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Summit Summit

Posted on September 8th, 2015   Comments

HEF 3: IN WHICH the FOLKSINGER ENTERS EDEN WHERE the AUDIENCE BAKES HIM A BIRTHDAY CAKE —

DNL Summit

March 16, 2015: Forty years ago in Toronto, my friends all seemed to be departing for an Eden they called BC: British Columbia. For me, however, it was California and by June, I was on my way back, on my way home.

Screen shot 2015-09-08 at 12.17.02 PMSeveral Californians anticipating my return, I noted, placed Eden in the primeval and exquisitely beautiful forests of Western Oregon. So as California-bound Greyhound Bus number 1849 sped through the Willamette Valley, I kept a sharp lookout. Though stunned by a visage of Mountain Goats scaling a freeway-side cliff in Roseburg, I saw no evidence of any Eden. Were my friends mistaken?

No. Driving up into the Coast Range West of Corvalis on March 16th, 2015, I was at last to see what they had seen. My host, the inimitable Karl Smiley, had moved into this forest primeval a year or so before I had come hurtling through the state by bus. Fortunately, I misread my directions to his house and found myself meandering up a luminescent green roadway, deep with shadow, pierced by light.

http://karlsmiley.com/Songs.html

Screen shot 2015-09-08 at 9.31.59 AMI had to stop the car lest I drive it off a cliff for giddiness. I sat myself on a tree stump (the forest was in fact anything but primeval). The breeze was rich with pine resin, leaf mulch and the dust my tires had just kicked up. Birds melodically threatened any of their fellows encroaching on their territory or women. Somewhere up the road, logging trucks beeped in much the same spirit. I took a well-needed pee, wished myself a happy 61st birthday and found my way back to Karl’s house.

Karl Smiley is a ceramicist [see forget-me-not Peace Mug above] and veteran 60’s folk singer. The term 60’s folk singer meant that your presence could be required on short notice at Happenings, Riots or Anything In Between. Karl did not, let the record show, shirk his duty.

Summit Cmty CenterHe and the neighbors had once put a church up on logs and rolled it down a nearby mountainside towards the hamlet of Summit. Railroad Police had been summoned to stop them. They, in turn, had been stopped by young hippie women brandishing blandishments of joints and sandwiches. The railroad cops, having yielded to temptation, were eventually to say, “Just make sure you clear the tracks before the 3:00 o’clock freight.” This instruction had evidently been followed because the old church building still serves as Community Center and therefor my venue for the evening.

wrong date LRThe owner now of a most beautifully broken yet thoroughly capable voice, Karl has taken up the six-string ukulele, an instrument that sounds like a Peruvian charango. Karl made us some tea and sang me a song or so. I told him that he should add string bass to the mix and hit the road. He seems to be thinking about it.

We drove “into town” to meet an exotic music quartet: mandola, bass flute, fiddle and I-don’t-know-what and then set up at the community center where I noticed the sign for my show posted the wrong date. Karl gave me a Don’t Worry About It look. So I didn’t.

The audience arrived with a birthday cake for me. Nevertheless, my performance that night was Off. Except for “The Deserter/the Fall of Jack O’Lantern.” Karl gently took me to task for that next morning. No sense in subjecting you, dear reader, to a post mortem. Suffice it to say his observations and critique were most apt and useful.

 

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Sues House

Capitol Ideas: Salem & Olympia

Posted on September 8th, 2015   Comments

HEF 4: IN WHICH  the FOLKSINGER HONORS ST. PATRICK BY GETTING RIP-ROARING DRUNK on NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO and DRIVES FROM SALEM OR to OLYMPIA WA in UNDER TWO HOURS [Blarney!] — March 17, 2015: My St. Patrick’s Day gig was an on-air interview and performance on Mashup With Marc —https://www.facebook.com/MashUpKMUZ— on KMUZ, Salem’s NPR station. […]

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Backyard House Concerts: The Inside Story

Posted on September 5th, 2015   Comments

HEF 5: IN WHICH the FOLKSINGER GETS LOST in SEATTLE, IMPRESSES YOUNG PEOPLE and is REWARDED WITH A GPS MACHINE — It took me an hour to find Backyard House Concerts in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland. Seattle’s East to West streets are numbered. And so are its North to South streets. With no forewarning, […]

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Falling Englishman at McMillan Art Centre

Posted on September 5th, 2015   Comments

HEF 6: IN WHICH the FOLKSINGER CROSSES the BORDER, GOES to SEA, HAS PLANS MADE for HIM and WATCHES an AUDIENCE GROW BEFORE HIS VERY EYES — March 20, 2015: I am usually wide-awake at 3:00 AM so an early departure for Nanaimo, British Columbia was not problematic. My newly acquired GPS machine got me out of […]

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Fine Folk at Sooke Folk

Posted on September 4th, 2015   Comments

HEF 7: IN WHICH the FOLKSINGER MISSES the BOAT and ENCOUNTERS an AUDIENCE THAT UNDERSTANDS WHAT the HELL HE’S SINGING ABOUT. OH CANADA — March 21, 2015: Next morning I missed the boat. I found myself behind a chain link fence waving to Nick and Linda who were waving back from the stern of a departing […]

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Victoria Folk (We ARE a Muse)

Posted on September 2nd, 2015   Comments

HEF 8: IN WHICH the FOLKSINGER GETS NOSTALGIC, TALKS TO TOTEM POLES and ENCOUNTERS an AUDIENCE THAT NOT ONLY UNDERSTANDS WHAT HE’S SINGING ABOUT BUT SINGS ALONG — March 22, 2015: Next day, Sunday, was the last gig of Hip Ecstatic Frown. I drove downtown to see if I could recognize anything from my last […]

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What Did I Buy In Canada & Other Home Thoughts

Posted on September 2nd, 2015   Comments

HEF 9: IN WHICH the FOLKSINGER WORRIES ABOUT HIS WIFE and IS WELCOMED HOME OFFICIALLY and by TWO TULINS— March 23, 2015: Early next morning, I checked out of the Howard Johnson’s Inn, which for reasons unknown to any of the staff I questioned, had been decorated with several large handsome prints of William Blake’s […]

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Hip Ecstatic Frown: Coda

Posted on September 2nd, 2015   Comments

HEF 10: IN WHICH the FOLKSINGER SINGS and PLAYS for HIS BEST AUDIENCE EVER and HIP ECSTATIC FROWN COMES TO AN ABRUPT CONCLUSION — March 25, 2015: Home at last, I discovered gita was still not feeling any better. I was to have taken the train to Bakersfield where I had been invited to perform […]

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ROAD MOVIE or just REALITY PR?

Posted on July 1st, 2015   Comments

Last night, I watched Austin to Boston on Netflix streaming. http://austintobostonfilm.com/ I watched with a slightly jaundiced eye. Netflix describes Austin to Boston as a documentary film about a tour gone wrong. Directed by James Marcus Haney, it is, however, a well-strategized well-made feature length promo video. Or is it? Couldn’t one say the same of […]

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Remembering Michael Olsen

Posted on June 16th, 2015   Comments

The last time I spoke to Michael Olsen was on Aril 2nd. He had just moved from Mt Shasta to Ashland and was calling to see if my wife gita would like him to come and play guitar for her in hospital. “She would have loved it,” I said. “But I just brought her home […]

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