Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Little Bit of White Trash In Us All

Headed to Kansas City, Missouri later this week. Purpose of the trip is to get some work done...officially. An unofficial purpose and planned side trip while there is to see Jeff Porter and Bob Walkenhorst. Bob's music is a blog entry of its own (stay tuned). But I've started listening a bit to Jeff's music after hearing some shows he's done with Bob.

This one cracks me up everytime I hear it - mainly because there's so much truth in it. Listen to it - you too will be convicted by its facts, stereotypes, and generalizations.

Speaking of having a bit of white trash in us all, I also plan to gorge myself at the infamous original Arthur Bryant's BBQ - while wearing my worsted wool suit, starched white shirt, and silk tie of course.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A productive tunes!

My co-workers and regular lunch compadres both had something else to do today at the noon hour. So I was on my own and decided to visit McKay's in Nashville. I like to drop in there periodically to cruise through used CDs, DVDs, books, etc.

McKay's is well-established in Chattanooga, and I built a large portion of my CD collection from their store when I lived in the Bluff City. They are fairly new to Nashville having only been here about a year.

More often than not since their opening, I really haven't had much success finding CDs on my wish list there - either not at all or not at a cost comparable to or cheaper than what I could order used on Amazon or

But today was different. I had a lot of success. Found 4 that I wanted. All had been on my wish list for some time, & I just tried to be patient in finding them used and at the right price. A music karma day I suppose.

And the winners are (drum roll please)...

Billy Joe Shaver - Live at Smith's Olde Bar

Joe Ely - Happy Songs From Rattlesnake Gulch

Corb Lund - Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!

(Thanks BirminghamSteve for a great vid as always.)

Stoney Larue - The Red Dirt Album


Monday, February 23, 2009

God don't need yo' chocolate

Hard to believe it, but the season of Lent begins this Wednesday, February 25. Seems like only yesterday we were culminating the season of Advent with the celebration of Christmas.
I've got ashes on my forehead
And I'm trying hard to learn
This dust that I have started from
Is where I shall return
~ Ashes by Jonathan Rundman
We observe the period of Lent in the United Methodist Church just as Catholics and other denominations do. The period runs for 40 days from Ash Wednesday through Easter - excluding Sundays which are considered "mini-Easters" leading to THE Easter.

I'm intrigued about how few folks practice Lenten disciplines - or even understand the season at all. I'm hardly a theologian by any stretch, but allow me to toss out a few ideas to consider.

I've met a lot of folks who think Lent - and especially Ash Wednesday - is just a Catholic thang. Even my former boss commented "I didn't know you were Catholic" when I returned from a lunch time United Methodist service with ashes on my forehead. I jokingly yet directly told him the Caths don't have a monopoly on all the cool Christian traditions.

A common generality about Lent I've often heard within churches I've attended, from folks who don't observe Lent but think they know what it is, and within my own circle of friends and family is one has to give up something during the 40 days. Folks give up all sorts of good stuff - TV, Cokes, chocolate, beer, internet surfing (forget that one), caffeine, etc.

I could debate most of this stuff on two levels: (1) most stuff we're willing to give up likely isn't all that great for us to begin with and (2) most of it can likely be surrendered without much sacrifice on our part - at least in the short-term. If we're not willing to truly experience some level of sacrifice during a focused period, how can we legitimately focus on the sacrificial journey Christ took during a similar period of time culminating with his arrest, "trial", conviction, and death?

I don't believe we're called upon to give up something during this period so much as I do believe we are expected to make more room for Christ during it. If we choose to give up TV to spend more time in the Word, that's a pretty good trade-off. Skipping lunch one day a week and instead donating the money to hunger relief - well, I think that's a way of walking closer to God during this time.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." ~ Hebrews 12:1
A personal choice to spend more time in Christ-like ways, to begin or strengthen Christian disciplines, and shedding those things in our lives that so easily entangle and prevent us from fully realizing a relationship with God are three of the most important decisions we can make beginning Ash Wednesday. As a former pastor and friend of mine preached a few years ago, God don't want yo' chocolate. God wants US - you. me.

Whether you attend an Ash Wednesday service is of no concern to me. I've missed more than I've made over the years. But I do think its important to view and live these next 6 weeks different than we do other weeks.

[Click here] for a PDF list of many different ways one can participate in the season of Lent. I pick a handful of ideas from this list each year - reaching out to an old friend, spending additional time with those less fortunate, more devotional time (definitely sacrificial for me - not my strong suit), trying to maintain a more positive attitude than one of skepticism or cynicism, etc.

Look, I don't have all this figured out, and I know my casual sales pitch for Lent is hardly as assertive or theologically sound as others would believe it ought to be. But I do know that I've experienced some really neat spiritual growth and enlightening moments over the years when I choose to be active during Lent.

So give it a shot - regardless of whether you've done so in the past or if your local church has an organized approach/ministry built around Lent. Try a few things on the list. See if you can make a concerted effort to seek Him a bit more during this time. And consider sharing your experiences - good, bad, or indifferent - with friends, family, co-workers, here on this blog, whatever.



Friday, February 20, 2009

Tommy Womack - Family Wash - Feb 21

Tommy Womack
Family Wash
East Nashville USA
February 21, 2009
9:00 PM

So who's with me? Come one, come all! Well, not all can attend. The Wash isn't that big. But if you are a Tommy fan, you already know you should be there. If you've begun to taste the TW Kool-Aid I've been serving to anyone who will read or listen, then you too should spend part of your Saturday evening in East Nashville.

Here's hoping he'll include Early To Bed and Willie Perdue in his set list (hint, hint TW if you're reading this).


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rudderville Ramblers

My son has taken guitar lessons for about the last 3 years. He made it clear pretty quickly that he preferred electric guitar vs. an acoustic one. So each week, he straps on his Squire ax and spends another 30 minutes with his instructor learning how to thrash more classic rock riffs. He also digs Guitar Hero of all flavors and has been doing a pretty good job transferring what he hears in the video game to working out the chords on the real thing.

About a year or so ago, he got an opportunity to try another form of music - bluegrass. His social studies teacher from that year invited him to play in a newly formed bluegrass band comprised of kids from 6th through 9th grades. He and several other kids jumped aboard the offer, and they've now been together about 16 months or so. They didn't lose anyone as all of them moved to the next grade level, and a few new pickers even climbed aboard.

I admit I was surprised at how much he has enjoyed it. And I've been even more surprised at how versatile he's become. His teacher has had him play dulcimer, acoustic guitar, bass, and now Dobro. Like a utility infielder, he'll pretty well pick up any assignment she gives him and start pickin' and a'grinnin.

While I have no evidence to support it, I'm willing to bet the number of kids with a bluegrass song on their Facebook or MySpace profile may be...oh let's say a dozen or fewer. But these kids have really done an exceptional job learning the songs and playing regularly.

Here is his debut performance as the bassist on Pretty Little Miss.

And here he is playing the opening lead on Ol' Joe Clark before the rest of them climb aboard.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Guy Clark and Dwight Yoakum...See 'em for FREE

Found this nugget from Peter Cooper at tonight.

Guy Clark, Dwight Yoakam and other famous names visit Masonic Lodge for 'Legends & Lyrics'

Click here if you are in Nashville (or are willing to drive here) and want free tickets to any of the tapings.

The main artist I'd like to see is Guy Clark on Saturday afternoon. Even if you think you haven't heard of Guy, you've likely heard some of his songs - even if you didn't know they were his. How about L.A. Freeway recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker? Or Desperadoes Waiting On A Train?

My latest favorite song by Guy is one he wrote with Darrell Scott. Here it is being performed by Guy live at Douglas Corner Cafe in Nashville.

Out In The Parking Lot

However - yet again - I'll be picking up my son from (where else) a scouting trip at the very time the taping begins. sigh...

There are some other great names in this line-up including Dwight Yoakum and Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon). Even ol' Mac Davis will be there. I wonder if he'll croon "Its hard to be humble when you are perfect in every way."


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Is there no justice??

For the first time in my life, I did my civic duty by serving on a jury. It was a DUI case. While the trial certainly didn't mirror any TV episodes or movies, it was still interesting least for the first couple of hours. After that, it was a case of "enough already". Both attorneys and the judge patiently explained to us all the ground rules, what we would hear, differences in types of evidence, etc.

And then it began...

The trial began around 11:30 or so in the morning, and it ended around 4:30 PM. The jury adjourned to our room, hashed out what he had heard and seen, re-watched a video taken from the arresting officer's patrol car, discussed some more, and then settled on a verdict. Guilty. 12-0. We finished by around 5:00 PM at which time we were thanked and dismissed by the judge.

I strolled to the city parking garage adjacent to the courthouse. My chin was a little higher and chest out a little further with the satisfaction of having served this noble cause.

As I got in my truck, I noticed two pieces of paper on my windshield. I removed them, read them, and couldn't believe it. Two tickets for overtime parking! I specifically avoided the prominently-marked 30 minute parking spots, and I pulled in head-first to my spot. (Backing into a spot is forbidden per the easily seen signage on the walls.)

So how could I have violated the law - especially a law-abiding, jury-serving, civic-minded individual such as myself? A re-read of the tickets indicated I was parked in 1-hour spot. I looked again at the wall. I looked for any markings on the concrete floor by my space number. I looked on the opposite wall. Nothing! There wasn't anything to indicate the spot could only be used for 1 hour - until I looked UP. Sure nuff - there it was. Spots "x" through "y" were 1 hour spots.

Either tradition or urban legend has it that jurors are paid a nominal amount for their services. Some folks get to keep the money. Others have to turn it over to their employer in exchange for getting a full day's pay yet not working. I wouldn't know as I didn't get paid.

I also wondered if the court provided box lunches or if each person was on their own. Turned out to be the latter. So I paid about $13 at a nearby restaurant for a pretty lousy turkey sandwich and a very small bowl of soup.

To recap, I received zero extra pay and was out 13 bucks for a less-than-average lunch. Now I'm holding two tickets totalling $37 for a parking violation! A grand total of $50 to be paid BY ME to serve as a juror.

The tickets included a phone number to call if I choose to contest the ticket. I plan to do that - to plead my case, suggest I was insane, that ignorance is bliss, that I'm the victim, that I don't have the money right now but that it'll be on its way as soon as Reid-Pelosi-Obama send me my check, etc.

I'm guessing the clerk will likely yawn in my ear, cup the phone and talk to someone else while on the call with me, and ultimately say "your court date is 6 weeks from today". And I also have a sneaking suspicion it may cost be $100 in court costs to contest $37 worth of tickets.

But if that's what comes to pass, at least now I know the name of at least one defense lawyer - even if he isn't good at defending clients with DUI charges against them.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gubmunt is our only hope??? Say it ain't so Joe.

We once had an entrepreneurial economy. We've had mergers and acquisitions. We've had business successes and business failures. We've had risk takers. We've had fraudsters. We've had high tax rates and low tax rates. We've had governmental regulations and incentives. And then more regs. And even more regs. And then government "investments". And then bailouts. And then stimulus packages. And then reinvestment and revitalization efforts. And now this wonderful generalization.

...Federal Government is our only remaining option...

Are you kidding me??? Is this really what its come down to?

To all those who wanted 'change', is this what you voted for? Many of you voted for him because you viewed the 2008 election as an historical and symbolic occasion. But is this what you signed on for? To have him firmly and unequivocally say that only the Big Dogs in DC know what is good for each of us? That we're incapable of helping ourselves at all? That all decisions - big or small - will be dictated by them not you?

I've read the comments, the blogs, the MSM, etc. where folks continue to say "We're not headed for socialism. That's not what Obama is about." Baloney. You know it. Bob Dole knows it. The American people know it. Friends, socialism is front and center & will be here a whole lot sooner than the realization of Al Gore's crumbling global warming theories.

Hope y'all enjoy your fiddling while Rome burns.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chicks With Hammers

On the first Saturday of each month, I take my daughter to the Home Depot Kids Workshop. We've been going just about every month for about 4 years. She's gone from not knowing the difference between a nail and a screw or how to hammer a nail to working independently to read directions, match parts, start a nail, and drive several without bending them. She's made projects to keep for herself and to give as gifts to others.

Most of the time when we go, we dads are outnumbered by you moms - by a wide margin. I really mean no disrespect in what I'm going to say next - especially since many of the moms in our Home Depot store are smokin'. They're far easier on the eyes than the dads with their sports-themed ball caps and goatees.

But I'm often amused when I see these moms try to help their kids with the projects. One of two things generally happen - or sometimes both:

(1) The mom completely takes over and essentially builds the project for the kid. -or-
(2) The moms demonstrate some god-awful knowledge of how to use tools. They choke up on the hammer handle. They push the hammer with their elbow often bending the small nails. They hammer with the handle end of a screwdriver. And I even saw one mom yesterday using a hammer to bang the snot out of a bolt through 3 pieces of soft pine that would have easily passed through the pre-drilled hole had she bothered to check how the wood pieces were aligned.

I applaud the moms for getting their kids involved with something creative other than video games, and I am indeed amused by their frequent abuse of tools and basic carpentry. However, the question I generally ask myself is "where the heck are all the dads?"

C'mon guys, this is our area of expertise. I realize this statement is a generality of the highest order. But isn't it true? We need to be teaching our kids - sons and daughters - basic skills with tools. How to hold a hammer. How to start and drive a nail. How to use a screwdriver. How to bang your thumb and shake it off. How to read the wood grain of a board. How to sand with the grain. How to use a tape.

These workshops are a great opportunity to help build those skills and to help build confidence. The projects aren't for you to do, but to help them. Surely the golf game, mowing the lawn, sleeping in late, going to the gym, office work, etc. can be delayed one hour on the first Saturday of the month to spend time with your kid learn these skills. Basic projects at a young age leads to more advanced stuff later like power tools, mowing the lawn, working on a car, etc. - skills that any kid needs to learn so they can apply in their teen and adult years.

I just re-read this whole thing & can tell it already reads as a very sexist, sterotyping post. I'll take that risk. Its not my intent, but I'll take what you give me. Moms - you're awesome. Dads - some of you need to get more engaged. Maybe you are at the soccer or baseball field or some other place spending time with your kids. But if not, consider yourself challenged to step up.

By the way, Lowe's has similar projects twice a month.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Birthday Cards

This was my favorite card I got for my birthday last weekend.

This is my second favorite. It was from the wife. I'll likely get grief for not making it #1.

My all-time favorite birthday card received didn't have a memorable front to it. But the message inside contained words that were sent to me with what I'm sure was true genuineness. I'm pretty sure even Confucius would have said "Wow, why didn't I think of this?"

For your birthday,

May you experience wine, women, and song.
And may none of them be flat.

For those of you didn't win, didn't finish 2nd, who let my birthday slip your mind, or who downright dissed me, well hey there's always next year.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Where I Was Last Week

Last week, I drew the tough assignment of infielding an audit project in Boynton Beach, Florida - just a few miles south of West Palm Beach.

When I left on Tuesday, the weather was miserable in middle Tennessee. Tons of rain and dreary temps - yet not cold enough to snow. I understand Wednesday at home was much colder with a chance for frozen precip. That's all it took for our weak-kneed school system to keep the kiddies home.

Meanwhile, I was working away blissfully in 75 degree temps. I'm generally not considered a braggart, but I really had little choice but to rub in this fact with everyone back home.

This was the view I had at breakfast. If you ever find yourself in Lake Worth, FL - a short drive from West Palm - you really need to visit John G's for breakfast. Not only is the morning sunrise view fantastic, so is their cream cheese french toast with warm raisin syrup

Breakfast by the beach was so enjoyable that we decided to head back that way for lunch. We dined at Dune Deck Cafe next to the Ritz Carlton in Lantana, FL along Highway A1A. This is the view provided to us there.

Yep. Being a road dog is a tough life. Yawn.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Townes van Zandt

I've been on a bit of Townes van Zandt bender the last 3 or 4 months. After hearing of TVZ for years, I finally got around to listening to some of his music. Stunned is about the best word that comes to mind. Stunned in what I was hearing. Stunned with the realization of what I've been missing all these years.

From late December through the middle of January, I stocked up on TVZ stuff and nearly O.D.'d under the weight of taking it all in. Some really fine members at uploaded a butt-load of TVZ bootleg recordings - and I downloaded them all.

I bought a Robert Earl Hardy's biography of Townes titled A Deeper Blue: The Life and Music of Townes Van Zandt. Hardy did a very nice job of objectively writing about Townes' troubled life - with his job being doubly difficult considering the minimal amount of previous research on his life, fragmented memories by those who knew and traveled with him, and an apparent lack of cooperation by Jeanene Van Zandt - his final ex-wife who was with him when he died. Based on info at other sites, Jeanene really seems to doggedly - yet lovingly - pursue keeping Townes' music and memories alive as well as strengthening a cash flow stream of royalties to support the two children they had together (and rightfully so). I'm not sure why she didn't cooperate with Hardy, but the biography is very well done. A couple of trivia nuggets I learned from reading the book were:
  • For a while, Townes and his wife lived in a modest house in Nashville near the Nashville Airport. Just last Friday, as I left in my truck from the parking service I use after arriving from Florida, I noticed the street sign for the street where they lived. I've driven by that street a million times - and even cut yards on the street when I was in high school - and had no clue as to its connection with TVZ.
  • When Townes and an earlier wife (I think it was Cindy) moved to middle Tennessee, they lived in a little house on a old Civil War battlefield in Franklin. Even though I don't know exactly where it is, I do know that its only about 10 minutes from I where live today.
  • Townes died on New Years Day 1997 after having hip surgery on December 31, 1996, at Summit Medical Center in Hermitage, TN. The hospital's corporate owner is my employer. By all accounts, the great health professionals at Summit today were preceded by great caregivers over the past many years - including when Townes was admitted for surgery. Unfortunately, he and Jeanene did not want him to stay in the hospital and she discharged him against medical advice - less than 24 hours after his surgery. Sure enough, all his troubles caught up to him at home and *poof* just like that he was gone.
I also picked up the Heartworn Highways DVD - pretty much as a flyer and because I read the Amazon review that said Townes was in it. The movie was recorded in the mid 70s, released in the early 80s, and then released on DVD just a few years ago. Townes' performances of "Waitin' Around to Die" and "Pancho and Lefty" as a 30ish year old man are equally superb and eerie.

Side note: If you are a fan of alt-country / Americana music, this is a must have because of all the other artists on this DVD - Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, John Hiatt, and Steve Earle just to name a few. And bear in mind, this was filmed in the mid 70s when all of these singers were 30 years younger and were barely known by anyone beyond a cult following.

The most recent DVD I bought and hit my mail box just this week is Townes van Zandt: Be Here To Love Me. While I haven't watched the full documentary from beginning to end yet, I have watched enough segments to yet again and shake my head at the wonderment of his talent and yet the torture of his soul brought on my his addictions and failed relationships.



Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bonnaroo 2009 line-up

Alright you Roonies, are you ready for the heat, the mud, the rain, the weed, and the tunes? I hope you are because I'm too old to deal with all that crap. But after seeing this line-up, I wish I could man-up and go. If nothing else, hopefully I can participate from a distance via the web, bootlegs, YouTube, etc. because there are some fantastic artists included in this year's line-up.

I won't list everyone - you can find that info at Bonnaroo's site - but here are some that ought to be fantastic.

Alejandro Escovedo
Beastie Boys
Béla Fleck & Toumani Diabate
Ben Harper and Relentless7 (hopefully will include Tom Freund)
Elvis Costello
Lucinda Williams
Merle Friggin' Haggard
Okkervil River
Robert Earl Keen
Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3
The Steeldrivers
Tift Merritt
Todd Snider

This is a hall-of-fame line-up even if the Boss ends up getting most of the promotional hype.