Home is where the music is

Mark, Lisa, and Chuck are coming over tonight.

[Photo credit: Michael Wilson]

We’re gonna hang out in the living room.

Oh, and 35 other folks — many of whom are complete strangers — will be coming over too.

Mark, Lisa, and Chuck are members of the Cincinnati-based band Wussy. Weird name, brilliant music.

[Photo credit: Jerry Burck, Plan B images]

Wussy rocks! Tonight, they’re going to bring their amazing songwriting to life in an intimate setting. And that gets me right where I live.

The show is part of Chuck and Lisa’s house concert tour. A company called Undertow organizes these tours for Wussy and several other artists. They take care of ticket sales and all the other details. You can host a show… or see one. Check out the current roster here. In my email exchanges with Jayne from Undertow, I thanked her for what Undertow is doing to bring great artists to folks all over the country. Her response:

She’s right, I do give a damn about artists like Mark, Lisa, and Chuck. (They also happen to be super-kind human beings… a huge bonus!)

Music is my happy place. Home is where the heart is. Tonight, I get the best of both worlds. It’s gonna be beautiful.

The Grateful Alive

This past Sunday, I went to the initial “Grateful Gathering” in Cincinnati. It was organized and led by my friend and co-worker Susan Jackson.

It was just 14 folks at a coffee shop, chatting. Actually it was much more than that. Thanks to Susan’s prompts from the Grateful Gatherings guide, the conversation got pretty deep quite quickly.

Sharing with strangers can be daunting. And the whole concept may seem a little too “woo-woo” for you.

I get it. Getting deep with people you just met at a coffee shop may not be your cup of tea.

But this Grateful Dude is here for it… all of it. Anything that adds more positivity to the world is much-needed these days.

Here’s the welcome session video:

“Everyone will be blessed by you, just by your presence”

Next session is Sunday, June 30, 10 a.m. at Moonflower Coffee Collective. Please join. I’ll be grateful if you do. And even if you don’t!

Oh my Pod!

It’s not my podcast, actually. It’s the podcast that Dave Tellmann and I do… or did, rather. But we’re still hauling in the hardware (“we’d like to thank the members of the academy…”) and reaping the accolades (“none of this would’ve been possible without your support…”).

The latest shout-out came courtesy of Cincinnati CityBeat.

Our “97X Rumblings from the Big Bush” podcast has run its course. (We did do a bonus episode recently after Mojo Nixon passed away.) But maybe a few more fans of the station will find their way to our little ol’ show. Which is the point.

“Rumblings” has a lot in common with a kid’s fort.

You can tell a lot of time and effort went into the construction of it, but it’s still clearly quite amateur. And that’s OK. For the few folks that tuned in, it was a time capsule from a time in their lives when the music and the people who shared it mattered a great deal to them. Those connections still matter.

We appreciate the recognition from CityBeat. Now if you’ll excuse us, Dave and I have to go put on our tuxedos for the awards ceremony.

Grateful for the Chance…

There are many times I question the “wisdom” of crafting blog posts for a blog that few* people read.

*4-6 folks, roughly, although that staggering number drops precipitously if you subtract relatives.

Any objective observer would consider it a waste of time and money. I should just buy a journal and write in that. Same readership, without the hassle and expense of maintaining a web presence. (Believe it or not, I actually have to PAY for the highly coveted, much-sought-after domain name of “dubbatrubba.com.”)

But then I get a note like this from my friend and co-worker:

Wow! So one of my trivial posts on my silly little blog actually played a very tiny role in helping kickstart something that will bring more gratefulness and joy into the world? I’m flabbergasted! (And flabby too… probably from too much time sitting on my butt blogging.)

Here’s more about the event:

Grateful Gatherings are monthly conversations with purpose, designed by Grateful Living and hosted by people like Harmony co-president Susan Jackson who have completed their training program. Each month we’ll be exploring the transformative practice of grateful living, using the resources provided by Grateful Living. Our monthly topics will include things like: Say Yes to JoyWelcome ImperfectionNavigate GriefReimagine RestAwaken to Awe, and Act with Courage.

Suddenly all those countless hours spent blogging seem worthwhile. Especially if we’re grading success on the Emerson scale:

Susan’s first Grateful Gathering will take place on Sunday, April 28, at 10 a.m. at Moonflower Coffee Collective in Sharonville. Damn right I’ll be there! Because I’m forever grateful that Susan read some silly little blog post in the first place.

This is just the incentive I needed to continue with my blog posts! It’s so much better than the usual feedback I receive, which falls into one of two categories:

Victory Lap

Tomorrow is Opening Day in Cincinnati. The official start of the Cincinnati Reds baseball season has been an unofficial civic holiday for decades. [Back in my day, the Reds, the oldest team in the majors (founded in 1869), used to open the season a day before any other team… ]

It’s a big deal, with a lot of pomp and ceremony, including an Opening Day Parade organized by the merchants at Findlay Market, a public market that’s been around longer than the Reds have.

This year’s Honorary Grand Marshal will be Jim Scott, a Cincinnati radio legend. It’s a fitting honor, as Jim has participated in the Opening Day parade for 56 years, usually walking the entire route and smiling, waving, and high-fiving folks along the way.

Jim walking the parade route with his wife Donna

For Cincinnati Baby Boomers, Jim has been part of the soundtrack of their lives, starting in 1968 at WSAI, an AM station that played pop music, brought the Beatles to Cincinnati, and garnered nearly 50% of the radio audience back then. He moved to WLW-AM in 1984, as the morning host, and stayed in that time slot until 2015. If you’re keeping score at home, the final tally is nearly 47 years in Cincinnatians’ ears.

But this year will be different for Jim. In the Spring of 2022, he was diagnosed with ALS. He went public with the news last year.

I had the privilege of working with Jim, as his morning show producer, back in the mid-90s. At a station with a bunch of talk radio blowhards, Jim was the friendly voice who started your day with a smile. Among a subset of the staffers, he caught a lot of flak for being “too nice.” But I worked with Jim long enough to know that his radio personality wasn’t shtick, it was just a heightened version of Jim. WLW-AM was part of a radio conglomerate that owned 8 stations in the market (if you’re looking for Reason #1 of why I got out of radio, consolidation is the correct answer.) Jim did more charity work than the rest of the on-air personalities at all the stations, combined. Charity auctions. Golf outings. Fundraisers of all sorts. And if there was a speaker’s fee, Jim donated it back to the charity. Sure, all those public appearances helped his name recognition and his ratings. But that’s not why he did it. He did it because he truly was, and is, a nice guy.

In the March issue of Cincinnati Magazine, Steven Rosen wrote a nice feature about Jim’s decades-long involvement with the parade, and his positive attitude in the face of one of the cruelest fatal diseases. Check it out at the link above.

“Being in the parade to me will be a statement that I’m not going to quit. I’ll probably be in a wheelchair, but I probably won’t be the only person there in a wheelchair.”

Jim Scott, in the article linked above

This parade may be the last chance for us to show some love to Jim Scott. He deserves every smile, wave and cheer we’ve got. It shouldn’t be a somber send-off; it’s a victory lap.

Legendary baseball player and manager Leo Durocher famously said “nice guys finish last.” Leo got it wrong in this case, because Jim Scott is the people’s champ.

Illustration by Remi Geoffroi for Cincinnati Magazine

Right now on the Findlay Market home page, there’s a link where you can send a message to Jim.

If you know Jim, please do so. Actually do it even if you don’t know him.

Stay Creative Classy!

On Saturday evening, instead of watching March Madness, I met up with some old friends for a happy hour that stretched into the wee hours.

Yesterday afternoon, instead of watching March Madness, I provided a bit of constructive (I hope) criticism and writing tips to students who had entered their short films into a college film festival. Yes, me, the man who thinks this is the pinnacle of American cinema:

Last night, instead of watching March Madness, I went to a poetry reading. Yes, me, the guy who struggles to understand anything more complex than The Family Circus comic strip.

(The ghosts haunt me…)

My choices were based in part on the fact that Xavier didn’t make the Big Dance this year. But all three events were certainly more nourishing for the soul than watching a gazillion AT&T commercials. Oh, and let’s not forget the countless minutes of “official review” so the refs can add a tenth of a second to the game clock. Scintillating!

The Saturday happy hour was with some friends from my ad agency days. The traditional ad agency model is in a state of disarray. Too much consolidation, not enough creative freedom. But the folks I met and worked with during my agency days remain some of the most creative folks I’ve ever known. Writers, designers, artists, muralists, musicians. Big Idea generators, every one of them. They bring more beauty into the world. Yes, some of it is in service of commerce, but that doesn’t diminish the beauty… if anything, it makes it more admirable.

The student film festival gave me hope that the next generation of our “creative class” will be just as creative. The tools may change, but the ability to tell a compelling story will always matter.

The poets were folks who went to Xavier in the late 60s/early 70s and bonded over their love of the written word. To be able to portray beauty and convey emotions with an economy of words is a rare talent. And one well worth celebrating.

(excerpt above is from the book Also a Poet by Ada Calhoun)

The rise of technology — especially AI — has some folks thinking that our souls will be superseded by machines. But I know better. Flesh and blood, and human connection, are what will help us not just survive, but thrive.

Stay Classy, friends…. and stay creative!