Saturday, November 10, 2012

Granddaddy Vaught heads home

In honor of Veterans' Day, here is a picture of my grandfather, Wiley Beauregard Vaught, with some army buddies on their way back from Europe aboard the Japanese vessel, Awa Maru of "Tokio," March 1919.  He's the one on the far right side of the pic, facing to the side in a dramatic, intense fashion.  It's as if he anticipated the album cover photo pose for male groups by several decades.

Granddaddy Vaught was part of the 6th Heavy Mobile Ordnance Repair Shop of the American Expeditionary Forces. I suppose so were some or all of the guys pictured.  He died before I was born, so I never got to hear his war stories (or any others), but according to my dad, he claimed he & his unit mostly rode around France on trains and avoided any actual conflict.  I assume that's an exaggeration (he went on to be a used car salesman), but I'm sure it felt like that at times.  We still have his cane with a metal point with his name and army affiliation engraved on it.

He clearly had a sense of humor; that is one of the things my mom found so attractive in my father much later.  Not sure if the Japanese sailor knew WHY it was funny for him to pretend to have this American soldier in custody, but he probably figured it out.

Despite what the news clipping headline may imply, he was originally from Stevenson, Alabama, and lived in Chattanooga at the time.

10 Ways To Tell Your Altar Call Has Gone Too Long

As all know, our attention spans are getting shorter, due to the quick-cut editing techniques pioneered by MTV, increased workflow expectations made available by digital technology, and--OK, OK, I'll get to the point already.

Here's a little something I came up with the other day. Feel free to share with your pastor. He may not thank you, but your fellow congregants--OK!! HERE:

10 Ways To Tell Your Altar Call Has Gone Too Long

You realize you never knew "Just As I Am" had more than 10 verses.

The choir director orders a pizza.

People are claiming to have been "slain in the Spirit" just to have an excuse to lie down...and you're in a Baptist church!

The musicians start doing a James Brown-style breakdown of "I Surrender All."

Members start adding lyrics to the songs, such as singing "Take My Life...Please!"

The words to "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus" remind you to check your Twitter account.

You consider yelling "Fire!" just to make sure people are still able to move their limbs.

The sound man's usual stoic expression begins to resemble that of a Titans fan toward the end of the Bears game.

The wedding party booked for the following Saturday shows up to decorate the church.

You begin to suspect that your 24-hour antiperspirant may not hold out through the closing prayer.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Laundromat of Broken Dreams

My local laundromat has publicity head shots of Nashville artists & songwriters (some autographed) on the walls, a la the Bluebird Cafe. It's not an unpleasant place, but when I go (weekly now, since my washer connection broke), sometimes I can't help being reminded of this painting.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Thursday, March 01, 2012

77s Unplugged coming to Nashville!

In a town where at least a dozen amazing acts play every night, often for a bargain admission price, it can be tempting to take it all for granted. Not this one; not for me. And never mind the "unplugged"--the power will definitely be on.

The 77s Unplugged, featuring core band members Michael Roe and David Leonhardt, will make a rare appearance in Nashville on Monday, March 26, at The Basement, as part of the “Sticks and Stones” tour. The tour coincides with the digital re-release of the album of the same name on Lo-Fidelity Records. “Sticks and Stones” has been out of print since shortly after its original release in the 1990’s, and will now be available on CD and online.

The 77s is a band that has appeared in many incarnations over the years, with frontman Michael Roe as its central figure and torch-bearer. The talented, versatile and charismatic Roe uses his remarkable vocal range and guitar skills to synthesize rock, blues and gospel influences into a mesmerizing blend. Leonhardt’s percussion choices bring unique energy to every song.

Michael and David had this to say about the upcoming tour:
"It's been nearly 22 years since the release of ‘Sticks And Stones’ and it will be exciting to have the album available again and celebrate the re-release with the fans who have loved it and supported us for all these years. I am also thrilled to be able to come play these tunes for you with my ol’ 77s pal David Leonhardt, as we have not appeared together as a duo since the ‘It’s For You’ tour 15 years ago. Dave and I have always had a bit of ESP going whenever we perform and we’ve missed that magical musical experience (along with the ridiculous humor) ever since."
Michael Roe

"I am really excited to be playing again with Mike. We always have a great time together and our musical influences generate some interesting moments on stage. Sometimes it gets us in trouble, but we'll try to avoid that. ‘Sticks And Stones’ being re-released brings back lots of great memories and it will be fun to revisit those songs on the tour. That album had some of the coolest songs from that era, and this tour should be a great musical experience with ‘Sticks And Stones’ as the background. Can't wait to see all of you again!"
David Leonhardt

Get a taste of the music at

77s Unplugged (Michael Roe and David Leonhardt)
"Sticks And Stones" tour

Monday, March 26
Doors 6:00 pm, Shotwime 7:00 pm
Tickets - $10 at the door

The Basement (below Grimey's New & Pre-Loved Music store)
1604 8th Ave S., Nashville, TN 37203
(The Basement is a 21+ venue. No exceptions.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


This weekend I watched the newly-restored film "Wings." It's a silent film about WWI fighter pilots (not to be confused with the TV series from the 90's with the two brothers and the fiesty blonde). It was the 1st film, and the only silent film, to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It stars Clara Bow, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, and Richard Arlen...and my grandmother's 2nd cousin, Jobyna Raulston, from South Pittsburg, TN. She was overshadowed by Bow, Rogers and Arlen, due to less screen time and not being a big star already; she was known to many because of her roles in Harold Lloyd films ("The Freshman" is a gem). Bow was, of course, box office gold. Even now, most people only mention THREE stars when they refer to the cast; in fact, Ralston is misidentified as Bow in the one IMDB pic of her. But at least she got billing over newcomer Gary Cooper!

A restoration of the film was released early this year, with an optional new soundtrack with orchestrated music, and sound effects recreated at Skywalker Sound (don't worry, I heard no light-saber swooshes or laser cannon shots). I hear the also-recently-restored Princess Theater in South Pittsburg will be screening some of Ralston's films...I daresay this will be one of them.

Ralston and Arlen portray a young couple in love (like most men, he's more enthusiastic about it than he looks here). The two actors later married and had a child together.

Coincidentally, this was also the weekend I was able to catch up with the storylines of the second season of the BBC series "Downton Abbey" currently showing on PBS (it's like reading a novel, with better casting). I watched the entire first season on Hulu Plus (huzzah for the one-week free trial membership!). Like "Wings," the series is set in the WWI era. Both even portray their respective soldier characters carrying good luck charms into battle.

Prior to THAT, I was looking through my Grandmother Vaught's old pictures and documents (again) and discovered a little more detail about my grandfather's outfit in WWI (my grandparents had my mother late in life--I'm still very young, of course). He was part of the 6th Heavy Mobile Ordnance Repair Shop. They were basically the AAA of the A.E.F.

Though I never knew my grandfather, and my grandmother was old even when I was born, it's fun to imagine them going to the movies in Chattanooga, watching cousin Jobyna on the big screen, my grandfather ("Beau," short for Wiley Beauregard Vaught) making his Harriet (a.k.a. "Hallie" to some) giggle with the occasional wry comment about Clara Bow and his own experiences in Europe. He claimed he spent most of his time riding trains and avoiding battles, but then he wasn't one to brag, especially since Harriet's brother Al was career Army and on his way to Colonel (Brigadier General if he'd lived a little longer).

After all this time thinking about life and war 100 years ago, I'm not sure I have any brilliant insights as a result, but I'm chewing on it. The issues of conflict, bravery, love and loss are always worth considering. A lot can be learned from the stories of those who survived the worst, and even enjoyed life in the meantime. Even if they weren't famous.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Proof of Fountain of Youth Found!

Take a look at the fan visible just above George Harrison's head. Look familiar? I can think of no other possible explanation than sorcery. I wonder if he had any inkling he'd be playing the character of Jack on the popular TV sitcom "Will & Grace." Oh, but of course that must have been in the contract he signed...WITH THE DEVIL!!!