Shorty's Pro Tip 

Pedestrian Ramblings

Notes from Shorty’s Kitchen

Fall 2023

Shorty's Coffee-Making Protip

I haven’t posted anything in a while from the kitchen. I have friends who post a lot of pictures of food, or themselves holding fish, and some folks playing music. I guess I do that too, but I try to stop myself from being too predictable, or one-dimensional. I mean after all how exciting can it be to see another grip and grin picture of a steelhead or a brown trout? Although I do admit, I have a propensity to post a lot of music shots but that is kinda of business.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. I find that a surprising number of people make comments or inquiries about Shorty’s. More than one person has pm’d me asking for directions, and I guess I added to the confusion by making a couple of posts from Shorty’s Creek Side and Shorty’s Barn Annex. For whatever reason, posts from Shorty’s Kitchen have a bit of a following. I have posted pictures of coffee, food, and kitchen utensils, but rarely “pro tips” which is what this rambling is about.


I think it is safe to say that in every relationship there are certain things, or maybe spaces that are unique to one individual. Regardless of the depth of the notion of shared property, almost everyone in a relationship has something that is specific to them. In Shorty’s Kitchen, I am merely a short-order cook, a transient worker,  a “busser’, and maybe, on a good day a sou chief.  I am often entrusted with essential cleaning assignments or held slightly accountable for cleaning up after myself. I rarely, if ever venture into the realm of using power equipment, like the Hobart, or any of the food processing equipment that is found in the kitchen, with two exceptions. The first was an Osterizer blender that I had in college, and yes, its primary function back then was associated with rum beverages. It is remarkable that it still functions, and my grandson Hugh has given me the title of “Smoothie King”. The second is the Braun coffee grinder.


As I am the only coffee drinker in the house, I am the only person to consistently use this appliance, and it falls into that category of something that is exclusively mine.  Consequently, the maintenance and care of the Braun coffee grinder is solely my responsibility. Aside from occasionally being unplugged and moved, it is rarely touched by another hand. I have to admit, I never read the owner's manual or instructions that must have come with this unit, and I can’t even recall how it happened to come into my possession. My routine care calls once and a while require the unwrapping and rewrapping of the excess cord in the clever but ineffective storage area at the bottom. I was delighted to realize after several years of use, that the top cover makes a perfect scoop to move coffee from a large container into the “grinding bay”. (I just made that term up, grinding bay!) Other than plugging it in, scooping in coffee, pushing the top down, moving the ground coffee to the Melita, and fiddling with the cord, I haven’t done anything but repeat this process. And it has worked flawlessly, until the other day.

I’m not a coffee fanatic, but I get a little anxious in the morning as I start to make my morning java. I don't want to say excited, but I could easily use that term, so I hope I am setting the stage here to illustrate the dumbfounded state I was in when I tried to push the top down and nothing happened. Of course with all of the clear-witted thinking you would expect from a foggy-brained decaffeinated old man, I tried to push it down several more times, until the reality stuck, I had a problem.

Now, generally speaking, I like a problem, really I do. I kind of enjoy trying to fix things, make stuff go, resolve conflict, all that stuff, until I get overwhelmed with my own inability, bored, distracted, or realize I really don’t care if the problem is resolved or not.

This was a different situation. I needed some coffee, and I was going to focus on the problem at hand, until such point I needed to go buy some coffee.

No big issue here, closer examination revealed that there was this small protuberance on the top of the Braun that fit into a hole on the bottom unit, and when the lid was pushed down, the little protuberance, pushed a recessed on-off button activated the grinder motor. A little scrutiny revealed that after years of use, despite my devotional care and attention to this dependable little appliance, this hole was plugged up with ground coffee.

I don’t recall ever washing or wiping down this thing, so there is a logical explanation for why it wasn’t working.

This was a simple fix. I turned to one of my most dependable tools, a toothpick. I use toothpicks for all kinds of stuff! And sure enough, a toothpick once again, resolved the morning crisis. If you are thinking this was the pro tip, consider the info on the toothpick a bonus, here is the pro tip.

I’ll ask you to recall that the top of the Braun makes the perfect scoop to place coffee in the “grinder bay”, and it being morning, I had filled the bay with coffee beans. If you are ever going to clean the on-off buttonhole in a coffee grinder, filled with a toothpick, you should wear safety glasses, or empty the beans because when you push the toothpick into that hole, you will activate the motor resulting in a spectacular explosion of coffee beans. I mean, a really remarkable, cluster bomb eruption occurs. The other option is before cleaning out the little hole with a toothpick, unplug the appliance.

And that’s all from Shorty.

Feeling Alive… 

Some days I feel alive…

I was listening to some music the other night in the barn and I felt so engaged and moved by what I was hearing. It was so good to be focused and endulging my senses in such a way, and I know it is a privilege to allow myself the time to do this. All things have a price and I suppose I have been reprioritizing how I spend my time for several years now. I often find myself thinking about a prized quote from an old friend who once said about another acquaintance “I think his give-a-shitter is broke.” And I find myself wondering is my “give-a-shitter”  broke?

I don’t think so, but who knows?  

What I do know is there are moments when I feel more a live than I have in years. I am not saying that I haven’t been engaged and productive in the past few decades, oh quite the contrary, I think I was so consumed with what I was doing both in intensity and in quantity that I really wasn’t absorbing much inspiration at all. I was in a high altitude, high performance situation and was constantly moving, but without any significant feeling of personal growth.

It has taken several years to re-adjust and I find moments when I feel more alive than I have felt in years. And what is really interesting, is often these moments are in the confines of the barn or at home, not in some spectacular natural setting, but rather just being where I am. 

Time and age being what it is, I will say that my physical awareness might be classified as pain, ie body aches, stiffness what have you, but I can embrace that. And yes I have to acknowledge that this is a laugh out loud kind of statement, but I suppose being aware of aches and pains are better than being oblivious to my place in the world around me

There is another thing that happens as well. As I find comfort in this new awareness, I am noticing that during my performances I am finding my way to a different zone, a place where I am not escaping or hiding in the music, but rather finding a special place in the moment. It is hard to explain and maybe hard to understand, but somehow it just seems right.  

Now if I can just get motivated to use the string trimmer.


Brookwood 8/18/2023 

This is an emotional return

In the spring of 2012, I started what would be my last public sector position. I had been hired as the Executive Director for the Metroparks Serving the Toledo Area. The interview and vetting process had taken well over three months and I had spent considerable time studying operational policies, publications, budgets, organizational charts, and property maps. My first 8 months were nothing less than an intense blur of activity and my first week was a whirlwind, but I was both humbled and excited for this new opportunity.

The Friday of that first week, I was touring the parks with Dave Zenk and trying to make as many stops as we could in one day. In my prep work, I had read about a facility referred to as the “Brookwood Cultural Center”, but there was no public space listed in any park literature, and I asked Dave to tell me about this place. He was uncomfortable with the subject and did his best to give me a quick background on the project, and he asked me if I want to go there. And of course, I did. 


A property, along with a nice house and outbuilding had been donated to the park system by Virginia Belt, a popular piano instructor. Her family also bequeathed a significant endowment for the maintenance and care of the facility with the condition that the property be used to promote cultural activities. Shortly after the property had been transferred, the park administration changed and the new team had no ownership in the project and evidently had no interest in trying to develop a strategy to use the buildings and grounds in any way. A cultural arts center was seen as something well outside of the mission and services of the Metroparks.

For all intent and purpose, the house had been unused and sitting closed up for over ten years when Dave walked through on our tour that day. It was a musty, moldy mess. Both Dave and I agreed that this was completely unacceptable. He appeared to be embarrassed with the situation and I was simply dumbfounded. 

The next week I ask the staff to pull all of the files on Brookwood and set about reviewing the history of the project, and while this was a great concern, it could not be a top priority. I was recommending that the Park Board pursue a new levy in 6 months and if that passed, the agency would have the financial resources to address Brookwood and a host of other significant capital projects.


Long story short, the ten-year levy passed which resulted in an additional 60 million dollars for the agency to invest in park improvements. Brookwood was one of those projects. 

In addition to the physical renovations, there was also the issue of developing a use plan that would be acceptable to the family who donated the property. As I spent time reviewing the project history, I was sure that there was a way to find a way to use the facility and grounds in a manner that would be appealing to representatives of the Belt family. 

Fast forward 11 years and I am thrilled to returning to Brookwood to perform for a capacity crowd. I can assure you that it will be an emotional evening for me.!

Friday, August 18, 8 p.m.

Reservations Required, Tickets are FREE or Pay What You Want


While enjoying a remarkable career in the conservation field, Steve maintained an active musical performance schedule. He started performing when he was 13-years-old and he has never stopped.  

He has released three solo projects, Rivers and Trails, Arrow Creek, and most recently, Hometown Blues. This project hit 15 on the FAI folk charts for April 2022.


 His songs have been described as subtle musical "arrangements with words that carry substantial weight." Many of his tunes incorporate bits of Ohio history giving his musical stories a tie to place and an organic validity. In addition to performing as a solo artist, Steve has many side projects with other musicians and musical ensembles. John Barile will be joining Steve for the evening. John is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and he is constantly performing across Ohio. This duo was a standout at the 2022 Lake Erie Folk Festival!

Steve Madewell 

 with special guest John Barile

 Brookwood Area*

 Friday, August 18, 7 p.m. 

*Brookwood Area is an intimate listening room experience. Advanced reservations are required. All tickets are complimentary.  

Return From SERFA 23  

The Southeastern Region Folk Alliance  Conference was a great time, basically two and a half days of nonstop music: performances, listening, discussions and networking. This was topped off with an informal killer jam at one of Asheville’s coolest breweries, hosted by a pair of incredibly hardworking music business professionals. We are talking three nights of going full tilt until 3 AM. 

It was great. 


I convinced MJ that she should fly down and join me after the conference, which she did. After a 12 hour snafu and a couple of delays, I picked her up at the Asheville airport at after midnight on Monday morning. 

Asheville is a pretty cool hang and, after a leisurely Monday morning recovery, we set out to enjoy some incredible food and some lovely spots in and around the city including: Biscuit Head, Chai Pani, the Trail Head, the Botanical Garden, the Bob Moog and the Folk Art Museums.

When we left town on Wednesday AM we elected to drive several hours on the  Blue Ridge Parkway and loved every minute. I couldn’t help but marvel at the vision to create this remarkable road and the engineering involved in building it. It was just lovely, with incredible scenic vistas and enjoyable visitor centers. 

My plan was to drive the parkway for while before jumping on the interstate and heading up to the New RIver Gorge National Park. We had been rafting on the New River years ago and driven through the area several times since. But I hadn’t been there since the area became a national park.

And this is when the return trip started to get interesting.

After enjoying an array of unbelievable great food in Asheville, I was hoping to find a stellar breakfast place. A quick internet scan led me to this place with great views of the gorge. The food reviews were all over the place, but I was thinking, good view with a basic breakfast was worth the twenty minute drive. 

Well, maybe not.

The drive involved traversing several miles of a paved one and a half lane road with a two foot gravel berm on each side, and the oncoming locals did not slow down a bit to pass by. The restaurant was actually in a lodge, and it did have remarkable views. Unfortunately, they did not have a breakfast menu, but offered a  buffet weaker than what you might at a Comfort Inn. 

We passed, and decided we would go back to a little town where we had seen a Tudor Biscuit World.

I am not going to going into the dissertation on the food, but somehow the experience kinda made me proud to say, I have eaten several times at a Waffle House, but I have only eaten once at a Tudor Biscuit World. 

Think about that for a minute.

After eating, we did a really enjoyable driving tour of the gorge and began to make our way back to the interstate, and wound up driving through a small coal mining town, complete with two “company” stores. They were both closed up and in disrepair, but what a flood of emotion. All of the songs I have heard, or sang over the years that referenced  the company store came trickling back into my mind. I had to stop and get a picture. All I could think about was what a cool music venue that place could be. A great Pa. musician Tom Breiding, has devoted a large effort in researching and recording songs from the coal fields and has promised to send me some stories about this place. He performed at this building.


We continued our way back to the interstate and resumed our 70 mile an hour way back north. 

And the return leg of the trip gets more interesting.

We were approaching the West Virginia/Ohio boarder around lunch time, and I seemed to recall there was a Cracker Barrel at Marietta. After the breakfast experience I wasn’t up for a gamble and that seemed like a safe bet.

Unfortunately, a truck cut me off at the Marietta exit and the next exit only had a Subway. In what turned out to be a less than wise decision, I opted to drive by, thinking surely the next exit would have better options. 

MJ was saying lets just grab something at a McDonalds, when I my priorities shifted from food to gas. I had planned on getting off in Marietta for something to eat and fuel. I suddenly had a sinking realization that Interstate 77 is not at all like Interstate 71. I drive from my house to Dayton dozens of times each year, and I am conditioned to hitting an exit every few miles and nearly every exit has a gas station. 

But the time we hit the next exit, my Honda CRV was telling me I had a driving range of 9 miles. We soon realized that cell service was a little lacking too. When we pulled off the interstate and searched for the nearest gas station, for some reason my results were coming up for Marietta, Georgia. Whoa!

Ultimately, my phone’s GPS got oriented and indicated that there was a gas station 7 miles away. So we set out driving down “Cat something” road. It was a very rural road, and to my horror, we soon drove by a sign that said Road Closed 6 miles ahead. By now, the GPS was indicating that the gas station was 5.5 miles ahead so we were committed to moving along. 

I turned off the AC which boosted the gas mileage, and we hit a really long grade so I let the car coast, so things were looking kinda bright on the “old distance to the gas station vs available gas ratio”.

We were approaching a T intersection and our GPS was indicating that I was going to turn left, and sure enough there was a sign that indicated the road was closed ahead. A reasonable person might assume the road “closed ahead” would refer to the section of the road “ahead”, but no, the our route to the left was missing a bridge. 

Now it just so happened there was a man on a riding mower, cutting the grass at a boarded up house, so I stopped and got out of the car, he shut off his mower, and I asked him if I could buy some gas. 

He looked at me and said, “Gas?” and he titled his head back an laughed. I don’t know if that was for effect or if he really thought that was funny. He looked at me and asked, “Are you out of gas.” And I assured him that I was pretty close. As it turned out, there were several gallons stored in a shed behind the house, which I gladly bought, and with new wind in the sails and a set of verbal instructions we were off to Lowell, Ohio, where there was one gas station and one restaurant. 

As it turned out, the Mexican restaurant didn't open for another couple hours, so it was back to the interstate. I should probably mention that my travel companion had been quite supportive and had not, nor has not to this point said anything like, “What the hell were you thinking?” But she did say, “Your father would be fit to be tied if he was here.” And she was right.

Now you might ask, could things get any more interesting? Why yes they could. 

Having been beaten down by the interstate travel gods, who were probably ticked off because I had driven several hours on the Blue Ridge Park Way the day before, I was now humbled into submission and read to resume the contemporary travel model of stopping at a fast food place for a drive by, grab and go meal.

 Soooo, we pulled off the next exit that had that world renowned chow house McDonalds. I noticed a Wendy’s across the street and asked MJ if she had a culinary preference. McDonalds got the nod. We got out to take the time for a “dining in’ experience. The young lady at the counter was leaning against the wall, staring up and off in the distance, and said, “Our computers are down and we aren’t taking any orders.” I asked what the prognosis was and she said, “We’re just waiting.”

Off to Wendy’s. Thinking maybe this was a sign that we should just stay in the car, we pulled into the line for the Wendy’s drive through, only to be greeted by a young fellow, in a Wendy’s uniform and serving gloves who told us they weren’t taking any orders because the fryers were down and the maintenance guys were there. 

So all we could do was continue north.

Ultimately we did get food, and we did make it home, but what a day of travel. 

I decided a couple months back that my motto for the year would be, “Why be frustrated when you can be amazed.” I think this will serve me well.   


Lapel Pins #1 Green E. Groundhog. And, yes, it was just like the sit-com "Park and Recreation"  

The Green E. Groundhog and Litter Prevention Lapel Pin…


Quite possibly the first lapel pin I ever received. It is a token from a program funded by a state of Ohio Litter Prevention grant awarded to the Green County Parks and Recreation Department in, I believe 1982. As innocuous as this sounds, this grant program was pretty important to the park system. 

Ronald Regan began his presidency in 1981, and while he couldn’t repeal the budget that had been passed by congress, he refused to sign authorizations to release money for certain federal programs. Ed Dressler was the director of the GCR&P department and he was all about grants.  As a matter of fact, the department was primarily funded by grants. When the president closed the federal cash flow, the park system lost 70% of it’s anticipated operating funds. It seemed the whole country was caught up in a wave of NEO conservatism and the county had adopted an attrition policy, forgoing any new or replacement hires for “non-essential” positions. As it turned out, the fellow who had hired me, John Humston, took a job in another county, and it was unclear if his position was going to be filled. When John left and the first way of budget reductions kicked in, I went from being in a department of two full-time and 4 part-time folks, to being the “Lone Ranger”.    

These were interesting times. 

The funding reductions came in waves, and I got the word in February that I was technically unemployed. Let me explain what I mean by I got the word. I was attending the Cleveland Metroparks Ranger Training Academy, and I was summoned out of class to take a phone call. The assistant director of the park system, Ed Bice, was calling me to let me know that the funding source I was being paid with had also been suspended. I was in a 6-week training program that was 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off, stretching over three months. I was halfway through the second session, staying at a cheap hotel, with the county vehicle. I asked Ed what should I do with the vehicle since I was technically not a county employee. He said to continue going to the classes and we would figure something out. MJ and I and our two daughters, had just moved into a park house, so this added to the uncertainty. 

Long story short, Ed D and Ed B were able to find some money to keep me employed for the remained of the year with another grant program through the Juvenile Court system. Seems that the Federal Justice Department funds were exempt from the President's discretionary control. So for the next 9 months, I supervised teenagers who were one offense away from being incarcerated, while working on park projects.    

That year Ohio had a “bottle bill” on the ballot, that failed. It would have required a deposit on all beverage containers. The fast food, and beverage industry offered an alternative program in their campaign against this issue. They funded a three-year grant program to educate Ohioans on the evil of littering. It was really absurd, but our agency was a wreck and we had some creative people, including a couple of very good grant writers. For three years we received the largest litter prevention and education grant awards in Ohio and we used that money to creatively restaff. I think in total we received over $350,000, in those days, that was a substantial slug of cash, and a heck of a lot of bru-ha about litter.

Some of the programs were so convoluted it was painfully like the TV sitcom “Parks and Recreation.” One of the objectives of the educational program was to declare Greene County a litter awareness area. We had a mascot, Green E Groundhog, a parade float, t-shirts, billboards, special trash cans, activities, and handouts… such as this plastic lapel pin.

Taking A Walk 


Taking a walk
I took a short hike today that brought back a flood of memories. Over 30 years ago, I’d walked the same trail, shortly after it had been built. I started working for Lake Metroparks in 1988 and all of the trails, across the entire park system, were abysmal. Girdled Road, Chapin Forest, Indian Point, were all a mess. A horse and rider had actually gotten stuck in the mire at Girdled Road Reservation. 

At that time, the big focus was on building or renovating facilities like Farm Park, Fairport Harbor, Painesville Township Park, Erie Shores, and Penitentiary Glen. These projects were all contracted construction projects, improving and expanding the trail system was up to the Natural Resources Department. This happened to be one of the operations that I was responsible for.

The fellow who supervised this department was John Grantham, and he and I ultimately became really good friends. We certainly shared some major adventures. In addition to being the absolute best park operations person I had ever worked with, he was the best I had ever met. 

Walking this trail this morning reminded me of just what a remarkable person John was.

It was a perfect mid-March day, mid 30’s with lite snow falling. The trailhead meandered through a “hemlock flat”. That is a relatively flat area that is dominated by eastern hemlocks. I recall when the staff and I had laid this trail out, i.e. chose the route. With all of the construction going on across the park system, there had been a public outcry about over-developing the parks. To mitigate this concern, I set up an environmental review process to gather input from representatives of all the staff as well as an interdisciplinary volunteer group of experts we called the natural resource advisory council. This process served the park system well for 10 years or so and was utilized for not only park construction projects but also land acquisition priorities. 

The route we choose had minimal ecological impacts and as opposed to a straight path, it wound through the hemlocks creating a sense of wonder and intrigue. We had received some harsh criticism from trail improvements at Chapin Forest associated with the use of crushed limestone, so with this project to make the trail appear that it had always been there, John came up with the idea to use crushed sandstone from a local quarry.

The end product was and still is a delightful loop trail that provides access to a remarkable “stairway” leading down into a spectacular valley.

The stairway by itself is an incredible piece of work and when I walked on it today, I was amazed to see how well it was holding up after three decades. I was also astounded to think about the physical work involved in building this.

John was a very driven person. He expected hard work and nothing short of excellence from his crews. He was not always popular with his subordinates, but they all respected him immensely. I knew from my own experience that very few people could physically keep up with John. But he was also an amazingly intelligent person who just could know, figure out, or find the best way to accomplish nearly any project.  

I recall on more than one occasion going out to check on the progress of a trail project and telling the crews how much I appreciated their work, and John would later ask me why did I do that. He would tell me he had just jumped on them for taking too long a break or not being as productive as he wanted them to be, and we would laugh about it.

This particular descent was exceptionally challenging and involved the installation of several hundred steps, multiple switchbacks, and sections of retaining walls. All of which was “engineered or designed” on the location, as the project was being built.

It was, and still is somewhat amazing.

I can’t imagine how many people have enjoyed the trail and the incredible views and can’t help but wonder how many took the time to marvel at this project.

John recently passed away and am still in a state of loss and shock, but my, what a wonderful legacy John left. He was involved in designing, building, and/or renovating miles and miles of trail across Lake Metroparks, creating dozens of wetlands and too many habitat restoration projects to keep track of. As a result of his work, he enriched the lives of thousands and thousands of park visitors who simply could not imagine what was involved with building the trail they enjoyed. 

Playing For Tips 

Over the holidays, my ramblings took me to Arlington, Virginia. A mere week after dealing with negative 14-degree temperatures, I found myself walking along the Potomac River basking in the sunshine and pleasant spring-like conditions. I always enjoy visiting the greater metropolitan area around Washington D.C., and while I didn’t make it to the nation's capital or take in any significant monuments this time, I still took in a great meal and had a lovely afternoon stroll along the riverfront. 

There were a couple of musicians performing on a shop-lined street, closed to vehicles and open only for pedestrian traffic. Street performers always bring me joy and I had a smile on my face as I listened to these artists. I had very little exposure to street performers growing up in a small village in southwest Ohio, and I guess I was brought up thinking street performers were one step above “panhandlers”. My good old midwestern upbringing had me programmed to believe “these folks need to get a job”. It never occurred to me that they were working. 

That concept didn’t sink in until I was on a business trip to Vancouver, Canada. That is when I began to understand and appreciate “busking”. There was a preponderance of street performers all across the city and on Victoria Island too, and these folks were amazing artists. Jugglers, mimes, magicians, and all sorts of musicians. I was simply astounded. Many had appropriately sized PA systems and very tasteful displays for related merchandise, and after talking to a few performers, I found that the cities and local municipalities regulated and even scheduled “buskers” at certain locations.    

Back in Ohio, I knew many communities had ordinances prohibiting this sort of thing, so this was a real eye opening experience. I started performing when I was a teenager and had certainly played on many a door stoop and in several parks, but I had never played for tips.  As a youngster, I had a few friends who had, and almost everyone of them had been shut down and harassed by either a store owner or the local authorities, so being in a large metropolitan area and finding that the community embraced street performing was somewhat of a revelation. 

Then there is the whole concept of playing for tips. I don’t really know why, but I always thought that my fees for a gig were between me and the venue, and taking, or heaven forbid soliciting tips would basically imply that I wasn’t getting paid what I was worth, thus insulting the management and reducing me to a panhandler. Now I did play a few places that as part of the clubs' performance ritual, the establishment “passed the hat” and added that till to my take for the evening, but other than that, I never put out a tip jar, until… 

About the time I started writing songs (again), I happened to be reading a lot about Buddhist philosophies. I came across several essays about humility and the importance of not only expressing but also receiving gratitude. At that time I had a bit of an epiphany and realized that tips were not solely about income but they provided an opportunity for people to express their gratitude for the gift of music I was sharing. Now I put out 

Since my trip to Vancouver, I have enjoyed street musicians in several countries and major cities across the United States and I still have vivid memories of several of these remarkable artists; an incredible vocal group of pre-teens in Dublin, a mind-blowing guitarist in London, a fellow playing in Seattle on an upright bass made out of an automobile gas tank and exhaust pipe, and a host of others. Each one of them left me with something much more valuable that the tip I dropped in their case. 

And here is one final story on busking, back in 2007 Joshua Bell cracked open his violin case at the L’Enfant Plaza and set out to play a little music at the subway station. He happens to be one of the world's foremost concert violinists. He played for about an hour, was recognized by a few folks, and made $52 in tips. 

I guess fifty-two bucks for an hour isn’t too bad. 

See you on the trail. 


Brought On By A Sip Of Coffee  

This morning I made a very strong cup of coffee and my first sip reminded me of deer hunting with my father. It was something we started doing together when I was 13. He and my uncle Marvin allowed me and my cousin, Keith, to join them on what was their third Ohio deer hunting season. They had borrowed a truck with a huge camper shell for the four of us to use and so it began.  

There were many memories created on that first trip, and their recollection brings a smile to my face. I hate to say it, but I am the only member of that party that is still alive. Without getting into a deep narrative about that first year, I can summarize by saying my uncle and father were completely shocked at how much two teenage boys can eat. Back then it was a big deal to even see a deer in Ohio. Some things have definitely changed. I am sure some of you will be happy to read no deer were harmed in the making of this memory.  

For the next fifty years, at daybreak on the Monday following Thanksgiving, I was sitting in the woods somewhere in Ohio. For the majority of those mornings, my father was sitting somewhere nearby. The early years were spent near the border of Pike and Jackson Counties in south central Ohio. Pop had some acquaintances with property down there and over the years we had secured permission to hunt on several hundred acres. Initially, it was just the four of us. That group waxed and waned over the years to include other relatives, and the accommodations shifted from tent camping to trailers, then back to tents again. I can assure you that tent camping in late November is an adventure unto its own, but add the notion of heading out into the woods an hour before dawn and you have the making of some very special memories.  

For the first ten years or so, Dad always cooked, and he always made a pretty strong cup of coffee. For whatever reason, I had a pretty heavy hand this morning and that first taste brought back a flood of memories that were so powerful, I set aside my plans for a bit to take a moment to capture this little reflection. 

In the mid 80’s I took a position as the Director of the Geauga Park District and my family and I moved to northeast Ohio. For several years the only deer hunting dad and I did was an occasional late-season muzzle-loader outing. One year, I had the opportunity to drive back down south and I came strolling into the old deer camp completely unannounced and joined up with two of my uncles, several cousins, and my pop. Dad was in his early 70s and the camping conditions were pretty rough. I knew the year before he had taken a fall and whacked his head on a tree, and I thought it might be a good idea to go check the situation out.  

The terrain in south-central Ohio is fairly rugged, and the idea of my 70-year-old dad walking around without a partner concerned me. With the best of gear, winter tent camping is tough and this was not a group with a penchant for state-of-the-art outdoor equipment. The overnight accommodations were minimal at best. There was more than a little after-hour drinking and I knew dad didn’t care for that so figured I would try to convince Pop to come up and hunt with me and my son Phil in the relative luxury of the Conneaut Creek Club. There was a primitive but very functional cabin, nice trails, and much less challenging terrain. Ultimately, I convinced him to come north and for the next 15 years or so, barring any health issues, pop would come up a join us for a few days.  

For several years there we had quite the “army” of deer hunters, my son, son-in-law, nephew, Dad, several friends, and on a couple of occasions, two of my non-hunting brothers. We shared some great meals, had more than a few adventures, and shared innumerable laughs. We created some really special memories. One year, D’Arcy Egan from the Cleveland Plain Dealer joined us and wrote an article about the “traditional Madewell Deer Camp”. Dad was so proud of that article, that he asked me to get a copy framed to hang on the dining room wall.         
Dad lived a long life, and his passing was the about as perfect conclusion to life as anyone could ask for. I think the last year he hunted with us he was 89. People age and pass on, or move away, and priorities and obligations change. My son Phil now lives in Bozeman, and many of the regulars who joined us have also moved away. It is just not the same.

2020 was the first time in fifty years, I was not in the woods on the opening day of the Ohio deer gun season.  

Some of the fellows at the club have asked me to organize and conduct the 2022 deer camp, and I will, but nearly all of the faces have changed. But perhaps I can help them build some memories and pass on a bit of the special camaraderie that we shared in our “deer camp” for so many years.   

This was a good cup of coffee. 

FARM 2022 

Recently my time “afield” hasn’t involved much pedestrian activity at all. Driving, however, now that is another story. I’ve spent time in five states in the course of the last six days!

In addition to a few local gigs, I had a host of performances in SW Ohio and ran up to Chicago for a music conference for the mid-west region of Folk Alliance. The official acronym is FARM, i.e. Folk Alliance Region Midwest. This was my second FARM and I attended the South East Region (SERFA) conference In May this year. It is hard to get out of the normal routine and it takes an investment of time and money to do something different. But I have found that it is invigorating to hear so much amazing music and make so many new acquaintances. 

There are several Folk Alliance regions across the country and each has its own gathering or conference. Also, there is the national conference. Basically, these regional conferences have a similar structure but I am told they each have their own vibe. There are small classroom workshops or educational sessions during the day, general sessions for all in attendance, curated showcases, and late-night private showcases. Attendees include performers, venue hosts, folk DJs, promoters, and booking agents. Each region has a conference committee that puts the event together and I know from my past life in the park world, this is a great deal of work. 

The daily workshops provide educational sessions and insight into the business of music that mostly involve career advancement as diverse as promotion, scheduling, and building a tour to home recording techniques. There are a series of primary presentations either as individuals and panels and a keynote presentation as well. There are always thought-provoking, informative, and inspirational.  

The curated showcases are selected from a pool of applicants or selected by the DJs in attendance. And I can assure you the performers in the curated showcases are without exception, incredible. 

After the formal sessions wind down, there are “private showcases”. These a performance opportunities generally hosted by festival planners or listening room venues, who entertain performance requests and make their showcase rosters up from these requests. The private showcases might be a 20-30 minute slot or a shared, song in the round format. There may be 10 private showcases going on at the same time and they may go from 10:00 in the evening until 2:00 in the morning! Doing some quick math you realize, you realize there is a “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On”!

In addition to these activities, anytime a few hundred musicians together with instruments in hand, there is a lot of impromptu jamming and song circles popping up all over the place. 
If the music wasn't enough to take in, imagine halls lined with tables covered with promotional materials from all the attendees and you have the makings of a sensory overload!

Of course, most of the musicians are hoping to make connections for future or return gigs and there are ample networking opportunities!

It is a very cool experience and I have met some really wonderful folks at each and every one of these events! And if you are so inclined, I will post links to many of these acts below.
So here are a couple of sidebar stories:

One of the featured curated showcases this year was a young fellow from Ohio named Ben Gage, who writes a great song and plays harmonica like he was born with one in his mouth. I had heard of Ben but never heard him, I mean, after all, he lives down in Akron. Well, Ben and I kinda hit it off, and come to find out, his folks live in Ashtabula County!

And then there was this other young lady, Megan Bee. I had seen her name and heard a tune or tune but didn’t realize that she was from Athens, Ohio. Megan is delightful and seeing how Athens is sort of a tight community, I asked her if she knew my cousin, Kelly Madewell. As it turns out, Kelly is on Megan's last album. Small world? You know it is!
One more little story and then I’ll move on.
I met this guy, RB Stone who was hanging out with Ben. I immediately sensed that RB had played a few gigs and traveled a few miles. This was RB’s first FARM event. He came on a whim, at the last minute, on the advice of “Smitty”, who books music at the Pump House in Michigan. So RB and I secured a corner cluster of furniture in one of the hotel atriums and over the course of the next two days, played music for about 6 hours! RB is a good guitar player, plays great harp, and simply rips up a cigar box slide guitar! So one night, or should I say, some ridiculously early hour in the morning, I googled him and found that he toured with Billy Jo0 Shaver, has recorded 12 albums, and had a number one blues album in 2019. So there! RB has a place in Nashville and recently bought a house in Findlay to be close to his parents.

By the way, RB is looking for listening gigs in Ohio. 

Sometimes you have to work to step out of the box, but when you do, there can be some pretty nice rewards, like some new tunes and a whole lot of energy for the battery!
This was almost as good as a long hike!

Here are a few links with more to follow


Late Summer Rain 


Late Summer Rain 

The Beginning of Introspection 

When I was a youngster I thought that August was an awful month, hot, dry, dusty, and humid. Maybe this is because I spent several summers involved in two-a-day football practices and doing farm work, but when I got a summer job taking kids on overnight canoe trips my perspective on August changed. 

I realized that as August progressed, the evenings were cooling down, campfires felt a little more inviting, and there was a bit of a chill in the morning air. I eventually embraced the eighth month as my favorite month of the summer. 

I still feel this way. 

By the time August rolls around, I have settled into the rhythm of the summer, and nothing is too frantic. I have excepted the weeds that didn’t get pulled or the door that didn't get painted. I have generally hit my stride with local performances and I am feeling comfortable with whatever unfolds, and busy enough to not worry about future bookings. 

And then it all changes and I start getting very introspective, thinking about the year to date and what might lay ahead.

Many of my friends are triggered by dates or holidays. My dear old friend Burt Carlisle used to say summer was over after the Fourth of July, but then again, Burt was always a bit dramatic and prone to extrapolation!

I do know many folks who equate the end of the summer with Labor Day, the county fair, or kids going back to school. 

Not me. 

While those events are all pinnacles on the landscape of the summer, it is the first cool, rainy day of September that triggers the end of summer in my psyche. And this rain has a very profound effect on me. I have recognized for years that the fall and winter are very creative times for me. I may catch ideas throughout the spring and summer for songs or stories, but they most commonly manifest themselves in the fall and winter into the beginning of new songs. I suppose I am looking for insight and understanding of the events of the past and at the same time searching for hope and optimism for things to come. I am really not sure, I just recognize we are entering into a very thoughtful time for me.

Right now I am sitting on a number of completed tunes and mulling around which ones will be on my next record. I have grouped several together and shared them with a few colleagues and friends, and while I have gotten some very positive feedback, the selection process is not done. In the meantime, ideas for new songs are coming, and this is no surprise. It has been a very eventful year with so many emotional highs and lows. I have so much to process and writing helps me find the space and grace to deal with both the joys and challenges of life.    

With this September rain, I find myself thinking that this is going to be a remarkably busy fall and probably just as busy through the winter.

I would like to make another record, which will involve making final song selections, editing arranging, and recording the tunes, plus doing all of the associated coordination, production, and distribution processes associated with that. And I will be engaging some old and new friends to help with this effort. 

Most folks know I have a couple of ongoing musical side projects, the Inter-State All Stars, the Toledo-based JT & Thunder Hill, and the Dayton-based Steve Madewell Band, and throw into the pot, a possible late winter mini-tour with Steve Lundquist and Ms. Caroline Quine. All of which will include rehearsing, a couple of special shows, and planning for some travel performances.

In that mix, I will be lining up local and traveling solo performances for next year, and of course, there are all the things that need to be taken care of here at the Creek House… with an underlying and compelling notion to capture and write more tunes.

It may be time to get some help!

But that being said, we are entering a magical time of year and I am hoping to find the time to enjoy each and every day of it. 

All the best,



Photos from the Trolley Stop 2021