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

 

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The Surprise in the Shower 

BuddyOur oldest son, Conner, before he moved to California, was visiting with his band at the home of a band member’s sister. Her boyfriend had a puppy in the backyard – about ten weeks old. He was tethered by a short chain. His food and water bowls were overrun with ants. He was malnourished and you could see his bones through his skin. Conner told them he was taking the dog, who we now call Buddy.

I came home from a songwriter’s conference in Austin and opened the door to three dogs rather than the customary two – Misty and Lyra. We named him Buddy a few days later. After a couple of months of regular meals, exercise, and attention, he was almost twice the size he was before. His bones were no longer visible. He was happy having two older dogs to play with, before Conner took Lyra to California.

Buddy is the youngest puppy we have ever had. He is the only dog we could actually take places, like J. D.’s baseball games. He is like a shepherd/terrier mix and he doesn’t shed. But when we would take him to baseball games, he would play in his water dish. Invariably, he would dump the water out and lay in it. Cyndy would put more water in his dish and the process would start over.

He would also spill the water bowl on the back porch and play in the small plastic pool we had in the backyard (until he destroyed it). So we knew he liked water, we just were never sure to what extent. Neither Cyndy nor myself has ever had a dog that liked water. Except for rainy days, it wasn’t of major concern.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the shower in our bedroom upstairs. I was getting ready to wash my hair when I backed up and felt something move. I looked behind me and Buddy was in the tub with me, lapping up water. I hadn’t seen that one coming. I got him out, hoping he wouldn’t get too much of the carpet wet. Then I finished my shower.

It hasn’t occurred again – so far – but that doesn’t mean I don’t watch out for him. He can’t get up on mine and Cyndy’s bed, but he can get into a slippery tub. Go figure. He’s in that phase now where he is growing all the time, but still thinks he’s a little puppy.

Misty is eight years old (our years). She tolerates him. I think sometimes she enjoys his trying to annoy her. And they like to play tug of war. In some ways it seems like Buddy is “keeping Misty young” – to a degree.

Best of all, though, Buddy is content and happy. At least as long as he gets to lick everything. That’s how he says hi and shows affection. Your pants, shoe, belt, shirt, any exposed skin, whatever – as long as he licks you. There are times when he suddenly runs around the house from person to person, all excited, jumping and licking. The look on his face seems to me to say:

“A house to explore, a big backyard to dig in, a pal to play with, and people to pet me and that I can lick – this is freakin’ cool!”

Peace be with you.


Arlington Guitar Show and V-Picks 

V-PicksAs my post on the DSA blog (re-posted here) stated, I worked the booth at the Arlington Guitar Show. I enjoy working the booth at guitar shows, because it’s a chance to play guitars I will never own. Some of them were worth so much money, I just look at them from a distance. If I see a good deal on a guitar that looks, sounds, and plays really nice, I take two deep breaths and move on. If I take another guitar home, I’ll need to take divorce papers with me. So I look at the newest gadgets, like capos, picks, etc.

For many years, most guitar players used Fender medium picks. Of course it was not entirely universal, but “as a general rule.” The shape would change, depending on the instrument. If you wanted a new sound, you changed the brand or gauge of string you used, or even the guitar. There weren’t as many different picks back then, so changing picks usually never crossed a guitar player’s mind. I did, however, change from Fender medium to John Pearse medium, which I still use. It has an offset point which is easier for me hold and attack the strings.

My statement about “most guitar players,” refers mainly to acoustic guitarists. Although a lot players I knew used medium exclusively, more and more guitarists began using heavy gauge picks for playing electric guitars. Now it’s all over the map as far as shapes, gauges, and types of materials for picks are concerned. Which is precisely my point.

Since I had to set my sights on lower cost items, I started looking into different picks at guitar shows. It’s incredible how many different materials they make picks with. Now I have a lot of different picks. But I’m still married! Then I was introduced to V-Picks. Each of the picks has a different tone or resonance. I am experimenting with different picks in their line, but my mainstays are the blue Lite Tradition and the Euro II. I stocked up at Arlington show because they always have their biggest booth there.

I also like to see the different picks they’ve come up with. Even though they’re made of an acrylic/glass type of material, they still wear down. It takes a little doing, mind you, but they still wear down. One of the good points of the picks in general – other than the unique sound – is that it sticks to your fingers with the heat in your hand. It’s hard to lose these picks while playing. Give them a try. At the very least you’ll make some good sounds and have fun.

Peace be with you.


DSA Booth at Arlington Guitar Show (re-post) 

[Re-posted from DSA blog]
Bobby Montgomery at DSA BoothThe second special event of October was the DSA booth at the Arlington Guitar Show on Saturday, October 17, and Sunday, the 18th. Bobby Montgomery set up the table on Saturday – and worked all day both days, God bless him! I joined him shortly thereafter – after waiting in line to park. I helped with the booth until about 12:30.

I was watching the booth when Bobby stepped out for a bit. I looked at my phone and saw a notification from Facebook. It was one of those “what you were doing last year” posts that Facebook does, with a picture from a year ago. It was the picture I took of Bobby behind the booth last year at the guitar show. It looked similar to the picture above, but I think the table looked better this year.

After a couple of hours I had to leave in order to host the DSA Showcase at the Farmers Branch Manske Library. I don’t know if any volunteers showed up to help Bobby after I left. I didn’t have a chance to browse the booths before I left. I did do one thing, but that is a different post.

On Sunday, Bobby and I opened the booth again with a little help from my son, Cameron. Then I had the chance to wander around and drool at the guitars, amps, and accessories. Among the wandering and drooling, I stopped at the Guitars for Vets booth. I met George Jordan, head of the Dallas Chapter.

George told me how the program worked. They give each vet ten guitar lessons. If the vet completes all ten lessons and shows interest, they give him a guitar. When I told him I was with the Dallas Songwriters, he got excited. They were trying to come up with something, after giving the vet the guitar, to keep the interest and effectiveness going.

I told him the DSA would be happy to support them in any way we could. We have worked with many veterans over the years. If music and playing guitar can help them maintain, then surely songwriting would help. Without a doubt, they have stories to tell. For several years, Dallas Songwriters distributed a cd entitled Songs from the Soul of Service: A Collection of Songs written by U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. Surely telling those stories through song – or even spoken word over guitar – would be comforting in nature. I will be contacting George soon. Stay tuned for future development.

Dickey Johnson and Michael Brandenberger arrived at the booth before I left in time to get Cameron back home to go to work. We talked to quite a few people at the booth over the two days. We have two pages of names and emails to enter into the mailing list and into a drawing for a chance to win a free year’s membership. If you are on that list, you should receive an email from me before too long.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.


Turk Wilder, Writer of ‘The Eyes of a Ranger’ 

11064659_10152721017857172_5984720308632017596_n [Re-posted from DSA blog] October has been a busy month for Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA). There were several special events in addition to the regular weekly events (all of which went well). The first was a visit by Skype with Tirk Wilder at the 2nd Tuesday meeting at the Center for Community Cooperation. Board member, Ken Duren, invited Wilder to speak at the meeting and Tirk graciously accepted.

Once the technical difficulties – such as they were – were worked out and we could see him and he could see us, the presentation began. Ken introduced him by saying that they had been friends since the 70s. The two of them reminisced a bit before Wilder told the story about writing the theme song to Walker: Texas Ranger. During the meeting, he told several stories about songwriting and Nashville – some hilarious and some horrifying.

After answering questions from the attending group, Tirk critiqued three members’ songs. He had offered to do song critiques and they were the songs he was sent. He had each songwriter move to a chair in front of the computer so the two of them could talk face to face. Wilder had some very helpful suggestions for the songwriters. According to the three songwriters, Tirk was right on with his critique.

Wilder also recommended Broadjam for songwriters wanting to get an honest critique of their songs. Tirk himself is one of the pro reviewers listed on the site. Then it was time to wrap things up. After those in attendance expressed our thanks to him for visiting with us, the Skype connection was broken.

As the meeting wound down, Harry Hewlett said that Wilder was right about Broadjam. Harry had paid to have Tirk review his song. While it had taken some time – he’s a busy man – his review of Harry’s song was right on the mark as well. Not only is Tirk Wilder a good songwriter, but he is a very likeable person and tells a good verbal story as well. He even took time to go into another room and come back with one of the BMI awards for the “Eyes of the Ranger” to show us.

Stay tuned for the other special events….

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

[Peace be with you.]


SWRFA Page Two 

Dan At Saturday open mic at SWRFA To finish with my Southwest Regional Folk Alliance(SWRFA) summary review, Friday morning at SWRFA began with a session for first time attendees.. But there were just as many veterans as there were first timers, it seemed to me. The session was presented by Paul E. Barker, of Barker House Concerts, and Hilary Adamson, of the Flyin’ A’s. Paul talked from the venue stand point, and Hilary spoke from the performing artist point of view. They shared quite a bit of useful information, but a couple of things stood out.

SWRFA had in-room showcases on Friday from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m., then again from 10:30 p.m. – 3 a.m. or later. Saturday just had the in-room showcases from 10:30 p.m. on. I was wondering about the in-room showcases when I considered attending. I’m not one for staying up real late anymore, particularly if I am going to be getting up fairly early in order to visit and network. Yet I didn’t want to miss anything important by not going to the later showcases. Which was one of the good points Paul brought up.

“At events during the day, the ratio of performing artists to venues is 10 to 1. At the later showcases, you won’t find any venues represented.”

So I felt better about not trying to pull an all-nighter. Hilary has a lot more energy than anyone has a right to, particularly at 9 a.m. But her best suggestions had to do with sending out personal messages to anyone she wanted to meet with at SWRFA. Then, following the event, being sure to follow up with everyone you interacted with that you want to work with or keep in touch with.

There were other sessions on Friday, as well as the First Timers Showcase and one-on-ones with industry people, and the first official showcase. I had a showcase in the Handshake Management room at 5:10 p.m. I also had a showcase at 12:40 a.m. in the Webb House Concerts room.

Saturday there were more sessions. I played at the open mic by the pool in the late afternoon. After dinner was the second official showcase. And then, of course, the in-room showcases.

This was just a summary of events. I mainly wanted to point out when I played and let anyone who is a singer/songwriter – or group thereof – know that SWRFA is a good investment as well as a really good time. Even though you saw the ratio of performing artists to venues above, you still get heard by a lot of people and that is never a bad thing. You learn new things, meet new people, and make connections that will serve you well.

Follow the links and check it out. I have one more post about Sunday before I lay it to rest. As a writer, you get hung up in so many projects, some have to come later. But I wanted to at least talk about it for my fellow singer/songwriters who may not know about it or wonder if it’s worth it. (It is.)

Peace be with you.


Open Mics, Songwriters, and Community 

Tracie MerchantOn almost every night of the week, an open mic can be found in the Dallas area and often more than one, sometimes several. Some of the open mics include spoken word, playing cover songs, etc. On the other hand, some may prefer original songs, but talented covers are usually allowed. The majority of open mic hosts are friendly and welcoming. Most open mics have their regulars, even if it’s just a few people that show up all the time.

A number of open mics and similar events are hosted by members of the Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA). There is a supportive songwriting community in the Dallas area, a good number of whom are members of DSA. Some of us have been writing songs for years. Some are younger and just getting started playing live at open mics. Quite a few members of the DSA perform at other open mics in addition to DSA events.

But it’s the community that I want to emphasize here. The songwriting and open mic communities are very supportive in every way a community can be. One good example is the open mic at Poor David’s Pub (PDP), hosted by Mr.Troll. It helps, of course, that it is one of best listening rooms in town, and Carlos Sanchez is one of the best sound men in town. Samantha Sanders is one of the best bartenders, too.

A good illustration of my point came about recently. On Monday, I arrived at PDP, ready to play in the open mic. I said hi to a couple of people from DSA at the bar. Troll asked me to step aside and talk to him privately. He needed to go home to take care of his dad, and asked me to guest host the open mic. Of course I said I would.

Troll played first, as usual. He played two songs, but we persuaded him to play a third song. Then he introduced me and slipped out, and I took over as host. On the list were regulars – some older, some newer. The featured artist was Tracie Merchant. I introduced her about 8:45. In the middle of her set, Tracie picked up her phone and began to make a call.

“Does everybody know my friend, Bill Nash?” Many of us did. Bill is a singer/songwriter with MS. He has been in the folk scene in Dallas for quite some time. He has come up with different tunings using capos and key changes to enable him to keep playing the guitar and writing songs. He had to leave SWRFA a little early due to health issues and within a week was in the hospital. He was hoping to get out of the hospital soon when Tracie called.

“We’re here at the open mic at Poor David’s Pub. We wanted to tell you something,” she said when Bill answered. She motioned to all of us and at the same time we said:

“Get well, Bill!” He asked her if we would do it again so he could record it. Which we gladly did.

During the evening a harmonica player was hanging around, hoping to join someone. Vince Alexander is from Atlanta and is here working at the State Fair. He was looking for a break from the fair to do what he loved the most – playing music. Toward the end of the evening he got his chance and stayed on stage to play with Tin Man Travis. Vince had the pleasantness on his face and in his upbeat and friendly attitude of one who is away from home in an unfamiliar place and finds a music community to be a part of (albeit temporarily).

See what I mean about community? And you’re all welcome – to play or listen. At any of the open mics or DSA events.

Peace be with you.


Southwest Regional Folk Alliance 

Dan at SWRFA ShowcaseWeekend before last I attended the Southwest Regional Folk Alliance (SWRFA) in Austin. As a singer/songwriter, it was a fantastic experience. A weekend with like-minded souls enjoying what they do. Three and a half days of nothing to do but play music, listen to music, and “talk shop.”

An open mic Wednesday night at Threadgill’s began SWRFA. I didn’t get to that event, opting not to spend an extra night in the hotel. Except for the fact that I would have liked to have gone to Threadgill’s, it turned out to be a good decision.

For one thing, I was told that it was completely packed. Come to find out that if I had played in that open mic, I wouldn’t have been able to play at either of the other two open mics. Because there were so many attendees, each act only played one song at the open mics. So I figured I made the right decision. We’ll see about next year.

On Thursday, registration was to begin at 2 p.m. I arrived about 1:30. While we waited on our rooms to be ready, a guitar was passed around the lobby. It wasn’t too long before my room was ready. I made two trips to the room, parked the car and went to register for the conference – which is, and isn’t, the right term for it.

The pool party/open mic began at 5 p.m., with Berkalin Records providing a dinner buffet and drinks. I have some pictures from the open mic that I will post on Facebook when I get a chance. Following the open mic was the official showcase alternates concert. Which would be those acts who didn’t get chosen for the two official showcase concerts on Friday and Saturday. After which, song circles popped up around the hotel. And events were just getting started. More to come.

Peace be with you.

 

 

 


The Hammond Organ 

Hammond Organ

Cyndy and I went over to my Aunt Marie’s house a couple of weeks ago to help Dad take care of her possessions. Dad told us that anything we wanted for sentimental reasons and were going to keep, we could have. There was nothing I could think of that I actually wanted. I knew there were a few types of things I would like to keep just because they were hers. But I knew I would “know it when I see it.”

After my father first told me we were going to have to move Marie to an assisted living facility, I began thinking about the past – see previous post. When I was in junior high (not middle school – just saying) and high school, we would alternate between our house, Marie and Pick’s, or Jack and Juanita’s. When we were at Marie and Pick’s, it wasn’t long before I would start messing with her organ. She would come over and sit by me and help me play something that didn’t sound like zoo animals on the warpath.

But I thought the organ was really cool. The adults would be having a conversation that I was not invited to join. I would just sit at the organ and move the slides around and step on the pedals like I knew what I was doing. When Marie had the chance, she would slide onto the bench beside me and teach me a little something about playing the organ – before having to return to hostess duties.

Cyndy and I arrived at Marie’s where Dad was working to clear things out. We walked around the house. Some of the kitchen stuff we wanted. I spent time putting aside things we can sell online and make money for ourselves and the estate. Marie had so much that it was a little overwhelming.

I walked into another room and was rendered speechless. Against the wall was Marie’s Hammond organ.

“I’ll be damned,” I said out loud to myself, “she still has it.”

The organ is now in our living room. It needs a serious “tune-up,” as it were. I look forward to being able to play the organ (a little). Until then, I look forward to seeing her and playing my songs for her again – even though she may not recognize me.

Peace be with you.


The Jalapeno Saga 

Uncle Pick, Aunt Marie, Mom, Aunt Juanita, and Uncle Jack

Uncle Pick, Aunt Marie, Mom, Aunt Juanita, and Uncle Jack

My dad recently had to move my Aunt Marie from her home to an assisted living facility. We don’t know if she is just losing some of her memory due to old age or if she has Alzheimer’s. She has not been officially diagnosed, but she shows a lot of the symptoms. Marie will be on the Alzheimers floor of the facility. She lived in Arlington, but she will be living at a facility on Preston Rd. in Dallas. I will be able to visit her there. I didn’t visit her in Arlington because my visit might disturb her routine. Marie’s doing better now and I can start visiting again.

Dad told me earlier because he is the executor of her estate, and I am second on the list. I naturally began to recall events with Marie – and my father’s family – over the years. Which mostly included Thanksgiving and Christmas. Her husband, Pick, and my Aunt Juanita’s husband, Jack, would sneak around behind my brother, Dennis, and I while we were distracted. One would tie my shoelaces together and the other one would tie Dennis’ shoelaces together.

Everyone thought it was hilarious, except us. It was mildly funny the first time, but it got old quick. Dennis and I soon learned to watch each other’s back. We would catch them before they had time to tie the shoelaces. The year I got loafers was a good year. I was able to proudly walk into the living room of whichever house we were in that year and dare them to “tie my shoelaces.” That year, I got the laugh.

Then there were the jalapenos – you knew I was going to get there, didn’t you? Pick would just pick a pepper out of the jar and eat them like candy. As a joke, our family gave him a small, six ounce can of jalapenos for Christmas. By the time we finished exchanging gifts, the can was empty.

The next year, we gave him a jar that was bigger than the can. Again, they were gone before we left to go home. The next year, a bigger jar or can. The ongoing joke came to an end the year we bought him a #10 can of jalapenos (the restaurant/industrial size). No larger size existed, so the joke was over. But the memory and the story lives on.

Pick died a number of years ago. I thought about putting a jar of jalapenos in the casket, but it was just a passing thought. For one thing, it would be relatively tacky – yes, like that. Over the years, I have developed a taste for jalapenos. Nothing near Pick’s level. But I think of him every time I eat jalapenos.

Peace be with you.


Texas Songwriters Conference 

asglogo    I attended the Texas Songwriters Conference in Austin a couple of weeks ago. I’m just now getting caught up enough to post about it. The conference is put on by the Austin Songwriters Group (ASG), of which I am a member. I am also a member of Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA), where I am on the board as the lyric contest director and the showcase director. The two organizations have not, as of yet, had a joint event, but they support each others organization and mission in various ways.

I spend a lot of my time talking to people in one form or another (in person, on the phone, email), promoting myself or either organization. When I am promoting DSA, for example, I can “brag” a little more openly since I am referring to a group of people. When promoting myself, it’s necessary to be a little more subtle to straddle the fine line between promotion and braggadocio. As a result, some people don’t understand what I’m trying to say and have blank looks on their faces. Then there are the condescending “of course you’re a songwriter” looks.

So it was nice to – not only get out of town – but to spend a weekend with people who know what I’m talking about. People who are like-minded, accepting, and non-judgmental. At music and songwriting conferences there are always things I already know – since the conference is for all levels of experience. However, since things are changing constantly, it’s nice to know what has changed. As to the things that haven’t changed, I enjoy being assured that what I’m doing is what I should be doing.

I like hearing other songwriters, publishers, and other music industry people tell their stories, making me think “thank God I’m not alone.” That, I think, is the main purpose of any conference – making the attendees realize they are not alone. And the ASG did that. They are an accepting and supportive group (as is the DSA – just saying). It was all about the songs and careers of the songwriters. A few of the events and conversations I would like to share with you – and will – in upcoming posts.

Peace be with you.


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