50 Some Odd Years

There’s been a guitar – or two – in my life for a half a century.

On a weekend visit from college in the late sixties my big brother brought home the first guitar I had ever handled. He could tell I really liked it. A couple of years later he gave me that guitar!

These kinds of drawings are so weird. I started it with a left hand on a fretboard and no idea of how it would unfold or where it would go. It’s done now, waiting in my camera roll for me to insert it into this post; and now my heart is overflowing with emotional memories.

My brother was a central, nearly heroic figure for me throughout the first ten years of my life; actually, that hasn’t changed. Back then, by the time my periscope was up high enough for me to appreciate him as my brother, he was already making plans to go off to college; oh, and this devastated me. I remember an exchange we had one evening in the nearby church parking lot while shooting hoops. As he outlined some of the highlights of this plan, the football scholarship, the name and location of the university, and so on, I burst in tears and tried my best to put into words why this was all so unacceptable. Looking back, I knew he understood because he found a way to help me understand how I could manage without him between visits home and why it was the right move for him to make at that time in his life.

So when he gave me that guitar, he gave me a part of his heart that has been a part of my heart for fifty some odd years…and counting.

Made with Paper by Firth Three on an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil



Not long ago I poked fun at Sawyer by comparing him to Cousin It from the old TV series, the Addams Family, but that was based on his beautiful hair. I mentioned in that post that I liked him, meaning, I like his voice, his style, and so forth, pretty much the whole package. Since he was chosen as this year’s Voice, I thought I would treat him with the respect he deserves.

This was the photo I used as a reference to render a freehand drawing in Procreate.

T Minus 599

Click on the arrow in the orange circle, and I’ll play T Minus 599 for you.

What’s this about? I already posted the accompanying image, along with others, around Thanksgiving (2014), and the music is an original tune that I gathered into a single unit and uploaded to SoundCloud today.

See I’m gathering stuff up for a yard sale because we’re moving in about a month, transitioning back to home owners from being renters since 2008. Our new place is almost three miles miles from here. If we could take the Parsons Ave. Ferry, it would be around two and a half miles!

Jorma Kaukonen: The Secret Is in the Thumb

When we lived in Athens, OH, we were right up the road from the Fur Peace Ranch, where Jorma Kaukonen and other extraordinary maestros take beginner-, intermediate-, advanced-, and master-guitar players and move them along to their next levels over the course of a few jam-packed days, breaking now and then to strap on the gourmet feed bag, in a down-home, country retreat setting. It’s much more than a guitar camp, check it out.

Ann got so tired of hearing me play the same old stuff that she secretly registered me for a weekend at the Ranch! That was back in the late 1990s.

There were folks from all over the country, mostly good, some great guitar players!

One thing Jorma said about finger picking that I’ll never forget, “The secret is in the thumb!”

How true! How true! Fortunately, I learned a few things that have made an enduring difference.

What brought back this memory? I saw a Facebook post that the short documentary, Fur Peace Ranch: It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This!, has been selected for a screening at the New Jersey Film Festival on Saturday, January 31, 2015! Check out the preview.



(photo credit: Barry Berenson) for side-by-side, freehand drawing in Procreate.

Click here for an accelerated (24 sec.) progress video of the iPad drawing.

Also, check out this piece on the Fur Peace Rance.

Leadership Strings Attached

Back in May of 2011 a colleague hosted a party in Clarinda, Iowa, which as I look back, was without a doubt the highlight of my Leadership Iowa experience, Class of 2010-11, Best Class Ever. I won’t name any names; folks’ll know who’s who, if there’s any knowing needed.  Suffice it to say that the host invited a couple of exceptional guitar players, and another classmate and I brought along our guitars. It was a real treat to play along with them; the rest is history as long as we’re talking about unrecorded history, those tunes went up into the nighttime sky like incense smoke never to be collected or confined.


On a related and completely ironic note, what prompted me to drag out this fond memory, and I’ll include the photo below that helped refresh my memory, was an accidental discovery that had happened earlier this afternoon on my Roland GR-20/G&L S-500 guitar set up. I was using a midi connection, something I usually don’t do, and stumbled into a setting that enabled a visual display of the musical notation set in motion by the synthesized, guitar-driven signals.  I videotaped a snippet of that before it went up like incense smoke.

The photo: