Friday, February 7, 2014

Discovering the Dunwells

I didn't want to go grocery shopping tonight. It was the end of a long day, and I wanted to relax, and if I couldn't relax, I wanted to get back to work, try to keep from falling behind. Unfortunately, I was out of pretty much everything I'm going to need for tomorrow, so ... grocery shopping it was. The best I could hope for was a short trip.

I stumbled over the silver lining my way out the door of grocery store #2. Whole Foods was piping in a song I'd never heard before. It was acoustic and driving and exactly the kind of thing I like.

I stopped. I turned around. I spotted the nearest ceiling speaker and stood under it until I caught enough lyrics to look the song up when I got home.

This is great. Exactly the message I needed to hear tonight. And it was released just two years ago. It's always nice to discover a good band that's making music right now.

If they'd only play it on commercial radio ...

Monday, January 20, 2014

Another late application

For this year's Tucson Folk Festival, the organizers did something new and generous: they waived the application fee for performers. The only catch was that you had to apply by December 31. After that you paid the usual fee.

So of course, we didn't get our application in until Sunday, January 19, which was the final deadline.

More accurately, we tried to get our application in on Sunday. The server wouldn't cooperate. It bounced us off when we tried to send the online form, then wouldn't let us in at all. We eventually got in, but didn't get through the entire process until after midnight.

Fortunately, they told us they'd extend our deadline. In fact, the last day for all Tucson Folk Festival applications is now today, Jan. 20.

I'm beginning to suspect that we weren't the only people who waited 'til the last minute ...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Scenes from a songwriting session, Jan. 18, 2014

Nope. "Ubiquitous entropy" doesn't even come close to scanning.

I wonder if later, I could write some other song where it does. The phrase would totally work in 6/8 time!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Revenge of the Christmas music

I may have mentioned in passing that I don't like Christmas music. There are a few Christmas carols I enjoy, but most of the genre does nothing for me, and every year a goodly number of grocery stores and radio stations decide that I'm going to hear it no matter what.

Well, tonight Ron the Drummer and I became part of the problem. We had a gig at the VA hospital, and we were told that the audience would expect a few Christmas songs.

Hmm. We'd encountered this at a gig before, but got around it by playing part of "Linus and Lucy" (from A Charlie Brown Christmas) and "Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah." We couldn't get away with that this time. Hanukkah is long over by now, and we needed more than "Linus and Lucy."

So what songs to choose? I hate the Santa Claus/secular Christmas songs. The pretty ones are religious, and this isn't my religion.

In the end, I found a workaround. We'd throw in three Christmas carols (plus "Linus and "Lucy," natch), but we'd do them as instrumentals. The audience didn't seem to mind the lack of vocals for our shortened versions of "Oh Come All Ye Faithful," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," or "Carol of the Bells." We had fun going from each carol instrumental straight into one of our originals.

Funny. The idea of singing about Jesus made me uneasy. No lyrics? No problem.

* * *

On a slightly less bah-humbuggy note, we had a great time at this gig. We love entertaining veterans, hospital staff, and volunteers, and this batch of listeners was responsive and appreciative. We hope we can do it again soon.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I'm theoretically excited about the song I'm writing at the moment. It taps into a mood most songs don't explore, which means I have have a chance to do something new. Newish, anyway.

Unfortunately, I'm stuck.

What challenge am I attempting to overcome? Plumbing the depths of a difficult emotion, perhaps? Finding precisely the right words to convey concepts that aren't easy to articulate?

Eventually. But right now I'm trying to find a rhyme for "live." Did you know that almost nothing rhymes with "live"? Seriously, almost nothing rhymes with "live."

On the bright side, obsessing over this one line means I can put off plumbing the depths of a difficult emotion and finding precisely the right words to convey concepts that aren't easy to articulate.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lyrics vs. technology, take 2

I needed something to rhyme with "on my own," or possibly "alone." Hmmm. How about "waiting by the phone"?

Not bad, not bad.

Oh, wait. Nobody waits by the phone anymore. Cell phones have destroyed that cliche forever. I've already lost one decent song to advances in telecommunications; no point in making another one obsolete before I've even finished it.

Back to the drawing board.

Or the tablet. Whatever.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Donations in Tom Hennessy's name

I happened to be on LinkedIn when an update popped up. "Thomas Hennessy has a new connection," it said. Weird. Did somebody take over his account?

At any rate, it reminded me that I still need to post names of organizations that he would have liked people to donate to. Sorry for the delay. I really haven't wanted to write this.

In alphabetical order:

Immune Dysfunction Association
This Vermont-based organization raises awareness for ME, supports and advocates for Vermonters who suffer from ME and related disorders, and facilitates the education of patients, families, healthcare providers, and primary care physicians about ME.

Invest in ME
An independent UK charity that campaigns for biomedical research into ME.

The Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association
An organization that educates healthcare providers and the general public regarding myalgic encephalomyelitis and fibromyalgia.

May 12 International Awareness Day
Tom pretty much invented ME Awareness Day.

National Advocacy Alliance for ME/CFS
A network of organizations and individual advocates who engage with government officials to promote change in federal public health policies to better meet the needs of people afflicted with ME.

National CFIDS Foundation
The Foundation's objective is to fund research to find a cause for ME, expedite treatments and eventually a cure, and provide information, education, and support to people with ME. They began a fund for Tom when he was in a nursing home not long ago.

The Nightingale Research Foundation
Founded by Dr. Byron Hyde in 1988, the NRF provides technical assistance and information to healthcare professionals and researchers to help North Americans who have or are related to somebody disabled by ME.

Pandora does advocacy for patients with neuro-endocrine-immune diseases, including ME and chronic Lyme disease.

Wisconsin Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Association, Inc.
A nonprofit dedicated to assisting Wisconsin ME patients.

Thanks to Joni Comstock, Juliet, Pat, Lois Ventura, Erica Verrillo, and Victoria for contributing names of organizations.

Tom also had chronic Lyme disease—somehow I managed not to know this until after he died. If anybody knows of Lyme organizations Tom specifically endorsed, I'll post those too.