Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sunday Meeting Relatives...

Me and Cathy took a quick trip to Victoria, Tx on Sunday with Morgan for the Victoria County Czech Fest. While there we visited my cousin Jack (he's not Czech) and met some relatives from Cathy's mother's side of the family that we had not met before. Morgan has been doing some genealogy on that side. 

Here's me and cousin Jack.
Here's the Famed Shiner Hobo Band. They play polka music. 

The tubas of the Hobo Band. 

Here is a do it yourself instrument and he got to sit front and center of the band. Looked like his part was integral to the performance. The instrument was a broom and a box and he kind of squeezed and stroked percussion sounds from it. 

The director directed with a plunger.  
Some Czech cousins.

This one man band was probably a relative. Morgan decided from the name an off shoot of the in-laws. 

Food was great. Pork roast and sauerkraut. I think I'm turning Czech!. 


Monday, September 28, 2015

40 years Out of High School...

I had a very nice time this weekend at my 40 year class reunion. I have always felt that those three years of high school were a pretty pretty small part of my life compared to the 40 that have followed but maybe I was wrong as old connections pull me back and I look back to roots that go even deeper than simply the class of 1975. 

 This is the graduating class of Peter Pan Kindergarten. If you spot which one I am I'll ride by your house on a bicycle playing a tuba. The photo was taken spring of 1963. Many of the people in this photo were at the reunion Saturday night. Let's see what roots show here. 

That fall semester of 1962 had been the Cuban Missile Crisis and the brink of nuclear war. Most of these kids would be at good old Trout Elementary in the Fall semester of 1963 when JFK would be assassinated. I recall going with my mom to the principles office while at Trout after some kind of testing where I seem to remember the teacher telling my mom "he puts the square peg in the round hole." In 1969 this class would be in 7th grade at the old Junior High which is now Pineywoods Community Academy, a charter school. It was the year Lufkin Schools finally integrated some 15 years after the Brown vs. The Board of Education Supreme Court decision. I would begin playing the tuba that year. We would be too young to really be good hippies and luckily too young to go to Vietnam. Somehow all these things were good things for us and we came through it to be the class of 1975. 

Just the other day I related the story of the square peg in the round hole to my wife. She said "You still do that." I also still play the tuba. I have a job that square peg in the round hole thinkers do well in. Sometimes I even take the tuba to work when it's some one's birthday and I play "Happy Birthday" for them or maybe at the Christmas party I make my daughter Mary dress as an elf and play drums while we do drum and tuba Christmas songs. 

So all these years after Peter Pan, after High School, after all this tuba playing and self examination of blog writing we come on down to what makes us what we are. I have been guilty of not keeping up with many those people in the photo even when some of them are right here in town with me. Somehow I realized this weekend that the times with those people are a part of me and made me. 

There is talk of getting back together in five years. Who knows how many will be able to do that. Glad I did it this year. As they say, "thanks for the memories." 

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

I Am Ready for the Craft Fair...

I felt like I needed to whip out one more cigar box guitar so I have plenty of examples of my work to display at next Saturday's Gift and Craft Fair which will be held at St. Patrick's Catholic Church. Next guitars I build will be orders I have recently taken. I sold one guitar  yesterday that had been hanging on display at Sound Techs Music Store.  Thanks to Bill and the guys down there from letting me have a space on their wall. 

This box was sent to me by Katie from Chicago. She sent several like this. Seems like most of the boxes I have gathered have gold highlights that seem to call for gold hardware. I used chrome tuners, antique sound holes and  chrome/antique box corners on this one. Comes together quite well and goes to show we don't need no stinking rules or color scheme for cigar box guitars. 

It's electric with a single piezo pickup. Top string is a bit twangy. Electric sound is dirty and if you play real hard the twang is not noticed. It's a blues machine for sure. I usually sell this kind of guitar for $75. Due to the twang and the mismatched colors I will be open to any fair offers. 

It got a bit warm in my workshop by 2pm when I was finishing this instrument. I should get things back up to speed with the cooler temps expected next week and I have a new order for plenty of gold tuners on the way. 


Lufkin Panthers...

This weekend we went to the first football game since Mary graduated 6 years ago. It was nice to attend and one reason we were there was to see some old friends at my 40th high school reunion. There was pretty good attendance of the class at the game and there is dinner and dancing tonight. Here's a few photos of football and band. 

Lufkin High School tuba section. Surely everyone knows by now I played tuba in high school. I still play and it's little hard to wrap my head around the 40 years since I stood on this field myself. What a journey it has been.  

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Wine Box Guitar...

With the temperature cooling a bit I worked on a wine box guitar build this week. Still a bit of sweat drips from my brow so I am not starting any nice paper boxes yet but a little body oil on this all wood project just added to the mojo voodoo thing that starts to happen when you depart from any idea you are going to come up with a song or sound that is going to be like anything else in the world. 

Of course it's electric. It has dual piezo pickups. Sounds pretty decent through my 2watt 9 volt powered home made amp. Have not tried it through a big amp. 

This guitar is played with a slide. It's neck is from a failed project and has fret markers that are just a hair off because the scale length turned out a bit different but hey we are not trying to be Luke Bryan, the Foo Fighters or Miley Cyrus here. I can live with a bit less and besides when I get an instrument sounding like I like I usually break it so it sounds that way all the time. This guitar is for sale. Since it's has some cast off parts I'll let it go for $65.

Be sure to check out my booth at the St. Patrick's gift and craft fair on Oct 3rd at the church. Me and my celebratory endorser, Bill Cooney will be playing, singing and hopefully selling some guitars.  


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Biking Chicago...

When we have visited Chicago to see Katie and Peter, which we do a couple of times a year for the past few years I could probably count on one hand the number of times I have ridden in a private car. There are lots of cars of course, it is America after all but there are lots of people that get around without them. There is a good system of trains and buses. Takes a little longer, a little planning but mostly beats the traffic and parking if you use public transportation. On this visit we used bikes to get around. 

When we went to Riot Fest last year it was in a park a short walk from the house. This year it was still in the area about a 45 minute bike away. Katie and Peter have a number of bike, being a bit cheaper that a car and requiring little upkeep or insurance they seem to make sure there are spares. 

Course you need a costume. 
"Man I like to run into a pole." 

In Chicago there was some kind of thing going on that if your butt touched a bike seat it rained. 

One day we had more people in our party than we had bikes. Luckily there are bikes to rent. Just download an app to your phone and you can check if there are DIVY bikes to rent at the nearest station. Sure enough a check showed there was 8, the number we required and when we arrive there were 8 just like it promised. Of course with the rain there was not a big crowd standing around to jump on a bike, just us. 

Pretty simple system. It's a system you can beat. Just swipe your credit card. On this Saturday they were giving away 30 minute rides free. We rode  to the next station, checked them back in and checked them back out and continued on to the fest all for free. 

Cathy on her rent bike. Since we got back she ht the local pawn shops and bought a bike. Looks like I need to buy a bike this weekend. 

 Bullet proof orange coat. They said "Dad, no one will run over you if you wear this." 
Ali, Katie and Will. 

Will is a Canadian doctor. I feel like if I had become injured on this trip he would have treated me. There would have been no waiting and I could have just paid him. Always wanted to try out that single payer health care system. 

Night riding but not really too dark. 


Sunday, September 20, 2015

I'll Fix Your Flat Tire Merle...

It's a quote from an old Pure Prairie League song and it is the least I can do since I have got a lot of miles out of his songs, playing them many times while performing in country bands. This year at Riot Fest we saw Merle Haggard. A bit of an old choice what with Snopp Dogg, Iggy Pop and others but if you consider that two of Bob Marley's sons and Lee "Scratch" Perry also played the fest maybe not.

The reason I lump Merle with the reggae performers is because of the marijuana joke he made during his set. He has probably told this joke since the song "Okie from Muskogee" was released in 1969. Merle said "Now I'm going to sing a song about marijuana." The crowd roared approval. Merle replied, "Hey I didn't say I was going to give you some."    

Merle has not lost a step. Voice is in great shape, lead guitar playing through a Fender tweed style amp is sweetly slightly on the dirty side, fiddle playing is no slouch and the backing band is great. Go see him while he's still around and at the top of the game. 

Since Merle likes a bit of parody and humor himself here is the old Pure Prairie League tune: 


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mariachi El Bronx...

I think the best band I saw at at Riot Fest was Mariachi El Bronx. The are out of Los Angeles born from a punk band called the Bronx. While their music is not true mariachi they have the instrumentation. If you listen to the general sound it brings to mind the band Calexico. While Calexico has a more southwestern desert sound with Mariachi El Bronx think urban with both bands having some of the same chord voicing in the horn/violin arrangements. Of course Mariachi El Bronx has way cooler suits for their gigs. 

Cool drummer with a stand up set. Kind of makes you want to play drums if you get to stick your sticks in your pants like this. 

Cathy likes this band. They are not a new discovery. We had some of their cds already. 


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The People Pictures...

Ok, we saw a lot of bands at Riot Fest. We also had real humans with us to watch those bands and they were friends and family. Here is what they look like dressed for a fest.

Left to right Cathy, me, Katie, Will a visiting friend from Canada and Peter. 
Peter enjoys fest food. 

The girls, Ali, Katie and Cathy. Peter and Will are behind on the steps to the Tulloch manse.

That's Peter's cousin from Canada Danny, Cathy and Peter. 

Katie and Peter return with some cold drinks. 

Morgan, Ali and me. You do know that Ali graduates from PTA school next spring. She will be just like me, sort of, a PTA I mean. 

In the middle of the group shot is a friend of Katie and Peter's Dan whom we have spent time with onm several of our Chicago visits. With his back turned is a friend that usually pops up when we are in town, Carl. 

Me and Cathy. 

There were a couple of visits paid to a local Salvation Army thrift store while we were there for emergency items such as rain gear, rubber boots and shoes that could be thrown away after tromping in festival mud. Morgan scored some kind of perverted sweater vest with skulls on it. 

Cathy talks, Ali smiles for the camera and Morgan strains to hear the band. That's a joke. You did not have to strain to hear the bands. 

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