Shine A Light: Earl Klugh

So I am 20 years old working in a record store and getting one of the best musical educations of my life. Folks working there loved music, and we cold cover any kind of music a customer asked for. We had Classical buffs and Jazzers, and most of them were old enough to walk you through any classic rock stuff. In 1979, Earl Klugh, oh by the way it’s pronounced ( Clue), released an album called Heart String. I’m 20 years old when I first heard it and was unconsciously trying to mature my listening tastes. This is one of the records that did it. I was amazed at Klugh’s beautiful playing on that gut string guitar. It was Jazz, but a Jazz that I could get. I didn’t intimidate me.

Here is Earl Klugh in the 1980’s playing on Australian TV.

Detroit native Klugh’s first hero was none other than the Nashville guitar great Chet Atkins. Easy to link those two playing styles for sure. Klugh went on to work with many a Jazz great including George Benson and Bob James. His record One On One with Bob James in 1981 was a big hit.

Klugh continues to play and turn out records. If you are interested in acoustic Jazz, give Klugh a try. It’s great music when you are wandering around the house or for dinner music.


Who Do You Think You Are?

You’ve seen or heard of this ancestry show on Friday nights, maybe? It might just be on the radar of us ancestry tracking geeks, but it is a really cool show. Our past, our heritage is a part of us. We are all but a mere link in the long chain of time going backwards and forwards. We are all connected not only with our ancestors but with each other.

Don’t think you have to look for famous people in your line. Believe me, true life, the drama of the human journey is fascinating enough. When we understand our lineage, we can get a little bit of insight as to who we are, maybe why are the way we are.

I have done research on my family in earnest now for about 4 years, and have asked questions about our family ever since I can remember. Thousand of folks are searching and digging deep to find their people and you just never know what you’ll find. I recently had a question answered concerning my Native American bloodline. It was a question that came from a comment my Grandmother mentioned to me when I was probably in my early 20’s. That had been rattling around in my head for some 25 years.

We all wish to feel connected in this world, but sometimes our own families seem like the last place where we’d want to begin. That the tribe you were born into isn’t the one you are choosing now. But I’d want to say that the window of your heritage is big and the line going back is deep and long. You never know, there might be  someone that connect to from several generations ago.

Our heritage is an honor to be a part of and a privilege to pass on. Check it out, it’s fascinating stuff….

The Searcher

I am a pain in the ass. I know this to be true. I have always been the questioner which is weird because in many ways I’m a rule follower, I guess until the rule no longer fits. When folks say to turn left, I naturally wonder what’s down the road in the other direction and  I have never really had that fear of getting lost. I’ve traveled my way through rough spots with some kind of crazy, naive concept that since I like everybody, that everyone should like me and therefore I won’t be harmed. So far it’s worked out pretty good, but I’m not sure it was always the smartest choice.

I have a long time friend, who is a wonderful deep Christian thinker. He’s always called me a “Searcher”. Years ago that bugged me. I didn’t like the term because I took it to mean I was lost, and lost for me at that time and in that way wasn’t a good thing. Everyone in my culture seemed so sure of their answers in life and I was never that way. I always saw each answer from a slightly different angle as I grew and participated in more life experiences. I think I’ve also had either the knack or the flaw, of seeing a truth in the other side of every story.  I guess in the back of my mind, I intrinsically thought God knew I wasn’t suppose to have all the answers, and that the journey of seeking was really more important than being right. Seeking to connect to that Mystery was where the real sweet spot was.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve made some turns that I never thought I’d recover from and I have like many of us, had friends that didn’t make it back from the turn that was just for the experience. I’m not as reckless as I once was, but that spirit of searching and not being static in my perspectives is alive and well, and I enjoy those fruits as well as nurse the aches that come from it. And more than grasping and clutching, I hope I’m gently cupping my hands to hold those sweet waters that renew my soul and remind me that love comes first.

So searcher?, Yes, I suppose that fits me. As I’m on the “Falling Upward” side of life as Richard Rohr describes it, I begin to embrace that term a little more; I begin to sit a little more peacefully in the gray shades of my life where a faith doesn’t demand all the answers and where there’s a deeper sense of trust, that it’s all gonna be ok .

Shine A Light: Your personal musical journey

I think music is like wine; the older it is the better it gets. The key is that those artists or songs have been with you on your own personal journey. That have been the sweet, wonderful fabrics that have woven you world together. Sometimes the transport to those times is even better if you haven’t heard the artist in a while.

I know every time I hear Willie Nelson it takes me to a place of peace and comfort. Willie has been part of my fabric since 1978. Been there through births, deaths and divorce. Sunny days, Winter and Summer. The point isn’t that Willie is the greatest artist, it’s just that I’ve listened to his music for so long, that it makes a connection way down deep in your soul. Yours may be Miles Davis or the Bee Gees, I don’t know.

Days of growing up on the Gulf Coast with Jimmy Buffett and Bob Marley music,  those sounds feel like I am at home no matter where on this planet I am. Tom Petty’s “Here Comes My Girl”, transcends me to 1982, where I was immersed in a world of sun, beach, and fun that defies description here.

It also brings back memories of my cousin Randy and I sliding a tape of “Hard Promises” in a rental car deck and just driving along the coast for hours.

We all have our musical journey. I hope you are in touch with yours. It’s a really cool thing, to let it wash over you.

The connection is sweet and it gets richer all the time. What’s the music that does that for you? Think back on the stuff that makes you stand still and smile when you hear it.


Maybe one of life’s big questions is the on that that lurks in the backs of most our minds is “If we began a relationship with God, would it feel good?”. The answer is apparently not a given, right, or we’d all be signed up. I continue to have thoughts deepening in my spirit that believes we are all connected to God whether we like it or not. All we have to do is awaken and participate. That will have to wait for another post. Not everybody feels good about God. Most of us have not been allowed to have our own experience. We’ve only seen the Creator in the box in which we were given. I think we are all hungry to understand the big mystery, we’ve just never had the permission to ask the questions.

I hear controversy all the time. Who is right, who has never been right. Rob Bell has stirred a hornets nest and he is talking about the abundant love of the Creator. So go figure, but anything that is said will have another side to debate it. Like any of us are rarely right about such matters. I think we will all be surprised beyond our mortal abilities when we find out the real deal. What does it say? “The peace that passes all understanding”.

I had coffee with a friend this morning, and every time we get together, I walk away feeling so refreshed and full of light. We dialog. We discuss and we listen; really listen to each other. Listening is lost on most of us. This friend listens really well and it makes me feel like I then do it better. Point is, the dialog. The openess to question all that has been taught, all that has been passed on to us. To shake out the pieces that don’t fit and examine them.

But our spirituality, our journey isn’t static. Isn’t it ever evolving? Who feels about things at 50 the way they did at 15 or 25? Is anything really static? Doesn’t feel that way to me. If views and emotions are constantly growing and shaping, then dialog is key. We learn when we listen, we grow when we are challenged and the glimpses of peace are so wonderfully sweet when we find them.

The two things I left our coffee time with today were, being present and being awake. Two tough tasks for us over worked, over driven members of western society. To slow down and be present in any given moment, taking it all in, is an exercise of difficult proportion. And to be awake to our world and our emotions, and how we are in the world, is a complex notion, but a rewarding one, once the practice is begun.

So there we were two guys in their 50’s, talking of family, children, heritage, God, life, mystery and journey. Sharing our stories, listening, trying to remain as present as possible and to be awake to all that our Creator has for us in those moments. We were dialoging, freely, safely exchanging views and fears of life. Trying our best to shed a layer or two of the fear and shame that our cultures have laid upon our spirits.

It’s good to talk. To share. To dialog. When I find myself in conversations with people that know it all, I do give myself a pass on being present. Then that isn’t dialog at all. I want to say that we are not alone. That we are not the only ones having these thoughts. There are many of us in the human family digging for a truth, a view of our Creator that makes us feel connected. It’s ok to look at things differently, from a non traditional slant. Remember that the word tradition goes back to day one, and history and tradition are different things.

Anyone want to weigh in on this? Do you feel honest questions are a valid thing for us to do, or should we cling tightly to the tried and tested ways of the ones that came before us? Is there a middle ground; a way to do both. A way for each of us, with our remarkably different natures, to find peace and contentment with our beliefs?

Original Thought?

They speak of original sin. Perhaps there was an  original thought too. Maybe the two are connected, I don’t know. I was thinking that, well for one, I don’t feel like I’ve ever had an original thought.  They all seem to be built upon other thoughts of people I know or things I’ve heard or read. As we are the accumulation of our ancestors, connected by DNA, we are adding our layers of bricks upon everything in this life.

The very conversation that I hear around my campfires, at my church, over a beer with friends, well, those conversations, the same kind have been happening since time. Nothing new. We think they are new mostly because our culture doesn’t teach us to look into the past, all the past, not just the past few generations. Our culture focuses on youth, trends and looking forward. Not that that’s bad, there just isn’t much balance. It’s a big window, our history, and the further we look the bigger it gets. If we don’t look to history, we can if not careful, build a certain kind of arrogance and self centered nature, that leads us to think we are the only one having these thoughts or feelings, or worse that since it’s our original thought, that we have the original answer.

I like community. I like knowing I’m not the only one who holds fears, who questions parts of life, and God.  I like knowing that my DNA connects me to my ancestors, throughout time and that certain “ticks” in my personality can be traced to Grand Fathers and Mothers back down my line. It’s happening whether you know it or not. Same with our thoughts. I find comfort and connection there.

Our culture as a whole can make us feel guilty or at least separated from the whole if we don’t follow the popular thought. Thing is when I really go one on one with people, I find that “company line” getting pretty blurred.  That’s the beauty of the human family sharing this journey of walking, stumbling, crying, dreaming, hoping and doing our best to connect to our Creator in some meaningful way.

I have no desire to take credit for anything. It’s all coming through me and all will live on in my children and friends. They will take that accumulated knowledge, insight, and perspective, and shape it along with all they have learned from the wide and varied sources that God provides.

Shine A Light: Chet Atkins

Writer, picker extraordinaire, finder of talent and record producer ! Not bad for an ole boy from Luttrell, Tennessee.

I first remember seeing Chet’s name on Waylon Jennings records. Little did I know, Chet was already a master and a legend by that time, and had become a record mogul !

Chet Atkins was responsible for bringing Waylon Jennings out of Phoenix, and he kept recording Willie Nelson again and again, despite the fact that they couldn’t sell any records on him. Well, things turned out pretty good for both Waylon and Willie.

Atkins history goes way back from Homer and Jethro, to the Carter Family, and Eddy Arnold. Surprisingly enough in a weird twist, Elvis Presley’s rise gave way for Atkins. Steve Sholes began working with Presley and Sholes have Atkins control of Nashville RCA. With the popularity of Presley and Rock and Roll, they began stripping steel and fiddle from Country records. That gave birth to the smooth, clean style that was known as the Nashville Sound.

So go check out Chet Atkins. If Mark Knopfler calls him the greatest guitar player, then there must be something to it.