Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Skydog

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Creator is the legendary guitarist Duane Allman:

Before Stevie Ray Vaughan, before Joe Bonamasa, before John Mayer, there was Duane Allman. In the late sixties, Skydog was one of the Allman Brothers with his brother Greg. He was also in demand studio guitarist. He played on Wilson Pickett’s “Hey Jude”, Aretha Franklin’s “The Weight” and Boz Skagg’s “Loan Me a Dime”. He is considered to be one of the all-time greatest guitarists by many critics who know their way around a guitar.

Eric Clapton heard him and invited him and his band to work on Derek and Dominoes sessions for Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.

Instrumental in the founding of Southern rock, he was such a force that he has been an inspiration to many rock guitarists of his time and of many who have come since. Unfortunately we lost him too too early. He died from a motorcycle accident in 1971. He was 24 years old.

The Allman Brothers with Duane on “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”.

Boz Scaggs and Duane Allman on “Loan Me a Dime”.

 

 

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Near 500 words: The Singer

Clara wakes up happy. I know this is not a good way to start a story. I’m supposed to have the main character in distress or at least thinking about distress. But the thing is. Clara is happy.

She is so happy she wants to sing it to the world. And sing it to the world she is going to do. She has a recording contract.

Her gray eyes and her smile show just how happy she is. She had been with her manager all day the previous day choosing songs to take to her producer.

Clara is tired. She has gotten only a little sleep. Her excitement kept her awake most of the night. Her day has finally arrived and she is going to sing for the world.

It is early when she wakes.

Finally, you’re getting somewhere with the story. Clara is going to have an accident on the way to the studio, you’re saying.

Not true. Not true. Nothing is going to happen on the way to the studio. She is going to arrive and sing like the nightingale she was in a former life.

Once she is in the studio, her producer is not going to like the songs she has chosen.

Oh, no. He will like them just fine. You see, he’s in love with Clara. He’s in love with her voice. And he’s in love with her songs. In his mind, her songs are wonderful. They are about the life of her grandmother. She came to Israel when she was a teenager to escape the Holocaust. And escape she did. She came and worked on a kibbutz. The album will end with her grandmother’s garden. It will start off sad and end very happy.

It’s the story of Dorothy escaping to Oz and falling in love with Oz. No returning to Kansas for Dorothy. Dorothy is just fine with Oz and so is Toto. She loves Oz so much that she wants Auntie Em and her uncle to come and live with her. But it’s too late. The tornado took them and the government repossessed the farm. It wasn’t that good of afarm anyway.

The Wizard may have been a disappointment in Oz but everything is just hunky dory since Dorothy melted that witch. The munckins sang hip-hip-hooray. The citizens of Oz sang hip-hip-hooray. Even the horse of a different color sang hip-hip-hooray.

It was then that Dorothy met her Prince Charming. He was a shoe salesman. It’s amazing how many times these Cinderella stories revolve around feet.

After the war, Clara’s grandmother returned to Germany. She went to Auschwitz where her parents and her brother had died. Kansas was not the place she had loved as a young girl. So she returned to Israel and met her Prince Charming. Five kids they had. One of them was Clara’s mother. Her grandfather found in the Israel War of Independence. He fought against Nassar and his allies. While Clara’s grandmother made a home for her husband and her children.

She also made the most wonderful garden. And Clara is going to sing about that garden. That is the final song, “The Garden”. It begins with the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It continues with the garden that was the Alhambra. And it ends with memories of Monet’s Garden, all metaphors for Clara’s grandmother’s garden. The last line of the last song, “Dorothy loved the Gardens of Oz.”

The Man Without A Tie

Don’t you think “The Man Without A Tie” makes a nice title? It’s the title of my first draft of a noir novella of almost 19,000 words. I’ve been working on it for the last thirty days. Yesterday I put “The End” tag to it.

It’s the first person story of a schmuck on the losing side of ten grand. His name is Cord. It takes place in 1953 when “Hank Williams was dead, Frank Sinatra had gone Hollywood, Eisenhower was President, and the government was taken over by the commies. At least, that’s what Joe McCarthy said.”

It may not be a dark and stormy night in the City when the novel opens but it soon will be. There’s always a dark and stormy night in the City in these kind of stories. Just like there are eight million stories in the Naked City.

The main character isn’t Mike Hammer or Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe. But his luck may be changing when he’s offered the chance to erase the ten grand gambling debt by two of the local crime lords. All he has to do is find out who killed the blonde. Unfortunately the police consider him a suspect.

It opens with this paragraph:

The blonde might have been dressed like a lady, but she was no lady. She was a regular circe. And she knew how to enchant the hell out of a fellow. There I was in bed with her, making like I knew what the heck I was doing. When we finished, she leaned toward me with those baby blues and put her ante down. “That’s a down payment, Baby.”

For the last thirty-something days, I woke up and wrote at least five hundred words on it first thing in the morning. If I don’t write first thing in the morning, there’s a good chance I may not get anything of my own written during the day. If I don’t write first thing in the morning, I feel guilty the rest of the day. If I don’t write first thing in the morning, I’m a real pain in the neck to know. And in other parts of the anatomy too.

Each morning I pull myself out of the old bedsky, feed the cat, get a cup of coffee, then go to work and let my subby-conscious do all the work. But it’s worth it. I never know what I will come up with. This time I came up with “The Man Without a Tie”.

Want to know why Cord doesn’t wear a tie. Want to know why he doesn’t have a first name. You’ll have to read it when it shows up on kindle sometime in the fall. In the meantime, I have to figure out whether his eyes are blue or brown. One thing is for sure. We know why Cord calls Cherry, the bartender at The Big Easy, Cleavage.

The Missing Instrument

The Classical Four set up for their two-hour practice session in the Park and put out the sign that read “Practice Session”. They took their seats on the pillows that cushioned them from the hard seats of the folding chairs.

Gabby lifted her violin out of the case and rested it on her shoulder. George settled his flute against his lips. Grace checked her clarinet. Haley did a couple of strums on her guitar. They were ready for the park.

“It’s time to boogey,” Gabby said to her cohorts of the Classical Four.

Gabby ripped her bow across the strings. And they were off. It was Sunday. For ten years, the four went to the park and played all morning. Two hours of practice, then an hour long concert. Then they were off to lunch.

They only saw each other on Sundays. Rain or shine the Sunday, they played together. If it was too cold or raining, they went to a restaurant or a mall. And they didn’t take time off for illness either. If one was out sick, the other three went on without them. One winter they were down to one. Gabby played even though she had the flu.

And they didn’t talk news either. They wanted to keep the group pure from all distractions. Gabby was a liberal. George a conservative. Grace a libertarian. Haley an atheist. For each of them, it was the music that matter.

At the end of each session, they decided what to play the following Sunday. Each had their favorites. Gabby loved Mozart. George not so much. He leaned toward Beethoven. Grace was a Bach freak. Haley was into Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Yet, they didn’t limit their playing to those composers. From time to time they took on Sibelius, Philip Glass and John Adams.

When they went to lunch, what did the four talk about? They talked music. Gabby would contribute an insight into Mozart. George could wow them over his love of Beethoven’s Ninth and what he learned the previous week. Grace kept quite about Bach. To talk about Bach was sacrilegious. It would take away her joy. Haley, all bubbly, shared her inspiration for composition. She was a composer.

Over the years, they had their regulars. Gabby met her husband in the park. George was hired for the symphony because he showed up and played.Gabby had her portrait painted there. Haley fell in love with the spirituality from the music she played in the park.

Music was their wind. And they were like trees who bent to that wind.

Then one week, at the lunch, a new subject was broached. Haley broached it. “I’ve been engaged to compose a sonata.”

“That is wonderful,” George said, squeezing his friend’s arm.

“Well, it is. And it isn’t,” Haley said.

Grace asked, “What do you mean?”

“I have to go to L.A. I will be gone possibly for months. You see, it’s for a film.”

“Can’t you do it here?” There was a sadness in Gabby’s voice. She spoke for the others.

“I have to spend time with the actors and the director. To get to know them and their movements and their voices and their language. I want to do it but I don’t want to leave you guys.”

“Can’t you fly back and forth?” George asked.

“I don’t know. I will be on call seven days a week. That’s what the director wants. Me and the screenwriter to work together.”

George was encouraging. “It’s a wonderful opportunity. I say you should do it.”

The others agreed. They would miss her.

The next three Sundays Gabby, George and Grace were in the park. Instead of the joy they brought to their music, there was a sadness. And each week the sadness grew. The first Sunday they played Arvo Pärt’s “Spiegel im Spiegel”. The second week it was the music for the Saint-Saens aria, “My heart opens itself to your voice”. The third week it was Bach’s “Come Sweet Death”. George had taken the pieces and arranged them for the three instruments.

On the fourth Sunday, Haley was there. They skipped practice and went into their concert. They started out with Vivaldi’s “Spring”, then went on to Handel’s “Water Music” and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis”. Finally they finished with Smetana’s “Moldau”. When they were through, there were over a hundred people in their audience there on the lawn of the Park. None of that audience had a dry eye.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Compromiso

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Song is Alicia Sevilla with her composition, “Compromiso” from her album, “Memories”:

I like to find new artists and fall in love with their music. I found Alicia Sevilla’s on Amazon Prime Music and immediately liked it a lot. There’s such a beauty and peacefulness to it. I immediately wanted to share it with my followers. I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I do.

If you would like to know more about Alicia, here’s a link to her website.