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Friday, November 11, 2011

NEWS & REVIEWS, Acoustic Americana Music Guide, 11-11-11 edition

    UPDATE to our story on the Food Drive for the needy, at "The Fork" in Pasadena...
The drive continues Sunday, Nov 13, 8 am to 4 pm, after breaking the all-time record in the city for food donations. On Saturday, over 4,000 pounds were collected. Drop by Sunday (the final day) to donate or to volunteer. See the feature story below for location and details...

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    Here's the NEWS – the latest edition – including REVIEWS.
ALL THE EVENTS are in the Guide's companion section – SPOTLIGHT EVENTS – a click away, at  
Let's get started with the NEWS & REVIEWS!
    Tied to the Tracks' 
                              MUSIC GUIDE
                                        NEWS FEATURES
                                                       November 11, 2011 edition
  1) It's the Century's Only Perfect Palindrome Day, 11 11 11  
  2) Giant Civil War Reenactment and Period Music this Weekend in Moorpark  
  3) Veteran's Day Premiere for New Video, “I'll Go (A Soldier's Oath),” & a Sunday Event  
  4) This Weekend's Quick Roundup of Events  
  5) Extravaganza for Recording Artists this Weekend in West L.A.  
  6) “Put The Fork in Hunger,” Pasadena's Largest Food Drive, is this Weekend  
  7) ROLAND WHITE BAND Plays this Week, with Top Bluegrassers East & West  
  8) REVIEW – Across the Digital Divide (# 2)... “Like Desperados” -
    Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Marty Robbins, Charlie Daniels Band, others  
  9) So, What's Up with the “Occupy / 99%” Movement?   
    Is a “League of Non-Voters” Coming? Is Music Playing a Role?  
 10) Penn State, Herman Cain, Lindsay Lohan: the Culture of Celebrity vs.
    the American Creed 
       Here are this week's news feature stories, listed above...   
Our # 1 Story
    And it goes beyond that. Twice today, the clock will read 11:11:11 on 11-11-11. (Okay, so only the morning reading is completely accurate; the evening one is really 23:11:11, but your clock probably will probably display it with all 1's...)
    The perfect symmetry of the day is the calendar and clock's only perfect palindrome, the term for something that reads the same forward and backward. (It's the only one since we started using a zero as a place keeper; you can say you got 1-1-1 in 2001, 6-6-6 in 2006, etc.)
    But this is the only one that REALLY works, and more so because it will be doubly visible on the digital clock face. In a simple font, it even reads the same upside down.
    Plus, it's Veteran's Day. Originally, it was celebrated as Armistice Day, because the Armistice – the truce that ended World War One – took effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, November 11, 1918. That was, of course, 11-11-18. So this is the first Veteran's Day with perfect symmetry, too.
    Seven years before that, nothing interesting seems to have happened on the last 11-11-11 – on November 11, 1911. And they didn't use digital timekeeping very often in those days, except to write down the time. It's doubtful anyone thought of the third set of 11's to note the seconds after the minutes, and no clock face offered the 11:11:11 palindrome.
    So, it's the first time anyone has been able to view it as a palindrome as it automatically happens, this singularity that occurs only once each century – in the contrived systems we use for measuring the Earth's rotation and our cumulative trips around the sun through the solar year. (Yes, our calendar and our timekeeping system is ARBITRARY, so get off the Great Pyramid with your goofy one-one-one chants, already.)
    Of course, if you prefer cards, this is a hand of twelve aces – if you're playing with three decks and get all the high cards in 12 card stud.
    However ya figure, it may be based on a contrived reckoning system, but within that system. it's rare as can be. Dozens of Blue Moons rare. Once every 25 Leap Years rare. And since none of us can be sure we'll be here a hundred years from today to see it next time, enjoy the it for the full, complete, ONE SECOND that it's here, twice today. At 11:11:11. On 11-11-11.
    So, left-to-right, right-to-left, in the mirror and standing on your head in the mirror or not,
Happy 11 11 11 11 11 11
Our # 2 Story
    It's billed as “The largest and grandest Civil War event west of the Mississippi.” Saturday and Sunday, rain or shine, brings the 11th Annual “THE BLUE & THE GRAY” Civil War Reenactment to Tierra Rejada Ranch in Moorpark, in inland Ventura County. It includes period music, over 500 uniformed re-enactors in uniform or period dress, five clashes – four historic battle re-enactments (South Mountain, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg on the 2nd day, Wheatfield and Little Round Top , and Antietam, plus a “twilight battle” on Saturday evening that's not based on any specific historical engagement.
    Rain won't dissuade them. Some of the re-enactors will cite authenticity and tell you when it rained during which real battle, 150 years ago. Yes, we are in the midst of the sesquicentennial of the war that tore the nation apart before the current era of set-the-parking-brake contrarian politics.
    This event offers a lot. You can converse with Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, attend Abolitionist rallies, hear military band concerts and take period dance classes. Plus, there's “soldier school” for kids, demonstrations of leather crafting, sewing, blacksmithing, and field camp cooking. There are sutler's tents – the general stores of the day – and North and South soldier's camps you can visit, battlefield surgery re-enactments if you're not too squeamish, and cannons firing in artillery batteries.
    Of course, you won't have to forage for your victuals or wait for the quartermaster corps' supply train – there's the modern concession of a food court.
    It's “stadium seating” for the battles. Bleacher seats are available (while they last) for an additional $3. It's all presented by the Rotary Club of Moorpark. Saturday's battles happen at noon, 3 pm, & 5:15 pm. Sunday's action is at noon and 2:30 pm.
    Tierra Rejada Ranch is located at 3370 Sunset Valley Road, near Moorpark. There's more info, including a video of “President Lincoln” delivering the Gettysburg Address, at, or call 805-279-5253. Tickets are $15 general admission; $10 for students; free for children age 5 and younger.
    We'll leave you with an interesting stray fact: “Dixie,” the anthem of the Confederacy, was written by a Northerner just before the war. Oh, and Lincoln liked the song, and ordered the US Military band to play it at the White House just after Lee's surrender – not to gloat, but to symbolize that once again, all that is American belongs to all of us. Learn more fascinating trivia like that at this weekend's event.
Our # 3 Story
    KELLY'S LOT, that high-energy, L.A.-based, globe-traveling, female-fronted blues band, has done something outstanding. This is a truly fine, absolutely first-rate music video that should win an award. The subtle interplay of hand tinted colors and black-and-white still and moving images mixing with then band's performance is compelling.
    Watch this brand new video, produced with a brilliant montage of historic photos and a images of the live live performance filmed at a charming venue, the Cahuenga General Store, at   
    There's more on Kelly and her band, including their concert schedule, at 
    Next, you can enjoy historic aircraft of World War II and attend a commemorative event on Sunday in Camarillo, just off the 101 Freeway in Ventura County. It brings a ceremony at noon and live acoustic music, in honor of Veteran's Day. It's “Military Family Appreciation Day” at the Commemorative Air Force WWII Museum, 445 Aviation Dr, Camarillo 93010.
    TRISH LESTER, a member of the award-winning WOMEN ON THE MOVE trio (1st prize, Vocal Competition, 2011 Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest), will perform. She's sure to feature her original, “Thank a Soldier.” Free admission includes an opportunity to explore the collection of WWII era aircraft, meet those who restore, fly, and care for them, and veterans who flew them.
Our # 4 Story
    After The Guide's feature story last week on the show this Saturday's upcoming show with JOYCE WOODSON and THE TUMBLING TUMBLEWEEDS, there's more on them in another source – this week's Pasadena Weekly. Uh, except reading the title of their story, someone needs to tell them that this here fandango is WESTERN, not country... Pick it up or read it online at    
    (The Guide's story from last week is still available, at  
    Here's a QUICK-READ PRESENTATION of what's out there for you this weekend

(details are in the Spotlight Events section, at )  
FRIDAY, November 11
    AL STEWART at McCabe’s is sold out; SWING RIOTS QUIRKTETTE plays the Coffee Gallery Backstage at 8 pm; DAN BERN and JOHN ELLIOTT play the Fretted Frog Acoustic Guitar Store in L.A. at 8 pm; the ILIANA ROSE BAND brings “HOT NIGHTS IN HAVANA!” to the Boston Court Performing Arts Center in Pasadena.
SATURDAY, November 12
    The “WEST L.A. RECORDING EXPO” runs all weekend (see separate news feature); the “SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TIONÓL,” sponsored by the Southern California Uilleann Pipers' Club, runs all weekend in San Juan Capistrano; 11th Annual “THE BLUE & THE GRAY” Civil War Reenactment, with period music, crackles all weekend in Moorpark (see separate news feature); “PUT THE FORK IN HUNGER” food drive needs volunteers and food donations all weekend in Pasadena (see separate news feature); THE TUMBLING TUMBLEWEEDS and JOYCE WOODSON bring a double-bill to the Coffee Gallery Backstage at 7 pm (see note above, and last week's feature story);the monthly “GRASSROOTS ACOUSTICA” charity benefit does a special, extended edition, 4-10 pm, with a strong lineup at the Talking Stick in Venice; TONY VICE plus TRACY NEWMAN & THE REINFORCEMENTS play Butler’s Coffee in Palmdale at 7 pm; INCENDIO plus HOUSE OF GUITARS play the AMSD Concert Series in San Diego at 7:30 pm; JOSH WHITE JR. plays the San Diego Folk Heritage series in Encinitas at 7:30 pm; DAN CRARY plays the Song Tree Concert Series in Goleta at 7:30 pm; THE WICKED TINKERS play the Grand Annex in san Pedro at 8 pm; JORDAN CHARNOFSKY, classical guitarist, performs for the American Guitar Society at L.A. Valley College at 8 pm; PIPER~GREY, the duo of DAVID PIPER & EARL GREY, plus JANEEN RAE HELLER, & RASPIN STUWART, bring an exceptional night of music to the “West Valley Music Acoustic Concert Series” at 8 pm; THREE MUSCKETEERS (Three mUSCketeers) are at Boulevard Music in Culver City at 8 pm; RICHARD PEARSON THOMAS does “SONGS FROM NEW YORK” at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center in Pasadena; AL STEWART at McCabe’s is sold out; MARC COHN plays the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills at 9 pm.
SUNDAY, November 13
    The first three events listed for Saturday continue today; see above; “PUT THE FORK IN HUNGER” food drive needs volunteers and food donations all weekend in Pasadena (see separate news feature); MURPHY'S FLAW plays its monthly “BLUEGRASS BRUNCH” at Jones Coffee Roasters in Pasadena, 11 am-1 pm; DIDIPOP plays an 11 am Matinee Kids show at McCabe’s; the monthly “COFFEE GALLERY BLUEGRASS JAM SESSION” is free at 12:30 pm at the Coffee Gallery Backstage; the monthly “FOLK SONG JAM” is at 1 pm at the CTMS Center for Folk Music's new digs in Encino; the monthly “SONGWRITER SANCTUM” showcase brings TOM CORBETT, BRAD COLERICK, MICHAEL JACKSON MOORE, and JAYNEE THORN to Santa Monica at 2 pm; the GOLDEN STATE POPS ORCHESTRA performs “American Music” with a world premiere at 3 pm in San Pedro; STRING MADNESS, the trio of BOB APPLEBAUM, MITCH GREENHILL and PETER SPELMAN, plays Westwood Music at 4 pm; DAVID SOUSA & THE ZYDECO MUDBUGS play the Cajun-zydeco dance series in Long Beach, 5-9 pm; HAPA brings award-winning Hawaiian music to the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center at 7 pm; JANET KLEIN & HER PARLOR BOYS featuring Grammy winner IAN WHITCOMB bring the charming and sometimes “rather naughty” music of the nineteen-teens and twenties to the Coffee Gallery Backstage at 7 pm; TOM CORBETT and JIM ST. OURS play the “Fireside Concert Series” in Newbury Park at 7 pm.
    Even if it's raining, are you a-gonna read THAT and stay home? Didn't think so.
Our # 5 Story
    The “WEST L.A. RECORDING EXPO” looks like a well-planned, comprehensive and thorough weekend event for recording artists, and for those who want to record their own CD, and for those interested in exploring or getting into other aspects of the music biz, like film scoring. There are seminars by award-winning industry experts, exhibits and new product debuts, hands-on Apple classes, the premiere of new Pro Tools 10, and plenty more.
    It's all at West L.A. Music, 11345 Santa Monica Bl, L.A.; 310-477-1945. You can attend free, but you must make a reservation at or by phone.  
Our # 6 Story
    This one will be bigger than the one that set the all-time record for food donations two years ago at the same place. It brought-in over TWO TONS of food. Organizers took last year off while the giant, iconic “World's Largest Fork in the Road” was away being legalized after its initial installation as a guerrilla art project. It's baaaack, and so are the Forkians.
    That eighteen-foot-high fork sculpture was reinstalled last month with official blessings, and it's once again (quite literally) designating the “fork in the road” and serving as a focal point for the creative community's “do-good” projects.
    None of those efforts has eclipsed the 2009 “Thanksgiving Food Drive for the Needy” – until now. The Forkians, something of a cult, and the one cult you wouldn't mind your daughter joining, are vowing to eclipse the previous record to collect food donations.
    The goal is to feed 5,000 needy folks for Thanksgiving, through Union Station Homeless Services. More on that organization and its programs is at   
    Drive by and drop off canned or boxed / packaged food items – a few or a case or two.
    Better yet, become a Forkian and volunteer. There are plenty of open time slots and you'll get to know local artists, musicians and other fun and slightly warped good people.
    At press time, organizers were seeking to borrow pop-up canopy tents to protect donated food and volunteers from the predicted rain. The party rental places have no big tents available this weekend, so they need yours, of whatever size.
    Contact Phil Coombes if you can volunteer and / or loan your pop-up canopy. Call him at 626-644-3227 or email him at
    It all happens 8 am-4 pm, both days, at “Fork Plaza,” under and around The Fork, at 200 Bellefontaine Street. That's the cross-street just above the fork in the road where Pasadena Avenue and St. John Avenue divide.
    Bring food donations, spread the word and learn more at    
    Taking part is a wonderful way to know you will enjoy your Thanksgiving.
    May The Fork be with you.
Our # 7 Story
    Grammy-winning mandolin legend Roland White’s infectious rhythms lead his agile and swinging bluegrass band, in both its East and West Coast versions. His albums are known for many fine things, including “out-on-a-limb” banjo mischief and old-fashioned country duets.
    The band exudes a joyful drive that earned a Grammy nomination in 2002 for their CD “Jelly On My Tofu.”
The West Coast line-up of the Roland White Band is a delightful list of “who's who” names:
• ROLAND WHITE on mandolin and vocals
• DIANE BOUSKA on guitar and vocals
• HERB PEDERSEN (Laurel Canyon Ramblers; Desert Rose Band; The Dillards; Country Gazette) on banjo, guitar, and vocals
• BILL BRYSON (Laurel Canyon Ramblers; Desert Rose Band; Bluegrass Etc.) on bass and vocals
• BLAINE SPROUSE on fiddle
    ROLAND WHITE has been there, done that. He's been a member of THE KENTUCKY COLONELS; BILL MONROE's band; LESTER FLATT'S NASHVILLE GRASS; COUNTRY GAZETTE; THE WHITE BROTHERS; and THE NASHVILLE BLUEGRASS BAND. Roland is known as one of the few unique stylists on the mandolin, with his own unmistakable sound and touch.
    During his distinguished career in bluegrass music, Roland has played in some of the most influential and popular groups in the music history, and has played a large part in creating that history. His gifts as a musician have delighted audiences everywhere. His vitality, soul, and infectious rhythm enable him to dance through his instrument. Add to this his mastery of ensemble playing, harmonic sophistication, and warm voice guided by a swinging sense of phrasing, and you have the legend of bluegrass that Roland has become.
    With this splendid ensemble of East and West Coast bluegrass stars, the ROLAND WHITE BAND plays the following concerts this coming week:
>    Tuesday, November 15, at 7:30 pm at Viva Cantina, 900 Riverside Dr, Burbank 91506; 818-515-4444
>    Thursday, November 17, at 8 pm at the Coffee Gallery Backstage, 2029 N Lake Av, Altadena, info,; reservations 626-798-6236.
>    Friday, November 18, at 7:15 pm at Santa Ynez Valley Grange Hall, 2374 Alamo Pintado Av, Los Olivos.
Our # 8 Story
                  “Older recordings have a magnetic charm – not simply because many of them were
              released primarily on magnetic tape cassette, or before that, on 8-track or 4-track
              tape and/or grooved vinyl phonograph record. In an age before pitch correction
              software, there was a fundamental honesty to recorded music.
                  Obviously, not everything new is wonderful, and not everything wonderful is new.
                  “The Guide's new review series, 'Across the Digital Divide,' brings us face-to-face
              with old recordings that should not be forgotten, for the sake of our cultural heritage,
              our history, art, our musical legacy – recordings that set high standards of
              musicianship and production that we should aspire to meet today.”
                                                                                        - from the introduction to this series.
    A cornerstone of Americana music is “outlaw country,” a genre that is as foreign to today's Nashville pop-country as a western saddle is to a plastic lawn chair. This album, a 1998 compilation from Sony Music Special Products, contains some of the most classic outlaw country songs by the genre's biggest stars, in tracks recorded from 1974 to 1982.
    Guy Clark's iconic “Desperados Waiting for a Train” supplies the impetus for the title, and that song opens the album, sung by David Allan Coe.
    Johnny Cash follows with his original, “Don't Take Your Guns to Town.”
    Track 3 is Marty Robbins singing his immortal hit, “El Paso.”
    Next is “Red Headed Stranger,” the Stutz / Calisch co-write sung by Willie Nelson; it was Willie's trademark for many years before he recorded “On the Road Again.”
    Track 5 is Johnny Paycheck singing the Billy Sherrill / G. Sutton co-write, “The Outlaw's Prayer.”
    Track 6 brings Bobby Bare with the Shel Silverstein / M. Davis collaboration, “Tequila Sheila.”
    Track 7 is Billy Walker, a name you may not know, singing “Cross the Brazos at Waco,” written by K. Arnold.
    Johnny Rodriguez sings track 8, “North of the Border,” a Steve Davis / Billy Sherrill song.
    The late Townes Van Zandt just had to be represented on any album with this name or theme, and he is, with “Pancho & Lefty,” the radio hit of years past sung by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.
    The last track is the Charlie Daniels Band performing Charlie's original “Billy the Kid,” a song that should be revived and presented alongside the old traditional folk song, every bit as much as Dave Stamey's “Skies of Lincoln County.”
    “Like Desperados” has only ten tracks, but what a compilation. With so many signature songs, it's the kind of album that brings back a stampede of memories. We'll share just one. The closing track first appeared on the Charlie Daniels Band's “High Lonesome” LP, and we recall that it was full of gems. It's been years since we've heard all of that long-gone album, including the wonderful title track. But hearing this compilation makes us want to find it again, and makes us wonder what tracks were on the other albums by the artists represented here.
    Released on cassette in 1998, Sony re-released the album as a CD in 2001. A web search produced a number of secondary market sites with the CD is available for reasonable prices. Grab it while you can find it easily. That won't always be the case.
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    This review is available by itself, as an individual and separate feature, at  
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    WE WELCOME YOUR SUGGESTIONS FOR REVIEWS IN THIS SERIES, from blues to bluegrass to borderlands, Cajun to cowboy to Celtic to Cape Breton to Quebecois, music of the sea or the islands, new-old-trad-alt-post folk, and acoustic singer-songwriter music of its day – any acoustic Americana recording that was released ten years ago or more. We may need to ask you to send us a cassette copy or burned CD along with a Xerox or legible scan of the L-card or the 8-track's pasted-on label or the vinyl record's liner notes. If you think it's worth keeping alive and sharing, we probably will, too!
    A full description of the Guide's “Across the Digital Divide” review series is available at  
Our # 9 Story
    This protest movement is different in its modes of expression. From the “people's microphone,” the group repetition of every word from every person who speaks at the podium (the unforeseen consequence of New York City officials banning microphones and amplifiers) – to the instant, global ability to communicate and silently organize via social media and the unlikely associations that brings. Early on, this had “Arab Spring”-like indications of something rolling and gathering inertia on its own internal energy. It seemed a growing gathering fed by a wellspring so formidable that the eventual magnitude of its size and capability of its adherents scared .the hell out of those determined to control change for their own ends.
    But the weather is getting colder. And problems have begun to arise. Uniquely, the movement chose to be leaderless. That opened it up to other problems. It could be co-opted i in any given community to pursue an agenda not compatible with participants everywhere else. And the movement seems stuck on that “Occupy” moniker that now seems apt to describe ratty deployments of dirty-looking tents. All-in-all, it would do better to change its name everywhere to “The 99% Movement.” That could help refocus and regain what once seemed coherent, but is far less so as the weeks drag on and the crazy-quilt of participants becomes more diverse and ragged with a plethora of fragmented fringe-movement messages.
    Is it a political or an economic or a social justice movement? Yes. The absence of a sound-byte identity and simple mission statement has made it easy for politicians to trivialize, and that adds to the frustrations of the movement's participants with politicians who ignore them. It's not a scenario to gain political influence or a seat at the table.
    Could the masses that comprise the 99%, in and out of the movement, be induced by manipulators to feel deeper disillusionment, and “guided” to see no point in one thing in particular – voting? Yes. Carefully examine the many public opinion polls and the trends are already clear.
    Young voters, who finally participated in big numbers in 2008, helped elect Barack Obama. For the first time since 18-year-olds got voting rights in the early '70s, people under 30 made a decisive difference in a presidential election.
    As a group, and far beyond the Occupy movement, young people are not inspired to vote this time around. And they are not alone.
    Without a zealous Tea Party Republican nominee, the teabaggers may stay home. On the opposite side, the absence of a coherent, innovative Democratic Party agenda being pursued by the White House means that progressives may stay home. All the signs are there.
    The wealthy can spend money to support their agenda or simply to seed mistrust among others. It's happened before. They could simply make the downtrodden more disillusioned. Disillusioned enough to disenfranchise themselves.
    An ultimate irony is coming: during the Civil Rights Movement, the disenfranchised fought for their rights to vote. Now, disillusioned masses might, in droves, give up entirely on the notion of bothering to vote. Why? They may see voting as a useless act that their opponents will cynically co-opt to legitimize an election in which all supposedly participated equally. But with organized efforts to disenfranchise voters, particularly in minority communities and districts, it's already evident that we do not have a level playing field.
    Organized disenfranchisement should make every American angry enough to fight for the votes of all to be counted. But it isn't. The seeds have been carefully cultivated to make us fear the intrusion of “those people,” those who “have no business voting,” whether they are suspected of being illegal immigrants or convicted felons or simply too stupid to cancel-out the votes of the informed.
    The net effect isn't to make everyone fight for their rights. More people than ever are simply disgusted and sensing futility. Add those who have invested their emotional energy in movements that have not succeeded, whether teabaggers or 99 percenters, and you have an unprecedented number who just don't see any point in paying attention anymore to bloviating, do-nothing politicians.
    Dylan Ratigan, TV host and creator of a “Get money out of politics” website, has been presenting evidence. His data shows that 94% of the time, in any election for any office, the candidate with the most money wins. And who has the money to purchase their politicians?
    It's shocking but not surprising. Former California Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh famously said three decades ago that “Money is the mother's milk of politics.” Will Rogers remarked in the 1920s about voting for politicians that, “It only encourages them.” He also observed, “We have the finest government money can buy.”
    We may soon be governed by people who literally do not represent us, because too many of us see no point in fighting the overwhelming spending by corporations that purchase politicians to do things their way. With that conclusion reached, why vote?
    It's not individual or group apathy. It would be an intentional act, driven by entrenched and widespread disgust. It's the electoral equivalent of a sit-in. It will be tantamount to an organized “League of Non-Voters.”
    And while that will bring hoots of celebration in all those big, black-glassed corporate headquarters towers, it's not good for America. How many of us will see government as legitimate when it is elected by a decreasing minority who vote their personal interests, while everyone else perceives the futility of trying to make a difference for the common good?
    It's conceivable that someone will see an opportunity to get in front of this phenomenon and actually organize “The League of Non-Voters.” It could be a powerful tool for either side. It would work like this: “We won't vote for you, or for anybody, or for or against anything, unless and until you start doing what we want, advocating what we want, proposing serious measures and plans and legislation to accomplish what we want, looking out for us, working for our needs and interests, instead of the greedy desires of the corporations and rich special interests who bought you and your favor. Go ahead, keep working only for them, and we will simply stop acknowledging your authority or your legitimacy. If you wish to be irrelevant to us, we will make you irrelevant to us.”
    It could be the ultimate expression of “Speaking truth to power,” or in the '60s phrase, bringing “Power to the People.” It could also get very, very ugly. But it may be time.
    We find ourselves less hopeful. But...
    Artists, throughout history, have been the ones to inspire action and fortitude with enduring images and poetic and powerful words and moving songs, and to create epistles of courage when things appear hopeless.
    Seems like one, good protest song could make a difference, doesn't it?
    Those songs are being written and performed. Recording artists, some on major folk labels, are contributing revenues from sales of their songs to the ubiquitous, if intentionally leaderless “Occupy” movement.
    A recent Red House Records press release began with the words, “In solidarity with the 'Occupy Wall Street' protestors, Americana songwriter Pieta Brown is offering her song 'I Want It Back'...”
    There's a well-timed new book on Joe Hill, the 1914 labor organizer. He was made famous by Joan Baez when she sang at Woodstock, “I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night, alive as you or me, says I 'But Joe, you're ten years dead,' 'I never died,' said he, 'I never died,' said he.”
    Hill was accused of murder amidst labor strife, tried and executed by firing squad. The new book by William M. Adler, “The Man Who Never Died,” presents new evidence that Hill was innocent and framed by the Robber Barons to scare-off the labor organizers. Those were dangerous times. At stake was whether a wealthy few would wield the bulk of the power in society, and be able to keep the deck stacked for themselves. Do our times mirror those?
( Concludes at )  
Our # 10 Story
    So what the HELL does that list of diverse people and things have in common?
Actually, it does.
    Sometimes, individual events need the context of the bigger picture. Let's consider some current events in terms of our society's guiding framework – the “American creed.” It's the cleaving point where each of us decides what we think of things as they happen, and the origin of inner and outer conflicts in our celebrity-obsessed society.
    The Founding Fathers first referred to an American creed. Jefferson wrote extensively about it. So did John Adams. To them, it was a new, humanist, non-ecclesiastical religion.
    Webster's offers several definitions of “creed,” and a key one is, “a reading or statement of belief that summarizes the faith it represents; a definite summary of what is believed; a confession of faith for public use; esp., one which is brief and comprehensive.” Another is, “any summary of principles or opinions professed or adhered to.”
    Keeping that in mind, look at the people in the news and current events. It's enlightening to question things. Sometimes, to reconsider everything, and seek some meaning from it.
    Celebrities get a get-out-of-jail-free card for doing things that would put the rest of us behind bars or earn us the ultimate “just go-away and stop bothering people,” or at least get us disavowed and disowned by all who know us – THAT kind of humiliation. But badly-behaving celebrities stay on the media's stage, and the spotlight on them grows brighter and wanders off them less as they act out. At least, that's what happens most of the time (Mel Gibson aside).
    And then there are times when things are crazy in the other direction. Things even go horribly tragic sometimes, and that's compounded when our obsession with the “celebrity value” of a situation takes attention from the victims of a genuine human tragedy.
    Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, a living legend, was just fired because he didn't do enough – beyond reporting an allegation brought to him – when a senior member of the coaching staff allegedly molested a young boy in the Penn State locker room. Yet, the assistant coach who actually says he saw it happening (but didn't stop it) and reported it to Paterno will be on the sidelines for Saturday's game. The lack of justice in that is obvious. Is Paterno too much a celebrity to stay, but that assistant coach is not?
    Meanwhile, Lindsay Lohan gets all kinds of deferential and preferential treatment to allow her to arrive endlessly late to clean a few public restroom toilets, instead of serving the jail sentence she deserves.
    That's okay, but a man who – by his own statement – saw a child being raped by an adult he knew, and didn't jump in and physically stop it, keeps his job? And his celebrity boss, who only heard about it afterward and reported it, takes the rap for grossly inadequate action?
    Joe Paterno was a rare coach who kept track of his player's academic progress. His players were expected to be student athletes. They were expected to graduate. They did. That's almost unknown in big-money college sports.
    Against this backdrop, there's enough room in the news cycle to give airtime and ink to talentless celebrity bums who are (inscrutably) famous for being famous. (It's a big “WTF?”) To wit, in the midst of the Penn State scandal, one of those interchangeable and talentless Kardassian clothes horses gets media time to whine about a marriage that didn't take, weeks after her recent multimillion-dollar wedding. We don't even want to waste a phrase like “Poor pampered baby.” We don't want to know anything about her. We want her 15 minutes to end.
    Why throw that in the mix? Because everything is connected to everything else. It goes beyond our society's idiotic, cult-like obsession with the various manifestations of celebrity worship. It's a collision of contrived “reality” and what we profess we believe.
    We are witnessing a high-speed head-on crash with the essence of the American creed.
( Concludes at )  
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                       and the stories are:
Late additions, added after publication:
> “JOE HILL NIGHT,” Sunday, November 6
> "GIVE ME THE BANJO - Arts from the Blue Ridge Mountains" premieres Friday, Nov 4,
    on PBS - TV.
November 3 edition, as originally published...
  1) Bluegrass on DAVID LETTERMAN Thursday Night  
  2) ROSS ALTMAN Performs “SONGS OF JOE HILL” Friday Afternoon 
  3) Saturday is Folk Concert-Crazy in Southern Cal... 
  4) GRAM PARSONS 65th B'day Tribute at Ronnie Mack's Barn Dance, November 7
  5) GORDON LIGHTFOOT Playing Local Shows November 8 & 9 
  6) Nominees THE TUMBLING TUMBLEWEEDS and JOYCE WOODSON to Perform Together En-Route to Western Music Awards 
  7) CD Review – DAFNI, “Sweet Time” 
  8) Reviews – New Series Takes a Fresh Look at Old Recordings,
    “Across the Digital Divide...”  
  9) Review – Across the Digital Divide... “Home Sweet Home,” a Cassette Treasure
October 27 edition is available at    
                       and the stories are:
  1) Irish, Celtic Music Plentiful for “SAMHAIN,” Original Halloween / Celtic New Year  
  2) “TWO SIDES OF CELTIC” Show at Caltech Saturday Night 
  3) Guerrilla Art Returns with Mayor On-Board – May The Fork Be with You 
  4) Music Got Us to the Moon – Where Might it Yet Take Us? 
    The biggest and final Mars lander touches down in November. Is there meaning for Artists? 
  5) STAGECOACH and COACHELLA Will Grow to 3 Days in 2012 
  6) Strong Mountain Roots / Bluegrass / Newgrass Double-Bill on Friday 
  7) YOU can still add your comment at the HUGE RESPONSE to our feature,
    “Artists Join 'OCCUPY WALL STREET'...”  
October 14 edition is available at   
                       and the stories are:
  1) Festivals & Semi-Annual “Art Night” in Pasadena this Weekend  
  2) Blues Bands Perform in International Finals, Saturday in Arcadia
  3) May the Fork Be with You – “Ride-the-Fork” Music Party Saturday, Raise “The Fork
    in the Road” next Friday, at Altadena & Pasadena Events
  4) West Valley Music Launches Concert Season Saturday with Performing Songwriters &
  5) SONGSALIVE! Hosts Annual Music Picnic this Sunday  
  6) JUDY COLLINS and AMERICA to headline GRAMMY Museum in early November  
  7) October at GRAMMY Museum Bringing Live Music, Big Names, Substance
  8) “SQUEAKY WHEEL TOUR” Live Acoustic Show, to Help Bring Home Missing People,
    Monday, October 17 in West L.A.
  9) TIM GRIMM, musician / actor / top folk-Americana Music Award-Winner, plus
    THE SWEET POTATOES, play Wednesday, October 19 in Altadena  
    CD release October 21 at “International Fork Day” Concert  
11) TOM RUSSELL “Mesabi Tour of the West” in L.A. for Two Shows, October 22
12) ALEX BEATON, Musician Paralyzed in Accident, Regaining Movement  
13) HUGE RESPONSE to last week's feature, “Artists Join 'OCCUPY WALL STREET'
    as Unemployment, Economy Worsen,” and how YOU can respond
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