Monday, March 31, 2014

All I Have

Harry has always kidded me about how I take care of things. I mean things. Stuff. If he and I buy the same pair of shoes, his are in the trash in six months or a year. You know. Like normal people. A decade or two later mine are getting broken in.

We did one of our rare shows together yesterday. When he started to babble about an ex-wife it reminded me that we have seven between us. Maybe we should both take better care of things.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Like The Weather

Just as the weather around here is often described, "If you don't like it, wait a few minutes and it will change," my mind rearranges
 constantly. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Ask again later. I'm kinda' your little bitch and your magic 8 ball all wrapped in one
 unfashionable package.

Of course there are a few things that I stick with. I believe in the power of love. War is crazy. There's not much that rock'n'roll can't fix. That includes broken hearts.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Nobody's Valentine

What do you do when you find out, or figure out, I suppose, that you are, in fact a cat lady? A hoarder? A weirdo, eccentric, loser? Some of us pretend to wear it as some kind of badge of honor. I guess that I've been generally looked on as harmless, more or less.

Rock'n'roll saved me more than once. In the earlier years it just seemed to make my differences stand out. By the end of high school, though, I was finally in the right place at the right time. Close at any rate.

It's time to reexamine my standing here now. I'm just lucky that it lasted as long as it did. In my mind.

“You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger.” 
― Gautama Buddha

Friday, March 28, 2014

Who Knows Why?

Sometimes when Jamaica paces anxiously for no apparent reason I see myself in a new light. What do I want? What stands between me and real peace of mind? Am I really searching for truth or wasting time on a treadmill of drama?

Who cares?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Out Of The Way

Whatta' ya got to lose? Really, there is no forgiveness if we can't forgive, right? The potential for drama is always there. If you don't want it, leave it. Don't run for president and then act surprised when folks hate you. Half of them are set from the get go.

The music is simple. Beethoven's brand of simplicity was different than ours. Einstein daydreamed stuff that I couldn't learn at Oxford. Heck, Moe Howard towered over me in the brains department.

Spend all your love. That's my advice. My only advice, really. Ignore all that other stuff I've told you. Keep trying to give it away. Force it on 'em if you have to.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


What would have happened to me if rock'n'roll hadn't pushed the plate to my side of the table in 1964? All this sun reflecting the blinding light from the puddles of yesterday's rain is slowing my thought process. What if, what if? Story of my life.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Down In My Heart

Funny, I've never known better what I want in life. Funnier still, it's right in front of me. Who came up with that ring on the merry-go-round idea?
Get out there and love somebody.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Badasses and Sweethearts, Every One

The Nationals wasn't supposed to be a band. The name was meant as a joke. I think it was Mark Warren's idea. His outfit at the time, the Leonard Croon Band, was going to play on my first record and we would call them the Nationals. The joke was that the name was so bad, so lame, that it would be obvious.

Well, here we are, nearly twenty years down the line and the Nationals have been a big part of my life and my heart since then. The Croon boys rarely showed up to record or rehearse so the band became Steve Connelly on guitar and most anything else in the room; Natty Moss-Bond, vocals; Harry Hayward, drums; and Walt Bucklin, bass.

After the first few years we added Jim McNealon on pedal steel. We lost him several years back so we're back to the original setup.

Oh, other folks come through and we love to play with new Nationals when we get the chance. A few who come to mind are Rebekah Pulley, Ray Villadonga, Pamela Epps, Marty Fouts, Mark Warren, Kenny Davis, Jake Hollifield, Danny McGuire, Rock Bottom, Rob Pastore,Wayne Pearson, Drew Farmer, Anne Van Atta, Spencer Hinkle, Wally Watson, Hugh Williams and plenty of others. There will be more.

These fine folks have dragged me through a big part of my life. I mean, you're young for a little while, then you're old for a long time. I owe them more than I can ever tell you. Certainly more than I've been able to pay them.

This is from our first show at the State Theater in St. Pete. We were on a bill with Jimmy LaFave and Peter Case. They have both become good friends. We met that night.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Invention Of Heaven

Well, Grandma visited in my dream last night. She didn't have a starring role and left after a bit on a Greyhound to visit Orlando. I woke up disappointed that I didn't spend more time with her. Sometimes I think that most cultures come up with some vision of heaven because it's just too painful to live with loss and loneliness.

All I want is to be with the ones I love. All the time.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Ring Free

If the Golden Age of Opera was the mid-to-late nineteenth  century, what do you suppose was the Golden Age of Rock'n'Roll? Was it the mid fifties that gave us Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis?

Maybe the mid sixties when the Beatles ushered in the British invasion with the Dave Clark 5 and the Rolling Stones; the Searchers, Peter and Gordon, the Animals and the Hollies.

Lots of us lived our lives for it. It had a very long run, thanks to the money changers in the temples of LA and NY. They never really let go. They just finally drove it into the ground. Hello American Idol.

It's no sadder than any other loss. Those before us hung on to their Glenn Miller 78's until you couldn't even give them away to  the Salvation Army. Didn't make that great stuff any less powerful, did it?

Well, I'm free. I surely have some fine memories. It made me rich in everything but money.

Friday, March 21, 2014

One Armed Bandits, Three Legged Dogs

So I've read that the ego won't allow us to just sit back and enjoy perfection. Well, there goes retirement planning, right? I suppose it assures the fortunes of hustlers like Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, too, doesn't it?

Now, of course, I like to think that I don't have too big an ego. There's a big ego for you, huh? I'm trying to tell you that I'm struggling here not to struggle. I'd sing about hard times if I had any.

Rock'n'roll is my profession. I live in paradise. My dog thinks I'm okay.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

When The Sad Whistle Blows

Doesn't really matter where you are or what's happening in your life. When you hear that sad old train whistle moan in the night it's blues time. There's no track anywhere near my house but that heartache moan slipped in my window and beat out the happy dreams sometime late last night.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Kindness Brings Happiness

Duh! I've got nothing but the obvious for you. As usual. My songs have three chords. They're mostly about love being good, bad when it's gone. The sophisticated ones have three chords, a bridge every now and then. My favorites have fewer chords and don't rhyme.

Grandma taught me everything that matters. I learned some other stuff later but lots of it has turned out to be less than true.

I've been lied to about love and war and money and I'll bet that you have, too. Watch young children and dogs and cats when you have questions. The emperor doesn't have any clothes on, but that's alright. It's funny, those grown ups out parading around naked.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I Guess It's Settled Then

Having some trouble here lately missing some friends. Sometimes it's just all a bit too sad. Tommy got me through so very many hard times. If he had lived forever I could not have repaid him. He didn't.

Please spread your love. There's a real shortage out there.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lunch With The Boy With Green Hair

Somehow I knew about the new joint opening. I think I had seen the sign painted on the glass of the door, James Joyce Pub. Well, I was surprised to get the call checking to see if I might be available to play solo for their big opening. Did I mention that it was on St. Patrick's Day?

Boy, I needed the work. I usually do. I felt guilty after a few minutes on the phone, though, and asked, "Don't you think that maybe you should think about an Irish singer?"

It was quiet for a few seconds and then, "We did. There are none available."

Well, I had a fine time. Now, of course, I know. Every Irish drunk knows Danny Boy on midnight on St. Paddy's Day and every drunk is Irish at midnight on St. Paddy's Day. They're all proud and happy to come up and sing it at the top of their lungs before vomiting on their own shoes.

Count me in. I wish I were Irish.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Eskimo Yo Yos

Remember those things? Clackers? I guess they had all kinds of names over the years. I was reminded of those little handles with two balls on strings that the athlete spins in opposing directions by subtly moving the arm up and down on a Larry The Cable Guy special this morning. I thought I was getting pretty darned good at it. I was probably twelve or thirteen years old and I thought that maybe I had finally found my sport. Baseball was never my strong suit. My eyesight was too poor and the idea of a small, hard ball whizzing right past my head, if I was lucky, was just too intimidating. Football was far too complicated with all those plays and plans and signals. Basketball required some degree of skill and coordination and I had neither.

With the Eskimo yo yo, though, you really didn't have to practice like you would with a regular yo yo. It seemed perfectly suited for my sports sensibilities and ambitions.

Shortly into my new hobby I was home alone, mindlessly clacking, when wham! The two rubber spheres collided, bouncing one of them into my own sphere down there. I collapsed into a heap on the floor, unable to scream.

Well, now, I never replaced that pastime. I do love bowling shoes but I sense danger.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Peace and Soul Trains

Maybe I'm being moved further into retirement so that I can do something more important in this life and in this world. Maybe peace is my life's work. I've told you before, I'm a slow learner. Let's start by cleansing the heart. That's where the peace lives, right?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Selfish Art

So I finally got around to watching Inside Llewyn Davis last night. I thought that it was okay. The little twists of truth and facts and the inaccuracies didn't bother me. I mean, it's a movie. The Coen brothers have left us with some pretty high expectations, though. If someone else had made the picture the reviews would have probably been raves.

Still, I'm fascinated with the selfish nature of all the "folk singers." I suppose that we're supposed to be a bit conflicted on whether or not Llewyn has any redeeming virtues. Up until we see the look on the face of the stray cat that he's abandoning in the car with the passed out John Goodman character, that is. What a dirtbag! Once we find out that Jean will sleep with anyone who might further her career all mysteries are solved. She's not better than Llewyn, just different. Oh, I've known these characters. In some cases literally. We used to work with Van Ronk on occasion.

I have to say that I spend, or maybe waste, plenty of time worrying about the nature of art and the artist. Do I do this for my ego? If so, shouldn't I slit my wrist based on my level of success? Am I really just living my life, communicating everything that crosses my radar screen, because I have to? Do I have any good intentions?

Luckily, I saw the Kennedys at a house concert earlier in the evening. Wonderful, of course, as always. At least I know that there is good out there. I mean good in every sense of the word, too. I love the Kennedys!

Of course I remember Martin Mull's quote: "Folk music. Remember when that crap almost caught on!"

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Doing The Best We Can

Sometimes we seem to forget that we're all just bumblin' through, doing the best we can. Nobody else's problems seem to reach what we think we're going through. We're all headed for the same dirt pile. Be kind. Waste your love shamelessly. Somebody out there needs it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Some Days

Even in dreams lately, rock'n'roll has been dead. Somehow it doesn't seem so very sad to me. Especially considering the role that it's had in my life. Nobody ever announced that swing had passed. Did it crash with Glenn Miller?

Seems it may be time for something else to take a turn at bat and change the world in the process. I suppose I'll keep doing what I do because I don't know how to stop. Nostalgia is for the bored and the boring. What a ride, though, huh?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hair and Teeth and Eyeballs All Over The Track

Admittedly, some of my schemes are better than others. Figure eight bicycle racing, I think, is one of my all-time greats. I've mentioned before that I really believe that we've had enough NFL. These latest scandals regarding the league and knowledge of head injuries should finish her off. Oh sure, it's gonna take awhile. In the meantime, NASCAR attendance is finally shrinking. I mean, come on, are we advancing as a culture or not?

I've always thought that soccer is the world's game, at least partly, due to the human factor. We can see real individuals displaying skill and determination. The lack of padding and headgear makes it personal.

Now, of course, there's no way that we're about to give up our blood lust that is such a part of professional sports attendance. I mean, if there was no chance that somebody again, some day, would turn right like Dale did, do you think that those folks would all keep showing up, paying all that dough, to watch little dots going round and round?

If those big old mean robots quit pounding quarterbacks into the turf and snapping femurs every now and again would we pack those big stadiums in bad weather?

Here's what I'm proposing. Banked turn, beech wood, indoor tracks for bicycle racing. Of course the track doubles back on itself in a figure eight pattern. The cyclists wear whatever they want. Let's face it, if they collide no padding or helmet would be of much help. 

I've seen enough hillbillies competing for chump change in figure eight jalopy races to know a little something about the psychology of this stuff. If you're approaching the intersection at the same time as a competitor you might as well just floor it. Brakes aren't gonna help.

Well, now, these bozos seem to miss each other most of the time. Of course when they don't... well, there's your sport.

You've heard me say that I don't care much for snobs. Don't really like them at all. I surely don't mind selling them stuff, however. Wouldn't you really rather have a Maserati dealership than a Kia store?

See, I'm looking for limited seating and really expensive tickets. Really expensive. You can see the action from any point in the house. No big ol' plastic beer cups. Champagne snowballs. A few private boxes available but only a few.

There won't be any official wagering but the gentlemanly bets on the floor will be openly tolerated. I suppose that we will open the events only to male riders in the beginning so that the torrent of criticism and lawsuits can get us the proper publicity in the New York Times.

When I first dreamed this little business opportunity up I envisioned Princess Grace opening the first track, cutting the ribbon at the 24 Heures du Monaco. No proper replacement has come to mind. I can't rush this thing.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ones That Got Away

Lots of my favorite memories are shows with the folks who haven't made the history books or maybe even Wikipedia. Some of them were big and the flash just didn't hop up. Most of them should be legends.

The Gentrys. What nice guys and what great records. Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. Wow. Just mention them to anyone from Detroit. Dave Marsh claims that he missed Woodstock to stay home to see one of their shows. Monte Rock III. We went to a party in his honor after the show and Alan Price was there with him. Matching shirts! Edwin Starr. Fercrissakes he gave us an anthem. I believe he stole my rubber gorilla off the top of my amp, too.

There are hundreds of these acts and so many more that I don't remember. Something will bring a new one to the front of my mind every now and then. Oh yeah, here's one: M.G. Greaves. I did a show with him in Hull. What a star! What a writer!

I'll get back to you with more of them. Pray for peace in the meantime.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Big Deal

Maybe the ego needs something to worry about, ya think? Do you suppose that there may be so few calm, content souls roaming the planet because the design includes some weird drive to keep improving? Why wasn't Elvis the happiest guy in the room?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Next Half

When I casually mentioned to the young hipster from Ohio that I had been in this racket for fifty years he didn't flinch. Not that I noticed. We were on a bill together last night and he was asking if I had ever played Curtis Hixon Park before.

While I tried to paint a picture of the old civic center that once stood on the property I mentioned shows that I had played there with the Dave Clark 5, Canned Heat, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Miller, the Young Rascals and a whole bunch of other old fogies and dead guys. I boasted that I had promoted shows there with Janis Joplin and Creedence Clearwater Revival and John Mayall and Donovan and other names that mostly meant little or nothing to him.

It dawned on me that if I had bumbled into conversation as a kid with some old geezer who babbled about his big career from 1914 I probably wouldn't have had the patience or the manners to sit and listen. Well, I have manners. Might have tested the attention span.

Tonight's three hours at the Hideaway Cafe in St. Pete, my favorite listening room in the world. I'm gonna tell every story I know. Some of 'em twice.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Geographically Challenged

Well, I guess I've seen plenty enough articles and reviews to know that there are folks out there who claim that my obscurity, which borders on total, can be blamed, at least partially, on my geography.

More than once I've read that had I moved to Texas or California or New York at some point in this so-called career, I might have made something of myself.

Lots of my favorite music has come from this area. Benny Joy, the Skyliners, the Rockers, the Dreamers and the Impacs all come to mind immediately. I know that there are other folks who share my love and enthusiasm for the home grown rock'n'rollers. I have to say, though, that everyone seems to think of these heroes as local acts. Everyone around here, at least. Outside this area nobody thinks of them at all.

Well, as they say, everyone's a local act somewhere. I know I've started my pal, Rock Bottom, rolling in his grave somewhere.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Thanks, Boys

Well, it's all about the girls, isn't it? I mean no red blooded boy goes into rock'n'roll for any other reason. I've told you before that I never got the girls. That doesn't mean that I wasn't trying, that I didn't care. It was just never meant to be.

There's another thing, too, though. It's about the guitars. I've loved guitars since I was just a tyke. I still do. By the time that Elvis came along I had to play the guitar. My mom began shelling out money for guitars by the time that I was seven or eight years old. When I was old enough to get an after school job every dollar went to guitars. Well, at least the ones that didn't go to hot rods.

I've owned them all over the years. At some point we have to get around to playing them, right? I've never quite mastered that part. In fact, I play pretty much like I did when I was seven. No, maybe eight. I had a short burst of learning. In my head I've gotten better. A good little bit better.

Somehow the great ones have always stood by my side. I've tried to figure it out. Is it just pity? They can't all be that charitable. I will always be grateful for the friendships, too. It certainly hasn't been the money. Lord knows I've never been able to properly compensate my friends.

I will say this: I'm pretty sure that we've had about as much fun as the law allows and maybe a bit more at some points. I have loved these guys. The have truly made my life.

Thanks, Terry Ware, Steve Connelly, Andrew Hardin, Kenny Davis, Gary Dobbins, Warren Novak, Buddy Richardson, Mike Scott, Ronnie Vaskovsky, Wes McGhee, Jim McNealon, Harry Atmore, Mark Warren, Sammy Miller, Wayne Guida, Eric Turner, Buddy Pendergrass, Steve Newman, Pete Yorkunas, Spencer Hinkle, John Inmon, Walt Bucklin, Toby Ruckert and all you other guys.

It would be nice to say that they've made me sound good but that's not quite right. I've never really sounded good. They've made me sound like me and for that I will be forever grateful. Some of them take what I offer up and give me exactly what I have in mind. Some of them surprise me and give me something that would never have occurred to me.

They're my heroes and my pals and I love them. Some more than others, I suppose. I miss the ones that have gone and I can't wait to see the others. Don't get me started on drummers.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The What Ifs

Do you ever get caught up in the fantasies of what might have been? I spend way too much time there I suppose. Oh, I don't really have many regrets. It's just that I'm always aware that every time I turn over twice before I get out of bed I'm having an effect on everything that happens for the rest of the day and, therefore, the rest of my life. Since the vibrations of my very existence affect everything else, I've messed with the universe. Heck, I haven't even gotten up yet! Then I could easily move on to worry about yesterday.

What if I had never had a vasectomy? What if we had taken the job being Van Morrison's band? Do you suppose that I might have saved that puppy in the road if I had run faster?

No wonder folks lose their minds. I've read that we all have obsessive compulsions. It's just a disorder if it interferes with life. Damn. This is life.

You can't afford to keep quiet, withhold love or wear pants. This is it. It may or may not be the only lap we run, depending on which Sunday school you attended.

Is it not completely obvious to all of us that war is dumb? That guy, Putin, doesn't have any fancy new clothes. He's naked! We're all naked. Can't we just ignore all those self-important, old white guys in front of the CNN cameras rattling those antiquated swords while the veins in their foreheads poke out?

Somehow, they have tricked us into believing that we're all competing for a limited number of I phones or McMansions or Jaguars or Gibsons or Mojitos and that we run the risk of being unhappy if we don't play the game. Their game. By their rules.

I may go back to bed. I love you.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Mining The Memory Bank

I'm gonna have to empty out some files here to make room for new memories. I suppose I've worked hard at that task for years. I am surely a lucky guy to have seen all that I've seen. I'm that that one that you can't shop for. I have everything.

Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Old Friends

Well, the good news is that it was a wedding and not a funeral. At some point in life the game shifts. These two are happy. We're all betting that maybe they'll stay happy.

My ambition now is to live up to my dog's expectations. Probably impossible but it's always good to be ambitious.

I saw folks yesterday who have been ill. Ran into friends that I had forgotten all about. Good friends, too. There are sweet, sweet people out there. Life is far too short not to cherish every moment. I'm hoping not to waste another second of it.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

What'd I Say?

As a veteran of out of fashion life I've come to realize that my  obsession with rock'n'roll and my mourning its passing are not really universal. When my tears are shed every time we lose one of my heroes, most folks are just seeing another news story. You get old, you die.

Yeah, it was one thing to lose Buddy and Ritchie as kids, really. Of course the world gasped when John Lennon was gunned down. It shook the world when Elvis died. An era was gone. Now, though, I suppose we're just counting them down.

How lucky am I to have lived through all of this?