RSDvector_text_bwSaturday is Record Store Day, an annual event, begun in 2007 to recognize independent record stores around the country.  Instead of downloading a piece of music or ordering a CD from Amazon, some people still get in their cars, drive to a store and buy a record album (yes, that’s what we used to call them) on vinyl.

Through cassette tapes, 8-tracks, CDs and now digital downloading, I’ve been unable to let go of my vinyl albums.  I have an embarrassingly  large collection which, I’ve never stopped listening to. Let’s just say it’s a closet full.

hurricanesBarely a teenager, the first album I ever bought was called “Johnny & the Hurricanes Featuring Red River Rock” by Johnny & the Hurricanes, an instrumental, rock ‘n roll band from Toledo, Ohio.  I redeemed myself a little with my second purchase, “Elvis’ Golden Records.”

elvishitsWe got many dozens of comments when we asked Facebook friends to tell us about their first vinyl album purchases. Here are a few.  Don’t judge.  What’s done is done. Actually, most of the choices were very classy.

— Ann Bailey:  “The Sound of Music” (Soundtrack)

— Bev Benda:  “Between the Buttons” by The Rolling Stones

— Bob Cary:  “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin

— Cole Carley:  “Beatles ’65” by the Beatles

— Judy DeMers:  “Meet the Beatles” by the Beatles

— Ginny Eastman Dullum:  “Bobby Sings & Swings” by Bobby Rydell

— Jeff Erickson:  “The Stranger” by Billy Joel

— Kathy Fick:  “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel

— Ron Franz:  “Pete Seeger at the Village Gate” by Pete Seeger

— Betty Gard:  “Something Cool” by June Christy

— Kevin Grinde:  “Chicago Transit Authority” by Chicago Transit Authority

— Chuck Haga:  “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel

— Nancy Hennen:  “Dirty Laundry” by Don Henley

— Kevin Hentrickson:  “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper

— Eric L. Johnson:  “Meet the Beatles” by The Beatles

— Julie Moravchik:  “Grease!” (Soundtrack)

— Erin O’Connor:  “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John

— Paulette Haupt Tobin:  “Days of Future Past” by The Moody Blues

— John Wheeler:  “The Partridge Family Album” by The Partridge Family

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To Re-read or Not to Re-read

To_Kill_a_MockingbirdIt doesn’t happen very often, but I’m re-reading a novel I read years ago.  It’s not just any novel.  It’s To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s not for nothing that Harper Lee won the Pulitzer Prize for it.

Like much of the reading public, I’m looking forward to the publication of Lee’s Go Set a Watchman in July.  But July is a long time to wait, so I decided to pick up Mockingbird in the meantime. I’ve been rewarded with an reading experience so good it brought tears to my eyes.

All of which got me thinking. I haven’t re-read many books in my life.  There’s so much to read for the first time. To the best of my knowledge I’ve never read anything by Marcel Proust or William Faulkner, for example.  I’ve tried and failed to get through epics like Moby Dick and War and Peace. My Goodreads list is embarrassingly thin, I’m afraid.  Not many classics on it.

Now that I’m not reading the news (out loud) to people on television, I have a little more time, in between cleaning up cat vomit, to re-read some of the books I’ve been missing.

Mark Twain’s  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole have been on my re-reading bucket list for a long time.  But, what else?

I did what I always do in times like this.  I asked my Facebook friends. They came through with a (very good) re-reading book list. Now I’m even more conflicted. Here’s just a small sample.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

The Color Purple  by Alice Walker

The Velveteen Rabbit  by Margery Williams

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 by Hunter S. Thompson

The Anarchist’s Cookbook by William Powell

Ulysses by James Joyce

The Shack by Wm. Paul Young

Giants in the Earth by Ole Edvart Rolvaag

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

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A Southern Life

elvisHundreds of books have been written about Elvis Presley.  Yes, hundreds.  I’ve read quite a few, including what many consider to be the definite Elvis biography, Peter Guralnick’s two-volume Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love.

But here are some things I never knew (or had forgotten) about the King of Rock ‘n Roll, I learned from reading  Joel Williamson’s well-received new biography Elvis Presley:  A Southern Life.

Elvis Presley, Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner were all born within seventy-five miles of one another in northeastern Mississippi.

Elvis’ father Vernon spent the better part of nine months in a state prison for check forgery.  Somehow most of the public never knew about it until after Elvis’ death. Along with his mother, as a youngster of three or four, Elvis visited his father at the Mississippi prison farm several times.

From his earlier days as a performer, Elvis wore mascara on stage and sometimes off.

I always assumed that “Colonel” Tom Parker was rather inept at managing Elvis.  To the contrary, Joel Williamson maintains that, especially early on, Parker moved Elvis’ career rather brilliantly from records and personal appearances to television to movies.

After his son’s death, Vernon Presley got part of the Graceland estate legally designated a cemetery.  In that by law all cemeteries in Tennessee have to be reasonably available for any interested parties, early in the morning before Graceland opens to paying customers, anyone can visit Elvis’s gravesite without charge.

Eventually Elvis would sell in the neighborhood of two billion records.

In his career, Elvis won only two Grammy awards, both for gospel albums.

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Gone Fishing

fishoneIf it’s Lent, that must mean fish dinners, right? There are a bunch of them throughout the region.  I got the chance to help serve the one at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Grand Forks last evening.

fishmeEarlier in the season, the Bishop acted as guest server.  Talk about going from your sacred to your profane.

fish kitchen

fishermenThe well-oiled machine that is St. Michael’s men’s club.

fishlineOccasionally, there would be a lull as more fish was being brought out from the kitchen.  That’s when I would jump in with a quick ad lib, like “There’s more fish coming.  They’re catching it right now.” Or, “We’re out of food.  Go home!  Thanks for the money.”  As you can see above, the reaction was precious.

fishvernThanks to Vernon Kary, my boss for the evening, and everybody at St. Mike’s for the invite. I had a great time.

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Raise Your Paws

pawsOnce again this year, we’ll be hosting Raise Your Paws For Pets.  It’s always a lot of fun.  Hope you’ll be able to join us. For information: (701) 775-3732.

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The Voice That Taught Us How To Listen

Sinatra_2425620kI listen to Frank Sinatra’s voice almost every day of my life, mostly in my car.  I don’t know what would happen to be if I didn’t.

I’ve been a Sinatra fan since I was a teenager.  Like great classical music, I can listen to his music over and over again and hear something new in it almost every time.

Much has been written about his impeccable phrasing and breath control.  It’s been said he never sang a song the same way twice.  It all seems so effortless.

I focus on his recordings, but the sheer volume of his work is staggering. In his 60-year career, he made hundreds of concert, radio and television appearances.  In his spare time apparently, he became a movie star as well.

Ginny and I were at Caesar’s Palace on Frank’s opening night on Labor Day weekend, 1976. I remember every detail. Barbara Sinatra and the Fifth Dimension were in the audience. Lola Falana winked at me as she breezed through the V.I.P. line. Sam Butera (of the great Las Vegas lounge act Sam Butera and the Witnesses) opened. It still seemed like old Las Vegas and was great fun.

At one point in the show we got the Sinatra blessing. Jack Daniel’s glass raised, he toasted the audience. “May you live to be a hundred and may the last voice you hear be mine.” Amen to that, Mr. Chairman.

A new slogan on the Siriusly Sinatra channel on Sirius-XM radio says it all for me.  “Frank Sinatra: The voice that taught us how to listen.”

This is Frank Sinatra’s centennial year.  A big exhibit is running in New York City. A “new” album has just been released called “Sinatra London.” Bob Dylan, of all people, just released an album of Sinatra songs. A 4-hour documentary is to be seen on HBO beginning next month.  Volume two of James Kaplan’s wonderful biography is expected to be published soon. All in all, it’s going to be a very good year.

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Zombie Empire

Remember  the Sony Pictures hacking scandal a few weeks back? Hackers released a ton of confidential data belonging to Sony Pictures Entertainment, including personal information about Sony employees, their salaries and whatnot.  It provided a glimpse of who was doing what to whom in Hollywood.   It embarrassed countless show business talent and executive-types and provided a lot of fun reading for the rest of us.

With that in mind, what follows is a heavily edited, but very real Facebook conversation between the lovely and talented Maria Williams Kennedy and educator/actor/singer/director/agitator Brad Sherwood. I’m releasing it in hopes of stirring up some trouble around here.

Maria Williams Kennedy:  Hello! I am working on a collaboration with Emily Burkland at the Empire Arts Center about an Opera Project that will be turned into a film to be shown at the Empire. I have written the script and contacted singers and would like to ask you if you would be interested in performing….. Please let me know if you are interested in this fun Fundraiser for the Empire. I have attached the scrip. Thank you!

Brad Sherwood:  What is the timeline of events around this work?

Maria Williams Kennedy:  We would be filming in the Summer and a release date would be September.

Brad Sherwood:  sounds like fun…if it fits in the calendar of life…”i’m in”

Maria Williams Kennedy:  Yay!

Brad Sherwood:  but only if I can be killed by Terry Dullum!!!

Maria Williams Kennedy:  LOL that could be arranged!

Terry Dullum:  I’d love to kill Brad. I’m assuming this is a non-singing role on my part?

Maria Williams Kennedy:  Yes, no singing. We’d love to have you kill Brad, Terry!

Terry Dullum:  I have a list of some others I’d like to kill… but we can discuss that later.

Zombie Empire is a real project.  Without giving away too much, let’s just say the script revolves around zombies, Marilyn Hagerty and world domination.  I’ll be playing myself, as best I can.  Watch for it.
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The Guys and Me


Another full house and a standing ovation for the final performance of Guys on Ice last night at the Fire Hall Theatre in Grand Forks. It was a great finish to a very fun run.

In eleven performances and a half dozen or so rehearsals, I didn’t fall off the stage once. To me that’s success.

Thanks to everyone at the Fire Hall for allowing a civilian like me into your ranks.  And thanks to everyone who came out to see our little show. I had the best time!


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Presidential Sit-downs

For what it’s worth, Kerstin Kealy’s interview with President Obama today is not exactly a first for the station. Former WDAY-TV anchor Marv Bossart was one of several local television reporters to conduct a sit-down interview with President Reagan at the White House about a year before his presidency ended in 1989.

Marv recalled later to many of us that he was struck by the president’s poor hearing, asking for most of the questions to be repeated.

I also remember fondly Marv telling me (through his laughter) about “stealing” the paper White House coaster from under the president’s water glass as a souvenir after Mr. Reagan left the room.

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Ginny & I were terribly saddened to learn of the passing of Earl Williams today, one of WDAY Radio’s best and brightest.  Earl is probably best known as one half of the Earl & Don Show on WDAY, Don being Don Dresser.

Even as a snarky teenager, more into rock music rather than ‘DAY’s middle of the road format, the Earl & Don were “must” listening for me.  Listening to them I remember thinking that is how you do that.

Ginny & I got to know Earl only recently at a couple of WDAY alum lunches in Fargo.  His Queen Elizabeth “pull my finger” story had me nearly on the floor.

Visitation will be from 9 – 10 am Friday, followed by a memorial service at 10 am at Hope Lutheran Church – South Campus in Fargo.

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