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Archive for October 2010

Oh, yes, we are the Lunchbunch! (Doo-wop! Doo-wop!) (October 28, 2010)

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Outside of his wife Joyce, Bob’s favorite things in life could be summed up in two words: food and the music they call doo-wop (because so many of the songs have backup repeating over and over “doo-wop, doo-wop”). And the twain met last Thursday at the Two Rivers Restaurant in the General Butler Kentucky State Park in Carrollton: The Lunchbunch meets The Aquatones.

And the winner is….

BOB!

Okay, me, too!

The scene of the crime: Two Rivers Restaurant at the top of a steep hill/mini-mountain in the General Butler State Park in Carrollton, Kentucky. Bob is trembling with anticipation (or would be if this picture hadn't been taken 'after' our lunch cum visit).

The daily buffet at the restaurant is somewhere between very good and excellent. The peach pie was a 10. The rest probably averaged somewhere between 6.5 and 7. However, all three of us ate as if all of it rated a 9.9!

Dr. David Goddard who has definitely not lost his gift for story telling nor his ability to hold the interest of his audience (Bob and me). Dave, a retired research engineer, songwriter, singer and member of the orginal Aquatones (Long Island, NY) whose 1958 song, "You," reached #21 on the national pop charts. It was to be the one and only hit the group recorded. The group drifted away from the recording studio in the sixties and its members remained apart until a decade ago when they got together again to record and to appear on PBS and in Madison Square Garden (Only Dave remains from the original group). Obviously, the clock did not reset after their first fifteen minutes of fame.

The original Aquatones featuring their hit song "You." Dave Goddard is 2nd from left. Sad story: Dave and other members of the Aquatones were so sure they'd be touring during the summer of 1958 in the wake of the popularity of their hit "You" that they eschewed summer "day jobs." Screw ups and guess who got the screwing? The boys and Lynne were never sent to a single promotional concert. The only gigs they got were those they did for free. Except for Dick Clark. How sad is that? Sounds like the same kind of treatment musicians of all sorts have been getting at greedy hands of promoters, managers, record companies and any one else who can squeeze through enough to stick their fingers in the profit pie.

Blendena (Yes, that's the correct spelling of her name) was our server. She tried her best to still smile broadly when we still sat at our table after lunch hours had ended at 2:30. Dave has written most of Aquatone's songs. He also has learned multi-track recording and can, singing and playing alone, come out sounding like Gary Lewis' Playboys on speed!

Blendena. "...with service and smiles for all..." Named after her late grandmother.

Bob was wearing his brand new gazillion dollar glasses, seeing clearly, perhaps, for the first time since he moved out of town. Very possibly the first time he had clearly "seen" where he lived. No Shania on Bob's shirt; for Bob that's like dressing in a tux!

After Blendena kicked us out of the dining room we retired to the hotel's spacious "great" room which looks out upon a spectacular (especially in the fall) panorama of the surrounding forests. We were a tad puzzled by repeated billows of white smoking rising in the distance almost as though, Dave remarked, they were smoke signals.

Bob and Dave doing what we all seemed to do quite well that day, talk. Dave brought some Aquatone (new and old groups) to which to listen. Bob and I listened. I was particularly struck by a compilation of tapes and rehearsals and studio work which dates back to the mid-to-late fifties. I think Bob has just about everything available from them already.

I went along "for the ride" to see what interested Bob so much about the Aquatones and wound up buying a bunch of his CDs for gifts. I can't discribe them because the people who will receive them more than likely will read this before they receive their music. Truth to tell, I probably dominated the conversation more than Bob, less than Dave. A good time was had by all. I'm sorry Willie and CB couldn't be there. Willie was out galavanting in Vermont and environs; CB was home taking a nap and resting up from me, or was that preparing an apartment for a new tenant? hehehe

I paid. Bob tipped. Willie should return next week; it’s her turn to choose. CB’s turn to pay. Willie’s turn to tip.

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Written by frankieleeee

October 31, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Posted in Lunchbunch

Photos: Here & There #1

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Palm tree outside Motel 6 where we blues travelers stayed in New Orleans. October 18, 2010.

Outside Mt Orab Branch of the Brown County OH Library. October 21, 2010

Fall from the lodge of General Butler State Park in Carrollton, Kentucky. The Lunchbunch meets the Aquatones. October 28, 2010

Written by frankieleeee

October 30, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Posted in Photography

Lake Manor in Mt Orab OH 10/21/2010

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Some of us were home from the hinterland (fle and cb from a blues jaunt through Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana) and one of us was not home (willie is still beating the bushes of New England looking for the mother lode of scrabble (copyright til you die) ratings. The three remaining of us repasted, rejoiced and riposted our elderly hearts out as we gathered around a table at Lake Manor Restaurant on Route 68.

Bob arrived bearing gifts of vine-ripened Tennessee tomatoes (They are delicious)! I arrived having forgotten to bring Bob back some barbecued ribs from my Louisiana trip (sorry, Bob).

It was third time around for the Lunchbunch. I promised to steer clear of the catfish (which I had eschewed on our previous visit). I did. I’m glad I did.

The salad bar is delectable, filled with my favorite goodies like chicken salad, ham salad, green pea salad and just all kinds of fattening-gunk. The food is just okay, a real surprise since everything else is receptive, warm and accommodating.

9 for the experience. 9 for the salad bar. 5.1 for the food (hamburger steak, fried chicken, pork chops).

Lake Manor, a rustic building on Route 68 north of Mt Orab. Still don't know why it has a wooden statue of a bear on the front porch.

Salad bar selections are more varied than most. Even their soups (bean and chili) were delicious.

CB, Angie the server (from Macon) and Bob pretending (for the camera or to placate me) to be having a rip-roaring time.

Lake Manor is famous for fudge made by owner Julie Evans. I went nuts, bought 2 oz each of 5 different kinds; now must hide it from myself until my next sweet holiday.

Owner Julie Evans and me. The first time the Lunchbunch ate at Lake Manor, Julie's daughter served us. Now, we learned, she's working on her doctorate in Texas and preparing for her wedding. Julie seems to spend most of her time in the restaurant's kitchen.

The Mount Orab Library dances in color in the fall. This year, too.

Afterwords at Mt Orab branch of the Brown County Library. 3 games of 2 on 1 (we were minus Willie). Bob and CB each were 3-1. I was 0 for 4! Done lost my damn touch (again)! (Purple tiles from Wales are on my rack)

And then, sadly, the sun set.

Bob paid. CB tipped. Bob chose. Next week is also Bob’s for an encounter with a musician friend of his: Bob and I will drive to General Butler State Park in Carrollton, Kentucky, to lunch with Dave Goddard, one of the original members of the doo-wop group, The Aquatones (from NYC, of course).

Written by frankieleeee

October 24, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Lunchbunch

Au Revoir, NOLA!

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Shannon McNally & Hot Sauce. Country and blues: what a concept!

Problem with good times is the bluesy mood that follows them. And so it is on this Monday, a kind of wistfulness as we pack Tranq and head back to Cincinnati and Lathrup Village.

Yesterday’s Crescent City music was as good as it gets. Mem Shannon, Shannon McNally and Jon Cleary – three superb musicians/entertainers held me in their thrall easy as pie. I wuz mesmerized, hynotized and baptized in the beauty of their musical manipulations.

The day ended with an hourlong search all over hell and gone for some genuine Louisiana food nd when we found it (but none of us can remember the name of the restaurant) we scored a 9.5! Shrimp fried. Shrimp in sauce (roumelade?). Shrimp in gumbo. And enough for breakfast today, too. Food heaven’s entrance is Louisiana.

While CB and I rollicked and rolled to the tunes in Lafayette Park Square, Don caught a taxi and discovered wonders – music and otherwise – in other parts of the city, making me a tad envious, although he did bring me a pin for my hate, one of a fleur-de-lis, symbol of New Orleans, especially the New Orleans Saints football team.

Physically, I think this oxygen made it possible for me to manage the trip. Although it’s been unbelievably exhausting, the sights and music and sense of adventure and discovery have masked my own physical shortcomings, for the most part. I did have one fall, in Tranq, which created some hysteria (in me) and resulted in some bruised ribs. I feel this trip has been a marvelous gift to me and I can’t thank CB & Don enough for their help, encouragement and forbearance.

I gotta get off this computer and get myself showered and girded for the trip home.

Even the bicycles dress up in New Orleans

Darryl Young used his own skin for a Saints' Jersey. Darryl teaches dance to young people.

There's always a backside, eh?

John Cleary, best damn pianist I've heard/seen in a while, autographing CDs after his set.

Mem Shannon used to drive a taxi in New Orleans, a blues moral conscience, writes powerful "message" lyrics, e.g., "The Wrong People are in Charge."

Mem Shannon headshot from the other edge of the crowd. Not bad for a point-and-shoot!

Some people went to the Blues Festival to watch football in the beer tent.

Tranq posed in front of porta-potties, among the most popular attractions at the festival.

Yet another metaphor!

Written by frankieleeee

October 18, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Crescent City Blues

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Thousands of us jammed ourselves belly-to-belly in New Orleans’ Lafayette Square Park yesterday for the first day of the Crescent City Blues and Barbecue Festival. Little Freddie King ruled the day musically (my opinion); he can go both ways. Other music was wonderful, although I wondered who ever fit it into the blues category and why. Still, while the bass players were doing their damnedest to blow the speakers, I found myself doing a solo boogie on Junior, Jr. You should have seen Don! The music, the setting, the city, the day lighted a match under his tailfeathers. He had more fun yesterday than is allotted for a week for most of us; a sight to see!

Got a taste of Louisiana food from some of the vendors. CB got a po’ boy of some kind from Cochon (well known New Orleans restaurant, apparently) ¬†that was kick-ass. I got a plate of fried chicken wings, crowder peas with okra and rice. The chicken was okay, but the peas and okra were most excellent. A creme brulee gelato satisfied my ice cream jones. And for dinner I brought home to the Motel 6 barbecued lamb ribs, coleslaw (tiny cup for $3) and a genuine praline (Wow! I didn’t WANT a V-8).

Prices of arts and crafts were outrageous: a mask maker told me her cheapest was $50 and her most expensive $1500. I just looked. Senior citizens from Tutwiler, Mississippi, were there! I saw their van parked near Tranq and got nosy. They make all sorts of items out of patchwork quilt-like material (where small triangles of differing designs are sewn together in different but definite patterns), although the only actual quilts they had were baby-size. Still I donated to the cause and got some beautiful bags for $25 apiece. ¬†Tutwiler, you might remember, is where blues harmonica player extraordinaire Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) II is buried. It is also where W C Handy saw a man playing a guitar with a knife for a slide and “discovered” the blues for which Handy became famous. Tutwiler is also home of the Avent Funeral Home where the body of Emmett Till was embalmed (Till was a 14 year old Chicagoan brutally killed in 1955 in nearby Money, MS, for speaking to a white woman).

Bob says I’ve been too gloomy lately. I will approach myself henceforth with renewed efforts to re-instill joy and giggles into the land of blogggg.

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Written by frankieleeee

October 17, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Sun Rays and Warm Days: Rayne to New Orleans

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Over the bridge along the edge of Lake Ponchartrain

Friday was a day for traveling, lying back (well, we did make an exception for Driver Don, suggesting he merely “sit” back) and enjoying all the bountiful beauty of Louisiana’s Interstate 10 from Rayne to New Orleans. We started the day by exploring the city of Rayne which also calls itself the City of Murals, in addition to The World’s Frog Capitol. Murals there were by the dozens. Old and new. On the town watertower. On the front wall of the Rayne Tribune. And everyone of them about FROGS! Including a lot of statuary.

The gremlin (GPS) caused us to chase out tails for ten or fifteen miles looking for a Cajun restaurant that was not, although we did hit the Boucherie Festival in Sorrento, mouths watering for Cajun lunch only to find we had to wait until 6pm for the food. (Boucherie, btw, means “butcher shop”). No Cajun for us yesterday. Perhaps today at the Crescent City Blues Festival.

The ride to New Orleans was bright and sunny and we savored it all, including the music supplied by Tranq the Van. We crossed Lake Ponchartrain (not over the middle) and fought rush hour traffic to Motel 6 on Gentilly Street. And saw a Motel 6 physically connected to a Subway shop! Another wonder to ponder.

 

A frog without skin, we're advised, demonstrates that all humans are the same under our skin!

 

 

The Rayne Tribune

 

 

Whimsical is wonderful

 

 

Apparently Rayne once was biggest single producer of frog legs in the world

 

 

Because of the high water table in low-lying Louisiana, the dead are often buried above ground.

Told you!

 

 

Written by frankieleeee

October 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Racism to Rice

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Nature has been good to Brookhaven MS. This seems to strut proudly in front of our motel.

 

McComb, Mississippi’s past is not the stuff to print on a big placard and wave it lustily over its collective head. It was among the most virulent segregationist communities in the South during the sixties.

It also is a major to music, blues and more. Bo Didley made his first guitar with his own hands in shop class in high school in McComb.

 

For years Bo Diddley and his band members were forced to scrounge for sleeping accommodations and food sources because they were locked out of all-white establishments who wanted their music but never their blackness. Bo Diddley is dead. Mississippi salutes Bo Diddley, in the search for ever more dollars from his music.

 

 

The back of Bo Diddley's Blues Highway salute.

 

 

Summit Street in McComb today looks like any other street in any other poor side of town, USA.

 

 

Still, I shot this photograph yesterday in McComb, Mississippi.

 

We left McComb for the Pelican State 25 miles or so down I-55.

 

Crossing the Mighty Mississip at Baton Rouge

 

 

Miles and miles and miles of what seems like a single bridge spanning rivers, bayous, creeks, swamps and dry land. West of Baton Rouge along I-10.

 

Finding a handicapper motel room with a high toilet and two beds! There seem to be more hens’ teeth. For two nights we CGPed and phoned and sought and sought and sought, finally “settling” for no handicapper toilet. Such is life if your legs are a three wheeled electric cart named Junior, Jr.

Our “making do” last night (Thursday) is Best Western in the “Frog Capitol of the World,” Rayne, Louisiana. Still haven’t seen a frog here; I suppose they’re all captured and being held incommunicado until the Frog Festival next month.

 

"Frog City" is next door to our Motel. It features, gas, restaurant and a mini-gambling casino.

Don & CB wave goodbye as they prepare to plunge into yet another thrilling adventure: The International Rice Festival in Croywley. Louisiana.e

 

And the reason for our sojourn on this side of the state: The International Rice Festival in Crowley, Louisiana! World’s Rice Capitol! My gosh! Unbelievable that two.. two.. count ’em.. two world’s capitols are located within 20 minutes of each other in the same United State.

 

Couldn't leave the festival without trying some Cajun cracklings. MMMMMMM GOOD! Unfortunately for them, neither CB nor Don would share my $3.00 bag of pig skin and fat boiled in lard to a fare thee well. Best Pork Rinds (althought they're technically NOT) I've ever eaten.

 

 

Kira Viator & Bayou Beat played some swamp stomping cajun country and plain ole country songs. Kira was great on the accordion. Twin fiddles. Reminded me of the olden days of Hank Thompson, Bob Wills and Ray Price. If they ever come to Cincinnati, I'm gonna go and seem 'em again!Don & CB preparing to plunge into another great adventure: The International Rice Festival in Crowley, Louisiana.

 

Off to New Orleans today.

Written by frankieleeee

October 15, 2010 at 3:00 pm