Category Archives: Music

Feliz Hanukwanzmas One And All

Well, it’s that time of year again, and I’m not talking about the Republican Presidential Primary Debates. I’m talking about Hanukwanzmas. That time when people of good will make fun of each other’s traditions. For example Sarah (The Queen of the I-Quitarod) Palin AND Faux Gnus have been criticizing President Obama’s family Christmas card this year.

Palin told Fox News that she found it “odd” that the card emphasizes the dog instead of traditions like “family, faith and freedom.” She also said that Americans are able to appreciate “American foundational values illustrated and displayed on Christmas cards and on a Christmas tree.”

Of course the fact that NO president in the past century has used the word “Christmas” matters not one whit to the true-believer Tali-Christian. Palin sees the season like this:

I hope John McCain realizes that there is a new and special layer of hell set up just for him for unleashing this woman on an unsuspecting American populace. (It’s one level higher than where Five Deferment Dick Cheny is going to spend eternity being water-boarded even after realizing that it IS torture.) Anyway, when is this woman’s fifteen minutes going to be up?

I actually like the Hanukwanzmas season except for one thing. I loathe and despise the piped-in Muzak Hanukwanzmas songs that it is impossible to escape from every time you enter a store or public building like an airport terminal. When I’m in charge of everything things are going to change drastically. Piped-in Hanukwanzmas music will only be allowed to be played from 6 p.m. until midnight Hanukwanzmas Eve. Anyone violating this rule will be eviscerated and their innards will be used to decorate the Hanukwanzmas tree in Rockefeller Center like tinsel garlands.Yesterday, Tuesday, December 20th, I went into the El Rey supermarket in David to pay my light bill and was aurally assaulted by “Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer,” in ENGLISH no less. Can you imagine the uproar that would be heard around the redneck states back in the Great White North if they played Christmas Songs in Spanish? Thankfully I haven’t heard “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” or any of the Alvin and the Chipmunk songs down here.

No, I’m NOT  a Grinch. I think Hanukwanzmas is the greatest thing for kids EVER. In fact, when I’m in charge of everything it will be against the law to tell anyone under 21 the truth about Santa Clause, Papa Noel, Father Christmas. At 21 a person can legally purchase alcohol to soothe the horrible loss of innocence the news will bring. Younger than 21 is just too cruel to contemplate.

When I got on the bus to return home yesterday an old man got on board with a small, pink, two-wheel bicycle for his grand daughter. I HOPE it was his grand daughter because if it was for his grandson there are going to be some real serious identity issues coming to the fore later in life. I looked at the bike with the usual jaundiced Gringo eye and saw what it was. A poorly-made piece of Chinese crap that will be lucky to make it through the first week before the plastic training wheels disintegrate. But that was my initial reaction. And then I realized the truth about what that bike really meant to him and what it will to the loved one he gives it to. In a country where the national minimum wage is a little less than $400 that bike took a huge chunk out of that man’s pocket. One could tell he didn’t have much to begin with just by looking at his clothes. But that little girl is going to feel like a princess when she unwraps it Christmas morning. Her FIRST bike and her “abuelo” gave it to her. He will be the brightest star in her firmament forever. It’s a crying shame that EVERY kid can’t feel like that this Sunday.

While I DO hate the piped-in Muzak version of Hanukwanzmas songs I’m NOT opposed to the following. It was turning dark when this group of kids from a local Methodist church came in to my yard. I know the vids are dark but when the sun sets here this close to the equator there’s no real twilight. It’s light, the sun sets and then it’s DARK! I used the night setting on the camera and a little clip-on light. As the kids come into the yard you will hear someone say, “Parada!” That’s the Spanish word for “Stop.” My hand appears when I waved back at the little girl with the Santa hat on the right.

Here’s wishing everyone a very Merry Hanukwanzmas and a fantastic new year.


Filed under Boqueron Panama, Living Abroad, Music, panama, Retirement, Retirement Abroad, Uncategorized

I Used To Be A Night Owl

In my younger days, eons ago it seems, I was a night owl. My last semester at the University of Miami rarely saw me going to bed before seven or eight in the morning and the school’s schedule and mine didn’t mesh.

Say what you will about New York, L.A. or Las Vegas, New Orleans (The Big Easy, The Big Sleazy, The City That Care Forgot) is a night owl’s nirvana. You NEVER left your house to go out carousing before 11 p.m. or midnight. Bars open 24 hours a day. Attending a Dr. John session at Tipitina’s that broke up at 7:30 in the morning. I loved watches out at sea from 4 to 6 in the morning and watching things take shape as the sun drove out the night.

But things have changed. Up here on the hill I can’t seem to sleep past 6 a.m. and this morning I was up at five and sitting on the porch with my steaming mug of coffee listening to roosters crowing from all points of the compass and cattle mooing on the other side of the trees on the east side of the field. But I’m nostalgic for those years I thrived in the night. I posted this video by the group Vaya Con Dios last October but it’s worth a repeat.


Filed under Music, Uncategorized

R.I.P. Gerry Glombecki

Back in 1966 when I was attending college in the small Missouri town of Canton on the banks of the Mississippi River there was a 19 year old blond kid from Chicago, Gerry Glombecki, who lived in my dorm and had what was probably the first skateboard the town had ever seen.

Gerry was a carefree sort who always sported a great smile. I knew him for a year before I left Canton and, of course lost contact with him. Withing the last year, through Facebook, we reestablished contact of sorts. Gerry had gone on from that small river town to become an accomplished musician and a fixture in the Tuscon, Arizona, music community. He was inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame and was a founder of the Tucson Folk Festival.

This video shows Gerry playing slide guitar, and one of his sidelines was the making and distribution of authentic guitar slides:


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A New Year’s Resolution

Okay, it’s a day before New Year’s Eve, but I’m giving you a day to think about this.

Resolutions, they say, are made to be broken. Dieting, stopping smoking, exercise more, none of them hold up and we know it. But here’s one that we can strive for every day of our life…

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Filed under Music, Playing for Change

Greatness Shows At An Early Age

There’s little doubt that one of the greatest female singers of our age is Aretha Franklin. Like so many of the great popular lady singers Aretha came out of the Gospel tradition. Though I consider myself as a sort of lapsed agnostic and haven’t stepped foot inside of a church in decades I absolutely love Gospel music. The music that came out of the black churches of this country formed the basis of the blues, rhythm and blues and rock and roll. The last time I was at the New Orleans Jazz Festival (1985) I spent five days at the rockingest venue at the Fairgrounds…the Gospel Tent only leaving once to see Roy Orbison.

The first time I heard the following song was on my favorite radio station ever, Radio Baie des Anges in Nice, France. It is Aretha Franklin singing in her father’s church in Detroit, Michigan in 1956 when she was only 14 years old. There was absolutely no doubt, listening to this, that this was one extraordinary talent about to be released upon the world.

If you have a decent set of earphones that can plug into your computer do it before you listen to this.

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Filed under Music, Uncategorized

Wild Women

Frequent readers of this blog know how much I love good old honky-tonk piano playing and especially by women like Marcia Ball and Katie Webster. There are others I like as well, and here are a few vids of Sue Keller and Ann Rabson of Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women. I first heard Saffire when Jolie Aire was berthed in Marbella, Spain. As a man you have to be pretty secure in your “maleness” to enjoy Saffire with their songs like “Bitch With A Bad Attitude,” “Big Ovaries, Baby.” “It Takes A Mighty Good Man,” and the first song of those I heard, “Middle Aged Blues Boogie.” I was lucky enough to see Saffire live in Fort Lauderdale at the old Musician’s Exchange and Ann Rabson was gracious enough to spend most of one of their breaks talking to me. Here, then are a couple of videos from some rather wild women…

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Playing For Change with Keb Mo

I can’t get enough of the Playing For Change videos…

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Vaya Con Dios

As I’ve mentioned previously, my favorite radio station, Radio Baie des Anges in Nice, France, played music without telling the listeners who the artists were. One song that grabbed me was “Don’t Cry for Louie.” Loved the lyrics and the whole bluesie harmonic playing. Months after grabbing the song off the air and onto a cassette I was at a party and was instantly attracted to a little redhead in a corner listening to a CD on a Walkman. Having had two carrot top girlfriends in the past I overcame my natural reticense and approached her to find out what she was listening to. Solange, le canard rouge (the red duck) as she called herself, was from French-speaking part of Switzerland. She said she was listening to a group from Belgium (a French-speaking country) called Vaya Con Dios and she passed me the headphones. I couldn’t believe I was listening to one of my favorite songs and had now discovered who sang it.

I couldn’t believe they were from Belgium. They sound so much like an American group.

But English isn’t all they do.

The lead singer is Dani Klein

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Lulu and the Lampshades

I like this:

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The Mint Juleps

When I was living in Antibes, France, I was surprised how many people I met there were from, or had lived in, New Orleans. One who became a close friend was a girl named Jane who worked as a barmaid at Chez Charlie’s Pub. In the summer of 1991 it was announced that the first family of New Orleans music, the Neville Brothers, were going to be featured one night at the annual week-long Juan les Pins jazz festival. Naturally all of us with a Big Easy connection immediately bought tickets and got our friends to buy, too, so they could be introduced to the Nevilles.

With a high level of excitement and anticipation we arrived at the stage venue early so we could get up right close to the stage to see our favorites. Then along came the opening act, The Mint Juleps. A group of British lasses no one had ever heard of. They opened the show with the following song and blew the Neville Brothers off the stage.


Filed under Music