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The blues ain’t nothing but a good man feelin’ bad. – Leon Redbone

Diane Birch

preacher’s kid, rebel youth, girl at the piano and finally headlining singer-songwriter

try – just a little bit harder (“you don’t know what it’s like . . .”)

Cary Clack writes [San Antonio Express-News, October 5, 2010] that Janis Joplin shared her pain when she sang the blues.

“She was an artist that had a distinct sound,” says Michelle Carey, lead singer of P.M. Soul, a vocal powerhouse herself.  “She was an original.  She was expressive and passionate.  She sang as if she had a score to settle; we felt her blues, we heard her cry, we knew she had done some living.”

. . . Among the reasons a teenager would take his life are being humiliated and treated like an outcast.

But a third thing that should come to mind when thinking of Joplin is that of an alienated teenager at Thomas Jefferson High School in Port Arthur who was shunned and mocked by classmates (including former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson).

“I didn’t have many friends in high school,” she said.  “They laughed me out of class, out of town, out of the state, so I’m going back.”

for everything there is a season

who would’a thunk . . .

that I would miss hearing Grandson playing bass guitar . . . this was definitely a Summer of Music – and how grand it was!

And who would have thought the young boy trying to open his granddad’s brief case would one day be playing bass guitar???!!!

snap of the day

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fiddling in Texas

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jam session!

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The guitar is a small orchestra.  It is polyphonic.  Every string is a different color, a different voice. – Andre Segovia

Gruene Hall

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Gruene Hall, was built in 1878 and is located in the historical town of Gruene, Texas (now a part of New Braunfels), and bills itself as “the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas.” Gruene Hall has hosted such acts as Willie Nelson, George Strait, Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker, Lyle Lovett, Hal Ketchum, Gregg Allman  and many more. It was also used as a set for the film Michael, starring John Travolta.    Gruene Hall has been run under the proprietorship of Pat Molak and co-owner Mary Jane Nalley for 35 years. Booking agent of 30 years, Tracie Ferguson is credited with starting the original music approach that has made Gruene Hall an iconic  music venue, helping to jump start the careers of Lyle Lovett, Townes Van Zandt, Hal Ketchum, Bruce Robison, Nanci Griffith, Ryan Bingham, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Robert Earl Keen, Lucinda Williams  and many others.

Gruene Hall, located in Gruene, Texas, is one of the oldest functioning dance halls in the state. Largely a tourist attraction today, Gruene (originally known as Goodwin) was settled in the mid-nineteenth century by German farming families. As the head of one of these families, Ernst Gruene moved with his wife and two sons to the area northeast of New Braunfels in 1872. The second of his two sons, Henry (Heinrich) D. Gruene, firmly established the family’s presence in the area by acquiring enough cotton-producing land to support between twenty and thirty tenant-farm families. In 1878 he built the dance hall known today as Gruene Hall. Before his death in 1920 he built the town’s first mercantile store, cotton gin, lumberyard, and bank. He also provided land for a school and served for a time as postmaster.

Henry Gruene’s Dance Hall provided area residents a place for socializing and offered hard-working farm families a diversion from their difficult lives. A sign hanging over the bar proclaimed “Den feinsten Schnaps, das beste Bier, bekommt man bei dem Heinrich hier” (The best liquor, the best beer, you get at Henry’s here). In addition to serving both “the best beer” and “dime-a-shot whiskey,” and providing a venue for polka bands and square dancing, the hall often was used by traveling salesmen for displaying their wares. Gruene Hall also became a popular location for Sängerfest (German singing festivals), high school graduation ceremonies, political elections, and both dog and badger fights. During Prohibition,  Henry Gruene hung a sign in the bar that read, “Only Near Beer is Sold Here. Real Beer is Sold Near Here.” {Source: Handbook of Texas Online}

In the early 1970s developers planned to raze the town in order to build new homes. While visiting the dormant community in 1974, Cheryle Fuller began her own efforts to save the town through devising a development plan and conducting a historical survey. In 1975 Gruene was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Two years later, San Antonio residents Bill Gallagher and Pat Molak used a $20,000 loan to purchase a number of local buildings, including the hall, and Molak, along with Mary Jane Nalley, began the work of preservation and renovations of the buildings. Their plans for the 6,000-square-foot hall involved very little structural change. They insisted on maintaining the vintage signs, stage, dance floor and forty-eight-star United States flag. {Handbook of Texas Online}

Sunday Concert in the Park

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The Concerts in the Park during the month of June are always excellent!  A great evening shared with Seguin friends while listening to marvelous music – what could be better??!!

This past Sunday, the Harleys performed to an appreciative group.  Contributions toward the Radio Bookworm Project were also appreciated.

A fun evening for a worthwhile project.  Seguinites are able to attend these concerts free of charge thanks to several Seguin businesses.  The Harleys donate their talents and time to enable projects such as Radio Bookworm to benefit all of us.

How fortunate we are!

going home - after a great evening

snap of the day

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Hill Country Run Motorcycle Rally

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The Hill Country Run, April 30 – May 2, 2010 is already attracting hundreds of bikers in Luckenbach, Texas.  The festivities began with a Social at Hondo’s on Thursday, April 29th and registration was on the 30th in Luckenbach.  The event ends on Sunday, May 2nd with worship service.

Proceeds from the Hill Country Run Motorcycle Rally help fund the many community programs of the Fredericksburg Optimists.

Over 1,000 bikers were in attendance last year; this year that number may be surpassed (we even noted a Mississippi license place on one of the pickups – for of course, the bikers have drivers who tote the needed supplies in cars, pickups, and trailers).

Luckenbach, Texas – “a state of mind”

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Luckenbach, Texas – August 23, 2009

The all star band on stage led by Gary P. Nunn, Monte Montgomery, Jimmy LaFave, John Arthur Martinez,  Roger Creager and many others got the crowd fired up by announcing that the record had been broken. All that was left was for everyone with a guitar to play simultaneously for 5 minutes.  After a quick refresher on how to play the G Chord,  all 1857 guitar players began playing the first of two songs, the Luckenbach Song (Back to the Basics of Love).

Something is ALWAYS happening in Luckenbach, Texas!  This weekend, over 1,000 bikers are expected in Luckenbach for the Hill Country Run.  There are tents set up on the grounds (and surrounding area).  These bikers are all ages (saw a lady with silver hair – like mine) and ‘kids’ much younger than me.

Friendly, good-natured, fun-loving bikers who are in Luckenbach to have a good time.

These days Luckenbach Texas is, to paraphrase John Steinbeck, a state of mind – A Texas state of mind, where you can kick back, relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life—like a step back in time. This tiny hill country hamlet where “Everybody’s Somebody” was established as a Trading Post in 1849 making it one of the oldest settlements in Gillespie County.

“Mah Lindy Lou” by Lily Strickland

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Lily Strickland was a prolific songwriter (and I only recently learned of her).

Family trivia:  Lily’s great-grandmother, Henrietta W. Sammon who married Oliver P. Strickland, was a sister to my ancestor Robert W. Sammon who married Susan Elizabeth Thrasher.

I realize this is of no interest whatsoever to anyone other than my Sammon relatives; however, Lily Strickland made a ‘notch’ in the musical venue that is admired to this day – information  which might be of interest to others.

Paul Robeson sang some of Lily’s compositions; Mah Lindy Lou seemed to be a favorite.

Maya Plisetskaya

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the dying swan

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A friend recently mentioned that one of the highlights of her time abroad as a student was seeing Maya Plisetskaya dance in Saint Saens’ “The Dying Swan.”  This would have been in the 1960s.  My friend’s memory impelled me to find footage on YouTube of this graceful dancer.  The quality of the film is not up to today’s standards, but nonetheless, Plisetskaya’s graceful and beautiful dying swan is very moving.

Quebe Sisters Band

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I’ve only heard the Quebe Sisters (in person) twice but I could listen to them over and over; these girls are TALENTED!

From Wikipedia:

The Quebe Sisters Band is an American  fiddle western group from Fort Worth, Texas.  The band consists of sisters Grace, Sophia and Hulda Quebe as well as Joey McKenzie on guitar  and Drew Phelps on upright bass.

Formed in 2000, the band performs western swing, hot jazz, vintage country and western (Bob Wills, Sons of the Pioneers, etc.) and traditional Texas style fiddle tunes.

They are currently based in Fort Worth and tour nationally and internationally,  including appearances on the Grand Ole Opry.

The Quebe sisters grew up in Krum,   Texas, in a devout Presbyterian home.  Their mother homeschooled the girls.

The three sisters started taking fiddle lessons from Sherry McKenzie (Joey’s wife), a former national fiddle champion, and later from Joey, also a former national fiddle champion. In 2000, the Quebes moved to Burleton in Johnson County, where the McKenzie’s lived.

The sisters learned traditional Texas-style fiddling. The girls began entering fiddle contests and had success early on; winning several state, regional and national fiddle championships.

Read the September 21, 2006 Washington Post article.

These days, the sisters are touring more often than not, and the road has taken them far from the Lone Star state.

“We went to Canada twice,” Grace said, looking back over the past two years. “The first time we went to Nova Scotia to play at the Stan Rogers Folk Festival and had another gig while we were up there. Back in February we went up to Calgary, Alberta and played some things in that area, which was a lot of fun.”

“We were very fortunate that we got to do a play with Asleep at the Wheel called ‘A Ride with Bob’ (the acclaimed tribute to western swing king Bob Wills),” Sophia said. “It’s been all over the country and we got to do it at the Kennedy Center (in 2006, a few months after the Cowboy Festival). George Bush and the First Lady were there, and we got to meet him, which was a real high for us.”

“We also did an East Coast tour – we got to play the Lincoln Center in New York City, and Boston and Connecticut,” Hulda said. “We were really excited everyone received us so well. It didn’t really surprise us that there were so many western music fans in the Northeast. A lot of it came down from Canada, and because country music is so related to Irish music, they have a lot in common.”

Another memorable event last year was playing Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha.

“That was really, really exciting,” Sophia said. “We were contacted by people from Justin Boots and they asked us to play the meeting. They also asked if it would be OK for Mr. Buffett to go on with us, and we said that would be wonderful. He plays the ukulele, and we did ‘Red River Valley’ with him. He had fun and it was really great.”

So much so, in fact, the sisters have been invited back to play the next B-H meeting on May 3.

“This year has been our busiest yet,” Hulda said. “We’ve done more than 30 jobs already.”

THE QUEBE SISTERS BAND is one of the most exciting new groups to come on the music scene in years. Formed in 2000, the Quebe Sisters Band (pronounced Kway-bee) performs a refreshing blend of western swing (Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys), hot jazz & swing standards (Benny Goodman), western (Sons of the Pioneers), vintage country, and traditional Texas style fiddle tunes.

George Harrison – February 25, 1943 – November 29, 2001