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March 20th, 2018...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

THE GANGSTER. Very few people are as good or as bad as the first impression. We can protect ourselves by being suspicious of new people, but our suspicion can bring out a dark side. Sometimes they will play whatever roll you write for them. On the other hand, a bad guy can be a saint with us if we don't expect evil of him. He unconsciously tries to be whatever is expected of him. I know this from experience. There was Joe M., a notorious gangster in Miami who treated me like a son. He was an elderly man who bore a strange resemblance to Edward G. Robinson. I played piano and managed two nightclubs for him. He was always more than fair with me. He even protected me from other mobsters. I think the secret was this: I'd never heard of him. He just seemed to me like a nice old man, and he lived up to that image. When I heard about his bloody and violent career, I couldn't just turn off the friendship. It was like the news stories were about somebody else. I heard all the stories, but he and I never discussed that side of his life. I kept up the pretense that I didn't know. We trusted each other. Joe had a trick he liked to do for friends. He could take my shirt off with out removing my suitcoat. I still don't know how he did it. He was old then and is surely dead by now, and he will always be a villain in the public memory, but if they ever ask me, I'll give him a good reference. He was nice to me. Copyright © March 20, 2018 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

March 8th, 2018...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

ONE FINE WEEK IN ATLANTA. Misty and I often did shows with Jerry Reed, Roy Clark, Grandpa Jones, and Archie Campbell. One of those shows was a week long booking at Atlanta's Chastain Park Amphitheater, an outdoor venue. It was Boots Randolph's show, and he always treated the artists, musicians, and staff as honored guests, with long tables of food and drink backstage, and the party feeling that carried over to the audiences. Before the first show, Roy stepped out of his bus carrying a glass of unknown iced beverage. Misty said "How're ya doin', Roy?" Roy smiled and said "Gettin' well, honey." The drinks never caused any real problems, although a couple of times the emcee tried to take acts off stage before they were done. They were innocent mistakes, and kinda funny. We were all friends. Like most amphitheaters, it was bowl shaped, and the bands were pretty much protected from the weather, but the act out at the front of the stage could get a little wet if it rained. This can be a thrill if you are hooked up to electrical equipment. We had just finished our show and were walking off, when Archie Campbell was heading out to do his act. I said "It's pretty windy out there, Arch." Archie ran his hand suavely over his hair and said this: "I don't have to worry. I bought the casual style." He was always funny... on or off stage. The crowds were huge and Saturday night was our closing show. We all met back at the hotel where Boots and his manager X. Cosse had us staying. They had the hotel dining room set up like a king's banquet... tons of food and anything you want to drink. It was a party for everybody in the show, including roadies and friends of friends. For the first hour everybody was there having a good time, except Jerry Reed, who was conspicuous in his absence. He bounced into the room at about 11:30, said quick hellos to the gang, grabbed a take out box, went through the food table like a lawnmower, and was gone with the wind and his doggy box of food. Jerry was on Fast Forward, and his whole appearance lasted about seven minutes. Misty went into his bus and got his autograph when we worked together at the Citrus Bowl. We loved Jerry Reed, and he was also my favorite guitar player. Then, later in the party, there was some excitement going on at the ballroom door when some medics rushed in with a stretcher. We wondered what was up. Roy Clark grinned, raised his glass, and said goodbye to everybody. Then he made himself comfortable on the stretcher, and was carried out to the ambulance and rushed to the airport. He was late and had a plane to catch. I've tried to report the week's events exactly as they happened, down to the finest detail, but remember, I may have had a beer myself. The music business used to be more fun than it is now, and we miss all our old friends a lot, but we're so lucky to have been part of that wonderful era. Copyright © March 7, 2018 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

February 28th, 2018...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

TRANSITIONS. (From February 28th, 2015. A look back.) It's a cool gray rainy day here, a transitional day, with the remnants of Winter and early signs of Spring. Standing under the edge of our carport I can see almost a mile of tan fields and lines of trees, until the landscape gets lost in the mist. The trees and Spanish moss are moving with the breeze, as are the flags on our street. These are mostly World War Two people and that kind of patriotism doesn't go away, even though the nation has changed over their lifetime. I didn't like Florida for a long time after I landed here. The palms annoyed me. They were foreign and reminded me that I wasn't home; that this was all temporary and I didn't belong here. I could go to almost anywhere up north and not feel like an outsider, but Florida felt unreal... like a movie. As I stood just out of the rain today and took in the palms, the giant oaks in rainy-day colors, and the Spanish Moss like graceful fringe on a gown, it occurred to me that I like it. When did that happen? I still love Buffalo with it's four seasons and the energy in the air, but it's mostly the Buffalo in my memory. The last time we visited there, I enjoyed it, but I had a sense of being outside looking in. The world has changed so much that maybe we all feel a little like strangers at times, but this subtropical place has sneaked up on me and it's started to look right. Maybe I'm home... or as close as I'll ever get. Copyright © 2015, 2018 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

February 19th, 2018...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

A 1971 VISIT TO DISNEY WORLD. (From my Orlando newspaper column, 1971. That was Walt Disney World's first year.) Saturday afternoon, through no fault of my own, I found myself being patted on the butt by the Disney turnstile. I had already been forced to memorize "Goofy 746-118B" under threat of never seeing my car again. I tried to get back out through the turnstile, but Misty and our guest took me by the ears, and dragged me, sobbing, into The Magic Kingdom. The music of a 200 piece rock band was being magically forced through a 3-inch loudspeaker. At a lunch counter we stood in line for a while, and we were abruptly awakened by a teenage counter girl. She glared at us silently, waiting for our order. They must have been out of Mouseburgers, because all she gave us was a small cardboard box containing three small cardboard hamburgers. "The one on top is 'without sauce'", she said. That was true. None of them had sauce. I was startled to find she could talk. At the first big show, there were several hundred of us waiting in the theater lobby We were jockeying for position. A young hostess with the microphone had been waiting for this. 'LAY-DEEZ AND GEN-TUL-MEN", she screamed into the P.A. system, which was set at number ten. A lady in front of me rolled her eyes and collapsed to the floor. To my left, a businessman clutched his chest and flung himself over the railing. A child's voice cried, "I didn't know the Lord was a lady!" "YOU ARE NOT GOING ANYWHERE WITHOUT ME, so you might just as well stand there and listen to what I have to say!" The meek dropped like flies all around us. "When I see fit to open the doors you will quickly move into the theater and hurry to the opposite end of the room, dragging your dead and wounded! There will be no eating, drinking, smoking... no talking, no flash cameras, no holding hands, and no giggling! All right! You may now march into the auditorium in a quiet orderly manner. We hope you enjoy our presentation." Inside, another starlet took over. She was good, but she couldn't top her ugly sister out front. She sort of sang her speech: "Immediately upon the conclusion of our presentation you will exit swiftly to the left of the herd. Do not touch or lean on the railings! They were only constructed to maintain discipline... blah blah blah oral hygiene and regular dental care." After the show I said: "How 'bout a nice relaxing boat ride back to the parking lot? Fun's fun, but I'm worn out!" The ferry captain waited till we were away from shore to do his number on us. He never once stopped mumbling over the mike, which sounded like a giant toilet paper tube. Not one word was in any known language. It sounded like a Winston Churchill speech played backwards. His volume was a couple of decibels above the point of pain, and passengers were leaping ecstatically overboard. At the main exit we were divided into squares, and loaded onto people movers. The conductress of the tram was armed with a microphone. "IF THERE ARE MORE THAN FIVE OF YOU IN A SEAT, WE ARE NOT GOING TO MOVE!' A man behind me said: "We just got here and they're threatening us already!" I said; "Yes. Isn't it great?" "IF THAT CHILD IS MORE THAN THREE YEARS OLD, HE WILL HAVE TO GET OFF YOUR LAP!" I got off Misty's lap. "If you drop a package, a baby, or if your hat blows off we are NOT allowed to stop!" The tram began to move. "We will pass throught the Happy, Dopey, Grumpy, and Freaky sections of the parking area! We have twelve thousand cars parked here, and if you miss your section we can NOT take you back! So, Lots o' luck. Ha ha." "This is our first stop. Grumpy people exit quickly to the driver's right! Goofy people exit to the left!" We exited to the right. We were grumpy people. Copyright © 1971, 2018 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

February 14th, 2018...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

VALENTINE'S DAY, 1991. That was the day of the strong arm robbery. We were playing in Jacksonville Florida, and Misty wanted to go and buy a red blouse for Valentine's Day. She was already wearing a very nice red blouse, but I kept my mouth shut. We drove to a Pic 'n' Save store on Dunn Avenue. I dropped her off near the door and drove to the nearest parking slot. It had just gotten dark. As I was locking the car door I heard a woman scream. I had never heard Misty scream, but the sound came from where she ought to be... by the door. I started toward the building and saw a big guy running from the door area, from right to left across the front of the building, and carrying a woman's purse. He was going about 35 mph when he saw me running directly at him. He shouted: "NOOOOOOO!" We crashed head on and I knocked him across a bunch of shopping carts. I spun around, flew a few feet, and landed on the point of my index finger, like an acrobat. The finger bent into an "L", and I did a neat landing on my face. People in the parking lot closed in, held the guy down and called the police, while I looked for my glasses and bled from a variety of places. He had been running toward the high chain link fence where he was to throw the purse to his brother, who was waiting on the other side. The brother disappeared. The cops told us that if he hadn't taken at least $400 they couldn't send him away, wink, wink. Funny, that's the exact amount we reported. Meanwhile, Misty, who was also hurt from being knocked to the ground by a blow to the ear, was helping me into the store to get assistance. Something had gone wrong with my leg and I couldn't walk. The pharmacist said he couldn't help because it would be admitting liability. I'm leaning on Misty with broken glasses, an injured leg, a bent finger, and bleeding like a lawn sprinkler. I reached across the counter, grabbed the pencil out of his pocket, pushed him aside, took some tape from a shelf, and made a rough splint for my finger. The next day we went to a walk-in medical clinic where the doctor put a splint on my finger backwards, Later I turned it around. I was on crutches for a couple of months and the crook went to jail. We sued the store and came out of it with a nice used car. Since then I don't forget Valentines Day as I used to. Copyright © February 14, 2018 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

February 9th, 2018...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

STILL MORE ODDS AND ENDS. THE BALLET EXPERIMENT. Business was off at the ballet. The theater manager was sharp enough to realize that not everybody likes the ballet. Some people like trombone playing. He did an extensive talent search and found a ballerina who could play the trombone. He offered her big bucks if she could learn to do both at once. The house was packed on opening night. The ballerina danced "Swan Lake" brilliantly, playing the trombone all the way until the last act, which called for a pirouette and a seventh position trombone lick at the same time. She tripped over another swan, blew her teeth to the audience, and did an ad lib five minute pain dance. I know this story is true because I was that ballerina. ******************************************************************************** 1957. When my Dawn Breakers vocal quartet,were recording for a Detroit label, we stayed at an old hotel called The Barlum. A lot of traveling show biz people stayed there. I found it had a long closed penthouse nightclub with a white grand piano. I was up there alone writing songs each night and enjoying the view of the city lights. ********************************************************************************** Miami, 1960's. Misty and I were just coming off being homeless, when a couple of musicians who had always snubbed us asked us to fill in on their gig because they had something better to do for two nights. It was in Hialeah near the race track and a winner came in and tipped us $100. We almost passed out! That was like $1,000 then. *********************************************************************************** I wrote, arranged, and conducted the music for a government documentary film about The Everglades, called "Million Acre Playground". It was good experience watching the film and getting the live band to synchronize with the scenes. I went to the premier in Ft. Lauderdale and sat through it just to see my name fly by in the credits. ********************************************************************************** Starting out, we couldn't afford a Hammond B-3 organ, so Misty got a Wurlitzer and tinkered with it. She got the keys to pop like a Hammond by putting a switch halfway on. The audiences liked to see the sparks fly in the back of the organ. *********************************************************************************** Over forty years ago we were driving in heavy traffic down a six or eight lane highway near the Pentagon. There was a small injured dog trapped in the median. When I could stop a few miles later I called the police trying to get help for the dog. The cop said. "We ain't allowed to shoot 'em." Nothing I could do. Now, four decades later, I still remember that little dog, and the look on his face, and I still feel somehow guilty. ************************************************************************************ The teacher said, "What is it with you? Is it ignorance or apathy?" I said, "I don't know and I don't care." * * * "Bewitch me, darling. Bewitch me." "I'll bewitch you in a minute. I'm busy." * * * A group of rabbits walking backwards is a receding hare line. * * * I don't know why the doctor gave me an anti-depressant. .. unless it's because I had my hands around his throat. * * * I'm getting crows feet, but somehow my shoes still fit. Copyright © February 9, 2018 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

January 31st, 2018...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

HOW WE RUINED LUNCH HOUR IN DULUTH. We were not recording stars, and had no idea we would ever have hit records. We were just three Florida musicians, Misty, me, and our guitar player Doug Tarrant, who somehow wound up in the north country in December. Our booking was at the Black Bear Lounge in the Hotel Duluth. Our dog, Brubeck, accompanied us on the tour. He looked like a Jack Russell Terrier, but he wasn't anything you could pin down. Brubeck would not eat dog food. He would eat cat food or a foul smelling liver and garlic concoction that Misty cooked for him. He would also eat complete motel mattresses, medium sized linoleum floors, and my better clothes. We loved him! Misty felt a need to dress Brubeck up like a rich lady's poodle. He would be led through the lobby wearing a leopard print dog coat, a hat, and four yellow boots, at least one of which was always turned around with the toe facing grotesquely backwards. He would be shaking a rear leg trying to get rid of it. This gets worse. The hotel had a classy restaurant which was below ground level. The sidewalk and snow covered grass were exactly at eye level with the lunch crowd inside. The place was packed with business people enjoying their food, when Misty's legs appeared in the far right window, then the leash, and finally what looked like a dog in a pimp suit. The pimp dog went right up to the restaurant window and proceeded with a long overdue bowel movement. Misty, totally embarrassed at being the focus of every eye in the crowd, tried her best to look like she'd never seen this dog before in her life. It didn't work, and Brubeck went earnestly on and on. Then she made it worse by trying to drag him away while he was still going. A lot worse! The lunch hour business dropped off abruptly after that. Copyright © 2017 Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted b y kind permission of the author.

January 17th, 2018...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

GHOST TOWN. Somehow we had missed the turnoff to the southern Ohio town. We went back to where the highway ought to be and found a narrow old road, with grass growing up through the cracks in the pavement. Could this be the main road to town that I remembered from my childhood? The sign said it was. The small city, after slumbering quietly for generations, had become a boom town with the coming of a large chemical company. For a while the population grew with the influx of labor. The little corner taverns where old cronies had once exchanged worldly wisdom became juke joints as the town opened up. Housing became scarce, money became plentiful, and the townsfolk began a new habit... locking their doors. That was the last time I'd seen the place, and the only memory I had to go by. I was surprised at the desolate weeded over road that had once been a main artery. We turned off the superhighway and followed the rustic lane toward the town, trying to spot familiar landmarks. There were new shabby buildings, some vacant and boarded up. There were new gas stations looking aged and toothless with their pumps gone. I thought I recognized an old building... a certain curve in the road... but the clutter made it impossible to get my bearings. Drifting into town, I was relieved to see the railroad station and its surrounding park untouched by time. I had often told Misty about the good times at Aunt Bess' house, where I had spent a lot of my childhood. Now I was about to show her the actual place where it all happened, but at first I couldn't find it. It used to be right there on the corner of Fourth and Maple. Now there was just a rundown Frankenstein house hiding in the weeds. We parked while I stared at it for a long time. I had somehow forgotten... They're all gone. The whole smiling, partying family had died off one by one since I'd been gone. I knew it, I'm sure, but I’d blocked it out. The small grocery store across the street had a new name but looked the same. I went in and asked, but they didn't remember who had lived in that corner house. They didn't recognize my desperately mentioned names, and they were busy. Asking around we learned that the chemical plant had laid off thousands of workers, and the government had built a superhighway that bypassed the town, so it went quietly back to sleep, somewhat the worse for wear. We searched the town all day, and it was sunset before we found anyone we knew. They were all together, as always. The squeak of the rusty wrought iron gate pierced the evening stillness, as we entered the old cemetery, and began brushing away weeds and dust, to peer at names on tombstones... names that clicked on familiar faces in my mind. We drove out of town and didn't talk for a while. Nobody said goodbye. If this was a ghost town these new people didn't know it. We were the ghosts. Copyright © January 16, 2018 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

January 15th, 2018...
WATCH THIS! Amazon is selling our 29 SONG CD new for $200, used for $50 to $100!... We are offering these NEW CD-Rs, exact duplicates, art work, sound & all, personally autographed to you, for $39.95 + shipping. Email, or write Jack Blanchard, PO Box 895444, Leesburg FL 34789. (P.S.: Click on the picture for a slightly larger view.)
January 3rd, 2018... And a happy new year to everybody out there, and welcome to our first news page of 2018. (But enough about that.) Here's Jack (but...)

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

ENOUGH ABOUT ME. Misty Morgan, my wife and partner, has a photographic memory for music. I call it a "phonographic" memory. She can play any piece she hears once, even if it's just background Muzak in a store, but she does not read music. She has never sung a note off key. Her first underage jobs were with pickup combos around Tonawanda, New York. They played standards, dance music, and a little country. As a piano single, she played and sang mostly standards, Broadway, and popular songs. When I met her she was playing with a country band at The Corral Barbecue in West Hollywood, Florida, under the name "Mary Male". One night, when we had only been together a short time, we went to a club to hear an all female jazz quintet. Somebody asked her to sit in on piano, and she accepted. I was embarrassed. I said, "Honey, you don't play jazz." She just said, "I can do it." As she went on-stage, I went to the rest room. I didn't want to see it. Then I heard this great jazz piano, a mix of Oscar Petersen, Erroll Garner, and Ramsey Lewis. I went out and looked and it was Misty. She brought down the house. I said, "Where did you learn THAT?!" She calmly said, "I told you I could do it" She can play all kinds of music, and never plays anything the same twice. She is the first female entertainer I know of to play six stacked keyboards onstage. Sometimes the strings, guitars, fiddles, and many other sounds on our records are really Misty and her magic keyboards. She can blend them with Buddy Spicher, Johnny Gimbel, Vassar Clements, and other musicians, so that you can't tell. unless you were there. Her ear for sound is a valuable tool I use when mixing sessions. I can write the songs, and we work out the arrangements together, but she has the final word on the mixdowns. She was the first woman to produce a Number One country record. When I write a new song I sing it to her first. She never says it's bad. If she says, "That's really nice" I know it isn't. I have go back and work on the song until she gives the right reaction. It's sort of an excitement in her eyes... sometimes even tears. She's always right. My final editor. Everybody remarks about her unusual harmony our duets. I have no idea what she's doing and I don't want to know. It just works. On top of all this, she is the perfect straight man to my funny stuff. She folds her arms and gives me a look that says this: "Whenever you're through, dummy. We're trying to do a serious show here." The audiences love her, and so do I. Copyright © January 3, 2018 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

December 28th, 2017... (From sometime in the past.) Well, here we go again, folks. If you get the feeling you just missed last year (what was it called, anyway?), you can now find it here! (And also on the Old News page, of course.) Here's to a safe, sane and happy 2018! Happy New Year, everybody! Jerry D. Withers, Your Friendly Neighborhood Webmeister™
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