At this point, with over seven hundred posts, thousands of photographs, almost a hundred videos, and five years on line as Scotttreks, it seems like a simple Dedication of the effort is due..
Many, if not all, literary works, art, music, drama and dance presentations have dedications, moments at the front of the effort that recognize significant influences on the person who has taken the time and effort to put things out there for others to enjoy, analyse, pan, or profit from.. Sometimes it is a wife, children, teachers and mentors who get the nod. Sometimes it is personal secretaries and editors who help ideas get to a place they can be loosed on the world, Sometimes dedications are to God, Muses, spirits and traditions
There are plenty of places and people to Dedicate Scotttreks too,but it seems right to thank my parents for giving me their name, their attention, their love and concern.
While they haven’t put the words in my mouth or on paper, haven’t suggested what I do with my life, they always wanted the best for us that we could make for ourselves.
This little blog, with places still to go and time left to go there, is dedicated to Julia Ann and James Lowell.
I like to think they are reading the blog, wherever they are, happy that I am happy writing it.
At an annual celebration of the famed World War 2 correspondent, Ernie Pyle, at his home in Albuquerque, N.M., a docent tells the small group about the permanent closing of Pyle’s childhood home, in his birthplace,in Indiana. As the docent continues, he reminds his aging audience of the steady inexorable disappearance of American history, the necessity of knowing our collective past.
Ernie Pyle was a celebrated World War 2 correspondent, but, today, there are many Americans who don’t know much about World War 2 except what they see in the movies. They don’t know Ernie Pyle, or Julius Caesar, or Frederick Douglas. They believe the American Civil War was only about the abolishment of slavery and the United States Constitution is outdated and irrelevant, written by stuffy white men who owned slaves and wore white wigs..
Where does history go when it is behind us?
Does God put His memos, research papers,videos and photos on shelves in his personal library? Does he go back and review his plans and progress for the Universe, make changes in the roll out of his vision ? Does knowing history mean we can stop or modify what is happening to us while we are in the middle of its happening?
On this pleasant afternoon, we are taken on a guided tour of Ernie Pyle’s life and times, in a place he fixed bacon and eggs for breakfast and read his newspaper thrown on the front porch by a neighborhood boy on a bicycle.
His house feels like a home and I walk away suspecting that Ernie would offer me a cold drink of lemonade on a hot summer day and have some good jokes to soften the wounds of World War 2 as we both set at a little table on the front porch with empty vistas of the Rio Grande Bosque several miles away.
He came from humble roots but was placed in the middle of one of the worst wars in human history.
His writings and his home survive him, and remembering is something we do for still.
Ernie volunteered for the war but some would say reporting on everyday Joe’s from the front lines was his destiny.
The beauty of his writing is that it seems like it was written for everybody but him.
We don’t come from some ” holler” in back woods Kentucky mountains with our best coon dog sleeping on our front porch, pop’s favorite whiskey “still ” covered by brush down by the river, grandma’s hot fresh baked biscuits on the table and you better not be late for breakfast if you want to have anything left to eat when you get there.
Bluegrass music was created around fires on nights like this, on people’s front porches, at family cookouts with cheap Chinese lanterns hung in trees for decorations, folks rocking in chairs on their front porches. Back in mountain hollers there weren’t televisions, cell phones, indoor plumbing, or microwaves for quick dinners. People read the Bible, if they could read, and kids didn’t go to school but learned how to fish, shoot squirrels, pitch pennies, and say their prayers real nice.
Alan and Joan have a music discussion. Neal keeps our camp fire bright, and Max and Weston play their instruments just fine.
The spirit of bluegrass here is as meaningful as what we will hear under the big festival tent tomorrow.
Going back to our rural roots, especially if we live in big cities, is what bluegrass is all about.
As one group finishes their set, the emcee steps up on stage and introduces the next group. There is a fifteen minute break between bands, enough time for people to stretch, take a walk, find the porta potties, get a burger, stroll the town, pull a hat over their eyes and take a little snooze.
Some of the spectators today are wearing T shirts from past festivals, here and elsewhere, and spend their breaks visiting with their favorite musicians outside the tent before and after each performance.
Waiting in the wings, this mandolin player plays a few choruses to keep his fingers nimble and his mind alert, rehearsing a song his group will soon be performing. His band mates are joking with a vocalist from the band that just finished their set, one of the co-hosts for the Festival.
All the groups are good here but we pick our favorites, either by the songs they play, the way they play them, the way they handle the spotlight, the way they make us feel comfortable, or happy, or sad.
When these performers aren’t talking music they talk money, relationships, schedules, aches and pains,all of them tied together like a good Boatswain’s mate knot.
Luckily, we, in the audience, don’t have to know their business, their politics, their issues, or their motivations to have ourselves a good time. Music gives us all a chance to back away from trials and tribulations and kick up our heels.
If we wanted to be propagandized, or depressed ,we would turn on our tv, listen to talk radio, or open tomorrow’s news already written today.
No one comes to a bluegrass festival to have a bad time and we sure don’t pay for bad music.
” Nothing Fancy” is the name of this bluegrass band.
This is a good name for a band because we didn’t just drive hundreds of miles to Westcliff to listen to frills and trills and a lot of Mozart licks.
Nothing Fancy serves us country meat and potatoes, fresh vegetables from pa’s garden, cornbread,plenty of sweet ice tea, and a big slice of rhubarb pie in their down home musical buffet this afternoon to start the after lunch concert rolling.
These boys are also slipping us a little bit of fancy too, whether we want it or not, but we aren’t going home from this performance hungry.
Bluegrass music has fancy in it, but it doesn’t come out on stage until the right moment, and, even then, only for a few choruses.
This music came from houses with no plumbing, no electric, well water and wood heat.
Singing and playing too fancy would be akin to committing musical fraud.
One of the more entertaining bands at the festival, playing numerous sets over the four days, is the Kody Norris Show.
The Kody Norris show features traditional bluegrass along with dancing, clowning around, comedy, and audience participation tossed in for dessert.
Wearing bright blue and red suits on stage,their group musicianship is high and all spirits under the big tent this afternoon are in fine shape.
Kody, who is soon to marry the group’s fiddle player, Mary Rachel, asks the audience for tips on making his imminent marriage successful.
One of the best audience suggestions is , ” She is always right. ”
Everyone laughs, when they hear this wisdom,except for the ladies. They all nod their heads in total agreement and give their husbands, boy friends and significant others stern “You should be doing this ” looks.
We catch the band several more times between Thursday and Sunday, and each performance is just a little bit different.
Another good tip for Kody, as a soon to be husband ,would be – don’t sing the same song too many times.
Variety is always needed in performing, regardless of what kind it is.
The High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass Festival runs July 10-13 at the Bluff and Summit Park in Westcliff, Colorado.
A huge circus tent is set up in the town park with spectacular views of the mountains and valley nearby. In the 2010 census, the population of Westcliff was 568, up from 417 in 2000. 15 bands played this year and festival attendance was close to 4000. The Festival is a fundraiser for children of the area and helps with medical services for the town. In the last fifteen years, the event has raised almost $600,000 towards its charitable goals.
In a town of 568, you know everyone, and everyone is involved in their town. There are volunteers running shuttles that pick us up in the festival parking lot and run us up the hill to the music tent. Volunteers haul trash away, direct traffic, provide first aid services, sell tickets ,and one of them wraps the four day green wristband around my wrist and fastens it.securely. If I remove the band I will have to buy another to get back inside the grounds.
Smack dab in a beautiful piece of no where, the town and festival is big enough to attract talent and small enough to be family friendly. You can go to the merchandise tent and visit performers after their set, buy CD’s and T shirts and ball caps. There is a beer tent and country folks handle their alcohol better than most. Kids run in the grass outside the tent and even dogs are well behaved and wag their tails in perfect time with the music.
For four days, we listen to and enjoy all the banjo, guitar, mandolin, upright bass and vocal music we can handle.
When, as one of the musicians says on stage, talking about a song he wrote, you move from a country where seventy percent of people lived in the country and farmed, to a country where seven percent of the population feeds the other 93%, you are seeing real change.
When people don’t know where their food comes from, they tend to lose their humility.
When the country disappears from America, we have lost ourselves.
Bluegrass should be in every music collection, even if you don’t know where the country is and would never go there of your own free will.
” All of Me ” is a jazz standard, a song called often at jam sessions and performances, a standard that has been going strong since the 40’s.
Tonight’s performance brings back the Big Band era after World War 2 when ballrooms,in big as well as small towns, turned lights down and let dancers cuddle through the melody with their feet making tiny squares on the dance floors as emotions arced back and forth between husbands and wives, lovers, friends in the process of becoming more than friends.
The featured vocalist this evening is a transfer to the band from Virginia and is introduced by Chris, happy to have her singing with the band.
Lillian caresses the song and it holds up well, even if it is played by musicians wearing camouflage pants and black T shirts.
In the old days,these musicians would have worn suits and ties and the vocalist would have packed herself into a Las Vegas torch singer dress.
Music, as does art,literature, and drama, captures the mood. time, and place it was composed and reveals how we were, how we are, and how we believe we should be.
” All of me”, tonight, wraps a generation in it’s arms and gives them all a big gentle honest kiss.
Dancing with your honey in a big ballroom ,with lots of other couples, made the evils of the war front drift away till reveille sounded again.
Feeling love in a hate filled world was what all G.I.’s dreamed about in their foxholes, in the middle of the Pacific on a ship, or hidden in the clouds on a bombing run over enemy territory.
In the American Civil War, drummer boys led troops into battle and were one of the first to be shot by opposing forces. Paintings in the White House show George Washington surrounded by a drummer and flute player when he was surviving Valley Forge and winning our disagreement with Britain. GI’s in World War 2 were entertained by singing show biz legends at the front when they had a rare break from spilling blood in someone else’s fight. Music and fighting men/women have always had things in common.
Tonight, the 44th Army New Mexico National Guard Band is doing a free concert at the Albuquerque Museum of Art. Food and drink is available, crowds are good for a Thursday night, and the band performs jazz standards, big band charts with solos and lots of rhythm. During the show, a female soldier joins the band on stage and belts out songs for an appreciative crowd.
Everyone has to play their part well tonight to make the whole group sound good. Like the military unit, that they are, the soldiers must play in time, play in tune, play their written and improvised parts in the style and spirit required. Their marching orders are to follow the conductor when he moves his hands in front of them, left and right, up and down.
After the big band plays, a smaller ensemble of brass players march onto the stage, literally, and play rousing New Orleans brass band music.
After the concert, the audience and some of the soldiers, hang out on a nice summer evening, not in a hurry to leave.
Music brings people together,in spite of wars ,and keeps them together, whether they are military, or not.
Greg has been playing since he was a kid, a professional since his teens. He has toured the world, made recordings, teaches , creates instructional aids for aspiring musicians, promotes his music, travels extensively and is among the best at what he does.
His wife, Judy, is on piano tonight and plays professionally in the Chicago area. Tom, on bass, is a touring jazz musician who plays now with Lee Konitz but is sitting in tonight, much to our surprise and joy.
Listening to Greg is analogous to standing next to a pro golfer on the practice tee after a tournament,watching him hit three hundred yard drives followed by wedge shots to within a few feet of the driving range pin.
Fluency, flexibility, precision, attitude, creativity, are required to make this jazz music sound good, all in the right combinations, like a spectacular chef salad served at Chef Ramsey’s finest world restaurant.
I love what I hear even if it is beyond my ability to even copy.
What’s possible to do on the saxophone gets a whole lot bigger after hearing tonight’s performance.
It is uplifting to watch people do what they do better than most everyone else.
Seeing how far you can go with gifts you have been given is always worth doing.