Category: Music


Joe Cat (Catanese) played for about half an hour before my set at Akademia Brewing Co. I did the same for Joe last September. We like playing shows together because our music compliments each other. Hearing our songs together – as it were – you get a good variation of views on life in all its facets.

Joe is the marine that served in Desert Storm, and I’m the old hippie with the military father. So that will tell you something. We connect by each respecting, understanding, and relating to each other’s life and songwriting motives.

My favorite songs of Joe’s are, fortunately, some of his favorites too so I’m usually sure I’ll hear them when he plays at least a half hour set.

Joe’s music is, in his words, “gritty, blue collar music.” Factory Line gives the listener the sense of factory work and its inherent challenges while trying to make a living. America’s Best relates life after the military trying to adjust to the complicated world outside the military. My all time favorite Joe Cat song is Silver Thread City, which I believe is about meeting his wife, Lisa. When you have a chance, check out his music on Reverbnation, Spotify, and all the usual places.

After getting another Altered Minds – an altbier, it was time for my set. All of the beers at Akademia are wonderful. But Altered Minds was so smooth and full-bodied that both Joe and I stuck with it. I made sure to take a four pack of 16oz. Olen Av Odin home. When I saw the description – a blackened lager – I knew I had to take some home. Unfortunately, they didn’t have it on tap. When Cyndy and I shared the first can, I wished I had brought more home.

If you’re in the area, make it a point to go by Akademia Brewing Company. Their chef prepares excellent menu items. The prime rib sandwich is my favorite. Have some samples and choose the beer for you. Trust me – they have it!

Fortified with beer and water, I hit the stage – not literally, but I stumbled, so almost. I began as I usually do with Hello Out There, my song for those on the autism spectrum, and the title song of my most recent cd. My set included the song I wrote with my daughter, Jennifer, when she was 12, the Aardvark Song, which everyone seems to like and many refer to as “the animal song,” and Jennifer’s favorite song of mine, Poet and the Lady. Being in the home area of Waffle House, I made sure to play my song, Waffle House (Is a Mighty Fortress). You can find my music at www.danroark.com, Spotify and so on.

After the show, we packed up and had another Altered Minds before headed back to Joe’s house. Another great night at Akademia Brewing Company!

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Heading out to Georgia and Tennessee last week I stayed in KOAs when I wasn’t staying with friends. As a member, I get 10% off every night and points for every stay. I got a tent site with hookups, pulled the van into the site, plugged in my power strip, and settled in.

An ill-fated trip to Colorado where I made it no farther than Amarillo in late April began with a stay at the KOA in Abilene. The staff was very nice and helpful. The high temperature of a warm 80 dropped when the sun went down to the 60s and made for a pleasant night.

I was remembering that night with fondness as I pulled into the Toomsuba, Mississippi KOA on Tuesday the 21st. Before I left Farmers Branch, the Weather Channel was announcing a coming heat wave that could possibly set records – the center of which was right around Atlanta, Ga which was where I was headed. What they didn’t say was that the humidity percentage was going to rival the temperature.

Fortunately, it was not yet that humid in Toomsuba, even though it was in the middle of a large wooded area. But it was upwards of 90 when I pulled in about 6:30. The woman in the office/store greeted me and checked me in.

“Nice to have you here. The store closes at 7.” She checked the time again. “Oh good, you made it before the mosquitos come out.”

Well, good. I put the extension cord through the slightly open passenger front window, then stuffed my towel in the crack. Fortunately, mosquitos don’t care for me much, but I’m not immune. I have an Arctic Air that Cameron loaned me. It doesn’t work like they say on tv. It worked okay sitting behind my fan blowing cool air into it, but it wouldn’t have cooled the van by itself. Hell, both together were struggling against the heat before the sun went down. But after the sun went down, I had a peaceful night.

I stayed with friends, Joe and Lisa Catanese, while in Athens. Joe and I played at Akademia Brewing Company on Thursday. On Wednesday and Thursday in Athens, the temperature was in the 90s and the humidity was 89%. Fortunately, on Friday afternoon when I pulled into the KOA in Cartersville, Ga, the humidity was only about 50%, but at 92 degrees at 6 p.m. the Arctic Air and fan had more work to do. I worked on the computer and watched a movie sitting in front of the fan(s) moving as little as I needed to. It’s the only time I wear shorts. And again, after dark it got cooler and relatively pleasant.

You never can depend on the weather. But you can depend on KOA camps. It costs considerably less than a hotel room, it has a bathroom, shower, and sense of community. Keeping costs down is essential to any possible monetary success for a touring artist. I utilize travel centers and rest areas as well. I couldn’t stay every night in a KOA on a two week tour. But it’s nice to know they’re there when I need a break, electricity, and a shower.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Okay, so now to catch up after the whirlwind of the past two and a half weeks.  I returned to Gilmer Brewing Company on Friday, May 10. But before talking about the brewery, an update on a subject of great concern to craft breweries for their continued success.

The Texas Senate passed an amendment to current laws that would allow craft breweries to sell beer to go from the breweries up to approximately a case per customer per day. The House is expected it to pass it as well, and the governor is expected to sign it. Breweries should be able to sell beer to go starting September 1st. This has been a long time coming, considering Texas is the last state to allow breweries to sell beer to go.

Gilmer Brewing Company is a small brewery on the square in downtown Gilmer. Playing there is always a fun time, even when the crowd is not as big as other times. The regulars at the bar are dedicated supporters of live music. The owners, Drew and Ruth Emory, are sweet people and they know how to brew beer. After working at their “day jobs” during the week, they throw themselves into running the brewery on weekends.

The first time I play at Gilmer after September 1st, I plan on bringing home their current newest beer, Upshur Amber. It’s a smooth full-bodied lager with a nice taste, named after the county of Upshur by the winner of the contest for the name. But don’t just go by me. Besides, I like the Peacemaker and Buckeye beers- a pilsner and blonde, respectively – as well. Pritchett Fog and Shrapnel are distinctly different takes on an IPA with the former an NE IPA. If you have a preference for a stout, Big Woods will smooth your weary palate and ease your mind.

Visit Gimer Brewing Company when you have a chance. There is live music most weekends – please tip to support live music. Have a flight of four beers and see which beers you prefer. And tell the Emorys I said hi!

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Back in September of last year, I had a week long tour to the east, ending in a show at Akademia Brewing Company with my friend, Joe Cat in Athens, Georgia. The day before our show, I had some time in Atlanta before my show that night. I couldn’t be in the land of Waffle House and not go by the Waffle House Museum where the first location stood. I also went by the Waffle House Headquarters which is a campus in every sense of the word.

Here is a video of my song, Waffle House (Is a Mighty Fortress), about the Waffle House Index.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

[Read Part One] There was another time that I saw someone who became a celebrity at the Cellar. I could have seen others, but I was more focused on the girls at the time.

I woke up with rocks being thrown at my second floor bedroom window. My friends wanted me to sneak out and go with them. I don’t think they had anything in mind – just hanging out. I jumped out of the window. Then they decided they wanted to go to the Cellar – having never been there before. But, for reasons I don’t remember, I was not wearing any shoes. I didn’t know they were planning to go anywhere.

So we’re going into the Cellar and – surprise, surprise – I can’t get in barefooted. My friends were kind of pissed because they really wanted to go. But they couldn’t take it out on me, because they didn’t tell me we were going anywhere. We go back to the car, where we find some plastic wrap, a sack, and some other materials. I’m not exactly sure what all – I’ve slept since then. But my feet were wrapped in something resembling shoes. Undaunted, we walked back to the club.

It wouldn’t work today. Not only were they not shoes, we were underage. But the doorman just laughed with his buddy, shook his head, and waved us on in. We went and sat on the mats in front of the stage. The band came out and started to play. As I said in the previous post on the subject, the girls would come out and dance in front of the band on a stage that was actually four risers stuck together end to end. Like the ones you stood on in grade school to stand behind the tall kids in the class picture.

Then the red light would flash and the girls would scamper off stage as if the police had arrived and they needed to get dressed in a hurry. Which couldn’t have been hard – they didn’t take a lot off. The whole act would have been a lot more convincing if there hadn’t been an officer hanging out in the back talking to the bouncer.

I was drinking a Tom Collins – yea, yea, I know. I can’t stand either ingredient now. But I was underaged and it was a common drink at the time. I was watching the band. There was a kid about my age playing guitar. I was jealous that he was playing with a band. I wondered what it was like to play in strip club underage. Then after a while we left and went home.

But I would hear the guitar player again. It was Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

When I was finished setting up at Gilmer Brewing Company, I went to the men’s room. I’m used to seeing my poster in the bathroom. I’m not used to seeing them marked up. But I got such a kick out of it that I took it with me at the end of the evening.

I’m thinking about asking all the venues to specifically put a poster in the bathroom. It would be interesting to see what people come up with. But I have to be prepared for the not so funny comments.

What the hell. You’ve got to have something to look forward to, right?

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Last Saturday I had the good fortune to play at Gilmer Brewing Company in – you guessed it – Gilmer, Texas. It’s located on the town square, which is always a nice touch. And, after dealing with metroplex driving all the time, a drive in East Texas is rather pleasant.

My son, Cameron, and I arrived at the brewery about 6 p.m. I was to play from 7-9. Owners, Ruth and Drew Emory, were welcoming and gracious. We set up the sound and were ready in plenty of time. Then it was time to get a beer. Kyleen Hunter and Matt Collier were helpful with that.

I tried the Peacemaker – a 6.2% Pilsner, and Buckeye – a 6.0% blonde lager. The NE IPA, “Pritchett Fog”, Shrapnel IPA, and the Big Woods stout all looked really inviting, but we still had to drive back to Dallas. Maybe next time…

The Saturday crowd at the Gilmer Brewing Company is a friendly, charming, and accepting bunch. Which is why I like to play breweries. It was a small but enthusiastic crowd as they say. They clapped, laughed, and even danced at one point (albeit slowly). And they were appreciative, I must say.

I certainly hope to return to Gilmer – town and brewery – but in the meantime, if you happen to be driving out 20 headed east: turn left just past Tyler and take a side trip to Gilmer and visit the brewery. You will be wholly welcomed and the brewery food is the perfect compliment to their five beers. Tell ’em I said hi!

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

I headed for Chattanooga two weeks ago Monday. I stopped over in Memphis and drove on in to Chattanooga on Tuesday. I played at Tremont Tavern Tuesday night. Then Wednesday night at Abbott’s Bar and Grill in Atlanta. I had a show on Thursday at Akademia Brewing Company with my friend, Joe Cat. So I was playing open mics on my way down. Hopefully setting up future shows.

Open mics are pretty much the same any where you go. The host is usually a popular member of the local music community. In the case of the Tremont Tavern, the host is Mike McDade. He’s pretty much a staple of the local scene.

I intended to get there when the list went out at 7 p.m., but I screwed up on the time change. Yeah, I know, but I did. When I got there, some of the local performers had already signed up. I added my name to the list, not all that concerned about the time. Check out was at 11 a.m. and I only had a two hour drive to Atlanta.

I got a beer at the bar and found a place to stand to watch the show and be out of the way. I missed Mike playing to open the show. But I only missed one or two on the list. I don’t know if it started on time or not.

There was the usual assortment of people playing the open mic. From those who don’t really have a lot of talent, but have friends who will show up and make noise to those who actually have a little talent and are working to get better. Needless to say, the latter had the most talent. Then there are those who think they are significantly better than they actually are. Yet they still need support, so I clapped too – but not too hard.

With the exception of those who showed up late because they only wanted to play for their own little group anyway, most of the performers stayed to hear other performers. Of course, two or three people played their set and left. Which is pretty standard for open mics.

I opened the out door for a guy coming in with a bag and a guitar case. His wife, I assume, followed him. He said hello to Mike, who told him he was next. Either the guy had showed up early to sign up and leave – which I doubt, or he had Mike put him on the list. Either way, he almost overshot his starting time.

He pulled his guitar out of its case. Then he opened the big black case he had. He pulled out three dulcimers. Then he pulled a stand out of the bag.  The third case – a bit smaller – held his pedal board, with looper. In the time it took him to get everything on stage and get it set up, someone else could have played. On the final of his three songs, he played all four instruments, two of them more than once, setting the loops up, and playing the one song – which took somewhere around six minutes. I understand that he had a show there that Friday and wanted to advertise. But all of that for three songs?

The girl pictured above was a regular who had a new song to try out. She was one of the performers who stood out from the rest. She was one of those people who make open mics interesting. As was another young man who played his songs in a practiced manner. He was playing a couple of places around town.

I played after the two people who followed the dulcimer player. I woke the place up to a degree with three songs from my Hello Out There cd in rapid fire delivery. After waiting to play – and having driven a good part of the day – I was fairly pumped. The crowd certainly seemed to enjoy my songs.

After a few more acts, I headed for the hotel. Next morning, I headed for Atlanta…

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Cameron and I got to the Ryman Auditorium about noon on Friday. After we got up and drove to Kentucky so Cameron could get a few 6-packs of Ale 8, a drink he likes that can only be found in certain places. When we got back to Nashville, we drove to Music City Center, parked the van, and checked my guitar into the bag check for Summer NAMM. Then we walked the two blocks to the Ryman Auditorium.

We took the self-guided tour and it wasn’t as easy as you would think. But we wandered around and worked it out. Cameron enjoyed it, and it’s always a special thing, but I was a little disappointed. Only because I had the chance to see it before the restoration. I was fortunate to tour the Ryman when you could see the back stage dressing rooms. We would call them closets. Just enough room for them to change clothes and sit waiting.

With the exception of the theater, the restaurant, and the stage lighting, it still looks pretty much the same. When we left I had to have a beer at Tootsies across the alley – as did the performers when the Grand Old Opry was still at the Ryman.

Then we headed back to Music City Center….

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Doobie Jones, Dan Roark

Cameron and I arrived at Skully’s Saloon about 6:30 on Thursday June 28. It’s called a dive bar, but it’s one of the biggest dive bars I’ve seen and has a stage. But it’s between railroad tracks at a railway station, so there’s that. It’s in Old Hickory, just northeast of Nashville on the Cumberland River.

Doobie Jones and I opened the Music City’s Unsigned Best Songwriters Night hosted by Billy Lee of Truckstop Honey. Doobie is a card and writes some interesting songs. I played three songs from my new EP, Hello Out There. The crowd was very receptive.

The following is the line-up with links. It was a stellar group of songwriters, all playing their heart out. I didn’t get a chance to hear the last two sets of songwriters because we had to get back to the hotel. But I have no doubt they sang their hearts out as well.

Take the time to follow the links and listen to their music – you won’t be disappointed. Billy was a good host and he and Amanda Jo Kielpinski (Truckstop Honey) had colorful songs. Arvie and Bunny Bennett were a gracious couple and sang some really nice songs.

I felt a little out of place not being in the local group. But songwriters are a pretty accepting lot as a general rule. Arvie and Bunny made me feel like I was part of the group. Arvie apologized for not being there early enough to hear me play. They had gotten ready, got in the truck, and it wouldn’t start. I have no doubt we’ll keep in touch. Billy has invited me back so they’ll get a chance to hear me play.

Dan Roark/Doobie Jones

Luke Hatfield/Jerr Grunn,

Marc Oriet/Arvie & Bunny,

Truckstop Honey,

Jeffrey Allen/Christina Valentino,

Jeff Dezern/Eli Locke,

Andrew Ullman/Colt Stroud

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

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