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Buffalo’s Hey Day

So Buffalo, New York had a hey day that I missed.

Its location on the eastern edge of the Great Lakes and as the terminus to a freight canal servicing New York State made the early part of the 19th century Buffalo-time.

Mid-western grains and grain processing, steel, & shipping. A President of the United States (McKinley) assassinated at an international Exposition.

The architectural images coming up are from buildings of that time period.

The Botanical Gardens, Buffalo, New York

The Basilica,

Our Lady of Victory Buffalo, New York


24 Mar 2011

Jackson Center, Ohio ~ The Town That Airstream Puts On the Map

We have outpaced the spring buds on the trees.

Low temperatures forecast below freezing to our north.

We find ourselves in Jackson Center, the home of Airstream, having some repair and maintenance done on our seemingly ‘bastard child’ Sprinter Airstream Westafalia.

An empty building back in1952 brought Airstream, Inc to Jackson Center.

It has been a mutually beneficial relationship ever since.

Way talkative Airstream ladies up front stealing the tour guy’s thunder and chucklin’ about it.

Small town center: single restaurant, a cafe, a small independent grocery and a movie theater.

Modest developments surround  town in a quadrant fashion.

One quickly finds themselves on the outskirts of town.

The Jackson Center High School Tigers are the feature entertainment in this American small town.

21 Mar 2011

The World Famous Station Inn ~ Larry Cordle (the drinks are on me) and One Hot Damn Bluegrass Band!

Being in Nashville, Tennessee, The Music City for me is like being the kid whose parents won’t let him eat sugar or maybe watch TV at his own house and he is all of a sudden spending lots of time at a neighbor’s house where anything goes. All sorts of new almost semi-illicit experiences to be had. I am not sure if it is because I did a little research or the possibility that going to any of the ‘name’ music venues will offer you a quality listening experience on almost any night of the week. Either way I have been blessed to be exposed to name talent that I did not recognize by name but that blew me out of the water with talent and musicianship.

Apparently the Northeast/Boston music scene and the Nashville music scene do not mix enough. My sense is Boston heads to Nashville when ready as opposed to the other way round.

~          ~          ~

After the Marshall Chapman gig at the The Station Inn, the world famous acoustic and bluegrass music The Station Inn, wrapped up we were waiting around thinking about ordering a pizza and beer, not sure what direction we were going in next. I am standing in a short line at the bar when up steps a barrel-chested guy with close-cropped hair who acts like he owns the place tonight and tells the wait ladies that drinks are on him for all for awhile.  That and they are setting up a food table off to the side. Turns out to be Larry Cordle himself who is having a CD stepping out party that evening. He and his band are the 9 PM show. Decision made.





Larry Cordle has himself one hot damn bluegrass band!

~          ~          ~

All this is happening inside a nondescript whitewashed cinder block building with a red steel door out front and a side door stage door. This ramshackle building with the Doyle and Debbie Show billboard out front is the ‘world renowned’ acoustic and bluegrass music club The Station Inn and it is set in what apparently used to be an old railroad warehouse district now known  as The Gulch. The Gulch is a trendy area full of condo’s and with-it restaurants growing up around The Station Inn.

The Station Inn was the hot fudge ice cream sunday to that little boy whose mom would not allow him sweets!

Kinda’ felt like I was bein’ bad!





19 Mar 2011

Marshall Chapman ~ Live At the Station Inn

Marshall Chapman, my peer age-wise but a new to me Nashville music city personality gave a Mike Terry WSM Station Inn Sessions live radio interview in support of her new book, They Came To Nashville. From an admittedly patrician background in South Carolina, ‘she came to Nashville’ herself to be a musician but under the guise of fulfilling her family’s expectation of acquiring a college degree (BA ~ French at Vandy). A musician, a singer-songwriter, an author, an actress and a raconteur of  special note Marshall is a proud and effective citizen representative of the City of Nashville. Some artist’s creativity and special talents are like a highly focused laser beam while others, a broad all encompassing search light. Marshall’s creativity encompasses much and many endeavors; seemingly the Midas Touch of creativity. Wearing nondescript baggy black with her blond to gray fly away hair tied back,  a simple strand of pearls at her neck she defined the laid back lady of taste. She is a long tall drink of water. Somewhere in her media info I remember seeing the moniker ‘the tall girl’ being applied. She wears her height well.

Beyond all that, and ‘all that’ is pretty impressive, what caught my photographer’s eye was the fluency and articulateness of Marshall’s  facial expressions.

Marshall pegged Nashville’s coming of age as a full blown city breathern to Boston and New York to the arrival of professional sports in town, ice hockey and football teams. She voiced pride in the city and region and it’s peoples that that coming of age did not involve a loss of principle, identity or that sense of who and where you are. After close to a week adventuring in town I would have to agree. This is one of those places that once experienced is worth coming back to.

An interview by a Music City icon at a Music City landmark: Marshall Chapman at the world famous acoustic Station Inn downtown Nashville in The Gulch.

How to do justice to all?

Feature the Station Inn the next time around.

Stay tuned.

18 Mar 2011

The Listening Room Cafe ~ Exactly That


Chris Blair‘s off-the-main-drag and not-your-Broadway-honky-tonk  ‘Listening Room Cafe’ proved to be just what we needed in the way of a place to have a bite to eat, drink a beer or two and appreciate the local music scene the third night we were in town.  The honky-tonk scene had grown old. We took in dinner and both the 6 PM and 8 PM shows. Apparently the attendance is driven by those who are on the playbill. The playbill looks to be 3 to 4 singer songwriters put forward by either an agent or a single artist. Similar to workshops at music festivals, one of the performers gets to be the lead, although there did not seem to be any single unifying theme or concept as you might find in a music festival workshop. The 6 PM show was graced by Joy Styles and her friends Jason Gregory and Olivia West and newcomer Adam Hamby. Good musicians all.

Seems everbody in towns got a web site!

The Yazoo beer was local and good.  Thank you Tiffany Leigh. The food was good as well, a quality burger and fries and a turkey dinner in a wrap (sans the dressing and mashed potatoes).  Good food that came out of the kitchen in a timely manner; thank you Zia Allen and Ryan Davis. Ben Miller had the sound system tuned to perfection for the room and for the specific artists.  If nothing else, the quality of the sound system would bring me back to the Listening Room Cafe. Not a loud place but somewhere that you could talk within your own party while eating and enjoy the music.  A nice comfortable place;  just as the man said, a ‘Listening Room’.

The 6 PM Joy Styles and Friends show had some good on-stage energy. All the artists seemed to have a comfort level with one another and one another’s music.  Joy Styles, she of the mile-wide smile, had a guitarist supporting her. She also had the support of the audience. We enjoyed the show: good songs, good energy, good musicianship. Jason Gregory had his own style and his own sound, voice and guitar; you hound dog you, Jason. The strawberry-blond blues-lady, Olivia West, belted out her compositions while accompanying herself on guitar. Adam Hamby hid a great smile under his hat while playing good heartfelt music.

The 8 PM show had a much smaller audience. Singing to an empty room seemed to accentuate the on-stage dynamics between the three presenters.  Ashlee Hewitt came off as a painted china doll, blond at that.  Justin Robison, maybe the most experienced musician on the stage, has let it go to his head and came across in a condescending and patronizing manner.  Kieran McMullan, maybe the most original musician on the stage, clearly did not think highly enough of himself. Good music from these three with some funky interpersonal undercurrents on display.

We would go back to this under-appreciated venue.

18 Mar 2011

Make Me An Angel …

Second day of  honky-tonking on Broadway in Nashville.








15 Mar 2011

Nashville in the Rain

Only two days of concerted driving and a night in a WalMart parking lot  ;-( get one latitudinally beyond the reach of warm temps and full bore Spring. Forty miles west of Nashville with a bunch of days to do as we please and it is going to rain. Honky-tonking at night and museum hopping during the day. Heading north; bittersweet. Considering putting the house on the market (again) when we get back.

Not sure what I expected from Nashville but I was pleasantly surprised and pleased.





Debbie does Nashville.

Honky tonkin’ before one turns 60!

Live music ~ loud and louder on a sliding scale of quality.

Layla’s Blue Grass Inn

Second Fiddle Cafe


Did not get a single band or musician’s name, a shame.

Back tomorrow for more.

15 Mar 2011

Monthly Thursday NightCountry Music Show ~ I W Henson Presents ~ Paws and Taws ~ Fulton, Texas ~ March 10, 2011

Sterling Griffith

Bud Whittington

Linda & Jerry Russell ~ Roses and Rawhide                                                                                             David Boyd

Judy Chesser

Golden Harps


I W Henson


Pat Grogan

Sisters Too

Jacob Austin Band

Check it out:


11 Mar 2011

Texas Potpourri ~ Cap’n Dong





















Life Lessons From Captain Dong

The following images are of a hard-working Vietnamese-American with a smile and sense of humor that obviously have seen him through the long dark times: Captain Dong. Captain Dong owns his own working fishing boat and sails out of Fulton harbor, Fulton, Texas. Through out our chat he was extremely effusive about how thankful he and his family are to the USA and to God. Dong took some time with me to explain the new shrimping work station and how it attached to the net. He was diligently painting the exposed metal when I happened by. His boat was as old as many about the mooring but it was cleaner and more organized than many. I am not sure how this impacts on Dong the fisherman’s catch but it does say something about Dong the man. He was proud of the fact that he and many of his ex-patriot country-men send money back to family members in Vietnam. He has no desire to return commenting that those that have returned have been for the most part disappointed and gouged for money by the government. Dong spoke glowingly with his entire being of his adopted home country of many years,using the word free quite often.  He joked with me about his age. I guessed 50. Hah! he beamed, taking out is wallet to show a birth date of 1952. One year younger than I. He said it was from drinking lots of milk daily. He pointed and laughed at my graying beard, shaking his head no as he chuckled. No beard for Dong. He laughed and chuckled at my request to take his picture.  Small pleasures. I left my card with him but he was not sure how he would ever get on the internet. We parted company laughing!

I have yet to see first hand evidence from my travels along the Gulf Coast that immigration is such a burning issue. Maybe some Mexican gang stuff in Arcadia, Florida. Lots of evidence of assimilated Vietnamese fishermen and families in Louisiana and Texas. Maybe it is a problem locally or regionally and I just haven’t been in the right places. We still seem like a pretty good melting pot to me. Maybe it is just one more piece of the class struggle that seems to be going on under the surface in this country.

Captain Dong, a working class American!



10 Mar 2011

Cap’n Tommy’s Whooping Crane Tour ~ Fulton, Texas

Capture your images when the boat is beached or nosed in.

Great trip, great people ~ would do it again.

10 Mar 2011

What Would You Give To Be Able To Fly …

Goose Island State Park, Lamar, Texas

9 Mar 2011

Duck Itch ~ Port Aransas Birding Center ~ (the sewage ponds to the locals)

Yesterday we were the furthest south we will go this trip and tomorrow we start heading north again.

Texans drive way fast and do not want to be slowed down. We have been passed on all sides and I am waiting to be driven over by some huge 4-wheeling machine.

It is my hope that the sale and development of barrier island land stops.

~          ~          ~

Along about the same time (late in the afternoon) almost all, if not all, of the ducks on this stretch of water begin engaging in the same behavior patterns over and over for a period of say 30 – 45 minutes and then as suddenly and as quickly as it started, it stops.

On to Goose Island and the Fulton/Rockport area of coastal Texas.

Planning the long swing through the mid-Atlantic states home.

8 Mar 2011

Port Aransas Preening

Images Captured At Port Aransas Birding Center ~ A Small Town Working It’s Assets

Port Aransas on Dwellable
7 Mar 2011

Mustang Sally ~ No Where To Be Found On Mustang Island, TX … but there is ‘local color’ along the way

So if you are looking for ‘Mustang Sally‘ I am not sure she is to be found on Mustang Island, Texas. Which is where we have ended up this Friday, the 4th of March, on a barrier island across from Corpus Cristi, Texas. This is a better experience, so far than, Grand Isle.

Ah, but there is ‘local color’ to be had along the way. Early afternoon breakfast at The Skillet outside of Port Lavaca, Texas put us into ear shot and therefore contact with one Sterling MacArthur Griffith, your ‘expansive’  Texan if ever there was one. We enjoyed our meal and our conversation and will endeavor to catch up with Sterling and Betty later on this coming week in Fulton.  Ten years our seniors they have lived in this coastal area of Texas all their lives. Betty, of Danish roots, hails from Danevang, TX.  Sterling is of Choctaw and Irish heritage. His mom named him after a local pharmacist and Gen’l MacArthur. Word has it, that back in the day, he needed his mother’s signed permission to marry Betty. Something about if you were under 21 the state required a parent’s written permission before you could marry. Makes some sense.  Sterling’s nickname is ‘Cherokee’ and word has it, his word, that Cherokee is a country music aficionado having been known to sing a country tune, pluck an old guitar and present a Grand Ole’ Opry style country music show. We intend to go see this coming Thursday, March 10th at Paws and Taws in Fulton, Texas.

Stay tuned for images.

4 Mar 2011

Texas Primeval ~ Not Too Far Beyond Houston!

Getting beyond Houston was an accomplishment.  The largest city in Texas and the fourth largest in the entire country had the traffic to justify those numbers. We will give it a way wider berth going home.

Brazos Bend State Park

Coastal wetland and prairie primeval (can you say ALLIGATORS) wrapped up nicely into a multi-use SP. Near empty during the week and full beyond overflowing on the weekends when all of Houston arrives. Friendly staff, nice facilities. Put it high on our list, we will return (but only mid-week). I am wondering how far behind the park the Houston sprawl is?

Attwater Prairie-Chicken NWR

One of the last bits and pieces of coastal prairie left along the Gulf Coast attempting to support a vestigial population of endangered Attwater Prairie Chickens through habit reestablishment and a captive breeding program. The specie’s longevity is still an open question.  Nice presentation, great info. No wildlife to be seen. I have been spoiled as far as wildlife sightings go; don’t want to sound too petulant when I remark that there was ‘no wildlife to be seen’.

Water Pump

We are beginning to prove ourselves handy as far as maintenance and upkeep on this rig of ours.  Have been without a water pump since leaving Florida. Not a problem as long as city water has been available but it will be a problem if we have to or choose to dry camp. Received replacement water pump via UPS from GoWesty. Installed it last night; just needs to be wired. The wiring job is waiting on some electrician’s tape. Should be good to go then. Don’t know why but I am thinking we will need it at Mustang Island SP, the weekend’s destination.

Addendum: Deb did most of the grunt work while I was the gopher. This due to space restrictions.

4 Mar 2011