Short Shot of Shawn Colvin

“If there were no music,
Then I could not get through…”

An Evening with Shawn Colvin, Marc Cohn, and Sara Watkins

We’re headed up to Colorado Springs today to see Shawn Colvin in concert tonight.  Several years ago, she admitted she preferred sharing a stage with another singer-songwriter over solo concerts. We’ve seen her swap songs & stories onstage with Mary Chapin Carpenter and Steve Earle at different times back in Austin, and those shows were great. Tonight, she’ll be playing with Marc Cohn and Sara Watkins (who replaces originally scheduled Mary Chapin Carpenter, who had to pull out of the tour).

In truth, we’ve been spoiled in the past. Not only did we see her play solo at the Kerrville Folk Festival back in 1990, just as her solo career took off, but we saw her not long afterwards at the Cactus Cafe, an intimate setting where, again, she played solo, this time not more than 30 feet from us.

Then, shortly after we left Austin — “The Live Music Capital of the World” — where we had gotten spoiled by the constant availability of great music, we got to see her in another intimate setting, The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, near Palmer Lake. There, we’d paid extra to secure seating in the first 5 rows. In fact, we landed in the front row and were even closer to the stage than we’d been so long ago at the Cactus. Another fun surprise was spotting two Austin musicians I know in her band, both Glenn Fukunaga on bass and Mike Meadows on drums. Add Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams as the opening act AND part of the band, and we had us a time — as you can see in this video!

Shawn Colvin with Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams,
Mike Ramos, Glenn Fukunaga, and Mike Meadows

We won’t be nearly as close to the stage tonight. That’s okay. We’ll be in the house and we’ll be in the audience. And Shawn will be playing & singing some of her songs.

Oh — and she is also releasing a recording from one of her quarantine livestreams on Bandcamp, so best get on over there and grab that tomorrow when it becomes available. Never can have too much Shawn Colvin!!

Posted in music, musicians, performances | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Songs of Will T. Massey — “Send Up the Smoke”

Will’s 1991 debut album MCA burst hot out of the chutes, ready to rock & roll. After 3 independent cassette releases showcasing his songwriting and country roots, Will went into the studio with E-Street Band veteran Roy Bittan producing a powerful collection of heartfelt rockers. Roy pulled in some of the best sidemen in the business to back Will up and the album shows it.

This tune always crackled with energy, rousing crowds and creating instant fans from early on in Will’s touring days. The embedded video here is from a 2007 performance in Pavia, Italy — and you can hear the enthusiasm of Will’s fans welcoming him “home” to SpazioMusica.

Nobody I know
Has any heroes
Any more,
Eyes on the floor.
Nobody to lead us
While mom & he mistreat us,
Close the door,
Eyes on the floor.
Keep it discreet
Shuffle your feet.
Casually greet everybody you meet —
Turn into stone.
Keep your hurting at home.
Do your thinking alone.

Teach a young dog old tricks.
That’s easy to predict.
Nothing’s going down.
Nothing new in town.
We grew up to be
Cartoons on TV.
Ah, what the hell,
It’s just as well.
You just get on by,
You don’t ask why,
You live once,
You die a thousand times —
Turn into stone.
Keep your hurting at home.
Do your thinking alone.

Start up the fire.
Send up the smoke.
Signal the world —
That we ain’t no joke.
We ain’t no joke.

I was talking to the news,
She was singing the blues.
It’s a hard world
For a working girl.
And my teacher said
It was all in my head
When the history books
Gave me dirty looks.
So, it’s adios to the grandiose,
Heavenly hosts and the Holy Ghost
Turn into stone.
Keep your hurting at home.
Do your thinking alone.

Start up the fire.
Send up the smoke.
Signal the world —
We ain’t no joke.
We ain’t no joke.

Start up the fire.
Send up the smoke.
Signal the world —
We ain’t no joke.
We ain’t no joke.

 

for your further enjoymenty — the official MCA recording of  “Send Up the Smoke”

Posted in Will T. Massey | Tagged | Leave a comment

What SHE Said

Wrapping up my recent blog post relying on quotes, I realized I had inadvertently quoted only men. Realizing how foolish that was but also realizing women deserved their own separate post of quotes, I went ahead and posted “Enfolded in Purple.”

Well, now it’s the women’s turn. Except, in truth, I found such riches of wit and wisdom from the first two women I thought to quote that I decided I’m going to need a lot more than just one blog post to even begin to bring you some of the best quotes from women. Rather than worry about that, here’s a few quotes from delightful Dorothy Parker and the marvelous Molly Ivins. We can let the other ladies have the microphone next time.

Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker“What fresh hell is this?” (answering the telephone)

“The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”

“The cure to boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

“I hate writing, I love having written.”

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”

“Of course I talk to myself. I like a good speaker, and I appreciate an intelligent audience.”

“A hangover is the wrath of grapes.”

“I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.”

“Living well is the best revenge.”

“There’s a hell of a distance between wise-cracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wise-cracking is simply calisthenics with words.”

“This wasn’t just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it.”

“Constant use had not worn ragged the fabric of their friendship.”

“Take me or leave me; or, as is the usual order of things, both.”

“That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.”

Molly Ivins

Molly Ivins

“Well, I seriously tend to be optimistic to the point of idiocy, almost always.”

“I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults.”

“The thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion.”

“The thing is this: You got to have fun while you’re fightin’ for freedom, ’cause you don’t always win.”

“I learned two things growing up in Texas.
1: God loves you, and you’re going to burn in hell forever.
2: Sex is the dirtiest and most dangerous thing you can possibly do, so save it for someone you love.

“I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag.”

“I am not anti-gun. I’m pro-knife. Consider the merits of the knife. In the first place, you have to catch up with someone in order to stab him. A general substitution of knives for guns would promote physical fitness. We’d turn into a whole nation of great runners. Plus, knives don’t ricochet. And people are seldom killed while cleaning their knives.”

Of course there are plenty of other pithy quotes from both of those wonderful women, as well as dozens, scores, and hundreds more of women well worth quoting as well. We’ll get to some more of them when we revisit the shrine of queenly quotes.

Today, I’ll just wrap it up with a man’s refrain from a calypso tune, rendered here by the Grateful Dead.

It ain’t me, it’s the people that say
That the men are leading the women astray
But I say that the women today
Are smarter than the men in every way.

Posted in quotes | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Thanks!

‘The days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations,
I have really good days.”

— Ray Wylie Hubbard

Happy Thanksgiving!cornucopia — Happy Thanksgiving Day

Wherever you are and whatever your circumstances today in 2021, I wish you well and hope you find some reason for gratitude today. Gratitude is the attitude that repeatedly saves me from myself and my selfish fixations. As Ray Wylie Hubbard recommended, I welcome every day as a chance to choose gratitude over expectations.

Thanksgiving, of course, evokes images of European pilgrims and Native Americans sharing what turns out to be mostly mythical celebration. Certainly, this holiday shows the historical revisionism and hypocrisy underpinning the whole “story,” complete with inaccuracies and misrepresentations. For today, let’s acknowledge but move past the sketchy and somewhat rotten roots of the holiday to celebrate a universal sense of gratitude for all things.

For today, please enjoy some prior back porch stories about Thanksgiving:

To further help you celebrate this wonderful holiday, here are some suggested soundtrack cuts for before, during, and after the holiday:

Meanwhile, ain’t no better movie for the holiday than Planes, Trains & Automobiles

 

Forever thankful — eternally grateful — Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!

 

Posted in holiday | Tagged | Leave a comment

Walking in the Long Shadow of Grief

“There’s a hole in the middle of the prettiest life…”

“For Real,” Bob Franke

heart-shaped holeThe long shadow of grief seems to have become a constant companion to me these days, a shadow dogging me that I don’t see in the daylight but always know is there right behind me.

It’s not the sharp, immediate pain following a death. These days, it rarely  up & slaps me in the face. I rarely break up in sobbing wails that overtake me from nowhere and leave me breathless & gasping when I hear a song or a voice or just see or even remember something they would have liked.

Bob Franke’s lyric is right and every death drills another hole in my heart. Because all those holes in my heart that each death and loss punches through your middle kinda blur together.

That is, while there is certainly a Scott-shaped hole in my soul since his death last summer, it tends to slowly blur together with the long-tattered edges of old holes left by Mike Eddy and my dead dead friend, Duane, and Granny and Jessie, all from decades ago. Some of the holes feel numb as if cauterized at the edges so the pain feels sealed off. Some deaths make sense but still hurt anyway.

But it is the gaping, raw holes that I feel myself walking through daily. The word “dispirited” came to mind last week as I sought to describe how I felt. Lack of motivation or morale…yeah, that’s it. I am not depressed. I know too much about mental health and depression to allow myself to think that explains this. No, this is the wear & tear of living every day and losing the people you love along the way — and the deep realization all of the people you love will die. I will die. You will die, too. But before you do, each of these deaths will tear again at your heart.

We now talk about the “grief process” we experience after any major loss but especially the death of a loved one. The problem with talking about a “grief process” is that the phrase seems to imply a one-way flow that inevitably ends. If only! Grief is a cycle because just when you’ve finally reached acceptance, here comes that grief again, insisting you relive the pain again, re-experience that horrible moment of loss.

And we discover how the grief will never really go away.

"It has been said "time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue, and the pain lessens. But it is never gone." — Rose Kennedy

On a good day, I see the shadow of grief, but it falls behind me, casting a long silhouette of the one I love and am missing. On a really good day, I can embrace the loss, feel that deep pain, and move through to remembering the great joy of that life. That really does make for a great day. They don’t come easy and they don’t come often. But neither do the dark days where the shadow overwhelms me and I let myself fall into the deepest, darkest of that black hole. Luckily, these days don’t come easy either, and I can usually banish the blues enough to shuffle through the day, awaiting the change of the emotional seasons that find me grieving again.

Again, I turn to song for solace when I find myself overwhelmed by grief. When it completely swamps me, I still find strength, wisdom and courage in Jerry Jeff Walker’s tune, “Blue Mood.”

“I’ll be all right in time —
In a day or two, I’ll be fine…”

Yes, I will, Jerry Jeff, yes, I will.

ADDENDUM: Re-reading this, I worry I’ve misled some of you. I sound gloomy & depressed. I am not. I sound like I find no joy any more. I do. I just had a great walk with my dog, Stella, and it is a beautiful, warm November afternoon. I am headed to my front porch to enjoy it. But I still know that long shadow is with me. Always…

Posted in Blue Mood, Buller, grief | Leave a comment

Songs of Will T. Massey — “The Moon’s Got the Blues Tonight”

One of the hidden treasures recently unearthed in recordings of some of Will’s live shows at Flipnotics, captured by George Fremin.

I don’t recall hearing this one, but I like the catchy tune and imagery.

As his patron, Ranger Rita, once said, “Will’s thrown away more great songs than most singers ever write.”  

I passed the hour of a heartache,
My baby’s gone outside.
It’s more than his old heart can take —
The moon’s got the blues tonight.

Down by the river, he was so proud,
I watched him smiling as you held me tight.
Now he’s dodging those dark clouds—
The moon’s got the blues tonight.

Cupid fell in love and retired.
When he resigned, the moon got hired.
He meant well but the job was new —
He cast a crooked spell on me and you.

He’s feeling guilty ‘cause you broke my heart.
We’re old friends, he’ll try to treat me right.
He says we ought to make a new start —
The moon’s got the blues tonight.

He’s calling Cupid up to aim at you.
Tho we’re apart, we’re both still in his sight.
Cupid told him that his bow’s too blue —
The moon’s got the blues tonight.

The sun told him that’s he just too pretty
To be alone in this lonesome city.
He said he’s shining on your silky skin
Just hold her now and I’ll touch you again.

The moon’s been busy cooking up a spell.
He’s filling our hearts with a loving light.
But you just think that it’s a fond farewell —
The moon’s got the blues tonight.

You found someone new.
There’s nothing to do.
The moon’s got the blues tonight.

Posted in Will T. Massey | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Hazy Memories of Dillo Daze, 50 Years On

A baggie of pot sat on the floor just a few feet away. Someone dropped it, I figured, looking around to see if anyone else spotted it yet. No, and the baggie was kinda of perched precariously in the walkway around folks sitting on the carpeted floor. I waited to see if anyone doubled back to pick it up, but people just kept walking past it, over it, even almost kicking it. So I grabbed it, grinning, gleeful with my good fortune.

Armadillo World Headquarters 50th Annual CelebrationJust another night at the ‘Dillo.

The Armadillo World Headquarters lasted 10 short years from 1970 until 1980 but left lasting outsized memories that belie its brief existence.

The late, lamented, legendary music hall will be remembered this weekend in Austin, 50 years after it opened for a raucous decade of making musical history and shaping Austin culture before it faded away far too soon.

Sure wish I could be there for the celebration.

I don’t remember what band I saw that night I found the bag of pot. I don’t rightly recall who played my first show there, either, and in truth, I don’t recall a lot of the performers I know I must have seen there. I know I saw David Bromberg, Doug Sahm, John Hartford, Toots & the Maytalls, Papa John Creach, and the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Some acts I saw more than once, like Jerry Garcia’s various bands, Bob Weir a couple of times, solo and with Kingfish. I really didn’t go to nearly as many shows there as a lot of my other friends did, though. Usually, I was working evenings or didn’t have transportation.

No, hanging out in the beer garden munching nachos and drinking cheap pitchers of beer was closer to my speed. One old friend moving out of the rent house we’d moved into said anyone looking for him could find him in the ‘Dillo beer garden pretty much every afternoon. Later, when I worked at the Brown Schools’ Ranch, our Lariat team started having monthly off-campus team meetings at the beer garden, where we were more likely to let loose with our concerns in a supportive team setting — with plenty of beer & nachos, of course.

Still, a few moments stand out frozen in my memory:

Watching Frank Zappa introducing a song, saying, “We don’t usually do this, but this girl’s name is Mary and she plays the fiddle.” With that, the band launched into “Orange Blossom Special” with Sweet Mary Egan of Greezy Wheels joining Jean-Luc Ponty is some truly outrageous twin fiddle playing, including sawing their bows around each other’s heads and rolling on the floor, still wailing away. Who knew Frank could swing country?

The time Keith & Donna Godchaux of the Grateful Dead were touring as part of the Jerry Garcia Band, my friends, Nancy & Larry, wanted to wish them, especially Donna, a warm welcome. So they brought a  small bouquet of roses to the show to throw to her onstage. Unfortunately, Nancy threw the roses straight into the open bay of Keith’s piano, shooting sparks across a net of microphone wires there, basically “blowing up” his piano. The band ended the song quickly and as Larry & Nancy shrunk back into the crowd, I watched Keith trying to light a cigarette to calm his nerves. Took him 4 matches to get it going.

I remember me & Billy the Kid deciding to sneak into the main concert hall from the beer garden to see the Kinks. Billy had worked in the kitchen before and said if we each just walked straight through as if we belonged there, no one would stop us. I watched him check it and then followed a minute later when he didn’t return. I quickly filtered up to the front to blend into the crowd, just as Ray Davies stalked the front of the stage, sloshing beer on us at the front, singing “Demon Rum” — a sweet if sticky and later stinky memory.

And of course, there was the final Zappa show in the fall of 1980 when we all knew the Dillo had to close by year’s end. He did two final shows in late October and we just wouldn’t let him leave after the second one. When we insisted on yet another encore, he sauntered out and said, “I guess you want me to say something about this place closing.” He started talking about how everything was going to shit (this was just before Reagan was first elected), and did we really think the future was going to get better? Or would it be worse? And given the gloomy prospects, “Do you really want to take a beloved institution like the Armadillo there?”

Alas, what we wanted didn’t matter. That was my final show at the Armadillo World Headquarters. My memories remain hazy but it still feels like it was just yesterday.

Read more about the history of the Armadillo World Headquarters in Eddie Wilson’s wonderful book, co-written by Jesse Sublett.

And head on out to the celebration this weekend!

Posted in Austin, music, musicians, performances | Tagged | Leave a comment

Enfolded in Purple

“He wrapped himself in quotations — as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors.”

— Rudyard Kipling

I, Emperor Alan, aka the Lazy Blogger, declare a day of wisdom.
Or at least a blog post of quotes from a bunch of wise guys.


Ken Kesey“Can the few beat the evil in society?
Yes, because, ‘We can count the number of seeds in an apple but not the number of apples in a seed.’ “

— Ken Kesey

 


Mark Twain“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

Mark Twain


Winston Churchill

“I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend … if you have one.”
 — George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

“Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second … if there is one.”
— Winston Churchill, in response


A Few Choice Insults

“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”
— William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

“He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.”
— Oscar Wilde

“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.”
— Billy Wilder

Groucho Marx“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening — but this wasn’t it.”
Groucho Marx

Posted in quotes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Songs of Will T. Massey — “You Take the Town”

Will T. Massey (1991) debut albumAnother instant classic from Will’s 1991 MCA album, a heartfelt song about a common human experience: heartbreak. In introducing the song many years — and more than a few heartbreaks — later, Will dedicated it to fellow heartbroken lovers:

“This is for anyone who’s ever had their heart taken out and stomped on for awhile.”

You take the television and the records, too.
You take your decision that I’m just too blue.
Keep walking, keep talking
To our friends about it.
Your deception, their perception —
I will not cloud it.

I won’t compete.
When word gets around.
I’ll take the heat —
You take the town.

Put on your low red dress, put up your hair
Put on your loneliness with a fashionable flair.
And hit the old haunts,
If anyone wants to know my business
Just tell them all I left for good
So you could face the next fool to fall.

I won’t compete.
I won’t be around.
I’ll take the streets —
You take the town.

Objects in my rear view,
They appear closer than they are.
And my heart is the same way, too —
I will hold you from afar.
I miss you.
I wish you the company of someone else.
I ain’t above you,
But I love you
Less than you love yourself.

I won’t compete.
I won’t bow down.
I’ll take defeat —
You take the town.

You take the town.

with Richard Bowden on fiddle

Posted in Will T. Massey | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Twofer Tuesday: Dan Roam & Ben Jones

This week promises two exciting events I want to share with you here.

The Pop-Up Pitch: The Two-Hour Creative Sprint to the Most Persuasive Presentation of Your Life

The Pop-Up Pitch by Dan Roam

Dan Roam, author of “Back of the Napkin” and several other modern classics of visual thinking & communication, releases his new book today after a year’s preparation.

I’ve written about Dan in this blog before as one of the folks whose work I follow. Dan runs a subscription service called the Napkin Academy for people interested in learning how to use these principles of visual thinking and communication more effectively and I’ve been a member for several years now.

Dan decided to share the process of writing his new book with Napkin Academy associates like myself through his monthly webinars, so I’ve had a ringside seat now for months. It’s been fascinating and informative to watch Dan develop his concepts, content, and visuals, and then bring them together into the final form of the published book.

And today is pay-off day.

In The Pop-Up Pitch, Dan shows how to use simple visual thinking tools to craft a powerfully persuasive pitch within two hours:

I built the book around a simple, practical, and tactical storytelling template that will help you quickly craft the most memorable, compelling, and persuasive presentation of your life.

In the book, Dan demonstrates how to use the Visual Decoder and his 10-page Pitch Template (free for download here — because he knows you will want to know more!).

By sharing his process for writing and publishing the book, he has also encouraged other people to follow his lead and start writing their own books Several Napkin Academy associates, both previously published authors and not-yet-published ones, have joined in the monthly webinars to share their thoughts and progress via Dan’s “homework assignments” he’d give us.

It’s always magical to see how Dan works, and watching him develop this book over the last year has been awe-inspiring. No, I have not been writing “my book” all along. But I do have some ideas that I think I could shape into a book using this process, so I am looking forward to seeing the final manifestation.

My copy arrives tomorrow. Order yours today — The Pop-Up Pitch: The Two-Hour Creative Sprint to the Most Persuasive Presentation of Your Life”

“The Heartbreak Handbook” (Kickstarter)

Ben Jones Kickstarter flyerPerforming musicians — the only musicians actually earning a living from their music in this age of streaming services — took a huge financial hit during pandemic lockdowns. Some created new sources of revenue like livestreams, but most still needed more money to make up for lost performance fees — and had more time for writing and recording new music.

Ben Jones is half of our favorite Austin musical duo, Beat Root Revival. Both he and his partner, Andrea Magee, released their own solo CDs during the pandemic, and are happy to be once again performing live and in-person.

Now, Ben is asking for crowdfunding support via a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money to prepare, produce, and promote a double-CD, “The Heart Break Handbook.”

Lockdown was hard on us all, in different ways, and we all had to find our own pathways through it. I was fortunate enough to have the time to write the songs that will make up this new album, a project I’ve had in my head for the longest time; to have enough thematic songs to justify making a double album; and, as Elton John and Bernie Taupin said, ’Sad songs say so much…’

To help promote the Kickstarter campaign, Ben will be hosting a special livestream event on his Facebook page this Thursday, November 11 at 5pm CST. Please drop in to listen to Ben’s pitch for support in making this album, whether or not you wish to help fund his efforts.

 Click here to support Ben’s CD, “The Heartbreak Handbook”

So, I’ll be enjoying Dan Roam’s new book and Ben Jones’ new music this week. I recommend you do the same.

Posted in books, crowdfunding, music, visual thinking | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment