Steve Madewell

Pedestrian Ramblings

02/27/08 Last night, well actually all day yesterday and last night, it snowed. We have about 10 inches of the most beautiful fluffy snow on the ground. I have read that Inuit’s have names for 28 different varieties of snow. I certainly recognize several but this is the only one I have a name for and that is “sugar snow”. So called because this kind of snow always falls during maple sugar season. I heard this snow name from Mj years ago. She grew up in maple sugar country, I grew up in corn and beans country. My first exposure to making maple syrup came through my friend Vance Wissinger’s dad. Vance senior dragged me out back of Wissinger’s Palace and showed me a series of metal barrels that he had modified and was using to cook down maple sap, which he was collecting in five gallon plastic buckets. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of maple syrup. And over an open stove this takes a long time and requires a lot of attention to keep it from burning. He was making this amber maple syrup that was quite smoky, and it didn’t really sheet off of a knife the way I later learned it was supposed to. Vance’s syrup was a bit thinner than that. He gave me the low down on how he tapped the trees, how much sap he was boiling down to get his syrup and told me “you never can tell when you might need how to make maple syrup”. Less than 18 months later I was working as the director of the Geauga Park District which at that time was the only park system in Ohio with a sugar house. This is only one of several stories I could recount about Vance seniors obvious connection to my cosmological existence. He was a trip! Every time it snows a sugar snow, I also think about Harold Berry. He was the father of one of Mj’s friends who introduced the term to her and consequently me. Harold had a sugar house and the last time I saw him he was standing in front of a 6 or 7 foot high pile of sugar wood. That is fire wood that has been spilt into four foot long sections. I suppose he was in his 80’s. Several years prior he had been diagnosed with cancer and given a relatively short time to live. I remember he had told me when we found out he was refusing the recommended treatment because he had lived a good life and wasn’t going to screw up the end of it. So several years later it appeared that he was doing quite well and was clearly enjoying getting ready for another maple sugar season. So what’s the big deal? Well is goes like this, once you have had real grade A light maple syrup it re defines all forms of syrup. For the past several weeks I have been getting this hankering for pancakes. And then I realized it was not really a craving for pancakes, but rather the combination of pancakes, melted butter and real light grade maple syrup. As this desire grew it became redefined and clearer, until through conversations with MJ we jointly realized it was waffles that we wanted. Not Belgium Waffles, but crisp hot corn meal waffles that will readily melt a pat of butter and are capable of holding up to a real drenching of maple syrup. So after talking about maple syrup and waffles last week, we dug out her grandma’s ancient waffle iron made up a batch of corn meal waffles and proceeded to enjoy a wonderful breakfast feasts…. for dinner! As they say, when the mood hits! We enjoyed a wonderful meal dressed up with one of the first locally harvested treats of the year. Greg Brown has a wonderful song he wrote about his grandma canning summer in a jar, I can tell you that in the middle of February the taste of real maple syrup is like those first warm rays of March sunshine, the hope of spring. As I pushed the light fluffy sugar snow off the car this morning, I really didn’t mind as much. I know it is going to be sunny today and the sap will be flowing. Tonight there will be some old fellows sitting in their sugar houses tending the fire and watching the sap boil.
Today is the first real snow of the year and it is really coming down. The first good snow always makes me reflective and I enjoy seeing natural systems interacting We have about 12 inches on the ground and it is still falling. Temperatures really dropped last night and the creek froze lumpy. That is when the freeze takes place really fast the current piles the ice up as it is forming. I have had the privilege to watch the stream freeze in a number of ways under different conditions. Once it was very cold and still. The water just seemed to get thicker and seemed to change color. There were small ice flows moving downstream in the current. In what was really a matter of minutes the deep slower pools were suddenly covered in a smooth clear layer of ice. Ice out is pretty wild too, but that is a story for the spring. Last night I had the pleasure of watching a herd of four deer come through the yard. They went through the yard like it was their own buffet. They started out eating from the small corn pile I have out by the barn. (They feed me and I feed them) They proceed to work their way through the yard stopping to sample hemlock, then red osier dogwoods, rose bushes, hydrangeas, hemlocks again, azaleas, rhododendrons, hemlocks yet again, and finally the english ivy out front. I always get a great deal of entertainment from watching or observing wild life. I am captivated with they way they move within their environment and how aware they are of everything around them. Of course given my interests, I would never pass up an opportunity to watch an animal or a natural phenomena unfold under the notion that I was learning about or studying the creature or situation. A few years back however I had a revelation that often times while I was studying animals or nature I also had the opportunity to really learn about myself. There are so many lessons to be learned by simple observation of the world around us. Or maybe they aren’t all lessons maybe they are re assurances that things will be as they need to be. Years ago, in period of great turmoil, I would wake up in the middle of the night a complete wreck, and I would go out walking down the Little Miami River. I would find myself considering the fact that many of the trees I was walking under were over 200 hundred years old, that the Native people had canoed or walked under them as well as famous frontiersmen like Daniel Boone. That all these people before me had enjoyed the sweetness of life and that the world continues. There was and is a lovely re assurance that came in recognizing that I was a part of a much bigger system, a continuum I think most of us suffer with the wonderful ability to deluding ourself into believing that we can will control over what is around us. Consequently have a giant power struggle with anything and everything that threatens that control. For me while this is not an easy ting to do, a better approach is to be aware of how I am part of what is going on around me and a part of a bigger system. Keeping that awareness and openness I am much more inclined to be productive, creative, at ease with myself and the world. While this is something that I could and should be doing all the time, the chatter and demands of everyday life are so distracting. The natural world often reminds me of a different way to be. It was something I learned that from the trees and get reminded of when I watch wildlife or interact with the natural systems. This winter I wrote a song called “Gifts” which is posted on this web page. A large part of what that tune is about is dialing in to the world around us and finding those gifts to receive and gifts to share.
An edited version of this post may be on the Patagonia field report web page. The thermometer read 12 degrees! Not exactly an ideal temperature to go fishing. I was helping guide a steelhead outing for a group from Patagonia and hey they should be all about extreme fishing. When it comes to steelheading your plan has to be flexible and often you use every card in the deck. The plan was to pick up my guy Bill Klyn with the intentions of working a small stream for a couple hours. Then head for the Grand River and bounce our way upstream. Unfortunately the cold was a problem on the little creek. Shelf ice was rapidly building and flow ice made it difficult to get the line to sink. If you happened to cast onto the shelf ice, the fly would immediately freeze in place. Until the day warmed up, it wasn't feasible to fish the creek. I accelerate my plans for the day and we moved onto the Grand, where the water temps would be slightly warmer and the problems of flow ice and shelf ice would be minimized. Of course this was still no pic nic, but I figured the Patagonia fly fishing guys probably suffer from some inferiority complex around the rock climbers and extreme skiers and all, so I thought at least Bill will have something to talk about. Unfortunately due to ice melt the day before, water visibility was about 8 inches and the water flow was high. Then the wind kicked up. I had no idea what the wind chill was. After a few hours of standing waste deep in glacial gray water, it was apparent this wasn't happening. We worked back to shore and Bill commented on the ice on the back of my waders. I turned and I saw a fine glaze of ice all over him. Wow, we might not have great big frozen beards, and black frost bitten fingers, but gee whizz, we kinda looked like we had been in an extreme out door adventure! While we might not have been handing on the side of a mountain at 25.000 feet this kind of stream fishing this was pretty extreme! I said to Bill "What a great catalog shot!" Then realized, even if we had gotten a picture I doubt that we would have made the catalog. We were just a tad too old and too plump. Instead of extreme outdoor enthusiast, we looked more like a couple of glazed donuts, or at least two glazed fishing nuts! After an early lunch I was mentally scrambling for our next option. I came up with an idea that had more IF/THEN statements than a graduate level philosophy text book. We headed to a large pool on one of the smaller tribs. I broke off shelf ice and pushed it downstream and opened enough water for Bill to fish the belly of the pool. Everything was going "swimmingly" until I lost my footing breaking the ice and soaked my left hand and lower arm. (note to self, when wringing out a wet glove in cold temperatures it is important that you remove the dry glove first). As ludicrous as this seems, it worked. Bill hooked and landed several fish. And it was all so effortless! Ah symmetry! While releasing one of Bill's fish, the eye of my wading shoe caught on my net. I fell in this time soaking my right arm. But a lesson learned! I took my left glove off before I wrung out the right
In 1999 my younger brother Jeff started a clothing and toy drive for the native people living on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. You can go to the following web page and read a little bit about every year if you would like. If you do please read the first posting I think it is the best. Jeff is remarkable person in many ways. When he was little he was always interested in playing the drums. One day when he was 11 or 12 he was watching my older brother Bob and I playing guitar. We took a break and Jeff just picked up my guitar and started playing. I had heard about such things before but I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I was in college and didn't have much money but I scraped some cash together and bought him an electric guitar for $15.00 the next day. Since then he has developed into one of the best electric guitarists I have ever heard, period. Right now he is primarily performing with Erin Higgins in southwestern Ohio, but he has also had some great bands, least of which was Love Junkie At 19 Jeff had a bought with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and through some strange complications he lost approximately 98 percent of his vision. In spite of this challenge he has developed a career as a performing musician, teacher and recording engineer. Every month he also provides a CD's worth of sound beds, jingles and parody songs for AM radio distribution across the US. He has an incredible work ethic but he works very hard to make a living. While many of us are content to either enjoy our success or complain about our lack of success, 8 years ago Jeff decided to initiate a clothing and relief drive for the Lakota Sioux. The success of this drive has been over whelming, and thanks to some of his dear friends and some generous corporate support he has been successful in delivering semi truckloads of goods to these folks who are in very dire straights. This spring, Jeff had some very serious medical complications associated with Histoplasmosis and he nearly died. He was severely weaken and his road to recovery in light of his work load had been arduous. Even so this year Jeff has again resumed his relief drive and for the first time, he has been invited to ride along with the trucker to deliver the 40 plus pallets of clothing toys and house hold commodities. They are leaving on the 11 th of December and returning on the 15th While Jeff is really excited to go I am asking if you could just take a moment to send a positive thought or prayer his way to grant him a safe journey and return. Thank You Steve Madewell
Today was the first day of an agreement between Madewell Music and Sutton Records involving the promotion of Arrow Creek to NPR radio stations in several regions of US and folk based stations in the UK. There will also be efforts to solicit interest and reviews from singer songwriter publications and other distribution companies. If you would like you can listen to "Is This What We Have Become" and "Climb" on Folk Alley. Folk Alley has a section called Open Mic for new and independent singer song writers to post songs. There is some really good stuff there. Check it out! Two weeks ago I did my first broad cast. I really appreciated those folks who wrote back with suggestions and requests for what they wanted to see either in future emails or posted on the web. I will take those to heart and get on it as time permits. If you would like to be added to the email list, go back to the home page and sign up! Steve
WEBRADIO GOLDEN FLASH DJ Ray Pieters, contacted me a few weeks ago and inquired about playing Arrow Creek on his award winning web radio show. For 27 years he has been hosting his own Radioshow " Somewhere Between “ based in Westerlo, Belgium. Thanks to Ray, a few cuts from Arrow Creek are being played in Europe. Thanks again Ray! And for those who caught any of my tunes on "Somewhere Between" and decided to check out my web page, Hello and thanks for listening and visiting! Peace Steve
Yes indeed it was a real treat. First of all it is wonderful for a community to have such an active arts program! Thank you Julie and Keith for having me down! Secondly it was a really really nice feelling to see “sold out show” on the flyers! Jim, your place was really nice and I just had to use that big old couch on stage. I mean why not? To all the folks that came out, thank you for being such a great crowd. Hopefully I will be back! Steve
Sopg Of The Year is as it says, a song writing competetion, that has several catogories. I submitted Wound Too Tight and was selected as a finalist for the month of August. Here is the link if you want to see the listing Here are some of the comments from the review SONG WRITER Stephen Madewell NAME OF SONG Wound Too Tight COMMENTS ON EMOTIONAL IMPACT Your lyrics have a playful, upbeat feel as you ramble about the woes of life. The music has a solid, traditional groove that suits this song well. Your title is a perfect fit that grabs the attention and wholly reflects the song. This is a very fun song. COMMENTS ON TECHNICAL EVALUATION: Your vocals are very good. They have consistency and a very nice sound. Your music is simple but good, with a nice, upbeat acoustic groove. The melodies are simple but do a good job of setting the mood for the song. Structure is perfect, with smooth flow, smart arrangement, and a rhythm and tempo that fits the song. The production is great and could just use a little fine tuning in your final mix and the presence of the overall mix. COMMENTS ON MARKETABILITY: This may not be the most marketable song, but someone looking for a fun album track won’t be able to pass this one up.
The last weekend of Sept. was great. Had a business trip to Indy, which provided an opportunity to stop in Dayton and listen to brother Jeff and Erin Higgins do a show at the Toll House. They were both sporting new Taylor Koas, which sounded great. Got back in time to perform an early show at the Rocky River Fest. on the west side of Cleveland on Sat. Really nice to see the partnership in that watershed coming together for such a nice event. Cleveland Metroparks was a wonderful host site. I hustled off to Geneva on the Lake to do my last afternoon show of the year at the Old Fire House and Marge and Harry showed up!Sweet to have the freindly faces, and talk with Harry about building a guitar for me! Concluded the weekend playing sunday night at a lovely barn party for Jon and Aimee. What a super evening. Again great to see familar faces, and hear so many nice comments. Hope everyone who took an Arrow Creek CD home enjoys it! Will be working on the house this week. A brief performance next weekend for a memorial dedication for Chuck Ashcroft. Chuck was the Director of the Gand RIver Parnters Inc. and he passed away entirely too early. He was a wonderful and gentle person, and he loved the song Rivers and Trails. We could all only hope to preserve a little piece of the world in our life time and Chuck did just that. I am honored to have been asked to play a song at the dedication of this Grand River access area that will be named for Chuck.
Saturday, MJ and I ran up to and caught Greg Brown at the Ark in Ann Arbor. The guy is a treasure. Wonderful show. Bo Ramsey opened up and also played with Greg. Bo's guitar work was so subtle and just kept building through the night. I always find it wonderful when someone slowly but surely kicks me in the pants. Ann Arbor is such a sweet little city and the Ark is a great venue as well. Big Fun. Ohh Checked out the Herb David guitar studio...I don't know, might have been a mistake. I keep preaching we all need to give up the want, but there was one guitar there that....well...i might want. Hit the road after the show in order to get back to Cleveland to do play some tunes at the Gold Cup horse show Sunday. Nice late morning early afternoon event. Saw a surprizing number of folks from the Greenville Inn days.

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