Monday, June 30, 2008

Tourists Taste Like Chicken

The Forth of July is fast approaching and of course the onslaught of tourists is about to turn our little mountain town into a frenzy of ice cream licking, gift shop browsing, 'deer in the headlights looking' folks who come to the mountains in search of relaxing in the cool thin air but wanting everything to be just like it is in the big city. Aah, welcome my tasty little morsels from the flat lands! Little do they know how difficult it is to survive a Rocky Mountain winter. It gets cold outside here when the days are short and the world becomes our freezer.
Elk is definitely preferred but hunting season is limited and of course there is a limit. There is, however, no season or limit on tourists! They are always in season. The smart hunter does have patience and will stalk his prey until their wallets are thin and their minds are a little fuzzy from one too many helicopters at the Lariat. Then it's 'Goodbye Charlie' to the freezer and a date for New Years dinner.
So welcome to Grand Lake my camera toting friends. We promise to treat you well, shake your hand and smile as we say to you with the utmost sincerity...."I'll be very happy to serve you"

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Day To Remember

Stan gave us a present for his birthday yesterday. He brought all his friends together, gave them beautiful weather, unwrapped presents of music, memories, laughter and tears. We remembered his life with hugs and kisses and stories and songs. We celebrated him in a way he would have embraced and treasured. Some gave him the last buck they'll ever have to... with a smile and a wipe of their sleeve across their cheek. Others recalled his cocky arrogance that went hand in hand with his giant and giving heart. He gave us friendship and we embraced that spirit with vigor and shared it with all the friends we hold so dear in his memory yesterday. What sprinkled from those Boston Red Sox("Sox, you're breakin' my heart") tube socks now mixes with the waters of Grand Lake and Tommy Tyson and Danny Weeks and the flowers and the tears for them all. As Laurenska recalled..."this is truly a beautiful place to live, but it's not the beauty of the mountains, streams and wildflowers that keep us here, it's the beauty we find in the friends we have made that make this the best place in the world to live!" Thank you my friend for a day to remember.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Remembering A Friend

Tomorrow would have been Stan Brewster's 54th birthday and we would have celebrated like always with maybe a round of golf and partied with Dan (Sluggo) Schneller, seeing as they shared the same birthday. Instead we'll be celebrating his life and mourning his passing with his wife, Carol Ann and many, many friends. Cancer took Stanski from us last December and it's still hard to believe he's gone. I'm sure there will be times tomorrow when I'll be looking around expecting to see him there. Stan never missed a gathering of friends and I know he will be there through our memories and stories.
My favorite is when he took a taxi from Glenwood Springs to Grand Lake because some buddies on the train ride over gooned him into thinking his girlfriend was messing around while he was gone. I think that taxi ride cost him over $300! Stanski, I'll miss you but you'll always live on in my heart. OPA!! my friend...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Pennstigator

One of my dearest friends is Penny Sadler. She seems to have a knack for bringing out the crazy side of me and everyone within ice cube throwing distance. That's why I call her 'The Pennstigator'! She's not related to Alligator Al or anything, but she does have this innocent way of instigating fun and drawing everyone else in to her spell. She's the person your parents warned you about! Penny and husband Jim have vacationed with Jeanine and me in Cabo and Belize and we always end up partying with the locals and writing songs(Frankie's Chairs) and meeting people who instantly become friends for life. I got to spend some time with her and Jim tonight at Caroline's and, of course, J.C., Dean, Alan and Petra were there visiting with another one of my favorite people, Christie Ann. That's just the way things happen when Penny's around. Good friends seem to congregate and inhale the positive waves(as Dal might say). So I just had to blog you, my friend and say thanks for being a friend!! Hey Penny, you know, you should buy a restaurant.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Nice One, Alice!"

Tiger Woods has retired for the rest of 2008, so I guess there's room for one more on the PGA (prenuptial golfing Alices). I always get called Alice whenever I putt and for some reason I was wearing a wedding veil while playing golf, so I guess I qualify! I was always told that getting older has it's advantages but memory is certainly not one of them. I don't remember when this photo was taken or why I'm wearing a veil, or even what golf course this is.
But check out that form!! Left arm straight, knees bent, left knee in just a tad and head down on the ball...J.D. would be proud and probably a little jealous of my outfit ( look up Lady's Fly fishing in the blog archives). It's been too long since I hit the links and tore up the sod. The ISC golf tournament is coming up this weekend but I'll be at the Waconda playing my guitar instead of thrashing the likes of Dickey Stew and Bernie up at 'Beetle-Kill Hills'.
It won't be long, however, until I'm back at the track to take on my old nemesis, 'Four Putt Mac'!
He chickened out again and took off to Iowa to relive his glory days as a guitar player with 'December's Children'. Just remember Mac, if you lose your place, just stay on the 'one chord' 'til it comes back around. I'll see you all on the Golf Channel and always remember to swing hard, look up, three putt!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Clones of the Pioneers

I spent the summer of 1979 working at Squeaky Bob Wheelers here in Grand Lake. I helped manage the place which meant I did about anything from bar tending to washing dishes. On the weekends I got to play music in the Beer Garden with Chuck Schmuck and Terry Bramwell. We were enjoying some success and I was counting on spending the winter here when a good friend from my college days in Greeley came up to visit and try and talk me into moving to Colorado Springs and joining a band he was putting together. I told Sean that I was happy in Grand Lake and didn't want to leave. He said to just come down and sit in with the band and see if I liked it. Well, I did and ended up joining the band and spending the next four or five years in 'The Springs'.
The band was named the Phantom Hooters and we were supposed to be a kind of 60's revival band. I even bought a Rickenbacker 12-string guitar (I wish I still had it) and we played clubs like The Hungry Farmer (a restaurant with a bar), Bilbo Baggins, The Stumble East etc. The group consisted of Sean Anglum on guitar and vocals, Gary Hotchkiss on drums, assorted bass players and me on guitar, banjo and vocals. We had lots of fun and even managed to make a living by just playing music. I thought that was about the greatest thing I could imagine and somehow I'm still at it to this day.
As part of the show, we would occasionally enter the Twilight Zone disguised as a band called 'The Clones Of The Pioneers'. This all started with Rob Wheeler, Sean and Gary, a bass player named Ron and me after I joined PH. They'd play a few times a year( I say they, because we dressed up in costumes from pilgrims to revolutionary war soldiers or, as in the picture,The Kingston Trio). Sean called this particular cloning, The Martha Mitchell Trio. I guess it was a twisted cross between The Chad Mitchell Trio and the wife of the attorney general under Nixon. I really miss my days in Colorado Springs and all the great friends and musicians I got to know and work with in my short time there. We still keep in touch via Barkey Lew's birthday bash every year the night before Thanksgiving. It all started on a 'Clones' night at the Hungry Farmer and lives on some 29 years later.
And they said cloning would never catch on.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Walking Stick

About ten years ago, my friend Dal Lord and I took a hike up the East Inlet Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park to visit his favorite spot on mother earth. I call them Dal's Falls and very few people have ever been there. You have to bush-wack off the trail and then cross the river using a tree that has fallen to get there. A few years ago a blow down below the trail made it pretty much impossible to get down to the river. I did come across a photo taken by W.H. Jackson in the 1800's and he called them the falls beneath round top mountain(Mt. Baldy, or Mt. Craig as it's officially called).
Dal and I decided to hike up there one sunny afternoon and look for a walking stick. It seemed like the thing to do after a breakfast of mushroom soup and I took my trusty notebook along to write down what ever clever 'Dalisms' might spring forth from 'The Shaman' as we trekked. Actually everything was pretty hilarious at that point and I wrote as we hiked along.
What came about was a great afternoon at those spectacular falls and the song, "Walking Stick". Lines such as "find the path of least resistance" and " I think my soul can comprehend this, but my mind doesn't stand a chance" were Dal's and made it into the song. Other lines such as "don't try that with a chipmunk" and "that's a butt load of snow water" didn't.
We never did find a walking stick(at least a material one) but I brought back a lot of good memories and, of course, a pretty good song. So next time you listen to 'Walking Stick', think of Dal hiking along in his flip flops(yes, he wore them the whole way) and remember...."don't try that with a chipmunk!"

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Hills Are Alive

After coating out some signs with background color I had time to record a little in the studio. The paint takes a while to dry so I had all afternoon to work on the Foot, Foot Song. I'm working on a children's book based on the song and I need to record it along with the narration of the story to go along with the book. Ronnie Roo has already been hard at work on the illustrations and so I'm doing my part to get the music together. I'm imagining the three rabbits singing together in harmony and have put down their parts along with bass, guitar,ukulele and percussion. So far it sounds pretty good and I put it on CD to listen to and decide what works and what doesn't. You can go onto to see an illustration and listen to a rough cut of the song. If I just had a rabbit suit to wear, I could really get into character but I guess I'll just have to eat lots of carrots and scratch my ears a lot! Maybe I'll ask Thumper or Bugs for advice.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Where's The Party?

I feel like I've been stood up on my first date! It's supposed to be summer and it's still snowing, the wind is blowing and the streets are as empty as Laredo after the cowboy is left to die in his clean white linens. I've been waiting all winter for the warm weather and those beautiful 'Colorado Blue' days of sunshine and humming birds and columbine, friends up to visit on the weekends for a round of golf. Hell, I even miss the tourists and not being able to find a parking place on main street. What the hell is going on?
Could it be El Nino? You can always blame it on the weather or the Democrats or the Republicans or the price of gas.
Trail Ridge has been open off and on and Mt. Baldy seems to get a new blanket of white every few days or so. They used to say June is busting out all over, so I thought I'd do my part and get this party started! It's time to break out the Hawaiian shirts and tank tops and fight this thing head on.
There are , however, a few signs that summer is on it's way. Last night at the Lariat, a six foot long blow up penis pushed it's way through the crowd, accompanied by a bachelorette party and soon took over the bar. It was actually a welcomed sight and picked up the whole place, so to speak.
I guess I should always remember that good things come to those who wait. So I suppose I'll just take each little moment of sunshine and hold it close to my breast(even if they're plastic), hoping summer is just around the corner. But I'll always keep in mind what John Henry Rhone used to say.... "there are two seasons up here..... this winter and next winter"

Friday, June 6, 2008

Wishbone Lew

Remember the old TV series Rawhide? There was Rowdy Yates, Gil Favor, Mushey and of course the chuck wagon cook...Wishbone. I play music at the Waconda in Grand Lake every Saturday afternoon and taking over the duties of cooking up those great burgers this summer is the one and only Barky Lew.
Well, Barky bears a strong resemblance to Wishbone with the grey whiskers and all, and hence...the new nickname.
Also at 'The Wac' this year is one of my favorite people on the planet, D.J. Deej is bar tending and serving out on the patio and between the two of them it's quite the place to spend an afternoon. So drop on in to 'The Wac' if you make it up to Grand Lake this summer and enjoy the entertainment! Oh, and maybe some music too.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tow Truck Blues

Tom Larva and I bought this little Ford Ranger pickup truck about five years ago. We don't use it very often but it's always good to have a pickup truck and Tommy's been using it more often lately, seeing as it gets better mileage than his vehicle.
Well, I needed to use it to go to Denver and get sign materials the other day and Tommy came along to pick up some stuff he needed from 'the big smoke'. We got everything OK and were headed back up the hill when our little truck decided to make it's own 'big smoke' and an hour later we were on our way to Grand a tow truck! On the ride back we heard the tow truck driver's life story while she drove with her elbows on the wheel while taking pictures out the windshield on Berthoud Pass to send to her son in Louisiana. After an hour of this, we decided breaking down wasn't the worst thing in the world. The little brown truck is safe at home awaiting a diagnosis from our friend Dr. Gary Aho as to the amount of damage.
I hope the cost of those sign materials doesn't amount to a small fortune but it will certainly eat up any profit I would have made. Oh well, I'll probably get a song out of it. Maybe 'Tow Truckin' Mama', 'I've Got the Downshiftin' Blues' or 'Tow Me Away Mama but Leave My Heart Alone'

Monday, June 2, 2008

Texas in the Rear View Mirror

My little mind is still buzzing from everything I learned in Kerrville. It was a great experience, especially what I learned as far as songwriting goes. I took lots of notes on everything from writer's block to rhyming schemes and meter and composition, etc. It was three days of lecture and critiquing songs from 9:30 in the morning to 5:00 at night. We even had a homework assignment which involved writing a song using some of the methods that were taught in the lectures. The assignment was to write a song about your first date, first guitar, first car...whatever. I'd never thought about writing a song about my first car before but I have one now. It's a pretty good little song, actually, and I've already played it live a couple times.
I think the biggest thing about my experience in Kerrville was that I realized I'm a pretty good song writer and with some hard work and applying what I learned, I think I can make that next step up to becoming very good.
I saw a couple of shows but didn't have time to really get the whole folk fest experience. It's like a mini Woodstock there with everyone camping out and sitting around at night playing songs and partying. There were lots of hippies, young and old. About the only thing missing was the scent of patchuli oil, which would have taken me right back to the sixties......not quite the Texas I had imagined.