Wednesday, December 21, 2016

December 14, 2016
Joni and host Richard Sojourner
Quiet, please. Music is about to begin.
YOU HAVE YOUR RECIPE ... and I have mine! Here is what I would put in my bowl: a heaping helping of annual house concert on a crisp, cold night, mix in lots of friends and family, pour in libations and delicious snacks, add some catchin'-up conversation, then gently stir in the fine musicianship of JONI BISHOP. There, right there, is the recipe for kicking off the perfect holiday season!
Joni finger-picking the guitar
       Joni has been invited to perform at the house concert at RICHARD and MARY SOJOURNER'S home for nine straight years! Nine! That must surely be some kind of a record! Richard and Mary are incredibly generous with their home, their food, and their libations! We hope it continues for many more years to come. Nashville folk artist, songwriter, singer, and instrumentalist, Joni Bishop handles her music with ease. She sings in English and also in Latvian. Her parents and grandparents came to America from Latvia, and Joni sings verses to "Silent Night" in Latvian as well as in English. Her fingers fly across the strings of a guitar, a mountain dulcimer, a cigar box banjo (she makes those), and even a tambura, which is an East Indian instrument that produces a very unusual sound.
Joni on mountain dulcimer
Joni made this dulcimer in a workshop
Joni on the East Indian tambura
       Joni Bishop did two lovely sets of seasonal music, and we will share those songs with you.
       Set One: Little Drummer Boy; Endless Christmas; Buzzed (not what you think--written while in Starbucks and drinking lots of coffee); Soul Cake/God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (sung in counterpoint with Joni singing Soul Cake and the audience singing God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen); Go Tell It on the Mountain; Children, Go Where I Send Thee; Christmas in the Trenches (by John McCutcheon); The 12 Days of Christmas (with large cue cards to assist the audience); Grandma's Garden; and Wayfaring Stranger. Brief pause for food, drink, and conversation with friends.
Cue card: 12 Days of Christmas
Joni on cigar box banjo
 Set Two: Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland; Stone by Stone; Joy to the World (on the tambura); The Road to Bethlehem; Amazing Grace; We Three Kings; Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella; Stone by Stone (requested again); Send Yourself Home for Christmas; Sleighride; Away in a Manger; Christmas in the Trenches (requested again); What Child Is This; It's Gonna Be All Right Someday; Mary Had a Baby, My Lord; We Wish You a Merry Christmas; Silent Night (a verse in Latvian with audience singing in English); and I'll Fly Away.
Samples of Joni's folk art which is for sale
       For albums and information:
Some of our favorite albums are "One Wondrous Star: A Christmas Collection", "Endless Christmas", and "Threads". Other fine albums and folk art are available at Joni Bishop's website.
       Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all who came in to read this blog!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Early ISS Mission, not John Glenn's flight
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, --and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of -- Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew --
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
                                             John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
You and your beloved Annie truly made the world a much better place for your having been in it! May you rest in peace.
S118 Mission, not John Glenn's flight
Sunrise or Sunset
You and your fellow astronauts made us all proud!
May you rest in peace!
*Bluegrass Content: "Fly like eagles, out among the stars!" (written by Adam Mitchell, covered by country and bluegrass music artists throughout the years)
Photography sent by Jason Helms of the Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX. Thank you Jason!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Blanchard Springs, near Mountain View, AR
December 10, 2016
Santa Claus stops by Pinewood Cabins, Mountain View, AR
     WE ARE EXCITED! Christmas is almost here and we've hardly begun to shop, but we know when to get busy and begin contacting the Mountain View (AR) Area Chamber of Commerce about tickets to CAROLING IN THE CAVERNS. From past wonderful experiences, we contact the Chamber, select a weekend with a performance time slot that we prefer, and we anxiously await our tickets to Caroling. It's just the best feeling!
       Our tickets arrive, we grab our friends, and we're off to Mountain View, Arkansas, and a fine weekend of fellowship, beautiful music in an incredible cave setting that's lighted for the season, and some fine, tasty vittles before we leave the mountain. It's a Christmas gift unto itself!
       We take the elevator down 216 feet in the Blanchard Caverns Visitors Center to the lovely room filled with Mother Nature and Father Time's stalactites and stalagmites.

       Rangers and volunteers with flashlights assist us with our journey, even providing cushions for us to use when sitting in our bleacher seats. We settle in and music begins in the semi-darkness. Carolers descend the stairs near our bleachers, singing as they go. It's pretty dark in there, but this group is a bunch of professionals. They've walked and sung in the darkness many times. They reach their destination in front of the bleachers, and they begin their program.
       The carolers are: IRL HEES (bass and vocals), PAM SETSER (guitar, mountain dulcimer, spoons, and vocals), ROBERT GILLIHAN (mandolin and vocals), MARY GILLIHAN (comedic schtick that we love and vocals), RON HAYNES (guitar and vocals), and ABBY SPINKS (vocals). The musicians are all the finest local performers that one would hope to find. They love what they do, and it's obvious!
L to R: Irl Hees, Ron Haynes, Mary Gillihan, Pam Setser,
Robert Gillihan, and Abby Spinks
wishing concert-goers a Merry Christmas
       We like to include the program of music, and here it is: Angels We Have Heard on High; Beautiful Star of Bethlehem; Do You Hear What I Hear; There's a New Kid in Town; I Wonder as I Wander / Little Drummer Boy; It Came Upon a Midnight Clear; God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen; Robert Gillihan's reading, "Seek and You Will Find"; Away in a Manger; Mary, Did You Know; There He Is; Christmas Time's A-Comin'; Winter Wonderland; Let It Snow; Deck the Halls; Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas; Cowboy Poetry; Ozark Twelve Days of Christmas; Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer; I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas; Go Tell It on the Mountain; Silent Night; and We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
       As we depart the Visitors Center, we are asked to walk across a shallow, squishy pad of water, Woolite (r), and another ingredient. The procedure is brief, painless, and not damaging to shoes or feet. The area is trying to control white-nose syndrome in cave bats. The syndrome is deadly to bat populations, and the staff at Blanchard Caverns hopes to control the spread of the disease.                    
       Following the concert, we make our way back down Arkansas Highway 14 to a world-class catfish dinner at JoJo's Catfish Wharf. We turn in for the night at a local inn, thinking about the wonderful day we just had. After a good night's rest, we must hit the Rainbow CafĂ© on the town square for a fine breakfast before heading home. We never tire of the little ritual and we are already looking forward to Caroling in the Caverns 2017.
Special Thanks: The musicians, Dale at the Visitors Center for his assistance, and Jim for the photo of the musicians.
For more information:
Mountain View Area Chamber of Commerce: Phone (Tickets/Info) 870.269.8068 or
Toll Free: 888.679.2859
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!
Pick away!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

December 3, 2016
Tennessee Gentlemen Bluegrass Shack,
Pleasant Ridge Road, Lucy, TN,
JUST WHEN I THINK I'VE HEARD AND SEEN MOST OF IT . . . something comes along that knocks my hat in the creek!
UMA and GIRI PETERS are 9 and 11 years old respectively. Got that?  Born in the twenty-teens! We're talking seriously young and seriously good bluegrass musicians who don't look like most bluegrass musicians. 
While we don't have a photo of this amazing duo, we did have the link to the hometown newspaper in Nashville known as the Tennessean.  Like a current TV commercial says, 'Prepare to be amazed'. Just follow the link below and enjoy!  It will warm your bluegrass music heart!
*Update: It seems that the link below that was in the Tennessean has been removed. Just go to YouTube for Uma and Giri Peters and their bluegrass music.
Click here for the article:
I'm tip-toeing around in this cold creek looking for my hat!  Yonder it goes . . . .
Pick away!