Category: Stuttering


Chocolate Eclair and Apple Fritter

To take it in order – besides, it’s the first picture – Chocolate Eclairs and Apple Fritters is a song of mine. I call it my pastry song. I always play it when I play at Angela’s because they’re known for their tasty pastries. As I was waiting for the showcase to get started, Bayliss Laramore, a friend and fellow songwriter, brought me a box from Dunkin Donuts. In it – as you see in the picture- was a chocolate eclair and apple fritter with a candle in each one.

With apologies to the Bills for interrupting the song, I busted out laughing. Thanks to Bayliss for the gift, it was perfect. I’m sorry he couldn’t hang around to play, but it was getting late and the crowd was beginning to thin. If you get a chance to hear Bayliss’ music, you’ll enjoy it.

The Dallas Songwriters Association 4th Saturday Showcase at Angela’s at the Crosswalk began with Bill Sibley and Bill Hudson. Their set started off well except for some red-headed guy laughing his ass off. Bill Sibley’s down to earth songs relate hard knocks, lost loves, and motorcycle rides. His voice sounds like the result of those experiences. If I were to make a voice comparison, I would say Kris Kristofferson. A voice that relays hardships and experience. Thanks to Harry Hewlett, you can see his set here.

Loralee Pearman’s songs and voice, in contrast to Bill Sibley, evoked a youthful spirit and the hope in what lies ahead. Her lyrics show a maturity beyond her youthful looks. Loralee is a ball of energy and cute as a button. See her set here.

It was during my set that things began to get weird. You probably saw that coming – I didn’t. But it’s good in a way, because it gives me a chance to talk about my set since I can’t review myself. Well I could, but that would be pompous and silly.

A few songs into my set, my back up band arrived outside. Two fire trucks and an EMT truck pulled up on the street outside with lights and sirens going full tilt. The sirens were turned off before very long. But the lights kept flashing for quite some time. Which made quite a backdrop for my songs. You can see some of the songs from my set here and another one here.

Harry Hewlett closed the show with a few songs after I finished. As they say – a good time was had by all.

Peace be with you.

Dan at CUMC 3At my one man show at Christ UMC a couple of weeks ago, I played my newest song, Hello Out There, for the first time in public. Introducing the song, I explained that there were various members of church families that were on the autistic spectrum. I was not personally familiar with autism untill a few years ago. I noticed the symptoms in a few of the children, but did not know it was autism.

A college student at church was helping with the Autism center at UNT in Denton and facilitated a program at church with a director of an autism program who had autistic children. After that I began to realize how varied the autism spectrum is. If you do not know, the autistic spectrum stretches from those who are highly functioning to those who are low functioning. Those who are highly functioning need steady, but only slight, intervention by others. Those who are low functioning, on the other hand, need almost constant attention.

I have witnessed incidents at church over the years with some of the children. A few days after one particularly violent episode, I had a conversation with the child’s father. I asked him how the child was and he told me that he wished he could get inside the child’s head to know what the child was thinking. I kept thinking about that because, as a songwriter and author, that’s what I do – think about things.

I do not have any insight into an autistic person’s state of mind. But, having stuttered all my life, I know what it’s like to live in one’s own head. And that’s what led me to write the song, Hello Out There. It can be found here.

Peace be with you.

 

 

 

 

 

Dan at Angelas 12-15-'14 I played Monday night at Angela’s at the Crosswalk in downtown Plano. I had a cold for several days previous. But I felt fairly well – although not completely. While my sons, Cameron and J.D., and I were driving to Angela’s, I developed a tickle in my throat. Which is not all that uncommon. Especially if one is playing and singing all the time during the constantly changing weather of a Texas winter.

Which is when I usually get a cold – when the weather changes. Some people think I mean literally every time the weather changes. But that is not what I – or people like me – mean. We mean certain times when the weather changes. In my case, I mean when the weather changes like it has recently – hot then cold, warm then cold, hot then cold. If the temperature had gotten down to freezing or lower, I would have been screwed.

As it was, I thought I was getting off kind of easy this year – while knocking on wood and crossing my fingers. I was drinking plenty of water before my time to play and took my water with me when my time came. Unfortunately the stage area is just inside the front door and the front of the restaurant is all glass. There was a draft with people walking in and out the door.

The crowd was rather loud, so I was singing and playing louder trying to hear myself. The situation made me sweat, as the cold and the tickle were on my mind as well. But, except for the tickle, I felt fine. When we got home, the tickle faded a bit. I didn’t feel too bad when I went to bed.

When I woke up, my nose was stopped up, my mouth was dry and I had a “jaw ache.” I took some head medicine and went to church to take pictures of the troops coming to pick up the toys we had collected for soldiers’ children. If I talked too much, I sounded like a pissed off goose. So naturally, I kept on talking . All three boys still live at home, so not talking is seldom an option.

As the afternoon turned into evening, I began to sound like a pissed off goose trying to imitate Johnny Mathis. I don’t stutter as much as I used to. But I still don’t appreciate jokes about it. Yet that doesn’t mean I cannot see the humor if it is by me at myself. And sounding like a pissed off goose that is imitating Johnny Mathis and stutters – even I have to think that is vaguely humorous.

Which is why I do not try Dragon software with which the computer follows your vocal commands. I cannot imagine what it would look like if I stuttered. I have tried to imagine, but I really don’t want to know. It would pain me to think that all these years of public speaking and mental adjustment was all for anything close to naught. I usually don’t have a problem when I have a guitar in my hand, but carrying a guitar around and whipping it out when I talk would be more than a little awkward. While waiting around in a fast food place, it would really suck.

But I seriously digress. I hope you enjoyed the story as much as I did writing it – not as much as I did living it, which was minimal. However, I would like to say that when I played my set, I did really well. Then things went south. So, looking back on it now, I leave you with these words of wisdom.

If we cannot find humor in ourselves, we are not looking hard enough. And try to stay away from drafts.

Peace be with you.

Conner and Dan in the Studio I was at the Patrick McGuire Recording Studio last Friday, working on songs for my new CD. Randy Talbert, Steve Smith, and John Tepper of the praise band at church played on three songs. My oldest son, Conner, who also plays with the praise band when his schedule allows, played guitar on several songs. Cameron, the middle son, helped with taking pictures, videos, and assisting the engineer. He also plays with the praise band and helps with sound. The session went well and I’ll discuss it later, perhaps, but I want to back up a bit.

While I was getting ready to go into the studio, I naturally thought about Joel Nichols, my musical partner of twenty-five years until he died in 1999. We recorded our last CD in 1996. My wife, Cyndy, introduced me to Bruce Gibson, and later to Joel when he came home from college at Scarritt in Nashville. When the three of us began to gel as a band, I moved out to Nashville while Joel was attending his last year at school. We lived with two other people in the top half of a house that had been around for fifty years, had been home to a hippie commune, and no longer exists.

Joel and I were driving around Nashville in his car one morning. After stopping for John Tepper in Studio coffee, we continued on our journey, going over several bumps and through several turns. Throughout the drive, I managed to keep from spilling my coffee by acting as a human gyroscope. Then I made a mistake. After we we went through the next dip, I turned to Joel and opened my mouth.

“I haven’t spilled a drop. I’m pretty good.”

A short while later, Joel grinned and slammed on the breaks. Coffee soaked the front of my last clean shirt. And going to the laundry mat had not been in my immediate plans. I objected, but the more I objected, the more he laughed. Seemingly in an increasing vindictive manner.

I was somewhat used to taking crap for my stuttering. But a prank like that from someone I considered my closest friend was painful. It illustrated that even the best of friends have a few, even if small, irreconcilable differences. The darker side of their personality that you hope you seldom see and avoid if you see it coming. Joel’s vindictive prankster side was one of those sides of his personality that switched my defensive tendencies into high gear.

photo When I continued to object, Joel realized how much it bothered me, and he apologized. Despite the times when our personalities conflicted, there were more good times than bad times in our twenty+ years of making music together. Going into the studio reminded me of the good music we made together. When I play the old songs, I can still hear him playing his part. I am playing both parts in the studio and I hope I do him justice.

Peace be with you.

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