Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hole in the Muck Bucket

MandoMama is happy to report a fantastic time visiting family and friends in Nashville for PondFest 2008 (photos to come sometime before PondFest 2009). Before the muckin' around began, the kids and I managed to squeeze in an evening walk along Broadway, where my daughter, sporting a new hat, learned why it’s called Music City each time we passed a restaurant or honky tonk. We stepped over to Schermerhorn Symphony Center, one of the real successes these days in new orchestra halls. On Friday we took in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, where we pondered the contrast of the long life of Johnny Cash and the short life of Hank Williams, along with the legacy of the Williams family (and Daughter of Mando pondered why she didn't have her own Nudie suit or even a cool Nudie car like Webb Pierce's). The best time of course was spent at their Auntie’s house, playing with their cousin and enjoying their first-ever PondFest. I spent a couple nights sleeping in a tent to the sounds of two tired girls sleeping dreaming up new adventures and the chirping and humming of many happy creatures who live in my sister’s yard.

These golden days spent free from the talons of life’s less pleasant realities are sacred. Moments watching all three kids relaxing together in the hammock, slopping purposefully around in the near-empty pond with Fish Whisperer/Son of Mando and his two younger assistants as we raise a muckus and gather up the last of the fish, digesting each of my son’s pensive observations about Hank Williams’ rise and fall, seeing my daughter’s face light up as we ascended high above Nashville in the glass elevator to our room on the 23rd floor or when we found the perfect new cowgirl hat for her.

Of course I had my own fun, particularly the time spent with my sis, her family, and two of my very dearest friends, Shannon and Ms L. We were just too exhausted to make it to the Station Inn to hear 3 Fox Drive, but we had plenty of music to keep us going while we worked and played. And for me, just being in a city where my musical tastes are actually popular, let alone respected, is a nice change of pace.

These trips always bring on a little life-related ADD. Am I on the right path, can I do something else, is it time to change horses, or even change tracks altogether? Some potentially positive changes at work might provide some distraction a while longer, or might make a drastic decision easier. How important is it really to live in the super-red states of the South just to have a little more of the music I love? Then again, do I want to be pushing uphill the rest of my life trying to make a path for bluegrass in Northeast Ohio just because it would make me happier? Probably not.

So I return to what’s right in front of me while these things sort themselves out a little more and a decision can be rendered. On our day off at home together yesterday, the kids and I planted and potted flowers, turned compost, and listened to Johnny Cash. Tending our little world reminds me that at the moment, the best place for me is with them. After all, home really is where the heart is.

Hank Williams was far from home on his way to Canton, Ohio from Oak Hill WV the New Year's Eve his poor heart gave out. It's a terrible shame, and hoo boy, I'm glad I didn't grow up with the kind of pressure Hank Jr. must have felt. No wonder he collects Civil War cannons (he's got five -- why?). Anyway, here's a smooth Hank Williams tune that's easy on the ears and true to life today. My bucket, my gas tank, and my pocketbook, they've all got holes in 'em. But with good company and a few tunes we'll all get by, by and by.


At May 28, 2008 7:50 AM, Blogger DrDon said...

Glad you had a good time Mando. As you know, I'm intrigued lately by stages of life and other people's struggles with where they are at and what keeps us there. However, with this post I was interested in your comments about bluegrass. You mention an uphill battle of trying to carve out a path for bluegrass here. Why is that important? What I mean is, you obviously enjoy bluegrass music but why does it matter if it is accepted or proliferates in Northeast Ohio as opposed to you just enjoying it yourself? I'm not trying to be contradictory but I want to understand.

A lot of the guitar music I like to listen to isn't popular anymore, if it ever was. There might be a couple hair metal concerts a year around here and almost never do the classical metal guys tour anymore (people like Vinnie Moore, Dave Chastain, Yngwie Malmsteen). I guess I don't think much about it. I just listen to the music when I want and I don't think about the fact that it's not popular around here or in 2008.

It seems to me that, much like my talk about Octopi and sharks lately, you'd just be much happier having a job where you could work with bluegrass artists or assist in setting up festivals, marketing, etc. I guess that's not probably going to happen around here. So, same question I've been asking myself lately - what's keeping you here?

At May 28, 2008 2:40 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey Doc,

Well, two things keep me here, really, and they’re both under the age of 18. As much as I believe I’d be successful in prying them out from under the Bootheel of My Way or the Highway, foisting a lengthy court battle on myself, the kids, and their BioDad is an unpleasant proposition, especially now that’ he’s morphed into a two-headed critter of undetermined nature. Regardless of my personal assessment of him and the fact that the guy treats his lawn grubs with more respect than he does the mother of his kids, it’s not enough of a reason to move the kids out of range. I have actually thought on occasion of leaving them with him, given that he and his other head seem to think I just met G and A the other day as though they popped into the world fully-formed when I wasn’t looking. I never realized how damn stupid I was – I actually had to be TOLD that kids don’t like labels! Hallelu, I now have someone to light the way!

But, you have otherwise hit the nail on the head, Doc. A sense of place is very important, and finding a place or community has always meant a good deal to me. And I suppose the same could be said of other types of music including metal, but there’s something about bluegrass that bridges a cultural gap in my world. It’s really a kind of music that is meant to be made and enjoyed by just about anyone. I’m a devoted fan of classical music and a great admirer of Yo Yo Ma whom I’ve met on a few occasions, but I have the same respect and admiration for a Sam Bush or a Claire Lynch or a Jimmy Mattingly, who are no less committed to furthering music. Bluegrass can be made and enjoyed in the backyard or the finest concert halls, played by five year olds and 105 year olds. There are other kinds of cultural gaps within the music with regard to race and theism, but as with any “industry” you find folks of like mind and stick together.

Nonetheless, the kids bring great joy as well, and are equally an adventure to be enjoyed, so it’s a temporary balancing act. I am very lucky that they are growing up to appreciate bluegrass along with the many other solid artists and types of music they’re exposed to in both homes, an opportunity that I did not have when I was little despite my roots and proximity to country and bluegrass communities.

At May 28, 2008 8:13 PM, Blogger DrDon said...

Thanks for the reply Mando. I sometimes forget about the challenges children bring to the situation when you're divorced. Well, the children are probably not the challenge as much as the ex. It is always amazing to me how decisions we make so dramatically impact our lives in ways we can never imagine at the time. Well, despite the fact that the North Coast may not be a haven for bluegrass, it seems to me like you find quite a few shows to take in so it's good that you're able to enjoy what is available.

At May 29, 2008 9:36 AM, Blogger Blueberry said...

When you find something that you feel is a good thing, it's only natural to want to grow it so that others around you can be exposed to it. It's just a form of sharing the love.

At May 29, 2008 9:37 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Thanks Doc. It really is a make-the-best-of-it kind of world at the moment. Finding meaning even in the simplest pleasures has made a big difference for me, as has the success of being on my own and truly feeling comfortable in my own skin--even if my skin is in the wrong town. It makes it all the more wonderful when I do meet up with a bluegrass player or fan in these parts.

At May 29, 2008 9:39 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...


You're right! That's it, we're just sharing the musical love. It's like a manifesto.

Was planning to nominate the GreenCards for an IBMA nod but those lil' stinkers released their latest album in 2006. Poop. Tell them to get busy--or is there a new album coming out soon?

At May 30, 2008 4:57 PM, Blogger Blueberry said...

There will be a new Greencards album probably by early next year (maybe late this year? that may be too ambitious).

Speaking of Hank, I had some Hank Williams content this week also.

At May 31, 2008 8:01 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Well, Blueberry, after my comment on your blog about the ill affects Cadillacs, I learned this morning that one of my brothers had bought himself a Cadillac for a trip out West to New Mexico for his nephew's graduation. I hope he left his guitar at home and he's not stopping at any honky tonks.


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