The Blog

My Wife Jan (September, 12th, 2013)
I finally got married on May 4th, 2013. I first met Jan when she hired me for the closing ceremonies of the 350th Anniversary for the town of Woodbury, Connecticut (which she organized over a 14 month period). Soon after that, she became my agent and I immediately started working a lot more often. After awhile, we started dating and eventually I realized that she could sing...really well. As she puts it, before we started working together, she had only sung "into her hairbrush". I was amazed at how quickly she adapted from singing in the shower into performing with a full band in front of hundreds of people. She also has made great strides in her guitar-playing and has learned an incredible number of songs for the various "theme shows" that we present at various venues. (Beatles, Bob Dylan, Famous Duets, Irish, Holiday,50's, 60's, Country and Western, Simon and Garfunkel, Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger, Originals, to name a few). On top of all this, she also works part-time for an accountant, a law firm, the local cemetery association, baby-sits for her granddaughter Penelope twice a week and takes good care of two Pugs and a Doberman. She has won two awards for Community Service and despite all this, is always looking for new projects to keep her "occupied". I know that I'm leaving some things out, but I'm sure she will remedy that when she reads this, corrects my mistakes, and makes some editing suggestions.

Back in Switzerland: September, 2013
I lived in Switzerland for several years and played hundreds of shows here, all over the German and French-speaking areas. I had an apartment in the Brunig Pass, which is at the top of two very steep hills in between Interlaken and Luzern. I try to return here at least once a year.

I'm writing today from room #20 of the gorgeous Hotel Alpenrose in Schoenried, which is just up the hill from Gstaad. (Note the repeating "hill theme"). Looking out my window, I can see many chalets on the hillside with fresh flowers on almost every window sill.Last night I played downstairs in Sammy's Bar (named after a dog) with bass player Karl Guntern (from Stechelberg) Karl was my manager here for many years and I can't begin to explain how much he has helped me through the years. Brit-born guitarist Kevin Adderly also sat in with us.We had a lot of fun and played for a LONG time.. Hollander Martin Heineken has been working here since 1983 and was behind the bar as usual. As he did many times when I was playing here with Danny Counts in the 1990's, he came onstage to sing his definitive version of "Walk on the Wild Side". I also must mention that Karl and I had an incredible dinner before the show: Scallops starter (tapas-style), impeccable salad and an assortment of grilled fish, followed by some local cheese. Not to mention a fine bottle of Swiss red wine.

Return to Blog (8/14/12)
My Friend Dan from California has been (rightly) harassing me for neglecting my blog for so long. So here I am again. I just got back from Switzerland, my friend/bass player/former manager Karl Guntern is visiting from Switzerland, and I'm singing the National Anthem for the New Britain Rock Cats tonight. Life is full, but not so full that I can rationalize not writing anything in my blog. It's like flossing-I know I should do it and that it's good for me, but I tend to put it off. My fiance/agent/singing partner Jan is good at gently reminding me of the "tasks" I should be attending to-and this one of them. So once again, I will try to visit this page a little more regularly-and to floss more often. Now it's time to go to FedEx in North Haven to pick up a heavy-metal guitar for Karl's son, and then get the bill from the guy who's been renovating my condo-and then go vote. Meanwhile, it's starting to rain...Jan's on the phone already.
England Again March 27th, 2011
No matter how many times I fly, I am still amazed that I can drive to an airport in New York, walk into an aluminum tube and a few hours later, walk out of the tube, be on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and have to look left when I cross the street.I'm also amazed that with all the international flying I've done, that I still haven't developed a strategy that avoids the onslaught of jet lag.I'm always much worse flying east. This time I was very lucky and had two empty seats next to me. So even though the seats seem to get thinner every year (or could it be?...No way!) I managed to get some sleep before they turned on the lights for "breakfast".

Ramrod Key Bus Odyssey
Before I went to Key West, my friend Holly in New York gave me the name of some musicians to look up while I was there. I was travelling with my Swiss bass player Karl Guntern, so I thought it might be fun to sit in with some local fellow travelers.The first one on the list was a bass player named "Moose". Holly said he was a good guy and had played on some Lou Reed records, so that was enough for me. When I finally got in touch with him the night after we got to town, he invited us to a Tiki Bar jam he was playing that evening. The problem was it was 25 miles east of where we were staying and the only way to get there was by public bus. It seemed at least a little inconvenient, but since we were tourists and musicians with absolutley no other plans, we decided to go for it. After acquiring a local bus schedule from our boarding house, we finally figured out that the only way to get there was to ride our rental bikes (with my guitar on my back) 15 minutes to a Sears shopping plaza, lock the bikes, and then hopefully get on the right bus which would deliver us to Ramrod Key (no, I don't know why it's called that) in about an hour and a half. At the bus stop, an inebriated woman told us how she had lost her purse with $400 in it in a taxi the night before and that, yes, we were at the right bus stop and that she would tell us when to get off. When the bus came (15 minutes late),not quite trusting the reliability of our new travel advisor, we asked the pony-tailed driver to alert us when we were nearing our destination. He agreed. The fare was only 3$ and we settled in. The drunk woman immediately struck up a conversation right behind us with a drunk man who was simultaneously talking with his estranged Cuban girlfriend on his cell phone. After a few minutes, she offered us a drink from her flask and suggested I take out my guitar to "warm up" a little bit. Since it was the only guitar I had with me and needed it for the rest of the trip, I demurred. For the next hour or so, the new couple kept up a lively, if dis-jointed conversation, which passed the time reasonably and somewhat kept our minds off the umcomfortableness of the seats. After awhile, she piped up in our direction: "Hey, you guys missed your stop". I said: "I thought you were going to tell us when to get off!" She said: "I'm sorry, I was talking". Remembering our back-up plan, I scurried to the front of the bus and conferred with the driver who confirmed that, yes, we had indeed over-shot our destination by a few miles and were now nearing the Seven Mile Bridge which would bring us a few miles closer to MIAMI. Not knowing what else to say that would not provoke an incident, I repeated my recent phrase: "I thought you were going to tell us when to get off!" His reply will forever remain in my mind as long as I have one: "I'm sorry, but I have a very poor short-term memory." Welcome to Key West! He then said: "But I tell you what I can do for you; in about 15 miles I'm going to turn around in Marathon (aptly named), and then after a five minute bathroom/cigarette break, I can drop you off on the way back FOR NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE. (I guess he was going for Driver of the Month).Somehow,this actually turned out to be what happened,, and miraculously we arrived across the street from the Tiki Bar at about 7:30PM. After finding seats at the bar and ordering a couple grouper sandwiches, we spotted Moose-which was not hard. He was about six foot three, had a bass and was wearing the biggest sombrero in the world. A really good electric guitar player named Chris Case was next to him. This was not your typical beach-bum over-the-hill burnt out duo. These guys could really play and sing and their repetoire ranged from Sam and Dave to Jimmy Buffett and beyond. At the break we got acquainted and Karl and I ended up playing a few numbers, but I'm getting away from the main thrust of the story. We had to leave after the second set because the last bus for Key West was at 10:30 and by this time we realized that the bus schedule was at best, a rumor. So we said our thank yous, exchanged phone numbers, and deposited ourselves at the edge of the road where we had gotten off the bus a couple hours before. The road was dark, but there was a little light at the bus stop designed to alert the bus driver to the fact that someone was waiting to board. Unfortunately, it went out after 90 seconds, so I had my hand on it fairly continously. By 10:40, a lot of other vehicles but no bus had passed, the mosquitos had found us and I was, to put it mildly, getting concerned. The bus finally did appear, noticed my flailing arms and soon we were reunited with the pony-tailed short-term memory driver of the month. Our bicycles were where we had left them and we drove home without further incident. The next day after a full night's sleep and a comfortable breakfast, I suggested to Karl that we drop by some bars to see if they needed anyone to play some music while we were there and he said: "Are you going to spend your whole vacation looking for work?" The wisdom of this statement burned it's way through my freelance, self employed way of thinking, and I said: "You're right; let's go to the beach".

Kicking Back in Key West
It's been a disgusting amount of time since I've writen in my blog, but due to a combination of being prodded by a friend/fan and presently being located on vacation in a former haunt of Ernest Hemingway,here I am again. I'm sure that my regular readers (whomever they were) have long since given up on my making any new entries, but nevertheless, I am re-starting my mental meanderings and will attempt in the future to be somewhat less sporadic in my literary efforts. The last time I was here was 1976. They say it's changed a lot, but it's been so long since I've been here, I can't really remember what it was like before. What I DO remember is being in Miami, and after winning some money betting on Jai Lai, deciding to splurge on a flight to Key West. I had opened for Jimmy Buffet in 1974, so I was curious to see the place.Soon after arriving while wandering around, I ran into Roger Bartlett, who was Jimmy Buffet's guitar player. I said "What are YOU doing here?" and he said: "Buffet's playing a show in about an hour-do you want to come?" Of course I did, so off we went. I still have the backstage pass in my dresser drawer.This time my visit was a pre-calculated vacation with my friend Karl Guntern who was my bass player and manager in Switzerland for several years. When I asked him where he wanted to meet, he said: "Someplace warm with water". So I chose a place that's REALLY warm with LOTS of water. Karl lives in the little town on Stechelberg which is at the end of a very long valley and is surrounded on all sides by steep mountains. Like Key West (and Provincetown, Zermatt, and Montauk), it's one of those "end of the road" places. But that's about where the similarity between the two places end.I tell you, Key West is one hopping place.When we arrived in Key here, it was the last night of "Fantasy Week" and what we saw that first night made the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade seem like a Disney Movie. There were literally thousands of people in the streets from all over the world. And this is not a big town. The next two days have been a little less exotic, but no less active. And guess who's coming to town today? The annual convention of the Parrotheads! (Jimmy Buffet's offical Fan Club). How ironic.Maybe I'll run into Roger Bartlett on the street again. P.S. Karl has asked me for those of you who would like to know more about Stechelberg (and I'm sure that's everybody), to include the town's website: http://www.stechelberg.ch. See you there!

"Roll On Pomperaug" Lyrics
Here's the lyrics to my new song!

There's a river in this town; Maybe you've never seen it

But for a long time, it's been around, And we need it;yeah, we need it

(CHORUS): Roll On Pomperaug and all the great rivers of Connecticut

May your waters flow clean and strong

And when it comes to you, may we never forget

From the Thames to the Saugatuck, Branford and Connecticut

The Mystic, Niantic, and the Housatonic,

Water keep a flowin', River keep a rollin'

All together to the sea

(repeat chorus until the rivers are clean)


Trip to New Orleans Ends up in Philadelphia.
The plan was my friend Rudy was going to marry Donna in New Orleans and I was going to play the reception with my old cohort Danny Counts on the bass. I left a lot of free time so I could pick up Danny in Roanoke, Va. and still be able to go to a Braves game and visit Hank William's gravesite on the way down. But this was not meant to be, I guess. Mother Nature intervened and the whole wedding was postponed. Too bad, but what are you going to do? When Rudy called me on my cell, I had only gotten to Philadelphia where I was staying with my friends Jimmy and Brigitte Weinrott. All of a sudden, the sound system in the car looked a little silly and I had a LOT of free time. Jimmy and I had gone to Tufts and Mexico together, but hadn't spent a lot of time together since the 70's (ouch). That all changed this week-I stayed at their house for 5 days. We went to 2 Phillies games (where I kept my loyalties to myself), cooked some great meals, drank some amazing wine, (Jimmy has a company called Wine Access), and generally caught up on this and that. During the day while J & B were working, I borrowed Jimmy's bicycle and wandered around like I used to do when I lived in Cambridge many moons ago.At first I was very adventurous, but after almost getting clipped by a bus on Montgomery Avenue, I stuck to the shaded, surburban, residential streets where the life expectancy is much higher. I was amazed that I didn't get more lost even though I didn't have my GPS with me. There's a park one block from where I was staying which has ballfields, three fairly new tennis courts and a backboard that's in even worse shape than the one in Southbury's Ballantine Park. It should be called "Everywhere-but Back to you-Board".After chasing the ball around the park at various angles, I noticed a guy by himself on one of the courts hitting with a machine. I offered him a human alternative and we ended up having a spirted match together on two seperate days. He was younger and probably better than me, but I managed to prevail. Nothing like beating a total stranger at tennis while on vacation to improve your self esteem. So I still haven't been to New Orleans, but I know a lot more about the town of Narbeth, Pa than I used to. This evening I thought I would checking into my room at the St. Louis Hotel, but instead I'll be playing once again across the street from my home at The Olive Tree where the only hurricanes are in a glass. Hopefully, someone will bring some beads.

Shelter Island Yacht Club 25th Anniversary: July 19,2008

I'm not sure if the calculations are exact, but someone figured out that with the exception of one year when someone hired a reggae band which no one liked, either my sister Annie or I have performed 25 years in a row for The Shelter Island Yacht Club Clam Bake. Quite a scrumptous occasion from many angles. Despite the scariness of today's economy, this event seems to be unscathed so far from recent developments. The evening was well-attended and apparently there is still a waiting list for membership into the Club. I never have trouble finding musicians for this evening, because aside from the financial consideration, the club provides our band with the same meal as the guests-a veritable smorgasborg of lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams, chicken, corn, vegetables, watermelon and brownies. Perhaps the biggest challenge of the evening is gearing up to play the dance set after such a huge and delicious meal. This year's performance fit into the usual mold: light Jimmy Buffet-esque music while everyone gets settled and served, a break while everyone eats as much as possible, and a full- fledged rock and roll set which goes on as long as possible with a couple of my own songs thrown in. We've been doing this for so long that some of the parents recruit their kids to get out on the dance floor for the "late" show to try to keep the "more mature" members involved (and present). This year's musical configuration included Shelter Island resident Chip Luddecke on electric guitar, his brother Larry on keyboards (whom I met in the city eons ago during my Lone Star Cafe days), and Ken Melton on drums. My favorite song of the night was Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" with all four verses, the keyboard sounding just like the record, and a bunch of twenty-to-sixty-somethings boogieing on the dance floor and singing along "How does it feeeel?!" And the whole thing was over by 10:10PM.

Ball Park ll: Mid-summer wanderlust 2008
My last trip to new (for me) ballparks didn't quite get the travel-itch out of my system, so I'm heading out after my Georgetown Saloon gig this Sunday for Pittsburgh and Cleveland. The Pirates and Indians are definitely 2 not-so-exciting teams this year, but that doesn't concern me too much. Gettysburg is on the way, there's the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and I see that the Carnegie Art Museum has 3 Van Goghs. But the main thing is I'll be visiting 2 ballparks where I've never been before, and getting to cruise through a part of the country where I haven't been for a long time.
Baseball Parks, Art Museums and National Monuments: June, 2008
Last week I took a real vacation and visited two friends I hadn't seen in a long time and combined the meetings with visits to two baseball stadiums I had nevver seen before. Everytime I go somewhere, It's hard for me to turn off my business-mind-I'm always looking around and saying to myself "I should be playing here", but despite this, I enjoyed myself, saw some good baseball, and caught up a little bit with two old buddies. The first stop was Baltimore to see the Orioles against the Red Sox. I arrived without tickets. In New York, this might be a big deal involving having to deal with some unsavory characters, but as soon as I got near the ball park, I met a couple from Red Sox nation who sold me two tickets in the second deck near third base for less than list price. There was even an official driving around in a golf cart directing people to a "scalp-free" area to sell tickets! How civilized. My friend Rich Lewis arrived right before game-time via public transportation from D.C. Rich is a lawyer who works for a firm that sues chemical polluters (and usually loses). He was supposed to go with me to Philadelphia the next day to see the Phillies with our mutual friends Jim and John Weinrott (also from Tufts), but a crisis at work prevented this. Anyway, Camden Yards was beautiful; bullpens in full view, one on top of the other, all the seats real close to the field, and the hitting background in centerfield was real ivy, still growing up the wall. The Red Sox lost, but we got to see Manny Ramirez hit his 502nd home run.

The next day, I had a little time for sight-seeing, so I set my GPS for the Mall and cruised into D.C. The White House was much more fortified than the last time I was there, so you couldn't even get near it, but I didn't really want to visit anyone there anyway, so I headed for the monuments. Luckily, I found a free 3 hour parking place right on Constitution Avenue. I was ready to be a tourist for 90 minutes. I even had a map. My main goal was to visit the FDR Memorial. It was difficult to find (on foot), but worth the effort. Lots of statues separated by stone walls with FDR inscriptions on them. The most moving was a series of men standing in line during the Great Depression (What was so great about it?). I spent some money in the gift shop and suggested they mark the way to the Memorial a little better for us pedestrians, and make the signs asking you to stay out of the fountains and not throw coins in them in languages other than English. More later...I have to go to work.


Back to Blog: June, 2008
As usual, I can't believe how long it's been since I've written in my blog. Apparently, I tend to be very streaky about this, and I think part of the reason for this is, like being on live radio, you're never sure how many people are out there taking it in...But, anyway, it's good to be back, and I will try to make this page a more current part of the website. Feedback is always hepful, if you get the hint. Recently, I've had some good trips to Washington D.C. Baltimore, Philadelphia and Martha's Vineyard, as well as a return to my eventual alma mater, Tufts to participate in the 45th reunion of the the a cappella group that I sang with, the Beelzebubs. Despite this, I've still to been able to keep my head vaguely above the water of my performing schedule and find the time to finally start organizing my vast collection baseball pictures into a scrapbook. But now it is hot, and I'm way behind in my newspapers, so I'm off to the pool.
WPKN Interview with Ken Best

On August 18th, I cruised down to Bridgeport, CT and paid my first visit to the WPKN radio station. Clay Eals had done an interview with Ken Best there to promote his Steve Goodman biography book tour, and he arranged for me to also do a spot with Ken the next week. Ken was really on-the-ball and the time went quickly. He had actually researched my website and had read a lot of Clay's book. I sang "Lincoln Park Pirates", "Vegematic" and "Save the Life of My Car" live, and Ken played Steve's studio version of "Men Who Love Women" and my own train song "This Train's All Right With Me" from my "Here Comes Love" cd. And of course, we talked a lot about Steve Goodman. I just received a cd in the mail of the interview, and I was surprised to notice some of my answers were actually related to the questions Ken asked me. Thanks, Ken.

Steve Goodman Tour: Aftermath
Steve Goodman Book Tour
Since finding out I'm going to be accompanying Seattler author Clay Eals on the northeastern part of the book tour for his fine, long-overdue biography of Steve Goodman "Facing the Music" (see "home" page"), I've been wading through this voluminous volume and boning up on my Steve Goodman material so that I'll have as much as possible to perform if the situation warrants. My sister Annie and I even had our first rehearsal in years to go through "Banana Republics". "Men Who Love Women" and the largely-unknown classic: "There's No Business Like Show Business When There's No Business". We'll be performing together on August 10th at the Bitter End in New York City. It feels a little strange to being doing something like this so long after Steve's passing (1984), but my enthusiasm is undiminished and I'm sure it will be great fun as well as (I hope) a fitting tribute to this great artist who influenced me so much.

Return to Passim's (Harvard Square): July 1st, 2007
Passim's was the first "real" club I ever played. When I was a senior at Tufts, Bob and Rae Ann Donlin let me open for Dave Van Ronk there on a Tuesday night, and when I didn't screw that up too much, they let me open for Jimmy Buffet the weekend I graduated, a couple months later. I've never forgotten how I felt when I realized I was going to get the chance to perform my own material in front of a listening crowd. Bob and Rae Ann have both passed on, and last night was the first of 3 evenings devoted to their memory. I hadn't been on that stage for more years than I care to figure out, and I really enjoyed being in that atmosphere again. I was on 3rd, so after that, I had the chance to be an audience member for a change, and enjoyed a lot of good music: Geoff Bartley is a songwriter I had been familiar with since my NY Fast Folk days, but last night was the first time I got to see his show. Charming, captivating songs and a great laid back style onstage.Nice guy, too. I was also impressed with Brook Williams who was SLICK (I mean that in a positive way), and a great guitar player.. He also has that Jimmy Buffet-James Taylor charm thing going. And then there was Taylor Armerding, bluegrass, mandolin-playing dry wit songwriter who performed with his son on fiddle who has an amazing high lonesome harmony voice.They were TIGHT. And Scott Alarik, who I'd previously just known as a journalist, opening the show, setting the mood, and masterfully m.c ing, playing off events of the evening, and spontaneously incorporating them into his schtick. One of the great lines of the night was: "Passim's: Self absortion with a social conscience." I was struck by how almost all the performers mentioned how Bob Donlin used to stand at the back of the club and wave his finger at you when he decided your show had gone on long enough. It was comforting to realize I was not alone in being unsettled by this. Also enjoyed chatting a little bit with Kari Estrin, classic folk impressario. We were scratching our collective memories to try to remember where we'd seen each other before.Also, finally got to meet Matt Smith, the club manager. He was stuck behind the sound board all night, so I didn't get to talk with him too much.So, it was a great evening, even though I had to leave a little early because I had to drive all the way back to Southbury. Everytime I do something like this, I walk away thinking I should be doing this type of show more often. This was no exception.

New Family Member! 6/30/08
Well, as of June 30th (3AM), I'm a great uncle. No pun intended. My sister Annie's daughter Elizabeth is the proud mother of a baby girl (Isabella Grace), 7 pounds, 4 ounces. I was able to visit her and the father Eli at the hospital in Holyoke, Mass. (sort of) on the way to Cambridge yesterday. The baby was less than 2 days when I saw it-youngest human I can ever remember seeing...Miracle.

June 10th,2007: 5th English gig today.
Well, as Rubber Eddie used to say, time is flying by like hotcakes. Last night Karl had a solo hotel gig, so his wife Rachel and her brother Roger drove me to a solo gig at the Dolphin, ANOTHER charming pub, near Exeter. This afternoon we're going to the lovely seaside town of Lyme Regis, about ten miles down the coast to play a barbeque from 4-7PM at the Nag's Head. This was one of the first pubs I played in this area, and I always enjoy going back there. The owner, Rob hails from the bizarre little island of Sark and personally escorted us (and drove my car) the first time we played the Channel Islands. After today, I have a day off(!), and then I'm off to Switzerland on Tuesday. I'll be flying into Zurich and eventually weaving my way through Bern, Montreux and Sion to Geneva. The weather in England has been un-stereotypically gorgeous since I arrived here-about 70 degrees each day and mostly sunny with a slight breeze Yeah, yeah, yeah! Having access to Karl's computer has been a real plus, also. I've been able to keep up with my blog, answer my e mails, check the baseball scores and even book a couple gigs for when I get back home. What's going on with the METS?!

First Night of "You Can Keep Your Hat On" Tour: June 6th, 2007
D-Day. This date is remembered here, but somberly, without putting up a flag in your face every 50 yards, and they don't leave them out in the rain, like they do in Woodbury,CT. The area where I'm presently staying housed a lot of American and Canadian pilots during World War II. The common phrase describing them was "over-paid, over-sexed and over here". John Kennedy's older brother Joe's fatal mission left from an airport near here.

Our 1st show (at the Royal Clarence, down the "road") had the double-unfortunate luck of being at the same time as a televised English soccer game (combination of going up against the World Series and the Super Bowl) and a new documentary about Lady Diana. If there's 2 things you can't compete with here, it's Football and the Royal Family, but we still had a decent turn-out and the pub didn't lose any money and Karl and I had the opportunity to shake off the musical dust from not playing together since January. Tonight we're playing in Totnes (wherever that is) for Adrian who used to run a pub we played at several times in Burton-Bradstock (that's a town, not a corporation). Time to go get some fish and chips. The English Channel is a five minute walk from here. After that, I have to walk to the next town (which is actually called Beer), because they don't have any phone cards at the Seaton post office. They're getting some in on Tuesday, but I'll be in Switzerland by then.

Arrival in England: June 5th, 2007
Had a very pleasant flight on Virgin Atlantic-kudos to Mr. Branson. Friendly and attentive staff,yellow-themed gift pack, cool blue lights in the rest room, decent food, free drinks (a rarity these days), and GREAT sound system.Also. a little packet to give your loose change to under-privileged children. What a great idea! My only complaint would be lack of leg room. I ended up not sleeping because of 50 Movies choices-saw Hollywoodland, Factory Girl and enough of Borat to be glad I didn't pay any money to see it in a theater. I know it was very successful, but to me it's one long cheap shot setting up unsuspecting people, insulting them and trying make them look foolish using false pretences.

Bus and train from Heathrow to Devon seemed to take forever, but now I'm settled in with Karl and Rachel at their house in Seaton, eating popcorn and checking my e mails while they're watching the East Enders on TV. Tour starts tomorrow night at a pub right down the street. Rachel says I should say right down the "road".

TIME TO GO to JFK June 4th, 2007
Well, I've been meaning to write down the account of a road trip to Fenway Park with my 16 year old nephew and a big night at a fancy night club in Manhattan seeing Peter Gallegher's caberet act with my sister Annie, but my neighbor Bob Mosca just showed to give me a ride to the bus , which will take me to Port Authority where another bus will take me to JFK, where one of Richard Branson's planes will take me to London, so I'll see you later...
Where to Go? (Update) May 12, 2007
Well, I had to commit, so I'm going to Paris (June 18-20). My friend Jonathan Levine (better known as Fiddlin'Red) and his wife Viv have adjoining 4th and 5th floor apartments near Place de L'Italie and I might be able to stay there. No matter. It's a beautiful neighborhood, about a 15 minute walk from the Seine with tons of intimate fixed-price restaurants offering three course menus with an incredible amount of choices for each course. Jonathan has a little recording studio in his house, so maybe we'll knock out a track or two in between visits to the Rodin museum and the other one whose name I forget that houses all the Impressionists.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATHARINE HEPBURN!

She would have been 100 today-she made it to 96. One of my big heroes. I remember watching an interview with her and Barbara Walters in the 70's where she made the argument that you can't expect to have it all-which hadn't occcured to me yet at that point in my life. She was specifically referring to making a living in the Arts not being conducive to getting married and having children. So far, I've been a shining example of that. Barbara: "Do you ever wear a dress?" Katharine: "I'll wear one to your funeral". Barbara: "I'd be honored you'd be there". If you get a chance, try to catch one of her interviews with Dick Cavett (from 1973) that's on the Turner channel from time to time. "I don't care what you print about me, but spell my name right".

Where to Go? Plane Ticket dilemma (May 8th,2007)
Because I'm using air miles to go to London, I have the possibility to "add a leg" onto my flight for no extra charge. I could actually fly from London to Los Angeles and then back to NY, but then i would be spending most of my free time on a plane(!). I checked if I could go to the Channel Islands, Copenhagen, or Dublin, but Continental doesn't have a connection to any of those places. I'm currently booked for Paris, but may change my mind. I have till the end of the week. Pleasant dilemma. I wonder if I could catch a ball game in Atlanta?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HARRY TRUMAN!

Heritage Village,CT Concert: Another Reunion (May 6,2007)
Yesterday was my 5th annual concert in Heritage Village-which means I've lived there for five years-which brings to mind Groucho Marx's comment: "I would never want to belong to a club that would admit someone like me as a member". I was well supported in the show by John Kuhner on keyboards, Ken Melton on congas, the almost-88 year old Bernie Ross on the trumpet, my brother Jim, and my sister Ann. It was the first time in years that Jim, Ann and I had performed together formally, so that was a big thrill for me, as well as something different for the people who have been coming regularly to my shows in this area. In case you missed it, here's the program we presented: The Coyotes by Don Edwards (Jim solo), Greenland Whale Fisheries (Jim and Willie), The Spree (Jim and Willie), You Can Close Your Eyes by James Taylor (Jim, Ann, and Willie),Friend of the Devil by The Grateful Dead, The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel, And When I Die by Laura Nyro (Jim, Ann, Willie, and Ken), City of New Orleans by Steve Goodman (Jim, Ann, Willie, Ken and John), Other Side of the Moon by Willie (Willie, John and Ken),Running Bear by Johnny Preston (Willie, Ken and John, with Jim Walsh and Adrian acting out the story), Save The Life of MY Car by Willie (all) Mack the Knife (Willie, John, Ken and Bernie), Bye Bye Love by the Everly Brothers (all), and Town Called New Orleans by Willie (everybody plus Meg Walsh, Peg Kelly, Nancy Praeger and Patrick Nininger on percussion). In between songs, I presented some Elizabeth Taylor perfume that was donated by my friend Linda Wheaton to a member of the audience. I was going to randomly call out a ticket number, but that didn't work because everyone handed in their ticket at the door! My neighbor Rita Mosca who was in the audience,saved the day by suggesting we give it to someone who was having a birthday. I also presented Bernie Ross with an award (which I made up): "Heritage Village Trumpeter of the Year". It was a fun show. Thanks to the 179 people who showed up, and a special thanks to Annie, who took time from her very busy schedule as children's performer and pre-school music teacher to make the scene. xx

APRES TUFTS: Quelle Reunion! (April 23rd,2007)
Well, my last entry seems like a long time ago after a great weekend drifting around Masssachusetts and attending an amazing reunion of Torn Ticket, a theater group at Tufts that I was involved with my last semester of college.It seemed like the minute I drove out of Southbury Friday afternoon, the sun came out and the whatever- it -was that was ailing me disappeared. After a one hour show at the Evergreen Health Care Center in rural Stafford Springs, CT, I drifted across the state line and meandered my way towards Boston on the smallest roads I could find. The highlight of the afternoon was passing through West Brookfield, birthplace of Connie Mack; I'll have to go back there. After getting caught in Worcester's rush hour, I settled at the Day's Inn in Shrewsbury. I spent the evening at a nearby Sports Bar full of Boston fans, watching the Red Sox beat the Yankees in an incredibly improbable fashion. The next day delivered the first gorgeous weather of the spring, so I resumed my slow pace even though I was less than an hour from my next hotel. Not seeing the need to check-in to my room before the next Red Sox -Yankee game, I veered off Route 2 at Concord and spent a couple hours walking around Walden Pond. Reading "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau had a big effect on me when I was a freshman at Kenyon (I stopped adding salt to my food for awhile), so I really enjoyed visiting the remains of the famous cabin and reading the blurbs scattered around the State Reservation. My balloon was popped a little bit by what I learned: I used to think that Thoreau had totally isolated himself from civilization while he communed with nature and wrote his book, but it turns out his parents lived a half hour walk away and that he frequently left the woods and walked into town to visit his friends-including Raplh Waldo Emerson, who owned the land where the cabin was. There was a railroad (and still is) right near the cabin, and a carnival on the lake every summer. After Thoreau moved out, the the walls of the cabin were burned for firewood and the roof was removed to cover a pig sty. But never mind: it was still cool to be there and I felt most of the people that I passed on the well-defined path around the pond were there because of Thoreau's lesson of striving for simplicity and getting back to nature. But the main part of the weekend and my reason for the trip was yet to come: In the spring of my Senior year, I had planned to resume my baseball career and went out for the Tufts team. What I didn't plan on was that after two weeks of indoor batting practice, I was still the third string 1st baseman and therefore, I was not looking forward to the team's extensive travel schedule-especially after I fell head-over-heels in love with someone who I know would prefer not having her name mentioned here. So when her best friend, who was also the choreographer for Torn Ticket, offered me the part of Young Ben in the Steven Sondheim show Follies, I said farewell to the baseball team. So I met a whole new group of people who I spent an intense amount of time with over a span of two months. Although I had done some acting in high school and at Kenyon, this was a more high-powered endeavor and I generally felt that I had to work very hard to keep my head barely above water. But everyone was very supportive and it was a great feeling to be a part of such a big production. And then came graduation and everyone spread to the four winds. And then all of a sudden, it's 35 years later and I get an e mail about a reunion. I decided to attend almost immediately and observed with interest the following e mails which chronicled the growing list of people who had been tracked down and had agreed to show up. When the big night arrived,it amazed me how positive everyone had remained, how marvelous everyone looked, and what a great feeling of comraderie pervaded the entire evening. Of course, everybody had their story about the path they had traveled, but the most touching to me was Doug Munson. He had the lead part of Ben and was incredibly talented-great actor and singer, good looking, strong work ethic-and a nice guy. I said to him: "You were so good-did you continue with your acting?" He said: "Well, I went to New York and tried hard to make it, but after 10 years what happened was I became a very good waiter." No business like show business. About midnight, a few people finally gathered around the piano and started pounding out the show tunes.I had a long internal bout of indecision about whether or not to go to the car and get my guitar, but my ego finally got the best of me, and at the end, I was glad I talked myself into playing.Ross Dolloff, Bill Gehling and I sang "Knockin' on Heaven's Door", which we used to sing at 3AM during the coffeehouses we held at the (Kippie) house on campus where we lived. At 2AM the reception was over, and we all went our seperate ways again.I don't think anyone who came regretted it, and apparently, a lot of people who didn't come wished they had been there.The most famous of our group, Peter Gallagher, couldn't make it, but a group of us will try to go see his cabaret act next month at the Regency Hotel in NYC. We can't really afford it, but we're going to do it anyway.

Waiting for the Spring; April 18th, 2007
Technically, spring is here, but the sky has been grey for several days, almost every one I know has a cold, and it just doesn't feel like it. We've made it through another winter, and the reward of warmer weather has not been delivered. My birthday is next week, and I don't have the normal anticipatory optimism I usually have at this time of year. Maybe because I'm getting older.Maybe I'm turning into Charlie Brown! I'm trying to keep busy and not use this as an excuse to be lazy. This weekend I'm going back to one of my alma maters, Tufts University for the reunion of a theater group I was in called Torn Ticket. Seeing old friends usually perks me up, and some of these people I haven't seen for longer than I'd like to admit. Look ahead and stay positive!
March 15: Sitting Here in Limbo
Great song by Jimmy Cliff-from the soundtrack of the movie "Harder They Come", which played forever at the Orson Welles Cinema in Cambridge, Mass., a stone's throw from Harvard Square.What a great theatre. Leah Finger and I used to hitch there from Tufts (even though I had a car). They had classic double features like Katharine Hepburn, Marx brothers and Marlene Dietrich, starting at 4PM for ONE dollar and the coffee was free!

But once again, I digress... we're still in the middle of St. Patrick's week and because of the weather report, tomorrow is very uncertain. Originally, John McKuhner and I had 4 shows booked for tomorrow all over central Connecticut, but one already has cancelled and re-scheduled for next week and there's supposed to be a big snowstorm hitting the east coast, so we could have three shows or none. A few years ago, the uncertainty of all this would have bothered me, but tomorrow I'll wake up, look at the sky, and take it from there. -Or maybe I'll get totally pissed off if everything is cancelled!

March 14: ST. Patrick's Week in Full Swing
This morning my brother reminded me that today would have been our parent's 62nd Wedding anniversary. It's also the 14th anniversary of the big award I won in Switzerland. But I didn't have too much time to dwell on either of these milestones, because I am in the midst of a bunch of Danny Boy and The Wild Rover.

Today the keyboardist John McKuhner and I did our Irish show at the Weston, Ct Senior Center and Kimberly Place in Danbury, Ct. While we were getting our sound equipment out of the car in Danbury, a man outside said: "I hope you're going to do Minstrel Boy, because that's me favorite song". We hadn't done it yet this year, but we had the music , so we brushed up on it while we were setting up and did it in the show. I don't think the guy who requested it actually made it to the show, but at least we have another song in out Irish repetoire now. Great emotional, defiant,sincere rebel lyric with a melody that makes you want to get up and kick some shamrock.

This week I am frequently using the line which I lifted from Eric Frandsen (which I suspect he lifted from someone else): "I feel fortunate because I was born of mixed German-Irish heritage and have therefore inherited the German sense of humor and the Irish work ethic". On to the Painted Pony...

March 12, 2007: James and Livingston Taylor and St. Patrick's Day
I heard on the AM radio today (modern guy) that it's James Taylor's birthday. They gave it away by playing "Damn that traffic jam" during the traffic reports.I always know how old James is because he was born the same year as my older brother, also James. Oh, my gosh, does that make me Livingston?! I don't think so... I 've met James twice briefly on the other side of the pond during the period when my Little League team-mate Clifford Carter was playing keyboards for him, but that's the subject for another blog. I met Livingston a little more than that because I opened a concert for him at Tufts, and also at Godfrey Daniels in Pennsylvania and the Lone Star Cafe in Manhattan once or twice. I don't know why I remember this, but one night when I was about to go onstage, he straightened my jacket. I haven't seen Livingston for a long time, but I saw him on PBS the other night, enticing people to pledge and telling family anecdotes during a JT Tribute Show. He is still a character, and he said some nice things about his big brother.

But what I really want to talk about is St. Patrick's Day.If you need someone to digress, I 'm your boy...

There's a Irish song I sing a lot in my shows even when it's not March because it's such a great song and I relate to it. It's called "Star of the County Down" and I learned it from a recording Van Morrison made with the Chieftain's and actually the whole record is great, but let's try to stay on one subject for a couple minutes. Here are the lyrics-it's a classic Irish ballad:

{Near Bandridge town in the County Down one morning last July, From a boreen green came a sweet Colleen and she smiled as she passed me by. She looked so sweet from her two bare feet to the sheen of her nut brown hair, such a coaxing elf sure I shook myself for to see i was really there.

As she onward sped sure I scratched my head and I looked with a feeling rare, so I says says I to a passer by: "Who's the maid with the nut brown hair?" -He smiles at me and he says says he: "She's the gem of Ireland's crown: young Rosie McCann from the banks of the Bann, she's the start of the County Down".

of course there's a chorus between every verse, but let's finish the narrative first...

At the Harvest Fair she'll be surely there and I'll dress in my Sunday clothes, with my shoes shone bright and my hat cocked right for a smile from the nut brown rose. No pipe I'll smoke, no horse I'll yoke till my plow turns rust cloured brown, till a smilin' bride by my own fireside sits the star of the county Down.

Okay, here's your chorus!

From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay and from Galway to Dublin town, no maid I"ve seen like the brown Colleen that I met in the country Down.}

Perhaps because there were so many psychiatrists in my family while I was growing up,, I tend to look at almost anything analytically at the drop of a hat. Let's take the guy in this song: The whole first verse all he tells us is this woman smiled at him while she's walking past and he's obviously smitten...So in the second verse he asks somebody who she is. In the 3rd verse he's daydreaming of seeing her at the Harvest Fair and somehow convincing her to marry him-but he still hasn't TALKED WITH HER.

Admirable optimism, I guess. Reminds me of why I relate to the guy in this song, but of course I can't tell you that because I have an Irish grandfather somewhere on my mother's side of the family. Toora loora loora and away we go...

It's always interesting to review the lyrics of a song after you've been performing it for a couple or more years. Like in this one, I always thought the line was "smiling bright by my own fire sight", instead of "a smiling BRIDE by my own fire sight"- A field day for you Freudians. I also didn't realize he wasn't planning to use his plow till he got married-I was thinking he was going to shine it up for the Harvest Fair. I'm also not sure what a "boreen green" is, but I'm thinking it's roughly equivalent to a town square, and even if it isn't, I can live with that.

Which brings us to that famous song by Creedence Clearwater Revival: "There's a bathroom on the right".

Please send me the lyrics you have been under misapprehension about even if that is a dangling particple (not the Paul Simon song). Maybe that will get this blog moving...

3/6/2007 - Tennis
I'm trying to fight the winter blues by playing some tennis indoors. I've been in a men's doubles group once a week, but last night I tried to pick it up a notch and showed up for men's singles at the Middlebury Racquet Club. A cruel reminder of the conditioning difference between singles and doubles:First, I lost to a 15 year old sophomore, and then (by the same score) to his father. Back to the gym!
HELLO BLOG! February 23, 2007

Hello Everybody. Willie here, sitting in my kitchen at my computer, wading through my website, trying to navigate the treacherous waters of modern technology towards the shore of acceptable online competency.

Pretty soon I will wander down the street and set up my sound system for another Friday night at the Olive Tree. I almost always enjoy myself there,(good place to try out new material), and you can't beat it for convenience. The "lounge" seats about 35 people and someone usually ends up onstage with me, singing or playing some kind of percussion instrument.When my Dad, Eugene was still alive, I actually had enough time to wheel him in for the first set, and then, with the help of my friend Pete Burkhardt, get him back in the car, back home, into bed and back to the club in about 10 minutes. I miss that.

Tonight I will probably play "Wandering Star" for the first time. It's a Lerner-Lowe song from the movie "Paint Your Wagon" , but the amazing thing about it (aside from it's tricky bridge) is that the vocal is by LEE MARVIN.You have to see it to believe it.It was actually a big hit in England.The movie is way too long and not that good, but it's worth renting to check out this song.(about 1:40 into the film). Clint Eastwood also sings "I Talk to the Trees". (I'm not kidding). Lee actually sings lower than Leonard Cohen. I've experimented playing it in several different keys. I think it will end up in "C". Great lyrics: "When I get to heaven, tie me to a tree, or soon I'll start to roam and then you know where I will be...". I can relate to this song: "I was born under a wandering star".

I hope you like this photo of my father and I. It was taken in 1985 at the Western Saloon in the Montreux (Switzerland) Casino during one of the times Eugene flew over (at his own expense) to help me out. A man named Jauques Lozet walked in to the club one night and asked if he could take some photos. The next evening when I showed up for work, there were 10 huge prints on the stage. I never sawthe photographer again. Thank you, Jacques. The photo was taken in the middle of our version of The Willam Tell Overture.

Too bad about the discussion board, but I think this will be more fun. I've been meaning to start a semi-professional journal/diary ever since I met Ian Gillan (Deep Purple) a few years ago and he told me about his site. He wirites in it almost every day and it's a great forum for people who are interested in his music to interact with him. Hopefully, this will be the same. I hope to get a lot of input from everyone "out there". Comments on shows, questions, advice, etc. Let me know what's on your mind!