Category Archives: Music

RIP Michael Nesmith

In 1966 I was at a difficult age.  I was a little too young to have ridden the Beatles wave, but old enough that I knew I wasn’t a little kid anymore and wanting to connect with the rock `n roll world.  When the Monkees hit the scene, they were just my speed.  Like most of my girlfriends, I loved the pre-fab group (although at the age of 11, I didn’t really understand that part to begin with).  Since most of my friends adored Davy, I resisted that tug and settled on Peter Tork.  I knew he was the oldest Monkee, but he played a lovable goof who came off as the youngest, most vulnerable.  I was a loyal Monkees fan until the band broke up 1969 (if you are a fan, you might protest this date, but I count the breakup as early `69 when Peter resigned.)  I won’t go so far as to say that I went to Carleton because Peter has also attended, but it would be a lie to say I wasn’t aware!

I was sad to see that Michael Nesmith passed away on Friday.  He was never my favorite but I did like the “twang” that was in the songs that he penned and sang.  His signature wool cap came about when he wore it to the first audition for the tv show and one of the producers remembered it.  It was also said that he was very calm at that audition, giving off an air of not caring whether he got a part or not.  He carried that aloofness with him throughout his Monkees’ career; there were a few times that he did not appear with the group in later reunion gigs, although he had just finished on a tour a few weeks before his death.   He wrote many of their songs; my favorite is probably “You May Just Be the One”:

In a side note, I found out many years later that his mother was the inventor of Liquid Paper.  In this day and age of the computer and word processing software you might not know what Liquid Paper is, but if you were a secretary or typist during the 70s and 80s, you certainly do.  It was a lifesaver back then. 

With Michael’s death, there is only one Monkee left – Mickey Dolenz.  Davy passed away in 2012 and my Peter passed away almost 3 years ago now.  I know that their music is now considered a little on the bubblegum pop spectrum, but they are still my first love.  I got out all their CDs and played them over the weekend.

Did you have any hero worship when you were younger?

Unprepared

Last evening, our handball choir performed in a musical holiday extravaganza put on by the local college at our church. We played along with the Community choir, college vocal ensembles, college band, and smaller vocal and instrumental ensembles for a very ambitious 90 minute program.

Our practice schedule was interrupted by COVID early in the fall, and we never caught up. We weren’t prepared for all our pieces last night, and our main goals were to not get lost in the music and to end together. Only an experienced bell ringer would have caught our mistakes, but we each felt our individual errors keenly. I made mistakes and got lost in places I never got lost in before. Husband described it afterwards as a musical ordeal. I believe it was Gustav Holst who said that if it is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. We are just relieved it is over and now we can focus on our last two performances on December 17 and 19.

Any performances you would like to forget about? What pageants have you participated in?

Happy Birds

The warm weather the last several weeks has given us a glimpse of some fun bird behavior.

We have a bird feeder in our backyard that Husband fills with black oil sunflower seeds. We are the only people on the block who feed birds, so our yard is pretty popular, especially given the tall lilac bushes where multitudes can perch. They also like weaving in and out of the twisty grapevines on our deck. There is a very large flock of about seventy sparrows, with several Red Polls, House Finches, Chickadees, Rose and White Breasted Nuthatches, and Junkos who frequent our yard. There are often seven Eurasian Collared Doves on the ground under the feeder, eating what the other birds knock down. A Downy Woodpecker also makes an appearance now and then. They are all really greedy, and feast and gobble as fast as they can. The Chickadees alert the others after Husband refills the empty feeder to let them know that dinner is served.

I cleared out the rhubarb bed the other day, leaving a large area of smooth dirt that the rhubarb leaves had formerly covered. Last Saturday I noticed about twenty Sparrows rolling around in the exposed dirt, digging into the earth, making little indentations in the soil. I guess they were having dust baths, a luxury in North Dakota in late November.

Even more luxurious was the shower they and a migrating flock of Cedar Waxwings had a month ago on the last really warm day of autumn. I set up a sprinkler to water our rhododendrons, bleeding hearts, fern bed, and hydrangeas before freeze up, and we saw the birds flying repeatedly through the spray and huddling on the ground, letting the water cascade over them. The Waxwings made a point of drinking copious amounts of the water that collected on the walkway. The next day, they were gone.

What are your favorite birds to watch? Tell your bird stories. What is your favorite bird-inspired music and visual art?

Royal Mail

Husband and I ordered some classical audio cd’s from Amazon recently. I usually like to order from Archiv, but everything there was on backorder.

Our selections were fairly eclectic, ranging from choral music by Arvo Part and Henrik Goreki, to a cd by Brooklyn Rider, a string quartet, playing with an Irish fiddler.

When you order from Amazon, you never quite know where the products are coming from. Three of the cd’s we ordered came from overseas. A London /Decca recording of Chopin nocturnes played by Vladimir Ashkenazy came from Japan. It arrived speedily, several days before even the US cd’s arrived. It is a lovely recording, but all the liner notes are in Japanese!

Two of the cd’s are coming from England. One is from Banbury, Oxfordshire. The other is from Stockport, in Cheshire. That particular cd is being shipped by Royal Mail. I have no idea what that means in terms of speed of delivery, but it sounds so impressive! I imagine it being delivered by someone in a Beefeater uniform.

Any interesting shipping or delivery stories? What music have you discovered lately? What would you like to receive via Royal Mail?

A Man For All Seasons

Dear friends,

My sweet dad, Steve Grooms, died at home early on Thanksgiving morning. I feel so incredibly lucky that we spent most of Wednesday together as he wasn’t feeling well that day. Two visits from 911 paramedics and multiple calls to advice nurses and his doctors couldn’t shed light on what was happening, and the ERs were/are full due to COVID and couldn’t take him. Despite normal vitals and no pain (just discomfort), he and I both knew something was wrong enough to warrant our needing to be together in what I know now were his final hours. It appeared he passed in his sleep sometime after I left to go home and sleep, and I hope against hope that he didn’t suffer.

Please don’t regret the timing. Dad had so much to be thankful for. A long and rich life full of love and laughter. Beloved family. Wonderful dogs. Adventures and stories; oh so many stories. Stories told with the richness of his appreciation for human nature, for humor, for empathy and compassion, history, and nature. So many stories told to you. And just as much as he loved the telling, he loved the gift of receiving a good story. My greeting, dear friends, isn’t accidental. I feel as if I know so many of you through his recounting of your presence in his life. And I am humbled, grateful, and so deeply appreciative for what this community meant to him.

You sustained him in the dark years following his divorce. You showed up to help when rheumatoid arthritis and congestive heart failure made life alone in his home almost unsustainable. You sawed up fallen trees and eventually helped him pack up and leave Minnesota to join us in Oregon. You were with him in words and spirit through the new lives he created, first in Oregon, then Michigan, then finally back in his beloved Minnesota. He carried you, his community, with him. You were a daily, if not hourly, gift to him. The people he wanted to process his life with, the friends he treasured.

I am beyond heartbroken right now and can’t seem to figure out what happens next. I keep reaching for the phone to call Dad to tell him how awful this all is, until I remember… Know that we will gather sometime in the future, likely in the Spring, to honor his life and you will all be invited. Until then, I invite you to share your memories of him here, in the space he so loved. Renee can forward anything you wish to send to me directly and know that I will respond as soon as I am able. 

Thank you. My family and I are so grateful for the gift of your love and friendship toward Dad in these years. It means everything to us, as it meant everything to him. All my love,

Molly

Musical Chairs

Our bell choir is aging. We have a few members who are in their 30’s and 40’s, but most of us are 60+. The younger players tend to be more agile, and play the smaller bells that require more speed and dexterity. That leaves the treble and bass bells to us slower and steadier players. I play the G and A below middle C. Husband plays the C and D below middle C.

We have five octaves of bells. The bells increase in size as they get lower, and our lowest bell is the F one and a half octaves below middle C. Those bottom bells are huge, and have to be rung with both hands. (Usually, a ringer has at least one bell in each hand. Not these low bells). Our director asked me this week if I would mind switching to the lowest bells, since I am the least arthritic of any of the other older players, and the current player is having too much arm and had pain to continue in that position. I said I would be happy to, but I might invest in some wrist supports.

I shall miss G and A, but it’s nice to have new musical challenges sometimes. I suppose it is a compliment to be the least orthopedically challenged older player in the group.

What are your challenges as you age? What promotions did you experience at work, and how did they work out? What are your experiences in musical emsembles?

Working Music

Writing therapy progress notes and psychological evaluations is tedious work for me. I need music while I write. In fact, I have music playing in my office unless I have a client in the office with me. I usually listen to classical music, although lately I have streamed Radio Heartland, too. A counselor friend of my son insists that classic honky-tonk music is the best accompaniment for him to write therapy progress notes. Husband needs dead silence or else he gets distracted when he writes.

Many years ago, the office administration staff at my agency were delighted when our Regional Director at the time phoned to let staff know where he was on a drive back from Fargo, and then forget to turn off his cell phone. He proceeded to sing (well, bellow) along to a rather raucous country western song on the radio about true love. The administrative secretary put it on speaker phone so all the staff could hear him. When they teased him about it, he said “Well, I really missed my wife”.

We listen to classical music or the XM Radio 40’s channel or jazz channels when we drive together. Lately I have revisited CD’s by Solas, Salsa Celtica, and Le Vent du Nord on my way to work. Something about the right music makes me really ready to start my day.

I have a long list of CD’s I intend to spoil myself with for Christmas, mostly classical recordings. I am particularly interested in recordings of music by Ludovico Einaudi, a modern Italian composer. Check him out if you aren’t familiar with his work.

What music helps you think and get things done? What are some new recordings you have discovered? What music annoys you? What music makes you sentimental?

Goodbye, Paddy

Sad news yesterday with the death of Paddy Moloney, the founder of The Chieftains. He was 83.

I was woefully ignorant of traditional music until I moved to Winnipeg in 1980 and went to the Winnipeg Folk Festival for the first time. I never saw the Chieftans live, but their influence on folk and traditional music is immense.

One of my favorite Chieftains albums is one they did with Nancy Griffith and Roger Daltrey. The following is a video of the whole live performance at the Belfast Opera House in 1992. Do watch it all. It is magical. My favorite part is at the very end with Nancy singing “Ford Econoline”.

I remember hearing the story about Derrick Bell, the harpist, who was criticized by some classical musician colleagues for going off and joining “some tatty folk group” when he joined the Chieftains. So glad he did! We need more “tatty folk groups” like the Chieftains.

Ok, Baboons, let’s hear some of your favorite traditional music of Ireland and the British Isles. Why is it so appealing? Have you ever played the pipes?

He Said She Said

I spent an hour or so at Urgent Care yesterday (not a big deal – just wanted to be reassured that my self care was OK and to get a tetanus booster.

While waiting I noticed a woman go in and out of the UC door a few times; she was wearing a Darth Vader smock.  Long gone are the days when everybody is required to wear white!  When it turned out that she was the nurse who was going to rewrap my hand and give me my shot, I was elated.  I told her how much I like her smock and she told me about her other Leia smock.  We traded our favorite quotes from Star Wars.  Since she is a Darth fan, hers is “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”   I like that one but I do gravitate to Yoda “ Do.  Or do not.  There is no try.”

On the way home I was thinking about this encounter (which was really the highlight of my day) and how many times I use quotes from my favorite movies.

  • “On the side.” When Harry Met Sally
  • “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.”  Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • “You know, assholes.” Blazing Saddles
  • “Candygram for Mongo.” Blazing Saddles (You’d be surprised how often you can make this work.)
  • “You overestimate both of us.” People Will Talk
  • “Snap out of it.” Moonstruck
  • “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”  The Fly
  • “There will be blood tonight.” Princess Bride
  • “We are men of action. Lies do not become us.”  Princess Bride  (Note: I say this to myself.  Not aloud.)
  • “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.” Princess Bride   (Again, never said outloud.  And I say it to myself with Mandy Patinkin’s accent.)
  • “Now they’re practical.” Romancing the Stone
  • “Not exactly firing on all thrusters.” Star Trek IV
  • “Fun fun fun til her/your daddy takes the T-Bird away.” (yes, I know this a song not a movie, but, what the heck, it’s my blog post…..)

Any quotes from movies (or tv or book or songs) that you find yourself using in every life?

 

 

 

Rock Bend 2021

Today’s post comes to us from tim.

this years rock bend was a solo trip for me

it had been mentioned earlier that maybe a group effort would be fun and i responded with a yes but as groups sometimes do it got lost in the shuffle

i am not as good as i could be at putting x on my calendar when i’m doing something so without a reference i signed up to do my delivery ditty on saturday night. i get dibs early because those spots tend to disappear quickly and friday and saturday nights are prime time so i had committed for 5-7 & 7-9 on saturday which would mean leaving rock bend about 4.

i looked up when it started and who was playing and discovered that the family who does a nice foot stomping version of old timey and appalachian banjo kind of stuff started things off at 12 and city mouse which is mike pengra’s band was at 1 with special guest pat donahue and then pat was to play on the little stage where krista used to work at 3.

the first group was good city mouse was great and pat donahue was a treat as an addition and pats solo performance on the songwriters symposium on the little stage was fantastic

i really like him and his songwriting talent is something i really admire

i went in packed light. i had a thermos of tea and a tea cup that’s it. i walked in 15-20 minutes early and looked to see if vs or linda might be there and not seeing them plunked down in a similar front row position to what we usually achieved. this was easy with one butt and a thermos as the required space criteria. after i got steeled in i noticed i recognized that many of the surrounding faces were familiar from years gone by.unfortunately the way these memories were tweaked was by the fact that after i was seated a bunch of folks showed up and set their folding chairs up in front of the front with no regard for the views they were blocking out who had gotten their prime spot by showing up on time and choosing unobstructed site lines.

i have a problem with the people who are so self important that they just do it and never think about what a crappy thing that is to do to someone else. bad enough on the freeway to line butters who go up to the front and cut in line in front of all us minnesota nice wimps who let them in but at a concert to block someone view is unforgivable . this was followed by an observation that maybe had been going on previously but i hadn’t noticed because of being there with a group but all around me people were in conversation while the music was playing. if the music got loud they had to raise their voices to be heard over the music. this combined with folks who stood and chatted with someone who they knew in front of a group they blocked the view of.

i felt like an old curmudgeon who was spoiling my own fun but it really bothered me

at the final ditty where pat donahue was on stage with two other songwriters i had front row seats and had talkers laughing and exclaiming and paying no attention on either side of me.  there was empty turf between me and the stage and so me and my thermos went and laid down in the grass and a couple little kids cam and the their moms and sat down closely with me ans i thoroughly enjoyed the show glad i letting the talkers back there as they continued to expound

sunday i have scheduled a football bar b que get together at my house carte blanche this year an hour before kick off so my mom at age 92 has somewhere to celebrate her football enthusiasm, she had to leave at halftime to go to another meeting called by someone who is not football sensitive. it was a good gathering and i thought about heading over to bbc afterwards but as sometimes happens these things drag on and it was 430by the time things wrapped up

too late for bbc

too late to go catch the end of rock bend

i’ll probably put an x on next year and tri it again now that i know it’s the weekend after labor day but i may be

setting myself up for misery

it was easier with friends and wine but isn’t everything

what kind of calendar are you using these days to keep yourself on track?