Category Archives: Influences

Example of Legacy

Thanks to @johncmayer on Twitter:

  The Way You Make Me Feel, David Ryan Harris

The great ones live forever….


The Day the Music Died: Finale – Buddy Holly


1936 - 1959

By now, you know the details of the crash fifty years ago that shocked the music world.  Graham Nash explains it best:

  Graham Nash talks about “The Day the Music Died”

 At 22, the lanky kid from Lubbock, TX  had been re-writing music rules.  At the tender age of 18, Holly had taken the sagging Rock & Roll scene by storm with stark rhythms and the strains of non-traditional instruments.  No hearthrob, Holly’s attraction was purely “the music”.

While Holly was quite a personality, it’s his music that has had the most lasting affect.  Many artists of the 60s and 70s, point to Buddy Holly as a major influence.  A young Robert Zimmerman’s life changed the night he watched Buddy Holly perform on the Winter Dance Party tour in Diluth, MN.  As Bob Dylan, he would also influence generations of music.

More after the jump


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It’s not particularly easy to write about Father’s Day as this year is truly our first “fatherless” Father’s Day. Having lost Mr. D’s Dad back in late January, there are no cards to buy nor phone calls to make to express appreciation for all of the love and patience over the years.

When my own father passed away in the fall of 2005, I shed very few tears. Perhaps it was the detachment of making all of the arrangements, assisting my mother through her own grief, or a disbelief that he was really gone, but I remember feeling very strange about my outward lack of emotion.

However, just over two years later at my father-in-law’s services I was near inconsolable. I’m not a very demonstrative person emotionally, so I think my visible sadness was a little concerning to my husband’s family. While I was sad for my husband and his loss, I think the grief I was expressing was more for my own father and my own loss that I was finally able to “see” and feel only after time had passed.

So, lately, I’ve been reflecting on my father and his impact on me and my family. First, this is/was my Daddy…

For me, this picture epitomizes my father. From the cynical smirk on his face, to the ever-present cigar, the camera in his pocket and surrounded by the plants that defined his life. A horticulturist for nearly 60 years, he saw beauty in plants and flowers and loved growing and propagating all types of flora.

My Daddy experienced a significant amount of hurt and disappointment in his life, but he never used it as an excuse for anything. He was highly intelligent and intellectual with a side order of honesty and sincerity. He was a very principled man and he expected no less from his children.

In preparing this post, I scoured my vast library of pictures for a picture of he and I together when I was younger and I could not locate one. He was usually behind the camera and he wasn’t very demonstrative with us when we were growing up. A quiet and private man, he didn’t go in for a lot of hugging and kissing, so we were left to just “know” that he loved us. As an adult, however, he became much more “open”, particularly with his grandkids. In the one picture I could find of he and I together, look who is the center of attention.

He dearly loved his grandchildren and was so proud of each of them. This is one of my favorite pictures. It’s Mini-DD with my Daddy for Easter, when he was two and a half.

The joy on both of their faces is so evident. Also true to my father’s nature was his sense of “habit” and routine. Just about every picture I could find of my father in later years has him wearing this burgundy plantation shirt with all of his “essentials” packed into his breast pocket.

When he died, my mother gave Mini-DD one of my father’s pocket knives. For those who knew him, the significance of those knives is relevant as he was never without one and could always be relied upon to open a box or cut an apple. It is one of his grandson’s prized possessions.

As for his daughter….his youngest child….the girl he called “BooBoo”….I wasn’t left with a prized possession. More importantly, he left me an understanding of living a life of integrity, a love of family and history, and an example of loving a partner until your last breath.

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do

Daughters, John Mayer (from Where the Light Is DVD to be released July 1st) — performance at The Nokia, L.A., 12/07.


Live From Sun Studios: Amber Rubarth

The next installment of the Live from Sun Studios sessions is up and features Indie artist, Amber Rubarth.

While sort of an “anti-Grace Potter”, Amber is an eclectic mix of the Ditty Bops, Leon Redbone and a kinder, gentler Brandi Carlile with a hint of Norah Jones thrown in. Amber’s soothing acoustical style is pleasing to the ear and many of her songs are couched in obtuse humor. (Nobody here likes that.)

In the Sun Studio session, she is joined by Adam Levy of Norah Jones’ Handsome Band fame and Alex Wong on percussion. LERVE the whistlin’. Check her out. She’ll be releasing a new CD in May titled, New Green Lines, on Sounden Recordings. She’ll also be out on a U.S. Tour starting in May, after concluding a brief European Tour. This up and coming Indie warrants a further listen.


Underground Angel


Posted by on April 10, 2008 in Influences, Uncategorized


The Queen of Soul…One Girl’s Perspective


Many a young girl (and old ones, as well) have belted out Aretha Franklin’s anthems like Chain of Fools, Never Loved a Man and House That Jack Built with fervor and passion, playacting at commanding an audience the way the Queen does.

One such mini-Ree is our own Shrew. This uber-fan of the Queen realized a dream and was able to attend Aretha’s concert in NYC, at Radio City Music Hall, no less.


Image Courtesy of Shrew

Rather than me trying to inadequately relay the experience, here it is straight from the horse’s mouth:

Imagine yourself walking through the fabulous streets of New York City…not the gritty streets of the 70’s and 80’s , but the lush sparkling streets of midtown in the 60’s.
The lush New York of Holly Go-Lightly…

The sophisticated city of May and Nichols…

The controversial vibe of Dylan and Cafe Waa…

and one site you would likely see is

The Queen of Soul, the Empress of Music…sold out for a two night engagement at the world famous Radio City Music Hall. But, this is 2008, right?

Not so for this gal, for one night it was 1966 and I was seeing Aretha.
The energy was electric as we walked into the beautiful Radio City Music Hall.

I wasn’t sure if it was my excitement or the design of the interior, but everything I saw assumed this golden rose hue. If you have never been to Radio City Music Hall you must understand that no detail is without the grace and beauty of art deco influences.
From the etched “Rockettes Glass” overseeing the main lobby…

 to the grand mural along the master stairwell.

Even the bathroom looks like a set from a Fred and Ginger movie…

There are Rockettes even waiting to take you back to your seat…

So we made our way to the doors. As we approached the full glow of the stage radiated through the door into the hall.

And the doors opened….

The full splendor of Radio City can not be told through words and pictures. The grandure of the space is lost. I was pleased to see despite being in the second to last row on the third mezz. our view of the stage was terrific.
The place filled up rather quickly. The crowd was a melange of young packs of twenty-somethings to couples reliving there 1960’s memories. The atmosphere equaled a gospel revival…reverant and jublient all in the same breath.
The lights dimmed and the funky pulse of a tight ensamble pierced the air. Then the lights lifted…

The crowd bubbled with anticipation as the band limbered up…then THE moment.
A legend is announced~

The music vamped for a while and from stage right she walked on, giving a few saucy side bobs of her head and then headed center stage.

And then…She sang. Those first few notes hit my ears and my heart lept. Vibrations of sound that she was making, left her throat and traveled through the air directly connecting with my ears. At first all I heard was emotion; pure energy and soul heaped out of one being and offered up to hundreds.
My eyes welled, was I really hearing the same woman as she sang that I danced to when I was four? That I grooved to when I was 15? That I made countless others listen to when I was 20? That I sang with at the top of my lungs while I drove to work the day before? Live, here, now, in front of me, sounding every bit the woman I have heard on record all my life.
Then in an instant: I was present hearing what Aretha was singing, “Your Love is Lifting Me Higher” as if an ode to each and everyone of us who continue to love her. Aretha shifted to a rendition of My Funny Valentine that was bluesy and introspective. Then she went back to one of my favorite songs…her number one hit cover of Don’t Play That Song.

Now, if you have come to read the set list I will disappoint you…I stink at getting them. I do know, she made Moody’s Mood For Love a worthy inclusion for the set, gliding effortlessly through each vocal obsticle slung her way.
And then before I knew what was happening…”bada-bang, bada-bang, bada-bang, bada-bang. HOO- What you want? Hoo-Baby I got it” Radio City errupted…all jumped to their feet enmass to groove. All, excpet for the guy sitting next to me. Dude? Really? You can sit through one of the most electric songs ever? I guess so because he just sat clapping together his finger tips in time like he was listening to a Bach concert. Weird no? All I could think is he MUST be bad in bed.
Ms. Franklin welcomed to the stage Ali-Ollie Woodson of Temptation fame to “take us to church” with some gospel. And we went to church. One word for Aretha and gospel…resplendent!

Halfway through the show, Aretha welcomed her seventeen year old son KeCalf, a christian hip-hop artist onto the stage. He did a yoeman’s job of performing while his mother rested. The two songs felt long and I was accutely aware of the crowd’s discomfort. As a treat, Ms. Franklin sang Chain of Fools upon return.

All in all the evening was all I wished…then the strains of Old Landmark began and Aretha and crew raised the roof. All concerned were out of our seats and boogying on down

“Shouting, shouting, shouting, shouting…Stay in the service of the Lord.”

and off she went…stage right.

Clapping… and many vamps of the band.

On she came…

The encore she chose was the seasonal, Berlin’s Easter Bonnet. As she sang, you could not help but feel this one song was more for her than for us. That fact did not deminish the enjoyment of the simple melody and wish.
Soul, Gospel, Jazz, Contemporary R&B, American Standard…why indeed…Empress of Music is accurate.

90 minutes…much much too short.





Click here for video. Take that Beyonce’.


Everyday Hero


Uncle Harris, 1945

Today is Veterans’ Day. Not to be confused with Memorial Day. Memorial Day honors those who died fighting for our country while Veterans’ Day honors all those who fought and survived those wars, returning to fight the unending rigors of everyday life. Certainly, all of these brave, fresh-faced young men who for generations have gone off to fight for wars, just and unjust, are all heroes who should be honored and celebrated.

I’m sure that most everybody has a Veteran in their family or knows one personally. My Dad was a Naval Officer, as was Mr. D’s, Dad. And then, there were my two uncles, my Mother’s brothers. In December 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States jumped with both feet into WWII, Harris was 17 and younger brother, “Bud”, was 15. Their baby sister — my Mother — was 10.

The brothers were close in age but miles apart in personality. Of course, in a small Cajun town, everyone knew them (as everyone knows everybody and their business, as well). Harris, being the oldest, was the one with all the expectations. A congenial fella who enjoyed a good laugh and a good time. He fancied himself smarter than most but in truth was “canaille”, which in Cajun French means sly, sneaky. His younger brother, Bud, was actually named Adam but everybody knew him as Bud, short for Buddy — a name bestowed upon the youngster by his Father.

Now, Bud was whole ‘nutha story. A classic “middle child”, he was stubborn, headstrong, and independent with a penchant for trouble. So, after a year of rubber and aluminum drives, rationing and hearing daily reports of the needs of the nation coming from the radio, Bud and two of his friends decided that it was time to do their part and sign up to fight the original Evil Axis. Small problem. They were all just sixteen and too young to join without parental consent. Not to be deterred, young Bud marched right up to his parents and made his bold request. My grandmother vehemently denied such a ludicrous request. However, my grandfather, in the ways of fathers of that generation, agreed. His thoughts were that if Bud felt he was man enough to go and try his luck out in the world, albeit the dangerous world of war, then he wasn’t going to stand in his way. He signed the papers and in early 1943, the freshly turned 16-year-old Bud, set off for basic training in the Navy.

As for Harris — he was not near as noble. Having just graduated from high school, he entered the local University to pursue a degree in Education and anxiously hoped his number would not be called. However, shortly after Bud joined up, Harris was drafted. Being 5’ 8″ and weighing in at 120 lbs., he was found to be a perfect fit for the Infantry. Unlike his little brother who volunteered and had a choice of service, Harris was at the mercy of the draft board and where troops were needed. He was sent to basic training in Texas in the sweltering July heat of 1943. He was 19 years old.

Curiously, both brothers were fluent in French, having spoken it since infancy. No government authority ever asked the question of their language skills, therefore instead of being sent to Europe where their unique skills could have been utilized, both were sent to the South Pacific. Mercifully, the young Bud was attached to support unit and became a Baker, 1st Class. Evidently, the recruiter (with perhaps a word from my grandfather) ensured that the young 16 year old would be somewhat protected away from any kind of combat. He always boasted that he made the best biscuits around.

Harris, on the other hand, would not be so lucky.

After completing Infantry training, Harris was attached to the 37th Division of the 129th Infantry, known as the “Fighting Buckeyes”. Yes, it was an Ohio Company of the National Guard that he joined as a replacement for troops lost. Now, in 1943 Louisiana was like a foreign country to Ohio residents, so I can’t imagine the difficulty my young uncle encountered when he left his small, ethnic village for the first time to go thousands of miles from home with the daily threat of never returning looming. But he did it. Just like his naive younger brother and just like millions of others across this country.

His first stop was New Caledonia for deployment to The Solomon Islands. A French Colony, he actually got to use some of that french with the Polynesian natives and Island inhabitants. Then, on to first-hand combat at Bouganville and with MacArthur, “back to Bataan”. My Uncle Harris was part of the first wave to walk onto the Philippines at the Linguyen Gulf when MacArthur returned. In the ensuing months, MacArthur’s Infantry marched the island of Luzon re-capturing towns and liberating POW camps, all the way to Manila. At one point, he was a scant 30 miles from his brother, Bud, somewhere in the South Pacific, but they didn’t see each other until the war’s end in 1945, over three years since they had both been in the comfort of their modest small town home.

And, come home they did. Bud first. A little worse for the ware, he returned home to rural Louisiana, a 19 year old man of the world. An accomplished first baseman, he was shortly drafted by the NY Yankees AAA farm club, but declined feeling that he had been far away long enough and truth be known, missed the familiarity and comfort of the easy-going, Cajun lifestyle. He ended up going to work for Bell Telephone, where he worked for over 45 years and became the resident expert in PBX installation. He eventually married and had two sons. His wife died suddenly a few years after he retired and within three years, he died of lung cancer at the age of 68.

At the end of 1945, Harris also returned to his hometown, although not as smoothly as his brother. Having contracted malaria from the jungles of the South Pacific, he was barely 100 lbs. and suffered terribly with fevers for quite a while. Within the year, he married his sweetheart and continued his studies at the University to become a teacher. By 1947, he was teaching back in his hometown at the very elementary and high school that he, and everyone he knew, attended. Although he loved children and has a special way with them, he never had children — the malaria is a suspect. However, he spent over 35 years in the public school system as a teacher and principal…all in that same little town where he born and raised.

To this day, he is stopped in the grocery store by former students and complimented about how good a teacher and administrator he was and how much they appreciated his commitment to their education. Having taught multiple generations of students, he’s positively affected thousands of lives.

For many years, I never even knew that my uncles were in “the war”, until one spirited Christmas when they had a singing debate pitting Anchors Away against The Caissons Go Rolling Along. As my avid interest in World War II and my curiosity regarding my own relatives’ service increased, my Mother cautioned me that my uncles never talked about their service and it was better not to pry. Eventually, my Uncle Harris retired from his second career at a hardware store and shortly thereafter, found out that the wife of his youth had dementia. For more than 20 years he cared for her, first at home and then daily in an assisted living facility. Though painfully slow, she passed away nearly five years ago.

The real point of this story is that the “hero” part of Uncle Harris and Uncle Bud, like most veterans, isn’t limited to the two to three year stint fighting foreign wars but more in the fact that they returned, got an education and became an integral part of society and helping to move America along. My uncle is more of a hero for his 35 years of service in education than those three years in the Army. The dedication and commitment shown to his diminished spouse was paramount to that demonstrated in The Philippines. The comradarie and good humor he’s had within our family has been more significant than all of those old Army buddy relationships.

He was an inspiration to me long before he sat down with me a couple of years ago and told me all about his service in World War II, but that service was a defining part of his life and deserves recognition. This past fall, the people of Lafayette, LA put together a program called “HonorAir”. Through donations, they flew five separate planeloads of WWII veterans up to Washington, D.C. to visit the new WWII Memorial and other landmarks. Uncle Harris was on the last flight, a few weeks ago. He thoroughly enjoyed the trip and even had his picture taken with Bob Dole. He was awestruck by people’s kindness and attention…and their appreciation. When they returned to the Lafayette airport, the veterans — retired teachers, doctors, lawyers, farmers — descended the escalators one at a time, to the symphony playing patriotic music in their honor.

A Hero’s Welcome.

Hero, Mariah Carey


Posted by on November 11, 2007 in holidays, Influences


Little Things…

Wayne Newton.

Crazy, Ray LaMontagne

Multiply, Jamie Lidell

Soul Suckers, Amos Lee

Lived in Bars, Cat Power

Son of a Preacher Man, Joss Stone

Ain’t No Time, Grace Potter

Long Train Runnin’, Taylor Hicks


Posted by on October 9, 2007 in Influences