system we still use. As with desalination and efficient recycling, the problem we deal with musically is how to get to the next stage of development.  How do we build upon the accomplishments of preceding generations?  It is never easy, but it happens.  The organization of sound, the sounds themselves and the use of language and the human voice will all be recycled into something new that will satisfy the new needs of those humans living on this and other planets.  The possibilities are endless.  There are no limits, only creativity.  Thoughts precede realization.  Think about it…

July 1, 2015
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July 4 Independence

There are people who talk about peace (talk is cheap). There are people who tear things down and pillage and burn (you know them by their actions). There are people who sit back and watch from a distance (armchair critics). There are people who “tough it out” each day and do their jobs no matter how dangerous or unpopular (they “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”).  There are people who lead (contribute), and people who follow (those who criticize, blame, disparage and talk constantly, but show no responsible actions).

The point of this is: Who are you?  Do you support mindlessly those with the biggest mouths who are supported by media with no conscience and the wealthy with slanted ideals? Or do you start with a clear, unbiased conscience and selectively add information to your thinking that is supported with facts?  Are you an individual or do you need to be “led by the nose” by a governing body at any level that decrees and mandates and demands your unquestioning obedience?  Are you a free-standing patriot or simply a “cog in a wheel”  turned by a machine that levels everything to the lowest common level?  We all need to answer these questions while we still can.  You are either self-motivated and think for yourself or unmotivated and consequently let your thinking be controlled by a person or persons who will dictate your very thoughts.

Socialism kills!  It neutralizes your thoughts along with your music, the arts and all creativity.  In socialism, those who think outside the machine must be eliminated so the vast playing field of non-thinkers (cogs) are not disturbed.  At this point the thinker is driven underground, and becomes an outlaw, living a dangerous existence in order to keep some semblance of sanity alive.  All experiments in various types of socialism have ended in major conflict between the creative (thinker) and the cogs (sheep).  We are getting dangerously close to a rift in our own culture, our religions, and our society in general with those who would eliminate all traces of individualism, and civility.  Everything is pointing to this.  And it has all been done before with the same disastrous consequences, for it in fact,  becomes war.  A war between the individual mind and the mindless mass.

All people need to wake up now!  There is no later!  Teach your children to think (well and early) before it becomes impossible, for this is where we either win or lose.  Independence becomes so very dear only when it is eliminated and we at last realize what it is that we have lost. It is then that the battle begins to regain what we have lost, yet again, with the blood of our sons and daughters whose lives are the most dear to us.

For the love of God and our nation, pledge your allegiance again and again  –  and mean it!   With every fiber of your being!  Our forefathers and mothers, after much study,  had it right, not the charlatans who ridicule our worship, our culture, and our society.  Heed their distant call with renewed respect.  Respect our flag, our National Anthem, our Pledge of Allegiance, our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence, our Bill of Rights, and our laws, privileges, and responsibilities.  Respect our officers of law enforcement and first responders who keep us safe, our teachers who lead us to knowledge, and our religious leaders who keep our morals and ethics grounded. Our freedoms and liberties are not free or doled out. They must be worked for responsibly.  Earned and treasured.  Never taken for granted or assumed.

Take the month of July and think about what we have as a nation, and how we must work together to keep it intact.  Patriotism must be instilled in every heart so that it can grow and toughen and demand leaders that represent “We the people.”  At this point, the government in all of its forms works for us, and it will remain that way as long as we can still lustily and all together,  sing “God Bless America!”


June 1, 2015
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June Jumble

The beaches in Southern California traditionally make a transition from May gray to June gloom.  The gray stays the same, it’s just the month that changes.  Even though the sun appears in the afternoon, I still enjoy the gray, blanket-like feeling of the cloud cover.  It seems peaceful, even tranquil in the beach communities.  I know it’s just an illusion, but I enjoy the feeling anyway.  At times like this I become pensive, even philosophical, and start looking for the meaning of life and answers to the difficult questions.

The concepts of past and future are illusions of a sort.  The past is composed of memories, sometimes accurate, sometimes faded and idealized or mixed or telescoped together with many other incidents, even dreams.  But the past has already happened.  The future is uncertain, wishful thinking, fear of the unknown, or pasted up with yellow stickies or “To Do” lists.  All of this in the past or future is in a gray area.  It is unreachable and mostly incomprehensible.

Only the present is valid in our day to day living.  Our life styles will not permit daydreaming under normal circumstances.  Our lives are too complicated.  We learn to deal with this as we age, and everyone ages.  We accumulate experiences, ideas, techniques, patterns, and schedules which help us make it through days, weeks, months and years.  We create customs based on the patterns of our parents and grandparents and pass these on to our children and grandchildren.  When we are younger, we weed out the inconsequential and keep what is really important in our lives, and then start to think about what in next in our lives.  As parents we draw upon our experiences, both good and bad to help our own children to mature.  And each next day, the present becomes the past and the future becomes now.

There is always an exception.  Those among us who are able to live in the past, present and future.  They include the creative:  the thinkers, seers, innovators, writers, composers, inventors, artists, sculptors, designers, researchers, scientists, mathematicians, etc, who daily live to some extent in the gray area of life.  Some of these people deal with processes and some deal with values, some with history past and some with history extrapolated into the future.  All are valuable to us for the broadening of our thinking.  Our task is to temper the ideas and values presented to us with our own common sense.

Our own common sense is based on our own experiences and perspectives which have worked for a period of time in our own lives.  There are many changes that we face every day.  These changes eventually begin to coalesce into common sense values from which we can assimilate and then pass on to our own children . Think of the style changes in music from the beginning of the twentieth century until now.  These and the other arts and sciences tend to illustrate the above points.

From the 1900’s and into the 1950’s, music was acoustic.  There was nothing electric until the microphone and recording took over.  This affected what music was written and how it was performed.  Within these restrictions music reflected to moods and changes in society at that time.  When electricity took over in the mid 50’s, music took over, but there was a symbiotic relationship with music and society. Who was influencing who?  We are getting close to another change in music which brings it even closer to us.  Maybe this is good. This is a gray area for the moment, but style changes are more and more frequent.

This brings us back to values and common sense.  It is easy for us and our children to get lost in abundance.  What used to keep us grounded now floats in virtual reality.  Our society is reflecting this.  We must look to the past before we let ourselves be pulled into the future.  We need to make sure that the new and compelling songs we hear are not sirens whisking us to a place we would rather not be. Listen to the present and sing of the present before venturing into the unknown.  Let us be grounded in common sense.

May 1, 2015
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May Mind Noodling

Sometimes in the month of May I ponder too much.  Then I wonder as I ponder, and this usually leads to random “mind noodling.” In this particular May my thinking has been circling and circling, becoming a vortex which has come to rest with the words accountability and supervision.  Or maybe supervision and then accountability.  Whatever the sequence, a lot of the problems that we face daily are caused by a “lack” of accountability and a lack of adequate supervision. And these are two sides of the same coin. The structure of our society is based on these two terms, and when they break down we face serious problems.

In education, roughly speaking, this sequence is: parent-student-teacher-principal-school board-superintendent, etc.  In our cities and towns: citizens-police dept.-fire dept.-city council-mayor, and on to the state and national governments.  Each of these structures, and many more,  includes supervision and accountability, and problems begin when they are interrupted or lost.  Parent to child or teacher, worker to boss, boss to manager or owner, elected officials to their superiors or constituents, all are vital to our very existence. Without the structure and supervision and accountability, we face chaos, anarchy and returning to the law of the jungle with its  survival of the mentally and physically fittest.  And living day to day without a strong infrastructure doesn’t last very long.  In this situation the only accountability left when all else fails is to our God, in whatever form we choose to believe, as our ultimate supervisor.

Many societies have risen and fallen in the past on this same earth that we are inhabiting.  Small cracks started appearing, unrecognizable except to a very few voices lost in the din of daily living.  And who even listened to them?  Some of the signs were the break-up of the family, mores loosened, perversions accepted, and day to day living over regulated to the point of claustrophobia.  Everything was being done for the individual, leaving no room for self-reliance, self-management, creativity or free-thinking.  Then the cracks widened into religions and customs and government, leaving no room for either supervision or accountability.  Who benefited?  Only those at the very top of the food chain where the accountability stopped.  At this point absolute rule of some kind takes over.  A dictator or a king or a despot rides in to rescue the society.  Religion and education have to be controlled or eliminated.  And that is the end of individuality.

This process is so slow that it is almost unrecognizable in day to day living. It has happened many times before in the history of our earth, and it is happening now.  There are cracks appearing and occasional breakdowns not only in our own society, but globally.  Families are being restructured to fit any situation.  Christianity, and religion in general, is being systematically erased from public view (forced to go figuratively underground), every little thing is being legislated, but penalties for large offenses are being diluted so that accountability is also being relaxed.  In other words, both supervision and accountability are being lost for the individual.  We are being forced into the law of the herd where we mindlessly follow whatever leadership is the loudest or the most compelling.  And the question becomes:  Is this process preventable?  Can it be reversed?  Individually, yes.  Collectively, maybe.  As long as the majority of people in a society are content to be passive recipients of life’s necessities, the collective “maybe” will change to “no.”

Common sense is the foundation of any solution, based on facts, not emotions.  Accountability and supervision and a willingness to recognize self control and self motivation are vital.  Read a book entitled “The Death of Common Sense” (How Law is Suffocating America) by Philip K. Howard, pub. 1994 by Warner Books.  For over twenty years we have ignored warnings which are now becoming part of our existence.  That’s long enough.  Now we need to get serious.

Musically speaking it’s time to D.S. (Dal Segno), or go back to the sign which indicates where we have been and the firm foundations which once permeated our society.  We need to get rid of “political correctness.”  It has only been used by those with questionable agendas to blackmail and intimidate, and anything that has these for their mission statement must be stopped.  Bringing back supervision and accountability will help all facets of out society to re-adjust our thinking and our actions.  And we need these in order to survive.

Also in music, when there is a conductor there is supervision, and all of the musicians are accountable to all of the various sections in the group and also to the conductor.  Beautiful harmonies and musical structures are possible.  The same is possible in our lives.

April 1, 2015
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April Accidentals

April 1st is called April Fool’s Day for a reason.  I have proved this many times over.  And it’s not just April 1st.  It’s the whole month.  For example, the common stove.  This can be a very dangerous machine, if you haven’t noticed.  Recently I was in my normal (daily) cooking mode when strange things began to happen.  I took a tray of buns out of the oven and happened to reach for a thinner hot pad, rather than the usual thicker one.  Consequently, the heat transferred immediately to my right (grabber) hand which then tilted to the left.  My left hand (no pad) then, reflexively, steadied the pan to prevent a spill and lift the pan to the top of the stove which, I had forgotten, was almost covered with uneven pots and pans busily cooking various foods.  So, while toasting my left hand, I turned and dropped the buns on the only small space open on the counter top.  Simultaneously, one of the other pans on top of the stove started boiling over, so I scooted it to the back burner, which caused the hairs on my right hand to be burnt, causing that unpleasant smell that should never be in a kitchen.  Unfortunately, as I scooted the one pan, it nudged another pan, causing it to spill some of its contents on the top of the stove and onto the floor. This caused another unpleasant burning smell not uncommon to kitchens, but still unwelcome. All of this was compounded when one of our cats nonchalantly brushed by my legs and distracted me from the smells and the spills.  This caused me to move enough to step into the spill on the floor, and while slipping… I sneezed.

None of this is possible under normal circumstances, but, it was an April Fool’s Day, and, you guessed it… I was “it.”  I was the the fool or the joker or the butt of some kind of cosmic joke.  I didn’t know what hit me!  Cooking is not supposed to be “life threatening!”  And this is just the stove we are talking about.  What if you were playing in a symphony orchestra, or dancing on a stage, or driving on a freeway, or on a roller coaster or a waterslide, or on a boat to Catalina, or just taking a nap?  The possibilities boggle the mind.  And this is normal everyday living, not an earthquake or a tornado.  Things like this are not supposed to happen under normal circumstances.  But, April, obviously, is not a normal month.

I suppose we all can look to the other eleven months for normalcy if we must, but we are probably still fooling ourselves into another false belief.  That life is normal.

Life is NOT normal under any set of circumstances.  We go to great lengths to prove that it is, but we are just wasting our time.  It will never be.  We all make plans.  We map out routes, schedules, routines, and projections, but there is always something little that gets in the way.  Roadwork, sickness (ours or someone else’s), and at least a zillion other possibilities that are lurking in the shadows, to appear when you least expect them.  What April teaches us is to embrace these unexpected circumstances.  To expect them and even try to enjoy them, or at least to see the humor that is usually present if you look for it.

When you really think of it, MUSIC itself is not normal.  Frequencies happily flow at certain levels and rates without interruption until something gets in their way.  And that something, or someone, is usually the musician.  We have taken frequencies and divided them into arbitrary increments.  We have then made them do weird and unnatural things to reflect our own moods.  We collect batches of them and isolate them into tracks, and the tracks into various sized collections.  The infinite possibilities built into these frequencies have now been pared down and squished into a fraction of what they were just so we can understand them and deal with them on a daily basis.  This has become normal for us.

We have done the same thing with our universe, both macro and micro.  Everything is compared to our earth, which is not even a quantum of a fraction of the known universe just so we can try to understand it and also manipulate it.  We also do the same thing with our Creator (but I refuse to go there)…!  So what is our conclusion?  That we are constantly “April Fooling” ourselves just to get a handle on enough things to be able to make it through our lives.  Not bad!  It seems to work.  But is it normal…?

March 4, 2015
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March Musicale

March is supposed to come in “like a lion,” and go out “like a lamb,” or come in “Like a lamb,” and go out “like a lion.”  I’m not sure that any of this applies any more.  March is both winter and spring and summer, depending where you are in the country,  and everything in between.  At the very least, it seems to begin a calming trend in the weather, even if there is a last blast of winter toward the end of the month.  Not being sure about what to expect next brings an element of excitement to this transitional month.

My experience in playing night  clubs in the sixties was very similar.  Playing in the house band meant being ready for almost anything, musically speaking.  Monday’s rehearsal meant becoming familiar with the music of one or two or even three different acts which could be a singer, or singers, dancers, animal acts, comedians, magicians, hypnotists, etc.  Like the month of March, this became its own brand of excitement.

In Kentucky, just across the Ohio river, there were two clubs that were really nice and classy:  the “Lookout House,” and the “Beverly Hills.”  Both of these were beautiful venues which brought in acts like Rosemary Clooney, Mel Torme, Frankie Laine, etc. They were fun to play, and made me feel like I was connecting to a bit of music history.  Eventually, both of these clubs burnt down under mysterious circumstances.  I’m sure that economics played a large part in their demise.  Unfortunately.

In Cincinnati, the main venue was Cincinnati Gardens.  There I played acts like Sonny & Cher, James Brown, Engelbert Humperdink, and several different companies of Ice Shows like Ice Capades and Holiday on Ice.  Also circuses and rodeos, both of which, in my opinion are better played outside.  Inside, the air gets rather “close.”

In Dayton, I played at a German dinner/restaurant called Suttmiller’s.  This was a large club, seating 500 people for dinner and a show.  I never figured out how they transitioned from one dinner/show to the next, moving that many people.  Also, this was in the sixties when smoking was still ubiquitous and it could get difficult to see the music because of the indoor clouds.  Thankfully, things are much healthier now, but then, most of these clubs are now gone.  A lot of the acts that came to Dayton were there to break in their songs, routines, etc, before opening in New York or Las Vegas or Los Angeles.  I was proud to be in a house band that could read anything that was written down, and a lot of things that were not.  We were constantly proofing.  It has become a lifelong habit.  This club featured act like: Lou Rawls, Carol Lawrence, George Carlin, Joan Rivers, Professor Irwin Corey, Johnny Desmond, The Diamonds, etc, etc.  Too numerous to list.

This too is almost gone.  There are very few clubs left now that have live name singers, comic, dancers, etc, in an intimate setting with good food and a safe, smokeless atmosphere.  Catalina’s in Hollywood is one of the few left.  We are in the habit of seeing Steve Tyrell one or two times a year when he is in town.  To me it’s a lot like going back in time.  Check it out sometime.  And if you are lucky enough to be near a place that features good entertainment, all I can say is: Rejoice!  And consider yourself very fortunate.  Music that has melody is not dead, it’s just temporarily dormant, or maybe in hibernation.  We can always count on one constant in music taste and style: it will change!  Not always to what we would prefer, but change nevertheless.  So, “Don’t worry, be happy!”

February 4, 2015
by admin
Comments Off on February Freeze

February Freeze

This February has been especially brutal for those living in the midwest and all the way to the east coast.  The jet stream has forced the cold, arctic blasts more frequently into the whole area.  There has been a lot of snow and resultant power outages, and eventually there will be flooding to look forward to when the snow and ice finally thaws.  A messy and unpleasant situation.  And more to come, if you believe the groundhog’s prediction. In contrast, the western part of the United States has been pleasantly mild so far this winter.  Just thinking of the problems in the east brings back many memories of my life there for twenty some years.

As a professional trombone player, I lived in Middletown, but, in order to work, I had to drive to Dayton, Cincinnati or across the river to Kentucky.  In all weather.  It didn’t matter what the weather report said.  I just got in my car and left for the job, no matter where it was.  Ahhh youth,  when we are immortal  (and, for the most part, clueless).  When I first started driving, my cars were junkers.  Stripped down.  Bald tires.  Temperamental when it came to starting the motor, etc.  You get the picture.  I remember far too many nights after a job, in another city, when everyone else had gone, still trying to get the car to start without flooding it  (at which time there was an even longer wait).  I’m not sure to this day whether it was the curse words or the prayer that finally got the car to start.  (Hallelujah)!

When I started working at a club in Dayton called Suttmiller’s (a theater restaurant that seated about 500 people), I finally, with a little help, was able to get a brand new car that would start when you needed it to start.  With this car, I traveled thousands of miles up and down Route 75 for many years in all kinds of weather without any problems.  And, I never had snow tires or chains.  The car was a Corvair,  which had the motor in the rear of the car, and the trunk in the front.  To balance this, I put a few cement blocks in the front trunk and traveled through ice, snow, black ice, sleet, and freezing rain with never a problem on the road.  Whenever possible, though, I followed salt trucks, especially late at night.  A lot slower, but a lot safer.

The only other difficult part was coming out of a job and finding my car covered with ice or snow, or both, and having to clean it off before being able to think of driving.  Actually, you first start the car, then turn the heat up full blast, and then start cleaning off the ice and snow as they start melting.  The other indispensable item is anti-freeze in your car.  I would usually also contain my own anti-freeze from playing a dance where the booze was flowing freely.  (another dangerous thing about being young and stupid).  But I was lucky, or maybe had an overactive guardian angel.  Whatever it was, it allowed me to be here now.  And I am grateful for that.

Weather and music seem to go together in some weird way.  And music and booze (or whatever) seem also to be linked in some weird way.  These were the days when the music for dances and parties and proms, etc, was “live.”  You didn’t even have to say it then because the music for these things was always live.  The only exception was the “sock hop” in the gymnasium.  A lot of the time a record player with a stack of 45’s was used. Also a lot of fun in those days.  Now I think that this probably was the forerunner of the DJ who would eventually take over and do away with live music altogether.  A very sad state of affairs for all musicians.

I really hope that live music recovers from this downturn, and once again lives to generate excitement in a very personal way as I and many others of my generation enjoyed it.  It could happen…!