Category: Poetry


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.

First of all, in my life time, I haven’t spent much time in strip clubs – you can call them gentlemen’s clubs if you want to, but I didn’t see a lot of gentlemen when I was inside the clubs. My visits were in a couple of time periods.The first time period was when I was in high school. I would sneak my parent’s car out after they went to bed, meet my friends, and go downtown to the Cavern – before and after I had a driver’s license. There was a Cavern in Ft. Worth as well, but I don’t know if they were connected.

The Cavern in downtown Dallas was like a cave, particularly when you went inside, past the “ticket booth” and the bouncer. They didn’t check IDs. If you acted like you were supposed to be there, they didn’t argue. There were also rumors that the Cellar was “protected.” It was dark, obviously, and there were sayings written on the walls around the club. “Evil spelled backwards is live.” “You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” And so on.

The customers laid on mats in front of the stage. Waitresses (the dancers with clothes) took your drink orders and brought the drinks. I’m not sure the drinks had a lot of liquor in them. Liquor was not all we consumed, and being an inexperienced drinker, the issue was confused.

The stage was not really a stage. It was more like a riser for the choir from the elementary school. If there were two or more girls on the stage, when the red light went on, they had to follow each other off. The red light supposedly meant the cops were there. But I found it strange when there was an officer talking to the bouncer long before the light went on. Besides, it wasn’t like they took a lot off.

Crammed behind the stage was the band. I heard the dirtiest version of Rocky Racoon I have ever heard at the Cellar. Just a side fact in case you were interested. The band got to play their good stuff when the girls were off the stage. And there were often guest performers.

There weren’t comedy clubs back then like there are now. And popular strip joints often had comedians do shows. I saw a comedian at the Cellar one night that I thought was funny as hell. Turns out it was George Carlin with short hair. He had hired a new management company, and they had him play smaller venues around the country. I believe he played the Cellar in Ft. Worth as well. It was just before he grew his hair long. I didn’t know all that then. I just knew I laughed my ass off. There were others that night, but he stood out – as you can understand.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

He walked through the streets in darkness,

Homeless but not alone,

A man on a mission of reverence

beyond the mundane chore of survival,

in a spirit of grace and mercy.

___

He stopped at Johnson’s Laundry

With it’s Closed for Christmas sign,

He knelt on the sidewalk outside the door,

Quietly saying the Lord’s Prayer,

the only prayer he knew.

___

Thanking “Papa” Johnson

For the clothes left unclaimed,

He left a small package – a crude, homemade cross

With a card on which was scrawled,

“Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

___

Next was Garcia’s Grocery

For the leftovers not yet spoiled

He knelt and prayed –

Another crude cross,

And the card, “Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

___

Ten blocks later, Miller’s Hardware,

For his sturdy, cardboard box dwelling,

and timber for his bed,

A kneel, a prayer, a larger crude cross,

And the card, “Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

___

Too far from home, the mission closed,

He found a bench in the park,

after a passerby bought coffee

and he walked – recalling forgotten memories –

without knowing what they meant.

___

Early the next morning on Christmas Day,

he fought the wind and rain,

through the cold streets to the mission,

where Christmas dinner was served, the soul sustained,

and life again had purpose.

___

The rain stopped, the wind died down,

as he trekked on home,

home – an alley behind the church

white and made of stone,

with a view of the cross on the wall.

___

He turned into the alley

and stopped in his tracks.

Where his cardboard box had stood,

was a sturdy lumber shack,

with a roof, a window, and a door.

___

He opened the door to a sturdy wooden cot,

An orange crate table, his few possessions inside,

with something new on top.

A suit of clothes hung on a hook,

with the laundry marker still on it.

___

He closed the door because he could,

he’d forgotten what it felt like.

Walking to the table he turned on the lamp,

it had been years since he had his own light,

but then his breath went away.

___

Also on the table sat a Bible, brand new,

inscribed with a name he hadn’t used in years,

next to a picture of a family he’d forgotten he had.

He stood staring at them, his mind racing,

memories bombarding his thoughts.

___

He sat on the cot and picked up the Bible,

after staring at the picture a while.

He ran his fingers over the only thing he owned

that wasn’t worn by wear or weather,

with emotions he couldn’t control.

___

Through tears, with shaking hands,

he opened the Bible and read

“Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

___________________________

© 2009  Daniel L. Roark

Merry Christmas!

Peace be with you.

Ireland Casteel

I introduced Ireland Casteel to begin the inaugural TexasSelectRadio.com Monday night Shaun and Dan show at Guitars and Growlers on February 5. Ireland is one of the better and popular young teenage songwriters in the Dallas area. Her songs illustrate her experiences and the things she has learned. Without any pretense of being older than she is. Which helps her have insights – brought out in her songs – she would not have had otherwise. I have invited her to play showcases a number of times in the past couple of years and will continue to do so. You will know what I mean when you hear her songs – which will soon be in rotation on TexasSelectRadio.com.

Cat McGee

Cat McGee is a songwriter with intense emotion. Not just in her voice or expression, but the words themselves as well. As illustrated in the song, City of Steeples, which she wrote about Charleston, South Carolina on a tragic day as she watched the community respond with determination and faith. Cat was struck with the large number of churches, hence the title. Follow the link to hear that song and others and see where she is playing.

Bill Nash

Bill Nash followed McGee and displayed his penchant – out of necessity – for using capos and alternate tunings. With his MS symptoms, his hands sometimes are cantankerous – as it were – and the capos and tunings help him to keep playing guitar and writing songs. His songs are distinctly folk, which is not surprising given his 25 years of volunteering at Uncle Calvin’s Coffeehouse and decades residing at the Kerrville Folk Festival. He has a song he wrote as a Christmas song that friends talked him into changing into a song about Kerrville. “But it’s still a Christmas song.” Follow the link and check him out when you can.

Clint Sherman

With most of the younger songwriters I see being girls – which is a good thing – it’s nice to see a young man such as Clint Sherman write some nice songs. Blackland Fever is the name of his band and I wouldn’t mind hearing him with them. But he does pretty well by himself.

All in all, it was a great first TSR Shaun and Dan show. Come on out to Guitars and Growlers on Mondays and be part of a fun experience. We have John Mason, Gigi Gostas, and others next week. If you are a songwriter and would like to be on the show, send me a message and we’ll find a night for you. We usually keep a spot or two open for walk in sign ups, but they go fast, so it’s best to sign up in advance.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

V-Picks

There came a time when I could no longer buy any more guitars. I certainly don’t need any more guitars. Which is what led to the moratorium on buying guitars. Well, that and Cyndy wouldn’t buy any justification I might come up with.

So when I worked the Dallas Songwriters Association booth at the Dallas and Arlington guitar shows, I started looking at accessories. I have an impressive capo collection (more later). I have picks of many sizes, shapes, thickness, material, etc.

For years I used Fender medium picks like everyone else. Then John Pearse picks with the off-center point that helped with the way I played. A few years ago, a lot of people started making picks out of just about anything you can imagine. I have one out of petrified wood and one of granite.

So I began to experiment with all different kinds of picks. They were cheaper so Cyndy didn’t mind. It had never occurred to me how the pick can change the sound. Like everyone else, I tried different strings, different gauges, and so forth. I was amazed at the different sounds I could get with the different picks.

Then Vinni Smith introduced me to his V-Picks picks. I use them exclusively now- except for finger picks, which he doesn’t make. I also use different picks for different songs. The picture below is my V-Pick leather wrist band with the picks I use. Check out the website and see the variety of shapes and styles. There is bound to be one that fits your sound or even enhances it. They are made with Vinni’s special acrylic blend. And they stick to your fingers with the heat of your fingers.

Last week, I got an email from Vinni with the picks on sale and a new pick. The Nashville pick is a return in his special acrylic blend to that same Fender pick except “on steroids.” I didn’t like using a heavy pick, but I love this pick. It rounds out my wristband onstage selection quite nicely.

Check out the website. They have sets you can order to try different ones. Tell Vinni I sent you.  Or catch me when I play and you’ll have a demonstration. I’d be glad to show them to you and let you try them.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Merry Christmas from Jesus

He walked through the streets in darkness,
Homeless but not alone,
A man on a mission of reverence
beyond the mundane chore of survival,
in a spirit of grace and mercy.

He stopped at Johnson’s Laundry
With it’s Closed for Christmas sign,
He knelt on the sidewalk outside the door,
Quietly saying the Lord’s Prayer,
the only prayer he knew.

Thanking “Papa” Johnson
For the clothes left unclaimed,
He left a small package – a crude, homemade cross
With a card on which was scrawled,
“Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

Next was Garcia’s Grocery
For the leftovers not yet spoiled
He knelt and prayed –
Another crude cross,
And the card, “Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

Ten blocks later, Miller’s Hardware,
For his sturdy, cardboard box dwelling,
and timber for his bed,
A kneel, a prayer, a larger crude cross,
And the card, “Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

Too far from home, the mission closed,
He found a bench in the park,
after a passerby bought coffee
and he walked – recalling forgotten memories –
without knowing what they meant.

Early the next morning on Christmas Day,
he fought the wind and rain,
through the cold streets to the mission,
where Christmas dinner was served, the soul sustained,
and life again had purpose.

The rain stopped, the wind died down,
as he trekked on home,
home – an alley behind the church
white and made of stone,
with a view of the cross on the wall.

He turned into the alley
and stopped in his tracks.
Where his cardboard box had stood,
was a sturdy lumber shack,
with a roof, a window, and a door.

He opened the door to a sturdy wooden cot,
An orange crate table, his few possessions inside,
with something new on top.
A suit of clothes hung on a hook,
with the laundry marker still on it.

He closed the door because he could,
he’d forgotten what it felt like.
Walking to the table he turned on the lamp,
it had been years since he had his own light,
but then his breath went away.

Also on the table sat a Bible, brand new,
inscribed with a name he hadn’t used in years,
next to a picture of a family he’d forgotten he had.
He stood staring at them, his mind racing,
memories bombarding his thoughts.

He sat on the cot and picked up the Bible,
after staring at the picture a while.
He ran his fingers over the only thing he owned
that wasn’t worn by wear or weather,
with emotions he couldn’t control.

Through tears, with shaking hands,
he opened the Bible and read
“Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

Peace be with you.

foreign-figuresThe featured artist at the Poor David’s Pub open mic, hosted by Mr. Troll, on Monday, October 24 was a band from Utah called Foreign Figures. Separately the band is Eric Michels – Vocals, Steve Michels – Drums, Seth Dunshee- Bass, and Johnny Tanner – Guitar. Collectively, they are one kickass ball of sound. For a band that has only been together for two years, the four young men seem naturally tight.

The energy of the members of Foreign Figures seems to be boundless. One of the unique things about the band is that they all play percussion at different times. They have a tom-tom, a floor tom, and a snare drum outside of Steve’s trap set. There were times when Seth Dunshee and Johnny Tanner would play their respective drums. Eric as well.

On one particular song, Steve left his drum set, set the beat on the tom-tom, then Dunshee took over the beat. Steve moved the snare drum, set the beat, then his brother, Eric, took over. Next was the floor tom before Tanner took over the beat, then back to the trap set. What followed was a percussive explosion with a back beat. They took us just short of overwhelming and brought it back around to an explosive conclusion. I’ve always loved a good drum solo and this was a drum solo on steroids.

But it wasn’t all about percussion. Tanner played the guitar like the old familiar friend I’m sure it has been. Dunshee placed the bass notes foreign-figures-2between percussion, guitar, and piano seamlessly, emphasizing notes when necessary. Eric Michels sang and danced or moved around with seemingly reckless abandon that was actually very good timing and planning.

It was the band’s first gig in Texas. We showed them they were welcome. If you get the chance to see Foreign Figures, don’t pass it up. As I said earlier, for a band only together for two years, these young men are tight. And as Troll said when he posted a picture of himself and Samantha Saunders (Bar Manager) with the band – “these guys rocked it.”

Peace be with you.

Cat, Dan, and John 4Thanks to everyone who came out to see the Sack Summer Hunger Concert on Sunday at Christ United Methodist Church in Farmers Branch. We raised $98 for Sack Summer Hunger. It was a small, but enthusiastic, crowd, and they very much enjoyed the show. I don’t care for the word “awesome” because it’s so over-used. But when someone uses it to refer to my music, my friends’ music, and the show, it feels pretty good.

We played the show “in the round,” playing three rounds of two songs each, telling stories behind the songs. John Mason began the round, Cat McGee followed and I ended each round. We ended the show with the three of us playing Will the Circle Be Unbroken. I would like to thank John and Cat for coming out and playing in support of Sack Summer Hunger.

Thanks again to those who made it out. The list of those who wrote checks will be included in the report given to Metrocrest Social Services with the money raised.

Peace be with you.

Since it is Autism Awareness Month, here is a video of my song about those on the autism spectrum – Hello Out There.

Dan at Pig 'n' WhistleBefore I went to the ASCAP conference, I wanted to line up a place to play while I was in LA. While I was checking,  I found that it so happened that  the Pig ‘n’ Whistle on Hollywood Blvd., a block from the hotel, had an open mic on Tuesday night.  Not having any kind of following in LA – other than fans on Reverbnation and Facebook – setting up a solo gig would have proved difficult. So an open mic was my best bet.

But it was good fortune that it was an open mic in a historical building. The Pig ‘n’ Whistle was founded in 1927, next to the Egyptian Theatre where the premiers of movies were shown.  You can imagine the movie stars and celebrities that ate there.  The restaurant  has been restored to its original glory. What is called Backstage or the Back Room is down a hall to the back of the restaurant. There was a bar, but it was only used for parties and special events.

Backstage is a funky little room with an even funkier stage. Which is a good thing. Again, you can imagine the private parties held back there over the years. Cameron and I got there before they had everything set up. I was one of the first people on the list. I prefer to go on after a couple of people or acts to get a feel for the crowd. I shouldn’t have been concerned.

When it came time to start, everyone in the room had to pay $3. Which was new for me. If Dan Roark at Pig'n' Whistle 2there is any charge at an open mic in the Dallas area, it is a request for a drink minimum. But it was also Hollywood  Blvd. – you don’t want just anybody wandering in and hanging out.  The McDonald’s has a security guard and police patrols drop around regularly.

The crowd was made up of mostly performers, although there were a few people there to listen. When the show began, the MC asked for the hands of those who wanted to play. I hesitated, to see how  it went. About three people raised their hands. They were the first three to play – with the order corresponding to the raising of hands. The next time around I raised my hand and played in the second batch of performers.

Dan at Pig 'n' Whistle 3It was an eclectic group of people and performers, to say the least. A man who sang cover tunes a capella – in stops and starts at times.  A girl playing her songs on a ukulele, and not too shabbily. A comedian who apparently calls into the Howard Stern show and had jokes that I’m surprised Stern would appreciate. One of those there to listen was a guy made up like Will Farrell in Semi-Pro. He had been out on Hollywood Blvd. near Grauman’s Chinese Theater, posing for pictures for tips.

When I played my songs, I told them I was from Dallas out for the ASCAP conference, and introduced the songs as I always do. I felt like the veteran of the group. I received a good reception from the audience. We listened to a few more performers after I played – including a blues player with an interesting style – before we headed back to the hotel.

It was a great way to end the first day in LA. It’s a more authentic trip when you get to mingle with local people as a traveler and performer. And the journey had just begun.

Peace be with you.

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