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Kevin Slick: Journal

May the 4th (be with you) Sunday Gratitude Session - May 4, 2014

The Amen Trio continues with our Sunday Gratitude Session releases with Gartan Mother's Lullaby.  Watch for a new release every week on Sunday mornings.

https://soundcloud.com/kevin-slick/gartan-mothers-lullaby-by-the-amen-trio

Sunday Gratitude Sessions - April 20, 2014

One my bands, The Amen Trio has decided to release a new recording each week on Sunday mornings as a way of giving thanks with and for music.  While we are not affiliated with any specific religious or spiritual group even though the name might suggest such a connection we do embrace the spiritual in a universal sense.  Our first release of these "Gratitude Sessions" is Lark in the Clear Air.  Andrea Love is the vocalist, Annie Savage is playing harp and fiddle and I'm playing guitar.  You can hear the track here on this website in the "Listening Room" or you can check out a little video I created with some photos on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s5rWbC5oYw or you can listen on my SoundCloud channel here: https://soundcloud.com/kevin-slick/lark-in-the-clear-air 

My Greatest Teacher - January 28, 2014

I heard the songs he wrote, adapted or otherwise shared with the world long before I knew there was a guy named Pete Seeger who was a famous singer. In later years as I learned more about him and had the chance to spend some time talking with him I realize that’s exactly the way he would want it to be. It seemed that for Pete fame was a useful, if sometimes uncomfortable, way to get songs out into the world to do the good work that needed to be done.
When I worked in radio our station had a closet filled with promo records that the program director had decided we were never going to play. DJs were able to sift through these piles of albums and take whatever we wanted. One day I found a batch of Pete’s Columbia releases and took them home. I was aware that he was the guy who had written “If I Had a Hammer” and some other tunes but not much else. I started listening to the albums and I was transfixed. I felt like I had opened a magic door to an amazing world that was hiding in plain view. It was as if the songs on those albums were diamonds that had been laying on the ground all around me and I had seen them a thousand times, just never really noticed them. I also discovered that he was a brilliant instrumentalist on 12 string guitar and banjo, I dug out an old 5 string banjo from my parent’s house and started trying to play like Pete. Just one of a couple million other pickers who have fallen under that simply beautiful spell.
As I began to seek out all things Pete I discovered that those old albums in the public library with the thick cardboard covers were indeed Pete Seeger’s old Folkways albums and once again I tumbled into another wonderland. There was, and is, such power in the simplicity of his arrangements of traditional folk songs often accompanied by only his banjo sketching out the melody under his voice. Soon I was filling up notebooks with the words and chords to hundreds of folks songs that I learned from listening to those albums over and over and over again.
The first time I met Pete was at a gathering of The People’s Music Network for Songs of Freedom and Struggle. There were workshops and song sharing sessions and I had been taking pictures at one of Pete’s workshops. Another attendee came up to me and told me that Pete really didn’t like people taking pictures during the workshops. Later in the day I found Pete and asked him about the photos. The first thing he said was “Aren’t you the guy who sang that song about living on a farm last night?, that was great”. He then said “You know, I used to think that music was the universal language but I’ve come to believe its photography because pictures are instantly understandable to anyone anywhere.” We then talked for an hour or so about photography and ways to use images in conjunction with music. He told me he was writing about this gathering for Sing Out and asked if I would send photos to them for his article.
I learned over time that this was pure Pete. If someone came up and told him they loved his music or thought he was the greatest banjo player he’d be polite and friendly but if you came up and said something like “Pete, I just found an old garage full of tractor tires what do you think we could do with that?” His eyes would light up and he’d be tossing out twenty ideas to the dozen.
I often admired his energy and I think he was a master at soaking up the energy of the people who were around him and radiating it back ten-fold.
As a writing teacher I often talk about finding a “mentor author” to study, Pete was my mentor songwriter for sure. When I play a song of mine like “One New Road” and see people singing along the first time they’ve heard it I know Pete’s lessons are coming through. I listened to many of his songs when I was writing “Paul Robeson Song (Powerful Voice)” and had the somewhat scary experience of playing it for the first time in public with Pete sitting in the front row. When I finished the song I stepped off stage and was kneeling down to put my guitar in the case when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned and there was Pete “Now, that’s a damn good song!” He said. That was just pure Pete.
Of course Pete would die someday. I often wondered about how I would feel. I did have a little practice though. I remember waking up to the radio when he was given the Kennedy Center Honors award. I woke up to the sound of President Clinton’s voice talking about Pete and saying all kinds of wonderful things. “Oh no, I thought Pete must have died, the President is saying all these wonderful things about him” I couldn’t imagine the President of the United States saying something nice about Pete Seeger unless he had died. A few months later I was able to share this experience with Pete who thought it was pretty funny.
That old physical part of Pete is gone but so much is still here. When I read the news this morning I felt sad but not overwhelmed. Maybe because it was morning and I was getting ready to take my son to school and get to work myself I was rushing around and the news was still sinking in. We went out and got in the car. I turned the key, the radio was on and instantly the car was filled with the chiming electric twelve strings of The Byrds playing “Turn, Turn, Turn” from the back seat I heard my son singing along and that’s when I really cried. It was pure Pete, one of his many gifts being passed along to the next generation.
To everything there is a season, indeed and we’re so fortunate to have been here for the Season of Pete.
He once sang “To my old brown earth and to my old blue sky, I’ll now give these last few molecules of I”. Pete truly gave every last molecule of “I”. He’s a part of my world as much as sun and sky and always will be my greatest teacher.

A New Christmas Story - December 23, 2013

The junior high members of Boulder Friends Meeting wrote a little modern re-telling of the familiar Christmas story.  I helped a little, but it was mostly their ideas.  Several people have asked to have a copy so I'll post it here and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

MODERN Christmas Story

One day Ceasar tweeted his followers of which there were many “Yo! It’s time to pay your taxes #ObeyMeOrElse

All over the world people logged onto Travelocity for the best deals in getting back to their hometowns.

And Joe googled the best prices on his iPhone which was a gift from his fiance Mary and booked a flight on Southwest airlines for behold they had no baggage fees and Mary and Joe were rather poor after all.

While they were traveling they searched Craig’s List for baby items and hoped it wouldn’t be born on the plane.

Alas when they arrived they found they had no room as Joe had neglected to click on the book a room button while booking the flight online.

So Mary gave birth to her first born son in the back of a Costco store, because after all they do have ginormous panda bears and more diapers than you’d ever need free samples and those incredible peanut butter filled pretzels.

And there were in same country associates working in the Targets, WalMarts and King Soopers for the stores were open 24-7 when lo, a mass text was sent out from the social media angels
And it said “Hey get on over to Costco, there’s something amazing going on and it’s not a sale!”

And so they want and found Mary and Joe and Jesus in the Costco walking the aisles collecting diapers, rattles, toys, cribs, pacifiers and other assorted baby items.
And suddenly there was a flash mob singing “Glory to God” and posting Instagrams of the baby online.

A video of the event from Joe iPhone went viral and all was well.
#TheEnd

Christmas Music - December 5, 2013

As promised, several tracks from "A Midwinter's Eve" by The Amen Trio have been posted on the Listening Room page of this website.

I've put several tracks on YouTube as well and they can be found here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxhK9uDlhGU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdHAZK4BKjI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmot2fnA5lg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ozv46KRSA7g

The Amen Trio is myself on guitars, Annie Savage (known to bluegrass fans for her work with Jeff Scroggins and Colorado and being a teacher at Steve Kaufman's camps) on violin, harp and vocals and the wonderful Andrea Love on vocals and pennywhistle.  We plan to start work on more recordings in the new year and have already started selecting songs for next year's winter themed album.

Tis the Season - December 1, 2013

It's my favorite time of the year… or at least one my favorite times of the year (in truth there are probably at least 12 favorite times of the year)

I am part of a new Christmas album this year: A Midwinter's Eve by the Amen Trio which is Annie Savage, Andrea Love and myself.  It's a rather lovely album of acoustic celtic based folk versions of Christmas tunes and some generally wintery feeling music.  Annie plays harp and fiddle, Andrea is a incredible vocalist and plays penny whistle while I pluck the guitars.  You can order a copy from me by sending $15 to paypal (slick@kevinslick.com) or email me with info on sending a check.

Over the years I've posted a fair number of Christmas songs on video and they can be found here:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAB0779B1E9C55F44

October - October 19, 2013

It's the lovely season of autumn and I just finished reading "Something Wicked This Way Comes", a book I read every October because after all, it is a rare month for boys.

If you'd like to see what I'm up to during my days as an artist/educator here are some links:

https://blogs.svvsd.org/slickart/  This is my art blog

Here are few online gallery episodes that show student works:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyH8clggkAw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHVZjlCGtyQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7CoUaCFV1c

As long as there's baseball, it's always summer - October 1, 2013

In honor of the Pittsburgh Pirates making it into the playoffs for the first time in many years I'll re-publish two of my baseball poems.  The first about seeing The Great One on my birthday in 1971, the second about the wonderful feeling of baseball on the radio. 

This is the Moment

There were at least a thousand different moments that day

August 13th 1971, my thirteenth birthday.

It’s not the long line of baseball fans

on a hot afternoon

winding their way up the ramps

circling Three Rivers Stadium like a python preparing for dinner.

It’s not the grey concrete walkway

speckled and spattered with

chewing gum

cigarette butts

beer stains

and something that might have been food.

Not even the sudden rush of fans pushing together

as the clubhouse door swung open

and like baseball cards come to life,

two Pirates emerged to sign autographs.

It might have been the face

of Roberto Clemente

granite features

with blazing eyes that met my own for an eternal moment

but then

maybe not even that.

It was, however,

the feeling of my feet leaving the floor

and my father’s hands

as he lifted me above the crowd

and his voice

younger than I had ever heard

saying

“There he is!, the great one!”

That was the moment.

That is the moment.

©2011 Kevin Slick

 

Baseball Radio

Baseball radio

skipping across the thick summer night sky

transistor voices

painting soundscapes in dreams

gathering in a plastic dream catchers with antennas reaching to the stars

There is a static and crackle, the sound of the air itself

that fills the beautiful moments in between

the pause between pitches

when the patterns of voices and noises weave together in a blanket of sound

the bat crack,

the glove smack,

the long ball crowd roar

a tapestry of sound rising and falling like waves on the sea.

And in that aural landscape

in the slow, spacious story telling

memories, like fossils revealed breathe the summer air and live again.

Somewhere Willie is stalking the fly ball from the bat of Vic Wertz,

and somewhere Roberto is firing a cannon shot from right field to nail an

over-confident runner on the way to second,

somewhere Babe is still on deck  and the game is still within our grasp

and autumn and winter are a million miles away.

 

©2011 Kevin Slick

September Journal - September 11, 2013

By Kevin Slick

© 2001

 

There are so many pictures frozen in my mind.  A family album that doesn’t have to be opened to be re-lived.  There was that perfect autumn blue sky, just so blue, so blue that it almost hurt to look at, that perfect blue with a jagged grey cloud ripping across the middle of the sky, like a gash in the atmosphere, a hole in the universe.  There was the man covered in dust standing next to me at the 14th street subway station as we waited to see if any trains could still run over to Brooklyn.  And there in an abandoned lot off Atlantic Avenue, a homemade American flag nailed to a piece of wood in the afternoon sunlight welcoming me home.  But the image that always comes back first is the light coming through the window of my classroom after everyone had left as it gently floated through the window onto the newspaper that was lying on my desk, filled with words that no one would remember.  And I stood there to try to understand that moment when all those words would be re-written and this day would have forever a new meaning.  I stood there trying to understand, but couldn’t.  I could only live in the moment, and so walked outside and headed south toward that ragged tear in the sky.

 

 

I bought a newspaper on the way to work this morning.

I thought I would talk with my class, fourth grade at P.S. 116, about the primary election for mayor.  After all there would be people in and out of school all day since it was the polling place for the neighborhood around 33rdand 3rd.

But we didn’t talk about the election.

The voters left early, if they came at all.

By three o’ clock in the afternoon I was alone in my room.

Sunlight was coming in the window at an autumn afternoon slant

Dragging long shadows across the front page of the newspaper,

Still lying where I left it on my desk.

No one will ever remember the stories from the front page of today’s paper.

No one will ever think of this day and talk about the election

Or any one of ten other stories that were worthy of the front page of the

New York Times on September 11th, 2001.

 

I walked downtown

Smoke arched across the sky

People’s faces; grim, vacant, worried.

We talked to each other like people at a funeral;

“How are you doing?”

“Are you okay?”

The streets, a constant stream of fire trucks, ambulances, police cars.

Police on every corner

Crowds gathering at the hospital a few blocks away.

And the people’s faces, unbelieving

I can’t believe it.

(how many times have I said “ I can’t believe it” when I could have said “that’s surprising” or “ I didn’t expect that”)

Now, I really can’t believe it.

Tell me again,

They’re gone?

Those two buildings are gone?

The two buildings I see from my window every day?

The two buildings I rode past this morning on the train?

Gone?

I saw an old man walk out onto 3rd Avenue and stop traffic because some people were walking up to a hospital helping several others who appeared to be bleeding or injured in some way.  It was perfectly normal, and all the cars stopped. 

He said that it was what he had to do.  That’s what we were doing there that day – “what we had to do”

When I returned home to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn the man who owned the middle- eastern restaurant on the first floor called me “brother” and offered food.  I joined others from the street and we ate in silence together.

Later I heard someone say “There are no words” 

 

 

 

The next day.

Everyone is in motion today.

On Fulton street the sun is shining and the streets are full of people.

Loud dance music rips out of a store selling stereos.

A man is begging on the corner, shaking a cup full of coins endlessly. 

Now he switches hands and adjusts the volume on his Walkman.  He’s looking all around and no one is looking at him.  He looks around some more and drives his electric wheelchair away.

The other people on the corner just keep talking and ignoring the place where he was.

It seems like this city is too big to slow down, even with the heart torn out, the body is still going through the motions.  If you chose to ignore media and not look across the river you could pretend nothing had happened.

I want to believe that nothing has happened.

This morning I work up and prayed for it to have all been a dream.

 

The sky is still so blue today

Only that one line of grey

Grey smoke to the south that lays across the sky.

It looks like rain clouds,

Long, low rain clouds

But it’s too sunny for rain.

 

There’s a cool breeze

Like the best ocean breeze on the last day of summer

It’s such a beautiful day

Such a beautiful day.

 

Is it nature, or God

Trying to say that life goes on?

Is this a day to help us heal?

Is this a day that covers the terrible with beauty?

 

This beautiful sky lies across our lives

We are held together under this sky

Held together by each other

By our heartbeats

Our footsteps

Beating out a rhythm together.

 

I heard a woman say

That the most important thing in the world

Was the smell of her daughter’s hair when she hugged her.

 

Later,           

I can see the sun as a fuzzy white ball in the grey, cloudy sky.

 

In Union Square there are huge crowds

Gathering around signs, candles and pictures

Offerings, gifts people have left.

 

Behind me, a group is singing “America The Beautiful” some of the crowd, however are only singing the first line of the melody, having forgotten the rest I guess. 

The result is an edgy harmony as one group repeats the same line over and over.

 

People have written poems

And the word “Love” appears over and over again.

I’ve been writing what I see and feel, waiting for words to have some meaning again, but I can’t find the meaning. 

I’m living on faith that the meanings will be revealed sometime, maybe someday. 

But I see that I’m in the midst of a living poem, the voices, the pictures, the streets themselves, the city itself is singing.

Whitman was right, this is America singing, the varied carols I hear with melodies hard to understand and words that tear and strain to rhyme but still singing.  The music is un-planned, improvised, ragged and beautiful.

Why are we all here, right now, at this moment?  How did we get here?

Maybe we’re all here just to be next to other humans

 

Every sound is muffled, like a church

This seems like a sacred site.

The stained glass windows have been replaced with

Flowers

Paintings

Pictures

All those pictures

Thousands of pictures.

This whole city has become a photo album

A large family photo album.

Walking down the streets, I feel like I’m leafing through memories

Memories shared with strangers.

Weddings,

Back yard picnics

Vacations.

I’m looking for my family here

Looking for faces I recognize

And I realize I know every one of them.

 

 

 

I can’t sing

I want to sing, but I can’t find a song to sing

Not one song

Not one song I can sing

But all songs

I have no song to sing

Unless it’s all songs

 

I try to speak but I have no voice

Only all voices

 

I’m calling on God

But I think God will only answer

To all his names

To all her names

Spoken as one.

 

One sky

One blue, heavenly sky

Covers us like a prayer shawl.

I want to wrap myself in the sky.

 

I wrap myself in these pictures

These words

The quilt of life

Of lives sewn together on the streets by broken hearts seeking peace.

 

I stand with others, with everyone

In search of release.

My feelings pour out on the names

On the faces

And I think all my feelings have gone out of me

But new feelings appear

Like waves on the ocean, endless

The best I can do is open my heart to the emotions

The way a rose opens it’s petals to drink the dew

And I release those feelings

Like the rose gives up it’s petals.

 

Award Winning Guitar Player - September 8, 2013

On the weekend of August 24th I traveled south with the wonderful Steel Pennies, the band I've been a part of since January 2013, to play at the Santa Fe Old Time and Bluegrass Festival.  We had been trying to get into this festival, our first outside of Colorado, and quickly took the open slot they offered even though it was at the extremely high and lonesome hour of 9:30 on Saturday morning.  We played our set and had the stands filled by the time we finished.  It would seem that there are a lot of early rising bluegrass fans in Santa Fe!  Since our goal was to make ourselves noticed to the festival it was suggested that several of us sign up for the instrumental contests going on that day.  David Okay Patton had already signed up for banjo and soon Darrell Cox was roped into joining the mandolin competition.  I was nominated to represent our group in the flatpicking contest.  I hadn't planned on playing in the contest but thought "What's the worst that can happen?".  I asked Kathy "Tater" Draz to accompany me on one song (we were allowed six minutes) and we did "Cherokee Shuffle".  The only thought that really went into the song selection and playing on my part was that maybe there would be a lot of fast, flashy pickers and perhaps a slower song would stand out.  I improvised a version of "Shenandoah" with a lot of cross picking and chord variations.  Something must have worked because I won first place!

 

 

Steel Pennies concert on video - August 6, 2013

Here's a live stream show we did earlier this year.  It was broadcast live on the web but there was no one in the studio except us and the camera people.  The hosts were in another studio talking to us through speakers in the studio.  We usually use just one mic, so this was a little different, but it's a nicely shot video and sounds pretty good I think - so if you're checking in from somewhere else in the world, here's a chance to see what we've been up to lately. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqr7YyGk2m4

Summer becomes Fall - August 3, 2013

As the summer of 2013 draws to a close I'm still quite busy playing bluegrass music with Steel Pennies.  We've played at Durango Bluegrass Meltdown, High Mountain Hay Fever, Bluegrass at the Fair (in Pueblo, CO), Rapidgrass in Idaho Springs, CO as well as a gig or two in our home area of Boulder.  You can follow some of our musical exploits at http://www.steelpenniesbluegrass.com

If you like videos check out: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAZmEHx7IILp1RxTidCvy20NZhyhxHPao

You can always check out my channel on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/kgslick50/

We released a new album with the band too! You can find that at all the regular outlets either as a real CD or digital download, here's one link to try if you're in the mood for some bluegrass: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/steelpennies

I played my usual silent movie music at this year's Monster Bash International Film Convention in Mars, PA.  This year I played for Hunchback of Notre Dame which runs about two hours.  I played it all live this year, no backing tracks, just me on the piano... with sore fingers and wrists by the end of the film!

You'll find more updates more often on Facebook so come on over and friend me there if you really want to stay up to date.

Spring Time - April 12, 2013

Hi!

It's springtime in the Rockies, that wonderful time of snow and sunshine, flowers, ice, sleet and the promise of warmer weather.

I've been playing a lot of music lately, bluegrass to be exact with Steel Pennies http://www.steelpenniesbluegrass.com

You can see us live on a webcast on April 14th at: www.ustream.tv/channel/free-range-pictures

IF you miss the live show, I believe they will archive the program so you can tune in later.

You can follow me on Twitter these days as well @Slickclass4 is my classroom account and I'm also at @KevinSlick1

Blogs! - November 14, 2012

I've been busy this school year with blogging.  I hope you'll check out my personal blog http://www.kevinslick.blogspot.com/

as well as my classroom blog http://blogs.stvrain.k12.co.us/kgslick/

The personal blog covers education issues including work I'm doing in the classroom as well as political ramblings.  The classroom blog, along with my "play by play" on what we're doing in class also includes samples of students writing.

The sky was so blue... - September 9, 2012

September Journal 

By Kevin Slick

© 2001

 

There are so many pictures frozen in my mind.  A family album that doesn’t have to be opened to be re-lived.  There was that perfect autumn blue sky, just so blue, so blue that it almost hurt to look at, that perfect blue with a jagged grey cloud ripping across the middle of the sky, like a gash in the atmosphere, a hole in the universe.  There was the man covered in dust standing next to me at the 14th street subway station as we waited to see if any trains could still run over to Brooklyn.  And there in an abandoned lot off Atlantic Avenue, a homemade American flag nailed to a piece of wood in the afternoon sunlight welcoming me home.  But the image that always comes back first is the light coming through the window of my classroom after everyone had left as it gently floated through the window onto the newspaper that was lying on my desk, filled with words that no one would remember.  And I stood there to try to understand that moment when all those words would be re-written and this day would have forever a new meaning.  I stood there trying to understand, but couldn’t.  I could only live in the moment, and so walked outside and headed south toward that ragged tear in the sky.

 

 

I bought a newspaper on the way to work this morning.

I thought I would talk with my class, fourth grade at P.S. 116, about the primary election for mayor.  After all there would be people in and out of school all day since it was the polling place for the neighborhood around 33rd and 3rd.

But we didn’t talk about the election.

The voters left early, if they came at all.

By three o’ clock in the afternoon I was alone in my room.

Sunlight was coming in the window at an autumn afternoon slant

Dragging long shadows across the front page of the newspaper,

Still lying where I left it on my desk.

No one will ever remember the stories from the front page of today’s paper.

No one will ever think of this day and talk about the election

Or any one of ten other stories that were worthy of the front page of the

New York Times on September 11th, 2001.

 

I walked downtown

Smoke arched across the sky

People’s faces; grim, vacant, worried.

We talked to each other like people at a funeral;

“How are you doing?”

“Are you okay?”

The streets, a constant stream of fire trucks, ambulances, police cars.

Police on every corner

Crowds gathering at the hospital a few blocks away.

And the people’s faces, unbelieving

I can’t believe it.

(how many times have I said “ I can’t believe it” when I could have said “that’s surprising” or “ I didn’t expect that”)

Now, I really can’t believe it.

Tell me again,

They’re gone?

Those two buildings are gone?

The two buildings I see from my window every day?

The two buildings I rode past this morning on the train?

Gone?

I saw an old man walk out onto 3rd Avenue and stop traffic because some people were walking up to a hospital helping several others who appeared to be bleeding or injured in some way.  It was perfectly normal, and all the cars stopped. 

He said that it was what he had to do.  That’s what we were doing there that day – “what we had to do”

When I returned home to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn the man who owned the middle- eastern restaurant on the first floor called me “brother” and offered food.  I joined others from the street and we ate in silence together.

Later I heard someone say “There are no words” 

 

 

 

The next day.

Everyone is in motion today.

On Fulton street the sun is shining and the streets are full of people.

Loud dance music rips out of a store selling stereos.

A man is begging on the corner, shaking a cup full of coins endlessly. 

Now he switches hands and adjusts the volume on his Walkman.  He’s looking all around and no one is looking at him.  He looks around some more and drives his electric wheelchair away.

The other people on the corner just keep talking and ignoring the place where he was.

It seems like this city is too big to slow down, even with the heart torn out, the body is still going through the motions.  If you chose to ignore media and not look across the river you could pretend nothing had happened.

I want to believe that nothing has happened.

This morning I work up and prayed for it to have all been a dream.

 

The sky is still so blue today

Only that one line of grey

Grey smoke to the south that lays across the sky.

It looks like rain clouds,

Long, low rain clouds

But it’s too sunny for rain.

 

There’s a cool breeze

Like the best ocean breeze on the last day of summer

It’s such a beautiful day

Such a beautiful day.

 

Is it nature, or God

Trying to say that life goes on?

Is this a day to help us heal?

Is this a day that covers the terrible with beauty?

 

This beautiful sky lies across our lives

We are held together under this sky

Held together by each other

By our heartbeats

Our footsteps

Beating out a rhythm together.

 

I heard a woman say

That the most important thing in the world

Was the smell of her daughter’s hair when she hugged her.

 

Later,           

I can see the sun as a fuzzy white ball in the grey, cloudy sky.

 

In Union Square there are huge crowds

Gathering around signs, candles and pictures

Offerings, gifts people have left.

 

Behind me, a group is singing “America The Beautiful” some of the crowd, however are only singing the first line of the melody, having forgotten the rest I guess. 

The result is an edgy harmony as one group repeats the same line over and over.

 

People have written poems

And the word “Love” appears over and over again.

I’ve been writing what I see and feel, waiting for words to have some meaning again, but I can’t find the meaning. 

I’m living on faith that the meanings will be revealed sometime, maybe someday. 

But I see that I’m in the midst of a living poem, the voices, the pictures, the streets themselves, the city itself is singing.

Whitman was right, this is America singing, the varied carols I hear with melodies hard to understand and words that tear and strain to rhyme but still singing.  The music is un-planned, improvised, ragged and beautiful.

Why are we all here, right now, at this moment?  How did we get here?

Maybe we’re all here just to be next to other humans

 

Every sound is muffled, like a church

This seems like a sacred site.

The stained glass windows have been replaced with

Flowers

Paintings

Pictures

All those pictures

Thousands of pictures.

This whole city has become a photo album

A large family photo album.

Walking down the streets, I feel like I’m leafing through memories

Memories shared with strangers.

Weddings,

Back yard picnics

Vacations.

I’m looking for my family here

Looking for faces I recognize

And I realize I know every one of them.

 

 

 

I can’t sing

I want to sing, but I can’t find a song to sing

Not one song

Not one song I can sing

But all songs

I have no song to sing

Unless it’s all songs

 

I try to speak but I have no voice

Only all voices

 

I’m calling on God

But I think God will only answer

To all his names

To all her names

Spoken as one.

 

One sky

One blue, heavenly sky

Covers us like a prayer shawl.

I want to wrap myself in the sky.

 

I wrap myself in these pictures

These words

The quilt of life

Of lives sewn together on the streets by broken hearts seeking peace.

 

I stand with others, with everyone

In search of release.

My feelings pour out on the names

On the faces

And I think all my feelings have gone out of me

But new feelings appear

Like waves on the ocean, endless

The best I can do is open my heart to the emotions

The way a rose opens it’s petals to drink the dew

And I release those feelings

Like the rose gives up it’s petals.

 

 

 

Painful - July 20, 2012

Another news headline from Colorado screams across the TV screens, laptops and tablets.  Once again people gather and cry, curse and wonder, wonder why?  Just a little ways away, just down the road from me it's happened once again.  But it doesn't matter where exactly, does it?  In the human village distances are not measured by miles but by feelings, by shared happiness or shared pain.

Once again there will be talk of "doing something" about gun violence and I think I can predict that the powerful gun lobby will trot out the old defenses that guns don't kill people or that we need guns to defend ourselves or they'll pull out those vintage Americana photos of a hunter and their child in the woods. I t's worth remembering, that the laws that the NRA fights so successfully have nothing to do with responsible gun owners and in no way infringe on sportsman and hunters. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania where the first day of deer season was a holiday, no kidding, no school. Hunters and target shooters (and I enjoy target shooting) do not use the kinds of guns that are routinely used in shootings. The weapons that have only one purpose, to shoot other people at close range, are the issue here. When the NRA and it's allies throw up the picture of a hunter and his child out in the woods, it's a false image, these people are not carrying automatic rifles. The claim that people need guns for self defense is a ruse as well. Documented cases of guns being used for successful self defense are so rare as to only make up a tiny fraction of one percent of the killings by guns. The NRA has been incredibly successful in creating an image of a government that is coming to take your guns. I know many people who believe this. They are afraid to acknowledge any hint that the availability of guns might have anything to do with this. And yet, if you break it down, many have told me that they think having more background checks etc. make sense, and these same people scoff at the idea of people needing to buy an automatic weapon for hunting. Some have admitted to me that they just like the idea of owning a machine gun or some other heavy weapon because it's fun to shoot. Here's where I think people have a chance to grow up a little and become more mature. If driving one hundred miles an hour in your sports car is fun, should you be allowed to do it on the streets? We routinely confine and regulate dangerous activities for the good of the community. Since there is no realistic defense for fighting any and all gun controls based on the self defense argument, one has to assume that the gun lobby believes that the second amendment guarantees your rights to do whatever you want with guns. Again, it's worth noting that "gun control" is not "gun elimination". A car can be a deadly weapon and we have a lot of rules that govern how you can use one and what condition you have to be in to drive. A gun can also be a deadly weapon and in fact it's uses that aren't inherently dangerous are much fewer than just about anything else, but I'll acknowledge that there are uses that are not oriented towards violence, so why not allow the same kinds of regulations as we have to driving a car?  Otherwise, aren't we helping make guns more available to crazed people just for the sake of someone who wants to have fun, and can't stand the idea that something they might like to do would be denied them?  What kind of childish ego demands that nothing is done to stop incredible violence and waste of life just so as not to interfere with their own desires?


Summertime - July 16, 2012

Obviously I've not been very good at updating the front page of my website.  To be honest if you really want to find out what's going on day to day for me it's best to find me on Facebook.  It is summertime and I've been traveling so that might count as some excuse for not updating things around here.  I haven't heard any complaints though so I'm guessing no one has been dying for news.

Here's a link to a recent video I recorded: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwCkmRwG7q8

If you look through my YouTube Channel you'll find lot of videos from this summer.

One of the very wonderful things that happened this summer was being awarded a "Forry".  This is a lifetime achievement award for work in the classic horror/sci-fi realm, named after Forrest J Ackerman (Mr. Sci-Fi himself)  I guess it says something about you when you're at a stage of life where you get a "lifetime" achievement award, but I'm just delighted to have been honored.


Mother's Day - May 13, 2012

A Song for my Mother – Kevin Slick © 1999

 

My mother sang

My mother sang easy for herself

In the kitchen, in the car, in the garden

My mother sang.

Hymns, Blues, Jazz, Swing, Rock and Roll and Folk

All these my mother sang easy for herself.

“How Great Thou Art”

“Mrs. Robinson”

“Side by Side”

“Goodnight Irene”

this might be her idea of an afternoon concert

it didn’t matter if she knew all the words

one line was all she needed when my mother sang

easy for herself.

in the morning

mid-day

midnight hour my mother sang.

Words and the sounds of words

Rolling, tumbling, falling

Like a Pennsylvania mountain stream.

Words and the sounds of words

My mother sang.

Melodies like leaves on the wind

That whistled down our long valley.

Songs just came to her

When she wasn’t even thinking of singing

In the kitchen, in the car, in the garden

That how it was when My mother sang easy.

 

My mother sang serious in the church choir

Where she was the director

Who tried to direct me.

There is a proper way to sing she said

And she tried to teach me

The kind of singing

Where one note is right and another one is wrong.

This kind of singing where you are a tenor

And you sing with the tenors in the tenor section

And you not a baritone or bass

And don’t even think about soprano.

That’s what she said.

Songs that started and stopped on schedule.

That’s what she said

My mother when she sang serious.

 

When My mother sang serious

She laid those songs down end to end

On a narrow groove

A straight line highway to the horizon.

 

When My mother sang easy on her own

She wove a quilt full of songs

That spread out in all directions.

“What a Friend We Have In Jesus”

“I want to hold your Hand”

“Pennsylvania 6-5000”

and “Rock Island Line”

 

When My mother, the choir director

Tried to teach me proper singing

She tried to teach me with what she said

With clearly outlined parts

To be learned and reproduced.

 

When My mother sang easy on her own

She taught me with how she lived

And she covered me with a feeling of sound.

Sounds that covered me

The way the ocean wraps around you

When you dive into an oncoming wave.

 

When she tried to teach me with what she said

It was only words

And they blew away

Like seeds scattered on Chimney Rock

On the side of the Alleghenies.


 

 

I learned from how she lived

I learned from the sounds,

The songs that filled our house.

I absorbed those sounds into my skin

And they stayed.

When My mother sang easy on her own

That’s when I learned.

Not from what she said

But from how she lived.

And my life is filled with songs

That come to visit like old friends

Who drop by in the afternoon

And then decide to stay the night.

Songs and sounds and feelings

That return like waves on the ocean.

Waves that whisper

Waves that shout

Like My mother when she sang

When she taught me with her life

Singing easy

Like My mother singing easy

Like My mother singing

My mother singing

Only now

Her voice in mine

Endless like the ocean.

 

New Stuff - March 4, 2012

I've been adding new videos to my YouTube channel and new thoughts to my blog.  You can find my blog at 

http://www.kevinslick.blogspot.com/

Videos are available at

http://www.youtube.com/user/kgslick50?feature=mhee


There are moments (for JVP) . - January 22, 2012

There are moments, rare 

when you can see the change, when you can watch time passing.

There are moments, deep in memory 

where dreams are born and your heart is shaped, crafted, sculpted and painted with experience.

The television set in the living room of my home, my first home, where I grew up, where my memories still live, alive with flickering blue and white against a green background, mixing with the glow of Christmas tree lights and advent candles on a winter's night in 1969, and my father and I on our knees as if in prayer watching a futile attempt to go ahead on a two point conversion only to find redemption and a second chance from the twelfth player on the field that lead to an improvised frantic finish that won the game and forever my heart.

There are moments, rare

when time stands still, when a passing spirit pauses

and you can wave good bye

and say thank you one more time.

Songs from Long Ago - November 24, 2011

This summer my dad asked me to make a CD of some old bluegrass, folk and country gospel tunes.  It began with playing the song "Life is Like A Mountain Railroad" at the church I grew up in and having so many people share their memories of that song.  I recorded the songs over a weekend, usually beginning with vocals and guitar and then adding other instruments later.  I've posted a few songs on the "Listening Room" page on this site.   I hope you enjoy the music and Happy Thanksgiving.

Ten Years After - September 6, 2011

I posted my writings about September 11th 2001 on my blog which you can find here:

http://kevinslick.blogspot.com/2011/09/ten-years-after.html

It's not often we have the chance to be in the midst of such historical events and I've tried to think about and learn from what I saw, heard and felt that day and the days that followed.  I'm still learning.


Summertime on the Farm - August 15, 2011

Here's a video I shot using the iPod Touch at my family farm (where I grew up) in central Pennsylvania.  I'm glad to got to introduce my son to fireflies.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLcBN-J339Q

More from the Bash - August 11, 2011

The Monster Bash website has a bunch of great photos posted and you can see them here:

http://www.monsterbashnews.com/scrapbookNEW.html

If you scroll down to the most recent Bash - Summer 2011 you'll see plenty of photos from the film convention including many shots of my performance for Nosferatu.  There are a lot of great photos of the wonderful make-up job done by the folks at ReelMagik.  You'll also see photos of the Bash Boys where I joined my friends Dan, Bob and Steve for some good old rock and roll.

Back from the Bash - June 29, 2011

Once again I had the honor of participating in the annual Monster Bash film convention in Pennsylvania at the end of June.  I performed a new score for classical guitar with the 1922 film classic Nosferatu and did it in full make up.  I also got to lead a sing along version of the theme song from Gilligan's Island for Dawn Wells who played Mary Ann in the series.  Along with the film stars who come to tell stories and sign autographs, the Monster Bash has some of the most talented, and without a doubt the nicest people on the planet.  You can find more information on the event at http://www.creepyclassics.com

You can see some photos of the event including some wonderful pictures of me performing during Nosferatu in make up here:

 

 

 

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