Monday, February 23, 2009

Get Busy Spring and Summer

Looks like I'll be getting busy this spring and summer with my blues band, 61 South. Here's what we have so far, and looks like we'll be adding more, including possible shows in Memphis, Tennessee in addition to additional shows in Illinois and Kentucky. Whew!

Mar 13 2009 8:00P
Willy Jack’s Metropolis, Illinois

Mar 17 2009 8:00P
Fat Moe’s Paducah, Kentucky

Mar 20 2009 8:00P
Nick’s Murray, Kentucky

Mar 22 2009 2:00P
Kenny Rogers Telethon Sikeston, Missouri

Apr 10 2009 8:00P
Bucket’s Paducah, Kentucky

Apr 24 2009 8:00P
Willy Jack’s Metropolis, Illinois

May 29 2009 3:00P
Spring Into Summer Festival Oak Grove, Kentucky

Jun 19 2009 9:00P
Fat Moe’s Paducah, Kentucky

Aug 21 2009 9:00P
Fat Moe’s Paducah, Kentucky

Aug 27 2009 7:30P
Hot August Blues Festival Aurora, Kentucky

Sep 18 2009 7:00P
Old King Coal Festival West Frankfort, Illinois

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Git Down The Git Fiddle!

I have so many guitarists who I look up to for inspiration and hold in awe. Some of them are in Blues, and some aren't. I''ve blogged before about my Blues favorites, so let me tell you about some others.....many of whom I'm sure you've never heard of.

My friend from Down Under, Henry Prokop, turned me onto Tommy Emmanuel, who now calls Nashville, TN home. Figures. In a town with awesome guitar players, he still stands head and shoulders above the crowd. I HAVE to get to a TommyFest, first chance I get.

Whenever someone asks me who's the best guitar player in Western Kentucky, I don't hesitate. It's my friend Eddie Pennington. I'll never forget when I was at the Chicago Blues Festival one year and one of the pickers with Dave Spector and Dave Freund's band, upon hearing I was from Kentucky, asked me if I knew Eddie! YES, I DO. I'm proud to call him a friend. As luck would have it, here he is with Tommy Emmanuel. The greatest guitar players in the world know who Eddie is. It's with such pride that I can always answer, "Eddie? Oh yeah, he's my buddy!" He's so great, yet so humble. If you ever met Eddie on the street, you'd never know this former small town coroner is one of the world's most renown guitarist. I do. He always holds me spellbound with his playing. As awesome as his playing is, he's even a better person. One of the highlights of my playing career, is being asked to play at the Eddie Pennington Folk Festival.

When I watched the Grammies, I liked Carrie Underwood, but I LOVED her guitar player. I immediately shouted to Bridget, "That's Orianthi!!" She plays Paul Reed Smith guitars, which are great guitars. The only thing lacking in PRS guitars is a Lew Jetton endorsement....(hint, hint)

I've always loved Carlos Santana. The time I saw him play live still ranks as one of my favorite concerts ever.

I've always loved the late Django Reinhart. Look closely. Yep, he doesn't have all his fingers. He can still do more than I can ever dream of. His story is remarkable. His playing is even more so.

There are so many more who I look up to. These are but a few.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hot August, here we come!

Here's the compete lineup for the festival this year! We're really excited to be playing again this year and they have a strong bill, including one of my favorites, Eddie Turner!

2009 Hot August Blues Festival Schedule

Thursday, August 27th, 2009
Thursday gates open at 4:00pm
6:00pm - 7:00pm Hollerhead
7:30pm - 8:30pm Lew Jetton & 61 South
9:00pm - 10:00pm Diddley Squat
10:30pm - 11:45pm Randy McAllister

Friday, August 28th, 2009
Friday gates open at 4:00pm

6:00pm - 7:00pm Justin Hatcher
7:30pm - 8:45pm Eddie Turner
9:15pm - 10:30pm Kilborn Alley Blues Band
11:00pm - 12:15am Bluesberry Jam Band

Saturday, August 29th, 2009
Saturday gates open at 12:00pm

2:00pm - 3:15pm Street Corner Blues
3:45pm - 5:00pm Dynagroove All-Stars
5:30pm - 6:30pm Leonard Small Situation


7:00pm-8:15pm Reba Russell Band
8:45pm - 10:00pm Flashback Blues Band
10:30pm - 11:45pm Lil Dave Thompson

Monday, February 16, 2009

Odds and Ends on a Monday Evening

As my lovely wife watches one of her favorite shows, "24," I have a few random thoughts. Especially since Liam Neeson killed more people in "Taken," which we watched Sunday, than Jack Bauer does in 3 episodes of "24." "Taken" really is a good movie! By the way, if you're a fan of "24" you should play the "24" drinking game. Much like "Hi Bob," from the Bob Newhart Show, except while watching "24," you drink every time you hear a character yell "NOW!!!"

I spoke with a friend of mine today who's involved with the Kentucky Emergency Management Agency and he gave me some interesting insights into the recent ice storm in Western Kentucky, which we're STILL trying to recover from. He said, because of the damage to the trees in forests and thickets, we should expect a much higher number of forest fires and brush fires over the next 2 to 3 years. He also gave me some additional insight into the involvement of TEMA (Tennessee Emergency Management Agency) in this Kentucky disaster. Thanks goodness for TEMA's presence in Fulton County, without which, there would have been much more misery and quite possibly some deaths. He said that wasn't the only TEMA unit to move into Kentucky to help. He said TEMA was much more prepared for a disaster than Kentucky as they've been preparing for years for "the big one:" the expected earthquake sometime on the New Madrid Fault. If or when that happens, they anticipate a disaster of untold proportions, during which the entire city of Memphis (more than 1 million people) will have to be evacuated. Consequently, they take part in every drill they can and help in other disasters in neighboring states as a continual "dress rehearsal."

I heard an interview with one of my favorite columnists the other day, Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe, on the future of newspapers. He says it's more or less over. The number of readers will continue to dwindle as they shift to the internet for news. While newspapers try to transition to the 'net, they find it very tough because two of their main advertising sources, real estate and auto dealers have their own internet presence, which is more powerful than advertising on a newspaper website. I'm not so sure I'm that pessimistic, however I do believe newspapers will have to undergo a metamorphosis to remain profitable. The days of words printed on paper are not long for this world.

TV, in my opinion, will remain profitable, although the profitability will continue dwindling for most because of the fragmentation. There's even speculation that network affiliations will be coming to an end in the near future. When I started, networks PAID local stations to carry their programming. A few years ago, that arrangement ended. Now the talk is that local network affiliations may be seeing their last days. I've always thought the future for local TV is just that: local. None of the satellite or cable channels can provide the news and shows of interests for specific localized areas. Local TV stations can carve their niche in the programming kaleidoscope here at home. It won't be long though, until TV and the way we watch it, changes dramatically.

I've blogged before about why you see so many "list" stories in magazines. We had the 100 Greatest Albums of All Time in Rolling Stone, 25 Signs Your Boyfriend Is Cheating in Cosmo, 50 Greatest Golf Tips in Golf Magazine, and on and on. Now, Time Magazine has the "list" of the 25 People To Blame For The Economic Crisis. They name Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, etc, etc, but they failed to mention the greatest cause: greed. While Rush Limbaugh continually espouses that "Greed is good!," it IS one of the Seven Deadly Sins in Christian teachings, and there's a good reason for it. Many of those named in Time's list were certainly guilty of this Deadly Sin, and now we're ALL paying for it, literally.

I love Facebook. It's a great way to keep in touch with friends and reconnect with those from long ago. That's why I was dismayed to see they've changed their "terms of agreement" for the worse. Much worse. I yanked my videos off there immediately. I'll still use Facebook, but I'll be more careful what I post.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Long Night, Long Day, Long Day

Friday night I played my first gig since November. It was a last minute deal, as a band had canceled at 45-Down-Under in Paducah and we stepped in as a last minute replacement. We needed to shake some rust off and play, plus I'm way behind on booking this year as I've been preoccupied with work, the ice storm and my father's difficult recovery. I was rusty for sure, but should round back into shape prior to the Lourdes Foundation Mardi Gras in Metropolis, IL February 24th. By the way, people have asked me over the years, "Why don't you quit your "day job" and play music full time?" Well, here's part of the answer!

After the long night, I got up and drove to Nashville to see Dad. He slept the entire time, but it was good to see him resting and he seemed more comfortable than I've seen ever since his ordeal began. That was good to see! He's making some progress, but its terribly slow. I just hope the progress continues. I hope he can soon began speaking and regain some strength. He's going to get some additional evaluation this week and then we should have a clear of picture of where we go from here.

After a short night of little rest, it was "up and at-em" to finish clearing the hundreds of limbs around my house (this picture does it no justice). My father-in-law came and brought two other guys and the four of us managed to finish the job by early afternoon, although it may be a while before we get to the limbs still stuck in the tops of trees, and even longer before my back quits hurting!

As a belated Valentine to my lovely wife, we did something we haven't done in ages: we went to a movie. We went to see "Taken." It was pretty good: lot's of action, not a whole lot of cussin', and lot's of killin' bad guys. We usually like to see comedies, but the only one playing nearby was "Paul Blart:Mall Cop.

A long night and 2 long days. Now it's back to work!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Prayers for Those Still Without Power

We still have a third of our county out of power following the ice storm 2 weeks ago and possible severe storms in the form of a squall line are set to move through in the morning. That won't help. Winds sustained at 25-35 mph and gust more than 50 mph are forecast.

Someone said Jim Cantore is back in town, but I suspect it's to tape "updates" or even a segment of "Storm Stories" for the Weather Channel since they don't have too many shows on ice storms and this one has been one of the worst our country has ever seen.

Lot's of rain is forecast too and the saturated ground could combine with the wind to bring more trees down in addition to the "hangers," limbs which are broken, but hanging by a thread up in the trees. I think they can cause more power problems, but I don't think they can top the damage already done since many of the limbs which brought down power lines are already on the ground. I still have a good day and a half of chain saw work left in my yard.

We'll keep our fingers crossed. I read an interesting blog about Kentucky's ice storm, and why it's not a big concern for much of the media. Of course, ice storms are not as "sexy" news wise as hurricanes, but as at least one Southern Mississippi utility worker observed, the damage to the power grid here is WORSE than Katrina. Pictures do nothing to convey the enormity of the damage in Western Kentucky. Some of my neighbors are still looking at weeks, or up to a month before power is restored. Some of these are elderly and infirmed and need power to survive. Dozens have already died.

Also, please keep my father, Bob, in your prayers. He's making slow progress. He's off the ventilator now, but his breathing is still assisted by a special oxygen mask. He still hasn't spoken, but seems to be trying to at times. He's still very weak and his improvement is painfully slow. Although he can't speak, we can see the fear and the anger in his eyes. It's just going to be long road for him. His situation has really made my troubles with the ice storm seem like a trivial, minor inconvenience.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Still In Our Prayers

Went to Nashville this weekend to see my dad, Bob, as he struggles to recover from complications from heart surgery 3 weeks ago. He's hanging in there, but it's tough. He's still on a ventilator and he struggles to talk. He can't. It's painful for me to watch, but even more so for him. He can squeeze my hand and nod yes or no, which is encouraging. He was always so much stronger and tougher than me. I hope and pray he can muster it up one more time to get through this. I pledged to myself, no matter what, to spend more time with him. Prayers appreciated.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Day 11: For the Love and Appreciation of Benjamin Franklin

Our first day with electricity in a week and a half. Time to clean up all the mess from the past 11 days: gasoline cans, generator oil spots, unvaccumed floors, dishwasher full of dirty dishes, etc. It felt good. No more getting up in the middle of the night and at dawn's first light to refuel, check the oil and pull the cord. I celebrated by briefly turning on every light in the house and flushing the commode over and over again.

One thing I don't want to do, is forget the thousands in our region still without power, and I hope the media doesn't either. There's always a tendency to quickly move on to the next "big story," and forget sometimes, that you still have one ongoing. Some outlets are already doing that. I think in this case though, there are still enough media members themselves without power, that they'll keep the story on the front burner a little longer. I hope so.

Many outlets are doing generator safety stories now, which is a good thing. The bad thing is they should have done those a week or so ago, before several people in our area died. Bridget and I used a small generator to help get through this. We kept our's on the edge of the garage, with the exhaust outside to avoid carbon monoxide buildup. We also learned several other survival techniques for days on end without electricity.

1. Have a generator. Even a small one can make a big difference. We powered small heaters, our fridge and freezer, and at night, our TV and computer. The small bit of entertainment from the TV and computer helped provide a momentary diversion from the fact we could sit on our couch and see our breath in the cold. We have DirecTV which never went out, even with some ice on the dish. We had a few cans of de-icer in case it did, but it worked the whole time. Many lost their cable TV to ice on the lines and won't have it back for weeks.

2. Use candles, but carefully. We found the big glass candles, with the single wicks provided the most heat among different types of candles. They also provided some light. Nighttime is the worst time without power.

3. Don't pile up quilts at bedtime. Use cold weather sleeping bags. We found them to be MUCH warmer than piling quilts on each other. They're made for winter camping and they do a great job. Once we got into the sleeping bags at night, we were relatively comfortable.....until we had to get up to refuel the generator or go to the bathroom.

4. If you can only shower every 3rd day or so, put talcum powder in your hair. It absorbs the grease, and makes you look less like a person who hasn't had a shower in 3 days!

5. Use those nice smelling "body sprays" like Axe. I learned about this from a friend who was telling me what his little boys did to avoid taking showers. He said, after a day or two of them smelling like Axe, he rounded them up and MADE them take a shower, even though they smelled great!

6. You CAN bath daily by rubbing Germ-X all over yourself. Bridget discovered this one. I warned her that she probably shouldn't light a cigarette for a period of time after one of these "baths."

7. Use buckets to capture runoff/melt from your storm gutters. They can help get water for your pets, or to flush the commode.

8. Keep calling the power company! Be nice, but remind them that your area still doesn't have power. Sometimes they might have your neighborhood listed as fully energized, when some pockets are not. They're working as hard and as frantically as they can to get your power back, but they need to know exactly who has power and who doesn't and were the trouble spots are.

9. Be patient. Keep telling yourself you're one day closer to getting the power back. Remind yourself that at least next month's utility bill will be smaller!

10. Prepare as much as you can before the power goes out. Have flashlights, batteries and candles ready. If you have a well, fill your bathtub and everything else you can: pitchers, pots, other containers. We even filled our crockpot with drinking water prior to losing power. It was a big help.

*If you can go somewhere for a few days, GO. If you can't, take time every other day or so to drive to someplace where there is power to warm up and get a hot meal!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Day 10

After a brutally cold night, temperatures warmed to the low 40s with good weather. I finally saw a crew working not far from my home today and they fixed a downed line which I THINK is the one which supplies my electricity. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we have our power back soon. West Kentucky Star reported our supplier, Hickman Fulton RECC got a few more customers back on line today.

Hickman Fulton RECC had about 1,000 customers energized Thursday afternoon and estimate 2,800 still in the dark.

I'm still one of those in the dark, but praying we get on line soon. Bridget and I drove to Dyersburg, Tennessee today as Bridget had a medical appointment, and while we were there, got a shower and did some laundry at a friend's house.

Last night was the worst, with an overnight low of 12 degrees at my house. With candles lit, we stayed in our alpine sleeping bags. As long as we were in the sleeping bags we were OK. When this is over, I'll write a blog about the things we leanred about how to get by with no electricity.

UPDATE!!! We just got power!!!! at 6:31 PM CST. We know it may come and go for a while, so we'll be cautiously optimistic.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Day 9

Very conflicting information today. Earlier today I got my hopes up when I read a report that Hickman-Fulton RECC had 2,900 on line and only 1,000 without power. I thought this sounded too good to be true and it was. The report had the numbers reversed. Arrrgh! Here's the latest I could find from WestKentuckyStar:

Hickman Fulton RECC has restored power to 75 customers Wednesday. About 2,825 are still without power. They have 240 line workers working with more on the way. They are stationed in each county and will start working at the substations and moving out from there.

We drove around and saw a few pockets with power and while that's frustrating, you can see progress being made and that's encouraging. Meanwhile, we're facing another night with lows in the teens, and no power. Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Number 9, Number 9, Number 9

We're turning the corner toward day number 9 without power in rural Fulton County. The next two nights will have lows from the teens down to single digits. I'm not looking forward to it.

We did read today from one source that our electric company, Hickman-Fulton RECC has several hundred customers back on line, which is encouraging, although the vast majority of us still do not. We still get conflicting reports. One TV station had stories in its newscast that 2/3rds of us here were still out of power, and then later in the newscast reported 2/3rds of us DID have power. Actually, it's more like 3/4ers of us do not. We're not complaining. We know the crews are doing their best, and are so thankful for the many crews which came in from out of town and out of state. I stopped on the street today and applauded a crew which came up from Tupelo, Mississippi to help us in Western Kentucky. I've also seen crews from Alabama, Tennessee and other states. God bless them. The National Guard has done a great job too. They came by to check on us today, along with the other residents in the county. God bless them.

Here is the account from, which has been giving the most detailed updates on the power situation:

Debbie Weatherford with Hickman-Fulton RECC says all substations are energized. They have approximately 900 back on with about 2,900 still in the dark. They have 235 additional lineman in from different states. They are trying to repair the three-phase circuits. Weatherford says it may take 2 weeks to a month before power is restored.

(Hint....I'm one of the 2,900)

On the radio, we've heard very good reports from WCMT (1410 AM) in Martin, TN, although the reports have become less frequent as the event has gone on.

One of the linemen from Southern Mississippi said the damage to the power grid here is greater than that in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. I believe him. I've never seen or experienced anything like it and pray I never do again. Gov. Beshear says its the greatest natural disaster in the history of Kentucky. I believe him too.

The linemen aren't the only out of state angels. TEMA, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency set a command center in Hickman, KY, the Fulton County seat and has been fantastic in the relief effort. Rather ironic that Fulton County's biggest help in this disaster would come from Tennessee, instead of it's home state but, after all, Tennessee (my native state) IS the Volunteer State. I also think Kentucky is stretched thin and overwhelmed by the scope of the disaster, and let's face it, Fulton County is a small, overwhelmingly poor county. Fulton County Judge Executive David Gallagher has done a fantastic job in fighting for us and doing everything he can to bring attention to the situation in the county, which is perhaps the hardest hit of all the Western Kentucky counties.

Let's keep praying. That we can make it through the cold stretch OK. That we can continue hanging in there. That the over/under on getting the power fully restored is closer to 2 weeks, than a month!!! Looking on the bright side, next month my electric bill should be much smaller!!!

God Bless.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Heading into Day 8

It's been hard to get any information about our electric situation in Fulton County, but I did find this today, courtesy of West Kentucky Star.

"Hickman-Fulton County RECC has all its substations energized. They are checking all the Phase 3 main lines today. They have 500 customers with power, another 3,875 without power. They're hoping to get 300 more on line today. They also have 225 out-of-state workers in town to help. A shelter has been set up at Fulton County High School where they are serving 3 hot meals a day."

This is good news. Maybe they can soon began working their way out from the substations and getting more of us turned back on.

Day 7

A full week without power now and counting, although I did see an NES crew working west of Fulton yesterday. Still might be weeks from getting our power back on. Be sure to unplug all appliances before power comes back on. A friend of mine lost his refrigerator when the power came back on and the surge blew it up. The same holds true for computers, TV's, etc.

Good weather yesterday for crews to work and hopefully for the next few too, although it's supposed to get colder this week.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Winter Storm Information

The hundreds of thousands of us without power in the wake of the ice storm in Western Kentucky have one thing in common as we head into Day 6 of no electricity: We crave information on how the repair effort is going and where we can find food, warmth and shelter.

In Fulton County, we've gotten good information from WCMT (1410 AM) in Martin as they've had frequent reports from Fulton County DES. Other outlets which are posting information as it comes in are:

West Kentucky Star

Has expanded it's coverage county by county with the latest information they have. According to WPSD, 95% of the city of Fulton has power now, but still completely out in the county and it could take 1 to 3 weeks for it to be restored. There is a feeding station set up at Fulton County High School, and warming shelters set up at Cayce Baptist Church, West Hickman Baptist Church, 2nd Baptist Church, Union City, TN, First Baptist Church in Fulton and South Fulton Baptist Church in South Fulton, TN. The Hickman Police and Cayce Baptist Church are providing bottled water. Check the above website for information from other counties.

Cover It Live from KFVS 12
"Cover It Live" does a great job at continuously giving out the latest information and allowing viewers to interact with the newsroom and other viewers in affected areas. KFVS's deals mostly with SE MIssouri. Hopefully, some of the Western Kentucky media can install it on their sites as it really does a great job.

Cover It Live from the Louisville Courier Journal
Posting live continuously with updates, more so from Central and Northern KY but some information about Western Kentucky too. It utilizes Twitter, which is great for these kinds of things.

I'll be posting information as much as I can with limited service here, and on my facebook and twitter sites.

Now I'll go start chopping wood!