Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bear Creek Blues Festival

Every year, we like to choose one of the Blues Festivals which we haven't played before, for a little road trip and to meet some new friends. This year, we chose the Bear Creek Blues Festival in Slater, Missouri.....about an 800 mile round trip, but not a bad drive!

On the way, we saw just how high the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, among others, were up and of course, the flooding in the region has been all over the news. Flooding hasn't been so much of a problem in the Slater area, although the heavy rains have put the farmers way behind. We noticed the corn was only about a third to half as tall as back home, as the rains put planting so far behind there.

Heavy rains over the past few days had subsided just in time for the festival. Although the grounds were pretty soggy, the weather was otherwise great.....with no rain the day of the festival. The opening act was The Doghouse Daddies from Kansas City. They were awesome. They were a finalist in the 2008 International Blues Challenge in Memphis and it's easy to see why. Guitarist Mark Rollings got a great tone with 2 Mesa Boogies and is as good or better than we've ever seen! Bassist Bill Morland is a hoot. A great player and entertainer who keeps the tips on his bass. So much so that Bridget had to get her picture taken with his bass. Backstage, we enjoyed meeting Bill's lovely wife, June and shooting the breeze with them. Great players. Great guys.

Also on the bill was Mike Zito, a great guitar player and one of the real up and comers in Blues. He delivered a great set. He and his band, playing as a trio, had as full of a sound as any trio I think I've ever heard. He played through a Category 5 amp......which of course peaked my meteorological interest. Great tone. Ironically, all three of the trio were named Mike. This may be a blues first. Tres Mikes? We spent some time chatting with "Bike" the Mike bass player, originally out of St. Louis. He was a addition to being a monster player!

After our set, I got some wonderful red beans and rice from one of the vendors, and a woman named Kitty put a "glow in the dark" band on me. I thought it made me look like a dork.....UNTIL I was told that instead of making a deal with the devil, Robert Johnson actually simply put one of these on, and became the Blues God that he remains. At that point, I had an epiphany, and am now transformed. Thanks Kitty! Thanks for transforming me and my musical abilities.....although Rome wasn't built in a day, you know. There's a small part of me that thinks Bridget wanted me to keep the glow band on my head to make me look like a dork...even though I know she loves me. It's going to take some time for me to adjust to my glowing understand. Also, I got a little muddy, but it was good mud. The kind you squish your toes in, in the Heartland. That's the salt of the Earth between my toes! As for my set, I played the 335 straight into the "red knob" Fender twin, and had a nice time.

Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials were the headliner. We've appeared on the same bill with Lil Ed before, so we knew how good he is! As usual, he did not disappoint! Ed's such a great player and a great entertainer, in addition to being a nice person.

About the Bear Creek Blues Festival: This is a great festival to attend. The ticket prices are very reasonable. You can get up close to the music and the musicians. The food is among the best we've ever had at a festival. It's a close knit, small town which hosts the festival and they'll treat you like family. They book great acts and the sound company they hire is top notch! It's a real jewel. Check them out.

On the drive back, we drove by Lambert's and thought about a "throwed roll," but saw the lines and the tour buses, and moved on to Buffalo Wild Wings. Maybe Lambert's needs a bigger place? I don't know. I remember Lambert's Cafe when it really was just a small cafe. Although their food tastes great, somehow, it seems to me like it tasted a little better, in that little place. At Buffalo Wild Wings, we caught a little of the Cardinals-Royals game. Am I the only one who sees the Cards and Royals playing and STILL thinks about Don Denkinger???

Friday, June 27, 2008

Foreign Affairs????

Swimsuit model turned rising star reporter Lara Logan has proudly been named Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent for CBS. If you believe several other reports, she definitely knows a lot about foreign affairs.....especially the affairs part. Published reports have her accused of breaking up a marriage and standing by as TWO of her lovers have a fistfight over her. Then there's also the report that her exclusive face to face interview with a terrorist never happened, at least not in the way CBS originally claimed, and that's not the only accusation of stretching the truth.

You have to believe, this could help both CBS News and CBS' Soap Opera lineup, both of which could use a boost! If you believe stories like the Enterprise Report has put out, she stretches the truth, like she stretches her swimsuit....

All of this underscores what a loss it was for ALL of us to lose Tim Russert. He may not have looked good in a swimsuit (sorry about the visual), but we could trust him. He knew we trusted him. He knew we relied upon him. He took that responsibility VERY seriously. He was "old school," but even in this "new school" world, we know "old school" may be a bit duller, but it's truthful, and truthful is what we turn to, when we need the truth. Russert did not embellish and he did not stretch the truth. He simply told it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

New Reporters To The Area Should...

There are always new reporters, editors and producers coming and going at area newspapers, radio and television stations. That's a fact of life. Here's a few of the things they should learn and keep in mind so they and their stations and newspapers don't sacrifice credibility as they get acclimated to the region.

My Advice to New and Novice Reporters in the Region:

1. Learn the area and learn how to pronounce the regional cities and counties and the idiosyncrasies involved. Learn that while Fulton is in Fulton County, Hickman is NOT in Hickman County. It's in Fulton County, too. Dyersburg is in Dyer County, but the city of Dyer is in Gibson County. It goes on and on. Ask the experienced reporters and producers at your station or newspaper. Ask the locals....BEFORE they call and remind you AFTER the fact, before heading to the local gathering place and telling everyone what idiots you are.

2. Learn about the rivers and the river industries. Learn that tugboats guide ships in harbors, mostly in saltwater ports, and the boats on the Ohio and Mississippi that push barges are TOWBOATS. Every time you use the term "tugboat" concerning the local river industry, you lose credibility.

3. Learn how the local government works. Learn the local civics and who the local leaders are. Ask! It's much better to ask one local person a stupid question in private, than to make a statement that tells tens of thousands of readers or viewers that you're not from around here and you don't know what you're talking about.

4. Learn the history behind the stories you're reporting. It doesn't take much effort to go into the "morgue" and look up the backgrounds on stories. Also, ask the old timers and experienced reporters and producers. In the long run, it can save you a lot of time as well as credibility.

5. Soak up all you can from the experienced reporters and producers on your staff. They're your organization's most valuable resource. They're also the ones your readers and viewers trust the most.

Credibility is one of the few things you can have to set your organization apart from the competition, especially these days when so many are skeptical of the "media." Experience and credibility is why losing Tim Russert hurt NBC News much more than losing Katie Couric. Credibility can take your organization years to build, but one inexperienced reporter can damage it in mere seconds. For most street level reporters and some anchors and editors, too, this place may be merely a stop off for the duration of your three year contract, and then you'll be moving on. While you're here, please respect the local region, and it's people. Please build upon your organization's credibility instead of damaging it. When you get to that larger market you desire, do yourself favor. Take what you learned here and apply it there. You'll be much better off. What you're doing is more important than advancing your career. You're part of the "record" of a place and it's people. Make sure you get it right.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Weekend Short Takes

Once again, there is no Triple Crown winner this year, as Big Brown ran out of gas on the last turn, and had nothing left down the stretch. It's now been 31 years since we've had a Triple Crown winner. I wonder if the breeding of thoroughbreds has become so highly specialized, even for specific distances, that no horse has the genes to win at all three of the distances involved in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. Of course, there's also the theory about Big Brown going off steroids in the past few weeks, because "he doesn't need them." I don't believe the hoof crack had anything to do with the loss. Several horses have won the Belmont with worse cracks.

I've watched a little of the NBA Championship series. I still find it ridiculous that basketball is still being played in June, although not as ridiculous as hockey still being played in June. Let's hold off on the comparisons between this Celtics-Lakers series and those with Magic and Bird. The uniforms haven't changed, but the personalities are MUCH different.

The Celebrity U.S. Open challenge was great, in my opinion. For years, the top pro golfers have claimed that no single digit amateur golfer could break 100 in a U.S. Open setting. Golf Digest set up the foursome of Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo, singer Justin Timberlake, NBC Today host Matt Lauer, and Oklahoman John Atkinson, who won an essay contest to participate. All things considered, Romo was great, carding an 84 at Torry Pines, the site of next week's U.S. Open. I'll bet there are some pros next week who are close to or score higher than that on a round (one they'll be sure to want to forget). Also, for the record, singer Justin Timberlake did indeed break 100, scoring a 98. Lauer shot an even 100, and Atkinson, whose story and fight against cancer is inspiring, shot 114. The conclusion is that, yep, the U.S. Open conditions are very difficult, but breaking 100 CAN be done by a very good amateur.

Speaking of Romo, I noticed singer Jessica Simpson has announced that she's decided to go Country. Bad news for those of us who hoped she'd decide to go....away.

Shot an 81 over the weekend....maybe my golf game is turning around for the summer??? Played guitar at the Mayfield Summer Music Festival Series, and had lot's of fans and lot's of fun!

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Day I Dreaded

For so many years, I covered tragedy from afar. While working as a journalist, I covered car wrecks, murders, robberies, layoffs, drownings, house fires, etc. I didn't like it. It's one of the reasons I decided, early on in my broadcast career to concentrate on meteorology, so I wouldn't have to stick a microphone into the face of someone who's world had just been shattered. Instead, I wanted to warn people of impending danger in the form of dangerous storms, and on calm weather days, I wanted to lighten the moment, and maybe bring a smile or two.

Today, the shoe was on the other foot. I had to participate in the meetings in which good employees at Paducah Transit were told they were going to be laid off effective July 1st. It broke my heart. They're my co-workers and friends. They have families and children. They're good people who did nothing wrong, and in fact, most of them are excellent workers. They're simply victims of circumstance. They just got dealt a bad set of cards. I pray they find another job soon. I pray we can hire them back when the storm is over.

I talked to several media outlets today who were doing stories about the layoffs. I tried to tell them how good these people are in hopes that some good employer will snatch them up. I pray they do. Some of them had been there much longer than I. They may have thought I deserved to be laid off before them. I wonder about that too. Maybe they're right. I had no control over the decision. I just know life's circumstances are sometimes merely whose coin comes up heads and whose comes up tails. Sometimes it's a cruel world. I've been dealt some bad hands too along the way, but at other times I've been lucky. Sometimes, though, even when you're lucky, you don't feel so good.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My next CD? & More Music Talk

I'm getting asked a lot lately about when I'll put out another CD. I'd like to do it sometime. The last CD I put out was 2006 (Tales From A 2 Lane). That was 6 years after the 1st (State Line Blues). I'm not sure when I'll make another. It takes a long time for me because I have to write the songs for it first. I haven't recorded a lot of cover songs and on the next, I'd like it to be totally original. When I have enough original songs which I like, I'll record the next CD. I've even toyed with the idea of recording completely at home on my home studio, where in the past, I've only recorded my demos before heading into a full studio. These days, more and more folks are simply recording at home on their computers, so I might give it a try too.

There was a nice article about Country singer Crystal Shawanda in the Nashville Tennessean this morning. She's finally signed with a major label (Sony) and has a single on the Country charts right now. Believe it or not, she opened for me several years ago at the Carson Center in Paducah during a benefit for Hurricane Katrina victims. I thought she was really talented, and a really nice person, so here's hoping her career continues taking off!

I know it's a long way off, but I'm already getting excited about the BBQ on the River this year. In addition to the great times and great BBQ, we'll be reunited with our original harmonica player Col. J.D. Wilkes. The Saturday night bill will include The Legendary Shack Shakers, J.D's band, followed by us on the main stage. The Colonel will stick around and show off his Blues chops for us during our set. The Legendary Shack Shakers are not for the faint of heart, to be sure. They're high energy and very original. They tour the US and Europe quite a bit, and even opened a European tour for Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), but I know it'll be special for J.D. to play a gig in his hometown! Those who know J.D., know that he's a multifaceted artist and part of their current tour is in support of an alternative film J.D.'s promoting, "Seven Signs." Here's a look (btw...the blacksmith is Fast Layne Hendrickson, the original lead singer and founder of 61 South), and a little of the Shack Shakers too.