Orange Gearle

family, friends, politics, music and technology... that's what it's all about

Sunday, December 31, 2006

the last two weeks of 2006

On Saturday, December 16, we celebrated Christmas as a whole family. All of my parent's living children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were able to attend. It was a good day.

Mom worked hard to get the basement back in order after the water they received in October. It's been disinfected, repainted and reorganized.

Below is the main reason why I have not been writing.....

Santa got me a mandolin for Christmas!! I've been playing it ever since....

Below are pictures from our early Christmas celebration.

My computer died on December 21. That didn't make me happy, of course. That problem seems to be resolved at this point.

Since then I have been to Madison to hear The Dirty Shirts....

While in Madison, I was given a very special gift...a one of a kind dirty shirt. Very fun.

Over Christmas weekend Rick and Aaron joined Mark and I for a bit of pickin'n'grinnin'. The thing about being the photographer -- I have NO pictures of myself playing with them...I still have no pictures of me playing my new mandolin, either!! But here are a few of the crew....

Since Christmas I've been to The Mill to hear the Burlington Street Bluegrass Band, The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash and Stuart Davis.....

Above: Mark Stuart of the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, along with some friends. The accordion player plays piano at a local piano bar. I think I hit on him once. LOL He is cute.

Above: Meet drunk Jeremy, Wendy's husband. Very funny man.

Above: Stuart Davis, who deserves a diary entry completely devoted to him, but if I don't complete this now, it'll never get posted!! Let's just say, he was awesome. Next time I see him, and you know I'll see him again, I will write a more extensive diary about the event.

I attended a party at my friend Wendy's house this past week, here are a few pics....

Kyle (it was his birthday at midnight)

And somewhere in the middle of all that, John Edwards announced his intention to run for President of the United States of America....of course I attended his Town Hall Meeting in Des Moines....

It's been a fun, but emotional, week or two. I am thankful 2007 is just hours away.

Monday, December 11, 2006

truckstop honeymoon

You know me....I've been burning the candle at both ends again lately. Friday night I fell asleep about six pm and slept until the next day!!! Sometimes I just go and go until I collapse! I think I get that from my mother.

Hollyanne has now had two days of work. This is going to be so good for her. She's such a bright girl and she catches on to things very quickly....they compliment her for it....and that is just good for her.

I've been catching a lot of live music over the last few weeks....The Burlington Street Blue Grass Band, a bluegrass festival, The Clumsy Lovers, Nick Stika, The Mayflies, a name I can't remember, and Truckstop Honeymoon. Most of this has been bluegrass, but not all. For some reason there has been a lot of blue grass around here lately!! The best part -- some of it's been free! Ya gotta love that!!

I was fortunate to get the opportunity to see Truckstop Honeymoon twice in a matter of days. This husband-wife duo is very fun. She plays the bass fiddle and he plays the banjo or the guitar. Actually, I am assuming they are married. They have children together that travel with them, in fact, she is pregnant and due to have their third child in June. They have two different last names, so maybe they are life-partners or maybe she kept her name. Who cares? :-)

They currently call Lawrence, KS their home. Originally from New Orleans, they were displaced a little over a year ago "due to a little storm down there" (in their words). They wrote a song about St. Bernard Parish called Down Wind from the Refinery. Admittedly they are still attracted to cyclonic circulation...they live in Kansas for goodness sake.

My first opportunity to see them was on Thursday. I went to The Mill with my friend Wendy, her husband Jeremy, and their friend, was Jeremy's birthday! After the first two lines of this song, Wendy and I looked at each other and she said what I was thinking....Walk of Shame (which does happen to be the title). Very funny...and sad...and true...and funny. :-) Anyone that has been in Iowa City on a Saturday or Sunday morning can speak to the truth of this song. Wendy thinks it should be Iowa City's theme song...I say any college town will do.

My second opportunity was in Madison, WI. They were just as good there. Jeff went too. He seemed to enjoy himself, nearly as much as I did. I do wish I was a dancer...and by that I do not mean as my profession! LOL People look like they are having fun when they dance....I am uncomfortable and self-conscience. I have no idea why. Probably the same reason I won't do karaoke. It's not that I can't sing, I just don't want to make a fool out of myself. :-)

The opening band in Madison was called Those Poor Bastards. Gothic Country. Hilarious. Actually, only one of the bastards could be it was one guy, with a microphone and guitar singing very angry music. One song in particular, called Radio Country, had me practically rolling on the floor. We all know how much I like Top 40 Country....well...this song is about that, sorta, and it favorite word. :-)

I've linked some Truckstop Honeymoon songs within this diary, but really it's best to see them. They are very cute with each other and funny, of course. One of my favorite songs is called Bad News. They sang it both nights, as a sing along. It's all about being a Vacation Bible School drop out. LOL Who thinks of that? Another couple enjoyable ones are The Woman You Married and Johnny & June. The former was particularly fun the second night because they allowed the crowd to sing the horn parts (because, of course, there were no horns in attendance). The latter is a song about Johnny Cash and June Carter. :-) Enjoyable.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

happy thoughts

My daughter GOT A JOB.

Fifteen days from now....the days will start getting longer.

In merely 25 days, 2006 will be over....thank GOD!

My new friend Nick Stika introduced me to this website that is enjoyable to me. (also, he and his wife are trying to set me up with people....which gives me icky feelings in my stomach...I'm not sure that should be on a 'happy thoughts' post...)

And this picture just makes me happy....

Saturday, December 02, 2006

finder and wilder fun

We walked into The Mill at about 7:30 PM Friday night. It had been a long week and bluegrass was the 'drug of choice' this evening. After paying the cover and getting our hands “smiley faced”, we entered the bar area. The Wilders of Kansas City, MO were doing their sound check. They were dressed in jeans, t-shirts and sweatshirts. The Dobro player and the string bass player both wore baseball caps.

Helen and I ordered sandwiches and beverages (I had the magnificent Portabella Mushroom Sandwich). I noticed that the stage was new! When I was at The Mill last week, we weren’t close to the stage at all, because we knew we wanted to listen…but also talk…so we sat far away from the stage…so we wouldn’t disturb anyone (that’s important for later in this story). Tonight we were much closer. Anyway, so I didn’t notice the stage area that night…it has expanded. The stage is bigger, and the dividers that once existed, no longer divide the room into awkward compartments. This was an enjoyable change.

Our waitress was nice, and accommodating. The food was awesome. I ate it ALL.

Helen and I always have a good time. Tonight was no exception.

My impatience was overwhelming at times. I had so been looking forward to this for months…or at least weeks. I was particularly glad I wasn’t at this show alone…because the anticipation would’ve been too much. LOL As usual the show didn't get started until a least a half hour after the listed start time. I have no idea why they do that. To me, it is just annoying.

The Mike and Amy Finders Band
(pronounced FINNders) were first up on the stage. I have seen them several times…the most recent time was when I went to The Sugar Maple Festival last summer. I own two of their CDs. I frequently play their music in the car and sing VERY LOUD. I can only describe Amy in one way: cute as hell. She sings…flawlessly, dirty, clearly, in harmony and with soul…all suspiciously effortlessly. Amy, dressed in a black top, jeans skirt and usual dance shoes, played her mandolin, Mike Finders joined her on guitar, Billy Velencia on string bass, and the legendary Al Murphy, wearing a flannel shirt and leather vest, played an amazing fiddle to complete the ensemble.

They played most of my favorites. I only had to wait about three songs to hear Fifty Dollars. I have no idea why I like that song so much, other than the fact that I am just so glad I am not as stupid as the girl in the song!! Good grief, Charlie Brown! Also, it's fun to sing really loud.

The crowd was fairly age. There were college students, seniors citizens and everyone in between. I would say, however, that the average rage was 35-55. One couple, college age, sat just a few feet from us. At one point they got up to dance. She was dressed in cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, and he had some other type of hat on. They looked contrived...but whatever. I think the people next to me were annoyed that they were dancing in front of the group, however, there was a dance floor, so I didn't really see what the big deal was. It was obvious that they were wanting attention of some sort, but, no harm done.

Then it happened.

Soon after they finished dancing, still within Mike and Amy's set, our waitress went over to their table. She was acting like a friend, not a waitress at this time. They were so loud. Now, The Mill is a bar. I sometimes don't enjoy going to this venue to watch music because there is a lot of activity going on...people are eating...walking around...etc. It's no CSPS. But generally people are polite...even drunk college students. There are plenty of areas to sit or stand, still be able to hear, but not be distracting to those around you. Apparently these kids didn't know that, or care. So, after several minutes of increased volume, I turned to Helen and said, "Do you think I will start a girl fight if I go over there and say something?". Helen said she would if I didn't. Seriously, it was horrible. Everyone around was looking at them and giving them dirty looks. They didn't even notice because they were (a) drunk and (b) self-ish. So I went over and, aware of the possible consequences of my actions, very nicely said, "Could you turn your voices down just a little bit. Just a little." I motioned down with my hand so that I wouldn't have to speak loudly and they would still get the picture. The waitress said, "We're sorry." I went back to my seat. Discretely, just short of high-fives, I was thanked and congratulated along the way by 4 tables around us. The waitress left the area.

Soon after, the cowboy boot wearing girl turned toward us and yelled to Helen, "It's a concert!". And Helen nodded and said, "I know." The little chicky didn't stop there..then she said, "It's loud." Helen responded with, "Yes, it is." And then the bitch continued with her snotty teenager tone and said, "You have to talk loud, it's loud." And Helen said, "Shut up already." The people around us were appalled at this little girl's behavior...but not completely surprised I suppose. At least she didn't throw a punch...but you know I could've taken her. I'm small but feisty. LOL

Phil Wade, of The Wilders, joined Mike and Amy with his Dobro toward the end of their portion of the program. That was enjoyable. I love resonator guitars...and he is an accomplished player. Mike and Amy played a lot of their stuff, but they also played other standards...a really liked the John Hartford tunes they played...of course I can't remember which ones...why is it that my memory sucks??

Anyway, next up were The Wilders. This four person band is rich in sound and has amazing stage presence. Very enjoyable, see them if you get a chance. They had dressed up a bit before taking the stage. Boys in suits, cowboy hats instead of baseball caps, and the fiddler, Betse Ellis, in a skirt and really ugly boots. LOL They are all the rage and they aren't really ugly I suppose. They are a cross between cowboy boots and combat boots. Why someone thought to combine the two I am not certain. I think it has something to do with trying to make cowboy boots trendy...which is oxymoronic, I suppose.

Ike Sheldon, lead vocals and guitar, is full of energy. He plays this guitar that has obviously been played a lot, and he plays it....hard. He has quite a long beard, something you might expect of a bluegrass musician, however, it made me extremely curious of his age. I'm sure the grey in his beard made him look older than he is...but who knows. Nate Gawron, on string bass, sang vocals on few tunes. Phil Wade played a little banjo, Dobro, mandolin, and sang.

The Wilders have been working on a CD recently, and as a result have not been playing together much lately. However, this was not at all apparent. They were very tight, fun and high energy. If I danced, ever, they would be something I would be forced to dance to. Mom, your 'happy feet' would've been fully engaged!

Hawk's Got a Chicken And Flew In the Woods
is not what they opened with, but it's on the cd that I purchased, and it's similar and very take a listen with just a click if you wish. Another song that will give a bit of a glimpse into the atmosphere of the evening is Honky Tonk Habit. Part way through their set, Al Murphy joined them on the stage and they played Jenny on the Railroad. The version I've included here has Dirk Powell playing the second fiddle, not Al...but you get the picture.

As The Wilders rocked the stage, our friends just a few feet away continued to drink heavily. At one point the cowboy-hat-donning-boot-wearing-too-tight-clothes-fat-rolls-showing fake blonde bitch came over to my table, leaned toward me, pointed her chunky finger at me and slurred the words, "Haaammm I beein' quwiiet ennuuuphf for ya?" I just stared straight ahead at The Wilders on the stage and ignored her. My feet were up on the bench, just below her face. I wanted to kick her. I held back. LOL She continued to point and was not going to move. So after what seemed like an eternity, but was probably just a minute or less, I said, "I'd rather not talk to you, I'd rather listen to the music." She walked away. Someday she might grow up. But really, I think people like that are always like that, no matter their age. Whatever sweater, she couldn't ruin my night.

At the end of the evening, The Wilders and The Mike and Amy Finders band combined and played three songs together. They had fun...which made it even more pleasureable for me to watch.

I'm thankful that I was not jumped on the way out of The Mill by that cheerleader wench, but I also know that a couple dozen people had my back if needed. However, I'm sure I could've kicked her ass on my own (how's that, coming from a passivist?)!! LOL

Enjoy the pics of The Wilders.

All together, altogether fun.