Friday, October 29, 2010

Spotlight, Ledbetter's.. Steve Martin

So... another spotlight from Ledbetter's. "THE NIGHT WE TURNED STEVE MARTIN'S HAIR GRAY"..

Many people started or enhanced their careers at Ledbetter's. Among the most talented and driven was Steve Martin. He, along with John Denver and others wanted success more than most. Along with talent, they had that drive and the 'it' or spark needed to make it.

But that didn't mean it came easily... (and I'm smiling at this moment, although it was a terrible trick to play)

One night Fats Johnson, a good comic in his own right, came on stage before Steve and told us all that we were going to play a little trick on him.

I must mention here that Ledbetter's was a different club in one aspect. This was a place where entertainers came to try stuff and learn stuff and show what they could do, If you were in the audience and were rowdy or stupid you were asked to leave. If you talked through the entertainment you were asked to leave. It let the entertainers know that at least people were listening... or at least quiet!!

Fats told us that no matter what Steve did, we were NOT TO LAUGH or show any signs of the normal delight that accompanied his stellar performances.

We were very very very good... (except that someone had to sit on me in the back. Not only did I find him very funny, the entire joke in itself made me laugh).

So out he comes, ratafranz ratafranz (mimicking the patter of his opening).


Now I have to tell you, he may have been funnier back then than now, even. He was funny (and very musical)

ratafranz ratafranz.. again..


We could have been made from stone.

Now this is a comic's worst nightmare. And he started to sweat jussst a little bit..

Finally, after what seemed like forever (to him, I'm sure), Fats came out and let him in on the joke..

We were a more appreciative audience than usual that night... we 'owned' a little part of him.

Steve Martin... before that night (grin)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

More Ledbetter's Spotlights...

Writing the previous missive made me realize there is more to tell about the early 60's, so settle down around your Auntie M and prepare to be (hopefully) entertained.

To begin, I need to explain something. When people talk about THE SIXTIES, they usually mean the latter portion of the decade. The "moon is in Aquarius, tie dyed, marijuana, Woodstock, hippies, free loving" sixties were just beginning to be a glimmer in the eye of the birth parents of a chaotically delightful time.

I'm talking about the early 60's, which were the end times of the "Mad Men" 50's. All that was going to happen in the next 10 years was being born in the music and personalities of the not as crazy early times.

Ledbetter's introduced me to the wonderful world of Folk Music. I first heard about the club's promise when a small group formed with me, a neighbor and friend. We were hoping, of course, to be the next Peter Paul and Mary...

not so lucky (or talented, it seems).

I only remember the man who interviewed us as Jack, his last name has been lost along the years. He mentioned the club in passing and, sure enough, later that year it opened. I spent all my extra time there. Randy Sparks was shocked when I graduated from college, as I'm sure he saw me as some little groupie.

The club provided not only a succession of really great music, but also a collection of little folk singers who entertained me on a more.... um... er... PERSONAL level.


nothing better than a folk singer. They wouldn't say for long, and sometimes they sang to me...

and made me sing in reply...

One of the other spotlight moments involves a story. One of Randy's groups played at the Miss America pageant in Florida one year. The soon to be Miss America fell for one of the group, and as one of her stops after she won, she came to Southern California. I was in Randy's office, painting one of the huge baffling chambers in the recording studio with flowers... yeah.. I know, but flowers were beginning to be cool... Remember those huge simple flowers? Anyway, I was perched in one of the baffles at the top of the studio, painting it so it reflected sound better when Randy came in and told me to go and pick up Miss America at the New Century Plaza Hotel.

Off i went in my '62 Buick Le Sabre, to pick up Miss America. I arrived with all my usual panache, and was told I couldn't park my wreck in front of the hotel. "I'm here to pick up MISS AMERICA" I announced.

and I did..

She attended the show that evening and everything would have been jussst wonderful..


someone told the wife..

None of Randy's groups ever played at another pageant. I mean, here you have your new, expensive Miss America and she's got a broken heart!

not good...

I found an old picture of one of the groups. These groups changed members often, and the pictures on the singles resembled the singing group not one bit.

This picture is interesting though.

In it you might recognize Mike Nesmith (later of the Monkees and the father of the music video). Bill Chadwick (I lived behind his mother's house-my first apartment ever and you won't know him, but he was on the list that tried out for the Monkees). The blond boy and the one on the far left with the guitar in hand billed themselves as Boomer and Travis. The dark haired gentleman (with the guitar.. (Travis, I think) grew up to be Michael Martin Murphy, the country western singer..

ya never know...

There are so many stories it would take another blog to tell them all..

Suffice it to say, it was a wonderful time in my life...

but just one of many...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Spotlights-Ledbetter's-Randy Sparks

Ok... so to get to the good stuff first, John Denver played bass for me. Yep... little ole' me...

Let me go back a bit. In the 60's, as most of you know, I was a Folk Music person. That one phrase doesn't begin to sum up all that happened during those years, but it will have to do in this mostly G rated blog. Some of you know more, but the rest of you ain't gonna hear it here...

There was this club on Westwood Boulevard in West Los Angeles called Ledbetter's. It was started by Randy Sparks, a name unknown to many of you, but a huge persona at the time. He was the founder of the New Christy Minstrels. They were a group of 'modern' folk singers who sang many of his songs. Ledbetter's was started to keep a smaller group or groups 'trained' in the music to be able to fill in for any member who left the group. Some of the groups became quite well known on their own. He had an old truck on the roof (purpose unknown other than to mark the spot), and I have the jacket (see above).

So... It was a place to go and hear some really good music and, on some nights, to be able to sing. Remember "hootenanny's"?

I was one of those people on occasion. I had a fair voice, and occasionally piqued Randy's interest, although he really thought I might make a better comedian (I can't imagine why) at one time wishing to team me up with George McKelvey (again, unknown to most of you).

So.. one night as I was singing, John got up and played bass, and I think someone else also got up to either sing with me or play back up. John Denver was a casual acquaintance and one of the nicest people I have ever met. He was still married to Annie and was just a doll. One spotlight.

There were many spotlights during the years I spent hanging out at that magical place. I met some really great musicians and watched some go on to great fame. I learned that I didn't have the drive to do it myself, which was a terrific lesson.

I even made a fake Tiffany "EXIT" sign for Randy when he sold the place, having forgotten that it was in place during the sale. As you know, I'm quite clever...

The Back Porch Majority was one of the groups that sprang from the club.. the picture was taken on the roof where the old truck was lodged for a long time.

I could give you a list of some of the names, but that might be 'telling'..

let's just say

John Denver played Bass for me one night...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Petoskey Thank You...

I came home to two very sweet and artistic thank you notes from Petoskey...

These smart children are Treasure's grandchildren. I brought a hat for Brett and a t shirt for Maddie.

Maddie's thank you is an incredibly accurate portrayal of my little van... complete with my knitting bag, in which lies a hat that I am knitting for her (I'm almost done!!)

and Brett's is a colorful rendition of... well... my guess is as good as yours.

I'm extremely honored and pleased!

and Maddie? I'm almost done!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Buellton (that's Italian for HOT) California

Nothing to say...

I'm in California and it's hot again..

I'm so glad there's no GLOBAL warming going on... just here...

and Tennessee

and Nebraska




Saturday, October 09, 2010

The GIANT Redwoods...

Well, you can't tell it from this picture but they're BIG...

and pretty..

I'm in Petaluma, California. Not much to be said...

Drove through the big trees today and stopped at the Bigfoot shop but didn't by a bigfoot... They were on sale and everything, but they're like Newfoundlands....

hard to keep brushed well...

Friday, October 08, 2010

Back in Calif... Cali... Califo... I Can't Say It... sigh...

I'm in Fortuna, California, a few days from home. HOME? My home is on the road!! oops.. did I say that out loud?

I stopped in Ferndale California today. I think I've talked about it before, but I'm going to do so again... nothing else to say, and you KNOW I can't say NOTHING.

Ferndale was built in the 1880's, near to Deadwood's time, only they have done what I wish Deadwood had... They have preserved the Victorian feeling of the town to this day, in spite of several serious earthquakes in San Fran... There is a video somewhere of the buildings just shaking apart in places, but they rebuilt again.

This is what I wish Deadwood had done to keep the 'feeling' of the place... not the colors, but the originality in appearance.

The cemetary, which is quite different, has been used for several movies, most notably The Stephen King's Salem's Lot. I stopped in the newspaper office many years ago, having been unable to get a reason for the 'look' at the local cafe. The editor and I went to the library and found only that
1. The land on the hill was the least usable and was picked for the site.
2. The graves had to be LEVEL, and not buried at an angle.


The graveyard, which most resembles something in Louisiana...

There's a Catholic graveyard around back, which looks about the same only smaller... and...

of course...

holds only those going to heaven... (!)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Florence.. Another No Post Day

I'm in Florence, so's you don't worry.

Y'all know all about Florence....

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Cascade Locks, Oregon

I'm on the Columbia River. This one must have made L and C have to change their pants... Straight to the ocean and no rowing...

Last night a couple pulled in to the campground with a car full of dirty laundry, a wet tent, two dogs and needing a shower. We talked and I petted the dogs (one a little Chihuahua they had found in June). I took a picture after they were showered and dry and all ready to go..


I drove out to Russell's to say goodbye, and SAVED an entire HERD of quail! They kept coming by by the thousands... Ok.. well.. a bunch of they anyway. I took a picture of the place they were headed for. You can see the little bunch of birdies!

and about a block down the road, another reason to keep it slow in cow country...

They ain't all behind fences...

Along the river you get a good shot of Mount Hood. It's not as good as I would like, but it disappears too soon to get closer.

Mt. Hood.. you get a good feeling for .how tall it is..
So... tomorrow it's my favorite coast..

OH... my friend, Marsha in Florida, got a new Border Collie about a year or so ago. They should have 2, but couldn't afford it. Last week her husband brought home a little bundle and gave it to her. A miniature Australian Shepherd (I may be mixing up the breeds, but you know me, I'm a cat person). It seems an 82 year old woman got the dog and was too old to keep up with it (those of you who know the breeds can imagine why).. so here are the two, happy as clams... Indie and (the new one) Patty (cuz she was born on St. Patrick's day)

Monday, October 04, 2010

Joseph Again...

I went out to Russell's yesterday (the Moonshine glass man). He wasn't home but Lori, his wife, and I had a really nice couple of hours talking about everything. Every time I go out there he's making glass, so we've not had a lot of time to talk. It was really nice to have that time.

It rained last night and was wonderful. It's probably going to continue today, so it's over cast and nice and COOL.

The lake in the morning... campground in the sort of middle.
Today I'm going over to see Russell today and then just fart around.. (oops.. did I say that out loud?). It's such a lovely day.. sigh..

My favorite house in Joseph...

and, from an old picture,... Joseph in all her glory (the colors aren't fully changed yet)

Sunday, October 03, 2010


Couldn’t post last night other than a short one. A very very long drive. Not so much milage as having to DRIVE. They call the road between Lewiston and Joseph the Rattlesnake road. Not because it’s got lots of rattlesnakes, but because of the way it winds and winds. Kind of like the Big Sur road only nastier. I met a trio of bikers at the top of Lolo pass in Idaho, and they were looking at the map. One asked if any of them had been on that road and, of course, I spoke up.. I told them it was a paved road but it was a bitch... We discussed it for a while..

and that’s what I like about traveling.

At breakfast in my last Cracker Barrel restaurant, I met two girls who were from California traveling back to Iowa. I THINK their names were Julie and Amy, but you know it’s all about me, so I might be wrong.. sigh... I saw them leave the campground in their teeny tiny VW bug with all their tenting stuff on the top. We talked and they loved my van and had to take my picture..

so I reciprocated..

Amy and Julie... I think...

They were cute as bugs and sooo young!

The road through the Bitterroot mountains in Idaho is a great short cut to Joseph, except for the rattlesnake thingy that leads off of it to Joseph. It is a well maintained 2 lane road that goes through the trees and along the rivers that Lewis and Clark (THEM again) took to get to the ocean. At it’s height, it’s prettier than the giant redwoods, as none of the trees have been logged to within 10 ft of the road, so it’s very pristine. They want to take some huge trucks through it at night, each one taking up the entire highway. I have the story and it makes me angry. Just angry...

The road.

One of the rivers along the road.. L and C must have been very happy, as these are wide, smooth rivers with little portage necessary.


I love these trees. I’ve been seeing them all along the road. They are golden yellow except for the tippy tops of them which are still green... so pretty!

OK.. more later...

Saturday, October 02, 2010

No Post Today...

Isn't that an old Beatle song? hmm.

I'm in Joseph but no wifi at the campground... no phone at the campground...

so I dashed into town to let you all know I'm still alive..

I'll post more tomorrow...

Friday, October 01, 2010

If Ever You're Stuck in Missoula, Montana..

Randy Sparks wrote another song called "If ever you're stuck in Toledo, Ohio, it's like being nowhere at all". I just borrowed the idea...

Missoula is really quite pretty. You round the corner after following several rivers and it's this beautiful valley with trees and water. (Lewis and Clark followed this route.. but it took them a VERY long time).

From the interstate...as usual

The campground is as beautiful as I remembered, but the trees that were bushy and small are now bushy and tall. I took a shower (phew!) and am sitting under the trees reading "Under the Dome" by Stephen King, one of my favorite road writers.

The campground

and that's it. I should be in Joseph, Oregon tomorrow... "the lord willing and the creeks don't rise" and gain an hour along the way.

I just spent an hour talking with a retired trucker who's living across the way... until about the 15th when he and his wife go to Yuma, Arizona (yuck!). A man with tales to tell, he's driven 3,000,000 miles across this country. We shared tales and experiences.

and THAT'S why I love to camp.. he also took my new lamp that didn't work well (too wobbly) and was glad to have it... of course I left it on the table looking very very sad (shade all down and sniffly looking) with a sign that said, "free to a good home".

ain't life fun?