Tag Archive: Dan Roark


I was driving to Chattanooga last Wednesday for my show on Thursday at Big Frog Brewing. I was approaching West Memphis when I put the window down to get something off of my hand while I kept the other hand on the wheel. I tried to put it up when it stopped and slowly went all the way down. In the midst of the up and down movement of the window, I heard a crunching sound in the door. Which couldn’t be good.

So I’m driving down the road at 70 miles an hour in 34 degree weather with no window. I pulled into a Love’s and parked in front of the door. I ran inside to the restroom and back out as fast as I could. I called my son, Cameron. He called around and found a Firestone on the east side of Memphis that was still open. If they couldn’t fix it, they could get the window up and tape it in place.

Another 50 minutes of driving in decreasing temperatures and I was at the Firestone. I just asked if they would get it up and tape it. Cameron and would fix it after I got home. They did the best they could – they said – but there was still a gap at the top. I stopped at a larger Love’s. It was either duct tape, electrical tape, or packing tape. A few minutes later, I was taping my window like the last package I mailed – except sloppier because of the angles. Yet it worked.

I drove on to Chattanooga and checked in at the hotel. I spent the rest of the trip feeling like I was driving inside a wind tunnel with the radio cranked.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

No power needed in a pioneer kitchen!

Now, if I may continue after being without power for over two days. And may I say – being without power sucks!

Moving on, after I left Hendershots coffee, with a large coffee safely snuggled in the cup holder, I headed for Cartersville, Georgia, where I had a reservation at the KOA. When I registered at the KOA, I asked if they had information on things to see in the area. He picked some brochures off the rack on the wall and handed me a few.

One of the brochures was from the Bartow History

Right half of room

Museum. I’ve spent a lot of time in museums in my life. Learning about history was a family project when I was growing up, and likewise in my family now. The museum about Bartow County sounded interesting. That, and it was a good place to hang out in air conditioning for a while.

The people who put the museum together did a very good job. It was, of course, based on the people of Bartow county, whom I knew nothing about. I was focusing on the history of the county as a microcosm of the country’s history.

Left side of room

There were artifacts I had never seen before. I’ve been in most of the museums in the east, northeast, and south. Many of them, particularly related to the Revolutionary, and Civil, wars, mentioned saltpeter. It wasn’t until I happened to drop by the Bartow museum, that I actually got to see a container that held saltpeter in it – with the saltpeter still in it. Saltpeter was one of the bigger businesses in Bartow county during the Civil war.

In the picture of the right side of the room is a loom. When I was in elementary school studying spanish/Spain, I made a serape on a loom a bit more modern than the one in the picture, but it functioned exactly the same. Unfortunately, our house burned when I was in high school. The only proof is a picture in the archives of the local newspaper.

I left the museum cooled off, entertained, and informed. The block by the museum looked the same as in the pictures I had just seen – albeit with different establishments. I walked to the first place that looked like it had a cold beer. Turns out it was another historical place of sorts. It was a crowded little pub with a friendly vibe. It was called The Ate 8 Track Bar & Grill. The walls around the bar had shelves filled with – you saw this coming, didn’t you – numerous 8 track players of all types and kinds. Nice place to have a beer and think about all I’d seen at the museum.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

On Friday, the morning after our show at Akademia Brewing, we all left the house at 9 a.m. Joe and Lisa (Catanese) headed down to Savannah, where Joe had a show that night. They were wonderful hosts, as were the people of Athens, Ga. I headed into downtown Athens to get coffee. After parking, I took my backpack into Hendershots Coffee.

Hendershots is a cool looking place with a funky vibe. I came in the back from the parking lot through a back room and came out passing the bathrooms and the stage into the long open room. Tables and other sitting areas were on both sides until you reached the bar on the right side of the room – about a third the length of the room. There was a patio, accessible through the door across from the bar.

I got a dark roast, which turned out to be really good, and sat across the room from the bar. I checked my email, sent our youngest son, J.D., some pictures, and generally took care of business. The picture above was my view out their front window. Fortunately, the college was out, so it wasn’t crowded.

The clientele was varied, perfect for a people observer such as myself. There were still a few college students, still around for a job or summer school. After doing what I needed to do, I got a coffee to go and headed for Cartersville, Ga where I had a reservation at the KOA.

If you find yourself in or near Athens, Georgia of a morning, stop into Hendershots for coffee and a pastry. Or stop by at night for a drink and live music or comedy. Chances are you’ll enjoy yourself.

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.

Weaver D’s is a 33 year old institution in Athens, Ga. Joe Catanese took me there for lunch before our show at Akademia Brewery that night. And owner, Dexter Weaver, was front and center at the cash register.

You order the meat you want – they all come with two sides. In my case, I ordered the fried pork chop.

“Pork chop fried!” Dexter called out.

“Pork chop fried!” said the woman getting the vegetables.

“Automatic!” Dexter would say.

Dexter took Joe’s order and ran his card. Then he took my card and handed Joe his card, receipt, and a pen to sign the other receipt. He kept talking the whole time without looking at anyone. He turned, supposedly toward me with a receipt and pen. I already had my own pen in my hand. Then he handed it to the man behind me.

I laughed, turned to Joe and said, “I thought he was talking to me.”

“Just killing two birds with one stone,” Dexter said, never looking anyone in the eye while he was talking.

A few moments later, he gave me my receipts, one of which I signed.

Then, when the woman called out, “pork chop,” I told her my two sides – potato salad and collared greens – and she shuffled off to the refrigerator for the potato salad, and the stove for the collared greens. The utensils and so forth are self-serve.

As you can see on the sign in the picture above, and on the walls in the interior, Dexter’s full expression is “automatic for the people.” There are also pictures of R.E.M on the wall. The band asked Dexter if they could name their next album Automatic For the People. Weaver didn’t think too much about it since the band had been pilfering his food at night. But when they “told me who they was” he was pleased and excited. The album won a grammy, Rolling Stone talked about the soul food restaurant in Athens, people came from all over to eat there, and other good fortune came around.

But that was a while back. Now there is a push to get it registered as an historical landmark so they can get additional funding to continue. You can read the full Automatic for The People story and contribute to their crowdfunding page at http://www.weaverds.com.

As for the food, I was not disappointed with the first fried pork chop I have had. The edges of the chop curled up, making a half bowl, as it were. The fat on one side had split into three “fingers,” so it looked somewhat like a crab, with claws only on one side and a big fat thumb on the other. But it was very tasty. The grease had drained off nicely. It wasn’t a very large pork chop, but that happens. The ample potato salad and collared greens filled out the “I’m full” quotient quite nicely. They were by far the best collared greens I have ever had. And that’s saying something.

If you go to Athens, you owe it to yourself to eat at Weaver D’s. The parking can be tough, but it’s worth it. Hell, if you’re in Atlanta even, you might want to make it a day trip.

Automatic!

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Automatic!”

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 or Part Two] This is the third and last installment of the series. As I explained in part one, I haven’t spent all that much time in strip joints, strip clubs, gentleman’s clubs or whatever you want to call them. As I said in part one, there were two periods of time that I visited strip clubs. The first was when I was in high school, as illustrated in the first two parts. The second was after I divorced my first wife. I had a job on Northwest Highway, I was lonely, and they were convenient.

But oddly enough, the third time I saw a celebrity was in neither of those time periods. It was later, but I’m not sure how much later. The strip joints were dwindling in the particular area on Northwest Highway. A lot of things were dwindling in the area. I was there for some reason or another in the late afternoon or early evening and I wanted a beer. Then I came upon Caligua. It was one of the first “gentlemen’s clubs”, in that it was looking for a higher class clientele. But it was still called a strip club.

I didn’t see any other place where I would like to get a beer, so I pulled into Caligua. I sat with the small group in front of the stage where a ventriloquist was performing. He was funny, but a lot of the jokes were making fun of people in front of the stage and the hecklers who just wanted to be pains in the ass. But being where I was it seemed rather natural. I just sat and drank my beer. I think I finished the beer at the same time he finished his set and took a break. So I got up and left.

Like the first two instances, it wasn’t until later that I realized who the ventriloquist was. It was when Cyndy and I went to see him. It was Jeff Dunham and, if I’m not mistaken, the “dummies” I saw that day were earlier editions of Peanut and Walter.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

For Autism Awareness Day, here is my song, Hello Out There, for those on the autism spectrum. When you meet someone on the spectrum, treat them with patience and grace. They’re living life the only way they know how.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

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