(14 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)

I don't care how high I go ........as long as I can keep one foot on the ground.


(59 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)

I am also an avid reader, although the last couple of years I've only managed to read 2-3 books a month.  About 75%  of my reading are books about history, especially about the American Civil War and the Lewis & Clark Expedition. In my bedroom are two 6' tall bookcases crammed with books about these two subjects. 

Michner has always been one of my favorite authors and I've read almost everything he has written.  By far though, my favorite is Allan W. Eckert - his "Narratives of America"  series which includes "The Frontiersmen","Wilderness Empire", The Conquerors", "The Wilderness War"," Gateway to Empire" and Twilight of Empire" as well as "A Sorrow in Our Hearts" and "Dark and Bloody River" describe the Indian Wars and life in the late 1600's to early 1800's here in the Ohio River Valley as well as the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence River drainage.  Although most of his books are long (800-1000 pages) they are captivating reading. 



(9 replies, posted in Songwriting)

Nice song Bob.  I agree with your sentiments.  Most of the country music fans I work with have stopped listening to the genre because its no longer the country we knew.  I suppose the old time country fans thought that the "outlaws" like Willie and Waylon ruined back in the day too. As Phil said, times change - but that don't mean I have to like it.



(35 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)


You can add "picker and fisher" behind Englishman John's name too.  Last year he made it to the Buckeye and Kentucky Rodeos.  He paddles an SOT.  By the way how is Garuchi doing?  I've been wondering about how he's been coping with his medical issues.


(35 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)

Hey Zurf, I talked Bo today and he plans on trying to make it.  I'm guessing Philly Ray will show up too. Sounds like the party is ON! I'm hoping to get Englishman John to make an appearance also.



(35 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)

Zurf wrote:
Dirty Ed wrote:

I guess you didn't get the email I sent you Zurf.  I've never missed the gathering on the New in WV since it started.  I'm hoping to continue the streak.


I didn't.  I hope my computer didn't put it to junk because I just emptied out my junk folders.  If you see Big Jim at an open mic or something, tell him about the event.  Also, if you know how to get in touch with Bo or Cathy and the rest of those Richmond miscreants, pass word along that the event is still on if you don't mind. 

- Zurf

Will do.



(76 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)

I'm an I/C (instrumentation and control) engineer at a nuclear facility, hoping that soon I'll be known as a "retired former engineer at a nuclear facility".   When I started working there 41 years ago we were at the height of the Cold War and most of our "product" was for defense use.  Now we've come full circle. After the Soviet Union split up, an agreement was reached to buy some of their nuclear material to keep it out of the hands of unstable countries that supported terrorism.  In a "Swords-to-Plowshares" effort we have converted 16,000 former warheads to fuel-grade material for use in nuclear reactors to produce electricity.  It's been a nice way to wind down my career.

I used to fish with an Army officer who had a degree in nuclear physics and was working on a project to develop short-range, small, nuclear weapons for battlefield use. He was the only real "nuclear rocket scientist" I've ever met.



(35 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)

I guess you didn't get the email I sent you Zurf.  I've never missed the gathering on the New in WV since it started.  I'm hoping to continue the streak.



(16 replies, posted in Other string instruments)

I've owned two 12-strings over the years. My Guild sounded marvelous and stayed in tune but due to a shoulder problem the jumbo body was painful to play.  I later bought a Fender with a smaller body but it didn't stay in tune and was a pain to play, only in a different area of my anatomy.

For the last few years I've had a small-bodied guitar that I "Nashville high-tune".  It's a six string guitar but the strings are the "octave" or "high" strings from a 12 string.  When played along with another picker on a standard-tuned guitar, the two guitars together sound similar to a 12-string.  When played by itself it kinda sounds like a mandolin but still different.  I often take it to the campfire picking sessions Zurf talks about. It provides a different sound to blend in with the group. 



(20 replies, posted in Acoustic)

tubatooter1940 wrote:

A friend built a new wooden boat out of juniper wood (planks). It smells great from my boat slip next door. However, going inside his boat to sleep is unpleasant because the wood smell is overpowering. Sailing his boat is tolerable when topside. He hopes time and the  weather will lessen the odor.
My antique plywood and mahogany sailboat always smelled great inside and out. Fresh varnish added to the ambience.

I know of what you speak Tooter.  I've built one redwood and 5 cedar strip canoes over the years. Each one finally lost its wood smell after time spent on the water.  I've never bought a guitar because of the smell, but I'm disappointed that my 000-16 Martin is losing its aroma. On the other hand, its because instead of keeping it in its case between uses, I leave it on a stand where I can pick it up and play it several times a day - so I guess that's a good thing.



(9 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)

Three of my four children and their spouses came yesterday and we also invited my youngest daughter's in-laws who only live about 10 miles away. Most arrived in the morning and my wife assigned everyone  "chores". (Mine was to make a green bean casserole and make sure the beer cooler was full.) The morning was spent with lots of laughter and everyone buzzing in and out of the kitchen as different dishes were being prepared.  Pies and cakes had been made the evening before so we enjoyed coffee and desserts as all the work was going on. Finally around noon the turkey and ham were placed in the oven and the guys retired to the den to munch on chips, sip some brew and watch TV.

We intended to watch some football but all that were on were pro games (kind of like watching General Motors play IBM), so we watched a series about climbing Mt. Everest - even the women folk came in and watched for a while. Also old pictures of family members (many deceased) were brought out and we reminisced about old times. Finally the invited in-laws showed up just as the meat was being taken out of the oven, the table was set, we said grace and dove into the piles of food. As usual we all ate too much and complained about it as we gathered in the living room to watch "classic college football"  (past games between Ohio State and Michigan) and sip coffee.

Everyone joined in to help wash dishes and prepare "goodie bags" of left-overs to take home.  My youngest daughter and her husband spent the night so I'll soon begin preparing my legendary biscuits and gravy breakfast and we'll get ready to watch some college football this afternoon and work on the leftovers.

I hope all Chordians have had as enjoyable a holiday as we are having at the Willis household.  Bless you all.



(14 replies, posted in Guitars and accessories)

I know where you're coming from Patrick.  About half of my summertime guitar playing is around riverside campfires.  My "river" guitars spend hours traveling in hot vehicles, get stuffed into dry bags for overnight trips on rafts, get played during rainstorms under tarps, etc.  Although my acoustics aren't as high-end as your $4K Martin, I still wouldn't want to subject my D-16 or my Blueridge BR-73 to that kind of torture.

For a month-long trip out west and a week on the Middle Fork in Idaho, I bought a $100 Johnson dread naught and re-worked the action a little to make it more friendly. It held up well and did a good job on the river, but like you, I'd like a smaller size guitar to take along in the future.  From the experience I've had playing several of them in local music stores, I think a Bristol BM-16 (000 size guitar made by Blueridge) might work out well. For a cheap guitar the ones I've played sounded great, have excellent projection and play easily You can find new ones on ebay for $189 shipped.  You might want to check then out.


Sorry to hear about the divorce and hard times you're going through.  A couple winters ago I went through a period where I hadn't written a song in about 3 months and thought maybe the well had gone dry.  I forced myself to sit down and write a list of things that had made me happy/brought a smile to me in the past. I ended up taking a few items from the list and they each became a verse in a song I wrote.  After that it felt like the flood gates had opened  and I wrote a half-dozen more over the next month.

As far as not listening to music - when I'm in the "writing" mood I never listen to music.  I don't want my songs to be influenced by something I've heard or they might just end up being a caricature of someone else's song. Some of my favorite tunes I've wrote came from turning off the radio while driving on a long trip and just watching the scenery and what's happening around me.

I'm guessing the stimulus which drives each of us to return to playing and writing is different, but given time it will come to you.

Good luck,



(231 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)

Bob was on his death bed and told by the doctor that he only had a few hours to live.  As his wife bent over him, he whispered that he had one last request.
"What is it?" his wife asked.
"Immediately after my funeral I want you to marry our neighbor Jim" he gasped.
"Marry Jim?  But, I thought you hated Jim!" she exclaimed
"I still do" he replied.

Thanks for the kind thoughts Derek,
Doc said the shoulder would hurt for several days and it would be a couple weeks before I could pick up my guitar.  Day after the surgery it felt better than it has in years and I slipped my arm out of the sling and played a couple of tunes last night.


I started playing drums in 1964 in my school band. Played in the marching band and jazz band, then played in a 17-piece swing band for a couple of years and in a couple of rock bands.I even taught drums for a couple of years.  A couple of guys that graduated 3 years ahead of me had been working as Nashville studio musicians and returned to the area and were looking for a drummer for a country band.  They tried to talk me into playing with their band but I was a rocker and too cool to play country.  They invited me to attend a country/bluegrass festival with them, thinking they might convert me to country.  The country music was OK but the bluegrass bands blew me away and I fell in love with the genre.  As bluegrass didn't use drums, I sold mine a few months later and never played again.

A few years later, one of my co-workers and I became pretty good friends.  He was trying to learn to play the guitar but his younger brother (who was in the Marine Corps) was the "picker" of the family.  His brother was killed in a motorcycle accident while home on leave.  A few months later he brought his brother's old acoustic to me and told me to learn how to play it - why he did it I'll never know.  I bought a book of "easy big-note guitar" Beatles songs and eventually learned to play a few.  I returned my friend's brother's guitar and bought a cheap one of my own. I could play a few songs but never learned to play bluegrass as I never could "Mash then wires" fast enough.  It was about the time I was beginning white-water kayaking.  I was so "into" the sport I began to write songs about paddling and play them around river bank campfires.  Fellow paddlers seemed to like them so I kept on writing songs about things things in my life - paddling, fishing, farming and family.  I've never become a good "picker" but I enjoy writing and playing.  The enjoyment I've got out of my guitars over the years has been one of my best investments. I've never forgot the kindness of the friend who got me started playing.  Over the years I've bought several cheap, used guitars and re-worked the bridges, nuts and frets to make them play easier then gave them away to folks who wanted to learn.  My request has been that they pass the guitar on to someone else or also find cheap ones to give away.

Zurf mentioned our camp fire music "circles".  It's my favorite thing to do.  He certainly has learned a lot in a short time and I was really impressed with his pickin' the last time we got together.


I had an operation on my right shoulder yesterday - never realized how hard it would be to type with just my left hand.......................


(21 replies, posted in Songwriting)

Excellent work Ian.  I'm looking forward to hearing to hearing your melody and prosody.

I agree with Zurf, if this is your first attempt at writing, then you are on the road to being a great songwriter.



(412 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)

Glad to hear that the package arrived Ian.


Great job Jim!  Wish I had been there.

I wrote one called "Six Year Old Whiskey" and played it the week before the anniversary.  Here's a video of the other one I wrote called "Six Years Aboard the Open Stage".



(412 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)

Went to the post office today and the package was sent "across the pond" to the next recipient.



(4 replies, posted in Songwriting)

Great lyrics Dan.  Wish I could hear it played so I could also get the "feel" of the song.



(412 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)

Too late Jim.  The early bird gets the worm. Bolleauxp beat you to it.  He emailed me this morning while riding a bus and looking for work. 

Glad to hear you had a good time in Nashville.  I've got a few songwriting friends that moved down there who are trying to get into the business.

Have fun at the open stage tomorrow night.  If you want to see my "six" songs, check out youtube.  Tom recorded a couple of 'em last week.



(412 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)

I was staining the cedar siding on my home yesterday and ran out of stain. So while my wife drove to town to get more supplies I was taking a little break when the mailman stopped at my mailbox at the end of the lane.  Along with the bills and ads was a package from Carson, Washington so I knew Papaguitar had sent the package.  I took it inside the house, opened it up and inventoried the contents:

"sign-in" sheet"
Capo conversion chart
69 guitar picks
1 end pin
1 bridge pin
pitch pipe
set of strings
12AU7 amp tube
left handed pick guard
bumber sticker
1/2 dozen business cards
3 CDs

I dumped the picks on a table, got out my 000-16GT and played a few bars with each pick, examining it and wondering where it had been. I had fun trying to determine by the color and style of pick whether it should be used to play a counrty, folk, bluegrass, rock song, etc.  Soon a couiple of hours had passed, my wife came home with more stain and I was back to work.

As I type this I've got headphones on and am listening to  a country music CD from Australia.  There's no identifying info on the CD but references in some of the songs give a clue to their origins.  Anyway its good stuff and I plan to make a copy before passing it on, and hope to learn a few of the songs.  Thanks to all the Chordians who have participated.  This "Newbie" is having a great time and hopes whoever gets it next haves as much fun as I am.  I took 10 picks and added 17.  I'm also including a CD with 15 new songs I've written/recorded for the next "lucky" recipient. (Or should that be "unlikely" since I'm including my CD?)

Who wants the package next?



(16 replies, posted in Songwriting)

Excellent song Jeff.  The topic definitely hits home with a lot of folks right now.


Schweet lyrics Jim!!  Its gonna be a hit next Thursday at the Open Stage.  Wish I could be there to hear it, but I'll be camped on a river bank in Kentucky, picking bluegrass with some friends. Glad you posted it so I could enjoy ahead of time.