Category: Music


So I left Colorado on Friday morning – a beautiful day. The traffic was still rather light, but had picked up a little each day. It was a nice day for a drive. A damn long drive, but there you are. The weather warmed up, the air was clear, and the clouds were seemingly drifting through space and time. 

Radio reception cut out on the drive through New Mexico. I listened to the latest mix Conner sent me of the songs for the LA Session cd to be released later this year on Refrigerator Records. The songs sounded so good I was tempted to release it earlier, but everything in its own time. It is good traveling music.

The timing worked out perfect. Radio reception kicked back in when I finished listening to the mixes. A couple of hours later I was past Amarillo. Weather warnings began to interrupt the radio show. Rain, ping pong ball size hail, and sixty mile an hour winds were attacking the panhandle behind me. I was appreciating the fact that I had dodged that particular bullet. 

I appreciated that fact all the way to Hwy 380. The wind had picked up considerably by that time. Then I hit a little light rain. No big deal. I called Cameron to see if he was at his apartment in Denton. I was going to stop off, say hi, and use the bathroom. But soon after we hung up, the bottom dropped out. God’s way of telling me he didn’t appreciate my over confidence. 

On 35, visibility was reduced to having to turn on the flashers to warn those behind us. I worried about those whose common sense seemed lacking. I had to go around two accidents, the first of which I was almost in. But I arrived home with no incident in which I was involved.

I’ve been wearing a mask and social distancing the whole time. On one level of my conscience I’m getting used to it. On another level, I’m kinda tired of the whole damn thing. I would like to have a beer at the bar and then finish my show when the break is over.

In my dream last night, the trip – as well as events of the past few months – invaded that same conscience. There is a lot of jumbled parts that made an impression, but I don’t remember what happened. However, one scene struck me vividly. 

I was at a gathering of some sort. It was obviously pre(or post)- Covid 19. While the groups were away from each other, it was closer than six feet. I was walking through the crowd, saying hello to what seemed like everyone. I wasn’t shaking hands, but I was patting everyone on the shoulder. I got halfway through the crowd when I became horrified at what I was doing. Yet I couldn’t stop. Then I suddenly woke up with a shake.

I’d rather not have that dream again, if it’s all the same.

_____________________________________

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

 

Since the first single from Southern Plains Revisited will be released May 29 on Refrigerator Records (whether I play the show at World’s End Brewing or not), I thought I would fill you in on the beginning of Southern Plains. Cyndy and I have been married for twenty-eight years. We’ve been in love, as we say, since right after high school – where we were friends.

Our first date was during her senior year. I had graduated the year before. We went to see Rusty Weir at the Lone Star Opry House on Industrial in Dallas and had a blast, drinking – you guessed it – Lone Star Beer. Industrial is called Riverfront now. We had a couple of dates after that.

Then, in early ’76, we had a disaster of a double date. We had an okay time together. But the date sucked. We ended up in an apartment lying on the floor next to a couple who were getting excited by the movie they were playing of people doing things we had no intention of doing at the time. But the other couple seemed to be moving in that direction. Neither of us remember exactly how the date ended, but mercifully it ended.

Cyndy called me before Super Bowl Sunday and invited me to a party at a friend’s apartment to watch the game. There were Cyndy, myself, and Joel Nichols at Bruce and Charlotte Gibson’s apartment. We spent more time talking about music than watching the game. By the time the party was over, Joel, Bruce, and I agreed to meet again with guitars and beer to see what transpired.

Stay tuned!

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

 

 

 

I had planned on publishing a post yesterday. But with social distancing and so forth on the road, There just wasn’t a convenient time to whip out the laptop. I’m getting used to the WordPress app on my phone – I just hadn’t taken the time to check it out. Which is odd considering that time is the one thing I have too much of.

With states taking steps to open up, Sally and I didn’t know what to expect in the way of traffic on the way to Colorado. Of course Dallas and Denton traffic was increasing. Not too much traffic through west Texas, but then, why would there be? The rest areas had very few people, most of whom were either wearing masks or kept their distance. When we stopped for gas, the employees were wearing masks as were most of the customers. Most, but not all, were social distancing.

From Trinidad, Colorado north through Colorado Springs the traffic kept picking up. Enough so that we were caught in bumper to bumper traffic for a time in Manitou Springs. People are still being sensible here for the most part, but there are always those people. Some people were getting back to work in Colorado Springs which caused quite a bit of the traffic.

As for me and mine, except for the masks and social distancing, with the accompanying fear and paranoia, basic life has not changed much. Thankfully, Cyndy is still working and I have writing projects. Granted I’m not playing any live shows at the moment. But I can record videos, do some streaming, and work on new songs. My point is that we have always washed our hands. We have always been careful of door handles and so forth. And we keep a distance from people on a regular basis.

Be that as it may, we’ll see what unfolds. I don’t know if I will get to play what would have been the last show on my tour the end of the month. I’m going home the end of the week. Cyndy and I will come back up here the last week of the month for Cyndy’s vacation and what would have been my shows. We may not be doing much.

Governor Polis of Colorado has said that he would make a decision on restaurants on the 25th. The show at World’s End Brewing in Canon City  is scheduled for the 29th. Since I can set up back in a corner alcove, easily leaving 6-9 feet, I would really like to play the show. The customers are mostly local and probably haven’t left.

But after that, who knows? I have a few shows booked for July that I hope to play. But I’m getting recordings ready to release, writing new songs and other things. I’m not in that much of a hurry if it keeps me from being sick.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

Picture taken at my last show at World’s End Brewing.

I was looking at my tour calendar that I had been ignoring and hadn’t crossed out all the cancelled dates yet. Fortunately, most of the breweries I was going to play are still surviving. I’m still hoping to play a few shows at the end of the month. But I thought I would feature the breweries here and give a shout out to them.

World’s End Brewing in Canon City, Colorado, was where I was to begin and end my tour. It was – after all – my World’s End Tour. It’s a great little brewery on the corner. Tom Martinez and his wife – a sweet couple – run the brewery. They have delicious food to go along with their tasteful craft beers.

Bavarian pretzel sticks go with almost any beer. Cactus Needles are strips of jalapeno and sweet onion, battered and fried, with blackened ranch. World’s End also has the usual appetizers with their unique spin on them. Don’t expect your usual fried pickles.

The entrees run the palate pleasing gamut from hot dogs and chili dogs, to Fish and Chips, wings and BLT, to build your own angus burger, salmon burger, a panini, to fruit and salads. Something to go with a variety of beers. Fortunately, World’s End has just such a variety. King’s Kona Stout is on the heavy end with coffee. They have a few fruit beers, currently Code Blue, Fairy Dust, and Frostberry.

The beer menu also usually includes a porter (Lethe’s Tears), a wheat beer (EJ-5), a kolsch (Reclamation), and a pale ale (Dragonspit). A few of my favorites – I have more – are the Suicide Blonde Bomber (blonde ale), Durty Leprechaun (Irish red ale), and the Dark Abockalypse (bock of course). Yet there’s more. When you’re in the area, check them out. If you can’t stop for while, grab some food and beer to go. You can order on the website before you get there. Either way, check out the beers they have. And tell Tom I said hi.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

 

A random shot of me playing when I did that kind of thing.

Of course, live shows are out of the question for an undetermined length of time. And my period of social distancing long distances has also been extended for an undetermined length of time. Our friend, Sam, was interred this morning in Ft. Worth and I’ll be driving Sally back to Colorado. That’s just the way things work during the accelerated circumstances of our present reality.

Yet things have to continue in whatever form they can. In a previous post, I said that I received numerous emails – and still do – that tell me all the things I can do while quarantined. If anyone else wants to learn online, they probably already have a teacher. Then they said I could release new music. And I said (if you’ve been following along) “that I could do.”

And that time is approaching. As I said earlier, my plan was to release the final studio session of myself and Joel Nichols as Southern Plains – beginning with Bruce Gibson and so forth – with two unreleased songs from my Chasing After Wind sessions that we played as Southern Plains, but I did all the parts. Then I bought a cassette to digital device that allowed me to revive most of the Southern Plains recordings. I was anal about recording practices, shows, etc. back then. After I add songs to complete Southern Plains Revisited, who knows what recordings I’ll have for future releases. I should release the first single from the cd in the next few weeks.

But wait…there’s more! Stay tuned…

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

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.

 

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.

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