Day 55

The Weavers: Wasn't That A Time

One of the old tapes I came across this morning was “The Weavers:Wasn’t That A Time,” a documentary concerning the planning and preparation for a reunion concert in 1980, and more broadly, the original group with their career ups and downs. It brought back a lot of memories.

I don’t recall exactly when I bought my first Weaver’s album, but it must have been when I was in college, probably in Bloomington. I had heard of them, but had never actually heard or seen them, probably because of the blacklist. Once I bought the first album I was hooked. I loved their “no frills” approach to the music, and the way their voices blended. Over the years I bought most of their albums put out by Vanguard, and had the 45 of Goodnight Irene done with Gordon Jenkins (he got top billing) on Decca. Then, in the 80’s I came across the album Wasn’t That A Time, and snatched it up. Despite the aging of their voices, it was a fine album. Even later I saw the tape of the documentary. It is well worth watching, more than once. 

Going back to the blacklist, I remember reading somewhere that the reason some performers, like Joan Baez and The Kingston Trio, did not appear on the television show Hootenanny was because the ABC network would not let The Weavers appear on the show. Even though it was 1963, ABC was still adhering to the blacklist. I didn’t know at the time that acts were not on the show for that reason. I would have watched the show even if I did know, because some of my favorite artists, like The Chad Mitchell Trio and The Limeliters, were performing on the show. I loved the show so much I would watch it twice each time it aired. I could do that because we lived in an area where, with our television aerial, we would get both the Chicago and the South Bend television shows. Since the two cities were in different time zones I could watch the South Bend broadcast, and an hour later I would watch the Chicago broadcast.

A few years ago I bought the three disc Hootenanny DVD package. While I love it, and have watched it many times, I wish they would, or could, issue all of the shows.

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Day 54

Yet another first blossom this spring. Not as pretty as the others.

The warm weather and gentle rain brought out the leaves on most of the trees, and many dandelions in many yards. While I’m not fond of dandelions (it’s probably a cultural thing); they do have a pretty bright yellow blossom.

I slept late this morning. While I occasionally enjoy sleeping in, part of me feels like I’ve wasted the best part of the day if I don’t get up at or before daybreak. It is easier to stay in bed when it is overcast and you can’t watch the sunrise, but if the sky is clear I want to watch the sun come up. As warm as it has been, I suppose I should start waterproofing the deck for the year and start preparing to open the pool. I’m surprised the grandkids haven’t asked to use the pool already. Those queries usually start a few weeks before I start buying the chemicals. And can the first grass cutting of the year be far off? I’ve already seen some people out with their mowers. Silly people.

My other foray into the past happened the other day when I came across a DVD set of Robin Of Sherwood at the library. This set has the first thirteen episodes starring Michael Praed. I first saw many of the episodes on Showtime when I lived in Auburn. I thought it was a great but different take on the Robin Hood legend. Judi Trott as Marian was wonderful casting. She captured Marian as a strong woman, yet brought a look of innocence to her as well. The fact that she was quite the looker didn’t hurt. 

This afternoon I believe I will start transferring some of my old VHS tapes to DVD. I’ll be starting with some of the Austin City Limits shows. After that I’m not sure. I have quite a bit to choose from.

Day 53

It only takes a just little bit of green to turn the bleak into something hopeful.

Wow. I started watching video tapes of musical shows I had taped back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I spent so much time doing watching that I forgot to write today’s blog. Those were tapes I hadn’t seen in many years. I’m going to convert many of them to DVDs. 

The first tape was with host David Holt and special guest Duane Eddy on American Music Shop. That was a show that was on The Nashville network (TNN). TNN doesn’t exist under that name anymore; it is now Spike TV. When it was TNN it was all about country music, and there were a number of music shows that were very good. American Music Shop had a house band led by Mark O’Connor and included Jerry Douglas. I had first heard David Holt on an album of string band music; the name of the album escapes me, but I know it was on the June Appal label. I’m sure I’ll come across it again one of these months. More recently he was on a podcast with Doc Watson that I downloaded from the NPR website.

The next show that I watched on tape today was Jerry Jeff Walker hosting The Texas Connection with guests Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. This show was also on TNN, and like the first tape, the show was recorded in the early 90’s. A large part of this particular show had the three artists sitting together singing their songs and playing acoustic guitars together. It seems to me that Jerry Jeff had the best singing voice, Willie played guitar best, and then there was Kris. He was having trouble singing the right notes on his own songs. He got better as the show progressed, but his start was really rocky.

I watched quite a few other shows on tape today, including some Austin City Limits and Lonesome Pine Specials. I didn’t accomplish anything today, but I certainly enjoyed my stroll down memory lane.

Day 52

The birthday girl

I have just returned from the surprise open house that Cindy’s staff had to celebrate her birthday. It seemed to come off without a hitch. Even the video I did turned out pretty good, though not everything was included.

Trina would not have had a birthday greeting included if I hadn’t asked her about it over the weekend. She did not get my email request because she had changed her email address and I did not know it. When I did get her contribution the audio was terrible, so I ripped the audio from the video, opened it in Audacity and determined that the left channel but not the right was fine. So I saved the left channel of the audio in .wav format. Then I  converted the video portion from .mov to .wmv and eliminated the audio. In Windows Movie Maker I pulled in the video portion (.wmv) and added the audio (.wav). It turned out fine.

Lee told me on the telephone that he never got my email. However, when he sent me a birthday greeting file he attached it to my original email. The problem with his video was that I couldn’t open it, so I couldn’t use it.

Lisa took videos with her cell phone of Cindy’s staff for me. For some reason she was not able to send them as email or text attachments. She was able to burn the videos onto a disc and give that to me. It was easy to copy the files from her disc to our hard drive so that I could work with them. All but two of the videos were oriented vertically rather than horizontally, so it appeared as if most of the staff was laying down. I tried to change the video orientation, but the closest I came was none too good. Flipping the video ninety degrees changed the aspect ratio, and each person looked at least twice as wide as they truly are. Also, the audio was lost in the transition, and true motion was lost; the motion was herky-jerky. Not good. Sp, I added the sideways videos with a slide that said the staff chose to do their greetings that way.

Still, the open house was a success. Thanks, Lisa! Mary too, and any other staff that helped with the planning and coordination. You are good people! Oh, and thanks to Cindy’s Uncle Mort and Aunt Esther for supplying the only video I could use without having to tease out a usable product.

Day 51

Beyond my means #2

I admit that this is not the best photo I’ve taken. In fact, it really isn’t a photo. I accidentally had the camera set on video. When I got home and realized my mistake I made a screen capture of the video and converted it to a .jpg file. Then I ran it through software to clarify the image. While clarifying, I lost some of the color, but since I was shooting into the sun, I don’t think it turned out too bad…well, yeah it did. There. Truth in blogging.

I love to sleep with the windows open. I also love waking up in the pre-dawn and hearing the birds. I don’t recognize specific types of birds, except turtle doves, but that doesn’t stop me from listening and enjoying.

Sometimes, if I wake up early enough, I can also hear the train whistles. I don’t seem to notice them after sunrise. After sunrise it is the trash collectors emptying the dumpsters at the apartment complex behind our house. But train whistles are enjoyable to me. Cindy doesn’t like hearing them, they disturb her sleep. If I hear them I’m wide awake anyway.

Both the sounds of birds and train whistles remind me of my childhood. Until I was in second grade we lived in the village of Rolling Prairie. My parents rented a house there. I can  remember hearing turtle doves on summer mornings and thinking how pleasant that soft sound was. The house was located about three blocks from the train depot and a train crossing. Not many trains stopped in Rolling Prairie, but every train that went through blew its whistle as it approached the crossing. For some reason I found that reassuring. When we moved out of Rolling Prairie, we lived in a house my parents built. It was located about two miles from the nearest railroad crossing, and at night in the country you could hear the train whistles as they approached the crossing. Again, it was a soothing sound to me. Early morning hours are the best time to hear these sounds, because traffic is light and doesn’t drown out the sounds.

Day 50

Empty house and downed tree

The empty house alone is interesting, but the large downed tree, partially cut, adds to the interest for me. I wonder why it is empty? I’ve seen houses in worse shape on the outside that were still lived in. Perhaps there are structural problems that can’t be seen from the street. 

This is one of those days when I don’t feel motivated to write. I took the photo around  10:30 this morning, but have been hoping for some writing inspiration to strike me. It hasn’t happened. Rather than ramble on, I’m going to post this. If anything worth writing about happens between now and midnight, I’ll update the post.

Day 49

Cloudy morning

This farmhouse is just isolated enough to suit me. If you left click on the photo you should be able to get an enlarged view, and note that the porch light is on. Is someone expected?

***

I took a break from writing to eat some breakfast and do a couple of things in our bedroom, and forgot to come back to the blog. Either I’m getting too old and forgetful (Nahh!) or I don’t have anything to write about (no) or writing isn’t as interesting today (yeah). Still, I have my goal, and I shall meet it before the end of the day. So I have about seven hours that I can use to work on the writing.

Let me write about a pet peeve that I have with the paper newspaper, specifically the comics page. When I was growing up, (I can now hear the moans from anybody under the age of 35 who may be reading this) the comics pages had both “gag-a-day” strips like Peanuts and continuity strips like Steve Canyon. There are very few continuity strips anymore, and I miss them. You could follow the continuity strips for months before a story arc wrapped up. It was like watching a movie serial (I can hear the people under the age of 45 saying, “What is a movie serial?”).

One of the best, and longest running continuity strips is Prince Valiant. It has been running in Sunday newspapers continuously since 1937. I hope you are lucky enough to live somewhere that still has a newspaper that carries the strip. We are not so lucky in Lafayette, IN. I mentioned Steve Canyon earlier. It was a daily and Sunday strip that ran from January of 1947 to June of 1988, when the creator, Milton Caniff died. It was one of my favorite strips. I used to read the Sunday pages in The South Bend Tribune. My dad always bought that Sunday paper because the LaPorte Herald-Argus did not have a Sunday paper. While the LaPorte paper had continuity strips, Alley Oop comes to mind, it did not carry the Steve Canyon dailies.

Why are their fewer continuity strips? I need to give that some thought.