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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Artists play key role in Inauguration of 46th President. January 20th 2021 edition.


"The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it."

~ Omar Khayyam


(Note: NAMM's "Believe in Music" week is happening now. That, and more, are in our edition just before this one.)


History. The first woman Vice President, first veep with African-American ancestry, and first with Asian ancestry, and the oldest President ever -- both elected by record youth vote participation. And an end (for the present, at least) to a very real threat from antidemocratic forces supported by racist and neofascist groups known to the FBI.



A star-studded primetime TV special, Celebrating America, is set for tonight, Wednesday, Jan. 20th, airing at 8:30 pm Eastern across five TV networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC) as well as online. Some will hold it for Pacific time broadcast at 8:30 for West Coast viewers, so you'll have two cracks at it. This is the culminating event by the Presidential Inaugural Committee for newly-inaugurated President Biden and Vice President Harris.

The event will also stream on the committee’s YouTube and social media channels, on Amazon Prime Video, Twitch, and surprisingly enough, on Fox’s NewsNOW.

The special, hosted by Tom Hanks, will include performances by Bruce Springsteen,  Jon Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Ant Clemons, and more, and feature remarks from Biden and Harris. It's all happening in place of the usual Inaugural Balls and traditional inauguration celebrations made impossible by the growing pandemic.

It follows an all-day “Virtual Inaugural Parade” with marching bands and more, participating in all 50 states and six US territories.

Between the parade and the big cross-networks show tonight, you can catch the live web “Inauguration Special” by L.A. based musical duo Andy & Renee. Their live special for Martin Luther King’s Birthday was splendid. It’s astonishing how much harmony, melody, multi-instrumental mastery, and musical chutzpah can come from two people working without their L.A. all-star band. The theme for their show is “American places,” songs that name and describe someplace where the Stars and Stripes adorn the flagpoles. 

Andy and Renee's live Inauguration celebration is free on YouTube Wednesday, Jan. 20th, 7 pm PT (10 pm ET), at:

Learn more about this fine duo, their band, and the annual “Dylanfest” they coproduce and cohost at:

Already today, the formal Inauguration ceremony on the steps of the US Capitol building featured notable performances, tributes, and Biden’s mid-speech moment of silence for the 400,000+ Americans who have died in the past eleven months from COVID-19. 

It’s all a balancing act between tragedy and the need for a new hope, and it’s been performing artists who were called upon to meld the two.

Thus, immediately after the ceremony, the “Hollywood Reporter” ran a piece by Kirsten Chuba, titled Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks Bring Star Power to Biden Inauguration.” 


Indeed. The Inauguration ceremony’s featured performing artists set a high bar for those who follow tonight.

Gaga's rendition of the National Anthem was a vocal masterpiece, faithful enough for traditionalists, but paced to allow it to flow smoothly — something few singers are able to do with the nearly unsingable melody derived from an ancient English beer-drinking song.

JLo gave us a respectful and stirring delivery of part of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” — which some (including everyone around here) believes SHOULD be our national anthem — and she took it seamlessly into “America the Beautiful.”

Brooks closed the event with “Amazing Grace,” and he invited everyone everywhere to join in singing the final chorus. That was after Republican Senator Roy Blount introduced him and noted the unifying delivery that then-President Barack Obama once brought to the song in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, after a racist mass shooting there.

You can question plenty about President Joe Biden’s agenda and his corporatust political orientations, but you cannot doubt his ability to comprehend and deal with tragedy on the macro scale. 

His Inaugural Address, while it didn’t strike us as powering any historical break-out lines — JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you,” FDR’s “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” — did set the tone the nation desperately needed to hear. 

Certainly no one could say what George W. Bush remarked to Hillary Clinton four years ago today, after the disgraced, departed president’s Inaugural Address: Bush had said, “Well, THAT was some weird sh*t!”

The Bushes, the Obamas, and Clintons were all in attendance today, as was departing VP Pence and his wife. The show of unity after the Trumpista Insurrection two weeks earlier to the day, was a clear message to the nation and the world. 

But for us, the moment during the ceremony that brought the most impact came not from the satisfyingly predictable speeches by both leaders of the sane new administration.

Our pick for most memorable moment comes from the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman. Her writing and delivery of her poetic hopes for and characterizations of American democracy — and humanity — make her the rising star to watch. 


We had seen Amanda before, when “CBS Sunday Morning,” CNN, and ABC’s “World News Tonight” each profiled her when she was first named as Youth Poet Laureate. She was stunningly impressive each time. And now, if all the TV political talking heads will stop repeating themselves? It should be Amanda’s moment to carry the shine of the national stage, and to be quoted as we all try to make order out of chaos.

Amanda Gorman recited her original, “The Hill We Climb,” and added 300,000 Twitter followers immediately following the Inauguration. She is a 22-year-old American poet and activist from Los Angeles who graduated from Harvard. 

She joined esteemed company that is limited to Robert Frost, the first Inauguration Poet (JFK in 1961), Maya Angelou (Bill Clinton in 1993), Miller Williams (Bill Clinton in 1997), Elizabeth Alexander (Barack Obama in 2009) and Richard Blanco (Barack Obama in 2013). She became the sixth-ever, and at 22-years old, the youngest Inauguration Poet. 

The works of native Angeleno and activist Amanda Gorman focus on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. 

While America has a tradition of naming Poet Laureates — including every previous poet who recited at an Inauguration — Gorman is the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. In 2015, while still a teenager, she  published the poetry book “The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough.”

Watch her Inauguration recitation here.

Late addition -- from Brian Stelter's "Reliable Sources" e-newsletter...

Amanda Gorman, the United States' first-ever youth poet laureate, stunned the world with her poem at the inaugural ceremony.


Gorman's two forthcoming books, both due out in September, both skyrocketed to #1 and #2 on the Amazon best-sellers list after her reading. She tweeted out a thank-you. Read her inaugural poem here, and read about her captivating interview with Anderson Cooper here...


Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi will do well tonight if they can follow her. 

Today's entire affair is about more than fulfilling the requirements of the Constitution. 

This time, it's also about restoring dignity, decorum, citable facts as the basis of information and debate and decisions, and above all, calling for peace, competently dealing with the pandemic, and restoring a faith in democracy that enables the "domestic tranquility" that passes for unity. It will be up to every American to determine whether the new President's calling for all that is possible, or if calling for it was a fool’s errand. 

Mitch McConnell is no longer in a position to say "Come into my parlor," but Congressional Goppers may still be driven by fear of being "primaried" by the Trumpian base, or even physical fear of seditious Trumpista insurrectionists.

Even before the shocking events of January 6th, "where things were" was unsustainable.

Dana Milbank, the Washington Post opinion columnist, wrote a piece today that's titled, "A president replaced. A nation redeemed." He continues, "In ways symbolic and substantive, it was the redemption of a nation."

Southern California Congressman Adam Schiff wrote today, "Four years ago, on the same platform, in a speech that was more prophesy than history, Donald Trump described an America in the throes of carnage."

Schiff continues: "For better or worse, a President really sets the tone for the country, and for the last four years that tone has been one of bitter division and hate.
"The damage that Trump wrought has been immense, through dereliction of his duty to keep Americans safe and healthy, and through his disdain for the institutions of our democracy. His policies were characterized by cruelty – towards immigrants, towards refugees, racial and religious minorities, and by indifference — towards families struggling to get by and put food on the table.
"Today marked a new beginning. For a nation that never got to celebrate the new year, this was New Year's Day. Listening to President Biden’s inaugural address, I couldn’t help but feel optimistic about the future, about our nation’s endless ability to remake itself, to renew itself, to press on with hope for the future no matter how difficult the past."

Schiff adds, "The lesson of the past four years has been a profound one – our democracy is not self-effectuating. It is up to us, to every generation, to protect and defend it, to cherish and preserve it. As our new President said today: 'We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.'"

So we have a sane president! What now?

With over 400,000 dead Americans from the pandemic and surely another hundred thousand to follow in the next month, none of us are ready to sing FDR’s old anthem, “Happy Days Are Here Again.” 

We are certain to disagree with the Biden folks going forward because of their default positions to corporate conservatism, military-industrial-complex-driven foreign policy, and insistence that health care remain the purview of for-profit business. But we take heart that the arguments will be with people who will listen and recognize scientific data.

Schiff portrays a Congress that -- after four years of rancor and paralysis -- is poised to act. He writes:

"We are facing four crises that will test our nation in the coming weeks, months and years – a crisis in health, in our economy, with our climate, and one crying out for racial justice. All of these challenges require urgent action, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will devote themselves completely to helping us overcome. President Biden will be a president for all Americans, just as Harris will do the same.
"With 400,000 of our fellow citizens dead, our most urgent priority must be addressing the pandemic, which continues to devastate the nation every day. Today, President Biden is issuing a mask mandate on federal property and inter-state travel, and invoking a 100-day mask challenge for all Americans. The science is clear – masks work, masks save lives, and this order will help us slow the spread until vaccines are fully deployed. Today, America will also rejoin the World Health Organization, as we rebuild our trust in science, and our standing on the global stage. Looking ahead, the ravages of the pandemic have only made the need for universal healthcare that much more clear and urgent.

"Coronavirus has brutalized our economy as well, as millions of American families struggle to pay rent, keep the lights and heat on, and put food on the table. That’s why President Biden will move to extend nationwide restrictions on home evictions and foreclosures and extend student loan payment deferral. But more relief will be needed – urgently. When we passed the most recent COVID relief package, we knew it would only be a down payment on more relief to come. I support President Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic relief plan, which will provide critical funding to bolster our vaccine rollout, direct aid to families in dire need of support, and relief for small businesses.
"America faces other great crises as well, including the fight against climate change. Today, America is rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, and President Biden is signing an executive order to formulate a plan to achieve 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions by 2050. This will be an ongoing priority for the administration, and I’m confident that Biden will make fighting climate change his enduring legacy – the fate of the planet and our nation is at stake. Turning the tide on climate change will require bold action. With Biden, we will once again put our faith in science and lead the world in protecting our planet for generations to come.

"And we will need to finally begin to dismantle the systemic racism that has plagued our nation since its founding – especially in the criminal justice system, but also by eliminating disparities in access to education, employment, health care, and more. President Biden and Vice President Harris have already announced the most diverse cabinet in American history, and I’m confident that, with a team that looks like and represents the vibrant diversity of America, we will begin the work of ensuring this nation lives up to its promise as a land of opportunity and equality for all.
"There is significant work to be done, but America has never shied away from a challenge just because it is hard. I am clear eyed about the long road to recovery, but after today’s inauguration, I’m feeling hopeful about our future. And I hope you are too. The process of renewal and restoration has begun at long last. America is resilient, and we build back better. That’s the American way."

That analysis of the agenda from Congressman Adam Schiff, who signs off with, "Stay safe and healthy."

The Guide's editor has attended multiple Presidential Inaugurations in the January cold of Washington, D.C. They are always a time for hopeful hyperbole, and fodder for the press to feed its "First 100 Days" narrative. And how much, if anything meaningful, can happen at all, is a function of two things: a skilled staff and a willing Congress. Biden appears to have both -- though the latter by the slimmest of margins.

At least we stand a chance again, as a nation, a society, and a democracy. At least when we disagree with this administration we can argue and cite facts and data and actual reality instead of reality TV and the "alternative facts" that drove those who just went out the door. We take heart that (gasp) real science can be brought to bear -- and we will not get ridiculed for doing that.


Some of President Biden's "Build Back Better" will be about image, some will be about substance

Day One in office, Biden is reversing 17 Executive Orders, including putting an end to draining taxpayer's resources to continue building the throwback-to-Roman-Emperor-Hadrian's "Trumpian Wall" that Mexico didn't pay for.

Meanwhile, those who suffered Trump's indignities and abuses are not docile about handling his Trumpista insurrectionists or myriad residual damages endured while Trump had his Twitter punching bag.

Most notably, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now on record that Trump is liable as an accessory to murder after five people died in the seditious invasion of the US Capitol on January 6th.

Trump's religionista allies are feeling the heat. Hardcore Trump supporter Mike Lindell, the MyPillow guy who wears the giant cross, is complaining about all the retail outlets that have dropped him since he refused to condemn the seditious insurrection and continually repeated Trump's lies about a "stolen election."

Longtime readers may recall the Guide noted some time ago that the Orange Abomination's fundamentalist religious followers were inscrutable, since it was observably evident that he had literally violated every one of their Ten Commandments. Now there are calls from some Progressives to do away with tax exemptions for "religious" institutions that engage in politics. You could ask the Spanish Inquisition: play with burning people at the stake and you might get burned.

Perhaps the best retort as review of the past four years arrived in cartoonist Tom Tomorrow in his "last cartoon while Trump is in office." His visual art is known for being comprehensively and satisfyingly epic:

"... and the golden escalator he rode in on."




Radio's ruling talk show intellectual, Thom Hartmann, recommends this read
: "Biden sworn in as president, calls on Americans to 'end this uncivil war' of political division" by Adam Edelman and Lauren Egan and Geoff Bennett.

Now let's turn to one of our heroes. Just hours before President Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Accord that Trump had dumped, we received this:

"Climate change activist Greta Thunberg [who we featured last issue] brought the heat on President Trump’s last day in office," reports Arya Hodjat in the Daily Beast.

Photo by Maja Hitij, Getty

"Trump condescendingly referred to the Swedish teenager as 'a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future' after her impassioned 2019 speech at the United Nations, in which she [very memorably] questioned world leaders: 'How dare you?'"

"Thunberg turned the outgoing president’s words back on him on Wednesday, quote-tweeting a picture of him boarding Marine One for the last time, writing, 'He seems like a very happy old man looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!'"

Hodjat concludes by noting, "President-elect Biden is expected to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement upon being sworn in on Wednesday."

Done, and done, on schedule.

Nancy Pelosi aside, still unresolved is the Impeachment Trial in the US Senate. It's not going away. This is circulating on social media:

Joe and Jill went

up the Hill, to start

to heal the nation.

Trump went down,

that evil clown, to

face incarceration.


Clever rhymes are one thing. Very many cartoonists see things with clarity that would require many words to convey. Like, how DO you include "fomented insurrection" on your resume?



And what of the resume of the Republican Party post-Trump? How can they explain emerging from their 2020 National Republican Convention with no party platform? They intentionally put themselves in the position of having to support "Whatever Trump wants." There is no parallel anywhere in American political history.

We'll leave it there. We want to watch some of the marching bands from the 56 states/territories, catch some of Andy and Renee's tribute to American places, and tune-in for the star-studded performance gala hosted by Tom Hanks.

Besides that? Join us in risking a deep breath through the mask, so we can all exhale a huge sigh of relief.

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♪ 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.
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Til we catch ya again on the flip side 
in this new world of the now somewhat lessened improbable unknown...

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