Monday, May 26, 2008

Personal Memorial Day Perspective

Unexpected Connection to Book

Full Fathom Five

Amazing to me how quickly businesses rush to be first, even to the point of skipping over what's important. Am I missing something? Doesn't Memorial Day come before Father's Day? I entered a couple of national chain brick and mortar bookstores this weekend expecting to see some sort of display of books and DVDs that would reflect a Memorial Day sensibility, or some reference to veterans. Instead, I came face to face with an attractive arrangement of books promoting Father's Day. Isn't that in June? Guess there just isn't time to celebrate Memorial Day this year. Couldn't we do both?

Am I old fashioned wanting to concentrate on honoring the veterans that have given their lives for our country before progressing to whatever the next holiday may be? I didn't move the date up from the traditional 30th to the 26th (date changes each year, now,) but I've adjusted to go along with it. Are others more preoccupied with just the long weekend?

The very first war in my lifetime began during my childhood. Subsequent police actions (as one war was called) followed by other declared wars that came later, all seemed quite different to me from that first one I knew, World War II. I'm sure the differences among all those conflicts were of little consequence to the many individuals who were maimed, those with no physical scars but whose lives were forever altered, and especially for all those who had their lives permanently taken from them. What about their families – children, spouses, other friends and relatives?

Nevertheless, that first war of my lifetime, World War II, has forever been deeply imbedded in my memory. I believe that without a doubt the existence of this country, free, as we know it to be, depended entirely upon our forces prevailing in that war's outcome. Fortunately, we did prevail. We actually believed, as did those who gave their lives, that WWII would be the war to end all wars.

Those we honor this Memorial Day have died believing they were doing their utmost to preserve our nation's freedom, in whatever war they served. This commemoration begins with those who fought in the Civil War extending through the present time.

About those bookstores I mentioned above, I was disappointed Saturday when they had no special display of books focused on Memorial Day. There were various special display sections labeled Biography, Memoirs, New Releases, New Hardbacks, Fiction, Non Fiction, other general categories, along with Paperbacks. I noticed mixed into some of these groups were a few books associated with WWII , Korea and Viet Nam in addition to various other collections on tables and bookshelves at the front of the store.

Unexpectedly, even to myself, as this was not my pre-arranged plan, I was able to promote the idea at both stores of featuring a special table or display for Memorial Day, especially to include some books about WWII. Whether or not the suggestion resulted in any action remained to be seen. The idea did seem to come as a surprise to those in both bookstores, with the Manager in one store saying he guessed their corporate people didn't think of doing that, as the word his store received was to promote Father's Day. Maybe they could do both.

I mentioned I had noticed an attractive book display when I walked in the store. I told him, "That's nice, but Father's Day isn't until June. Memorial Day is coming up now." I added, "WWII memoirs, such as Full Fathom Five, are especially significant. Also, fewer and fewer of these Veterans are still living from whom we can learn the lessons of history. Honoring those no longer with us on Memorial Day is especially important for families, those Veterans remaining and all of us. What too many people today don't realize is, that you, I and this store might not even be here like this, if it hadn't been for the men like those WWII Vets we honor."

I was surprised that Saturday to learn the Mgr. at that same bookstore had responded to my query of a week or so earlier and ordered for his shelves some copies of the new book, Full Fathom Five, about which you can read in my previous post. I was delighted when he told me he had received the copies, so I suggested that book and those select titles I noticed on other tables could quickly and easily comprise a display to honor Memorial Day.

Maybe it's too much to expect such a display actually materialized, but I believe I have to speak up about what is important to me. Maybe this will be important to others, too. One thing I have learned in my lifetime is not to remain silent, or just to complain, then wonder why there is no change in the status quo.

I want to explain how I unexpectedly developed a special personal interest in the book, Full Fathom Five. I learned a year ago when talking about this book with one of the most significant men in my life from the time I was a young girl that he had not just been in the Navy during WWII, but was part of the U.S. Navy's Submarine Service – a group consisting entirely of volunteers.

This relative, a decade my senior in age had not strongly emphasized his military duty with the U.S. Navy was actually part of the Submarine Service, when I was growing up, as far as I had known. Maybe I hadn't understood there were various services within the U.S. Navy; perhaps he was modest, or he was just conditioned to follow the automatic general secrecy nature adhered to by those in that Service even long after WWII ended, as the author, Mary Lee Coe Fowler, discusses in her book.

My family member entered the U.S. Naval Service directly from high school in 1943 about the time Mary Lee's father, Commander Coe's active military career was regrettably and tragically ending somewhere in the South Pacific. (I prefer to think Jim Coe and his crew remained on duty for the remainder of WWII, wherever they became lost in the Pacific Ocean.) Ultimately my relative was among personnel assigned to the Admiral in Command of the U. S. Naval Force in the South Pacific, Seventh Fleet, Task Force/Group 71.

I sent my loved one a copy of the book once I realized what a significant connection existed for him with this book's contents about the U.S. Navy's Submarine Service. He had just completed reading Full Fathom Five, the book, when I spoke with him on the phone this weekend. He was impressed, saying the facts in the book, many with which he was quite familiar from experience and extensive reading in recent years, are correct based on his knowledge. Also, he noted he was pleased to have his memory refreshed with the account of the transition of communications (his specialty area) from the Philippines to the transmitters (as he recited over the phone to me the call letters) where he and others were stationed in Australia sending and receiving all transmissions with our submarines in the South Pacific.

He spoke of the U.S.S. Orion submarine tender; named various submarines, including Bluefish, Bullhead; described encountering the Bluefish again after WWII and coincidentally providing maintenance on her when he was in the U.S. Naval Reserve living on the East Coast. Like many others, he was well aware of the special importance of the South Pacific submarine fleet when intelligence information revealed the Japanese fleet was steaming toward Australia. Those in the Submarine Service have stories to exchange with each other of those tension-filled treacherous times during which he was a Radioman stationed on land in Perth, Australia.

Last year through Mother's Day and the first anniversary of my husband's death I recall visiting him and his wife. He was reading quite incessantly at the time, showing me many books which he was still thumbing through their well-worn pages. The books had to do with WW II's Submarine Service, Pigboats, and he talked of author Roscoe (noted in Fowler's book.) He had sought reference listings during these years of all the U.S. Navy's submarines and detailed information about them along with their personnel. He was especially concerned with listings of those submarines and men lost at sea, and any subsequent information, including the fact some once-lost submarine remains have been located in recent years.

He mentioned having earlier begun to research Submariner web sites, also that he had started writing his own memoirs of those times. Unfortunately, medical issues resulted in his having to discontinue independently performing both activities.

He talked about when stationed in Perth, Australia, each time he requested assignment to submarine duty, he was generally turned down by his commanding officer. His officer told him his technical and radio transmission skills were of more vital need on land. He would have been a recipient of some welcome incoming messages from South Pacific submarines and would have been listening intently for some that never came.

He has been interested in all known South Pacific submarine records and stories. Also, he's keenly interested in any new information about long lost submarines located in recent years. The Bullhead and crew would be of special interest to him should it ever be located, since after the boat left its Australian berth the boat's crew was never heard from again, he said.

I cannot imagine what life would have been like without him all these years. I'm glad our mother and I did not have to experience such loss. My heart goes out to the orphans, the Mary Lee Coe Fowler's of the world, their families and all submariners.

I offer this Memorial Day tribute to all those whose presence is with us only in spirit and memory, whatever war in which they had their lives taken from them, but I especially think of those in WWII. Though we may honor this May 26th date, I'm sure I'll think of this tribute again on the more traditional date of May 30th -- the date I have been accustomed to recognizing for so many years.

Friday, May 16, 2008

"Full Fathom Five" Special Story

"Full Fathom Five" is a title that has intrigued me. I first encountered the title as a blog a few months after I began reading some blogs a couple of years ago. I eventually learned how and why this title with Shakespearean origins became of such significance to blogger, Mary Lee Coe Fowler, a writer, teacher of English and ESL, stimulating her to write this book.

Mary Lee disclosed she had never known her father, Commander James Coe, who honorably served in the United States Navy Submarine Service during World War II. He was one of the multitudes of U.S. servicemen who had their lives taken from them during that war, including those lost at sea like her father, Commander Coe and his crew.

She never knew Jim Coe as he had returned to duty before she was born. Her brother's and sister's memories were limited as they were quite young, too, when their father left to fulfill his military assignment, ultimately in the Pacific. Mary Lee's ability to learn about her father from the time he was lost at sea was complicated by her mother and others not speaking of him, especially with the children, from the time he was declared lost. Only after her mother's death, and as a mid-life adult reading Shakespeare's "The Tempest," did the author receive the impetus to actively undertake discovering who her father was.

The author's youthful perceptions of this military man who was also her father were influenced by other factors. She was maturing as a young person of Quaker background whose peace-seeking values during the turbulent sixties, in the midst of an increasingly unpopular Viet Nam war, contributed to her formulation of a questioning attitude toward any and all military personnel, motives, actions then, and of other times.

Finally, in her mid-years, determined and curious to know this man, this unknown person to her, she sought information from those who knew her father and mother. She contacted men and women family friends, military men with whom he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, those with whom he served and those he commanded during WWII. She gradually began to piece together a view of various aspects of her father's personality from personal accounts described to her, based on events others shared with him, harvested from their memories.

His professional persona also emerged as fellow Annapolis graduates and other naval personnel related stories from their experiences with and about him. Official records and other naval documents contribute to the authenticity of facts discussed in the book. A striking picture of this naval officer, her father, reveals one of which she and the family are rightfully proud.

Whatever the personal and professional composite perspectives reveal, they are, at best, a tantalizing portrait of Jim Coe, her father, with which she must be satisfied. And yet, I wonder if there might be times when she wishes, "Oh, if only I could have known him." Or, "I wish he could have known family....." Reflections on earlier years must invite memories of past instances when crossing her mind are thoughts like, "I wish I could have turned to him for counsel and comfort, or given him solace....."

I think based on conclusions drawn from some of his own reported and documented actions, he would be pleased with the manner in which his life, beliefs, values are presented here. His dedication to the United States Navy, and especially the Submarine Service, is above reproach. He more than fulfilled his duty, but he did not just blindly serve. He worked behind the scenes in a constructive manner toward correcting inequities that needed changing.

Like her father, the author, too, has examined issues research revealed affected daily life and survival for him and his crew(s.) This was especially so of those matters known to be of concern to her father, some of his crew and other officers, in her effort to present a true picture of certain known facts. She shares an appreciative humor for her father's own introduction of subtle levity into a serious issue which attracted unexpected attention from fellow Submariners and Naval Brass.

Analysis and reasoning enable her to make some logical inferences, drawing conclusions and describing conjectures that are worthy of consideration. She refers to known information that has provided distressing facts about some military decision making processes, possible deficient military equipment, imprudent choices based on political issues that may have resulted in the death of submariners.

I was impressed with the fact our country had such valiant warriors as her father, his crew and the other Submariners. Valiant warriors is what they were, those who persisted in performing their duties to the utmost of their abilities in a dedicated, just and honorable manner despite obstacles not of their making.

I find it deeply regrettable any of them had to function under less than optimum conditions. Regret, however, is insufficient for any of those whose lives were forever altered, or who did not survive at all, just as it is for their loved ones.

Thank you for conducting this search for your father, Mary Lee Coe Fowler.

Thanks to all those who shared their impressions, stories, memories, facts, documents.

Thank you for sharing Jim Coe and yourself in Full Fathom Five -- A Daughter's Search.

I'm sharing this early in a tribute before Memorial Day, especially to Submarine Service veterans, those lost at sea and all these orphan families. Those who are interested and intrigued by both the personal search of the author and the well-written laypersons descriptions of the U.S. Navy's Submarine Service will have an opportunity to order, possibly even receive this book to begin reading Memorial Day.

(Yes, this is a blatant book promotion from which I have nothing to gain, nor is the author even aware I'm doing so. I am clearly impacted by the nature of this story for more reasons than I've described here that I may write about later. I've also requested my local chain bookstore(s) feature a few copies in their brick and mortar stores (you might wish to do the same) though the book can be ordered online including at

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Time To Talk

I recall that Saturday, May 13, 2006 morning standing by my husband's bedside, still absorbing the fact of his unexpected death during his sleep. The understanding and supportive police officer stood quietly across from me at the far corner of the foot of the bed. He had arrived at my home within a few short minutes in response to my emergency 911 phone call, after I discovered my husband's lifeless body whose facial skin was already cool to the touch of my fingertips and lips. The officer had offered his help with various questions as to what I might like him to do, or what did I want to do ... whatever. I just recall his calm, rational manner, but I cannot bring to mind many of the specific words exchanged between us.

I'm sure he must have inquired about the circumstances of my husband's death which I vaguely recall describing to him as I, too, was trying to make sense of it all. I think I told him of my husband having just seen his doctor the previous morning for a follow-up visit. For the prior two to three years, my husband had periodically undergone various tests to determine whether or not he had a small abdominal aortic aneurysm. Sometimes the aneurysm appeared to be present, sometimes not, but the medical action plan had been to track the small bulge for any increase in size. Tracking had been an ongoing problem since the bulge often was hidden from view during ultrasounds. The definitive angiogram or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) tests could not be administered since he had other serious medical problems making either test unsafe for him.

My husband had told me the Dr. said the results of this most recent ultrasound once again failed to reveal the aneurysm's presence, but they could not conclude it no longer existed, much less know its current size. Once I made that 911 call, I know I remained on the phone with the operator until the police officer arrived. I know I phoned each of our children, reaching my son immediately, leaving a message for my daughter for our later conversation, but I cannot recall making those calls, when in the sequence of activities I made them, or receiving calls returned. I do remember my son saying he would immediately begin making arrangements to fly home. He arrived later that night. My daughter and granddaughter came home at a mutually agreed upon later date, but we had frequent phone contact daily until then. I don't recall whether that day or later days I phoned others significant in my life.

I knew I must remain strong for my children and myself. I was very good at that with lots of experience. Always before for me, once the crisis was over would be time to emotionally let down. This time proved to be the same only to a degree, but different in so many other ways including the process that lay ahead of adapting to my life being forever changed.

Later the officer went outside to direct the emergency teams. I expected their arrival would be heralded first by the large red fire truck with sirens screaming, soon followed by a small red paramedic truck, from having experienced that scenario before numerous times when I had to call them for my mother. This time, when they arrived on my street, there was no siren since I presume they had been forewarned there was no life in the balance here. An advance directive clearly specified no extraordinary means were to be taken to prolong my husband's life, but he was past the point of having such techniques administered anyway.

Before the officer went outside to direct paramedics to our house, I stood by my dead husband's side, thoughts racing through my mind of those hours from the last time I had spoken with him, had seen him breathing peacefully in his sleep, until the moment I found him. So many words came to mind. For much too long there had been sensitive topics around the edges of which we skirted, that might gradually emerge from time to time. There were those topics with other issues of more recent vintage where the rocky barriers had only begun to be worn down, allowing our words to begin sliding more easily over their once razor sharp edges.

I told the officer, as though somehow he could call back my husband and we could rectify this matter that was pressing on my mind, "There was so much we needed to talk much that we hadn't had an opportunity to yet say...."

In retrospect now, I pause to think, that fateful Saturday the 13th day he died was the same day and date we had begun our first full day as husband wife so many decades ago. We were married on the preceding Friday night the 12th -- the exact same day and date I shared my husband's last wakeful living moments, two months shy of our forty-third wedding anniversary. Just imagine, in forty-three years, we still had much love and laughter to share, so much more we needed to talk about.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Thoughts

(The aging washer is leaking,
The dryer is squeaking,
Mother would appreciate
the humor of this happening today.)

Mother, I wish you could experience the world today. You always said you had no fear of dying, but would be reluctant to go because you didn't want to miss anything. I have the same view for myself. You saw much change in your lifetime. I think of you and these thoughts of your first twenty-one years come readily to mind.

born in the nineteenth century
horse and buggy days
daughter of a prosperous farmer
fence lines clear of weeds
indicating a good farmer

father performed outdoor chores
matching work horse pair
plowing, harrowing, discing,
cultivating, planting
grain, corn and garden

threshing parties
sheaves of oats, barley and wheat,
corn shucking,
hay raking,
fork tossing hay in mow

raising chickens and ducks
roosters, hens, drakes
cows with calves
pigs with piglets
sheep with lambs

harvesting crops
root cellar storage
butchering and dressing meats
milking the cows
collecting honey, beeswax

pets and progeny
mares with foals
mouser cats with kittens
herder/guard dogs with puppies
chicks and ducklings

mothers work indoors
wood stove for cooking
baking bread
bearing and raising children
nursing the ill

food preservation and canning
apple, cherry, peach trees
blackberry, gooseberries
jams, jellies
herb collection like mint leaves

gathering eggs
cream separating
making cottage cheese
churning butter
making smearcase

sewing and mending
pattern and dress making
yarn for knitting, crocheting, tatting
quilting designs, stitching, needle point
hooking rugs

recitation of poetry
story telling using elocution skills
piano playing and singing
games, riddles, reading, writing
stereoscopes and pictures

candles to electricity
hand pump priming for well water
eventual party line phone
two longs and a short ring
outdoor plumbing - two or three holer

children's playhouse
curtains, tea set
miniature furniture
china head dolls
dressing cats and kittens

winter's heavy woolen clothes
dry cleaning non-existent
deodorant yet to be
large tubs, spit baths

playing church piano and organ
dating mostly for church social functions
breaking rules by sneaking off with date to go dancing
coming home snuggled under blankets in horse drawn buggy
horse required no guidance -- always knew the way home

family, friends, classmates,
boyfriends, neighbors die
Influenza Pandemic of World War I
Influenza Epidemic of 1918
World War I

automobiles and airplanes coming

passing the Boxwell proficiency exam
requirement for high school attendance
moving into town to live with a family providing
them household services in exchange for room and board
high school graduation

acceptance and enrollment in "Normal School"
graduation after two years
teaching in one room school house
women given the right to vote 1921
mother legal age that year -- always voted thereafter.

My mother knew from her own mother, my grandmother, who advocated in her farm community for women's rights, supported by my grandfather, the challenges to achieve Women's Suffrage (right to vote.)

The 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was first introduced in the United States Congress in 1878, passed by both Houses in 1919 with that same wording -- 41 years later.

Progress can be slow.

She would have loved to have participated in the primary elections this year. She would be listening to the candidates words closely. She would be giving strong consideration to the state of our country internally, our status in the world. She would recognize the serious issues our nation faces -- that these problems must be resolved, such as health care, our infrastructure deterioration, domestic economic condition, the war(s) in which we're embroiled, the need to preserve each citizen's rights and freedoms, to name just a few matters.

She would be pleased when the focus stays on these campaign issues. She would be angered when efforts from any candidate, their supporters, or the media introduced misleading sound bites, negative innuendo into the dialogue. She would marvel at the unique combination of political party candidates from which we will choose our next President of the United States.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Sixties Saturday

Claremont Folk Music Festival - 2008

Jackson Browne, Ben Harper, Taj Mahal

A "Sixties Saturday" is how I describe my experience this past weekend. I'm an avid jazz fan who also enjoys a variety of music genres and performers. The 28th Annual Claremont Folk Festival had me entering the grounds around 10 a.m. About twelve hours later my being was permeated with the musical rhythms, lyrics, melodies, dancing that made the day and night one to remember, though I was tired and sunburned.

The experience was unexpectedly enhanced for us by coincidentally encountering a couple there I first met at free weekly Sun. afternoon jazz concerts I started attending a short time after my husband's death. This retired physics professor in his retirement years has serendipitously become a drummer. He now plays in a local country/folk music group consisting of other retired physics professors. They have been pleasantly surprised to find themselves asked to perform at clubs and at other paid venues. I'll have to write their story sometime in the future as examples of what new and interesting activities elders pursue in retirement years, if others are interested.

Claremont Folk Music Festival - 2008 was a spectacular success with a sellout crowd as it is every year -- had to get our tickets early. Jackson Browne, Ben Harper and Taj Mahal were the evening entertainers appearing on the main stage.

Claremonters were especially thrilled to welcome home one of our own -- Ben Harper. He is the son of the daughter now operating Claremont's unique and famous Folk Music Store her parents founded in 1970. Many local people, including the couple I mentioned above, have personal memories of Ben, his musical involvement with their sons during his school years here. Ben is married to actress, Laura Dern.

Features writer Brenda Bolinger wrote a succinct description of this festival's history in the Sat. April 28th online edition of "The Claremont Courier":

"The roots of the festival began when Dorothy Chase, co-founder of the Folk Music Center, Doug Thomson and a small group of dulcimer players began meeting together at the park on Indian Hill Boulevard. Ms. Chase, and her spouse, Charles, began the music center in 1958, introducing traditional and folk music to the region and offering music lessons and instrument building and repair. Sycamore Elementary School, the festival site, was the first venue at which the Chase duo presented performances by music greats such as Doc Watson, Brownie McGee and Kris Kristofferson. The Folk Festival continues the almost 50-year tradition of supporting folk music."

Three Festival stages provided entertainment for all ages during the day:

The Courtyard Stage
Ross Altman, singer and songwriter performs original songs ranging in subject from the L.A. Riots to homophobia.

Cynthia Artish a veteran performer pioneering the American folk harp movement who also teaches harp at the Claremont Folk Music Center, directs "Harps of Hope" healthcare harp music.

Rick Shea - "An acclaimed vocalist and formidable guitarist" performing everything from traditional folk and country to working with folk and rock legends.

Dulcimers of Dunlore is a hammered dulcimer ensemble of five women who create a unique and wondrous sound with a repertoire including traditional, classical, ancient, and international melodies and more.

John Rockwell demonstrates his ukulele skills on this link in a number of videos.

The Children's Stage
Angela Lloyd who is well-known " one of the unique performers on the national storytelling circuit...appearing throughout the country" the festival program notes.

The Happy Crowd has been entertaining children with their writing and music performances for over 16 years coast to coast via live performances and Children's Radio -- "Havin' Fun"!

Dan Crow has been entertaining children and their families internationally using music and stories, a sense of humor in live performances. He's a writer composer and award winner of renown including on the Disney Channel.

Uncle Ruthie Buell is the host and star entertaining with songs, stories, poetry, live guests and bilingual tales on her local weekly radio show at KPFK 90.7 FM.

Drum Circle introduces all ages to drumming, rhythms of many cultures describing techniques and patterns.

Dance Hall Workshops
Of special interest to many were performances and workshops in the Dance Hall for Scottish Dance, Tango/Salsa, Middle Eastern, West African Drum & Dance led by other professionally successful teachers and entertainers.

Other Workshops
Workshops throughout the day were conducted by most of the performers on virtually every instrument imaginable and some quite unusual and less common such as the didgeridoo. A focus on instrument making also attracted many, a popular and well-known feature of the Claremont Folk Music Center.

During this entertainment variety there were many presentations showcasing environmental interests. As the program noted:

"In addition to the promotion and preservation of folk culture, this year's Festival is committed to encouraging sustainability ... meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs ... we are all members of a global community."

This Festival is presented under the auspices of "...a nonprofit education and arts organization dedicated to the advancement, promotion and preservation of traditional, contemporary, and international folk music, instruments and folk culture" the program states.

Main Stage
Beginning at 10 a.m. preceding performances of each of those headliners named above was a lineup of individuals and groups of some renown of their own:

The Squeakin' Wheels performance brought their special style encompassing spirituals to contemporary vocal and instrumental pieces.

Joel Rafael appearing during the next hour is internationally recognized as a songwriter and interpreter of Woody Guthrie's songs performing solo and with the Joel Rafael Band. One of his songs especially roused a supportive crowd responding to the lyrics of "This Is My Country"

I especially enjoyed Yuval Ron, an international composer and record producer who creates innovative music embracing Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths. His ensemble unites musicians who are Arabic, Israeli and Jewish with Christian Armenian artists.

The BladeRunners vocal and instrumental music combines country with modern contemporary and progressive bluegrass.

Da Lion is a West African drumming and dance troupe whose founder, Leon Mobley is also the percussionist for Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. This ensemble of musicians, singers and dancers provide sounds with a bit of funk, hip hop and jazz.

Main Stage Evening Performers

These internationally known musicians have websites which I will provide links for here for any who might wish to read further about them.

Jackson Browne performed two of his compositions that elicited an exceptionally loud vocal hand clapping crowd response. You may listen to each of these songs on these YouTube links: "Lives In The Balance," and "Drums of War."

Ben Harper presented "Black Rain" with this audio recording most closely approximating his Festival performance. Some YouTube video links at other performances are provided here for other special Festival songs he sang: his recording"Gather Round The Stone" is linked here to a YouTube video of an earlier L.A. live performance. "There Will Be A Light" with a YouTube video link. (He also recorded this with The Blind Boys of Alabama.)

He played and sang what ultimately became his first recording, LP "Pleasure and Pain" with fellow folk guitarist Tom Freund. (Lyrics on song title page.) Prior to his successful recording he noted sharing these lyrics with his grandmother, Dorothy Chase who said words to the effect, "You may have something." This folk, rock, reggae, blues, gospel singer indeed did. His family background is unique and special as he shares his "Roots."

Ben closed by singing with his mother, Ellen, this new song he said he had planned to introduce soon in Spain, as the duo rendered an emotionally moving performance of "My Spanish Red Wine."

Taj Mahal had everyone on their feet with his high energy music, songs he sometimes had everyone sing along with him. He also interspersed his show a few times with lyrics that would wake up any crowd with some of their sexy innuendo -- edgy. This biography link best describes his musical background quoting him:

"I have songs in my head from so many languages and people. I know my sound is in the middle of this whole." - Taj Mahal."

Here's a taste of a blues tune from YouTube including a version of this one he performed for us:
"Mailbox Blues."

I found it impossible to engage in all the Festival's daytime activities, but I didn't lack for entertainment. I'll likely be back again for next year to listen to the performing artists. Maybe I should try to attend a workshop and create an instrument of my own. I know how to do so with just common ordinary plastic straws. On the other hand, I do think the singing bowls they have in their store are a bit more appealing than any instrument I likely could create. Still, we never know 'til we try.