(Click on hyperlink for tickets)
Series at the Talking Stick Café
1411 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, CA 90291
NEVENKA September 27
East European Women's Choir
SYNCOPATHS October 25th
DINESH D’SOUZA’S AMERICA:
HIS LAND AIN’T MY LAND
Dinesh D’Souza’s America opens in medias res, in the midst of the American Revolution, and before we have had time to settle in, we see General George Washington riding by as he is…shot dead by a British sniper’s bullet. What if, D’Souza’s movie speculates, George Washington had died that way and America had never been born. What would the world look like today?—a fascinating hypothesis--but apparently not enough to hang a movie on.
As John Milton found out while writing Paradise Lost every epic needs a villain as well as a hero, and often the villain—in Milton’s case Satan—is the more interesting character than—in his case the Lord. In Dinesh D’Souza’s pseudo-documentary America: Imagine a World Without Her, a hypothetical retelling of the American story the hero—it goes without saying—is America—while the villain is the late great Boston University historian and author of The People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn.
A THING OF BEAUTY
DON MCLEAN AND JUDY COLLINS IN CONCERT
AT THE FOX PERFORMING ARTS CENTER IN RIVERSIDE - JULY 25, 2014
Legendary singer-songwriter Don McLean and living angel Judy Collins brought a show to Riverside last night that was one for the ages—and the times we live in. Judy Collins, looking resplendent in a simple black sequined pant suit highlighted by her shining silver hair flowing down her shoulders gave the most moving tribute to her “old friend Pete Seeger” of all the tributes I have heard since he passed away last January 27.
She offered her heartfelt narrative of her friendship with America’s Tuning Fork from the time she walked into Pete’s (and her soon-to-be) manager Harold Leventhal’s office fifty years ago only to find Pete stretched out fast asleep on the floor his banjo by his side and heard Leventhal say quietly but firmly, “Shh! Don’t wake him! He’s resting for three shows I am taking him to this afternoon; this is his only chance to get some sleep!” She then recounted the thrill of singing Turn, Turn, Turn with him on his self-produced folk TV show Rainbow Quest on a small public station (“before PBS was even invented!” she told us)—a performance which you can still enjoy on YouTube.
[Editors note: The following are parts 1, 2 and 3 of Ross' interview with Don McLean. The introduction to this interview is Ross' July-August Column ]
DON MCLEAN: THE FOLKWORKS INTERVIEW
In the following interview Don McLean has a few things to say about Pete Seeger that may raise some eyebrows, especially since the interview was conducted well before Pete passed away last January 27; so I want to preface it with this lovely tribute by Don McLean for Pete and what his loss meant to him; it is copied directly from his web site and shows how complex love can be.
Thank you, Don.
For about seven years from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s, I knew the Seegers (Pete and Toshi) about as well as anybody. I worked with Pete Seeger frequently. He was very generous and encouraging at a time in my life when it meant a great deal to me.
DON MCLEAN: THE FOLKWORKS INTERVIEW
July 14, 2014, Woody Guthrie’s 102nd birthday—a day to celebrate folk music.
RA: Let me ask you about your father. You said at some point in the interview that I read that you were being encouraged to quit music because you weren’t making enough or weren’t successful enough and then the way you looked at it was you were making more in a day than your father made in a week…
RA: Okay, so to repeat that you were making more in a day than your father was earning in a week, which was about $150, and so you couldn’t see the argument. So I wanted to ask you, what did your father do for a living? And what influence did he have in terms of values and the things that you saw around your home?
DM: My father was a district manager for Consolidated Edison, the utility.
RA: Oh, okay.
DM: And he sold gas heat to people. And I never knew one single thing about what he did. He never spoke about what he did. He never talked about himself too much at all. He was taciturn in some ways, but near the end of his life when we were together, he told me all about childhood which was very tough. And then he died when I was with him.
Don McLean: The FolkWorks Interview
RA: How did you get acquainted with Pete?
DM: I got acquainted with him because, well I always loved his records, and loved that image which I felt was the perfect image for me, you know, because I was always kind of an outsider. I didn’t really want to work with people. I didn’t get along with people. I was always getting punished for things I was saying, you know, even at home. In school, at home, whatever, I would say something that was the truth, but it would get me in a lot of trouble and it kind of continued right on.
RA: Can you think of an example off the top of your head of that kind of thing?
DM: I can – wow, I mean, no. But I was always being impertinent, let’s say.
DM: The biggest example was American Pie, you know, where everybody sort of crucified me for – Rolling Stone crucified me for trying to take over the telling of the history of rock and roll.
DON MCLEAN: THE FOLKWORKS INTERVIEW
I happened to be at a roadside coffee stand yesterday where the radio was tuned to K-Earth 101; they were taking a commercial break to promote the station, and were playing two brief song excerpts to do so. The first was the Rolling Stones Satisfaction and the second was Don McLean’s American Pie. That’s all—no Beatles, no Madonna, no Elvis, no Rod Stewart, no Chuck Berry, and no Dylan; just the Stones and Don McLean. After the sound samples concluded the announcer breaks in and delivers the tag line: The greatest songs on earth—K-Earth 101. He doesn’t even bother to identify the artists or the songs, that’s how universally well-known they are. The Stones I got; but Don McLean? And then I connected the dots.
How Old? You’re Kidding, Right?
Part of the aging process is figuring out that you are old. You’ve done certain things thousands of times. Why aren’t you better at it? And how much longer do you have to improve?
Most of this stuff comes in little puffs. I recently realized I’d been playing a club in Newport Beach for 25 years, and had held the same last Friday of the month gig at the club for over ten years. That’s a long time. Also, I had to realize that I’d played with a couple of the guys in the band for over 20 years. No wonder they look so old.
I think more of a shock comes when you “inventory” yourself and your accomplishments. I’ve been writing songs for 40 years. Although I’ve written some good songs, shouldn’t there be more? Or better songs? I’ve played the guitar for 45 years, the mandolin for 22 years, and the bass for 20 years. One would assume that I’d be a cross between Segovia, Bill Monroe and Jack Bruce, but I am decidedly not. I’ve been writing about music for a much shorter time, only about 15 years, so most likely I will get better at that.
One can argue that since Mick Jagger and Keith Richard are 187 years old and still playing rock and roll it’s not a young man’s sport any longer. Folk and roots music has always been much more forgiving about age. Pete Seeger, Doc Watson and many others perform(ed) well into their 80s. But marketing does rear its ugly head. I can recall seeing a folk diva that used 40 year old photos in her promos and ads. Odd, since she was/is still a very attractive middle aged woman, but apparently a more marketable young woman.
Since it’s an aging world, we can expect more guys with hair extensions and spandex pants still romping at 65 or 70. Ringo just hit 72, looks good and can still smack the drums well. Debbie Reynolds still tours. Synchronized walkers next? Probably.
What about us oldsters that want to try something new? Luckily, 70 is the new 60 or something like that. The truth is that taking up a musical instrument or learning to write songs probably is easier when we’re younger, but most of us older folks have something young people don’t and that’s free time. Unless some major physical maladies are involved, there is no reason why an older person can’t learn an instrument or start writing songs. Stretch yourself a little.
My goal is to continue as if I’ll live to 125, but with more focus on learning more about the instruments I play, and turning my “give-a-shitter” (Bob Brozman’s term for how we govern ourselves) way down when I perform.
So go out and support live music. Don’t notice how old the performers may be. Tip the wait staff, smile at your brother and everybody get together and try to love one another.
Dennis Roger Reed is a singer-songwriter, musician and writer based in San Clemente, CA. He’s released two solo CDs, and appeared on two CDs with the newgrassy Andy Rau Band and two CDs with the roots rockers Blue Mama. His prose has appeared in a variety of publications such as the OC Weekly and MOJO magazine. Writing about his music has appeared in an eclectic group of publications such as Bass Player, Acoustic Musician, Dirty Linen, Blue Suede News and Sing Out! His oddest folk resume entry would be the period of several months in 2002 when he danced onstage as part of both Little Richard’s and Paul Simon’s revues. He was actually asked to do the former and condoned by the latter. He apparently knows no shame.