Friday, May 23, 2008

Sign Me Up Scotty

I guess I'm back in the sign business. My sign work has always taken a backseat to my music but lately I have less gigs and more time so I've taken on a few sign jobs. Most of what I do is routed wood and rustic stuff but I did my first computer generated sign for Jean Claude at Caroline's Cuisine. He's started a smoked salmon business and he wanted a sign and logo. I was able to do the logo on my computer and thanks to my friends at Image Signs and Graphics, I was able to e-mail my logo and have it printed out on a vinyl transfer. They sent it up, I applied it to Plexiglas and 'bingo'....a nice professional sign!
I've also got some hand-lettered projects in the works and it's been good to get back to work. Now that my computer skills are a little better, it's made it a lot easier to come up with sketches and color schemes that give the customer what they want. It's good these days to have some things to fall back on when times are hard.
Who knows? maybe the story of the 'brothers foot' will work out and give me one more for the resume.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Songwriters Workshop

I am a self taught songwriter. I'm not sure that's such a good thing but except for a few colaborations with Larry, Ray and Jon Cook, that's pretty much the way it's been. I've thought about going to a workshop to learn some of the 'tricks of the trade' but have never had the time or opportunity. Tuesday I'm off to Kerrville, Texas for a three day songwriters school.
John Smith (pictured) is going to be one of the teachers there. John's a good friend and one hell of a songwriter. I'm excited and also a little nervous about my first ever visit into the world of songwriting. They said to bring along a few songs to be critiqued and it's hard to decide which ones to choose. I guess I'll take a new one, an older one and a song that I'm very happy with as is, just to get some input and opinions from the experienced staff.
So wish me luck and hopefully I'll come back with lots of new ideas to perk up some of the old songs and encourage me with the new ones that I'm working on. Look out Texas, here comes the man from snowy lake!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Great Rude Awakening 2008

For the first time that I can remember, 'Rude Awakening' was held on a Tuesday. It began back in the 1970's at Squeaky Bob Wheelers and was usually held on the Saturday before Memorial Day weekend. Now the time honored event is held at Daven Haven Lodge and they provide a great spread of appetizers and a campfire where folks can gather around and sing along to an orchestra of acoustic guitars.
It's a gathering of locals to celebrate the coming of summer and to get ready for the invasion of tourists beginning this weekend. The weather was fantastic this year and there were more people than I can remember ever being there before. It was great for Greg and Carey Barnes, our hosts, and many thanks go out to them. There was well over a hundred people in attendance and Dave Messinger video taped the happenings. I heard complaints that it was difficult to hear the music and many asked about having a PA system there next year.
If that happens, you can count me out! To tell the truth, I miss the old days at Squeaky's when there were about 20 or 30 people and things were more simple. But more and more, I find myself thinking the 'old days' were always better. Gee Wally, you don't suppose I'm getting old or anything, am I?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It's Nature's Way

The mountain pine beetle is a major problem here in much of the Colorado mountains. It's a cycle which occurs every 125-150 years or so. The beetles lay their larva in the bark of the trees eventually killing them. Lodge pole pine are prime targets and just happen to be the primary type of pine trees in our area. The natural thing next to happen would be a major forest fire and then a rebirth with lots of young seedlings popping up everywhere.
Needless to say, a fire would be catastrophic, so one of the small things that can be done is to cut down the dead trees to lessen the fire's impact and to allow light in for new trees to grow. That's a simplified version of what's going on and probably not exact but it gives you an idea. One place near and dear to many of us is our local golf course which was once named the Jewel of the Rockies when it came to golf courses. As you can see by the sate light picture (click on it to enlarge), they've had to cut down most of the trees there. Hey Mac, I can see your house from space!
So far I've been lucky at home. I spray my trees every year but that is no guarantee. Also, I plant some new ones (lodgepole, spruce and aspen) and many that we planted years ago have grown to be 8 feet tall! It really breaks your heart to see the forest turn brown but it is Mother Nature's way. So go out and plant a tree or two. It's good to plant them in some one's memory or to honor somebody you know or to even give them a name like 'Bruce the Spruce' or 'Jennifer Juniper'. Maybe I'll name the next one 'Pickle' in memory of my liver.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mountain Ears Recording

With a little help from my friends, my home studio is up and running. My friend Allan Blackwell has been fantastic in helping me get a home recording studio that is in with the times. Allan has a studio in Colorado Springs where I recorded the first four CDs. He and my good friend Ray Camenga helped produce those CDs and the three of us worked very well together. Ray even came up with a name for the new studio. He thought since I lived in Grand Lake, I should call it Mountain Ears. I'm looking forward to working with the two of them again on my next couple of
If you read the blog about sitting in limbo, you know I've been anxiously awaiting the chance to get recording again. The tape recorders in studio 'B' are fixed so I can finish Ribbons of Hope and I've started recording here at home now too. I hadn't really expected my first recording here to be the Foot, Foot Song but that's what's come to be.
If you keep up with Ronnie Roo's blog (, you know that we're working on a story book idea based on an old song I've been singing for a long time. Ronnie's doing the illustrations and is coming along wonderfully and now I can get started on the music part of the project.
I'm just learning how to use this new-tech stuff but have already laid down guitar, bass, drums, a vocal and even a little ukulele! I'm also doing the narration to go with the story, illustrations and the music. I'm hoping to do something similar to Harry Nilsson's 'The Point' as far as combining everything into an easy to follow format that will include the book, a CD of the song and a DVD with the illustrations, narration and music all together.
Everything is still in the infancy stages but with some luck and a little help from my friends, who knows? Now if I can just get Ringo to do the narration....

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dolphin Research Center

Back in 1982 I was reading in my Jimmy Buffett newsletter (The Coconut Telegraph) about a way to help dolphins. You could adopt a dolphin at the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, Florida. So I sent away for in the info and soon I adopted a Dolphin. Her name is Teresa and I've been donating money ever since to help keep her supplied in fish. I've even been down to see the DRC a couple times and got to see Teresa and the rest of the dolphins and sea lions. It's a great place to visit if you're down in the Keys and they do wonderful work there. I get a newsletter and an e-mail update every few months and it's always fun too see what's going on in 'Flipper Land'.
It turns out that Teresa is an ex navy dolphin and the oldest member of the pod. She's a grandmother and helps train the young ones. I still have my little certificate to show I adopted her and I'm glad I followed Jimmy's advice all those years ago. If any one's interested, here's their web-site....
So check 'em out just for the halibut!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

When The Past Goes Marching In

With Rude Awakening fast approaching, I figured a little history of the hallowed event might be in order. Rude Awakening is Grand Lake's 'Right of Spring'. It's a time for the cabin fevered weary locals to come out of hibernation and get ready for the summer season and the onslaught of tourists who will soon be arriving.
It's a celebration started by Bill Reardon of Squeaky Bob Wheelers fame along with Bob Beck and Dick 'Ducky' Kruse. They used to hold it on the Saturday before Memorial Day as a kind of warm up for the busy weekend ahead.
Pictured here is Jeanie Jury on saxophone, me on banjo, Ducky with his famous "It's a damn shame we can't have any fun up here" shirt, Mary Argo(later Mary Schmuck), Terry Bramwell and Bob Beck. This could have been taken at a Rude Awakening but more likely on about any weekend in the Beer Garden in the late 70's. Jeanie used to lead us in a rousing but seldom sober version of 'When The Saints Go Marching In' as we snaked our conga line through the Beer Garden and sometimes out on to Grand Ave.
After Squeaky Bob's was sold, the celebration was moved to the Daven Haven Lodge where Greg and Carey Barnes have been the hosts ever since. They moved it to the Thursday before Memorial Day and have a great spread of appetisers and food. The camp fire attracts local musicians and folks trade off songs and stories of their memories of Grand Lake. Until her passing, Nursie Young was always Miss Rude Awakening adorned with her crown, scepter and ribbon proclaiming her so. Bill Reardon usually makes it up from Denver and Hobie from B&K Distributing is always there to give out T-shirts, hats and some tickets to a Rockies or Bronco game.
This year Rude Awakening is being held on Tuesday, May 20th. So mark your calenders and get ready to party! Who knows?, you might even be on Dave Messinger's video this year.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

I guess most people think their mom is the best. I'm no exception; I know my mom's the best mom in the world. After all, she's put up with me for over 56 years! She was born and raised in Denver and she still resides there in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. She's pictured here to show off just how high she used to get back in the days before I was on this planet. Her sister, Eileen was Miss Berthoud Pass so I guess mom decided she should be Miss Trail Ridge Road! She still loves the mountains but can't make it up here much anymore. I'll be having lunch with her in Denver tomorrow and heck, since it's Mother's Day, I suppose it'll be my shout.
She reads my 'Blob' to keep up with what I've been up to and even called me after the April Fools one because she thought I was moving to Belize without telling her. I thought she was going to wash my keyboard out with soap. Looking back, I believe Lifebuoy was the worst tasting brand.
Anyway, Happy Mother's Day mom!! I'll see you tomorrow. Your loving son...Stephen (she's the only one who can get away with calling me by that name)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

State Law - Watch For Saxophone Players

I'm sure you've seen those signs at all the crosswalks to yield to pedestrians. Even little Grand Lake has them. We don't have any traffic lights yet, although there was a time years ago, when we did have one(sort of). John Henry Rhone worked for the town and decided to play a practical joke one day. He built a stop light out of cardboard and painted it to look like it was red. He hung it on a cable that ran across Grand Ave. at Garfield, where the four way stop is now. Needless to say, people stopped and waited for the light to turn green, which it never did.
Keeping with tradition, I played a little main street practical joke of my own a few years back. The town put up these new pedestrian crossing signs at every intersection down Grand Ave. with the little stick man on a crosswalk pictured on them. My good friend and musical partner, Walter Holland, thought they were intended for him being as he was about the only black person living in town.
So armed with a pair of scissors, some black construction paper and a bit of glue, I decided to really personalize them for Walter. One rainy night I attached little black saxophones to the little black men all the way down main street. I guess Bernie, the head of town maintenance, enjoyed my sense of humor and left them on for a couple weeks so everyone could yield to Walter as they drove carefully down Grand Avenue.
A little practical joke now and then is good for the soul I think. Like the time John Henry and Ray Berry rigged up a fake explosive plunger for then Mayor Gene Stover to use as a switch to turn on the new street lights that had just been finished. Little did Gene or anyone else know that it was planned to have some real dynamite go off right as Mayor Stover pushed down the plunger. Well it scared the hell out of everybody and then they handed Gene a real light switch, said,"or you might try this" and that lit up the town the way it was supposed to. BEAUTIFUL!!!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sitting Here In Limbo

Last fall I wrote a song for the Race for the Cure and Peggy Mann and I played it at the Grand Lake race. Everyone loved it and said I should record it and see if the Susan G. Komen Foundation would like to use it for promotional purposes.
I started recording the song this winter and was hoping to have it finished and ready to send off by April. I got a great start and had the guitar,drums, banjo, bass, etc. all down on tape. Peggy put down a fantastic vocal and about all I had left to do was have Brad Pregeant play piano, Walter Holland put down some flute and I would sing a little harmony part.
Well the best laid plans..... The recorders broke down so I talked with my friend Allan Blackwell from Southwest Recording and he agreed to set me up with Pro Tools recording software. Allan has everything together but hasn't had the time to bring it up from Colorado Springs and set it up for me, the recorders are still in the repair shop and here I sit in limbo waiting to finally finish the song. I'm just hoping by the time it's done it won't be too late to send on to the 'Foundation'. I figured I'd post the lyrics here on The Blob and if you want to listen to what we've done so far, just go to my website here under links. Once on the website, go to related sites and click on sneak previews and you can listen to Ribbons of Hope.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Roorda's Tree Service

One of the great things about this little town of ours is the friendships I have made here over the years. One of my dearest friends is Ted Roorda. He and his wife Babe, have a cabin here and have done a great many things to help out our little community.
Well a few years back Ted needed to cut down a rather large lodge pole pine in his front yard. He decided he could do it himself, got out the chain saw and started cutting. Babe was there holding on to the end of a rope which was attached at the other end to the very large tree. All ninety or so pounds soaking wet, she was supposed to guide the mighty pine to where it would fall harmlessly as Ted cut away with his trusty saw. Needless to say, the tree got away and fell on the neighbor's fence taking down the phone and power lines on it's final approach to mother earth! (but it did miss the boat)
Stories this good never go without notice up here and soon Ted was "in the barrel". J.D. and D.W. placed an add in the classifieds of our local paper for Roorda's Tree Service and of course used Ted's real phone number in the add. With the phone line having been repaired by now, the calls began pouring in for the newly founded tree service business. Ted was rather embarrassed over the entire incident but that never stopped us.
A 'Pakistani' bowling tournament(I don't know why it's called that) was coming up to raise money for some charity so I had T-shirts made from The Hatter with a logo I designed for our team to wear and declared Ted our unofficial sponsor. We surprised the hell out of him but Ted took it all in stride with the knowledge that soon it would be somebody else's turn "in the barrel"

Friday, May 2, 2008


A year ago today we were in Ireland! It all came about because of a good friend and fellow singer/songwriter...John Smith. I met John years ago when he was playing at the Grand Lake Lodge. My brother Mac said to check this guy out because he was really good and they had grown up and played some music together back in Dewitt, Iowa. Well , of course Mac was right on about John. He was a wonderful musician and we played a little music together at the 'Lodge' and became friends.
More time passed and keeping up with John and his music we came to find out about his love for Ireland. He had visited and played there many times and talking with folks here in the states, decided he should share his knowledge and love of Irish music with some of his friends and fans in the good old USA.
So he started arranging tours to showcase the music and history of the Emerald Isle. John does three or four of these tours a year and last year we signed up to go along with our good friend Dick Stewart. Needless to say, it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life and the people on the tour became good mates along the way. I wrote a song titled Paddy at the Wheel, because Paddy was our driver, and a damned good dancer too!
There's way too much to say about the memories of our trip last year to put down here so I'll just end this with a five star recommendation and how to contact John.
You can listen and learn about him at and find out about his tours and CDs, schedule,etc.