July 3, 2018

It has been quite a while since I have submitted any material for my blog page. I can’t say that I had no thoughts to record, just too lazy (I like to call it busy) to do so.

Some things of late, however, have disturbed me to the point of venting. I think they are as well said here as anywhere and a great deal better that accosting any of those with whom I might disagree.

I would like to talk about our National Square Dance Convention. I have attended quite a few since my first in 1971 but I have missed the last two. I skipped those two because it just was not worth my while to attend. There are several reasons causing me to make the decision to skip the event. I have a
hunch that my motivation(s) match those of many others.

First, I think it is good to look at the event from more than one perspective: A full time caller that derives most if not all his or her income from square dance calling. Since the activity of calling is that person’s primary source of income, he or she must look at the National as a business venture i.e. is it a worthwhile expenditure? If it is an event where you are accompanied by your family, or at least your spouse or partner, then it can be considered a vacation. If not, however, it is a business trip. If you are primarily a dancer, then the trip must be a fun only trip (vacation). If the National is a place that provides as much entertainment as, for instance, the beach, hunting trip, shopping trip, etc, then the cost is worth it.

There are many other reasons but those two apply to most of the attendees.
From the perspective of the person(s) that derives most of their income from the square and round dance activity, the National Convention, in its current form, is not a viable business venture. It has changed so drastically over the past few years that it is 1) too expensive 2) poorly programmed, 3) not
nearly as much fun as it used to be.

There is nothing that can be done about the expense. Air travel, auto travel, hotel costs are not going to change except for moving upward in cost. Big deal, so has everything else. If the event is worth it, it will still thrive. Which brings me to the question of why is the attendance so low?

This is where I get into “My Opinion” I know that without question, I will receive as many comments disagreeing (probably more) as those in agreement. Which brings us right back to the new generation: We are no longer the “me first generation”. Oh no, we are now the “Me Only” generation. In my opinion, the national convention, as well as many state conventions, are not being programmed with the dancers’ best interests at heart. If that were the case, there would not be so many seriously unhappy dancers at the end of the conventions.

As I see it, the program chairperson’s job it NOT to please all the local callers (including themselves) by putting them in prime spots in the programs. Our National Convention should provide an opportunity to showcase the very best talent available. That, my friends, is how you build an event. Unfortunately,
each host program chairperson knows that, when their convention is over, they must climb back in bed with all those close by and they are, almost always, not willing to risk the wrath of those local callers.

In my opinion, they should not have accepted the job to begin with. The program chairman, in my opinion, should seek out those with a knowledge of the calling ability of all registered, use that knowledge to program the convention in the best way possible. All registered called should have the
opportunity to display their talents but, the assignments should be “weighted” according to their talent and their “national popularity”. It would be wonderful if all individual bias could be done away but, again in my opinion, it just isn’t going to happen.

By continuing to use the same procedures and following the same policies, we are perpetuating the decline of or annual National event.

Now, can you blame those who have taken on the job, HECK NO. They are given no hard and fast rules to go by. All their friends know that, and they begin to call in the favor. With no guidelines, the have no choice: one national convention or lose friends That is the only direction in which to go. It is very similar to our political arena and we know where that has taken us, no matter which side you are on.

I beseech the National Executive Committee to show some intestinal fortitude and put down some hard a fast rule that must be followed when programming a national convention. In my opinion: If you do not repair the programming situation, in ten years there will be no National Square Dance Convention.

If this is what you want, then just leave things as they are, and this event will cease to be all by itself.

NEC, you have the power to fix it………. Will you?

January 19, 2017

I started this blog a year ago and, after two entries, decided that my venting was of no particular interest to anyone but me. Consequently, I decided that the time to write could be used more productively. I have found, however, that there were a few folks who took the time to read it and commented that they would like to see it continued. First of all, that is very flattering and, secondly, it doesn’t take much encouragement to get me to talk. (as you all know).

I think I said this before but, just in case I didn’t, here it is again. A very wise man (Thomas Jefferson, I think) once said that “If one proceeds everything he says with “In My Opinion” they can never be wrong. I truly subscribe to that way of thinking. We all have opinions, some more than others, but we all do to different extents.

It used to be that if someone stated something, it was assumed that they had taken the time to research that something and could be taken at their word to be a truthful statement. Today, however, it is seeming more and more to be difficult to take someone at their word. Especially in the area of things like religion, politics, birth control, and the so very popular “he said, she said” Today, it seems to me, folks just say what they want and, if you can’t prove it wrong, they must be correct. Most folks just want you to change your thinking to agree with their stance. The fact that they might be wrong doesn’t seem to enter the equation. Unfortunately, this pattern of behavior is ruining our social media. I know that I used to go onto Facebook to read all the happy stories as well as to keep up with friends’ activities, illnesses, children, etc. Those things are still there if you don’t mind wading through all the political, gun control, healthcare,, taxes, etc. BS. I notice that no one ever precedes their comments with “in my opinion” because, in my opinion, they want everyone to believe as they do and actually get belligerent when you don’t.

Just a couple of months ago, I put out a message on Facebook requesting that anyone who posted anything on my wall to make it of a positive nature. I was tired of all the confrontation messages and, since it is my wall, I felt it was a reasonable request. One, whom I have known for many years, posted something very negative and confrontational with the caveat of : this is who I am, take it or delete me. Regrettably, I did as asked but have felt bad that it had to come to that over “OPINIONS”. Opinions are like pets ; most people have one or more and they are normally different from everyone else’s. I know you love your pet but, just perhaps, I don’t. Should we end a friendship over that?

Unfortunately, everyone has what they believe to be the solution and really get upset if everyone else doesn’t agree with them. It’s kind of like “Road Rage” without the vehicle. It’s sad when one must vent these feeling through a private outlet instead of just a conversation with friends. What have we become. …………………………..W

January 25, 2016

Yesterday was a fun day: Football and music. In the morning I did the arrangements for three new tunes and, in the afternoon and evening, watch NFL football. The wife slept – she says it isn’t really football.

On the music thing, it was an interesting process. One tune is an old Eagles number from Urban Cowboy. Ironically enough, I started the arrangement the day before Glen Frey’s passing and finished the day after. He will be missed.

One of the primary rules that I have tried to follow for 40 plus years is to try to never slow down an original tune in order to produce it for square dancing. I am finding, however, that it is becoming more and more difficult to do that. Our modern square dance tempo has slowed significantly over the past 30 years from a standard of 130 – 132 bpm to where it is currently 120 – 126 bpm. I, personally, do not attribute all of that to the rising age of our dance, although it is a major contributor. But, also, the style and type of popular music today lends itself to a more frenetic but slower tempo. I think the disco era began that change.

I know that the Eagles tune that we are doing was originally cut on two different labels but was arranged quite differently from what I have decided to do. The earlier cuts were a decided 2/4 rhythm and, while the tempo of the dance steps were slower, the music was actually faster. I have decided to actually slow the original piece from 134 bpm to 126 bpm and keep the song as original as possible. The problem I face is that, at that tempo and original style rhythm, it is as boring as watching grass grow. What I have decided to do is change the bass and kick drum to an every step lick and keep the rest of the song original. I have no idea if it will work but the piece in my head sounds great. I guess we’ll find out when we ship it in April.

The other two tunes required speeding up which is normally a good thing if the lyric doesn’t move to quickly. One is a love song by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton and, at all costs, I must avoid making it too busy or it loses the intimate feel. The other is an old R&B tune by Stevie Wonder that we must be careful not to lose the “funk” or it will lose its appeal.

I am excited about these three and, hopefully, our subscribers will as well. Speaking of subscribers, in my next post I hope to talk about the pros and cons of subscription services and single song sales. That should get some interest comments.

January 24, 2016

This is my first Blog  and I really am feeling my way along.  I have no idea whether what I have to say will be of interest to anyone but at least I can vent.  Whether or not anyone else agrees is really irrelevant.  If, however, some of my ideas and thoughts are found useful, then it is doubly worthwhile.

I am a professional square dance caller and music producer.  I have been in the calling business for more than 58 years and producing music for more than 40. If there is  way to get it wrong, I have found it, although, I feel confidant that there are still many mistakes yet to be made.

Continue reading “January 24, 2016”