Archive for April, 2020


This song and video is dedicated to Sam Shank. May he rest in peace.

 

I don’t mean I’m on the road, but I wish I was. I was supposed to start my tour the first of the month. The first half is shot to hell, and I’m not all that optimistic about the last half. And I’m just one of many.  When I say on the road, I mean by myself in my van.

When this all began, I immediately began getting emails about how I, too, could teach music at home online. If I had an inclination to teach music online, I would already be doing it. And where would all the students come from? It’s been said that there is an increase of online learning, but that is across all subjects. The total would also have to include all of those at colleges, high schools, and lower grades who weren’t learning completely online before.

Then they said to take this time to sell more merchandise (I’m a writer – I refuse to call it “merch” – more than just that once). Merchandise didn’t fly out the door before, even for performers with a much larger fan base than mine. Besides, some of those who might buy some stuff are out of a job and on unemployment.

Then there’s the streaming thing. Everyone and his uncle are doing Facebook Live, videos on Instagram, Zoom concerts, and so forth. I don’t have the time to see all the “live shows” because I’m too busy doing other things. So why would I expect a lot of people to be able to watch my “live shows”?

Then they said to release new material. Well that I can do. I was about to release my EP, Southern Plains Revisited, right before my tour began. Joel Nichols, Bruce Gibson, and myself, were Southern Plains. When the gig paid enough, we had bass and drums. Joel and I were a duo for most of the nearly twenty-five years of Southern Plains. With all the extra time currently available, I was able to digitize some of the cassettes and tapes from those days and now have enough material for a full cd rather than just the EP of our last recording session before Joel died. Possibly enough material for future releases. I’ll be releasing music from that project shortly.

My, son, Conner, and I put the finishing touches on the L.A. Sessions cd while in quarantine in Iowa a couple of weeks ago. It includes the remastered songs from my Hello Out There cd in addition to the rest of the songs from that session. It will be released later this year. We also laid down the basic tracks for another cd. Look for new songs throughout the next year. All songs and cds are on the Refrigerator Records label.

While I feel that the streaming game is not for me, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to play for you. When I get my home studio back up to speed, I plan to start a podcast so you can hear it anytime while you’re doing other things. I will also be releasing songs and videos along the way.

Come along for the journey. It’ll be fun!

Oh, and if you like what you read or enjoy what I do, please let me know – paypal.me/danroark.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Picture taken at the last show of mine Sam got to see.

Our next door neighbors, Richard and Dottie Powell, lived there long before Cyndy and I moved in with our sons thirteen years ago. They’ve known Cyndy since she was born. Richard has had health problems for a number of years. He passed away a week and a half ago. They were able to have a funeral, but with limited attendees and grave site visitors, leaving others to mourn at home unable to attend. Which was just one of the many unrelated deaths during the pandemic that is/was not given the funeral or memorial service they deserve(d).

Our friends, Sam and Sally Shank – brother and sister – retired and bought a house together in Colorado. They’ve had a chance to travel in the past year and were settling in after living there only a couple of years. Sam had some tests done recently and was waiting on the results. They were regular tests and there were no alarms.

Sunday afternoon, I came back from an essential errand. I opened the front door and thought I heard Cyndy holler – at me I thought. But I had just walked in. She had her headphones on and was talking to Sally on the phone. I came in late in the conversation and had no idea what they were talking about. It sounded like a normal conversation between the two. I wasn’t really listening anyway. Cyndy was talking loud.

When the conversation ended, Cyndy came into the den where I was working at my desk and stood looking at me. I looked up and she told me Sam had passed away late Saturday night. He was only 68 and, like I say, there were no alarms. The coroner thought it looked like a heart attack.

Sally’s sight is not the best. Cyndy and I will do everything we can to help. Our boys call her Aunt Sally. When they release Sam’s body, he’ll be sent back to Ft. Worth for burial. The graveside service will be small enough to fit the restrictions.

But Sam shouldn’t have left so early. I’m going to miss liking his posts on Facebook, and getting messages from him. Cyndy and I were planning to visit them in May. One of the songs Conner and I did the music video of in the hotel in Iowa is Foxes in the Henhouse. I’ve been trying to play it for him since I wrote it. I haven’t been playing it in my live show. I was going to post it and tag him. Now I’ll post the video and dedicate it to him. He would really appreciate the song. And I’ll be thinking of him.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

The first week of isolation, I lamented the loss of shows and wondered if the places I played around the country – primarily breweries and craft beer bars – would survive for me to play there again. I thought of things I could be doing, but then went back to the lamenting and the wondering. I could still support the local breweries. I could still to “essential” things (albeit being careful). I could drive around for a bit if I wanted to – not getting out of the car. But I couldn’t get out of my own head. Or more correctly, get back to my happy place. The current path is filled with a mixture of anxiety and panic, in just enough strength to be a pain in the ass. I had a live streaming gig in the Starving Artist Festival benefiItting Feeding America that Saturday. So I had something to practice for.

The second week our oldest son, Conner, was down from Des Moines isolating with us, so I could do some recording with him for upcoming projects. I came up with a solid plan for what to do going forward and proceeded to do nothing about it. The funny thing is, except for playing shows, I didn’t leave the house a lot anyway (although shows could run into weeks). Cyndy works at home and didn’t either. But it was the few times we did that mattered. Cyndy’s groups, my groups, church on Sundays, and so forth. But when you’re told you can’t do something, you want to do it more. The Zoom meetings help, but it’s not the same.

The third week Conner and I did some recording before he packed everything up and I took him back to Des Moines. We stopped at two travel centers, a CBD shop, and drove through a Chick-fil-a. I isolated with him at his house and did some more recording. He works maintenance at Adventureland Hotel. They are closed and the hotel was sterilized by the employees before they left and filed for unemployment. There is a restaurant that still does carryout. So the maintenance staff is equal parts maintenance and security. We recorded one night in the cabana room. We also filmed a few songs, so I’ll be releasing those videos when the editing is finished.

I was looking forward to the drive back home alone. It wasn’t on the way to or from a show, but it gave me time to think. Bullshit! It rained from Des Moines, Iowa, to Lawrence, Kansas. Which I can tell you is a long freaking way. Not only was I not getting out of my head – or simply making it a more comfortable place to be in – I found myself locked inside with the key on the outside. It’s a good thing I don’t have serious depression, because that was freaking depressing. Fortunately, when I reached Oklahoma, the sun was at least trying to break through, which was something. Then there’s that whole, I can’t really get out of the van thing.

And now I’m home, still in isolation, and healthy, thank God. But I’m working on the the plan I came up with in the first place. By myself and in conjunction with Conner. I hope you’ll join us on the journey. This post represents the start of that plan. Stay tuned and stay safe.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

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