Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Song of the Week: Gogol Bordello

 I first heard Gogol Bordello in 2005 on a Warped Tour compilation CD that I picked up somewhere along the way. These comps have a billions songs on them so I put the disc in the player in my car and let it play. When Gogol Bordello and their song, "Start Wearing Purple,"  came on, I had to pull over and stop the car. What is this beautiful assault on my ears?  Fast forward to me purchasing every single song they have ever produced and if your brain can stand it, picture many night dancing and jumping around my apartment to these wild gypsy tunes.  The band is the brain child of Eugene Hutz* and his crazy talented friends from all around the world. Eugene himself is from Ukraine, and the current line up of the band is a like a spinning globe. World music at it's finest and greatest, the kind that you just know can and will change for good the world, the whole world.

Gogol Bordello released their latest album, Purda Vida Conspiracy, last week and the first single off that album, "Malandrino" totally makes my own gypsy blood and heritage smile. Blood can totally smile you guys, and it isn't gross at all.


You can download this song for the price of an email address at the Gogol Bordello website. They will playing in the Kansas City area (OK, Bonner Springs, KS, close enough) this Saturday as part of night 2 of Buzz Under the Stars.

I know you are shouting, MORE, MORE, MORE! You don't have to yell, especially this late at night, you'll wake the neighbors. My absolute favorite Gogol Bordello song is "Wanderlust King" (video here), and their NPR Tiny Desk Concert (view here) is one of my favorites.  Let's go ahead and wake up the neighbors, they need to hear this stuff and then we can totally challenge the next neighborhood over to a wild dance off and it would be super suspenseful like all those dance movies (who's going win?!!)  and then we will all go out for BBQ, since that is how most stories in the Mid-west end. 

* Side note: Eugene Hutz played the role of Alex in the movie adaption of Jonathan Safran Foer's amazing book, Everything is Illuminated. The movie differs from book on many parts, but is still very moving, and a great deal of it's beauty is Eugene's performance.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

10 Things

1. There is a geese invasion going on right now.  I'm clearly not a bird expert, in fact I'm the exact opposite of that, but this doesn't seem like the right time for migration patterns, shouldn't they all be down south in Florida drinking pina coladas and playing shuffle board? Why I think geese are like retirees, I don't know, but let's not question the mechanics of my mind this early in the post. Wait, they migrate in the winter. I guess I have no idea what season it is anymore, however I don't believe that there is any right season for large birds to be in my yard. Let me look out my window (pause . . the sound of scurrying feet), there are 32 geese in my backyard right now. 32! And I don't trust a single one of them.

I was going to go run errands, but I don't think I could make it to my car, which is parked outside without going through a geese gauntlet. Hell to the no. Food and bills and putting gas in my car aren't that important.  I may be stuck in for awhile, SOS: PLEASE SEND TACOS. 

2. I'm a huge fan of apocalypse movies and TV shows. Let's scrap this world and start again! Hooray! But they are not just entertainment, they are educational. While watching an alien invasion saga a little bit ago, I realized that I may not have enough skills to make me valuable to a survivors group.   My skillz I have to offer would be: sharing inspirational sayings at moments of crisis (We will not go quietly into the night . . .FREEDOM), I can sing "I Will Survive" with gusto and I am pretty sure I can rock some Mad Max fashion. As amazing as these skills seem to me, I can see them equaling me becoming alien/zombie/crazed machines bait in certain situations. This weekend, in an attempt to gain more skills I built (term used loosely) a solar oven and tried to bake a pie in it. I may not be able to use a crossbow without sending myself to the ER, but hey guys--PIE. I lovingly made a peach-raspberry pie with a crumble top. And then everything went downhill.  I think the fruit was too juicy, the sun wasn't sunshiny enough, and well, it all turned out to be a fail. The solar oven got hot, but not hot enough for long enough and as the sun was going down, I gave up and threw the pie in the  real non solar oven.  It turned out OK, especially with a bowling ball size scoop of ice cream on top, but I felt a little defeated.  But not defeated enough to not try again. If the apocalypse can wait a little longer, I think I might be OK. 

3. I have learned a very hard lesson this week: you can't freeze and then thaw Brie cheese. Well, I guess technically you can, but it is gross. The moral of this sad story is that when you are in possession of Brie, especially if it is triple creme, you must stuff it ALL in your face as fast as possible. 

4.  My family has never had a dog and growing up, the only people in our CA neighborhood that had dogs where the drug dealers. And those dogs were mean and scary and caused me to walk a couple blocks out of my way on my way to school. So of course as a little tike I grew to believe that dogs = bad things like junkies and unneeded exercise. Since growing up a bit more, I have grown more and more OK with the canines, especially if they are types that I know I can out run. Recently I have pushed that line a little further and can now say I like dogs, or at least one dog, The General's German Pointer Mack:
At first I was super awkward because I realized that I don't even know how to pet a dog, so I just kinda flailed my arms in the general direction of the dog.  But Mack was pretty convinced that we were meant to be friends, so during a recent visit, he followed me around and alerted me (loudly) whenever a squirrel was in the area and that he was totally OK with table scraps and taught me the meaning of loyalty. What more could you want in a friend?

5. NPR is streaming The Avett Brothers Newport Folk Festival set. I can't. even. breathe. If you have never seem them live, you should put that on your bucket list and I'll go with you and promise not to scream in  your ear . . .too much. 

6.  Last Friday was a big day in my life, my very first trip to a Bass Pro Shop, and not just any shop, but the big flagship in Springfield, MO. It is so huge that I am pretty sure is has its own zip code and mayor. It was amazing and -what the heck- all at the same time. A couple things I discovered in hunter and gatherer land:  a good place to be hit on by farm boys is the turtle tank, some fish have anger management problems and I will never, ever, out live the story of that one time that I got stuck in my mummy bag sleeping bag on a camping trip. Also learned a lit bit later in the trip: the only remedy for bad Mexican food is good ice cream. 

7. It's tomato season! Which means around these parts, if you go a visiting your neighbors and friends you are required to leave with a bag of tomatoes. So many tomatoes, everywhere.  I've made tomato soup and fresh salsa and have reached my limit of BLT (it's possible) and popped the little ones like candy and/or pills. Hugs not drugs, unless those drugs are cherry tomatoes, then you can keep your hugs. 

8. I haven't been to a concert/live music show since the beginning of June and probably won't until September. This is make me crazy, jittery, and restless, which in turn has led me to try to teach the cat how to play the tambourine. It is going exactly how you think it would. 

9. I've been having very weird dreams lately. The other night, in a dream,  I was searching for the superb musician William Elliott Whitmore . . .so he could validate my parking. Now is the time to question the mechanics of my mind. 

10. It Just Gets Stranger is my new favorite blog about Snuggies and sometimes more serious things. Not that we should ever underestimate the seriousness of snuggies.  (Thanks Jen!)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Words: Wisdom

“I'm not telling you to make the world better, because I don't think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I'm just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave's a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that's what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it." -- Joan Didion

“The only truth is music.”  --Jack Kerouac 

“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.” --Mary Oliver

"Democracy is like tambourines. Not everyone can be trusted." --John Oliver

“I’m lost. And it’s my own fault. It’s about time I figured out that I can’t ask people to keep me found.” --Anne Sexton

"Yes, there are times we live for somebody else. Your father died and you decided to live it for yourself. You felt, you just felt it was time. And I'm glad, 'cause you with cats, that's just not right." --The Lumineers, "Dead Sea". 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Song of the Week: Hooray for the Riff Raff

It's summer, so I am still talking about music festivals. There has been a lot of buzz going around about this year's Newport Folk Festival coming up this weekend (oh, East Coast, I'm kinda missing you mucho much this week). This music festival has hosted not only some great musical acts since it's first showing in 1959, but has also been the stage (literally), for some memorable landmarks in music history. It was at the festival that Bob Dylan plugged his guitar in and performed his first electronic set in 1965.

This year's lineup is just about so fantastic that it almost brings me to tears of joy and bitterness. I have been craving folk music lately on these hot trying summer days, especially female vocalists. Songs and melodies to soundtrack spontaneous road trips to search for sanity (aka: get in your car and just drive). A couple days ago, a Sunday drive turned into such trip and I did indeed find my sanity a couple miles shy of the Iowa border.  But sanity just wasn't found with all the miles I racked up on my car, but also the music that filled my car.

Hooray for the Riff Raff, who will be playing Newport this year, has the perfect blend of folk and blues that sings all the feelings and thoughts that are swirling around in my head and heart that I just can't articulate. And this song,  "Look Out Mama," the title track off their 2012 album, is just so perfect, so perfectly . . .me.  I struggle with the idea of home, and settling down and finding and feeling content about my place in big things like  the world and small things like social groupings. All kinds of people seem to find and fall into all these things so easily, that sometimes I feel that I must of missed or slept through some vitality important part of life and no matter how hard I try I just can't catch up. So I cling on to the little things that give even a glimpse of this seemingly impossible peace.  As many times as I have left and no matter under what circumstances, there is just something a little comforting about turning into my parent's driveway.

I'm a heavy headed girl
Full of sorrow, 
Don't ask me how 
I got this way
Cause it's been too long to tell
But I'm getting tired
Going down this road
All by myself

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Song the Week: Sara Watkins

It's July and it is hot. Newsflash, right? But with this summer time heatwave comes dinners made up entirely of juicy tomatoes right from the garden, late night barefoot walks trying to catch fireflies, more excuses than you need to have just one more glass of lemonade, and laying smack dab in the front of the air conditioning vents as much as possible. However, in real life land, summer days aren't always that whimsical (p.s.  I despise the word whimsical), many days are just plain gross:  you are drowning and suffocating in sweat and humidity after being outside for 1.5 seconds, the air conditioning always goes out on the hottest day, or when the metro trains are packed (I don't miss those days. Not at all.),  and 98% people are are just plain cranky when it's hotter than a BBQ in Hades. But life is all about balance, so when I think that I am about to melt into a pool of sweat and frizzy hair and want to complain to everything living thing about it, I tune my ears into some tunes to pull me back into the land the living.  Sara Watkins' Long Hot Summer Days, a John Hartford cover, is perfect for all occasions and situations that include any of the above. A fiddle and delightful folksy voices are definitely the best on hot summer days, whether you are drinking lemonade from a carefully styled mason jar, or downing cheap Otter Pops like there is no tomorrow. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Happy Birthday Woody Guthrie!

Here's to Woody's words and music inspiring the world for another 101 years (and beyond!)!

Words of Wisdom from Mr. Guthrie:

I have hoped as many hopes and dreamed so many dreams, seen them swept aside by weather, and blown away by men, washed away in my own mistakes, that — I use to wonder if it wouldn't be better just to haul off and quit hoping. Just protect my own inner brain, my own mind and heart, by drawing it up into a hard knot, and not having any more hopes or dreams at all. Pull in my feelings, and call back all of my sentiments — and not let any earthly event move me in either direction, either cause me to hate, to fear, to love, to care, to take sides, to argue the matter at all — and, yet ... there are certain good times, and pleasures that I never can forget, no matter how much I want to, because the pleasures, and the displeasures, the good times and the bad, are really all there is to me.

And these pleasures that you cannot ever forget are the yeast that always starts working in your mind again, and it gets in your thoughts again, and in your eyes again, and then, all at once, no matter what has happened to you, you are building a brand new world again, based and built on the mistakes, the wreck, the hard luck and trouble of the old one.

( from Notes about Music, March 29, 1946)

Many musicians of the world still carry around Woody Guthrie's music and tenderly and raucously keep it alive by performing it to audiences big and small, inspiring hearts and minds, here's a couple of my favorite:

Old Crow Medicine Show, Mumford & Sons, and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes performing "This Train is Bound for Glory":

Bruce Springsteen performing "Riding in My Car" a song Woody wrote for his children:

Dropkick Murphys performing "Shipping Up to Boston"

And last, but never least, Bob Dylan & The Band performing: "I Aint Got No Home"

Saturday, July 13, 2013

On the Homestead: Fruits From the Farm (So Far)

Our little garden has survived late frosts, crazy spring storms, critter attacks and maybe *someone* forgetting to water as much as that *someone* knows should be done. But  it has survived and flourished. There is just something so sweet about literally eating the fruits of your labors. And even though we are only in the middle of the growing and eating seasons, I thought I would share a couple of the things that we have been doing and making with our locally, as in the backyard, grown foodstuffs.

I love growing herbs, I find them slightly less intimidating and a little bit more forgiving than fruits and vegetables, they are beautiful plants (I like using them in flower bouquets) and learning to cook with fresh herbs really has made a difference in my culinary endeavors.

This year, basil has been one passive aggressive beast.  I lost a couple plants to a late frost, the new plants didn't seem like they were growing at all and I thought all may be lost. Then BOOM, all of a sudden the basil plants (3 sweet basil and 1 Thai) were growing like they were titans and demi-gods. One of the first things I always do with a surplus of sweet basil is make pesto. It is super easy, uses up a ton of basil, freezes well and is oh so delicious.
I usually use, 101 cookbook's pesto recipe and adjust the ingredients to taste. With pesto, it is important to use quality ingredients;  fresh garlic (never any of the jarred silly stuff), good quality cheese you freshly grated and a good olive oil. All these things totally make all the difference. I freeze pesto in ice cub trays which allows me to only take and out use however much I need.

I also used fresh basil in two pretty amazing pizzas I made for an Independence Day luncheon. I can call it a luncheon because I pulled out the lace tablecloth and fancy china. The friends I invited over definitely deserve a step  or two up above paper plates and napkins.
Cherry Tomato Pizza Margherita and Summer Peach and Balsamic Pizza. Both recipes come from Love & Olive Oil, a site with fantastic pizza and well as other fine recipes. Both pizza pies were super flavorful and filling without being heavy.

And speaking of tomatoes,  the above pizza party was right before our tomato plants really started to produce, so I used a majority of heirloom tomatoes from the store for the Margherita Pizza, with only a couple of cherry tomatoes from the garden.

Now that the cherry tomatoes are really coming in, they usually don't make it to a recipe, sometimes not even to a bowl, just to my mouth--nature's candy indeed, and the goodness of knowing for sure that no pesticides were used on the veg.  We are still waiting for our big boy tomatoes to come in, but I check and cross my fingers and taste buds every day.
We grow English mint which some people find pretty strong. I tried to make non-alcoholic mojitos with it and everyone was like, um. . .no.  So, I've been trying to use it more as garnish. I freeze mint leaves and sliced strawberries in ice cubes and use them in drinks, such as water and lemonades, whenever I want to feel extra fancy. As the ice cubes melt the water gets a refreshing fruit and mint taste. It makes me feel classy AND healthy.  Other fancy ice cube ideas can be found here.   And I'm sure I'll find some occasion, like being thirsty, to try out some of these fancy infused water recipes. One more time: fancy. No  matter how many style points you rack up doing so, it is important to stay hydrated in these hot months, take it from me, the poster child for bad things happen when you are dehydrated. End of safety speech. Seriously, drink your water. Ok, done for realz. 
I bought and planted pickling cucumbers because I wanted to make pickles, and pickles were indeed made this week. I have had mixed results using pre-made pickling spice mixes, so these year, I used Food in Jars' Garlic Dill recipe and they turned out super good. These are pretty strong tasting pickles, but oh my word, I love them so. I used white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar, and upped the garlic slightly, no vampires will be getting these cukes.  I am hoping for another harvest of cucumbers, I planted pretty aggressively, and trying making a slightly sweeter pickle.

I am patiently awaiting the arrival of some melons (watermelon and cantaloupe), my lavender to start blooming (pleeeeeese), our onions and potatoes are coming along nicely, and I'm always looking for new uses for the  dill, sage, rosemary and thyme (wait, isn't that almost a song?) .  Hopefully I can share more tasty garden adventures later on in the season! 

Friday, July 12, 2013

My Midwest: Topeka, Kansas

A little while ago I went on a slightly spontaneous, slightly random trip to Topeka, Kansas with a friend.  It was one of those trips that you literally get in the car, shrug your shoulders and figure out what to do once you get there. Sometimes those are the best little road trips; going where the road takes you. 

Topeka, located about an hour west of Kansas City, is the state capitol of Kansas. The city started out as a family run ferry service to ferry westward pioneers and traders across the Kansas River. Westward pointing trails, trading, and the river defines the city, as does much this region of the country. Topeka, as a city was laid out in 1854, one of the free-state towns that were formed by abolitionists immediately after the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill . If your American history is a little rusty, this bill allowed settlers in the newly opened Kansas and Nebraska territories to determine for themselves whether or not to allow slavery in their settlements. It also basically killed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, where the Federal Government determined free and slave states. It also, also lead to bloody fighting on the Kansas plains as both pro and anti-slavery groups moved into the area. If you went to school in the area, you were probably taught that the American Civil War started in Kansas, and there is plenty of evidence supporting that statement.  Kansas was admitted into the Union in 1861, with Topeka as it's capital. 

And since it is the state capital, we knew we had to make a stop at the Kansas State Capitol Building. The outside of the building is currently undergoing some renovation, and the state legislation was not in session, so the building was pretty empty, which allowed for some free wanderings.  There are free tours given of the building given at specific times throughout the day.  We visited during a gap in these tours so we guided ourselves, which made me super miss giving Capitol tours. The Capitol building houses not only the legislation (Senate and House), but also the Governor's Office, State Supreme Court, and the State Library.  
 Looking up at the dome

 Mural of John Brown and era of 'Bleeding Kansas'

Kansas State Senate 

Kansas State House

In keeping with our Kansas history theme, we also visited the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. The US Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education ended racial segregation in public school, and is often cited as one of the most pivotal decisions made by that body. The case was actually five cases, each challenging segregation, consolidated into one, using Brown, Oliver Brown from Topeka, KS, as the plaintiff name to show that segregation was not purely a Southern issue.  In 1950, Oliver Brown, along with other African Americans in Topeka tried to enroll their children in their neighborhood schools. They were refused, and told their children could only attend designated African American schools.  The parents filed suit against the school board, the case eventually reaching the country's highest court, the US Supreme Court. 

The historical site is Monroe Elementary School, the segregated school that Linda Brown, daughter of Oliver Brown attended.  The exhibits, housed in classrooms explain not only the Brown v. Board of Education decision, but all the history that led up to it, and the decision's effect on everything that came after it. The exhibits are more educational in matter than historical artifacts. I thought the history was extremely well presented and dutifully illustrated the idea that the civil rights struggle is an old one, and one that continues to be fought. 

One final highlight from our Topeka on Tuesday Trip was stumbling onto the Hazel Hill chocolate shop/confectionery.  One step and one whiff inside and I wanted to BUY {and eat} ALL THE THINGS. Seriously tremendous homemade chocolate. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Song of the Week: Dough Rollers-

I was watching a show the other day about an old blues club. The club had fallen on some hard times and brought in a consultant to help figure out how to get things 'happening' again. The consultant made a huge fuss on how the club should dump the blues music, their target audience (21-45 year olds) just don't listen to blues anymore. I was personally offended.

In my little world, blues is the foundation of all American music. You start saying the blues, wait, I am going to caps lock that sucker, THE BLUES, are no longer relevant, that they have no place or business, and it's like pulling out a cornerstone of society; civilizations will crumble,  puppies and kittens will cry and aliens won't even try to invade out planet because it wouldn't be worth it anymore.

But never fear kids, puppies, kittens and extraterrestrial music lovers, there are are bands that are keeping alive, preserving and evolving the barbaric yawp of the blues. One just band is The Dough Rollers. They have gone through some evolving since their early shows, but whether it is two people or a handful, whether they are leaning towards the old times or breaking out something new, the soul (and Malcolm Ford's growl--holy, holy cow) of the music is the bluesy same;  intense, raw and soul shaking.

They also have released a new 7 inch today (July 9) on Third Man Records

Friday, July 5, 2013

10 Things

1.  My latest moral dilemma is whether or not to digitize my vinyl record collection. Having music in digital format is portable and easy to share, however I worry about losing the physical act of playing a record and the connection to music that you feel when it is tangible in your hands. There is no fast forwarding or skipping or random shuffle. Just listening. I know that makes me sound like pretentious hipster, but you know what I mean, right?

2. And now I'm going to break every single word that I said up there in #1. I have been listening to this song, "Lightening Bolt" by Jake Bugg, in digital format in my car all this week on repeat. I can't get enough of it.  Next time you're in my car, your job will be clapping along. You should probably start practicing right now.

3. I don't know how I feel about Instagram videos, they freak me about a little bit. You're scrolling through the pictures in your feed and all of sudden the pictures start moving. WHAT KIND OF MAGIC IS THIS?

4.  Yo, Google Reader is gone.  I switched to Feedly. The end. Can we all stop talking about it now?

5. This week I have had The Walking Dead streaming as I work on other things, 'cause that is called multitasking and that supposedly is a skill successful people have. I have previously watched an episode here and there, but I wanted to start from the beginning. If you haven't heard about it, it's basically a zombie apocalypse story. In my head, it isn't so much about the gore of OMG zombies, but about humanity in inhumane situations. And all this got me thinking, why is lately everything about a zombie apocalypse? Why not a a bunny apocalypse? Oh. Wait. Never mind. I've seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail and what can come of killer bunnies. I don't want that either. I wonder if there is apocalypse menu we can choose from?

6. I would like to bring this up here since the people I have told in person have not given me the accolades that I think I deserve. The other day when I came home it was pretty obvious that the cat had brought in a bird. Pause. Remember that I have a fear of birds. Previous bird incidents have resulted in meltdowns and using friends and family as human shields. But today, I located the bird (a blue jay, deceased), disposed of it, vacuumed up all the feathers, washed my hands a bajillion times, and there was only the teeniest freak out dance going on. So brave.

7. Cutting up a mango with grace will never, ever, be a skill listed on my resume. I have read step by step instructions, and I have watched videos, but it always ends up looking a like a horror show. At least today I was using the mango meat for Popsicles, so it didn't have to look pretty, but still, it's embarrassing. . . and messy.

8. Wednesday (July 3) was Franz Kafka birthday! I learned this how I learn most things in life these days; the Google doodle theme.  Let's all wear party hats and discuss if we are bugs or just think we are bugs. Kafka is one of my favorite authors (I have lots of favorite authors), he writes those types of stories that stab and wound you and when you finish the last page, you throw the book against the wall, wait a few minutes and then go get the book and start it again. You know . . the good kind of books.

9. In other current event news: ROYAL BABY WATCH! I am hoping William and Kate will have a girl and name her Eleanor. It's a cute name for a little girl, yet still regal enough for a queen. However, I think it may be too French sounding, (i.e. Eleanor of Aquitaine) and we really can't have that for an English Queen. 

10. The Independence Day fireworks in my 'hood were insane, like whoa.  I guess living a little bit out in the country means you get to blow things up with pride. And the icing on the "Merica! cake was my commute to the show: open the front door, sit on the porch, DONE. And siting there on the porch watching the sky light up, I had a sense of optimism well up inside of me;  maybe I can take on those Red Coats after all. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day

The last two times I met with the little 8-9 year old girls I volunteer with, we talked about the 4th of July. We talked about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and all those big words in the Declaration of Independence. We had a WWII veteran come and talk about his life and why people sometimes have to go to war. We learned how to properly and respectfully fold the American flag and why it has 13 stripes and 50 stars. And at the end of it all I asked them for about the 15th time, "So why do we celebrate the 4th of July?" One little girl, without a second thought, threw up both her hands and with gusto shouted "FIREWORKS!"

I then wanted to slam my head against the nearest wall. All this talk about important things and historical things and all they got out it was things that go boom. But I got to thinking; these little folk are still kids, they will have plenty of history lessons in school, plenty of time to remember dates and famous names and all the whys and hows. Celebrating Independence Day is about remembering and celebrating those harrowing days and events way back in the 1700's but it is also about celebrating the whole American story. Some years I feel like, "Phew, we're still here. Let's put some fire in the sky for that." Our country, like every other country, has a rich story; good chapters and bad chapters,  heroes and villains, and golden eras and dark days. But it is our story, unlike any other land and people ever, anywhere in the history of everything.  And it is  a story that is still being written . . . by us, about us.

One of the great themes that I draw from a lot in American History is that of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.  Many of our patriots, presidents and historical leaders, explorers, poets, artists, inventors, builders and activists came from humble beginnings.  They didn't let situation or circumstance stop them from doing great things. We are truly a nation of underdogs.  That is what I like to celebrate every 4th of July. That really is what America or these United States mean to me; greatness and goodness can be a reality for every soul willing to work hard, willing to try, fail and try again, willing to stand up and speak out.  I am still trying to figure out my own American Dream, but what I do know is that that dream really can be limitless, even if I am old and have already lived half a dozen lives.  I still can be almost anything and everything that I want. Well, maybe not Wonder Woman,  my attempts to find some Amazon heritage have been pretty futile.

"Merica YAY!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Song of the Week: Nathaniel Rateliff

I can't believe that I haven't featured Nathaniel Rateliff's music here on the old blog. I guess I did talk about him that one time I saw him, but he deserves so many more words. So, let's give him a couple more nouns, verbs and misplaced commas.

Although he is currently based out of Denver, Colorado and has been for quite awhile, Mr. Rateliff was born and raised in Missouri. THAT'S HERE!  I know that every city and every state and every piece of land and sea has their own stories, but when you share dirt or well traveled roads or know how to correctly pronounce odd city names (ah hem . . .Auxvasse), then your smile tends to be just a little bigger when one of your own does something good in life. 

There is an honestly and maybe a little bit of strain from a  heavy heart and weary life in his music. It is the kind of stuff that you can close your eyes and just sink into,  especially when you feel a little heavy and weary yourself. His talent of both songwriting and song singing captures that little bit of human nature that we both want to hide from everyone and share with everyone at the same time. So. Good.

And because I like you,  here is not one, but two songs from Nathaniel Rateliff:

"Shroud" from his album In Memory of Loss

"No Place to Fall" a Townes Van Zandlt cover

You can download the songs from his Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions, including the above cover, here.