Usually in Southern Ohio we get Spring-like weather fairly early. Too early, in fact, for most of the flowers and flowering trees. Once the trees and flowers start to bloom we usually get hit by a cold blast and all the blooms freeze. The flowers wilt over and lay on the ground in frozen colors to die. The branches of fruit or flowering trees turn dead and brown.

This year was perfect. The late winter cold blasts did not last long and were not cold enough to do real damage. I would like to share some of the pictures I took yesterday in a favorite local park in my area but every highway and street in thee city is just bursting with color and shouting “SPRING”!

My camera at home, I took out my phone (like everybody else!) and took these pictures of the day. I hope you enjoy a few of these.

Image  —  Posted: April 9, 2019 in Photography
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This Tuesday I wanted to feature a song by a good friend of mine. “Denham Street” was written by Bob Enderle. Bob Enderle died too many years ago. He wrote a number of songs that I really like. I am not a fan of most popular music. I don’t need to hear one more song about boy loves and loses girl, or how the singer wants to party and have sex all night.

Denham Street and many other songs he wrote are about social injustices we so easily overlook and ignore. This song points out how unfair, uncaring and mean our social policies are. He makes the song sound sweet while the dark lyrics dig into our consciousness.

I did a simple recording of this song. I started with some drum tracks and I played my 12 string Ovation guitar for the main instrument track. I added strings to reinforce the guitar. Once I sang the melody I thought it would be a good song for harmony. I added the harmony vocals and listened to the rough mix a few times.

After a few times through the song I turned off the drum track and liked it better without them. I worked on it for days. I wanted to ‘do the song justice’ and make it fit the image I have from Bob’s version. Sweet tragedy.

Here are the lyrics and my version of Denham Street. I hope you enjoy.


            “Denham Street”                                                     Bob Enderle
 
Car alarms squeal on Denham Street     
Like coyotes howling at the moon.
Tattered grey men look for some place to eat
Teen age mothers search for her womb.
Street lights shattered near the playground;
Darkness hides an old routine.
Cracks in the family, crack in the hall.
 
There’s an overpass over Dehnam Street
Supporting Highway 95.
There are no exits for Denham Street
But it’s only a twenty minute drive.
To the shops with plywood windows
Through the alleys of despair
Just another wrong turn and you’re almost there.
 
To every city there is a Denham Street
And to everyone who grows up there
There are few exits from Denham Street
Fewer thoughts behind an empty stare.
Social programs lack the funding
Social consciousness has died.    
Solutions on the shelf have never been tried.     

Image  —  Posted: April 2, 2019 in Cover Tune Tuesdays
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To be honest I do not have a bucket list though there are things that I expected to be able to do before I died. One of those items I really have not achieved, but I did get to take a first step.

Last year I was approved and certified for medical marijuana in the state of Ohio. There are only a small handful of dispensaries open in the state……. they are still way behind schedule. (this reminds me of a saying attributed to Mark Twain that I heard as a young adult. It is reported that he was asked what he would do if he knew the end of the world was coming. He quickly stated that he would move to Ohio. When asked why, he said that everything happens 20 years later there).

True still today, we are usually behind the rest of the country if not the world. So even though I had to drive hundreds of miles out of my way, for the first time in my life I purchased marijuana legally in Ohio. I figured by the time I was 30 years old politicians and citizens alike would wake up and remove the lies surrounding marijuana use and it would be legal for all.

I am not sure when or if this will happen, but I am not willing to take the risk in waiting. So I took the first step until recreational use is a reality. The experience was a bit bizarre, but I will get into that in a later post. Right now it is time for me to take my medicine.

Image  —  Posted: March 27, 2019 in Opinions and Observations
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Can building “the beautiful wall” protect us from hurricanes crossing our borders?

Will the wall be high enough to stop tornadoes?

Is it long enough to stop the floods or forest fires?

Should it be smart enough to keep in the rain and prevent droughts?

Fake News = Fake Emergency.

Image  —  Posted: March 21, 2019 in Opinions and Observations
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Another addition for my Cover Tune Tuesdays project. For those of you just jumping in, I am not covering songs from well-known artists you have already heard. I wanted to play some of the songs written by people I have known over the years. I can pretty much guarantee none of us thought we would be famous authors – mostly because none of us tried to be. Like many others, we decided not to put in the eternal time, money and thankless effort necessary to ‘make it big’ in the music scene.

This is a song written by Tom Gorman, Lori Niemi and Tom Robinson. It was written in 1980 and has been recorded and performed by many people in the core group of songwriters I have mentioned previously in my posts.

This time I recorded the song using my Martin 6 string guitar. I usually use my 12 string but since my bi-lateral carpal tunnel surgery last year and plain getting old, it is hard for me to do difficult songs any more.

I used my Ovation 12 string for the 2nd guitar parts so I have not abandoned it completely. I use Sonar Cakewalk – now by BandLab as my recording software. The haunting melodic sounds are from a program called Dimension Pro. I sang and did a little harmony here and there but that is the essence of the mix.

Jackals cover performed by MSK


I would like to share some versions of this song with you and will post 2 other previous recordings. It is a good historical view. People change, equipment changes and the mood inspired by the song change over time.

          "Jackals"                                                           (C) 1980
Straight hollow blocks of buildings haunted with lives
Scanning you with hidden silence
They house the hungry Jackals who go prowling through the angled
Paths of night.
 
Watch out for the hungry Jackals, they’ll dull you with lies
Making like they’re you’re best friends, while they’re sharpening
Their knives.

 
Stalking unwary victims they sidle up
Cutting you with cultured voices
And punctuating death throws with a fluttering of gestures and a
Sociable smile.
 
Watch out for those hungry jackals they stalk in disguise
They clutch your hands with such courtesy but there’s murder
In their eyes.
 
 
Running that dreadful gauntlet every day
Mixed in with the gentle people
A Jackal sticks his paw as a cohort jabs a claw out as you
Hit the ground.
 
Watch out for those hungry jackals disguised as they are
They’ll send you out to save the world but you won’t get very far.

 
Watch out for the hungry Jackals, they’ll dull you with lies:
Making like they’re your best friends…….
Gary Jefferson on vocals
Bob Enderle on vocals

Image  —  Posted: March 19, 2019 in Cover Tune Tuesdays
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As part of My Cover Tune Tuesdays, I wanted to do an acoustic version of one of my favorite Grateful Dead songs. The story I heard about this song is that Stella Blue refers to an old cheap guitar Jerry Garcia played when he was much younger. I tried to look up references but nothing conclusive so I stopped. I am not a reporter, after all.

In either case, this song has been an inspiration for me in many ways. As I get older, though, the message is much closer to home. I hope I will be able to dust off the strings for years to come, but I still find each moment I have to make and play music precious. Without it I would be insane, lost or dead (but not grateful)!

So I got out the Martin 6 string acoustic/electric guitar I got from my older brother and changed the strings. It was not enough to dust them off! Then I pulled out my Ovation 12 string acoustic/electric guitar and dusted off those strings. The Martin I ran a guitar cable to the Universal Audio Solo 610 mic pre-amp. After recording the main guitar track in Sonar by Cakewalk/Bandlab I used the Ovation 12 String guitar for a light/filler guitar track. I used a AKG C214 microphone plugged into the Solo 610 for recording the Ovation. Vocals used the same microphone and pre-amp set-up so it was a quick session.

All the years combine
They melt into a dream
A broken angel sings
From a guitar.
In the end there's just a song
Comes crying up the night
Through all the broken dreams
And vanished years.

Stella Blue         Stella Blue
I've stayed in every blue-light cheap hotel
Can't win for trying
Dust off those rusty strings just
One more time
Gonna make them shine. 

When all the cards are down
There's nothing left to see
There's just the pavement left
And broken dreams.
In the end there's still that song
Comes crying like the wind
Down every lonely street
That's ever been.

Stella Blue         Stella Blue 
I've stayed in every blue-light cheap hotel
Can't win for trying
Dust off those rusty strings just
One more time
Gonna make them shine.

It all rolls into one
And nothing comes for free
There's nothing you can hold
For very long.
And when you hear that song
Come crying like the wind
It seems like all this life 
Was just a dream.

To Stella Blue         Stella Blue

Songwriters: Jerome J. Garcia / Robert C. Hunter
Stella Blue lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Image  —  Posted: March 12, 2019 in Cover Tune Tuesdays
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On another note (LOL), I have been interested in Modals for a while.  I think they benefit lead players more but I do find them interesting and useful.  Recently I was looking at a YouTube channel where the post by David Bennett Piano answered the question, “are there any pop songs that use the Locrian scale?”.  The Locrian modal uses a flatted 5th, which flies in the face of popular music and their rather vanilla use of scales and progressions. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6JBsOzOFaQ
The post was interesting and informative, but I bring this up because of the ONE example he could find.  Granted, he stretched the definition of “pop”, but his reference was one of my all time favorite vocalists and artists.  Bjork, formally with “The Sugar Cubes” is up there with Peter Gabriel for me.  I think she is a true musical genius.  Maybe because she does not limit herself to the confines of commercial music, and indeed, much of her material  – especially her videos – is really out there.  So am I.   Anyway,  could not resist spreading this reference around.   Army Of Me:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeAZ9DQZFz8

David Bennett is Patreon member (as am I) and is worth supporting.

Image  —  Posted: March 6, 2019 in Music Theory
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Given an odd set of circumstances that would give you the choice of listening to your favorite songs and bands on a really weak radio signal (cheap, broken or terrible stereo system) or listen to songs you don’t really like in hi quality sound?

Being an audiophile and passionate about great music this is a tough question for me lol.

Image  —  Posted: March 4, 2019 in Uncategorized
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As many of you know I am not a professional photographer. I describe myself as a guy who likes to take pictures. Yesterday my wife and I were walking in our yard as it was getting close to sun-set. We heard some birds just chattering away and saw a pair of woodpeckers and very close by but much further up in the trees there was a hawk perched on a limb. He just sat there watching us and everything around him.

I am not good with names so I do not know what specific birds these are, but for the last few years the hawks have made this their home. Before then I don’t remember seeing or hearing them around where we live. I have always had a love for birds and I have a special fascination with larger birds of prey. Amazed we did not scare him/her away, I went into the house to get my Nikon camera and 70-300 mm lens. My wife stayed watching the birds because it is highly unlikely I would make it back with the camera before they flew away.

Here are a few shots I managed to get when I returned. I hope you enjoy starting the day in flight.

Image  —  Posted: February 28, 2019 in Photography, Uncategorized
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MSK 2-23-2019

It’s been months since we left shore
Nothing looks familiar any more.
The tropics and fair weather long past
How did it get so dark and cold that fast?
 
The seas blended into the sky
As the waves are frozen in ice.
A sun this bright feels bitter cold
The heart burns darker if the truth be told
 
          I’ve seen the bottom of the iceberg;
          I know how deep it goes.
          You can’t judge distance by its tip;
          This, every captain knows.
 
Compass guides us toward nothing
Spinning, bouncing but never pointing.
There’s no one trusted at the helm
Of a sudden lost far beyond the realm.              
           
Never lived under clouds this weird
Sweat instantly frozen in my beard.
Your cries are lost behind a smile
Deeper still with each swallowed mile.
 
          I’ve seen the bottom of the iceberg;
          I know how deep it goes.
          You can’t judge distance by its tip;
          This, every captain knows.
 
It’s been months since we left shore
Nothing looks familiar any more.
The tropics and fair weather long past
How did it get so dark and cold that fast?
 
Here we are and I love you still.
No strength; no hope; no will.
Here we are and you can’t let go
Never see; never believe; never know.
 
Never see; never believe; never know.

Image  —  Posted: February 25, 2019 in Poetry
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