Tag Archive: Joel Nichols


[Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six]

The rent on our upstairs apartment was $35 a month. I guess, with the house being in the neighborhood it was in, the owner just appreciated people who paid rent on time, took care of the place, and didn’t attract a lot of attention. That would change a bit, but that’s another story.

When any one of the four of us got paid, we would go to Spats in the West End for happy hour. Then we would pick up food and beer and head home. Joel and I – and anyone who happened by to jam – would play late into the night. When it neared three a.m. we’d head back to the store for more beer. Then the next time someone got paid, we’d do it again. But, with the exception of Spats, that was the routine on really any given evening. We worked at Deli Junction during the day.

One day we were running errands or somesuch. Joel was driving and I was drinking coffee in a styrofoam cup. We hit a bump and I held my cup up and didn’t spill a drop.

“I’m pretty good at that,” I boasted proudly.

Before too long, Joel stomped on the brakes. Of course I spilled coffee on my last clean shirt. And those were laundromat days. I was really pissed and couldn’t understand why he would do that just to be a smart ass. It didn’t take long for us to get past it, but I’ll never forget it. (I’m still pissed.)

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Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Paypal.me/danroark

[Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4] The picture is of tuna fish salad Cyndy made. I can eat tuna fish and tuna fish salad now. I haven’t had the impulse to gag when I smelled it in years…

….In the upstairs apartment at 916 Acklen Ave. in Nashville, we took turns fixing meals when we ate int. On one occasion when it was my turn, I decided to fix tuna casserole. It was pretty freaking good as I recall – as long as I’m not smelling tuna while I think about it. It received compliments.

After dinner we went out for drinks. We we got back, we drank beer and watched tv, among other things. The casserole dish – meanwhile – had been pushed to the side of the table in the kitchen. It got covered up by other things. With all of us actually working at the same time, as well as practicing and playing shows, the dish was forgotten, for a while.

But, it happened to be particularly warm for the next few days. We began to notice a smell. I don’t remember how long we looked, but obviously we found it. Which is when everyone looked at me and said, “you cooked it, you clean it.” So I did, alternately holding my breath and gagging.

Finally, it was over and I was seriously sniffing dishwashing soap. I will not describe it for a couple of reasons. One is because I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone else. The second is because I don’t know if I could accurately describe it and not run to the bathroom. As it is, it will be a few hours before I can have any of the tuna fish salad.

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Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

 

 

 

River That Flows is the first song I wrote about Cyndy, wife now, girlfriend then. Or rather, I was thinking about Cyndy when I wrote my half of the song. I was in college at NTSU (now UNT). Tim Duggins was my roommate. We met the year before at Richland Junior College (now Community College). On a Sunday, I think it was, we took our guitars and a 6-pack to the park.

We played the usual songs and practiced Sister Golden Hair by America. We had come to write a new song though. I don’t remember which one of us had the original idea. But after a lot of back and forth of ideas, moments of exhilaration and excitement, and when the 6-pack was gone, we had a song called River That Flows.

Southern Plains would be formed the next year. As I’ve said before, River That Flows was a staple of our set and it remains in my set list today. Joel Nichols and I added leads and flurries, but the song you hear now is the same song we wrote that day.

Unfortunately, Timothy James Duggins died of lung cancer a few years ago. I got in touch with him again

Tim Duggins on the left with his brother, Mike.

before he died. We were going to try to get together, but the last couple of years were tremendously hard on him. It was tough for him to get around.

Rest in Peace Tim!

 

 

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Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

Picture of a bad picture of The Villager from the ’70s

[Read part I, part II and Nashville part I] [When we had to have the film developed, we never knew if the picture was blurry until we got the pictures back.]

The Villager is one of the first places we played in Nashville – and one of only two venues we played that are still open. The other is the Exit/Inn. Joel had been jamming with a Nashville musician named Cat Waldeman. So Southern Plains was a trio again, with Bruce Gibson (the original third member) still in Dallas.

One of many things that hasn’t changed in Nashville is that most of the time when you play it is open mics or showcases. Meaning you only get to play one to three songs. We had three core songs that we played – two originals and one cover. We began each set with those three, which meant those were often the three songs we played, period.

The three songs were Cold Wind Blows, River That Flows, and Can’t You See. Kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? It was a sort of mantra. If you read the previous posts, you know that the last recorded version of River That Flows that Joel and I recorded just came out as a single this week. Cold Wind Blows is also on the Southern Plains Revisited and will be released as a single.

We called Cold Wind Blows our “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”. Only because of the style of the song. We were jamming one day and we had a poem by a local street poet named Mostly Williams. If you let him crash at your place for a few days, he paid you with poems. So we wrote the music together and I added a few lyrics to Mostly’s poem. It’s a long jam song so we primarily played it live. But I found this version recorded and produced by George Turner. I made a few edits and re-mastered it for the album. There are other songs on the album that he recorded.

At the Villager, we played at least one full set. Of course we were paid in beer. It’s a small place and the crowd wasn’t near what you would call large. They seemed to enjoy the music, nonetheless.

Next up…well, you’ll just have to wait…it’s a good story….

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

 

 

 

 

916 Acklen Ave., in Nashville

This was the house in Nashville where we lived on the second floor. The room with the three windows upstairs was my room. The front door of our apartment is on the far right side of the porch. Our other two roommates were Sonja and Debbie. (I’m not so sure about Debbie, but it’s close.)

Sonja was a pretty cool person. Debbie was a nice person, but she was a clean freak. We used to say she’d empty the ashtray after you simply tapped your cigarette on it. That’s an exaggeration, but not by much.

Building a beer can mountain is no easy task. First you have to drink a lot of beer – so it doesn’t happen overnight. Then you have to find a good corner of the room in which to build it. Joel, Sonja, and I – with a little help from our friends – did both. I don’t know how many cans high it was, or how many total cans, but it almost reached the ceiling. We were rather proud of it. People would come over to see it. It was rather impressive.

Joel, Sonja, and I were gone for the good part of a Saturday. When we arrived back home, Debbie had gotten rid of the can mountain. We were understandably pissed off. And we let her know in no uncertain terms. She wasn’t our roommate for too much longer after that. The can mountain wasn’t the only incident and we found out she was irritating as well.

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Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

 

 

 

(Read the first part of the Southern Plains story here. Along with what the cover of the album was supposed to be like if the distributors had let me use the cover I wanted.)

The next time Joel, Bruce, and I got together – with guitars and beer – we each played songs we’d written. We enjoyed each other’s songs, re-playing some so the other two could harmonize. We were excited about what we were hearing. I hadn’t had anyone singing along with me on my songs and I was blown away.

Joel returned to school in Nashville, Tennessee at Scarritt College, which is now the Scarritt Bennett Center. He came back to Dallas over the summer and we played gigs before and after Joel’s summer courses in Nashville, including a show at a party in Slidell, Lousiana. Joel then decided, after three and a half years, that he would forego returning to school to play gigs. I paused my own schooling to move to Nashville with Joel so he would finish his last semester (and play gigs) and live with his other two roommates on the second floor of an old house.

The painting pictured above is a painting of a picture of mine and Joel’s guitars crossed. More to come!

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

paypal.me/danroark

 

 

 

Since live shows are not possible at the moment, the single release party for River That Flows will be the Poor David’s Pub/Kerrville Folk Festival open mic hosted by Rob Case, Monday night, August 10, on Facebook from 7 – 10:30 p.m. I will play about 8:15 p.m. The open mic will be on the Rob Case Open Mic Page. I will be sharing the show on my Facebook pages, personal and music.

River That Flows is the first single from the coming album, Southern Plains Revisited. It is a reissue of the last recording Joel Nichols and I did as Southern Plains before he died in 1999, plus a couple of songs I recorded but didn’t use on my Chasing After Wind Cd.

Tomorrow’s post will tell the story of Southern Plains and the last recording in the 90’s.

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

 

 

 

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

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.

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