Survivors of the 80’s – One Man’s Story


cropped-bobby-still-e1428622966868.jpg

Easter 1977

Easter 1977

We were a young and struggling family in every sense of the word when our eldest son, Bobby, graduated from 8th grade parochial elementary school in 1980.  We had invested all our family time around various church associations, members and their families, sports and other community activities. Yet, there were two major events that caused us such great pain that they decimated our religious affiliation.  Thus, we took our family and fled from this religion, and too many years passed before we found a truly biblical community.   As a result, our children’s lives suffered in their own various ways.  It was about seven years later when Bobby, through his love of God and abiding faith, was first to transcend from those darker times.  This is his story.

20 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History


The following article was published February 9,2015, by the New York Public Library. I have re posted it here because it best describes my blogging’s purpose, reasons, and experiences. The information I’ve gathered, the places I’ve been and the very kind people that I have come into contact with through my research and writing adventures has been phenomenally rewarding! If you have ever entertained researching and writing about your family’s history, then this may be just the push you need to help you decide to simply jump in and do it!

New York Public Library Logo

Author:  Carmen Nigro

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Milstein Division of United States History
Local History and Genealogy

February 9, 2015

Family History

Hungarian Family at Ellis Island, all of whom were deported. 1905. Image ID: 417071

If you have done any family history research, such as looking for records on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org or conducting interviews with older family members, you may have pondered writing about your genealogy research. Here are 20 reasons why you should cease pondering and start writing:

You’ll feel wiser.

From Ancestry.com, Global Study of Users, 2014,  one-third of online adults used the Internet to learn more about their family history:

  • 67% said that knowing their family history has made them feel wiser as a person.
  • 72% said it helped them be closer to older relatives.
  • 52% said they discovered ancestors they had not known about.

First person narratives and family histories are important historical documents. 

From The Story of You: A Guide for Writing Your Personal Stories and Family History, John Bond, 2014:

  • “You are doing a service by leaving a legacy, no matter how small or large.”
  • “The interesting stories in your life have become familiar to you… The novelty of these stories is most apparent to someone hearing them for the first time.”

You are an important person. You have things to pass on, to your children, to your local history society, to unknown future generations.

“The entire story of mankind has come to us from individual voices from the past.”  Family Focused: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Your Autobiography and Family History, Janice T. Dixon, 1997

You and your family are important to somebody, probably many somebodies.

“Just watch… ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ to see how many ways one life touches so many others. The few families on the Mayflower probably produced more than 20 million descendants.”
The Story of You: A Guide for Writing Your Personal Stories and Family History, John Bond, 2014

Family trees are abstract. Stories add depth.

“It makes names into real, live people. Family stories help you and your family become more than a birth and a death date.”
The Story of You: A Guide for Writing Your Personal Stories and Family History, John Bond, 2014

Jeter Family
The Jeter Family in 1901. Image ID: 1235217

Memories over time become fragmented and distorted. People may not remember the things you told them but did not write down.

“I am not famous or rich, but I still want to be remembered.”
Family Focused: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Your Autobiography and Family History, Janice T. Dixon, 1997

Writing your family history gives you the chance to depict your ancestors how you see fit.

“You cannot write our story. You have no right.”
In 2004, Native Americans react to depictions of their ancestors in documents about Lewis & Clark.
History News, Summer 2014

There is a need for diverse family histories about those who have not been represented well in history texts.

“For members of marginalized groups, speaking personally and truthfully about our lives plays a small part in erasing years of invisibility and interpretation by others.”
Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art, Judith Barrington, 1997

There is a need for more family histories documenting female lines.

“The traditional descendants-of genealogy usually begins with the immigrant and follows descendants for some number of generations. Often they have a paternalistic bent and follow only male descendants who bore the surname….In the future we hope to see less short-changing of maternal lines and collateral lines in published material.”
Producing a Quality Family History, Patricia Law Hatcher, 1996

There is a need for more family histories about families who are not affluent.

“Genealogical publishing [in the past] was accessible primarily to the affluent…. Modern genealogists are researching ancestors who are relatively recent immigrants, landless, illiterate, living on the frontier or migrating. There seems to be a trend away from idealizing our ancestors.”
Producing a Quality Family History, Patricia Law Hatcher, 1996

Painute
Paiute Family in Yosemite, circa 1900. Image ID: 1690994

Family histories humanize the people you know or knew and remember for those who did not know them.

“The generations slipped away as I shared her grief for a moment. In reading her words I felt closer to my grandmother than I ever have.”
Family Focused: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Your Autobiography and Family History, Janice T. Dixon, 1997

Information raises questions. Genealogy research has brought new facts into your life.

“They research and write down when and where mom and dad were married. I don’t want to say accurate facts aren’t important, but I do question priorities here. The facts, or at least the important facts, of mom and dad’s marriage were not where and when it took place but what they made of it.”
For All Time: A Complete Guide to Writing Your Family History, Charley Kempthorne, 1996

It may help you understand your current family dynamics.

“I spent a year writing my story which is also my mother’s story and the story of our family. It was a most enlightening time for me, one I treasure, because it forced me to look at my life, re-shape it in many ways, and to laugh at things that I had taken so seriously before. I matured in many ways and became more tolerant and caring. It also freed me from some of my doubts and fears.”
Family Focused: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Your Autobiography and Family History, Janice T. Dixon, 1997

It will help you build or solidify a sense of family.

“I suggest that family history is more important than any other history simply because family is the fundamental, rock-bottom unit of society.”
For All Time: A Complete Guide to Writing Your Family History, Charley Kempthorne, 1996

Writing is reflective. Writing is investing in yourself.

“In writing your personal history, you put perspective and purpose in your life. You begin to understand yourself better than you ever have.”
Family Focused: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Your Autobiography and Family History, Janice T. Dixon, 1997

Cowboy writing
Cowboy writing in a notebook, 1909. Image ID: 5027900

It can be therapeutic.

“Studies show that writing about oneself and personal experiences can improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory…. Writing — and then rewriting — your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness.”
New York Times, “Writing Your Way To Happiness,” Tara Parker-Pope, January 19, 2015

Don’t take for granted that the lives of your ancestors are lost. Evidence of the people they have been exists somewhere and is discoverable.

“Virtually all my finds have been made from old manuscripts in public repositories and have been of the family moving, not in the company of celebrities…, but among people as little known to fame as themselves.”
How to Write a Family History: The Lives and Times of Our Ancestors, Terrick FitzHugh, 1988

“It will have a wider impact than you might imagine.”

After publishing some of her family histories and donating to libraries and archives, author Penny Stratton heard from other researchers that they had found leads and data in her writings.
American Ancestors, Spring 2014

Family members and even distant cousins may become more forward in contributing documents, photos, and stories for your genealogical research.

“It’s cousin-bait.”
Genea-Musings, “Why Do You Write About Your Personal Research?” Randy Seaver, January 2015

You will be encouraged to archive and preserve the documents on which your family history research is based: certificates, letters, diaries, etc.

“These documents function within the family in the same way that important documents of our common history function within the nation.”
For All Time: A Complete Guide to Writing Your Family History, Charley Kempthorne, 1996

Writing Your Family History is a class offered by the Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy. Please check our website for upcoming dates. If you have a family history that you would like to donate to libraries, consider the New York Public Library (details on our FAQ) and the Library of Congress.

Man Executed on Friday Rises from the Dead on Sunday!


A Headlining Easter Service

Reviewing current hilarious accidental newspaper headlines is where Reverend Robert Hahn started.  And soon he became very serious, “Man Executed on Friday Rises from the Dead on Sunday! Yes, as millions of Americans traditionally do, we attended Easter Services yesterday at our church to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Pew Research Centers reports church attendance will double this Easter.

Pew Research Centers reports church attendance will double this Easter.

Easter 2015 Church Attendance 1

More than half of America planned on going to church this Easter (about 159 Million people)!

Easter is typically noted as the most well-attended Sunday service of the year for Christian Churches.

And, without fail, (see for yourself in our fun video “Serve With Us,” below) our biblical leadership and 500 church community volunteers welcomed 3,000 of us at all four services with opened doors, arms, and hearts so we could participate in yet another truly joyous and powerful spiritual gathering in which we celebrated our Risen King, the One who gave His all for us!

Easter 2015 Chesapeake Church Attendance

As Rev. Robert Hahn reminded us this weekend:

Consider the World and times in which Jesus lived:  The World Circa 30 AD—technology was unleashing more change than the world had ever seen; international trade was booming; transportation had never been easier or faster; information was moving at a rate heretofore unknown. And yet, it was a time of intense desperation.

There was deep economic uncertainty.  People were restless about the future.  Government was oppressive.  Streets were dangerous.  Crime ran rampant.  Life was violent and children were not safe.  Virtually every war being fought at that time had at its core religious differences and people were divided.  They were divided by class, by religion, by wealth, and by power.

And into this world comes Jesus Christ—a man for his times—times that sound very much like our own today.  Consider this Jesus that we think we know so much about:  a child of peasants, he never went to college, he never wrote a book, he never owned a house, he never held an elected office, he never put his foot inside a big city, he never traveled more than 200 miles from the place he was born–he never did any of the things that usually accompany greatness. Yet, in the course of humanity no one else has impacted our world as has Jesus Christ!

More Relevant News

And, in startling news, he told us that pollsters show that over 40 percent of non-Christians believe as historical fact that Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead!

We closed our service by listening to Chris Miller (music worship and young adult programs staff member) who passionately recited The Word by Isaac Wimberley, (a young husband, father, pastor, poet, rapper and music worship leader at The Village Church in Plano, TX). I didn’t have access to a recording of Chris, but his recitation moved so many of us to tears that I am including Wimberley’s recording of The Word that I found on YouTube.

Continuing Our Easter Celebration With Family

We then continued on with our celebration of Easter for the rest of a beautiful day with our ever-expanding family–including our youngest great grand children, 3-day-old Noah Antonio, 1-year-old Elaina Hazel, and 3-year-old twins, Sara Elizabeth and Brandon Scott and with our family’s patriarch my father, Frank Burton, 86, and his wife, my mother, Norma Florence, age 87.

I hope your Easter was as enjoyable and meaningful as ours.

When Do We Let Go and Let God?


You know life is getting real, when your doctor does this!

I’m sure among my many posts, this one digs the deepest and may give you pause.

cartoon doctorLast Monday we went to our primary care provider for our annual physicals.  As part of the visit, our doctor handed us a form that he said we should fill in and give back to him.  Lo and behold, it was an advanced directive form.  Could life get any more real than at this moment?

Bob asked the doctor quizzically whether we were in worse shape than we had thought.  Our doctor chuckled, then replied; “It’s always best for you and your family to make your desires known for life-sustaining treatments before an actual event occurs.” We surely couldn’t argue with this logic. But then he added I think to comfort us; “I already have my advance directive filed.”  I guess this was supposed to make me feel better, but it was him telling me his age and me knowing that I was 10 years older than him that really caused me more angst.

However initially, we said: “Ghee-sh, we both are very active and young at heart, but we must be getting really up there.”  So, we took our forms home with us.  Bob, being an emergency medical technician (EMT), and familiar with the form, filled his form immediately without any questions.  But, I pondered the meanings behind some of the questions and decided I wanted to research a couple of the questions about providing treatments indefinitely vs. “on a trial basis,” where I was supposed to define the trial period.  My thoughts went to “so my heart just stopped beating, but no one knows why yet, so if I can be resuscitated then perhaps I’m not dying yet, but rather, have some acute malady that can be fixed.” If this were the case, I know I would want some medical intervention until a clear diagnosis/prognosis could be fully developed.  However, if I were resuscitated and intubated and placed on ventilation machines, at what point does this treatment become too extreme and/or too expensive?”  Hence…I turned to the Internet and research.

The long and the short of it–my answer probably will be 30 days and no more life sustaining efforts.  But, my research led me to this story about a young man said to be brain dead from a 4-wheeler accident, declared dead after 36 hours, and his miracle story!

Let Go Let GodNow I ask you; “When would you let go and let God?”  Would you want life-sustaining treatments to begin, would you prolong your life until you were declared “brain dead” by medical professionals, or would you make no advance decisions and rely on your body to turn cold and your heart to stop beating before others advise of your time of death?

Honoring our Family’s King–from Car Park to Cathedral


Over Two Years Earlier…

King Richard III

Photo made available by the University of Leicester, of King Richard III’s skull. Richard III was the last king to fall in battle.

This writing follows up on my post in February 2013 about my Royal and sometimes controversial Plantagenet family and whether I would choose to claim them.  That article was sparked by the forensic archaeological discovery of King Richard III‘s remains under a parking lot in the English city of Leicester.  Now, 25 months later, all the forensic studies have been done and King Richard the III’s reburial over 530 years later on March 26, 2015, in Leicester Cathedral is a funeral befitting a King–drawing over 70,000 spectators!

King Richard III for my non historian readers was killed at the Battle of Bosworth on 22 August, 1485.  This battle ended the 30 year Wars of the Roses (the traditional name given to the intermittent struggles (1455–85) for the throne of England between the noble houses of York (whose badge was a white rose) and Lancaster (associated with the red rose) and began the reign of the Tudor family.

After the battle, legend states that Richard’s crown was found in a hawthorn bush near where he died. Regardless, Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, was crowned king later that day on a hill near Stoke Golding. Henry, now King Henry VII, had Richard’s body stripped and thrown over a horse to be taken to Leicester. There it was displayed for two days to prove that Richard was dead. Moving to London, Henry consolidated his hold on power, establishing the Tudor Dynasty. Following his official coronation on October 30, he married Elizabeth of York!

Today’s Forensics Identified King Richard’s Most Likely Cause of Death

death_of_richard

The Death of Richard Artwork from the Battle of Bosworth by Graham Turner Osprey Publishing Ltd., http://www.ospreypublishing.com

Modern forensic analysis of the King Richard’s skeletal remains revealed that three of his injuries had the potential to cause death quickly—two to the skull and one to the pelvis.  The full study can be found on TheLancet.com:  http://bit.ly/1r8eAUR.

Sources:

Roses, Wars of the http://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/history/roses-wars-the.html#ixzz3VtQGXP82

Have You Ever Made A Bucket List?


Has My Life Really Been About the “tail wagging the dog”?

Several times throughout my life I have thought about making a bucket list.  For whatever the reason(s), I always come up blank.  It’s not that I have lived my life to its fullest, or done everything I ever wanted to do, but I just can’t pinpoint my mental or emotional blocks.

Could it be that I am afraid to create the list because I would have to work at making my dreams come true? Or, rather, that I don’t believe in my abilities to make my dreams come true?  Could it be that I would have to admit that I am not immortal?  Or, do I fear my death on this planet will come sooner as a result of creating and completing the list?  Has my life really been about the tail wagging the dog?

Moving Out of My Comfort Zone

SoHave You Ever Made a Bucket List today, I set out to give my bucket list one more try.  I quickly discovered that my thinking on this naturally put God first and my thoughts flowed like this: He will not harm me; He has a plan for me to prosper; I put all my worries in His hands.  The only two or three other items that came out this process were my fear of living and fear of going outside my comfort zone.  And, when I actually let myself think further the only other thought that came to mind was the freedom I saw others express as a result of riding a zipline!  I’m not kidding this was the real process and the real thoughts.

What do you think–is it time for counseling?

Hope, Love, Peace, and Tomorrow


It’s All About them Men!


It’s not exactly prose, and no one really knows, where or when the list of quips below originated.  But, my husband, Bob, passed it on to me in an email last week because it made him chuckle.  He had received it from a former colleague.

I quickly referred to my source for global information–Google–and found the first instance of it appeared on April 25, 2008, on the SAP Fan Club Forum.  The next entry I found was in a 2009 book, Enjoy Freedom from Financial Stress by Kathy Kline Danner, and the most recent entry was January 8, 2015.  I found it on the giffgaff social community forum.

And now, I’m sharing it with you because on its lightest side, most of the quips are absolutely hilarious. Yet others give me pause because they illustrate the inequality that has spanned generations due to our gender and cultural idiosyncrasies. I am sure there are many more quips that we could add to this list.  I would truly enjoy your suggestions and comments.

MEN NEVER GET DEPRESSED

happy menMen Are Just Happier People —
What do you expect from such simple creatures?
His last name stays put.
The garage is all his
Wedding plans take care of themselves.
Chocolate is just another snack…
He can never be pregnant.
He can wear a white T-shirt to a water park.
He can wear NO shirt to a water park.
Car mechanics tell him the truth.
The world is his urinal.
He never has to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky for him.
He doesn’t have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.
Same work, more pay.
Wrinkles add character.
Your Wedding dress $5000. His Tux rental-$100.
People never stare at his chest when they’re talking to them.
New shoes don’t cut, blister, or mangle his feet.
One mood all the time.
His phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
He knows stuff about tanks.
A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
He can open all his own jars.
If someone forgets to invite him, He or she can still be his friend.
His underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.
Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.
Everything on his face stays its original color.
The same hairstyle lasts him for years, even decades.
He only has to shave his face and neck.
He can play with toys all his life.
One wallet and one pair of shoes — one color for all seasons.
He can wear shorts no matter how his legs look.
He can ‘do’ his nails with a pocket knife.
He has a freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache.
He can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

NICKNAMES

If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will call each other Laura, Kate and Sarah. If Mike, Dave and John go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Bubba and Wildman.

EATING OUT

Layout 1When the bill arrives, Mike, Dave and John will each throw in $20, even though it’s only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back.
When we girls get our bill, out come the pocket calculators…YEP!!!

MONEY

moneyA man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.
A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn’t need but it’s on sale.

BATHROOMS

A man has six items in his bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel.
The average number of items in the typical woman’s bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify more than 20 of these items.

ARGUMENTS

A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

FUTURE

A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

 MARRIAGE

 A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn’t.
 A man marries a woman expecting that she won’t change, but she does.

 DRESSING UP

A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the trash, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail.
A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.

NATURAL

Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.
Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

OFFSPRING

A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments, romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears, hopes, and dreams.
A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

A married man should forget his mistakes. There’s no use in two people remembering the same thing!

On the Road Again–Music City Here We Come!


Amid threats of a winter storm, at 6 a.m. Friday morning, January 23, 2015, my sister (by another mother whose birthday would have been on Saturday), and I began our travels from Maryland to Nashville to surprise her 27-year-old son, my nephew, Brandon, and his band Two Ton Twig, at their first Nashville area gig on Saturday night at the Legendary Kimbro’s Pickin’ Parlor.

solar glare along Blue RidgeTravelling west into the bright sun that glared through the windshield and off the paved roads that so long ago were cut through the Appalachian Mountain Chain across the  Potomac, Roanoke, and James Rivers; down through Skyline Drive, the Shenandoah National Park, and Rockfish Gap, onto Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smokey’s–all of our senses awakened and delighted.  As we drove this scenic route for 12 hours the sun rose and set and light-to-heavy rains came down. The temperatures dropped and the rain soon turned into snow.

Franklin CollageWhen morning came, we awoke to hills salted in white and mountains capped with snow in a distance. And this is how our weekend trip to support a family member along this stage of his young adult life’s journey began.  

By mid-morning Saturday in Franklin, the weather was absolutely gorgeous and  unseasonably warm temps had returned.  We ventured only a few miles into downtown Historic Franklin, and after a quick stop at the local Starbucks for my favorite Chai Tea Latte (with soy), we spent several hours walking  along brick sidewalks and among lovely Victorian architecture in this 16-block Historic National Register district.2015-01-24 007 We browsed the antiques, art galleries, gift, book stores and boutiques just to sample the local culture and history. Then, much to our surprise, we stumbled right into Kimbro’s Pick’n Parlor front porch and sat down at their inviting table to take a picture.

In the early afternoon, we hit the streets of Music City and the Songwriting Capital of the World. As we soon learned, Nashville’s settlers as early as the late 1700’s celebrated with fiddle tunes and dancing. And Nashville’s first celebrity was the noted frontiersman and Congressman Davy Crockett, (also known far and wide for his colorful stories and fiddle playing).

After parking our car, we were quickly whisked away by the sounds of live country music of Steven Clawson (a season 11 American Idol contestant), that streamed out of the open doors of the Tequila Cowboy on Broadway Street. Tequila Cowboy CollageWhile being entertained, we ate lunch which was a mouth-watering southern recipe of pulled pork BBQ with Cole Slaw and onion rings. As Steven signed his autographs on a couple of his CD’s, he asked where we were from.  When I asked him how long he had been in Nashville, he explained that after he graduated high school at age 18, he immediately left his home in Georgia for Nashville.  He went on to say that tomorrow he would turn 33 and even after 15 years, he’s still trying to make it big. Steven said he’s had a few contracts and lost a few, but isn’t giving up on his dream.

nashville pedal tavernAnd talking about dreams and dreaming–I thought we were when before our eyes appeared a Nashville Pedal Tavern–people using bicycle pedals to party and tour the city while imbibing.  And their driver was another aspiring singer songwriter–Luke McPherson.  He, too, was working to sustain himself while pursuing his dream.  This looked like great fun to us.  We just might suggest a spin-off concept for one of our church events at our local beaches.

With this being said, it was time for us to say goodbye to Nashville for now and head back to Franklin for our Saturday night gig–planned as a surprise for Brandon and the other band members of Two Ton Twig.

Over the past 18 hours or so there were a series of little white lies that played out among the texts and calls between mom, Diane, and son, Brandon, as to her whereabouts and what she was doing. All the while, Diane was closely tracking Brandon and his band along their way.  As it were, when we arrived in Franklin about 8 o’clock Friday night,  the band was several hours behind us and didn’t arrive until sometime in the wee hours of Saturday morning.  This gave them just enough time to catch a nap before the evening’s performance–Oh, the life of struggling artists who have day jobs and nighttime/weekend gigs.

Kimbros Promo PosterIt was 6:30 when we parked across the street from Kimbro’s.  We carefully looked around to confirm there were no signs of Twig.  A lot of hustle and bustle was going on inside because set up was happening for the first band began to play at 7 and early birds were ordering food and drinks from the bar.  We were lucky and easily got front row center seats. To kill time, we took a couple of pictures of ourselves sitting in seats in front of the stage.  Then it occurred to us–why not send Brandon a photo of Diane and not say a word.

Us at Kimbros As it happened he immediately texted back “Really?!?”  And through the doors he came.  Unfortunately, I was at the bar in an adjacent room, but Diane said Brandon’s reaction was great and all that she had hoped for.

Two Ton Twig New Pic

Twig’s band members include:

Jordan Balzer – Mandolin, Vocals
Brandon Boling – Banjo, Vocals
Ian Greening – Bass, Vocals
Anna Hennessy – Fiddle, Vocals
Donnie Riggs – Dobro, Guitar, Vocals

As a bonus, here’s another one of the songs they played for the audience Harvest Moon:  

And, during their 6 song set, Brandon dedicated a song to his mom and aunt.Their set was third out of the six bands that appeared. They had great energy and the room responded with clapping during and after, a few whistle call’s, and many compliments as they left the stage.  All was good–actually, better than good–all we could have hoped for out of our trip and for the band.
Close Brothers

The Close Brothers: Eric, Randy, and Christopher Close

In addition to other songwriters and musicians among the audience, we sat next to Eric Close, (Nashville TV’s character Teddy Conrad), and his brother Christopher Close (Detective Porter in 2014’s Unspeakable Indiscretions  and Dan Pritchard in Massacre Lake movies). By the way, Chris Close plays a mean and bluesy harmonica! Both the Close brothers seem like very grounded guys and we enjoyed briefly talking with them.

Bito Mann

Bito Mann

We also sat next to Bito Mann and his mom who came in from Memphis to see her son perform. FYI, Bito is TRULY the MAN–he arranged the mini-tour weekend, put up the Twigs at his home in Franklin, and is one heck of a performer with his band.  Bito  on the anniversary of his brother Robbie’s death, dedicated a song in memory of him that brought us all to tears.

In return, we became closer and met many strangers who quickly became strangers no more purely out of our common love and respect  of music, compassion and even empathy for the artists shared moments in time through their storytelling lyrics and tunes–some happy, some funny, some so stirring and sad we wept, hugged, and washed away each other’s tears.

So many stories to be shared, so many songs to be sung, so much music to be heard from so many talented, gifted, and struggling artists.  That about sums up our life experience and take away lessons from this weekend in Nashville.  May God’s blessings go out to all those young people who are trying to make it!

From Harp to Heart to Banjo Plucking Fingers


Our Family’s Gifted and Talented Musicians 

John Doan – Harp Guitarist

John-Doan-on-aran-isle-with-harp-guitar

I have written a few times in past posts about our family’s gifted and talented, especially our musicians–past and present.  In particular, I have mentioned maternal cousin John (through my grandmother Loretta Lathrop (nee) branch and my 8th great grandfather Samuel Lathrop, Esquire (1623-1700) and his wife, Abigail Doane (1631-1734).

John is an Emmy-nominated performer, composer, public speaker, historian, instrument collector, and university professor.

Brandon Boling – Banjo Player

TwoTonTwigLogoIn past posts, I also briefly mentioned my brother Frank’s son and musician, 27-year-old Brandon Boling.  By day Brandon serves people food and drink and by night he and his band, Two Ton Twig, dish out lively fun and entertainment primarily in the Washington, D.C, Metropolitan area from where all five band members hail.  I mashed up these two family musicians in today’s post because to me their approaches to music and entertainment are so very similar.

As a master of the twenty-string harp guitar, John Doan pioneered a new way of playing guitar. In his international concerts, John uses his magical and musical storytelling adventures to evoke laughter, tears, and dreams that sweep you away. Likewise, Brandon’s Two Ton Twig band blends new and old-timey music. Their tunes and tales influenced by Folk, Americana, Hard Rock, Eastern European folk music, 80’s British Indie, and classic American Blue Grass deliver mesmerizing original music that includes high energy and fun, heart warming, dark and twisted, and sometimes even surprisingly life affirming lyrics and moods.

Brandon’s banjo finger-plucking goes from full throttle to really slow, really quiet, and really beautiful as Twig regales and involves their audiences in interesting and sometimes intense experiences.  Twig’s first album will soon be released, and they are spreading their gigs further down the south atlantic this weekend to play at the Legendary Kimbro’s Pickin’ Parlor on Saturday, January 24, at 8:30 p.m., just 10 miles south of Nashville in Franklin–one of the principal cities of the Nashville metropolitan area.  On Sunday, January 25, at 9 p.m. they will be at the Baja Bean Company, in the heart of downtown Staunton, Virginia.  If you live near either of these events, they make for a great inexpensive date night or evening out.  Come one, come all!

For those of you who have seen or heard of them–beware!  Twig is on the rise in their music genre.  Twig’s band members include:

Jordan Balzer – Mandolin, Vocals
Brandon Boling – Banjo, Vocals
Ian Greening – Bass, Vocals
Anna Hennessy – Fiddle, Vocals
Donnie Riggs – Dobro, Guitar, Vocals

Here’s one of Two Ton Twig’s newest originals–“Those Things”

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