Saturday, October 6, 2018

Back in the Saddle Again . . .

Our recent Philmont Scout Ranch/Training Center experience and travels in New Mexico was a complete and total breath of fresh air!   The Golden Aspens were beginning to turn.  We heard elk bugling in the back country.  Flowers were everywhere.  We had some rain, but not the kind to dampen any of our spirits.

It was good to visit "God's Country" again after a 5 year absence

More articles and comments about music in the coming days!

Rick ><>

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Back to Philmont

I will be leaving next week for the Philmont Training Center in Cimmaron, NM where I will have the honor of serving as chaplain at their Fall Leadership Conference.  I will get to play guitar and sing at several outside services this year.  Looking forward to being in "God's Country" once again.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Rainsong Black Ice Jumbo guitar . . .

(UPDATE 9/5/18 - The deal fell through.  Trade-in was good, but not quite good enough. Another day ...) 

A couple of years ago, my lovely (and very patient) wife kindly accompanied me to the Guitar Sanctuary store located in McKinney, TX.  Guitar Sanctuary is a really great guitar store, with a very eclectic feel.  The reason we went was that I wanted to play a Rainsong Black Ice Jumbo electric/acoustic guitar.  They were the only dealer in the Dallas/Fort Worth area that had one at that time.

Yep, a Rainsong Jumbo. 100% carbon fiber.  No wood. Light and loud.  Very loud.

I played that guitar for about an hour.  Honestly, I wanted it, pretty badly. However, I knew that I didn't have the funds and at that time I didn't want to part with any of my guitars.  So, I left the store sad, but at least I wasn't whining.  I did put it in the back of my mind that one day I would try and get one.

I will admit that I am drawn to the concept of carbon fiber guitars.  I've had the opportunity to play a Rainsong Jumbo as well as a RainsongWS model.  I was blown away by their tone and volume.  Admittedly, I am not a purest when it comes to guitars.  I am brand loyal to Guild and Martin because their guitars have served me well the past 15 years.  I don't have any kind of real relationship with any of my guitars.  They are tools.  Each one works better in certain situations.

A carbon fiber guitar makes sense because I play in mostly walk-in venues like nursing homes, rehab centers and senior activity centers. There are times when I get to play outside, such as the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, as well as outdoor settings here at the church (Vacation Bible Camp).  A carbon fiber guitar is supposedly impervious to heat, cold and humidity.

All guitar players know how humidity affects a guitar. My Guide F50R (my Philmont Scout Ranch guitar) has to have at least two Humidi-Paks inside the case when I travel to New Mexico just to survive the up and down humidity levels. Dry in the morning and damp in the evening.  My Guild F50R has fret buzz like crazy in low humidity.  I wouldn't dream of subjecting my Martin's to that kind of weather and environmental conditions.  And my Guild 12-string . . . nope, wouldn't even consider it.

To be honest, I wouldn't be thinking about a Rainsong Jumbo until sometime next year.  And then a few things fell into place, and I might have a opportunity to acquire one of these guitars in the next week or so.  A few "boxes" still have to be checked first, but a Rainsong could be in my hands by next week if I decide, and if I'm able, to pull the trigger.

It all boils down to making a decision that I can live with.  Trade-in value these days are only about 60-65% of what a guitar is being sold for on e-Bay.   The old saying, when trading in a guitar, is "walk in with two and walk out with one."  I would be able to get the Rainsong and walk out with a pretty nice check.  But I would be trading in two guitars.

As usual . . . we shall see.   It may happen, and it may not. A lot of things have to fall into place.  It's a process, and the process builds patience.

Oh, the Martin M-36 I wrote about earlier didn't pan out.  I just couldn't find one to play.  I know I would have loved it . . . but it's just a thinner Martin J-40, and I already have a J-40. 

Funny, I really haven't shopped for a new guitar in over five years, and until two days ago, hadn't gone into a Guitar Center in almost two years.  And now this opportunity drops into my lap. 

Rick ><>

Monday, August 6, 2018

Fred Kelly "Slick Pick"

A couple of years ago, I wrote about finding some Fred Kelly Slick Pick thumbpicks at Craig's Music store in Weatherford, TX.    I bought some yellow Delrin, large sized, in light guage as well as some Poly large sized in medium guage.

This style of thumbpick is more comfortable for me than National and Dunlop brands.  And, they are my favorite thumbpick for strumming, especially in a band situation when I am not the main rhythm guitarist.

Interesting thing, the body of the pick is thick, but the tip tapers down and has a slick edge.  It's been fun to play.   It's not my main pick (Dunlop Nylon .73mm or Dunlop Tortoise in medium gauge can always be found in the pick pouch on my key chain).  When playing through my amp or PA, the yellow Delrin in Large light guage are often my first choice.  For old fashioned camp fire boom-chucking, I will stick with Dunlop Nylons.

How about you?  What is your favorite pick and why?   Let me know!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Martin M-36

I've become interested in trying out a Martin M-36.  May be difficult to do. According the Martin Guitar Customer Service folks, there haven't been any delievered to dealers in Texas this year.

Bummer. 

Martin Customer Service helped me locate one in Nashville; however, I wasn't able to make it to the music store there on a recent vacation to Tennessee. 

The Martin M-36 is a 0000 sized guitar, pretty much the same as my J-40, but not as deep from front to back.  The other difference is that it has a 1 and 3/4" nut width.  My J-40 is 1 and 11/16th nut width.   I have found the wider nut width a little easier to play, especially on hands that are getting older each day.  My Taylor GS has similar specs and the same nut width.  However, I'm still a Martin guy at heart. 

Like a J-40, the M-36 is touted as being a great balanced instrument for strummers like me, and for fingerpickers.  It's a good all around guitar that can handle different venues, whether plugged into an amp or not.  Acoustically, I wonder if it will be as loud as my J-40, which is still one of the best camp fire guitars I have ever owned.

The journey to find one begins!   Will I get one?  Who knows.  It seems I find more joy in the journey finding something than I do buying it.

Rick ><>

Family Concert at Crowley UMC on August 19th . . .

For those in the area near Crowley, TX and southwest Fort Worth, Crowley UMC and the Crowley United Methodist Preschool will be hosting Jim Newton and Paul G. Hill of the Hugworks Children's Network for a family friendly Back-to-School concert and ice cream social beginning at 5:00 PM on Sunday, August 5, 2018.

I apprenticed several years ago with Jim and Paul in their Therapeutic Music Performer program.  They pretty much taught me most of what I know about singing to children and to senior adults.

If you are in the area, and would like to participate, then please email me and let me know!


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Exploring the possibilities of singing at a new venue . .

For several months now, I've been driving by a new rehab and memory care facitily that is under construction not far from my church.   I am unfamiliar with the company, but the design of the building was very familiar to me.

One day I stopped by the building, and found that several administrative staff were in place and working on site.  I was directed to contact the progam director and did so later in the day, introducing myself, as well as letting her know that I volunteer where I can as a therapeutic music entertainer. 

Several conversations later, including my offer to come in an audition to the staff and filling out a background check, and it looks like I will be singing there about 1-2 times a month once they are opened for business.  I may get to provide entertainment at the grand opening.  We will see.

I can't emphasie enough the need to have a clearly stated "elevator" speech to share when asked about the musical service I am willing to provide.  Mine has changed over the years, but it serves me well.  Here it is:

Good morning / afternoon.  My name is Rick Mang and I am the pastor at the local United Methodist Church.  One of my personal ministries to the community is to sing for senior adults in senior centers, and to seniors in nursing, long-term care and rehab facilities.  I do not charge to do this.  I am a certified therapeutic music entertainer, and I am willing to volunteer if your facility would benefit from my doing so.  I am available 1-2 times a month as my schedule allows.

I think the word "free" gets me in the door more often than not.  One day I hope to be considered good enough to be paid a fee, but that will probably be after I retire from pastor / preacher stuff.

It is good to volunteer in the mean time.  It feels good to offer a brief respite to senior adults, especially if they are going through some kind of medical treatment.  I'm glad I can make a little difference in their lives with the gifts and skils that I have to offer.


Monday, June 4, 2018

New song by Paul G. Hill

A song written by Paul G. Hill, one of my therapeutic music mentors, will spin on next Sunday’s  (June 10, 2018) Outbound Music special "Sunday In The Heartland" broadcast at 2:00 PM Central Daylight Savings Time.
You can listen through one of these options:
On Computer:

Mobile device listeners:

Hello!

Greetings friends and fellow music makers,

Once again the vision for this blog is changing, or rather expanding, primarily because I've been able to return, over the past two months, to singing again for senior adults in nursing homes, rehab centers and senior citizen centers.  I've got two regular gigs, and I am working on a third.

As a result, I'm going to once again start posting about guitars and other musical instruments, specfic songs, basic equipment and offering suggestions to those who would like to bless the lives of senior adults with music. 

I will continue to post videos of my favorite songs performed by various musical artists, as well as stories about musicians and their favorite instruments.

More to come!  Thank you again for your support!

I believe in music!

Rick ><>

Thursday, March 1, 2018

GORDON LIGHTFOOT IN CONCERT 1972



Funny thing about playing a 12-string guitar . . . I play it a lot differently than I do a 6-string guitar. 

How do I play a 12-string guitar, you ask?   Good question.

Listen to the first song in this concert . . . that could have been me playing the 12-string guitar, especially when I was a lot younger.  A nice 12-string was my first decent guitar back when I was in high school.  I played with a folk group, and I sang solo every now and then.  The 12-string is a great rhytym guitar, and I'm tall and big enough to play a Guild jumbo 12-string.  The ringing jingle jangle works just fine if you are a solo player, now not for every song, but for many of the songs I do sing in public.

Enjoy this Gordon Lightfoot concert recorded years ago by the BBC.  I sure did.  Brought back a lot of memories of the first time I heard each of the songs.

If there is a master at writing songs about relationships . . . it is Gordon Lightfoot.

What is your favorite song?  When was the first time you heard it?

Rick ><>

Friday, February 23, 2018

Dan Fogelberg - Leader of the Band (Live 2003)



Here is the late Dan Fogelberg singing "Leader of the Band."  He says that if he was allowed to write only one song, this is the song he would have written.

I'm 60 years old in case you were wonderng..  At 60, I can give you some wonderful advice about life. This kind of advice is really important.  I hope you are listening.  You will want to write this down in your journal or common place book.  You may want to put this inside the cover of your Bible or favorite spiritual book.

Seriously, go get a paper and pen right now!  I believe in what I am about to write so stongly that I will give it to you for free.

Here it is . . . Life is all about relationships.  In life, the hardest you are supposed to work,  the greatest endeavor you put into anything, ishould be meant for your relationships.  I mean it.  I have no reason to lie about this.

Great songwriters like Harry Chapin, Gordon Lightfoot, Paul Simon, John Denver, Tom T. Hall, Hoyt Paxton, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Dan Foglelberg (just to name a few) all understood that life is all about relationships.  Great singers and musicians understand this as well.  I have at times wondered if the root of all great music comes from relationship experiences both good and bad, sweet and sour. 

Hey, prove me wrong!  I don't think you will be able to.

I'm talking about relationships with lovers, spouses, family, friends, pets and even places where one has lived or visited.  Let's not forget professional an business relationships either. Relationships provide a depth to life that people crave and work so hard to find.  If they would focus instead on relationships, what they want to find would come to them.

May I ask you a question?

Is there a relationship that right now that needs you undivided attention?

Relationships are what matters, not career and possessions.  Trust me . . . been there, done that.  The richest relationships one can have, are the one you work on with all your heart and soul can muster.

Rick ><>

Harry Chapin--Taxi



Boy, I must really be in a warm, reflective yet meloncholy mood . . . to come across Harry Chapin singing "Taxi."   You want to talk about songwriting?  Ok, but it won't be a real conversation (in my humble opinion) without acknowledging Harry's music.

I wonder sometimes what "could have been" if Harry hadn't been killed in the auto accident years ago.

This a song rich in communicating the need we all have for meaningful relationships.

What relationship do you have today, right nonw, that needs your focus and nurturing?

Rick ><>

Gordon Lightfoot - Canadian Railroad Trilogy (Live In Reno)



Here is a video of Gordon Lightfoot singing a slower version of the "Canadian Railroad Trilogy," a song he was commissioned to write for the centenial celebration of the Canadian Pacific Railroad.  I'm lookiing for the black and white video of Gordon doing this song for the first time many years ago.  I've seen it, but haven't found it yet.

This version is a bit more deliberate than some of his earlier recordings of this song.  Maybe that's part of growing older . . . becoming more deliberate about the things than matter to you.  Gordon is a singer, musician, and fantastic songwriter, but he is also a son of Canada, a historian.  He rose to the occassion with this song.

One thing is evident, he has always had a great backing band.  They are pros.

If given the chance, what would you write a song about?

Rick ><>

Gordon Lightfoot - Song For A Winter's Night



It's been cold and wet here in Texas these past 2-3 weeks.  We are waiting for the arrival of spring and native wildflowers.

Today, it's been drizzling all day . . . and I'm still at home dealing with serious inflammation following double knee replacement.  I was scrolling on YouTube and found this older video of Gordon Lightfoot singing "Song for a Winter's Night."

I love to sing and play guitar, but I have never been a travelling troubadour.  That kind of life would not have sat well with me.  I think some of Gordon's song reflect on all the years of touring he did.  Maybe this is one of them.

Gordon is perhaps one of the best songwriters that has every lived.

Whose hand do you long to hold on a cold winter's night?

Rick ><>

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Michael Nesmith - Different Drum (Live at the Britt Festival 1992)



Well hey and what do you know, Mike did "Different Drum" as an encore at the Britt Festival concert.

Research how many hits songs Mike wrote.  You will be surprised.

Enjoy!

Rick ><>

Lyle Lovett - If I Had A Boat (live)



An absolutely marvelous song.  Lyle Lovett's voice is very interesting.  You either love it or hate it.  I love it.  He is a great performer and very fine guitar player.

Why do I like this song?   It speaks to me how life is not so much about making other people happy, but doing what makes me happy.  I haven't done that near enough  of that in my life.  I hope it's not to late.

A great song.  Please enjoy.  If you have a favorite song video, please let me know so I can post it.

Rick ><>

Michael Nesmith - Joanne (Live at the Britt Festival 1992)



I stumbled across this video several days ago, and ended up watching most of the concert.  I forgot how prolific Michael Nesmith was after he left the Monkee's.

I also found out that he wrote "Different Drums," the song made famous by Linda Rondstadt.    Mercy.

I think this is a very well crafted song.  The chording is really neat.

Years ago, I had a falsetto like that . . . those days are gone.

What music surprises or remembrances have you come across lately?

Rick ><>

Crosby Stills & Nash - Southern Cross



Speaking of Stephen Stills and CS&Y . . . This is on of my favorite acoustic rock songs of all time.   I think a good dreadnaught guitar can carry itself just fine with songs like this!  But, let's not forget the great 3-part harmony.

What is your favorite acoustic rock song?

Rick ><>

D'Addario - The Six Who Made Me: Vince Gill



Here is a good video featuring Vince Gill talking about guitar players that influenced him.

We all have our favorites, those mentors who guide us to discovering the player and performers we are.  My six would be:

-Dear friend and adopted brother . . . the late Joe Laughlin of Houston, TX.

-John Denver

-Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul & Mary)

-Stephen Stills (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young)

-Neil Young (CSYN and solo)

-Joe Walsh (had to through in at least one electric player)

Who are the people who influence the music you make?

Rick ><>

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

10 Reasons Not To Buy A Martin D-18



When I first saw this video, and being a proud owner of a Martin D-18, I thought "what the hell?"

After watching the video, I knew I had to post it.  Why?  I think "Been there, and done that" sums if up nicely.

What does that mean?  Simply put, several of the guitars I own came home after I saw them, played them, and emotionally said / thought, "I've got to have this guitar."

Did I need them?  Truthfully . . . no, I didn't. For that matter, even today the answer is "no I don't." My first good guitar was a Martin D-16gte, and it would be a fine guitar today and handle just about everything I do musically if it was the only guitar I had.  These days, my J-40 and D-18 handle the job nicely.  The D-16 is a back-up guitar.  One day I'm sure I will pass it on to some one deserving.

I've got two build-to-order (BTO's) Taylor's . . . both sinker redwood tops (one is a T-5). Wickedly fine guitars. I played them last back in 2016.  I've got a Fender Strat, pedals and a fancy electric guitar amp as well.  Haven't played it in at least 3 years.  Two Guild jumbos are in my office closet at the church.  Their cases have dust on them.

And yet, I can go into a guitar store (which I am doing less and less these days) and after 15 minutes, be intrigued by a guitar and begin wondering how I can legally leave the store with it.

What's the old saying, "How many guitars does a guitar player need?  

Just one more!"

Enjoy the video.

Rick ><>

Monday, February 5, 2018

Neil Young - Old Man & Heart Of Gold [1971]



I didn't hear Neil's "Harvest" album until 1974.

I was busy playing basketball and foaming at the mouth over a girl.  High
school days . . . so me great memories . . . and some other adventure I can't write about just yet.

I was raised to appreciate and respect older adults.  I had two sets or grandparents who were wonderful to me. I've learned a lot from older friends and mentors along the way.  Now I'm the old guy and I've gotten some opportunities to share with some younger folk when they come as ask, "can we talk for awhile?"

I even have a little gray hair . . . the magic signifier that I've indeed lived a little.

All in all a great song played on a beautiful Martin D-45.  Not sure if it was Hank Williams guitar, as I'm not sure when he received that guitar from Bob Dylan.

And . . . how can we hear "Old Man" and not hear "Heart of Gold"?

Enjoy the video.   Music at it's best . . . the singer-songwriter and their instrument on a stage performing to the audience.

What older adult do you need to say "thank you" to?  What musical instrument do you appreciate and love to make music with.

Rick ><>




The Ballad of the Dreadnought



I came across this video about the history of the Martin dreadnaght guitar.  I am the proud owner / player of a Martin D-18e Retro.

It's a long video, but filled with interesting information that a Martin fan, or non-Martin fan, can appreciate.

Do you have a favorite guitar or other musical instrument?  Would you like to share your story?

Rick ><>

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Jim Croce - Bad Bad Leroy Brown (Midnight Special - 1973)



I remembe staying up to see this in 1973 on the Midnight Special TV show, which came on Saturday night and into Sunday morning. The song finally came at the very end of the show.  IT was worth the wait.

My maternal grandfather actually heard about this song before I did.  His name was Leon Brown, and he said a guy on the radio was singing a song about him!  My grandfather was a retired Methodist preacher, and I couldn't begin to imagine someone on the radio had written a song about him.

That very day . . . I heard "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" on the radio.  I bought the sheet music and learned the song in less than a week.  And . . . I had to learn how to bar chord on a 12-string guitar.  I had a cramped hand for a long time.  Actually, it still cramps my hand to play this song the way Jim did.

A fun song that people will sing with you . . . even senior adults in nursing homes.  It's fun, and it's lively, and people enjoy the chorus.

What song makes you happy when you sing or play it on your favorite instrument?

Rick ><>

Jim Croce - You Don't Mess Around With Jim (Live) [reMaSter]



Here is another Jim Croce favorite of mine, one that I still can't quite sing like he does.  Especially the "3 piece pool cue" vib toward the end of the song.

Rick ><>

Jim Croce - I Got a Name (1973)



I remember this song from my high school years.  I memorized it back in 1975 and sang it at youth group gatherings and assemblies.

My parents were winding up a divorce in 1975.  Dad moved out, and things got quieter and a bit more stable.  But it was 1975, and friends were telling me that I was from a broken home.  Someone asked how it felt that my life was over.

Really? 

I knew I had a name, a purpose, a vision, a passion.  College was calling, my first time to leave home.  In college I met the woman who would become my wife to this day (42 years of marriage).  I found that ministry was where I belonged, and I found that I could still get people to sing with me in various places and locals.  Although I mostly "speak" for a living, I have been able to sing for people in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and in my home state of Texas.

Moving ahead so life won't pass me by . . . that's the last line of the chorus of this song.  I've kept ahead . . . it's been hark work.  But fruitful work, because at my last breath, I will be able to clearly say, and believe . . . I know who I am!

Has a song every spoken to you at an important time in your life?  Has a song every provided you with inspiration to keep on moving forward?

I BELIEVE IN MUSIC





Jim Newton and Paul Hill taught me a faster version of this song when I trained with them in therapeutic music entertainment singing for children in hospitals.   I close most of my performances with this song, and enjoy doing so.  I will always be able to relate to this song, and I thank Mac Davis for writing it.  One of his best.

What song means the world to you?  What instrument do you love to play?

God's grace and favorite songs still amaze me . . . ><>

Friday, January 26, 2018

Jeff Daniels, "She Don't Love Me"



A final Jeff Daniels song!  I never knew he was this good.  I believe he has personally written over 400 songs!

God's grace, and musical surprises, still amaze me . . . ><>

Jeff Daniels, "Grandfather's Hat"



How often do the great songs simply focus on the storytelling about a relationship?

Well, almost always!

Enjoy!

God's grace and a good song still amaze me . . . ><>

Jeff Daniels, "When My Fingers Find Your Strings"



Jeff sings and plays a song he wrote about his relationship with his guitar.

God's grace and good music still amaze me . . . ><>

One-on-One with Jeff Daniels, Part 2



Here is the 2nd part of the interview of Jeff Daniels with Dick Boak at the Martin Guitar Factory. 

God's grace and a Martin Guitar still amaze me . . . ><>

One-on-One with Jeff Daniels, Part 1

A great video featuring actor and guitarist, Jeff Daniels at the Martin Guitar Museum in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.  Jeff is an accomplished guitarist who plays a very unique Martin Guitar.  Martin historian, Dick Boak, is the interviewer.

Do you have a favorite musical instrument?  What kind of relationship do you have with it?

Learn more about Jeff's music and CD's at www.jeffdaniels.com.

God's grace, and a good guitar, still amaze me . . . ><>

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Latest Update

Recovery from double knee replacement surgery has been slow, but steady.  I'm in my sixth week of home therapy, and yesterday made the change from using my walker to using a cane.  

And not just any cane either.  My cane is a cut-down shepherds crook that I purchased in Eureka Springs, Arkansas many years ago.  It must be at least 20 years old.  I actually cut it to size and began using it several weeks before my surgeries.  I took this cane with me at the hospital.  It was, and still is, a symbol of several goals I've set for myself after my recovery is complete.   

One goal is to have strong enough knees so I can return as one of the summer chaplains at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, perhaps in 2019 or 2020.  The shepherds crook is the symbol of BSA chaplains, and it symbolizes my truest and most honest understanding of what being a servant leader and minister is all about.  Someone who carrys a shepherds crook is someone whose passion is serving, helping, and watching over others. 

My other goal is to again seek out and more fully clarify the ways I am passionate about serving others.  That's where music comes in.

I'm currently on a sort of short-term leave from my church so that I can focus on healing and fully recovering from surgery.  One of the things I "parked" in order to do so was singing and playing the guitar (or any other musical instrument for that matter).  Pain meds were affecting my concentration.  Now that my dosage continues to be reduced, my mind, and focus are back, and I find I miss performing a great deal.  Hopefully in late March I can be well enough to carry, or "roll" my guitar and equipment into the venues where I provide therapeutic music entertainment.  (More to come on a portable rolling cart I'm currently designing using a Rigid brand wheeled tool chest base.)

More posts and pictures coming soon.

God's grace, and the healing of mind and body, still amazes me . . . ><>

Back in the Saddle Again . . .