Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Early In The Morning

 

DUKES FANS:   

   “Come see me early in the morning, Baby 'bout the break of day...”    
               Numerous blues songs  
 

THE BEAUTY OF THE EARLY MORN 
 

   We have had some gorgeous weather these last few days. It almost always seems as if harsh, stormy weather is followed by days of incredible beauty and clarity with great skies and wonderful cloud patterns.  It has not been too hot and humid, and there have been some nice breezes. I have enjoyed these last few days and their peace and beauty. And for me, being able to notice and enjoy all of this always starts with me being out in the morning.   

    I am a morning person. Even though I have been retired from teaching since 2015, most days still find me up at 5 or 5:30 and out of the house within a half hour of waking up. It is simply what I do and need to do. I am better most days when I encounter the day as it is coming into being. Morning is a magic time for me, and I meet it best by early morning walking. I do not walk for as long as I was when I was younger, of course, but it is still important for me to walk early in the morning. I love the quiet and the calm that is so often there. There is little traffic, not a lot of people are out, and the world seems more navigable and peaceful. My thoughts seem clearer, and the rhythm of walking puts me in a different space. I seem to be able to notice things in the morning that I often do not notice at other times. I also often think thoughts that do not seem to come at other times. If I have been jammed up about something or worrying, morning walks usually help me work things out. It is not quite meditative, but walking in the morning often helps me.   
 

   Another thing I love about the morning is the changing light and the skies. Cloud patterns, seeing the moon still in the sky, moving shadows, the streaks the sun makes as it rises and shines through the clouds-all of these are things that both soothe me and make me marvel. Daylight Savings Time is still around, so it is slowly becoming darker at 6 AM than it has been for the last few months. And as we move through this part of the year, the sky is a little different each day. So if I am looking up and being aware, I can get a new treat each day. Watching the day come into being never gets boring for me.   

 Mornings are special to me; they hold promise and hope and quiet joy and comfort. Being out and about in the morning helps me ease into the day rather than being jolted into it. And if I let myself ease into the day, I usually have a better one.  Morning is a magic time for me, and I meet it best by walking.  

HURRICANE IDA  

We are, of course, holding those of you who are still recovering from the damages of Hurricane Ida in the light; it was an incredibly damaging and scary storm that wreaked havoc on a wide swath of the tri-state area and beyond. I do hope that your recovery processes are going as well as can be expected and that you are finding the help and support you need. Here is a link to Federal information:  


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Sunday, September 5, 2021

The Joy of Being a "Local"

 

DUKES FANS:     

“The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back.” Wendy Wunder” 

      

THE JOYS OF BEING “LOCAL” 

    It is mid-August and the heat of a Philadelphia summer is making itself felt. I grew up in Philadelphia, so I am well acquainted with the way August in Philly can feel. As a young kid I liked it; running around the neighborhood playing ball, getting good and sweaty, swigging root beers and iced teas and feeling that all that heat and sweat meant I was enjoying all of life and being a hard-working little man. As I got older, of course, the heat and sweat started to wear on me more and more, and I eventually came to not like it. Getting out of the city during parts of August became an important part of my plans. When I married Penny, who also liked to camp and hike and birdwatch, we were both into spending a few weeks from the middle-to the end of August in upstate New York or New England and eventually Canada. We did this for most of our married life, and it was wonderful. 


    While I have always loved traveling, I am very fortunate in that I have also always loved being from and living in Philadelphia. Returning home from our trips was never a sad thing. I love Philly. I love the green of the city, the different neighborhoods that each have their own feel, looks, vibes and smells, and I love the walkability of this place. So coming back home after a vacation trip was not a “loss” or a “letdown” in any real way. Yes, returning home meant less hiking and birding, no tent camping and less hearing new music. But it also meant that I was in a place I am glad to call “home."


   I am thinking about because I have been feeling reflective of late, and I am realizing in a deeper way how grateful I am to be a “local” musician. I have done some traveling playing music, although not as much as I would have liked, and I always enjoy it. Through music I have gotten to see some places I probably never would have seen otherwise:Missouri and Oklahoma. Rochester, Syracuse, and Buffalo NY. Winchester, KC and Wichita, Kansas. Lancaster, Harrisburg, Penn State, and Pittsburgh, PA. And more. But this past month of playing has made me really appreciate being a part of the local Philly music scene and having all of the connections and roots that I have established here. It is people and places that matter the most to me, especially as I am older, and the gigs of the last three months have made that abundantly clear.


   The Dukes’ first two gigs this year were at Drexel Lodge in Delaware County and Kahn Park in Center City. They were both wonderful experiences. At Drexel Lodge people who hear us regularly at the Mermaid Inn came out, and it was so good to see them and to talk after 18 months of being away from them. The Mermaid is a place we have played at for decades; it is our “home away from home.”  And these are folks who I have come to know and dance with and share stories with and laugh with over all those years. Seeing them at our first gig after such a long layoff was a great surprise,and it filled me with joy. 


     Likewise, the Kahn Park gig was also a homecoming of sorts. I lived near Kahn Park for 9 years during the late 70’s and early 80’s. And at that gig there were a couple of folks with whom I used to hang out with way back then. There were also Mermaid folks, a former colleague, spouses of colleagues, and ex-students from my long teaching career in the area. Our soundman at that gig was Mike Blair, someone I have known since the late 1960’s when he was part of a coffeehouse I played at when I was just starting out. So there were aspects of my whole 50+ year musical career and my 40-year teaching career right in front of me. It hit me not just how long I had been playing and working in Philly, but also how many wonderful people and places I have known and how many meaningful and amazing experiences I have had during that stretch of time. Casn you say, "grateful'??


  This was also apparent with the Two John’s gigs over the last month or so. We played a couple of places we had never played before, and old friends showed up to make those gigs special as well. At the Stone House in Kimberton, PA Marc Grossman, an original Duke, and his wife, Amy, came out, and they brought some longtime friends of theirs.  The atmosphere and vibe was immediately set, and it was great playing and great fun. At the Attic Brewery, a great space in a re-purposed big Germantown factory and warehouse, Dave, a Dukes’ newsletter follower, and some of his friends and family showed up. As did a friend who had been part of a harmonica player’s group I used to be a part of over a decade ago. And he presented me with an original Hohner Marine Band harmonica from the 1930’s! Again, the playing itself was wonderful, but the presence and warmth of those folks made it extra-special. 


  So I, indeed, love being a local musician. There is tremendous joy playing anywhere and at any time, but playing in front of friends and people who I know from different contexts and who have known me for a long time brings a special feel-a magic of connection. I am grateful to have been here in Philly for all of these years; to have had so many fulfilling experiences and to have met so many outstanding people is a blessing indeed. Thanks so much to all of you for being fans, friends, colleagues, and more. And for bringing all of your spirit and energy to the gigs. It truly makes being a musician here an incredible experience. Thank you!!

Saturday, July 31, 2021

 

DUKES FANS        

“That’s life; in the big city;  

That’s the way it is, in the big town”  

      That’s  Life in the Big City: David K  

   As many of you know, I am a city guy. I love cities and what they do and make possible and offer and allow. Yes, I love camping, and yes, I love forests and streams and mountains and lakes. But I am at home in the city, and whether it is Philly, New York, Santa Fe, Toronto or Kingston, ON, or Wichita,, KS. I have always loved walking in different areas of cities, visiting museums, taking public transit, looking up at downtown buildings, and walking down curvy, winding streets. I have always treasured cities as places where so many of the positive and negative aspects of civilization are boldly and clearly on display. In every city there are special places such as The Ben Franklin Parkway and Fairmount Park in Philly, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park in NYC, and so many other wonderful places in each and every urban area. I love cities.  

    In some cities they are working out ways to put mini-forests in parks 

  downtown and in city neighborhoods. This is a way to bring abandoned 

 lands back into use, cut pollution, and more.  It started in Asia, spread to 

Europe, and some American cities are exploring this idea as well. In other cities they are looking at how to re-evaluate streets and how they work, and then trying to re-design them to serve the people of the city better. The idea is to make cities more pedestrian centered and less car centered. And there are urban planners who are looking at cities through different lenses. They are trying to involve everyone in imagining how to design cities, even kids. And they are trying new ways of trying to revive older cities and give them a new way of entering the new world. I love thinking about the possibilities and seeing some of them work out.  

  I think of cities as places for innovations in both large and small ways. I see them as places where different conceptions of what it means to be a member of a society can meet, interact and make for positive change. Below are some links to some of the articles I have been reading. I find them intriguing and interesting. And I look forward to some of them playing out in Philadelphia soon.