Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Music as a Healing Force


DUKES FANS:
“Music is the healing force of the universe.”
             Jazz musician Sun Ra  

   For the vast majority of my teaching career I was fortunate to work in places that made space for the individual student and valued relationships between students and teachers. That meant that for each student faculty had to write end- of-the-marking period narrative reports about them: how they thought, how they worked, their strengths, challenges, etc. We did not just fill in check boxes; we had to write paragraphs about each student. That meant, of course, that I had to know each student and how s/he thought. I needed to know their strengths, interests, and challenges. Yes, it was time consuming, and yes, and it could be hard to put things into words. But I valued doing it, and it undoubtedly made me a better teacher.

  I am thinking about that now because one of the things that helped me through all that report writing was music. I would need motivation to do all of the writing, and playing records, and later cassettes, and then CD’s and then computer playlists was a key part of my process. I needed energy. I needed to not be overwhelmed when writing the reports. I needed my mind to be in a positive place. The playlists helped with that. And as we move into month 6 of the COVID realities, I need that same positivity to keep me balanced and moving forward with what I want and need to do. So I have been listening to some of my old computer playlists again, and it has been absolutely delightful. I have been lifted up and restored as I have re-discovered some artists I have not listened to in a good long while. As Ra said, “Music is the healing force…”

Some of the musicians I have on those playlists would not surprise those of you who know me. There is some Muddy Waters, some James Brown, some Duke Ellington, some Aretha Franklin, Paul Butterfield, and plenty of Taj Mahal. There is some T-Bone Walker, Otis Redding, Otis Rush, Charlie Musselwhite, Geoff Muldaur, Miles Davis, Billie Holliday, saxophonists Wayne Shorter and John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, The Band, Sam and Dave, The Four Tops, the Temptations, Bonnie Raitt, and of course, some Dukes of Destiny.

There are some choices that might surprise some of you: Edith Piaf, Johnny Cash, Judy Collins, Buffalo Springfield, Asleep at the Wheel, Erik Sate, Richard and Mimi Farina, The Chieftains, The Byrds, Pete Seeger, Jefferson Berry, Tracy   Chapman, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Patsy Cline, and Willie Nelson. One of the best parts of this recent “musical archaeology” has been the re-discovery of a number of wonderful Canadian artists I had become aware of from attending the Limestone City Blues Festival in Kingston, Ontario for some 20 years. Dawn Tyler Watson is one of my all- time favorite singers and performers. The Ax Man and the Harpoonist are great musicians and straight up fun. Diana Krall is one of the most sultry jazz stylists and pianists. And Paul Reddick is flat-out one of the most imaginative songwriters, arrangers, harmonica players, and performers I have ever heard. From his first appearances with his old band, The Sidemen, up to the various incarnations his recorded music has taken since then, he has always amazed me. As we rarely hear Canadian blues in the US, it is good to have these folks and others back in my consciousness.

 I can’t believe that I had somehow let all of this incredible collection of music get away from me.  It was like turning away from something that had been an incredibly helpful and important part of my life for years. But these sounds are back in my life now, and they are again playing a key role in my life. They keep me energized. They help keep me inspired. They help keep me balanced. When I am sending handwritten post cards to registered voters to ask them to vote; when I am calling some legislators’ office to give my opinion about some policy; when I am sighing deeply at the news of coronavirus infections and deaths; when I am witnessing news coverage of some new outrage, and when I am almost overwhelmed  by the multitude of problems on display and facing our culture, these sounds are there and they help keep me going. Keep me smiling. Keep me hopeful. Keep me committed. I think of the late John Lewis and Reverend CT Vivian and all the “good trouble” they got into. The music was there-always there. The Civil Rights Movement; the Anti Viet Nam War Movement; the Labor Movement-all social justice battles had music deep at their core. Keeping spirits up, setting the rhythm as they marched, uniting people, and promoting hope for a brighter future.  We need that now as much as we needed it then. Music as motivator. Music as solace. Music as comfort. Music, indeed, as a healing force of the universe. It is good to reunite with these sounds.
  
(Each of the musicians mentioned above has their own presence on the web with web pages and YouTube videos. If there is someone mentioned with whom you are not familiar, you can find them there. Enjoy!)
 
IMPORTANT CITIZEN STUFF: please take note
CENSUS 2020 The census helps the Federal government decide on things such as voting districts, grants for Federal aid, transportation and highway funds, and a hell of a lot more. It is one of the ways our tax dollars get to come back to us in our own areas, and as COVID makes abundantly clear, we need our tax dollars to work for us. It is essential that as accurate a count as possible is taken, particularly when the the door to door census is on hold. Our online completions are even more important now than ever before. Please go to the website: https://2020census.gov/en.html
 
THE TWO JOHNS ARE BACK!
Johnny Never and John Colgan-Davis will be playing acoustic blues on Saturday, August 29  at the Cosmic Café, a wonderful little outdoor café at 1 Boathouse Row behind the Art Museum. Sets are from 3PM-6PM. Masks are required and tables are separated. Great food and beverages. No cover, but tips are appreciated

THE DUKES ARE ON HIATUS!
  The recent upticks in local COVID infections means that the Dukes are going to lay low until December at the earliest. Hopefully treatments and/or a COVID vaccine can be developed, tested and distributed by then, but we are not doing any live gigs for now. It is simply too risky. We want to thank all of our fans and friends-playing for you is an absolute joy and the reason we do what we do. We are looking forward to a time when we can safely do it live again. Stay safe, be careful and be well.
Missing Dukes Sounds?

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Walkin' By Myself AgAin...


DUKES FANS
Walking By Myself….
  As we move into our fifth month of response to the COVID pandemic, my morning walks have come to mean more and more to me. Yes, I also walk in the evening around dusk, but it is my morning rambles that I have come to rely on and relish. Like many of us my nights’ sleeps are inconsistent. I can have a truly restful night that helps me wake up feeling refreshed. And I can also have nights where my sleep is full of worry, anxiety, plans, fears, and more. My early morning walks are what helps me with that. Someone once said, “Move a muscle, change a thought,” and I heartily agree with that.

My walks of late have taken me on a variety of routes. I am   ADD, so changing routes works well for me, particularly when I wake up anxious or unsettled . I see new things and am taken out of my head and into what is around me. I have discovered some incredible gardens on side streets in West Mt. Airy and some wonderful artwork and totem poles on gardens in East Mt Airy and Chestnut Hill. It is a little louder in the morning these days, as the city has opened up a bit; I do wish folks did not feel that they had to roll their windows down so I get to hear whatever they are listening to at 6 AM in the morning. But it is still quiet enough when I am on side streets and away from traffic.  And I can begin to feel soothed.

And there are constants: I am out as the day is coming into being, and on most days the sky is unbelievably beautiful and powerful. Pink and red streaks, wispy, widespread clouds or various “puffs,” a variety of shades of blue stretching into the horizon: it can be truly “awesome” in the original meaning of the word: ”inspiring reverence.”

And as I walk up Mt Airy Ave at the end of my walk and see the moon still visible in the NW sky, I am somehow restored. I can enter the new day as my best self and ready to do all the things that I have to do. Even, and especially, at times like these we need to show up as our best selves, for there is much to do to help myself, this place, and this world try to heal. So “move a muscle?” YES!
(The song “Walking By Myself, has long been one of my favorite songs. Here is my favorite version of it with Jimmy Rogers and Little Walter:

IMPORTANT CITIZEN STUFF: please take note
CENSUS 2020 The census helps the Federal government decide on things such as voting districts, grants for Federal aid, transportation and highway funds, and a hell of a lot more. It is one of the ways our tax dollars get to come back to us in our own areas, and as COVID makes abundantly clear, we need our tax dollars to work for us. It is essential that as accurate a count as possible is taken, particularly when the the door to door census is on hold. Our online completions are even more important now than ever before. Please go to the website: https://2020census.gov/en.html
SOME WAYS TO HELP LOCAL AGENCIES DURING PANDEMIC
I know a lot of you are already supporting some of the groups working to meet some of the challenges associated with COVID-19. If you are looking for more or other ways to be involved locally, here are some suggestions:
Food
Links to local Food Banks:
Homelessness: Project Home   https://www.projecthome.org/covid-19-support
 To report domestic violence:  www.thehotline.org 
INFO ON COVID-19 TESTS COVID-19 Symptoms and Testing



THE DUKES ARE ON HIATUS!
  The recent upticks in local COVID infections means that the Dukes are going to lay low until December at the earliest. Hopefully treatments and/or a COVID vaccine can be developed, tested and distributed by then, but we are not doing any live gigs for now. It is simply too risky. We want to thank all of our fans and friends-playing for you is an absolute joy and the reason we do what we do. We are looking forward to a time when we can safely do it live again. Stay safe, be careful and be well.

Missing Dukes Sounds?



Change of Address: Hideaway Records, owned by my high school buddy Brian Reisman and one of my favorite record, CD and DVD stores, has moved down the Hill to 8230 Germantown Ave. Look for the top hat on the sign
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Monday, June 1, 2020

Co-Incidence 2

DUKES FANS
CO-INCIDENCES-2

   As we move into a new month, there is beauty all around us. Summer is on the horizon, and the last few days in the Philadelphia area have featured warm weather, bright blue skies, slight breezes, and amazing skies. Migration has brought back the sounds and sights of a ton of different birds and butterflies. Our gardens, window boxes, and yards are fully alive with a wonderful mix of flowers and blooms.

   Citizens are now in their third month of shelter in place. COVID numbers across the nation continue to climb. Millions are unemployed and food insecure. On top of those co-incidences has come the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, and days of unrest, protest, violence and looting. These things do not cancel each other out -- life is not like that. They are “co-incidences” -- things that are going on simultaneously. But the cumulative effect of them on us is powerful, wide-ranging and undeniable. As a human, I have to respond to it all.
 
   I am not going to go into the details of any of these latter things; people have been counting the numbers of COVID deaths, seen and felt the ways in which our lives have been turned around, and have had to make huge adjustments in just about every aspect of our lives. Folks have at least seen the video of George Floyd’s last nine minutes of life under the knee of a Minneapolis policeman and heard about the outrageous and tragic circumstances of the deaths of Ahmaud and Breanna. What I have to focus on now is how I deal with all the hurt, rage, confusion, tiredness, and anger that this unfortunate combination of things is having on me. What I have to do is to feel and acknowledge each of these feelings, and then move to a space where I can respond in a way that does not make things worse, and hopefully can help make at least some things better. 

   In the 1960’s many of us used to say, ”If you are not a part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem.” In many ways I still agree with that. That means that if there are things I notice and declare as “wrong” or “unfair,” then it is up to me to take some action. I cannot wait for government or someone else to address it. I noticed it, so I have to respond.

   Attached to the newsletter are some links to groups, resources, organizations, and suggestions on how to look at, confront, and work on making needed changes in our society around racism and inequality. These are some things each of us can do, no matter what our color or background happens to be. If you are already involved in such work that is great, and a link in the attachment may lead you to something more you can do. If you do not know what to do or you have not thought about things to do, perhaps you can find something of interest. 

   I believe that we humans have a need to and a call to respond to all that is going on around us -- the good, the bad, and the indifferent -- as well as we can. That means I will continue to walk outside, birdwatch, and appreciate the late spring. I will continue to visit a slew of museums and nature cams online and to marvel at the sky. I will continue to make one new recipe a week. And I will try, in at least some small way, to continue to try to help this country and the world heal. To try and give support to some folks who are trying to do the same. And to take some steps, however small, toward creating greater peace, acceptance understanding, and inclusion for all. I am a human. I am built for this.

IMPORTANT CITIZEN STUFF: please take note
 
Tuesday, June 2  PA Primary Election; PLEASE VOTE! (Note, if you vote using an absentee or mail-in ballot in the 2020 GENERAL PRIMARY the deadline to return your ballot is 8:00 PM on 06/02/2020. Your county election commissioner’s website can help you find locations of drop boxes:
 
  CENSUS 2020 The census helps the Federal government decide on things such as voting districts, grants for Federal aid, transportation and highway funds, and a hell of a lot more. It is one of the ways our tax dollars get back to us in our own areas, so it is essential that as accurate a count as possible is taken. COVID means the door to door census is on hold, so our online completions are even more important now. Please go to:
 
SOME WAYS TO HELP LOCAL AGENCIES DURING PANDEMIC
I know a lot of you are already supporting some of the groups working to meet some of the challenges associated with COVID-19. If you are looking for more or other ways to be involved locally, here are some suggestions:

Food
Links to local Food Banks:
Homelessness: Project Home   https://www.projecthome.org/covid-19-support
 To report domestic violence:  www.thehotline.org 

INFO ON COVID-19 TESTS http://realconciergemedicine.com/

UPCOMING DUKES GIGS
June gigs for the Dukes have been postponed
Missing Dukes Sounds?