We've Been Tagged

Well here's an interesting development. The Grateful We're Not Dead blog has been tagged by a Plurk friend, JimBob51, in Australia. The first thing I have to do in return is to shout his blog: AOEDE. As explained on his blog header, "Aoede is one of the three original Muses. She is the Muse of Song or Voice. It is also the name of one of the Moons of Jupiter". Jim's blog is his spot to muse on just about anything and it can be an interesting read. So drop by and have a look.

This tagging of the Grateful We're Not Dead blog resulted from my interaction with my friends on Plurk. Plurk has become my main vehicle for building up a social network of friends and acquaintances around the globe. Now as I understand the rules of tagging, I have three tasks to complete:
  1. Shout your taggers blog
  2. Write 5 Interesting facts about yourself
  3. Tag six more blogs
I completed Task #1 in the first paragraph, so on to the remaining two.

Since the Grateful We're Not Dead blog is dedicated to the music and the comings and goings of the band I guess I'll say a few things about my musical background pre-"Grateful We're Not Dead". You may not find these interesting, but I have to write something.
  1. I started playing guitar in 1956 when I was 13. The old guitar that I used to learn on had strings that were at least 1/4 inch above the fret board and the pain from playing was almost enough to bring tears to my eyes.

  2. The first time I ever played in a band was New Years Eve, 1958 in Lanark, Ontario. The band was the Mississippi River Boys, a country dance band that played throughout Lanark, Renfrew, Carleton and Frontenac counties in Ontario. My first job was as a drummer. If I remember correctly we were paid $40 each for that night. For regular dances we usually received $5 to $10 for the night.

  3. My first electric guitar was a H44 Stratotone by Harmony Guitar. I bought it and an amplifier in a pawn shop in the Byward Market in Ottawa in 1959.

  4. The most interesting place I ever played with the Mississippi River Boys was Rideau Hall, residence of the the Governor-General of Canada. This was for the staff Christmas Party in 1965. The Governor-General, Georges P. Vanier, and his wife were in attendance and appeared to enjoy the country music, especially the fiddle tunes..

  5. I played with the Mississippi River Boys from 1958 until 1988 when we disbanded.
Now the final and most difficult task: Tag six other blogs. Hmmmmm. I'm thinking, thinking, thinking.... OK, some may have already been tagged, but here goes in no particular order:
So with this final task completed I'll go back to sleep until inspiration hits me with an idea for the next Grateful We're Not Dead article.

Mike Shea: Musician and Gentleman

We'd like to offer a big THANK YOU to Mike Shea. Mike, a well known Ottawa musician for many years, has been downsizing and donated his sound system to Grateful We're Not Dead. The equipment includes an AudioPro MicroMix SP8 mixer/amplifer, Elite Micron 160 speakers and an assortment of microphones, stands and cable.

Now a bit of information about Mike.

He started his musical career 47 years ago at the age of 16. He performed on a regular basis until 1993 when he stopped entertaining professionally. During his career as a musician he was a member of an Ottawa band, The Counts, for 8 years. He also entertained at the former Skyline Hotel with a band called The Beggarmen for 1-1/2 years. For 20 years Micheal entertained, on a volunteer basis, for the Children's Hospital Foundation of Ottawa. He received a Citation from the Children's Hospital in recognition of his volunteer contribution.

In addition to the above, Mike entertained in senior citizens homes throughout the Ottawa Valley for his whole career, also on a voluntary basis. For five years of this time, he joined forces with Bernie Carroll and entertained as Bernie and Mike.

So once again, Thank You, Mike. We do appreciate your generosity and will be proud to continue using this excellent sound system, hopefully for years to come.

And for the techies, some information about the MicroMix:
1987 marked the introduction of Micromix. Paul Ierymenko designed an advanced stereo mixer and a 250-Watt per-channel stereo amplifier then put them together. Voila - the Audiopro Micromix SP-8 (8 channels stereo, 250 wattsx2, fan-cooled), soon to be joined by the SP-12 (12 channels, same power). Both powered mixers were compact, console-style affairs with slick blue cosmetics, colour-coded knobs and loads of features. Each input channel had a gain control and clip LED, a monitor level control, 3 bands of EQ, an external effects level control and another for the internal effects system, a pan control and a slide control for main mix level. Masters included two ten-band graphic equalizers - stereo for the main PA and mono for the monitors - a stereo reverb/echo (a "first" for Yorkville), dual LED level meters and a pushbutton which enabled you to power the main speakers with one of the built-in amp channels and monitors with the other (another "first" for Yorkville). Naturally there were the usual master faders for sub 1 and sub 2 (left & right), one for monitors and another for the mono line-level output which resulted when the afore-mentioned pushbutton was depressed blending the sub 1 & 2 signals into one. Whew! Oh, and one more thing - a full-time stereo limiter in series with the power amp ensured that distortion would be minimal even under worst-case conditions.

Reference: Yorkville Sound History: 1963-1991 Published Feb 20,2002. Written by Mike Holman

Helga Voigt's 93rd Birthday Party

On September 6, Grateful We're Not Dead had the honour and pleasure of entertaining at the 93rd birthday party of Helga Voigt. It was standing room only for Helga's party with guests arriving from as far away as New Jersey, North Carolina and Germany. Helga's three surviving children, Peter, Evelyn and Veronika, were in attendance for the party as well. We have known Helga for a number of years and she is truly a remarkable woman and I hope we can entertain at quite few more of her birthday parties.

Helga VoigtPublisher presents 1st copy to Helga

In conjunction with the Helga's birthday was the launch of her book, Letters From Helga: 1934 - 1937: A Teen Bride Writes Home From East Africa. The book is based on letters Helga wrote to her family and friends in Germany after she left for Africa at the tender age of eighteen to marry Werner Voigt, a man she had never met. The three years worth of letters give a detailed, exciting picture into her life in East Africa. The letters have been translated and annotated by her daughter, Evelyn Voigt.

Letters From Helga is available from:

General Store Publishing House
499 O'Brien Rd
Box 415
Renfrew, Ontario K7V 4A6

and can be ordered online as well.

60 Years in East Africa by Werner Voigt, Helga's late husband, is available from the same publisher.

Al Makes It Onto The Sidebar

Last year, in an article, we listed some of the Friends of Grateful We're Not Dead. One of those, 'young' Al Owler was sitting in with the band on a regular basis and becoming quite familiar with our repertoire. Being the youngest and the strongest, Al was also extremely helpful during the 'load out' at the end of the evening seeing as he was the only one really capable of lifting the equipment, and the older members of the group, into the van.

Since then, at Bruce's suggestion, Al has taken up playing bass guitar and is providing a fuller sound to the performance. Because of his on-going interest, assistance and full participation, Al has become an honourary member of Grateful We're Not Dead. He's even allowed to wear a black hat and silver tie. So it's with great pleasure that we announce the addition of Al's photo to the side bar with the old farts.

Welcome aboard, 'young' Al.

Gord Goes Electric

As we indicate in the Over Sixty Blues, advancing age brings with it a variety of physical problems. For the past few months, Gord has not been able to play his full sized acoustic guitar because of discomfort in his right shoulder. Hoping that the problem would right itself he has been playing a Martin Back-Packer in the interim. Although the Martin is great for carrying with you on trips it doesn't provide a full sound. At the last Grateful We're Not Dead jam session we set Gord up with Al's solid body electric. Needless to say, this provided the fullness that we were looking for. Gord was so thrilled with the sound that the next week he went out and purchased a Fender Telecaster and a Fender amp and is now merrily whiling away the hours getting used to the action of his new toy. Way to go Gord. Ah, the sacrifices we make for Grateful We're Not Dead.

Bruce Goes Under The Knife

One of the hazards of a career in computing is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). Unfortunately, over the last year Bruce started to show the symptoms. These developed until he did not have any feeling in the end of his fingers on both hands. Now this is both bad news and good news for a finger-picking guitarist: he couldn't feel the strings when he played, but if he played too long he didn't feel the pain in the end of his fingers. After a bit of procrastinating, Bruce finally decided to have the required surgery, starting with his left hand. On July 22nd he went under the knife and is now waiting patiently to see if the surgery was successful. Once the left hand is healed he will have the right hand done as well. Needless to say, this has put Grateful We're Not Dead on the sidelines for the summer, but we're looking forward to getting back into the fray come the Fall.

Update 1: I talked to Bruce on July 29th and his only complaint was that he was having trouble forming the B7 chord. Now it was supposed to take six weeks for to heal after this surgery, but what can you expect from a guy who was out entertaining at a Christmas party a few years ago, ten days after a triple bypass!

Update 2: August 8 was the monthly Music Night at Gord's. Bruce was out and in fine form - pickin' and grinnin' like he'd never had his hand cut open. In fact, after Music Night finished at about 11PM we stayed around and played until after 1AM.

Ariel Court Canada Day Street Party 2008

On July 1, Judy Kingsbury hosted the 5th Annual Ariel Court Canada Day Street Party. As usual Grateful We're Not Dead were on hand to entertain the seventy or so participants. Unfortunately, Al couldn't be with us this year so it was just Bruce, Gord and Don in the limelight. The big disappointment of the day was the fact that the bylaw officer didn't show up during the band's performance.

Grateful We're Not Dead entertain

This year's theme was Country and Western and everyone was expected to bring a rope and write an original song to the tune of "Home On The Range". As always, Judy's invitation was in verse:

Saddle up your broncos and bring your lasso
The first of July is coming, y'all know what to do
Don't be a slowpoke, come here for some fun
A day of music, and fellowship, a day in the sun
The band will be coming, it will be a show with a twist
I hope you will come, it's a day not to be missed
So dig out your boots and your cowboy hat too
We are having a party, a Canada Day do
Country and Western is the theme of the day
But don't bring any horses - I'm all out of hay!!!

Judy also informed us that this would be the last year that she would be hosting the party for the street, but hopefully someone on the Court will step in to fill that gap - a very big gap. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Judy on behalf of the band for the great work she's done in organizing this party over the past few years. Kudos, Judy.

I shot the sheriff, but I didn't shoot the deputy

But onto the party.

As in past years, the food was great: BBQ ribs, beans and wieners, chili, coleslaw, quinoa salad, pulled pork on a bun, fresh fruit, cakes, ice cream, etc. People started eating when they arrived and didn't quit until they left.

Top cook, Bruno. Chowin' down Damn, these are good.

The reason we had to bring a rope was to make a lasso with which to rope a run-away hobby horse. The catch was that you had to do it from the back of a mechanical galloping horse which galloped faster each time you pulled on the reins. Now for some strange reason it was the women who seemed to excel at this task. I'm curious if this has something to do with their architecture and the design of the western saddle. Hmmm, there may be lyrics for a new Grateful We're Not Dead song in there somewhere.

Watch the boobs! Watch the boobs! Denroy execute a running dismount Don shows Nancy the ropes. Look ma, no hands. Heee Yaaa.

The original songs were many in number and great and were performed with gusto. I'd planned to have some samples on-line but dumbass that I am, I forgot to press the record button on the digital recorder, so you'll have to settle for pictures. More pics are available on my Flickr account.

Would you guess she's a dental hygenist? Pat and her  mother give it a go Audrey and Paul entertain and on

Of course, Grateful We're Not Dead contributed lyrics to the challenge in their own inimitable style:

Oh give me a home where the dust bunnies roam
And the mice and the cockroaches play
Where seldom is heard the sound of a bird
'Cause the felines have chased them away

Home. home under the range
Where the earwigs and silverfish play
Where seldom is heard the sound of a bird
'Cause the damn cats have chased them away

The street parties that have become common on the Court over the last few years have certainly brought the residents closer together. Quite frequently, when you live in a big city you never get to know your neighbours. But thanks to people like Judy Kingsbury, John and Barb Reid, Glenn and Dale Scanlan the people on Ariel Court get a chance to socialize throughout the year.

So now the next big party we're waiting for is John and Barb Reid's 3rd Annual End of Summer Pool and Hot Tub Bash. And Barb, if you invite Grateful We're Not Dead we promise to keep the volume down and the by-law officer away.

See y'all in the Fall.

And now I'll ride off into the sunset.

Tall in the saddle

A New Song - Grateful We're Not Dead

For the past couple years, Grateful We're Not Dead have been opening and closing performances with The Honky Tonk Juke Box Band's Pukin' In The Parkin' Lot. We've often thought that it would be nice to do something of our own to introduce the band but have never gotten around to writing anything appropriate. However, this morning while standing in the shower I came up lyrics which may (or may not) become our theme song. All I have to do now is set it to music. Let us know what you think.

Grateful We're Not Dead

We're here to entertain you
We're here to drink your beer
We hope you like to listen
To dance and hoot and cheer
We've got our pasts behind us
But we like to look ahead
But most of all you've got to know
We're Grateful We're Not Dead

We're Grateful We're Not Dead
We're Grateful We're Not Dead
Yea, most of all you've got to know
We're Grateful We're Not Dead

We like to play the old songs
By Willy, Merle and Buck
'Bout cheating, lying, drinking,
Prison and pickup trucks.
But we'll also do some new songs
That came right from our heads
And that is just to show you
We're Grateful We're Not Dead


Now we may be getting up there
And have the Over Sixty Blues
But we'll still sing to the ladies
About the blue pills that we use
And if the hangovers seem harder
Like someone stomping on our heads
When you consider the alternative
We're Grateful We're Not Dead

Chorus (2x)

Here's looking at ya,

At Least Once Every Minute

Yesterday I was reading one of Allan Cockerill's blog postings, Is It Possible To Have An Affair Without Sex, which dealt with the question "Is it OK to have an affair online if it's minus the sex?". The first thing that came to my mind was how in hell do you have an affair online WITH the sex??? Is there something about social networking that I haven't discovered? Another item touched upon was a study that had determined that "men on average have 7 heterosexual relationships, and women have 4'. Now aside from the fact that the math seems a little strange, I'd like to know who's been getting my share. And is that per week, per month, per year or per lifetime?

This report that men were getting more than women made me think of the results of another "study" back in the Spring of 2006. It claimed that 'women think of sex once every two weeks whereas men think of sex every 58 seconds'. Now that could explain why the men referenced in the previous paragraph appear to be more active than the women but I'm just wondering if those extra three relationships are just "hand-delivered" with a lot of imagination.

I put the following little ditty together in 2006 to comment on the 58 second statistic and Wednesday evening, after a few beer and Diet Pepsi, Grateful We're Not Dead recorded it during a jam session.


At Least Once Every Minute

They say that women think of sex
Just once in every fortnight
But honey, if I come on strong
I don't want you to get up-tight
'Cause I'm a red-blooded normal man
And my head is really in it
And you know men think of sex
At least once every minute

At least once every minute
Something grabs my mind
More than my thoughts are rising
And things are hard you'll find
For me to listen to your complaints
'Cause my mind just isn't in it
And that's because men think of sex
At least once every minute

You say you want to cuddle
And could I hold you tight
All you want to do is snuggle
'Cause this ain't that bi-weekly night
Well honey, I have more on my mind
And I want to get in to it
And it's because men think of sex
At least once every minute

© Don White 2006

Not the 'Cover of the Rolling Stone' but...

Grateful We're Not Dead has finally achieved a modicum of international recognition. After posting Finally, Some Music (So To Speak) I returned a few hours later to see a comment added by Clay Eals, authour of Steve Goodman: Facing the Music, an 800 page biography of the late Steve Goodman. You can download the first chapter of Clay's book from his web site. The book looks to be a good read and can be purchased at the site's Online Store. The book is definitely going on my "must read" list.

The next morning I awoke to find out we had been featured in a blog article, Grateful We Are Not Dead And Loving It, by Allan Cockerill in Australia. Allan's blog is a worthwhile visit (especially since he thinks that Grateful We're Not Dead don't "sound all that bad") and I drop by on a regular basis. By the way Allan, is 'not sounding all that bad' synonymous with 'don't sound too damn good'? :-)

Anyway, as a result of Allan's article visits to this blog have skyrocketed. We've had t'ousands and t'ousands of visitors - at least 25. (That's 25 not 25,000 and according to Google Analytics, 40% of the visits have been by Search Engines. I guess those robots just love country music.)

Anyway, to wrap up this article I strongly suggest if you are a Steve Goodman fan that you drop by Clay Eals site and have a look at the first chapter of his book. And of course, for an interesting read, why not have Coffee With Allan Cockerill on a regular basis.

Finally, Some Music (So To Speak)

Last week Grateful We're Not Dead got together for a jam session in Don's living room and left the digital recorder running for the duration. Now that means there was no real concern for relative levels, panning, equalization, etc. while we banged and crashed. However, lack of professionalism aside we decided to upload some MP3 files for the foolhardy and masochists amongst you to listen to. So if you have a few brew handy, throw back, kick up your feet and prepare for some auditory abuse.

(P.S. If there are some delays in the streaming, blame it on DivShare. Thats where the MP3 files are stored.)

  • Pukin' In The Parkin' Lot (Honky Tonk Jukebox Band)
  • Over Sixty Blues (Don White)
  • I Ain't Never Gonna Do That Again (Don White)
  • Idol Of The Band (Hoyt Axton)
  • The Farmer's Daughter (Merle Haggard)
  • Six Days on The Road (Dave Dudley)
  • Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream (Ed McCurdy)
  • You Never Even Call Me By My Name (Steve Goodman)
  • The Boob Song (John D. Wilson)

An Evening at Lorenzo's

Last Friday evening (2008-04-11), Grateful We're Not Dead gathered at Lorenzo's Pizza on Adeline Street. Initially, it was just to be an evening with 8 or 10 of us eating, drinking and playing some music but Bruce found out that it was Gord and Evelyn's 22 Anniversary. Emails were sent and we ended up with a surprise party of about 30 people for our dear friends.

The music for the first part of the evening was a sing-a-long led by Marg Penniston. After food was served, Grateful We're Not Dead swung into full voice and entertained until about 10:15 PM. Two of our other musical friends, Jay Hunt (banjo) and Mel Sanshagrin (guitar and vocals) sat in with us to provide some interesting sounds. Thanks guys, we'll have to do that again.

We'd like to thank the management and staff at Lorenzo's for putting up with us for the evening. And as for your invitation for us to do it again - you can count on it!

Global Warming Means A Pub With No Beer?

Today I dropped by a friend's blog, Coffee with Allan Cockerill, and came upon some devastating information - BEER will be short supply, more expensive and may taste different as climate change affects barley production. However, along with this crushing news, Allan also included the lyrics of a song which I had long forgotten, A Pub With No Beer, and a link to a YouTube video of the late Slim Dusty performing it. Seeing as Grateful We're Not Dead are normally compensated with food and beer I think is only fitting that we add this song to our repertoire.

Where Have All The Photos Gone

This morning I checked out the GWND blog only to find that most of the pictures has disappeared. These pictures had been stored on an account with Zooomr. Now I must admit that I haven't been paying much attention to the activity at Zooomr but it appears that they've moved to servers in Japan and in the process my account has vanished.

I guess my next step will be to contact them to see if the account can be restored. If not, then I'll kiss Zooomr goodbye and move the images to my Flickr account (once I locate them all again). So for the time being, you won't see any of the photos originally posted with the blog entries. Once I've clarified the situation with Zooomr I'll decide on how to proceed.


Update: The pictures are back. I checked ZooomrTV and found out that Zooomr was undergoing a major software upgrade. So it appears that the universe is unfolding as it should.

Year End Update

I can't believe it's almost February 2008 and I haven't updated the Blog since October 2007. Shame, shame on me.

Well let's see; what did Grateful We're Not Dead do during the last two months of 2007?

On November 2, we played three sets at the Tuk Tuk Thai House Restaurant in Vanier. It definitely was not our normal venue but we did have fun. A special thanks to Bernie from Prince Edward Island who came up and sang a few Hank Williams songs with us. As usual we played for food and water, so to speak. Al Owler sat in with us for the night. This is quite handy because Al is the only one young enough and strong enough to lift the equipment into the van at the end of the night.

In November, Gord Breedyk and Evelyn Voigt attended a Peace Conference in Vancouver where they both presented papers. Evelyn's presentation included some of her poetry which she normally recites with an instrumental background. Don and Bruce recorded a CD of instrumental material for Evelyn to use use in her presentation and apparently it worked out quite well. If time permits I'll do a mix of some of the poems and make them available from the Blog.

On November 22, Grateful We're Not Dead played for the wedding reception of Jean and Michel, friends from Music Night. Unfortunately, Gord was sick that evening but Al sat in with us again. The venue was a group home and the entertainment co-ordinator expressed interest in us returning at a later date to entertain again.

On December 4th we entertained at the CESO Luncheon at the RA Centre. To quote their January newsletter:

"Delicious hot and cold hors d’oeuvres were served, courtesy of CESO Head Office. They were enjoyed by all. VA Gord Breedyk entertained with background music along with his ensemble of three guitars bearing the name “Grateful We’re Not Dead”. The other two were Don White and Bruce Penniston. Following the formal program, the group led a singsong of Christmas music. A merry and joyous first for the CESO Club."

On December 7, we did a short set at Ian Cunningham's retirement party. Ian is an old friend from our Public Works Canada days.

December 15 was the Music Night Christmas party. This party is hosted annually by Gord and Evelyn in the common room of their condo building. It's a great evening with a buffet lunch, drinks and a sing-a-long of Christmas music led by Marg Penniston. The music is provided by Grateful We're Not Dead, Marie Rakos on piano and anyone else who wants to sit in. This year we started at 7:00PM and finally pulled the plug at 11:00PM.

On December 29, Diane McIntyre hosted a dinner party for Grateful We're Not Dead and their spouses. Don's brother Doug and his wife, Leslie, were visiting from Kitchener. Doug brought his bass guitar and sat in with the group for the evening. This gave us a chance to do some material from back in the days when Don and Doug played throughout Lanark, Renfrew and Frontenac counties in the Mississippi River Boys. As a result, it looks like Grateful We're Not Dead will be adding some John Prine material to out repertoire.

And that pretty well wrapped up the year end.

On behalf of Grateful We're Not Dead I'd like to wish you a very Happy New Year and hope that you get to see us perform sometime in 2008.