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Entry date: 3-24-2024 – People Suck (Updated) – Letters to My Friends

Updated: Mar 29

Dear Friends,

 

***Update*** Frank is home and safe. Our neighbors found him. I'm guessing whoever tried to break in either took him and realized he was old and crazy or someone just tried to break in and Frank got out. Either way, he's home.***


Last night, Rhondi texted me at the show we were playing to tell me that someone had broken our back gate and stolen one of “the old men.” We raced home and searched the neighborhood. It was painfully obvious that the goal of these folks was to steal Frank, our fourteen-year-old Pug.

 

I had no idea how prevalent dognapping is and why people do it. These assholes are probably hoping to make a buck off of us somehow. He’s old, doesn’t hear very well at all, and is the dog version of senile. Even if they stole him because they love pugs and want to have one, they are going to grow tired of his shenanigans quickly. Our Frank does not deserve this.

 

I don’t even know what to say or write about this right now except that it is just so odd to me. I don’t know if the best or worst part of this whole thing is that yesterday, we were out in the yard for quite a while and we got some quality time with him, which doesn’t come often anymore. Because of his advanced age and almost total deafness, he tends to bark a lot when happy or angry or hungry or just whenever.

 

Yesterday he was pretty chill and seemed to be enjoying his pets and scratches under the chin. He sat with me on our bench in the backyard for quite a while after I finished the yardwork I was doing.

 

If that is the last time I get to spend with him, I suppose that’s kind of a blessing, but how do we reconcile the thoughts of wondering where he is and who has him and if he is suffering at all. It breaks my fucking heart.

 

I did call the police and such. I will be calling the pet shelters and posting on social media, too.

 

Poor Frank.

 

***** 

 

I wanted today’s blog to be celebratory. We put on a good show last night. It was a nice day. I got to see my dad and Doug seems to be feeling better. It seemed like a day where steps were taken in good directions across the board.

 

I also wanted to have happy thoughts out there so that when I share today’s record with y’all (and the person who made it), it would be a good memory for them and for me. Alas…I do love the record and I’ll probably listen to it again today.

 

*****

 

It’s always a crapshoot when a friend gives you a CD. In this case, it was my friend’s wife. Somewhere around twenty years or so ago, give or take, my friend, Jennifer, gave me a CD her husband had put out on Bloodshot Records out of Chicago. I was already a fan of her husband, Jon, so I knew it was probably really good, but again, you never know.

 

One of the reasons for this trepidation is, and this has nothing to do with Jon personally or with his professional demeanor, but when I had an affection for people back in the day, it impacted how I heard their music. Many times, I would find myself rocking out to one of my friend’s bands and realize that I might be the only one. I got over this, though.

 

After I started writing about musicians that I knew, I realized I had to let this go. I had to be way more objective, and it helped me appreciate good music even more. That’s why I can honestly say that I love Jon Rauhouse’s Steel Guitar Air Show from 2002.

 

 

Again, my buddy Jen gave me this, I think at a meeting that we were both at in Flagstaff or Tucson and I listened to it all the way home, let it repeat, and then again. It stayed in the CD player for a good long while. (Sound familiar?) It’s really fucking good.

 

 

I was a big fan of Jon’s band with another dude I admire, Jamal Ruhe, called Sleepwalker. When I heard Jon Rauhouse’s Steel Guitar Air Show, I had to put aside my complete and utter allegiance to Sleepwalker and admit that I really appreciate the way Rauhouse plays the steel guitar. There is room in my heart now for multiple Rauhouse projects, especially when he finally invites me to play a song with him.

 

 

I’m just not in the right league, but that’s okay.

 

 

Let’s dive into Jon Rauhouse’s Steel Guitar Air Show.  There is a distinct feeling of optimism and happiness on this disc. I love that and when I listen to it now or bac then, I smile more. That’s worth the price of admission to any show.

 

“The Glow Worm” is our opener and it is just charming as all get out. Steel guitar has such a unique sound and, on this track, it’s kind of like being in Hawaii in the 1950s. The war is over, people are getting tan and happy, drinking Mai Tais and making promises to love each other forever.

 

I’m a huge fan of the songs that Rauhouse wrote for this release and “F86” is one of them. It’s the second track and about 1:10 or so into the song, he just starts shredding before sliding right back into the groove with his capable partners, Tom Ray (bass), Kevin O’Donnell (drums), and Tommy Connell on guitar. As an avowed softy for instrumentals, I dig how this sets up the next song which features the one and only Neko Case on vocals.

 

“The World IS Waiting For A Sunrise” is short, sweet, and with Case’s lovely voice, you forget there is an absolutely scorching band behind her. The transition into another Rauhouse original, “Circle The Wagons Babe” is perfect. John Convertino from Calexico makes the drums really swing on this one, but just as you’re getting really relaxed and into it, “Who’s The Baddie? Says Alan Laddie” is worming its way into your earholes.

 

Jon Rauhouse’s Steel Guitar Air Show is chock full of riffs that you just can’t help but get lost in and the record sounds great in my earbuds. Way better than the speakers in my old truck. “Hula Blues” is up next replete with some breathy vocals from the Haole Choir. I love it.

 

A standout track for me is “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive” which features a wonderful turn from Kelly Hogan on lead vocals. She’s got a really wonderful voice, and she shows it off a second time doing a little background on “The Lonely Bull.” These two great tracks are the middle of the record, but things are far from over.

 

 

“Beer & Lettuce” is another Rauhouse original, and it is groovy and fun. Convertino is back on drums, and I don’t think I ever realized how much that guy just rules a swing beat. I need to listen to more Calexico. If that’s Tommy Connell on lead guitar, it’s pretty rad, too.

 

“Summer Samba” changes the mood a little bit, as any good samba in the middle of a swinging steel guitar record should, but I love how the steel guitar almost has a little bit of a Star Trek vibe and hangs kind of low in the mix at parts. I could see this being the background music when Kirk and Spock explore a planet that firmly planted in the Brazilian 60s.

 

Sally Timms absolutely owns “Perfidia.” It’s up next and the ex-Mekons member shines on this classic. It’s the last song with vocals, so it kind of ends the vocal heavy middle of the record. “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie” is a lot of fun and then there are four more Rauhouse originals.

 

“Homie’s Parade” is one that Rauhouse and Connell wrote together. It has a little bit of a bluegrass feel to it in the way that Jerry Garcia liked to play a little bluegrass here and there. Maybe it is a slightly Dead kinda vibe I’m picking up on.

 

I really dig “Agent Burns (Theme)” a lot with its spy movie vibe. Knowing Rauhouse, I bet there is a good story behind this one and I hope I remember to ask him next time I get the chance. It’s a little mysterious but has those great spy riffs in it.

 

“Can ‘O’ Corn” is another swinger with a cool “weeping” riff that I like. While I listen to it, I can picture a cartoon cat pretending to be crying and then sneaking around and stealing some tuna fish only to find it’s actually a can of corn. Sometimes you need to let a song tell you story.

 

“Million Dollar Mermaid” finishes it all up. There is a little voice over that mentions Jon “Orchid Fingers” Rauhouse. “Orchid Fingers” is pretty darn perfect. It’s a fitting ender as it is a little bit dreamy and, like many of the songs, the perfect length.

 

One of my favorite local records of all-time and I love listening to it while I drive across town. Something about it keeps me feeling good about movin’ slow.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.

 

Ps…

Frank? Where are you, my man? I love you.



The old gentlemen. Frank is on the left.

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