Winding Through Wednesday

Today, Mom needs to go to the dentist. If I don’t get this finished before I need to leave, I can finish it in the waiting room. Or I can start reading another book. The book may win, as I have several that sound very interesting. “Ticker Tape,” by Nebraska Author Tammy Marshall is probably the one I will land on. It’s about a Vietnam Veteran returning home and his life after the war. It could be any of the men I encounter daily at the VFW Post we volunteer at. It could be the Babe, or any of our friends. I’m looking forward to reading the story.

It’s kind of amazing, in the last three years, since I started writing, I look at stories completely different now. The stories, the scenes, what happens on camera, what happens off camera. What belongs, what doesn’t. It’s a whole different way of thinking. Not saying it’s better, just different. I’m finally coming to understanding of my craft and I can see my own progress. We’ll keep going!

I am greatly encouraged when I can see my own progress. On a daily basis, we get busy doing and may not realize how far we’ve come. And I’m becoming a better writer every day. I want to be a better story teller all the way around. My stories just happen to be written down with words. Some folks make their stories into songs, some folks make their stories into art.

My friend Rick Tiger and I talked about writing, both in the context of songs vs. stories. He told me we would write a song next year, when he returned to the VFW to sing again. Unfortunately, he came down with COVID after he returned home, and the world lost him September 1. I’m still reeling when I think of this wonderful man, this friend who would help pray you through difficulties and check in with you later, is gone. I’m so sad for his wife and family. His story is not finished, not by a longshot. And I may write a song someday, but I know he will still guide me through it. That’s how it works with friends and family who pass on. They’re still with you. You have to be still and feel them. Spirits are strong.

It appears I forgot to post this on Wednesday, so you get two blogs today. See you later!

I Just Had To . . .

I’ve been contemplating for a week now; how to write a blog about this. I received the new Billy McGuigan solo album last week, complete with a nice Polaroid photo (autographed!) and my spirits soared. We had been hearing from Billy via Facebook about the different songs on the album, and what his inspirations were. The guy had a lot of time to think in his little yellow shack in his backyard. We all have this year. After passing time in all the usual ways, Billy took to his shed (Sonny West Studio in Country Club) and started creating. He sang everything (all the parts), played all the instruments, and produced something magic yet real. He hit gold with this music, these stories, these tunes and words that come from his soul.

I’ve been a fan for over seven years now. Regular shows include his brothers (always in his band), and they do a Beatles Tribute show called “Yesterday and Today.” It’s exceptional. He has starred as Buddy Holly in “Rave On,” a musical show at the Omaha Community Playhouse. There are many accolades in their collective resumes, music, acting, arranging, lots of talents to go around one family. Their children are all very talented, too. Check out the videos and info.

Citing inspirations from the Beatles (always), Beach Boys, Buddy Holly, Eagles, and countless others, Billy reaches for the stars and touches them. He’s sharing them with us, his fans. On his website, take time to read the info about the album. You’ll find two buttons at the bottom of the ordering page: The Songs, and Liner Notes. You’ll learn the inspirations and events that inspired the words, the music, and you’ll finally have your answer if you’ve ever asked why they don’t talk about their mom. Their dad was a man among men, dying when he was only 42 from cancer. Together, they are a force to reckon with.

Billy, I can tell you, many of us been on roller coaster rides and guilt trips, too. At 91, my mom is still driving that damned bus. And I admire how you put all this together. The truth you speak of; it’s honest, open, and inspiring at the same time. We receive the gift she lost out on. And they can’t help themselves, often, they don’t know any better. Breaking that cycle is difficult. Kudos to your stepmom. What an influential person!

Christmas came early this year, folks. Last night, since the first live performance at Iowa Western Community College was COVID-cancelled, through the magic of Facebook live, we got to watch a live performance of the album, complete with the most talented band there could be. You can view it at Billy’s Facebook page, “Billy McGuigan,” and you will spend about 90 minutes in my sunny place. You’ll laugh, it will touch you, and you’ll hear some grim realities of life. And they’ll all be true, from the heart of a very talented singer/songwriter. I know we will hear from Billy again. I look forward to it. Hope we’re able to see you at a live show again soon!

As Billy now joins the esteemed ranks of singer/songwriter, he joins the groups of people the Babe and I met by attending other local music shows. Jimmy Weber, (he’ll perform live today from Johnny Cash’s farm in Tennessee, check out his Facebook page for the 2 p.m. CST gig); Rick Tiger, (a prolific songwriter and singer on his own, he has written many songs you’ve heard others sing, and he prays for me when I ask. Good, good man); Ray Scott, (he performs on Facebook Live nearly weekly, check him out), I have a bunch of his CD’s.

A cool thing about Ray Scott, his latest album, “Nowhere Near Done,” is in a top album of the year named by American Songwriter Magazine. This is an esteemed list. It’s so cool someone we’ve seen at Buck’s in Venice, (Nebraska). You may catch him in person there sometime. Buck’s Bar & Grill, Facebook page worth watching.

Gentlemen, I hope all of you knock ’em dead today. Our year will be complete when Jimmy Weber releases his new album. I have a feeling it’ll be soon. We’ve heard some of his original music, too. More on that later. Thank you, on behalf of music lovers everywhere, for sharing your talents with all of us. You make this COVID-Post Election World a much kinder, gentler place to live. Keep writing, we’ll keep listening. Be Safe out there!