Sunday, June 29, 2014

They All Ax For You...

This another segment in my "They All Ax For You" series. That's the title of a little Mardi Gras novelty song that the New Orleans band, the Meters recorded in 1975. For some reason when ever I look at animals I think about that song. It is a little bit about animals. When ever I think about the Meters I think about the Neville Brothers, another New Orleans family band that shared some common band personal with the Meters. I think about one particular time I saw the Neville Brothers play. 

It was at the old Jimmy's Bar at the end of the street car line. I think Jimmy's might be open again after being closed for some years but has had some nuevo New Orleans type troubles where well to do hipsters move into a funky old neighborhood and then get their feelings hurt when the local loud music bars that mad ethe neighborhood all funky and sweaty keep on doing their thing even when the hipsters, who by now have learned that money generally gets you your way, want local loud music to stop at their bedtimes. It was not like this when I made Jimmy's and saw the Nevilles, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and other such bands that really rocked, funked and played long and loud. You could see these bands right close up in these places I am not sure the Nevilles played the song "They All Ax For You" the night I saw them but They did play a song I remember well. Arron Neville, a very imposing figure of a man was playing cowbell. Waves of Hammond B3 organ washed through the place. As Arron kept time with his cowbell it seemed that the main words of the song, repeated over and over, and sang looking right at me were "Hey Wa Penie." Maybe it just seemed he was looking at me and maybe or maybe not he was singing "hey Wa Penie." Years later Arron did look at me as I made his photo talking to Rose and Katie behind the stage at Jazz fest when they were about 6 or 7 years old. I took his look real serious that night like he was telling me not to ever sing a song with the words "Hey Wa Penie" and I never have. 

Anyway what got me thinking about all this was animals looking at me and axing for me. These are the cows that live next door. Cathy says I must look like the man that brings them range cubes. 

See, they do Ax for me. 

I know a good writer should be able to sum up what all this means in a closing paragraph. All I got is this:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Those Awkward Moments...

I know that there are many who think that from all you may see written here I just cruise along slicing the internet to pieces with exciting adventures. Well maybe not adventures so much as experiements and as we all know experiments have mixed results and awkward moments. 

This photo brings to mind some joke about a monkey trying to throw a football or something like that but I really don't remember jokes so well anymore. 

I do remember the joke about the lady late for church. She hurries and on the way up the church steps slips and falls just as the Priest walks out. Sprawled out on the steps she looks at the Priest and says "Is Mass out?" He says, "no but your slip is showing a little bit." 

My eyes, my eyes, tubing done blinded me. Wait a minute, I'm better, it was just my hat. 

Where did the boat go! 

None of this possible without a good boat driver. 


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sorry Honey But...

...I lost the baby in the tall grass. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Happy Anniversary to Cathy...

Married 25 years today. Nothing big planned today since we had a big Mardi Gras thing with the kids this past carnival season but we might go to the lake after I work a little bit this morning.

Here's a throw back picture and I think it might date before we were married. It might have been taken at the San Diego Zoo. Cathy is looking off to the side because a monkey just ax for her. 

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Monday, June 23, 2014

The Hobo Model Guitar...

I think it's human nature when you have been having some success to turn around and go backwards sometimes. I think I maybe did this on this particular guitar build as it is a bit more primitive than what you have been seeing me build but to the good thing is that from this prototype I have some ideas for new things in the future.  

I call this the Hobo guitar. I guess it's because it looks like a hobo made it. 
Instead of making the top of the cigar box the sound board I flipped it over and used the wooden bottom as the sound board.  I have been told most wooded cigar boxes are Spanish Cedar which is a desirable tone wood.  

Next time I will center the logo more with the sound hole. 

This is the reason I chose to flip the box around. It has the surgeon general's warning in prominent view. While I agree with the general that smoking is dangerous I probably would not buy a box with this on the front  and after all I am in the business of selling these little guitars I make. There are no electrics on this guitar. It's totally acoustic. 


A look in the soundhole. I have made a few guitars from 1950s ceder boxes. These and even some of the modern boxes have a edge liner of thin ceder strips that I have to remove before cutting into the box for the neck. I save these strips and use them for bridges and in this case I created a bracing system for the top so it doesn't warp since the neck is not through the body. 

How does it sound. Here's a link

Since this is a protype and a little less than some of my others and techniques learned and developed will be used in other guitars I'll sell this thing for $30.  


Sunday, June 22, 2014

You May Have Noted...

My wife has out fished me on our recent trips. If you read here regularly you can easily keep score and other than the internet branding kind of thing I do for myself I use this blog as a fishing journal. I check back at the end of the year and if I keep good records by totaling my catch I know how many fish I caught, what conditions, when and where. In other words I use the computer to aid the clear cut over harvest thing that man kind has been so good at for a lot longer that you might think especially if you believe we have only been here 5000 years or so. So in the species decimation project my wife leads or the past two trips 10-3 and 13-5. I managed to slip away this week by myself and do so fishing, kind of an experiment to see what I could do left to my own methods. 
So here's my take. That's four crappie, three brim and three catfish. I like a mixed bag of fish. I like using techniques where you don't know what you may reel up each time. See those big crappie or white pearch as they call in east Texas or sacalay as the Cajuns call them. You have to put your lure or minnow, they like minnows right in front of thier face for a bite. Cathy likes catfishing. You sling out a big stink bait, catfish smells it and he comes and bites and there are plenty of cats to bite in our local waters and they are great eating. You could spend the day fishing deep, shallow, left, right, up and down and have luck at every place for cats. These fish I have were a bit more work as I fished various spots I had never tried and caught a couple at each spot. That's a bit of work, moving around and finding fish but to me it's fun sometimes. 

Next time I go I'll take Cathy. We will pull up to a tried and true place, relax and load the boat with some good eating cats. And I bet she catches most of them. 

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

If You Don't Knee Board By Age 4 You Are Kicked Out Of the Family...

Coraline just makes in in under the gun as she will turn four in a few weeks. It's a family rule. You must knee board before age 4. Just for the record if concerned parents are reading we wore life jackets at all times and started out with a partner, grandma on the tube. 
Next was a slow start with grandma in the water helping us stabilize.
"Just hold on to this. It's easy. It's not scary." Lot of lies we have to tell our children. 

She's off! 

Little girl a long way behind the boat.  

Not so bad if you close your eyes. 

Advances quickly to single hand technique. I think Coraline might have done better than Mary did at this age. 

Of course Mary is still doing pretty good on the knee board these days. 


Friday, June 20, 2014

The Old Home Place...

Mary and Miguel recently bought a house. It's off Wallace Street. This is not a coincidence. Up until the 1940s the Wallace family lived on this street. On the way to visit the Zamoras I stopped and made these photos of the home site.  

The information I have is pretty sketchy. There is not really anyone around to ask and I regret that I got old and my relatives that had all this info passed before I got smart enough to ask about it. I welcome anyone who might correct me or add to what I know.  In the first photo you see stone steps made from petrified wood. This is the neighbors steps next to the Wallace place. I think their name was Lowery and they owned a grocery store. 

Petrified wood columns flank the sides of the Wallace neighbors drive way. I really don't know if these were here when my family was but the seem to have been here awhile. I am judging that from these fine decorations it was an upscale neighborhood. 
This shot looks from the left hand column down the petrified wood retaining wall. Wonder where all ths wood came from and who did this fine work? 

This is the drive way next door that may have been my families. Best my mother remembers the Wallaces moved to Jack Street near Winston Park during the mid 1940s while my dad was in Europe with the U/S. Army. She was not involved with them at this time so it is a second hand history to her. The Wallace house stood somewhere in this area. That's a trash dumpster at the end of the drive. I don't know why that's there. If you walked left through the big oak trees you would be looking at the back of Gipson Funeral home. I have been told that my great grandfather E Pluribus Unum Wallace was a grave digger for Gipsons but at that time the funeral home was not at this location. This is definitely a fine site for homes on this gentle rise with shady trees. 

Family history tells us that the Wallace boys were a contrary competitive bunch.  I have heard that if some of the older ones had a car instead of giving younger brother a lift they might be so selfish as to make the him walk into town to see a talking picture at the old Pines Theater which was actually pretty new at that time.  

The Pines still stands and has movies. The house on Jack Street where I remember visiting Granny Wallace stands and seems as if the neighborhood and old houses there might be getting fixed up a bit so there is a good chance that my kids will get to drive their kids by that house and tell a story about how as a child I stood at the adult's knee s at family Christmas celebrations and cried and begged for homemade egg nog or swung on a tree limb that broke and cause me to slide right into Granny's gold fish pond. 

Life happens where people are. I am glad Mary and Miguel moved to this area.  It will help us to make memories and keep memories.  


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Kings and Queens of the Accordion Festival...

I have had a busy week. One thing I have not had the time to document properly in this space is the Kings and Queens of the Accordion Festival which was held a couple of weekends ago in Houston at the Miller Outdoor theater. I am going to have to arrive earlier next time because we missed the polka bands but saw several Tejano bands and one Zydeco band.  The zydeco band was C.J. Chenier, the son of legendary great Clifton Chenier. It brought to mind a time I saw Clifton play. 

I saw Clifton play a couple of times in the mid 80s in New Orleans. Once at the Jazz Fest but the time that really sticks in my mind is the time I saw him play at Tipitina's. Tip's is a famous New Orleans music club located in an old house of some sort located on the corner of Napoleon and Tchoupitoulas . I have been there many times seeing everyone from Gogol Bordello to the Killer Bees to Gatemouth Brown and more. The club is fixed up quite a bit these days but it seems like the time I saw Clifton I did not even go in the club but instead stood out side looking in through an open window that allowed you to look right down the stage right to left. There may be a couple of people that read this that were there that night so maybe they will help me out. It might have been one of those doors of perception things but I stood right there, drinking beer out of my own ice chest (you can do that kind of thing in N.O.) and watching the greatest zydeco band in the world. 

See, at the time I did this I was starting to play a little music and kind of getting to the point when people would let me and some other guys play at their party. I had a brand new Fender bass guitar bought as best I remember in 1983 or 84 and I thought I was playing it pretty good and the girls were starting to come around. But that night I stood there looking through that window, that hole in the ether, ozone, firmament or what ever that opened and let me see right on to the bandstand. Clifton was center stage but closest  to me was the bass player and the guy was tearing that thing up. I watched and that night I felt like I had a very long way to go to be able to be worth anything as a musician. 

So I let that lesson serve me. Every time I think I am going pretty good or got a sweaty little band with a rocking groove I take a look through the open window. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Saw the Fab 5...

Last weekend we were a bit footloose in Pearland. Morgan and Ali had gone out of town. We stayed at their house and had an evening to amuse ourselves. We were able to do that by taking in a show by the Fab 5 which was a part of a concert series the city puts on in the summer months. The Fab 5 are a Beatles tribute band. 
I usually don't go in for the tribute band thing. Seems a bit silly for guys to dress up like some one else and play note for note renditions of songs that are regularly played on the grocery store muzak these days. I gotta give them credit though. They were good. It was a cool evening sit in the grass on a blanket kind of thing that provided a bit of relief from the run around in the big city thing we had been doing. Lots of kids around and I must say that I was hit by kicked soccer balls and thrown Frisbees way more times than I have been hit in the head by a thrown beer bottle at a GoGo Bordello (they named this blog) concert. 

Nice instruments for the first set which was made up of various 60s hit tunes. Even though I am a dedicated Fender is always the answer kind of guy that's a nice Gibson Bass. Pay special attention to that bass player. The guitar player has a nice reproduction of George Harrison's psychedelic "Rocky" strat. 

Second set was all Beatles tunes. Now check out the bass player. He has switched over to the fabled Hofner Beatle bass and he is playing it left handed just like Sir Paul McCartney. If you looked close he was playing right handed a moment ago. I don't think I have seen such. I must admit that is paying full tribute. 



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Happy Birthday Morgan...

Today is Morgan's birthday. I guess I should have combed your hair more often but you survived and turned out very well. Happy Birthday son. 
Here's a yesterday and today photo.


Monday, June 09, 2014

Astros Win for Us...

We have seen the Astros win the last two times we have seen them play. One time was last season against the hated Cubs at Wrigley Field. Of course that have not won very many more times than this the last couple of seasons but things are looking up the past couple of weeks and I will be keeping track of the games and looking for opportunities to catch another when I can. Even as bad as they have played major league ball at the lower levels is better than the Sugarland Skeeters. 

We had good seats, outfield by the Astros bullpen. I'd sit here again. Opponents were the California Angels.
I miss the Dome but Minutemaid is a nice park. Other places I have been, well let's say it just don't seem natural to watch baseball outdoors. 

I don't really know the players. There are so many new guys I am going to have to do better keeping up. 

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Happy Late Birthdays...

I been out of town. Doing research if you must know. My business made me miss some birthday blog posts. I'll catch up now. Happy birthday to my daughter Katherine, June 6th and my dad, June 7th who would have been 89 if he were still with us. I have not got all involved with the throw back thing that seems to be popular on the internet but I may so here's a couple of old photos. 

Here's the artist formerly known as Katie in her marching band days. That's the Junior high band andv it must have been mid 90s. I think this was made during a parade at the Gilmer Yamboree which is a top venue for the display of junior high marching talent. After at the fair you get to eat sweet potatoes cooked every which way you imagine and then also get to take sacks full of the succulent red dirt grown tuber roots home. All this makes the greatest junior high bus trip. In the photo it's easy to seen the seriousness with which Katie approaches the pending performance and the expected fun. No gig written about is complete without detailing the gear used. The sax was a vintage horn used by originally by Cathy's uncle Bill, then Cathy and last but not least Katie. It soon wore to a non repairable point and we bought a good used sax. I think the old horn reverted to Uncle Bill's ownership and I sold the other horn to another band student and it was well used. Sorry bought selling that horn. I usually never sell gear but I did this time. 

June 7th was my dad's birthday. The notable thing that happened to him this day was that in 1944 he landed on Normandy beach, the second day of the invasion as a replacement troop. If you know your WW2 history the army in Europe kept a pool of unassigned troops and as causalities mounted they simply plugged these troops into the units where they were needed. This system has it's pros and cons but the war was won and my dad made it through. This photo was probably
                                              made shortly after boot camp graduation in 1943. 

As I have detailed on these pages I did a little research on my dad. I got his medals, including the bronze star with a cluster from the veterans department. I found an online spread sheet where someone had put in all the morning reports of May through December 1944 for the 29th infantry division. His name is mentioned three times so we know what he was doing three days in June/July 1944. On June 19th he reported for duty to Company F of the 116th regiment of the 29th infantry division. A little research shows this was the division that pioneered the tactics and equipment for a tank to punch through the hedgerows. On July 29th he is recorded as MIA reporting to hospital as non battle causality. WW2 research shows that anyone who made it through the month of June in Normandy was doing something right. The report from July 30th shows dropped from rolls as non battle causality. I know my dad was discharged from a military police unit in 1946. I don't know what the non battle injury was but family stories report a good bit of drunkenness and fighting on his return home. It's possible this is what they called post tramatic stress in WW2. 

Happy birthday Katherine and dad. Thanks for the memories.  


Thursday, June 05, 2014

Box Guitar #37...

Here's tin box guitar #37 and it's a good one. Recently Miguel brought me two tins that he found in Houston thrift stores. I made him this guitar out of one of them. This has been a policy I have recently begun if you give me some boxes I'll trade something I have made for them. I really appreciate my friends keeping me stocked with boxes. I may sound all artisty here but you know I sit in the floor with my boxes all around me and catch the cosmic vibes of the one calling out to me and I make a guitar out of it. It's harder to do if you don't have many boxes to call out and Cathy does not fuss about this like she might if I was sitting in the floor with large closed back Fender amp cabinets calling out to the world. 

Here's the guitar:
I am going to have to learn to make a better guitar picture. I see great ones in the magazines at night and Miguel has posted some great ones of this guitar on his facebook and insagram. 

Here's the details, tin box, three strings tuned low to high E, G# and B but tuning is a matter of taste. It's non fretted and played with a slide. It has BB side markers for the IV, V and octave chords.  It has my new two piezo disc pick up system with the discs placed on the top just south of those two sound holes which are bass guitar tuner ferrules. 

I did not play this guitar very much. I pretty much made it and took it to Miguel. It has a nice clean sound, not so banjo like as some of the tin guitars are and with only a quick plug in to one of the home made battery amps it seemed like it was going to have it's own unique voice different from the usual dirty blues sound of tin. Might be a cleaner sound because the pick ups are nearer the center of the guitar instead of under the vibrating bridge.  Also I think maybe the tin is thicker than most cookie tins. 

Some one asked on Miguel's facebook "How much." I sell tin guitars $65. Cigar boxes with the extra hardware are $75. I might charge a bit more if the box has a collectible or antique value and it cost me something to acquire.  You will probably see lots of tin and wood builds with the coming hot weather as my shop is not air conditioned and I don't want to sweat all over a pretty cigar box with paper on it. 


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