Monday, December 17, 2007

The Moon Of The Wild Rose

In the lost universe, the lives of the people followed the seasons.

There was the Moon of making fat,

The Moon of the blooming lillies,

The Moon of the dying grass,

The Moon of the falling leaves,

The Moon of drifting snow,

The Moon of popping trees,

The Moon of strong cold,

The Moon of the buffalo calves,

The Moon when the geese lay eggs,

And the Moon of the Wild Rose...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Put Them Ghosts To Sleep

I live with ghosts. For the most part in relative harmony. But that comes with age...

This is a song I wrote for my Uncle John. I was working on it when he passed away, and finished it that evening. His passing represented the passing of an era for me. The bear traps and branding irons hanging on the walls of his barn were tools that he had actually used. There was harness and saddles and cowboy gear and mining equipment in there that were museum quality, but watch out for them old boxes of dynamite...

His hunter's eyes were always scanning the hillsides for movement. The wrinkles were from squinting against the sun, and from laughter. There was always an old dog around, and a couple of horses, even if he didn't ride them anymore...

We never did go on that last hunting trip. Sometimes promises get broken. I have that old 30/30 now, but I haven't decided if I'm ever going to use it . There are still a few of the old timers left around here, but there era has passed and they know it.

And the ghosts-- well, they need their sleep...

Monday, November 05, 2007

More Video from the Turkey Vulture Festival

Juanita (Circles In The Sand)
Here's another song I played at the Turkey Vulture Festival. One of my older songs about the roaming the hills of California. Yes, Sagebrush can draw circles in the sand-- when the wind pushes the branches from different directions. The branch could not scribe a complete circle without snapping, but it can draw a portion of one. When the wind switches directions, it can draw another portion as the first one is being erased. So a complete circle can only appear when the wind changes directions many times in a short period. (Natural Science 101) So it's a rare and cherished event when you find one.

I've found a couple, but I ain't tellin' where....

Some more video of the Vulture Fest, by Erin, here:


Keep exploring, my friends. That's how you find things....

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Turkey Vulture Festval

Hawk On The Wire

Yeah, I live in the kind of place that has a Turkey Vulture Festival.... and it's cool. The Turkey Vultures pass through here every year on their way South, and they celebrate the event down at the Kern River Preserve. It's about the mellowest place you can imagine, run by great people who really care about nature.

I usually play country music around here, or tradtional folk songs, but today I came down to play my own songs for a couple of hours, with a few Woody Guthrie songs thrown in. It was a nice crowd and a beautiful day. There were craft booths, and information booths from the local environmental organizations. My friends from Sequoia Forestkeeper were there and Bob, from Izzy Solar demonstrating his passive solar heaters. There was a live falcon, a screech owl, some desert tortoises, and then there was those rattlesnake guys....

After my raggedy set, the real musicians showed up-- our favorite local band, Out Of The Blue played some great Bluegrass and Americana. It was a fine afternoon in the Kern River Valley. The Turkey Vultures showed up, as advertised, and a great time was had by all. If you missed it, make sure you check it out next year...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

None dare call it genocide

Today the US Congress is arguing with the Whitehouse over whether the slaughter of Armenians in Turkey 80 years ago was genocide or not. I have not heard them discuss any resolutions about the genocide of Native Americans, and I don't see them trying to stop the destruction of Appalachia and the American citizens who live there right now by coal companies who are blowing the tops off their mountains, destroying communities and ecosystems and poisoning an entire area of our country for all time.
Our country gets 50% of it's electricity from burning coal. Burning that coal produces 40% our country's CO2 emissions. It's time to phase that out, right? Then how come there are another 129 coal burners in the works right now? In what kind of Kafkaesque world does that make sense, when we are hearing about melting ice caps and mass extinction of endangered species due to Global Warming every day?
Why, in a country that purports itself to be a Democracy, and has laws protecting it's environment and the rights of it's citizens, are we engaging in a systematic destruction of the environment of an entire region of our country and the lives of the citizens who live there?
This is a rural sector of our country, where the population is poor, the votes are small, and the corporations that profit from it's destruction are from out of state, make gigantic political contributions, and leave when their deed is done. They play people against each other and tell them that the "environmentalists" want to take their jobs away. But when the coal has been burned up to power the wide screen TVs and stainless steel fridges of the city dwellers, their jobs will still be gone, along with their farms, their fields, their livestock, the wildlife, and the future of their children, if not their children's lives.
This is not the best way to "power the grid." It's not sustainable. It's not moral, and it's not right. Some of our presidential candidates, who are US Senators, have said they will stop this if elected to the Whiehouse. Tell them, "If you want our vote for president, then show us what you are doing to stop it now..."
The Government Sanctioned Blasting of Appalachia

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Some things never change in the Central Valley

I was reading about Railroad Cops roughing up homeless people in Fresno and reflecting on how things never seem to change around here. California is a "Garden of Eden," Yeah, but only if you've got the "Do Re Mi..."

The San Joaquin Valley has a long history of abusing the homeless. Ask Preacher Casey. Ask Tom Joad... John Steinbeck put us on the map, but our civic leaders were not happy with the images he painted of cops and vigilantees driving the dust bowl refugees from town to town "like a wild herd of cattle." The Grapes Of Wrath was banned in Bakersfield for years, and was not allowed to be used in Kern County Classrooms until 1974. Now we have learned to accept our dust bowl heritage with pride. Local museums and festivals celebrate our history, but have we learned anything from it? Can we learn to recognize that the outsiders who can't seem to hold down a regular job or live like the rest of us are our brothers and sisters? Our instinct, when we encounter the the dirty and unkempt refugees of American society is not to lend them a helping hand. It is to look down, look the other way and walk on... And if they hang around too long or start talking about their "rights," the instinct is to beat them up and force them to move on.

Woody Guthrie passed through here, and he wrote about it better than anyone before or since. Vigilante Man, Pastures Of Plenty, Do Re Mi, Dust Bowl Refugee, Ramblin' Round, Hard Travelin', I Ain't Got No Home... We can listen to these great ballads as historical artifacts, but that's not what they are. Shamefully, and Disgracefully, they are today's news. They are the headlines that the editors of the Fresno Bee and tha Bakersfield Californian will not place on the front page, or any other page. They are a mirror, and the face of the Vigilante Man looking back at us is you and I. As long as we allow our brothers and sisters to be treated thisaway...

Vigilante Man
Woody Guthrie

Have you seen that vigilante man?
Have you seen that vigilante man?
Have you seen that vigilante man?
I've been hearing his name all over the land.

Well what is a vigilante man?
Tell me, what is a vigilante man?
Has he got a gun and a club in his hand?
Is that a vigilante man.

Rainy night down in the engine house.
Sleepin' just as still as a mouse.
Along come a man, and chased us out in the rain.
Was that a vigilante man?

Stormy days we passed the night away
Sleepin' in some good warm place.
Man come along and chased us out in the rain.
Was that a Vigilante Man?

Preacher Casey was just a workin' man.
And he said, "Unite, all you workin' men."
Killed him in the river, some strange man.
Was that a Vigilante Man?

I rambled round from town to town.
I rambled round fron town to town.
And they herded us around like a wild herd of cattle.
Was that the vigilante men?

Oh, why does a Vigilante Man,
Why does a vigilante man,
Carry that sawed-off shotgun in his habd?
Would he shoot his brother and sister down?

Some things never change...