Saturday, October 04, 2008

Roadie Report 42 - A Walk to Battery Park by Camilla McGuinn

I looked up at the blue sky over the closed off construction site. Images of the twin towers flashed from my memory and the words from the Christmas song we had just completed recording rang through my mind:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play.
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had roll'd along th' unbroken song
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair, I bow'd my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song,
Of Peace on earth, good will to men."

This was the first time we had been to ground zero. Peace on earth has always been elusive. Wars have always been but on that day, September 11, 2001, we felt the meaning of the words, “For hate is strong and mocks the song, of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Our walk toward Battery Park around the site was silent. I have always found it hard to understand why the sun still shines when my heart is heavy. Then I remembered the rest of the words to the song:

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearthstones of a continent,
And made forlorn, the households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With Peace on earth, good will to men."

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Roadie Report 41 - Concerts and Hurricanes by Camilla McGuinn

On Aug 4th we made a fun jaunt to Michigan and Ohio. John Sebastian and Roger were co-billing for two concerts. It's always a delight to hear John playing his wonderful Blues harmonica with Roger for a few songs. We have future shows scheduled with John - click the icon for ‘Tour Dates” on for updates. An evening with these two storyteller musicians leaves a smile on everyone’s face.

Hurricane Fay began creeping northward from Naples, FL on August 18. The very day we had scheduled to initiate on our new PV solar panels to power most of our house’s electrical needs with the sun’s energy. The rain began ... it didn’t stop for five long days, but the panels worked! Even on rainy cloudy days, our system charged the storage batteries. Our two refrigerators were never in the slightest jeopardy of losing power. Almost everything in the house is now solar powered.

On August 30th, we conducted another experiment with the system. We totally disconnected our house from Progress Energy "grid." The air conditioners, the clothes dryer and the electric range and oven ceased working. We'd planned to see if a portable air conditioner could keep us comfortable throughout the night but guess what ... it rained all day. Hurricane Gustave’s outer bands showered our house. I did manage to wash four loads of laundry on solar power and hung the clothes up to dry on racks, but we didn’t want to take the chance of testing the portable air conditioner. The lights, fans and computers worked all evening. When the sun rose the next day, the batteries totally recharged. A new day dawned and a fresh source of power was available. It was so exciting!

In 1959 I experienced my first hurricane. We were living in Beaufort, South Carolina. My father was a Navy hospital corpsman assigned to the Marine Air Corps Air Station. He had to be on call at the medical dispensary during the storm. His wife kept the home lights burning alone with their two children, a 9 year old son and a 7 year old daughter.

My mother was the type of person who saw the adventure in everything. We never had time to entertain fear; we were having too much fun camping in the hall and playing games. Every so often, mummy would go peek out a small window to view the biggest oak tree in the Whole-Wide-World. Hurricane Gracie’s winds were blowing over 100 miles an hour. She had her eye destined for that big beautiful tree.

7 years old - my birthday in the Living Room before the big hurricane.

My brother and I were almost asleep, when mom gently shook us and whispered, “It's time to go next door.” She calmly handed us our clothes bags and told us to stand with her near the door. All of a sudden the wind stopped, she flung the door open, then firmly said, “Run to Pat’s house!” Wil and I looked at each with a quizzical look because it seemed the storm was over. Mom grabbed my hand and hollered, “It’s just the eye. It’s dangerous! Run fast!”

Pat saw us running and held her door open for us. Her four children were as excited as Wil and I; we now had playmates for the duration of the storm.

Mom and Pat played canasta while they watched that enormous, beautiful tree crash into our living room. The house was inundated with water.

The days following were the kind of days kids dream about. School had just commenced a new year but because the electrical lines were down, we had a two-week holiday. The neighborhood became a block party with community grills fired up every evening. The charcoal-fired pits were overflowing with a lot of good eating before all the food in the freezers defrosted.

That childhood event ignited in me a deep fascination with hurricanes. We experienced our first Florida hurricane during Labor Day weekend 1985. Hurricane Elena parked in the Gulf of Mexico for three days battering our coastline. Living in Florida provides many close encounters with the vast destruction caused by these cyclonic storms. I now balance my childhood excitement with an adult reality of potential disaster.
Photo by Roger - Click to enlarge

Solar panels have changed some of the rules for hurricane preparation. We still fill our gasoline tanks and water bottles, but I no longer have to buy enough ice to last for seven days. I mentioned to a neighbor how I felt a little guilty when I saw her lifting ice out of her trunk. She laughingly assured me we would have lots of company the next time a hurricane robs the community of power. Just like when I was 7 years old, we’ll have lots of playmates!

We are being asked if the solar panels will save us money. At this time the return on our investment will take a while, but we are convinced it is the right thing to do. This planet is a beautiful place to live. It's a good idea to become better stewards of its resources. Little things will add up. Roz Savage recently rowed from San Francisco to Hawaii in a small boat, one oar at a time. She's on her way to Australia. Roz set out to raise awareness of the pollution mankind is causing. I never knew about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch before following her adventure. Now when I go to the grocery store, if I have forgotten my “green bags”, I buy one. Declining the plastic bags offered in the stores is a small step toward caring for the future.

There are other areas in our life where we try to move in a “greener” direction, but there are areas where we haven’t yet. It isn’t a matter of comparing ourselves to what others are doing; it's a matter of trying to do what we think is right when it is in our pathway to do it.

Photos- one by Roger, one by Camilla, one from Roz's site and one taken by mummy.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Roadie Report 40- The "Green Summer" of 2008 by Camilla McGuinn

Photo by Camilla

We’ll always remember the summer of 2008 as the “green summer.” The environment has always been one of our concerns. “The Trees Are All Gone,” written in 1990, was somewhat prophetic about the apathy of the politicians and the blinders they wear concerning the energy needs of our nation, but this blog isn’t about politics.

For the first time in years, we found ourselves settled into our home for the summer. Usually, we purposely arrange to be touring somewhere in the world, in order to miss the seasonal heat of Florida, but this year was different.

Taking time off from touring gives us time to open our imaginations and horizons to things we are normally too busy to contemplate.

“Tech TV” was one of the few cable television channels Roger watched faithfully. It was a highlight for him when he was invited to appear on the Screen Savers broadcast. The only sad part of that day was the host,Leo Laporte, was out of town. The network was bought by one of those monster corporations that destroy good stuff. Sure enough “Tech TV” was sunk, but you can’t keep talented people drowning for long. Kevin Rose and Leo LaPorte branched out. They found new outlets for their talents via podcasts on the Internet. It was on Leo’s show that Roger heard about Roz Savage.

Roz Savage has embarked on the adventure of being the first woman to row solo across the Pacific. Her motivation is to raise awareness of environmental issues. She wants to inspire others to make a difference in their lives for the protection of the earth and its oceans.
Photo by Camilla

Roz has an amazing web page and Roger was fascinated; he immediately studied his habits and made some changes.

We live in a land of sunshine. It is time to harness this powerful gift. Roger has been experimenting with small solar panels for the past year. In the beginning he was using them to recharge our laptop computers and cell phones. He wanted more practical uses, so we brainstormed about what we needed most when the electricity was shut down. In 2004, we experienced three hot days and three dark nights when Hurricane Charlie knocked out the power grid.

During those days and nights, the comforts we missed most were ice and cooled air for sleeping. We couldn’t run our air conditioner or refrigerator with our small panels, but we could power some fans and make ice. Thus we invented “solar ice.”

Portable ice machines were being featured in various catalogues. I asked Roger if the solar panels were powerful enough to run the machines. The wheels began turning. We placed an order on the Internet and within weeks, we were making ice from the power of the sun.

My resident “Mr. Wizard” or “Commander Solar” as he jokingly likes to call himself wasn’t content with just ice and fans. He wanted more solar power. The next brainstorm session came up with the question, “Is there a good electric mobile device that we could use for our local errands?”

The Internet search machine was buzzing. We found a reasonably priced electrical device and placed an order. It arrived by truck and was deposited in a crate on our driveway. Some assembly required. You know what transpires when a husband and wife try to assemble anything as a joint project!

Being a typical guy, Roger proceeded to put it together, while I tried to read the directions which were very roughly translated from a foreign language that seemed to read from right to left and from the end to the beginning. I would manage to decipher an important point just after Roger attached that particular part in the wrong position. Give him a guitar or a computer and he can take it apart with his eyes close. This new world of transportation mechanics was bewildering to him. We groused with each other throughout the whole ordeal, but suddenly we achieved that sweet moment of accomplishment and we had a new set of wheels. The bright red bike that was going to lower our carbon foot print was christened “FRED” – Free Rolling Electrical Deliverer.”

Within a week of getting the “FRED” on the road, a couple of local reporters emailed with the question, “How is Roger spending his summer vacation?” They had reported on our “Solar Ice” experiment and knew Roger usually had some tech related project brewing. I invited them over to meet the “FRED.” They filmed Roger riding the "FRED" for their website. (Be sure to click the blue letters for the film...I only say this for those folks, like me, who don’t know why that word was blue)

Our Orange Tree (photo by Camilla)
Now that “FRED’s” wheels were rolling, Roger wanted to use our beautifully situated roof – southwestern exposure – to raise the solar panels. Dinner conversations concentrated on the problems of a barrel tile roof and how to get flat panels safely secured onto the round tiles. As we discussed all the possibilities, our excitment rose. If we were going to put a few panels on the roof, why not put a lot of them on the roof! It was time to go completely solar with the house!

During our recent home re-model (a water leak in the laundry room wall changed the whole house), I was the one who did the research, buying and hiring. This project was all Roger’s. He searched the Internet until he found Michael Brown’s Solar Ray.

Michael was raised in New Mexico, where he was solar inspired during a sixth grade field trip to the Sandia National Laboratory. He is surprised that the residents of Florida haven’t embraced the power of the sun. He uses Photovoltaic cells made by the Evergreen Solar Company. Michael feels the carbon footprint of the company is right in line with the environment. He and Roger put their heads together, planned a system for our house and then called me in as a courtesy. When they told me the refrigerator would always be running even when the electrical grid was down, I was sold. I did request that the septic pump, dishwasher and washing machine keep chugging too. A childhood spent with the necessity of an outhouse, seeing grandma at the wringer washer and being the one who always did the supper dishes, has always kept me very aware of the modern conveniences that I would miss if I had to step back in time.

The solar cells are ordered, Roger is riding the FRED to the post office daily and I’m smiling at the future!

Photo by Camilla

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Roadier Report 39 - Memories of "The Byrds" as told to Camilla McGuinn

The Beginning - Jim McGuinn, David Crosby and Gene Clark

In July 2005, I wrote the first "Roadie Report" for Roger's web page. I wasn't sure I wanted this personal road diary to come under scrutiny of the world, but several different prompts set me to writing. After a few BLOG entries, I received an email from Jim Dickson, the godfather of the BYRDS, asking if I would like to write about some of his memories. I was honored and curious. Many different writers have chronicled the story of the Byrds in detail. I didn't feel I could add much to those details, but sometimes as we travel the world together, Roger will reflect on a memory I haven’t heard.

In May 2006, I began incorporating Jim Dickson's memories into the BLOG. This summer hiatus seemed like a fine time to share some more of the stories I have heard along the way about a magical time in the history of music. I will not be documenting a detailed description of the BYRDS history, just a few of the memories of old friends.


Bob Hippard, Hoyt Axton's road manager, almost didn’t recognize Jim McGuinn as he walked toward him from the airline gate. This 21 year old who had toured two continents, played Carnegie Hall, been on national television, performed with world renowned musical artists, recorded on hit records now looked like a vagabond. His hair was long and combed forward, his big black crumpled raincoat looked huge over his thin frame and his pale skin was a sharp contrast to the warm southern California sun … but there was a glint of expectation in his eyes and in his walk.

Jim’s finances were at an ebb, so Bob drove him to Hoyt Axton’s house. Bob had arranged for Jim to stay at the guesthouse, where Hoyt’s mother, Mae Axton, resided when she was in town. They deposited Jim’s bags and musical instruments in the pool enclave. As they walked back to the car to go search for a bite to eat, Hoyt greeted them in the driveway. This down home Oklahoma boy grabbed Jim’s hand and invited them both into his home for refreshments. After hours of munching and smoking a vast quantity of imported Indian hemp, Bob reminded the musicians they both had a show the following night.

The Troubadour Club in West Hollywood was one of folk music’s hot spots in town. Jim had spent many hours on previous sojourns in Hollywood practicing his craft and meeting other artisans in the front room of the club, The Folk Den. Hoyt had recorded his album, "The Balladeer," in the club and was always a welcomed artist.

Jim was going to open the show, then singer songwriter; Roger Miller would precede Hoyt. Jim was tired when he sat down on the lone stool on stage. He began to quietly sing the Scottish folk song “Wild Mountain Thyme” but he became energized when he incorporated a Beatle beat to the lyrics. He loved it, but the audience didn’t. There was no response when he finished the song. The rest of the 30 minutes dragged on.

Roger Miller was tuning up in the small dressing room, when a very dejected Jim walked in and sat down on the other chair. “Jim, I liked what your doing out there.” Roger smiled at Jim as he shook his head. “ I watched you for awhile and I noticed something.” Roger softly spoke. “You got mad at the audience. They notice when a singer doesn’t like them. You might do a lot better if you didn’t show how upset you are when they don’t appreciate what you’re trying to do.” Roger left the dressing room. Jim could hear the enthusiastic applause greeting Roger Miller. He knew he needed to take the advice he had been given and change his attitude.

The next couple of nights were not any easier for Jim, but his attitude changed. He was ready to work hard with the hope some lone person would understand where he wanted to take his music.

One night, someone did. Gene Clark, a newcomer to town, fresh from the Missouri folk circuit, was in the audience. As soon as Jim was off stage, Gene went to find him. This soft spoken, good looking, dark-haired musician was excited about Jim’s innovative way of combining folk songs to the Beatles’ beat. Jim’s spirits lifted and they both agreed to meet the next day in the Folk Den to write some songs.

The collaboration between Jim and Gene was electric. Gene’s lyrical genius and Jim’s musical knowledge took these two hungry artists to new heights. Their voices blended beautifully as they sang the new songs they penned. When Jim began playing one of the new songs, “You Showed Me,” he felt his guitar move when an almost spiritual energy. He knew something wonderful was happening.

Two days into their song writing adventure, while they were jamming in the Folk Den, a student actor turned folk musician, heard them singing. He walked over and added an incredible harmony. During Jim’s first trip to Los Angeles in 1960 to accompany the Limeliters, he had spent a couple of weeks hanging out with this actor/singer. As the trio’s voices blended with a harmonic brilliance, their eyes flashed at each other with looks of wonder. Something awesome was happening. David Crosby hyperly shouted, "We make beautiful music together!" Jim wasn’t sure he wanted to work with this high-energy songbird. David saw Jim's hesitation and slyly mentioned he had a friend who would let them use his recording studio for free. Jim's qualms were quickly surpressed.

Jim Dickson,Roadie Report 14, was a producer for World Pacific Records. One of his productions, “12 String Guitar” sold several hundred thousand copies, enough to save the label from bankruptcy. World Pacific's owner, Dick Bock, rewarded Dickson with the key to the studio to use for his own purposes whenever there were no paying sessions on the schedule.

Dickson went in search of new talent to record demos in the studio. One night at the Unicorn, L.A.’s first coffeehouse, he heard David Crosby singing and being ignored by the audience. He was struck by the quality of David’s voice. Dickson's first recordings with David were with studio musicians. It was a standard practice to use the pros when recording. Jim had recently finished recording sessions with Dino Valente in a rock and roll format and decided to record David in a like manner.

Unfortunately, the tapes embarrassed David because folk music was the genre of the moment. Dickson wasn’t able to secure a recording deal for David, so he suggested he should switch from lead singer to a harmony singer. David had been in Lex Baxter’s Balladeers and resisted the direction. In the meantime, David kept a suitcase in Dickson’s garage and slept on different people's couches.

One day David arrived at the World Pacific studios high with excitement. He had found two guys he wanted to sing harmony with and if Dickson would get involved he was sure they would let him.

Dickson was familiar with Jim McGuinn, but had never heard of Gene Clark. David told Dickson he would only be a singer because both of the guys were much better guitar players than he was. David’s method of guitar playing was of the school of Travis Emundson - just learn the chords when you need them for the song you want to sing.

It was late at night, when David brought Jim and Gene to the World Pacific studio. Dickson asked them to sing a few songs. He felt their vocal sound was worth his time, since vocal blend was the most difficult achievement for a group. Their pseudo English accents did cause him to wonder about their motivation
Jim and David begged Dickson to go with them to a movie they had seen, “A Hard Days Night.” He finally understood the accents. The lads were excited about the movie.

On the sidewalk outside the theater, while McGuinn was busy explaining to Dickson his realization that most of the Beatles’ songs were based on folk chords, David was swinging around a lamp pole like Gene Kelly and yelling, "I want to be a Beatle!" McGuinn was also excited about George Harrison’s guitar. When he first heard the sound, he was sure it was a 12-string guitar, but in the movie it only looked like a 6-string from the front. Then, George turned sideways and Jim could see it was a Rickenbacker electric 12-string guitar! This veteran 12-string player had to have one of those magical instruments at any cost.

A few days later, David and Roger were standing on Hollywood Boulevard talking about how to become a band like the Beatles. David felt he could play bass, but they needed to find a drummer. They felt it was important for everyone to look English. As they were talking, a guy came strutting down the street who looked just like two of the Rolling Stones rolled into one package. They both pointed and said "him!"

It was an 18-year-old who was calling himself Michael Clarke. Roger had seen him in San Francisco playing bongos and they asked Michael if he could play drums. “Sure," he half-heartedly answered. They took him to the studio. Configured some cardboard boxes as drums and set a tambourine up for the snare drum. Michael sat down with a pair of sticks and began practicing.

David quickly realized he couldn’t concentrate on harmony while playing the bass. He asked Dickson to get another player. Dickson had recorded with an accomplished mandolin player named Chris Hillman. He first encountered Chris with the Bluegrass group, Scottsville Squirrel Barkers, then the Golden State Boys with Vern Gosdin. Their latest Dickson recording at World Pacific was the album, which became “The Hillmen” featuring Vern and Rex Gosdin, Don Parmley, and Chris.

Dickson felt Chris’s musicianship and the way he supported vocals would make him a good candidate to learn to play the bass, so he invited Chris to a rehearsal.

Dickson wasn’t planning on recording with the bass and drums, but did want them for live performances. He formed a business partnership with the original three musicians. He quickly realized in order for the partnership to survive, he would have to feed the lads who had no money or jobs. “Guess I have to feed you now,” was the line Dickson used when he felt the late night session was over. Hamburgers were the reward for a good night’s work.

The group was making progress. Dickson used his own money to bring in some studio musicians to play on two songs: “Please let Me Love You” and “Don’t Be Long.” He sold the songs to Elektra Records and told Jack Holzman to choose a name, but don't identify the members. He chose the name “Beefeaters.” Maybe it was the “British Invasion” or a gin bottle on the desk inspiring the moniker.

The group’s ability to perform live was still in question. They booked a show at the Troubadour. David played without an instrument and the result was an awkward singer slinking around the stage in the style of a chubby Mick Jagger. The audience was not impressed. David quickly grasped he wasn't going to be the next rock screamer and he needed the protection of a guitar. He joined McGuinn in lamenting about Gene's tempo changes. Gene felt songs were more dramatic if they were sung in a slower tempo. This habit drove the perfectionist musician, McGuinn, to distraction. Bobby Darin had impress upon Jim the importance of timing and to hear a song drag out of tempo was tough for him. The timing issue was the point David chose as a tool to undermine Gene's confidence as a guitar player. David had to quickly learn all the chords to the songs and Gene grabbed a tambourine as a prop. It was the beginning of the major rifts which often plagued the band: personalities, perfection and politics.

By then Dickson felt there was a future for the group and brought Eddie Tickner into the partnership to handle the business end. They needed money for instruments and the lads wanted to have suits like the Beatles. Eddie found a very wise investor with an available $5000 whose heirs still collect 5% of the initial royalties to this day.

Dickson drove McGuinn, Clarke and Crosby to the music store. Jim carried his Pete Seeger model 5-string banjo and Gibson acoustic 12-string guitar, a gift from Bobby Darin. He wanted a Rickenbacker 12-string and was willing to trade in both of his instruments to get one.

After the instrument purchases, Dickson dropped Jim off at the Padre hotel. Mae Axton had come to town, so Bob Hippard found Jim a room at the Padre Hotel for $4.00 a night. The moonbeams danced around the room as Jim played the guitar until he fell asleep, propped up against the pillow of the bed holding his new prize possession.

To be continued...someday.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Roadie Report 38 - Astronauts Hall of Fame and the Discovery Spaceship Launch Pad - by Camilla McGuinn

The Discovery on the launch pad. (Photo by Camilla)

It’s Saturday, May 31, 2008; 4 hours 36 minutes and 42 seconds until the Space Shuttle Discovery blast off for its 14-day mission. We have always been excited about all the Space Shuttle launches, but this time we felt personally attached to the Discovery.

Our attachment to Discovery began on March 13. I received an email from Linn LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Astronauts Scholarship Foundation, asking if we were going to attend the Astronauts Hall of Fame (AHOF) induction Gala on May 2, being held at the Kennedy Space Center. Her next question, “Would Roger like to play a set of three songs to conclude the gala?”

After a flurry of emails and telephone calls, Roger's performance was confirmed, but with an added bonus. Two former astronauts who were two of the founders of the astronauts’ band, Max Q, were going to join him. Robert “Hoot” Gibson and Brewster Shaw were going to bring their guitars and soaring harmonies to entertain the spacemen.

The rehearsal for the three songs, “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Mr. Spaceman" and "Turn, Turn, Turn" was scheduled for Thursday, May 1. Unfortunately, Brewster had a business commitment and couldn’t make it for the Gala, so it was just Hoot, who joined us in our hotel room to fine tune the music. He had been practicing at home and we were wonderfully surprised at how well his talent blended with Roger’s.

In the evening, dinner was served for all the astronauts, scholarship winners and their families in a very casual setting in the hotel. It was the beginning of a reunion of friends who had a very unique bond. It was also Mercury Astronaut Scott Carpenter’s birthday.

Friday was a busy day. More astronauts were arriving and meeting with the press. A VIP reception was held at the AHOF before the gala dinner at the ASVC (Apollo/Saturn V Center.) We donned our fanciest clothes and boarded the bus with the astronauts. Half way through the reception, Hoot, Roger and I were driven to the ASVC for sound check. This unique hall had been transformed into an elegant dinner venue. It wasn’t the first time we have had dinner under the Saturn V rocket, but we still looked up in awe at the massive machine.

At 7 pm, the attending astronauts and their wives were individually introduced as they walked the red carpet to their tables. Each astronaut joined a different circular table to have dinner with the people who had bought tickets. I enjoyed watching the look of excitement on the dinner guest's faces as their own astronaut approached their table.

William Parsons , Director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, was sitting to my left. His stories were fascinating but one theme became prominent in our conversation. This ex-marine was quick to inform me which astronauts were former Marines as they walked the red carpet. I realized that being the daughter of a career Navy man; it was my responsibility to point out to him that the marines were a branch of the Navy! This humorous banter with Bill continued all evening.

I have written in a previous BLOG about the AHOF and the reasons for this event. Yes, it is to honor these amazingly brave pioneers, but it is also to encourage students to excel in the fields of math and science. Each year, the AHOF awards scholarships to students based only on scholastic achievement in the sciences. That evening, the scholars who were able to attend - one even skipped his college graduation - were presented to the audience. Then the four astronauts who were being inducted into the AHOF were introduced: Loren J. Shriver, Bryan D.O’Connor, Robert D. Cabana, and John E. Blaha .

After an Omega watch raffle, to add to the scholarship fund coffers, McGuinn and Gibson took the stage. Roger told me it was such a hoot to be playing with an astronaut, for a room full of astronauts under a Saturn V rocket. He could see their faces and they were all smiling and singing along.

The next day held one of the biggest adventures of our lives. At noon we boarded the bus again with the astronauts and found ourselves transported to launch pad 39A where the Discovery Space Shuttle was docked and being prepared for the May 31 launch. No one had told us where we were going and once the destination announcement was made, the atmosphere on the bus became electric. Everyone, including the astronauts, was jumping with excitment. For the astronauts it was going home again, for us it was an unbelievable opportunity to be very close to a piece of history where only a few have traveled.
Hoot Gibson, Roger and Al Worden in the shadow of Discovery's wing.

The smiles on the faces of this group of astronauts, their wives and one star-gazing musician, as they scurried up and down the stairs of the launch pad, were as big as the 347-foot structure. I kept saying, “We’re like a bunch of monkeys climbing all over this thing!” When we stood in front of the shuttle door, a workman asked," Who are these people?" I laughingly replied, "Astronauts. Don't you recognize me?" The men who had flown into space surrounded us and they were all full of information. Walking encyclopedias, walking history.

To top it all off, we got to stand next to the door that the Discovery Astronauts would enter for the STS-124 mission scheduled for May 31, 2008. I'm listening to that mission countdown on NASA TV as I'm writing this.

After being so close to the Discovery Shuttle to almost touch it - but it was too awesome to even put my hand in that direction - a bus took us to the ASVC for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It is a casual affair. An astronaut member of the AHOF reverently introduces an inductee and then proceeds to tell funny stories about the inductee's space antics. They honor and roast the new members at the same time, much to the delight of the audience.

If you ever plan a trip to the Kennedy Space Center, schedule it for the first weekend in May for this historical ceremony.

A final reception to toast the inductees was scheduled after the ceremony. But before this guild of space travelers dispersed, there was one last gathering - a private dinner for this family of astronauts and then the last moments in the private hospitality suite. This is where the jackets came off and the guitars came out.

Roger not only brought his guitar to the suite, but his “one laptop per child” computer. This little computer was designed to provide children around the world with new vistas. When the program first began, we were given an opportunity to buy one for a child and to buy one for ourselves.

Roger laid the computer on a table, picked up his guitar and watched as the astronaut who repaired the Hubble Space Telescope tried to open the computer. He carefully studied it, then opened the battery compartment. Roger began laughing and I jumped in to offer assistance. Even though I had used the computer, I realized I didn’t know how to open it either. Roger came to our rescue. I incredulously asked, “How do they expect children in third world countries to open it?” Roger smiled like an all knowing professor and assured me they had teachers schooled in instruction.

It was a good thing we had the OLPC computer. Everyone was in a singing mood. A familiar song was requested but we realized we didn't know all of the lyrics. The melody is so sweet we wanted to keep singing it, so Roger opened the computer and googled the words. We ended the night with the spacemen huddled around a laptop built to enlighten the world’s children, singing, “Amazing Grace.”

Singing Spacemen-Hoot Gibson, Jeffrey Hoffman, Roger and Charlie Duke

The next morning, Astronaut Al Worden, chairman of The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, shook Roger’s hand goodbye and said, “See you next year.”

2 hours, 17 minutes and 42 seconds to blast off!

All photos by Camilla McGuinn

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Raodie Report 37 - 30 Years, Kaukonen, Mansfield, Martin and Springsteen! - by Camilla McGuinn

A Foggy NYC Day (photo by Camilla)

Thirty years have passed and we have hardly noticed. Our life together has been filled with love, some hot water, some cold water, a wee bit of tepid water and a whole bunch of adventures. We were packing again for another adventure. Another opportunity to share music and stories. In between concerts we were going to celebrate our 30th anniversary of togetherness.

We stopped in at Jorma Kaukonen’s “Fur Peace Ranch.” Jorma and his wife, Vanessa, founded the ranch in 1988 as a school of guitar and music. They also built an intimate concert venue at this outpost located in the rolling hills of Ohio. It was the second time that Roger has been invited to play for a very enthusiastic sold out audience. It was at this concert, where Roger began telling the story of “Gene Tryp” again – with a few modifications.

With a few days off before the IMAC Theater concert in Huntington, NY, we decided to spend our anniversary at Minetta’s Tavern in Greenwich Village. Our plan was to enjoy a quiet lunch at Minetta’s, then spend the evening toasting the Empire State Building from the view of our hotel suite on the Hudson River.

The Italian lunch was exactly what we had envisioned. As we were saying good bye to our usual waiter, he told us that Minetta’s was closing! It had been sold and even though the new owner says he isn’t changing the d├ęcor, there will be some remodeling and a major menu change. Roger’s favorite Italian restaurant in the Village, the one he frequented in the 60s, was about to become French!

We reluctantly left the restaurant, took a picture and slowly walked down Minetta Lane. I looked up and my mouth dropped open. On the marquis of the Minetta Lane Theater was the name of the play I performed in at Longwood College in 1969 – The Adding Machine. We decided right then, to call Roger’s son Patrick and invite him to join us for one last (Italian) meal at Minetta’s and to attend this musical adaptation of Elmer Rice’s projection of the future.

On April 5th, Roger received an email from David Mansfield. The two of them met on “The Rolling Thunder Revue.” David was 18 then and a musical prodigy. Since there was a concert close to his house, he wanted to see Roger and catch up on old times. Roger asked him to bring his instruments and to come early for sound check.

David arrived with a violin and two guitars. He saw the banjo sitting on stage; he said he didn’t play that instrument. Roger handed it to him, “Here, try it.” His untrained banjo hands began picking like a pro. Some people are just born to make music. The evening was enchanting. That night, Roger played with the musician we want to engage to help with the “Chestnut Christmas” CD we will be recording this summer.

The Martin Guitar factory is on the way to Vienna, Virginia from New Jersey. Roger always seizes the opportunity to go there to smell the wonderful aroma of hand made guitars being lovingly crafted. It was also a very good time to pick up some guitar strings and to show Dick Boak, Roger's new tuning of the 12-string. I picked up two denim chef's aprons with the Martin logo … interesting. Well I got one for Roger too! I’m not going to be in the kitchen by myself!

We finished the concerts at the Barns in Vienna and the Maltz Theater in Jupiter, FL then headed home for a few days. Our bags were still waiting to be unpacked when we received an email from Steven Van Zandt’s assistant, Nicole, with an invitation to attend Bruce Springsteen’s concert that night. Our schedule had been so full,we did not even realize he was in town. We replied quickly. Within the hour, the telephone rang. It was Steven.

Bruce wanted to know if Roger would join him and the E Street Band on stage for a song. The Springsteen machine dispatched a car to pick us up in time for sound check.

Steven and Nicole met us at the back stage entrance and immediately escorted us to the stage. Max Weinberg was already on stage and greeted us both with a big hug. Max and his wife Becky had been to our house years ago for dinner.

My camera was tucked in my bag. I understand the importance of not taking pictures without permission but my familiarity with Max gave me the courage to ask if I could get a picture of him and Roger. My hands were shaking. The photo with Max was the only one I the courage to take all night.

We were talking to Max on stage when Bruce walked up and shook Roger's hand. My mind went tripping. I was standing on the stage where Bruce Springsteen was going to perform and he had just talked to me. It is moments like these when I hope I don’t have a really silly expression on my face. We had talked to Bruce years ago at Tom Petty’s house, but standing on his stage with him was mind blowing.

I left the stage and walked out into the arena to listen to the sound check. Looking around I noticed that there was not a soul around except for the required personnel. It was a closed sound check. I sat down on the steps leading to the seats and listened to the opening notes of “Turn, Turn, Turn” sweetly sounding from the incredible speakers. The E Street Band played it like it was in their daily repertoire.

Roger sang a verse, then Bruce sang a verse.

When Bruce was satisfied with the performance, he requested another song, “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Roger sang the Byrds' version. When he finished Bruce asked, “Is that all? I thought there were more words.” Roger told him there were a lot more words; in fact he has been singing all the verses in his recent concerts, so he knew every one of them. They decided on the verses they wanted to sing for the audience. I saw Roger waving his hand as he talked about the verse with the line “one hand waving free”

Bruce Springsteen is "The" amazing performer. His energy and love for the music carries not only him but also his band and audience to heights very seldom seen. After the concert, as we were saying goodbye to Clearance Clemens, Bruce walked up. His eyes were shining and his energy was still soaring. He was a man happy about his day’s work.


The pic of Roger & Camilla taken by the camera remote control.
All other photos by Camilla.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Roadie Report 36 - Sundazed, Astronauts and a Garden

An Eclipse (Photo by Camilla)

We have been home for six weeks, so when I sat down at my desk this Saturday morning, I didn’t have a clue what to write but to write I must. We happily go on the road again on Wednesday and the April Blog must be uploaded to

I could write about all the things we try to catch up on when we’re home from touring, but those details might get too mundane. I will tell you that we did get the taxes done, at the cost of a couple of trees (Roadie Report 35). And some important tape archives had a touch of organization applied to them with the help of Bob Irwin from Sundazed Music. I know! I can write about Bob and Mary. They are mentioned in a former Blog but their love of music and the way Bob seeks it out of mysterious places in order to save it deserves attention.

Roger met Bob during the compiling of the first BYRDS Box Set. He was on staff at SONY music as a producer/engineer while also creating and growing his own unique record label, SUNDAZED, with his wife Mary.

Bob diligently combs the world for lost or forgotten tapes and recordings. Once he finds the music, he artfully re-packages it in the style of a fine sculpturer who works with a rare piece of marble.

For years Roger and I have moved boxes of reel-to-reel tapes from one home to another. During each move, I would ask Roger as we were stacking the heavy boxes into another closet, “What are on these tapes?” The reply was always, “I’m not sure, but I know there might be some important recordings in these boxes.”

During a forced re-modeling project – a leaking pipe – we decided to move all those boxes one more time. We gathered every tape in the house out of all the closets and cubbyholes and put them all together in one place. We found a 1971 live recording at the Royal Albert Hall and figured that if anyone could do something with it, Bob Irwin could and would. That record will be released soon. Keep checking the SUNDAZED web page for updates.

Bob and Mary decided to escape the New York winter and spend a few weeks in Florida. They chose a town that is about an hour from our house. I realized that their close proximity created a wonderful opportunity to add some order to those boxes of tapes. A quick email to Bob inviting them over for a meal and to peruse our tape vault netted an even quicker response from Bob.

They arrived early in the day and after hugs, laughter and catch-up conversation, we couldn’t wait to see Bob investigate the mysterious tapes. Roger even filmed the moment. It was very exciting. With each new rare tape Bob’s face lit up and he had a story to tell about it. He is a musical historian.

I’m not going to tell you what he found and he doesn’t want to be inundated with phone calls, but collectors and fans can rest assured that some wonderful recordings are now in the hands of a true artist. What and when? Keep an eye on SUNDAZED, they don’t do anything in a shoddy way, so they won’t rush it.

Roger and I felt very blessed when we loaded boxes of tapes into the Irwin’s car. We were no longer being negligent with a musical history. Not all the tapes are keepers. Bob couldn’t listen to them here because we no longer have the equipment to play the tapes, but he is so meticulous that he didn’t want to leave some rare recording left sitting in the vault.

My "science experiment" (Photo by Camilla)

Today I didn't know what was going to be the subject of this blog but now the words and pictures are compiled for the April up-load. I still have time to prepare for an Easter lunch for friends, pack my equipment for the upcoming tour which will also include the celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary on April First and putter in the garden - my “science experiment.” What might sound mundane, now sounds like fun!

One more thing, May 3rd is the U.S Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction at the Kennedy Space Center. Roger has been invited to sing a few songs with a couple of the musical Astronauts during the evening of the Induction Gala. It is always an honor for him to be surrounded by real spacemen! This is open to the public and if you want to explore and meet living history get your tickets early.

Part of my "science experiment" (Photo by Camilla)

The pics of Bob Irwin are frames from the video filmed by Roger.
All other photos by Camilla.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Roadie Report 35 - On The Road Again! by Camilla McGuinn

Sunset in California (Photo by Camilla)

Even though it was still January, I felt like a winter was over in our lives. I was driving on Interstate 10, headed to California and listening to the sounds of Roger playing his 7-string in the back of the van. He had never stopped practicing, even when the cast was on, but the cast was now off and we were off to do what we love – sharing music.

Napa Scene (photo by Camilla)

We gave ourselves time to stop in Tucson and we were surprised to find that we were still a few days ahead of schedule, so we detoured to Napa Valley. It was the off season thus the hotel rooms were plentiful with reduced rates. We even managed to book a reservation at a restaurant that normally has a three-month waiting list.

It was exciting to be heading for the Mondavi Center For The Performing Arts in Davis, Ca. It has an amazing auditorium and there were over 1300 tickets sold. The theater was so perfect that Roger didn’t even need monitors for the performance.

We steered our van north on Interstate 5 during the late rainy morning of February 2. With the first successful concert under our belts after the fall, we were relaxed and excited to spend a few days with our friends at the King Estate Winery in Eugene, Oregon. As we approached Redding, CA, the traffic warning signs began flashing. “Interstate 5 was closed due to snow 10 miles north of Redding.” We couldn’t really believe what we were reading, so we pulled into a truck stop. I went in to inquire while Roger pumped the gas and sure enough, a hand written sign was posted over the cashier’s stand - the road was closed.

Room With A View (Photo by Camilla)

I went back to the van, connected to the Internet and found a hotel in Redding with a restaurant and a room available. It was still early in the day and the highway had just closed. The story changed as the night approached, all the rooms filled quickly and as I passed the hotel check in desk while picking up our dinner, I heard concerned travelers begging for a room. It was then that I decided it would be a good idea to book the room for another night. It would give me a chance to catch up on some bookkeeping and we could watch Super Bowl Sunday.

Now we aren’t big football fans, but Super Bowl Sunday is an American tradition where most of the country gathers around a box, eats a lot of comfort food and stays in front of that box when the commercials are on. Bathroom runs are taken during the play of the game. Or at least that is how I have always viewed the day, besides this was a special Super Bowl - Tom Petty was the half-time entertainment. We ordered all the comfort food on the room service menu, turned on the box and then I went out to take pictures of the sunset. I did get back in time for Tom’s performance.

We crossed the California/Oregon border early the next morning under sunny skies. The mountains are steep there and I’m glad we didn’t have to drive the roads during a snowstorm. By noon we were driving through the gates of The King Estate Winery and were warmly greeted by Ed King, III in the parking lot.
Winter at the King Estate (photo by Camilla)

Steve Thomson, the Executive Vice President of the Winery, asked if we were hungry and quickly ushered us to the new restaurant on the estate. Even though it was a cloudy cool day, we were made very warm by the roaring fire and delicious food. The restaurant is open daily and we highly recommend spending a relaxing meal in that beautiful Oregon setting.

Parting is such sweet sorrow (photo by Camilla)

The visits with Justin King, the son of Ed and a wonderful guitar player, and Karen and Steve Thomson were too short, but there was another concert in Portland, Oregon that was happily on our agenda. The Thomsons even drove to Portland to see the concert. Karen volunteered to work at the "lemonade stand" and Steve volunteered to carry equipment. We also accepted the energy of Phil Garfinkel from Audix microphones to bring some stability to the backstage chaos of the evening.

The last show of the tour was in Bothell, Washington. The weather was cold and the mountain passes were closed from snow. We were hoping that by the time we headed south that the snow and passes would clear because it was the pathway of our return home.

The Northshore Performing Arts Center is a wonderful partnership between a community and a school district. Volunteers raised money to build a state-of-the-art 600-seat theater on the campus of Bothell High School. The residents and the students have all deeply benefited from this beautiful endeavor. It was the perfect ending to this three-concert tour.

The weather did clear on February 11 and the Snoqualmie Mountain pass was clear. The GPS guided us to the most direct route from Bothell to Tucson. That route included what I call some goat paths, but the snow wasn’t on us, it was following us. By the time we got to Tucson, people on the highways we had traveled over were stranded in snow.
Over the goat trails (photo by Camilla)

We spent Valentine’s Day lunch with Roger’s mother and brother and then sped off to El Paso, Texas. Texas is a very large state and it usually takes at least 2 days to cross it on Interstate 10. The idea of doing all 880 miles in one day was intriguing, but we had to be in El Paso so we could wake up early and hit the road. We were also looking forward to a romantic dinner to celebrate the Big Hearts Day. For a present, Roger bought me the DVD of "Mrs. Miniver." It was a film I watched as a child and mentioned to Roger that I would love to see it again. He found a copy on the Internet and we saved it to watch on Valentine's Day. Our laptop computer became our movie screen and Roger connected to bedside radio for a big sound. Once again modern technology connected us to the past.

Waking up early does have some sweet advantages. This time it was seeing the lights of Juarez twinkling in the morning dawn. I never sought to find the beauty of that Interstate 10 city before, but this trip opened my eyes.

There are parts of Texas where the speed limit is 80 mph. That helped in our quest to cross the state. I did kinda miss the wonderful Columbus, Texas Mexican restaurant where we had dinner on the way to California, but we were on a mission. Going toward the east in winter made the trip harder and then the rains came. It rained all through the Houston rush hour traffic and from there to Sulphur, Louisiana. When I drove into the hotel parking lot, cheese and crackers on our bed sounded like a feast!

We made it through Texas in one day. What we thought was just a fun adventure, turned out to be a good idea. Tornadic activity continued to hit the places we had just been all the way home to Florida.

Home...just in time to prepare for taxes! Boy would I like to see a flat tax rate and just one sheet of paper. Time for those politicians to save a whole bunch of trees before they’re all gone

The Trees Are All Gone
(written by: Roger McGuinn, McGuinn Music and
Camilla McGuinn, April First Music
Recorded 1991 on "Back From Rio")

The glaciers near the polar camp
Have all begun to melt
Temperatures are on the rise
Far from the southern belt

Water levels shifting tides
On every changing land
Rain forests in the Amazon
Have vanished from our hand

And the trees are all gone
Yeah you know it's all wrong
And the trees are all gone

The people want to eat today
And so they clear the land
Global warming is a concept
They can't understand
But all the politcians now
They have no excuse
They just hide behind their power
And keep us from the truth

Man has tried his suicide
With bigotry and hate
But in the end he'll kill himself
With nothing but his waste

What will finally happen when
The farm lands turn to dust
When only rich receive the food
And nothing's left for us

But all the politcians now
They have no excuse
They just hide behind their power
And keep us from the truth

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Roadie Report 34 - 1965- Jim McGuinn sends a letter home.

In 1965 Jim McGuinn (Roger) sent this publicity photo home to his parents with this letter written on the back.

Click on letter to enlarge.

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