LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Lucinda Rocks My World

My close friends and husband know that the musician Lucinda Williams rocks my world. Has since I first listened to her decades ago.

I have all of her recordings, and I’m currently listening to “Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone” in my car.

She is the daughter of the late poet Miller Williams and a fierce songwriter. I’ve been fortunate enough to see her in concert three times, once with my three best friends on an epic trip to Boulder, Colo,, for my 50th birthday. Lucinda is in my age bracket and I find her work authentic and inspiring.

My friend, Watson, will rub in that. When he was attending college, Miller Williams gave a campus reading. I’m completely envious.

My husband loves the music of Neil Young (actually, so do I) and has dozens of his recordings, so our shelf with the “Ys” and the “Ws” is pretty darned full.

Here is a good video of Lucinda performing “Compassion” and another of “Cold Day in Hell.”

When life is throwing me curve balls, I often pull out Lucinda’s CDs and fortify myself. If I had to choose my favorite song of hers, it’d be “West,” probably because I’m so deeply a westerner.

When she performed in Bismarck at the Belle, I requested the song via her social media. It wasn’t on her set list from previous concerts, but Eureka, she sang it! Bonus was that I got to take my daughter to that concert so she could see for herself why her mama reveres Lucinda.

Keep up the good work, lady.

MICHAEL BOGERT: Photo Gallery — Blues On The Red

Grand Forks photographer Michael Bogert took in Happy Harry’s Blues on the Red on Saturday in downtown Grand Forks. Check out his crowd photos as well as the those of the entertainers — Mud from the Twin Cities and Laura Rain and the Caesars from Detroit.

RUSS HONS: Photo Gallery — Blues On The Red

Grand Forks photographer Russ Hons took in Happy Harry’s Blues on the Red on Saturday in downtown Grand Forks. The opening act was Squishy Mud from the Twin Cities, followed by headliner Laura Rain and the Caesars from Detroit.

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Up Above My Head, I Hear Music In The Air

Gentle reader, you might recall that we just attended the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons, Colo., with some of our best chums. It was a fabulous sojourn, filled with the anticipation of the total solar eclipse.

By and large, these festivals, particularly the ones hosted by Planet Bluegrass, are filled with blissful vibes and fascinating diversity — oh, and fabulous music. Just the people-watching alone can keep one distracted from the cares of the world. This was time spent with five of the best friends for whom a woman could hope.

As we drove, we listened to the music that was on the festival billing.

Upon arrival, our party enjoyed a brief tour of the charming town of Lyons, in the foothills of the Rockies, followed by pizza and beer and lots of laughs.

It is very difficult to adequately capture the natural and humanmade beauty of Lyons, filled with buildings built out of the local red stone, accompanied by peaceful public spaces and interesting sculptures, but here are a few snapshots.

Our favorite was the adorable bear family that greeted us to the festival grounds. Wristbands on, we were all set for day one of three days of great music!

But first, three of us drove back up from our lodgings in Longmont. Colo., in order to stand in the line for numbers for the tarp run. I scored what seemed to me to be a high number, 123, and it turned out to be the best number we got in the subsequent nights.

The next morning, Jeff and Ken secured a great location for us, and we settled in for some tunes.

The Colorado sun grew hot, and we wandered around the grounds to buy beverages, food and merchandise. Everyone filtered down to the river now and then for some shade and cold, freshing mountain water. The festival also includes lots of activities for children, interesting art and huge bonus, REAL BATHROOMS! The festival grounds are on the location of an old farm, the remnant silo bearing silent witness to this history.

Festival fashion is very western U.S. outdoor wear, with tons of interesting T-shirts and a wide array of hats to shield festivarians from the bright Colorado sun. I noted that there is very little of the outlandish costuming that we see at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and somewhat less diversity in the crowd. However, the musical acts were diverse. Planet Bluegrass has its act together.

These flags bear the names of each of the 14K-plus Colorado mountain peaks. Longmont Peak is the closest.

While we lounged on our tarps, two ravens flew by over the canyon walls of the St. Vrain River.

It was mesmerizing to watch this guy quietly build these stone cairns in the river and then to watch the tubers dodge it as they careened by. There were many frolicking folks of all ages.

Mary Gauthier was a late-entry performer in the Wildflower Pavilion, there for the weeklong song school. She was very passionate, and with her we all sang “This Land is Your Land.”

We took turns decorating our personal tarp and slice of heaven for these three days. The weather was hot, and we were mostly off-the-grid. The chill festival vibe populated by extremely polite people added to the joy. I ate my fill of Asian dumplings each night for supper from a Boulder, Colo.-based food booth.

The performance I most anticipated was Rhiannon Giddens, a favorite of mine. She was a showstopper, and on the first night, everything I had hoped for and more.  I can say with all confidence that there were conversion emotions throughout this musical experience. She sang songs of justice and love, with passion and grace, and told meaningful, heartfelt stories in her intros. Here is just one video of her singing one of her many songs I love. Give her a listen and watch for her to win some awards for her album “Freedom Highway“.

What lucky and happy children I witnessed here and there.

Climbing is a favorite activity in this area, and they start ’em young.

Jim and I enjoyed the black raspberry dark chocolate chip ice cream each day.

Festival camping is not for us, but it was sure fun to look at the creative camps. Leave No Trace holds a contest in their booth for sustainable festivation camping and these folks are CLEVER.

I used some of my tarp time to catch up on my reading, including the eclipse book, and my husband enjoyed The Denver Post. We were relieved when the sun began to set behind the huge cottonwood trees in the tarp area, shade that everyone has been hugging all day. I heard a flock of cedar waxwings in the trees bordering the grounds.

When the sun disappeared, everyone got out their fleece jackets.

On the last night, Rachel Price’s voice, anchoring Lake Street Diver, soared through the canyon.

The festival was closed late Sunday night by the talented Dave Rawlings Machine. Rawlings and Gillian Welch met all of my expectations and were a very close second for my favorite performance. Their new album, “Poor David’s Almanack” is most excellent! The set was wickedly good and included my personal favorite “Short-Haired Woman Blues.”

Our route home included another night at the historic Franklin Hotel in Deadwood, S.D., built in 1903 (Theodore Roosevelt slept here) and a drive filled with talk of attending another festival in upcoming years, listening to new musical discoveries like Elephant Revival.

If you’ve never checked out the groovy vibes of roots music, AKA, Americana, I urge you to do so pronto. Find your bliss!

MICHAEL BOGERT: Photo Gallery — Summertime Scenes

Grand Forks photographer Michael Bogert gets around. Enjoy these shots from the latest Blues on the Red and North Dakota Museum of Arts concerts and bird antics in Minnesota lake country, among others.

TERRY DULLUM: The Dullum File — Glen Campbell

After a long struggle with Alzheimers disease, Glen Campbell died this week at the age of 81.

Of all the celebrity interviews I’ve done, the two I did with Glen Campbell are among my very favorite. For openers, it’s always as surprise that a star of his caliber was willing to talk with little, old me.

For some reason, the first interview we did with him took place fairly early in the morning in advance of a show that night in Chester Fritz Auditorium in Grand Forks. Perhaps he wanted to hit the golf course, I don’t know.

After the interview, he invited us to have breakfast with him at the Holiday Inn coffee shop. I headed for a table in the middle of the room. But he said, “Let’s sit over here.” A table in the corner where he sat with his back to the room. I remember thinking that’s what fame is. Avoiding too much attention.

Having breakfast with Glen Campbell is not the worst way to start a day. He was especially proud of the lineup of his show that night, which included John Hartford, who wrote one of his biggest hits “Gentle on My Mind.” Also now gone. And Jim “Spiders & Snakes” Stafford,  another fine entertainer, very much alive in Branson, Mo.

The show was incredible. Did Glen Campbell ever do a bad one?

A couple of weeks later when tour was over, I got a handwritten note thanking me for the interview. Pure class.

Years later, I talked with him live on television when he was appearing at the Spirit Lake Casino near Devils Lake.

MTV had just aired a “warts and all” Behind the Music documentary. The warts included his drug abuse and the very public spectacle that could only be described as his tramping around the country with Tanya Tucker. I had no choice but to ask him what it was like to have that sort of dirty laundry aired so publicly. Now clean and sober for many years, his nearly perfect answer, “I know what I did. It’s between me and my God.” Next question.

I will always admire Glen Campbell’s openness and honesty. His talent and showmanship speaks for itself. A wonderful voice. A tremendous guitarist. A truly great entertainer.

RUSS HONS: Photo Gallery — A Medora Weekend

A visit to Medora, N.D., can be memorable. Grand Forks photographer Russ Hons was there this past weekend, taking in the Medora Musical, a Tigirlily concert and the awesome sights of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Here are just a few of the images that caught his eye. (Check out more photos from Russ Hons here.)

MICHAEL BOGERT: Photo Gallery — Fourth Of July Week Fun

Usually during Fourth of July week, there isn’t a lack of outdoor things to do in Grand Forks. Here are a couple of events — the Christopher Paul Stelling concert at the outside garden at North Dakota Museum of Art and the annual downtown fireworks display — that caught the eye of Grand Fork photographer Michael Bogert.

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — A Few Small Repairs

While digging through a box in my basement this week, I made a discovery that pleased me to no end: my old CD of Shawn Colvin’s “A Few Small Repairs,” something that I thought was long lost.

It is the 20th anniversary of the release of this Grammy winner, and I’d seen the announcements on Colvin’s Facebook, so this was on my mind. You can read more about that special release on her web page.

Her album helped me get through a very rough patch in my life. Through the magic of the internet, I am able to listen to a digital version on my laptop, but it was nonetheless very cool to hold my old relic in my hands and put it into my car for repeated listening. I know all of the lyrics and sing along with abandon.

Colvin is a native South Dakotan, and she is more than a singer and songwriter. Her 2012 memoir, “diamond in the rough, is a great read.

Many years ago, I took my daughter to the Telluride (Colo.) Bluegrass Festival, and Colvin was on the billing.  Alas, she had to cancel due to an illness. A few years ago, I won tickets in a Prairie Public Radio drawing, and my husband and I were able to see her (with Steve Earle) at The Bluestem Theater in Moorhead, Minn.  It was a mighty fine concert.

“You get just what you get

The simple truth is always the best

C’est la vie what’s done is done

There’s somebody for everyone”

The Facts About Jimmy, written by Shawn Colvin

Little did I know that in later years I would marry a Jim! Perhaps that “one” clue to the alchemy of our marriage.

LA VALLEUR COMMUNICATES: Musings by Barbara La Valleur — Justice Choir: Something To Sing About

Saturday was quite the day. If you follow my blogs, you read my take on the re-opening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden with a couple of dozen photos.

From the Walker event, I went to Westminster Presbyterian Church and continued my artful day with songs in an inaugural event that I hope will multiply throughout this great land of ours.

Song: “A Bridge is Stronger Than a Wall” by Emily Feld.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve experienced a shortage of hope in the last few months, and I refuse to “take it” sitting down. In fact, I’m taking a stand and singing, which isn’t difficult as I’ve sung in choirs as a child and in a German secular choir when I lived in Europe.

The first Justice Choir sponsored by WPC was a mixed group of about 200 people from the Twin Cities with a rehearsal in the morning and performance in the great sanctuary from 1 to 3 p.m. It wasn’t just about singing songs of hope, peace, love, human rights and freedom, though.

Song: “Another World is Possible” by FLOBOTS.

Thoughtfully organized by Tesfa Wondemagegnehu (won-dih-MAWG-nee-you), our director of Choral Ministries, among others, it also featured a dialogue with Tesfa and Nekima Levy-Pounds, activist, attorney, former law professor at St. Thomas University and currently running for mayor of Minneapolis. But she didn’t mention that.

They spoke about social justice, speaking out when we see injustices and taking a stand.

Song: “Love is Love is Love is Love” by Abbie Betinis.

Everyone present received a Justice Choir Songbook containing over 40 new and familiar songs, co-edited by Tesfa and Abbie Betinis, a St. Paul composer who coincidently was compiling a songbook to be used across the country for a national movement of justice choirs, and Ahmed Azald, a pianist and conductor from Minneapolis.

New songs will be added to the songbook in the coming weeks and month.

Song: “Resilience” by Abbie Betinis.

Tesfa said Saturday that the free songbook will be a resource for choirs across across the country due to special arrangements so other congregations, choirs, schools and communities will be able to download it soon.

I’m proud to be part of a progressive church that sponsors events such as this. In his forward to the songbook, WPC pastor, Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Anderson wrote, “The longing for a just and peaceful world is not limited to any one religious tradition or practice. People of faith and good will everywhere want to build a new future. Westminster invites you to join the movement for justice wherever you live. There are others who will work with you. Together we can transform the world.”

If you’re interested in joining the choir or starting one of your own in your own state and/or community, go to the Justice Choir website www.justicechoir.org.

Song: “Sing for Justice” by Ar Had Y Nos.