Tombstone Blues

Oct. 17, 2009

In my earliest Halloween memory, I’m wearing a homemade clown outfit that my mom made. I must have been in 3rd or 4th grade. I remember waving to her at the end of our driveway, as the school bus stopped in front of our house. I must have looked kind of like that kid in “A Christmas Story,” you know, who got the pink bunny suit as a gift from his Aunt? Only, for the record, I’m wearing a clown suit, not a bunny suit.

I’m thinking that the reason this memory is so clear is because part of me insists that I’ve seen old home movies of this incident occurring. But even seeing this film is such a long-time-ago memory, I can’t be sure.

But part of me insists it’s true.

Most of the other trick or treating years were spent dressing up as a hobo. I guess I liked this set-up because a) it was all I had b) I never actually planned on what “I wanted to be” and c) I just didn’t have the inclination to spend hours creating a costume.

So most of my costumes consisted of a Flannel shirt, old pants and a cruddy t-shirt.

Hmm, this kind of sounds like my current wardrobe today.

Anyway, one year I think I was Sherlock Holmes, and I’m sure I cut eye holes in a sheet once or twice. I’m sure my mom remembers more than I do.

One memory that stuck with me was the fact that we used a pillowcase as a candy bag. Don’t ask me why. Does anyone do that anymore?

Oh, now that I think about it, there were the orange UNICEF boxes, and the tradition of carving a jack-o-lantern for the front porch. Our pumpkin faces were really the basic style. Two triangle eyes. Triangle Nose. Grinning mouth with a few teeth. A pure work of art. We didn’t have the fancy pumpkin-cutting tools and laser-etched patterns available today.

I remember the very last time I went trick or treating. I went with my friend, Ron, and we walked around his neighborhood. I seem to remember that we were the only ones walking around. Where was everybody? After going to about 3 houses, we kind of looked at each other, and realized that we were getting too old for this.

A defining moment in Halloween History, for sure.

Today, there seems to be a lot more trick or treating options. Out here, it’s definitely more focused on getting businesses to stay open and have the kids come downtown and have fun.

And the costumes? They’ve come a long way from the dime-store stuff and plastic superhero fads that we were used to. Last year, I saw everything from Whoopie Cushions to a complete family of very cute skunks.

Oh, if they would only just stay that cute in real life.

So lets talk about Halloween today. Specifically, this coming Halloween, for 2009. For those of you beyond your trick or treating years, there’s a doozy of a blues show coming up. Blues guitarist Jimmy Thackery and his band The Drivers are going to be at The Pines. This guy’s been on the blues scene for a long time, so come on out, and yes, it’s a costume party.

Oh, as an added treat, Thackery will be giving a guitar workshop before the show. So if you’d like to learn a few new tricks, sign up early – seating is limited.

And, by the way, I forgot to ask Jimmy what he was going to be for Halloween.

But I think I know what the answer is.

“In Tune.”

Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers will be at The Pines Tasting Room on Saturday, Oct. 31, at 8 p.m. Thackery will be giving a guitar workshop on Oct. 31, at The Pines Tasting Room from 4:30-6 p.m. The workshop is limited to eight people and admission is $50. To sign up, call Steve Curley at 541-399-6920.

Interview with Jimmy Thackery:

1. I know you travel all over the country, but we feel the Columbia River Gorge is a pretty nice place. In the times that you've been out here, do you ever get time to really enjoy this part of the country?

The Gorge is one of our favorite spots on the road and we always try to stop at the various falls for a respite. Time is always a factor so we don’t get to spend as much as we'd like.

2. You're scheduled to lead a guitar workshop on Oct. 31 in Hood River. What should people do to prepare and what should they expect if they decide to sign up?

I like to go through the mechanics of proper set-up of the instrument first because NOBODY seems to pay that much attention to it. You're only as good as your tools will allow you to be. Then we go into basic chord structure and then get a little more advanced with some jazzy passing chords to give the song some character. Then some other techniques and some question and answer stuff.

3. You've probably been on over 30 albums, so the list of songs to choose for a gig must be pretty extensive. If you're going to do a cover song - who do you usually gravitate toward?

I usually stick with the more popular of the older stuff and then try to do a little bit of everything newer. You only have so much time and I have a relatively new rhythm section and I could never teach them ALL of the old stuff. We'd never have time to play!

4. Let's talk about guitars a little. How many do you own and how many come on tour with you?

I have a couple dozen guitars but I'm currently using 6 on the road.

5. At what point in your life were you able to say "I am a musician and this is what I do for a living?"

In '71 I ran away from home with a blues band to Boston to seek fame and fortune .A PREPOSTEROUS goal but I knew I was on my own!

6. OK, our readers want to know - What is it really like to work with our local blues promoter Steve "Squrl" Curley?

Well like any vermin, He's cute and cuddly from a distance but he is all business up close. Seriously, he is a music booster and you folks are VERY lucky to have him. thanks y'all

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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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