Wednesday, October 18, 2006

2006 Kentucky Star Award

So, last night the community I live in awarded me a 2006 Kentucky Star Award. And it was very humbling. Others given this award are folks like Bill Monroe, Loretta Lynn, Rosemary Clooney, author Bobby Ann Mason, and Tom T. Hall. My little star of a career casts no light in the reflection of these other folks. I went to the theater and wondered out loud to my friend Bryan if they would spell my name right on the award. When I got the Stephen Foster Award earlier this year they spelled it wrong. It sits on my shelf, all important looking, but with my name spelled funny.

Sitting on stage during the ceremony I looked into the theater and saw so many of my friends in the audience. I was glad they were there. I needed them to be there. During my introduction I listened to the MC recount the road I took to get to this stage, this moment, this award. He talked about how I left New York at 19 and moving to the Mexican border to become a DJ in Laredo, Texas. Hearing Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds and noticing it was written by my neighbor, Pete Seeger. Deciding to leave Laredo and become a folksinger, moving into the little hamlet of Mousie, Kentucky. My daughter Melody was born there. Learning the Appalchian music and songs and traveling up and down the hollers learning the music. Starting touring and recording. The Troubadour Concert Series. The miles. The books. The songs. The records ... some good, some bad ... all the way to the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. Now the Evening Song album and the Walden play.

It was a nice introduction, very flattering. But I felt tired after hearing all we've done in such a short amount of time. Wow, it's a lot of work to do this thing we call "playing."

He called my name and the audience stood up as I walked to the stage. Some of my friends made believe they were doing the wave as I came to the podium. I looked out and sitting in the crowd, about ten rows up right in the middle of the theater, was the most lovely and beautiful of sights ... Colista Ledford came all the way to Lexington to be there. Colista is the loyal, loving and magnificient wife of my friend Homer Ledford. The WoodSongs theme on the radio show is a tune called Colista's Jam that I began writing on the Ledford's couch one afternoon, long ago.

And I thought about my friend Homer, a sweet, gentle and humble man. Homer is a great bluegrass musician, a brilliant luthier. He married a woman full of joy and devotion and love a
nd he, in turn, provided her with a life of family, friends, comfort, and music. Colita was Homer's second choice for a date one night after another woman he asked out stood him up. Till this day he says it was the "best 25 cent movie he's ever seen." Colista say's how happy she is "that crazy woman cancelled on Homer" so she could have her chance with him. Homer is a very lucky man. They have been married 51 years. Homer hasn't been feeling very well these days. He stopped working in his little wood shop and the music that resonated from his handcrafted instruments now drift through the air in the hands of other players, not his own. It took extraordinary effort for Colista to leave Homer's side for this occasion ... but she was there.

Homer is a real Kentucky Star. Not me. Homer embodies what an honor like this means. Not me. Homer is a Kentucky musical treasure. And there are others - like the brilliant John Jacob Niles - who deserve one and still waits from his grave for his Star. John Jacob Niles is a Kentucky Star. Not me. But there I was ... holding my award. After I said my Thanks, some pictures were taken and the audience stood up again. It was very sweet. Very moving. All so very nice.

And then, in the most fitting of ironies, I sat back down and
looked at my award, awash in the glory of the moment, to find that: Yes, they mispelled my name. Again :)

Michael "JHonathon"
Kentucky Star

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Hometown

An old European poet once said, "If everyone in the world simply took care of their own homes, you wouldn't have to worry about the world anymore." In the 1960s that phrase became a bumper sticker, "Think globally ... Act Locally."

I grew up in New York, a little town called Fishkill in Dutchess County. Pete Seeger lived nearby and I would go to his Stawberry Festival each summer and watch the folksingers play along the shores of the Hudson River. I liked that Pete had a national career but would be seen walking the sidewalks of his hometown, shopping at the Grand Union, attending his local Sloop meetings ... being part of a hometown with his family.

I don't live in New York anymore, obviously. I moved south into a land of mountains and music and garden tomatoes and coal mines. Aside from my family, the memories of my old home have been replaced by my new hometown. Now, I live in Lexington, Kentucky. It's a wonderful, friendly, beautiful, creative place full of good people, and families, and nice schools and a thriving artist community. There are not many places as wonderful as Lexington. Except, maybe,
your hometown. But I love Kentucky. It fits me. I have been able to play music, write books, make records, create something as adventerous as the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour and raise my children here. My hometown sits in a nice part of America, we are a short 6 hour drive to 32 million people. It sits at the foothills of the Appalachian moountains and the music, the art, the crafts and the spirit of that old way of life still lingers in the air.

But the past couple weeks have been hard for my friends in Lexington. There was a bomb scare that shut down several city blocks. A jet with 50 people, mostly from Lexington, crashed after taking off from the wrong runway. All but one perished. A friend of mine, Larry Turner, was on that plane. Two WoodSongs crew members, Dr. Bob and Mary DeMatinna, were at the airport and watched Larry's plane explode in a ball of fire as it crashed. A couple of days later, a mom and dad were arrested for killing their child and burning the body in the woods after claiming the child was kidnapped. Another mother got angry and drove her children into a lake. One of the kids died.

My hometown has been hit hard.

I mention all of this to show that every hometown is both wonderful and beautiful and yet still struggles like any another. Each hometown grapples to keep it's sidewalks clean and schools running and roads paved and workers working. I liked what Pete did, working on his national career but still paying attention to, and being an active part of, his own hometown. Each home town is made better by the involvement of those who chose to live there.

An artist can learn a lot from Pete by getting involved one way or another, through hard work or music, in their hometowns. Whether you sing at a homeless shelter or pick up trash along a creek bed ... it's part of the responsibility of a hometown, I suppose. After all, if you don't care about where you're from, why should
anyone care about where you are going.

'nuff said.
Lexington, Kentucky

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Artists & Krit-Icks

My Blog entry today is a slightly edited letter I sent to a wonderful actress who got creamed in a review by her local paper. It really hurt her and she didn't deserve it. The review was, at the very least, rude. I hate it when critics, who can't accomplish much other than spewing opinion, publicly redicule those who are at least trying. I think artists deserve better. If you don't like something, ignore it. But for Pete's sake, don't strangle someone's spirit in public:

A few years ago, a critic reviewed by album, Dreams of Fire. I recorded it with a 61 piece symphony and worked my butt off on it for almost a year. The album was getting rave reviews all over the country ... and then this reviewer got hold of it and gave Dreams of Fire a horrible, personal, scathing review in print right here in my own hometown.

It rattled me. For a minute. A couple years later, a friend of mine in Ireland released a cassette of his songs and sent them to his local paper. The critic burned, tarred and feathered my friend's little cassette release of his songs. The review was so bad his mother didn't leave her house for almost 2 weeks. After my friend called me, in tears, to tell me he was quitting his music, my heart broke for him. Because I knew exactly how he felt.

So I wrote my friend a song, called WoodSongs. a song of victory of an artist's will over critics, became the title of my next album, which was turned into a book, that I turned into a radio show, that became a national tour, podcast, and now a national TV series on PBS. So much for the critic.

I write all of this because I think all of you, whether amateur songwriter, living room couch performer or professional, are an incredibly talented, brilliant and beautiful in sprit. Remember, the critic creates nothing. The artist remains the source of inspiration ... even if it means getting off your bloodied knees all the time. Some words for all artists to consider:

"Fear not the voice of the critic, for no man ever erected a statue in honour of a critic"- Finnish Composer

"It is much easier to tare down than to build, it takes less talent to scoff than to create, it is the essense of laziness to be critical ... than to be correct" - Benjamin DeSreali

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

"Twenty years from now you will be more dissappointed by the things you DIDN'T do than by the ones you DID. So throw off your anchors. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore . . Dream . . . Discover." - Mark Twain

"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." - Albert Schweitzer

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Daughters & Daddys

I love my daughters.

I have two and I love them both equally and whole souled. This is a recent picture of Rachel when she got her face painted at Disney World.

Melody Larkin is a wonderful, brilliant and amazing young woman. Rachel Aubrey is fiesty and brash and blazing. Melody is exactly like me and yet so different my eyes spin just thinking about it. It has come to be my absolute belief that the greatest source of joy and of pain for any man’s heart is inflicted not by his lover . . . it is from his

In my heart of hearts, it is hard to "allow" them to grow up. I want Melody to be young still, needing me and worshiping the ground I walk on. The greatest boost to my self-esteem and ego that I have ever experienced is the wide-eyed look of shear joy in my daughter’s eyes when she would see me. I miss it ... I miss the "little-girl" her.

Yet I am in awe and totally bewildered of the young, independent woman she has become. She draws me and confuses me. Nothingcan make me feel relaxed or less protective of her, even though I’m the very last person on this planet she wants to have tell her what to do. I guess it is a right of passage as young girls grows up: They discard the very things they needed when they were little to prove to themselves they are not little anymore.

And here is the brutal attack on my ego:

She’s doing a
great job without me.
And here I hoped and prayed that I would be eternally indispensable. How dare she be so complete in her life without her dad.

Probably the most difficult adjustment I had to make in my viewpoint toward Melody was her first boyfriend. What a wanker. I wanted to ring the little jerk’s neck but, no, you smile and take them out for hamburgers instead. I think a father’s greatest fear is that another man will view his daughter the same way we know all boys actually think about girls.

my daughter you don’t. Not my precious, innocent angel that I would carry in one arm and cuddle up to on the couch and call “Monkey” because she would stuff a whole banana in her mouth all at once and who just finished high school and got through her third car wreck and keeps asking me for money all the time.

She is exempt from guys like him.

So what can I say about my little girls? You are both the very best of everything I wish I was and still yearn to be. You are everything I have worked for and lost and regained. You are the forgiveness and redemption of every mistake I’ve made and the blessing of everything wonderful I could ever ask for. My life is nothing without you in it. And I would give my life and my heart for you in an instant with absolutely no hesitation. And I struggle to grow with you and re-learn about you both. You are changing so fast and, in the lament of the little girls you used to be, I celebrate with great pride the young women you have become.

There is no greater hole in my heart, no brighter fire in my spirit, no more precious gem in my life than for you, my beautiful daughters.

folksinger - tree hugger - daddy

Monday, June 05, 2006

Fathers & Sons

Being a Dad means taking only the green icepops.

My father died five days before I was born. His absence created a huge, gaping hole my entire young life not knowing him, missing someone I never met and not fully understanding why. Wishing my dad was there, wishing he could talk to me or help me out of my mistakes. I wish he was there just to celebrate the good stuff and be proud of me when I did good.

Dads come in handy that way.
Fathers can validate the reason you exist simply by being proud of you.

My own son is seven years old. His mom decided to dismantle the marriage when he was just three months old. And, like his sisters, my world revolves around what he is, what he does, what he gets excited about. Which is, frankly,
everything from Batman to baseball. He likes to jump off my bed to watch his super hero cape fly and he goes to sleep holding the baseball I caught for him at a Lexington Legends game. When I wrote my books WoodSongs I and WoodSongs II, alot was included about his sisters. I've written songs and poems about his sisters ... but never MichaelB. I think not knowing my father and then suddenly having a son, a male connection to my dad, had a volcanic impact on me. It left me creatively speechless.

This is a picture of MichaelB. He hates this picture because he thinks he looks goofy. I love it because it captures the cuddly, lovable, fused-to-daddy's hip little boy that he is. And I know this mini-me part of his life is drifting away quickly. So, I spend as much time with him as I can. Which is a lot. I think I missed that chance with Melody too much, so I might be overcompensating. Either way, what a beautiful, tender, innocent and amazing little person he is. If I could go to a store and select a child like we select a car or anything else, I would have picked
exactly who he is. And Rachel. And Melody. I love them beyond my ability to express. Verbally or musically.

Last week, Rachel graduated middle school. There she was ... busy with her friends, full of her life and her future and how she looked and what I did and didn't do exactly right. Just like little girls turning into young women do to there dads. I loved every second of it.

And mom was there, too. Much to my surprise, she sat with me and the kids this time. And during Rachel's graduation ceremony, MichaelB reached for my hand, and then his mom's hand. And squeezed them both together and pulled them toward his chest. And it occurred to me that this beautiful, precious little boy
never had his mom and dad tuck him into bed at night, never had his mom and dad together at a breakfast table, never played catch with his father while his mom made dinner in the kitchen at the farmhouse.

And I wanted to burst inside myself with frustration and failure. Isn't he worth that? Doesn't he deserve that? Isn't this little boy worthy of whatever sacrifice his parents should make to give him that?

Instead I sat there, silent as MichaelB had that rare moment of holding both parents hands at the same time. And I thought about being a dad. Missing my dad. Wishing I could talk about this and vent to my own father. And I thought about being a good dad and how I had to work really,
really hard to be one for this little boy. I thought about the incredible joy of sacrifice these little souls need from their parents.

And I thought about those icepops.
How Rachel likes the strawberry.
MichaelB likes the grape.
That leaves Dad only the green ones.

... and I
hate the green ones.

Folk on,
Michael Johnathon

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Roger McGuinn

When I was 19, I left my home in New York. Actually, without going too deeply into it, I fled. And I ended up on the Mexican border in a dusty town of Laredo, Texas. What an adventure ... what food ... what music. And the people were so sweet and humble, a land full of incredible contrasts. The culture shock of going from a place like New York to the Mexican and cowboy communities of south Texas was jolting, to say the least.

I can still feel the intensity of 109 degrees in the afternoon sun, standing in the desert outside of Cotula, south of San Antonio. The sun was so intense it literally pounded up off the stone and rocks and you could feel it pulsating against your skin. And yet, that same furnace of a desert, come the winter rains, would burst into a carpet of yellow, purple and white flowers in January.

And the food. How can I describe a fajitas steak grilled over hot mesquite coals that are covered in raw onion? The steam of the onion broils into the steak with the nutty flavor of the mesquite. That, plus a hot flower tortilla, a cold Tecate beer and a hammock about 6 in the evening as the sun starts to go down ... it's heaven.

But mostly the people left the biggest mark on my young heart. They are so sweet and humble. And willing. And hard working. I know there is a lot of angst and discussion over those that come to America illegally right now. But when you're living there and meeting them in the streets ... not criminals or vagrents ... but family people, fathers and sons mostly looking for jobs, you're heart really goes out to them. All they want is an honorable chance to work.

And there are those that argue that America was built of folks just like that 200 years ago. And it's true. But this isn't America of the past, this is America now. America with 300 million people, and laws, and property, and economy. And this is America with strangers hijacking planes and slamming into buildings. My cousin worked in the 81st floor of the second tower hit on 9/11. It's a different America than it was 200 years ago.

I was just a kid, bathing in all of that new experiance. I found a part time job as a DJ on KLAR AM there in Laredo. One night, I played a song by Roger McGuinn and The Byrds called Turn, Turn, Turn. By the time the song ended, for some reason, I decided I would leave Laredo and become a folksinger, of all things. A few months later, I landed in the tiny hamlet of Mousie, Kentucky with my guitar and banjo.

Fast forward to 2006 ... Last night, Roger McGuinn was on WoodSongs. For the second time. And after the show, along with his amazing wife Camilla, we had dinner and talked for a couple of hours. He's an amazing man, a brilliant musician and artist, a loving husband. And a pretty cool hero to a young guy playing records at 4 in the morning in a dusty little town so long ago.

As Roger and Camilla left for the hotel at midnight, I couldn't help but relive the night that I played his song on that radio station. It changed everything in just two minutes and thirty seconds. And I can still see the desert. I can still taste the fresh flower tortillas. I can still hear the sound of frightened people walking past my house early in the morning as they made their way up from the Rio Grande and into the deserts outside of Laredo, searching for the hope of this place called America.

Folk on,
Micheal Johnathon
folksinger - tree hugger

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

WALDEN: The Ballad of Thoreau

I finally finished the script of my play.

Walden: The Ballad of Thoreau is a two act, one set play about the last two days Henry David Thoreau spent in his cabin at Walden Pond.

The play takes place in September, 1847. Thoreau, a young man of 30, has contemplated his life and his place on this earth for the last two years and two months while living alone in a small cabin he built for $28. His friend and mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, gave Henry a small plot of land along the shores of Walden Pond near thier home in Concord, Massachusettes to make his intellectual escape.

A failed author, Henry would write in his journals everyday and imagined that, someday, his experiance alone in the woods would have meaning and importance.

The play is not a biography of Thoreau. It is a conversation and intellectual argument that occurs between to collegues who love and respect each othera greatdeal. It is a peak into what made Henry a great writer, and of the rejection he was facing. It is a play of farewell as Henry leaves the cabin on Walden Pond. Ultimately, it is a play about friendship and loyalty, of believing and supporting a writer, thinker, visionary and artist who was a generation ahead of his time.

I'll write more about the play later. My hope is to offer the script free to drama departments in high schools and colleges nationwide. We'll see. A website devoted to it will be up soon at

I guess my blog has been silent since the passing of my friend. I couldn't really deal with watching his picture move down a notch. Joe loved little furry creatures much more than people, much like Thoreau. It was his passing that moved me to complete the play.

Folk on,
Micheal Johnathon
folksinger - tree hugger

Thursday, April 06, 2006

My Friend, Big Joe

I want to tell you about a friend of mine.
His name is Joseph Richard Garnett, some folks called him Dick, I called him Big Joe.

My friend was a good man, a good musician, a best friend and a great dad. He had a heart as big as the great outdoors and, as I often told him, he had a place to keep it. Big Joe was a big man with a big laugh and a big appetite for life.
And music.
And his family.
And his friends.

I was very fortunate to be one of them.

We lost Joe sometime on Sunday. He started his car to leave his house, went inside and watched a little TV while his car warmed up and simply left us while sitting in his chair. Peaceful. No struggle.

Very, very "Big Joe."

And I loved my friend very much. He was with me through thick and thin ... mostly thin. He bailed me out more times than I can count. He supported me every time I was bashed and pounded by others. Every time I went through a difficult time Joe was ALWAYS there and I could always call him and he would be the first one to show up at Bob Evens Resturant for breakfast and coffee. He loved that place. And we would talk for hours.

The last time I spent with Joe was a few weeks ago. He was tired, his heart was giving him problems and he had diabetes on top of it. But his spirit, as always, was brilliant. He was still playing music, still consumed with his sons Ron and Sean and their families. Still a good dad. Still my best friend.

Oddly enough, when Ron called me Monday before WoodSongs about Joe's passing I was, as you might imagine, upset. I wrote the day of the visitation down wrong and, although I bought the paper with the obit, couldn't read it. I thought I would wait a week and then read through it. Too painful right now. I showed up at the funeral home Wednesday with rachel and MichealB ... only to find out the visitation was the day before and Big Joe had been buried earlier in the afternoon.

I missed Joe's funeral. Can you believe that?
I stood there in the funeral home and I could almost hear Big Joe laughing his a** off at how stupid I was.

They don't make 'em like Big Joe anymore.
I shall miss my friend and all that he meant to me.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

WoodSongs Show #389 - Heritage

When I moved to Mousie, Kentucky one of the first poets and writers I came across was James Still. He lived in a log cabin in Knott County, on the property of the Hindman Settlement School. A friend gave me his book, River of Earth, and I was in awe of the powerful gentlity of his writing and his love of the mountain region of Appalachia.

He passed away a few years ago. On show #389, me and the guys performed a brand new song named after one of Mr. Still's most famous peoms, Heritage. What a beautiful piece of writing. I gave full credit for the source and inspiration of the song to the writer of the poem, but I want you to have a chance to read the poem itself. I encourage you to visit James Still's web page and learn more of this great Appalachian poet and writer (

I shall not leave these prisoning hills
Though they topple their barren heads to level earth
And the forests slide uprooted out of the sky.
Though the waters of Troublesome, of Trace Fork,
Of Sand Lick rise in a single body to glean the valleys,
To drown lush pennyroyal, to unravel rail fences;
Though the sun-ball breaks the ridges into dust
And burns its strength into the blistered rock
I cannot leave. I cannot go away.

Being of these hills, being one with the fox
Stealing into the shadows, one with the new-born foal,
The lumbering ox drawing green beech logs to mill,
One with the destined feet of man climbing and descending,
And one with death rising to bloom again, I cannot go.
Being of these hills I cannot pass beyond.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Notes from the WoodSongs Fireplace #387

Let me tell you about my friend, Kevin "Darth Fader" Johnson.

We started WoodSongs over six years ago in his little studio off Broadway in Lexington. The place was in an old building and barely sat 15 people. He had all the gear, so it was pretty smart to begin the show there. No investment needed. We would do the show on Monday evenings, early. About 6:30 just like today. I was married at the time and Jenny used to make home made brownies and serve up apple cider to help bribe an audience to show up.

His son Taylor and my son, MichealB are just a month apart. Kevin was there for me when Jenny left the marriage, when WRVG tried to steal WoodSongs and cancel the show, he was there when I got hit by cars and had operations. He is also there when we signed on with
WUKY. He's there everytime WoodSongs sells out the theatre, finds another radio affiliate, scores another award or achieve another point of success. Kevin helps shape the sound of WoodSongs, he mixes everthing on the fly ... we do not multi-track the show. As a matter of fact, we rarely even edit. What you hear on your hometown radio is pretty much exactly the way it went down in the theatre. We deliver the show to radio stations on compact disc. Kevin makes the copies on a cd duplicater that is, yes, in his bedroom. We hope Kevin is going to have his own WoodSongs technical blog soon, he's a very knowlegable guy with a ton of experiance. Here's a picture of Darth ... I wanted you to know a bit about him. He may be behind the scenes, but he casts a very big shadow :)

Folk on,

Monday, February 27, 2006

2006 Stephen Foster Awards

Anytime a folksinger wins anything at all that is called the "Stephen Foster Award" it's a good thing.

When he can accept the award on behalf of his friends it's even better.

That's what I did last Thursday. A bunch of broadcasters and media folks considered WoodSongs and all it has accomplished and decided to award us the
Stephen Foster Award for Broadcast Excellence. Sam Bush was there, as was Naomi Judd, the great bassist Byron House, Eddie and John Michael Montgomery from the country music world. John "Rose Colored Glasses" Conlee sang his big hit song. KET/PBS and WKYT-CBS taped the event for later broadcast.

We even had a free prime-rib dinner.

I liked that my long time friend Jim Piston and Corday, Judge Ray Corns, Dr. Bob DeMattina (who took this pic), Eric Anderson and Lisa Szejkorsky, all from the WoodSongs crew, were there to enjoy the evening. It felt less "me" and more like "us."

During the day I got to visit with my good friend Ron Penn, an artistan and fiddler who runs the John Jacob Niles Center at the University of Kentucky. Thankfully, his long and passionate efforts to keep this great folksinger's work alive was also recognized this night.

And musically I got to reach into my grab bag and sing
Vincent-Starry, Starry Night a song I've sung to crowds like this for a long time. What made it especially nice was that, when I walked into the presentation hall, a very good friend of mine was in the house band. That's Paul Martin behind my right shoulder. He and I performed HUNDREDS of Earth Concerts in many states together early in my folksinging career. He is an amazing musician and was at my musical side as my Tree Hugger years took shape.

All in all and good night for WoodSongs and most importantly, a good night that recognized the hard work of my friends that make WoodSongs possible.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Notes From the WoodSongs Fireplace #384 & 385

Well, Judge Ray Corns performed his 100th show last night.

What a good hearted, generous-to-a-fault and sincere man he is. And a good friend. Every week before the show starts he spins his Tales From WoodSongs Holler. Me, the artists and some of the crew watch him on the TV screens backstage ... it's a site to behold and we are very fortunate to have him as part of this family. And every week, he will call me after the show and tell me how much fun it is. We should all have a heart that big.

The artists coming to WoodSongs continue to be more and more powerful in their artistic scope. Last night we had Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band. Last week, the brilliant guitarist John Jorgenson. Amazing and fun to watch. Holly Brook will have a long career and has one of the most delicate voices I've heard in a long time. Mustards Retreat was a pleasure too. I've know David for a long time and it was great to finally have him and Mike on WoodSongs.

Our TV production continues to take shape and get better. I'm still not sold on the blue lighting against the curtains, it seems to clash with the warm look of the eternal autumn theme I want for the show. But little things like this make WoodSongs get even better.

Folk On!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Notes From the WoodSongs Fireplace - show 383

This past Monday we had the Gibson Brothers and Lauren Sheehan.

I have to say, it was a fun show. Aside from the music, Lauren and he partner Ed, an accomplished visual artist, were both a lot of fun to be around. We had dinner Sunday night. The Gibson Brothers are great musicians, they have a solid band and their sense of song arrangement is very clean and strong.

The new stage is looking awesome and Jim Piston and his TV/Webcast crew are working very hard to get it right. It takes a lot of work in that old theatre just to change a lightbulb. Seriously. We have to get a mechanical lift to go up 30 feet in the air just to change a bulb in a lighting instrument. Can you imagine?

My friend Dr. Bob took a great picture of the new stage. Hope you like it.

Oh yeah ... one more thing. The University of Kentucky just agreed to accept the history of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour and archive all our original scripts, Bob and Larry's massive photo collection, the original DAT copies of the first shows, our posters, banners and other stuff permanently as a historic collection at the John Jacob Niles Center on campus.

Go UK!
Folk on,

Friday, January 20, 2006

Notes from the Road - Witchita Falls & Kerrvile, TX

Before performing with Odetta on Monday the 16th, I spent several days on the road. Friday night I played a full concert at the Kemp Performing Arts Center in Wichita Falls. It was a very pleasing evening and my friend, Dr. Hull, a guitarist and musician and accomplished doc in his hometown was a great host and a very talented producer of the show. My friends at KCCU-FM, the public radio affiliate for north Texas that airs WoodSongs, came out to the show we had a fine visit. The hall was full, the audience sang and was memorable.

The next day, I traveled about 7 hours to Kerrville for a concert there.

Again, full house, wonderful music lovers and my hosts for the evening, Marty and Paula Reynolds, could not have been friendlier and more encouraging. I hope WoodSongs makes it on the air in the Kerrville area, maybe KUT or the NPR station in San Antonio. It made me miss my days when I lived in Laredo. Gosh, the food is indescribable!

I flew back to Lexington, did a TV interview for some PBS stations then had dinner with Odetta. By Monday, I was cooked but very happy. Folks often comment that I don't have enough pics on the website or on my CDs. believe it or not, I hate posing for the camera. Paula emailed me this shot she took at the post-show gathering.
Folk On!


Notes from the WoodSongs Fireplace - Show 381


She has one name long before Madonna and Prince made it popular. She was the inspiration for Dylan to pick up the acoustic guitar. She made Janis Joplin want to learn how to sing like you "own" the song. Odetta is a magnificient woman, a true friend and generous lady. She could have been anywhere in the nation this past Monday. It was Martin Luther King, Jr Day. She marched and sang with Dr. King. She was there with him during his
"I Have A Dream" speech.

She could have been anywhere on that day.
No doubt earning a huge fee.
But she came to WoodSongs for free.

What an example of a genuine soul who puts the audience and the art first. After the show, we had dinner together at Natasha's Cafe. My friends Bonnie, Richard and Richard Jr and Erica, who came to the show as audience members, joined us. Odetta sat with them and treated them as if they were old friends. Odetta and her musical passion deserves to be studied closely by every new artist.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Notes From the WoodSongs Fireplace - show 380

I am surrounded by an amazing, magnificient volunteer crew. They make WoodSongs possible - for me, the artists who appear on the show. And for you. Without them, there is no WoodSongs.

I guess Kevin Johnson is first on this list. He's our chief engineer ... we call him Darth Fader, because he sits behind the huge mixing console. If you like the way WoodSongs sounds, Kevin is the guy along with Brandon and Adrian and the rest of the audio crew.

Jim Piston works for the Kentucky PBS affiliate. He's very busy, very accomplished, very smart. I've known Jim for years and we've done all my music videos together. He's good, those videos aired on TNN, CMT and VH-1 because he is so technically careful and artistic. The past two weeks, Jim has pretty much consumed himself into making WoodSongs a national TV broadcast. A TV broadcast of a live audience radio show.

Corday, his new wife and an on-air announcer for the show, is also the WoodSongs Crew Captian. She organizes the varios jobs for the crew so everything is organized. And it always is. Corday, like Jim, offered a tremendous amount of time and effort to maiiung the TV broadcast of WoodSongs possible.

KC Campbell, another of the hard working crew members, contructs and then brings down the set every week. Without KC, there is no WoodSongs.

And without you there is no WoodSongs. Without the audience there is no art. Nothing. I guess what I am trying to do is say Thank You, as passionately and publicly as I can.

This is an amazing ride ...

Monday night
January 9, 2006