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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Some folks to remember who didn't wear uniforms. Special for Memorial Day — May 27 2017 edition

The Guide's previous edition has all the festivals and concerts and film screenings and plenty more music news. This is a special edition for today, May 27th, as you embark on this Memorial Day weekend.


On Memorial Day, let's remember two folks: a real radical who saved the planet, and a folksinger who was a thoughtful voice for peace

By Larry Wines

It's time to take a break from wondering if you invited the right people to your unofficial start-of-summer barbecue. And from news of Memorial Day weekend music festivals that have nothing to do with Memorial Day. And from the endless stream of advocacy and justification for the coming coup. And from debunking the endless allegations that (insert a name) is the only reason Hillary lost. And from the sure certainties of cable news that are indistinguishable from breathless hype because they never quite seem to produce any evidence to support their claims. Let's look at some very real people who made a difference in our world.


Happy Birthday, Rachel Carson

We start with a revolutionary radical who changed everything, and whose work altered the sensibilities of all thinking people alive today.

We're talking about someone who really did change things, not just for the benefit of all Americans and for all humans, but for all life on Earth.

That's a big statement. It's warranted.

One-hundred-ten years ago, on May 27, 1907, Rachel Louise Carson was born on a small family farm just up the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Back then and for decades to come, the air hung grayish-black over Pittsburgh year-round. Some days, the sun was never clearly visible as the source of light, even as the eerie orange light of coal-fired steelmaking furnaces glowed from below. And the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers that come together at the west end of the city to form the Ohio River? Barge-choked rivers and air alike were laden with industrial pollutants that made them chemical sewers.

That was the world where she grew-up. Rachel Carson, who would be acclaimed as "a born ecologist before that science was defined," became a professional marine scientist working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington, DC — where she was primarily a writer and editor. But she operated beyond the boundaries.

Rachel wrote pioneering books about the oceans, even as she studied the full abundance of life on Earth. She began to discern that environmental systems that were robust in terms of Earth's natural processes were shockingly fragile when assaulted by the unintended consequences of human industrialization, and nearly anything that seemed hearty could be driven into collapse. Fifty-five years after her birth, she forever changed history when she published "Silent Spring," the now-iconic book that awakened America's first mass environmental movement.

Quick aside: We're not going to give you an online link to buy or download it, because we don't want to undermine your local bookstore or library. In case you didn't know, today's libraries keep only the materials that "circulate" frequently. So you aren't likely to find the best biographies on Thomas Jefferson or Cicero or the thirteen books of Euclid there. Which makes this an opportunity to encourage you to physically visit your local public library and check-out the books that are most important to civilization and society, even if you've already read them.

Rachel's book, "Silent Spring," is one of those. It's solid science, and the gentle but relentless force of presentation still allows her to connect with readers. The issues she raises are still relevant, even if the specifics have changed. Concerned people continue to join all those she inspired when she sparked a movement that produced an essential revolution.

"Silent Spring" was first published in book form on September 27, 1962. A year and seven months later, its author was dead.

Before its publication, the book had been serialized in three parts in "The New Yorker," where President John F. Kennedy read it in the summer of 1962. He wasn't alone. "Silent Spring" became an instant best-seller and the most talked-about book in decades.

Rachel's work created the opportunity for Jacques Cousteau to become a media figure. He sparked a worldwide love of the oceans and an awareness that, despite their vastness, they are abused by overfishing and incessant poisoning by the polluted rivers that flow into them.

Rachel inspired Pete Seeger, a traditional folksinger who founded a project to build the "Clearwater," the first Hudson River sloop in over 100 years. Pete and his crew used the back-from-the-dead vessel as an educational vehicle that showed scientists, politicians, and plenty of ordinary folks, up close and personal, how toxic the East's greatest river had become in the absence of regulations to protect it.

Rachel inspired singer-songwriter John Denver, who made songs popular that, for the first time, portrayed humans as part of the interdependent web of life on Earth.

Rachel refocused the United Nations, which began to study and encourage member nations to ban pesticides that poisoned life all the way up the food chain, and left a myriad of deadly legacies for future generations of plants, birds, terrestrial and aquatic animals — and humans.

Rachel's work enabled the barely-in-time campaign to save the American bald eagle from extinction. The national symbol almost vanished because its egg shells, weakened by the pesticide DDT, were crushed when the birds tried to incubate them in their nests.

Rachel's work motivated U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D, Wisconsin) to found the first "Earth Day," and millions of people to take part in the now 47-year-old movement.

Rachel's influence is clearly evident in the writing style of Carl Sagan in his books about our place in the cosmos, nowhere more so than in "The Dragons of Eden."

Rachel inspired students and teachers to learn about frogs and birds and fish and bugs as living components of natural systems that took millions of years to attain the stability we see in them. Her message was a slap up 'side the head that keeping "nature" around for our enjoyment requires understanding that all living things are essential parts of larger and interdependent ecosystems. And all of it — including systems humans depend upon — is vulnerable to debilitating change, even collapse, when overstressed by invasive influences.

Today, because of her work, we are able to cite facts showing systems cannot exceed natural abilities to assimilate things that don't belong there — from any DDT at all, to excessive carbon dioxide.

Rachel caused memberships in outdoor advocacy groups to gain huge popularity. Many of the established organizations converted themselves from enthusiasm for observing nature, as recreation, into advocacy for preservation of what nature needs to survive and flourish. Simultaneously, a new awareness launched many new organizations that would become important presences for education, lobbying, preserving wild lands and habitats, and initiating court challenges. Awareness prompted people to organize, and understanding spread science to the political realm. Those new groups included ten scientists who Rachel inspired to found the Environmental Defense Fund in 1967, to "establish a citizen's right to a clean environment."

Profitable practices that foul air, land, water, groundwater, crop lands, and more, began at last to be questioned, and sometimes, even in the face of powerful interests, stopped.

She did all that, despite the fact that in a qualification-obsessed society that never wanted to take women seriously, Rachel Carson was a government wonk in an obscure agency. Yet she became a renowned American marine biologist, author, and conservationist whose books and writings — culminating in "Silent Spring" — are credited with launching the global environmental movement.

Rachel's leadership manifests today, on her 110th birthday, 53 years after her death in distant 1964. Rachel remains ever-present in so many ways. That includes a still-growing global opposition to giant corporations that enrich themselves by patenting genetically modified crops and hegemonistically coercing farmers to plant only their seeds — which require the same corporations' patented fertilizers and pesticides to let the plants live long enough to be harvested.

We celebrate Rachel Carson for what she did — including her questioning the role of science when it is misused to purposefully distract, to obfuscate fact and establish official "truth" — and for being the example that challenges each of us, going forward.

It always takes one brave person to risk professional alienation and public ridicule when the truth is being minimized or spun or obfuscated or ignored.

There are always entrenched forces waiting to discredit or wrack financial ruin on anyone who tries to challenge them.

There is always a vested interest in perpetuating the status quo, and it exists because those who control the power structure and the banksters are fearful of any change. Whether they inhabit Wall Street, or Big Pharma, or the Big Agribusiness/Big Chem cabal — or the military-industrial-cybersecurity complex — or the halls of the political establishment and its incestuous interconnections with the K Street empire of lobbyists — they control it the way it is. So they will fight to keep it that way.

Altering the equation may cost them their control and the basis of their wealth and power. Change is seen by them — and projected through their control of the media — as fundamentally dangerous chaos that must not be risked.

Thus, discovering fatal flaws and attempting to publicize warnings and advocate change? Those will get you labeled as "somebody who doesn't get it," a conspiracy theorist or a heretic or a nut job of whatever breed. It's necessary, because you are, at the very least, a threat to the status quo. And they have plenty of funding available to do that — and are better at it today than they have ever been before, because they lost to Rachel Carson and they aren't about to lose again.

They know they won't lose control of the message, since all major media in America today is controlled by just six megagiant corporations. That allows them to set the agenda. And their behavior on all "news" topics shows there is no limit to how far those powerful interests will go to protect their fiefdoms. Because they are irrevocably and irreconcilably invested in perpetuating their control. So, unless they are prepositioned to retain their control, there's no opportunity to create chaos that could disrupt their status quo. Even when their status quo can kill us all.

And yet there was a Rachel Carson, and there are millions, worldwide, who have been influenced by her words and her work.

When it comes to the first one to do the research and prove the case that we are dangerously messing with systems we neither understand fully, nor that human institutions can actually control? The person to thank is Rachel Carson.

So, Happy 110th Birthday, Rachel. We're honored to help people remember your name. You gain a fresh victory every time someone says "No!" to a paradigm of profits that poisons the planet.

The PBS series, "The American Experience" aired their 113-minute production, "RACHEL CARSON" on January 24, 2017. The promo reads, "An intimate portrait of the woman whose groundbreaking writings revolutionized our relationship to the natural world and launched the modern environmental movement."

You can still watch it online at:


Little flags and memories

Memorial Day has its roots in honoring Civil War dead. Across America, the graves of military veterans from that, and all of the too many wars since, are bedecked with little US flags for Memorial Day. Whether the remains beneath the sod are those of someone who fought to free the slaves, or who saved the world from fascism, or someone whose life was wasted in war for control of oil, the willingness to serve and to sacrifice is the common denominator.

Of course that's where the debate should be, and the fact of dead soldiers is only part of why that debate should never abate. If we learned anything from Vietnam, it is that you cannot blame the war on the warrior who served honorably. But you must question the premise, every time, that forms the rationale for any war.

Not everyone who has served in uniform has protected our freedom. And we must make sure the entire equation changes. We owe it to ourselves, our future, and our posterity. And we owe it to all those soldiers lying beneath all those little flags.


Remembering a voice for peace

Today, on this Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, some of us will gather to musically pay homage to someone who was a voice for peace. His name was Duane Thorin, the son of a military hero father who was a POW in Korea. As a captive, the father was tortured by the Chinese. He survived to write a book, become an influential Pentagon figure, rub elbows with the Dulles brothers, the architects of Vietnam, Nixon's henchmen, and plenty of military-industrial complex insiders. And he survived to have a son that bore his name.

Duane Thorin, the younger, grew up in DC, where the power elite of pivotal times were frequent dinner guests in the family home.

Duane the younger, always a voracious reader, flirted with the temptations of power before crossing the Potomac and coming to California. He became a peace advocate, a folksinger, did musical theatre, married and had a daughter, and was one of the most well-read people I have ever known. He presided over an economics forum that questioned the way everything worked, and sought to reconcile fairness with work ethics. He had little use for tribalism or preprogrammed responses from any part of the partisan establishment. He enjoyed thoughtful conversation that produced discovery for more investigation, more contemplation, new directions. He was a true liberal thinker, the reality of the cliché about a renaissance man. He died of a stroke the last week of March, and he left a void in the lives of all who knew him.

In the days before Pasadena's world-famous Ice House became strictly a standup comedy venue, it featured both folk music and comedy. Duane booked the music acts. Moving up the hill to Altadena when he learned that Bob Stane, the old impresario of the Ice House, was opening an acoustic music venue there, he would become associated with the charming little Coffee Gallery Backstage, and help make it L.A.'s most acclaimed folk music venue.

Duane would continue to book music, write songs, advocate for peace, and perform for many years, part poet, part sage, and part songsmith, right up to his very untimely death.

There won't be a flag-draped coffin or a military honor guard today at Duane's memorial. But there will be plenty of voices raised in song, singing anthems of peace and hope and truth and advocacy for understanding and a better world.

We'll be memorializing a fighter of a gentler and more intellectual breed than most of us. We'll attempt to speak in worthy tones for a spokesman for humanity. For all those who knew him or wish they did, it's 1 to 5 pm at the Ice House in Pasadena. Not all heroes wear uniforms. Happy Memorial Day.


A video for today and our time

Here's a well-produced video that speaks to the need for economic justice in our times, and video scenes include footage taken at Occupy L.A.

It's Duane Thorin's parody of "Margaritaville," titled "Wasting Away in My Coupe de Ville."

One reviewer said, "Singer-songwriter Duane Thorin soars in his new anti-banker, populist, parody song about a man living in his Coupe de Ville because the banksters have foreclosed on his home."


See you next week. Enjoy your long weekend of festivalizing or whatever other tuneful times with special people becomes your indulgence. Meantime, don't get caught in the narrative.


Ahead in the Guide...


Contrary to appearances the last couple weeks, we're really NOT going back into the daily music calendar bid'ness. But, that said... there is an irresistible bridge of tunefulness between the current weekends of festivals.

And we all know that if you rely on corporate mainstream media for your supposed news, you'd miss all these things. Along with 'purt near all the music news we bring you. So, we'll feature some select picks of concerts, etc., as we navigate the summer together.


As always, you know that a whole lot more is coming soon — including fresh MUSIC NEWS, PREVIEWS & REVIEWS, and more additions to our massive guide to the MUSIC FESTIVALS of 2017.

Meantime, with all that's about to happen that we report in the foregoing? Go get tuneful!



Boilerplate? Where's the main pressure gauge? And the firebox?

What "boilerplate"? Who came up with that goofy term for the basic essential informational stuff...

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Contents copyright © 2017,
Lawrence Wines & Tied to the Tracks.
All rights reserved.
♪ The ACOUSTIC AMERICANA MUSIC GUIDE endeavors to bring you NEWS — and views of interest to artists everywhere — more specifically to musicians and the creative community and music makers and fans of acoustic and Folk-Americana music. That includes both traditional and innovative forms. From the deepest roots to today’s acoustic renaissance, that’s our beat. We provide a wealth of resources, including a HUGE catalog of acoustic-friendly venues (now undergoing a major update), and inside info on FESTIVALS and select performances in Southern California in venues from the monumentally large to the intimately small and cozy. We cover workshops, conferences, and other events for artists and folks in the music industry, and all kinds o’ things in the world of acoustic and Americana and accessible classical music. From washtub bass to musical spoons to oboe to viola to banjo to squeezebox, from Djangostyle to new-fangled-old-time string band music, from sweet Cajun fiddle to bluegrass and pre-bluegrass Appalachian mountain music to all the swamp water roots of the blues and the bright lights of where the music is headed now.
The Acoustic Americana Music Guide. Thanks for sittin' a spell. The porch'll be here anytime you come back from the road.


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