Columbus – March 2019 – St Patrick’s Day Parade

Do you know where I can find a parade?




Just follow St Patrick, and his snake shaped staff.





The annual St Patrick’s Day Parade was in downtown Columbus.




It included (I think) the flags of all the counties in Ireland.





The Irishman of the Year – I think the dog should be the winner.





The ‘official leprechaun’??? Love to see that on a CV/Resume.





They dyed the horses legs and tail green!





While most of the marchers were from the Shamrock Club of Columbus, they had a few others including these youth Irish dancers (from Columbus – not Ireland).





There were a few cool costumes.





A couple of antique fire trucks.









The Columbus Police & Fire Department Pipes and Drums were the best musicians in the group.





And with that the parade was over. Sorry Irish – the Slovenians in Cleveland had a much livelier parade (and I have neither heritage so it is an unbiased opinion)







Cleveland – March 2019 – Chasing Away Those Winter Blues, Slovenian Style

Cleveland has always had a large population of people from throughout eastern Europe, including Slovakia. As a result there are a number of festivals coming from those regions.

For this cold Saturday we went to check out Kurentovanje’ – which is a Slovenian festival to chase away winter. Held at the Slovenian National Home on the east side of Cleveland, the hall was full of activities.





The band was playing polkas. They were very talented, and the audience appreciated it.








Numerous ladies had recently made headdresses









The highlight of the day is the parade. I have found for the best photos it is imperative to go to the staging area as they gather.

I am not really sure about someone sitting on his ‘throne’ with a shield, skull staff and motorcycle helmet, but it was just the beginning of the strangeness (and fun).





This pleasant young lady was soon to become the devil.





There were a number of groups dressed in historic ethnic attire.





The Krampus crowd came back from Christmas.









Another band was warming up, or just trying to stay warm.







The Polish apples?







Finally the parade started…. Slovenian flags were everywhere.





The parade featured all the ethnic groups, as well as the local high school drum and dance team.

















The Kurent wranglers were keeping them all in line.












The Kurentovanje Festival and Parade was yet another great celebration. Hopefully they do indeed scare winter away soon.








Chicago – February 2019 – History Museum

Amazingly the Chicago History Museum was founded in 1856, just a few years after the settling of the town. Although twice destroyed by fire (once during the Great Chicago Fire), they still have a vast collection of artifacts celebrating the history of the city.

During our visit to Chess Records I had heard that the History Museum had a nice exhibit on the Chicago Blues, which was our encouragement to go to the History Museum.





In the display is this map showing the amazing collection of recording studios and clubs that featured the blues that have existed in Chicago over the years.





Raeburn Flerlage was a famed photographer of the blues scene from 1959-1971, although his career in music lasted much longer.

His photographs were used for many album covers.





Included in the collection is a copy of what is generally acknowledge as the first blues record of all time, St Louis Blues by W C Handy, from 1925.





The south side of Chicago was the hub of the blues, with Maxwell Street being the epicenter.





All of the blues greats were celebrated here, including Muddy Waters.





In the 1950s record companies were only allowed to have so many records in radio station airplay rotation at one time, so they would just start another record company.

This record of Koko Taylor’s Wang Dang Doodle is on Checker Records, the sister company of Chess Records.





Moving on from the blues display we checked out Chicago – Crossroad of America. This documented Chicago as the transportation hub of the country since the early days of the railroad.





Also on display was one of the original El cars from 1892.





A number of focus displays included one of the infamous gangland activities during prohibition in the 1920s.





Keeping with the infamous Playboy Magazine started in Chicago, as did the original club with the hostess (bunny) outfit on display.





As noted in other postings, Chicago was always mail order center of the country.





Another section celebrated entertainment events in Chicago including the 1893 World’s Fair.





As well as the 1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair.






Finally there was a small section celebrating the professional sports teams of Chicago – baseball’s Cubs and White Sox, football’s Bears, basketball’s Bulls and hockey’s Blackhawks.








Chicago – February 2019 – Chess Records

For any fan of music, specifically blues and early rock and roll, Chess Records is one of the most important studios ever. From this small building at 2120 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago came a stunning amount of music that has never been matched.



Leonard and Phil Chess were two Polish immigrants who arrived in Chicago as small boys in 1928. By the time they were young adults they already were running jazz clubs in the south side.

In the late 1940s Leonard and Phil became associated with Aristocrat Records, eventually taking ownership and changing the name to Chess Records.

From this small office they signed many of the all time greats of the blues including Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon, Etta James, John Lee Hooker, and most importantly – Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry.






Today the building is owned by the family of Willie Dixon, who save it from the wrecking ball and restored it into a small museum, with plans to make it into a recording studio again.

Just beyond Leonard’s office on the 1st floor is what was the shipping and receiving area, now serving as a room with a number of artifacts including this wall of masks of the greats.





As noted Bo Diddley was one of the more important signings for the label. There are numerous stories on how he received his stage name, but one prevalent one is it was adopted from the ‘Diddley Bow’, a single stringed instrument traditionally use in the rural south. One is shown in the photo below, along with a collection in tribute to Bo.





Willie Dixon was an early arrival to Chess, and a very important part of it’s life, and the survival of it’s story. As with many black blues players, Willie was born in the south and made his way to Chicago in his early 20s.

In addition to being a musician, Willie was a prolific songwriter including Hoochie Coochie Man, I Just Want to Make Love to You, Little Red Rooster and Spoonful.

Even if you aren’t a blues fan, but a rock fan, you have heard these songs covered by hundreds of other bands, sometimes without them giving him credit. Willie was tireless in advocating for blues writers like himself getting their due from others who used their songs without permission.

One of his most famous was from Led Zeppelin’s Who Lotta Love which used music from Bring It On Home and lyrics from You Need Love. The courts almost always found in Willie’s favor, as they did on this one.





The best selling artist for Chess was Chuck Berry. While it was a bit out of their normal strength, and at first thought of by the Chess Brothers as ‘too country’, Chuck and Chess made a great team.

Nearly every famous song from Chuck including Johnny B Goode, Memphis, Tennessee, Roll Over Beethoven and all the others were recorded here.





We came through the front door as all the ‘normal’ guests would have, however the musicians always entered from the alley in back and headed up these stairs.

They may look like just an old stairway, but up these stairs headed the best rock and blues musicians of all time.





Upstairs in an amazingly small area are two studios. The smaller one has a collection of electronics.





Also in this space is the tribute to Muddy Waters. As we toured the facility our guide had a small bluetooth speaker he would play selections from off of his phone. It really added to the tour, and sitting in this space listening to Muddy sing and play in front of his collection was very cool.





Another important group who did a recording at Chess Records was the Rolling Stones.

In 1964 the Rolling Stones were just starting out. They had taken their name from a Muddy Waters song, as they were obsessed with American Blues. Normally the Chess Brothers would not let anyone not signed by the label record there, but the Stones were on their first American tour and managed to get the chance to record.

The material they recorded here was mostly released on an album called 12 x 5, including the only instrumental ever recorded by them – a tribute to Chess Records called ‘2120 South Michigan Avenue’, the address of Chess Records.

They have remained supporters of the history of Chess Records. On display at the museum is some original art from Ronnie Wood.





Our final stop was the main studio. From this small space all that amazing music was made!

It was an honor to sit in this simple room, in this nondescript building on the near south side of Chicago and listen to Etta James play ‘At Last’, realizing it was all recorded right here!

There are a few places in this world that I have been that go far beyond what the building is, or what is in the building, rather what happened there. To me 2120 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago is one of those place.





Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 14 Molokai

Another great sunrise…

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Time to tie the ship to the dock…

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The high school rowing crew is out for their morning practice…

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We are in Molokai!

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We have a full day of traditional Hawaiian events planned. Our driver Hans has arrived to pick us up.

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Molokai is a beautiful island, very sparsely population.

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We took the main road (!) to the far east end of the island.

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Stopping at the overlook…

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We were at the Halawa Valley for a day of traditional Hawaiian culture.

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The valley features a beautiful cove and beach.

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The Solatorio family has lived in this valley for many generations. This valley is Hawaii’s oldest continuously inhabited community.

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Pilipo Solatorio was chosen at age 5 to be the cultural practitioner for his family. He has carried on his cultures traditions and practices, educating natives and visitors with his stories and songs.

One of the stories he told was surviving the 1946 tsunami.

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His son Greg is carrying on this tradition. Below he demonstrates how to make Poi out of Taro.

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The remains of the church in the woods is one of the few structures that survived the tsunami.

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Hey I left my car in the woods and now there are trees growing through it. In reality Hawaii has a real problem with people abandoning cars; these were less than 200 yard from the beautiful beach.

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After our day with the Hawaiian family we headed back to the docked ship to get ready for our evening event. But first, another sunset with the evening rower.

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Hans returned (with his van’s disco lights in full function) to take us to our evening event.

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We went to the Molokai History Center for a pa’ina (feast). The hostess explained the traditions of food and music for the pa’ina, then we enjoyed an amazing meal.

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Traditional Hawaiian dancers entertained us along with the beautiful guitar music. An amazing evening to end a fantastic week.

Once again, a thanks to Captain Gavin and the Uncruise crew. (and we must bring good karma to their cruises, as we didn’t have any rain in Hawaii either!).

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 6 Hilo

Day 6 started with some rain as we made our way down the mountain towards Hilo. As we drove along in the rain to our first destination I found the Apple Maps (the rental car has Apple Car Play) can let you down.

It had me turn on this ‘street’, which after about a mile I decided to give up, and back up until I could turn around. It is literally at the edge of town, so we weren’t way out in the middle of nowhere.

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Eventually we reached the town of Kalapana, about 20 miles south of Hilo, and Kaimu ‘Beach’. At one time it was a black sand beach, but in 1990 a lava flow overtook the beach and filled the entire bay.

As noted yesterday many believe that Hawaii is an independent Kingdom, not part of the U.S., especially for any new land that wasn’t part of the U.S. acquisition.

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This lava flow had some large cracks in it when it cooled.

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We are standing ‘in the bay’ looking back towards town.

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Further down the road is where the Spring 2018 lava flow wiped out 700 houses. While I feel bad for the people and their loss, who builds their house in the path of a volcano that has been flowing nearly continuously for 100 years or more.

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Yet here they are again, already popping up these little houses on the freshly cooled lava.

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Returning the other direction along the coast, we passed through some great forests.

 

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Eventually we reached MacKenzie State Park. Note the fisherman climbing the precariously placed ladder on the left and his fishing pole on the right. I am not sure what he is catching, but I hope it is worth it.

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On another recent lava flow people have placed Cairns made out of coconuts and leaves instead of the traditional rock piles.

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But it did lead to another great coastal view.

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Returning to Hilo, we went to Wailuku River Park, and found this impressive Banyan tree.

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The highlight of the park is Rainbow Falls. If you are there in the morning you will most likely see a rainbow, but it was afternoon so alas, we only saw the waterfall.

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About 20 miles north of Hilo is Akaka Falls. The hike down was through another ‘jungle’, although this one was nicely paved.

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At 442′ high it is one of the tallest waterfalls in America.

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There are even small waterfalls coming out of the rocks to the side of the main falls.

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The falls in located near the town of Honomu.

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Interestingly many small Hawaiian towns are built in the ‘old west’ style, albeit much more colorful.

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Once again we had a great view from our hotel, facing west across Hilo Bay towards the mountains (obscured by clouds in this photo).

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Next door was Lili’uokalani Park and Gardens. The site was donated by Queen Lili’uokalani, with the park being built in 1917 in the Edo style Japanese Gardens.

It is thought to be one of the best in the world outside of Japan.

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Well maintained with beautiful trees and landscaping.

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Along with some sculptures.

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I am not sure what these are known as so I called them Bonsai Palms.

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The park was very relaxing, and a great way to end the day.

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Many of the native trees have really cool, funky looks to them.

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Chillin’ on Coconut Island.

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Our hotel grounds were directly on the bay.

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As the sun was setting the last of the days flights were arriving. The airport was nearby, and the flight path brought the planes down the coast with a hard left turn just before the field. The clouds and setting sun added to the look.

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Another great Hawaiian sunset. Note that Manua Loa has come out of the clouds in the background.

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With that it was time for dinner, with entertainment.

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Lancaster, Ohio – September 2018 – Frontier Spirit Festival

The city of Lancaster is one of the older towns in Ohio. The initial settlers came here in the late 1700’s, with the town itself being officially founded on November 10,1800.

Each year the Frontier Spirit Festival takes place. This festival has numerous actors who represent people who were instrumental in the settlement of the area in 1799.

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Pre dating Ohio becoming a state, the area was wilderness for the first settlers. The festival does an excellent job describing, and demonstrating what it took for these settlers.

The festival takes place in a large park at the south end of Lancaster. After an introduction, you are lead on a mile long hike with stops along the way for more detailed interpretations from the actors.

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The first large group of settlers came from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, thus the name. So many of those who came were of German descent that one of the first newspapers was a German language newspaper, Der Ohio Adler.

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All of the actors are volunteers. Their period clothing and other items, such as their guns add to the presentation.

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They spoke of the challenges in settling in the wilderness. There are more than 150 players in the group.

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Lancaster was founded by Ebenezer Zane, who was a famous merchant, trail blazer, pioneer and soldier. Zane was instrumental in treaties with the Native American’s (much debate about how equitable those treaties were, but that is another story).

Zane was given a contract by the United States government to open a road from Wheeling, West Virginia (then Virginia) to Maysville, Kentucky. In payment for this road he was given 3 square mile tracts of land at the crossing of the 3 major rivers – the Muskingum, the Hockhocking and the Scioto Rivers.

To make money he needed settlers to come buy some of this land, so he offer bounties to people to lead groups of settlers through the wilderness to each of the towns that developed. These leaders often were wanted by the law back east, so they were more than happy to move to the wilderness and earn some money.

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Anyone settling in the wilderness then had to fend for themselves, being hunters, building their cabins, becoming farmers, and generally having no dependency on anyone else.

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The promise of a better life in Ohio in 1799 was often not what they were lead to believe. This actress portrayed a frontier wife who wanted nothing more than to go back to Philadelphia and civilization.

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The husband and daughter wanted to make a life here. As with today, many marriages were strained by the stress of the move.

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This actress portrayed a young woman who was moving to the frontier to be married. She carried with her a dowry, a bag of salt.

The theme of this years presentation was about salt, and how important it was to the pioneers. They needed salt to cure their meat so it would last for long periods of time, as well as many other uses.

Salt was so rare, and in so much demand that in the Ohio frontier of 1799 it was worth more per ounce than gold.

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Along the way we met Johnny Appleseed, whose real name was John Chapman. All American school children know the story of Johnny Appleseed, who went from place to place scattering apple seeds for trees to grow,

Only that wasn’t quite how it was. John Chapman did indeed travel around to encourage the planting of fruit trees, but they were much more structured in orchards. He would plant the orchards then work with a local farmer to tend to the orchard, and share in the profits.

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There were numerous Native tribes in the area when it was being settled. Obviously not happy about losing their land with nothing in return, the local tribes tended to push back against the settlers.

Some tribes, such as the Wyandotte, had made deals with the US Government prior to 1799, thus allowing the development to continue faster.

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Our leaders into the wilderness.

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Once our tour down the trail was over, we visited the camp that was set up where they had a number of demonstrations.

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A band was playing.

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One tent had candle making – a very important item in pioneer life.

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Another musician with a zither.

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The Frontier Festival in Lancaster was far better than expected, with the actors and musicians all passionate about their presentation. It made for an entertaining and educational afternoon.

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