Find out about our program Pete Seeger: The Man and the Music. Watch the 4 min. video (thanks to Jonathan Stratman and Billie Judy) or listen to the 10 min. podcast interview with Joanna Pyle of Bainbridge Community Broadcasting. Then contact us about bringing this fantastic program to your community!
Day 1: Traveled by car, ferry, foot, and Seattle Lite Rail with small roller bags and backpacks. Flew to Heathrow via Iceland. Hire car took us (with our soaked luggage) to our home base in NE London where my son and daughter-in-law live with our 4- yr old granddaughter. Family time and a walk to dinner at upscale fusion noodle house. Managed to stay awake until reasonable bedtime.
Day 2: Wellington Arch, Hyde Park, Cecil Sharp House, Westminster Abbey
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London double-decker transit bus to Piccadilly Circle area. A fantastic, though drizzly view of London’s diverse architecture – years and years layered on this huge city. So much fun to see it through Hank’s structural engineer’s eyes!
Breakfast in upper crust Richeau Restaurant…right where the bus dropped us, and we were hungry. Full English breakfast for us both: Cumberland sausage, grilled tomato and mushrooms, eggs, toast and tea. Coffee for the man.
Walked through Green Park, past a jogging troop of Queen’s Guards in camo, to Wellington Arch, purchased English Heritage passes and explored the history of Waterloo and the great general on the way up to the top. Views off to Big Ben and other iconic landmarks.
Day 3: St Augustine’s park and tower, a walk around the neighborhood, Sutton House
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Lazy morning with our granddaughter to ourselves, then time at a playground on the remains of St. Augustine’s church, lunch in fine gastro pub Oslo, chance discovery of Rafe Sadler’s 1545 house, Sutton House. Grandpa Hank and Oba soaked up the history that so closely touched Thomas Cromwell’s main protégé (figures in Wolf Hall), then playtime for the young set in the reclaimed Breaker’s Yard out back…huge tires for clambering in, and old caravans to explore. Called in Indian food for dinner all together at home.
Day 4: Tower of London and Tower Bridge, Southwark Cathedral, the Golden Hinde, Shakespeare’s Globe, Opera in a Tunnel, Millennium Bridge, St. Paul’s, Sky Garden
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Day 4 Videos: Southwark Cathedral Tunnel Soprano
An early start—taking the overground from Lincoln Fields and then the tube to the Tower station—allowed us 4 heavenly hours at the Tower of London, soaking up the stories and totally captivated by the Beefeater Tour. Our Beefeater was very funny and played off the crowd at times, but never in a mean way. His script was rich and full of detail—never dumbed down. Fantastic.
Over and over again, I was struck with the genuine hospitality and LACK of hype at tourist sites we visited.
Lunch in an armory building at the Tower, where we chanced to sit next to 4 people from Kingston, WA, 15 minutes up the road from us.
Day 5: Paddington, Oxford, Blockley
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Early breakfast and then set off on foot to London Fields overground station transferring at London Liverpool Street to the tube. Saw our “most remarkable person” sitting across from us, tattooed, mascaraed, widow-peaked, high or low on something and glaring straight at us. Her partner wasn’t quite as colorful but equally unhinged. Glad it was daytime!
Ate some decidedly delicious meat pasties in Paddington Station and stalked the digital departure signage until our platform was announced. The whole question of this train trip had been in debate since two weeks before we arrived, when the rail service announced “scheduled industrial action” –strike—for this weekend. After a lot of mildly panicked online research and attempts at Plan B’s, we learned the night before that most likely our specific train would run on schedule. And it did, whew!!
Day 6: Broadway Tower, Chipping Camden, Upper and Lower Slaughter, Blockley
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A lovely night under the duvet with the burbling mill stream outside our window. We asked for breakfast at 8 so we could get a good start on the day, and Rupert ferried hot dishes from the kitchen down the hall to the solarium where several small tables were set up and the soft rain was drizzling on the sunroof. Our scrumptious full English breakfast: rack of toast, assorted fresh breads and sweet rolls, yogurt and fresh fruit, cereal (we passed on that), Cumberland sausage, bacon, grilled tomato, grilled mushrooms, one egg sunny side up, and lots of tea with milk. Yikes! What surprised us more, I think, is that we ate it all and burned it off before tea time.
Day 7: Ironbridge, Chester, Conwy, Chester
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We pretended to have found fault with the breakfast and then sang the chorus of “Proper Cup of Coffee” for our hosts, and learned that Mandy was one of the administrators for the local country opera company for 16 years. This was in fact her last week on the job….finally retiring to run the B&B. They had taken on and successfully presented such mammoth projects as Wagner’s Ring Cycle, with a staff of 2 ½ people! Check it out: http://www.lfo.org.uk/
As it was a lovely morning we walked about the grounds of the mill, checking out the millpond, the iron bridge across the mill stream, and all the engineering feats that Rupert had supervised or accomplished himself. Final photos together at the front door, and we were off to Ironbridge.
Day 8: Chester, Hadrian’s Wall (Birdoswald and Chesters Fort), the town of Wall, Durham
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It was in the breakfast nook at the Chester Racecourse Holiday Inn that we learned the real secret of full English breakfast…Heinz baked beans right out of the can. Really. This was missing from our more high-class morning meals so far, and we made up for lost time. At least I did. There was something altogether yummy about that brown sugar molasses flavor on my eggs, sausage, bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms!
We hoofed it into city center in a slow steady shower and followed directions for the Roman amphitheater, but got side-tracked on some more city wall walking and came upon the Roman Gardens first. Archeological finds from elsewhere in town have been arranged in an open garden space right alongside the section of the city wall that was blasted through back in 1642 or so. King Charles I took refuge in St. John the Baptist Church (which was the local cathedral back then) and the Parliamentarians tried very hard to get to him. He’s the King who later lost his head to those who no longer wanted a monarchy. His son, Charles II got it back a few years later. Just think of all the drama and pageantry (and the purses) we’d have missed over the last few centuries if he hadn’t sat down again on the throne.
Day 9: Durham, York
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Breakfast in the dining room was nearly full English—minus the baked beans. That was okay. As we drove into Durham, just a few minutes away from Chiltern, we took Rick Steve’s advice and headed for the large mall close to city center, since parking in their garage was much easier than on the street. It was disorienting to walk through retail spaces that we had been assiduously avoiding. Hank strolled past the prefect travel hat, but couldn’t bring himself to wait in line and pay for it. We found it again on the way back to the car and he wore it from then on.
Durham is a hill city, with the castle and cathedral perched on the highest point overlooking a bend in the River Wear. Narrow pathways squiggled off the main roads, winding down to the water or up to the hilltop. We walked slowly in an uphill direction, sure we’d reach something interesting in a few moments, and enjoying the buskers (a young and enthusiastic lot) on the way.
Day 10: York, Cambridge
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This is where you get a break, dear reader, because on Day 10 I woke up unable to focus my eyes and nauseous, so we skipped the city of York. I was able to travel by noon which gave us just enough time to reach Cambridge before the rental car company closed. Hank had to drive my portion as well as his own—no way was he letting me behind the wheel—but I did keep my camera poised to capture signs of places we weren’t going to go. We passed Grantham (Downton Abbey’s lord was a Grantham) and Robin Hood Airport right near Nottingham and Sherwood Forest. Looking off to the distance, it MIGHT have been what we saw!
Day 11: Cambridge, London
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Breakfast was in the upper hall dining room. Listened to all sorts of languages at long trestle tables, most surprised by the large contingent of folks speaking Finnish. We chatted with a couple who enlightened us. Turns out that a young friend of theirs was graduating as the first Finn to earn a doctorate from Cambridge and 60 of her fellow Finns had arrived for this auspicious event. Then we learned that our new Finnish friends were involved with the annual Sibelius Competitions in Helsinki. The man was actually the vice-chair and this year they were looking at several hundred contestants. We had a silly moment when we offered them a free download card and the wife thought she heard us say “Rap” not “Folk.” She shook her head and seemed offended and he tried to give it back. We persisted a little and when they realized we were simple folksingers, they relented and accepted the gift.
Day 12: London
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Lazy morning and a bus ride all together to Dashoom, an Indian-inspired global dining experience. Snuck in just under the rope for the breakfast menu which were various egg wraps with all sorts of yummy fillings. Very chic and very tasty, Then Mom and Dad headed off for a day alone while we took the little one and boarded a bus for Victoria Park, via a canal walk. Passed one canal boat with a Peter Pan flair, “Second Star on the Right.” Victoria Park was a young person’s heaven. Might give ulcers to American city playground planners who are so restrained by our litigious approach to design these days. There were mostly wooden and rope structures, and so many different ways to challenge and improve balance and speed, with all sorts of potential for falling or getting caught up in ropes. We loved watching our granddaughter navigate every one of them.
We had a quintessentially British experience there as well…someone pointed out that a puppet show was just starting a few yards from the playground, so we went to see it.
Day 13: London, Bath
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Day 13 Video Guitar Busker in Bath
Early breakfast and off to London Fields (getting to be very familiar) and tube to our train out of Paddington on tickets we bought online the night before. Glorious day for traveling—sunny and warm. Arriving in Bath early afternoon, we walked on Henry Street and other side streets to the Abbey and beyond, getting a feel for the very special atmosphere of this mostly Georgian-era city. Beau Nash, a true dandy of his time, single-handedly created and enforced England’s first “manners” as he and others in the 18th century developed Bath into the Las Vegas of its time. But the history, of course, reaches back to Roman times. Once we’d gotten our bearings, we walked back to the bus station close to the train station and boarded the next local for Wells, a 30-minute ride to the southwest. With all the places we visited and the dates on which we were traveling, the ONLY opportunity to hear Evensong in a major cathedral (which was one of my gotta-do’s), was this Monday evening, Sept 7 at 5pm in Wells. So to Wells we were going!
Day 14: Bath
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Day 14 Videos: Miranda Gilroy 1 Miranda Gilroy 2 Ben Powell
The breakfast room had tables for seven groups. We were down early and took the table for two in front of the fireplace. Several other guests came in while we ate, everyone pretty quiet. Full English breakfast for me (sadly no baked beans), and Hank had two poached eggs with all the trimmings. Wonderful tea and a rack of toast, plus jams and marmalade. This was Hank’s morning to take a breather, so we spent a couple of hours resting upstairs. Headed out just before noon and picked up the bus for the ride down the hill. Took so long to come that we could easily have walked it, but we wanted the change of pace. We got off at city center right by the Abbey and the Roman Baths, and bought a couple of day passes for the hop on-hop off double-decker city tour bus. For a very modest fee you can get on or off at 15+ locations in and around Bath and listen to an audio guide while you’re riding. We figured it might come in handy later in the afternoon when we were less eager to walk as much, and it did.
However, our first destination that day was the Roman Baths. To the casual observer walking outside the entrance, it appears to consist of one large rectangular pool with statuary at a distance of 18 feet below the street level. In reality, this visible pool is perhaps 1/5 of the total excavated ruins, all of which lie below the Georgian buildings in the center of Bath.
Day 15: Bath, London
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Day 15 Video Bath Abbey Bell Tower Tour
A final breakfast of modest proportions at our B&B and then we walked down the hill, intent on exploring Bath Abbey and climbing its tower before our early afternoon train/tube/overground trip back to London. Passed a new Nepalese restaurant named Yak Yeti Yak. Groan.
Entering Bath Abbey, we noticed at once the fan vaulted ceiling…turns out it was built by the very men who erected the one in Kings’ College Chapel, Cambridge. Our timing was perfect, as a tower tour had just formed for the 10am slot and they had space for 2 more people. The close quarters in the bell tower limited the group to 8. We hung our backpacks at the bottom of the stairs on one corner of the tower and followed our guide Phillipa up the circular stairs. The ascent was very steep.
Day 16: London, Iceland, Seattle
We said our goodbyes to our son as he went off to work and just a while later our daughter-in-law and granddaughter walked us down and waved us off in the hire car that took us to Gatwick Airport. The driver was an immigrant from Bulgaria, had been in London over a decade and was raising two children with his lawyer wife. He conversationally shared his opinions about the former Communist state, the current experiment with capitalism, and the nostalgia of some of his friends back home for the old system that was in many ways not so hard, at least not as they recall it. He also pointed out sights along the way which took us through a rural corner southeast of the city.
Another meal at Wagamama, this time in the airport, and we were off to Seattle, via Iceland. A quiet taxi ride to the ferry dock and we slid right onto the Bainbridge Island ferry. Great timing! My brother and sister-in-law picked us up right where they’d left us off 16 days before, but you would have to say that we were not the same people we’d been.
So thanks for reading this all the way through, if you did, and hope it was a little bit entertaining.
Writing this blog was put off by my short but delightful trek to London to hold my new grandbaby girl Lieu Yen and to visit with my son Chris and his wife Phuong Thao for a few days. The short version of our experience at the festival (for those who want just a few facts) is followed by a version for the rest of us who love to read ALL the way to the bottom. Short Version:
- Florence is a long drive away from our new home in Poulsbo, about 6 hours. http://www.winterfolkfestival.org/
- The people of Florence love their town and love to have visitors; we loved them right back.
- The festival staff is a terrific bunch of supportive and VERY skilled folks – and the sound guy was the best of the best.
- We sang our hearts out (so did everyone else we heard) and the audience stood and clapped a lot.
- We slept VERY well when we weren't jamming till the wee hours.
- The Siuslaw News review says Hank and Claire “passed the music on with healing harmony.” Sweet.
Always surprised how much time has passed since the most recent entry in this blog. What with holding down a job (part-time though it may be), working on my internship for my Music Practitioner Certification, and making music with Hank – life is hopping and very full. And three concerts coming up in the next two weeks, in rather far-flung locations, especially considering Hank is domiciled in Ocean Shores.
The big news for us is that we received our completed CD, “Heart of the Matter.” One thousand of them were delivered yesterday in seven boxes. Neither Claire nor I have room to store these boxes, so our goal is to sell them off as quickly as possible.
Hey everybody! Wanted to let you know Claire and I will be performing two concerts in the next few weeks. The first is a House Concert in Everett this coming Saturday. House concerts are up close and personal, and a wonderful way to enjoy the music. The second is a coffee house concert at the Couth Buzzard in the Seattle, Greenwood area on Dec 10. Details appear in the attached flyer… hope to see you there!
The CD project is moving forward. Neville is doing the final QC of the audio this week, and Claire is working with Jenny and Angie on the art and layout. It has all been an adventure, and we’ve learned lots. We are very close and look forward to having CD’s available before Christmas.
We did it! Had a great weekend in Richland, WA. It was our first visit and performance at the Tumbleweed Folk Festival; great music on four stages, and great weather! We also had fun jamming with friends from Portland, Seattle, and Eastern Washington. Keep the festival in mind next Labor Day, and take in some wineries while you’re at it. This past weekend was spent at the “Villa” in Ocean Shores, where we went to the jetty to get some photos. We had nail-biting fun scrambling on the jetty rocks with our guitars and subjected them to more salt spray than they should ever sea, but we did get some interesting shots. After it was over, I wiped down the Larrivee guitar and applied a good coat of polish. But I was not apologetic – this is the beach guitar after all.
Yesterday we finished recording our first CD. The recording was done at Synergy Sound in Port Townsend. Neville Pearsal was the recording engineer and was very helpful demystifying the digital recording process (www.synergysoundpt.com). We were assisted in production by the harpist Laurie Riley, an accomplished musician and teacher. She proved invaluable, keeping us on track and providing artistic guidance.
On the banks of the Columbia River at Howard Amon Park in Richland, WA, the Tumblweed Music Festival will hold its 13th annual event over the Labor Day weekend. Hank and I were accepted and will be performing Saturday, September 4 from 5:45-6:30pm on River Stage. This is our first folk festival gig together, and we know we’ll be in good company as lots of our Seattle folksinging pals, who count this one of the most pleasing for both audience and performers, enjoy appearing there, even with the occasional downpour. Stages are well situated for maximum acoustic effect and everyone can dip there toes in the river if it’s hot. For more about the festival, visit their website: www.3rfs.org.
They’re cheering or crying in living rooms and sports bars across the country; leaning forward on easy chair or bar stool, praising or cursing the flat screen icon. That’s how March Madness is experienced by millions who may or may not have game tickets. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, and some of my best friends don’t, let me clue you in…it’s the national college basketball tournament.
The anticipation and excitement of March Madness give rise to an emotional intensity we don’t usually access in our normal daily lives. In that way, it’s a lot like LIVE MUSIC!
Claire and I experienced our own March madness in a whirlwind of emotionally exhilirating music-making events. In addition to performing three times as Hankster and the Lovely Claire this month, we attended five concerts and a music jam. But it’s not over yet; this weekend we are headed to Portland for three days of music camp. We didn’t set out to break a record for the most music crammed into a 31-day period, but we wound up setting the bar quite high for a future attempt.
Here are the highlights of our MARCH MUSIC MADNESS!
March 5th – Joe Hickerson in a house concert. Joe was singing for audiences in the 1950’s as a member of the singing group The Folksmiths. He shared lots of personal stories weaving in well-known names from the folk revival. From 1963 to1998, Joe was Librarian and Director of the Archive of Folk Song at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. Now he’s back on the road keeping the songs and history of roots music alive.
March 8 – Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Many friends and co-workers don’t recognize Ladysmith, even though they do remember their singing on the 1986 Graceland album. This a capella group from South Africa was started by Joseph Shabalala in 1960. They came to international attention in the mid 1980’s when Paul Simon incorporated their traditional African sound in the Graceland album. Claire said she can’t help smile and weep when she hears the richly resonant singing of these men. Twenty-minute-long songs are accompanied by high-stepping athletic dance moves. The founder of the group, Joseph Shabalala, is now turning leadership over to his sons but still sings, jumps, and kicks his foot over his head. His distinctive tremolo will be much missed.
March 10 – HATLC in Bellingham. This Roeder Home concert was more like a house concert with lots of group singing, participation, and interaction with friends old and new. It was fun to learn that many of the songwriters whose songs we performed, had sung at the Roeder Home in past months or years. We did bring a few original songs which added to the Roeder Home collection.
March 11 – HATLC at Hearthstone. Singing and connecting with this retirement community on Green Lake was a blessing. Seeing the heart-to-heart connection reflected in someone’s face as we sing to them is what this is all about. And a retired music teacher came from the audience to say how much he liked “that a capella song with the open fourths and fifths.” We knew we had connected.
March 12th – Unpaid Bills & Cruzers at the Wayward. Bill Murlin, Bill Rose and Jim Portillo. When Jim plays bass they are the Unpaid Bills. When Bill Rose plays bass they are the Cruzers… aptly named due to their preference for Santa Cruz guitars. Great harmonies, guitar playing, and just enough banjo flavor to make it tasty. We had a very enjoyable evening in the audience, feeling the heart-to-heart connection their music inspired. This Greenwood concert at the Wayward Coffee House is a regular third Saturday event sponsored by the Pacific NW Folklore Society. Keep tabs on upcoming events at their website http://pnwfolklore.org/.
March 13th – Music Jam at the Couth Buzzard. This bookstore in the Greenwood District hosts a music jam on Saturday mornings at 11 AM. Playing is almost as much fun as seeing the smiles on shoppers’ faces when they come through the door and discover live music-making in the middle of the day. You can support the Pacific NW Folklore Society and the Couth Buzzard by dropping in to sing, play, or listen.
March 13th – Jake Shimabukuro. Just go to YouTube and see what Jake is up to! From Flamenco to the Beatles you wouldn’t believe what a lone ukulele can do. There is no describing Jake or his music that is comprehensible for those who haven’t seen and heard him. He toured with Bela Fleck, and Jimmy Buffett. He went to England with Bette Midler and played for the Queen! And he’s such a nice kid…
March 20th – HATLC at Family Promise. It was an honor to entertain at this fundraising dinner for Family Promise. Family Promise is a relatively young organization which is addressing the needs of the homeless in West Seattle. Learn more at www.FamilyPromiseofSeattle.org.
March 20th – Si Kahn at Phinney Ridge. Songwriter and activist. Wonderful songs that can change a person’s life. And if you think struggles for social reform are finished, check out this Founder and Director of Grassroots Leadership, a non-profit organization that advocates for several causes, including prison reform, improved immigration detention policies, and violence prevention.
March 26th to 28th – Singtime Frolics. This is a great annual event sponsored by the Portland FolkMusic Society. Three days of food, lodging, and all the music you can stay awake for. Song circles, jamming, and workshops. Guest artists this year are Steve Einhorn and Kate Power, a duo I’ve only heard on YouTube, but look forward to hearing from in person.
I could go on writing about all the music missed in the month of March… that would be “MARCH MISSED MUSIC MADNESS”… but even if you read this far down the column you would probably not have the time or inclination to continue.
Just remember there are a multitude of music experiences every month in the NW. I hope you all take the opportunity to share some of them.
PS: We’re back from Singtime in Portland, OR. Humming snatches of songs we just HAVE to add to our own repertoire. But more importantly, we’re filled to overflowing with gratitude and humility in the face of so many (90+) creative, funny, joyful people making music and connecting in friendship together. Everyone from rank beginner (not a value judgment!) to high-caliber professionals sharing gems we’ve discovered and learning from each other. Guest musicians were Kate Power and Steve Einhorn (www.qaulityfolk.com) — who proved yet again that the core of folk music is as much about being lovingly and fully engaged with our own lives and with each other as it is about excellence in our craft.
The Roeder Home is a beautifully appointed old mansion in Bellingham, WA, the site of many a marvelous live acoustic concert in its present incarnation as a public space for rent. The dedication of local musicians and music-lovers are keeping the live concert tradition alive. We especially enjoyed the “Green Room” –one of the cozy bedrooms upstairs complete with private bath.
Think of a house concert as a rare gift for everyone involved. The musicians have an audience without booking venues or dealing with agents, the host enjoys their choice of performers right in their own home, and invited guests experience a musical treat. This is all in the tradition of live music for small groups of appreciative listeners, a type of community music making that stretches back to the beginnings of human culture. Your house may glow with delight for days afterward.
Our concert January 17 was very well attended – standing room only in a space intended for about 80 people. We had to pare our playlist down to fit the hour slot but made sure to include a few pretty duets, some a capella mountain-style songs, a couple of cowboy tunes, and Hank’s song about healthcare reform, which we had deeply hoped would be irrelevant by now, but apparently we all need to sing LOUDER!
The new year is here, and we were very happy to sing in our first New Year together, with friends old and new at the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop (PSGW) New Year’s retreat. This is such a good deal I want everyone to know about it; food and lodging for four days and nights, and singing/playing till the wee hours every morning. These camps attract musicians at all levels, from beginner to professional. There were many guitars along with basses, fiddles, banjos, dulcimers, and the like.
The Wayward Coffee House was a great gig, and gave Claire and me an opportunity to spread our wings and ruffle our feathers. It felt Sooo good! Thanks to those who dropped in to listen. And many thanks to Stewart Hendrickson and Bob Nelson of the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society (pnwfolklore.org), and the pleasant folks at the Wayward for opening this door. If you haven’t taken a look at the PNWFS web site, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s full of historical and contemporary information on local acoustic and roots music. And don’t forget to check out the Events page, and the NWHoot which is an online periodical published bi-monthly.
Filling up a two-hour engagement took some planning. Especially after many years of open mikes where your mind can spin out of control when an opportunity arises to do three songs and you only planned two
Time for an update. Claire and I have been wading through the digital ether, attempting to get our stuff on the air. In addition to the hatlc.com website, we now have a video on YouTube.
Claire and I posted a new song on the web site this weekend, and we hope you will check it out. It’s called The Do-Re-Mi Health Care Blues. Most of the words are original, but it is a take-off of Woody Guthrie’s song Do-Re-Mi. Woody’s song highlighted the plight of extremely hard-hit folks looking for work in the dust bowl days. They were actually blockaded from entering California by the State Police because they could not show they were financially sound. Our song uses a similar sentiment to draw attention to the Health Care crisis we are now facing in our nation.
Last Sunday Claire and I wound up the weekend in Seattle and decided to attend the Song Circle sponsored by the Seattle Folklore Society (SFS). There were about fifteen voices and song leaders that evening. This weekly circle has been going on for three decades or more thanks to the dedication of SFS members. Singing is not icing on the cake, it is bread for the soul. Songs circles are a wonderful place to find your own voice, and enjoy the healing benefits of community singing.
Terrific event this last Friday evening in downtown Bremerton, Washington. Estimate about 200 people came to sample freshly prepared yummies at the open house of the new fresh produce shop organized and staffed by local farmers and food producers. Visionary Jean Schanen put it all together. What a project! FreshLocal will open for business soon. Hank and I sang from 5-8 or so and had a wonderful time, seeing lots of familiar faces and lots of faces that were new – the local grass-roots community is thriving!