Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I've been a King Sunny Ade fan since 1985, when I first heard Synchro System. African music and reggae rocked my soul during those lonely teen years.

Other favorites included Half Pint, Gregory Isaacs, Marcia Griffiths, Steel Pulse, Third World, UB40, The Heptones, Toots and the Maytals, Freddie McGregor, Black Uhuru, King Tubby, Desmond Dekker, Harry Belafonte, Aswad, Eek-a-Mouse, Burning Spear, and, of course, Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Just snowshoed down to Lariat Liquors with Hana to buy Grandma two bottles of Strawberry White Zinfandel. Turns out she would've preferred the regular White Zinfandel.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Three years ago I was invited to open up a show for Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans at the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV. I didn't think I'd ever be invited to perform there, so it was a huge honor. I played my standard fare that night--raps, cowboy poems, and folk songs. I think my cowboy/folk songs were appreciated, but my hip-thrusting raps and avant garde poetry didn't impress the buckaroos nor the folklorists.

For the past two years I haven't been invited back. I didn't plan to apply for the 2012 gathering, but a couple days ago my pal Andy Hedges called and strongly encouraged me to try again. I'll let you know what happens.

I think I've mentioned before that Andy's one of the best young folk singers I know. He often collaborates with another Lubbock friend of mine, and stellar songwriter, Andy Wilkinson. Their release last year, Welcome to the Tribe, won the Wrangler Award for Outstanding Traditional Western Album from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Now the Andy's are working on a new collaboration. Hedges plans to include my 1996 arrangement of Curley Fletcher's "Saddle Bum" (heard on my Love's Hangover Sale CD). My contribution to the evolution of this song (originally titled "Saddle Tramp" and performed on a 1960s Harry Jackson LP) was to add harmonica and change the melody to make it more mournful.

The sentiments of "Saddle Tramp" are dear to me. They express my own feelings of being a ranch refugee and troubadour. I'm pleased that Andy will polish up this gem and carry it into the 21st Century:
Verse 2:
"I used to work, but now I shirk, and never more will hire / To mark an ear, to turn no steer, nor tend no branding fire. / The pie and cake are mine to take, the best of everything. / I'll lay my head on the softest bed, if I'll blow my harp and sing."

Verse 4:
"I stay awhile to sing and smile, but when there comes a rift / And things get cool, I ain't no fool, I fork my bronc and drift. / I ramble down to that little town when winter comes along / To little [Hana] in [Santa Ana] and sing for her my song."
Note 1: Curley Fletcher is most well known for "The Strawberry Roan" (1915).

Note 2: Andy turns 31 today--Happy birthday, Andy!

Note 3: Little Hana arrives home tomorrow to a fresh foot of powdery snow.

Monday, March 21, 2011

This is a Sandman and Camo krush groove from 1999. Calvin Johnson and Diana Arens recorded it at the Dub Narcotic Studio Big Room, Olympia, WA.

Two mics, one take.

Check out Camo's human beatbox skills. So fresh, so clean.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

While making oatmeal pancakes this morning, two songs drifted up through my subconscious: "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" and "Dire Wolf." The songs of Dylan and the Grateful Dead tap so sweetly into the roots of American musics: Blues, Jazz, Carnival, Gospel, Hillbilly, etc. Weird songs that reflect strange times.

Strange times again: Arab nations in revolt, Japan's multiple heartbreaking crises, America's ill-boding wealth discrepancy, Mexico's civil war.

But as for me, life is fairly stable. I feel like Casablanca's Rick Blaine, biding his time in his private casino, pragmatic and inscrutable.

That said, I'm starting to worry.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy St. Paddy's Day! Two days late, 'tis true. I've been on the road for the last five days with that lorry-drivin' fishmonger, Shawn Goodall--an Irishman himself.

My lovely 90-year-old Irish Grandmother, Julia Viola Sullivan Herak, at her Montana nursing home with niece Carol.

Dunn Center had its St. Patrick's Day celebration today, so Dad and I drove over for sandwiches and pie at City Hall. Many of the D.C. lasses were there, including Ruth, LuAnne, and Martha, all of Roll Out, Cowboy fame. : )

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Random Thoughts of the Day

Favorite co-worker/employee: Damian Loverro (diligent bike mechanic, he managed Deschutes River Cyclery)
Favorite employer: Gary Schneider (philanthropic contractor, Sunrise Construction)
Favorite job: Montana Outdoor Program (kayak instructor & mountain guide)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Grandpa Nick Herak (pictured) passed away when I was a teenager. I never cried so hard. He was a cattle rancher and wheat farmer, and he and Grandma also had chickens, pigs, dairy cows, horses, and nine children. Grandpa loved sports, pinochle, and ice cream. He was a staunch Democrat and devout Catholic. Two weeks ago would have been his 99th birthday.

He was the sweetest guy there ever was. He would come to all my little league baseball games. Afterward he'd take me to Dairy Queen for a "Full Meal Deal"--hamburger, fries, soft drink, and a sundae. He encouraged me to believe that I could become a professional baseball player. The truth is he probably could've gone pro if he hadn't been tied to the farm.

Grandpa's parents came from Croatia. If there's one European country I truly want to visit, it's Croatia. I've even thought about calling myself "The C.R.O.A.T.: Countriest Rapper of All Time."

I'm proud that Roll Out, Cowboy's European festival debut took place last week in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. I hope that some of my distant cousins attended; I'd like to hear their reports.

I'm also pleased that Roll Out, Cowboy made its North Dakota debut at the Fargo Film Festival last week and WON top prize for Best Musical Score! Kudos to my musician cohorts--Shawn Parke, Jonah Carpenter, and Jeff Vezain--and also to director Elizabeth Lawrence and editor Elizabeth Ross for combining the music and footage so expertly.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I'm back hauling live fish with Goodall Trucking. We taxied 10,000 pounds of slimy buffalo carp to Calgary yesterday.

Monday we're eastbound to Toronto with tilapia. Thursday we return to Calgary.



I tried to buy this t-shirt for Hana at various truck stops last year, but the smallest they ever sell are size XL, which would fit her like a nightgown.

P.S. In related news, here's a brief, very funny video my friend Jonny "Corndawg" Fritz just made to raise funds for his upcoming CD: Down on the Bikini Line.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Yesterday wrapped up another epic tour of the American West. The Bisbee, AZ, show at the Bisbee Grand was a fitting finale. In spite of my near exhaustion due to lack of sleep in Los Angeles, I managed to have a blast. The best part about it was that Hana was there. We've been apart too much this winter.

Alas, yesterday morning we parted ways again--I flew home to North Dakota to resume trucking for Shawn Goodall, while she stayed in Mesa, AZ, with her doctor-in-training sister, Tala. I don't begrudge her staying in Arizona for a while, though. She spent this morning poolside with suntan lotion, while I spent it shoveling snow and charging the drained batteries of several ice-covered vehicles.

Dad is still on crutches from January's femur-shattering tractor incident, and Mom is overworked and computer-bound. Even so, I'm glad to be home, and I'm looking forward to trucking again. Tonight I'll visit Grandma Sand.

Pics from the Bisbee show:

(Above) Rachel De Vuono Garrett choreographed a smokin'-hot three-woman line/belly-dance to my song "Horse Graveyard." She was joined by Jennifer Luria (blue hat) and Dahlia Rose (far right). For video of their sexy number, click here.

More of the Wyld Vybe Bellydancers! The silver-faced mama in the center is the rock goddess Melissa Reaves. Melissa opened and closed the night. Her first set consisted mostly of blues-rock ambiance. She ended the night with a slew of off-the-wall techno jams that had the whole joint jumpin' with abandon. After her set wound down, I joined her on stage for some improv comedy and break dancin'.

P.S. Big ups to Bisbee party-starters Gretchen and Shawnee for being amazing in all ways Music and Art!