Race Unity Day in Las Cruces

We spent Saturday setting up, hosting, and cleaning up a Pot Luck Picnic at Veterans’ Park here in Las Cruces. The purpose was to commemorate Race Unity Day, established in 1957 by the Baha’i Faith in the USA.  There was only a small turn-out, but those who came were sincerely committed to establishing and promoting unity among the diverse peoples of our city.  I learned some good things from them. The one that really stuck with me was a line that a life-long Las Cruces resident named Inez shared.  We were talking about how it was up to us to teach our children and grandchildren to TEACH unity.  It’s not enough to be prejudice-free.  We need to teach that through action and show others how to teach it through action.  Inez said that her grandmother used to say, regarding children,  “It’s not what you leave (for) them, it’s what you leave IN them”.  I sure do like that.

Although I was prepared to set up a P.A., the small crowd really didn’t need the amplification, so I did a few tunes “unplugged” as it were.

The crowd, being mostly older folks, kind of ran out of steam before the end of our third hour (98-degree heat) and so, we packed it up a bit early.  After we returned home, I received a call from someone who had mentioned that his friend had gone to the park, but saw no one. I guess we should have waited a bit longer.  The caller said they had read my letter to the editor and being veterans, had decided it was worth a visit. That was good to hear.   Below is the text of the opening lines my letter:

“To the Editor:
As a veteran, I remember fondly the many people of different races with whom I served our country. Those Americans came from all backgrounds and circumstances. Their friendship helped me overcome the faulty training of “us and them” with the unifying reality of “oneness” that binds us all as humans. We are all of the one human race.”

It was followed of course by an invitation to all to join us in Veterans’ Park.  Inez told me it was my letter that moved her to attend. I’m so glad she did.  And it was delightful to meet Shirely from Las Cruces, and Pat who drove from Demming  as well. And I want to thank our friend Kris for coming over to our house both before and after the picnic to help us load and unload the truck. I’m not as physically resilient as I once was.

Overall, it was a good experience and one that we will likely do again next year during the second weekend in June. There may be Race Unity Day observances that same weekend where you live. Check it out!

///Darrell
Darrell Elmer Rodgers
Singer, Songwriter, Performer, Humorist

 

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Folk Festival reflections

Michael Parker (drums) Rick Heyman (bass)

First off, I love my band mates. These two guys just make my songs come alive and I so enjoy performing with them.  While driving four hours to rehearse was a bit grueling, the fun of working out arrangements with Rick Heyman and Michael Parker was invigorating.  It has been like that for these past nine years and I look forward to every session. Now if I can figure out how to get them into the studio….

Well, secondly, the Folk Festival is a remarkable event in Tucson. Think of it: Five stages, over 100 acts, for about 10 hours a day for TWO DAYS, in the heart of the city, ALL FREE to the Public.  It is amazing that such a professional show-of-shows can be executed each year by a team of volunteers.  From their humble beginnings around a kitchen table 32 years ago, the Tucson Kitchen Musicians Association has turned into a fantastic organization and a real credit to the City of Tucson.

Next, I’m blown away by the talent of the many friends I have made there over the years.  Here are some photos of just a few of the musicians I so admire:

The John Coinman Band

John Coinman, one of the nicest men you’ll ever meet, is a hell of a songwriter and composer. His band mates are outstanding. Blair Forward (bass) and Larry Cobb (drums) have been playing with John for years. Neal Harry (whom we call the “Jimi Hendrix of Pedal Steel”) is a superb addition we get to enjoy in Tucson.

Don Armstrong and the Whiskeypalians

Don Armstrong often performs solo. He and his late wife Victoria have written some of the most beautiful songs you’ll ever hear and Don still sings them wonderfully.  We were lucky to have him joined by his many stellar musician friends this year. It turned out to be too difficult for me to get them all in a single photo.  On the left is Nick Coventry on fiddle, hidden from view is Michael Ronstadt on cello, that’s Michael Markowitz on Mandolin, Don Armstrong (leaning with guitar) Slim Rost on bass, Gary Mackender and Alvin Blaine on Dobro (and anything else handy). Behind Don, blocked from view, is Jim Lipson providing percussion.  Jim is the prime-mover of the Tucson Folk Festival.  All of these guys are TOP-NOTCH musicians with many years of performing experience.  I was EmCee for this stage and told the audience they had just seen over 300 years of performance experience and 50 of those were Don’s.

Heather Hardy making folks dance

Heather “li’l mama” Hardy and her band have a way of bringing the audience to their feet.  In fact, it happens every time. That’s bassist Larry Lerma in the straw hat – the keeper of the groove.

Young Elizabeth Tighe (pronounced “tie”), who surprisingly is only 16, got some strong back up this year from “I Hear Voices” singers Suzy Ronstadt and Bobby Kimmel and Bobby Ronstadt on accordion, Michael Ronstadt (again) on cello, Michael Markowitz on Mandolin and Tom Potter on percussion.

Elizabeth Tighe with some strong support

She did a cover of Linda Ronstadt’s “Your No Good” with all those Ronstadts and Bobby Kimmel (founder of the Stone Poneys) backing her up. Delightful.

Jim Pipkin with Cliff Cordes

There’s way too much to cover in one post but I want to tell you that my friend Jim Pipkin (aka Jim Gahar) opened the festival in fine form with accompaniment on harmonica by Cliff Cordes. Jim writes story songs that paint pictures in your mind.

And my friend Eric Ramsey, possibly the best slide-blues player in Arizona right now, won the 2017 Stefan George Memorial Songwriting Contest.  One of his two entries was a tribute to Stephan George (another friend we lost in 2015).

Eric Ramsey on Slide

Eric also gave a workshop on slide guitar that I was able to attend. I don’t know that I learned what he taught, but I sure enjoyed the session!

There were of course many many more friends performing but it would take too many pages to mention them all. I heard some really good home grown music and provided some of it myself. And what more can one festival performer ask for?

Next year!

 

///Darrell
Darrell Elmer Rodgers
Singer, Songwriter, Performer, Humorist
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Another GREAT festival in Tucson

I so enjoyed performing with my band-mates on Saturday!  We had a great time AND delivered a good set six of new songs, and one old one. Because the act before us finished a bit early, we were able to be set-up and ready to go at the stoke of 1:30 PM. We finished the new songs and realized we had more time to fill, so I explained to the audience about how that was the 28th anniversary of my father’s passing at age 63 – the same age I am now – and how one of his favorite songs to sing-along with was, ironically, “When I’m 64” by the Beatles (ironic, since he didn’t make it to 64).  The audience then graciously joined me in singing the last two lines: “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty four?”

We finished with “Snuggle Up to my Good Side, Baby” (my baby-boomer generation love song), and all was right with the world.  Well, except for my sweet daughter Rachel, who lost her Grandfather just 2 weeks before her 7th birthday.  Now 35 (in 2 weeks) and a mother of two, she got a little teary.  But then, so did I.

Here are some photos taken by my dear Bride:

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Tucson Folk Festival is Tomorrow!

Saturday, 6 May 2017, 1:30 PM, on the Museum of Art Stage – Be there to see me and the band perform a set of new songs!

The rough part will be telling folks that only a couple of the new songs are available for download as three have not yet been recorded (except on video) or produced.  Oh well. It will come when the money and time show up.

One personal note: I’m dedicating my performance to my Dad who passed away on 6 May 1989, 28 years ago.  He was 63.  I am now 63.  My birthday is 4 days after his. That means, if I live past next Wednesday, I will have been alive on this Earth longer than my old man. That’s a bit mystically disturbing to me.  Come next Thursday, I lose my preferred example of how to grow old, because he never did.

I hope he enjoys the show!

 

///Darrell
Darrell Elmer Rodgers
Singer, Songwriter, Performer, Humorist
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Three Weeks Away! Tucson Folk Festival!

The 32nd Annual Tucson Folk Festival!  Come see me and the TRIO at 1:30 PM on Saturday, May 6th!  We’ll be performing some of my newer songs.  IT’S FREE! 2 Days of Music across FIVE stages!  Plan to spend the weekend having a BLAST!

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Rehearsal-Reunion in Tucson

Katie got the Box (Emily got a guitar)

This past weekend, I made a trip to AZ along with my bride. We visited our Grand Daughters (and their parents of course), I played a show in Scottsdale with a number of friends (including the great Jim Pipkin), and reunited with my Trio-mates for a rehearsal of some newer songs they had never played with me.

I must say, even though it’s been quite a while since we last played together, within 2 hours, we back in the groove!  Michael Parker hadn’t even played his drums much in the past year, but he hasn’t lost a step. And it had been 2 years since we performed with Rick Heyman our bassist.  He missed last year’s Folk Festival to attend his brother’s wedding. (Thank God for Phil Anderson who filled in superbly!)

I shouldn’t be surprised. This will be our ninth year at the Tucson Folk Festival  and with the time we spent performing together through the years, these two guys can read me like a book.

I will be driving over to Tucson for a couple  more rehearsals before the Festival, and I am confident we will provide a worthy set. It will include a couple tunes that are a musical departure from most everything I’ve done before. Please come see us on the Museum of Art Stage, on Saturday, 6 May 2017, at 1:30 PM.

///Darrell
Darrell Elmer Rodgers
Singer, Songwriter, Performer, Humorist
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Happy Naw Ruz! and new beginings

Happy Naw Ruz to all my Baha’i friends! Happy Vernal Equinox to everyone!

For thousands of years the Vernal Equinox has been regarded, by many past and present cultures, as the start of a New Year. And why not? It’s the first day of Spring (even though it doesn’t look that way in some places right now) and that alone ushers in a new growing season with the promise of abundance.

For Baha’is, it’s a religious thing, somewhat like it was for Zoroastrians in ancient Persia. In fact, in Iran, it’s celebrated as a cultural holiday with a number of traditions kept from those ancient days of Persia.  For Baha’is it marks the end of our 19-day fast and the start of a new year.

This year’s fast ended with a triple-play for me. I completed the fast, I completed my taxes, and on Friday, we completed the sale of our house in Casa Grande.  After 6 months on the market and one failed buyer, we accepted a cash offer from a buyer who sold his house in California to retire in Arizona (makes sense to me).  Because it was cash, no lengthy bank processes stood in the way and we closed quickly. So today, I am free of a double bills and on the road to financial recovery, It truly is a New Day (Naw Ruz)!

 

///Darrell
Darrell Elmer Rodgers
Singer, Songwriter, Performer, Humorist
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