The World According to Oatney
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Road tripFor those interested to know what's been going on in our potential search for habitation in Tennessee, we are making another trip down this weekend to look for a place. There are already a couple of places we are interested in. This weekend, I'll be using Audioblogger to make posts to the World, but readers and listeners need to be aware that I may not have access to a computer for several days, so this is when things will start to appear messy around here. Audio posts may go untitled until I have the opportunity to go in and title them.
Nonetheless, if you get on the blog and happen to see an untitled audio post, I hope you'll listen, and comment where you might like.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Del is a musical geniusAs I pointed out in my post yesterday on the situation with Mike Bub leaving The Del McCoury Band, Del is going to release a new album on July 12th. As usual, Del and Company manage to make even the best other bands look like bad motel lounge singers and players, and that includes people I seriously admire.
I have come to the conclusion that Del does not sing bluegrass or country, or even rockabilly, rock, or blues. What Del sings comes from another dimension, it is its own thing in the musical world...it is a musical style that can only be called DEL, or Delsic, or Delgrass, or Del something. In the grand scheme of music, there is Del, and then there is everything else, by which Del is the measuring stick. If something can even be remotely compared to Del, it must be good. If someone can say "this person sounds like Del," or "that person plays like Del," then that individual needs a seven-figure recording contract. Bakersville, North Carolina should be designated as a National Historic Site and a World Heritage Site because Delano Floyd McCoury was born there. Bakersville should be proud to have propagated the greatest musical genius that ever walked the face of the Earth. York, Pennsylvania should be able to mark the streets where Del walked when he lived there. They should have the main street through town re-named McCoury Avenue. President Bush should declare Del Day a national holiday, because our nation has yet to produce a musician of equal calibre. Del and the Band should be the featured as the primary act on New Year's Rockin' Eve, which should be moved from culturally inferior New York to Nashville, and would be hosted by Ricky Skaggs, Ralph Stanley, and Marty Stuart.
Del would be invited to play at the next inauguration, which would be a post-parade whiskey and chops barbecue on the White House lawn sans Andrew Jackson. Del would then be enshrined in the Smithsonian Institution for his "priceless and invaluable contribution to American music and culture."
Hey, I can live my fantasy in my head, can't I?
Del's latest album is The Company We Keep, and if you click on this link, you can be taken to musical heaven courtesy of McCoury Music and CMT.
Del McCoury: American Genius
Wandering the Appalachian TrailJust Wandering says:
I did a lot of the Appalachian Trail this past summer and loved the people down south in the mountains. Kind, considerate, helpful.
She's right, of course. I don't think you'll find a friendlier, more outgoing bunch than real bona fide Appalachian people, usually the variety who haven't fled North. The reason I wrote what I did about the state of affairs in the Appalachian region is because I don't think many people know or understand the true history of the place, they only know what they've been told by others. The truth is that historians aren't even finished telling the story, because the history of Appalachia is still being discovered and told. Fortunately for us, there are still many people alive who lived that history and can tell the story because they witnessed it with their own eyes. I hope historians are careful to take account of these people before they aren't here to share their lived experience with us.
People in the Southern Appalachians generally do love visitors. They want to show the world that they live in some of the most beautiful places on earth, and they want to share those places with others. The caveat, of course, is that they want their homes, land, and way of life to be respected and cherished. The Appalachians and Appalachian people have contributed more music, art, literature, linguistic vocabulary, and notable public servants to the wider American culture than perhaps any other cultural group in the U.S. They've never asked to be recognized for these realities in return, but now that other important cultural groups and their contributions are being recognized, more Appalachian people want the world to know about the musicians, writers, artists, famous members of Congress, even U.S. Presidents who have called the mountains their home. That's why a day in the mountains is often a history lesson.
On a pope's reignA user known as Gaucho writes:
Why do Catholics speak of a pope's tenure as a reign? It does sound tacky.
A Pope's tenure of referred to as a reign for three reasons:
1. A Pope is, in fact, a temporal monarch. He is the Supreme Authority within the Vatican State. If that tiny realm doesn't seem like enough to reign over, it is important to remember that it is actually a tiny remnant of a much larger state which included all of central Italy, which the Holy See had authority over until Italian unification, and which the popes claimed as their legitimate sovereign territory until the signing of the Lateran Treaty in 1929.
2. The Pope serves as the Supreme Head of the Church on Earth, more commonly called the Supreme Pastor. Catholics believe that Christ is the head of the Church, of course. Since Christ obviously hasn't returned yet, the Successor to Peter takes care of the Church's earthly affairs, such as seeing to the financial and social stability of Catholic Christian communities around the world. The Pope also is at the head of the Church's worldwide missionary work, funded by an annual collection called Peter's Pence.
3. The Pope is the leader of the College of Bishops throughout the world. A bishop's religious authority is supreme within his diocese. The only authority higher than a local bishop is that of the Holy See.
Hope this explanation is a help.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
The end of the Bluegrass world as we know itI heard some news this morning that, while apparently a couple of days old, is still shocking. Aaron Harris reported in a post at his blog that Mike Bub, the bass player who has been with The Del McCoury Band for 13 years, left the band earlier this week. When I read the story at Aaron's site, I was in shock and disbelief. I followed the story over to Del's site, where Bub posted the confirmation on the bulletin boards there himself. Ever the class act, Mike used the occasion to thank fans for their support over the years, and to tell everyone that both he and the band would be just fine, and he even encouraged people to continue to support the band.
What was clear from Mike's post, however, was that there was some sort of disagreement between Del (or Ronnie, or Rob, or some combination thereof), and Mike. Whatever they disagreed about, it must have been a very big deal, because Mike makes it clear that at the beginning of the week, he could not have imagined he'd not be playing for Del anymore, and he didn't want that to happen. Considering that Mike Bub has promoted the band without fail for the last 13 years (and Del knows this), his ability and affiable nature was hardly the reason for his sudden departure.
I can't say that I have had a lengthy conversation with Mike Bub, but I have met him on several occasions. I am even told that on one occasion, he inquired as to my whereabouts when I was not at a show with Aaron, as for a long period of time, Aaron would not be seen at a Del show (or any other Bluegrass show for that matter) without me being with him. Mike Bub is one of the friendliest, most outgoing musicians I have ever met, and he truly loves the fans who love him. That says a lot in a musical field that is already known for fan-friendliness and outgoing, personable stars. He is also perhaps the most talented bassist in Bluegrass today, perhaps only equaled by the abilities of Marshall Wilborn.
Knowing that Del and the boys have lost such a tremendous asset in Mike Bub, it does beg the question: Who can replace Bub? I don't think the band will ever sound the same without Mike Bub...That's not to say that they are going to sound bad, or get worse, because I just don't think that could ever happen, but I do think that they will begin to sound different, beginning with the album after their latest, The Company We Keep. I hope the new bass player is half as good as Bub. Most of all, I hope Mike Bub finds a gig within the week (or whenever he wants one), because someone should be falling all over themselves to play with one of the greats.
Mike Bub: One of the great Bluegrass bass players is leaving his long-time home with The Del McCoury Band. We don't know why Mike had to suddenly "part ways" with Del and company, but we do know that he won't go long without a gig. Whoever replaces Mike will have huge shoes to fill.
(Photo: from Bluegrass Journey)
A visit from SupermanA reader/listener who claims on his blogger profile to be from New Zealand writes:
Jesus. I thought you might be a non-american. Then I heard your "weird-assed slang". Sorry bud. I can't stand listening to the drawl. Nice try, though. I hope "y'all" learn how to speak them proper english...good night.
First of all, I was not aware that people in Oz or New Zealand spoke proper English. If ever anyone has spoken with English-speakers from that part of the world, their speech is so filled with slang and slutter that it could easily be defined as an improper use of the English tongue.
The fact that the poster identifies himself as Superman also gives us some idea that he has a superiority complex. The people of the great nation of New Zealand should be proud to have Superman living in their midst (yeah, right).
(For their sakes, I hope these are not the sorts of people New Zealanders elect to Parliament. If so, perhaps our long-standing U.S. alliance with New Zealand ought to be re-examined.)
A New Zealander won the U.S. Open this week. A great golfer..but not Superman. We now know that Superman spends most of his time posting to internet blogs, and apparently can't understand the Real American Language.
Would Superman like fries with that?
(Note to folks from Oz and New Zealand: I don't really believe you speak bad English. You can talk however you like. Unlike Superman, who must not be Superman, as he seems to have a great deal of trouble understanding what I say, I think it is easy to understand how you speak, slang, slutter, and all.)
Monday, June 20, 2005
AppalachiaI am not sure anyone who doesn't have some Appalachian heritage in their bloodlines can possibly understand what it is like to be a person of Appalachian heritage. It is true that the people who settled those mountains have contributed greatly to American culture, giving the nation large portions of its vocabulary, and the Grand Ole Opry to boot.
What liberals do not seem to understand is that Appalachian people are not "oppressed," they are not ignorant, and they are not stupid. What caused me to go on such a rant was a program that I happened to see yesterday on PBS, I believe it was simply called Appalachia. In many ways, this program reminded me of the many stories that my Grandfather recounted to me as a little boy. I heard all about the coal strikes, the Matewan Affair, the WPA, the "Three C Corps," and the TVA.
I was also told, however, about how Northern white liberals made their way into Appalachia under the guise of wanting to "help the poor," or "educate the poor, ignorant mountain children," and they created more problems than they solved. It was these people who helped perpetuate the negative stereotypes of Appalachian people which still persist today. In the 1960's, Charles Kurault (whose work I normally admire) did a television special called Christmas in Appalachia, which highlighted the poverty of the region...but it also made Appalachian people appear ignorant and helpless.
Very often, this is how the federal government has viewed Appalachia in the past, and continues to do so today. People in Appalachia during the Depression and the era of the "Great Society," were seen by federal bureaucrats as a constituency to be bought, not as the free and independent-minded people that they really are. It is a disservice to the entire region, really. Their government has patronized them, and berated them before the nation, and then tried to buy their loyalty.
One of the most infamous stories I have ever heard involved a 1966 visit by Lyndon Johnson to West Virginia. He entered a barber shop in a small town and received a trim, chatting in a friendly way with the locals. On the wall of the barber shop was a portrait of the late President John F. Kennedy. After Johnson left the barber shop, he reportedly said to an aide: "I gave those bastards everything, Head Start, poverty programs, public works projects. What do I get? A G****mned picture of Jack Kennedy on the wall."
Appalachia always deserved better than what Appalachia got. Better treatment from the federal government is no exception.
This is the view of the beautiful New River Gorge in Fayette County, West Virginia from atop Hawk's Nest. Some of my ancestors helped settle this beautiful river valley, and my Grandfather once worked in a nearby coal mine as a young man.
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