Steve Madewell

Pedestrian Ramblings

I just took a day off of work. Yes it was an “Honest to God” day off. Well after I went in for two hours. But still I bought and installed a bike rack went to a movie. So I think this day counts as personal time. Whoa, don’t get too crazy. It has been a blitzkrieg of a year and I really haven’t had much time to do any thing beyond taking one step at a time. That being said there have been some very good moments so far this summer. Although I didn’t have time to do any promotion this year I have had several gigs at venues that I have always enjoyed. They either called me or held dates for me including the Lake House, the Old Fire House, several house concerts and that sort of thing. One of the most enjoyable was a return to the Burning River Fest. This worked out great as a gang from Western College of Miami came into town and we all had a big time of it, including the after party gig at Zocalo’s on east fourth. Big fun had by all and I am still recovering.
Let's see, Work has been exceptionally busy. Gigs have been a great diversion and great fun. Eating some watermelon after the first Zocalo's gig and having an adult beverage. Life is good.

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March 2nd, MJ and I drove down to the Pittsburg area to do a show with Tom Breiding and Sara Mcquaid.

I met Tom last year at the Barking Spider where I was doing the early show with Bruce the Bassman.

Tom invited me to open up for Sara Mcquaid and after listening to Tom's show I was sure I wanted to do it.

I was certainly glad I did.

Not only did Tom treat us to dinner he also turned us on to a great music place, Cefalo's!

Cefalo's is old Church that has been converted into a wonderful space for music and dinner.

To top it off Sara was wonderful.

While the crowd was a little light, everyone had a great time.

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Had great time in New York City a few weeks back.

In addition to seeing Stephanie and Sean in there new digs and having lunch with my old college roomie, Sean and I went knocking around one day.

We were able to take in Chelsea guitars where a couple snobbish kids reminded me that all the guitars hanging on the walls were expensive. So much for buying that '63 rosewood neck sunburst strat to replace the one I used to have from those guys. However I did discover the mose wonderful Music Inn right in the village. What a sweet store.

Reminded me of my mind. Cluttered up with all sorts of things... Items with great potential, some clearly broken, and some that I have no idea what they are or might be. The guys that were working down the basement have been building electric sarods, which are very cool fretless mideastern instruments.

They also had a very cool software package that they had developed to bring out all of the overtones and sympathic scales. And if that isn't enough they had a huge collection of singing bowls and all sorts of hand percussion stuff. It is on the return to NYC to do list. All and all the city was wonderfully vibrant and full of good energy.

I'm in.

Actually my flying squirrel trapping was all confined to the barn attic so there isn’t much involved there in keeping warm other than poking up the stove. And if you don't know what I am talking about you should sign up for my emails! I have a fair number of people ask me about how I keep warm while I am poking about outside, so here we go. I put together just a few observations that might be handy if keeping warm in the winter is an issue for you and if not…. Well gee I don’t expect you’ll get much out of this. In January I was deer hunting and it was 11 below zero. It wasn’t that cold when I left my house but by golly it was when I got to where I was going. I have to admit I wasn’t properly prepared and it was not only close to miserable but could have easily been dangerous. I was generally OK except I didn’t have proper hand and face protection, which can be a big deal when it comes to little things like frost bite and comfort. I should have had a heavier hat, face mask or scarf and a heavy set of mittens or multilayered gloves. I actually did have those things nicely stored in a backpack in my brother in laws’ truck… Good move. Compared to most folks I spend a considerable amount of time outdoors and when I am out often times it is in fairly extreme conditions. Consider the situation I mentioned above or things like steelhead fishing, which involves standing around in cold moving water between the months of October and April. Not so bad in October and April, it’s those time in the middle! Anyhow my dear friend Lisa was one of the several folks who I have shared some “how to keep warm advice” with this year and I thought why not just put something on the page about it. Lisa was specifically asking about keeping her hands warm, and doing so in a practical and cost effective manner. When ever possible I am all about practicality and cost. I am a big fan of wool glove liners. You can buy these at army navy surplus stores and by their selves they do have utility but put them inside a larger glove as a shell and you are on to something. The liners are really in expensive and any leather or canvass/leather work glove will work as a shell. Of course there are all manner of shell/liner combinations available if you don’t mind plunking down the cash to buy them and some work better than others, but it is hard to beat the above for cost and effectiveness. You can also cut the fingertips out of this wool liner and make in expensive fingerless gloves too and for fishing this is pretty handy. Again there are all manner of fishing gloves available but if your looking to go on the cheap those wool liners are great. I am not going to get into the “how this stuff works” unless you email me and really want to know but here goes the rest of the way I get ready for the out of doors. Base Layers Most people are aware of the notion of layering clothing but not everybody really gets it. One of the most important components of my winter wardrobe is my base layer, and when I say winter I mean late fall through mid spring. It is a rare day during this period that I do not have on Patagonia Capilene tops and bottoms. The Cap 1 or what they used to call silk weight is simply great. While the newer stuff isn’t as slinky as the original silk weights it is still really nice. It is not cheap but what a difference it makes. There are a number of companies making light weight base layers and often times you can find this stuff at discount outlets like Marshalls. The key is to start thin and get bulkier then add a shell. So it all starts with a silky base layer as the foundation (and that includes liner socks too) and after that I get bulky. Fleece God what did we do before fleece? I wear fleece all the time. And there are all kinds of fleece out there. What I have discovered is if you have good base layer, even inexpensive fleece is greatly enhanced. It is not worth a darn in the wind unless like some of the higher end fleece it incorporates a windproof inner layer. Most fleece have doesn’t have wind guard and that is why an outer shell is very important. When I am steelhead fishing I generally have a layer of fleece, pants and pull over, over my capilene. I have on waders as a shell and a short rain jacket as an upper shell. If I am hunting I generally have wool or heavy canvass pants on over my capilene bottoms and they serve as a shell. And my upper shell depends entirely on what kind of hunting I am doing. If I am sitting still and it is really cold I use a muti-layer parka that basically consists of a big wind and waterproof shell over a down parka. If it isn’t that cold or I am going to be walking a fair amount I have a water and wind resistant shell that goes over a fleece of work shirt. Boots…. That is another story.
Time Passages. People mark the passage of time in a number of different ways, birthdays, seasons and holidays and of course the beginning of a new calendar year. Happy New Year by the way. The first time I went deer hunting I was 13. Pop and Uncle Marvin had been going to the border of Pike and Jackson counties for a couple years and they decided that my cousin Keith and I were old enough to come along. We borrowed someone’s camper and had a great time. And so that adventure began and believe me there are more that a few hilarious stories associated with some of those trips. The first few years that I went I was surely a hindrance to Pop’s hunting. He had to keep an eye on me making sure I didn’t get “turned around in the woods”, which is the Madewell term for slightly lost. He was generally concerned about me keeping warm, dry and having enough to eat. You can go on a hunting trip with someone but it is not the same as hunting with someone. Hunting with someone is a partnership. In my early years in the field I didn’t have a clue what this really meant but I am sure that I really wasn’t much of a partner. As time progressed I became surer of myself in the deer woods as I also began to physically mature finding strength and confidence and all those attributes that often come with young adulthood. Somehow there was a passage of time and suddenly I found myself keeping an eye on Pop. He was slowing down a bit and I found myself doing more and more of the simple things around our camp like lighting a Coleman lantern because he couldn’t see the hole to put the match in. But I would also slow myself down to keep pace with him while we were hunting. Of course on occasions this was more than a bit frustrating and I was oblivious to the fact that just a few years earlier the roles were reversed and it was he that was altering his preferred hunting plans to accommodate my abilities. As time continues to pass I can say that all and all Pop and I have had many good hunting trips with countless memories and a sea of faces of relatives and friends that have jointed us somewhere along the way. This included my son and son in law and nephew who are all fine hunters and strong young men. It was always a great pleasure to tell them to help their Grandpa drag his deer back to camp. This was the first year Dad didn’t go deer hunting in 42 years. Some family concerns and sever arthritis in his right hand convinced him that he should stay close to Mom. But this wasn’t the only mile marker that occurred this year. My son Phil is at the point where he is physically in the prime of his life is an avid hunter and has a remarkable set of shooting skills. This deer season Philip passed up a shot at a huge buck and allowed the deer to walk past him to come to me. The long story short is I missed it. For many years I enjoyed a reputation of being a deadly shot and have certainly had my share of good fortune in this regard. However in the past few years shifts in my vision and physical condition have resulted in a world that is not quite a clear and not nearly as steady. And while it was a remarkable deer that I missed it was an even larger gift that Philip gave acknowledging another passage of time.
Last night MJ and I went down to the Rock Hall’s “Kozmic Blues: the Life and Music of Janis Joplin” Tribute Concert. The folks at the Rock Hall hit a homer. I have been to Rock Hall Tribute shows and I can tell you they are a great time. Last night’s show featured a great line up of performers and some wonderful video clips including a very touching interview with Kristofferson regarding the day he was told about Janet’s death. This coincided with the conclusion of the final mixing from the recording of Bobby McGee. The whole show was really enjoyable including the sound and production. Nice job Robby! The house band was great and the guitarist embraced and played with a tremendous array of tones fitting each performer and each representative tune from across Janis’ career. My appreciation of her art and performance goes back to the late 60’s, so last night was a real treat. I recall hearing Combination of the 2 and Piece of My Heart on the radio while riding around with my older brothers. And for years did a version of Summer Time that was more inspired by Janis than the musical, and I haven’t even a clue how many times I have sang or backed someone up who was singing Bobby McGee. For me the highlights of the show were Susan Tedeschi and Carolyn Wonderland. Both of these ladies are smoking guitarists and delivered wonderful vocal renditions of Joplin’s tunes. Lucinda Williams closed the show. I have seen her perform before and she consistently makes me feel like she is playing for me in her living room. It was a very personal way to wind up the night. You can read more about it by going to: http://www.rockhall.com/janisjoplinamm
The Power of Commitment So last month I had this business trip to Salt Lake City. Before I left one of my friends told me under no circumstance should I sign anything if I visited the Visitor Center for the Mormon Church. I have been to Salt Lake a few times and all I can say is holy smokes talk about sprawl. The entire valley is developed from north to south and east to west. I couldn’t believe how much it has grown since my first visit. And all the suburban houses have lovely blue grass lawns. Remarkable, especially since the whole place is sitting on a sage prairie or it used to be a sage prairie. They have a nifty program there where all the homeowners in the new communities get unlimited water for irrigating their lawns for five bucks a month. Where is that water coming from???? Well it is easy to understand that the far fetched notions about piping water from the great lakes isn’t so far fetch when you see what is going on there. I did get up to Park City a couple times and even got up to Sundance and drove the alpine loop. Quite spectacular. Easy to understand why Robert Redford loves the place. Anyway the big Mormon complex was right across the street from my hotel so Saturday night, we took a stroll around the grounds and the place is spotless. Simply lovely if you happen to go for the manicured lawn and grounds look. In the visitor center they have all these computer terminal set up and you are invited to punch in your name and check out your geneology. They are noted for all the geneolgy records that they keep there. Well I sat down and started to type in my name etc when an alarm went off in my head…. I had been warned not to sign anything and I thought, Wow this is pretty sneaky. So I stopped myself and got up and continued to look around. There is a pretty good connection back to Kirtland for the Mormons. Kirtland is where good old Joseph Smith got a lot of insight about how to structure the church and all that sort of thing before being driving out of town when the Mormon bank had some financial difficulties When I left the VC I stepped inside the Tabernacle where the choir does their gigs. I must admit the place had pretty sweet acoustics and it was all I could do to stop myself from belting out a few notes just to hear the reverberation. On my way out the door, this sweet little 70 plus year old lady approached me. She asked if I would be at the concert the following morning. I told her no I would be on a plane back to Cleveland. She asked if I would like a CD of the choir and I told her I had one already. She asked which one and I said that it was a collection of Christmas Songs. It seems like we do somewhere, so I didn’t think I was lying. She said she had several of their River of Promise CD’s and she wanted to give me one. I really couldn’t say no so I expected her to dig one out of her purse…. Oh no, that wasn’t the program, she pulled out her check book and asked if I could writer my address down and she would send it to me. As I was writing Steve, she leaned over my shoulder and said make sure your address is legible so I can read it. At that point the alarm went off once again and I knew I had been had. You see if they can get your address, you become a target for all their young missionaries to come visit you in the future. In a panic, I put my work address down. Three days later in the mail a CD arrived along with a DVD about the Mormon faith. Being the spiritual kinda guy that I am, I placed them both on the desk of a co-worker with a note saying that I had brought them back for his spiritual enlightenment. I have been told by those in the know that I can expect random visits from young men in ties and white shirts for at least two years.
I had a great time last night performing at Brukner Nature Center. Wonderful to see several old friends, get some good hugs and contribute to an enjoyable fall equinox program. I had never considered a career in the conservation field prior to working at Brukner in the summer of 1976. I was hired basically to babysit the children of hispanic migrant workers who were passing through picking tomatoes. I was impressed with the layout and the design of the facility and trails but more importantly I realized that I could do something about things I cared for. I was motivated to change my major when I went back to Miami to environmental studies. Brought back many memories!

August Gets a Bad Wrap

I used to fall into the trap that I think many Midwesterners fall into, and that is thinking that August is hot and miserable.

Well actually on average July is generally the hottest month of the year in Ohio.

As we enter into the last week of the month there is a little coolness in the air this morning providing just a hint of anticipation for the chilling nights of September.

It is a neat time of year, everything that makes seeds have made them, insects are buzzing, the mornings are cool.  It's sweet with the decadent ripeness of the summer. 

I think August gets a bad wrap because we are ready for a change. 

I suppose I am looking forward to the fall.

As a matter of fact Robin and Linda Williams’ tune October Light off of their Deeper Waters CD just cycled up on itunes.

This is a great song and really captures that reflective yet anxious feel associated with the change of the season.

It might just be me but it seems there is a great deal of anxiety in the air.  Unemplyment, heathcare, teh economy, political unrest......

And for me I am still juggling the respocibilities of two postions at work, and that is wearing.

So much uncertainty makes it easy to flirt with a major emotional funk.

George Orwell’s horse in Animal Farm just worked harder.

I try not to do that because most of the time I work pretty hard anyway.  I tend to go the opposite direction and get sedentary.

Of course I still do what I have to do, I.E. work and those sort of essential things but I stop doing the elective things that keep me balanced and engaged.

They just become one more thing to do, and just one more thing to do means yet more on the agenda and yada yada. 

So while I fixing my coffee yesterday in the morning I had some avian visitors who were coming to check on me.

Many native cultures believe that we as individuals have certain animals associated with us and we may or may not recognize this association.

Well for whatever reason I have had over the years a number of encounters with robins that have if nothing else been engaging.

Yesterday was one of those moments.

As August starts winding down many birds start flocking up in preparation for their southern journey, and as you would suspect the majority of these birds are first year young.

While I was making my coffee, a group of three juvenile robins decided that they wanted to check out the grumpy old man on the other side of the window and gradually moved closer and closer until they formed semi circle around the window all watching me watch them.

If nothing more it was a pleasant way to start the day but for some reason this simple little encounter somehow motivated me to get up get going.

Sometime it is the simplest things that can change a perspective.

these little things are always there it is just a question of looking for and seeing them.

Or in my situations with the robins, recognizing that they were seeing me.

 

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