“What was your favorite thing?”…Part 2

It was another weekend with LOTS of favorite things. This time it was me asking Shelly the question: “What was your favorite thing this weekend?
Before she could answer I gave her my answer: “My favorite thing was glancing over at Tom and Gloria at Piney River as Bob&Jeff sang ‘Like Dogs.’”

It coulda been a tough choice. It wasn’t. The weekend including June 3, 2017 was gonna have plenty of fun things even before I found out that Tom&Gloria were coming in from Atlanta:
…The 13th Annual Rock House Summer was Saturday 6/3/17 {my 6th one…it is always a blast}
…the headliners were The Rainmakers; the Nace Brothers were playing right before them; the 2 bands would close out the night on stage together {great bands individually…awesome together!}
…we were gonna spend a couple of nights at a cute little place called “Shady Acre” and our friends from Pittsburg, KS would also be staying at the 15 room family owned motel {we sat around the pool and talked until the wee hours of 6/4/17}
…Shelly and I were gonna take the Prius on it’s first road trip. A short road trip for us at 100 miles each way, but a roadtrip nonetheless. We were heading for the Piney River Brewing Company in Bucyrus, MO…a few miles east of Houston. {Nobody…other than beer drinkers….has EVER heard of Bucyrus. It is the middle of nowhere! We loved it.}
…the reason to head for Piney River was because Bob&Jeff were playing for a couple of hours. {awesome as always}
This was always going to be “brownie and hot fudge sundae” kind of a weekend…and then Gloria tells me that they are thinking about coming!!
Their visit turned it into a “Double Devil.” I had one at my recruit lunch when I interviewed with Arthur Andersen in Portland in 1981. It had to be at least 1500 calories: brownie, ice cream, hot fudge, more ice cream, more hot fudge, whipped cream, nuts, a maraschino cherry on top.

Having Tom&Gloria at the festival was the second scoop and more hot fudge.
Sunday afternoon at Piney River was a double helping of all the toppings.

I met Gloria in 1989 when I transferred to Sarasota with AA&Co…changing careers but staying with the same employer. We quickly became friends. Gloria was the first babysitter during those rare times that Paula would leave Joseph.

Tom came to work at Andersen in 1991. I interviewed him on campus, and then had to fight for him when staff was assigned. Tom was exactly the kind of person I wanted on my team: smarter than me, and only gonna get smarter. I seriously doubt if he has ever worked for anyone who didn’t learn from him.

They both had different spouses when I met them, and might already have been divorced when we moved back to Oregon in 1996. I don’t know for sure. It doesn’t matter. They will have been married for 20 years in 2018.
When my life was in the toilet in early 2011, Gloria was one of the 4 people who were my rocks. We spent lots of time on the phone. She listened. She inquired. She advised. Gloria was there for me. I can never thank her enough.

Tom&Gloria don’t just like dogs….they love them. Both been very active in “Adopt a Golden Atlanta” which is a volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to finding warm, loving permanent homes for Golden Retrievers. (Gloria has finally quit asking me when I’m gonna get a dog. She knows that I’m serious when I say that I’m too irresponsible and impetuous to be a dog owner…)
Before the festival, I messaged Bob Walkenhorst with a few of Gloria’s requests. “Like dogs” was at the top of the list. On Saturday she heard if from the parking lot, due to “nature calling” at the wrong time. Sunday we were sitting about 15 feet away when they played it. I wiped away tears of joy as Tom&Gloria mouthed the words to this classic song.

I loved that they got to: meet my friends; meet my sister and her husband; have a few slices from the Reeds Spring Pizza Company; spend a day at the festival; get a tour of the Rock House on Sunday morning…while all 4 of The Rainmakers were in the house; and top it off with two plus hours of Walkenhorst&Porter.
What a great weekend! I’m a lucky fella. Life is Good.

Be. Just Be.

“What was your favorite thing this weekend?”

It is right up there on my list of favorite “questions from Shelly.” There have been some doozies. The one at the top of the list has been there since our first date. (What’s said in the Corolla on 10/13/12, with The Rainmakers album “25 on” playing, stays in the Corolla….)

When she asked the latest question, at a little after 2 on Sunday afternoon 5/7/17, a bunch of things flew through my head at high speed. It had been an awesome weekend.

The subject of this piece isn’t the question she’d asked a minute earlier on Sunday: “You’re awfully quiet. What’s wrong?”
That answer was quick and easy: “Nothing is wrong. So many things are right. Everything is right….”

She smiled. Said that made her happy. She smiled that smile again…and then she asked: “What was your favorite thing this weekend?”
Between the time we headed downtown for the Gillioz on Thursday and Shelly’s Sunday afternoon question, I had enjoyed lots of things. It had been a stellar 66 hours. It coulda been a tough question; it wasn’t.
In no particular order I flashed on all of these and a few more before I replied:

…the Jason Isbell concert at the Gillioz on Thursday.
Chatting with friends at Dublins Pass before heading to our seats.
A great show.
An earworm; six days later and I’m still listening to and caterwauling along with “Codeine.”
…the first ever solo visit of Shelly’s firstborn, Amber.
It has always been either Jordie and her, or lately it has been the three of them crashing at our place. (Cecily is their 3 year old.)
…Amber hung out with us on Friday evening, first at Lindberg’s then at the wine bar 3 doors east.
Then it was just the two of us, as Shelly had to get to bed.
…the rickshaw story.
…spending time with several friends at Lindbergs…starting with Ginger, who is responsible for me meeting all the others.
had a variation of “the george thorogood trio”….rather than the usual one bourbon, one scotch and one beer I had one tequila, another tequila and a PBR.
…harvested green onions and lettuce; planted two tomatoes
…a Cinco de Mayo plus one party at Ginger’s
met some new folks there and spent time with Bruce & Jeanette.
experienced an unknown number of frogs drowning out the conversation of a deck full of humans.
…spinning the “mix CDs” from the last couple of years of live music we’ve seen….good memories….good tunes….good times.
Here’s how I answered Shelly.
The answer was short and sweet: “Bob.”

Friday, May 5, 2017 at Lindberg’s Tavern was the first time I’ve ever seen Bob Walkenhorst solo. I’ve written lots on here about his music. There’s the first time I saw Bob & Jeff at The Rock House. There’s our first date. There will be the 13th annual Rock Summer Festival on June 3rd….the Rainmakers are the headliners.
A few things made this evening special, beginning with a song I’ve loved since the first time I heard it. It was 2011, and I was in transition. My marriage was over. The relationship with 2 kids was complicated. And I heard this:
If I go down, I’m gonna go down swinging
If I grow old it won’t be gracefully
I’m gonna trip and fall
And pass it off as dancing
I’m gonna croak and moan
Say it‘s a new kind of singing
I’m gonna go down swinging..”

Then I heard:
Given time I’ll get it, let me go around
Let me go around, let me go around again”

As I drove home that first night back in 2011, after hearing Bob&Jeff the first time, I played “Go down swinging”, “Given time” and “Like Dogs” a few times each.
After Bob’s soundcheck last Friday, I made a request, asking him for “something by Dylan.” Bob asked if I had any song in mind. I didn’t. We’ve only managed to see Bob&Friends on a Wednesday at the Record Bar in KC three times. I’m pretty sure he snuck in a Dylan tune each time. It always made me smile.

If I had to pick only 8 Dylan songs it would be tough. The song Bob picked would be on my Dylan DIDL (desert island disk list). From the first time I heard the last verse of “Positively 4th Street” the song has been one of my favorites. Is there a better way to say “Fuck you” than this?

“I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes
And just for that one moment I could be you
Yes, I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes
You’d know what a drag it is to see you”

The song starts with a jab at a lot of greedheads walking around wearing flags on their lapels but not giving a shit about much more than money and power:
“You’ve got a lotta nerve to say you are my friend,
When I was down you just stood there grinnin,’
You’ve got a lotta nerve to say you got a helping hand to lend,
You just want to be on the side that’s winnin’”

Bob’s song choice was Perfect.

Then Bob made it better by playing a song (“Small circles”) that I had requested when he and Jeff played The Rock House 10/29/16.
There was no dancing on 5/5/17. Unless you count “table dancing.”

I damned near cried in happiness.
In a room with music and friends and a singing poet.
Listening to our song.
My arms around a woman who loves me.
My arms around a woman I love.

Thanks Bob.
Thanks Ginger.
Thanks Bruce & Jeanette.
Thanks Shelly.

Thanks. Just Thanks.
Be. Just BE.

I have a Lot of questions…A Lot.

I’ve got a lot of questions….and I have had for as long as I can remember.  I probably always will have more questions than answers.

I remember a time when I was probably 5 or 6 years old. The older of two boys who lived next door to my Grandma Ruth was doing chores, including cleaning out the gutters. Jerry was probably 12 or 13 at the time. Up on that ladder, he was trapped.

I have no idea what I was asking him about that day. I do remember that I had a lot of questions. Some of his answers resulted in more questions.

I remember my Grandma telling me to leave him alone. “Let him do his work!!”

I remember Jerry, about a dozen questions into the inquisition, saying that I should listen to my Grandma. I remember her coming out again, telling me to stop with all the questions.

I didn’t stop until she made me come in the house.
If you’ve been paying attention, you know that I am a huge fan of the KC-based band The Rainmakers and that I love many of Bob Walkenhorst’s lyrics.

There is lots that hit’s home for me in the lyrics of “Long gone long.” Lots of the lines could have been mine.

1. I often have the “ready to get out of here” feeling. (I never expected to live in MO again…and don’t plan to die here. But I’m not a planner, so who knows where I’ll be having my mail delivered when I take my last breath?)
2. There are the freight trains hauling new cars. (Never used a 22….i preferred golf ball sized rocks….)
3. There is drinking underneath the stars. (Been there. Done that. Haven’t done nearly of enough of it. Need to do LOTS more of that….)
Then there is a line that I gotta take exception with…it’s the second line of the song: “Fewer things puzzle me than when I was young.”
On this Groundhog Day of 2017, more things puzzle me than ever before. Not fewer. It’s not even close.

I’ve got more questions today than probably at any other time in my life. They’re rattling around inside my head. They are not simply rhetorical questions.
But these questions don’t seem to have answers. At least not satisfactory answers.

And I gotta take exception with this line from the song too: “Is something going on, I tell you nothing’s going on.”

Oh, something is going on alright.

And it scares the shit out of me. We got a guy about to become a member of the National Security Council who said: “I’m a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Steve Bannon is a seriously bad hombre, who should be shuffled off to Siberia.
I’m not gonna list a bunch of the questions flying around inside my head. What’s the point? You can probably guess what some of them would be. But I do have two questions….

The last line of “Long gone long” is this: “Goodbye to more than either of us could have known.”

My first question: What are we as a nation saying goodbye to….and why would anyone be so delusional and/or filled with anger, hate, and bigotry to think that anything taking place in D.C. since January 20 is “making America great again”?
I do not want to say goodbye to the advances in the human condition that people fought and bled for. Something is going on. And it’s destructive. And evil. And immoral. And people with power are sitting on their hands with their eyes closed.

Last question: When will this lunacy in D.C. end?


You are what you listen too….Part 2

I’ve written about my “addiction” to music before.

I am prone to have a song, or an artist, “on repeat.” Looking back at my Facebook posts during 2016, I shared links to youtubes of 19 songs that I had listened to over-and-over-and-over-again during the year.

Some of them were by artists that I was going to see soon, or who I had seen recently. Some were songs that I have been listening to for years. Some were from my “desert island” artists: Jackson Browne, Dylan, The Boss, Neil Young, The Rainmakers. There was quite a bit of variety, but it always came back to lyrics.
In addition to being compulsive about listening to music, I read a lot. Not books so much anymore. I subscribe to lots of magazines and probably spend too much time online reading a variety of things.

One of the best things I read during 2016 was a piece called “My life in six songs.

Well, I’m not gonna even try that exercise….but if I could audit Natalie’s MTHP 200 Psychology of Music course I think it would be a blast!!

What I am gonna do is pick the six songs from my 2016 Facebook “on repeat” posts whose lyrics have been played the most in the apartment, in the car and in my head.

It’s easy to pick the first of the six. Here’s what I wrote on July 18, a couple of weeks after I saw them at the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland on July 1: “I didn’t run to the city in 2011, but the first few lines describe how I was feeling back then: ‘…I was running from the past, My heart was bleeding, And it hurt my bones to laugh…’ ”

I continue to be mesmerized by the tune, whether I’m watching a video of Derek Trucks making the slide guitar sing and cry or listening to Susan Tedeschi belt it out.

We will be seeing them at The Ryman on March 2. It will be awesome….

The second song has got to be this one by the Bottle Rockets. We saw them twice in 2016; the first time at a house concert on August 26.

I detest the stars&bars; I LOVE this song. “Heritage” my ass…..the word has four letters and it does start with an H….

“That good ol’ boy’s waving
The stars & bars
It’s a red, white & blue flag
But it ain’t ours

Wave that flag hoss, wave it high
Do you know what it means?
Do you know why?
Maybe being a Rebel ain’t no big deal
But if somebody owned your ass
How would you feel?”

The halfway point of my half dozen songs from 2016 is one whose lyrics baffle me a bit, but it’s a song that I can’t shake.

Here’s what I wrote at 10:31 pm the night of my birthday:
“What’s on your mind?”
I got two things on my mind right now:

1. Why can’t I get this song outta my head?
2. WTF did he find in the drawer??

If I was in Dr. Wlodarczyk’s class, there is no doubt that one of my six songs would be by Jackson Browne. Hell….they might all be by him.

The one that I’m gonna pick for 2016 wasn’t even written by him…but this one has some lyrics that hit home during 2016…and in 2017 too!

“Ever since the world’s existed
There’s one thing that is certain
There are those who build walls
And those who open doors…”

And then there is this line: “There can be freedom only when nobody owns it…”

Enough said about politics in these United (?) States….


My last two songs of 2016 are by a fellow who I hadn’t listened to much until a couple of months ago. Man-o-man have I been missing out. You have been too if you have never listened to Amos Lee.

I’m picking two songs of his with very, very different sentiments. This first one has one of the best break-up lines I’ve ever heard.

“If you feel a chill in the air
It’s my spirit hanging somewhere
and if you ever get scared
Look on the bright side
You got a new life…”


I heard this last song for the first time 6 or 7 weeks ago. I’m sure that I have heard it 100 times since then. And I’m probably just getting started. The song starts like this:

“My heart is a flower
That blooms every hour
I believe in the power
Of love…”

I do believe in the power of love. And I love this line from “Flower”:
“Tomorrow’s coming and yesterday’s gone…”


This “pick only six songs” is a tough assignment. I could easily have picked several other songs:

“Stay ahead of the Wolves” by Bob Walkenhorst and Jeff Porter. On 10/28 my FB status: “I needed to hear something like this 5 years ago….there were wolves everywhere I looked back then. Five years on, this is one of their many songs that play in my head often.”
Bob & Jeff played it the next night to a packed house at The Rock House. I tear up everytime I think of it…

On Valentine’s Day I posted a link to “Late to the party” by Kacey Musgraves. “…who needs a crowd when you’re happy at a party for two?”

The Strumbella’s released a catchy tune titled “Spirits” with this line: “I just want to be alive while I’m here…”

Nothing makes me feel more alive than music.

Be. Just BE.

Thinking about firsts…

It’s the end of something. This is the last day of 2016.

I’m looking back for a bit, while focusing on the future.

I’m thinking about some firsts.

1. The first time I stepped foot in Oregon.
We had driven a 2 car VW caravan from Washington, MO. Heading for Corvallis. Hoping she would be accepted into grad school at Oregon State. I had no plans.

There are some stories there, but here’s what happened the first time I ever touched terra firma in the Beaver state.

The first sounds I heard: “Stop!! You can’t do that…”

All I was trying to do was pump gas. I’d been doing it for years. It was illegal in Orygun that Sept ’76 day. It still is. (I got a gas station story from NJ…the other state that bans self pumped gasoline.)

2. The first time I got “throw up drunk.”
It was homemade wine. It was in Monett. I could take you to within 100 yards of my first ever technicolor yawn. I remember lots of that night, before and after the puking.

3. The first…and only time…my ex saw me throw up drunk.
I could take you to the toilet in the house where I wretched and she laughed. I drove by that house at 402 Center street in Farmington 2 days ago.

4. The first time I was at the Rock House.
I’ve written about that before. It’s in the archives somewhere.

5. The first time I heard Bob Walkenhorst and Jeff Porter of the Rainmakers at The Rock House.
Ditto. It’s in the archives.

6. The first time I had sex with the woman I love.
What happened in A-306, stays there.

7. The first time I heard one of my life mottos.
It was Oct. 2, 2002. I was in an oceanfront room in Virginia Beach. There was one guest on Letterman. After the show a friend and I had an online chat about that night.
The motto: “enjoy every sandwich”. My version: “enjoy every bite of ever sandwich.”

The entire quote from Warren Zevon: “You put more value on every minute, you do. I always thought I kind of did that. I really always enjoyed myself. But it’s more valuable now. You’re reminded to enjoy every sandwich and every minute of playing with the guys, and being with the kids and–”

Sounds like a plan.
Thinking about other firsts too. More than just these 7. Some behind me. Some ahead. Looking forward to a kick ass year in 2017.

Be. Just BE.

5 years on…and counting

I’ve told several people recently about “a chain of events…things that happened” so I might as well write it down….

The story I’ve been telling is very linear.

1. In late August of 2011, a woman I was exchanging messages with on a dating site told me about house concerts being held at a place called The Rock House in Reeds Spring. I had never heard of “house concerts” before.

Thanks Ginger! House concerts are The Best!!

I’m glad that I can call her my friend 5 years on.

2. A couple of weeks later I made my first visit to the The Reeds Spring Pizza Company, along with my sister and brother-in-law. Paula had been bragging about the place since they moved to Table Rock Lake in 2007, and USA Today said they had the best pizza in MO.

My sister and McPaper nailed it: their pizza is mighty good!! Order a large so you can take some home. It’s hard to believe, but it’s even better the next day…

As I was paying for the pizza and beers that September evening, I asked the waitress: “Can you tell me how to get to The Rock House?”

“Just ask Jeanette…she just left. You can probably catch her in the parking lot.”

Talk about fortuitous timing!! I hailed Jeanette and we chatted for a few minutes. She told me who was playing next and when and how to get there.

3. The next person in my story is the first friend I made at the Rock House: Barbara.

I almost chickened out of going that first night. My introverted self somehow managed to summon some gumption that October 8, 2011 and I walked up the steps of the R.H. that first time, just a few minutes before the music started.

There was only one open seat, third in from the left front corner along the outside windowed wall. The seat was next to Barbara. We chatted briefly before Three Penny Acre was introduced…and I heard Jeanette explain what a “listening room” is. She asked if anyone in the room was at their first house concert….to which Barbara announced to the packed room: “it’s the first time for my new friend Steve.”

I thought right then and there that I was probably gonna like this place. Then the music started, and I was certain of it. But my introverted self was still blushing all over at Barbara’s exclamation.

I knew I was gonna be friends with Barbara…but I didn’t know she was Jeanette’s mom until after the break between sets was beginning. Barbara encouraged me to mingle and pointed out some unattached women. I told her “thanks…but….i’m bashful…”

Note: the fact that I kicked over a full glass of Barbara’s favorite adult beverage about 30 minutes into the show didn’t sour her on me. Thank goodness!

4. On 10/8/11, as I walked onto the porch to leave that first night at The Rock House, Jeanette asked me two questions. “Did you have fun? Are you going to be a regular?”

“Yes, absolutely…it was great…and most likely I will be a regular…if I am still living around here.”

That evening I had no idea how long I would live in MO. When I left the state in 1976 I never expected to live in the show me state again. When I moved into the Abbey 2 days earlier, after almost three months living with my sister, I signed a 6 month lease. Later I let it go month-to-month, until I moved down and across the hall.

Five years on, and we’re 3 months into another one year lease.

5. Thirty-six days later I had one of my most memorable experiences at the R.H.

It was November 12, 2011. It was my third time at The Rock House, and the first time I ever saw Bob&Jeff of The Rainmakers. At last count I have 8 Rainmakers’ CDs, 2 by Jeff Porter, and 1 by Walkenhorst&Porter. I’ll be seeing them at The Rock House this coming Saturday, and I’ll probably buy more merchandise.

In five words: Yes, I am a fan!

I wrote about that first night, and one song in particular, here:

More music memories….

6. Eleven months later, on October 13, 2012, Shelly and I had our first real date. We’d seen each other a couple of times before then at public places, but the drive to Reeds Spring to see Bob Walkenhorst and Jeff Porter of The Rainmakers was the first time we’d ever been in the same vehicle.

As we headed south I thought that I might get to like Shelly, but if she hadn’t had fun listening to Bob&Jeff at The Rock House I’m pretty sure our time together would have been short lived.

Five years on, Shelly and I are in our 3rd year of living together in B-307 at The Abbey. I’m on the board of The Rock House. I house-sat for Jeanette and Bruce at the R.H. this summer when they were on their 6,000 mile road trip. Almost 20% of my Facebook friends are people I met at the Rock House….and many of them are much, much more than just “Facebook friends.”

I met both Ginger and Shelly on OkCupid. You could make a case that the dating site is the first domino in lots of good things in my life. Maybe.

If Ginger had ignored my initial online message (and that happened more often than not), I might never have heard of The Rock House. Maybe…maybe not.

All I know is that things happened, that house concerts are a great thing and that The Rock House is a magical place. My quality of life has been enhanced because of the music I’ve heard, the people I’ve met, the great times I’ve had at 41 High Street, and the many friends I’ve made.

No maybe about that.

I don’t believe in this “things happen for a reason” line of thinking…not in the least. If I did believe that do you think I woulda given my blog its name? “Things happen, that’s all they ever do.”

I do believe this. No matter what happens: Be. Just be.

I don’t dance…don’t ask me

It’s time to come clean. Maybe they’re just excuses, but I like to think I have reasons for not dancing in public. I’ll get to them in a bit….

For most of my adult life I have been a fan of live music. I see as much live music now as I did when I was hitting clubs several nights a month and seeing big name acts often in Portland back in the 80’s.

At home, in the car, on a 737…wherever…I almost always have music playing. I can be OK with silence, but I’ll take music if it’s my choice.

In lots of situations I will sing along…although I’m sure there is a better word for it than “singing.” Most accurate is probably caterwauling. In crowds, I keep it down. There are less than a dozen people on the planet who I subject to my “johnny one note” singing.

But I do NOT dance.

I have danced in public once since 1971. It happened at George’s Majestic in Fayetteville on May 27, 2016. We danced to “Small Circles.” I told Shelly that I would dance to that song the first time we saw the Rainmakers in Kansas City in late 2012, but they didn’t play it that night. Or maybe I begged off that night and promised her “next time.”

Fortunately, they did NOT play that song any of the times since then when she and I made their shows. Until 5/27/16.

On that night in late-May at George’s, before we heard the first lyric, it was immediately obvious to both of us that what we were about to hear was what we were gonna do:

“She reached out and twist my hand
And made me dance to some local band
But the beat was slow so there we stand
As we move in small circles”

First of all The Rainmakers are NOT “some local band.” They are a Kansas City Band, that because of some strange twist of fate never made it to the big time. This is a VERY good band.

Second, she did NOT twist my hand. All Shelly did was smile at me with “that look.”

Third, she did NOT “make me dance.” I like to dance with her. Just not in public. I’m not sure if I “have to” dance to “Small Circles” every time we hear it from The Rainmakers in the future, but I probably will…I enjoyed swaying with my Sugar in Fayetteville.

So what do I say to people when they gesture to me to get up and dance?

Usually I just smile and say, “not me…thanks…i don’t dance.”

Sometimes I use “white men can’t dance, especially tall ones.” But if you’ve ever seen Brad Garrett, of “Everybody loves Raymond,” dance then you know this is a pretty lame excuse.

Sometimes I try “Baptists don’t dance.”

Ok, I was raised a Baptist. Many of my family members go to Baptist churches. I am a lot of things, but I am NOT a Baptist. I don’t think I ever was, and I sure as heck am not one now. Just like Jesus, and unlike most Baptists, I’m a liberal.

From what I can gather, lots of Baptists dance…and drink and gamble too. So that is a pretty lame excuse to keep me off the dance floor.

[I don’t know many jokes, but the two that I tell the most are these:
1. Q. Why don’t Baptists have sex standing up?
A. Because someone might think they were dancing.

2. Q. What’s the difference between a Baptist and a Methodist?
A. The Methodist will make eye contact in the liquor store.]

There are two incidents that have kept me off the dance floor since 1971. I’ve shared what happened in 1971 with several people.

I was home on leave from Ft. Bragg. The girl I had been dating when I was drafted liked to dance, so that’s where we headed the second night I was in town. She enjoyed revelry as much as I did. I was only gonna be around for five or six days, so we decided that in addition to lots of liquor and weed that we should “close our eyes and try a few of these.”

I don’t know what song we were dancing to when she collapsed on the dance floor. Her pulse was racing. Jennifer was twitching and convulsing. It scared the hell outta me. And her too.

I can still see her laying there….tight bell bottoms and a white peasant blouse. That image still pops into my head every once in awhile whenever I’m somewhere that lots of people are dancing.
The other incident happened 12 to 15 months earlier, and I’ve never shared it with anyone until now.

It was late 1969 or early 1970. I was free, white, and 21. I had given up my student deferment, expecting to get drafted at some point. (I was inducted 2 days after I turned 22.)

I had a big problem with booze. I drank mass quantities. Every day. For a couple of years.

I had some friends who were in school in Columbia at Mizzou. Several weekends during the 69/70 school-year I headed that way for parties. One weekend I was set up on a blind date with Julie, who was a student at Stephens College. She sorta liked me, even though she was way outta my league by any and every measure….looks, brains, bank account. I guess she liked quirky.

A couple of weeks later I was back in Columbia for another party. Julie was there. We danced. We spent most of the evening together. We danced. I took her home. We sat and talked for awhile. There were good night kisses and a little groping.

The third time that I saw her is the night of the story that has never been told….until now.

The morning of our first real, last and only date, I was playing a pick-up game of basketball and got poked in the face. It was simply incidental contact. (That’s always been my story of how I got that shiner, and I’m sticking to it…)

When I picked Julie up that Saturday I had a pretty ugly eye. I had been self-medicating. We were headed to some fraternity/sorority kegger. We danced. I drank. We danced. I drank. And I drank some more.

Then I did it. I puked. On the dance floor. On Julie. On me.

She left with her friends. I never saw her again. Sometimes when The Rainmakers sing “The one that got away” I can see her in my mind’s eye. But not for long, as the vision of barf on her blouse takes over.

I started this by saying that maybe the incidents that I use as reasons to not dance might just be excuses. Logically, I know that they are closer to excuses than reasons.

Yeah, both incidents were personally traumatic. But they didn’t stop me from drinking and drugging. They just kept me from dancing.

And in fact, after decorating the dance floor (and Julie) I kept being stupid. There weren’t many more times, but that incident was not my last alcohol induced technicolor yawn. My time in the Army slowed me down a bit. I still got totally trashed at times, but not as often. Until my kids were about 5 or 6, I was still a “work hard, play hard” guy…with excuses to keep from dancing.

Maybe I don’t dance because I’m not any good at it. Maybe I’m like lots of guys who don’t dance because “they fear losing their dignity and looking incompetent.” Maybe my legs lock up at the thought of Jennifer convulsing or the vomit on Julie. Or maybe it’s just because I’m lazy.


On September 30, we saw Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats at the 10th annual RNBNBBQ in Columbia, MO. {That’s Roots N Blues N BBQ.}

Shelly and I did NOT dance.

But when I was trying to find our camping chairs (with Shelly sitting in one of them), she joined me on the lawn with the crowd. I had walked right past her, even though we were only 3 rows back….and she was wearing a bright pink hoodie.

We held hands and walked closer to the stage as the band played “Wasting Time.” You wouldn’t call it dancing. We never faced each other.

There was however moving to the music. Our bodies touched. And then they didn’t. We swayed.

You might have said that we took turns leading as Nathaniel transitioned to “Shake.”

If you had only been watching Shelly, it’s probable that you would have called what she did dancing.

But not what I was doing. I don’t dance. Don’t ask me.




House concerts are Where It’s At!!

Over the past 50 years I have seen lots of live music, in lots of different venues. Smokey bars; baseball parks; 1,500 seat auditoriums with great acoustics; Chuck Berry’s farm; House of Blues in Chicago; The Fabulous Fox and The Schnitzer….and lots of others.

Many venues remain on my bucket list…places I want to see a show. Red Rocks heads the list, followed by (in no particular order): The Fillmore in S.F., The Gorge Amphitheater, The Troubadour in West Hollywood, Stubbs in Austin…and The Ryman Auditorium, just to name a few.

Of all the places I’ve been entertained and mesmerized, I’m not sure that any of them top a wonderful night at a house concert.

“What is a House Concert? A house concert is a chance to experience music in a warm and intimate environment. It’s when someone opens up their home and invites you into their living room to share in a performance by one of their favorite musicians. It’s a chance to meet the performers and get them to sign their CD. A house concert is also a great social evening of friends and neighbors.” (I stole this paragraph…)

I had never heard of house concerts until moving back to MO in 2011. I learned about them from a woman I met on an online dating site. (That was a first time experience in 2011 too…and is another story, for another day.)

Ginger told me about The Rock House in Reeds Spring. It’s the only place I’ve ever seen a house concert so far, and the pilfered paragraph above is a perfect description of a night in the home of Jeanette and Bruce.

Last night, 12/12/15, was a “great social evening of friends” indeed!! Making it even better were Bob Walkenhorst and Jeff Porter. I had never heard of either them before moving back to MO in 2011….but if I had to list my 10 favorite artists for my Desert Island Disks, their music and that of their band, The Rainmakers, would most certainly make the list. They have been around since the mid-80s, and reformed as a band in 2011….Yes!!

Bob & Jeff played the 3rd house concert I attended. The first real ‘date’ for me and Shelly, her first time at The Rock House, and the first time she saw Bob&Jeff, was a year later on October 13, 2012. Every time I’ve seen them, I leave wanting more and find myself listening to them on the way home and after I’m back in the apartment. Last night was no exception…and the CD changer has been nothing but Walkenhorst & Porter so far today.

They started the show last night with one of my many favorites. I’ve always been a “lyrics junkie” and Bob and Jeff have lots of tunes with lyrics that I relate to. Their opener was “Long gone long” which opens like this: “Older than I used to be, younger than I’m gonna be, Fewer things puzzle me than when I was young…”


Bob grew up in the small town of Norborne, MO. I moved around…Springfield, Monett, Flat River…places I received mail while I was living this verse of the “long gone long”:

“Got into a car that night
Drove out past the signal light
Past the city limits, guess it wasn’t that far
Stopped out on a rural route
Gooch got out his .22
Shooting at a freight train that was hauling new cars”

Now, I never shot a 22 at a freight train hauling cars.

In Springfield, I did launch more than a few hedge apples at passing trains….not to mention high arching ones onto select people’s roofs in the late night hours. Living in Monett…same thing. As a college student at Mineral Area College I graduated to throwing rocks at the freight trains, which were in fact hauling cars. But no guns were fired.
Before last night’s show, I made a couple of requests. Jeff wouldn’t promise that they’d play either tune; I understood…they have a lot of material.

The first set went by too fast…some more of my favorites, plus some new tunes.

I was on the front porch chatting with some friends when it was about time for the second set. We decided to sit outside and enjoy the music from the porch. The weather was unbelievably mild for the 12th day of winter! (I adopted meteorological seasons a few years ago, i.e. my winter started 12/1. That’s a story for a different day….)

A few songs into the second set I was thinking “good god, they are really bringing it tonight…if they don’t play my requests who cares? this is one special evening…”

Then Bob said they had a request and he started telling the story behind the song. I knew right away that as much I was enjoying listening from the porch that I had to get inside and look into their faces as they sang “Like Dogs.” I’ll always remember the very first time I heard this song….and I’ll never forget hearing it last night. It was simply Awesome! (I’ve got lots of “first time tunes”…another story for another day.)

There are people I think of whenever I hear the verses of “Like Dogs.” But the first verse always make me think of one particular person:

“You’re the kind of man that seems to leave a trail
Behind him of the friends that used to be so close
But then in some concocted scene they’ve done you wrong
And so you write ’em off and bye bye they are gone
If you don’t like dogs
What do you like?”

From now on the last line of the song will always make me think of Jeff Porter. When I made my request last night he said that he and Bob had talked about an acquaintance of Bob’s who didn’t like dogs. Later Jeff got a call from Bob saying that he used Jeff’s response as the last line of the song.

“You’re gonna wake up some cold night
And howl till your head’s a throbbin’
If you don’t like dogs what’s your fucking problem?”

Amen and amen.

Here are just a few more lyrics from the songs they played last night. They hit home.

“Never been one to look back
Trying to cover my tracks
To regret or undo what I’ve done
Nows not the time to begin”
{from “stay ahead of the wolves”}

“Cause some days are a comedy, others are a crime
But most are masterpieces of a ludicrous design
Ridiculously beautiful, absurdely rich and dense
I’m delirious with fever; it’s finally making sense.”
{from “ridiculosuly beautiful”}

I could list a lot more lyrics, but i’ll close with some from the tune that closed another great night by Bob & Jeff at The Rock House. It’s from another song that I requested, “Overland Hill.” Like “Long gone long”, it makes me think of my past.

“Down Overland Hill she was waiting there
At the bottom for me with a big blank stare
That was open to anything, legal or not….”