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Clockwise, from top left: Blackfriar's Theater in Staunton, VA, home of the American Shakespeare Center; National Cathedral in Guatemala City; church near Volin, SD; engraved stellae at ruins of Copan, Honduras; folk musicians in La Paz, Bolivia.

Culture and Travel montage shadow

Culture-related pages:


Travel photos



Religious blogs & sites


Local drama & music


Other Web links


 

My favorite movies

  1. Casablanca
  2. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  3. Raising Arizona
  4. Fargo
  5. Shawshank Redemption
  6. Field of Dreams
  7. Bull Durham
  8. Fiddler on the Roof
  9. Patton
  10. Bananas
  11. Fort Apache: The Bronx
  12. Broadcast News

October 6, 2017 [LINK / comment]

Washington weekend in review

Although my primary mission during my brief visit to Washington, D.C. last weekend was to see baseball games (the first games I had seen there this year, actually), I accomplished several other tasks in the short time I had available. So, here's a quick review of what I saw in Our Nation's Capital.

National Cathedral north 2017

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: National Baptist Memorial Church (in Adams Morgan), Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (seen from RFK Stadium); Howard University clock tower; National Cathedral north side; and the Uline Arena, formerly known as the Washington Coliseum, (September 30, 2017).

After saying goodbye to my friend Dave Givens up in Bethesda on Saturday morning, I drove into the city along Wisconsin Avenue hoping to see the National Cathedral. It happened to be cloudy at that particular time, and indeed the sky kept changing throughout the day as strong winds swirled about. I noticed the scaffolding in place for the extensive repair work made necessary by the 2011 earthquake in Virginia. It seems odd that it is taking so long. Given the mediocre conditions for taking photos, I decided to leave.

I then descended into Rock Creek Park, that exquisite natural sanctuary where I used to go for long bicycle rides. I thought I might find an easy place to park and do a quick bird-watching walk, but with all the traffic and crazy one-way signs, that proved to be too much, so I resumed an easterly course. I passed through the funky Adams Morgan neighborhood, pausing just long enough to get a nice church photo, and then continued on to Howard University Hospital. Why there? It is where Griffith Stadium (former home of both the Senators and the Redskins) once stood, and I learned that there is a historical marker there. (I apparently missed seeing it during my last visit, or else it had not yet been installed.) The Shaw neighborhood near the hospital includes a lot of African-American history, such as the Howard Theater.

From there I headed toward the southeast along Florida Avenue, and I stopped at the Uline Arena, which was known as the Washington Coliseum when the Beatles performed their very first concert in the U.S. there, in February 1964. I stopped there once about ten or fifteen years ago, when it was rundown and abandoned. Last year they completed a major renovation project, evidently part of a community arts promotion. The original coliseum was basically just a big brick Quonset hut. That structure has been restored and now serves as an REI testing facility of some sort. On the east side there is a new parking garage and office building bearing big posters of the Beatles and other historical events that took place there.

Just down the street from the Uline Arena is a large graffitti mural on the side of a row house. I was intrigued by the message "Love is still the answer" and (in reverse letters): "Epatitude" (??), so I Googled that first phrase and came up with a site by a photographer named Frank Cevarich that provides some background on that.

Graffitti mural on 3rd Street NE

Graffitti mural on 3rd Street NE; click on the image to see it full size.

As mentioned in my recent blog post on baseball, my visit to RFK Stadium was entirely unplanned, the result of learning that there was a Georgetown football game there that afternoon. But aside from the stadium itself, I also took time to see the nearby D.C. National Guard Armory, which now features an F-16 "Fighting Falcon" jet on display. That was very impressive! I also took photos of the U.S. Capitol and the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, located about two miles to the north. Finally, I stopped to take a closeup look at the Robert F. Kennedy memorial -- the namesake for the stadium. He is someone who should be remembered for all he did and all he could have done for this country, were it not for an assassin's bullet.

Robert F. Kennedy memorial

Robert F. Kennedy memorial, in front of RFK Stadium.

Finally, I took a quick look at the Buzzards Point area where Audi Field is being built. There are big plans to turn the entire area (which was an industrial eye sore for many years) into a trendy residential / commercial center to complement the development around Nationals Park and Navy Yard.

A complete set of photos can be seen on the Chronological photo gallery page.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I have begun posting larger-size photos than before. My old standard (since 2008 or so, roughly) was 600 x 400 pixels for scenic photos and 480 x 360 pixels for birds, butterflies, etc. From now on, my default standard size for scenic photos will be 1200 x 800 pixels, and the standard size for panoramic photos will be 1200 x 480 pixels. I have set up that photo gallery page in such a way that the photos will be squeezed proportionally, depending on the size of one's computer monitor and web browser window. In some cases, you can click on a specified link to see a "jumbo-sized" photo, or else you can either right-click (Windows) or control-click (Mac) to open the photo in question in a new window.


September 27, 2017 [LINK / comment]

One more time (with feeling!) at Bedlam Brewing

For the third time, I did a musical performance at Bedlam Brewing last Sunday evening (September 24), and everything went pretty smoothly. There weren't quite as many people there as there were in July (see August 30 blog post), possibly because there were benefit concerts taking place at almost the same time. At Montgomery Hall Park in Staunton, they observed Peace Day, and at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Dave Matthews led a big-name list of performers raising funds for the victims and for the cause of peace. Heeding that background, some of the songs I played had a peace-related theme.

Another event taking place in Staunton that weekend drew huge crowds to downtown: "Queen City Mischief & Magic," celebrating the Harry Potter series of books and movies. Kids of all ages were walking around wearing the costumes of witches or medieval ogres. I felt obliged to adjust my play-list accordingly. Creedence Clearwater Revival's "I Put A Spell On You" was a true rush job: I essentially learned it from scratch just a few hours before the show began! After a brief break, I played a "news, weather, and sports" segment, referring to President Trump's recent derision of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as "Rocket Man." Then I noted the recent catastrophic tropical storms with Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane," and played two songs about baseball, since it's the final week of the regular season. The latter song, about the Chicago Cubs, was written by Steve Goodman, who is better known as the composer of "City of New Orleans," so I did that song too and talked about him briefly.

Toward the end of the show, I played three Pink Floyd songs, two of which I had played the time before but with weak volume, so I decided they deserved a proper presentation. They went pretty well, and after an obligatory Ozark Mountain Daredevils tune, I wowed the crowd with my rendition of "Hotel California," using the harmonica in place of the lead guitar at the end. The final four songs were OK, and for the most part I was satisfied with my performance. I need to concentrate more on my voice projection, and need to practice my harmonica parts more thoroughly. My next show at Bedlam Brewing will be Friday, November 17, from 8:00 to 10:00 PM.

  1. My Favorite Mistake -- Sheryl Crow
  2. The Fall of the Peacemakers -- Molly Hatchet
  3. The Sound of Silence -- Simon & Garfunkle
  4. America -- Simon & Garfunkle
  5. Take Me Home, Country Roads -- John Denver
  6. Bitter Creek -- Eagles
  7. Witchy Woman -- Eagles
  8. I Put A Spell On You -- Creedence Clearwater Revival
  9. Guinnevere -- Crosby, Stills, & Nash
  10. Gypsy Forest -- Ozark Mountain Daredevils
  11. Better Left Unsaid -- Andrew Clem
    ( BREAK )
  12. Rocket Man -- Elton John
  13. Like a Hurricane -- Neil Young
  14. Talkin' Baseball (Willie, Mickey, & the Duke) -- Terry Cashman
  15. A Dying Cubs' Fan Last Request -- Steve Goodman
  16. City of New Orleans -- Steve Goodman
  17. Breathe In the Air -- Pink Floyd
  18. Time -- Pink Floyd
  19. Comfortably Numb -- Pink Floyd
  20. Fly Away Home -- Ozark Mountain Daredevils
  21. Hotel California -- Eagles
  22. Til I Hear It From You -- Gin Blossoms
  23. Invisible Sun -- The Police
  24. Boulevard of Broken Dreams -- Green Day
  25. Never Goin' Back Again -- Fleetwood Mac

Four more open mic events

After skipping a week, I returned to the open mic night at Queen City Brewing on September 13, playing inside with a modest-sized crowd present. I have been heavily focused on learning songs by Sheryl Crow and The Police lately, following earlier such phases this year focusing on Creedence Clearwater Revival, Elton John, and Pink Floyd. I recently changed the way I play "De Doo Doo Doo, De Da Da Da," and I obviously was not ready to do that one in public. The next three songs went much better, fortunately.

  1. De Doo Doo Doo, De Da Da Da -- The Police
  2. Invisible Sun -- The Police
  3. My Favorite Mistake -- Sheryl Crow
  4. If It Makes You Happy -- Sheryl Crow

On September 20, I was the only musician there besides the host, Fritz Horisk. So, to fill the extra time available, I did twelve (12) songs, matching the number Fritz played. It was the first time I played "Hotel California" in public, and except for one or two rough spots, it went very well. For the last song, Sheryl Crow's "My Favorite Mistake," I was joined by Lisa Humphries Newhall, who sang some Sheryl Crow songs with local guitarist Perry Davis last month, which is what inspired me to learn some of that material. Lisa has a great, soulful voice, doing far better justice to that song that I could.

  1. Don't Stand So Close To Me -- The Police
  2. Rocket Man -- Elton John
  3. Hotel California -- Eagles
  4. Witchy Woman -- Eagles
  5. Good Hearted Woman -- Waylon Jennings
  6. A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request -- Steve Goodman
  7. Baker Street -- Gerry Rafferty
  8. Doolin' Dalton -- Eagles
  9. All I Wanna Do -- Sheryl Crow
  10. Country Girl -- Ozark Mountain Daredevils
  11. Better Left Unsaid -- Andrew Clem
  12. My Favorite Mistake -- Sheryl Crow

The very next evening (September 21) I went to the open mic event at Barrenridge Vineyards, arriving about 45 minutes late. (I thought that it started at 7:00 and that I was "only" 15 minutes late.) Those events are being organized by Bill Harlow, a local guitar and bass player who started playing at Queen City Brewing a few months ago. My first time playing at Barrenridge was on August 17. Bill plays with an electric guitarist named Bob, and they sound great.

  1. Standing On The Rock -- Ozark Mountain Daredevils
  2. A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request -- Steve Goodman
  3. Don't Stand So Close To Me -- The Police
  4. Invisible Sun -- The Police

Finally, this evening (September 27) at Queen City Brewing was a big improvement over the week before, with four musicians (including the host, Fritz Horisk), and a decent-sized audience. Even Jacqueline was there this time! We were playing outside, with clear skies, a half moon, and mild temperatures. Beforehand, I wasn't really sure what to play, and had some trepidation. Nevertheless, except for the first one (which as noted above, I just learned on Sunday!) I played pretty well, and had very positive reaction from the audience.

  1. I Put A Spell On You -- Creedence Clearwater Revival
  2. The Long Run -- Eagles
  3. El Condor Pasa -- Simon & Garfunkle
  4. Guinnevere -- Crosby, Stills, & Nash
  5. Behind Blue Eyes -- The Who
  6. Hotel California -- Eagles

NOTE: I haven't updated the Music page for some time, but intend to revamp the repertoire section of it in the near future, possibly putting that information on a separate page.


September 8, 2017 [LINK / comment]

Ozark Mountain Daredevils in concert!

(Another woefully-late blog post...) As part of my big trip to the Midwest five weeks ago, my brother Dan and I went to the first annual Mid-America Music Festival for the sole purpose seeing one of my favorite groups: the Ozark Mountain Daredevils! As recounted in my travelog blog post (August 31), my brother Dan and I drove up from Kansas City to the small town of Trenton, Missouri on Saturday July 29. It is located in the north-central part of the state, and is rather isolated. The countryside is much like South Dakota, but greener and hillier. We took a quick look at downtown, and then drove about a mile east to the Black Silo winery, where we were directed to park in an open field along with a hundred or more other vehicles.

Mid America Music Festival sign

This sign was in front of the Black Silo Winery, where the festival was held, just east of Trenton, Missouri.

The festival had already begun the day before, but I was not familiar with the other performers, and with not much time to spare, I preferred to see the sights in Kansas City. Soon after we arrived, a group called Whiskey Jim and the Outlaw Benders was playing. They were pretty good, a mixture of electrified country and blues. Dan and I strolled around the vineyard, chose some good barbecue from some several food vendors, visited the gift shop, and walked up to where they were giving some hot air balloon rides. It was just tethered up-and-down deal, and Jacqueline and I had already done a "real" balloon ride in 2008, so we passed on that amusement.

Mid America Music Festival sign

The crowd wasn't very big, maybe a thousand total, but that's to be expected since it was the very first year this festival has been held.

As the sun sank toward the horizon, another group started playing, I forget which one. About that time, a guy with long gray hair in a pony tail walked from the stage area past where we were sitting toward the main winery building, and he looked familiar to me. I showed the photo I took to the people who were selling Ozark Mountain Daredevils at one of the tent-covered tables, and they confirmed to me that it was indeed Michael "Supe" Granda, the bass player! I ended up buying the group's latest "Alive and Wild" CD, and Dan bought two of their "classic" CDs and a T-shirt.

Finally, at about 9:30, the main event got underway, and I was thrilled that they started with one of my favorites, "Standing On the Rock." It's an acoustic, bluegrass-sounding song with a fun harmonica part. Unfortunately, we learned that the group's harmonica player, Steve Cash, was able to be there due to ill health. In his place, one of the extra guitar players (Nick Sibley) handled that task, and he did just fine. Just two of the original six members were there: John Dillon (guitar, fiddle) and Michael Granda (bass, guitar). For the most part, the musicians all played very well, with great enthusiasm, and I loved it. There were problems with the microphones, causing some exasperation a couple times, but it was fixed eventually.

Ozark Mountain Daredevils 2017

The Ozark Mountain Daredevils (L to R): Ruell Chappell, Nick Sibley, Kelly Brown, John Dillon, Michael Granda, Ron Gremp, Dave Painter, Bill Jones. Absent that evening: Steve Cash, the harmonica player. Click on the image to see a closeup of Dillon, Granda, and Gremp. For more photos, see the Chronological (2017) photo gallery page.

I took notes of all the songs they played, and while I was very happy that they did just about all of my favorites, there were two with which I was not familiar. In the set list below, I included phrases from the refrain in parentheses, as a possible identifier. Not surprisingly, they finished the regular part of the show with "If You Wanna Get to Heaven," and for an encore they covered a classic tune "Route 66" that was geographically appropriate. (That highway passed through southern Missouri where they have lived their lives.) The final songs, "It'll Shine When It Shines," was the title track of the second album, and in many ways is the most spiritual and most definitive song that they do. It was a perfect ending to a great show. It was a very special and memorable experience for me.

  1. Standing On the Rock
  2. Chicken Train
  3. Country Girl
  4. Fly Away Home
  5. UNKNOWN (Fine, Fine, Fine???)
  6. Noah
  7. Homemade Wine
  8. UNKNOWN (Gone, Long Gone???)
  9. Jackie Blue
  10. Ooh, Boys, It's Hot
  11. It Probably Always Will
  12. You Made It Right
  13. Walkin' Down the Road
  14. Gonna Buy Me a Car
  15. If You Wanna Get to Heaven
  16. Route 66
  17. It'll Shine When It Shines
Ozark Mountain Daredevils T-shirt, CDs

My official Ozark Mountain Daredevils T-shirt. The reverse side has a list of over 60 of their songs, about a dozen of which I don't even know! Also shown are the two CDs I just bought: "Men From Earth," their fourth studio album (1977), and "13," which was released in 1998.

Who are the Ozark Mountain Daredevils?

The Ozark Mountain Daredevils were founded in the early 1970s by a group of college guys in Springfield, Missouri. Their first big hit came out in early 1974: "If You Wanna Get to Heaven," which was still very popular when I saw them in concert in Slagle Hall at the University of South Dakota in the fall of 1974, when I was a freshman. Their second hit single was "Jackie Blue," which is a nice, mellow pop-rock song, but is not typical of the group's strong country flavor. There were originally six members, but keyboardist Buddy Brayfield quit in order to pursue a medical degree in 1977 or so. (He is now an M.D., possibly retired.) After another year or two, guitarist Randle Chowning quit, and apparently there are still some hard feelings, unfortunately.

I learned from the show in Missouri (and from looking at the notes in the CDs that I have) that Ruell Chappell is the lead singer for songs (such as "Jackie Blue") that were formerly sung by drummer Larry Lee, who left the group in the 1980s, and later returned on a part-time basis for a while. Chappell, who used to have long hair but is now 100% bald/shaven, was the replacement keyboard player after Buddy Brayfield left the group. Like John Dillon, he is good-natured with a perpetual grin. Bass player "Supe" Granda (known for wearing a Superman costume back in the good old days) is lot like bassist Mick Fleetwood with Fleetwood Mac: very talented and just a little eccentric, in a nice way. Until recently I didn't know that Steve Cash (the harmonica player) is the one who sings in a very low voice; "E.E. Lawson" and "Black Sky" are two great examples of his work.

By the early 1980s, the group had gone through some turmoil, and their album released at that time (also titled "Ozark Mountain Daredevils," the same as their original album!) showed the four core members with very sober faces. Were they burned out from touring? They faded away over the next few years, with occasional regroupings that never lasted too long. Then in the late 1990s there was another surge of interest and energy, which is when they produced their final (?) studio CD, "13." (That's the number of songs on it.) From that point on, they were basically semi-retired, and they have been doing a few shows a year at various places in and around Missouri, but that's about it. After realizing that my hopes that they might do a national tour one of these years were unrealistic, I decided to see them while I still had a chance. After all, as we have learned over the past couple years, the number of classic-era rock stars who have passed away keeps climbing...

In an effort to summarize the complicated changes that have taken place over the years, I came up with this table, which is greatly simplified and possibly prone to error:

Main
instrument
1973-1976 1977-1979 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s
guitar John Dillon (+ fiddle)
harmonica Steve Cash
bass Michael "Supe" Granda
drums Larry Lee (+ guitar) Ron Gremp
guitar Randle Chowning Rune Walle (+) Bill Brown Dave Painter
keyboards Buddy Brayfield Kelly Brown
Ruell Chappell (keyboards, percussion)
Jerry Mills (mandolin) Bill Jones (saxophone)
Steve Canaday Nick Sibley (guitar, harmonica)

The Daredevils' albums

Here are all the studio-recorded albums released by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils over the years. In addition, there are two "live" albums ("It's Alive," 1979) and "Alive & Wild" (2011), as well as many different greatest hits albums.

In the near future, I plan to update the Music page with the above information, but with greater detail.

Music mural in K.C.

It's fitting to note that, while in Kansas City, my brother Dan took me to a famous venue for blues, rock, and country music ("Knuckleheads"), and that across the street there is a large mural on the side of the building with the likenesses of many great musicians from years past. I can identify most of the faces, but not all of them.

KC rock, blues mural

Mural honoring music legends of the past, northeast of downtown Kansas City.


August 31, 2017 [LINK / comment]

Trains, plains, and a new automobile!

(Here goes yet another woefully-late blog post...) Just over a month ago, I embarked on a long-distance trip to the Midwest to see my brothers, and do some incidental sightseeing, birding, music appreciation, and baseballing. It was the first time I had been out there since I flew home for what turned out to be my father's funeral in April 2016. I already wrote a blog post about the baseball aspects of my trip, and will do so shortly for birding and musical events as well. This post will focus on the sightseeing.

After a few false starts trying to coordinate potential activities with my brothers, I finally made concrete plans in early July, geared toward seeing the Ozark Mountain Daredevils play on July 29 at the Mid-america Music Festival in Trenton, Missouri. That's only about an hour and a half from Kansas City, where my brother Dan lives, and he agreed it would be a fun thing to do. So, I bought a one-way AMTRAK ticket from Staunton to Kansas City, and got ready to go. My brother Chris offered to sell me his car, so I took the risk that it would be acceptable and thus serve as my mode of transportation for the return trip to Virginia.

All aboard AMTRAK!

On the afternoon of July 26, Jacqueline I arrived at the station here in Staunton -- almost an hour early due to my own error! The "Cardinal" train (#51) left right on time, and I settled in for the long ride, reading books and newspapers, and occasionally checking my iPhone for news, etc. The train passes through familiar territory in western Augusta County where I often go birding, and makes stops at Clifton Forge and then White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any good scenic photos of the mountains or the small mountain towns. I had an adequate meal (hot sandwich plus a beer), and prepared to sleep. I learned from the last time I had travelled on AMTRAK (December 2015 - January 2016) that sleeping is extremely difficult, even with a reclining chair. So, I bought myself a travel pillow that cushions bumps and keeps your head supported so that you can relax. It worked pretty well, but I still only got about four hours of sleep that night.

The next morning our train arrived in Chicago, where rail freight traffic is so heavy that it causes delays in passenger trains. I had about a four-hour layover before my connecting train departed, so I had a big breakfast at McDonald's and then walked outside. I took a few photos of downtown, and circled the block where the Willis Tower is located. The clouds were low that day, and you couldn't even see the top of the building!

Andrew, Chicago River, boat

Yours truly at the Chicago River, right next to Union Station.

Just before 3:00 PM we boarded the "Southwest Chief" train (#3), and soon were on our way. The skies cleared as we headed west, past corn fields, soybean fields, giant wind turbines, and small towns. There were a couple delays as we approached the Mississippi River, and we finally crossed the bridge and stopped in Fort Madison, Iowa. I had been through Burlington, Iowa on AMTRAK a couple times (en route to Omaha), but I had never been to the far southeast corner of the state. The rail line from Chicago to Kansas City passes through some very out-of-the-way parts of northern Missouri, but it quickly grew dark and I didn't see much of it. The train rolled into Kansas City at about 10:40, about a half hour late, which isn't too bad for a long trip. My brother Dan drove me home, and we had fun with his guitars.

Kansas City, Missouri

The next day (Friday) Dan took me on a wide-ranging tour of Kansas City, parking at Union Station (where I had arrived the night before), and then taking a streetcar (free!!!) all the way to the north part of downtown. From there we walked to a park on the Missouri River. Dan has devoted a huge amount of effort to studying the history of that city, and explained to me that the riverside park was once the main port area where riverboats steamed up and down "The Big Muddy." Later on, we visited the district of Westport, which is kind of like Georgetown as far as being old and funky, with a vibrant night life. Dan explained to me the historical signs referring to the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California Trails, which all started in Kansas City! While in Westport, we noticed the police arresting a black person, and we were later yelled at by a group of black youths in a car. Clearly there are racial tensions.

On Saturday, we had two big objectives: visit the National World War I Museum, and then drive up to Trenton, Missouri to see the Ozark Mountain Daredevils in concert. It was yet another beautiful day with blue skies perfect for taking pictures. The World War I Museum is at the base of a huge stone pillar, the top of which provides an ideal vantage point for scanning the urban area and photographing it. The museum itself is quite impressive, filled with original uniforms, army equipment, artillery pieces, machine guns, and tanks. The weak spot is the lack of maps, and one of the maps I did see conveyed rather misleading information. After that, we drove over to the site of the old Municipal Stadium, where the Kansas City Athletics (MLB), Royals (MLB), and Chiefs (NFL) used to play. (There were also minor league and negro league teams that once played there.) I had visited the historical marker there once before, and I noticed that it is in need of maintenance. Then we drove northeast through the city, and arrive in Trenton late in the afternoon. (That music festival will be discussed in a separate blog post.)

Kansas City downtown skyline

Kansas City downtown skyline, as seen from the top of the World War I Museum Tower.

On Sunday we visited the Shawnee Indian Mission historical site, located just west of the Missouri-Kansas state line. Dan explained how various church groups gained a foothold in the area during the mid-19th Century by bringing European civilization to the indigenous people. Then we went to the Turkey Creek Diversion Tunnel, a flood control project built in 1919, cutting right through a big hill near the Kansas River, which empties into the Missouri River at the state line. Then we drove through the West Bottoms area, filled with old warehouses that lay abandoned for many years but which are now being restored. Kemper Arena (home of the NBA Kansas City Kings from 1972 to 1985) is in that area, but it is aging and doesn't get much use anymore, since a new arena (the Sprint Center) was built a few years ago. Then we went to Terrace Park, on the northwest edge of downtown, perched on a bluff that provides a great view toward the west. We saw several homeless people while there, another sign of social problems in Kansas City. There are several historical monuments and prominent churches nearby, as well as a quaint old bar called Quaffs. (I kept the plastic cup as a souvenir.) Next we went to world-famous Arthur Bryant's barbecue place, and savored heaping platters of ribs. Finally, we toured the historic 18th & Vine (African-American) neighborhood, a sprawling outside patio bar called Knuckleheads (which features live rock and blues music), as well as the Little Italy on the northeast side of downtown. There are many signs of public investment in improving living conditions, but it seems to be an uphill battle.

South Dakota

On Monday (July 31) Dan and I drove north, and paid a visit to our parents' grave site in Vermillion, South Dakota, where we placed a Chicago Cubs World Series champion flag that I had bought while in Chicago. We only stayed a few minutes there (our home town growing up), and then drove the rest of the way north to Sioux Falls, where Chris lives. Soon we were joined by John, making it the first time since Dad's funeral that the four Clem brothers had been together.

On the first day of August, I took Chris's Hyundai Sonata on a lengthy "test drive" to the northeast part of the state. Back when I was planning this trip in the spring, I had hoped to do at least an overnight trip across the state into the Black Hills, but without a person familiar with the territory, that just wasn't practical. So I drove up I-29 and had lunch in the town of Waubay, and then drove toward the nearby Waubay National Wildlife Refuge to do some birding. (I'll discuss that in a separate blog post.) Later on, I drove south via Webster and Watertown, returning to Sioux Falls at dusk. The car worked fine!

On Wednesday Chris and I went to Madison, about an hour west of Sioux Falls, where his son Justin is getting established as a medical doctor. I hadn't been to that town since the 1970s (if at all), and exploring the local college and seeing all the lakeside residences was fascinating. On Thursday, I did another solo trip in the Sonata, but my birding activities were cut short by a rain shower. Chris took me on a drive through some interesting parts of Sioux Falls that I had not seen before, and we stopped at the scenic falls themselves just as dusk fell.

Dakota State University Beadle Hall

Dakota State University Beadle Hall. (Aug. 2).

The return trip

On August 4, I loaded my stuff into my "brand-new" car (!), said good-bye, and left Sioux Falls heading east on I-90. The skies had turned mostly clear again, and the only notable event as I drove through southern Minnesota was when a crop-dusting airplane swooped up within 100 feet or so of the highway right ahead of me! I stopped in the town of Albert Lea, where the rock group Kansas was scheduled to perform a show that night at the Freeborn County Fair. It was quite a coincidence that another of my favorite groups from the 1970s was playing during my trip, but I decided that staying to see them would have added almost an entire extra day to my trip, and I was eager to get back home. So, I kept going and crossed into Wisconsin during the afternoon. Just after 5:00 I arrived at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, and did some birding there. (Separate blog post pending...) I thought I could get a motel room in the town of Mauston, but struck out there, so I had to keep going southeast on I-90. Around 9:00 I arrived in Madison, the capital of Wisconsin -- the first time I had ever been there. I navigated the busy Friday night downtown traffic, found a place to park, and took some photos of the state capitol building. I remembered the bitter political struggle over the state budget that took place a couple years ago, when opponents of Governor Scott Walker occupied the capitol for several hours. Finally, I found a nice place to spend the night in the city of Beloit, just north of the Illinois state line.

Welcome state signs - 2017

Welcome state signs: SD, WI, OH, KY, IN (Aug. 1 - 6).

The next day, I hit the road early so as to get good parking in Chicago for the Cubs-Nationals game, which started at 1:20. (That was discussed in my baseball blog post of August 16.) The traffic was pretty heavy approaching the city on the I-90 toll expressway ($$$), and likewise after the game as I drove south past downtown, but it wasn't as bad as I had feared. I went straight south on I-90 rather than take the I-94 toll expressway southeast toward Gary, Indiana, probably saving at least six bucks. Eventually I got onto I-65 south and spent the night in Lafayette, Indiana.

On Sunday, August 6, I resumed my southward course and stopped in Indianapolis for a couple hours, taking photos of the Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the NFL Colts), the minor league baseball stadium (Victory Field), and the downtown area. For some reason, getting through Indiana always takes longer than I expect. I took I-74 southeast to Cincinnati, stopping to take photos of Great American Ballpark (where the Reds were playing the Cardinals), among other things of interest. I had considering attending that game, but the scarcity of time dictated otherwise. I had to get back on the road! From Covington, Kentucky (across the Ohio River from Cincinnati), I took the "AA Highway" (which I believe stands from Alexandria-Ashland, the two cities that it connects) toward the east, eventually getting onto I-64 not far from the West Virginia border. It was just steady driving from then on as the sun went down. I got home some time after 10:00, all safe and sound -- and exhausted from all that driving!

I updated the Chronological (2017) photo gallery page with dozens of new photos from my trip, and I'll probably add a few more in the days to come.


August 30, 2017 [LINK / comment]

Another BIG show at Bedlam Brewing

(Here goes yet another woefully-late blog post...) On July 23, I had another musical gig at Bedlam Brewing, following up on the HUGE (?) success of my first gig there on June 4. (See my June 30 blog post.) This time it was in the nice, cool indoors, and it went from 6:00 until 8:00 rather than 4:00 to 6:00. (Actually, I lost track of time and kept playing for about ten minutes past 8:00.) Once again, I was very grateful that so many of my friends from the Augusta Bird Club showed up. There were a few from Emmanuel Episcopal Church as well, but there was a schedule conflict with a church event taking place at almost the same time.

Andrew at Bedlam Brewing 23 Jul 2017

Yours truly at Bedlam Brewing; photo courtesy of Jacqueline.

Whereas last month, I only managed to play 24 out the planned 32 songs, this time, I planned on 28, and that's how many I played. I had a fairly realistic estimate of how many songs I could within the allotted two hours. There was a problem with the sound volumen, however, even though I had done a sound check before I got started. I had already finished one-third of my set list before someone sitting in the back came up and told me that they couldn't hear much of what I was playing. Argh-h-h-h!!! Next time, I will make darned sure the volume is loud enough to reach the back! So, on request, I played Neil Young's "Heart Of Gold" for a second time so that everyone could hear it. I changed the order of songs slightly, however, and substituted one Eagles song ("The Long Run") for another ("Witchy Woman"). What follows is the actual set list:

  1. Country Girl -- Ozark Mountain Daredevils
  2. Train Leaves Here This Morning -- Eagles
  3. Love Me Do -- Beatles
  4. And I Love Her -- Beatles
  5. Helplessly Hoping -- Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  6. Harvest Moon -- Neil Young
  7. Heart Of Gold -- Neil Young
  8. Green River -- Creedence Clearwater Revival
  9. The Old Man Down the Road -- John Fogerty
  10. Breathe In the Air -- Pink Floyd
  11. Time -- Pink Floyd
  12. Us and Them -- Pink Floyd
  13. Heart Of Gold -- Neil Young (repeat; higher volume!)
  14. Luckenbach, Texas -- Waylon Jennings
  15. If I Fell -- Beatles
  16. ( BREAK )
  17. The Long Run -- Eagles
  18. Better Left Unsaid -- Andrew Clem
  19. Sweet Virginia -- Rolling Stones
  20. If You Could Read My Mind -- Gordon Lightfoot
  21. Cat's In the Cradle -- Harry Chapin
  22. Tears In Heaven -- Eric Clapton
  23. If You Wanna Get To Heaven -- Ozark Mountain Daredevils
  24. In God's Country -- U 2
  25. Pink Houses * -- John Cougar Mellencamp
  26. The Time of Your Life -- Green Day
  27. Crazy Love -- Poco
  28. Wicked Game -- Chris Isaacs
  29. Found Out About You -- Gin Blossoms
  30. Love Will Keep Us Alive -- Eagles

People really seemed to enjoy it, and one guy even told me I played the song "Found Out About You" even better than when he heard the original group (the Gin Blossoms) play it in concert! So, I was asked to come back and have scheduled future shows for Sunday, September 24 and Friday, November 17. I make a point to avoid repeating songs that I have played before, but I will probably do some of the Pink Floyd songs again, since the volume was too low this time.

On a separate note, I should congratulate the owner of Bedlam Brewing Mike McCrackin for a successful first eight months in business. They serve great food and a wide variety of tasty malt beverages. The Augusta Bird Club has held its monthly "Birds 'n Brews" social hour there more than once, and it has become an active part of the community here in Staunton. I even bought a Bedlam Brewing T-shirt!

More open mic events

Since my last blog post about music, two months have elapsed, so here's a quick review of what I played in public. At the Queen City Brewing Open Mic Night on Wednesday, July 5, I paid tribute to the 241st birthday of the U.S.A. with an unusual song about the country.

The next week, on July 12, I shifted toward country music, with a song I recently learned ("Luckenbach, Texas") and two others that I have known for a while but never quite had it right until recently.

On July 19, I played two more Eagles tunes, the first of which alluded to my impending train voyage out west. (More about that soon...) In years past, I was never able to make "Witchy Woman" sound right, until I used the harmonica with it a couple months ago. I didn't quite reach the level of excellence I was aiming for on that one, however, as it's a little tricky.

After returning from my big trip, I played three songs at the August 9 Open Mic event that I had seen one of my favorite groups perform in concert on July 29: the Ozark Mountain Daredevils! (Much more on that later!) The first and last songs I played were the first and last songs played by the actual group in their show, and the middle one was one of their only two hit singles (1974). Surprisingly, I only learned to play "Jackie Blue" all the way through this summer.

On August 17 I played at a different open mic venue for the first time: Barrenridge Vineyards, located a few miles northeast of Staunton. This first song was a tribute to Elvis Presley, who died on August 16, 1977 -- 40 years ago. Then I played a song about my growing up ("Small Town") and a song aimed at countering the hatred in the Charlottesville protests earlier this month ("Get Together"). (More on that soon!)

A week ago on Wednesday (August 23) the weather was perfect, the crowd size wasn't very big, unfortunately. My first three songs were inspired by Monday's solar eclipse.

And tonight, finally (August 30), my musical theme was torrential rain and hurricanes, although the second one ("Bad Moon Risin'") could be interpreted as about eclipses and hurricanes. I played:





Major world languages

Language 2002
(mn)
2010
(mn)
Chinese * 874 # 1,213
Spanish * 322 329
English * 341 328
Arabic ? 221
Hindi 366 # 182
Bengali 207 181
Portuguese 176 178
Russian * 167 144
Japanese 125 122
German 100 90

# : 2004 data for Chinese pertained only to Mandarin speakers, whereas data for Hindi speakers were defined more broadly.
Asterisks (*) denote the official languages of the United Nations, which also includes French (68 million speakers).

SOURCE: The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2004 & 2012

I speak Spanish, some Portuguese, and have dabbled in German, French, Italian, Russian, Catalan, and Quechua.


Major world religions

Religion 2002
(mn)
2010
(mn)
Christians 2,038 2,281
Muslims 1,226 1,553
Hindus 828 943
Chinese folk 389 454
Buddhists 364 463
Sikhs 24 24
Jews 14 15
Local, other 32 379
Non-religious 925 798

The obvious discontinuities in the last two lines of data are of uncertain origin.

SOURCE: The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2004 & 2012

I belong to the Episcopal Church and am annoyed at the recent polarization. According to a Theology quiz, I scored as a "Classical Liberal."


Ten Commandments

  1. Worship ONE God only
  2. No graven images
  3. No taking God's name in vain
  4. Keep Sabbath day holy
  5. Honor parents
  6. No stealing
  7. No murder
  8. No adultery
  9. No bearing false witness
  10. No coveting what others have

Seven deadly sins

  1. Pride
  2. Covetousness
  3. Lust
  4. Anger
  5. Gluttony
  6. Envy
  7. Sloth

Proverbs 6: 16-19

There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:

haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies,
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

Romans 12: 17, 21

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.

Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.

Niebuhr's
Serenity Prayer

Reinhold Niebuhr was a leading theologian of the mid-20th Century, and often wrote about foreign policy from a "Christian realist" perspective. From wikipedia.org:

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

.