November 5, 2009 | Comments Off
Dr. Kent: Hello everyone. This is Sound Authors, and I’m Dr. Kent. I’m excited on this show today to feature someone who I found out about through Concerts in Your Home, which is an amazing project and website online. You could organize House Concerts there from all sorts of amazing musicians. At Sound Authors we’ve decided to team up with them in a little small way, and feature a lot of their artists because they’re extraordinary. I have two guests on the show today, one guest who as I said I’m featuring from Concerts in Your Home, and his name is Clarke Buehling. We’re going to talk to him in just a minute. At the end of the show, we’re going to have a brief interview with an author because today we’re going to feature on the “sound” part of Sound Authors. At the end of the show, we’ll talk to an author whose name is Stan Goldberg, the author of ‘Lessons for the Living,’ an incredible book with stories of forgiveness, and gratitude and courage at the end of life. We’re going to talk to him at the very end of the show, but before that, I’m excited to welcome Clarke Buehling, and he’s of course the master of The SkirtLifters and a real expert on the gourd banjo and many other cool things. So welcome to the show Clarke Buehling.
Clarke Buehling: Yes, hello!
Dr. Kent: Well it’s great to chat with you. I love your music, love the concept. Tell me a little about how you got into playing the banjo.
Clarke Buehling: I started the banjo back in the 1960s. That was a time when the folk boom was happening. I was attempting to teach myself guitar and several instruments. I was in high school. A fellow came to our school and played the banjo, and the fiddle and the piano, and that was Hobart Smith, and I’d been thinking about the banjo. But when I saw him play and heard him play close-up, that clinched it for me, and I went out about a week later and bought myself a banjo in downtown Chicago at the folk school.
Dr. Kent: So Hobart Smith came to your school?
Clarke Buehling: Yes.
Dr. Kent: That’s extraordinary!
Clarke Buehling: Do you know Hobart Smith?
Dr. Kent: Oh, absolutely! What an experience as a child. How old were you?
Clarke Buehling: I was in high school.
Dr. Kent: That’s incredible. Did you often get musicians? Was it because of the University of Chicago Folk Festival?
Clarke Buehling: I think so. The director of music at our high school, which was the Lake Forest Academy, had various folk musicians come up. Glen Orlin came up and sang there. George and Gerry Armstrong were good friends of his, and they came up to play for us. So I got a dose of good folk music and direction.
Dr. Kent: What do you recall about Hobart Smith? What did he play? He’s very gifted in many instruments. What did he play that day? Banjo?
Clarke Buehling: Yes, one of the things he did was to demonstrate a tune which was ‘Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss,’ which he demonstrated by playing on the banjo, then playing it on the fiddle, then playing it on the piano, so you could hear the tune done in different instruments.
Dr. Kent: That’s the extraordinary thing about Hobart Smith. He really did think about the tune in a different way. Such a gifted musician. So you heard that and what was your upbringing before that? Had you heard old-time music before?
Clarke Buehling: I’m not sure I did. My upbringing included music lessons, so I had piano lessons. I think I studied piano for five years. At one time, I was taking drums, clarinet and piano all at the same time in elementary school, so I had plenty of music. I didn’t do that for very long, but I did have a sampling that way. It was some years before I actually found a teacher. I missed an opportunity to take music lessons from Fleming Brown, but later on, I was able to find an older man who taught the banjo in Hartford, Connecticut. His name was Frank C. Bradbury. He was a concert five-string banjo player, finger-style, a classic player.
Dr. Kent: That’s one fascinating thing about the banjo: it really was a parlor instrument 120 years ago, right?
Clarke Buehling: Yes, I think there’s some misunderstanding about what makes up parlor music, and the difference between parlor music and concert music or dance music: parlor music was fairly simple, and quiet and played in the parlor. Some of the same music, but in a more robust fashion, would have been played on the stages, Vaudeville and the traveling education program: Chautauqua. That’s where my teacher performed early in his years, back at the time just following the first World War. I also traveled around a bit. I hitchhiked and drove into the south, into Kentucky and Virginia, and did get to meet some of the old-timers that were listed in the Pete Seeger book, which was a good source. That was one of my early books: the Pete Seeger book. Another was a book in notation, transposing notation for banjos, republished from the 19th century. It included minstrel tunes, jigs and reels, some smatterings of classical themes. This book came out in the folk boom. I guess it was Langley and Fischer that put this book out to jump on the folk boom. There wasn’t much in the book that we would call Appalachian. Maybe ‘Granny, When the Dog Bites’ is the closest you’d get to that. But there was minstrel music, and jigs and reels and hornpipes, and I was working on that from the beginning – and finger-style. I also learned the claw hammer.
Dr. Kent: I’d like to start out and play a jig from your album, ‘Out of His Gourd.’ There’s a bunch here. How about ‘Circus Jig.’ Tell us about that one.
Clarke Buehling: ‘Circus Jig’ is from the Briggs book. Tom Briggs was a minstrel. He wore black face, played the banjo, traveled. He was around in the 1850s. He was playing a claw hammer style five-string banjo, fretless. It was tuned low. It was tuned about a fourth lower than a standard banjo today. This is from a book that came out. I found a copy of the book in the public library in Boston, and was able to pull some of these tunes out. Since then, the book has been republished.
Dr. Kent: Neat. Let’s listen to ‘Circus Jig,’ and then we’ll talk to Clarke Buehling about the incredible banjo he’s playing after we listen to it. ‘Circus Jig,’ from the album, ‘Out of His Gourd.’ Here we go.
[Music: 'Circus Jig']
Dr. Kent: Well that’s a wonderful little tune called, ‘Circus Jig,’ from ‘Out of His Gourd.’ Tell me about the banjo that you’re playing on that tune.
Clarke Buehling: May I mention that you can hear some clobbering in the background? I’m doing a foot pattern on a board that I learned down in Kentucky from a fiddler named Louis Lan many years ago, to keep rhythm with my feet. I’ll tell you about the gourd banjo. I worked on the pattern for this after reading about the early banjo. One of my favorite books on that was, ‘The Sinful Tunes and Spirituals’ by Dena Epstein. There was an illustration in the Pete Seeger book of some kind of a gourd instrument. Various things – I think I’d seen the gourd banjo in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. So I thought about it for many years, and decided I was finally going to put something together. I made a few of them, and I sold a few. I never did number them, but I made probably a couple dozen. It’s just a gourd about 8 to 10 inches in diameter. On this banjo, I have like a clear piece of premature calf stretched over the hole. The hole is about 8 inches, and I just nail it down to the sides of the gourd. The whole thing is about the size of a smallish banjo.
Dr. Kent: I know a little bit about the history of the banjo, but for folks that are tuning in that might not even think about the banjo all that often – that didn’t sound like the modern banjo too much – what’s the history of the banjo as you know it?
Clarke Buehling: Well [indecipherable] gut strings on it, gut banjo strings made by La Bella.
Dr. Kent: What kind of gut? Is it calf gut, or pig gut?
Clarke Buehling: They’re sheep intestine. Most of the instrument is biodegradable. I guess all but the tacks, and maybe the fourth string, which is wound.
Dr. Kent: Have you ever left one out in the woods just to test?
Clarke Buehling: No, but I could. If I did leave one out, it would be gone in a short time, wouldn’t it? [Laughs] Maybe I can think of other instruments that maybe they should be done that way.
Dr. Kent: Exactly. Was it common to use sheep intestine, or cat gut, or whatever it was on banjos a hundred years ago?
Clarke Buehling: Yes. All the early banjos were made for gut strings, or silk. All the old SS Stewarts, the open-backed banjos, the antique banjos that you find, almost all of those were made for a light string, that’s why so many of them are bent now: you put steel strings on them. The banjo as you know is an African derivative. It’s history goes back somewhere into African history, and there’s a lot of research being done today on this very thing. There’s a group called Black Banjo . . .
Dr. Kent: The Black Banjo Songsters? There’s an album called that.
Clarke Buehling: Well, yes, that’s an album. But there was a Black Banjo gathering a few years back in Boone, North Carolina. I think there’s a website, but I don’t go to it currently, but there’s a website where people converse and exchange information.
Dr. Kent: It’s a really interesting instrument because it’s so racially mixed, at the very beginning, right?
Clarke Buehling: That’s a good point, that the early history of the banjo is also a racial history. The back and forth reflects American problems, and dichotomies, and exchanges and friendship all the way back in exchanging music.
Dr. Kent: The gourd banjo itself, what was the draw for you? You saw it in Pete Seeger’s book.
Clarke Buehling: The draw to me, early on, when I was first learning banjo, I made a little banjo out of a salad bowl with that in mind, that illustration. I didn’t do anything about it for many years, but I had it in the back of my mind. Probably I’d been playing for 20 years before I actually sat down and made one. I was always interested in the history, and the earliest tunes spurred on by hints that I would see here and there bout the African angle, and the origin. To tell the truth, before I bought a banjo or ever had a banjo, I was listening to African drumming. Olatunji was my favorite, and I had some nice field recordings of African drumming, so that was always part of my background.
Dr. Kent: And that was the beginning of the banjo, right? A drum?
Clarke Buehling: I guess, see it’s a resonating chamber, so it’s sort of a drum with a stick on it, isn’t it? The origin of the African banjo probably goes back to India and Egypt. That idea of a sound chamber with a skin over it, it’s present in the Middle East, and in Yugoslavia, and in various places around the world.
Dr. Kent: You were intrigued by this, and you built your first banjo out of a gourd. What exactly is a gourd?
Clarke Buehling: A gourd is a member of the cucurbits family, like a squash, but it has a hard shell, and it’s inedible. The inside is filled with seeds and pith, and when you open one up – have you ever heard the expression, ‘sawing a gourd’? Sawing a gourd is like sawing logs. It makes a huge noise. It sounds like someone snoring. When you saw into a gourd, a large gourd, you find that it’s smelly. If you drink out of a gourd, the water is bitter until it’s been cleaned out quite a bit, leached out. So there you go. It may be an African plant that has floated across the Atlantic and into the New World, into our continent.
Dr. Kent: Where does one find gourds nowadays?
Clarke Buehling: They grow them in California. There was one large place, a woman died who once ran the gourd factory in Stockton. They’ve got them up here in southern Missouri, near me. I’m in Fayetteville, Arkansas. In southern Missouri, they have some people that grow gourds. They have a meeting of the gourd association in Ohio every year. If you go and Google ‘gourd,’ you can probably find quite a bit on it. Crafts people use them. They were used for bowls and utensils for many years, and for boxes for holding things.
Dr. Kent: The name of your album, ‘Out of His Gourd,’ it’s clever because it talks about banjo, but there actually is an expression that we use, isn’t it?
Clarke Buehling: Yes, ‘He’s out of his gourd,’ sure. Who else would put out an album with gourd banjo music?
Dr. Kent: So do people think you are a little bit out of your gourd?
Clarke Buehling: Yes, I think so. Well, they should.
Dr. Kent: Let’s listen to another jig. This is ‘Hard Times Jig.’ Tell us about this one.
Clarke Buehling: I can’t remember which ‘Hard Times Jig’ this is.
Dr. Kent: This is the one on ‘Out of His Gourd.’ How about let’s listen to it first, and then you can tell us about it.
Clarke Buehling: Okay, yes. There are many called that.
Dr. Kent: Here we go.
[Music: 'Hard Times Jig' and 'Old Virginny Jig']
Dr. Kent: That’s an extraordinary tune – I guess a couple of tunes there, right?
Clarke Buehling: Yes, there are two tunes there. I might also mention that I’m playing with a finger pick backward on my index finger, as if it were a fingernail.
Dr. Kent: I was wondering how you did those triplets.
Clarke Buehling: I’ll show you sometime. They’re written into the music. The first tune was ‘Hard Times Jig’ as in Tom Briggs’ book. The triplets on that are done with a hammeron on the second string. It’s a version of the tune; it’s the only version I’ve seen of that tune that seems to be in six-eight, although on the page it’s written in two-four, I believe, which to mean that the accompaniment is going to be in a cross rhythm. So that’s what it seems to me is going on there, which sort of makes sense when you get an overall picture of the other tunes that were published at that time. The second piece I think is out of Phil Rice’s book. It was called, ‘Old Virginny Jig.’ It’s related to two more familiar tunes: one is, ‘Old Molly Hair,’ and the other name is, ‘The Fairy Dance,’ which is Celtic music. So it’s a Celtic tune that seems to have been absorbed into Black culture as ‘Old Molly Hair’ probably, which comes up in Black literature, African-American literature.
Dr. Kent: It’s so intriguing in that you do quite a few gigs, probably half of your gigs, are in Europe, where actually I do know that they have an incredible appreciation for early American music. Part of that is in Ireland. What do folks in Ireland say about a tune like that?
Clarke Buehling: I don’t know that I’ve played that tune in Ireland. The audiences are good there. The European audiences are good. I think they would recognize it as ‘The Fairy Dance,’ and they may – I can only conjecture what their reactions are. I’ve not spoken to the Irish people about that.
Dr. Kent: The Irish tune in the hands of these incredible Black minstrels that were playing, middle of the 1800s, how did that happen?
Clarke Buehling: Well, you understand that most of these people in black face were White, a lot of them were Irish. These books were published in urban areas, where the Irish settled during the potato famine, where there was a great influx of Irish people, and folkways. If you remember Gangs of New York, there is a setting where you would find Irishmen picking up the banjo, among the Blacks in the neighborhood, learning from one another, just as dancing – tap-dancing and step dancing – had an exchange, some of the music styles had an exchange in places like that.
Dr. Kent: This album you put out, ‘Out of His Gourd,’ I’d like to play one more tune from that, and then we’ll go into The SkirtLifters. I’d like to play a tune called, ‘The Arkansas Sheik,’ and there’s a couple questions I’ve got. One is, how did you end up in Arkansas? And another is, tell us about the tune. So how did you end up down there?
Clarke Buehling: How did I end up Arkansas: I came into Arkansas aboard a hippy school bus from the west coast. I jumped on in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. These were people I knew and had run into before. Some I had met at Amsterdam, and some I had met in Berkeley, and they were going through, and they were coming to Arkansas – a band called Corn Bread. They were from Mandeville, Louisiana. So I ended up in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, up in northwest Arkansas in the hills: a nice little town that had been an artist colony, and spa at one time. It was being rebuilt. I’ve come back here several times. I’ve moved out and come back. I’ve been in Denver and Boston, and come back to here. So that’s sort of the Arkansas connection. The song itself, I think it was Riley Puckett recorded it. I just made up the banjo part; there was no other source for that. I just remembered it as I remembered it, and kind of put it together.
Dr. Kent: You said Riley Puckett recorded it?
Clarke Buehling: I believe that’s right.
Dr. Kent: He was with the Skillet Lickers, right? Of course he’s a super favorite of Doc Watson growing up. That makes me think about, were you into the 78s? How did you come across some of this music?
Clarke Buehling: I’ve always been into the 78s, and of course mostly I hear them in reissues, but I have throughout the passage of time collected them, the actual 78s. I’ve referred to the old recordings that started generally in the ’20s, but now I also listen to cylinder recordings, and the earlier banjo recordings which were mostly finger style banjos, the bluegrass.
Dr. Kent: You were touching on it before, but what is classical style banjo? You just touched on that, but was there an actual performance style on stages?
Clarke Buehling: Yes, in the 19th century, that is, the 1800s, there were two banjo styles. When there was one banjo style, it was just banjo, and then there were two banjo styles: there was the stroke style and then there was the guitar style. People started playing like classical guitar. At first they used thumb and three fingers, and then after a while, they just went to thumb and two fingers. And especially as the banjo bridges became narrower and the pitch of the banjo was raised up a little higher, the thumb and two fingers seemed to suffice for most of the players that were playing by the 1870s and ’80s. That’s when finger style started coming in. There were some country styles, rolling styles, but we don’t know much about them. The things that were written down were the pieces that SS Stewart published, and other people published. But every large town, and every state, had somebody teaching guitar, mandolin and banjo, teaching finger style banjo probably, using music and publishing their own. Many places in the middle of nowhere published their own music for all of these instruments.
Dr. Kent: So let’s listen to the ‘Arkansas Sheik,’ – out of the country style?
Clarke Buehling: I’m still playing it stroke style, I believe. I don’t think anything on that album was done in anything other than the old style.
Dr. Kent: Right, and you’re doing it all on gourd banjos, right?
Clarke Buehling: Yes.
Dr. Kent: So let’s listen to the ‘Arkansas Sheik,’ from ‘Out of His Gourd’ by Clarke Buehling. Here we go, let’s listen.
[Music: 'Arkansas Sheik']
Dr. Kent: Great tune, ‘The Arkansas Sheik,’ and of course, there we heard you singing. It’s fantastic, great song.
Clarke Buehling: Thank you very much. The simple term, ‘Sheik’ in the 1920s was a ladies’ man, kind of a Rudy Vallee kind of a person. It’s from an older song; it’s derived from a song that’s pre-Civil War.
Dr. Kent: It’s so much fun. What kind of response do you get from people when you play these old songs?
Clarke Buehling: They like what I play. I get a good response for my programs.
Dr. Kent: I mean, do they say to you, ‘This makes me think of old times?’ Do they say, ‘I had no idea the banjo had such a long history?’ What kinds of things do you get?
Clarke Buehling: Well, both those things. If it’s an older person, sometimes it evokes a past for them, or somebody they heard at one time, or songs they sang when they were young. Yes, when I play the more virtuosic things, people are surprised. Or maybe when I’m playing the gourd banjo, the tone of it is surprising to them, the pleasant tone.
Dr. Kent: With all of the songs we just played, if you played them to someone with no preparation, I think they sound wonderful. But knowing that they’re played on a gourd banjo, it’s pretty extraordinary the tone and the pitches that you’re getting on it, because you are able to be very precise, which is not the easiest thing on a gourd banjo.
Clarke Buehling: Yes, it’s a frontless banjo, is it not? I try to stay in the first position, and I don’t always. I don’t do a lot of up the neck work. It’s just easier not to. Takes a lot of work to keep it up.
Dr. Kent: It’s such an interesting sound, because in a couple of earlier tunes, when you hit a note, because it doesn’t have frets, you have more freedom, and there’s sort of little . . .
Clarke Buehling: Nuances in the notes, isn’t there? It adds color to the notes.
Dr. Kent: Yes. As you play, do you find that the coloring of the notes is fun? Do you enjoy that part of it?
Clarke Buehling: Oh, yes. You notice that I don’t go out of my way to be sliding around. People sometimes ask me, ‘Did they invent the fretless banjo so you could slide?’ I don’t think so. I think the first banjos were fretless [laughs]. But if you were to listen to far south, you would hear some more complicated positions on the banjo.
Dr. Kent: I was about to actually bring up Mike Seeger. He played one of your banjos. Of course, tragically, he passed away this year. Did you have some interactions with Mike Seeger?
Clarke Buehling: Yes, I did. I got to know him. I made three banjos for him. He never wanted me to use a tack head on there. He wanted me to try to thread the heads with rawhide so he could tighten it.
Dr. Kent: What does that mean exactly?
Clarke Buehling: He wanted a system where he could pull the skin tight, but as you can hear on my banjo, it really is not a problem; it’s only a small skin area. So the ones I made were not as well-made in that function as far as stretching the skin. One of the three was a very large gourd. How big would that have been – at least about 15 inches maybe across. He wanted me to use that, and I made him one with that. It was always nice to talk with Mike. He was a very pleasant person, and always had nice things to say: encouragement and interesting things to pull out, anecdotes. He’s going to be missed. We already miss him. I was fortunate to be able to play in a program, about two weeks before he passed away, out at the Birchmere in Virginia. Even then, he was holding up pretty well.
Dr. Kent: It was extraordinary: he played pretty much right up to his death. It was amazing. Tell me a little now about your band: The SkirtLifters. That’s a fun title, and tell me about the group.
Clarke Buehling: The origin of The SkirtLifters was actually in Bloomington, Indiana, and Hawk Hubbard was the fiddler in a dance band there in Bloomington, and he came out to Arkansas. He moved out there to be near some family who had moved there, and found that I was in the area. We had known each other in Berkeley on the west coast. So we got the others started: he wanted to use the same name that he’d used in Indiana, so we formed The SkirtLifters. We had several guitar players, and settled on Bill Mathews. Bill played with us for a long time: Banjo Billy. Eventually, we had a split up in the band, and I played with another fiddler. That would have been Jim Lansford, and Billy was with us for a while there. Eventually, I found another fiddler and another guitar player. I kept the SkirtLifter name. The fiddler now is Tom Verdot, and Thom Howard is the guitar player. They both live in Colombia, Missouri. The band has been based out of Arkansas since about 1987.
Dr. Kent: It’s got a great sound. I want to listen to a track. After that, I’d like to talk about ragtime music. I’ll play a tune that everybody likes and knows, ‘The Entertainer.’ Then we’ll come back and chat about ragtime music. Here we go, from ‘A Ragtime Episode’ by The SkirtLifters.
[Music: 'The Entertainer]
Dr. Kent: That’s a great version of ‘The Entertainer’ by Clarke Buehling and The SkirtLifters from the album, ‘A Ragtime Episode.’ That must be so much fun to play. Obviously, as a banjo player, I wouldn’t even think of touching that tune, but it must be so much fun to play once you’ve got it.
Clarke Buehling: It’s a great tune! It’s one of the first ragtime pieces that I worked on. It was an arrangement that I actually got some help from Frank Bradbury before he passed away. He did some correction on my arrangement that we sent back and forth on a sheet of paper in the mail [laughs].
Dr. Kent: There’s parts to that I’m not familiar with. I guess the C-part in there.
Clarke Buehling: Right, that C-part wasn’t included in The Sting.
Dr. Kent: Well it’s such a beautiful tune. So tell me about this ensemble. You’ve got a string band sound, but it’s not like the Appalachian string bands I’m familiar with.
Clarke Buehling: No, this is more of the urban tradition. A lot of the things we have there are the original publications from the 1890s and the early teens. Also, we have a cello on some of that recording, and there was even a time when The SkirtLifters were five pieces with double mandolins playing. Curly Miller was in it at that time. I’ve been working with Curly Miller with the old 78s recently.
Dr. Kent: The group itself, how do you find your musicians? Are they playing on period instruments?
Clarke Buehling: It’s not easy to find somebody who can read the music and be willing to be in a band to play this. Most of the guitar players I’ve had, which include also John Behling was one, and he’s up in the mid-north, up in South Dakota someplace. They’re all classical players and jazz. Mostly they know jazz and classical guitar. For this, this is like another new area for most people that I’ve had in the band; this has been a new genre for them. There was, at one time, lots of music, in my private collection, a lot of sheet music published for two mandolins, banjo and guitar. This is the format that we’re using. Some of them, I’ve filled in arrangements for parts that were missing, or I’ve done them all from piano scores and written out parts for people to play.
Dr. Kent: What I know about ragtime is that it’s very similar to classical music in form. But tell me, when you first came across ragtime, and obviously this album’s full of it, what is it exactly?
Clarke Buehling: What is ragtime? Ragtime is the popular music that was railed against as being sinful back when it came in. It was sort of the rock n’ roll of its time. It was from the African American community, for one. In the late 1890s, this was the dance. The hot-craze in the dance music, the craze, was the ragtime two-step, and before that, the cake walk.
Dr. Kent: So cake walk – when I grew up, of course, the cake walk was a fun thing – kids did it. What was it originally?
Clarke Buehling: Originally, it goes back to slavery days – way back. It was a long story of one people imitating another, and that sort of going back and forth: we have the slaves doing dances in imitation, in parodies of the White slave owners and their family, and then we find the Whites finding this very amusing, and trying to dance as they are. And they looked really pretty funny themselves. Originally using cast-off clothing that was given to the slaves, and eventually it turned into really the zoot-suit of this period was [indecipherable] type of outfit with the long frock coat, the top hat, and walking cane, the stylized postures of the dance. You could go to Google, or YouTube, and you can put ‘cake walk.’
Dr. Kent: They were parodying in effect each other, and then of course, out of this parody came a style of music. So the White folks would dance to it in parties and that’s why it was risqué?
Clarke Buehling: No, the cake walk wasn’t the risqué dance. I think more the rags. At first, the cake walks, whole villages or schools, would all dress up, and the White students would put on black face and top hats, and the whole school would line up and march around, doing a march, and then walking.
Dr. Kent: That’s the origin of cake walk. Wow! It’s so fascinating. People think of ‘Oh, the banjo!’ If you ask the average guy on the street, they’d probably say it’s a White Appalachian instrument. It has such a rich, mixed history. We’ve got a couple more tunes here to choose from, but we’re running out of time. Let me ask you, what tune should we go out with? We’ve got some more rags, we’ve got ‘Hot Corn,’ we’ve got, ‘Maple Leaf Rag,’ we’ve got ‘Creole Bells’ and ‘Carolina Tar Heel.’ What do you think?
Clarke Buehling: I would probably choose the ‘Hot Corn Jubilee.’
Dr. Kent: All right. Tell us about that one.
Clarke Buehling: The reason I chose that, ‘The Creole bells,’ people will recognize that, that’s a nice song, nice to cake walk. But I particularly like this one because of the voicing of the instruments and the counterpoints. Paul Eno from Philadelphia [indecipherable] the banjo in it.
Dr. Kent: And this again is from the end of the 1800s then also?
Clarke Buehling: Just after 1900, I think, well yes, right around there. I’m not sure of the date of that one.
Dr. Kent: So, ‘Hot Corn Jubilee.’ Are they talking about whiskey? Because I do like hot corn, I mean in terms of actually corn on the cob. But what are they talking about?
Clarke Buehling: I think at that time hot corn – this is before hybrids, and you didn’t have the hybrid corn that we see now. You had to eat the corn when it was young, and it was often sold in the street by vendors. So you would buy your hot corn.
Dr. Kent: You’re kidding! All right. You’ve inspired me, and hopefully many others to look back and dig through the history here, which of course you were inspired to do early on. Hopefully we can keep passing these traditions on.
Clarke Buehling: May I add something about this type of piece: they were often done as the composer’s idea of what an African American band, marching band or a dance band, would sound like. They tried to do the sound of what they heard being done in the more folk terms, but they were being classical in that they were writing it down. When I say ‘classical,’ it means the high point of the banjo, the banjo at its peak at that period, when it was most popular, more popular than today.
Dr. Kent: It’s been a pleasure chatting with Clarke Buehling. Tell us where we can find out more about you, and your music, and banjos, and all that.
Clarke Buehling: Keep your eye open. You can find us at our website which is going to be redone soon. There’s something up all the time at TheSkirtlifters.com. THE SkirtLifters.com – who knows where you’ll go otherwise. Or you could Google me if you could spell my name, then you can find me.
Dr. Kent: It’s Clarke with an ‘e’ at the end and Buehling with a ‘u’ ‘e’ ‘h’ – that should help. It’s been such a pleasure chatting with you. I love this old music. Actually I want to ask you one more question about Concerts in Your Home.
Clarke Buehling: Of course we’ve got to bring them in: Fran Snyder’s Concerts in Your Home website is real fun. It links together musicians with venues, so that if you’re a musician, you can sign up there and put your picture up and a little description of your music, and you can look up venues around the country, and get in contact with one another. For the venues, you can find programs there, people that you might like to have at your home.
Dr. Kent: There’s no greater venue really than having a musician in your home. What a great experience.
Clarke Buehling: I love doing the House Concerts. I love playing acoustically. I love playing in an intimate setting. I recommend House Concerts to anyone. Fran also gives an explanation: how to run a house concern, things that you need to know, a couple hints.
Dr. Kent: People can find out about that on ConcertsInYourHome.com. It’s been such a pleasure to talk to Clarke Buehling. You can go to TheSkirtLifters.com to find out more. We’re going to listen to ‘Hot Corn Jubilee’ from ‘A Ragtime Episode.’ Thank you so much for talking to me.
Clarke Buehling: Thank you!
Dr. Kent: All right, here we go. Let’s listen to ‘Hot Corn Jubilee.’
[Music: 'Hot Corn Jubilee]
Dr. Kent: Welcome back to Sound Authors. That’s a great tune called ‘Hot Corn Jubilee.’ Makes us all think of our childhoods and cake walks – but Clarke Buehling gave us a whole new thought process around what that is and what it means. It was great to talk to him earlier on in the show.
November 1, 2009 | Comments Off
Dr. Kent: My next guest on the show is musician, Jacob Moon. So we’re going to listen to a song from him, and get him on the line, and we’ll talk to him about his music. The song is called, ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.’ So let’s listen to that, and when we come back, he’ll be on the line, and we’ll talk to him about his music. Here we go: Jacob Moon, ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.’
Dr. Kent: That’s a beautiful song by Jacob Moon called, ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.’ It’s off of one of his older albums. He’s got a new project coming out very soon, and it’s called, ‘Maybe Sunshine.’ Welcome to the show, Jacob.
Jacob Moon: It’s great to be with you.
Dr. Kent: What a beautiful sound. Tell me about your style a little bit. There’s a great clip on your site, of course, where you show how you play a little bit on the roof. You’re a fantastic guitar player, and you’ve got some interesting techniques. Tell me a little about it.
Jacob Moon: I’ve been playing for a bunch of years by myself. When you do that, it kind of forces you to make some choices about how you’re going to have to approach playing solo: are you going to strum the three chords and sing, or are you going to kind of get interested in some other techniques? For me, really the looping pedal has been something that I started working with about 12 years ago. That’s helped me to fill out the sound a little more, and take some of the other roles that maybe people in a band might take, like the drums, and the bass, and the lead guitar, and put those into my sound to try to make it so that people aren’t too disappointed that they’re only coming to a solo concert, but they’re hearing a few other things to keep things interested.
Dr. Kent: Touring by yourself like that, were you nervous at first? Did you always like it? Have you played with bands?
Jacob Moon: I like playing with bands a lot. It’s a lot of fun. Sometimes it’s hard for me to make the same connection that you can when you’re playing solo, because people can really hear the words, and everything kind of becomes about the vocal and the guitar, and you’re not competing with drums or it’s pretty hard to screw up a mix that only has two tracks. It’s a little easier to make connections with the audience, and that’s always been my goal. My ambition is to really have an intimate audience every night. That’s sometimes hard to do when you’ve got a band behind you.
Dr. Kent: So your music is also often times deeply spiritual. Talk about your songwriting. What’s it been like through the years. How have your songs changed?
Jacob Moon: The songs, they’ve come at various times. Like all songwriters, you write some of your best stuff when you’re going through your hardest times. It takes a lot of effort to sit down and write a happy song. I managed to do that on a couple of songs on the new record, so that’s been kind of cool, because there was some really genuine joy that I was writing out of. The trick is to write in such a way that it communicates that without any of the sugary sentiments that might get in the way of it being received. My songwriting process has always just been sit down, start dreaming aloud on the guitar, come up with some melodies, some chord progressions, some guitar riffs, and then let the vocal sort of arrive. It always does. Sometimes it takes a little longer than other times. It’s a strange thing: you start by singing a line that doesn’t make any sense, which I call a ‘dummy lyric,’ and then that’s just basically standing in until you can find out what the song’s really about. Sometimes you end up going with the dummy lyric because it’s the key and the clue to what the whole song is about. If you follow that lead, you discover kind of like a sculptor would, by chipping away at something, you find out that it actually already has a form, and you’re just discovering it.
Dr. Kent: Cool. Now in terms of the gospel music that you do, what’s the difference in audience between say a House Concert, a church audience, a coffee shop audience? What kind of shows do you do?
Jacob Moon: I play all over the place. I play churches, House Concerts, clubs, coffee houses, theaters. I just kind of let the audience tell their friends, and they tell their friends, and it kind of evolves organically from there. It’s very much a grass roots following that I have. Sometimes people hear me on the radio or see me on television, but by and large it’s by touring that I’m able to keep doing what I do. I play and I try to pay the audience a compliment that they can take whatever music I’m going to throw at them, whether it’s a bluesy style, or a jazzy style, or folk or gospel. It’s all coming from the same guy, and so hopefully that’s kind of unifying, and people are able to find something in that mix that they like, and maybe their ears are attuned to something new they didn’t know they liked. I often find people, older folks, who come away and they like the stuff that I would imagine younger people would have liked even more. I’m pretty sure that they don’t have record collections full of youthful music at home, but they liked what they heard that night. They end up going away with the CD, so it’s kind of cool.
Dr. Kent: You’ve got a blog site that I stumbled across when I was doing some research on you. I have two kids that I sponsor with Compassion, and it looks like you went down and visited down there. Tell me about El Salvador.
Jacob Moon: El Salvador was amazing. It’s just a small little country in Central America that has gone through a lot of war and difficulty and economic problems over the years. It’s a developing country. We went down there to really see what Compassion was doing to help the lives of young children and families in some of the poorer areas of that country. They’re doing a lot. There’s over fifty thousand kids enrolled in Compassion programs every day. That’s an incredible thing when you think even of just that number. All of the kids that we met were so fired up and so full of energy and life. The older ones who were graduating from the program, they had this incredible vision for what they wanted to see their country become, and how they were going to be a part of bringing about change in their families, in their churches, in their communities, and ultimately in their nation. That to me is the best defense you could ever make for whether a program is working or not. I was just really blown away by what they did.
Dr. Kent: People can check out more about that online at your blog site, and there’s a link to that off of your main website: JacobMoon.com. There’s also this deal on your site for your newest album, and I’d like to just for a second ask you about House Concerts. We’re partnering up with Concerts in Your Home folks and featuring a lot of musicians that do House Concerts, and you’re one of them. Tell us about House Concerts and what it’s like to do one, and what it’s like to observe one.
Jacob Moon: The new record’s called ‘Maybe Sunshine,’ and it’s just a six-song EP, but I’ve been preselling it online for the last month or so. If people do order it before next Saturday, then they can receive that copy in the mail. They’ll be among the first who receive it. Also, for as many CDs as they order, they’ll be entered into the draw for a free House Concert. I’ll go anywhere in Canada to do that at this point, because I tour all over Canada. It’s always nice to see different parts of this great country, and I love some of the States as well. It’s always a lot of fun. [Indecipherable] a Canadian contest.
Dr. Kent: So you’re on the road all the time. How many dates a year do you do?
Jacob Moon: Basically, I probably play somewhere around 150 a year, so it’s not too bad. Some guys play a lot more than that.
Dr. Kent: It’s plenty, though. People can check out your profile on JacobMoon.com, and again, I want to put in another plug for Concerts in Your Home, a great little organization where you can find out a whole bunch about some known musicians and some less known. That’s where I first saw your subdivision’s YouTube video.
Jacob Moon: Sorry – you’re breaking up a little bit. I was having trouble hearing you there. I’m on a cell phone.
Dr. Kent: It’s been such a pleasure talking to you. Jacob Moon’s new album, if you go and preorder it from his website: JacobMoon.com, it’s called ‘Maybe Sunshine,’ maybe you can win a free House Concert in Canada. If you are in Canada and listening to the show, that’s awesome. If you’re not in Canada, maybe you should rent a place in Canada just for that House Concert.
Jacob Moon: Absolutely. That would be great. If people want to hear a preview of the new record, they can go to the site, and I’ve got a little mini-podcast up there right now, and it plays some clips from the new songs.
Dr. Kent: Cool, and actually we’ve successfully uploaded a track from the new record, called, ‘Sara.’ Do you want to give us a little [indecipherable] about it?
Jacob Moon: Fantastic. That would be great!
Dr. Kent: Tell us about it.
Jacob Moon: That song there is called ‘Sara.’ It’s all about the sponsored child that my wife and I met when we were in El Salvador. An incredible eight year old girl, full of life, beautiful and funny. We spent the whole day with her at a children’s interactive center in El Salvador and just had a blast. We came into that experience kind of with heavy hearts. Some personal stuff had been going on for us, and we just really needed what she brought, which was joy. She didn’t know what she was doing, but she was lifting our burdens. For that, I thought it was really a good tribute to pay to her to write her that song.
Dr. Kent: It’s such a beautiful relationship that you can have through these sponsorships. It’s extraordinary. I really like Compassion and how they do it. Some of the happiest days are when I get letters from my sponsored kids.
Jacob Moon: Yes, I know. Truthfully, their happiest days are when they get letters from us, and pictures. They keep them in a box under their bed, wrapped up like a Christmas present, and they get really emotional when they think about those letters and what they mean to them. It occurred to me that for some of them, it’s their first contact with unconditional love. I heard the one guy say, ‘Yes, these people on the other end of the world, they don’t even know me, but they love me.’ That meant so much to him, and the light kind of turned on for me, and I thought, wow! There’s something about this relationship that is really redemptive and really beautiful for these kids and for us. I just encourage those who are already sponsoring kids, write them, send them pictures, because it actually makes a huge, huge difference: more than we know.
Dr. Kent: It’s been such an honor to chat with Jacob Moon. ‘Maybe Sunshine’ is the new record, and we’re going to listen to a track from it called, ‘Sara.’ Thank you so much for talking to me today.
Jacob Moon: Thank you so much for calling me, man, and all the best with your program.
Dr. Kent: We’ll talk again sometime.
Jacob Moon: I would love that.
Dr. Kent: Alright, JacobMoon.com. You can go and check out his album, and like I said earlier, and like he mentioned, you can preorder ‘Maybe Sunshine,’ and be entered to win a House Concert in Canada if you’re so inclined. You’ve got to do that before Halloween, October 31st. Let’s listen to a track from that new record, ‘Maybe Sunshine,’ by Jacob Moon, and it’s called, ‘Sara.’ Here we go.
Dr. Kent: And that was the first part of a song by Jacob Moon. It got cut off a little bit there, but such a gorgeous song. You can go and listen to the entire track at JacobMoon.com. Earlier on in the show we listened to ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’ from his earlier album. Of course, there’s also some great YouTube footage that he’s done, where he shows some of his incredible guitar techniques where he layers guitar sounds, one over the other, with a great looping pedal. Well it’s been an honor on the show today to welcome the award-winning author of ‘Skinny Bitch.’ She’s a New York Times bestseller, and of course, the book has done extremely well, selling millions of copies. As she said, Posh Spice has even posed with a copy of it. Of course, it’s a huge hit around the world. Before that we talked with Dr. D.A. Henderson who’s the author of ‘Smallpox: Death of a Disease.’ Fascinating, especially in a time when we’ve been talking so much about H1N1 virus and about vaccines. They’re so important, vaccines. Vaccinate your children. It’s just so important. Before that at the beginning of the show we talked to Glenn Bachman, who wrote, ‘The Green Business Guide.’ He gave us a great insight into how to be green and what being green really means. I really hope green businesses are going to be a profitable model for the new century. At the end of the show, again, we just listened to Jacob Moon and a couple of his songs. I’d like to go out with one more song by Jacob Moon. It’s called, ‘The Great Beyond.’ This is, again, from one of his earlier albums. Check out his website at JacobMoon.com. On the flip side, I’ll be gone. So have a wonderful week, pick up a great book, pick up Jacob Moon’s wonderful CD. He’s got that great special deal online. You might even win a House Concert with him. We’ll see him the next time. Visit me online at SoundAuthors.com. Thank you so much to Jamie and to Amber, the producers on this show, and I’ll see you the next time.
October 31, 2009 | Comments Off
Dr. Kent: Well it’s my real pleasure to have on the show next the award winning author of ‘Skinny Bitch,’ Rory Freedman. It’s a fantastic book, beautiful cover, and it’s selling off the shelves. Now there’s a whole line of products attached to it, including ‘Skinny Bastard.’ I wish I still was one. Welcome to the show, Rory Freedman.
Rory Freedman: Thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here.
Dr. Kent: What an incredible concept. How did you start coming up with this book title, and the things inside it.
Rory Freedman: The title was just a provocative, cheap, attention-getting ploy. Basically I changed the way that I eat, and changed my life, and I wanted to make sure to share that information with other people, and get that information out there. But I also know that people don’t necessarily want to sit down and learn about their health, and learn about their food origins and learn about what’s going on with their bodies with the food they’re eating, so I figured that if we made a fun, sassy, easy-to-read guide, and put it with a silly title, and good artwork, then people would dig it.
Dr. Kent: The title, it is silly, but it’s so edgy. It’s got the thing that every woman wants to be, and the thing that every woman doesn’t want to be.
Rory Freedman: Yes. Unfortunately, nobody cares about their health in this day and age. We’re in a time of mass media and pop culture, and everybody just wants to be thin, and ‘bitch’ seems to get a lot of attention. The title’s been a great attention-getting ploy, and I’m happy that people are reading the book because there is so much sound information and compelling, motivating stuff that gets people to really make those lasting changes once and for all.
Dr. Kent: One great thing about the book – and the title and the cover hint at it – is that it really is a no-nonsense guide. It’s edgy. The way the book is written, the way you’re advice is given is very edgy. What’s the feedback you get from women?
Rory Freedman: Basically they read the book, and they laugh their asses off the whole time they’re reading it, and because of that, the information sort of sticks. I’m not a scholar, I’m not a real writer in a sense – this was the first book I ever wrote, and I just write in a really conversational way. It’s not a stiff, boring, hard-to-read diet book: it’s more of a fun lifestyle book, but there’s again, tons of information in there that is just easier to swallow when it’s written in a really informal way.
Dr. Kent: Both of you got to know each other in the modeling world, right?
Rory Freedman: Right. I was an agent, and Kim was a model, and we bonded over food and laughing. We found that we had similar senses of humor, and we both liked eating more than anything else on the planet. That was, I don’t know how many years ago, but we became fast friends, and then eventually when we each changed our own crappy diets to a better diet, that’s eventually when we started to think that we could make a difference in the lives of other people and how we could best go about doing that.
Dr. Kent: Tell me about the crappy diet first. I am definitely attracted to that concept.
Rory Freedman: You name it, I ate it. Basically, I used to eat Burger King seven days a week.
Dr. Kent: Seven days!
Rory Freedman: Yup – seven days a week. Actually, maybe it was five days a week. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t say seven. It was probably five days a week. Every morning I used to eat a Taylor ham-fried egg-and-cheese on a roll, and I drank soda, and chocolate bars, and bags of chips, and anything from a convenience store, I was interested in eating.
Dr. Kent: Well, you got my mouth watering. So tell me how health food can make me just as excited.
Rory Freedman: It can’t overnight. If you’d told me back then that I was going to get excited over eating something healthy like a salad or steamed vegetables and fruit, I would have barfed on the table. But, once you do start making small changes, something happens inside your brain and inside your body, something shifts and it doesn’t happen overnight, but eventually it does happen, and once it happens, you cannot believe the changes that you experience: your taste buds, your brain, your personality, your positivity, your energy: everything in your body of course just becomes different and better, and it’s life-altering.
Dr. Kent: So there’s a lot of folks out there that say, okay, we’ve seen them on these big shows, or we see them on the shelves of all the stores, and they look skinny, the woman on the front cover of their book is skinny. Of course it’s easy for them.
Rory Freedman: Not at all. Food is an addiction for all of us. Even now, even being skinny and even being healthy, I still struggle with food, because I love eating more than anything on the planet. I actually just had to take a vow to not eat sugar for 30 days because I was feeling like I’ve gotta get this under control: all I want is cookies, all day every day. I’m not even PMSing! So I’ve gotta figure this out. I just took a 30-day pledge to myself, and actually I think it’ll be longer than 30 days: I’m not going to eat any sugar until Thanksgiving.
Dr. Kent: Holy cow!
Rory Freedman: I know! It’s a big deal. So if people think that it doesn’t matter, if you’re thin, or if you’re overweight: food is hard for all of us, and making changes is really difficult, but once you make that commitment to yourself – and I think a really good idea for people to do is to just say for 30 days, I’m going to try something. Don’t worry about the rest of your life. Don’t say from now on I’m going to bla bla bla. Just pick something you know you can do better, start today, and do it for 30 days.
Dr. Kent: So I’m curious about ‘Skinny Bastard,’ a little bit. That’s the newest fun book in the series. What inspired that, and how was it writing that one?
Rory Freedman: It was a lot of fun to write that one, because I got to come up with as many euphemisms as I could for the male operating equipment. That book was basically the same as ‘Skinny Bitch,’ because men and women have mostly the same dietary needs, the only difference being that men often have a higher calorie need, but basically the same foods are healthy for all of us, and people have the same concerns. Of course with men we talked a little bit more about exercise, and athletes, and protein and weight-lifting, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction, and how your diet effects all of those things. It also was fun to kind of – even for me, because I’m already bawdy to begin with – but to step out and be a little bawdier, and doing a little locker-room talk. It was fun.
Dr. Kent: It’s an incredible thing to see a book that’s on the bestseller list. It’s literally, you walk into Borders, there it is, all around the country. It’s a book that’s really edgy. It doesn’t have the things you’re supposed to say in it. It is bawdy, it is edgy, it’s fun. Have you gotten any people saying to you, ‘Hey, this is a little bit over the top’?
Rory Freedman: Oh, of course! I certainly didn’t set out to offend anyone; I just have my own specific sense of humor, and I think a lot of that stuff is hilarious. The feedback in general has been in agreement with that, that it’s hilarious. But if you’re somebody who’s easily offended by four-letter words, or somebody calling your johnson a ding-a-ling-ling, then don’t read the book! You’re going to be horrified because there’s ten-times worse stuff in there than that. But if you have a good sense of humor, and you want to feel good, and you want to eat well, and you want an education that doesn’t feel like an education, then you’re going to love it, and you’re going to laugh out loud multiple times, I guarantee it.
Dr. Kent: Diet books, gosh, they’re a dime a dozen. There’s so many, and everybody’s hooked to them, and they buy one after the other after the other. The hush-hush industry thing is we know it’s not going to work, but we’re just trying to find the next edgy concept that everybody will flock to, whether it’s Atkins diet or this and that. Your book is a little different, because it’s kind of timeless. You’re dealing with women personally, but have they actually lost the weight? Have you gotten some feedback?
Rory Freedman: The reason that this book is popular – certainly Posh Spice picking up the book and being photographed holding it absolutely made a difference for us – but the book was really successful before that ever happened, and before we had any publicity at all, and that’s because people were reading the book, and it was a huge word of mouth success. People read the book and then tell the friends and family around them, ‘You have to read this book.’ Because their minds are blown when they read it. There’s just so much compelling information, and it’s also a really fun read. But it does change people’s lives, and the way the information is presented makes it for the first time easy for people to actually make these changes. I’m not tooting my own horn, I’m just saying, the book is effective. It’s not like we have reinvented the wheel. I didn’t invent this way of eating. I just collected information from all sorts of scientific sources and put it in one easy-to-read, fun package. People are responding to it.
Dr. Kent: If you were to boil down what changes are needed to become what you’ve become, which is somebody who’s in control of their own body. What would it boil down to for you?
Rory Freedman: I think that everybody knows what their weak spots are. Some people have no idea what their weak spots are because they just don’t know what’s healthy and what’s not, so this books is going to give a good education on that. For other people, they just need the motivation. They know what their weak spots are but they don’t really feel excited or compelled or motivated to do anything about it. I think that’s one of the really good things about the book: when you’re done, you’re excited, and invigorated. Instead of dreading making the change, you kind of feel like ‘Wow! If I don’t do this…’ For example, I’ll start with a little silly one: soda. I know a lot of people drink soda, whether it’s diet or regular soda, and there’s nothing in there that’s beneficial for your body at all, and in fact it’s harmful for your body. So for people that can get rid of the soda and have water instead, it’s going to make a huge difference. Not only just because of that, but because it’s also going to influence other things in your diet, and your health as well. So just start somewhere, do something.
Dr. Kent: So what about celery, are we going to have to eat a lot of celery on the ‘Skinny Bitch,’ or ‘Skinny Bastard’?
Rory Freedman: I don’t think we mention the word ‘celery’ in the book ever. I’m definitely not someone who sits down to chop carrot sticks, and chop celery sticks. I’d rather eat a pile of poop; how boring! There’s lots of fun food that you can eat on the ‘Skinny Bitch’ and ‘Skinny Bastard’ diets. That’s the reason they also work. We’re not saying, ‘No more cake! No more cookies!’ We’re saying, food is meant to be enjoyed and nobody likes eating more than us. Just figure out what you’re eating, what makes you feel good, what makes you feel crappy. Make better choices for the food that you are buying, but still enjoy the same stuff.
Dr. Kent: Now you also have, ‘Skinny Bitch in the Kitch.’
Rory Freedman: Right, that’s a cookbook, it’s a recipe book. For some people, this is a new way of eating, and we wanted to make it as easy as we could as possible, and there’s a cookbook that’s got tons of fun, great recipes.
Dr. Kent: I have to say, my fiancé is really into Larabars, and it looks like you guys are too.
Rory Freedman: Yes, I love Larabars. There’s a lot of those protein bars or snack bars out there, and a lot of them are just kind of crappy for you, but people think that because it’s called like a nature bar or a nutrition bar that it’s healthy. But if you read the ingredients, there’s sugar or corn syrup, or God forbid, artificial flavors or colors, and it’s like, who the hell wants to eat that? The ingredients in Larabars are just really pure and really simple. It’s always just a few ingredients and they taste really good.
Dr. Kent: So what are you working on now? There must be another three or four books in the hopper, right?
Rory Freedman: Oh, yeah. I’m just cranking them out. We actually have a boxed set coming out in December or January. It’s a couple in a box. It’s the hardcover editions of ‘Skinny Bitch’ and ‘Skinny Bastard.’ A boxed set so that if there’s a man and woman living together, and they both want to get their groove on, that’s a good little gift option there.
Dr. Kent: Of course, the funny thing about the book industry is often times a lot of the men’s books are bought by women. That’s a big market.
Rory Freedman: That’s definitely something that happens all the time. I think men aren’t known to be trolling the diet book section of bookstores, but I think women, because just in general we tend to be naggy, we tend to fix things, we’re definitely the type of creatures that will buy a book for our man.
Dr. Kent: I bought your book for the first time, actually, for a client because your title is so edgy, and your style is so fantastic in the book. I use it with my clients, and recommend it to all of them. So I was in the bookstore buying a copy, and I’ve got to say, I was turning a bright shade of red. I sandwiched it between another few books.
Rory Freedman: It takes a certain kind of man to have enough confidence to hold a book called, ‘Skinny Bitch,’ whether it’s on the subway or in an airplane. I know a couple of women who want their men to read the books, but they say, ‘He won’t read it! He doesn’t want to read it!’ I would just say ‘Leave it in the bathroom. It’ll get picked up.’
Dr. Kent: Exactly. That’s the place men read. Exactly. All right, it’s been such an honor talking to you. Tell me where we can find out more. Of course, there’s the Bitch List, and there’s SkinnyBitch.net, and all sorts of places.
Rory Freedman: Right. We’ve got SkinnyBitch.net and SkinnyBastard.net, and all the bookstores and Amazon and Barnes & Noble: we’re everywhere. I want to thank you for having me. It’s been my honor and privilege to be here.
Dr. Kent: Oh sure. You’re book rocks. Are you going to stick with the Skinny Bitch thing, and when you’re 80 you’ll still be a skinny bitch?
Rory Freedman: We’ll see how it goes. A little of this, a little of that; we’ll see how it goes.
Dr. Kent: Awesome. It’s been such an honor. I’ve been talking to the coauthor of ‘Skinny Bitch.’ What a fun book, fun title, and really practical. Rory Freedman, thank you so much.
Rory Freedman: Thank you so much.
October 30, 2009 | Comments Off
Dr. Kent: Welcome back to Sound Authors. My next guest on the show is Dr. D.A. Henderson. He’s the author of ‘Smallpox: Death of a Disease.’ This book is an account of challenges, obstacles and disasters faced by an intrepid international program in achieving the global eradication of smallpox. Fascinating, fascinating tale. Welcome to the show, Dr. D.A. Henderson.
Dr. D.A. Henderson: Delighted to be with you.
Dr. Kent: Give me a little background about it. What is smallpox?
Dr. D.A. Henderson: Smallpox was probably the most devastating disease known to history. It goes back at least 3500 years, and has caused tens of millions of deaths, hundreds of millions of deaths, over the century. It’s a virus disease: it causes a severe rash, a high fever. The person who acquires it has about a 30 percent chance of dying from the disease, and some of those who recover are left blind. Throughout history, it was regarded as probably the most feared out of all the diseases: it’s worse than cholera or yellow fever, or any of the other diseases.
Dr. Kent: My goodness. How was it part of Americans’ lives early this century?
Dr. D.A. Henderson: It certainly kept going throughout the US until 1949; that was when our last cases occurred. One of the remarkable things is that the American Indians, the natives here in this country and throughout the western hemisphere, were particularly susceptible to it. So death rates of 60 to 80 percent were recorded. In fact, they recorded the fact that so many people died, that they couldn’t harvest the food to keep going, and whole tribes disappeared.
Dr. Kent: Wow. The toll just during the 20th century, according to your bio, says that there were 300 to 500 million deaths.
Dr. D.A. Henderson: That’s a fairly conservative estimate. Before the disease was eradicated (the last case occurred in 1977), we estimated that there were at least 300 million deaths. One compares that to what the New York Times has said how many people died as a result directly or indirectly of our conflicts in the 20th century, they estimate about 120 million, so it was more than two and half times that number dying as a result of smallpox in various countries throughout the world.
Dr. Kent: There’s such a hubbub around vaccines these days. Celebrities are starting not to vaccinate their children. This buzz is starting. With a father who’s a physician, he always tells me it’s foolish not to vaccinate, and part of the reason is because there’s such power in vaccines, and of course, with smallpox, my goodness, of course 500 million deaths, that’s a huge number that can be prevented by a vaccine. So tell me about the vaccine: how it works, how you started to think about coming up with it, or how the whole community did.
Dr. D.A. Henderson: The smallpox vaccine is actually largely comprised of another virus called cowpox, which did infect cows. It’s sort of a cousin of smallpox. It started very early that they found they could inoculate this material into the arm, and there would be an infection: a little pustule would form. The individual would then develop protective antibodies, antibodies in the blood, so that when the individual is exposed to smallpox, the antibodies would fight off the infection. This is the way vaccines work. Some of them, what they call ‘kill’ vaccines, you take a virus, like influenza, and you grow up a certain quantity of it, and you kill that virus and actually you inoculate it into the skin, and that really is your vaccine. Your body makes protective antibodies against that virus, which is dead – it’s growing – and when you are then exposed to the live virus, those antibodies are fighting off the invasion of the live virus.
Dr. Kent: Wow. How do you eradicate, even using something as incredible as this vaccination, how do you eradicate a disease? How can you get every single case?
Dr. D.A. Henderson: In fact, we did not try to get every single case. What we tried to do was provide a vaccine protection to let’s say 80 percent of the population. Now smallpox cannot infect animals, and it cannot just lie in the soil and infect people. So therefore, that virus, to keep going, it has to infect one person after another. One after the other. Think of it as a chain of infection. Now if we can stop that virus from infecting one person, and one person from infecting another, we then can break that chain and gradually get rid of the disease. So what we did was try to first of all protect a lot of people, by vaccination, and then we did something that’s called surveillance and containment: basically, find the cases. Once you’ve found a case, a team would go out and they’d vaccinate, in Africa for example, 30 houses around where the case was, all of the people there. Those people would then be protected. Then the patient could not spread the disease to anybody else. The chain would be broken, and little by little, you’d stop the spread of smallpox throughout the area.
Dr. Kent: Fascinating. Is that a technique that has been used before?
Dr. D.A. Henderson: Yes, it actually goes back a long time. Our first vaccine, the smallpox vaccine, goes back to 1796, and this was the discovery that you could take cowpox, or a little infection off of a cow and protect an individual person with that. So it had been used off and on, although it had been used pretty much on, until the time of eradication. But it was impossible really to get that vaccine out to distant areas, so that it wasn’t destroyed by feat, then to get it properly inserted in the skin so that it would really grow, and to do this throughout a lot of parts of the world which are very remote, and which are virtually inaccessible. So, it left places, areas and people where the smallpox could keep going and did keep going.
Dr. Kent: Wow. What other diseases could potentially be eradicated completely? There’s so many out there in the world, is it possible to eliminate some of these, and are efforts going on?
Dr. D.A. Henderson: It’s pretty hard to get rid of a lot of diseases. A number of them, like tuberculosis, an individual gets infected, and they get perhaps temporarily cured, but they’re still carrying the organism and can still transmit it. Poliomyelitis, for example, the individual spreads the disease, but you can’t tell where it is, because only one person in about 200 will get paralyzed, and the others will be infected, but there will be no symptoms, so that makes it difficult. There are some organisms that really largely exist in animals, and so we only get in contact with them periodically, like rabies: people know about that in dogs, and man does not get infected very often. So there are a lot of diseases that we cannot eradicate. Smallpox, fortunately, having been the most disastrous of all the diseases, had this weakness that it did not infect animals, and individuals, when they recovered from the disease, if they did, they were protected: they’d never get another case for the rest of their lives. So this was what we took advantage of with smallpox, and then tried to eradicate it.
Dr. Kent: Smallpox was essentially destroyed, but you talk about that there are stockpiles of this disease in certain places, and that could potentially be used as a weapon.
Dr. D.A. Henderson: It’s a worry. We do know that back in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, that the Soviet Union was working with smallpox. It was the preferred agent that they would use if they were going to use a biological weapon. So, this was a concern. When we got our last case, which actually occurred October 26, 1977, we then wrote to laboratories, contacted people all over the world who might still have some virus of smallpox. They were asked to destroy these; governments were asked to check their laboratories and to destroy them, or to transfer them to one of two laboratories which had been research laboratories that were working with us: one being actually in Moscow, one being in Atlanta, Georgia. After a while, all of the laboratories insisted finally that they had destroyed the virus or transferred it. It left us just the two places that we knew had the smallpox virus. Since then, there’s been continuing discussion as to whether those should be destroyed or not. This has been studied by many experts and scientists. I think most believe that it would be a good idea, let’s just destroy it. There’s some who believe that we might be able to learn something by retaining it, keeping it, and working with it, but there’s always a risk in that. The question is: are you going to risk having it escape, for example, or are you going to destroy it? This is something that is being discussed in the World Health Assembly and the World Health Organization: trying to reach a decision on this.
Dr. Kent: Well, it’s been such an honor talking to Dr. D.A. Henderson. He’s the author of ‘Smallpox: Death of a Disease.’ It’s so riveting thinking about all of this. I appreciate you being on the show, and I hope to talk to you again.
Dr. D.A. Henderson: Thank you very much; nice to be with you.
Dr. Kent: Again, you can find that book all over the place. It’s called, ‘Smallpox: Death of a Disease,’ by Dr. D.A. Henderson.
October 29, 2009 | Comments Off
Dr. Kent: Welcome to Sound Authors. We have four fantastic guests on the show today. Three authors, and one musician. We’re doing a show of course in the traditional format of Sound Authors. We’ve scheduled this show quite a while ago, and that’s why we’re back to the four-segment method. Again, tune in next week and the week after. We’re doing brand new varieties of shows with all sorts of different kinds of guests. Always authors and musicians: Sound Authors both. At the end of the show we’re going to talk to a musician. His name is Jacob Moon. He’s based in Hamilton. A wonderful singer/songwriter. Before that, we’re going to talk to the author of ‘Skinny Bitch,’ Rory Freedman, a New York Times bestselling coauthor. They’ve sold millions of books literally. Before that, at 3:15 or so, we’re going to talk to Dr. D.A. Henderson, the author of ‘Smallpox: Death of a Disease.’ In this world right now where we’re always talking about the H1N1, let’s talk about smallpox and the havoc it wreaked. Without further ado, at the beginning of the show, I’ll be talking to Glenn Bachman. Glenn has more than 30 years of experience in improving the economic and environmental performance of organizations and products. His book is called ‘The Green Business Guide.’ Welcome to the show, Glenn Bachman.
Glenn Bachman: Thank you so much.
Dr. Kent: Tell me about this book: ‘The Green Business Guide.’ Green stuff has been really hot for the last couple of years, and with the Obama presidency, it’s gotten even more so.
Glenn Bachman: That it has. The guide is intended to be a blueprint or a roadmap for small and medium sized businesses. What I have found in looking around as to what could be used as a roadmap if a business or an organization wanted to go green was not very detailed in the nuts and bolts of the how-to. I found that a lot of businesses understood why they would want to go green, but they didn’t really understand what it was that it would mean in detail. So what I had decided to do was to write a book that would consolidate different resources from all over the place, whether it’s from environmental organizations, EPA, business best-practices, my own experience, and pull that together in a single unified document that could be used in making or allowing an organization to go green.
Dr. Kent: What does it mean to ‘go green,’ exactly?
Glenn Bachman: There’s differing concepts on that. I use ‘green’ as ecological friendliness. A lot people use the term ‘green’ and use it as though it was also the same as ‘sustainable.’ However, sustainable businesses take not only the ecological friendliness, but they expand that into economic performance as well as social equity issues. Fair-trade, for example, or comparable pay for women and men, things of that nature.
Dr. Kent: And for you, ‘green’ means?
Glenn Bachman: For me, ‘green’ means ecological performance. By ecological performance, I’m talking about ensuring that the business or the organization is using a minimal amount of energy, that the energy that is being consumed is clean energy, that the water use is reduced, that they’re pulling water in minimal amounts from either public or private sources. When they are getting rid of the water, the water is being returned to a natural system with a minimal amount of contaminants or temperature change, or things like that. That packaging is reduced, material use is reduced, and things like that.
Dr. Kent: In business right now, it seems to be quite trendy to say that you’re green, and I know that there’s some things where you can trade some of your electricity against something that’s sustainable, or you could do many things as a business. You can install solar panels on the roof. What does it mean for a business to call themselves ‘green’?
Glenn Bachman: I think that fundamentally what they’re saying is that the way that they’re approaching the delivery of their services or the manufacture or sale of the products that they have is that they are doing it in a manner that is least injurious to the natural environment. You’re right to point out that they’re getting a lot airplay right now, because there’s certainly businesses that aren’t being truthful about being green. They recognize that to call themselves green is a way of taking advantage of what some perceive to be a fad, but that in fact they are not being green, because they’re, for example, reducing their packaging size, but perhaps they still have contaminants that are embedded into the product that they’re selling. That type of green, or non-green, has been dubbed ‘green-washing.’ Sort of like white-washing, only green-washing, where an organization is making claims that it’s green when in fact it is not. I think that what those businesses are doing that are legitimately trying to become green is they are aligning themselves with a greater population of consumers, whether those consumers are individuals or corporations like Wal-Mart, or what have you, that are recognizing that it makes business sense and family sense to go green. That by reducing the impact now it’ll be more likely that we’ll have a more palatable and inhabitable earth decades from now and generations from now.
Dr. Kent: Where’d you get your start in all of this?
Glenn Bachman: I think probably my path for this was from architecture. I was doing construction in high school during the summer, and that turned into architectural design interests in college, which turned into urban planning interests as I was trying to integrate shelter energy production and food production into neighborhoods, and I then became an energy planner working in the northwest where I was doing projects. I did about 50 different energy-related projects in the Pacific northwest as part of this environmental company that I was a partner in. Ecology has probably always been a part of my background. Probably the very first appreciation for that came from my grandfather.
Dr. Kent: When creating a green business guide, we’ve talked about sometimes it’s not necessarily green, but what are the best practices a business could fairly easily implement?
Glenn Bachman: I think part of the best practice is to demonstrate the leadership in the company to say, ‘We want to change the way that we are doing things and become more green.’ The leadership is critical. That’s best practice number one. Best practice number two is probably to engage everybody in the organization to look for opportunities for saving energy, for conserving water, for reducing resource use, things like that. Then, I think that on the nuts and bolts side, probably what you want to be able to do is focus on lighting, that’s probably common to most businesses, and then depending on the nature of the business, a mom-and-pop grocery would be most interested in lighting and refrigeration, whereas warehousing might be more interested in – if it’s non temperature controlled – it might be more interested in transportation issues and how to reduce the impact of moving goods from the warehouse to their point of use.
Dr. Kent: One of the things in this new administration has been green technology can really start to drive the economy. What does that mean, and is that possible?
Glenn Bachman: It is possible. In fact, President Obama just gave a speech today at Massachusetts Institute of Technology which was pretty much a statement of his green philosophy and also I would say in some ways a motivational speech saying ‘Go get ‘em.’ Energy technology and green technologies are moving very rapidly. It’s much like what the computer world was looking like 25 years ago and actually continues to be today. There are really some amazing things that are coming out in terms of developing fuels for transportation out of algae, out of different types of agricultural products. There’s different technologies that are being created on rooftops where shingles can understand what the temperature is and change color to reflect during overheated times so that the solar radiation doesn’t penetrate the building, or the solar radiation doesn’t get absorbed as heat into the building. Or in the wintertime turn into a darker color when it is desirable to have that penetration and to acquire more heat. We’re getting micro wind turbans that can be attached to rooftops that look very small. You would hardly even notice that they are on the rooftop.
Dr. Kent: When you mean micro, do you mean the kind that’s on like a little kids hat, or do you mean really small?
Glenn Bachman: I mean probably a little bit bigger than a little kid’s hat. We’re not going to get a lot of useful energy out of something that small. But think maybe 10-times larger than that.
Dr. Kent: So maybe like two feet tall or something?
Glenn Bachman: Yes, but instead of thinking in the vertical access, think in the horizontal axis, a hamster cage or something like that, running along the full length of a ridge. It can capture the wind energy, transform that into a generated electricity.
Dr. Kent: I’m curious about the roof that changes color. I remember as a kid just walking out along a simple asphalt road how hot it would get. Just color is pretty significant.
Glenn Bachman: It is. That’s one of the reasons why in ‘The Green Business Guide,’ the book, there are a series of recommendations on how to deal with paving: those huge parking lots that we see when we go to malls and outside parking lots when we are in the heat of the summer, when we’re walking across the entrance to the store, we’re boiling out there. So we try to shield those with vegetation: trees that will shade the asphalt and prevent the solar radiation from being absorbed.
Dr. Kent: It’s going to be profitable, but it’s a massive change for a lot of businesses. What is the resistance?
Glenn Bachman: The first set of resistance is that over the years, I think that we’ve seen that green technologies have been expensive. I think that because of that, the perception is that the green technologies are not having a very favorable return on investment. A lot of the greening of a business can be categorized in terms of changes, transformations that are no cost, like reminding people to turn off the lights in the storage room when they’ve gotten their ream of paper out of storage. Or they could be very low cost, such as installing compact fluorescent light bulbs, and removing incandescent bulbs. Those in a full use area have a payback often of six to eight months depending on what the cost of electricity is. And then there’s other costs that are greater. What I encourage the businesses to do is to look for the low-hanging fruit: those things that can be implemented easily with very little goading on the part of management or workers, and then to look at those other programs that can be implemented that would be a relatively short return on the investment. I think that the second thing that we’re seeing is that in the past, a lot of these technologies were not as confidant, as skilled, as efficient, as effective as the ones that they were being designed to replace. An example of those were some of the early fluorescent bulbs that flickered, that hummed, that were a distraction in the workplace, and so folks weren’t installing those. Those problems have been remedied, and as a result of that, there have been greater penetration of those types of programs in action in the workplace. I think that overall, there is just a certain malaise, that this is the way we’ve done business. It’s really not been a focus of attention until the problems associated with the climate change, with the resources, such as petroleum, silver, others that are used in industry, because they’re finite resources, they’re not as available because of the growing clientele of consumers, and as a consequence, the price of a lot of these resources are going up, and if the prices are going up, the operating expenses for the businesses obviously go up. So, they’re looking at ways of just reducing their input in order to stay competitive, and that’s the advantage that they’re seeking.
Dr. Kent: Well it’s so fascinating talking about green business, and I hope to talk to you again sometime. The book is called ‘The Green Business Guide,’ by Glenn Bachman, subtitled, ‘A One-Stop-Resource for Businesses of All Shapes and Sizes to Implement Eco-Friendly Policies, Programs and Practices,’ and of course it’s out on Career Press, and it’s been such an honor chatting with you.
Glenn Bachman: My pleasure.
Dr. Kent: You can find out more online, just again look up, ‘Glenn Bachman’ and ‘The Green Business Guide.’