Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Wal-Mart Stampede

(below) Cell-phone video shows emergency workers trying to aid a store employee who was trampled by a mob of Black Friday bargain-hunters after opening the doors of a Long Island Wal Mart. The man, identified as Jdimytai Damour (right), 34, of Queens, was later pronounced dead. (WCBS)


Condolences to the family of Jdimytai Damour. It is very sad that he was trampled while trying to make a living as a worker at a Wal-Mart store.

Now, what can we learn from this? And, who is to blame?If we were to turn to philosophers or folk musicians, we might get the proper answer. An artist like Woody Guthrie might be inclined to point out that the situation was more of the usual games between the rich and the poor. The rich Wal Mart owners set the stage for the working class bargain hunters to trample the working class temporary worker. And, now, some in the corporate media are willing to side with the corporation, of course.

I am horrified to see some mainstream news coverage vilify the shoppers who went through the doors. And, an AP headline that threatens to hunt the shoppers down. The AP/Yahoo News headline is: "Sought: Wal-Mart shoppers who trampled NY worker". And, it states:

Police were reviewing video from surveillance cameras in an attempt to identify who trampled to death a Wal-Mart worker after a crowd of post-Thanksgiving shoppers burst through the doors at a suburban store and knocked him down.Criminal charges were possible…

It is very clear from the story, and the obvious facts, that Wal-Mart is at least equally, but perhaps more to blame than the shoppers. Who profited from the chaos being created? –the shoppers who believed they were getting a discount on goods which are already marked up for retail? or, the company who would make a profit, nonetheless from every customer they could get to the door, the ones who got the sale, and even the ones who would feel the need to buy something else when the sale item got sold out? (What is the term in retail? Bait and switch? Evidently these shoppers had experienced it before, or they would not have started lining up before 3 am in the morning.)

The AP/Yahoo News story is amazing in its distraction on the shopper, instead of the corporation. It quotes someone as saying that the shoppers acted like "savages". It paints a portrait of them being uncaring by continuing to shop (instead of noting that the shoppers could have been confused or in shock by having been in such a large crowd and experienced a tragedy, when they were only going somewhere to shop.) It assigns no blame to Wal-Mart, and even publishes the official line from the spokesperson/Vice President from Wal-Mart, which will help to bolster the company image and get their spin on the story out in public before the inevitable civil or criminal lawsuit against them.

I was gratified that the New York Times had a much better story about this incident. The New York Times focused much more on what Wal-Mart could have and should have done to prevent this incident. The New York Times allowed a speaker on behalf of workers and not just the capitalist, corporate owners to make a statement for the press.

The New York Times wrote:

Wal-Mart has successfully resisted unionization of its employees. New York State's largest grocery union, Local 1500 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, called the death of Mr. Damour "avoidable" and demanded investigations.

"Where were the safety barriers?" said Bruce Both, the union president. "Where was security? How did store management not see dangerous numbers of customers barreling down on the store in such an unsafe manner? This is not just tragic; it rises to a level of blatant irresponsibility by Wal-Mart."

The New York Times also points out another fact that indicts Wal Mart, who set the scene, over the people who specifically trampled Mr. Damour. "Four other people, including a 28-year-old woman who was described as eight months pregnant, were treated at the hospital for minor injuries."

Woody Guthrie knew who the outlaws were. He was always writing about the hypocrisy of men who were called robbers for stealing bread or money because they were poor, versus men who stole money "with a fountain pen." Wal Mart wrote the advertisements that lured shoppers to the store. Wal Mart architects designed a store where there was not easy entrance and exit, because that is better for them to watch their wares come and go. Wal Mart works in public relations, lawsuits, and even lobbying, to make sure that they don't have to unionize.

Wal Mart's guilt resonates in the words of a Woody Guthrie song put to music by Billy Bragg on the album "Mermaid Avenue." In the song "The Unwelcome Guest", an outlaw reflects: "I've never took food from the widow and orphans, And never a hard working man I oppressed…" At Wal-Mart on Black Friday 2008, a worker died, and four other people, including a pregnant woman, were trampled. And, none of them were going to save anything close to the amount of money that the Wal-Mart CEO's were going to make, if sales were high on Black Friday.


Blogger's note: Ian and I are going to Carnegie Hall tonight to see Woody's son, Arlo Guthrie, sing with Pete Seeger and friends. The Guthries and Pete Seeger have a long history of promoting unions, celebrating the working man, and singing out against injustice. Perhaps there will be a new song about Wal Mart? - KW

Related articles:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The National Day of Mourning

The National Day of Mourning

On Thanksgiving Day, many Native Americans and their supporters gather at the top of Coles Hill, overlooking Plymouth Rock, for the "National Day of Mourning."

The first National Day of Mourning was held in 1970. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts invited Wampanoag leader Frank James to deliver a speech. When the text of Mr. James' speech, a powerful statement of anger at the history of oppression of the Native people of America, became known before the event, the Commonwealth "disinvited" him. That silencing of a strong and honest Native voice led to the convening of the National Day of Mourning.

The historical event we know today as the "First Thanksgiving" was a harvest festival held in 1621 by the Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors and allies. It has acquired significance beyond the bare historical facts. Thanksgiving has become a much broader symbol of the entirety of the American experience. Many find this a cause for rejoicing. The dissenting view of Native Americans, who have suffered the theft of their lands and the destruction of their traditional way of life at the hands of the American nation, is equally valid.

To some, the "First Thanksgiving" presents a distorted picture of the history of relations between the European colonists and their descendants and the Native People. The total emphasis is placed on the respect that existed between the Wampanoags led by the sachem Massasoit and the first generation of Pilgrims in Plymouth, while the long history of subsequent violence and discrimination suffered by Native People across America is nowhere represented.

To others, the event shines forth as an example of the respect that was possible once, if only for the brief span of a single generation in a single place, between two different cultures and as a vision of what may again be possible someday among people of goodwill.

History is not a set of "truths" to be memorized, history is an ongoing process of interpretation and learning. The true richness and depth of history come from multiplicity and complexity, from debate and disagreement and dialogue. There is room for more than one history; there is room for many voices.

Article courtesy of the Pilgrim Hall Museum

Check out this video: Day of morning

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Finish this sentence: "If I had a hammer, i'd ____."

Dance, Monkey: Billy Bob Neck
We put a comic on the hot seat. This week's victim . . . Billy Bob Neck
By SARA FAITH ALTERMAN | November 25, 2008

Finish this sentence: "If I had a hammer, i'd ____."

I'd build a jail to put Pete Seeger and all his Commie songwriting friends in. All them socialists continue to corrupt our youth with songs about drug-taking dragons and "peace." That's why I voted for Alan Keyes! He don't stand for folk songs.

Pete Seeger ~ going strong at 89.5 years young!

~ and Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, THE RIFLEMEN OF BENNINGTON, 11/14/08

Liberty Tree Dedication
By Newburgh Advocate
On Saturday, November 14, dignitaries and citizens of Newburgh joined together for the dedication ceremony of the New York State Liberty Tree at Washington’s Headquarters. Pete Seeger and his grandson, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, ...
The Newburgh Advocate -

The song lyrics are in the "Early American Life" area of Pete's website.

May 21, 1972

Dear Editor,

Early Americans had no TV, no hi-fi. If they were of the 90% that lived outside cities, they had no theaters or concert halls. They sang in church, at quilting bees and barn raisings, and many of their songs sound just as good now as they ever did.

I often sing this song with my audiences helping me out on the handclaps in the chorus. It really brings back the patriotic enthusiasms of the early American farmers, and has a double meaning for 1972. I hope some of your readers will learn it and sing it. No accompaniment is really needed, if the singer has spirit.

This song has been passed on to us by John Allison of Westchester county, New York.

Best wishes,
Pete Seeger

(The song referred to is "The Riflemen of Bennington.")


Why come ye hither, Redcoats,
Your mind what madness fills?
In our forest there is danger,
And there's danger in our hills.
Hear ye not the singing
Of the bugle loud and free?
Soon you'll hear the ringing
Of the rifle from the tree.

For the rifle, For the rifle
In our hands will prove no trifle.
For the rifle, For the rifle
In our hands will prove no trifle.

Ye may ride a goodly steed,
Ye may know another master;
Ye forward came with speed,
But ye'll learn to back, much faster!
If we the work must do,
Then the sooner 'tis begun,
If flint and trigger hold but true,
The sooner 'twill be done.

Had ye no graves at home,
Far across the briny water?
That thither ye must come
Like bullocks to the slaughter?
When you meet our Mountain Boys
And their leader, Johnny Stark,
Lads who make but little noise,
But who always hit the mark!

(c) 1940 John Allison; Stormking Music, Inc.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bob Franke's "Hard Love" instructional video

BOB FRANKE's "Hard Love" instructional video

Bob, who performed at the Notlob Parlor Concert series on December 22, 2007, has posted a video on YouTube and his website showing him playing "Hard Love" in his back yard.

Very cool.

Hard Love
Words & Music by Bob Franke

I remember growing up like it was only yesterday
Mom & Daddy tried their best to guide me on my way
But the hard times & the liquor drove the easy love away
And the only love I knew about was hard love

It was hard love, every hour of the day
When Christmas to my birthday was a million years away
And the fear that came between them drove the tears into my play
There was love in daddy's house, but it was hard love

And I recall the gentle courtesy you gave me as I tried
To dissemble in politeness all the love I felt inside
And for every song of laughter was another song that cried
This ain't no easy weekend, this is hard love

It was hard love, every step of the way
Hard to be so close to you, so hard to turn away
And when all the stars and sentimental songs dissolved to day
There was nothing left to sing about but hard love

So I loved you for your courage, and your gentle sense of shame
And I loved you for your laughter and your language and your name
And I knew it was impossible, but I loved you just the same
Though' the only love I gave to you was hard love

It was hard love, it was hard on you, I know
When the only love I gave to you was love I couldn't show
You forgave the heart that loved you as your lover turned to go
Leaving nothing but the memory of hard love

So I'm standing in this phone booth with a dollar and a dime
Wondering what to say to you to ease your troubled mind
For the Lord's cross might redeem us, but our own just wastes our time
And to tell the two apart is always hard, love

So I'll tell you that I love you even though I'm far away
And I'll tell you how you change me as I live from day to day
How you help me to accept myself and I won't forget to say
Love is never wasted, even when it's hard love

Yes, it's hard love, but it's love all the same
Not the stuff of fantasy, but more than just a game
And the only kind of miracle that's worthy of the name
For the love that heals our lives is mostly hard love

©1982 Telephone Pole Music Publishing Co. (BMI)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Kristin Andreassen on "A Prairie Home Companion"

Kristin has graced the Notlob stage twice, once as a part of Sometymes Why (2/07) and once as a solo feature (6/08).

Please tune into "A Prairie Home Companion" for a real treat!

p.s. Keep your eyes and ears open for "Spongy Cactus", her new new/bluegrass project with Jefferson Hamer.


Hey everybody! I'm sitting here at the St. Paul Hotel in Minnesota and I'm super excited to play on A Prairie Home Companion for the next two nights. Here's the deal:

Friday, November 21 • 7:30pm
Live theater show -- not broadcast for radio, but you can come if you're here!

Saturday, November 22 • 5pm
Theater show & live radio broadcast.
See for a complete list of radio stations and times.

Both shows are here:
The Fitzgerald Theater
10 East Exchange Street
St. Paul, Minnesota 55101
Tickets & info: 651-290-1195;

I'll be joined by my good friends Jefferson Hamer (guitar), Emma Leahy-Good (pattycake) & Bryn Davies (bass, oh yeah)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Geoff Bartley's "Blackbirds in the Pie"

Having the CDs signed allows them to play back in stereo, and also allows you to hear all the other instruments . . . a little trick I learned from Tom Paxton.
~ Geoff

Any Geoff Bartley concert is a treat, but those who attended his concert this past Saturday in Somerville experienced something very special. In an extended set lasting more than an hour he performed several selections from "Blackbirds in the Pie". I was very proud to have played a small part in this new chapter.


A new CD of seventeen songs and instrumentals, half of them originals, is due out in the fall of 2008. Material ranges from a humorous version of Bessie Smith's Send Me to the `Lectric Chair with a guest appearance by Billy Novick on clarinet to the heart-warming Song of Imaginary Gifts to the personal and mystical Open Any Door, both Bartley originals. Production values range from solo resonator guitar to full band.

"Blackbirds in the Pie" is

CandyMan ~ Rev. Gary Davis
I Could Dance All Night to the Blues ~ Geoff Bartley
Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair ~ George Brooks
I Fall Up ~ Ed White
Who Do You Love ~ Elias McDaniel (aka Bo Diddley)
Moonrise ~ Geoff Bartley
Play the Cards the Way They Lie ~ Geoff Bartley
Bozos on the Road #2 ~ Geoff Bartley
Lemonade Redoux ~ Geoff Bartley
The Song of Imaginary Gifts ~ Geoff Bartley
Raleigh and Spencer ~ Traditional
Moonset ~ Geoff Bartley
Backwater Blues ~ Geoff Bartley
God Bless the Grass ~ Malvina Reynolds
Central Square ~ Tom Paxton
Redemption ~ ~ Geoff Bartley
Open Any Door ~ Geoff Bartley

Geoff: acoustic, resonator, and electric guitars played fingerstyle, flat picked, and with slide, electric bass guitar, harmonica, drum machine, kalimba, cymbol, ocarina, and "vocals"; Billy Novick: clarinet on Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair; Paul Rishell: pedal steel guitar on I Fall Up.

"Geoff is an amazing player, he writes wonderful songs that speak to the heart and if that weren't enough, he is a great person who really cares about folk and roots music and the people who make it." ~ Brad Paul, Producer / Host "Folk on WGBH" 89.7fm, Boston.

Get thee to Geoff's website or to to the Cantab on a Monday or Tuesday to purchase this instant classic, my highest recommendation!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Show Will Go On! Next Notlob Concert is December 13!

When last night's concert (featuring Mary McCaslin and Geoff Bartley) started, the future of the series in Somerville was in doubt, the reason being the venue was only to be heated Sunday mornings for services.

The world economy has smiled down on the series. At intermission I spoke with the minister, who, due to a mild November and lower heating fuel costs, has agreed to let me continue to produce concerts through the Winter!

The next Notlob concert will be Saturday, December 13. I cannot yet reveal the artist, but he is local, highly regarded and a Notlob alumni, and is well-suited for the holiday season.

Please stay tuned for details.

Keep your lamp trimmed and burning!

Jeff Boudreau

Website ~

Mailing list ~

Discussion ~

Blog ~

Artist Information ~

Folk forums ~

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mary McCaslin & Geoff Bartley

NOTLOB FOLK CONCERT SERIES is proud to present two of the most highly regarded traditional folk artists performing today, Mary McCaslin and Geoff Bartley, and hosted by Dave Palmater of WUMB-fm at the Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church, 155 Powderhouse Blvd, Somerville, MA 02144 on Saturday, November 15 at 8:00 pm (doors 7:30). Earlier that same day, Geoff Bartley will be offering a guitar workshop in the Nave Gallery (information is on his website ~

Suggested donation is $15, $10 for students with ID.

Tickets are available online through Brown Paper Tickets -

Coffee and water are available for a donation.

Earlier in the week, Mary and Geoff will be on area folk radio programs:

* November 11, 1pm ~ Mary McCaslin on WMBR w/ Eli Polonsky (88.1fm, streaming @
* November 14, 9am ~ Mary McCaslin on WCUW w/ Troy Tyree (91.3fm, streaming @
* November 14, 4pm ~ Geoff Bartley on WUMB w/ Dave Palmater (91.9fm, streaming at
* November 15, 3pm ~ Mary McCaslin on WGBH w/ Brad Paul (89.7fm, streaming @


Mary McCaslin represents an unbroken link between traditional folksingers and today's "new folk" singer-songwriters. Her music ranges from ballads of the old west to her own songs of the new west and modern times. Regarded as a pioneer of open guitar tunings, and known for her distinctive vocal style, Mary's influences can be heard in many younger folk performers.

She is also known for her haunting renditions of pop standards and rock classics, such as "Ghost Riders In The Sky", "The Wayward Wind", the Beatles' "Things We Said Today", and the Supremes' "My World Is Empty". Her versions of the Beatles' "Blackbird" and the Who's "Pinball Wizard" are made more unique by her "clawhammer" banjo accompaniment.

Mary's musical influences are as varied as her repertoire: The western ballads of Marty Robbins, the guitar playing of Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell, the singing and banjo playing of Hedy West, and the vocal inflections of the Beatles and the BeeGees.

Her songs have been recorded by Tom Russell ("Prairie In The Sky"), Bill Staines ("Prairie In The Sky"), Chris Williamson ("Circle Of Friends"), David Bromberg ("Young Westley"), Kate Wolf ("The Ballad Of Weaverville"), Stan Rogers ("Down The Road") and others. The Grand Canyon Railroad has used her song "Last Cannonball" for its promotional television ad.


"A great composer and interpreter."


"Mary McCaslin is an inspiration"


"- a sage writer, warmly expressive singer and exquisite player."


"- a songwriter's songwriter."


"McCaslin's real-life western songs and earthy romanticism were profoundly influential among songwriters in the '70s.

Too often overlooked is the great impact her guitar playing also had on the acoustic scene."

L. A. TIMES (feature on mystery writer Walter Mosley)

"Mosley is a conundrum who pulls from Louis Armstrong and folk singer MaryMcCaslin with equal fervor and fascination."


"She sounds as if she had risen out of the Western soil and became its voice."


Geoff Bartley is a prize-winning acoustic guitarist and a nationally respected singer/songwriter whose songs are grounded in traditional folk music, roots blues and jazz. Some of his songs and co-writes have been performed and recorded by other artists in the US, Nashville, Canada and Ireland. Mr. Bartley has released five CDs available from Waterbug Records in Chicago. He hosts two nights of acoustic music each week at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Both nights have been voted Best of Boston in local entertainment media. Mr. Bartley lives in a Boston suburb.

Mr. Bartley is best known for his elegant blues-influenced guitar style and the archetypal imagery in his writing. His songs address the human longing for meaning in life and are told by average people living in a mysterious world. Running through his material are veins of social consciousness and a recurrent fascination with the “inner terrain”. By bringing images from the natural world coupled with street-level observations of the human condition to the heart of his message, Mr. Bartley reveals a love for the mystical in everyday life. His songs are ultimately uplifting and full of promise.

A natural performer with plenty of personality, Mr. Bartley brings a liberal sprinkling of humor and offbeat between-song patter to his live shows. Audiences are treated to songs and instrumentals in several styles plus traditional and contemporary blues. He boasts a blues-soaked baritone voice and is an expressive harmonica player and slide guitarist. In addition to his own shows mostly in southern New England, Mr. Bartley plays guitar and sings harmony for topical songwriter and folk veteran Tom Paxton at concert venues and festivals in the northeast and elsewhere. Mr. Bartley was also instrumental in bringing the Tom Paxton signature model Martin guitar into production in 2004.

Since his first paying gig in Boulder, Colorado in 1969, Geoff has played in thirty-two states and Canada and has opened for or shared venue or festival stages with Dave Van Ronk, Jonathan Edwards, David Bromberg, David Mallett, Leo Kottke, John Sebastian, Barry Crimmins, John Martyn, the Persuasions, Asleep at the Wheel, Peter Paul & Mary, Leon Redbone, Guy Van Duser & Billy Novick, Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry, Taj Mahal, Jorma Kaukonen, Al Kooper, Arlo Guthrie, Dr. John, Martin Mull, John Hammond, Livingston Taylor, Richie Havens, Suzanne Vega, Michael Manring, Richard Thompson, Shawn Colvin, Tom Rush, Doc Watson, Tim O’Brien, Norman & Nancy Blake, Gamble Rogers, John Jackson, Odetta and the rock band Aerosmith.

In the 1980s, Mr. Bartley won four guitars at the National Fingerpicking Championships hosted by the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas. Acoustic guitar instrumentals and songs Mr. Bartley has written have been used on the History Channel, Animal Planet, A&E, the Learning Channel, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Nature on PBS and in other commercial and non-commercial television programs on other stations, and in documentary films and in private and commercial advertising in the US and other countries. These recordings are licensed to the Sonoton label in Munich, Germany and are distributed worldwide by APM Music.

The concert series is made possible with the support of ARTSomerville, a volunteer organization that draws upon the talents of local creativity, strengthening communication among artists and the public by presenting exhibits, performances, and educational activities. The goals of ARTSomerville are:

* To create partnerships with municipal, public, and private organizations
* To provide facilities for the support, promotion, and exhibition of the arts
* To foster educational and cultural programs in the arts
* To promote Somerville as a vibrant and welcoming artistic community

Community involvement, questions and reservations are encouraged; contact series producer Jeff Boudreau through the Notlob website -

CHARITY: Through Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church’s “Peace, Justice and Mission Committee”, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to RESPOND. Patrons may also bring items from RESPOND’s wish list. Patrons may also donate funds directly through RESPOND’s website -

RESPOND’s mission is to help women and their children create options for a safer life, free from domestic violence, and to further the efforts of the larger community to end domestic violence. At this time we seek to fulfill our mission by providing shelter, support, advocacy and education.