Saturday, November 3, 2012

Jorma Kaukonen and Barry Mitterhoff

Got to see one of my favorite bands, Hot Tuna, this past March in Iowa City. Then, last night I got to see Jorma Kaukonen and Barry Mitterhoff, 2/3s of Hot Tuna, at the Redstone Room in Davenport, IA. It's not the same without Jack Cassady on electric bass, but, the quality of musicianship, stage presence, performance level, and pure enjoyment was DEFINITELY present!!!

The passion, cohesiveness, dynamics, command of their instruments, and interaction between Jorma and Barry is awesome and inspiring. Awesome to see the cohesiveness that these two individuals have developed together over the years. Inspiring to keep playing music and searching for a musical partner to develop along the same or similar lines.

And, small miracles still happen as longtime friend and awesome musician, Mike Wallace, who attended both concerts with me, stated "We need to do a similar musical venture, Joe." I'm humbled, thrilled and greatly looking forward to working up a duo, or any ensemble, with Mike, playing the music that excites us and we are passionate about!

For those readers unfamiliar with the work of Jorma and Barry, the clip below should spark an interest or fulfill a curiosity. Enjoy!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Small Stones

Yesterday was Writing Our Way Home's Mindful Writing Day.

This was an online event that encouraged individuals to write "Small Stones" or short observations on any aspect of life they chose. A fun exercise that jump started writing for me. It's a delightful little practice that I hope to continue. The couple that started Writing Our Way Home have several digital presences as you can see by opening any of the links on this posts.

My Small Stone submission for the event was the following: Summer's fire burns the leaves blood red until Fall's cool simmers the fire to golds, golden browns, umbers and ambers exciting the senses and causing yearning for Spring in my heart and soul.

The next challenge posted by Writing Our Way Home is to "notice something properly every day during January" and write it down in a journal or one can start a journal or practice daily writing now with any sort of book, notebook, journal dedicated to the practice. I've been wanting to start a creative journal and this looks to be a promising practice to develop and get me going on just such a daily habit. I write a "small stone" every day and fill the blankness with doodles, collages, color, or anything that appeals to me or relates to the words written. I've got several a journal or sketchbook to put down the words and will get started with that project.

Many thanks to Marty Reger for "inviting" me to the Mindful Writing Day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Disc Golfing and a Disc Flight Guide

Over the past year I've really become hooked on disc golf. The immediate Quad City area where I live is blessed with 11 disc golf courses. It's also blessed by Iron Lion Disc Golf Supply the only locally owned shop.
Owners, Chase Roberts and Jessica Argyle are personable, helpful, experienced players, and their shop provides a variety of discs, really fine locally designed and produced clothing by Hippie Golf Wear as well as other disc golf items for sale.

Myself and Felix Castro, a co-worker and friend, started a disc golf league at work this past spring. It's grown from just me and Felix meeting up to play once a week after work to at times 5 or 6 co-workers playing on a Thursday evening. Life's busy and many of the 30 or so folks on our mailing list are busy with their lives. In September I thought of putting together an Ace Race to raise some funds for charity as part of our employee annual fund drive. Lot of logistics such as no money to finance the project and no liability insurance for the event put the brakes on that idea. But, Chase suggested putting on an Discraft Ace Race. In so many ways it turned out to be the best solution, not to mention a fun event for the players! Discraft is one of the major golf disc manufacturers as well as freestyle and ultimate discs. The Discraft Ace Race has grown to over 300 events taking place around the world with more than 16,000 participants. That's been a bit of an undertaking for me this year but it wouldn't have happened had it not been for support from Iron Lion Disc Golf Supply, The Friends of Credit Island, Tom Lafrenz, John Kinser, Felix Castro, and Heather Nobiling.

Probably the greatest benefit of participating in a Discraft Ace Race is the Player Pack provides a pre-registered player with two proto-type discs that are the only discs to be used for the Ace Race. These discs are different from year-to-year and most, but not all, make it into retail outlets. This often does not occur until way after the Ace Race the discs were featured in has taken place.

There are many manufacturers of disc golf discs these days. The disc golf disc traces its origin to the Wham-O Frisbee and has been highly engineered to create at least three classes of discs: distance driver, mid-range driver, and putt and approach disc. Each disc has a different name, stability and flight characteristics as well as color, weight, and plastics.

When visiting a Disc Golf Supply shop, or visiting online shops, a disc golfer can find flight charts showing the various characteristics of a manufacturer's golf discs. This can be a bit overwhelming especially to the new player. That's a good reason to shop at a locally owned and operated disc golf supply shop that is staffed by knowledgable players and/or owners as they can direct an interested customer/newbie towards a disc that will be right for them.

Recently, I've found a blog, Rattlin' Chains, that had a post about inbounds Disc Golf. inbound Disc Golf was started by a new disc golfer, Brian Rogers, out in southern Pennsylvania who is a IT person or at least trained, and, I think, employed in that field. (You can read that blogpost here) As such he does a lot of analysis. As a new disc golfer he started questioning the differences in the nature of disc golf disc flight characteristics. As the various manufacturers don't seem to rate their discs with a universal standard, this individual developed a flight guide in as objective a manner as he could by averaging the various flight rating systems.
It has resulted in a golf disc flight guide that is available online or in hardcopy. The concept and development seems solid enough to warrant this a worthwhile addition to all levels of disc golfers resources.

The inflight guide is not inbounds Disc Golf only offering as a visit to their website will bear out. Their organization is multifaceted in that they sponsor several events and promote disc golf in various ways throughout their geographic locale and via the internet with their web presence.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Innovative Metronome Usage by Victor Wooten

Victor Wooten, bassist for Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, presents innovative ways to utilize the metronome in the video below. Well worth the ten minute viewing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Killarney Boys of Pleasure

An Irish fiddle tune I'm currently enamored with enough to have learned it and will attempt it with others at a monthly session Thursday night (Oct. 11, 2012). The version below by Lunasa, from their 2001 album, The Merry Sisters of Fate, is not performed in the traditional AABB dance format which makes it more interesting to me and the listener. Hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Knicoma Frederick

Josh shared a link about Knicoma intriguing artist, perspective and outlook.

Worth a looksee at the video below.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Tom Rush

First heard of Tom Rush back in 1970 at Loyola University in a short course on the Blues put on by the dorm manager of the dorm where I resided. One of the tunes he put us onto was Tom's Bukka White amalgam, The Panama Limited. Tom played using a telephone jack cover as a slide when he recorded that tune. Back then those covers were made out of metal. The video below is Tom performing The Panama Limited back in 2007 or uploaded then. He's using a glass slide these days but he still does the tune well.

Didn't realize it at the time but Tom Rush was one of the first singer-songwriters. He influenced a lot of folks that would follow in that vein. James Taylor is one. Tom's gotten back into the performing scene as of the past decade or so. The video below is a great tune, The Remember Song, written by Steven Walters. Enjoy!

More info can be found at Tom's website at

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dan Beto's Driving Technique

I've been trying out Dan Beto's approach to driving a golf disc and it sure seems to provide the flat and lower flying disc that I'm looking for. I'm able to keep the nose of the disc down following his guideline. The video below is Dan describing and showing his technique.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Disc Golf Notes to Self

Extended my long weekend by taking today off and played Camden Park Course 1 today and was treated to three tips from another Disc Golf player.

1. Keep the thumb on the edge of the disc when throwing to throw straighter.

2. Keep the disc's nose down when driving to keep the disc's flight flatter.

3. Pull straight across the body. (Know that one but good to keep reminding myself.)

Below's a well done video produced by Evan Qualls and Lenny Young of Guardofzion YouTube Channel at the start of the 2012 Disc Golf Season in the Quads. Hope to see more of their disc golf vids!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

One Thought

"Savor every moment." - Lewis Demetri (Corelis) 1953-2010.

Three words that come to mind often, as does Lewis, and thought I'd share them.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Zentangle or Doodling Part Two

My previous post on Doodling brings me to discuss the following art form known as Zentangle. Upon seeing a Zentangle pack of Micron pens and a pencil in an art supply store, which I bought, I’ve been drawn back to this form of art which I practiced to some degree too many years ago.

Zentangle is an interesting phenomenon. In some ways it is doodling. In other ways it is art somewhat reminiscient of M.C. Escher in its optical illusional nature.

In true entrepreneurial fashion the creators of Zentangle, Rick and Maria, have copyrighted and/or trademarked the Zentangle idea, aligned themselves with Sakura of America providing materials Micron archival ink pens, Zentangle cards, books, and training to individuals wishing to be certified Zentangle instructors.

A distinct difference between Rick and Maria’s “tangles” exists. Rick’s “tangles” (see an example of Rick's below) consist of more straight lines and right angles as opposed to Maria’s (see an example of Maria's to the left) which are more fluid, rounded, etc. Perhaps that’s the difference between male and female? Perhaps it’s a visual, artistic representation of the Yin and Yang of life as expressed by this couple? Perhaps I'm making too much of this difference as sometimes I see a blend of the two.

Rick and Maria's blog and various YouTube videos that exist about this art form shows support and a community of practicioners. One thing that is certain is this art form is fun and engrossing! It is also being utilized in schools.

Try it yourself and see if you don't get hooked. A person doesn't need to buy the Micron pens and Zentangle cards to try the technique as pencils and paper will work just as easily. (The Micron pens come in a variety of sizes which are helpful for creating different line thicknesses. Zentangle cards are approximately 3 x 3 inches in size.) If it looks confusing or too complex, view the YouTube video on the Mooka, a tangle based upon Art Nouveau's Alphonse Mucha style below. This is just one of many videos on creating Zentangles that can be found on YouTube and artist blogs on the internet.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Doodling Part One

The article, I Draw Pictures All Day, from Smashing Magazine on doodling that includes not only a solid understanding of something I would bet all of us have done at some point in life...DOODLING! The article shows many valid arguments for the benefits of doodling. I plan on incorporating more doodling in my life as I’m convinced now that it is a way of connecting and visualizing important statements, ideas, solving problems, processing information, etc., and not a means of escaping, evading, or being disrespectful to a speaker. Not only has this article provided a solid case for the benefits of doodling but it also presents definitions of the word, “doodle,” over the past four centuries.

Below is a very entertaining and enlightening TED talk ( by Sunni Brown titled, “Doodlers unite!” that is referenced in the article. It is well worth the 6 minutes or so to watch.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Why Storytelling Is The Ultimate Weapon

Trojan Horse image by George Bailey/Shutterstock

Storytelling is an age old means of transmitting history, community values, how things came to be, entertaining, etc. In this article from Fast Company; Why Storytelling Is The Ultimate Weapon, storytelling has currently become a part of scientific inquiry.

My involvement as a storyteller and interest in storytelling has currently piqued my interest in storytelling through a camera lens of both a still and video camera. It’s a long journey to artistry that sometimes can take several paths. All of which, so far for me, have provided great, intriguing, exhilarating, and enjoyable exploration!

Monday, July 30, 2012

John Cleese on Creativity

Fast Company published this article, "Four Lesson In Creativity from John Cleese," in their July August issue. A lot of worthwhile observations and insight into the creative process by one of the great creative humorists of our time, John Cleese.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Presidential Election Year, Part 2

I didn't write yesterday's post with any foreknowledge or thought of a "Part 2" but, as life is, a "Part 2" showed up this morning via Maria Popova's, author of Brainpickings post on 26 July 2012 celebrating Aldous Huxley’s 118th birthday

While in high school I read Huxley’s “Brave New World,” originally titled “Enemies of Freedom.” It was an enlightening read that was, along with George Orwell’s “1984,” a prophetic look at the future. A future that in many ways we are living in today.

In Popova’s Brainpickings post, she includes the Mike Wallace interview of Huxley. This interview provides a wonderful insight into Huxley. The interview is embedded below. It’s well worth the 28 minutes and 40+ seconds to view as it provides insight into Huxley and his brilliance as well as where we are now in this presidential election year as well as where our “democracy” is now.

I hope that watching the interview will provide insights for you the reader here as it did me.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Presidential Election Year

It’s presidential election time in the U.S. and one of the most annoying things to me is all the political ads. Most aggravating is the amount of money being poured into the ads! Can you imagine the good that could be accomplished by directing those monies elsewhere? There’s numerous places in our society and country they could be directed that would be much more beneficial than advertising on television, radio, internet, and print.

Thomas Friedman
Reading Thomas Friedman’s Op-Ed piece of 21 July 2012 entitled, The Launching Pad, Friedman asks, “Is there an integrated set of policies, and a narrative, that could animate, inspire and tie together an Obama second term?” Friedman goes on to elaborate on how he believes Obama could develop or create a narrative of how “America should be for the 21st-century world what Cape Canaveral was for America in the 1960s.”

Friedman realizes we aren’t going to have another era like we’ve had in the past but he proposes that the people have to be the creators of thousands of launchpads that will hire 5 other people per pad or business. It makes sense to me in so many ways.

Below are two individuals who have started something on their own out of their own passions, and need to provide for themselves.

One is the Nuclear Corner Kitchen in Abingdon, Illinois creators of the best tasting pies of a variety you won’t find anywhere else.

The second is Adonai Community Support Services in Aledo, Illinois with the goal to provide Veterans free support services through effective resources and usable information. These are just two individuals that I know of who have within the last six months or less begun their “launchpad” construction. I would hope they become so busy they find the need to employ others.

There’s much more to Friedman’s article than the small piece I wrote about above. But part of the message that comes through to me is that it’s really up to us and not the elected officials who get bought out, or the government programs that are in place or get put into place and become bogged down with red tape. It’s a roots thing. Get back to the roots of the founders of our country and all the folks that followed who dreamed, sweat out their dream and created a reality. Hopefully, the future reality will be brighter than the present. I believe it will based on the two individuals I spoke of above and writers like Thomas Friedman.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Java Java Cafe

The folks at Java Java Cafe in Davenport, Iowa have been hit with the problem a lot of small business owners encounter when infrastructure is in need of repair or replacement. Yes, it's road construction time here in the QCA and Java Java is sitting on one of the major pieces of construction that is occurring in Davenport at present. It'll probably last until October.

Unless one is a small business owner, one can only imagine the amount of business that is lost to a small business that exists on any main drag undergoing major construction. Folks have to find a different route to get to where they want to go, takes more time, the business owner's income drops drastically. Such is Java Java's current condition.

In a small effort to help out by supporting this small business, I'll be sipping some coffee and playing music - mostly fiddle tunes, maybe some songs - at Java Java this Saturday, July 21, 2012 from 9:30 until 11 a.m. If you're in the area, stop by and buy a cup-a-joe, or smoothie, or whatever else will satisfy your thirst and maybe there'll be some biscottis, or other side bits to bite into. I'll tell you what, when they get back to regular life at Java Java, their grilled sandwiches are top notch, but, to my knowledge, the construction  has curtailed any outdoor grilling! Darn it, anyway!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Obama A Socialist?

These days one hears a lot of folks saying Obama is a Socialist and that’s the direction our country is headed. Milos Forman, director of “One Flew Overt The Cuckoo’s Nest”

 and “Amadeus” has the best perspective on this claim since he experienced, firsthand, life in Czechoslovakia from his birth in 1932 until 1968 when he came to the U.S. You can read Forman's Op-ed piece here and draw your own conclusions.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Art Abandonment

I came across the Art Abandonment movement started by Michael DeMeng. This movement struck me, as it has many around the world, as a fun endeavor. It involves creating a work of art and leaving it in a public place to be picked up by anyone that comes across it. The artwork also has contact information for the artist so the person who picks it up can let the creator know what they did with the art. All this and more is explained in the video below and at DeMeng’s Art Abandonment Blog

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Revelation

After being laid off from a factory job during the 1980s I decided to attempt to make a living at one of my lifelong loves and pursuits, music. There derived a great deal of success and gratification in this endeavor for myself and Kathy; best friend, partner, wife, and mother of our children, providing support and raising our three great kids to adulthood!

In the latter part of our child rearing adventure, I returned to school to learn graphic design. The job that resulted from this study provided support for my musical habits in the sense that I didn’t have to make a living as a musician performing or instructing. That significantly frees the creative musical spirit. Or, so I believe.

Pat, Howard, Pat, Joe, and Joyce making contra dance music.

Recently I’ve wrestled with the concept of playing music for a living versus playing music for the joy of it and the camaraderie of making music with other musicians at contra dances, in homes, centers, barns, backyards, pubs, etc.,. This is something that I’ve considered to be “community," or part of a community. Something that I, perhaps, romantically, believed to be the “norm” of life for people before the early days of the music industry.

An article from Brain Pickings' July 5, 2012 post ( covers a recently released book, Where The Heart Beats, by Kay Larson about American musical composer John Cage,
Larson writes that...

“Cage defined disinterestedness and equated it with ‘love’ in 1948: ‘If one makes music, as the Orient would say, disinterestedly, that is, without concern for money or fame but simply for the love of making it, it is an integrating activity and one will find moments in his life that are complete and fulfilled.’”

The quote nails it for me. More and more “moments in” my “life that are complete and fulfilled” seem to occur more and more frequently when playing with fellow musicians these days. Whether there’s just two of us in a coffeehouse playing on a Saturday morning, two to five of us banding together to play for an evening of contra dance music, or six or more musicians making music for a wedding anniversary, a birthday gathering, etc., They're all integrating activities with many "complete and fulfilled" moments.

LIFE is good!!!

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Three articles came through from the desk of Dave Pell's NEXTDRAFT on Friday, July 6, 2012.

And they are...

1) The best weather report ever!

2) A great clip from Johnny Carson with Dom DeLuise performing a trick that's purportedly never been duplicated on television.

3) A man interviewing himself 20 years into the future. Well, he was 12 when he made the interview tape and answered it at the age of 32. Fun stuff!

Almost Two Months...

...since my last post.

Sheeesh. I feel like I should be ashamed but I don't. It's been a busy time at work, at play, at gardening, at outdoors, playing disc golf, playing music.

There have been some really excellent moments musically as of late.

Last night myself, Pat Oliver, Howard Hilliard, Pat Walke, and Joyce Spidle joined together to play for a contradance at a local Unitarian Church. It WAS GREATTTT!!!! Julie Ross posted this pic of the band and the dancing on Facebook.

A week ago, Kath and I were invited to a friends' 40th Wedding Anniversary. They perform music together as well as performed in their backyard for their anniversary with invited musician friends. It was a HOOT!!! A great deal of fun making music with other musicians!!!

Friday, May 11, 2012

About two weeks ago, April 27, 2012, I caught a Bill Moyers show, "Big Money, Big Media, Big Trouble." There was an interview with Marty Kaplan, Norman Lear Professor of Entertainment, Media and Society at the University of Southern California. It resonated strongly in my brain, as a lot of Moyers' work does, making a great deal of sense to me. I've embedded the video below. The last part of the show is a Moyers' essay on McCarthyism and Representative Allen West (R-FL). It's a 50+ minute video and may play best if you allow it to load before playing or view it at

Then today, I rec'd an email from NextDraft with an NPR article titled, Partisan Psychology: Why Do People Choose Political Loyalties Over Facts. An interesting phenomena that's probably been going on throughout human history but it's good to hear or see such topics as this being presented and discussed. The online version of the article can be found here and the audio version from NPR is embedded below.

Friday, May 4, 2012

I often doubt myself. Harbor thoughts of low self-esteem. Constantly struggle with my "inner critic."

Then I hear, read, or see something that makes me want to try harder...believe in myself more.

Arthur Boorman's story is one of those "somethings"...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Element

Brain Pickings continues to come up with great posts once a week.

The one that struck me today is by Sir Ken Robinson, author of The Element: How Finding Your Passions Changes Everything, "one of seven essential books on education," as stated by Maria Popova in her post. This Brain Pickings' blog post is an hour long presentation by Sir Ken Robinson to the audience in attendance at The School of Life. It's an engaging presentation that is punctuated time and again by Sir Ken's wit, humor, anecdotes, and wisdom. A lot of it many of us may have heard before but is well worth hearing again. Sir Ken speaks of climate change in a different light.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Latest Craving!

There's been a desire for me to pursue Scottish fiddling for some time now but I've just not found the right stimulus. I'm intrigued by Neil Gow. Read a bit of his history, which I found quite interesting. He lived in Scotland during the mid late 1700s into the 1800s. Strathspey's are always intriguing and daunting to look at on the printed page.

A few weeks back I came across a Scottish fiddler, Bruce MacGregor, who is part of Blazin' Fiddles. Bruce has four, brief, but, very complete, YouTube tutorial videos on such aspects of Scottish fiddling as grace notes, triplets, bow control, and, the one below, ringing strings.

As for strathspeys, I found out the Irish, especially Tommy Peoples, enjoy playing strathspeys as much as the Scottish. A strathspey is a uniquely Scottish fiddle tune and dance. Strathspeys are named for the highland areas of Scotland from where they originated. They are set in 4/4 time, a bit slower than a hornpipe but more stately with exaggerated Scotch Snaps (a short note before a dotted note) within the structure of the tune. The few previous sentences and some more info about strathspeys can be found on Wikipedia at

James Scott Skinner, a 19th century musician, fiddler and composer with over 600 compositions published. Below are several examples found on YouTube of "The Laird of Drumblair,"an easy tune and one I hope to learn. The first is a slow version performed by Sarah-Jane Summers who teaches fiddle at the Scots Music Group in Edinburgh.

This version is by Katie Henderson of the U.S. who learns a new tune a day and posts them to YouTube and her New Tune A Day (NTAD) blog. She's quite good!

Then there's Tommy Peoples playing the same tune and who Katie credits as her source for learning this tune. This is a Irish (RTE) tv video from 1981.

A killer version of the tune, played in a traditional style where the strathspey is followed by the same tune played as a reel and the reel The Musical Priest," is performed by Johnny and Phil Cunningham, some of Scotland's finest traditional musicians of the 20th century. It can be viewed on YouTube at

And, for my concertina playing daughter, Heather, here's a version of tune played on a C/G concertina!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Stephane Grappelli and You Are The Sunshine of My Life

Today an email from Jazz On The Tube came to my inbox. It contained a favorite song of mine played by one of my most favorite musicians. The song is You Are The Sunshine of My Life, composed and written by Stevie Wonder. The principal musician is jazz violinist/fiddler, Stephane Grappelli.

Grappelli was considered the "grandfather of jazz violin" who played concerts into his 80s. He died in 1997. He was one of the founders, along with Django Reinhardt of the gypsy jazz band The Hot Club Quintet of France, one of the first all stringed instrument jazz bands.

Play the video below and let the music speak for itself and see if you don't become a fan of Stephane Grappelli. Or, understand why I'm a fan.

Brain Pickings and Flash Rosenberg

Brain Pickings is this amazing blog by Maria Popova, a gal that always has these blow-my-mind topics. She's a very diverse person. The post for March 26, 2012, The Importance of Frustration in the Creative Process, Illustrated about a recently published book Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer. What's really cool is Flash Rosenberg's Vimeo video promoting the book. Flash is a "Guggenheim Fellow, New York Public Library (NYPL) artist-in-residence, live-illustrator extraordinaire." Flash's an illustrative video teaser for the book is embedded below. Enjoy!!!

IMAGINE: How Creativity Works from Flash Rosenberg on Vimeo.

Another of Flash's illustrative video works is of John Lithgow reading Who Is Mark Twain at the NYPL and embedded below. I found this on Maria Popova's post of June 13 2011, John Lithgow Reads Mark Twain, Live-Illustrated.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Diets and Exercise

In order to keep my and Kathy's health optimal we joined one of the $10-a-month gyms that recently opened up nearby. So far it's been a good thing. One of the hard things is not to be too hard on ourselves if life events or life's busyness gets in the way of making it there to work out! It seems it's always easier to be hard on oneself than it is to positively reinforce oneself. Just have to shrug the shoulders, let it run off like water off a duck's back, and jump back in to the program as soon as possible.

About a decade or more ago I became interested and participated in an exercise and eating program by an exercise "guru," Bill Phillips,
who published a book and program called Body for Life. It's still around and is as good a program then as it is now but Bill Phillips, always a student of the current science on and about nutrition and exercise, has begun a new program entitled Transformation.

A recent blog of Bill's on his Transformation site had a post titled Harvard Asks and Answers, "What's the Best Diet?" What the study showed was that in the two year test of 800 overweight men and women between the ages of 30 and 70 divided into four diet groups - one low fat high protein, one low fat average protein, one the high fat high protein Dr. Atkins diet, and one high fat average protein diet - all the plans worked about the same as long as the participants lowered their calorie intake. These findings were published in the February 26, 2009 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The interesting thing that Phillips found in the study was that participants who attended support group meetings averaged 20 pounds loss of weight in the two year study period while those participants who did not attend support groups lost an average of 9 pounds. Interesting. I wonder if any similar studies have been done in other areas with and without support groups? I wonder if it would make a worthwhile doctoral thesis?

The gym Kathy and I joined considered joining their slim and slender program but the cost is not warranted with my current financial condition. Hopefully, inflation and cost of living doesn't continue to rise to where we can't afford the ten dollars a month individual membership fee as we both enjoy getting out of the house and sweatin' it out!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Google Doodle's Juan Gris and Cubism

I was drawn to the Google Doodle on March 23rd celebrating the 125th anniversary of the birth of Cubist painter Juan Gris. He was the third cubist painter and a student of Picasso. The Google logo was turned into a cubist doodle in the style of Juan Gris. Quite fun stuff!

Here's the doodle.

I was first introduced to cubism by a girlfriend, Mary Griffin, while attending Loyola University in Chicago. She was a fine cubist painter in her own right. Often wonder what happens to folks one loses contact with over the years. I believe she is, or was, a docent at the Chicago Art Institute. Wouldn't surprise me as she loved visiting the institute as well as she loved art! Cubism, an artistic style where recognizable objects are fragmented to show all sides of an object at the same time, was first "discovered" by Pablo Picasso (

Anyway, I found several articles about the Google Juan Gris doodle that was published in several newspapers. This one from the Washington Post has a couple of fine little videos attached to it and you can see it by clicking HERE.

The Huffington Post stated, "The UK's Metro reported that Gris' portrait of the famous Pablo Picasso "is widely thought to be the first piece of cubist art ever that wasn't painted by Picasso or Frenchman Georges Braque." "

Here's a portrait of Juan Gris painted by Modigliani I found on Wikipedia's page about Gris.

Later in the day on local news, I happened to hear a short bit about Picasso where they stated he said something like, "As a child I was taught to paint like an adult. As an adult I learned to paint like a child." I thought that was a very astute, accurate summation by Picasso about his art. Even though cubism itself embodies, perhaps, a more adult-like child's view and practice of painting, perhaps, cubists are/were just more in touch with their "inner child?"

Catchin' My Breath and Gettin' Back to "Normal"

Forgotten how much playing music outdoors takes out of a person. Last Saturday's gig outside of Shenanigan's was great craic with a strong wind at our backs to boot!!!

Here's a pic of the 2012 St. Pat's Day version of Paddy O'Furniture...(left to right: Heather, myself, Rob McDorman, Chris Dunn, and Chris Benner)

I crashed Kristin and Matt Anderson's gig at Mac's Tavern while Paddy O'Furniture was on break. It's always fun to fiddle with a former fiddle student! Should turn into a fine duo. Nothing tighter than siblings. Now to get their other brother playing music with them!!!

Back to reality of the work world and my quest for good music to hear, learn, and play! Curiously enough I keep comin' back to Hot Tuna! And, why not? To find fellow musicians that can put music together and out like they do for as long as they have is a true joy to emulate, strive for, and accomplish! Here's a YouTube from Minnesota Public Radio of Hesitation Blues. Perhaps you readers will agree.

What better way to end a Sunday morning blog post than with a Good News (Gospel) tune? Hot Tuna from Minnesota Public Radio's Midmorning show of August 3, 2009

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Busy Week Musically...

Jammed up week with music rehearsals to fill in for a violinist/fiddler in the Paddy O'Furniture. All this comes to a head starting tomorrow with 24 Pints Wiser kickin' off the St. Patrick's Day musical festivities at Lagomarcino's in downtown Moline, IL starting at 11:30 a.m. Following that, I'll be joining Chris Benner and Chris Dunn of Paddy O'Furniture at two senior care/assisted living centers and finally with Greg Fitzpatrick at a church dinner in the late evening. On Saturday we'll be entertaining the masses at Shennanigans following the St. Patrick's Day Bi-State Parade in downtown Davenport, Iowa. Weather looks to be in the 70s, dry and, needless to say, beautiful! Should be a kick!!!

Rob McDorman, of 24 Pints Wiser, put together a great, fun JibJab ecard. It can be viewed HERE.


Slainte, Joe

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Birthday Present of Hot Tuna!

One of my best friends and a friend of 42 years, Mike Wallace (a top shelf guitar tech (Wallace Music, Moline, IL), finger style and electric guitarist and musician), gave me probably the best 60th birthday present I could get…a chance to see Hot Tuna in concert at the Englert Theater in Iowa City!!! Mike reminded me that I had taught him Hesitation Blues back when he was 12 or 13. I'd forgotten that bit of info.

If you don't know Jorma (Kaukonen), then you don't know Jack (Casady)! Nor do you know Barry Mitterhoff! Those three individuals comprise the current Hot Tuna acoustic act and an opportunity to see them live should NOT be missed! Jorma and Jack are two of the founding members of Jefferson Airplane and have been making music together since they were 12. Along with Barry Mitterhoff on mandolin, Jorma on acoustic guitar and Jack on electric bass, are one of the most cohesive, sensitive, dynamic acoustic acts around! As an example view the eTown video of "Things That Might Have Been" below...

And, for more of your listening pleasure, here's a video of "Hesitation Blues" from 2010 in the Pabst Theater, Milwaukee...there is so much more variety and versatility that these musicians bring to the table. I hope that you find the time to explore their offerings as I believe you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Recent Great Musical Craic (Fun)!

The past few days have been filled with several great times musically speaking. It began last Wednesday or Thursday, I've forgotten which now, with being able to help daughter Heather learn the Irish jig, Cliffs of Moher, on concertina. I played it on fiddle and mandolin numerous times, at slower speeds, breaking down parts so she could ferret them out by ear as that is the way she learns.

On Friday night I got to play a barndance with a Welsh and Cornish theme as it was St. David's and St. Piran's feast days. They are the patron saints of Wales and Cornwall. As such, all the dances were traditional dances from Wales or Cornwall. I've played tunes for this event for many years now and last Friday was the first time I felt really good about my playing of that music. Just one of those nights when everything jelled. Or, I've just gotten much better at playing fiddle for dances or this particular group of dancers. Other musicians played electric bass and cello. The dancers were "on." Music and dancing ended together all night long. It was a good mix of ages, too. High schoolers through senior citizen folks.

Saturday night was a local Unitarian Church's annual fundraiser "Occasional Coffeehouse" at which I joined two guitarists, a percussionist, and a harmonica player to perform 20 minutes worth of music. It was great fun!!! We tore it UP!!!!!! Played and sang tunes such as "Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay," "Hot Tamales," "Trip to Pakistan," "La La Blues," and "Key to the Highway." John, Steve, John, and Bill were a great group of guys with which to make music!

It's funny how performing 'freebies' is, seemingly more and more, a much better, more gratifying time than performing for money. Maybe it's the fact that the whole reason for the playing of the music is much more for the fun of it than for the money. It definitely evens out those times of feeling frustrated, fed up, and overwhelmed.

Finally, I've sat down and figured out a tune which fascinated me because of the key changes. The tune is "Pinch of Snuff" which is a popular Irish reel played at sessions in Ireland. I love stories behind tunes and this is one that has a good story behind it and is as follows:

Known as a northern Irish reel, and especially one from County Donegal where it is particularly popular. Caoimhin Mac Aoidh (1994) recounts the origins of the tune in the faerie folklore of Donegal (Seamus Ennis appears to have told the same story). It seems that the fairies were trying to abduct a bride at a wedding in the Teelin, southwest Donegal, area by trying to trick her into uttering the magic words which would bind her to them and seal her fate. As luck would have it, hiding in the rafters was a young man who had been her suitor, but whom had lost in the bid for her hand. He saw what was about to happen to his still-beloved (who was dancing below), and from his high hiding place he thought to shake down some snuff upon her. The bride breathed it in, sneezed, and was greeted with a polite chorus of “Dia agus Muire dhuit” (God and Mary bless you) from members of the wedding party. This was anathema to the fairies, who took flight. The tune the fiddlers were playing while the bride was dancing at the time of her rescue was dubbed “The Pinch of Snuff.” - From Andrew Kuntz's The Fiddler's Companion

The recorded source for the version of "The Pinch of Snuff" I've worked out is from a Irish banjoist on YouTube. He and his wife upload videos from time-to-time which are quite good, imho. They are dulahan-irl, a traditional irish music duo based in County Kildare, Ireland.

Hopefully, and in the near future, I'll be posting my rendering of this piece on fiddle (I'm thinking), but for now here's the YouTube video of "Pinch of Snuff" by the banjoist from dulahan-irl...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Frustrated, Fed Up, and Feeling Overwhelmed

Life gets busy. No doubt everyone experiences this. Sometimes are busier than others. My busy time is involved trying to put together some free music experiences. Not having time to market myself and my music, I've involved myself in some experiences that are free with the hopes that they will build a culture in my specific geographic locale as there seems to be a lack of that.

I was starting to write about being frustrated and fed up with cable or satellite television as well as the current politics that are going on. Topics worth writing about but I'd rather spend my time playing music and connecting with other musicians to make music that is enjoyable to both the musicians performing and anyone listening. Such an event is less about performing than it is about creating a community of participation. That's another subject I have frustration about. Our society's proclivity to deify performers and consider fame more important than personal relationships.

It's peculiar that where I live, there isn't a community of musicians who get together in a public location to just sit down and make music. In Ireland and Scotland this is called a session, or a hooley. These events take place in various local pubs on at least a weekly basis. In the U.S. folks used to get together on a Friday and/or Saturday night and have a party (hooley). Food would be shared, stories and jokes told, socializing amongst friends occurred, those with musical abilities brought their instruments, and dances were danced. Community, contra or barn dances. This could go on all night in some instances. It was a relief from the work week.

Nowadays, we have television, stereos, the internet, personal dvd players, and smartphones. Curiously enough for me sitting here writing this, there are folks who blog or write digital journals that go out into the ethernet and may be around for eons. All these things make personal, face-to-face connectivity less a reality.

Here is a video clip posted on YouTube by clarebannerman of a session by the band, Providence, in an Irish pub, Cruises Pub in Ennis, County Clare that I enjoyed seeing awhile back. It is a bit produced as the music and musicians are very proficient at this set of tunes they perform but the clip does capture a sense of the session experience.

Below's a video of session in an Irish pub, Billy Andy's, posted by fiddle4u on YouTube. This video shows a truer view of a session, imho.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Al Jaffee, Creator of the Fold In for Mad Magazine

Browsing through Brain Pickings the November 28, 2011 blog about the The 11 Best Art and Design Books of 2011 listed in position number 9, THE MAD FOLD-IN COLLECTION. This book caught my interest immediately. Many Americans, if not all, have perused an issue or two to several hundred of Mad Magazine in our lives. And one of the enjoyable parts of an issue is the fold-in. The video interview below, A Few Minutes With Someone Funnier Than You: A Few Minutes with Al Jaffee, is with the creator of the fold-in, Al Jaffee. In this interview, one of UCB YouTube offerings, he's 89 years old and still working for Mad Magazine!!! We should all be as bright, vital, and creative as he is at 89. The Brain Pickings post has several samples besides the interview below.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Color Poems Art Installation - Josh Nobiling

Josh shared these pics of his Color Poems art show opening at the New Wilmington Art Association this past Friday (February 3).

Josh installing his work.

One wall done and another wall started.

A straight on photo of part of one wall.

This show is interactive in nature. Crayons were provided and attendees were encouraged to color on the art on the wall as well as the smaller prints (screen prints Josh prepared) on the table. I believe attendees may have been able to take the small ones they colored home with them.

Can't forget the treats! Cookies Josh and Brandye baked for the event.

Josh chattin' it up with an attendee.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tyrone Hayes and Atrazine

Photo by Annie Tritt of Tyrone Hayes with one of his research frogs.

The January-February issue of Mother Jones has an interesting article, The Frog of War, by Dashka Slater, about Tyrone Hayes and his fight with Syngenta and their herbicide Atrazine. It strikes close to home as I live in the Midwest. It’s a lengthy read (3 pages) but well worth it. The use of herbicides and pesticides produced with profit in mind is a concern, or should be, as the people who live and work in areas where such herbicides and pesticides are used are effected. The original intent, to eliminate or reduce plants and/or insects that significantly reduce crop yields is worthwhile. But, when it becomes detrimental to the health and the quality of life of residents in and around the area of use, don't such herbicides or pesticides need controls in place?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

24 Pints Wiser

24 Pints Wiser, a musical ensemble of American craic heads performing Celtic songs and tunes performed for the local Scottish American Society's 35th Annual Robert Burns Dinner. Robert Burns is the author of the lyrics. I'm not sure where the melody comes from but I learned the fiddle part from a Dubliner's recording. A fun tune to learn and play. My hat's off to my friend, Shona McMillan for her help in understanding and providing a phonetic pronounciation for some of the lyrics. Visit her blog, Celtic Reflections, and enjoy a slice of Scottish life through her writing and photography. You'll be glad you did!

Blogging and Seth Apter

Currently I am reading a series of posts by Seth Apter about blogging. Currently, I am on post 4 of this series, Your Blog Your Way. Seth is a New York based mixed media artist and instructor who I first heard about in a recent issue of Somerset's Mixed Media magazine. Seth has an interesting art blog entitled The Altered Page and is a proponent of collaborative artwork employing current technology as well as challenging individuals to be creative, critical thinkers not only in their art but the art of blogging.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Goosetown Stringband

Attended the Illowa Folk Dance Series monthly dance at Singing Bird Nature Center last night and got to sit in with the Goosetown Stringband. Big FUN!!! A real treat! I even got to dance a dance! I'm not sure which is more fun?!?!?

The bass player was not available to play last night and I don't believe it is the one pictured. But the fiddler, Dave "Top Shelf" Mehaffey; banjoist, Brian Gotwals; and guitarist, Marc Janssen were there. Got to play a tune I've heard in the past but not played before, Ladies on the Steamboat. One for my "Learn" list. It's such good craic to make music with these solid musicians and gentlemen!

A Day Made of Glass

The video below speaks for itself. Very, very exciting!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Disc Golf

This past summer and fall I and Kathy started playing disc golf. She and I both needing exercise found this to be a wonderful past time. The sport gets us outdoors and the body moving as well challenges our focus and concentration. It's relaxing time that can get anywhere from a 4 to 6 mile walk in with physical body motion bending and throwing the disc down a fairway to the basket. The winter has been so mild around here that Spring can't come 'round soon enough! The disc itch is getting strong. It was so nice around Christmas time that I was able to introduce our son and two of our grandsons to the game. One grandson is seven and it was a bit challenging for him. In time I believe he'll pick up on it. His older brother (who's 14) is very charged up about and ready to play at most any time. The other day a new Disc Golf video upload announcement showed up in my email. It provides 5 tips on taking 5 strokes off your game.

Resolutions So Far

Looked over a past post about Woody Guthrie's resolutions for 1942 where I had listed my resolutions for this year and I'm happy to see that I am making progress. It's a bit of an ambitious list but so far I've got the following six resolutions off to a good start: 1. Continue learning and improving my graphic design skills 2. Improve my fingerstyle guitar skills 6. Improve my fiddling skills 10. Continue reducing credit card debt 11. Increase daily exercise 12. Eat better by cooking at home more. I think the two following resolutions are off to a good start but I don't always seem cognizant of them: 4. Savor every moment 5. Love all family members equally These two are a challenging. Self-esteem issues often find me in difficulty with this one: 3. Continue believing "I can" and I think I'm doing okay with this one but some days I'm not sure: 7. Be respectful of others A month has gone by and I've not gotten either of these started: 8. Complete one drawing or painting a month 9. Compose an original song or fiddle tune once a month Off to a pretty good start all in all. Now to keep it up.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


While perusing the latest issue of Stampington's Artful Blogging at a local Barnes & Noble, I was drawn to several articles and several ideas permeated throughout. One idea is to keep at it if for no other reason than the fact that as individual, each of us has something unique to contribute and say. Another idea is not to let other blogs that one might read interfere with one's blogging. Some artists also call this turning off the inner critic. Also, practice is imperative in improving and growing as an artist. The practice and improvement as a result of practice helps one to find one's voice and focus. The other thoughts that come to my mind that focus, as dreams, change over time. And, that's perfectly fine as change is a characteristic of life. A clever or wise saying I read the other day along these lines comes to mind while writing this. That saying goes "Remember two days from now, tomorrow will be yesterday." Hmmm... Sounds like a good reason to stay, live in, and savor the present. With all the above in mind, I'll try (yet, again) to continue blogging. Striving to blog on a more consistent (daily?) habit. Or, perhaps with daily blogging being the goal. But, most of all blog!

NPR Interview on NPR

A recent interview on NPR with Neil Young revealed an attitude and mindset that, imho, negates all the current controversy over pirated music from the internet. Neil seems to be dead-on about this in so many ways. Not only does he negate the current "music pirating" controversy but proposes an alternative that makes sense and brings back the quality of vinyl recordings. There is another issue and problem to solve with regards to creating a quality digital recording and player capable of playing such recordings.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

This started with an email...

...from NextDraft by January 4, 2012 where in item no. 2 Time to Get Up and Go to iPad for post he addresses the tendency by educational institutions in many states resist the use of technology in learning environments and "the use of more tech in the classroom will be a hot national issue in 2012." In this brief he provides a link to the New York Times collection of articles on technology in the classroom. One particular article, We Live in a Mobile world, by Will Richardson caught my mind in the last paragraph where he says, "Access in our kids’ pockets will force us to rethink much of what we do in schools. For one thing, we have to stop asking questions in classrooms that students can now answer with their phones (state capitals anyone?) and instead ask questions that require more than just a connection to answer -- questions that call upon them to employ synthesis and critical thinking and creativity, not just memorization. Anything less is not preparing them for the information rich world that we live in." Employing synthesis and critical thinking and creativity over memorization is definitely a, if not THE, direction to go in education.

Monday, January 2, 2012

January 2, 2012 - Banjo Pickin'

I rec'd an email from Patrick Costello today. It'd been some time since I'd heard from this musician. I spent some time on his site, especially the Clawhammer vs. Frailing seciton. He and his dad definitely have a lot of the right attitude. I encourage anyone interested in learning to play the banjo to check him out. Here's a video from his site to get a feel for his great attitude.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

1942 Woody Guthrie New Year's Resolution list

Over the years I've eschewed making resolution lists as I've come to believe taking one day, hour, minute, second, or moment at a time as all we have is the moment we're in. But this list of Woody Guthrie's New Year Resolutions for 1942 published in today shows an easy, fun list that pretty well covers all the bases. Creating a list of resolutions can be a good thing if one considers them objectives or goals to accomplish, which, I guess that's what they really are. With that in mind my list would include;
  1. Continue learning and improving my graphic design skills
  2. Improve my fingerstyle guitar skills
  3. Continue believing "I can"
  4. Savor every moment
  5. Love all family members equally
  6. Improve my fiddling skills
  7. Be respectful of others
  8. Complete one drawing or painting a month
  9. Compose an original song or fiddle tune once a month
  10. Continue reducing credit card debt
  11. Increase daily exercise
  12. Eat better by cooking at home more.
All worthwhile challenges for me, I believe.

New Year's Day 2012

Shona McMillan posted this little video of her imagery and poetry yesterday. A great little piece where one gets to hear her voice as well as see her photos and here her poetry.

Happy New Year to all for 2012!