Music of Faith and Rhythm

Life was filled with guns and war

And all of us got trampled on the floor

I wish we’d all been ready

Children died the days grew cold

A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold

I wish we’d all been ready

Larry Norman “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” from the LP Upon This Rock, 1969

Music is a form of human expression. It reflects every part of our lives. There are love songs, break-up songs, patriotic songs, happy songs, sad songs… songs about every human experience and concern. It only makes sense that music would be used for spiritual or religious expression. In the US every music genre has been influenced in one way or another by the Christian faith. However, in the rock ‘n’ roll genre, that influence had a very rocky start. I have always been fascinated by music that stirs controversy. The convergence of rock music and the Christian faith has been one such point of contention that has interested me over the years.

Many believe that Larry Norman was the father of Christian rock, or “Jesus music” as it was called in the early 70s. However, just as the first automobile was not a Ford, although that is what I was taught in school, things were also a bit more complicated in the origins of Christian rock. Not to take anything away from Larry Norman’s contributions, but there are many more pioneers in both the US and the UK who should be given credit, without whom Larry’s contributions would not have been possible.

This is going to be a two-part series with a focus on the US and the UK. I am including Canadian artists when I discuss US artists, although there were significantly fewer Canadian Christian rock artists in the early days. Note that I am not ignoring Christian rock in other countries. There were Christian rock artists in many other places from Germany to Singapore (probably not so much in North Korea). However, they had no effect on what was happening in the US and I have not learned of many existing before the early 70s. I also do not know if they faced all the opposition that artists faced in the US. Therefore, the focus is where it eventually flourished and that is in the US and to a lesser extent in the UK. The period of this focus is the 60s and early 70s. The first part deals with the foundations of rock in juxtaposition with Christianity, and then discusses the earliest Christian rock recordings from the UK. The second part, to be posted later, will deal with my primary focus, the earliest US artists during that period and beyond. The reason I am discussing the UK artists first, is that the merger of Christianity and rock began earlier in the UK, and this may have provided a blueprint for some early Christian artists in the US. So, a-way we go!

1950s Rock ‘n’ Roll and the Church

Rock ‘n’ roll originated mostly from a mix of rhythm & blues (r&b), country, and folk. Christianity was elemental in the origins of these genres. Many r&b artists started out in the church. Guitarist and vocalist Sister Rosetta Tharpe came from a Gospel music background before expanding her talents in the late 1930s to include secular r&b and jazz; she has even been considered by many to be the earliest rock ‘n’ roll performer.

As for folk music, the more serious compositions applied Biblical moral principles to populist and anti-war themes without becoming religious. In the 1950s folk artists such as Woodie Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and The Weavers faced investigations by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI and Senator Joe McCarthy for evidence of Communist and other anti-American affiliations despite the Biblical references in their songs.

In the late 50s it seemed obligatory for the most popular early rockers to record a Gospel album or single. So, Elvis Presley recorded the album Peace in the Valley in 1957, totally devoid of rock ’n’ roll. In 1959 Johnny Cash recorded the album Hymns by Johnny Cash. There were others as well but none of these recordings combined a Christian message with rock music. Indeed, these recordings were used to validate people like Presley and Cash as being really good guys, and that rock ‘n’ roll was merely a fad that would soon revert back to more acceptable music.

In the 50s and early 60s combining a Christian message with rock music would have been unheard of in America.  Apart from Black churches where Gospel music was often performed in a rhythm and blues style, many churches, especially the more fundamentalist and evangelical White churches, continued to preach that rock rhythms and wild dancing contributed to the corruption of America’s youth. It was, after all, the music of the devil. Note that Elvis’ third appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on January 6, 1957, almost didn’t happen because TV censors refused to let the show air unless they only filmed Elvis from the waist up to avoid the audience seeing his evil hip shaking. Mind you, he had appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show twice before, going back to the first time on September 9, 1956, without any censorship of his gyrations. In fact, his supposed vulgar moves had been seen on TV before his Ed Sullivan appearances when he performed on The Steve Allen Show, the Dorsey Brothers’ Stage Show, and The Milton Berle Show with no objections.

Enter the 60s

But then came the beginnings of the Vietnam war and the increasing demands from the civil rights movement, followed by the assassination of President Kennedy. And then there was the British invasion, with the arrival of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and numerous other bands introducing America’s youth to a more energized rock ‘n’ roll sound. Under President Johnson, the Vietnam war escalated. The war became the leading topic of the nightly news; each night we learned of more losses of American soldiers’ lives, many of whom had not willfully enlisted.

Folk music had always been a vehicle for commentary on our social ills. Pete Seeger’s 1955 song “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” was revived by The Kingston Trio in 1961 and by Peter, Paul, and Mary in 1962. Bob Dylan recorded “Blowin’ in the Wind” in 1962 and “Masters of War” in 1963. The Vietnam war coupled with the civil rights movement supplied folk singers the material for more songs, often citing Biblical references to support their concerns. Many of these songs received radio play, reaching the Billboard charts…and America’s youth, especially draft-age young adults, were listening and taking notes. With songs like “The Times They Are a-Changin’” in 1964, Dylan was becoming a prophetic folk hero. Then Dylan went electric in his famed 1965 performance at the Newport Folk Festival. It wasn’t long before folk-rock groups like The Byrds were following Dylan’s lead. In 1965 they made Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” into a folk-rock hit. In their late 1965 hit “Turn, Turn, Turn,” they repeated the formula. The lyrics for “Turn, Turn, Turn” were from the Book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, and had been transformed into a folk song by Pete Seeger in 1959. The song became the title track to their next album, released in December 1965. Folk singers like Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, and Peter, Paul, and Mary were highly influential in the development of folk-rock of the mid- and late-60s. But the focus of these songs, although often invoking Biblical references, was not evangelical or even liturgical; it was about protest against social injustice and war.

Of course, there continued to be a wilder side of rock. Contrast The Byrds’ “Turn, Turn, Turn” with The Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and The Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night.” These songs and others like them provided justification for the church to proclaim that rock was indeed the devil’s music. Of course, it did not help when in March 1966, John Lennon said in an interview for the London Evening Standard, later reported in the American teen magazine Datebook  “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that. I’m right and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first, rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.” After hearing about this, Birmingham, Alabama DJs Doug Layton and Tommy Charles of WAQY initiated a “Beatle Boycott”. Lennon apologized and tried to walk it back saying his statement was misunderstood, but the damage was done. Many churches, especially in America’s South, had public burnings of The Beatles’ records. If the church-going public was not already against rock ‘n’ roll, now they were.

God is Dead

It is also important to see how young people began to view the church. Although the concepts contained in the phrase “God is dead” had been with us since the 17th century, in the late 1950s and early 60s it began to be discussed more frequently outside academia. Jazz and folk lyricists as well as beat poets wrote about the apathy of the church toward racism, exploitative capitalism, the cold war, and an unending arms race. Many teenagers and young adults were questioning the relevance of God and the church while the fear of nuclear annihilation loomed over them, reinforced by “duck and cover” drills in grade schools. A common question among the youth was “if God was real, how could all this be happening?”

The mainline Christian denominations in both the US and the UK were concerned with the alarming number of young people leaving the church but they did not know how to get them back. Insisting that youth meet the church on the church’s terms only perpetuated the problem. Rock ‘n’ roll allowed young people to escape from an uncertain future. But adults, especially church-attending adults, often saw rock ‘n’ roll as being part of the problem. The youth saw church attendance as looking for solutions in the wrong place.

As the beatnik era evolved into the hippie culture, many more changes were happening in the world of high school and college age young people. A fascination with Eastern philosophies, religions, and music began to grow. Experimentation with marijuana and hallucinogenic drugs became common. New clothing designs and longer hair for both males and females separated them in appearance from older adults. The generation that had entered adulthood during World War II did not understand the youth culture and were hyper-critical. The generation gap was widening. By the mid-60s adults over 30 were considered “The Establishment” and not to be trusted.

Early Beginnings in the UK

The UK was the first to respond to the growing disillusionment of youth by incorporating Christian lyrics into music for the youth. A compilation album, only released on reel-to-reel tape from Cathedral Recordings Limited in London, titled Showers of Blessing, presented Christian songs performed by The Pioneers, The Couriers, The Cobblers, American Teen Team Quartet and others. Some of the artists were from the US, in a Youth for Christ US/UK music exchange of both artists and evangelists. This commercially sold tape collects songs recorded from 1961-1965 that were precursors to Christian rock music. The style varies by artist but is largely standard folk with acoustic guitar, or vocal quartet accompanied by organ or piano. Only one, The Pioneers’ song “Then I Found the Lord”, uses drums (just brushes on a snare) but is still in a pop vocal quartet style. None comes close to rock. Yet these were evidently geared toward unchurched youth in the UK to bring them into the fold. Apparently, it didn’t work very well, and more drastic measures were needed, like using an actual rock band to deliver the message.

So, the next attempt was to form bands performing music with a Christian message in styles popularized by The Beatles, The Who, and other rock heroes. These artists often had less musical ability, weak lyrics on original songs and were more subdued than the popular bands. Members were often culled from church youth groups. To be fair, some were very professional in sound and could rock out with the best of them, but that was the exception and not the rule. Their purpose was to get the youth back into the church by making the Gospel message more relevant to their daily lives. Organizations like Youth for Christ (YFC) were instrumental in these efforts. However, these bands were seldom permitted to become part of the worship service; live performance was relegated to secular locations such as coffee bars and college campuses where youth gathered.

The very first attempt to merge Christianity and rock ‘n’ roll was a musical drama about the life and death of Christ titled A Man Dies, which was a passion play recorded in 1961 and released as an LP on Columbia Records in the UK in 1964. The drama places Christ in modern times to bring relevance to the message for youth who had strayed from the church. It appeared on A.B.C. Television in the UK in 1961. There were five performances of this play from 1961 through a performance at the Royal Albert Hall in 1964. The performers were “the Boys and Girls of St. James’ Presbyterian Church, Lockleaze, Bristol” featuring Valerie Mountain and Ricky Forde on vocals with arock band named The Strangers. The drama was written by organist Ewan Hooper and Reverend Ernest Marvin, both of the Lockleaze church. It appears that this was written in 1960 and performed at Easter at the church each year. A single from the drama “Go It Alone” backed with “Gentle Christ” and credited to Valerie Mountain was released in 1961 making that single the very first commercially released recording of Christian rock. It appears that The Strangers was the backup band for Ricky Forde, but I cannot find anything about The Strangers playing or recording anything except what is heard on this album and single. The Strangers perform here in a Mersey/beat rock style. Note that in 1964 Columbia also distributed this LP in Australia! Keep in mind that this church performance was unique as most all other churches in the UK resisted having rock bands perform in the church, but then again, most churches did not have pastors who wrote rock-oriented passion plays. One might wonder if Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice had been influenced by this recording when they created their rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar in 1970.

In 1964 The Joystrings (aka Joy Strings) released their first single “It’s an Open Secret” backed with (b/w) “We’re Going to Set the World a Singing” and followed with three more singles that year, two more singles and three EPs in 1965, several singles and EPs in 1966, and Christmas LPs in 1966 and 67. The band consisted of four men and one woman with a variety of sounds reminiscent of The Beatles on their pre-psychedelic albums. Their music improved in quality over time to become one of the more polished UK bands performing Christian rock in the 60s. They were part of the youth outreach of the Salvation Army. Formed in 1963, they lasted until 1969 when they disbanded. Their records were also distributed in the US.

The Pilgrims had a single in 1964, “Heaven’s the Place for Me” b/w “Think of God’s Love.” In 1966 they had another single and went on to record several more that were released on CD in the early 2000s. They were a beat group with a gritty garage sound and in 1970 evolved into the more well-known Christian rock group, Out of Darkness, with an even heavier sound.

The Peacemakers released a single “Some Folks Search for Peace” b/w “Don’t You Know” in 1964. There was another single later that year. These are a bit crude and a little more folk than beat in style, but their self-titled EP in 1965, followed by a self-titled LP in 1967 are fully garage/beat records and show much improvement in musicianship. Their guitarist/vocalist, Justyn Rees, moved to New York and went solo in 1969, still in the Christian rock genre.

The Envoys, another Gospel beat group, released a single, “Nobody Like…” b/w “Door,” in 1965 with an EP in 1967. Patterning their sound after The Hollies and other UK hit makers, their energized sound consisted of the standard electric rhythm and lead guitars, electric bass, and drums with male vocals and two female backing vocals.

The Chordials was yet another early beat/pop band with a 1965 single “Walking in the Shadow” b/w “He Is the Answer”. Later, in 1969, they released their only album, Topsy Turvy. The album is a bit over-the-top, getting wild with fuzz guitars at times and with vocal harmonies reminiscent of Vanilla Fudge.

The Crossbeats had two singles in 1965, the first being “If Only” b/w “He Wants to Know” and the second “I Know” b/w “He Waits”. They were one of the very few UK Christian beat-rock bands to tour the US. They played at a variety of venues in the UK. Like The Joystrings, they formed in 1963. While their final recordings were released in 1967, including the album Crazy, Mixed-Up Generation, they continued to perform into the mid-70s.

The Proclaimers were from Wales, releasing two EPs in 1965, The Gospel Train and Messages with a Lilt, and two EPs in 1966, both titled The Proclaimers. Their sound was more folk/skiffle acoustic with some electric guitar. They were an eight-piece group, both male and female members and in their two short recording years there were many personnel changes.

Beginning in 1966 several more UK bands began to get on the Christian beat music bandwagon. To give you an example I have compiled a list gleaned from various Internet sources and the Archivist book by Ken Scott. The list only has artists from 1966 to 1971. Unlike the US, the number of new artists recording Christian rock music in the UK seemed to diminish throughout the 70s.

The Cobblers – EP, 1966

The ConcordsSoul Purpose, 1966; A Turn for the Better, 1967

The Liverpool RaidersBig Story EP, 1966

The RevellersThe Revellers, 1966; The Revellers Again, 1967; Shout and Sing, 1969; Go Tell It, 1970

The Witnesses – EP, 1966

The Fishermen Amen, 1967

Pauline FilbyMy World, 1968

Gerry McClellandSouth Wind and Spices,1968; Echoes Surround Me, 1970

The Forerunners The Forerunners, 1968; Running Back, 1970; Genuine Imitation Life, 1971; Prepare the Way for Jesus, 1974

The HarvestersThe Harvesters, 1968

Peter Smith & The Kinfolk Faith, Folk and Clarity, 1968

The PebblesThe Pebbles, 1968

ReflectionThe Present Tense, 1968; Beaumont Meets Reflection, 1970; Reflection on Hymns of Our Time, 1971; Nativity, 1971

Roger & JanMovin’ Over – Movin’ On, 1969; Question, 1974

The SowersSeeds, 1969

Justyn ReesHow Can I Tell Them, 1969 (recorded in the US)

Harvey’s People Loving & Living, 1969

The Overcomers – EP, 1969

The Messengers of the CrossThe Messengers of the Cross, 1969

Peter LewisSing Life, Sing Love, 1969; Give Yourselves to Me, 1971

Glorylanders Volume One, 1969; Volume Two, 1971; About Time, 1973

The GospelfolkProdigal, 1969

Alive! – Various Artists, 1969

Dana Scott and The Crown Folk Folk in Worship, 1969

Cambridge Twentieth Century Church Light Music Group A Folk Passion, 1969

Sound Vision in Concert – Various Artists 1970

The Kingfishers It’s Real, 1970

Out of Darkness Out of Darkness, 1970

Judy MacKenzieJudy, 1970; Peace and Love and Freedom, 1971

The SharonsSomeone to Turn To, 1970

The FoursomeUpside Down, 1970

Peter Smith & The JohnsonsFaith, Folk and Nativity, 1970

Peter Smith with The Common RoundFaith, Folk and Festivity, 1971

BridgesBridges, 1971

The Way Rhythm GroupThe Way Rhythm Group, 1971

I have a few of these, as pictured.

UK Christian rock artists in the 1970s had little influence on the US artists. In the US the genre known as “Jesus music” was becoming more refined and commercialized, and by the 1980s it had evolved into Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), with very few artists from outside the US. CCM is a broad category of music covering all genres but mostly country, popular (Adult Contemporary), r&b/soul, metal, and rap, but it is a dying music category. I will discuss this in the next post, which will concentrate on the earliest bands recording Christian rock in the US and how things are different today, and why.

Returning FerReals and Dedication

Here it is, Earth Day 2023. Here it is, Dystopia 2023. When you look around and see what is happening sometimes you just want to cry. We are pushed each day in so many directions. Do we “stick our heads into the sand, just preachin’ that all is grand, and hope that everything turns out okay”? or do we speak out, or turn inward, or put on our tunnel vision glasses? What do we do?

There is nothing like a major life event, whether it be in your own life or in a loved one’s life, to shake you up and reevaluate what is important. As I look back in time, what has proven to be important keeps shifting like the mental shape shifters we all are.

I began to get away from my writing here shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. I was working, making money and had little time for much else as I threw myself into work, spending many days away from home and many hours of overtime. With the pandemic came major changes. I began working from home as travel pre-vaccine could be lethal. There were some brave souls who continued but with my age and health situation I could not afford to do so. I lost my sister during the summer of 2020. I almost lost my oldest brother, his wife, and his oldest son to COVID in January 2021. Two long time family friends did lose their lives due to their trust in lies about the virus, as did a prominent member of my high school graduating class. Additionally I lost my sister-in-law (the one mentioned above) to cancer in December 2022.

In March 2020. after returning from a work engagement in New York City I became very ill with respiratory symptoms. I checked with my medical HMO and they said it did not sound like COVID but tests were limited and therefore I could not be tested. Later I understood that the symptoms I had could very well have been evidence of COVID but at that point in time the world medical community did not know enough to say for sure. But after recovering from the worst flu symptoms I have ever experienced in March, 2020, I began to have symptoms of significant weakness and occasional chest pains that would come and go.

Thankfully in February 2021 we were able to receive our first Moderna vaccines with the second in March. I discussed with my pulmonary specialist the chest pain I had been experiencing, especially when driving to higher elevations at Mt. Laguna. With telephone medical visits in April they sent me a heart collar to wear for several days and send back. It revealed that my heart stopped a couple times for just a second or two but it was significant enough to necessitate an emergency surgery to implant a pacemaker in my chest in late April. While the surgery is simple enough, this was a physical and mental life changing event for me. I can no longer look under the hood of the car when it is running. I have to go through a security screening at airports and other offices using electronic screening in a way different from others. I can no longer operate an amateur radio nor a radiotelephone device so I have let my amateur and radiotelephone licenses lapse. And, mentally this has taken it’s toll on someone who enjoyed hiking and at one time bicycled across Wisconsin – from Kenosha to La Cross and back.

Due to the pandemic, conducting trainings via Webcast instead of face-to-face, I was doing more sitting than standing. I fell at home injuring my right knee in May, 2020 and could not get in to see a doctor for nearly 2 years. Finally as things began to open up, I was able to get into physical therapy in early 2022. With that and the help of a masterful masseuse I am now rid of the pain I experienced when I walk. However lately I have begun to have severe pain on the other side which sent me to the ER just over a week ago with spasms so severe I could not walk, sit or stand without severe pain. That is subsiding now, but it all points to my physical limitations.

I only traveled for work twice in 2021. I traveled three times in 2022 and one was a state conference in February that year. The mask orders were still in effect except where I presented at a state conference in a Southern state. Nobody was masked except me and one other presenter from another company. A week after I returned home I was diagnosed with COVID despite keeping up all my booster vaccines. Extreme weakness was the result with minor respiratory symptoms.

I have only been to a few music events since the pandemic. None in 2020. A couple outdoor events in 2021 and 2022. I did attend the Adams Avenue street fair in 2022 but did not make a day of it due to painfull walking for both me and my wife. So while I will be discussing music events locally here as I begin to use this blog more and Facebook less for reporting on such events, I will be discussing my music collection more.

Dane Terry

So here it is April, 2023. Two very tragic events have already occurred locally. First, I lost a friend in February – one of the best harmonica players I’ve ever met, Dane Terry. Dane was in two different groups locally – Cadillac Wreckers, which was a jump blues band, and Plow, which is an old-time and bluegrass band. Dane was on his way to work one morning in February on his motorcycle. A driver ran a red light, striking and killing Dane. I did not hear the news until a couple days later when the leader of Plow, Chris Clarke, reported it on Facebook. It stunned me. My last conversation with Dane was in January when he and I were talking about how we never know when we will be taken from this life, so make each day count. There was a memorial for Dane at Heroes Wood-Fired Pizza in Wynola, coordinated by Chris Clarke with both Plow members and Dana Duplan of Cadillac Wreckers performing, and some of us told some stories about our time with Dane over the years. It was very moving.

Dane Terry in the photo by tip jar, Chris Clarke mandolin, Dana Duplan guitar

Jamie Shadowlight

The other tragic event was reading a Facebook post from our dear friend and phenomenal violinist and human, Jamie Shadowlight, who was writing from the hospital in what sounded very desperate. I had no idea what was happening but could not do anything at that time due to my own severe pain and limited movement. I so badly wanted to visit her in the hospital. Then her friend Monette Marino posted what was going on. Jamie had stage 4 cervical cancer that had spread to all the lower abdominal organs. It was inoperable. It had stopped the flow from her kidneys to her bladder and she had to go through emergency surgery, putting tubes in her kidneys to drain off the urine and bring her kidneys back to health. The surgery worked, eventually she was released from the hospital and in the meantime Monette had helped to start a GoFundMe page for Jamie, since she was without health insurance. Jamies’ musical skills defy genre categorization. We have seen her perform with a variety of jazz artists such as guitarist Robin Henkel, keyboardist Mikan Zlatkovitch, flutist Lori Bell, percussionists Monette Marino and Nacho Arimany, her old Americana band Western Collective, Grammy winner guitarist Larry Mitchell, and a host of experimental artists in multimedia “happenings”. She was also part of Strings of Thought with former Ringo Starr and Taylor Swift touring violinist Caitlin Evanson, Pedro Talarico, and Nico Hueso who were noted for doing impromptu performances of various famous songs from all eras and genres. She has toured in South Africa and elsewhere and most recently experimenting with sound vibrations using violin, electronics, and its effect on water and light to create an ambient healing experience. Jamie performed with the Latin-World music group Todo Mundo touring all over the country.

In 2016, while I was in Oklahoma, my wife Nancy tripped over our blind dog going down the steps and broke bones in her shoulder and wrist. While I was on the road and Nancy was in a cast Jamie came over to our house to play a mini concert for Nancy. The next year Jamie was scheduled to perform with Todo Mundo at the Joshua Tree Music Festival. Todo Mundo’s band leader, Santiago Orozco, was offering free tickets if someone could answer some music questions (which I cannot recall at the moment) and I won the contest. He paid for Nancy and I to attend the 3 day music event. This was our first time seeing them perform and it was amazing. The other bands present from all over the globe were also wonderful to experience. We saw Todo Mundo one more time at The Music Box later that year. Unfortunately Todo Mundo disbanded about a year later and Santiago began a new music venture with WITHN, and Jamie was part of that on some of the WITHN releases.

Knowing Jamie’s situation, Santiago reformed Todo Mundo with what former members were available and put on a fundraising performance at Winstons in Ocean Beach earlier this month. When Jamie was released from the hospital she said she would be there for a couple songs. Well, a couple songs turned into the whole concert! Before everybody arrived I had caught a free moment to say hello to Santiago. I had not had a chance to talk to him since going to Joshua Tree. While talking to Santiago we heard someone beating on a drum and turned to see Jamie beating a medicine drum as she greeted everyone. We got to talk briefly with her. Since everyone wanted to talk to her the meeting was brief. Once the performance started it was like magic. The sound was as if they had never broken up. Truly professional artists. Besides Santiago on acoustic guitar and lead vocals there was an electric guitarist with a bit of flamenco flair to his playing and an electric lead guitarist producing some of the wildest sounds this side of Hendrix. I recognized the fellow on electric bass from seeing Todo Mundo in the past. And there was their old trombonist, hair a bit longer and just as wild whose gargantuan sassy sounds echoed the gregarious nature of this musical unit. Then there was the drummer who sounded like he had just walked off the stage performing with Shakira. The overall Todo Mundo sound was a bit like Carlos Vives but definitely unique to Santiago. There is a definite Vallenato sound, cumbia and even reggae. I only know a few words of Spanish so it was difficult to understand what Santiago was singing but it was from the heart and that was clearly communicated. Monette Marino was there and joined the band for a few songs. After the first, she was ready to leave the stage and Santiago said “where are you going?”. Laughingly she stayed for a few more. Jamie was there from the first note. She first played medicine drum and after the first song switched to violin which she played for the remainder of the concert. She also sang background or with Santiago on some songs.

My heart was lifted when we saw Jamie perform that evening. She is a remarkably strong person with a gentle and loving heart, and is inseparable from her music. She is convinced she is going to defeat the cancer in her own way. I am dedicating this blog post to Jamie Shadowlight, who continues to teach me how to be a better person and to be my own light. BTW, if you would like to donate to Jamie’s GoFundMe it is at:

Todo Mundo featuring Jamie Shadowlight (center right)

Santiago Orozco and Jamie Shadowlight

Update: Finally figured out how to insert photos in the updated version of Word Press.

In the meantime, peace, light and love to all. Enjoy Earth Day 2023!

Been Gone So Long…

Can you believe it? It is now late April, 2022. My last post was in August 2021 and at that time I was just saying “stay tuned, I will be back soon”. That did not happen. So here we are nearly a year later and nothing new. Oh, yes, I’ve been posting things to Facebook. After closing my FB account, re-opening, and closing and opening again, it just had seemed easier to use that platform. But I do want to get back to this. So, please don’t go away. I’m still working and have a real busy schedule in the coming months. Lots of travel, lots of Zoom trainings, lots of writing for work. So my focus will not be here. But once the smoke clears, I will be heading for retirement which will bring more time. And…I might even turn this into a podcast, or a combination.

Just know that I have really appreciated all 4 or 5 of you (hopefully there were more than that) that have stuck with me and check here from time to time. By fall I should be seeing things clear up. I have lots of catching up to do.

So no news to report. I will announce on FB and Twitter when I post. For those who are not following me there, you can either check here or begin following me on FB or Twitter.

Gotta go. Getting ready for travel and helping my wife with preparation for kitchen remodeling. See you soon!

The Popeswami Has Returned

It is now August 1, 2021 10:24 a.m. Can you believe it? Well in this strange post-technology, post-science world it seems that it is hard to know what is truth and what is not. But we will not worry about it here. It is just so so sad that the human race is going crazy, and has found a new way to self-destruct. You see, nuclear holocaust and climate change were not enough. But I am going to do my part right here to preserve a bit of humanity and the various cultural and artistic accomplishments that I hold dear.

Yes, my last post was June 30 of 2019. Work left me no choice but to defer posts so that I could pay the bills. But what happened next was simply unpredictable and hard to process. A global pandemic was just not in my plans for the future. Work travel came to a halt. A new way of doing work was learned so that I could do it all from home. New rituals were performed to keep us safe and healthy. Yet other more sedentary behaviors worked against a healthy lifestyle – and I paid the price. While vaccines were rolled-out and I got in line when my age group was called I never anticipated that the stress of a second vaccine along with working odd hours to communicate with people in time zones three hours away would cause problems for my heart. But it did. After wearing a heart monitor for two weeks in late March and early April this year, I was suddenly scheduled for emergency pacemaker surgery; I mean, like, being notified on Monday and having surgery on Wednesday type suddenly. It has now been three months since the surgery. I am still healing; it generally takes about 6 months to totally heal. I can drive but the seat belt hits right at the incision and is very uncomfortable.

However, I continue to move forward. Even during the pandemic I continued to pursue my relentless acquisitions of great obscure sounds from the past and select new releases. As the restrictions on social gatherings began to ease in May, we were able to get out to see various local artists: Dave Humphries with Mike Alvarez and Wolfgang Grasekamp at Alana in South Park; Sara Petite with Alex Watts and Andrew Crane at Wynola Pizza; Whitney Shay Quartet (Ed Kornhauser, Jodie Hill, and Chris Cancelliere) at Golden Island; Plow (Chris Clarke, Jason Weiss, Doug Walker, Alex Watts, and Dane Terry) at Wynola Pizza. What? No photos? Yep. For now. You see, my iPhone is a 6. I use One Drive to move items, including photos, to my PC but for over a year my phone has not been able to work with One Drive and updates are no longer available for the iPhone 6; planned obsolescence in action. I did post to Facebook, but I am too lazy to use FB to move them to my PC, so you are SOL if you are not a FB friend, LOL. (Don’t you just love how many acronyms have invaded our communications?)

I will try to fix this problem as time goes on. For now, just know I am alive and getting well, Mappinghappenings is alive and well and I will be continuing where I left off a year and a half ago in the very near future. I have more to talk about regarding Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band, Ken Kesey, the Anonymous Artists of America, and I intend to move forward to discuss Ram Dass, Ralph Metzner, and various spoken word albums and related musical obscurities I have accumulated over the past 50+ years. In the meantime, for your edification and enjoyment here is a rare photo of the Popeswami in the early stages of development at “Ye Olde Rashram” about 60 years ago. Enyoy, enyoy.

Popeswami, age about 205 yrs.

A Fresh of Breath Air II (Part 2 of an indeterminable number of parts)

“How much deception can you take?

How many lies will you create?

How much longer until you break?

Your mind’s about to fall

And they are breaking through,

They are breaking through,

Now we’re falling,

We are losing control”

From the song “MK Ultra” by Matt Bellamy, on the album The Resistance by Muse, 2009

While this is a continuation of my re-exploration of my documentary, spoken word, and other related  albums, I want to delve into a bit of history to provide some perspective before I continue. Here I will also describe some essential music releases of the era as well as spoken word. So here goes:

Hallucinogenic plants and fungi have been with us for as long as humanity has existed. Many cultures have used them for medicinal and spiritual purposes for thousands of years. As alchemy evolved into chemistry, additional substances were created out of plants, fungi, and other chemical compounds in the interest of finding cures for various ailments or to otherwise improve the human condition. It was always hit and miss, and laws were created to restrict use or production when it was determined that a substance was more of a danger than a benefit. Few know that cocaine was used in Coca Cola and lithium in 7Up before being prohibited. While some religions and cultures continue to encourage the use of mind-altering substances, such as peyote in the Native American Church, most Western religions condemn their use as a temptation from the devil or a form of witchcraft. Most Eastern religions tolerate, or are indifferent to, their use.

Ergot, which is a fungus that grows on the rye plant can produce vivid hallucinations but also can destroy body extremities and often results in violent death. The name given to the effects of ergot poisoning is St. Anthony’s Fire. It is often suggested that Joan of Arc may have eaten rye bread with this fungus, which would explain the visions she claimed guided her to victory in battle, but also caused her to be burned at the stake for witchcraft. Likewise, the victims of the Salem, Massachusetts witch trials may have suffered from St. Anthony’s Fire. Ergot is the fungus from which LSD is derived.

Albert Hofmann

But let us zoom up to November 18, 1938 at Sandoz laboratories in Basel, Switzerland. This is the day Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann synthesized LSD while looking for a treatment for headaches and respiratory problems. When Sandoz decided not to pursue treatment for these ailments, Hofmann set the compound aside until April 16, 1943, when he decided to re-examine it. He accidentally spilled some on his fingertips and somehow absorbed it into his system. He then grew ill, went home, and for the next two hours he experienced vivid hallucinations. On April 19, three days later, he decided to confirm these effects were from the LSD by ingesting 250 micrograms in a glass of water. As he rode home on his bike, he began to experience hallucinations. The day April 19 is now known by some as “Bicycle Day” to commemorate the date of the first intentional LSD trip. Pink Floyd’s co-founder guitarist, Syd Barrett,  composed the song “Bike” in 1966 to commemorate the event and in 1967 the song appeared on their first LP “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.” The songwriters Keith Hopkins and Ken Burgess of the band Tomorrow composed “My White Bicycle” in 1967. It was their first single, appeared on their only album “Tomorrow,” and was one of the first songs to use backward guitar phasing. While “My White Bicycle” has been associated with this event, the writers later claimed it was inspired by a Dutch anarchist group’s bicycle sharing system in Amsterdam. This song was covered by Nazareth in 1975 and by Neil the Hippy in 1984.

Hofmann was also the first scientist to identify, create, and name the primary hallucinogenic mushroom compounds, psilocybin and psilocin. He later wrote the book “LSD: My Problem Child” and in the early 1980s recorded a lecture, in English, of the same name. He referred to LSD as a “sacred drug” and continued to use it personally throughout his life. On his 100th birthday, Hofmann said in a speech “It gave me an inner joy, an open mindedness, a gratefulness, open eyes and an internal sensitivity for the miracles of creation…I think that in human evolution it has never been as necessary to have this substance LSD. It is just a tool to turn us into what we are supposed to be.” Hofmann died April 29, 2008 at the age of 102.

Albert Hofmann – LSD: My Problem Child (1983) This was a lecture by Hofmann in English at the Psychedelics and Spirituality Conference II in Santa Barbara, California on May 13-14, 1983. It initially was offered by cassette, but I was able to obtain a CDr copy sometime around 2008. Also speaking was Humphrey Osmond, 30 years to the day that he administered mescaline to Aldous Huxley.

Humphrey Osmond – The Early Days: Mescaline Opens Huxley’s Doors of Perception (1983) Lecture at the Psychedelics and Spirituality Conference II in Santa Barbara, California on May 13-14, 1983 by the man who coined the term “psychedelic” in 1956. Among those speaking at the conference besides Hofmann and Osmond were Ralph Metzner, Terence McKenna, and Andrew Weil. In attendance but not speaking were Timothy Leary, Joan Halifax, Kathleen Harrison McKenna, Peter Stafford, and many other scientists, psychologists, and spiritual leaders. The conference speakers were recorded, and a complete six audiocassette package was available, as well as each individually. I obtained CDr’s of both Hofmann’s and Osmond’s talks from the same source offering the cassettes.


LSD was first synthesized just a month before scientists succeeded in nuclear fission. The first LSD trips by Hofmann occurred just a month before designs were developed for the first atomic bomb. As war seems to corrupt many things, so it goes with mind-altering drugs. Japan, Nazi Germany, the US, and the USSR military and intelligence took an interest in the use of such drugs for the purpose of mind control and biological warfare. In the US, the CIA was officially sanctioned in 1953 with the creation of the secret program now known as MKULTRA. Only those involved at the CIA knew about this mind control program until it was investigated by Congress in the 1970s. The public was clueless, yet they were often the guinea pigs in this later-declared-illegal program. Techniques included dosing unsuspecting as well as volunteer subjects with LSD and other hallucinogens, electroshocks, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse, as well as other forms of torture. It was conducted in colleges, hospitals, mental institutions, and prisons in the US and in Canada (with the Canadian government’s blessings.) Some of the cruelest practices were conducted by the US in Canada. Wherever these experiments were conducted some died and others were permanently scarred as a result. The program was supposedly ended in 1973 but some have claimed it never ended. In fact, there is evidence from 1974 that some experiments continued at various US college campuses with unsuspecting students.

From 1959 through 1962 Harvard University participated in these CIA MKULTRA experiments, under the guise of being run by Harvard’s Department of Social Relations, headed by psychologist Henry A. Murray. One of the 22 undergraduates in the experiments was Ted Kaczynski, later known as The Unabomber. I find it interesting that many of his bombs were sent to scientists and other academicians.

In 1973, the Director of the CIA, Richard Helms, ordered all files related to MKULTRA destroyed so that Congress could not investigate. Thankfully, some documents had been misfiled and were later discovered in 1977. They provide some of what we know today, but there is still much missing from our understanding of what went on from 1953 to 1973 including the magnitude of the project and who all was involved. Most information we have comes from victims or their families and retired members of the CIA who grew a conscience.

Timothy Leary

I wrote in my last post that Timothy Leary involved professors Richard Alpert and Ralph Metzner from the Harvard psychology department in running experiments. In 1962 Leary and Alpert formed the International Federation for Internal Freedom (IFIF) to continue studies on the religious use of psychedelic drugs outside of their Harvard University research. After Leary and Alpert were fired from Harvard, they continued their “religious” experiments at Millbrook in New York. Was Leary enlisted by the CIA to conduct any or all these experiments? We may never know. We know he lived as a fugitive after being arrested several times, beginning in 1965 and continuing into the mid-70s. Nixon called him “the most dangerous man in America.” Being that Leary had a history of going rogue dating back to the late 50s were these arrests efforts to keep him quiet about the CIA experiments? Note that LSD and psilocybin were legal at the time of his first arrest. His arrest was for possession of marijuana and resulted in an excessive 30-year prison sentence, which he successfully appealed. His story involves more arrests, escapes, apprehensions, and eventually a sentencing in 1973 to Folsom Prison where he was placed in a cell next to Charles Manson. He was released early in 1976 due to his cooperation as an FBI informant regarding the Weather Underground. The government ceased their harassment after this. His interests shifted from psychedelics to cybernetics and cryogenics in the 80s and 90s.

Also noted in my last post is that Leary released his first three LPs in 1966. All three were recorded at the Millbrook mansion. Despite arrests, appeals, and escapes he continued to record three more LPs.

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out Soundtrack (1967) – Not to be confused with his 1966 spoken word LP of the same title, this album is filled with music utilizing veena, guitar, and tabla in the style of the music of India but it is Westernized in a psychedelic style. The movie never received a public viewing, yet the soundtrack was a big seller. It has Leary guiding Ralph Metzner through an LSD trip, with sound effects, echo, and an eerie female voice floating in and out with various admonitions. By the end of the album, Ralph’s trip has ended. I have the CD reissue.

You Can Be Anyone This Time Around (1969) – This was recorded as part of Leary’s 1969 campaign for governor of California. Ronald Reagan won that election. Stephen Stills, Jimi Hendrix (on bass!), John Sebastian, and Buddy Miles were part of his back up band. The first side was taken from a Leary campaign press conference with music in the background, and the second side has Leary rapping over music on two pieces. The first is about using drugs to become anyone you want; Leary says “you can be John and Yoko this time around.” The second is about turning on to music while taking drugs and the biological effects that go on while this is happening. He also used short snippets of the music of Pink Floyd but mistakenly credits it to The Grateful Dead on the album cover. I have the CD reissue.

Timothy Leary and Ash Ra Tempel – Seven Up (1973) While Leary was a fugitive living in Bern, Switzerland in 1972, he connected with the German space rock band Ash Ra Tempel and they recorded an LP. It consists of two side-long compositions titled “Time” and “Space” respectively. Music was composed by the band, with lyrics written and partially sung by Leary. The music is typical of the space rock meanderings Ash Ra Tempel is noted for but with a little more bluesy feel than usual. This is the only recording where Timothy Leary sings. I have this on CD.

Mel Lyman

Another notorious person who participated in experiments at Harvard in 1963 was folk musician Mel Lyman. It is uncertain whether he participated in the MKULTRA experiments that may have secretly extended beyond 1962, or Leary’s experiments, or both. For years Lyman traveled through the country honing his skills on harmonica and banjo. In 1962 he spent some time in New York City and became familiar with Andy Warhol’s group at The Factory as well as the Greenwich Village folk scene before moving to the Boston area in 1963. This is where the facts get muddy. In 1963 he supposedly joined Boston-based Jim Kweskin and The Jug Band on harmonica and banjo. However, he does not show up in credits until their second album. On the first album, Bob Siggins plays banjo and Bruno Wolf plays harmonica and sings. Bruno Wolf, or Wolfe, is a pseudonym for David Simon. Both Lyman and Wolfe are credited in the band lineup when they performed at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964. Both appear on the second Jug Band album credits in 1965.

Ironically, according to Kweskin, David Simon was replaced by Mel Lyman because David had a drug habit at that time. But Lyman had been busted in Tallahassee, Florida for drugs after breaking up with his girlfriend. She had participated in LSD experiments with Mel against his wishes. As he had anticipated it messed her up, and she freaked out and moved back home to Kansas. At Lyman’s sentencing he was to either get a regular job or go to jail. So, he joined the Kweskin Jug Band. It is hard to believe that Kweskin didn’t know Lyman’s drug or arrest history.

From everything I have read Mel had been using morning glory seeds and LSD long before joining the Jug Band and was a firm believer in the benefits of hallucinogens. Later he began to believe he had a higher divine calling and that maybe he was God. He formed a cult-like community in 1966 known as the Fort Hill Community, and members were referred to as The Lyman Family. According to former members he ruled the community with an iron fist, hated hippies, and demanded male members wear their hair short and women dress conservatively, and all were to serve him as some divine avatar. They published a newsletter called Avatar.

Neither the Kweskin Jug Band’s 1963 LP nor subsequent releases show any indication of hallucinogenic influence. However, there were three albums where The Lyman Family was credited in some respect and while there are no lyrical references to drugs, and no “psychedelic sound effects,” the mood of the albums could be the result of mind-altering substances. The last of the three albums was not released until 2002 on CD but supposedly was recorded in 1970 and has a dreamy, almost depressed spiritual bluesy feel. My impression is that this album sounds like the band was on Quaaludes. No credits of performers are given other than Mel Lyman and “The Lyman Family.”

Two notable members of the Jug Band were Geoff Muldaur and Maria D’Amato. Maria joined for the second Jug Band album and married Geoff (divorced in 1972) and later had a successful solo career as Maria Muldaur. Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur continue to perform as an acoustic duo. I met them a few years ago when they performed at the Adams Avenue Unplugged festival in San Diego.

Mel Lyman disappeared in the late 70s and the Lyman Family announced in the early 1980s that he had died in 1978. Other accounts say he died in 1980. Some say he took a drug overdose; others say his body simply vanished. It is still a mystery. Mel Lyman and The Lyman Family had a colorful but notorious history. A Rolling Stone two-part series said the group was somewhat like the Manson family except for the murders. There was a bank robbery in the 70s that was attributed to Family members, and there were reports of mind control, and mental and physical brutality in the group. The group still exists as a sophisticated construction company and founding members claim the Rolling Stone articles were an exaggeration with many untruths. There are many Mel Lyman stories that are only tangential to this post, but there is plenty of information about his music career and The Lyman Family on the Internet.

And what about David Simon? Because of similar looks and musical style, he was often mistaken for Norman Greenbaum, famous for the 1969 hit “Spirit in the Sky.” Greenbaum had previously led Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band from 1966 through 1968, famous for the minor hit “The Eggplant That Ate Chicago.” It is confirmed Greenbaum and Simon are not the same person. Simon got into macrobiotics and scientology. He became a naturopathic herbalist trainer and researcher. He was supposedly influential in the Incredible String Band members converting to scientology. David died in 2014. Greenbaum also got out of music for a while but now he is again performing.

The group, Jim Kweskin and The Jug Band, had an original sound but based on good-time music in the folk and blues tradition. While it never had any hit songs, it was immensely influential in the creation of jug bands around the country that soon evolved into The Grateful Dead, Country Joe and The Fish, and The Lovin’ Spoonful.

The following is a list of significant Lyman-related albums. Unlisted here is the Jim Kweskin & The Jug Band CD, “Greatest Hits!” which I purchased when meeting Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur. I obtained their autographs on the inside cover at that time. Jim thought I was younger than I am, a bit in disbelief when I told him I had heard them back in the 60s via a friend whose older brother had one of their albums. I first heard them in late 1967 or early 1968 in my high school freshman year.

Jim Kweskin and The Jug Band – Unblushing Brassiness (1963) The first album by this band. This was before Mel Lyman and Maria D’Amato joined. David Simon, under the pseudonym Bruno Wolf played harmonica and sang. Bob Siggins was on banjo. Fritz Richmond played jug and washtub bass. Geoff Muldaur was on mandolin, guitar, and vocals. I have this on CD.

Jim Kweskin and The Jug Band – Jug Band Music (1965) Here the band is credited with both Bruno Wolfe (note the added “e”) and Mel Lyman as well as Maria D’Amato. It is assumed that Maria joined some time in 1963 or 64 before the Newport Folk Festival of 1964 since she is part of the band at that event. Siggins was replaced by Bill Keith on banjo. So, the band at that point was Kweskin, Muldaur, Lyman, Wolfe (Simon), D’Amato, Keith, and Richmond. I don’t have this.

Jim Kweskin and The Jug Band – See Reverse Side for Title (1966) Here the band loses Bruno Wolfe and Maria is now credited as Maria Muldaur. Mel Lyman is in the fold on harmonica. This indicates that the songs were recorded in 1965 before the Newport Folk Festival that year, because it is said that Lyman’s last appearance with the Jug Band was at that Festival. I don’t have this.

Jim Kweskin Jug Band – Garden of Joy (1967)  The name changed slightly, and a drummer and viola/violinist are added. Mel Lyman had left by then. The band soldiered on until May 1968 when they did their last show. Geoff and Maria Muldaur then headed to Woodstock, New York and recorded two LPs together. The surviving members of the band reunited in 2013 for a 50th anniversary reunion tour. Mel and Fritz had died, so the surviving four: Kweskin, Geoff, Maria, and Bill Keith were the 2013 touring unit. I have this on a CD that also contains the Jim Kweskin’s America album.

The Lyman Family with Lisa Kindred – American Avatar (1969) According to Lisa Kindred, this was supposed to be a Lisa Kindred album called “Kindred Spirits”. It was recorded in 1964. Lyman plays harmonica and produced the album, and band members included Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur from the Jug Band. Others credited were Bruce Langhorne and Terry Bernhard.  Lisa shelved the project because she did not like the mix. So, five years later Lyman decided to take the recording and remix to put Lisa’s voice in the background. He released it as by The Lyman Family with Lisa Kindred. Lyman originally wanted to call the album “Love Comes Rolling Down” but then changed it to “American Avatar.” Ten years later Lisa learned that it had been released and was furious but did nothing about it. The music is deliberately slow and soft, with harmonica in the foreground rather than the vocals. It is unlike the Jug Band sound, more a mellow spiritual and folk blues. I have this on CD.

Mel Lyman and The Lyman Family – Birth (1970) This album was not released until 2002. It has no credits except Mel Lyman and The Lyman Family. I suspect that this was recorded sometime around the 1964 recording of the Lisa Kindred album with the same people and that the 1970 date is given due to the release of American Avatar being 1969. The female vocals sound like Lisa Kindred and Maria Muldaur, which supports my suspicion. There is no percussion. The music is mostly blues and spiritual covers, similar to the Kindred album. Everything is slowed down to the point that makes one feel restless for the tempo to pick up. But it never does. I have this on CD.

Jim Kweskin – Richard D. Herbruck Presents Jim Kweskin’s America Co-starring Mel Lyman And The Lyman Family (1971) Here is a whole new lineup. All Jug Band members are gone, except Kweskin and Lyman, and a new set of performers are credited. In the liner notes, Kweskin defers to Mel Lyman as being the creative power behind the album and comes close to declaring Lyman to be the savior of the world. The sound is unlike the Jug Band. It is folk blues and spiritual, and some Americana standards; a bit more upbeat than the other two Lyman Family releases. I have on CD; see Garden of Joy above.

Maria Muldaur – Waitress in A Donut Shop (1974) This followed Maria’s first solo LP release from 1973 that contained the hit “Midnight at the Oasis.” For this she is backed by a big band on most songs. Lots of swing jazz and folk standards. After the success of the first LP she was able to gather some of the top folk, jazz, and Black spiritual artists in the business for this outing. I have this on both LP and CD.

Ken Kesey

In the late 1950s Ken Kesey became a graduate student in creative writing at Stanford University. Sometime in the early 60s psychology graduate student, Vik Lovell, who knew Richard Alpert and Allen Ginsberg, invited Kesey to volunteer to take part in psychology department sponsored experiments at the Menlo Park Veterans’ Hospital where Kesey worked nights as an aide. These experiments turned out to be part of the CIA’s MKULTRA project but that was unknown until a decade later. Kesey agreed to be a guinea pig, as it would provide him with some extra cash. The experiments included administering various hallucinogens and cocaine to the volunteers to study their effects. As a result, Kesey became an advocate of the use of these drugs.

After graduation from Stanford, Kesey wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest which was published in 1962. The book’s inspiration came from his work at the Menlo Park Veterans’ Hospital. All the while, Kesey continued to participate in the drug experiments to supplement his income. After the book’s success in 1963, he purchased a ranch in La Honda and moved there, just fifteen miles west of Stanford University. He began to have parties inviting various bohemian types he met while at Stanford, including Neal Cassady and Ken Babbs. This group became known as The Merry Pranksters.

In 1964 after completing his next novel Sometimes a Great Notion, Kesey’s publisher required his presence in New York City. So, Kesey purchased a bus and the Merry Pranksters helped him prepare it for the trip. They painted, wired for multi-media, provided for sleeping areas, and provided for an observation deck on top of the bus. The entire group then headed for New York in the bus, now christened “Furthur,” (spelling later corrected). There were several stops along the way to visit friends. The trip was filmed, and audio taped. The audio focused on the wild raps by Neal Cassady, who drove. After going to New York City, they stopped by Millbrook to see Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert at the invitation of Allen Ginsberg. They then headed to Canada and eventually back to La Honda, California. Journalist Tom Wolfe, who documented the trip in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test was not on the bus but used the videotape Kesey filmed during the trip as the material for his book.

After their return, the parties continued, and involved the consumption of LSD and other hallucinogens, while experiencing sensory bombardment by multi-media and live music supplied by the Anonymous Artists of America and The Warlocks (later renamed The Grateful Dead.) These parties began to be called “acid tests” and were totally unstructured events. In 1965 Kesey began hosting these acid tests at various locations in the Bay area but also in other western US cities on into early 1967. He had many of them recorded from late 1965 through 1966. Sound engineer and supplier of the LSD was local chemist, Augustus Owsley Stanley III (aka Owsley, aka Bear). Bear became the official sound engineer for The Grateful Dead for many years. The best description of these acid tests would be to think of a regular party of young adults talking and laughing, with a live band performing as well as someone playing with echo and sound effects with a microphone plugged into a sound board and with an elaborate PA system, plus multi-media and wild lights. Then imagine all these people high on various substances. That is exactly what it was when you hear recordings of these events.

Kesey was busted for marijuana possession in 1965 (sound familiar?) and faked suicide, fleeing to Mexico. The acid tests that were held while he was in Mexico were held in the Los Angeles area and were led by Ken Babbs and Wavy Gravy (Hugh Romney). He snuck back into the US eight months later and continued his acid tests. In January 1967 he was sentenced to six months jail time at the San Mateo County jail in Redwood City. Two days after sentencing he was arrested again for smoking marijuana. A final acid test was held at Rice University in Houston, Texas on March 16, 1967 and hosted by Kesey and Babbs friend Larry McMurtry (novelist and father of present-day Americana/folk rock singer-songwriter James McMurtry). Kesey began his sentence in May 1967. After his release he moved to the family farm in Pleasant Hill, Oregon and spent the rest of his life there, continuing his writing and operating Key-Z Productions until his death in 2001.

Kesey-related recordings

Neal at the Wheel: Neal Cassady driving Further into NY on the NJ Turnpike June 25, 1964, Parts 1 & 2 – In the late 90s Kesey edited audio tapes of the trip to New York on two CDrs, which I was quick to purchase when they were made available. Audio is not top quality as the sound of the bus and traffic sometimes drowns out Neal Cassady’s raps. It is more of historic significance giving an audio account of what it was like being on the bus and listening to Neal.

The Acid Test – the official LP released in 1966 on Sound City Productions, and 2005 on Acadia label CD, was of the Sound City Acid Test of January 29, 1966 in San Francisco at Sound City Studio. I only have the CD.

The Acid Test, Volume 1 – Issued on CD in 1998 on the King Mob label in the UK and is probably a bootleg. This is the Sound City Acid Test that was released on LP in 1966 but it wrongly states that the event was in 1965. This CD includes additional material from “Red, White and Blue Meet the Black, Vietnam Day 1966” (which happened October 16, 1965). Ken Kesey reissued it on CDr in 1999 with the same date errors and liner notes. Both issues are credited to “Ken Kesey, Ken Babbs, and The Merry Pranksters.” I have both.

Hogs are Coming b/w Peggy the Pistol – credited to “Ken Kesey with Ken Babbs and The Merry Band of Pranksters.” This was a seven-inch 45 rpm issued in 1997. The two selections come from the Sound City Acid Test LP. I have this and burned it to CDr.

Excerpts from The Acid Test – Issued in 1966 on the Sound City label as a radio station promo on a seven inch 33 1/3 rpm. The selections taken from the Sound City Acid Test LP and slightly edited in places. Extremely rare and I do not have this.

The Acid Test, Volume 2 – CDr issued by Ken Kesey in 1999 of the San Francisco State Acid Test on October 1, 1966. This version is the longest version of this acid test available. Issued with both color and black and white covers. Mine is black and white.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1988) – This was a bootleg LP, supposedly issued in Sweden, but now thought to have originated in the US. This is a unique version of the San Francisco Acid Test of October 1, 1966. This LP says October 1 & 2, 1966, which may be more accurate if the event began the evening of the first and into the morning of the second. This recording has excerpts inserted at the beginning and end of each LP side that originated from a television interview by Tom Snyder with Ken Kesey and Jerry Garcia. The program was NBC’s Tomorrow Show and the date was May 7, 1981. The full interview can be seen on YouTube. I have this LP and burned a copy to CDr.

The Acid Test Reels – This is a set of downloadable files that have been available on the Internet, mostly from sites dedicated to archiving Grateful Dead related recordings. Each volume fits on an 80-minute CDr. There are now six volumes. It had begun as a three-volume set exclusively of recordings made during various acid tests but has expanded with three more volumes to include recordings that are related to the acid tests.

The following gives a description of what is found on each volume:

Volume 1 – The Fillmore Acid Test, Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, January 8, 1966

Volume 2 – The Pico Acid Test, Danish Center, Los Angeles, probably March 19, 1966; and The San Francisco State Acid Test, Whatever It Is Festival, San Francisco State University, October 2, 1966

Volume 3 – The San Francisco State Acid Test (continued), Merry Prankster Sound Collage Sequence, and End of Whatever It Is Festival, all from October 2, 1966; and Acid Test Graduation Jam, Winterland, San Francisco, October 31, 1966

Volume 4 – Related Recordings: Neal Cassady & The Warlocks, 1965; Neal Cassady Raps excerpt from Straight Theater, Haight Street, San Francisco, July 23, 1967; Jerry Garcia from Acid Test audio, 710 Haight Street House, San Francisco, Summer, 1967; Jerry Garcia one hour interview circa 1967

Volume 5 – Supplementary #1: The Watts Acid Test, Youth Opportunities Center, Compton, February 12, 1966; and Pico Acid Test expanded version, Danish Center, Los Angeles, March 12, 1966

Volume 6 – Supplementary #2: San Francisco State Acid Test and Kesey/Garcia Interview on Tomorrow Show, May 7, 1981. This is an exact copy of the 1988 bootleg LP mentioned above.

Neal Cassady Raps (1967) This is a 10-minute version of the June 23, 1967 recording excerpted on Volume 4 of the Acid Test Reels above. Sold as a seven-inch flexi disc to accompany “The Dead Book: A Social History of The Grateful Dead” by Hank Harrison in 1973. Cassady was live onstage with The Grateful Dead. Recorded before he left for Mexico. He returned briefly only a couple more times before going back to Mexico where he died in 1968.

Neal Cassady – Drive (1965) Two CDs of these tapes were released by Kesey in 1999. Cassady was recorded by Kesey and Mountain Girl on the La Honda ranch, while sitting in a Plymouth station wagon rigged with earphones, microphone, and a “girlfriend” (so he had someone to rap to) with music provided by Robin and the Hoods in one ear and engine sounds in the other. He was taped from midnight until dawn. The music is often mistaken to be The Warlocks.

That concludes this post. I am exhausted. I am sure you are too if you read the whole thing.

Thanks a lot; see you later.

Like a Fresh of Breath Air

“Ooo, have another hit of fresh air, ooo, have another hit”

From the song, “Fresh Air” by Chet Powers (aka Dino Valenti, aka Jesse Farrow) on the Quicksilver Messenger Service LP “Just for Love,” 1970

I just kicked my Facebook addiction by closing my accounts and removing the app from all my devices. What this means is that Facebook is not where you go to find out if I have added a new post here. While I do not use Twitter, I still have an account there and if you have an account you can find me there if you link to mine. I am under my birth-given name on Twitter. You can also find my Twitter posts via my Twitter handle, @7st0nes. The only thing I post on Twitter is when I have a new entry here.

I feel great after getting rid of Facebook. For the past few years, it has been a love-hate relationship. And now it feels like a breath of fresh air to be rid of it. It used to be the way I kept up with the local music scene and my friends around the country but now I know other places where I can go to find out who is playing at my favorite venues and where my favorite artists are performing. Facebook made it easier, but that is okay; I can find my way around without it. And people who want to keep in touch can do so by contacting me via email or phone. If they did not take me up on my request to ask me for contact info in Messenger before I pulled the plug, then it was not important to them, so it should not be important to me either.

Recently I have been immersing myself in my collection of spoken word and related recordings with themes regarding the hippie and drug cultures from the mid-fifties to the mid-eighties. These include a variety of recordings both pro and con as well as scientifically objective perspectives. I am not advocating for the use of any substance, whether it be alcohol, marijuana, or anything else. The point here is that I am a collector as well as a student of the era spanning the period from my early childhood to my early 30s. Some are of historical significance, but others are just rare and collectible.

This has been evolving as I write and will be broken into digestible pieces and may involve several posts reflecting what I have been listening to recently. So here goes:

Various Artists – Peyote Ceremonial Songs. (undated/1998) This includes recordings from Kiowa, Cheyenne, Cherokee, Omaha, and other tribes. It is noted that David Apekaun, of the Kiowa tribe, was recorded in 1953, and most others were recorded in the 1950s and early 1960s. Apekaun’s recordings may be the earliest recordings related to the use of hallucinogenic substances. The 1998 CD is from an undated LP that appears to be no earlier than the mid-1960s (based on the use of a zip code in the label address) and is subtitled “Music of the Native American Church of North America (Indian).” It is uncertain whether any of these recordings were conducted while the performer was under the influence. To the untrained listener, this may sound like many other Native American recordings totally unrelated to the use of peyote. Various Native American percussive instruments are used with singing.

Mushroom Ceremony of the Mazatec Indians of Mexico

Maria Sabina – Mushroom Ceremony of the Mazatec Indians, recorded by Gordon and Valentina Wasson in Huautla de Jimenez, State of Oaxaca, Mexico, on July 21, 1956. Maria Sabina was a curandera (witch doctor) under the influence of hallucinogenic mushrooms, in a trance state, during the recording. This recording was released in 1957. Three years later, Timothy Leary, PhD traveled to Cuernavaca, Mexico to experience the effects of these mushrooms himself. He thus began his exploration of other hallucinogenic substances through the early 1960s, bringing his colleagues at Harvard, Richard Alpert, PhD and Ralph Metzner, PhD into these explorations. On May 13, 1957 Life magazine published an article by Gordon Wasson about the use of these mushrooms in religious ceremonies by the Mazatec people. One person who read this article at the age of 11 was Terence McKenna, and I will have more to say about McKenna in a later post.

Aldous Huxley – Visionary Experience

Aldous Huxley – Visionary Experience, from a 1962 lecture addressing a Los Alamos scientist crowd where he mentions his experiences with the use of LSD and mescaline. This was volume two of a two album series with the first volume being called “Human Potentialities” with no reference to hallucinogens. These were not released until 1969.

Aldous Huxley – Speaking Personally

Aldous Huxley – Speaking Personally, from a 1961 interview by John Chandos with Huxley. There are references to the benefits of research into the use of LSD. This was not released until 1973 and later was issued as a CD. Huxley had first taken mescaline in 1953 with the assistance of psychiatrist Humphrey Osmond, M.D. This experience resulted in Huxley writing the book, “The Doors of Perception.” Osmond had been experimenting with the use of LSD and mescaline with schizophrenic patients since 1951. Osmond was the person who coined the term “psychedelic” in letter exchanges with Huxley and introduced its use in a meeting of the New York Academy of Sciences in 1956. The term stuck.

Alan Watts – Haiku (1958), Zen & Senryu (1959), and This is IT (1962) These are the first three albums by British philosopher, Alan Watts. The first two examine Asian poetry forms with Watts reading the poem followed by a brief musical interlude on Asian instruments and the reading repeated in Japanese by Sumire Jacobs. The last album is more “musical” but in an extremely broad sense of the term, with several participants playing instruments without any understanding of how to play them, as well as chanting, gibberish, and wild howling. It is a free-form cacophonous experience, and the participants may have possibly been under the influence of hallucinogenic substances. At one point one of the chants sounds like it included the acronym “LSD”. “This is IT” parallels Watts’ book, “The Joyous Cosmology”, which discusses experiences on LSD.

Gerald Heard – Re-Birth

Gerald Heard – Re-birth (1961). Philosopher, author, and historian Gerald Heard recorded two spoken word box sets containing 3 LPs each, the first in 1959 and the second in 1961. The focus in this blog is on “Re-birth”,  the last LP in the 1961 box set titled “Explorations Volume 2: Survival, Growth, and Re-birth”. The first two LPs are lectures and devoid of any reference to hallucinogens. This third LP stands out in its invoking of the Tibetan Book of the Dead and is seen as a guide for an LSD trip where the subject is initiated into the trip, symbolically dies, and is then reborn. While this also follows the process of being born again in Christianity, the close following of references from the Book of the Dead indicates Heard was not referring to Christianity. This third LP also includes ominous-sounding minor key musical interludes on church organ and occasional choral vocalists providing advice to the initiate.

This same process is noted in the 1964 book and supporting 1966 LP “The Psychedelic Experience,” by Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert, and Ralph Metzner. Later in 1966 in The Beatles album “Revolver” the song “Tomorrow Never Knows” incorporates a quote from “The Psychedelic Experience” in the lyric, “Turn off  your mind relax and float downstream.”

Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, Richard Alpert – The Psychedelic Experience

Timothy Leary, PhD, Richard Alpert, PhD, and Ralph Metzner, PhD – The Psychedelic Experience (1966) An abridged audio version of their 1964 book of the same name, this followed the same process as Gerald Heard’s “Re-birth” LP except that instead of a church organ signifying the steps in the process, there is a singular ring of a bell at each step. Leary, Alpert, and Metzner take turns reading, alternating readers with each bell ring, but with Leary doing most of the reading. This LP is not nearly as interesting as the Heard LP despite covering the same topic. Heard was a much more expressive speaker and the use of church organ and vocalists accentuated the intensity on “Re-birth”. But this 1966 LP was more important in its day since Leary and Alpert had garnered national notoriety for being fired from Harvard University in 1963 due partly to their LSD experimentation using undergraduate students. Gerald Heard’s album, unfortunately, was not widely known despite the fact that it preceded this release by five years and was the more interesting of the two.


After being fired from Harvard, Leary rented the old Hitchcock Estate mansion in Millbrook, New York for a dollar per year, where he and Alpert continued to explore the spiritual component of hallucinogens. They formed the Castalia Foundation to conduct this research. Visitors included poet Allen Ginsberg, jazz artists Charles Mingus and Maynard Ferguson, philosopher and author Alan Watts, psychiatrist R.D. Laing, and other curiosity seekers. In 1964 Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters visited Millbrook on their way from New York City to Canada in their bus “Further” driven by beat ikon, Neal Cassady. Although Kesey and company had been invited to Millbrook by Allen Ginsberg, Leary refused to meet with them, feeling that they missed the spiritual point of the Castalia Foundation’s research and that they showed disregard for the required controlled setting.

Timothy Leary, PhD – Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out

Timothy Leary, PhD – Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out (1966). This is a spoken word album recorded at Millbrook. It is where Leary coined the term calling on the youth of America to “turn on, tune in, drop out.” Here he reflects on his various experiments with hallucinogens as well as where human society should go from here. For me, Leary’s dry delivery with little emotion and long pauses between statements makes for difficult listening but it does contain a wealth of interesting ideas. It was originally released on the ESP label and the LP is quite rare, however about 10 years ago a revived ESP label reissued it on CD and finally provided me the opportunity to hear this historic release.

Dr. Timothy Leary, Ph.D. – L.S.D.

Timothy Leary, PhD – L.S.D. (1966). This is another lecture only LP, recorded at Millbrook. This lecture conceptually takes a little from his other two 1966 releases. I have both the original LP and the CD. The CD version includes extra material from a dinner party attended by Leary and G. Gordon Liddy in the late 60s and a 1967 interview referenced as “at the height of the hippie movement.” This is probably the least interesting of the Leary recordings but the extra tracks on the CD version provide a slight redemption to this rather dry album.

I think I will stop here, with some of the harder but rewarding listens. These are not recordings that you put on in the background while doing something else. They demand full attention to get the most out of them. More to come, perhaps later in the week.

I am back!!!

And what do I find? I find that WordPress has changed. It has only been a year since I’ve been here last. Pretty sad, ain’t it? But I am back. I nearly got used to using Facebook exclusively to post my music interests and now I am about ready to kick my Facebook addiction. So WordPress supposedly gives a new look and more power to the blogger. I shall see. But whatever it does, it will take getting used to. So please bear with me.

I will be expanding my interests here to include anything I find as interesting with the exception of political stuff. I will save that for ranting in my home and throwing things at my TV. So this is just a placeholder. I figure that my posts will be shorter (and hopefully sweeter) since all the time tied up with Facebook will be transferred to my blog.

It doesn’t look that different when I preview. But we shall see as time goes on. It was quite easy to figure out how to select and post a photo. This one is from 2009, at the San Pasqual South trail apex. Just picked this at random to see how this works. Popeswami is surveying his domain and declaring superiority to all onlookers…all one of them (the one holding the camera). It remains to be determined exactly how superior he is.

I am insane, I am not ashamed.

“Two kinds of people in this world

Winners, losers

I lost my power in this world

Because I did not use it

And I go insane like I always do

And I call your name, she’s a lot like you

Two kinds of trouble in this world

Living, dying

I lost…”

(From “Go Insane” by Lindsey Buckingham, title track to his 1984 album)

It seemed appropriate to end mid-stanza in the Buckingham lyrics, because it fit my style. And style is everything, isn’t it?

I have been absent from the blogosphere for far too long. But is that unusual? Suddenly echoes of Tom Jones rattle inside this addled brain. Let’s just say it’s not.  I will not make excuses. There have been opportunities to write but it just never occurred to me.

In the meantime, I have been adding to my music collection like a voracious aardvark. Yes, I have been to a few shows, but I have passed up the opportunity to attend more  – be it age, or what…I just don’t know. Music friends that I have longed to see just took a back seat to other “needs”.

Mercedes Moore

I did get out to see Mercedes Moore last night at Proud Mary’s. I had not been to one of her gigs in well over a couple years. When we walked in, I noted there were drums and a keyboard set up, and I thought “What? No guitar? No bass?” and then I realized as I looked around the room and spotted two people having dinner – Taryn Donath and Danny Campbell…and my heart began to accelerate. I simply adore Taryn’s playing and while I knew that Mercedes and Taryn had done many a show together, I had never had the opportunity to attend one. And now that opportunity was here.

L to R:  Mercedes Moore, Danny Campbell, Taryn Donath

What a great time! Unlike the other times I have seen Mercedes, she really worked the audience. It was fun to see her conversationally having fun with the people, including the little conversations between her and Taryn between songs. I also liked that she gave credit to the artists she was covering, such as Little Richard, Irma Thomas, B.B. King… The songs were not the most popular from these artists, and I liked that too. My whole thing is that there is a boat load of treasures hidden on obscure 45s or B sides of the more popular releases, or songs hidden away among the grooves of LPs. It is always a treat to have a performer share these little gems with the audience.


I had forgotten what a terrific singer Mercedes is. I don’t see all that much about her in local media – maybe I have been looking in the wrong places, but I get the feeling she has been overlooked among the wealth of talent we have in San Diego. And what an amazing artist to be paired with! Taryn Donath knocked me out the first time I saw her perform. I still remember the late afternoon on Adams Avenue on the Blues stage. I had no idea what I was in for. Taryn is a little ball of energy that literally attacks the keys like there is no tomorrow. More ideas and styles are packed into a solo than I can process in such a short time. And thankfully, Mercedes gave her lots of room to show her talents. Now, I haven’t said anything about the drummer, Danny Campbell. He was certainly no slouch. Always right with Taryn, you could tell they were having a helluva lot of fun, Mercedes included here too. And, Danny was also given opportunity to show off a bit in some solo work.

Dave Humphries

Working backwards, the last show we had seen before last night was in mid-June at the Downtown Café, where we saw Dave Humphries (guitar & vocals) with Mike Alvarez (electric cello & backing vocals) and Wolfgang Grasekamp (keyboard). Jimmy Graham, also joined them for a few songs on harmonica. There was a bit of magic in the air that evening, for while I have always enjoyed their gigs, this time they were exceptionally “on”. I just don’t know how to explain it – maybe they were tighter than usual, the singing was stronger, who knows? I just know they were damn good. Lots of self-penned songs from Dave, nothing unfamiliar to me but they sounded great. There were a few new covers but lots of the regular selections – things I never tire of hearing. Stories about various songs preceded many of them – connecting the dots between himself and The Beatles/Tony Sheridan, Badfinger, Beach Boys – lots of real history here. While Dave played lots of rockabilly and British invasion covers, he isn’t stuck in the 60s. His solo work and work with The Hollywood Project are contemporary in sound and spirit.

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L to R: Mike Alvarez, Jimmy Graham, Dave Humphries

L to R:  Jimmy Graham, Dave Humphries, Wolfgang Grasekamp


I was fortunate to not be on the road when Plow performed at their Sunday brunch – now at Tio Leo’s on Napa. All the usual suspects – Chris Clarke on vocals & mandolin, Jason Weiss on banjo and backing vocals, Doug Walker on string bass, Alex Watts on guitar, Dane Terry on harmonica and backing vocals, and Mark Markowitz on snare. After the closing of Urban Solace it was uncertain if we would see them close by. I know we have gone up to Wynola to see them perform, but those trips are few and far between, so I am glad they have relocated to Tio Leo’s – with thanks to RosaLea Schiavone’s Wicked Harem Productions. If you like bluegrass and old time American music, this band will certainly please. It’s always fun to hear them.

L to R: Doug Walker, Jason Weiss, Mark Markowitz, Chris Clarke, Dane Terry, Alex Watts

The Swing Thing

It was either the last Thursday in May or the first Thursday in June we saw The Swing Thing duo at Riviera Supper Club. Consisting of Liz Grace on vocals and Jon Garner on guitar, their focus is on pop standards and torch songs from the late 30s and into the 60s, with a jazzy twist. I have  said much about Liz and Jon in the past – two top quality performers. While Liz is fluent in several languages, Jon is fluent in Django and Wes. So there you go. And if you get the chance, both have other bands: Three Chord Justice featuring Liz on vocals and guitar, is a country band which rumor has it is working on a new album, and The Garners, where Jon and his wife, Lorelei, play gypsy and other jazz and blues songs from the 20s and 30s. Sorry I did not get a photo that evening – we were seated too close and it was too dark.

In Other News

Like I said earlier I have been gathering a huge batch of vinyl and cds. One interesting find was an obscure 45 by The Bulldogs performing “John, Paul, George and Ringo” backed with “What Do I See?”. All self-penned from 1964 with an attempt to ride the coattails of the Fab Four. Obviously, they didn’t succeed, but nice effort, boys. Talking about 45s there were several 60s garage/psychedelic releases from 1965 through 1969 that bring four-digit prices in the 45 market that have sparked my interest but are just too out of reach for my shallow pockets. So, the next best thing was to look to compilation LPs and CDs, and there are many. Filling the Gap is a 5-cd set with rarities from the likes of Teddy & His Patches, The Human Beinz, The Magic Mushrooms, Crome Syrcus…this set just arrived and I cannot wait to dig in. Another 5-cd set that arrived here recently was The Ultimate Acid Dreams Collection. This collects all the Acid Dreams series (Acid Dreams Testament, Acid Dreams Epitaph…) and adds even more. Songs by The Remaining Few, The Stereo Shoestring, the “A” side of the Teddy & His Patches 45 (Zappa’s “Suzy Creamcheese”) whereas the “B” side is on the other box set – is there a conspiracy here to get you to buy both sets? In any event the other box did have the Peanut Butter Conspiracy 45s. Hmmm. There’s something happening here but what it is ain’t exactly clear. Besides 60s 45s I scooped up a 45 by late 70s Australian punkrockers, The Psychosurgeons that features 45 collector guru Mark “Boss Hoss” Taylor. Now how cool is that?

I won’t bore you with my other vinyl acquisitions but let’s just say quite a few were spoken word and one actually brings back memories of my son’s early childhood.

But you know, I had a week’s vacation in late June that just ended and what do I do? I end up waiting until my vacation is over to begin this blog entry. Not so cool.

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I keep putting off writing about the beginnings of Christian rock, so I promise that before the end of Summer I will get this done. Hold me to it. And with that, I am outta here, ‘cause I got a lot of listening to do.


The Adventures of Burt Tee and Quan Lapose

“There’s danger on the edge of town

Ride the King’s Highway, baby

Weird scenes inside the gold mine

Ride the highway west, baby

Ride the snake, ride the snake

To the lake, the ancient lake, baby

The snake, he’s long, seven miles

Ride the snake

He’s old and his skin is cold…” 

Jim Morrison, from The Doors song, “The End”, 1966, released 1967

Adventures are typically exciting experiences. Sometimes they involve risk. Sometimes there is danger lurking for those living on the edge. There were so many layers of meaning in The Doors song, “The End,” that represent adventure: the excitement of taboo sex, of murder, and the exhilarating freedom experienced from defying the norms of a civil society; norms that are in place to guarantee the survival of a species. But Morrison questioned everything. He pushed the envelope to the point that it became unrecognizable as an envelope; merely a tattered piece of paper. And in the end, his life became that tattered piece of paper. For Morrison, adventure became misadventure, providing him a seat at the table of the 27 Club.

College Freshman Adventures

 Not all adventures are extreme. When I entered my freshman year of college, my dormitory roommate, John, was a member of my high school graduating class. We were high school buddies and agreed to room together. John was a bit socially awkward (probably I was as well, but I didn’t see myself that way). He did not do drugs, nor alcohol but he was inclined to some peculiarities such as buying a medium-sized jar of maraschino cherries and consuming them in one sitting. I recall that after doing so he went into an episode of nearly convulsive laughter to the point that the dorm floor counselor stopped by and asked me if John was tripping. I said “no” as I pointed to the empty cherry jar, at which the counselor just shook his head and left, while the intensity of John’s laughing orgy took an exponential upturn.

Back in 1971 there were no co-ed dormitories at my university. Our eighth-floor dorm room was surrounded by a variety of colorful individuals. There were two other normal guys, Rich and Ron, who came from a high school in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. They were a bit on the reserved side; clean-cut kids who were serious about their studies. We became good friends. Then further up the hall was another freshman, Lorenzo, who was a philosophical Brainiac and the floor cynic. Lorenzo had an acerbic wit. He verbally pulled no punches. We got along great. Directly across the hall from me was Joe from Erie, Pennsylvania. Joe was quite a character. He had two high school friends who were in a different dormitory on the other side of campus who spent a lot of time on our floor. So, we hung out together a lot. I remember Joe admiring my Gibson SG and often asking to play it. Together we all did some innocent but crazy pranks, like dropping a water balloon down the stairwell from the eighth floor to the basement when someone came through the basement door. We also had a group participation on each floor in bouncing super balls down that stairwell. Right next door to my room were Woody and Wayne, sophomores who returned to school with the plan to stay high on acid the entire year. One time when they were tripping the rest of us had squirt guns and freaked them out. Thinking they were real guns, Woody and Wayne stayed in the bathroom shower stalls and refused to come out for hours. Innocent stuff.

I hung out with Woody and Wayne because they had some terrific music albums – everything from Soft Machine and Van Morrison, to Luciano Berio and Karlheinz Stockhausen. We got high together. The difference was that their adventure was to drop out and mine was to graduate, so I was a bit more balanced than they were in my use of interesting chemicals and entheogens. Joe and his Erie buddies, Dennis and Chuck also partied with us but not as frequently. I remember that Lorenzo took huge amounts of acid at a time. A year later I remember that while his sharp and biting comments continued to flow from his mouth on a constant basis, he no longer had the ability to concentrate, and could no longer grasp complex ideas, whereas in the prior year we had some excellent discussions regarding the existential philosophers we both loved. The contrast was startling to me and an assurance that I was on a better path by being more balanced in my adventures. Of course, hanging out with Jesus freaks who were there the moment after I had had a very bad trip helped to steer me away from self-destruction. Joe’s roommate was a senior who invited me to The House of Light, which was a refuge on the outskirts of town for wayward acid heads and heroin addicts who had found Jesus. But that is a topic for another blog post.

I am getting away from the main idea for the title of this post. When I returned to my dorm room after class one day, I found a magazine photo cut-out of two refugee children taped to my door. Joe had labeled one as Burt Tee, and the other as Quan Lapose. Burt’s mouth had a hole punched through where Joe had placed a lit cigarette. Now, he must have timed this for when I was expected back from class, because the cigarette was not burnt down very far. Somehow, I became associated with the name Burt Tee while my roommate was Quan Lapose. Those names stuck. But let it be known that I did not smoke tobacco. Since my parents had been chain smokers until they quit when I was 11 years old, I detested the smell of cigarette smoke.

By the end of my freshman year, Joe’s roommate had graduated, Joe and his Erie entourage never returned for the sophomore year. My roommate, John quit school and married his high school sweetheart. Woody and Wayne dropped out, but Wayne returned two years later and was much more serious about his education. Mid sophomore year Lorenzo dropped out. But Rich and Ron continued and graduated. To them I continued to be Burt Tee.

Later, I would take up various aliases in radio or writing personalities: Ray Cathode, Harry Face, I.M. Intoxicated, and Popeswami to name a few.

My Recent Adventure

Over the past two years I have dropped 50 pounds but gained about ten pounds back in the past six months. My work involves travel throughout the US and 2018 seemed to have me out more than in past years. This left me with few days of free time to blogpost, and fewer days to attend local music performances. Anyone following my posts will see that there has been a great decrease in describing local music events.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I was supposed to get home late Friday night from Tallahassee via Miami. Well, once my flight arrived in Miami mechanical problems with my connecting flight necessitated a stay in Miami until Saturday morning, with only a couple hours sleep before the morning flight. When I arrived home, I felt “fluttery” in my chest. I thought it was due to the combination of the excessive amount of caffeine I had consumed the past few days, dehydration, and lack of sleep. But it did not let up. All through Thanksgiving week I just felt weird. The week following, I was on the road again. Then the next week, in Chicago, it was bitter cold, and my quarter mile walk from the hotel to my worksite caused my chest to hurt. Again, I assumed it was the cold air irritating my lungs. The next week I was in Kentucky and still the flutters in my chest continued.

When I got home from my Kentucky trip that Friday night, I was feeling very strange. I called the nurse on call through my medical plan and she told me to immediately go to the emergency room. The next morning, after several irregular EKGs and foreboding blood work results, they scheduled me for a stress test by injection. Later that day they told me I had had a heart attack some time ago and they prepared me for angioplasty the next morning. They thought they would be putting one or two stents in arteries to the left side of my heart. But once they were in and cleaned-out the blockage, no stents were necessary. According to the cardiologist my heart is strong with no significant damage. While undergoing the angio, my mind faded out until they were done, but I do remember the pain as they pushed further into my arm with the line. Apparently, I was conscious enough to follow instructions, but I am mostly amnesic regarding this experience. It left me with a very painful arm where nerve endings were irritated, and even though the procedure was done a week before Christmas, I still have some pain in my elbow now and then.

I was off the road the month of January and will not return to travelling until February 18. With one break the week of March 4, I will then be out every week for the remainder of March, all the way through mid-June. While home, recovering from my stay in the hospital I finished my last blog post, and in January we went to three music events. Two of these events were to see Robin Henkel with Horns, and the other was to see the Now Time Jazz Quartet, featuring Alicia Previn on violin. Venues were Lestat’s West, Proud Mary’s, and Tio Leo’s.

This adventure has taught me to appreciate the here and now, and the people and things that I love. I love live music – the hear and now. I have some wonderful friends. I love good food a bit too much. That is where moderation comes into the picture. That will be the most difficult transition to make – eating healthy. Well, maybe exercise is going to be a tough one, too.

Between Thanksgiving and my trip to the hospital we obtained a shelter dog. On December 8, when she became a part of our life, she was 11 months old. A very cute and lovable chiweenie (that’s a cross between a chihuahua and a dachshund). She can be quite mischievous and playful. The day the foster family brought her to our home, she bonded with me immediately. Nancy named her Gracie. Her name had been Victoria, so I suggested we have her proper name as Gracie Victoria. She looks like she could be part fox, with her long legs and tail. The mix must have been with a long-haired dachshund. She is much more weenie than chi. A long body but big eyes like a chihuahua. She is very fearful of new experiences. We are taking her to dog (owner) training, and much of my free time is spent interacting with Gracie. We need to get her out and about more so that she can get more used to traveling in a car and seeing people and other dogs in public places. She has been great therapy for me getting over my big adventure.


Live Music

My first outing was on January 13 to see Robin Henkel with Horns at Lestat’s West. Jodie Hill was on string and electric bass, Troy Jennings on baritone sax, Steve Ebner on trumpet, Kevin Koch on drums, Michael Yates on congas, and Mark Lessman on tenor sax. The selections were largely from the mid-40s through 60s cool and cool bop jazz. These were songs I’ve heard Robin and his group do on many occasions but there is always something a little different and delightful each time I hear them. Also, Robin has a story to tell about most of the songs played. Slim Gaillard and Mose Allison were two of the great artists covered that night.

Robin Henkel with Horns, l to r: Jodie Hill, Robin Henkel, Kevin Koch, Troy Jennings, Michael Yates, Mark Lessman, Steve Ebner

A few weeks later, on January 26, Robin was appearing with his horns at Proud Mary’s. We wanted to go to dinner, so why not hear some music as well?  And the taste of New Orleans cuisine sounded good. This evening instead of Troy Jennings we had David Castel de Oro on sax and clarinet, along with Jodie Hill on bass, Steve Ebner on trumpet, and Toby Ahrens on drums. Again, fine playing, including many of the same songs heard at Lestat’s and one with a bit of Sonny Rollins rolled-in. Always great fun.

Robin Henkel with Horns, l to r: Robin Henkel, Toby Ahrens, Jodie Hill, David Castel de Oro, and Steve Ebner

January 31, we headed to Tio Leo’s for some Mexican food and to hear a jazz group we had not heard before. The Now Time Jazz Quartet surprised me with their 70s easy jazz, with a bit of funky improvisation added in for good measure. The band features Adam Wolff on keyboard, Michael Oletta on bass, Jeff Dalrymple on drums and Alicia Previn on violin. I’ve seen Alicia perform with Mundell Lowe as well as Bart Mendoza’s band and was surprised to see her yet again in another band with an all together different style. Accessible, popular tunes with enough improvisation to keep them interesting, as well as some self-penned numbers. Another fun evening.

Now Time Jazz Quartet, l to r: Adam Wolff, Jeff Dalrymple, Michael Oletta, and Alicia Previn

This past Thursday we had intended to see The Swing Thing featuring Liz Grace and Jon Garner at the Riviera Supper Club but a problem in the gas line at the restaurant caused it to be closed. The Friday prior we had wanted to see Dave Humphries, Mike Alvarez and Wolfgang Grasekamp at the Downtown Café in El Cajon but it was pouring down rain and the closest parking space was several blocks away, so after circling the block three times I decided to go home.

On February 10 we went to Urban Solace for the bluegrass brunch where Plow was performing. It was a great show as usual with Chris Clarke on mandolin, Jason Weiss on banjo, Doug Walker on string bass, Dane Terry on harmonica, Alex Watts on guitar and Mark Markowitz on snare drum. Vocals by Chris, Dane, and Jason. Good harmonies and great picking from this accomplished group of musicians, exposing San Diego patrons to historic bluegrass and old-time sounds.

Plow, l to r: Jason Weiss, Mark Markowitz, Chris Clarke, Doug Walker, Alex Watts, Dane Terry


I have acquired some nice vinyl lately. One is the 1973 release by Robb Kunkel titled “Abyss”. This album was one that I discovered via the former Lysergia website (note that through the Wayback Machine website you can still find this amazing site with a treasure trove of obscure artists who should have been better recognized in their time). I was very pleased that someone took the time to re-release this LP in 180-gram virgin vinyl. The label is Future Days Recordings/Tumbleweed Records, Inc. It is also available as a digital download in lossless FLAC. The vinyl is in sky blue with clouds, and the cover is the original gatefold, and includes some history about the late Robb Kunkel and the original label, Tumbleweed Records. Only 500 copies were originally pressed, and the album received no promotion because the label was falling apart at the time. Beautiful melodies, lyrics of a pensive quasi-spiritual nature, a West Coast vibe, sounds of the ocean waves and seagulls as well as jackhammers (not in the same song), a country style ditty thrown in for good measure – everything about this album screams 1973 at the crossroads of new age and Southern California easy peaceful feeling. I love this album. And Kunkel was a fine guitarist and singer. The studio musicians backing him were top rate. Crazy thing, the repress from the original master tapes is also in a limited release of 500. But at least the digital download is limitless, provided it continues to be available. Highly recommended here at the Popeswami ashram.


The other vinyl arriving recently are 45 rpms. The one is something I thought would never come to pass. It was the rarest non-Residents release on Ralph Records; Schwump – Aphids in the Hall b/w You’re a Martian/Home. I had obtained a digital copy many years ago from the artist, but now Psychophon has obtained the original masters and re-released it in three variations. Mine is the red vinyl numbered limited edition, with only 100 released. The original pressing in 1976 was 200, and most went to friends, radio stations, and others in the music industry. An original today averages $700 but I have seen it go for over $1000. Schwump was backed by The Residents on this release and their influence is obvious. But I must say that Schwump was a kindred spirit to The Residents. His real name is Barry Schwam, and he was a DJ at Portland, Oregon radio station KBOO when he discovered The Residents, or should I say they discovered him. My understanding is that an album’s worth of material was recorded in 1976 but Barry decided he did not want it released, so the only effort to reach the ears of the public is this 45. What does it sound like? Melodic but slightly off key with strange progressions, slowing and speeding up of rhythms on purpose, raspy creepy singing, pseudo-schizoid-childlike lyrics, untuned piano – very much like early Residents recordings. I am so glad to hear this as it was originally put onto tape.

The remaining vinyl to come my way was a 2014 re-release on Superior Viaduct Records of The Residents’ Santa Dog double 45 from 1972. The original was the first release on the Ralph Records label. The music is from the original master tapes, made to sound fresh and crisp. The only drawback is that they did not put the sides in the original order. Sides two and four have been reversed. Also, the label artwork on the 45s themselves is different from the original Ralph Records artwork, but the gatefold cover is identical except for saying it was issued by Superior Viaduct. Again, this was a limited edition, but no fancy vinyl colors – just black. Originals are in the $1000 range while this limited edition often goes for over $100. I did not have to pay that much, but I was lucky. Another 200 pressing limited release, just like the originals. This is probably the most Avant Garde of Residents releases, with many found sounds, clips of old obscure recordings, musique concrete, acid drenched nonsensical lyrics but somehow out of the bubbling chaos comes organized insanity that makes sense. Does that make sense? I don’t know. My head hurts.

Well, that’s it for now. See you in a few.

The Authentic I (aka Eye, aka Aye)

One two three / A little fool I want to be /

Two three four / You can give me more /

Five six seven / I don’t want to wait for heaven /

Nine ten eleven / Going back to seven /

Seven eight nine / Kann den das noch sein?

We love it’s… / We need it’s… / Excess

We hate it / We want it / Express

We feel it’s… / We get it’s… / Not less

We need it’s… / We love it’s… / Excess

Title track from the Yello album “You Gotta Say Yes to Another Excess” by Boris Blank and Dieter Meier, 1983


Intro – Intergalactic Stardate Sometime in October 2018

Just as Snakefinger wrote “This is not a Disco Song,” I can say this is not a music post. It may involve music and lyrics, but it is not a music post. It is an “I” post.  This will follow me through time, as I piece together different pieces of the fabric of my “I”.

Right now, “I” am listening to Bill Heid’s CD release “Wylie Avenue”. Bill was the organist in the Super Blues Band, along with drummer/brother George Heid, and Tony Janflone, Sr. They played around the Washington & Pittsburgh, PA area. I heard them at the Jefferson Mall in Washington around 1969/70, at the grand opening of Chess King men’s clothing store. I took guitar lessons from Tony. This album is from 2009, and while there is a Wylie Avenue in Washington, Bill was referring to the Wylie Avenue in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, where he mastered his organ chops playing the local pubs and bars of the chitlins circuit. On this album the guitarist is Peter Bernstein, with Mike Petrosino on drums and George Jones on congas. Of course, Bill is on the Hammond B-3. George Heid co-produced and did the recording, mixing, and mastering at Heid Pro Audio in Pittsburgh in the Spring of 2008. This is the jazz of organ-based combos of the 60s, done with warmth and dexterity.


Well the above was written yesterday. Tonight, I am listening to NRK Klassisk, in Oslo, Norway. Right now, I am hearing Debussy. I miss the times I would sit at my dorm room desk at Indiana University of Pennsylvania reading Husserl, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, or Russell, with the college radio tuned to the classics. Of course, listening to Velvet Underground or The Mothers would not have been helpful when reading phenomenology or epistemology. At this point the station has become erratic so I moved to Radio Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are playing an Afro-Latin selection with a mixed chorus, lead singers, and some great percussion. I hear no other instruments except percussion. The voices fill everything else. This is great stuff! Now comes a flute and some jazzy scat singing with the choral and percussive background. You can always rely on the stations in what was the Eastern Communist Block during the Cold War for interesting music that is never heard here in the states.

Intergalactic Stardate November 24, 2018

The year is nearly over. Tomorrow is the last Sunday in November. Thinking back on all the music discoveries of the past year, there have been many – local artists as well as CD and vinyl acquisitions. I have been a real slacker in writing about what I’ve heard around town. I have heard many new artists thanks to Ken Rexrode’s Six String Society shows, as well as the Adams Avenue music events. The problem is that I have had to travel immediately after attending these music events and then the moment is lost. One performance I will mention here, although not of a local artist, is that of 60s legend, Jesse Colin Young (of Youngbloods fame) at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach. He presented a mix of solo acoustic guitar songs as well as full band with his son. With his son’s band he has taken a jazz/rock fusion turn in his sound. The music spanned his entire career from his first release in 1964 to selections from his upcoming release, and included the obligatory performance of Chet Powers’ (aka Dino Valente’s)  “Get Together”. It was a memorable and uplifting evening of music.

Jesse Colin Young
As for CD releases by local artists, there is one that has risen above all the others. It is Whitney Shay’s “A Woman Rules the World”. This album has received rave reviews internationally and anyone who loves rhythm and blues should really consider adding it to their music collection. Here is one of my favorite reviews of the album, by JD Nash:  I won’t attempt here to repeat the accolades it has received – if you are curious, Google it and you will see. Then go out and buy it. Better yet, if you are in the San Diego area, go out and see Whitney with her band, Shay and The Hustle.


I have added many albums and singles from my home town area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Seven-inch 45 rpm records acquired include The Electrons, Napoleonic Wars, and Time Stoppers. An album by Groov-U suddenly popped up in the collector’s market and I immediately scooped it up. Groov-U and The Electrons used to play regularly at the Psychedilly Lounge in McKees Rocks when I, as a teenager, was listening to what was happening in the tri-state area.

There were other recordings, not from my hometown area, that received frequent airplay on Pittsburgh’s “Underground” program on WAMO-FM that came available in 2018 at the right price for me – Ten Wheel Drive – Construction #1; Battered Ornaments – Mantle-Piece; Peter Lemer Quintet – Local Colour; Charles Lloyd Quartet – s/t; and Brute Force – s/t. These groups are a mix; some are of psychedelic rock and others are cool jazz.


Ten Wheel Drive was more of a horn rock band, sort of like Blood Sweat and Tears except it featured a female lead vocalist and was a bit more r&b in style. Genya Ravan, the singer, is soulfully powerful and often compared to Janis Joplin. Her earlier band, Goldie and The Gingerbreads, was one of the first female rock groups. And, there is an Off-Broadway musical about her career, “Rock and Roll Refugee”.  The station always dug deep into obscure contemporary rock and folk while mixing it with just as obscure jazz selections. If it wasn’t for WAMO-FM I would have never had the privilege to hear the likes of the Dave Pike Set or Jeremy and the Satyrs. At that time the program director of WAMO-FM was Ken Reeth, who hosted a show, The Underground, as “Brother Love”. His music selections provided a gateway to a deeper knowledge of the unsung music heroes of the 60s.

I purchased more box sets in 2018 than ever before. These included the latest Led Zeppelin – Definitive Collection, and Pink Floyd – Discovery box sets. Great care had to be taken to avoid the Chinese bootlegs, and to get both sets at a reasonable price. After several years of watching, it all came together. Other sets included The Rolling Stones mono box set of their 60s albums, plus the Kinks and Turtles career spanning box sets. While I generally go after unknown or at least lesser-known artists, there are some groups you just cannot overlook when they come in career-spanning sets of remastered recordings.

Intergalactic Stardate December 7, 2018

It is now December 7. My grandmother, who died in 1941 on December 6 would never know the USA became involved in WWII and that her four sons would enlist in the Army, Navy, and Marines. Fortunately, they all survived, and I enjoyed their presence in my life, and although they rarely talked about it I did hear them describe a few of their experiences in the war. I never knew this grandmother. My mother used to say that it was a blessing that her mother died the day before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

USS California sinking – Pearl Harbor
I am on an American Airlines jet, traveling home from Chicago. I will connect with another jet in Phoenix to my destination of San Diego.  This past week in Chicago was miserably cold. Living in San Diego these past 19 years has thickened my blood. When I return to the cold climates of the Midwest, I experience a more intense cold than those who live there. I had to walk three blocks, a little over a quarter mile, from The Blackstone to the offices where I was working. Having to leave at 7:30 a.m. each morning and return at 5 p.m. provided an opportunity to experience the coldest times of the day for my walk to and from work. It was so nice to enter O’Hare Airport and be out of the cold (except for the walk down the jet bridge where I once again faced the cold.)

This weekend will be busy with paperwork before I head out again – this time to northern Kentucky, along the Ohio River. The holiday season hasn’t hit me yet. It will, once my vacation time begins after next weekend. I will try to squeeze in some performances. However, I have some shopping to do and we are on a quest to adopt a shelter dog.

As I sit here listening to my music library on the iPad in shuffle mode, I notice that Apple has updated some of my selections with versions that were re-recorded. This is disappointing, since I never asked them to make these changes. If I paid for the songs, I paid for the original versions. If I had uploaded from my CDs it would have been an original version. Now, I must check to see if the versions on my PC have been changed; hopefully not. When I recently purchased this third generation iPad, it had several desirable features. I had been using an iPad 2 since late 2011. But this feature is not welcome. I am a bit fussy when it comes to my music. It is the original version that was popular that I want. I can hear the subtle and not-so-subtle differences. It reminds me of the alterations Frank Zappa made in the late 80s and early 90s to his albums by the original Mothers of Invention. I was glad that his family restored his early works to their original sound after Frank’s passing. I also remember when the Ultimate Spinach second and third albums were first reissued on CD and how original producer, Alan Lorber, changed the order, cut several minutes and lyrics from songs and even cut entire songs from the albums and then called it the “producer’s cut”. He must have received several complaints because he later restored everything to the original versions except one song on their second album, Behold and See. I see no merit in doing these alterations and do not understand why someone would think they have the task of “improving” on the past. Regarding the Behold and See album, Sundazed did release a fully uncut version of the album on 180-gram vinyl, however it is in mono and many of the special effects lose their impact in mono. I realize that Lorber has a tight grip on the Ultimate Spinach recordings, but I do not understand why he would not permit a stereo version of the original album to be released. Perhaps he has plans to later release it himself to milk as much money out of the project as he can, but it does a disservice to the listeners who remember the original album from 1968, and to those newer listeners who would like to hear exactly how it was released in the 60s. Perhaps Alan Lorber resents Ian Bruce-Douglas, the band leader, songwriter, lyricist and arranger, walking out on the band after the completion of the Behold and See album. Lorber did a fine job of remastering the first Ultimate Spinach album, and the contents were left intact, in the proper running order, and with no tinkering with the music. I can only think he did the butchering of the second album to piss off Ian. I must admit, regarding my own interactions with Ian over a period of about 10 years that he can be difficult to tolerate at times. Generally, I found him to be a nice guy, and quite intelligent, but with a lot of resentment about his experience with Ultimate Spinach, Alan Lorber, and the music industry. He often referred to the band as his “Frankenstein’s Monster”. Yet, it is hailed by many today as one of the great psychedelic bands of the 60s, capturing the psychedelic experience better than anyone else.


Another thing I have noted about the shuffle system on this iPad is that they seem to pick one album and play several selections with other random artists in between. This time it is Lightstorm. Last time it was TapWater. So, I am not sure how random it is. The old iPad was random. Apple, what have you done?

Lightstorm – Creation
I am so glad my four-hour flight from Chicago to Phoenix is over. Middle seat in bulkhead due to the late scheduling of the assignment during the holiday season. No chance of an upgrade even with Executive Platinum status. And this time I had a morbidly obese woman in the aisle seat. Bulkhead seats have solid arms between seats. She overlapped the arm between us and made it impossible to open my tray table, so I could eat. I had to wait for her to struggle to get up, so I could pull out my tray, and then had to do the same to put it away when we were arriving in Phoenix. I was leaning against the poor guy in the window seat for four hours resulting in a stiff neck. Thankfully I am in a first class seat from Phoenix to San Diego. But, as usual, the flight was delayed getting to Phoenix, so we left 45 minutes late. Another trip getting home later than expected. That seems to be the norm now. Currently, I am listening to “Your Lucky Day in Hell” by The Eels. Seems appropriate.

In an hour I will be in San Diego, waiting on luggage, then getting my ride home. Then I will sleep in tomorrow. A working weekend.

Intergalactic Stardate December 11, 2018

Back on a jet heading to DFW. Will then go to Evansville, Indiana.

Intergalactic Stardate December 14, 2018

I’m on my way back home; right now, I am in transit from Evansville, Indiana to DFW in an American Eagle regional jet. It is always a worry if my roller bag containing thousands of dollars of equipment will fit in the overhead. It did.

Passwords are a real hassle. On occasion my iPhone requires my password rather than my thumb print. This morning it was quite early, not even 5 a.m. yet – I had to wake up the person at the hotel front counter to turn in keys and get my receipt. Once in the car, I needed my phone for directions from Henderson, Kentucky to Evansville Regional Airport. Sure enough, I couldn’t get into my phone because every password I used did not work. Finally, one worked. What a relief! It was still dark and raining heavily, making it very difficult to drive on strange roads. I missed my exit to the airport because I couldn’t even see there was a road there, although Siri was telling me to turn. I had to go to the next light, a mile away, to do a u-turn and this time, due to the lights of other cars I could see the road to the airport.

American Eagle spares nothing to provide first class travelers with an excellent breakfast – an açaí bar and a bag of mixed nuts, downed with a cup of coffee. The connection for my next flight is tight. But I should be able to get something more substantial to eat on that flight. We will land around noon, and then I will probably get home by 1 p.m. And then I must get to the office. I’m on vacation beginning next week and I have reports to finish before returning on January 2.

While writing I have been listening to music on the iPad in shuffle mode. Quite a variety but this time the shuffle is fixated on the compilation Bringing It All Back Again on the Shroom Angel label. Another couple discoveries about the music app on this new iPad – I had been a bit irritated with the old iPad cutting off songs about a minute before they end, and this iPad doesn’t do that. It had been a random thing, and primarily happened to music that had been transferred from downloads on my PC. The other discovery is not so pleasant. It doesn’t let you see what you had just listened to. So, if I wanted to go back to write about what I had heard, I would have to rely upon memory since I cannot go back on the app to see.

Bringing It All Back Again
Well, we arrived early in DFW and I was able to grab a bite. I had not patronized McDonald’s in ages, but a sausage McMuffin with egg sounded so good and they were right beside our arrival gate. Just so you all know, I did not get the hash brown; just a coffee. Once that was accomplished, I headed for Terminal C via Skylink. Now I am on board awaiting take-off. Wouldn’t you know we are delayed due to not having our pilots. They are arriving on a flight that was delayed. We are ready to go as soon as they arrive. Forty-minute delay. Pilots arrived. Ready to go.

We have a new dog, purchased last Saturday. It is a mix breed shelter dog, known as a chiweenie, which is a mix of chihuahua and dachshund. It is a tough adjustment. She was as gentle as can be until she bonded with my wife. Now she is super possessive when my wife is around. We will have to do a bit of training to get her adjusted. Our new addition, named Gracie, had bonded with me before I took off for Kentucky, so I am hoping she will remember me when I get home today.

Gracie Victoria

Something else is waiting for me at home; the Wings – Wild Life/Red Rose Speedway/Wings Over Europe deluxe box set. Last month I had received The Beatles’ “white album” deluxe set, so my investment in recorded music has met its quota. Next year will have to be a much more conservative year in purchases. At this point the music shuffle on the iPad is focused on the Forum Quorum album from 1967. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason for this.R-4215477-1358775438-2791.jpeg[1]

So, as we move through the holiday season, I become more contemplative; thinking about the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and the future. Then I begin thinking about how I have often been Scrooge as well as Santa, or the child Scrooge or the child recipient of Santa. In fact, I have had many iterations, many shapeshifting moments, melting into the environment, losing identity, as well as becoming the people around me – entering their heads so to speak. Always the observer; the spectator. Yet, always being the court jester, the prankster, the comic. A catalyst. Memory holds the pleasant and the unpleasant. Imagination creates the pleasant and the unpleasant. It is a question of being… what is being? What is creating? Are we creating each moment or are we experiencing a moment created outside of ourselves? Or, are we the moment… or are we inside the moment? How much are we separate, and how much are we a part of It All? How much control do we have? When we exercise what we think is control, is it simply our imagination…or are we controlling? When we think we are letting go, are we? Or are we puppets controlled by an outside force? Or is the force simply our collection of experiences and the interpretation of those experiences? Am I writing this? Or is something outside my being writing this through me? Or is it a mix? Is what is outside “I” really outside “I”? How do I know? Who holds the truth? What is the concept of “truth”? Is it simply veracity? Fact? Is “being” fact? Could “being” be “truth”? How much of my perceptions are shared and how much do I assume my perceptions are shared?

Perhaps I should just leave it there. But where is “there”? And what is “just”? Oh no! This is going to be an ongoing conundrum in my mind. If we just “be” is that just hocus pocus bullshit, or is it “truth”? Is it here, there, or everywhere? Let’s just say that this is becoming excessive. But I am often visiting the House of Excess, and then I leave to return to the House of Guilt. Perhaps this is simply a form of the pleasure/pain continuum? Is it a continuum? Is there a you, a me, a we, and do we travel to each other? Do our thoughts travel? Or is it just our physical selves that do so. And what is the concept of “with”? If I say I am with you, how close in physical proximity do I have to be to be “with”? And what about touching? Can we really touch? That would mean our cells touch. But there are an infinite number of points between any two points. So, touching can only be the pressure applied to nerve endings enough that our brains become aware of the pressure and interpret it as contact. While asleep or unconscious, I do not have any awareness of contact or touch. And when returning to consciousness I do not have a recollection of such experience. So, to me it did not happen unless there is some evidence to verify that it happened. Or is it just a set-up by those controlling the situation? Sounds paranoid, doesn’t it? It seems we have all sorts of ways to describe supposed experiences.

In our minds we map our happenings and place them on a time continuum to keep them from appearing random and chaotic. We attempt to make sense of it so that we can move about in time and space. But there is no time or space in our thoughts. When thoughts travel, there is no respecting of physical boundaries because thoughts are not in the physical realm. And we really do not know if thoughts travel. But thought does control the physical. Or is it vice versa?

In short, since my flight is approaching its end, and I will be gathering my things and heading home, I will wrap this up. What you have been reading is a collection of time-thought-experience by my “I”, but as you read it, it becomes an influence mixing with what is already in your head. Is it control? Who knows? But there is an “I” and it really doesn’t hold much significance for there to be anything else on a mental level. However, on a physical level it does. So, you are you and I am I, and we are we, and I U We Be; whatever the hell that means. All I know is that we gotta say yes to another excess.

Post Script

After getting home Friday, late that evening I had some chest discomfort and pain in my left arm and neck. I checked with a nurse Saturday morning and was told to go to the emergency room. From there I found I had experienced a heart attack. But with some luck there was no heart damage, no clots, and when I underwent angioplasty there was no need for a stent. They cleaned out the arteries going into the left side of my heart. As a result I just needed some changes in medication and some changes in diet (coupled with exercise) and I should be around for a few more nanoseconds, give or take a few decades. The moral of this story is to listen to your body. When it acts weird and the weirdness persists, get it checked out. I am okay now; I will heal from the medical intrusion into my body and will make some lifestyle changes. I want you to be okay too. I need the readership. Hahaha! Really, I want the best for you regardless. Until next time, happy holidays!