Tag Archives: New York

The Song and the Process. Grandma Said by Story Laurie

Story LaurieThe journey in which Story Laurie (2013 Best Children’s Performer, Hudson Valley Magazine) became Story Laurie is a tale unto itself. There shall be a slight reveal here because of it’s connection to one of my favorite songs Grandma Said but it is definitely a yarn spinner for another time… What caught me about this song was the deep rich vocals of Lauri McIntosh and the depth and simplicity of the uke led three piece band (ukulele, bass, drums) backing her up. The song itself is a sweet conversation between the Grandma and a child who is asking many questions and grandma doesn’t have the answers but really admires the questions.  The lyrics came from “Grandma” Avis who was a legendary storyteller in Woodstock, NY.  Avis was a mentor, friend and family to Laurie (and many others) who helped guide her in her storytelling craft and endeavors. After Avis passed away too soon from cancer.  While Laurie was dealing with her grief she took the funeral bookmark which instead of a proverb or scripture passage had a poem written by GrandmaCD-Story-Laurie Avis called… Grandma Said.  She then put those words to music and added just a chorus keeping the poem almost entirely intact.  The song is simple, sweet and sentimental without the sapp (I’m not even gonna mention it was recorded with Dean Jones.) Anyone who ever listened to a child ask questions knows the feeling.  This is a departure from her usual songwriting technique.  Usually Laurie goes for walks (another theme here visit Dan Zanes article), finds a melody and the comes home to record it on whatever is available.  iPods, answering machines, tape recorders,  etc.  I asked why she didn’t use her phone and she says it’s a simple machine lacking such features. She just recently put out a new song and  has a bunch more to record.  That is when she’s not homeschooling the kids, storytelling, gardening, teaching song workshops, singing about organic foods and of course being Story Laurie.  One of her recent teaching collaborations turned into the song Who Grew My Soup which is worth a listen as well.  So give Laurie’s webpage a look and while you’re there buy the CD. Go support your local kindie artist today!

End of a St. Patrick tradition.

st patrickEvery year for the last 20 I have made a pilgrimage to the St. Patricks Day capital of the world. Not in Chicago, New York or even Savannah where my sister attends the parade there yearly.  My St. Patricks Day HQ for the last 20 years has been… Kenosoha, Wisconsin.  Sixteen of those years I help purvey the beef and was in charge of the slicing. This happened after I had attended the event a few years and inquired where Patrick McGuire (host of the event) had acquired the beef?  He informed me that he raided every supermarket in a 15 mile radius for the best pieces he could gather. That’s a lot of gathering when your feeding 150+ people. I then volunteered to help  purvey the meat  knowing where to get large pieces of corned beef at much better price (Firehouse tradition is corned beef every Saturday. If you’re the cook you learn where to purchase the BIG briskets).  Patrick and his wife  Anna, my friends, treated this day like others treatshamrock Christmas, Hanukkah and  Easter.  The folks invited were an amazing collection of family, teachers, politicians, lawyers, laborers, students and whoever they or their children felt were worthy to attend. Everyone there was polite, friendly and open to conversation.  When I started attending all the kids were living at home. McGuire kids always took off school for the day.  As the kids grew up and attended college they would fly back home for the festivities.  Many times bringing with them a group of their classmates.   When folks attending got older, married and had kids their children too became part of the festivities (my kids looked forward to it every year).  Here is the most amazing part. When dinner was served EVERYONE SAT DOWN TOGETHER at the many, many tables set up for the occasion. Salad, parsleyed potatoes, cabbage, carrots, Patrick’s world famous Irish Soda Bread (with or without raisins) and of course the 100+ pounds of sliced corned beef. (In the early days I sliced a lot of corned beef but as I got older the McGuire kids got older and assisted. Friends and neighbors would assist as well. In the later years I more or less supervised with a glass of Irish whiskey in hand.  The corned beef slicing had become a party unto itself.)  You grabbed a seat wherever there was space. Never sitting next to a stranger just someone you had not had the opportunity to meet yet.  After dinner many folks would jump right in and help store the leftover food, pack up to-go bags and wash the dishes.  It was another mini-party unto itself as well.  If it was a school night or you had wee ones many headed home right after desert (amazing deserts brought by the guests.)  Some folks (such as this writer) stayed late as there was never a hurry to leave ( As I had kids of my own we had to head home at a respectable hour) and still lots of great company and conversation to be had.   Well I am sorry to say the party has ended.  After 25 years of celebrating the Mcguire’s have called it quits.   While sad to see the party end I am truly humbled and honored they invited me to the party to begin with.  My hope is that one of his children pick up the tradition so I can go visit them, slice some corned beef and hang with some amazing people. Till then I salute the McGuire’s with a glass of Irish whiskey.  Thank you for such generosity for such a long time span.  Well done sir!


p.s. I can still acquire some tasty corned beef at a decent price!

The Song and the Process – Peace and Quiet by Kurt Gallagher

kurt yellowThe process of songwriting fascinates me and nothing beats listening to a really well crafted song. Mr. Kurt (Gallagher) is a singer/songwriter from New York who actually plays to kid/family audiences year round and makes a living at it. Over 20 years!  That in itself is really impressive as those who make a living as strictly kindie musicians are few and far between.  The fact he supports his family doing it is even more impressive. He has 6 CD’s finished and performs in a different place every day.  Schools, libraries, camps, etc… A very working musician.  I met Kurt at kindiefest a few years ago and we bonded over a few beers and have remained friends ever since. He also wrote one of my favorite songs. I featured it in Songs I Wish I had Written earlier this year.  Click the link to give it a read.  The song is titled Peace and Quiet on his 1,2,3,4 CD and what a great song it is. Kurt says that it was actually left over from his previous recording effort.  All he had at that time was the first two lyrics and a whole bunch of other songs he needed to complete.  Seems the previous album called kurtgallagher lets goLet’s Go was based on the idea of an older brother narrating about his “crazed” little sister. You know the sibling who’s always in perpetual motion and never stops moving. Biking, running, talking, playing with dolls, digging up gardens and always pestering her older brother. She’s THAT sister. Along with the sister he’s got a couple hyper pets as well demanding his attention. That’s one harried big brother!  Kurt took those lyrics and proceeded to finishes them. Then he added the music which is how he tends to write.  He writes lyrics and or he writes music.  Each one as a separate idea.  Then he tries to match the lyrics he’s written with the different music he’s recorded which is pretty cool.  So he writes the guitar part as a Chuck Berry slow Memphis Shuffle thing and uses the pre-chorus chord progression similar to Heatwave from Martha and the Vandellas  (the mans a walking music reference guide) for his chorus music.  Armed with those ideas he heads into the studio to record having sent the rough recordings to fellow band members to practice and bring new ideas.  Well his accountant/guitarist (can’t make this stuff up) comes up with another guitar part to drive the song which is what you hear on the recording with the Memphis riff in the background. Kurt calls it a Grateful Dead groove thing.  Now the tuba bass line… Yes the TUBA bass line (Dragging the Line, Tommy James) is brought in by the tuba player who had an idea and it so works. Until Kurt told me this I thought it was some kind of bass compression pedal. This all happens organically as the band grew with the song.   Then I had to ask about the counting and Kurt informed me that in his live shows he incorporates showing rhythm by using different counts in different languages.  It totally works here. Peace and Quiet is a great song that deserves to be heard by many.kurtgallagher8 Kurt is also working on putting out a new CD and looks to start recording a new batch of songs in the spring.He’s going to self-produce focusing on good writing and good guitar which is what the song Peace and Quiet has in abundance! Go have a listen and buy some of Mr Kurt’s work today. You can check out the words to the song below. Next week The Hipwaders!


My Little baby sister is out of control
She’s got a tiny little body and a big gigantic soul
She’s driving me crazy every night and every day
All she ever wants to do is run and jump and play
I never thought I’d want to try it
But I could really use some peace and quiet
1 and 2 and three and four and
1 and 2 and three and four and
My crazy kitty cat is drivin’ me up the wall
Trouble in the winter, spring, summer & fall
Jumping on the kitchen table and the counter top
only knows how to go, Doesn’t know how to stop
My little puppy dog is totally insane
Nothing but marbles rolling round my doggies’ brain
Runs around in circles when he wants to go outside
When he starts barking the house rocks from side to side