I’ll confess, despite the strong influence of Jazz on my lifestyle and writing, I am a secret Country aka Country Western
aficionado. Aside from a Ray Charles album featuring this genre, I don’t have a secret stash of LP’s or CD’s
and have not purchased any. However, I do enjoy the art form ---- including as a teenager looking thru the window of the long
shuttered Green Door Lounge on transitioning West 63rd Street in Chicago at the flamboyant Pee Wee King groups.
Pee Wee also had a TV show back in the day when the industry though burgeoning was bereft of talent. There was shuffling
Neal Burris, a singer in the band who shuffled across the stage wiggling his hips before Elvis Presley and “Tiny”
Stokes a large man with a soft voice. Memories of his rendition of “Peace in the Valley” still conjure pleasant
reflections. Then there was Grand Ole Opry, a radio and television staple.
Rhetorically, how can this be? As a youth, I
lived two doors from a home of two Jazz legends, boogie woogie pianist Albert Ammons and his boss tenor saxophonist son, Gene;
there were jam sessions with many Jazz giants on that property. Bassist Gene Wright from the Dave Brubeck Quartet lived one
block away. Jazz and Blues constantly flowed from the home radio. Yet the self-deprecating humor and poignant lyrics from
Country TV and radio programs were being engraved upon my developing tabula rasa. As an adult I would have an occasional drink
with an aging power broker at a Country Western lounge on Randolph Street near State Street, he would admonish, “When
you rush through life on the fast track, you miss a lot.” The house band, the Sundowners often guest featured one of
the innovators of “happy talk news”, scholarly anchorman Joel Daly. My mentor once pointed out how the dynamic
award winning newsman was slowing down to enjoy life; reiterating “as you go through life under control, you miss nothing
and really see everything.”
I am reminded of this whenever, I hear the public radio program, “A Prairie Home Companion”. The
host, creator, humorist and driving force Garrison Keillor epitomizes the measured pace of bygone times, when humor featured
a three letter word, “FUN”.
THANKS for the visit .... CLICK logo on the left for a parting