John Ford / Blog

Git Rhythm

Now I got a bit of rhythm in my bones, but it's easily drawn off course, so to speak, by those of you that are rhythmically challenged. So those of you clapping along to the songs, (I'm not talking about those of you reading this right now, you all are fine, I'm talking about some of those who are not reading this right now), YOU must keep it on the 2 and 4 beat, not the 1 and 3, unless we're doing a reggae tune, then it would be just the 3rd beat. Also do not slow down or speed up, as some do, clapping on the 2.345 beat and the 4.778 beat or pi times R squared beat or some beat in a not so parallel universe. OK, glad I got that off my chest.....

Greenwich Village 2013

October 1st, 2013 - Tonight I'm heading to NYC to play the Parkside Lounge and the Path Cafe. Doing some open mic nights here and there. Should be fun - just have to figure out the subway system. Maybe I should have a map of NYC tattooed on my arm, no wait, that's reserved for song lyrics. BTW does anyone need any picante sauce while I'm in New York City? (and the crowd sez) NEW YORK CITY!!!!!!

October 4th, 2013 - Thanks much to "Professor von Awesome's Ghost Hunting Safari" for coming back and playing the part of the audience tonight - you guys made my night.

October 16th, 2013 - Well here we are more than a week out from the "tour de New York". In my last post, I was going to try to find the places where Edgar Allen Poe lived - I found a couple. The place where he lived on 3rd street turned out to be a replication of the facade of the house where he lived and it had been moved down the street a half of a block because of the construction of Furman Hall of NYU. Another was the corner of Waverly and some other street that I forget (didn't know which corner - so I gave up). Must have walked up and down Carmine Street 5 or 6 times trying to find #113 1/2 - turns out I had the wrong address it was 13 and 1/2.

My feet were sore from walking, so I decided to get lunch at the Saigon Shack on MacDougal Street, this was 114 MacDougal Street where the bar "The Kettle of Fish" used to be. In the late fifties and early sixties, this was one of the hangouts of guys like Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk & Jack Karouac. It's hard to tell it's the same place, because the front windows are gone and so is the the neon "Bar" sign. Saw the "Cafe Wa", "The Blue Note" and where The Gaslight used to be, down under "The Kettle of Fish", (it's now a tattoo place).

I went over to Washington Square Park and played under the arch one last time, until it clouded over and looked like rain. Washington Square Park was where all the folkies use to play on Sunday afternoons, back in the day (Dave Van Ronk, Rev. Gary Davis and the like). It's still a happening place - there would always be one or two jazz trios, a doo wop group, a few soloist, a puppeteer - there was even a guy selling jokes for a dollar (money back guarantee if you didn't laugh). After it started to rain, I went down in the subway (at Christopher Street) and played for almost 2 hours. It was a blast, I would have played longer but I had to pack and get ready to catch the bus back home.

It was a good trip. Thanks to my stepson, Zach and his wife Maia for letting me sleep on the futon.

Tag Lines

So you know I’ve been wanting to create a tag line like Hank Williams always said at the end of his shows – you know the “If the Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, we’ll see ya for too long” or the George Burns line “Goodnight Gracie”. How bout “Hey this is John Ford saying don’t forget to brush your teeth and check yer oil – so long” or “This is John Ford saying don’t forget to hold hands while crossing the street and Tuesday is garbage night – Good Night” mmmmm….. just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Or maybe a short song “ I’m so glad we had this time together……” or maybe I should just be honest and say “ Well I’m tired, my fingers are sore and you all have probably had too much to drink, so let’s both quit before somebody gets hurt – see ya later” Any thoughts?

John Ford

rickka  (about 3 years ago)

Remember, two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do.

Booking th Gigs - Originally posted in 2008

First of all, let it be known that I don’t usually see eye to eye with club owners / bar managers and the like – their priority is the make money and my priority is to enrich the minds of the musically deprived. It’s been a bad week as far as trying to book gigs (I suck at this anyway). Had a conversation with my agent and he didn’t come right out and say it but I knew he would rather me play the top of the Top Forty – the PLATINUM HITS – you know those songs that everyone knows the words to – the songs that give you that warm fuzzy feeling – the songs that mom and dad say are OK – the songs that make me gag! (This is a disorder that has been with me since I was 5; I remember being disgusted with everyone in my kindergarten as they listen to and danced to the “Hokey Pokey” – the birth of the cool)

So this is why I get the background music / soft mellow “while my guitar gently weeps” – here’s your chair in the corner, pony tail boy / country club gigs. I’m OK with these gigs every so often, cuz I can practice the new stuff. But I’m getting real tired of it lately. (this is why many musician take drugs and are generally suicidal) There are a few people who actually will listen to my songs and recognize the artist or just listen to the melody or the lyrics and be entertained. These people I will find at about every twelfth gig (Which makes the ratio about – let’s see, um carry the 1 / divide by – not a whole hell of a lot of people)

Anyway, I feel like I’m 18 again, going to the open mic nights, trying to book a gig for the door and the jerk who owns the place is telling me that I need a chic singer in a short skirt who can sing Led Zeppelin. (That actually happen once) As far as schmoozing with the bar owners, I may as well be speaking Klingon. They want to know if I can bring a crowd in on a Monday night (The money thing again) and if I can play any Toby Keith because that’s the bartender’s favorite and if I can squeeze into this corner right here beside the jukebox, under the TV. (They like to centralize all the “entertainment” into one area like that.)

Enough Venting – Piss on you, I’m a working for Mel Brooks

John Ford

Robert Johnson and The Quest for Room 414

On October 24th 2012 my wife Pam and I drove down to San Antonio, Texas. The reason for the trip was to record at the Gunter Hotel, Room 414 to be exact, where the blues legend, Robert Johnson had recorded in 1936, (16 of his 29 songs, including Crossroad Blues and Come on in My Kitchen). I got this idea from John Mellencamp, who in 2009 recorded in the exact same room – he also went to Sun Studios in Memphis and the First African Baptist Church in Savannah , GA.

My old buddy Jason Armstrong, who lives in San Antonio, set things up, and made it possible for us to get both rooms, 413 and 414. In 1936, the recording equipment was in room 413 and they ran the microphone cable under the door to room 414, where Robert Johnson sat, 6 feet away from the southwest corner. We got to the hotel about an hour later than I had expected and I said to the lady who was helping us carry our bags, “ we’re getting a late start” and she replied “Oh you have plenty of time, the spirits don’t come out until midnight”. So that freaked me out a bit, and I was a little jumpy recording Thursday night, always looking over my shoulder. I recorded on a 1958 Voice of Music, tube, reel to reel, mono tape recorder and a Tascam DAT recorder (courtesy of Pete Beshuk). I recorded some old blues tunes and some of my own songs that sound like old blues tunes. Really got into recording Friday morning during a thunder storm and since it was impossible to sound proof the room from the sounds out on the streets, I just let the tape roll and got whatever ambient sounds that were audible – sort of a field recording, if you will.

The Gunter, with its chandeliers, old architecture, colors, mail shoots, old phone switchboard and grand staircases, was built in 1909 - really a Grand Old Hotel - reminded me of a hotel in some old movie. When I got off the elevator and looked down the hall to room 413, I’ll have to admit it looked like the hotel in the movie “The Shining” (Redrum Redrum). Actually there was a murder that took place in 1965 (Google Gunter Hotel room 636).

So I recorded basically all day on Friday and into the evening until about midnight – got up the next morning and drove about 18 hours to somewhere between Bowling Green & Louisville, Ky. (Yes, Pam drove when it got dark – she says that was the reason I married a younger woman) Drove back to Cincinnati on Sunday – I had a gig in West Chester @ 5pm. I still have to go through the songs and pick out the best takes, see which ones sound better on the reel to reel vs. the DAT recorder, but I’ll put out some kind of CD – probably just 5 or 6 songs, maybe call it “Blues from Room 414” or something like that…mmmmmm to be continued…

John Ford

rickka  (over 4 years ago)

John, Congrats on pulling this off. Really look forward to hearing the results.

Always Look on the Bright Side (Originally Posted 03/07/2010)

.Got a call a few minutes ago from the owner of a certain winery (on the west side). Seems they have to cancel music this Friday because they booked a private party in the room where they usually have the music, and I'll have to call back to reschedule a date in the future - Thank you very much - Bye bye now. Oh and here that? That's me walking over to my calender to mark down "call certain winery next week about playing there ever again" Now I hate to complaint (again) about the establishments that I play - so I won't. I'm going to look at the bright side of getting a gig canceled.

#1 - Have to thank the owner for calling me and canceling a good 5 days in advance. Now I'll have time to book another gig for this Friday. (I'm sure there are plenty of places that have not booked anyone yet for THIS FRIDAY)

#2 - No use of gas or oil to go to the gig - I'm so green

#3 - Can use Friday night to build that guitar out of popsicle sticks

#4 - Should call anyone that was going to there to hear me and let them know that although I won't be playing, to be sure to tip well and to go back there often!

#5 - Call winery and reschedule the gig - with the stipulation that a few days before I'm scheduled to play, I must call myself and cancel, thus saving them the trouble of doing so.

#6 - I'm thinking I should recommend this place to all my musician friends

#7 - Use Friday night to check into doing more advertising for the next time that I play there - maybe an expensive ad in the paper.

#8 - Think of another hobby - I really don't care about the money I just love to get out and sing the old standards (reminds me of the old days in the barbershop quartet), but this guitar playing thing IS kind of sketchy. Many times I have to play in places that serve alcohol and where they allow men and women to sit together.

#9 - Won't have to worrying about gaining weight - No gig no eat

#10 - Won't have to drive to West Chester to play the country club that I turned down because I had this gig and felt that I should not cancel just to make more money, (the country club gig would have paid double the amount that I would have made in tips at the winery) but maybe, just maybe, the winery canceled me so they could make more money with the private party, Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm...... Hey wait a minute, that's not fair - Dang you Undisclosed Winery - Dang you all to HECK!!!!!!

Some things in life are bad They can really make you mad Other things just make you swear and curse. When you're chewing on life's gristle Don't grumble, give a whistle And this'll help things turn out for the best...

And...always look on the bright side of life... Always look on the light side of life...

If life seems jolly rotten There's something you've forgotten And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing. When you're feeling in the dumps Don't be silly chumps Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.

And...always look on the bright side of life... Always look on the light side of life...

For life is quite absurd And death's the final word You must always face the curtain with a bow. Forget about your sin - give the audience a grin Enjoy it - it's your last chance anyhow.

So always look on the bright side of death Just before you draw your terminal breath

Life's a piece of shit When you look at it Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true. You'll see it's all a show Keep 'em laughing as you go Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

And always look on the bright side of life... Always look on the right side of life... (Come on guys, cheer up!) Always look on the bright side of life... Always look on the bright side of life... (Worse things happen at sea, you know.) Always look on the bright side of life... (I mean - what have you got to lose?) (You know, you come from nothing - you're going back to nothing. What have you lost? Nothing!) Always look on the right side of life...