Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Magic of "Surprise"


“One of the things that humans have is the wonderful opportunity to encounter surprise. But surprise is not going to track you down or come up to your door, knock, and ask to be let in. You have to be out there in the world among people and places to meet it, and, most importantly, you have to be open to it happening.”   Curtis Williams

“You want to make God laugh? Tell God you have “plans.”   Anonymous 
       Many people who know me would probably tell you that I am not a strictly-scheduled person or a person who necessarily thrives on routine. I like to hike and birdwatch following whatever calls to me, walk around the downtowns of cities just following whim and curiosity and what calls to me, and reading about, searching out, and following up on things that just catch my fancy. (My wife once commented that I had never met an historical marker I didn’t love.)  I have always been a curious and multi-active person, and I am ADD. So I can go off in several directions at once instantly, no matter where I am and what I am doing.  At the same time, though, when I do have a routine in some area of my life, I can get pretty hyper-focused on it and a bit miffed if it is disturbed. I am still an early riser after 40 years of teaching, so my morning routine is to be up and out of the house by about 6AM, go up to Chestnut Hill, have some coffee, walk around a bit, and then do something definite-meet some friends for coffee and/or breakfast, go shopping, go to a museum, walk around a specific place, go on a little trip, etc. And last Sunday was a day that I had known what my morning plan was, and I awoke fully ready to embark upon it.

     I got my coffee in Chestnut Hill, met with some friends, went back for another cup of coffee, and then went to catch a train. Most Sundays I like to go to Quaker Meeting for Worship, and I normally go to the 10:30 Germantown Meeting at Coulter and Greene Sts. This was the first Sunday of the month, however, and there is a wonderful First Sunday brunch and blues jam at Jamey’s House of Music in Lansdowne that I love attending. So on those Sundays I train it to 30th Street Station and catch the Elwyn local, departing at Lansdowne station and walking up to Lansdowne Friends Meeting. It is a ¼ mile from Jamey’s and starts at 10. I have been doing this for some 7 months now, so I know the schedule of the trains and how long it takes me to walk from the station to the meetinghouse. I’ve  got it down; it is now part of my routine.

   Except that for the past two weeks, SEPTA, on weekends and during off peak hours, has been doing track repair on part of the Southwest section of tracks, and they were running shuttle buses from 30th St to the 49th Street station and sending the Elwyn local trains on from there. Not only that, but the schedules were now different, and I would not get to Lansdowne before the start of Meeting. POOF! Routine vanished!  (And there may have been some quiet chuckling going on overhead.)

  As I made my way to the shuttle bus I was miffed and trying to calm myself down. I was upset, and I definitely did not like my routine being tossed away. But as the shuttle bus finally left 30th St and took its slow, winding route through parts of West Philly, something strange began to happen. We went past the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, and I remembered that I used to work there for 2 ½ years in the mid-1980’s. Suddenly I was remembering people with whom I used to work, including 2 of whom I am still in touch with to this day. And the bus went by that little campus walkway off 38th Street that led to the Biopond on Penn’s campus where Penny and I would sometimes go bird watching. It also went past Woodland Cemetery, a wonderfully large and immaculately landscaped space where we would hike and regularly see red-headed woodpeckers, ruby crowned kinglets, and cuckoos as well as some incredible tombstones, monuments, and crypts. I used to live in several spots in West Philly, as did Penny and my son, Evan, and the bus passed near those places as well. I used to play with a lot of West Philly musicians who lived near Chester and Baltimore Avenues, and we used to play picnics and gigs in Clark Park, which the bus also traveled past. Somehow I was recalling a whole slew of people, events, scenes and places I had not thought about in literally decades! By the time we got to the 49th Street Station I had re-connected, at least mentally, to a lot of great times and experiences in my earlier life. And I was-surprise!-happy about it.

   But the morning was not over, and there was more to come. I realized that Meeting would be more than half over by the time I got there, and I do not like to come that late to Meeting for Worship. It is silent worship, and I feel it would make too much of an interruption should I come in more than 10 or 15 minutes late. The Elwyn local continues on to Swarthmore, though, and I suddenly remembered how much I loved that little community. So I thought I would go and re-acquaint myself with some parts of that town.

    There is this wonderful coffeeshop called Hobbs right across from the train station, and, I stopped in there. Blast from the past; I was able to get a bottle of Stewart’s Cream Soda there-Stewarts! With my bottle, I started walking around that side of Swarthmore, remembering times and people and events from years ago. I had played coffeehouses there in the mid-1980’s. I had taught in a summer Upward Bound program for high school students from Chester for three years that took place at the college. I had gone out with a woman from Swarthmore. I had used their simply beautiful library several times. I had always liked the “old English Village” feel of the part of town across from the train station and the college, with its winding streets and Victorian architecture. Sunday was a sunny, beautiful and breezy day; the clouds overhead were stunning and wispy-stretched out with long, shapely curves. So many people of all ages were out and walking about those winding streets. I saw and spoke to a number of families out walking with their kids, including one 2 or 3 year old who was a master tantrum-tosser. He reminded me that when toddlers were upset, their whole bodies are upset: it is a total body experience. I also saw a number of older couples, including one that looked to be in their 80’s holding hands and joking as they walked along. I chatted and exchanged greetings with a number of folks of all different ages and nationalities, and by the time I caught the train back to Lansdowne to go to Jamey’s, I was in a far different frame of mind then I had been some two hours earlier. Surprise had appeared, and it had taken me to places I could not have expected or anticipated, and that I thoroughly enjoyed.

  The jam at Jamey’s was wonderful, as it usually is. The various musicians there were both fun and having fun, including the regularly appearing Carol Moog Dave Rieter, Tony TNT Jones, Jamey Riley, and Toni Washington. The brunch was delicious. But the highlight of that day for me was the magic and power of surprise. Once again it had played an incredibly quiet and powerful role in my life. Had it not appeared as it did, and had I not been open to it, who knows what mood I would have been in when I hit Jamey’s? But surprise carried me through, even in spite of myself. And when that happens, I am in a much better place. Thanks, Surprise; once again you have saved me from myself.

A couple of websites:

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Magic of Gardens

“Garden as though You will live Forever”
                                      William Kent
“The garden suggests there might be a place where humans can meet nature halfway”
                                    Michael Pollan
     It is mid-July now, and a big part of me does not like the heat, the humidity, the stickiness, and the need to often take more than one shower a day that this means. But for all of my discomfort in this weather, this is also one of my favorite times of the year. For this is the time when we can get a real sense that we have a place in the universe, and we can come alive to and witness the joy of nature around us. For this is the time the gardens all around us fully came to life and joyously announce their presence.  They reward us with all of their amazing shapes, colors, scents, and  beauty that make us love the world all over again. It is a quietly magical time.
  One of the big joys of moving from Germantown to Mt Airy in 1990 was that this house had room for a back garden. My wife loved plants and flowers, and there were pots and window boxes in our Germantown home. But Penny wanted a place where we could have a real garden, with bushes, a variety of flowers, trees, a path, and more. So our back yard in Mt Airy quickly became her place to “play in the dirt.” She was a member of the Horticultural Society, and she got ideas from their flower shows, their magazine and their neighborhood garden projects. When we went on our camping trips and vacation travel, we would always go to an arboretum or a public garden. She would see things, get ideas, bring some of the ideas home to our garden to try them out, and our garden became a lively and wondrous place. We were birders as well, and we hung thistle, suet, and sunflower seed feeders to attract a wide variety of birds. House finches, purple finches, chickadees, nuthatches, hairy and downy woodpeckers, cardinals, starlings, robins, catbirds, titmice, goldfinches and more eventually came to the yard, drawn by the colors and variety of the planting. Sitting in the yard, especially on a summer night around duck and eating BBQ became a magical ritual. Penny called it, “The Show”, and over the years The Show provided countless hours of quiet joy, peace, and spectacle.
    Penny kept trying new and different things in the garden, and it changed and expanded over time. Two of the biggest aides to that process came as a result of summer trips we took. In the late 1990’s we would go up to Wellesley island State Park, a park and camping area in upstate New York that is in the St Laurence River on the Canadian border. The park’s nature center was wonderful; they had a “Vouyager” canoe trip outing where one could follow some of the routes French fur trappers took through the area in the 17th and 18th century. I am not a great canoer, but as a history teacher this was perfect for me. I had been teaching about this part of North American history for years, and now I could follow in the footsteps of the trappers.it was a great experience. But the real joy of the nature center for us was their large and gorgeous butterfly garden. It was the first one we had been in, and it just blew our minds. It was a huge outdoor garden covered with netting and filled with flowers of all different types of colors, sizes, shapes and scents. The place was filled with hundreds of butterflies of a variety of sizes and colors that were just floating all around us as we walked through the garden. They were flittering just in front of us, occasionally landing on us, and sunning themselves on the tree stumps in the place. It was otherworldly; like being in a living dream. Penny took note of the different type of plants in the garden and asked some of the staff about how to plant and care for them. And when we got back to Philly she put in a number of those plants:Joe Pye weed, bee balm, monarda, a butterfly bush, and more. By July of the next year we were attracting dozens of butterflies, including monarchs, streaks of various colors and sizes, Admirals, swallowtails, and more. We also went to a workshop at Cape May Bird Observatory outisde of Cale May, NJ for a workshop on how to plant a garden to attract more insect pollinators including bees, beetles, moths and certain flies. Again, new plants were added and our garden became a place for more and more avian creatures. The Show was blossoming and expanding. And when we started putting out sugar nectar feeders on May 1st,  hummingbirds started to arrive by the middle of June. Just about everyone in our section of West Mount Airy gardens, so all the birds and insects could travel from house to house and garden to garden in the neighborhood,delighting the whole area. It was like having a neighborhood nature center.
      I am not nearly the gardener Penny was, but I am trying my best, with the help of a neighbor or two, to keep “The Show” intact. The garden had been cut back during Penny’s sickness last year as she could not keep up with the amount of work keeping up a gardens takes.  She was simply too weak. This year I have done some planting, trimming, watering and weeding, and it seems to be working. The variety of birds and butterflies and bees are back, and “The Show’” continues to dazzle and delight. The hummingbirds have not returned this year, though, and that saddens me. The last two winters have been hard on our two butterfly bushes; they are not blooming and are looking the worse for wear. I know they are big attractors for hummers, and I may have to remove and replace them. I have tried different nectar and sugar water formulas in the hummingbird feeders, and I even bought some commercial nectar. Nothing has worked so far.
      Still, that garden is a very special and magical place. Most mid-summer nights I am fortunate to be able to spend some time out there experiencing some of what it offers. It was hard for me at this time last year to sit out there and watch the show without Penny. It just seemed too empty and too solemn. It is easier this year, though, and I am glad for that. I can sit out in the back, look at the feeders, and sometimes feel her presence and hear her voice. Or I can just sit in a quiet, watchful silence; we could sit out there quietly and bask in the specialness of that type of place that can bring humans and nature together in such primal and sustaining ways. Thanks, Penny, for bringing The Show to our house and continually adding to it, expanding it, nurturing it and caring for it. I am so grateful for its presence in my life and to have had the opportunity to have known it with you. And thank you, gardeners everywhere, for doing your part to make us more aware of the world around us and enabling us to have a chance to meet nature halfway. That is a treasure, indeed.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Happy 200th Walt Whitman!


“And your very flesh shall be a great poem.” 

“A child said to me, “What is the grass?” How shall I answer

“I am large. I contain multitudes”

“Not I nor anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel it by yourself. It is not far, It is within reach”

                                                From Walt Whitman’s, Leaves of Grass

  As a kid I loved reading, and I loved reading all sorts of things. My mother used to ban having cereal boxes on the kitchen table during breakfasts because I would be reading the boxes and not paying attention to the other member of the family gathered at the table. But Mom loved that I loved reading, and she supported it. We had encyclopedias Mom provided, and she would regularly asked me what I had read in them that day and to read things to her from them. We also had a young person’s mini encyclopedia called. Childcraft that included volumes on science, geography, folklore, literature and more.. I devoured them, particularly the literature volumes. They were my entry into the worlds of mythology, fiction, drama and poetry. Their influence has stayed with me my entire life.

  I think of that now because this year the nation is celebrating the 200th birthday of Walt Whitman, a man many consider to be to father of a truly American poetry.  Whitman wasn’t in my Childcraft books, as I recall, but those books made me ready for him. I had memorized several poems in the Childcraft volumes, especially Henry Longfellow’s Paul Revere’s Ride and Hiawatha, and Alfred Noyes’ The Highwayman. I loved the rhyme patterns and the descriptive language in these poems; “The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas” from The Highwayman is still one of my favorite lines of poetry. These opened me up to the power and magic of words and some of the ways they could be used. So when, in my high school years, I was encountering new friends in Rittenhouse Square and the coffeehouses to which my music was taking me, I was also ready to encounter new approaches to poetry. I heard and read the Beats, including Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Le Roi Jones (later Amiri Baraka), Denise Levertov, and William Carlos Williams. I also encountered historically, spiritually, and politically centered poets and modern and surreal poets, including Gwendolyn Brooks, Charles Olson, Ishmael Reed, Kenneth Patchen, Diane di Prima, Audre Lorde, and tons more. The same Philadelphia Free Libraries that fed my insatiable curiosity for music at thi time also fed my appetite for poetry and poets. And as I read more about my favorite poets and their influences, most of them made regular and strong references to the importance of Walt Whitman and especially Leaves of Grass.

   In reading, studying about, and loving the works of all the aforementioned poets, I came over time to better understand Whitman and what he did for and gave to American thought and verse. The directness those poets feature owe a lot to his unflinching looking at himself, the places and people around him and what they not only were, but also what they could mean and be. Whitman was among the first poets to intentionally write in free, unrhymed verse, and I came[JC1]  to see that not rhyming or having a repeated rhythmic pattern in a poem could allow a writer to do and say things in ways that were more emotional, direct, and meaningful. He also delighted in the specialness of the commonplace and the ordinary. He made it clear that if we open a bit and expand our vision and our awareness, simple things, such as a leaf of grass, could “be links to much bigger and larger concepts…could, “contain multitudes.”  He also saw, named and gave space for the role so many emotional and sensual things have in our lives and being, no matter how we might want to downplay, disguise or ignore them. He saw that looking at ourselves and our world straight on and honestly could have immense value. And he wrote in a way that forced us, sometimes lovingly and sometimes intensely, to do just that. Honestly. Directly. Unflinchingly.

  I have read Leaves of Grass several times, and I will read it again this year. It is one of those works that caught me at the same time it mystified and infuriated me. It is a powerful work: one that always intrigues, arouses, confuses, angers, and calls to me. Yes, it took me some time and re-reading to get comfortable with the self-awareness, analysis, and prodding he was doing both with himself and calling on us, his readers, to do in our own lives. But each time I read it, in my twenties, thirties, forties and fifties, it rewarded me in ways I did not expect and could not have imagined at the time.  I expect it will do so again. Happy 200th birthday, Walt. Thank you for giving me the gift of you looking at yourself as one of the guides helping me to look at myself and my world. My enduring thanks to thee, and to your many and continuous offspring.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Summer Solstice

  This is the third full weekend in June, and once again the summer solstice is upon us. The seasonal cycles of nature and time continues to both repeat and to move on, taking us into another season and another series of nature’s effects. Although you would be hard pressed to recognize it from all of the rain we have been having, this solstice is all about light and sun. It is the exact opposite of the Winter Solstice, which celebrates the shortest day of the year in terms of sunlight and the longest night of the year. This official start of summer features the longest day of the year in terms of sunlight, and the shortest night. It is a day about being outside a lot, the obvious blessings of nature, continued renewal, fertility, and the promise of a good harvest. It is about the sun as a symbol of hope, growth, promise, and new beginnings.

    Celestial occurrences have always been big events in most cultures and civilizations throughout human history. As we humans are dependent on what nature presents us with, an awareness of the regular patterns of the world around, above, and beneath us are essential to our existence. Even before the invention of writing we had ways of keeping track of these events, for they were very important. Some peoples would keep a calendar of sorts between these important events: laying out rocks per day, for example, or noting the rise/ reduction in water depth in a river or changes in the lunar cycle up above. Many Greek cities used the summer solstice as the very base of their calendar; the summer solstice always marked the first day of the year. Watching the growth of flowers or crops and learning to link these developments to larger goings-on in the natural world was another way some cultures kept track of what we now call “time.” And some ancients even spent years building elaborate stone creations to track the movements of some of those objects in the sky. Stonehenge is probably the most well-known of such structures, but Minoan and Mayan temples were also built to reflect astronomical happenings. In North America Plains Native Americans built stone “medicine wheels” throughout southern Canada and Wyoming that are believed to serve the same purpose. How and what we build often reflects what we deeply believe, and the time and effort put into constructing these types of structures reflects the importance of the knowledge of the celestial to early humans. It was vital information.

   Ancient humans also met important celestial happenings with rituals: patterned, repeated activities to announce, celebrate, and/or partake in something spiritually symbolic and significant. Bonfires, dancing and music were part of summer solstice celebrations in many Northern European cultures at this time as they celebrated the longer periods of light. Roman celebrations featured the sacrifice of a newborn calf freshly removed from its mother’s womb to symbolize new beginnings. The ancient Chinese featured ritual dances, prayers and songs that celebrated the yin-the feminine in the world and fertility. Many Plains Native Americans celebrated with Sun Dances danced around sacred trees. And as one of the promises of the summer solstice is a good harvest, flower wreathes and crowns also played a part in the rituals of many cultures. Tending the crop in hopes of a good fall harvest is directly linked to the solstice.

   In today’s modern Judaeo-Christian world the summer solstice is not considered a major cause for religious celebration. We think of BBQ’s, music, sporting events and the like, devoid of religious significance, when we think of summer rituals and celebrations. In early Christianity, though, that was not the case. John the Baptist was seen as the saint or Biblical figure most connected to this celestial event. Just as the summer solstice is believed to announce the coming of maximum light, so John announced the coming of Jesus-the light that according to Christianity, rescue us from our darkness. So John was the Summer Solstice, and Jesus  the Winter Solstice-the return of more light. Judaism likewise does not pay much attention to this solstice now, but it once did. Tradition says that Joshua’s Battle at Jericho, where the sun stood still, and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden were both Summer Solstice events-God intervening in the way of the world. It makes sense that such connections would be there in the early days of both religions: monotheistic religions looking to replace polytheistic and nature based ones, would have to account in some way for the previous religions’ major beliefs. This is not needed so much any more.

  But symbolic meaning often works beneath the surface in cultures. It was no coincidence, I think, that for the longest time June and July had been the most popular months for weddings in the US. Those months have the great days of light (hope, promise, heat) hopefully leading to a good harvest (family, fertility, childbirth and an increased community). That is one way of looking at that cultural tradition. But this may be a little out of date; according to Kopf’s wedding statistics 40% of US weddings have taken place in the fall over the last ten years, and that stat continues to grow. This may well say something about our changing religious beliefs and relationships to cultural symbols in the 21st century. The old symbols may not mean the same thing they once did.

  Regardless of how our modern beliefs change or remain the same, there is not doubt that celestial happenings have a major influence on us as humans. Whether it be a ritual of flower wreaths, dancing and prayer, or simply a solstice party, or a special concert, or just simply working in the garden, we need to be in touch with what goes on around, above and beneath us. That is one of the ways we as a species make sense of this world and make our way in it. I hope you get to celebrate in some way the gloriousness of the sun, the process of the seasons, and the promise and hope of summer. Those are, to me, three of nature’s greatest gifts. Happy Solstice.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Early Days pt 2

DUKES FANS The Early Days pt 2

  This is the second installment of a little memoir piece I was moved to write after several conversations with long time and recent music- making friends looking back on our early days playing music in Philadelphia. Part 1 was in last week’s newsletter, but if you didn’t see and are interested you can read it either on our website (www.dukesofdestiny.com) or on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/dukesofdestiny)
Pt 2-The Square, Coffeehouses and Loving the Music
   The United States was undergoing rapid change on all fronts in the mid-1960’s, and Philadelphia was no exception. The so-called “generation gap” had hit, and everything from clothes to music to media to politics and more was changing and being challenged. The Civil Right Movement and the Anti-Vietnam War movements brought marches, demonstrations and petition signing into the public. “Hippies” and longhairs were seemingly coming out of the woodwork with their long hair, denim jackets, blue jeans, and tee shirts with political and/or rude comments on them. The Black Power Movement saw many blacks wearing their hair natural rather than straightening it. Political buttons, peace symbols, drug use, music, and more clearly marked new social and political delineations in the country. The clear line of behavior that people thought of as emblematic of the 1950’s was more and more being challenged and replaced by what many people came to see as a “movement” toward more freedom loving lifestyle. Movements need their own places, and they need their own soundtrack. In mid-196o’s Philadelphia, Center City’s Rittenhouse Square provided some of both.
   Located between 18 and 19th Streets and Locust and Walnut Streets, the Square became the hub of a rising new social and musical scene, a place where all types of people gathered, from chess players and poets to musicians, political activists, and pot smokers. It was a place to hang out and talk politics or art, and most importantly, to play music. Guitarists, flute players, harp players, and more were there from the late afternoons into the evening most days. Jamming happened on a regular basis. A truly magical and vibrant musical scene grew up around the Square, and I was privileged to have been involved with it.  It was here through the late 1960’s and early 1970’s that I started playing seriously, and I met some wonderful musicians. Hanging around the Square I got to hang with a number of great harp players including a young Steve Guyger, Richard Johnson, later from Philly Gumbo, Dave Lowenstein, Saul Brody, and others There were also a  number of great guitarists I jammed and traded licks with, and playing with them was how I started to learn what it meant to play WITH someone  and accompany rather than constantly soloing. The Square, then, was my” training ground” as well as one of my first “stages.” It put me in touch with an incredible network of aspiring and established musicians. And I was continuing to improve.

  During these times there were a slew of small coffeehouses that magically sprang up in different neighborhoods all around the city.  Churches were losing young congregants, and I think many of them, especially Episcopal churches for some reason, thought providing coffeehouses could draw some young people back to church. The Episcopal Church at Lincoln Drive and Carpenter Lane in Mt Airy had a weekly Saturday night coffeehouse where many young people held mini-concerts, poetry readings, jams and sing along. St. Mary’s Episcopal in West Philly on the Penn campus also had a regular coffeehouse where I sat in with other young musicians on a regular basis.. (That later became the site of the Cherry Tree Folk Club). Diane Bryman’s carpet store in Chestnut Hill had a coffeehouse on the second floor, which was where I actually got an early paying gig ($15.00). These were places where I hung out with and met a lot of musicians, and most importantly, had countless opportunities to play and jam. Yes, I made a whole slew of mistakes and errors. But I was playing continually, and that is the only way to learn music. And it was playing in these venues where I gained a lot of valuable experience, improved as a player, and learned to be a performer.

    The other thing I needed in my early days was chances to see real musicians in action, and Philadelphia provided that. The city had had an established folk music scene before the 1960’s, and it provided places where I got to hear, see and even meet some of my musical heroes. The Glided Cage was on 21st Street. Run by Ed and Esther Halpern, the Cage was a restaurant and coffeehouse where I got to hear both local musicians and national acts. I got to hear folks such as Dave Van Ronk, and  Buffy St. Marie, and it was where I first had French Onion soup (smile). It expanded both my social land musical scenes.

   The 2nd Fret was another place that was a staple of the Philadelphia scene. Located at 1902 Sansom Street and owned and operated by Manny Rubin, it was a place that featured different types of folk music including plenty of blues. I saw Sonny Terry and Brownie Mc Ghee there at least twice, and they even recorded an LP there. I saw Skip James there several times, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mississippi John Hurt, and James Cotton, who gave me a  couple of harp lessons. Around the corner from the Fret was the Guitar Workshop a great music store and guitar school the featured legendary Philadelphia guitarist Jerry Ricks among its teachers. If you knew some of the Workshop folks, you could hang out there and meet several musicians who were playing the Fret when they came in for supplies and/or just to hang out. Out in Bryn Mawr was the Main Point, a club that, like the Fret, included a diverse lineup of performers. I somehow got money together to go to these places, heard, met and jammed with some of my favorite musicians, and kept growing as a harp player. They encouraged me, gave me tips, and fed my insatiable musical appetite. And by the mid 1970’s I thought of myself as a harp player. Yes, I was a bank teller, a security guard, a broommaker, and eventually a teacher as well. But through it all, I was also a maker of music; I was a musician.

   I’ve rarely been a full-time musician-I tried that for two years and decided that I liked being able to eat and pay rent regularly. But I defined myself as a musician by the early 1970’s, and I have been one ever since. I am grateful for the music scene in Philly during the mid-late 1960’s and early 70’s and the experiences with which it presented me. It was a time of learning, experimentation, new experiences and growth as both a musician and as a person. Had I not been at that place a that time, who knows what might have happened?? As it was I had a wonderful first step on what has been a long lasting and major part of my life. I would not have had it any other way.

 (The Philly folk and rock music scene exploded by the mid-1970’s.There were clubs on Walnut and Sansom Streets by 1968: Artemis and the 2nd of Autumn on Sansom Street, and The Artist’ Hut and The Magic Theater on Walnut. Clubs also opened in different neighborhoods as well with Grendel’s Lair and World Control Studies in Germantown, and the Trauma and Electric Factory north of Center City. A number of players who later became nationally known musicians emerged from the area at the time: Jim Croce, Todd Rungren, Daryll Hall, John Oates, and  Steve Guyger among them. Here are a couple of sites that look back at that scene:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/375736975851565/ (2nd Fret)