If you could have dinner…(redux)

If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would that be? What if you could get a small group around a table?

While cleaning our adopted highway, I thought of two such groups. The first has already been published here . I realized that all of the participants were dead men.

Sugar maples – sap for syrup in the spring, gorgeous color in the fall…

For my second, I thought about women in music. The Women’s Music movement of the 1970s changed how we saw women in music. Women like Carole King helped to make that movement possible.

Carole King (1942-) King got her start as a songwriter in the famous Brill Building in New York. Among other writers there were Leiber and Stoller (about whom I have written before), Burt Bacharach and Hal David (multiple hits for Dionne Warwick, movie themes for “What’s New, Pussycat”, “Alfie”, and “Casino Royale”), Doc Pomus, Jerry Ragavoy, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil…). She wrote “Up on the Roof” for The Drifters, “Pleasant Valley Sunday” for The Monkees, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” for The Shirelles, “One Fine Day” for The Chiffons, and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” for Aretha Franklin, among many others. In 1971 she released the seminal album “Tapestry” which spawned numerous hit singles for herself and others, spent 15 weeks at #1, and earned 4 Grammys. The Singer/Songwriter movement of the 70s (James Taylor, Jackson Browne, etc) owes much to Carole King. In 1994 she appeared on Broadway. She appeared as a guest on The Gilmore Girls and is mom to singer/songwriter Louise Goffin.

There isn’t a weak song on “Tapestry”, and what happens when the songwriter sits down at the piano and plays her own work after others have interpreted it just sounds special.

June Millington (1948-). Millington was lead guitarist in the band Fanny. Treated as a novelty act by the industry, Fanny was an all-woman band, active from 1970-74. They weren’t a novelty – they could play! In 1970 they opened for The Kinks and Procol Harum in LA. They were apparently more appreciated in the UK than the US. In a Rolling Stone interview, David Bowie said of the band, “They were extraordinary: they wrote everything, they played like motherfuckers, they were just colossal and wonderful, and nobody’s ever mentioned them. They’re as important as anybody else who’s ever been, ever; it just wasn’t their time.” In 2021, the film “Fanny: The Right to Rock” opened in limited release. June and her sister Jean began playing in rock bands in 1965. Millington was one of the founding mothers of the Women’s Music movement of the 1970s and contributes lead guitar work to many albums of the era.

This session, recorded warts and all, features Fanny on Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar”. The song starts at about 1:45.

Since that video can’t be embedded, here they are covering “Badge” by Cream.

If you still doubt that women can play rock and roll, here’s one more.

Cris Williamson (1947-) The Women’s Music Movement encompassed many styles. Some artists appealed to a small niche audience, others had more mainstream success. Cris Williamson came out of Deadwood, SD, recording her first album at age 16 and becoming a local sensation in Wyoming after moving there. In 1973 she was instrumental in the founding of Olivia Records and her 1975 recording “The Changer and the Changed” became Olivia’s top seller and was the first album to be produced entirely by women. Her most recent album “Motherland” was released in 2017.

From the same album, but with a different sound featuring banjo:

Diedre Buckley – For the local angle, we look to Diedre Buckley. Buckley is a classical and jazz violist with an MM from The San Francisco Conservatory and a DMA from The University of Wisconsin. She is in the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and the Madison Opera Company. She has played at the National Women’s Music Festival and worked with various jazz ensembles. She has performed jazz with Hanah Jon Taylor and Jane Reynolds and maintains an active teaching schedule. Buckley has performed for Steven Spielberg, George Harrison, and Studs Terkel. Her doctoral dissertation was on jazz singer Betty Carter.

Diedre Buckley image from Madison.com

Here is Diedre playing Arnold Rosner’s String Quartet No 5 in D minor, Op 66, with the Ad Hoc String Quartet (Mark Ottesen is a guest on a duet with Diedre on this album. She is the violist here):

For a change of pace, here is Douglas Hill’s “Blues in E” with clarinet, viola, bassoon, piano, and bass.

So why this particular group of women? You’ve heard their music. The connections are probably less obvious than the previous dinner party post. I want to hear Carole King talk about writing music at a time when the industry was dominated by men (as though that weren’t the case now 😉 and how she made the transition from writing for others to performing her own work. I want to hear June Millington talk about being a woman in rock and roll and the transition to the women’s music movement; about the barriers and the sense of fulfillment in each; and about how music influenced her adjustment to life in the US, arriving here at the age of 13 – not the greatest time to come to a new country and try to find your place. I wonder how Cris Williamson found a primarily urban movement when she went from an upbringing in South Dakota and Wyoming to Washington, DC (where Olivia Records was founded); and I wonder how it felt to be part of what was a profound movement and then to settle in for the rest of life after that wave crested. I want to ask Diedre about crossing the lines between classical music and jazz – one highly structured and one improvisational; and about making a living as a musician outside of the major cities for music. As well, Diedre crosses the line between performance by, with, and for women, and with mixed ensembles and mixed audiences. In a sense, we have come full circle. The women’s music movement and 1970s feminism created space for women in the mainstream.

Mostly I want to hear the cross-pollination. Here are four women, whose paths may have crossed and are clearly not parallel. Each was, in her own way, a pioneer; and each built on the work of the women before her, though all are more or less contemporaries. The Women’s Music Movement changed the way women thought about themselves in the music world. It showed that an industry could be developed by and for women. In the 1970s, the idea that women could produce an album without the involvement of men was revolutionary. The children’s book “Firegirl” (Gibson Rich, Feminist Press, 1972) talked about a young girl and her dream to grow up to be a firefighter. She was widely ridiculed because that was “men’s work”. It was the women’s movement of the 1970s that changed that. The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (which had a 40 year run) was a women-only festival; planned, produced, performed, and attended only by women. I attended women’s music concerts in the 70s both in the audience and (for concerts that were held as women-only spaces) as part of the Men’s Childcare Collective, providing on-site childcare for the children of women in the audience. Clearly on the fringe, I want to hear what it was like in the middle.

Favorite Son

Busch Light can in its natural habitat. It will eventually assume its protective coloration. (The blue pigment fades to a pale green. The process has begun.)

A Busch Light can means the half-fast cycling club cleaned its adopted highway again. No further news on that front.

I never tire of this view. Sorry if you do. Look! No litter!
Madison’s Favorite Son, Joel Paterson (from a previous festival – I brought no camera this time)

Our neighborhood summer festivals were combined into one this year. We walked down to the park just long enough to see the set by the Joel Paterson Trio. Joel grew up a few blocks from here. He spent his teen years playing the blues at a neighborhood bar, then moved to Chicago where he plays in multiple bands. A self-proclaimed guitar geek, he plays swing, rockabilly, country, and blues (and a little Hawaiian guitar).

Joel on all instruments in a home pandemic recording
From his all-Beatles solo acoustic guitar album
Guitar and clarinet blues jam
The Western Elstons, his country band
And here’s a full set of his band Modern Sound, from a festival in Spain.

There’s lots more where that came from, including some Scotty Moore (Elvis Presley’s guitarist) and Chet Atkins tributes. I think he should be famous. Listen and see if you agree.

Yeah, I’ve been riding my bike a lot. Back-to-back weekends with centuries coming up in September, so 50-60 mile rides twice a week as well as daily commuting and Wednesday night rides. I haven’t ridden 100 miles in a day since 2019, so we’ll see if I still can.

Hot and humid Wednesday Night Ride

It’s tobacco season, so last week I rode past a crew out cutting tobacco, and this week rode past sheds full of drying tobacco. If you’re not from around here, you probably didn’t realize Wisconsin is tobacco country. Tobacco used to be grown here as cigar wrappers and is now mostly for chewing. It was once a major cash crop. A farmer got an allotment from the state, allowing a set number of acres to be grown. It was hard work (hand planted, hand cut, hand tied and hung, hand stripped from the veins after curing, and bundled for sale) but virtually guaranteed income. If you had an allotment, you grew tobacco. I had a friend who bought a farm with a small allotment and the neighbors thought she was crazy because she chose not to grow tobacco. The tobacco shed (a large barn with louvers that can be opened to increase airflow, and a network of framing from which to hang the poles with bundles of leaves draped over them) was used for storage.

COVID cases are on the rise again and I just finished another tour of duty on the COVID units. Most of my patients this week were not vaccinated. I was vaccinated in December and January. While it is true that I am now magnetic, that’s just my personality and I was that way before the vaccine;) If you have seen the videos of people purporting to prove that the vaccine makes one magnetic, they are either more ignorant than I think they are, or they just blatantly dishonest. The videos show people sticking non-ferrous metals to their skin and claiming it is because the vaccine made them magnetic. I have duplicated that with a penny, bobby pin, paper clip, money clip, button, and a Post-It note. Only one of those would have stuck were magnetism at play. Lest you think I did anything heroic this week, I was safer in this gear (and the sanitation process I go through as I enter and leave each room) than you are if you go into a store, restaurant, or bar (especially if you don’t wear a mask, or anyone else in there doesn’t). You don’t know if you are near someone who is positive. I do.

There’s no place like home

Flying back home, I looked out the plane window to see this:

My house is just out of sight to the right of the frame. Nothing like living in a city that’s mostly water. I realized then that Dorothy was right.

I spent a few days in Estes Park, CO for a niece’s wedding, then a few more days in Oregon for another niece’s wedding. If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire, I won’t look any further than my own back yard, because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.

Lumpy Ridge, Estes Park
Mt Hood

That doesn’t mean I won’t leave my back yard now and then. But, back in my own back yard (On Wednesday night’s bike ride), I happened upon a badger crossing the road, then waddling off into the undergrowth. I didn’t try to take a picture – badgers are notoriously vicious. A few miles up the road, a doe bounded along beside me for about 100 yards before darting across the road and disappearing into the woods. A bit later, two dogs came out into the road to greet me. I guess that made up for none of my friends being able to join me for this ride.

Home, sweet home

In between the two weddings, I was home for La Fete de Marquette, our annual Bastille Day celebration. We celebrated with Cajun, Zydeco, and New Orleans funk royalty. Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys played sets both Saturday and Sunday.

bassist, Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie (Sorry, I can’t find his name.)

They were followed by Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie. Geno is the son of the late John Delafose and learned Zydeco accordion from his dad.

We rounded out the day with George Porter, Jr and Runnin’ Pardners. Porter was the bassist for the Meters, Wild Tchoupitoulas, and the Neville Brothers; in other words, he is the bassist of New Orleans funk.

George Porter, Jr.

And, speaking of bassists, I also caught a set by Josh Cohen at the Art Fair Off the Square. While he also got funky at times, here’s something completely different:

La Fete is held in McPike Park. While waiting in a food line, I heard someone lamenting that it used to be Central Park but, as usual, wealth won out and the park was renamed after some rich person who gave the city a lot of money. I was happy to inform her that, while that is all too common, it wasn’t the case here. Milt McPike was the principal of East High School. (Articles about him often attach the word “beloved”. Personally, I can’t imagine loving my school principal, but “respected” might fit.) Milt was a role model – an African American athlete who made it as a pro (San Francisco 49ers) but also got an education so he would have a life after football. He spoke at my children’s kindergarten graduations, telling them that he expected to see them all graduating from East in 18 years.

Milt McPike, from Madison.com

UPDATES FROM THE ROAD

Charlie getting higher, photo courtesy of Charlie’s facebook page.

Bob, Terry, and Ken from last year’s coast-to-coast ride have completed their 1600 km circumnavigation of France. Charlie is on his 8th crossing of the US, now in Montana, going east to west. Jeremy abandoned the Great Divide Ride in West Yellowstone, MT, having completed 929 grueling off-road miles in 12 days. His hands had taken a beating.

Flying to Oregon, the clouds parted and something looked familiar below. The map showed we were flying over Gillette, WY, the site of last summer’s worst nightmare. I followed our route in reverse from above, looking down and at pictures from last year. It looks different from 30,000 feet. I had to supply the details.

Last year at this time – CycleAmerica World HQ, Cannon Falls, MN

P.S. Happy Golden Birthday to you know who. (Well, you may not, but they do.)

Niagara Falls

Saturday, 4 August (I know, I had the date wrong Thursday)

(Friday night) It is so humid in Port Dover that the grass is already wet with dew before sunset. The laundry I hung six hours ago is still wet. Even the shorts I washed yesterday, hanging for their second day, are still wet. I have one dry pair left. My sleeping bag is still soggy from last night before I go to bed. My tent rain fly is wet inside and out.

We’re in a “Conservation Area” that looks like a campground to me, but seems to be more an enclave of summer homes. 

Many of the trailers are up on cinder blocks. Many have wooden front porches or decks. Some have gardens and fences. While they are travel trailers, not mobile homes, it appears that most have not moved in years.

We rode 5.5 miles before breakfast.

I read a play by Gary Soto the other night.  It was written in Spanglish. (I know him primarily for his picture books for children, also in Spanglish.) This got me thinking about Spanglish and about the Lone Ranger.

The hypothesis I am about to explicate is one I developed some time ago. I could find no evidence to support it. As those who have heard my explanation of the origin of the town of Kaukauna well know, this does not stop me from making stuff up.

The Lone Ranger calls his sidekick “Tonto”. Those with even a rudimentary understanding of Spanish know this means “stupid”.

Tonto, in return, calls the Ranger “Kemosabe”. This could be rendered as “(E´l) que no sabe”, or “he who doesn’t know” or, more simply, “know nothing”. [Imagine the accent is on the E; that was the best I could do.]

Are these affectionate nicknames among friends? Or is it a comment on the power relationship? The Lone Ranger, in his arrogance, calls his sidekick “stupid” and thinks he’s putting one over on him. Tonto, in return, calls the Ranger “know nothing” but says it in a respectful tone. The joke is then on the Lone Ranger and Tonto exercises his power in the only way available to the oppressed, slyly and (apparently) innocently. 

We rode past a huge estate, said to have 27 bathrooms. One of our staff asked if it were correct that the owners made their money from vegetables. The pastor of the church where we were eating smiled slyly and said, “or something green and leafy.” It was only after the snickers died down that I remembered that we are in tobacco country. In the photo, the mansion is barely visible through the morning fog. Ironically, it is on Radical Road (see photo below).

Ther are lots of wind farms in Ontario and solar panels frequently stand among the soybeans.

We rode through summer homes along Lake Erie and into the town of Dunville, where I stopped for espresso and a scone.BBCB4FCC-3928-4322-B38F-E3CD247AB805

We rode on to lunch, where we said goodbye to Ally and Ed, who set off to meet up with the rest of the family for their ride home to New Jersey. A few hundred yards later we passed a mailbox reading “Ed and Allie”.

Gelato in Fonthill after lunch, then a quick ferry ride in a pontoon boat (I was the only passenger) before the final stretch into Niagara Falls. Then it was “hurry up and wait” for the campground to be ready. I hadn’t stalled enough – but I have wet clothes to hang and I want them dry today.