Listen Up: Musical life of a Gypsy Balladeer

Oct. 6, 2010

Listen to a podcast of Jim’s interview with Spruce Baugher

Download the interview (MP3)

Spruce Baugher describes his lifestyle as a gypsy balladeer in a way that gets right to the point.

“Basically, I’m on wheels when I wake up somewhere.”

His wheels, a treasured and restored ‘60s VW Bus (aka Ruby), has been with him at least since 2002, when Spruce made his journey across the U.S. from Iowa to Hood River. On his way, he made a pit-stop in Colorado, where he happened to camp next to an artist. The artist made a watercolor painting of his rig. That artwork survived all these years and has now become the cover to Spruce’s latest CD release, “Ruby.”

If there was one theme that kept coming up during my interview with Spruce last week, I’d say that the topic of friends kept the number one slot.

Whether it was friends helping him record, friends as inspirations to songs, or friends who have gifted him instruments that he travels with today, Spruce always acknowledged that he’s “had a little help,” so to speak.

And speaking of recording, we need to mention something regarding these 10 new songs found on “Ruby.” First of all, you can definitely hear what Spruce is influenced by — mainly his love of folk and deep country blues. Believe me, when you hear the first harmonica notes, you’ll associate them with Bob Dylan’s style.

And second, even with musical help from all of Spruce’s friends, the CD maintains the solo singer-songwriter vein throughout. This is a collection of three and four chord stories that chronicle much of Spruce’s personal experiences — and living his dream of the gypsy lifestyle.

Spruce will be stopping by The Pines Tasting Room in Hood River on Thursday, Oct. 7, to preview songs from his new album.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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