Music Memories 1: The Chad Mitchell Trio

The Chad Mitchell Trio: Singin’ Our Minds

Mike Kobluk, Chad Mitchell & Joe Frazier
Mike Kobluk, Chad Mitchell & Joe Frazier

This was the first Chad Mitchell Trio album that I bought. I had planned to give it to my sister as a Christmas present (I didn’t have much money then), but I read the liner notes and became so intrigued that I opened the album and “test played” it. That was when I decided that I would buy her something else and keep the album for myself. 

The trio had released four or five albums, maybe six, if you count a best of album. The other albums were released by Colpix and Kapp records. The trio also appeared on Harry Belafonte’s second Carnegie Hall album. This was their first album on the Mercury label.

The album was released in 1963 when I was in high school. I started saving money so that I could buy earlier albums and then buy new albums as they were released. I loved their topical music as much as the more traditional music that they performed. Nobody else, that I was aware of, was singing about the John Birch Society, Billy Sol Estes, Ross Burnett, or Barry Goldwater. I was something of a political (left leaning) junkie, so these songs appealed to me.

One of they performed was Barry’s Boys, which dealt with the young followers of Barry Goldwater who was running for President of The United States. I remember that song specifically because they changed the line “Shut the door, lock and latch it. here comes Lizzie with a brand new hatchet,” which was a reference to their first semi-hit song Lizzie Borden, with the line “Here’s a riddle, it’s a real killer. Who the hell is William Miller?” Now, it has been around fifty years since I attended that concert, so I may not have quoted their line quite right, but it brought a big laugh from the audience. Oh, and if you don’t remember, William Miller was Barry’s running mate on the ballot that year.

When I was a senior in high school the trio came to perform a concert at the Morris Civic Auditorium (now the Morris Performing Arts Center http://www.morriscenter.org/history.php) in South Bend. I knew that I had to go see my favorite folk group. This was the first concert to which I went where I paid my own way. I found four other friends who wanted to go, so we made it a field trip.

For me it was a magical concert. To my mind they were better in person than on record. Jacob Ander accompanied them on guitar and Paul Prestopino accompanied on guitar, banjo and mandolin. As an aside, years later Cindy and I attended a Peter, Paul & Mary concert, and there was Paul Prestopino as their accompanist. 

Time went on, Chad Mitchell left the group, John Denver replaced Chad, Joe Frazier, who had replaced Mike Pugh,  left the group and was replaced by David Boise, Mike Kobluk left the group and in effect the group disbanded. That is when I stopped buying albums, because there were no new ones produced.

Luckily, Collector’s Choice records has released all of the trio’s Kapp, Mercury and Reprise albums in CD format. If you want to sample the music, there are a few songs available on YouTube. If you like folk music or just want to see what was happening in the 60’s, check them out.

Changes

Another photo from the summer of 1983
Another photo from the summer of 1983

This is another picture that I took in the summer of 1983; and again I don’t remember where I was when I took it. It doesn’t look as if they were having a drought wherever it was.

***

My first post on Classical Gasbag was on January 30, 2012. If you look at the blog as if it were a human baby, I guess you could say that today it is entering its terrible twos. How auspicious is that? In honor of this anniversary I’ve decided to change the look of the site. I started making small changes to the format of the posts a couple of weeks ago, but I’m not sure the changes are big enough to matter. I could be wrong; people may think I’m just being more self-indulgent than normal. But I think blogging is just an out front form of self-indulgence. And I revel in it!

My first concept for the new banner graphic was going to include covers from old paperbacks, clips from comic strips and comic book covers, and CD and DVD covers. Then I started thinking that most, if not all, of those images were copyrighted, so I switched to photos that I have taken over the years. Some of these pictures were taken specifically for Classical Gasbag, so they seemed appropriate. Now that I look at the new banner, I’m not happy with it. I’ll be experimenting with something newer in the next few weeks, but only after I’ve finished working on a project for a friend.

Next, I wondered if within the body of the post I could use a scanned image instead of a photograph. I could convince myself that as long as I called it a picture, it would meet my goal of having an image a day. I also convinced my self that if I scanned the cover of a CD or such, I could call it advertising for the item and that would mollify the owner of the original image. I think that will work.

Since I brought up the topic of the actual post, let me state that I want to do more posts that are centered around music. That was n idea I originally had for the blog, but I seemed to move away to other things. In fact, the idea of building posts around music grew out of an idea I had for writing a novel in which each chapter would grow out of a song, and reflect in some way the topic of the musical piece. But I’m not that good of a writer, so I’ll settle for vignettes that may or may not be fictional. I don’t know if I’ll label them as such or not.

Let me know what you think. Anything from likes or dislikes, the way thing look now, even new directions you may want to see. I’ll consider anything, but remember, it is all about me.

Pete Seeger memories

A great album
A great album

This is a scan of the cover of a CD that I created from MP3s that were converted from a vinyl album. I call it part of my Vinyl to CD Project. I tend to name everything.

I hadn’t planned on posting anything today, but the first thing I saw on the news this morning was that Pete Seeger had died. It was good that they decided to do an obituary segment, but I was disappointed in some of the things they said…and didn’t say. They started out by calling him the grandfather of folk music. I’m pretty sure he would have scoffed at that title. He always paid tribute to other artists, and more importantly to the folks in their homes and churches and gatherings who passed on traditional songs or who created new songs. His memory would be better served if we thought of him as one of the people who brought folk music to people who hadn’t been brought up in the tradition.

While the obituary talked about him being jailed for not cooperating with the House Un-American Activities Committee, they failed to mention how he had been blacklisted by all of the major television networks. He was banned from appearing on one of my favorite television shows Hootenanny, and as a consequence, major artists such as The Kingston Trio and Joan Baez refused to be on the show. That was a loss for all of us.

The first time I saw him on a major network was when he appeared on The Smothers Brothers show. Thanks, Tom and Dick. About a year ago I found DVDs made from video tape recording of Rainbow Quest, Mr. Seeger’s mid-1960’s black and white television show that was originally broadcast on a UHF station that catered mainly to Spanish-speaking people. I’ve bought three of the DVDs so far.

I’ve bought more than a dozen of his albums, mainly on vinyl, over the years. Right now, as I work the keyboard, I’m listening to Pete & Arlo Together In Concert.  It is one of my favorite albums of folk music. I had strayed from listening to folk music while I was in the army, listening mainly to rock, jazz and classical music…but let me state quickly, “NEVER DISCO.” After I was home a few years, well four years, this double album was released, and I bought it on a whim. That was one great whim!

Last year I converted all of my vinyl Pete Seeger albums to MP3 s and then burned CDs of the albums. Today I’ll be listening to those CDs as well as the double 1963  Carnegie Hall concert album that I bought last year, and some of the Weavers albums, and I’ll be watching some of the DVDs. It seems the least I can do.

If you don’t remember hearing Pete Seeger, do yourself a favor and buy at least one of his albums, or get the DVD of his 1963 concert in Australia, or listen to The Byrds version of his song Turn, Turn, Turn or Peter, Paul & Mary’s version of If I Had A Hammer or even The Kingston Trio’s version of Where Have All The Flowers Gone. They are all worth your while.

Some signs of aging

Where am I?
Where am I?

I know I took this picture in the summer of 1983 because it says so on the back of the print. But for the life of me I can’t remember where I took it. All I know for sure is that it proves that I’ve been taking pictures of barns for at least thirty years. I have friends who weren’t born when I took this picture.

***

I know that I mentioned in a previous post that I stopped getting on Facebook back in October, and Twitter a week or so later. Now, I haven’t dropped my accounts, so I could post again or read what other people think is important, but the odds are that I won’t. I tell myself that I am simplifying my life, but we probably all know that is too facile an argument. I think that it has something to do with trying to avoid the personal drama of people I know, something else to do with not really caring about what a celebrity thinks, and a lot to do with the aging process. I find that as I age, my focus is narrowing in most areas. But not in all areas. Recently I started expanding the number of blogs that follow to include more that have scenic photographs. Contemplating nature, even once or twice removed, is satisfying.

And speaking of aging, it occurred to me on Sunday morning that I have lived more than 50% of my life. That gave me pause. Consider that I spent most of my life working in one form or another for most of my life. What did I gain in that time? I have a few friends, a monthly pension, a lot of memories ( many good, some amazingly bad), and my wonderful wife whom I met in the workplace.

There are many days when the memories seem much more important than the daily news. Too often the daily news is what catches my attention because of the sensationalism surrounding the events, and the emotions that the sensationalism engender. Cable news is gonzo journalism. It can be amusing, but is it something that I want to watch every day? Well, I do in the morning, but I’m thinking about going back to watching the local news. Perhaps I would be better served reading a rel newspaper. I stopped doing that a year or so ago, but I’m considering starting up again. It’s what an old guy would do.

The final pieces

Ta Da
Ta Da

I put the last piece in the puzzle at 8:20 p.m. last night. I would have finished it a few minutes earlier, but there was a piece missing. After searching for it, I finally got down on my hands and knees and crawled under the table. There it was, further under than thought it might be. So, being careful not to crack my head on the underside of the table I stood up and lovingly placed the last piece. I started this puzzle binge with a small 500 piece puzzle because I hadn’t worked one in a number of years, but now I plan on moving on to a 750 piece puzzle, and then to a 1,000 piece puzzle when I have completed the 750 piece puzzle. Don’t expect a chronicle of those puzzles, because I plan on doing other things as well.

***

I’ve passed up posting about other things than the puzzle and my autobiography in the past week, just so I could keep a semi-common thread going. Here are a few of the things I considered expounding on. None of them would have been worth a complete post on their own. So, here they are in a paragraph apiece.

1) When I don’t pay full attention to what is on the television screen I often mis-hear what is being said. That happened twice this past week. First there was the weatherman who was talking a about the cold and the blowing snow. I thought I heard him say that there were lizard warnings on the great plains. Then there was report on the Sundance Film Festival. I’m sure the reporter must have said that the festival celebrated the craft of film making, but I heard the it celebrated the crap of film making.

2) I mentioned that I made arrangements for a technician to come work on our water heater. I considered writing a complete post on discovering the problem with the water heater when I attempted to take a hot shower. I don’t need cold showers. Neither do I enjoy shaving with cold water. By the way, is it true that Barry Goldwater used peanut butter as shaving cream?

3) I’ve said that people who like instant gratification don’t like to work jigsaw puzzles. That seems self-evident. What I’m now considering, and I may actually post about it at some time, is the notion that there may be a correlation between people who want instant gratification and people who seem addicted to drama. If you have any thoughts on the subject, please let me know.

Will I ever finish this puzzle?

Still working
Still working

Looking at the pictures from the past two days, it doesn’t look like I’ve made much progress with the puzzle. I hope that I can finish, or at least come close to finishing it today or tonight. As you may be able to tell, I concentrated on the colors that showed the greatest contrast first, and now I’m left with the ones that pretty much just blend together. There are fewer pieces, but they are harder to fit together. I’ve moved from looking for patters, and now I’m looking for shapes. This is more grunt work. I’m not holding out much hope for a finish today, but who knows.

***

I started this series of posts explaining that I wrote the short autobiography because we had taken Nickie (yes, I spelled her name wrong in the first post) in as a foster child. So far, though, I haven’t told you anything about her. I’ll start by saying that she was, and maybe still is, a puzzle.

When I first met Nickie and her CASA to talk about her coming to live with us, I wanted to know about her and what her life goals were. She told us that she loved sports, wanted to finish high school, and wanted to go to college. Children, in the court system like Nickie, could have their tuition covered by the state, so I thought that it was a wise decision. I have forgotten what she said she wanted to do after college. I thought she seemed a bit immature, but then, she was 14 or 15.

She was telling us about herself when she mentioned that she didn’t like people who didn’t tell the truth. Then she said, “I am so honest.” Hmmm.

Well, Nickie became our foster child, and it went smoothly for a while. Cindy was working and then taking classes at night at Purdue, working on her Master’s degree in mental health counseling. That meant that I was spending more time with the girls than Cindy was. That was OK.

Then things began to change. Trina’s attitude toward Nickie became somewhat strained when she realized that we were trying to treat the girls equally. If Cindy and I left town for a meeting we would invariably get a phone call from the girls, or Grandma Betty who watched them, because they were either arguing or getting into trouble.

Another change was that Nickie decided that her sexual orientation had changed. She didn’t understand why we didn’t then allow her to invite girls over for a sleepover. So, she then asked if she could invite boys for a sleepover. We denied that as well. Despite the fact that she now liked girls, she went out of her way to flirt with Trina’s boyfriend.

Nickie started skipping school. We found out that she was doing so when the school called me to verify that I had written an excuse. I hadn’t.

In our discussions with Nickie, she kept repeating, “I am so honest.” After about the third iteration it dawned on me that when she said “I am so honest,” I was flashing on Richard Nixon saying that he was not a crook. I’m not sure why I believed her the first two times he said it.

When Nickie turned 16 she quit school.  I called it her birthday present to herself. When I asked her why she threw away her college plans she told me that she had never wanted to college. She said she had just told us that so we would take her in. That did it for me.

After Nickie had been with us for a year, she moved out. I don’t remember where she went, perhaps back with her mother. She later joined the military, and I don’t know where she is today.

What did I learn? I can’t solve all puzzles. I think she was a puzzle as much to herself as to the rest of us.

Oh, and I’m pretty sure stole my favorite baseball cap when she left. It was navy blue, corduroy, and had Grand Canyon stitched in it. So is you see it…you know…

The puzzle is not yet complete

Not enough progress
Not enough progress

I haven’t finished puzzle yet. I wanted to make more progress, but I ended up spending more time than I had planned on, when I went to the grocery store, spent frustrating time on the phone trying to schedule a service call with Sears, and a short amount of time lying on the floor.

Shall I elaborate? Well, then I shall.

My trip to the grocery store took a little longer than planned due to a) a twenty-something looking feller who was dressed like a banker trying to rush me through the produce section so he could get his hands on the romaine lettuce and cucumbers before I could make a proper selection; and b) crates of stock scattered haphazardly in the aisles which caused a one lane traffic flow. You may be asking yourself why a person who was rushing me actually slowed me down. It is simple. When I encounter a person such as he, my natural instinct is to instruct that person on the virtue of patience, and I believe in teaching by example. Yes, I slowed down.

I called Sears to have a technician come out to work on our hot water heater. I’ve had to restart it three times in the past two weeks. So, I calls them up and get an automated system that can’t understand me when I clearly enunciate “hot water heater,” or the second time when I say “h-o-t w-a-t-e-r h-e-a-t-e-r,” or even the third time when I calmly said, “HOT WATER HEATER.” The automated system decided to switch me over to a human being. I told the woman who I was and what I needed. She then asked me for my telephone number so she could look me up in the computer system to see who I was. She found me in the system, told me who I was and where I lived, and asked how she could help me. I told her what I needed. She looked at her computer screen and asked me if I was talking about the hot water heater that we had purchased in 1996. I explained that, no, we were living in a different house then, had not brought the heater with us when we moved, and that we had purchased this heater in the past 3 or 4 years. Gosh, she couldn’t find that purchase in her computer system. Had I used a different telephone number? I doubted it, because we had given up our land line before the purchase had been made. She checked Cindy’s phone number, without me telling the rep what her name and number was, but did not find the hot water heater there either. Was I sure I didn’t use the number of the land line we used to have? What was it? First I was surprised she didn’t already have the number in her system, but I just said, “I don’t remember what it was, but if you can wait a couple of minutes I’ll climb two stories to our office and get the number there.” She told me that, actually, she couldn’t wait, and that it wasn’t a big deal because the technician could look it up from the serial number when he came to the house in four days. Then, despite the fact that she couldn’t wait for me to climb the stairs, I spent the next 10 minutes fending off her efforts to sell me repair plans that I had no desire to buy.

As to laying on the floor…I was sitting on the edge of a metal chair while working on the jigsaw puzzle when my telephone rang. The phone was in a front pocket of my jeans, and rather than rise up and pull it from my pocket, I sat there trying to fish the phone out of my pocket. That was a bad idea. I felt the back legs give way, and I ended up lying on my back as the chair collapsed. I decided to just lie there and talk to my mother, for it was she who had called for the second time yesterday, rather than try to get to my feet and explain what had happened. It was just as well because it was a short conversation. She wanted to know what I knew about the shooting at Purdue. I told her I knew nothing because the television and the radio had been off since around 9 a.m. that’s all she wanted to know, so she said goodbye and hung up.

So what were my lessons learned? They were old lessons that I became reacquainted with yesterday. Patience will get you through just about anything. Also politeness makes you feel good. I felt better after my talk with the Sears Rep because I thanked her for her help, despite wanting to snarl vituperous phrases at her. And finally, with my mother, some things are better left unsaid despite discomfort.

Tomorrow I’ll get back to the autobiography thread of my posts.

The picture is becoming clearer

Visible progress
Visible progress

Yesterday was a good day at the puzzle table. There were moments when the pieces seemed to just fall into place. Of course, I may have been enjoying myself so much that the time seemed to speed by. I had one stretch of time at the table long enough that Cindy was able to watch two DVD movies.

By the way, I was correct in my surmise yesterday that Cindy didn’t want to work on the puzzle because it took too long before there was gratification for completion. For me, the journey has always been better than the destination. But then, I’ve never driven across Death Valley.

***

What would the people whom I’ve mentioned in the original autobiography think about what I wrote? Cindy read it when I originally wrote it, and had no complaints. Of course, at that time she thought that there was no dysfunction in my family. She only came to realize that the family wasn’t perfect after observation and interaction over the years.

I’m pretty sure that most of the other people mentioned would have found no fault in what I wrote. I’m also pretty sure that most of them would still think that what I wrote is spot on. We aren’t born with self-awareness. Most children grow up hearing their family tell them how extraordinary they are; so problem areas tend to get glossed over.

It has only been in the last few years that I started taking a close look at myself, and it hasn’t been easy. When another person tries to shine a light on you, resultant shadows can block truths from you. You have to do your own interior search, making sure to look behind you, before self-awareness can begin. I started that process when I stopped drinking, but strayed until recently. Reviewing the autobiography is just a step I’m taking in understanding myself.

Picking up the pieces

Some progress, but not enough
Some progress, but not enough

I’m disappointed that I didn’t make more progress on the puzzle yesterday. It’s true that I built inwards from some of the border pieces, and that I have some of the basic layout arranged, but I had hoped to finish the border and start building inwards from all of the corners.

Since today is a Martin Luther King Day, maybe I can lure Cindy to the table to help work on the puzzle. One can hope, but since jigsaw puzzles are for people who are patient and who don’t demand instant gratification, I’m guessing that my hope is a 50-50 proposition.

Yesterday Cindy and I went to a viewing of an acquaintance who had died unexpectedly. That seems to happen more frequently as the years pass. Anyway, since I got ready early I spent part of my puzzle time wearing a necktie. More than once I found myself leaning over the table to take a puzzle piece in my hand, and then brushing other pieces off the table with my tie as I leaned back. Pick up the pieces, curse the tie, repeat process. Why, I wonder, are the things that should stick in your mind the hardest to remember?

***

So far I have made a big deal about the misrepresentations in my mini-autobiography. I want to touch on a few of the things that I would not change and perhaps would expand upon  if I were writing it today.

I originally wrote that when I was young my parents worked in factories and arranged it so that they were on different shifts. In that way one of them was home with my sister and me. Today I would expand that concept and say that for a while there was about a half hour gap from the time my father left for work in the afternoon and the time my mother returned home from work. Once my sister was showing me how easy it was to get from a second story window onto the roof of the back porch. She left me stranded on that roof for a while. I learned a lesson that day about trust. Thank you, my sister.

I wrote that my happiest times in high school were the social times. I’m sure that would come as a surprise to everyone who remembered the socially inept person that I was. But I enjoyed going to basketball games, the inevitable sock hop after the game (though I was to shy to ask anyone to dance), and the normal interactions with friends at school. Some classes were enjoyable. What I didn’t write was that being compared by teachers, to my more intelligent older sister became tiresome. It probably scarred me for life.

There was a section in the autobiography where I was supposed to pick one thing, one event, or one person who had been the biggest influence on my life. I chose to pick one of each. For a thing, I chose a cassette tape recorder because it allowed me to copy music or words that I love, as well as make tapes for my friends. You might think that I would change that choice to a CD burner now, but I wouldn’t. The cassette recorder introduced me to the concept of sharing music that I love. It is something I still do, though with the CD burner…same concept, different tool.

My choice of an event was the Vietnam war. It wasn’t because I fought, I didn’t, I had dream duty assignments. The influence came from basic training where I came to understanding what is important and what is not, what I can affect and what I cannot. Today I would add that there has been a lot less personal drama in my life since then, no matter how much people want to drag me in to their drama.

Finally, I chose Johann Gutenberg as the most influential person in my life. He gave us movable type which opened the door for affordable books, Today I would expand on that and tell how books have made mass education possible. I would build on that idea to include how mass education has made possible an exponential expansion of knowledge. I would probably even mention that blogs like this one are philosophical children of books. One might be tempted, though, to say that this blog is more like a pulp magazine…though they were more exciting.

First come the baby steps

Some progress at the end of Day1
Some progress at the end of Day 1

As you can see, not a lot of progress has been made on the jigsaw puzzle. I always try to start with the border and then work my way inwards, but today I also worked on some of the blocks of color, and made a little progress there. Since IU isn’t playing basketball today, I hope to make more progress. Oh, and I switched from using my cell phone as a camera (it kept going to auto-zoom without my consent) and switched to taking the stills with my Vivitar.

***

I’ve changed my mind on how to approach my six-page autobiography a number of times so far. When I first decided to go through this process I thought I could cover it by just re-writing the entire document so that it better reflected how I see and feel about myself since I first wrote it so many years ago. Now I think that without the comparison it is a meaningless exercise. I don’t know how entertainers and sports figures (is that a redundancy?) can have a meaningful (auto)biography if they are younger than fifty-five years old. How many life lessons can they have accumulated before that age. I was in my forties when I wrote that six-pager, and my view of myself has changed a great deal.

I promised yesterday that in this post I would deal with the truth shading I did in the autobiography that I submitted to the Child Welfare office. In the original document I said that like my mother and father, I try not to hurt people. I’m not sure that it ever occurred to my mother that she should go out her way to try not to hurt people. That she didn’t was because either she didn’t care, or that my father had an ameliorating effect on her. I am afraid that there are times in my life when I have hurt people but have felt no remorse. I wish I were more like my father was. 

I said in the original document that I didn’t remember my parents having very many arguments. They usually waited until my sister and I were in bed before the arguments started. While I don’t remember what the arguments were about, I do remember lying in bed, afraid because of my mother yelling at my father. Her trump card was always a threat to move back to California, where my sister had been born. Looking back I realize that she would, in all likelihood, never leave. But tell that to a young child. I also remember my mother becoming very angry if my sister stayed out past her curfew. I may have suppressed those memories for many years.

I imagine that I shaded the truth to make it seem like I had come from a family that was perfect. I’ve come to realize that there is no such family.