On the Glory Road – Harmony In The Car

My brother and I were not happy little harmonizers on The Glory Road.   Daddy was following his calling to preach, Mother followed her calling to sing, but we two believed our true calling was to amble down a country road somewhere that led to a house of our own, a school we’d go to every day, and friends who’d know us from one year to the next. Just because you can sing harmony it doesn’t mean you always want to.

We were on the tent revival circuit, booked for months in advance and from time to time the family needed to refresh our presentation. Daddy said we’d best practice before we get to Amarillo. He enticed us into learning our parts by singing songs we liked on the radio. We started off with The Sons Of The Pioneers’ Tumbling Tumbleweeds and when we had our parts down on that one, he switched to What A Friend We Have In Jesus in the same key.

Long stretches of Route 66 through the Deep South offered nothing to look at except tumbleweeds, giant puffs of them rolling free on the highway or stuck to a fence.  Daddy played a game with them.

A huge tumbleweed clump was minding its own business somewhere in Texas and as we got closer it loomed about half-a-car size. The motion of our big old sedan invited it to dance.  It floated up and plopped on the windshield, covering the view.  Leslie Ray said, Daddy you better stop but Daddy said, watch this.

Instead of stopping and freeing the thing, his game was to keep driving and speed up, then brake quickly trying to get it to release itself.  Man against nature.  It wasn’t safe, but not much about car travel was back then.

Here are The Sons Of The Pioneers helping two young Gospel Gypsies learn harmony.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzxz0M7Wws0

On The Glory Road

The Glory Road is where I spend most of my time these days, immersed in the book manuscript. Interested parties ask, why aren’t you blogging about that?   Starting with this week’s post, I’ll share some of the process while putting together this multi-media project about the life of my family.

We traveled the Deep South in the 1950’s, carrying songs from then to now.  Today the music Mother and Daddy recorded, much of it written by Mother, Sister Fern Jones, is heard everywhere.  Brother Ray Jones (Daddy) added harmony and rhythm guitar.

I’ll add photos and music from time to time and if you want a reminder about each week’s post, you can sign up on this page where it says “Subscribe to blog via email.”

Here are a couple of paragraphs from The Glory Road book manuscript:

Daddy was the sheriff of Mayberry with a deep Southern drawl and a Bible in his hand. Tall and good looking and enormously likable, he was in possession of both the strength and the patience of a natural leader. Mother was a pretty and provocative teenaged honky-tonk queen turned into a preacher’s wife and gospel singer. 

We were gospel gypsies, short on money, heavy in equipment, stopping to perform at Singings, at churches, under revival tents and at radio stations. We spent much of the 1950’s in our old sedan, traveling the Deep South wherever his calling to preach and her calling to sing took us. The front seat made the decisions while the back seat waited to see where we’d be living for the next few weeks….

Here’s gospel-to-rockabilly in one song, “Keeps Me Busy”  from the album “Fern Jones, The Glory Road.”  Re-mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering in Boston and released by Numero Group out of Chicago.  The original was recorded in the 1950’s at the Bradley Brothers’ famous Quonset Hut in Nashville. Guitar licks from legendary Hank Garland. While recording this album, all the studio musicians were also working with Elvis over at RCA.

More about projects at http://www.thegloryroad.com/

 

 

 

Music hath charms.

Music hath charms. YouTube helps me find them. Here’s the full quote.

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.”

         …William Cosgreve, British poet, playwright.

Some days we’re the rocks, other times the knotted oaks. William, you would have loved YouTube.

Do you ever hear a song that’s not about anything you’re doing but it catches your attention and by the time the song ends, you’ve been lifted? The shift is not quite definable, not quantifiable, it just is.

I respect artists who post their work on You Tube where the world can share it. I’ve met excellent musicians there. Sometimes I go to YouTube in search of a particular song for a project and while I’m there, I meet musicians I haven’t heard before. That’s how I met Chris Whiteman.

Beautiful guitar, beautiful songs.  I say hey to him in the comments section on his Instagram or Facebook or YouTube accounts and let him know his music seems to arrive at exactly the right time.

I’ve never met him in person. Don’t need to. There’s a piece of his soul in the music he makes and that reminds me I should always do the same – put the personal into the product. Please do meet Chris online and from time to time I’ll pass along links for others I find and listen to and love.  I hope you’ll do the same.  Here’s a favorite – and below, a link to Chris’ YouTube account where all the videos he posts are available.

Chris Whiteman YouTube channel

 

Appliance Attraction

I love a fancy fridge.  This time, sadly, it’s not mine. Here’s a picture of my new crush by dawn’s early light. It lives in the home of a friend. At a sleepover with girlfriends recently (We still say “sleepover” and we still say “girlfriends”) I was the first one awake.

Before daylight I sat with my iPad in the glow of a pretty lamp, just me and my iced Starbucks coffee, and I kept glancing at the shiny giant in the corner of the kitchen. I’ve known other refrigerators and other ice dispensers and  bonded with my share of them, but none was as quiet as this.

This tall handsome creature* plinked my glass full of ice in an instant without making any sound except plink, whoosh.  Iced coffee before 5 AM while the rest of the house sleeps, lots of cream, your choice of crushed or cubes without waking another soul – it’s a beautiful thing.

  • Feels only sporting to say the brand name. It’s LG.

Waiting For The Naked Ladies

Naked Ladies show up in the oddest places in Northern California in July and all through August.  Clumps of them, pink and fragrant, with up to a dozen beautiful blooms on each leafless stem. They’re  energetic.  They’re sturdy.   They’re random.

They scatter all over the countryside in Napa and Sonoma and Marin in places where no one would have thought to plant them.  All of a sudden comes this magic in a distinct shade of pink, from a bed of weeds, a crack in a sidewalk, along fences, lining a country road, and in no particular formation. You have to smile at their tenacity and because critters don’t like them, they stay around a while.

There’s something mysterious and charming about them so I had to look it up.  Read on if you want to know too.

They’re in the lily family, starting life as a bulb. During the winter a plant with leaves appears, looking like any other plant.  Then the leaves die away and you can easily forget about them. A few months later during hot weather, up pops a bare stalk then another and another.

I wanted to know how they get scattered all over the place. Turns out they drop seeds which insure surprise sightings in years to come.  Once a bulb’s planted, you’ll never know how many will show up next season.

People say Naked Ladies are practically indestructible, but I assumed I’d lost the ones in my yard in Mill Valley a few years ago. A tree had to be removed right next to where the Naked Ladies bloomed the summer before.  Along with the tree and its roots, everything went.  Only dirt was left.

Then came the summer and overnight one bare stalk started pushing up, then another, beautiful and fragrant and naked.

 

 

Jane Austen sat here.

Jane Austen’s last novel, Sanditon, (in progress when she died) is coming to TV.  Masterpiece/PBS will film an 8-episode adaptation of the story.

It’s impossible to imagine how many thousands of pages she created sitting right there. A goose feather could meet no nobler purpose than to become one of the quill pens she dipped in endless bottles  of ink.

Filming begins in spring, 2019.  Never too early for eager Jane Austen fans to start getting excited.

Here’s the official press release: 

Latest news

RED PLANET PICTURES, ITV AND MASTERPIECE TO BRING JANE AUSTEN’S UNFINISHED FINAL NOVEL, SANDITON, TO LIFE

RED PLANET PICTURES, ITV AND MASTERPIECE TO BRING JANE AUSTEN’S UNFINISHED FINAL NOVEL, SANDITON, TO LIFE
RED PLANET PICTURES, ITV AND MASTERPIECE TO BRING JANE AUSTEN’S UNFINISHED FINAL NOVEL, SANDITON, TO LIFE.

We are delighted to announce our new drama, based on Austen’s final manuscript, Sanditon, developed by Emmy and BAFTA-Award winning writer Andrew Davies.

Executive produced by our Creative Director, Belinda Campbell (Death in Paradise, Dickensian, Hooten & The Lady) and MASTERPIECE’s Rebecca Eaton, Austen’s original 11- chapter fragment has been extended into a sumptuous 8×60 minute drama series by acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies (War & Peace, Mr Selfridge, Les Misérables, Pride and Prejudice).

ITV’s Head of Drama, Polly Hill commented: “It’s a rich, romantic, family saga built upon the foundations Jane Austen laid. There is no one better to adapt her unfinished novel than Andrew who has an incredible track record for bold and original adaptations.  We’re delighted to commission Sanditon from Belinda Campbell and her team at Red Planet Pictures.”

Andrew Davies added: “Jane Austen managed to write only a fragment of her last novel before she died – but what a fragment! Sanditon tells the story of the transformation of a sleepy fishing village into a fashionable seaside resort, with a spirited young heroine, a couple of entrepreneurial brothers, some dodgy financial dealings, a West Indian heiress, and quite a bit of nude bathing. It’s been a privilege and a thrill for me to develop Sanditon into a TV drama for a modern audience.”

Belinda Campbell commented: Andrew Davies’ compelling scripts bear all the hallmarks of the biting social commentary and realism that makes Jane Austen one of the most widely read writers in English literature. Sanditon’s themes of class divide, ambition, powerplay and matters of the heart are as relevant today as they were in the early 19th century and we can’t wait to bring this incredible adaptation to life for ITV audiences to enjoy.”

Gilmore Girls Again

We’re watching Gilmore Girls again.  And again.  The youngest person in the house is now exactly the right age to find Lorelai and Rory fascinating.  Everything about their relationship, their town, their troubles and triumphs, their fast-talking search for wisdom – all of it  – watched and discussed right here.

Writers/producers, Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino are creative past any point I can imagine.  Because of the quirky charm of Gilmore Girls (now available on Netflix) I followed them to their next shows, Bunheads (haven’t found it streaming yet) and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon.

When my blogging buddy, Dave Williams and I were both on the radio in Los Angeles, he spoke often of his devotion to the show. I came to it later thinking, if Dave’s so crazy about this, I’ll give it a try.

Now, thanks to the magic of streaming, we have the opportunity to re-visit the town of Stars Hollow and share interesting conversations at home with the resident teen.

 

 

 

 

California Highway Sauce

I’ve spent a lot of time driving I-5 from Northern to Southern California and back.  During summer the center of the state bursts with flavors. I know all the nooks and crannies, the truck stops, the rest stops, and the bounty of good regional food sold at specific convenience stores along the way. Maybe someday there’ll be a song about I-5.  After all, Route 66 had to wait a while before Bobby Troup sang about it.

I-5 parallels the West Coast from Mexico to Canada.  There are long stretches without much to look at but signs point to quick side trips, if you’re inclined.  I’ve been on this road so often I can direct you to everything from salad to dessert.

This month, a short trip off I-5, it’s the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Gilroy named itself the Garlic Capital Of The World and nobody disputes it.

When you drive I-5 you learn when crops are planted and harvested. Ahead of me I spy two crucial ingredients for great spaghetti sauce.  One truck rolls along carrying garlic, followed by another with tomatoes, home-grown and soon to be shared in markets everywhere. If you’re on I-5 during summertime you don’t need to wait.  There are enough roadside stands on your way home to provide everything you need for supper.

 

 

 

Christmas in July

 

As a confirmed winter-lover, I’m already enchanted with everything about December.  No gilding necessary. But hot weather for a long stretch makes me wonder if autumn will ever arrive again.  Here comes Hallmark with their annual tradition  – Christmas movies in the summer.  This year they’re calling it *Gold Crown Christmas.  *Turner Classic Movies also has the holiday spirit.

Here on the warm West Coast, we’re planning our own (very) small Christmas In July celebration.  Decorations: A tiny, battery-operated tabletop tree already arrived from eBay.  Assembly time, one minute. Supper: Each of us is choosing one dish we love most from Christmas Past.  There’s a strong possibility our meal will consist entirely of carbs.

Gifts: Spending limit $5.  That’s ONE gift to buy for under $5 and we’ll draw numbers to see who gets which. I see myself at Target at that department in front of the store where grandkids linger and items run about $1 to $3.99.

The Grand, newly teen-aged and busy with her rock-star crushes, asked if her mom ever had a crush on an old guy? Yes she did, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, among others. This Christmas-In-July, The Daughter plans to introduce The Grand to Bing, starting our afternoon movie watching with White Christmas.

*Heads up – Hallmark kicks off on June 29th in case you’re recording, with movies too numerous to list. 

*Turner Classic Movies has Christmas in Connecticut on July 4th, Holiday Inn on the 5th and Meet Me In St. Louis on the 17th.

White Christmas is on Netflix anytime.

 

 

 

Barnwood Builders save American history one log at a time.

I have a crush on these guys. If you love stories about old buildings getting another life, if you like This Old House, meet Barnwood Builders.

Host Mark Bowe and his bearded crew out of West Virginia proudly call themselves hillbillies.  My people. They sound like Daddy and a bunch of his brothers hanging around together, only instead of picking guitars on the front steps, they’re carrying hammers and swinging axes and giant mallets.

The merry Barnwood Builders hop out of their trucks at the site, drawling and punning (really corny puns.) Mark and Sherman and Graham and Tim and Alex and Johnny not only display impressive skills, they’re instantly likable. Together they disassemble or put back together old barns and pioneer cabins, preserving original logs from the 1800’s for re-use.  Along the way, they show us how the people who built these early cabins and barns lived inside them. We learn about the labor and skill that went into the originals.

The Barnwood Builders offer the gift of sincerity, which is often missing on television. They spend long sweaty (or freezing) days treating American history with respect and tenderness.  They know  when deconstruction can only be handled with old-fashioned hand implements and when it’s safe to call in their forklift master, Johnny Jett.  Johnny’s an artist with heavy machinery.  He picks up several hundred pounds of logs, removing crumbling lumber from the side of a cabin and laying it down gently so the crew can get to the precious hand-hewn beams that form the core.  I cheer with the guys when Johnny sets a massive beam down on a dime.

They act like best friends who genuinely like each other.  They laugh at their own bad puns and silly wordplay, then turn misty-eyed while completing an especially tricky move, disassembling a pioneer church, retrieving the original bell from its falling-down tower and presenting it to members of the congregation who stand watching at the site.

Any day now I expect Pa Ingalls will show up to help these Little House On The Prairie neighbors build a village.  Check out Barnwood Builders on the DIY* network and watch these artists help preserve American history one log at a time.

* I see they’re also listed on Great American Country and Discovery Channels.  Not sure of schedules but I set the DVR to record the new ones and watch the others On Demand.* Thanks to whichever vintage house site on Instagram introduced me to these guys.