Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Making Music

I have a confession to make... I have no musical talent whatsoever. Many years ago, when I was a regular churchgoer, I organized a praise choir at our church... recruiting, scheduling, promoting... the things I AM good at. Because the church was grateful for my efforts, they allowed me to participate in the choir, even giving me a little egg to shake in the rhythm section. Then one day, I got to practice and both my microphone and eggie were gone... I could still participate, but just so no one would hear me! Since I was well aware of my shortcomings, even though I did enjoy the experience, I wasn't sad not to be making a spectacle of myself on the Sundays when we performed.

Now, I don't sing out loud, unless of course, the Guinness is flowing and there are Irish Drinking Songs being played... then I'll belt them out along with the rest of the bar crowd. Pitch and key don't count there.

However, I am a strong believer in being part of the music industry. AND I HOPE YOU WILL JOIN ME! I host regular House Concerts, bringing nationally touring bands and singer/songwriters into my home for the enjoyment of my friends and neighbors and hopefully to the financial benefit of the artists. I've been working with an organization called NRoute Entertainment to do the same in listening room environments in North Platte. Everyone can participate by attending these live music shows and supporting the artists and the venues.

However, we all can take it one step further. In this day and age of independent musicians and grass-roots social media, we fans are the major record labels. We are the public relations arms promoting our artists - posting about their upcoming shows, links to their websites, pushing mp3 downloads and album sales. Now on the backside, we can actually help them produce the music.

I have two artist friends, whom I've hosted in my home and I highly recommend who are asking their fans to help them get their next album projects off the ground.

First is NEELY, made up of the husband and wife duo Jeremy and Kaci Neely. You can find their project on Kickstarter. At $2,155 pledged, they are at 61% of their goal with six days left! It would be a shame if a fabulous project like this didn't get off the ground because of funding. It takes a lot of money to make an album, and the artists invest a large part themselves, in addition to the blood, sweat and tears it takes to make the music.

Second is Jesse Terry. This incredible singer/songwriter is using Pledge Music to finance his project. He's only just begun and is 11% toward his goal.

The music industry is a cut-throat business. The mega record labels and the big radio conglomerates have it sewn up neatly, with little room for independent music to make its way to our ears. We can find it on live shows and streaming on independent internet radio stations, neither of which are very lucrative for the artists. If we want to continue to have great independent music available to us, we have to get in on the ground floor and actually have a financial stake in making it happen.

Oh, and I should tell you, the artists have offered great swag if you pledge! So check out their music, then check out their projects, then pledge. It only takes a few clicks of the mouse button!

Thanks for stopping by. For the price of a few cups of coffee, you can help finance these great music projects!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Third Places in North Platte

The community in which I work, North Platte, Nebraska is embarking on a "Community Branding" process. As part of the development of our brand, we were encouraged to cultivate "Third Places." We all have our homes, which are our first places. Our place of work is our second place. Our third place is where we go to hang out with our friends. Strong, growing, vibrant communities are all characterized by the variety of activity at their third places.

I am fortunate enough to be a part of the committee working on developing those third places. We have many other projects, but one highly visible and nominally successful one is the NRoute Entertainment Fort Cody Music Series.

NRoute Entertainment has three goals:

  • Provide Third Places for residents of North Platte - and help going to those third places become a habit.

  • Provide quality "listening room" type venues for traveling artists "nroute" between more major gigs.

  • Provide quality entertainment for travelers "nroute" to their homes or final destinations.

We chose the iconic Fort Cody Trading Post for our series which began in June and finished up in August. As you can see from the credits that roll at the end of the second video, we had amazing artists grace our stage.

We are looking to build on this series next year. All of these artists deserve to have packed houses enjoying their music, and it will be our goal to provide it for them.

Thanks for stopping by. Make plans to join us next year for this series... the coffee will be on.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nebraska Cowboy Poetry

I love Cowboy Poetry! You may recall that I have posted in 2009 about our trip up to the annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Festival held annually in October. You can find those posts here - "So Many Wranglers, so Little Time" (I also appreciate men in wranglers...) and "You Call These Guys Amateurs?

You'll notice that Nebraska Cowboy Poet RP Smith features prominently in those blog posts. I recently had the opportunity to enjoy his poetry again, this time at the 2011 Heritage Day celebration at the Lincoln County Historical Museum.

When I first moved back to Nebraska in 1993, I hoped to do some freelance writing, but with my kids in 5th, 3rd and kindergarten, it just didn't happen. My aspirations did, however, give me the opportunity to spend the day on R.P.'s Custer County ranch, when his kids were just a little younger than described in the video below.

R.P., his wife Beth and their children are truly Nebraska icons - wonderful examples of the men and women who make this state great. I hope there's a lot more "Dinosaur Eggs" like them in the works.

Keep checking out my YouTube Channel as I'll be posting more of his Heritage Day performances there.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

North Platte Canteen Memories

This is a short video I made yesterday at the Lincoln County Historical Museum Heritage Festival. Even hearing short snippets of the North Platte Canteen stories can give me goosebumps.

You'll be able to find out a lot more about the North Platte Canteen at this year's North Platte Rail Fest.

The North Platte Community Playhouse will host "The Canteen Spirit Experience".
The North Platte Community Playhouse will present the “Canteen Spirit Experience,” in conjunction with the Original Town Association and Railfest 2011 in North Platte, NE.

During the “Canteen Spirit Experience,” patrons will be treated to a viewing of the “Canteen Spirit” film, a panel discussion with former North Platte Canteen volunteers and soldiers, vendors and an authentic Canteen meal, all taking place in the historic North Platte Community Playhouse at the Neville Center for the Performing Arts.
Also during Rail Fest, the North Platte Public Library Foundation will host the "Canteen Memories" Cemetery Tour.
Canteen Memories is the title of this year's cemetery tour hosted by the North Platte Public Library Foundation. The tour will pay tribute to World War II soldiers and the women who volunteered to help with the Canteen effort.

"It's the 70th anniversary of the Canteen, so that's primarily why we chose that theme," said Kaycee Anderson, library researcher. "But, we also wanted to honor the men who lost their lives, not just the women who served. All the soldiers featured were North Platte boys, and all died in action."

Each will be portrayed by local actors and actresses who will dress in costumes from the period and deliver 10 to 15-minute performances while standing next to the headstones of the characters they represent. (Courtesy of the North Platte Telegraph)
Spend some time in North Platte this year during Rail Fest and you'll fall in love with this heartwarming story.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


The call came in at 12:30. Our oldest daughter was in labor with our first grandchild. Even though my head told me that the baby would be a long time in coming, I couldn’t convince my heart, so instead of getting a good night’s sleep and making the drive to Lincoln in the morning, I grabbed my things and began the road trip by 1:00.

Naturally, my head was correct, and Finley Elsie was born at 3:11 in the afternoon.

Throughout my life I have often joked with my children that the only reason I had kids was so that I could get grandchildren, and I’ve often chided them that I had yet to be presented with a single one! I can’t say that now. But I will tell you that I haven’t faced the prospect of becoming a grandmother without some major trepidation.

I began my journey to fulfillment when I married The Mister, which will be nine years ago later this month. After that, I became a better mom and a better person, with the example, love and support that he provides. I went so far as to attend sporting events, which I really don’t understand and like even less than I understand, but with him by my side it became at least tolerable.

When our last child left home in 2009, one transformation occurred and we began to really have fun – hosting House Concerts, Couch Surfers, becoming river rats and traveling wherever and whenever we had the chance.

And so, with the birth of the granddaughter, our lives go through another transformation. She is, I’m sure, the first of many, and I’m hoping for some word from our other daughter within the year, and who knows after that? Now we have to consider how to make sure we stay connected to Finley and all the babies to come. Perhaps travel will be less about us and more about connecting with family? Scheduling less events at home so we can be available when we’re needed to babysit?

It’s hard to say how the future will shape up, but one thing I can say for certain: It will be FUN!

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.