Tuesday, December 30, 2014

God made the earth… Shiny as a marble

My latest song, Big Blue Marble.  Free here, on Spotify and on all the usual streaming sites.
Jesse Korman on instruments, recorded at his Elephonic Studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

I had a hundred dollars in my wallet, had a six-shooter 25 in my pocket...

Fear the Man is a juanty American Murder Ballad. The happy-go-lucky man in the song has a serious message, however, in the last verse:
Why in the world would you run a man down
With disdain and contempt, acting like he's a clown?
You think you're dominating while you mire them in the muck.
You're creating a man who don't give a fuck.

Sounds like American foreign policy to me.
From the album Contrary.  Listen to this movie-in-your-head on Spotify. Download from your favorite source.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

God Bless Bristol Bay and Barack Obama.

From the early 1970s until the mid-70s I worked three times for All Alaskan Seafoods company Each time I flew from Seattle to the location of the MV All Alaskan. Once I landed in Naknek/Dillingham, Alaska. My God, the number of salmon boats awaiting the opening gun of the season!
The mines that could destroy this paradise made by God are the work of the devil called unrestrained capitalism. Thank you so much Mr. President.

addemdum, 12/17:
Opps. Bristol Bay has been spared, hopefully forever, by President Obama's memorandum to ban oil and gas drilling  there, but Bristol Bay also faces extreme environmental degradation from the proposed Pebble Mine. This would be an open pit copper mine which would require extreme measures to extract the low-grade copper and gold. Google around. It seems that the outcome of Bristol Bay's environment is still in the hands of Congress. We all know what that means.
The outfit that has already spent hundreds of millions to fight for mining approval overruling the Environmental Protection Agency is a Canadian concern. So we have the destruction of Bristol Bay to add to the Keystone Pipeline project and in both cases our Congress is siding with big Canadian money.
Why is it that the news reports do not include this information? Everything I read implies that Obama has saved Bristol Bay. Just one more example of corporate "journalism." 

Jeb Bush and Rand Paul Will Run Together - Burl's Braggin' Rights

Below is a blog from Nov. 28, 2013 which quotes my blog from July 15, 2012.

  Here is the latest article I've seen about Jeb Bush taking a Radical Right     viewpoint. And below is a short blog from July 15, 2012. I think I was         just too early in my prediction.

   I first thought this in late '09 when I read that Jeb Bush had attended a     Rand Paul fundraiser. Everywhere I've posted it someone says,  "No           way." Well, way.  This criticism of Romney from fellow Republicans is         unprecedented. Republicans don't do that; they hold coronations. I still     think that Romney is a dark-horse, willing or unwilling, for the next King   Bush. I think he (Bush) will incorporate just enough of the Ron Paul           libertarianism for Rand Paul to accept the VP slot and to gather votes 
  that Romney just can't get. If I'm wrong, I'm only wrong, but if I'm right 
  I claim 2 (now 4) years of braggin' rights!

I get at least five years of braggin' rights now.
What can Rand Paul do for the Bush/Saudi branch of US politics? Here are my thoughts; notice that each issue is a beautiful usurpation of what could have been Democratic issues.

They can vow to reduce military spending.
They can vow to reduce CIA/et al wholesale spying on American citizens.
They can vow to reduce dependence on drone strikes.
They can vow to end torture.
They can vow to reduce the prison population of the US.
They can vow to take marijuana off the federal list of illegal drugs, entirely leaving the regulation of pot to the states.

These items simply pop into my mind and I am too distracted by Klezmer music on Pandora right now to come up with more.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hobo Lady by Keith Sykes

Keith Sykes. If you aren't familiar with the name, google it. He has toured with Jimmy Buffet, written songs with John Prine, and much more. Around 1967/'68 I saw him perform at a coffee house on the campus of West Texas State in Canyon, Texas. He was going on the coffee house circuit. He was open to socialization. For all the little Christian girls who heard him at the same time and could have spent the night in his bed, I have this to say: Thank you for your shyness; because you didn't get to fuck him, he wrote a song instead.
Keith invited me to visit him the next day at the Buffalo Courts (Canyon, Texas). I did and he told me he had written a new song. He said he had received a call from management during the night complaining of the noise, but he had finished the song nonetheless. As I recall, all rooms at the Buffalo Courts were individual structures and built of stone, so the complainer was a pretty sensitive person.
I picked it up pretty fast because it was in open D tuning (DADF#AD) and I was a John Fahey open tuning kind of guy. I didn't write anything down. I learned the words; I learned the guitar part, and it stuck.
In '69 I accidentally ended up in Nashville. While there, I walked down Music Row and, at a small publisher's advice, ended up at a studio called "Queen of Sound."  I paid $5.00 for three tries at recording a song, and I recorded Hobo Lady. I absolutely told everyone at every step of the way that it was a Keith Sykes song. I recorded it because I had NOTHIN', I mean nothing I had written, that would have opened a door for me.
But doors opened. I just didn't walk through. That's another story or two.
Over the years, I have sung this song any time I wanted to knock someone's socks off. I've played it while blitzed on acid, drunk as a skunk, and on a mental ward in Flagstaff, Arizona. It just doesn't fail to rock the room. Anywhere. Anytime.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Confession, an innocent man vows revenge.

Contrary was the first album I paid money to release (CD Baby). My wife was not happy because I had gone down to Austin, Texas to record sweet songs that she had heard me write. But, in the aftermath of an inspiring first recording session I went back the second year and wrote Contrary on the beach of Padre Island. Then I chose to release Contrary as my first release. Sorry, honey. You helped me pay for those trips and I let you down.
I did not let me down, though. I have been a political being, I would say, since 1963. I was 13. JFK was assassinated. MLK. RFK. Viet Nam. 'Nuff said.
Was it not the great Englishman, William Blackstone, who said that the greatest argument against capital punishment was that a mistake would surely result in the execution of an innocent (wo)man?
Was it not Jesus who said that, "Whatever ye do unto the least of these, ye have done unto me?"
Whoever said those two statements, I agree with you.
If you disagree with Blackstone and/or Jesus that is your right as a human being.
I disagree with you and I say, "FUCK YOU." Yeah, in the ass, like a common prisoner.
Sue me, Asshole.
You are about to click on a video I once deleted from Youtube because I appeared with a fake gun in my hand. I held, at that deleting moment, a view that guns were evil. Yes. But...
the execution of human beings is evil, far more evil, so...
As an American I say go ahead...Please participate in prosecuting Bush, Cheney, Take it to the World Court. Call on Obama as a witness.
My fellow Americans - Stop thinking that we stand above reproach. God did not create the USA.
DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE OTHERS DO UNTO YOU. Or suffer and die in CIA-approved "Black" Prisons, Motherfuckers.
That is the spirit of CONFESSION.
And then...
The man is released from his unjust imprisonment. What is he to do? Revenge proves impossible. Reconciliation with his mother, likewise. He goes wild. He seeks true love. He withdraws from the world. He makes a home. Underground.
Are we at a point where continued existence of the human race is a possibility? Is it possible that in a post-apocalyptic world survival is an option?

Joe Hill's "Power in a Union"

As I mentioned in my first blog/album note about my latest album, singing Power in the Blood (at Trinity Baptist Church, Amarillo, Texas) was thrilling. Some hymns soothe, others exalt, this one ROCKS!
Get the latest edition of the Little Red Songbook or the others still out there as reprints and you'll see the changes I chose to make to Joe Hill's words. My changes are in the public domain. The edition I used most was the 1923 version.
Please scroll down for all the blogs about my new album When Hymns Bled Red: Words of Joe Hill in Red. And please check them out on Spotify or your favorite source of streaming music. Gosh, you might even buy a song from iTunes. I've got five albums out.
God help me, I couldn't get this song sung without sounding like an old, congested man. (See my blogs on Colorado marijuana) -)

There Is Power In the Blood

A                                            D              A
Would your be free from your burden of sin?
           E                            A
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood.
                            D         A
Would you o’er evil a victory win?
           E                               A
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.
                            D                      A
There’s pow’r, pow’r wonder working pow’r
           E                 A
In the blood of the Lamb
                             D                         A                 E7                               A
Ther is pow’r, pow’r, wonder working pow’r in the precious blood of the lamb.

 There Is Power In a Union
By Joe Hill     

Would you have freedom from wage slavery,
Then join in the grand industrial band;
Would you from mise’y and hunger be free?
Then come! Do your share, like a man.

There is pow’r,  pow’r
In a band of workingmen,
When they stand hand in hand,
That’s a power, that’s a power that must rule in every land –
One Industrial Union Grand.

Would you have mansions of gold in the sky,
And raise your kids in a shack, way in the back?
Would you have wings up in heaven to fly
And starve here with rags on your back?

There is pow’r,  pow’r
In a band of working women,
When they stand hand in hand,
That’s a power, that’s a power that must rule in every land –
One Industrial Union Grand.

If you believe corporations and all they’ve said
Then don’t organize, all unions despise,
If you want nothing before you are dead,
Shake hands with the boss and look wise.

There is pow’r,  pow’r
In a band of working humans,
When they stand hand in hand,
That’s a power, that’s a power that must rule in every land –
One Industrial Union Grand.

Come, all ye workers, from every land,
Come join in the grand Industrial band,
Then we our share of this earth shall demand,
Come on! Do your share, like a human.

There is pow’r,  pow’r
In a band of working humans,
When they stand hand in hand,
That’s a power, that’s a power that must rule in every land –
One Industrial Union Grand.

The Wobbly Doxology

If you grew up singing, "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow..." like I did, you may enjoy this little nugget from Australia. As in other songs I got from the Little Red Songbook I made my changes according to our beloved folk process, but I sure as hell did not change the emotion!
If you can, get a copy of the reissue of the 1923 songbook in addition to the latest one.

Joe Hill's Last Will

I first heard Joe Hill's Last Will sung in a pub in Dublin. That musician (can't remember his name, sorry) sang it to some melody of his own, I think. I put the words to the tune of Sweet Hour of Prayer. Unlike the songs whose words I tinkered with, there is no excuse to tinker with a last will and testament. Ain't it funny how Christian in nature this "dangerous communist's" last will is?
This is my 4th installment of album notes for my new album. The others precede this blog and more will follow.

Sweet Hour of Prayer 
Sweet hour of prayer, Sweet hour of prayer      
That calls me from a world of care
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known

In Seasons of distress and grief
My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
By thy return sweet hour of prayer

Joe Hill’s Last Will (Nov. 18, 1915, Salt Lake City)
My will is easy to decide,
For there is nothing to divide,
My kin don’t need to fuss and moan –
“Moss does not cling to a rolling stone.”
My body? Ah, if I could choose,
I would to ashes it reduce,
And let the merry breezes blow
My dust to where some flowers grow.
Perhaps some fading flower then
Would come to life and bloom again.
This is my last and final will,
Good luck to all of you,

- Joe Hill

Dump the Bosses Off Your Back

Dump the One Percent. Let's start there, shall we? Once again, I changed a few words. Changes can be detected by buying and reading a Little Red Songbook. My changes are Public Domain, intended to stay that way. The original song What a Friend We Have in Jesus was adapted by John Brill.
The simple truth is that the poor, forlorn, and hungry did have a great friend in Jesus, but most of today's "Christians" are not followers of Jesus. They are not "a thousand points of light." 
Neither is the United States an anti-Communist country. Why? Because Nixon went to China. 
So don't be afraid to sing the Wobbly songs even if you aren't a "Red." Do you want your children to have healthcare? Do you think if you work hard at the best job you can find that you should be able to support your family in a decent life? Then sing for economic justice my friends. That's not communism and don't let the 1% fool you that it is. 

What A Friend We Have in Jesus

What a friend we have in Jesus                                   
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit
O what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Dump the Bosses Off Your Back
By John Brill 
Are you poor, forlorn, and hungry?
Are there lots of things you lack?
Is your life made up of misery?
Then dump the one percent off your back.

Are your clothes all patched and tattered?
Are you living in a shack?
Would you have your troubles scattered?
Then dump the one percent off your back.

Are you almost split asunder?
Loaded like a long-eared jack?
Mule!  why don’t you buck like thunder?
And dump the one-percent off your back.

All the agonies you suffer,
You can end with one good tax..
Buck up! You orn’ry voters,

And dump the one percent off your back.

Joe Hill's 'Preacher and the Slave'

Wobbly Joe Hill picked some mighty fine melodies for his parodies.  Sweet By and By, melody by Joseph P. Webster, is pure beauty. It is Mr. Webster's music moreso than S. Fillmore Benett's lyrics that cause me to not 'go off' and sing this song with contempt. I have heard Wobbly songs sung by folks who I think get more delight out of poking fun at the "Christians" than emotion invested in the Wobbly message. I leave out the "That's a lie" line (see the Little Red Songbook) and made some other changes, all intended for the Public Domain.

Sweet By and By
                 G                        C                 G
There’s a land that is fairer than day
And by faith we can see it afar
             G                      C            G
For the Father waits over the way
                           C  G/D D      G
To prepare us a dwelling place there
In the sweet by and by
                D7                                        G
We shall meet on that beautiful shore
                     G7/B   C
In the sweet by and by
                G/D              D7          G
We shall meet on that beautiful shore

The Preacher and the Slave 
By Joe Hill
Long-haired preachers come out every night,
Try to tell you what’s wrong and what’s right;
What's wrong?  You need is a job and something to eat
They answer with voices so sweet:

You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.

You can work hard for children and wife –
No guarantee you’ll make it in US life–
You’re a sinner and bad man, they tell,
When you die you will sure go to hell.

Workingmen of all countries unite,
Side by side we for freedom will fight:
When the world and its wealth we have gained
To the grafters we’ll sing this refrain:

Last Chorus:
You can eat bye and bye,
When you’ve learned how to cook and to fry;
Chop some wood, ‘twill do you good,

And you can eat in the sweet bye and bye.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

We're all bums now

Here is the first of my CD Baby album notes for my CD When Hymns Bled Red: Words of Joe Hill in Red.

How many of us wondered 'Who is Joe Hill?' when we first heard Joan Baez sing "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night?" The great Swedish immigrant was only one of many songwriters who took melodies from popular hymns and other songs of the day and turned them into anthems for worker's rights and economic justice. Joe Hill, the martyr I read about first, but when I encountered Joe Hill the songwriter he came to life in my mind.
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is a singing union. The story goes that early members of the IWW, the Wobblies, sang their own lyrics when the street Salvation Army bands were playing their hymns. Now both the popular folk songs and the hymns are now fading from our culture, so what will become of the great International Workers of the World (Wobbly) songs? Looking online I see IWW union activities are ongoing worldwide. Are they singing? Surely.
I’d like to see the songs evolve so they can stand alongside new songs and new Wobbly parodies. About as much of a folklorist as I am anymore boils down to this:
I believe that knowing the original song helps appreciate the parody. On Top of Old Smoky deserves to live out it’s truth independently of On Top of Spaghetti, not just as “the source melody of …” I believe authorship and copyrights are to be honored but that, in the Public Domain, Mr/Ms Anonymous can tear it up!
I begin each song with the first verse of the original hymn. If you detect from my singing that I love the old hymns, you are right. I grew up singing them in the Southern Baptist Church. "Power in the Blood" is one old hymn that is, in my mind, a rock song! It is fun to sing. All these songs have gone into the public domain and any changes I have added are not copyrighted. If my performances of these songs ever make money, I'll happily donate it to the still-active IWW. My most hoped for reward?  To see the lyrics in the Little Red Songbook attributed to Anonymous, USA, heralded only by my own horn, just duly blown. (elephant trumpeting sfx)
This is my second album recorded at Elephonic Studios in Albuquerque, New Mexico with Jesse Korman, engineer and Jared Putnam on that fine upright bass. It's my sixth album since turning 60 in 2010.
I rarely perform; that's a long story, but if these songs make it to any union who wants to pay my expenses I'll bust my ass (one weeks notice at the least) to get your membership singing along with these American classics from an age when workers fought like hell for the rights workers enjoyed in the 20th century before Ronald Reagan divided and conquered.
My introduction to the IWW and Wobblies songs was through the albums of Pete Seeger. I came late to the knowledge that the IWW is still going strong. I finally got some Little RedSongbooks and started out on songs based upon my favorite old hymns. 
I have no use for the Southern Baptist Convention and it’s affiliated churches; my last tie to them would be the hymns. It was through these hymns and my early Christian faith that I connected with the Civil Rights Movement and came to love and honor Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. It was through his later speeches that I came to understand what the battle between rich and poor was all about and the relationship between war and capitalism. So, let's keep the hymns and let them live out their own truth.
I left out some verses and added whole verses or words to these songs. I will not go into the kind of documentation that is readily available in the Little Red Songbook (Check out used book sources for reprints of older editions) and the Big Red Songbook. Here is the way I sing:

Revive Us Again
(Revive Us Again, William P. Mackay)

Hallelujah, I’m a Bum
Harry “Haywire Mac” McClintock

We praise Thee, O God, for the Son of thy love         
For Jesus, who died and is now gone above.

Hallelujah! Thine the glory! Hallelujah! Amen!
Hallelujah! Thine the Glory! Revive us again.

Why don’t you work like other men do?
How the hell can I work, ain’t no jobs to do.

Hallelujah, I’m a bum, Hallelujah, bum again;
Hallelujah, give us a handout to revive us again!

Oh why don’t you save all the money you earn?
If I didn’t eat I’d have money to burn.

Whenever I get all the money I’ve earned,
The boss will be broke and to work he must turn.

Oh I like my bosses, tell ‘ya how nice they are,
They drive me to the food bank ‘cause I can’t afford a car.

Why don’t you use that degree you earned?
They don’t want to pay - they hired an intern.

"Burl Dunn" on Spotify and Pandora

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A new song: WHO LOST CHINA?

Considering the US treatment of tiny Communist Cuba, what can it mean that Nixon went to China?
Considering the US claims that the old USSR and today's Russia are out to take over the world, why did we not and do we not worry about China's world influence and huge military?
I think it was all done to provide cheap labor to "American" corporations and to provide a huge new market for those corporation's goods.
But, a side effect is simply this: Politically the US grows more totalitarian every day, more like China every day. Did you notice that China cracked down on the Hong Kong protestors on the same day that the feds declined to prosecute US police violence and then cracked down hard on the protestors?
Economically, China grows richer every day using State-supported capitalism (fascism)  as the US does. They pour money directly into things; we do it by tax breaks and military incursions.
Our government betrayed us. THEY "lost China." Republicans led the fight; Democrats joined in, the same old pattern of Democratic Party betrayal.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hang that jury, vote for that mouse.

Regarding the murder of Michael Brown President Obama refers to the rule of law, a nation of laws and so on. Recently I read the Rolling Stone article about Attorney General Eric Holder's choice not to prosecute our nation's most criminal bankers. They paid a fine.
It also seems clear that the CIA, with the acceptance of the White House, will steamroll the very people who have been legally set up to oversee them - the US Senate. On and on go the lies and not enough citizens are enraged enough to demand change and see it through. I remember when, over the issue of gun control, the President said 'make me do it,' or some similar words. I think that if enough people had demanded change we would have gotten some, but we think all we need to do is vote for change every four years and it will be done. Or we thought that six years ago when we elected Obama.
I just read a few remarks from Howard Dean the former leader of the Democratic National Committee. His 50 state strategy for Democrats laid the groundwork for Obama's remarkable campaigns. The result was good for Democrats and bad for America, because as Dean admits, the Dems did not have state and local strategies for state and local governments. "All politics are local" goes the old adage, but the Dems focused too much only on winning the Presidency. As a result even Obamacare is on it's way out because of one stupid line in the law and the USA's willingness to kowtow to the royalty that is the Supreme Court. That stupid line counted on the states to set up exchanges which clearly they had no obligation to do.

We need to look at jury duty in a new light. It is our willingness to be so dutiful and a fear of falling into lawlessness that motivates the concerned citizen, yet so many prosecutors and police have no willingness to be dutiful. Our country is top-down lawless. It's time to use our own judgement. Be that 12th juror who refuses to change his/her vote. If you err, err on the side of your mind and heart not on the side of corrupted "justice." Be that change you which to see.
Deny the Presidency to the Democratic Party. Worrisome? The Republicans might lead us to hell tomorrow? Big deal because the new deal is that the Democrats will lead us to hell in a week.
These two things are within our grasp easily. If you are called for jury duty and put on that jury then do the right thing for justice, knowing that we are most certainly a nation governed by men, not laws, so be that wo/man. Most of us want change, but do not want to take it to the streets. Now that we know change is not going to come from today's Democratic Party, I say the true vote for change is the vote that punishes the Democratic Party. Mickey Mouse.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Our definition of a "good teacher" from the LaLa Land that is American education.

The expectations of the federal government and many parents regarding teachers: a good teacher is one who will always sacrifice her personal life to put in more than 40 hours a week,
a good teacher never rises up to challenge authority,
a good teacher will spend his own money to by supplies that in any other industry would be the companies' responsibilities to provide,
a good teacher will go into debt to the tune of 2 or 3 years pay to have the privilege of making less money than any professional class in the US,
a good teacher never loses her temper in any situation,
a good teacher can fix the social ills impinging upon the student - they can overcome poverty and ignorant parents to bring any child up to the same level of education as comfortably- situated kids who grew up hearing the language of love, acceptance, and college-level vocabulary,
a good teacher will attend training sessions even if she knows more about teaching than all those assholes who leave the classroom to ride the gravy train of federal and state one-size-fits-all mandates,
a good teacher stops fights even at the risk of his own life,
a good teacher will teach from a script, if told, engaging students in a call-and-response litany worthy of Nazi Germany,
a good teacher will not join a real union (the American Federation of Teachers),
a good teacher, frankly will not join an "organization" either (the NEA),
a good teacher will bully children into saying the Pledge of allegiance,
a good teacher will glorify the history of the US to the point of teaching the lies of the Tea Party,
a good teacher puckers up and plants a big kiss squarely on the asshole of every person who has more power in her district - counsellors, Ass. Principals (oops, Asst.), Principals, Superintendents and all their lackeys, and custodians.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bad school administrators, from counsellors on up, are NOT being identified.

This week I listened on NPR to a glowing account of a "new" teaching method. The story presented this teacher as one who embraced the "Common Core." Gee, I'd like some Brownie points for having used this technique in my classes (I retired in 2008). I hate it that so many teachers who had classroom skills way ahead of imposed "changes" are not credited with being good teachers. In my short 17-year career I saw teachers whose skills and subject knowledge were superb and I saw teachers who couldn't have passed the Freshman Composition class I took at Amarillo College (Amarillo, Texas). I once went to the teacher, the head of the math teachers in my school, for some help in understanding a graph in my social studies book. She hadn't a clue. As I left, the head custodian came up and said, "I kept sweeping outside her classroom listening to you too. Let me see the graph." She then proceeded to explain it to me.
I saw nothing in my 17 years that changed the opinion I formed within the first year I taught - the main problems with American education all point to lousy, lazy administrators. I NEVER received a thorough teacher evaluation, except from fellow teachers in Career Ladder. I never heard of a teacher fired for incompetence even though I must say that the overall competence I saw in action was a distant second to the Amarillo radio where I worked for 5 years - KGNC. The entire staff of that station (in the eighties) was smarter, more efficient, and better managed than any other place I worked in my life.
During my teaching years I saw things involving misuse of funds and mismanagement that appalled me. I discussed these things with teachers I met from many parts of the US and they always nodded and said, "Oh, yes. These things happen in my school and district, too."
Only once for about three years did we have a counsellor who had all student schedules ready for teacher use before the student's first day. We would often give pre-tests to students, as ordered, and then lost these students as schedules were finalized. The counsellor/s would not change the pre-test information. At the end of the year I was accountable for the progress or lack thereof even though I did not teach those students!
If a teacher smiled, jollied the administration along, and never raised a fuss no matter how outrageous a situation, they were a good teacher. If a teacher complained, they were not a good teacher. If a teacher in good favor incorporated ideas from the latest inservice training, they were praised. If a teacher was in bad favor with the administrators, no one noticed that their students were learning.
A teacher who was a former lawyer sued the district for not following requirements of English As A Second Language students, and in my district a huge percentage were in that category. The district lawyer fought that battle to a standstill with her superior skills. It took years because the teacher was correct. He lost on technicalities. Who paid her? You did, American taxpayer, because my district was funded by federal dollars. This woman was paid her hourly rate while she drove to board meetings, too - a 3 hour drive each way! You paid for that.
When the state changed curriculum around I went from teaching American history to World history. The school provided NO textbooks. I wrangled some old high school books, way above my 8th graders reading level. We used the graphics mostly.
When the district ended the practice of providing materials through the warehouse we bought our own. I hated it when they took my chalkboard away and I had to buy those expensive dry erase markers instead of chalk.
After several years of 2-hour blocks for "language arts" and after a loss of a couple of teachers (not to be replaced), the district permitted the principal to change back to 1 hour of language arts. Test scores dropped. These lower test scores were cited as one reason the middle school was failing and the district came within a hair's breadth of dissolving the school and putting kindergarten through 8th grade all together in three locations. I asked, "How will you handle sports?" Oh, each school will have it's own team. I responded, "We only had 12 eligible football players by the end of this season. You won't be able to field a team." Idiots. In my district, hell anywhere in the US, students and parents would come out in force if the kids couldn't compete in sports.
Once I pestered the state auditors until they provided me with the information I knew was true based upon statements from retired and nearly-retired districts. The district, almost every year, failed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars into our Social Security. They deducted it all right, and then, of course they spent that money.
I sat at a board meeting where money was being allotted to tear down old buildings. One board member asked about a particular old, stand-alone gymnasium which was still much-used. "Oh, we're not tearing that down yet." They just wanted the money allotted to use for God-knows-what.
I could go on, believe me. But my point is that we are following a ridiculous pathway with education. We are federalizing what is Constitutionally a state matter. States were already failing to oversee schools adequately and now they are following federal laws and mandates that have NOTHING in them to reform the problems. The problems are called Superintendents, Financial Officers, Principals (thank God many schools still have good ones, no thanks to the federal reforms), auditors, and the concept of federal mandates.
There is a reason why Republicans and many others want to focus on teachers as the bad seeds of education - all they want is to provide their corporate friends with a non-unionized, kiss-ass workforce for the next growth industry - privatized education.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Inside jobs and the violence that keeps secrets

If 9/11 was an inside job, as I believe, who is keeping the lid on those who know what really happened? Or individual aspects of what happened that prove the Towers collapsed in a controlled demolition?
How were the top people in the CIA, et al, kept silent - those who knew the truth of the assassinations of the American Dream that were the murders of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy?
Would it not take powerful and violent threats to life and limb, not only made to those people, but also to their families and descendants? Wouldn't someone in high places have possibly wanted to come clean - but didn't/couldn't?
I submit three entities, and don't claim to be the first to suggest this. In the matters of the 60s assassination of Kennedy - the man who threatened to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds" - the CIA and the Mafia. Duh. Same with Martin and Bobby, I think.
In the matter of 9/11 - the Military/Industrial/Secrecy/Prison Complex (read CIA, et al) and Saudi Arabia, both known anti-Democracy forces perfectly willing to torture and kill.
If you believe or harbor the fear of a 9/11 betrayal, you need to go here to the 9/11 Truth Film Festival page and see detail after detail pointing towards the big lie we are asked, and threatened, into believing.
For more on the Saudi/Bush family alliance and the questions it raises, try Lawrence Wright's New Yorker article, here. You know, do you not, that they behead people in Saudi Arabia? That they played a key role in the drastic rise of oil prices that helped bring down Jimmy Carter? That they are a key US ally, as was Pakistan? (bull....)
A neat summary of that article is on AlterNet, James Ridgeway's article, here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Independence from the new world corporate order - Free Scotland!

         As the European Union, England, and the corporate giants who are more powerful than countries warn Scotland  to remain in the game, I hope they will vote yes, and become independent. The world needs a major country that is nationalistic for real. Straightaway after WWII the Bretton Woods system began the cascade of treaties that have brought us today to this insane and failing state of capitalism. All the conservatives and fascists who argue that there is any free market stuff going on are full of it. Everything is regulated and the markets are as rigged as a casino - for the benefit of a tiny minority. Wiser countries tax the corporations more than the US and so their majority populations have a few “nice things – “ like public transportation and health care.
         The network of “free trade” and economic stability is exactly what the corporations say is threatened. Think of it this way, if you will:  After decades of consolidation of economic power into fewer and fewer hands, after every step of the way we were assured that the reforms would benefit us, we are now to believe that the system is too fragile to allow one small (only in square kilometers, not in influence) country to drop out and renegotiate it’s economy as its own people decide.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014

My response to a petition from the Communication Workers of America

I would be more likely to sign if you had shown the actual amendment! Furthermore, I am tired of half measures. There is no Constitutional reason why there should be ANY donated money in politics. The airwaves, and thus the electromagnetic spectrum, belong to We The People and they should be required to deliver a reasonable amount of airtime for debates and information on candidates. The rest should be done with a small (by current standards) set-aside of tax dollars. Unions should not tacitly endorse ANY money as the equivalent of speech. Money doesn't talk, it swears." (Dylan)
 Here is the body of the CWA email:
"Are you one of the 73% of Americans who support getting big money out of politics? If so, there's still time to sign on as a citizen co-sponsor of the Democracy for All amendment, which would restore the ability to set common-sense limits on campaign spending. The United States Senate will vote on this amendment next week. Click here to sign the petition in support of the amendment today. With common-sense limits in place, candidates would spend more time interacting with voters and elected officials would spend time addressing issues important to you and me, not begging for checks and catering to the wealthiest donors. We will deliver our petition signatures to the Senate before the vote. By adding your name you'll help the amendment gain majority support and our movement build even more momentum. Click here to become a citizen co-sponsor of SJ Res. 19, a constitutional amendment to strengthen our democracy."
Here is the link to sign the petition:
Really now, weren't we fed up with the money in politics before Citizens United?
Another half step when we'd better RUN back to Democracy in the USA.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

An Immodest proposal to reinstate the draft and pay for war as we go

The biggest threat to the USA is not ISIS or Russia. It is the gullibility of the American voter in the face of a union among the media and the Military/Industrial/Secrecy/Prison Complex. General Electric and its subsidiary NBC are prominent examples. Norman Solomon is well informed on this and you can read one of his articles on the Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting website here:
We The People are in the dark and so are most reporters. We just don’t know what the secret institutions of our government are up to. I argue that, in our imposed ignorance, we must use our minds, our hearts, and our guts in a kind of three-branch exercise of reaching conclusions. I believe that our government either utterly failed us in the months before 9/11 or that components of our government were involved. Either way they were nothing short of criminal and incompetent. Their answer was to spend trillions of dollars on war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the creation of a new bureaucracy, Homeland Security that does more to add to the national debt and militarize our police forces than it does to protect us. The CIA, et al, failed us so let’s create a new agency to add to the confused and deadly menace. Jeez. The military incursions have been proven through the hands of ISIS and the Taliban to be more deadly than helpful. Our troops were pawns in the hands of the Military/Industrial/Secrecy/Prison complex. The fact that they died and were maimed in numbers far less than in the Viet Nam War results in fewer and smaller protests, though the wars were equally dismal failures.
I hear Vice-President Joe Biden say we will follow ISIS to “the gates of hell.” The upcoming Presidential campaign will pit two main candidates against each other in a bid to outdo each other in hawkish rhetoric. Voices of peace will be called traitorous and weak – un-American. President Obama will be trashed by both Republicans and Democrats. In short, Mr. Biden, we are more likely to follow our terrorist enemies to the halls of bankruptcy and ruin than to the gates of hell. We will spent a trillion here and a trillion there and end up with more terrorists than we started with.
Our willingness to be bled dry leads us to give terrorists their cheapest weapon. We are more than willing to bleed money. And terrorism, like education, is such a handy issue to spout off about in campaigns while never admitting that our actions don’t fix anything in the long run.
 I have an idea that would work, I think.
 Let’s reinstate the draft with new provisions. One provision is to draft every single able-bodied young man and woman of average and above-average intelligence into service. Conscious Objectors, in my plan, would be defined in the same way they were during Viet Nam. As I remember, and know from a Mennonite friend from those days, one needed a family history of belonging to a pacifist sect. You can’t become a pacifist at age 16 or 17 and have it recognized by the government. The way to prove you are a  pacifist will be to accept non-combatant service in and near the most dangerous places or to go to jail for the length of mandated military service. No college exemptions. No mental health exemptions. They can be weeded out and placed in treatment facilities in which the living conditions are no better than field conditions for the fighting private. No deferments. No cushy jobs for the kids of the rich. Come to think of it, since we are so gung-ho about privatization, let’s no longer allow cushy, but necessary, jobs to be military positions. Privatize those jobs, no deferments. Congress must prove its patriotism by passing a law that all non-pacifist children of Congressmen/women currently serving or out of office be put on the battlefield or in the most dangerous locations. We must, I’m afraid, exempt the Congressmen and women or we will never have young people eligible to run and hold office.
In addition to the draft law, there will be funding/tax laws. No more credit card warfare. When Congress (or the president or any damn thing public or private) wishes violence to be done in the name of We The People, we will have an immediate flat tax imposed to pay for it. As costs increase, so will the tax rate.
There. In a short, but impolitic phrase,  Americans must feel the pain of what we do in the world. It’s done in our name. We must share the burden or not pick up the load at all! Oh wait! If we are sharing the burden, why the hell do we allow General Electric, et al, to profit? It’s more insane than my proposed laws.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A model airplane is a hobby; a drone is an instrument of death

Warren G. Harding said "normalcy." No, no, no! The word is normality. Well, it was. Now it is accepted usage. Politically, I'm some kind of radical, but many of my views are very conservative. I don't think we should allow linguistic mistakes to replace legitimate words. Hell, even Sarah Palin has coined words and dictionaries rolled over for her.
Enough! The thing that pisses me off right now is the misuse of the word "drone." When I was a kid I mooned over model airplanes - the ones that you could fly. Since the sixties a lovely expansion of flying model plane models has occurred. There are still the gas-powered engines, but also CO2 and electric engines abound. There has been remote control for some time.
And now we get all these stories about drones. Amazon deliveries by drone. Paparazzi use of drones. What the hell? The misuse of model aircraft is one thing. The label "drone" is going to smear a lovely hobby with the patina of death. 

This just in! News flash! An important John Fahey update!

Ha! My old brain dredged up a critical memory about the iconic guitarist John Fahey. I’m combining my previous two blogs about him and will add the new memory in italics.
The Guardian has an article about the American guitarist John Fahey. Read it here. John's best music is so radical that I somewhat disagree with characterizing him as a blues player. He would hate the term "New Age," but he invented a New Age in steel-string guitar playing. I like the term someone came up with - "American Primitive Guitar." If one tunes to an open tuning (such as G, Keith Richard's favorite tuning - DGDGBD), and then fingerpicks Travis Style (alternating thumb on the bass and use of the first two fingers) - it's hard to go somewhere John did not go first.
I bought "Dance of Death and other Plantation Favorites" sometime around 1965 just because the cover and title were so unusual and the store clerk spoke highly of the music. I instantly fell under the spell! One of my friends who I turned onto the music was named Steve Clark.
Fast forward to 1972. My son was born in November and the three of us went to Los
Angeles to visit Steve, only his name was now Tiramal. I might be misspelling it, but that's
phonetically correct. Tiramal was the director of the LA Integral Yoga Institute, Swami Satchidananda's ashram. Tiramal invited my wife, son, and I to live there in a beautiful old mansion that was
the Institute. So we started getting up at 4 am for meditation, then Hatha Yoga. Steve, I
mean Tiramal, told me, "You'll never believe who I'm giving private yoga lessons to." He
said that one day he got a phone call from a man who told him he was at the end of his
rope. He was depressed and drinking too much. He called the Institute with the remote
hope that there was help there. The caller was John Fahey. Tiramal had been going to John's house for a few weeks. One night he told me that John might come that night for Kirtan (sacred chanting). I had never seen a photograph of  John, but when I walked into the room and saw this man in rolled-up blue jeans I knew who he was!
I started visiting John's house. I just hung around his house a few times talking. One day I asked him how often he changed strings. He answered,
"Everytime I play" Wow, I said, can I have your old strings? "Why, they're dead." That shut
me up.  Another time he picked up a guitar, fingered an A chord in standard tuning and
stretched his little finger up to the fifth fret on the high E string. He looked at me with
rather arched eyebrows. I thought the unspoken message was- do you know this move?
I felt funny that he was showing me such a simple thing and didn't know at all how to
Well, you can see that I wasn't a close pal, but that every single moment with him was
special for me if not for him.
I'll end this post with day at the Yoga Institute John told me that his guitar was
upstairs and I could play it. I went up. It was tuned DADGAD, a tuning often used in Celtic guitar playing. I'd played in DADF#AD of  course but this DADGAD was new to me. Of course I instantly recognized the sound from some of John's pieces. I was wrapped up in this special moment when John walked in and lay down on the floor. I kept playing not daring to look at John. When I stopped I looked over and heard the gentle sleeping snore of my hero.
Yesterday's post told, briefly, what I know of the story of John Fahey and the Intregal Yoga Institute in Los Angeles. I did not specifically point out, as I will now, that the story begun by John is that he was trying to get close to a lady in the ashram. My close friend Tiramal was in overall charge of the ashram at that time and the lady in question was a secretary. Tiramal never said a word about this. He said that John had called the ashram with suicidal thoughts and was reaching out for help. I believe Tiramal. I'd have to hear from the lady in question before I could believe the story. This woman was a serious devotee and I can't see her joking around with John. That may be why he picked her to tell that story.
I remember Tiramal telling me that John was recording a new album in honor of Satchidananda. I first saw it at the Institute. It was called "Fare Forward Voyagers (Soldier's Choice). Tiramal and others seemed a bit upset about something. They didn't want to talk about it, but it hit me recently. There was a picture of folks in the liner notes. Quoting now from   "The Fahey Files"
     "On the reverse of the sleeve there is this: “I respectfully dedicate this album to my guru, Swami               Satchidananda”. Inside the first issue of the album there was a 4 page pamphlet entitled “Yogaville West”,  which, we were informed, was “a growing spiritual community in the beautiful mountains of Lake County,  Northern California”. Surmounting three pictures of the community was the following message:
“I would like to introduce you to this healthy, spiritually based concept of living. The 46 people living here follow the ideals of Integral Yoga as taught by Swami Satchidananda. To the extent that I have practised these techniques, they really seem to work. – John Fahey.” "
John had stiffed his Los Angeles friends! For them to complain would would be a show of ego which they were practicing to get beyond.
John was an exasperating person. He was contrary. Read Glenn Jones' liner notes for The Epiphany of Glen Jones here and you'll get the idea. I think it's safe to say that only his supreme artistry (when he was on) could account for his friendships over the years. Like Picasso or Dylan, he was hard to deal with, but his art saved him.
A few years after I hung out with John a bit in '72 I saw him perform at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas. Afterwards, I was among a few folks backstage waiting to see him. We waited and we waited. Finally, some dude, said, "This is ridiculous" and pushed open the restroom door. Instantly, we heard loud voices - "Hey, man, how you doin'?" "What the hell are you doing in here?" "Hiding out, man." They burst out together with talk of a party somewhere. John didn't talk much to the rest of us backstage. He gave me a look like "who the hell are you?" I was too embarrassed and shy to say anything.
Want a guitar lesson from John? Go here for a fascinating story and a lesson in open C tuning.
I will wait to possibly share another John Fahey memory. It's funny. I'm putting it to my subconscious to remember the Texas dude's first name who plays a critical role. Last name is Dean. Hummm....

Saturday, August 23, 2014

what my Native American students thought about "Redskins," "Indians," and Tomahawk chops

I have lived most of the last 20 or so years on an Indian reservation. I taught high school and middle school students for 17 years. If I ever blog at length about my experiences and insights gained from the experience, I might decide it matters to identify the tribe, the school district, etc., but for this blog I’ll leave it there.
It took time, but eventually for most school years I had a very good relationship with my students. Actually, when it came to discipline and class control issues I said more than once to a recalcitrant student something like this: ‘There seems to be a battle between you and me about who going to run this show. I know that right now we have the kind of office leadership that would let you win this battle, but I want you to know something. If you win I’ll probably be fired or I will quit and if you win, I don’t want to work here. So, I’m not sending you to the office, but I do want you and every student in this class to go home tonight and tell your parents or guardians all about what is going on. Tell them every single thing including what I just said about working here. Tell them they can call the office and set up a meeting with myself and the principal. I’ve been here so long that I’ve forgotten I’m a white man. I won’t put up with this any more than you’re grandparents would. So bring it on.” I won every time.

Most of the time, of course, my classes were fun. I was a funny teacher, too. I was liked. So, that’s my background in a nutshell to set up what I’m going to share with you about using words such as “Redskins,” “Indians,” and actions such as the “Tomahawk chop.” Simply put, at least at a national level (which was the context in which I held these discussions), my students didn’t give a rat’s ass about such things. In fact many of them went out of their way to wear a Cleveland Indians baseball cap or a Redskins symbol. Didn’t bother ‘em a bit.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Now Obama can be a war President, too

If I don’t dwell upon the horrible nature of American journalist James Foley’s murder I think you will understand. The horror needs no words. I must say that the photograph I saw of Mr. Foley before the sword was raised showed the face of a brave man, of a remarkable courage. It is the face of Obama’s war. Now he can end his term as a War President, too.
American politicians do not learn. If they did the lesson of Viet Nam, surely, was that even a poor people can send the greatest military in the world packing if they persist. And thus died so many brave humans, and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.
The American people relished so the feeling of being the saviour of Europe in WWI, the saviour of Democracies in WWII, that they haven’t noticed that, trillions of dollars in military spending later, we haven’t saved so much else.
But we have become a military-minded nation. We will spend billions believing that Mr. Foley can be avenged. Our presidential hopefuls will have to outdo each other in bluster. Many brave volunteers will die.
Many other innocent people will die in the Middle East. Israeli government deprecations  will be funded by the American taxpayer. And, it follows as night follows day, there will not be enough money for US infrastructure, health care, housing, public schools, parks, and town squares, you know - all those nice things that some countries have because they tax the rich.

And billions of dollars later, no, trillions of dollars later, someone somewhere will famously terrorize the US again and we will begin again. Collateral damage be damned – until we finally see that we all, Americans and allies, Palestinians and poor, are potential collateral damage and not just to the enemy, but to our governments.

Monday, August 18, 2014

In the End

Weird, but I can ‘confess’ things on my blog that I don’t talk about to people in person. Every blog I write gets some readers; always the readers include people from outside the US. That’s a lot of what keeps me posting.
Weird, but I remember once, around 1970, telling a fellow that I wish I could be a musician without having to perform in public. I wanted to record and release albums, but not perform in public. He said, “That’s weird.” Yes, it is, but here I am doing it. Yet, (don’t think I’m ignorant) the thing that allowed me to fulfill my dream, the internet, also is so full of stuff that it doesn’t register near as much as if I had, say, become a hit in my hometown, Amarillo, Texas.
Yet, I know a woman, Judith Nelson, Judith Nelson Clark- Judy Clark as I knew her back in the ‘60s, who was a hit in Amarillo, who almost got a song accepted by none other than Roy Orbison, who had a song (I Just Dropped By to See the Show) recorded my Marcia Ball, and yet who never “made it.” Weird. Oh dear, I just googled her old band, the Last Chance Band, and see that there is a band from Maine with that name, and the first reference to Judy and her Texas bros was from one of my blogs. Weird.
Don’t think I don’t know that the only reason I have so many sites that carry my name is because the ‘cloud’ is cheap. I carry on because “you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.” My dream, at this point, is that someone, somewhere, someday will discover a song and that that ‘someone’ has connections – maybe a song placement in a TV show or a movie or …
I still dream about finally overcoming my performance anxieties and making a mark in some city, but it’s kinda hard to think it’ll happen. I’m 64. “Will you still need me, will you still feed me …” Why should you? I never stood in your food line. Well, not very often.
If one is autistic or has Asperger Syndrome, or whatever the hell helped me hide, I’d recommend you not to pursue music as a career. But what do you do if you don’t know yourself well enough, and you fall in love with the idea of ‘making it’ in a world that requires more social interaction than you are capable of? Are you simply fucked? Oh no, not necessarily. I wouldn’t trade my musical adventure for the ‘straight life.’ The adventure was very much in my own head, but that doesn’t mean it was wasted time or foolish. I’ve lived a life. Most of my young adventures were tied to work – on the Bering Sea on a fish processing ship, in Chicago and Florida as a race horse groom, to name two big adventures. And there were those young days when I could smoke a joint that would fuel four or more hours of guitar improvisations.
At this point, if I were to come into money, I’d want it to be for my children and my grandson, Forest William. The hardest thing to kick, and it must be kicked, is the desire to “prove myself” and to seek recognition. I’m over the fame thing (kinda), but not the desire for recognition – and there lies the rub. You can’t count on recognition, but you can count on the journey being interesting and rewarding. Mine has been.
When I listen to my son's first big production, 1972 AND YOU, I hear an awful lot of the history of pop. Pop became Forest's thing. I bought him a Taxi subscription the last year of his life. Taxi is a service that posts stuff that's said to be directly from the film/movie/recording companies. So the posts give the description. I'll make up a typical listing:
Needed. A song a la Ricky Nelson about breaking up. Company will buy performance rights so only submit completely orchestrated songs.
Yeah. I tried it and the feedback always said I was off base. Forest got feed back like
         You really nailed it. That's exactly what the description said. 
But he never got anything placed
I'm not bringing this up as directly relating to the song posted below. I'm telling you that he had moments of experience, of the musical life, that are the real deal. He lived a life. When he wanted something he couldn't do (he played bass, drums sometimes, rhythm guitar, vocals, any keyboard) he posted a note on a bulletin board at U of A in Tucson. He did this for saxophone and classical guitar. I need to tell the names of those guys some day, but I can say this - Rick Moe played drums until he went to New York City, and Forest's beautiful wife Jessi sang real good. Yep.
I'll get to work with CD Baby on Forest's album "1972 and You."
For now, here is a song, In the End, I recorded with my late son Forest Arturo Dunn. Forest never had a piano lesson. He was simply gifted. Forest is playing and singing everything that's not me and a Martin. Forest did his thing in no time. This came from his "hitting the woodshed" on so many multi-track recordings.
This song was written in honor of my wife Rosemary; there is no one else like her in this world; one does not need to ask Rosemary, "Are you a Christian?" She is a woman of works, not words.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Winfield, Kansas where you're not in Kansas anymore at the Walnut Valley Festival

If you are a foreign or domestic tourist (scary phrasing in this day and age) I’m about to do you a favor. If you don’t know what the Walnut Valley Festival is, read on for a real Americana treat, even a shocking , yet delightful treat. The locals call it simply “Bluegrass.” If you ask for directions in Winfield, Kansas you can just say, “Where’s Bluegrass?” (Doesn’t work the same way in Colorado.)
I’m going to tell you about the unofficial festival which is just across the street from the official one, but first a bit about what the promoters would want me to say. At this music festival you can attend contests wherein outstanding musicians from all over the world compete for glory and great prizes.
Thurs. 9:00 AM
Stage 4
International Autoharp Championship
Thurs. 3:00 PM
Stage 4
International Finger Style Guitar Championship
Fri. 9:00 AM
Stage 4
National Mountain Dulcimer Championship
Fri. 1:00 PM
Stage 4
National Mandolin Championship
Fri. 5:00 PM
Stage 1
Finger Style Winners (victory lap)
Fri. 6:00 PM
Stage 4
Walnut Valley Old Time Fiddle Championship
Sat. 9:00 AM
Stage 4
National Flat Pick Guitar Championship
Sat. 3:30 PM
Stage 4
National Hammer Dulcimer Championship
Sat. 5:00 PM
Stage 1
Flat Pick Winners (victory lap)
Sun. 10:00 AM
Stage 4
National Bluegrass Banjo Championship
There are the contests; the days this year refer to the dates from September 17th through the 21st, but the chart online said 2012 so just know this years festival is Sept. 17-21. Past winners of one or more of the contests include Mark OConnor, Alison Kraus, Chris Thile, and Peter Ostroushko. If you have no idea who these folks are, no matter. Also, look online for the artists who will be performing. The party I’m going tell you about is across the street. If you don’t like to par-tay, scroll down to one of my political blogs! Or, you can search online for the festival info.
You need to search and select ‘camping’ info because I’m telling you too late to get a motel room unless you drive to St. Louis. If you do that you mis the party. Camp. Now, in 2009, there was a flood of rain and I managed to get a motel room because so many people canceled, but the festival went on. (Bring mosquito repellant and coils to burn) You’ll be camping and trust me, you want to camp! You want to camp in Pecan Grove, my partying friend. You’re too late to bring an RV this year, but you can find a place to park a car and pitch a tent. Stake a reasonable amount of space for your tent by placing stuff or stakes around, because on the weekend a Pecan Grove that seemed full all week will swell to half again that full of college kids.
Here is a picture from 2009 that gives you an idea of the funky fun to be had in Pecan Grove. This is not Pecan Grove, they had to move Stage 5 that year due to mud.

Yeah, Stage 5 man! Wow! You want to see and hear three barefoot hillbillies get DOWN jammin’? You want to hear folk tunes on a concert harp? You want to hear songs about drinking? Smoking pot? And, really – songs about killing bad cops? Whoa. Yep, I’ve heard it all at Stage 5. There are bands that sing songs sooo deeeeep in Americana that they must know they have no chance of hitting the big time, but they have big followings in and around the Ozarks. You will see crowds heading places around Pecan Grove. Follow them. They are heading to other stages where a popular person or group is about to play. Stages 5, 6, etc. all began as unofficial projects, but Stage 5 is now semi-official. Let’s say not official enough to be censored. I didn’t specify that this is an acoustic instrument festival – I mean its Bluegrass. They don’t even want a drummer! I wandered into a dispute one year that ended with a drummer getting kicked out of a roadside jam. He took it like a man, but I was drunk and, after another song I called out, “Great, but it’d be perfect if you got a drummer!”
There's a lot of drinking going on, but most people are sober (most of the time). Then there's the dude who yelled, “Play on, I’m just hitting my first wall.” I’ve never drunk enough to get past the first wall, but you will see plenty of more experienced drinkers.
This raises the question – bring the kids? Hell, no, but people do. I guarantee you that no one will change their set list. They’ll still sing songs like Suck My Balls. Fights? I wouldn’t worry. Cops? Yes, enough, but they have backed off a lot. The festival lost money during years when the police were overzealous about arresting people. It’s so much a let-your-hair-down event that one year I even questioned things. A young woman left her drunken man after an argument. He drank on, yelling shit. We were camped by the river. He yelled, “I’m gonna kill someone.” Then there was a big splash. “Fuck, I fell in the river!” The cops came, talked to him and left. His friends spent the rest of the day baby sitting. I commented to a friend, surprised he had not been arrested. The regular attendee said, “You see that camp? All cops off duty having fun. You see that one? All firefighters. That asshole was just al talk.” The firefighters were taking turns hitting each other with a swat board (like in old-time schools). “A young woman called out, “You made a welt!” I don’t think she minded that much.
Well, this crap is not why I would want to go so let’s move to music. Do you play? Guitar, banjo, mandolin, acoustic bass, fiddle? Just carry it with you as you stroll around anytime day or night. There will be a jam session going. Join in! I jammed with a band called Whistle Pig (a word for, I think a groundhog). Three mind-bogglingly good musicians man, I hung on by the seat of my pants. Sometimes I play softly on the outskirts of a jam until there’s a song I know. Then, I get louder, maybe get nodded to for a solo, “You want one?)  Fun, fun, fun until Daddy takes your T-Bird away.
Here’s a thing. Years before I attended there was a tradition of some large camp putting up a façade that looked like it came from “Streetcar  Named Desire.” Folks began standing front of it doing their best Marlon Brando. “Stellllllaaa!!!!!”  So, I’m  sitting with a new friend, somewhere in the distance we hear “Stella” and he tells me the story. The façade hasn’t appeared for years! It’s just that some old-timers still yell out “Stella!”
There you go. Will one more thing – all the other campgrounds are for normal people so you can camp there and just go slumming in Pecan Grove if you don’t drink too much to find your way back to reality.
Oh, yeah, I am, after all shamelessly promoting my music and my son’s. I’m a Winfield Winner! YeeeeFuckingHaaaaaa! I won a category of the song contests (across the street) and, new contest that it is, the only prize is getting to sing your song on an official stage. That was enough for me. I overcame my horrific performance anxieties (we won’t talk about my humiliations in the dulcimer and autoharp competitions- “How’d you do?” “I sucked.” I heard you practicing, you’re good!” “I sucked – donkeys.” “Oh sorry man, here have a beer.”) and did good! That was the highest high of the year for this old man! Here is a link to my picture onstage. The guy copyrights his work so I won’t paste it here.
 And here is my Winfield-Winning song, as recorded in Texas with Big John Mills and Sterling Finlay. The song category was “religion/spirituality.” The gospel truth is that I was runner-up, but There Bible (yes) couldn’t attend so I won.

Oh yeah, one more thing. I mean you will be right next to Missouri so people of color might want to know - you'll see hip Japanese tourists, hispanics, and some black folks. This thing is very white, but I'll bet you will not experience any racism. In fact, this year I bet people will go out of their way to make you welcome. Come for the bluegrass and not to gawk. Gawking would raise hackles. Don't come to laugh at people. Come to get crazy and/or jam. You may even get kissed by a libertarian. Many local attendees might have right-wing leanings, but they ain't there for political or religious reasons. What happens in Pecan Grove stays in Pecan Grove.