2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 280 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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New CD Released!

I’m happy to announce the release of my new CD called “Old Five and Dimers” ! This title is also the title of the first song which was written by that great outlaw country writer, Billy Jo Shaver.  He worked with Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson to create that great outlaw country music back in the 1970’s that was a major influence on my music.

Almost a year ago, I started playing live on Street Jelly, which is an on line busking site. I have my regular show there at 5PM EDT every Saturday called “Bill’s Happy Hour”. It’s great fun and I even make some tip money when I’m playing.

Recently, I started recording my performances and that has resulted in this new album consisting of 14 songs. This is a solo album which is a first for me, but I am quite pleased with the outcome. I am selling the album in CD format only for $10 at my web site and that includes free shipping. Hope you stop by and pick up a copy to enjoy!

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http://www.Billmadisonmusic.com

Here you can listen to Old Five and Dimers as is on the CD!

Also, hope you visit Street Jelly for Bill’s Happy Hour live at 5PM EDT every Saturday!

http://streetjelly.com/billmadison

I have been friends with Jim Remington since our college days at the University of Rhode Island during the early 60’s. He is a tremendous guitarist and he and I played together quite a bit. We went on the road touring during the late 60’s and lost touch with one another after 1980. We found each other once again earlier this year through a mutual friend and musician, Ed McGuirl. We are collaborating once again over the internet and I am going to be doing a dulcimer track over his recording of Richard Farina’s Pack Up Your Sorrows. I like his prose and want to include his story about his musical background in this post. 

Mostly Short, Mostly True Stories from Ireland

By Jim Remington

Music and the Family

I’ve been involved with music all of my adult life. Whether performing, teaching, jamming with friends, songwriting or recording, music has been a constant in my life. Because of this I occasionally get asked about my family background and how that influenced my life with music. Did your parents or grandparents play an instrument? Was singing or playing passed on down the family? In Ireland there are countless examples of musical families. Singing or playing an instrument might be passed on for generations within a family. It is a wonderful thing. I usually give the short simple answer to the questions of my family influences on music in my life. My father was a singing waiter in his early twenties and my grandfather played the piano and wrote music professionally. A straight simple answer, now time to move on. But if pressed for detail I’ll tell a bit about my father’s “career” as a singing waiter. It goes like this.

For many years our cousins, the Oates, ran a popular tavern in Cranston, Rhode Island, called “Oates Tavern”. The draw of the tavern during the 1920’s and 30’s was a live big band on the weekends. My father’s job was a waiter but he would also sing a particular song that the band could play at any time. You can imagine that this could be great fun and a real draw for the tavern. My father would be serving a lobster dinner and if the band played his tune he would sing that song to the guests at the table while holding a lobster on a plate. Great stuff and very popular. My parents loved to tell the story of how they met at the tavern. My mother was on a first date and having dinner at the tavern. My father was “waiting” on her table and out of chance his song came up. You can guess the rest. He sang that song to my mother and won her heart. As my mother was leaving at the end of the evening my father took advantage of her date’s absence getting the coats and asked for her phone number. My mother responded that it was already written on the napkin at the table.  My mother was always one step ahead.

Of course I grew up hearing this story and remember as a kid how my father would sing a bit of the song that won over my mother. My father was a fine tenor and the song was beautiful. This made quite an impression on me. When I was old enough I asked my mother how she felt about “dumping” her date and she would say it was only a first date, destined to go no further in her mind. Besides she would say, my father had “style”! So as a child, it was customary to hear one or both of my parents singing at family gatherings. My mother could knock out a pretty good version of “Jesus Met the Woman at the Well”.  Maybe a reference to her first meeting with my father!

This didn’t exactly make a musical dynasty out of our family but it certainly had an influence on my picking up a guitar at age fourteen and my brother following a short time later. Now there is still the story of my grandfather and his musical influence on the family. But that will have to wait for the next issue. That’s a real story!

I want to conclude this post with another great video from Tyrone Shulace and his Pals – I just love these guys! Have a great weekend! Bill

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Sharing Music – More true stories!

This time I’d like to share some links to musicians who I have got to know recently. And also another great story from my friend Jim Remington about magical Ireland and St Patrick and the Snakes!

First up is my good old friend Rick Mueller. This video just made last Tuesday at the Wildcat Tavern Open Mic. The Tavern was one of my favorite places to play when I was living in New Hampshire back in the 70’s and 80’s. Rick is Americana down to the bone. He’s the real deal! So have a look and listen to his three songs!

http://www.jacksonflicks.com/hoot-night/2014---first-half/june-10-2014/rick.html

Next up, from just down the road in Naples, Florida, are The Honey Creepers Band with No Good At Love! Love Prana’s voice!

And this from my friend, Miguel Jimenez – the master at doing Django Reinhardt!

And here’s Diane Hurst – she writes wonderful songs for children! With her “Are We There Yet!

http://www.reverbnation.com/dianehurst/song/17171838-are-we-there-yet

And now – Saint Patrick and the Snakes!

Mostly Short, Mostly True Stories from Ireland

By Jim Remington

Saint Patrick and the Snakes

I’m sure most people are familiar with the legend of how Saint Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. We really don’t know the exact truth of the story but I for one have never seen a snake in Ireland. That’s good enough for me. I’ve read that there weren’t any snakes in Ireland before Saint Patrick but why ruin a good legend. Do the experts really know whether snakes ever existed in Ireland? I’ve also heard it said that entwined snakes where the symbol for the ancient goddess religion of Ireland and Saint Patrick drove that religion out when he converted the country to Catholicism. And there went the snakes. I’d like to hear more about that if anyone knows. That would still be some feat for any saint if it’s true. I guess it’s all a matter of faith and speculation.

Now I know for sure Saint Patrick never spent time in my neck of the woods. He certainly didn’t spend any time driving snakes out if he did take a stroll thru here. We have several varieties of snakes, most of them easy to get along with. But honestly they all scare the life out of me. The most common snake I see is the Bull snake. Sometimes six feet long and full of attitude. They try to mimic their more potent brethren by ferociously shaking their “tails” and assuming a lethal strike pose. And they add a loud hiss just to drive the point home. But they are not venomous. My friend John will pick them up and let them glide thru his hands. He can talk snake. Like I said, they all drive me nuts. Now the other snakes we have are very serious – of the viper family and potentially deadly. It seems they would like to give you a warning with that rattle if possible but I have stepped on one that only rattled after contact. I moved faster than I thought humanly possible and managed to avoid the bite and the near heart attack that I almost had over the episode. But enough of this, let’s get to the actual story.

I was in the tool shed/tack room getting some pliers and as I reached over the workbench, something moved amidst the clutter. That “something” was a very large snake – about five feet long and as big as my wrist around. Not until I peeled myself off the ceiling did I make a positive identification. The head shape, coloring and rattle-less tail convinced me it was definitely a bull snake. None venomous and this one not especially aggressive. Still I was pretty shaken and forgot about the pliers. I’ve been told that Bull snakes are great to have on your property. They eat mice (a problem in any tack room) and I’ve been told they keep rattle snakes away. That would be a benefit but I’m not sure if it is true. It sounds reassuring at the least. So I looked at the positive side of having a mice eating, rattle snake deterring bull snake living in my tack room. As I was in the tack shed twice a day for horse feed I got use to seeing the new tenant and actually began to feel we had developed a bit of a rapport and mutual respect. I left him alone and he did the same to me. I still jumped every time I saw him but got over it a little quicker. To say I became friends with this Bull snake would be an overstatement but we managed to coexist. He was doing a good job with the mice and I didn’t see a rattle snake on the property during that time.

Well it came to pass that I was on my drive up to Denver on a hot August day, making good time until I hit a massive traffic jam near Broadway. Four lanes of bumper to bumper stop and go traffic. I was a lane in from the outside lane and completely boxed in. I was totally focused on the car ahead of me when suddenly something popped up from the hood right in front of the windshield and then disappeared. It looked like a head with two beady eyes. But I had doubts of what I actually saw. It was a little near for my range of focus on the car ahead. But it caught my attention. A minute or two passed. The traffic moved and stopped, moved and stopped. Again, something popped up in the same spot but this time looked around – left than right. It was definitely a head but no body to confirm its identity. It disappeared again.  But now I knew I wasn’t imagining whatever it was. The head popped out again but this time the entire body came along with it. Five feet of Bull snake spread across my windshield. What a sight! I glanced to my left and the women in the passenger seat of the car next to me was screaming at the top of her lungs and gesturing with both hands. She was freaking out! I tried to come up with a plan. I knew right away that this was my tack room “buddy” and I needed to do something to help him out. But he had his own ideas. Several times he went across my windshield, his full five feet from one end to the other. The woman in the next car was really losing it now. It wasn’t pretty. We were moving at about twenty five miles an hour and I signaled to try to cross two lanes of traffic to the right. Trying to watch the snake and not crash into the cars next to me was about impossible. Quick as a whip the snake went down the side of my car and off the back – right on the white lines. I felt powerless. I watched in my side mirror as every car behind me moved away from the snake. It was like the parting of the Red Sea. But I had lost my buddy. I’m not sure if the snake made it but my sister in law Angela said the snake had its own plan. I was just the vehicle. He was hitching a ride.

It made me feel better to think that maybe he was in tune with the cosmos and just getting a lift. I sure hope so. I did miss the big guy and the mice seemed to get a little bolder. And not long after I came across two rattle snakes in my yard. I sure would like to have that bull snake back. I would even give the guy a little pat on the back. Somewhere on that five feet!

 

Jim Remington is a teacher and director at the Lakewood School of Music in Lakewood, CO, and lives with his wife, 2 horses and 2 dogs in the Wet Mountain Valley near Westcliffe, CO. Jim can be reached at: remingtonlj@gmail.com

Hope you enjoyed today’s posts as much I enjoyed posting them. Hope you have a great weekend and don’t forget to grab a cold one and join me for Bill’s Happy Hour this afternoon and every Saturday afternoon at 5PM EDT on Street Jelly!

http://streetjelly.com/billmadison

By for now!

 

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Chris Biggi – An Archive Of A Generation Of Music!

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2003 saw the passing of Johnny Cash, Warren Zevon, and closer to home, my dear friend, Chris Biggi.   For over 40 years, Chris recorded the music of a very large group of musicians in the New England area, of which I am proud to be a member.   It all began in Boston in the mid 1960’s.   I had moved there in 1967 to play the small coffee houses on Charles Street and to become part of the very new Boston Folk Scene.   There was Paul MacNeil, Nancy Michaels, Chris Smither, Bob McCarthy, Jaime Brockett, Bill Staines, Renee Boghosian Goodwin, Rocky Rockwood, Tom Hall, Danny Gravas, Kenny Girard, Lesley Moore, Diane Gagner, Eliot Kenin, Ray and Pam Clayton, Paul Geremia….(I know I might have left some names out  let me know and I’ll add them here.)

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Chris – 1968 Courtesy of Lesley Moore

I remember one afternoon sitting in the Turks Head Coffeehouse, I looked up as this sailor came through the door – pea coat and all.   That was when I first met Chris. He was just getting out of the Navy.  He soon grew to love the music that we were all creating.  We had many jam sessions at various apartments – mostly on Beacon Hill.   Chris began bringing along a small Wollensack tape recorder and he would throw the microphone out in the middle of the room and began recording everything.   Some of those old tapes were quite good actually.

In 1970, a bunch of us moved to Newburyport.  It was a truly magical place and time.    Chris had moved to New Hampshire – not far from Newburyport and set up his first recording studio, which he managed to keep quite portable as well.  He began coming to gigs and recording our performances.   In town there was The Grog and The Stagecoach Tavern – and then came The Stone Church!

I remember a cold snowy night when Chris showed up at my place and said he wanted to take me to this new place that was opening in Newmarket NH – about 45 minutes from Newburyport.   We climbed into his VW bus, which didn’t have much heat, and headed out.   He had an 8track tape player in the bus and I remember we had a hard time getting it to work because of the cold.   Eventually we got a tape working, but it was really “wobbly” sounding.

We soon arrived at this large granite “church” – which wasn’t a church anymore, it was becoming The Stone Church.  It wasn’t officially open until the weekend and they hired me to play.  I was the first one to play there.  Soon, they started an open mike on Sunday afternoons, and served up a fantastic roast beef dinner which was served buffet style from the bar.  This became very popular – very quickly.  Musicians could eat for free and have free beer.  It wasn’t long before the event which would start at around 2PM, lasted into the evenings.  So many showed up to play and so many showed up for the dinner and to hear the music. Well, Chris began recording every single Sunday from beginning to end.

One time, we were all quite drunk, and the tape didn’t sound very good, so Chris took a nail and nailed that tape to the wall.  I hear it still is hanging there on the wall of The Stone Church to this day!  It should be noted that Chris was very good at puns and used them quite frequently.  He was a very funny man.  He even called his studio – “PUNishment Recording Studio!

In 1973, Chris recorded my first album – Sunday Mornin’ Hayride.  He and I started Saloon Records with that album.

When his parents passed, he inherited their farm and set up his studio in earnest. That was Sunset Ridge Studio, which he ran until he couldn’t do it anymore.

He left us a huge legacy of recorded music – I would say thousands of tapes. Without that, as we are aging, I fear we would soon be forgotten, but because of Chris, our music will live on long after we are all gone.

There are so many stories about Chris – I invite anyone who would like to post a memory or story they have about Chris, to add it in the comment section below.

Thanks to Laurie McCarthy and Pam Biggi for the photo.  Thanks for reading!

Bill

 

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The Archives Of A Country Rock Band – Them Fargo Brothers – Black July

 

Black July – Summer 1982

Them Fargo Brothers were having a busy touring season that summer. We had already traveled down through New York – played at O’Lunneys in NYC and moved down to Wildwood, NJ to play at “Miss Kitty’s Saloon”. We were riding on the wave of the mechanical bull clubs that we opening everywhere at the time. We returned back to New Hampshire for a few days off before heading out again. July was heavily booked, starting with a club date in Boston for a week and then we were to head up the Maine coast.

It was a very hot day when we left for Boston – in the mid-90’s and quite humid. We had an early 70’s Dodge Cube Van with the back third partitioned off for our equipment. The rest of the truck we insulated and paneled – nicely laid out with bench seating behind the driver and passenger seats. – we also had storage under the benches. The only ventilation besides the windows in the front doors,  was a vent installed in the roof and, of course, there was no AC.

I was driving and all was well until we were about to exit off RT 495 onto RT 128, when I noticed the engine was beginning to over heat quite quickly. I knew that if I shut the motor off, we may not be able to restart it and we didn’t want to be stranded on the side of the highway in that heat. I slowed down to about 40 mph and the motor was bucking and threatening to quit.

Now Bruce, our steel guitar player, is a very ingenious man. You have to be to play that instrument and play as well as he does. The engine compartment on that truck was set between the two front seats and the compartment cover could be easily removed from the inside. Bruce surmised that in order to keep the truck running, we needed to cool down the area around the carburetor. We had a large cooler which we had filled with ice. Bruce took a towel and placed many ice cubes in it. He removed the air cleaner cover from the carburetor and began to drip cold water from the ice around the carburetor onto the intake manifold. I knew our problem was due to a stuck thermostat that was not allowing coolant to flow freely, but enough was flowing or the radiator hose would have blown. Onward we went!  Ever so slowly – down to 30mph now – but the van kept running.

We were about 50 miles outside of Boston at this time and, man, it was hot! We all were soaking wet with sweat and not in very good humor. We decided the best thing to do was to head for the motel where we had rooms booked – check in – let the van cool down some, before heading to the gig to set up.

Well, we all got showers in, dressed for the gig and headed back out. By now, it was dusk and it had cooled down quite a bit. So had the van. It started – but by the time we approached the club it had begun to over heat again. When we arrived, we were shocked to see an official looking sign on the door of the club stating in large letters – CLOSED – and in smaller letters, by order of the State Health Department.

We went back to the motel, cancelled the rooms, actually got some of our money back, made it to a gas station by RT 128, had the thermostat removed, bought a bunch of  sandwiches and beer, and headed home to New Hampshire.

But that was only the beginning. As it turned out we lost every gig we had for that month for various reasons. So in the annals of our band history, that month became known as Black July!

Here is what I believe to be the best recording made of the band at that time, and actually the best recording of the band live ever made!

Recorded by Dave Morrill at the Oxen Yoke in North Conway, NH on December 8th, 1979.

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My favorite song on this album is a song we covered by Steely Dan called “With A Gun”. You can hear the song:

Hey, if you want a copy of the record, just head on over to my web site – http://www.Billmadisonmusic.com -It’s on the CD’s?Quilts 4 Sale page!

Thanks for your time – hope you enjoyed this – and see ya’ next time!   Have a great week!  

Bill

 

 

 

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A tune to cure the winter blues, A harrowing tale from Jim Remington, Street Jelly!

Hello, Hello, Hello!  A couple of neat things to share. I wrote the song  “On The Beach”  several years ago about our beautiful Southwest Florida Coastline. Hope the song will take you there. 

https://soundcloud.com/bill-madison/on-the-beach

My friend, Jim Remington, wrote this excellent short story about an incident he and his wife experienced in Ireland!

Mostly Short, Mostly True Stories from Ireland

By Jim Remington

A Rock and a Hard Place

My last two stories for Celtic Connection have focused on events that occurred during a cycling trip my wife and I took in the southwest of Ireland in 2009. This story also was generated from that trip.

Cycling can certainly be described as a leisurely way to explore new horizons. If you have several days, a week or more to spend in an area, cycling sets a slower pace than traveling by car, bus or train. It puts you in touch with the countryside and heightens all your senses. You become aware of the subtle things: the smell and color of plants in bloom, the whistle of songbirds, clouds and changes in weather, conversations drifting across a meadow, the sound and smell of the nearby ocean. The countryside takes on a more personnel feel; you tend to pay more attention to your surroundings. Small roadside signs designating some little highlight can be missed or ignored from a car but not a bike. I’m a big fan of travelling this way. And of course being on a bike it pays, for safety sake, to stay in sharp focus with the road conditions and traffic. The narrow, twisty back roads of Ireland can be a safety challenge for any cyclist or pedestrian.  Tour buses and cars tend to travel at faster speeds than the road conditions would normally dictate and everyone is driving on the opposite side of the road from what we are familiar with. Bikes travel with auto traffic in the left lane rather than the right, and this takes some getting used to. You have to stay tuned to your surroundings.

And this brings up an incident that occurred while we were on our cycling trip in the southwest of Ireland. We were heading towards Sheep’s Head on the narrow coastal road just past the small cross-roads town of Kilcrohane. The views were spectacular across Dunmanus Bay; rocky cliffs and lush green meadows rolling to the ocean on both sides of the bay. Sunlight angling on the water created a spectacular effect. We stopped frequently to take pictures and explore an old castle ruin and a hedge row school from the time of the British repression. We were just poking and soaking it in. We were almost lulled into a dreamlike state of senses.  But fortunately my hearing was picking up the subtle sounds surrounding us and on a particularly narrow and curvy section of the road I began to hear a sound that seemed out of place. It was a heavy rattling, banging sound that was rapidly approaching from behind. My wife was a bit ahead of me and I called out to her that something big was approaching from behind. The road narrowed even more and I knew there would not be enough room for me, whatever was approaching from behind and a possible oncoming vehicle. And sure enough, suddenly I was in the center of a “perfect storm”. Right at the sharpest part of the corner, just as the vehicle was overtaking me from the rear (and probably couldn’t see me because of high bushes), a car appeared right in front of me. The driver immediately saw me and whatever was behind me, and realized there was not enough room for us all. I looked right into the oncoming drivers eyes which grew larger in size as the space narrowed. His eyes were the size of saucers and his expression was sheer terror. I knew I was between the proverbial rock and hard place. I was ready to bail into the dense bushes on my left when I heard the screeching brakes from in front and behind. I had enough time to think this was going to be bad. Time seemed to slow down but not quite to the point where my life flashed before me. I was still looking for a way out!

Well, we’ve all heard of the luck of the Irish and that day, at that place and time, there was an abundance of it. And I for one am thankful of that. What turned out to be a small car pulling a large horse trailer going way to fast managed to stop just inches shy of my rear wheel and the oncoming car squeezed through an impossibly small space defying all laws of physics. It was a miracle! We were all to live another day. I kept peddling and as the car/horse trailer passed me the women driver gave me a hearty wave. A “hi neighbor” wave, like she was going to invite me for lunch. I could only do one thing. I waved back. And fortunately I had worn my brown bike riding shorts.

Jim Remington is a teacher and director at the Lakewood School of Music in Lakewood, CO. and lives with his wife, 2 horses and 2 dogs in the Wet Mountain Valley near Westcliffe, CO. Jim can be reached at: remingtonlj@gmail.com.

Thanks, Jim!!! Don’t forget – I’ll be performing live at Bill’s Happy Hour this afternoon at 4:30 PM EDST on Street Jelly! See ya there!

http://streetjelly.com/billmadison

Have a Great First Spring Weekend!

Bill

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Sharing Good Music! Featuring The Lost City Band, Heather Pierson and Shawn Nadeau and the Migrant Worker Band!

Hello and an early Happy Spring!

Well, I’ve been working on my new album to be called “Rogues”.  John Dudli, drummer for Them Fargo Bros. was here on Tuesday laying down the drum tracks to two songs that will be included on the album. One of the tracks is Rodney Crowell’s “Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This” – we have a nice drive going on that song and the other tune is my own “Outlaw” going for the first studio version of the song since 1975. Nancy and I changed the lyrics around several years ago and the song now has four verses instead of three!

I also have a preliminary design for the album cover. Having used my mother’s picture on the “Pass On The Love” album,  I decided to use a photo of my father taken in the early 30’s. He was quite a “rogue” in his day. He had a band during the Prohibition era called the “Madison Syncapators” and he played in speakeasys – where he met my mother!!  

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Also, I will be playing live this afternoon at 4:30 PM EST on Street Jelly for “Bill’s Happy Hour”! Hope you can tune in and have a cold one with me and listen to a few tunes!

http://streetjelly.com/billmadison1-image0

And Now – On With The Show!!!

First up are my friends in the Lost City Band from Lake Orion, Michigan – Playing their song “Too Much For Gas”!! You’re gonna like these guys!

Here is a wonderful recent video from Heather Pierson and Shawn Nadeau performing their song “Junkies”! Great fun here!

From the UK – The Migrant Worker Band – friends from Reverbnation. Love the video of Wales – fitting backdrop to their wonderful music!

Hope you enjoyed my entries for today!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend and I hope Spring comes to you early!

Bill

I’m live today at 4:30 EST on Street Jelly and live at “The Stone” here in Lehigh tomorrow night at 6PM! See ya at the Stone!

 

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Sharing Some Good Stuff!!

Hi!

Starting work on a new album I will be calling “Rogues”! It’s pretty much about rogues… I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, I’d like to share some of what I hope will be interesting and enjoyable entries.

First up, is from my friend Merle Burke – the “Bard Of Bartlett” – that’s Bartlett, New Hampshire! He has a very interesting site called “An Old Man’s Tales and Musings” Stories and tales of New England from an Old Yankee’s point of view. I would like to share “Skunk Ladies and Speak – Easies” – posted by Wilfred Poole!

Skunk Ladies & Speak-Easies!

Prohibition dint slow down tha consumption of alcoholic beverages much in our town. It actually speeded it up — so much so, in fact, that one time a few church ladies decided that they had to do somethin’ about it.

Just so happened that one of them ladies had quite a way with skunks. She could get them to walk right up to her and follow her right into her house if she wanted to and, they wouldn’t even spray on her.

Well, one night, she charmed about 20 of those smelly critters of all shapes and sizes right into her back yard. Then, she and several other church ladies marched them right down to that old gin-mill, opened tha door and turned them loose on about 50 people. Seems that place and tha people in it and tha entire town was so smelled up that it took weeks for things to to get back to normal.

That skunk parade ended tha ‘speak-easies’ in our town for good. And, from that point on, for that operation, tha ladies in tha church auxiliary was affectionately known as tha ‘Skunk Ladies!’

wilfred

Copyright© 2013 By Burke Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.

Next is from my old friend and musician, Jim Remington. He and I toured together in the late 60’s and became recently re-connected. We plan on doing some musical collaborations in the near future. He is also a great writer and story-teller as you will see in the following story about one of his visits to Ireland!

Mostly Short, Mostly True, Stories From Ireland.

By Jim Remington

Redbreast

If you spend some time traveling in Ireland you soon learn the concept of “soft rain”. Almost a mist but still wet enough to qualify as rain, the frequency allows you to get used to it and kind of enjoy it. It seems to fit in with the countryside and the feel of the land. In fact, it is what brings the “emerald” to Ireland. Great for photography and rainbows! However, less frequently, that “soft rain” turns into a real lashing, a total downpour, and almost any endeavor becomes impossible. I found myself in East Clare one afternoon in such a rain. We call it a “gully washer” out west here. I was headed to Tulla, an area steeped in traditional music, home of Paddy Canny, P.J. Hayes, Martin Rochford , Joe Bane and other well – known players of that time. The rain was so fierce that it was hard to see where the road was headed – never mind which side I was driving on. There was no chance to enjoy the scenery as it was impossible to see any distance. I had to stop driving and get off the road. Before I got to Tulla I passed a small cross-roads pub tucked back a bit from the road and felt this would be a nice respite from the weather. I thought a pint and some conversation were in order.

Except for the pub sign out front this could have been a country home. Maybe it was at one time. I opened the door and immediately the smell and warmth of the turf fire invited me in. This was the place for me to take a break from the weather. Three lads were seated in front of the fire playing that wonderful laid back but rhythmic East Clare music. Fiddle, flute and concertina-reels and jigs. What a perfectly complete and lovely sound. I thought about going to the car and getting my fiddle but a moment of listening changed my mind. Even the sweet sound of the lark would have been an intrusion on their playing. These fellows had obviously been playing together for years. No words were spoken, just tune after tune.

There was nobody else in the pub but the owner and the players. I sat at the bar, ordered a pint, and relaxed into a perfect setting to spend the afternoon. The rain continued to batter the roof and windows but that was outside. I was in no hurry to go out there and head to Tulla. I had all I needed right here. I finished a pint (maybe two) and thought a sip of the dew, a taste of the craythur , was needed. I asked the bar keep what his best whiskey was and he immediately replied “The Redbreast is what you would want”. I had never heard of Redbreast but you can’t refuse such a definitive recommendation. I ordered a glass for myself and one for each of the players. The bartender himself didn’t drink. The first sip of the Redbreast was heavenly! The angels sang, the harps played and my taste buds rejoiced. This was something special. Exceptional. The players complimented me on my wonderful choice of beverage and thanked me with a set of tunes in my honor. And I’m sure in the whiskey’s honor also. The music seemed to reach a higher level. Maybe it was more of the up-tempo reels, maybe the whiskey, but the music really took off. Several locals came in to get out of the weather and with their encouragement the music lifted once again. I would die to have a recording of that afternoon, but a recorder was out of place and time. This was how it used to be, only better, as they say.

As the afternoon changed into evening it was time to go. I bid my thanks and farewell. The rain had stopped and as I headed towards Tulla, a rainbow appeared over the hilltop town. What a wonderful exclamation mark to my afternoon! I still hold that afternoon as very special and dear.  And whenever a drop of Redbreast crosses my lips and warms my palette (which happens on occasion) I think of that afternoon: the pub, the music, the company and the drink. Perfection!

I met Tyrone Shoelace and his pals on Reverbnation! They fanned me! This is a really funny video they made called “Corduroy Kingston”!!  I Mean Funny!!

I would like to play for you my friend Doug Dickens recording of his beautiful  song “Reflections On Pinewoods Lake”  Sooo nice!

http://www.reverbnation.com/dougdickens/song/17345389-reflections-on-pinewoods-lake

My friends “Interactive Murcia” from Spain just released this great new song called “Inspirational”!  Great guitar playing on this!

Well, that’s it for now…hope you enjoyed this post and I will do more of the same as we go.  Coming up, as soon as it’s written, will be more of “Road Trip”!!! Certainly looking forward to that. Have a great week!  Don’t forget, I’m on Street Jelly every Friday afternoon at 4:30 PM EST for “Bill’s Happy Hour!” We have a great time over there on Street Jelly!

http://streetjelly.com/billmadison

Have a good one!  Bill

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Old and New Friends! Christmas Guitar Story!

Hi and Happy Holidays!  It has been my pleasure to become re-acquainted with two old friends from my college days at the University of Rhode Island. Both are fine musicians in the Folk Music/Singer Songwriter genres.

I met Jim Remington in 1964 at URI. In later years he and I ended up  playing together and went out on the road playing such fine venues as Cafe Lena in Saratoga, NY, The 2nd Fret in Philadelphia, and The Hickory Tree in Lancaster, PA. The last time I saw Jim was around 1982 – just before he moved to Colorado. Thanks to Facebook and Ed McGuirl,  Jim and I have made contact once again. We have also discussed the idea of collaborating once again. He sent me two of his CD’s made over the last ten years. The songwriting and the arrangements on both are just wonderful. I highly recommend them to you. If you would like to get his recordings,  you can contact him at:

Jim Remington, Box 1412, Westcliffe, CO. 81252

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Ed McGuirl has captured the true essence of Americana/Roots/Blues music in his classic and impressive musicianship. He and I have become friends on Facebook – bridging the gap of the many years that have gone by. He sent me some CD’s of his work as well which I would like to share.  You can contact him through his Facebook page, if you would like to get his CD’s.

https://www.facebook.com/ed.mcguirl

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Ed and Jim worked together for ten years in the Greencastle Band and took Irish and Celtic Traditional music to a different level. Originally released in 1981, this classic recording is also available on CD. You can contact either Jim or Ed for a copy.

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1-RSLC image    I started playing out again in October at a new venue that opened in Lehigh Acres, Florida.  Over the summer,  I was beginning to feel the need to perform again – get the response of people listening to me and to see if I could develop a following.  I have found all of that in this wonderful little venue called The Rolling Stone Libation Company!  I play there every Saturday evening from 6PM til around 9PM! Also in residence while I am playing is a fantastic local artist named Jonathan MacDonald – drawing sketches of the patrons and displaying his artwork around the stage area. Here is a sketch he did of me while I was playing!

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Nancy and I have met some very interesting and wonderful people at the “Stone” – as we call it!  Many come from Ft. Myers and Bonita and other surrounding towns as the “Stone” is growing in popularity. The menu and the food is extraordinary – their burger is the best around served with homemade potato chips. They serve a huge variety of excellent beers and wines. “Magic” is the one word I use to describe the Rolling Stone Libation Company. If you are ever in the area, you should make it a point to stop in!

https://www.facebook.com/LARollingStone

Also making new friends and fans on Street Jelly!  This is an on line “Busking” site where musicians can play for everyone a get tips! I am performing there every Friday Afternoon at 4:30 PM EST!

http://streetjelly.com/billmadison

 

Christmas Eve 1966
It was a very cold morning as I made my way down the steps from my third floor flat to go to work at Axelrod’s Music Store downtown. I scraped the ice from the windshield of my 1948 Ford which didn’t want to start at first, but slowly chugged to life. When I got to work, I went straight to my chores – making sure all the guitars were in tune, dusting all the instruments and doing inventory on guitars strings and other accessories. Then a bedraggled and somewhat unkempt man entered the store. He asked to purchase a pair of drumsticks. I thought at the time he must be around 60 years old and obviously very poor.
Then, because of his age, I asked him if he knew of my father who back in the 1920’s had a band called the Madison Syncopators. 
He had a startled look on his face and said, “You’re George’s boy!!” 
I told him I was and he told me that he was the drummer in that band!
He only had a dollar to put toward the price of the drumsticks, which at the time cost $4.00.  I, of course, made up the difference and wished him a Merry Christmas! 

Later, at lunch time, I went to the basement storeroom to eat where I always do, and for the first time, noticed a large box with D 21 marked on the side in magic marker. I had probably stared at the box a million times, but this time noted the marking on it. I then went over to it and, of course, opened the box to find inside in it’s hardshell case, a Martin D21 Dreadnaught Guitar.  I should say at this point, that Mr. Axelrod, my boss, was a very nice man. I told him I wanted to buy the D 21 and he said that would be fine and that he would sell it to me at his cost, and he told me to take the guitar home that night to be sure that I really liked it.

That guitar is still with me today!
MY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL!!!!!
     GIVE THE GIFT OF MUSIC!!!!!
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WISHING EVERYONE A WARM AND WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS!  AND A FULFILLING AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!!!!!   Here’s my “famous” White Christmas video!

 

 

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ElsieFest, MLW Benefit, some of my musician friends and the “Road Trip” Continues!!!

Hello and Hello Again!

In the middle of September, we visited New Hampshire to visit the kids and grandkids and also I played music there at ElsieFest – a gathering of old friends and musicians that I have played with over the years – hosted for the day by Elsie Limmer at her gorgeous home in Snowville. Here is a photo of me as I was performing there.

Photo by Nancy Madison

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The next day, I was proud to participate in the first annual MacKenzie, Lewis and White Benefit held at the Wolverine Tavern in North Conway. This benefit has gone on annually for many years to raise Scholarship money for students interested in studying music at Kennett High School in Conway. Our dear friend Rod MacKenzie passed away last year – a truly fine and inspiring musician he was – and now his name joins his friends and fellow musicians, Peter White and Peter Lewis to make this the 1st Annual!!! Those three guys “invaded” the Mount Washington Valley from Bermuda in the late 70’s with their wonderful music and they are remembered and honored every year at this event. I am fortunate enough to have a video of my performance, courtesy of Jeremy Dean, at this year’s Benefit Concert.  Here’s the link:

http://youtu.be/RwsQQA4uOqE

 

I would like to bring to your attention a few more musicians that I have met at Reverbnation and whom I enjoy very much!

First up – The Wailin Wolves Band! I just love the blues and these guys will rock you!

http://www.reverbnation.com/wailinwolvesbluesband

And from New Hampshire –  Preface – my son Ryan is the drummer and these guys have played together for over 15 years. When they play together, they “read” each other like a book! They are great fun to watch and listen to!  They play mostly original songs in their own style, but with a nice reggae feel! I like their tune called “Massage Your Brain”!

http://www.reverbnation.com/prefacenh

Wild & Welsh – a great Rock band from the UK! Listen to their tune called “Spirits”!

http://www.reverbnation.com/WILDandWELSH

And also from New Hampshire is Heather Pierson. She is a marvelously talented musician playing piano and guitar. She is also a  wonderful songwriter. Her style is magnetic and her songs are engaging. I am promoting her new album called “The Hard Work Of Living” I like her song “A Hard Man to Please”!

http://www.reverbnation.com/heatherpierson

And Brick Fields! Their down home blues is down right addictive! Love their “Go Ahead and Sang The Blues”!

http://www.reverbnation.com/BrickFieldsMusic

I’ll be posting more great music links in future entries – hope you enjoy these great musicians!

And now for another trip back in time as the “Road Trip” continues:

Montreal – Summer of 1966!

On The Road…

 

The dawning sun pierced though a gap in the window shade directly into my squinting eyes as I sprawled on the couch in the one room apartment we all shared. I was the only one in the room – along with all the debris from a “gathering” we had the night before. And meeting my nostrils was a pungent odor of a mixture of sweat, stale alcohol, tobacco, and urine. My head was just a few feet from the small water shed closet that housed the “john” and a small sink. I couldn’t have slept long at all – maybe an hour or so before the early sunlight reminded me that I was still alive.

 

The door crashed open loudly as Rory entered exclaiming loudly, “Hey – you coming with us or not! Grab your stuff – we’re leaving!”  I stumbled off the couch, visited the “water closet”,  jammed what few possessions I had into my duffle bag,  grabbed my guitar and quickly exited out to the sidewalk. The Plymouth sat at the curb at an idle with Mac behind the wheel.  Gif sat behind him playing one of his flamboyant instrumentals on his guitar.  Rory piled into the back seat next to him as I put my stuff in the trunk of the car, and joined Mac in the front seat. It was a pretty warm morning, so all the windows were open in the car.  Somehow, Rory had come up with a couple of thermos’ filled with coffee and a large paper bag filled with all manner of French pastries, passing one of the thermos up to the front.  Mac stepped on the gas, and off into the Montreal  traffic we went.  It seemed like Gif was inventing music to fit the mood and also the immediate surroundings;  as we passed the small cafes with patrons sitting at outdoor tables reading their papers and chatting among themselves.  We turned on to Rue de St Catherines, heading toward the Café Prague. We spotted Herman out in front sweeping the sidewalk and putting fresh table clothes on his few outside tables.  Mac pulled up to the curb and we stopped to say goodbye. Herman was so generous as to add some more to our food stores – two loaves of fresh bread and a tub of his famous cheese spread. We shared a somewhat emotional farewell and he told us that we and our music would be missed. We assured him that we would return, but unfortunately we never did.  I did return to Montreal several years later to play at McGill’s Yellow Door Coffeehouse and I went down to the Café,  but it was no longer there – it was still a small restaurant, but with a French name that I cannot recall.

 

Soon the city was fading in the background as we made our way. I found myself dosing with my head back feeling the breeze from the window on my face, Gif still making great tunes on his guitar. Mac said we would probably be in Toronto sometime the next day. Rory and I wanted to see what Ottawa had to offer – so onward sped the green Plymouth!

 

From a song I wrote back then called Silver Satin City – which I wrote for Montreal…

 

“The city’s screaming anguish seems to tell me,

That it’s streets can never give me room.

So I move away to find one that will be,

A temporary fantasy of home.”

 

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