Welcome to the World and Music of Dan Roark

Welcome to the world and music of Dan Roark. I have lived here for a while now and it's not a bad place to live, really. Although on some level, it's probably just as well you're only visiting. But hang around as long as you like.

Here you can listen to my songs - and buy them if you wish - read my thoughts in posts on my blog, see my pictures, and find out when and where I am playing. 

You can also hear live versions of my songs on Reverbnation, as well as see videos of live performances. You can also see my videos on, and subscribe to, my YouTube channel

 

What Did Macaroni and Cheese Ever Do To Them? 

bowl-of-mac-and-cheeseMacaroni and cheese – a simple concept. Cook the macaroni and then bake it with cheese. Which introduced the crust concept of macaroni and cheese (heretofore referred to as mac and cheese). Everyone was happy. The variation came in the kind of cheese used. Deluxe mac and cheese came about by adding more than one cheese. But it was still mac and cheese.

Then Kraft came out with mac and cheese packages. There was no reason to measure ingredients anymore. Cook the noodles and then add the cheese packet. Pretty much the way it always was. Velveeta got in the game, but the basics were still the same. Now you have individual bowls for single servings. But it’s still mac and cheese.

Then restaurants began to take advantage of the popularity of mac and cheese. It was cheap to make. They thought maybe if they added a bunch of crap and called it deluxe or gourmet mac and cheese, they could charge $8 a serving. And they were totally confused. They forgot one simple thing – which I will get back to.

Schotzsky’s made the more recent foray into the mac and cheese world. They have four new mac and cheese dinners. Actually three, with a variation on the third. One has chicken, one has shrimp, and two have brisket – albeit all with different extra ingredients. They have continually had sales and deals on the dinners, so it would seem that the options were not all that popular.

I need to say, however, that I eat Schotzsky’s sandwiches almost every Monday. Cyndy and I enjoy the Pick 2, the salads, and the flatbread options. But we will not have the mac and cheese dishes. Regardless of the coupons I receive by email. Obviously it is not because their food is not good.

I saw a commercial the other day from Red Lobster that mentioned a lobster and mac and cheese dish. Are you freaking kidding me? As Cyndy said , it might be palatable with a white sauce. But, seeing the commercial again, it was “regular” mac and cheese.

I’m amazed at the confusion that created all these dishes in the first place. What led them to completely misunderstand the name of the dish? It is as simple as anything could be. It worked really well for over 50 years. No one had any problem with it. Children loved it and it could keep them from yelling for food for a period of time.

Then restaurants decided – does this sound familiar – that if they added ingredients they could charge for a “gourmet” dish. It didn’t matter that the ingredients had nothing to do with mac and cheese. Forget the fact that you would taste little of the original mac and cheese. Our son, Cameron, had one of the Schotzsky’s mac and cheese dishes and threw half of it away.

Here is the one thing they all forgot or ignored. And that is the name and basics of the dish. It is macaroni and cheese. It is, has been, and always will be, a two ingredient dish – whether it’s a main course or side dish. You can have almost anything with mac and cheese – on the side. To add ingredients in order to make it “gourmet” and charge more money is a bastardization of the original dish.

If you have not reached this conclusion by now, here it is. The dish is macaroni and cheese. Just to be clear, the ingredients are macaroni and cheese. To call it gourmet would be with more than one kind of cheese. But the ingredients are still – say it with me – macaroni and cheese. I don’t understand the confusion.

Peace be with you.


When Your Hands Refuse to Play That Song One More Time 

Dan during video shoot

The week before we filmed footage for the What the Lord Intends (Sack Summer Hunger) music video, I kept practicing the song. I had already been playing it frequently in support of the program. But since we were going to film me playing the song, I wanted to be able to do it in as few takes as possible.

On Friday night, I played it numerous times. Then I got up Saturday and played the song to warm up. I arrived at the church at 8 a.m. I set up my camera and filmed myself playing the song a couple of times. Marcus Belmore arrived and began getting footage of the volunteers, including me, sorting and delivering the food to the families whose children received free or reduced lunches during the school year, but nothing during the summer.

I don’t know about other songwriters, but when I write a new song that I really like, I have a hard time getting it out of my head. And since I was playing it in support of the program during the summer, What the Lord Intends was really stuck in my head. I played it a couple of times after I got home from the church.

After a nap and dinner, I later decided to play the song again. I fingerpick on the song and couldn’t play the opening licks for the likes of me. My fingers just wouldn’t work together in the syncopated way they normally would. It was comically frustrating, if you catch my drift.

The lack of dexterity actually concerned me for a moment – even though it was only on that song. Working at the computer a lot of the time, I’m used to carpal tunnel type symptoms. I exercise my hands frequently. Playing guitar helps to stretch the fingers. Except in this case when the two worlds collided, so to speak.

Are there any lessons to be learned? Never play guitar after a nap and dinner? I don’t think so. Never film a video at a church on Saturday morning? Again, no. Don’t play the same song one more time, being tired, without playing other songs? That’s closer.

Anyone had this, or something similar, happen to them? Any other lessons to be learned? I laugh about it now, but it was scary for a while, not having the fingers work on a song.

Peace be with you.


Open Mic Tales – Richie Smith, A True Thanksgiving Story 

Richie Smith and I

Richie Smith and I

I was hosting the Angela’s at the Crosswalk Monday night open mic on Halloween when I first met Richie Smith. He came in with his mom and dad, waving to people as they came by the tables – just saying hi. His dad, Rick, came over and told me who he was so I knew when his slot came up. I asked him what he needed, sound-wise. He said Richie just needed a mic because he was going to play the song on a small Bose iPod/iPhone player.

When his time came, Rick helped Richie up to the microphone. Richie’s left leg was in a brace and his left arm was in a sling. I got him set up with the mic and his dad helped him start the songs. I adjusted the sound and Richie introduced himself.

“I’m Richie Smith. I had surgery for brain cancer to remove a tumor and what was left was diagnosed as grade 4 brain cancer. After surgery, I came out I was like this. This isn’t part of my costume.”

The crowd erupted in laughter. That is a perfect introduction to Richie. He is a twenty-two year old young man who has always loved music. He could play piano as well as other instruments. Music came to him naturally. He performed in cafes for charity.

Then he was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011. No one outside of his family knew he had brain cancer. When it worsened in 2012, he had two

Richie and his father, Rick.

Richie and his father, Rick.

days to live without immediate brain surgery. After the surgery on November 24, 2012, what could not be removed was diagnosed as grade 4 brain cancer, and he was given two years to live. “The fight raged on, and in 2013 there were two brain tumors growing in size, leading Richie to lose most mobility on the left side of his body, but he never gave up.”1

Richie thanks God for his music even after all that has happened. His positive attitude and faith in God is infectious. There were a number of his close friends there, but, as far as Richie is concerned, everyone there was his friend. He had everyone laughing and dancing along to one of his songs. Even me – and I don’t dance – used to long ago,  but not anymore. Except for Halloween night.

Two weeks later, when I once again hosted the open mic, Richie was on the list. His left arm hung by his side rather than held up in a sling. He played piano with his right hand while he sat behind it and sang. His father, Rick, played the cajon. Once again, his laughter and infectious spirit filled the room. He played a hilarious cover of Skinny Girl Jeans with some additions of his own. Richie had the crowd singing along on Lean on Me by Bill Withers.

Veronica, Richie, and Rick Smith

Veronica, Richie, and Rick Smith

And, naturally, he played his song, For A Reason. Not only is it the name of his song, but it is also the name of his For A Reason Foundation. For A Reason is also Richie first official song release, produced by multi-platinum producer, John Kurzweg. The song was released this past Thursday, the fourth anniversary of his first brain surgery. It was also – as Richie pointed out at Angela’s – Thanksgiving, his mother, Veronica’s, birthday, and his re-birth. His re-birth is how he refers to the immediate emergency surgery.

For A Reason is available on iTunes, Amazon, and the usual online music distribution sites. You can also check out Richie’s Facebook page and his YouTube channel. You can see Richie on Mondays at Angela’s or  at the fourth Saturday Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA) showcase on December 17.

Peace be with you.

                                                                                        1  Quoted from ournewmonarch.com

2016 Summer Lyric Contest Winners Announced 

SEMIFINALIST Addiction by Ireland Casteel, Grapevine, TX Blue Collar Man by Charles Carter, Dallas, Tx River of Memories by Charles Carter, Dallas, TX The Whole Nine Yards by John Coughlin, Eureka, MO Angels and Strangers by Bill Kapac, Williamstown, NJ Friday Night by Bill Kapac, Williamstown, NJ Open Blinds by Bill Kapac, Williamstown, NJ 1st […]

The post 2016 Summer Lyric Contest Winners Announced appeared first on Dallas Songwriters Association.

Grand Theft Dinnerware 

spaghetti-warehouseA Meetup group I’m a member of, Dallas Ukulele Headquarters (DUH), is having a Christmas party at the Spaghetti Warehouse (formerly the Old Spaghetti Warehouse) in the West End. I’m not able to make the party, but it got me to thinking about the Old Spaghetti Warehouse (OSW for brevity). When I first went to OSW, there was no West End. There was a parking lot and car lot nearby. It was a warehouse district – hence the name. Which made it cool and unique, but could be a pain in the ass to park. And it was dark in the area.

In the early ‘70s, a bunch of friends and I decided to dress up and go to OSW. Just to do it for one thing. And for another, no one ever “carded us” to buy liquor or beer when we were dressed up. Mark, Brian, and myself would dress up and go down to Gatsby’s Bicycle Bar in the Hilton downtown and drink tequila sunrises (thanks to the Eagles song and it being a good drink). No one ever ask for our i.d. But that was a different time.

Anyway, we arrived at OSW, parked, and trekked to the restaurant. We were seated on the second floor, which was for larger parties – the DUH party is on the second floor. I think there were about eight of us. It was about even, male and female, but all mostly friends. If not, no one knew yet. The restaurant was busy and it took a while to get served anything other than water.

Keep in mind, we were teenagers on the loose, with time left on our hands waiting for the waiter. Small talk led to silly talk which led to strange thoughts. I said it was the ‘70s, right? A lot of giggling and outright guffaws ensued. For amazingly little reason.

Then we came up with a master plan. Someone had the bright idea that we could take the entire table of place settings without leaving a trace. I’ll cop to it being me because it sounds like something I would come up with (I was a writer even then), but I have no idea as to why. Probably because we were bored, left alone, and we could. I’ll also cop to it because what actually happened was excellent.

I put silverware up my sleeve. I would like to point out – just because – that I got a lot of wear out of that suit. I got married both times in that suit. It had a vest, so I think that was how I got plates. The napkin was easy. I think the girls got the glasses in their purses/bags. When we were done, there was nothing on the table but the tablecloth and centerpiece. And we did it in seconds – maybe almost a minute. And no other customer or waiter on the second floor noticed – like I said, it was really busy.

We sat there, full of pride and nervous as hell, and had a hard time acting serious. Finally, a waiter – I’m not even sure it was ours – walked by and actually turned around to gave us an inquiring look. And headed off, obviously intent on finding a manager. Which he did, of course.

In almost less time than it took to abscond with the dinnerware, we had the table set back up. Almost better than it had been when we arrived. The manager thought the waiter was a little off. That was one of the best spaghetti dinners I’ve ever had. I still feel a little bad about the waiter being “caught in the middle.” But other than that, it was one of the slickest thefts that never was.

Peace be with you.


Open Mic Tales – Richie Smith and “Usual Suspects” 

KristyLee Hair

KristyLee Hair

If you are a regular reader, you know that I am one of the rotating hosts of the Monday night open mic at Angela’s at the Crosswalk in Plano. There is a group of regulars that play the open mic, in large part due to the list being online the week before. But I say usual suspects (something a friend often says) tongue in cheek – they are neither usual nor actual suspects.

Take Monday the 14th for example. The first performer on the list was a no-show, so I played a couple of songs before KristyLee Hair played her set. KristyLee is charming, good-looking young woman from Prosper, Texas. She is a college student at UNT and has a beautiful voice. With another no-show, I invited her to extend her set.

I followed next in my scheduled spot. Mr. Joe played after me. Joe is a teacher who is called Mr. Joe at school. As he says, “the name just stuck” and he got used to it. He had recent throat issues. He tried to sing one, which we thought he did well. He didn’t think so though, so he played instrumentals.

Johnny Cromer played a few songs since we were still ahead of schedule. He returned to the mic to close out the evening in his scheduled spot at 9:30. Johnny is one of those stalwart open mic performers who shows up early on to support the other performers.

Pamela Pantea and Dianna Rice sang next when Richie Smith called and said he was running late. Pamela usually sings one song by herself

Dianna Rice and Pamela  Pantea

Dianna Rice and Pamela Pantea

before Dianna joins her for the next two songs.  The two call themselves the Daughters of the Gospel. They sing hyms and Christian songs to tracks on the computer. And they sing them very well.

Richie Smith, who followed Pamela and Dianna, is an amazing young man whose story calls for it’s own post. Look for it shortly.

Allen Larson was on the list next. Allen is a good friend who is also a fellow member of the Dallas Songwriters Association. He plays a number of open mics around town. Check out his Facebook page for coming appearances with longer shows. But you can pretty much count on him being at Angela’s. He is also one of the rotating hosts of the open mic.

Joe Dan (JD) Webb decided recently that he was going to pick the guitar up regularly and get his chops back. He is making very good progress. Although he might tell you differently. Come out on a Monday to hear him and see for yourself. Let him know if you enjoy his set.

Tommy LeBoeuf has a pedal setup that includes a looper and other effects. Which is not unique, but not all that common with acoustic guitars. He plays cover songs and plays them as close to the original as he can with pedals and looper.

Johnny Cromer finished out the evening. Angela’s Monday night open mic is always an interesting mix of performers, some playing original songs, others playing cover songs, and a few playing both. Stay tuned for the post on Richie Smith. Watch my Facebook page for all the pictures.

Peace be with you.

 


Sack Summer Hunger – Thanksgiving Edition 

fb_img_1479572463549I just got home a little while ago from helping to pick the food up from Metrocrest Social Services with members of Christ United Methodist Church to deliver Thanksgiving food to the Sack Summer Hunger (SSH) families. With the weather having turned cool, it was quite a bit different than the 90+ degrees weather we worked in during the summer. All of the volunteers were in excellent holiday sharing spirit as everyone helped get the vehicles loaded.

When most of the vehicles had been loaded, I headed out with the food for my SSH neighbors. It was the first time I had seen my “summer friends” since SSH ended for the summer on Saturday, August 6th. At the one house I delivered to, the father opened the door as I reached the porch with the food. At each of the two apartments, after a quick knock, they answered the door quickly. Everyone had smiles on their faces – they very much appreciated the food. And they were glad to see me, too. It was like a reunion at each home.

At the one apartment with the little girl that always comes to the door with her mother, the girl was more excited than usual. Partly, I think, because the food was in a sealed box – like a surprise package. Also partly because we were happy to see one another. We had shared smiles once a week all summer. As I was leaving, after I said “Happy Thanksgiving,” the little girl said “thank you, thank you, Happy Thanksgiving, thank you….” and she kept expressing her joy as her mother closed the door.

I don’t deliver the food to hear “thank you.” I do it because it’s the Christian thing to do. But hearing the little girl still talking as I walked down the stairs was a really nice bonus.

I leave you with the video for my song What the Lord Intends (Sack Summer Hunger). Peace be with you.


Open Mic Tales – Foreign Figures 

foreign-figuresThe featured artist at the Poor David’s Pub open mic, hosted by Mr. Troll, on Monday, October 24 was a band from Utah called Foreign Figures. Separately the band is Eric Michels – Vocals, Steve Michels – Drums, Seth Dunshee- Bass, and Johnny Tanner – Guitar. Collectively, they are one kickass ball of sound. For a band that has only been together for two years, the four young men seem naturally tight.

The energy of the members of Foreign Figures seems to be boundless. One of the unique things about the band is that they all play percussion at different times. They have a tom-tom, a floor tom, and a snare drum outside of Steve’s trap set. There were times when Seth Dunshee and Johnny Tanner would play their respective drums. Eric as well.

On one particular song, Steve left his drum set, set the beat on the tom-tom, then Dunshee took over the beat. Steve moved the snare drum, set the beat, then his brother, Eric, took over. Next was the floor tom before Tanner took over the beat, then back to the trap set. What followed was a percussive explosion with a back beat. They took us just short of overwhelming and brought it back around to an explosive conclusion. I’ve always loved a good drum solo and this was a drum solo on steroids.

But it wasn’t all about percussion. Tanner played the guitar like the old familiar friend I’m sure it has been. Dunshee placed the bass notes foreign-figures-2between percussion, guitar, and piano seamlessly, emphasizing notes when necessary. Eric Michels sang and danced or moved around with seemingly reckless abandon that was actually very good timing and planning.

It was the band’s first gig in Texas. We showed them they were welcome. If you get the chance to see Foreign Figures, don’t pass it up. As I said earlier, for a band only together for two years, these young men are tight. And as Troll said when he posted a picture of himself and Samantha Saunders (Bar Manager) with the band – “these guys rocked it.”

Peace be with you.


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Dec26

Monday Night Open Mic - Dan Roark Host

Angela's at the Crosswalk, 1010 E. 15th St., Plano

Dan hosts the Monday night open mic at Angela's at the Crosswalk. Open mic begins at 7 p.m. Go to Angela's Facebook page to find the link to sign up the week before. Or just come and listen to some good music, some of it original. Good food, reasonable drinks, and great desserts. Come join us!

Jan28

DSA 4th Saturday Showcase - Dan Roark Host

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Angela's at the Crosswalk, 1010 E. 15th St., Plano

Dallas Songwriters Association's 4th Saturday Showcase at Angela's. Good music, good food, great desserts, reasonably-priced drinks. More details to come....