Tag Archive: music


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.

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.

I headed for Chattanooga two weeks ago Monday. I stopped over in Memphis and drove on in to Chattanooga on Tuesday. I played at Tremont Tavern Tuesday night. Then Wednesday night at Abbott’s Bar and Grill in Atlanta. I had a show on Thursday at Akademia Brewing Company with my friend, Joe Cat. So I was playing open mics on my way down. Hopefully setting up future shows.

Open mics are pretty much the same any where you go. The host is usually a popular member of the local music community. In the case of the Tremont Tavern, the host is Mike McDade. He’s pretty much a staple of the local scene.

I intended to get there when the list went out at 7 p.m., but I screwed up on the time change. Yeah, I know, but I did. When I got there, some of the local performers had already signed up. I added my name to the list, not all that concerned about the time. Check out was at 11 a.m. and I only had a two hour drive to Atlanta.

I got a beer at the bar and found a place to stand to watch the show and be out of the way. I missed Mike playing to open the show. But I only missed one or two on the list. I don’t know if it started on time or not.

There was the usual assortment of people playing the open mic. From those who don’t really have a lot of talent, but have friends who will show up and make noise to those who actually have a little talent and are working to get better. Needless to say, the latter had the most talent. Then there are those who think they are significantly better than they actually are. Yet they still need support, so I clapped too – but not too hard.

With the exception of those who showed up late because they only wanted to play for their own little group anyway, most of the performers stayed to hear other performers. Of course, two or three people played their set and left. Which is pretty standard for open mics.

I opened the out door for a guy coming in with a bag and a guitar case. His wife, I assume, followed him. He said hello to Mike, who told him he was next. Either the guy had showed up early to sign up and leave – which I doubt, or he had Mike put him on the list. Either way, he almost overshot his starting time.

He pulled his guitar out of its case. Then he opened the big black case he had. He pulled out three dulcimers. Then he pulled a stand out of the bag.  The third case – a bit smaller – held his pedal board, with looper. In the time it took him to get everything on stage and get it set up, someone else could have played. On the final of his three songs, he played all four instruments, two of them more than once, setting the loops up, and playing the one song – which took somewhere around six minutes. I understand that he had a show there that Friday and wanted to advertise. But all of that for three songs?

The girl pictured above was a regular who had a new song to try out. She was one of the performers who stood out from the rest. She was one of those people who make open mics interesting. As was another young man who played his songs in a practiced manner. He was playing a couple of places around town.

I played after the two people who followed the dulcimer player. I woke the place up to a degree with three songs from my Hello Out There cd in rapid fire delivery. After waiting to play – and having driven a good part of the day – I was fairly pumped. The crowd certainly seemed to enjoy my songs.

After a few more acts, I headed for the hotel. Next morning, I headed for Atlanta…

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Cameron and I arrived in Nashville on Wednesday, June 27th. Thursday morning we checked in at Summer NAMM (National Association of Music Merchant) and got our badges. We went to the D’Angelico booth so I could sign up for the open mic to be held at 3 p.m. on the Reverb stage.

After cruising through all of the booths, we stopped at the Kyser booth. We also say hi to them because their down the road in Tyler.

Then to the John Pearse Strings booth. I have been using JP strings on my Alvarez for all of its 42 years. We chatted with Todd Newman and picked up a few things.

The Alvarez booth was next. We played a few of the new line of guitars and chatted with the staff. The guitars sounded really nice, with a full sound.

At 3 p.m. we were at the Reverb stage. I was concerned because a storm had just blown through, canceling the previous band’s performance. At 2:45, they were still taking the tarps off the stage. They finished in time and the D’Angelico staff situated guitars across the stage. The idea was to use one of their guitars for the one song. My name was called first, and I chose the guitar you see in the picture. I played I Got My Ass Kicked in Nashville – which incidentally is on the EP that will be released Wednesday at Malarkey’s Tavern in Dallas. I received good applause.

After watching most of the other performers, we left to go back to the hotel until time to head to Scully’s Saloon for the showcase…

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

While my live cd, Peace Be With You, has been available on my website – www.danroark.com – it was just recently released to all other outlets. The first seven songs were recorded at various times by Carlos Sanchez at Poor David’s Pub. The last song is a studio recording of What the Lord Intends, a song I wrote about Sack Summer Hunger that was mixed and mastered by my son, Conner.

The title song is a song I wrote about the shooting of the police officers at the peaceful protest in downtown Dallas in the summer of 2016.

I wanted to get it released before the release of my new EP, Hello Out There, in early July. Check out Peace Be With You on my website, CDBaby, and the usual places. Some sites insist you put Daniel rather than just Dan since my copyrights and such are in my full name, Daniel Lee Roark. Feel free to like, subscribe, share, etc.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Dweezil Zappa and Ryan Brown

I had been waiting for Dweezil Zappa to play at House of Blues since November. Which was when Dweezil’s drummer, Ryan Brown, played on my songs when I recorded in LA in November with my son, Conner, producing.

Not so incidentally, the first of two five song EPs that we recorded will be released within the next few weeks – Hello Out There. Ryan did a great job on my songs, as did Lou Castro, L.A. session bassist, and I was looking forward to seeing him play the massive drum set he plays with Dweezil.

I, and the rest of those in the audience, were not disappointed. It was an excellent show. And Ryan was impressive on the drums, as the other performers were on their respective instruments. The songs they played of Frank’s I recognized. But all songs were played exceptionally well. It was a kickass show.

When I walked into the room before the show, I was getting ready to send Ryan a message to let him know I was there. Before I had a chance to get my phone out, I looked up and there he was with his friend, Collin, who had also come to see the show. We talked for a few minutes before Ryan had to go get ready. He was going to come out when the show was over. But when they played a two song encore, it was getting late and I didn’t want to hang around until the after show backstage activities were over. I sent him a message telling him the show was excellent and I’d see him later.

On my way back to my car – as I do every time I’m down there – I remembered that HOB is in the old White Swan building. When I was working at Famous Ramos Hot Dog Place that was in mall food courts in the early 80’s, when the stores needed more pretzels, I would drive down to the basement dock at the White Swan building and get as many boxes as my car would carry. Famous Ramos, and other companies, paid them for freezer space. That was when the only thing in what would become the West End was the Old Spaghetti Warehouse.

Things change. But sometimes it’s kind of nice to remember what it was like then. I know the memories floating around in the ether would appreciate it.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

 

Richie Smith and I

Richie Smith and I

Richie lost his fight with brain cancer and went to his heavenly home within the past twelve hours. Below is the post I wrote when I met Richie in 2016. He was a wonderful young man. Even at the worst, he had a smile on his face, a song in his heart, and praise for God. He will be sorely missed by his family and friends – which includes everyone he ever met. I can still hear him sing his song, For A Reason. Rest in peace, Richie.

I was hosting the Angela’s at the Crosswalk Monday night open mic on Halloween when I first met Richie Smith. He came in with his mom and dad, waving to people as they came by the tables – just saying hi. His dad, Rick, came over and told me who he was so I knew when his slot came up. I asked him what he needed, sound-wise. He said Richie just needed a mic because he was going to play the song on a small Bose iPod/iPhone player.

When his time came, Rick helped Richie up to the microphone. Richie’s left leg was in a brace and his left arm was in a sling. I got him set up with the mic and his dad helped him start the songs. I adjusted the sound and Richie introduced himself.

“I’m Richie Smith. I had surgery for brain cancer to remove a tumor and what was left was diagnosed as grade 4 brain cancer. After surgery, I came out I was like this. This isn’t part of my costume.”

The crowd erupted in laughter. That is a perfect introduction to Richie. He is a twenty-two year old young man who has always loved music. He could play piano as well as other instruments. Music came to him naturally. He performed in cafes for charity.

Then he was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011. No one outside of his family knew he had brain cancer. When it worsened in 2012, he had two

Richie and his father, Rick.

Richie and his father, Rick.

days to live without immediate brain surgery. After the surgery on November 24, 2012, what could not be removed was diagnosed as grade 4 brain cancer, and he was given two years to live. “The fight raged on, and in 2013 there were two brain tumors growing in size, leading Richie to lose most mobility on the left side of his body, but he never gave up.”1

Richie thanks God for his music even after all that has happened. His positive attitude and faith in God is infectious. There were a number of his close friends there, but, as far as Richie is concerned, everyone there was his friend. He had everyone laughing and dancing along to one of his songs. Even me – and I don’t dance – used to long ago,  but not anymore. Except for Halloween night.

Two weeks later, when I once again hosted the open mic, Richie was on the list. His left arm hung by his side rather than held up in a sling. He played piano with his right hand while he sat behind it and sang. His father, Rick, played the cajon. Once again, his laughter and infectious spirit filled the room. He played a hilarious cover of Skinny Girl Jeans with some additions of his own. Richie had the crowd singing along on Lean on Me by Bill Withers.

Veronica, Richie, and Rick Smith

Veronica, Richie, and Rick Smith

And, naturally, he played his song, For A Reason. Not only is it the name of his song, but it is also the name of his For A Reason Foundation. For A Reason is also Richie first official song release, produced by multi-platinum producer, John Kurzweg. The song was released this past Thursday, the fourth anniversary of his first brain surgery. It was also – as Richie pointed out at Angela’s – Thanksgiving, his mother, Veronica’s, birthday, and his re-birth. His re-birth is how he refers to the immediate emergency surgery.

For A Reason is available on iTunes, Amazon, and the usual online music distribution sites. You can also check out Richie’s Facebook page and his YouTube channel. You can see Richie on Mondays at Angela’s or  at the fourth Saturday Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA) showcase on December 17.

Peace be with you.

                                                                                        1  Quoted from ournewmonarch.com

Layne Elizabeth

The final TexasSelectRadio.com Shaun and Dan show at Guitars and Growlers on February 26 began with Layne Elizabeth. A talented teenage songwriter, Layne played her original songs. Which included Third Wheel and Hey Girl from her self-titled Ep, and Filter.

John Jaggers followed Elizabeth. John played

John Jaggers

his original songs such as The Obits and Vigil in the Rain, mixed with a couple of cover songs.

Baylis Laramore

Baylis Laramore took the stage next and played his songs that tell stories like All in the River’s Time, Land’s End, and one of my favorites, Ghost of Galveston. It was the first time he played the new All in the River’s Time live.

Tom May closed out the last TSR Shaun and Dan show at Guitars and Growlers with a set of covers that he played in his own style.

Tom May

As always, follow the links and listen to their music for yourself. Notice when they are playing next and go see them and support live music. While the Monday show at Guitars and Growlers has ended, come see the Shaun and Dan show at Stan’s Main Street in Frisco on Wednesdays and Canucks in Lewisville on Thursdays. Songwriters who want to be on the show should message Dan.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Harry Hewlett

The TexasSelectRadio.com Shaun and Dan Show  at Guitars and Growlers on February 19 began with Harry Hewlett and his west Texas music and humor. Harry grew up on a farm in west Texas. His songs, such as Dirty Old Man, and Everclear illustrate that.

Lynn McCracken, with Bill Hudson on guitar, and Gigi Gostas on cajon, played her introspective songs, such as I Wrote You a Letter, and Fear.

Gigi Gostas, Lynn McCracken, Bill Hudson

Rob Case, with Alayna Mitchakes adding vocals, played songs from his cd, Last Call in Texas, such as Bayou City, and and a couple of cover songs.

Allen Larson followed Case, and played a mix of his original tunes, such as You Got This, and cover

Alayna Mitchakes, Rob Case

tunes which included a song by Bruce Cockburn.

John Herbert played a short set of cover songs. Dan Roark  wrapped up the show with I Just Want to get Social, Waffle House, and Hitchhiking Song.

Follow the links, hear the music for yourself, and notice when they are playing so you can see them live. Come to Guitars and Growlers on Mondays for good

Allen Larson

music, good food, a large variety of craft beers that changes constantly, and be a part of the radio show. Songwriters – message Dan or Shaun to be on a coming show.

John Herbert

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Dan Roark

 

 

 

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