Category Archives: Zac Brown Band

Musical Legend: Mavis Staples

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Wishing an early “Happy Birthday to Mavis Staples!” Her birthday will be

July 10, 1939. Wow! In her 75th year of singing a rich and still fresh

combination of blues, soul, folksong anthems, and Gospel music, she

just put out another album in 2013!

Way to go, Mavis Staples!

Mavis’ newest album is titled, “One True Vine.” I learned more about

her personal journey through her life and also, a definite proposal

and romance I had no idea existed! You may not guess which famous

singer asked her “Pop’s” for permission to have her hand in marriage!

Mavis’ “Pop” put together the family singing act called, “The Staple

Singers” long ago, while she was at the tender, young age of 8 years

old! While the Peace Movement and Civil Rights Movement were the

ones who ‘took her there,’ the popular song, “I’ll Take You There,” was

what got the group on the top of music charts!

Listening to the lyrics, knowing it was originally a gospel song that

was intended for the listener to believe in going to a place called

“Heaven,” makes it even more spiritual and inspiring.

During the sixties, being on stage with Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King,

Jr. made her inspired and gave her so much encouragement for the

world. Her life was spent traveling around to big cities, performing and

feeling the wave of love and hope rising amongst African Americans.

On an interview with CBS Saturday Morning, (5/17/14), Mavis said that

being around MLK, Jr. was to feel ‘unbelievable joy.’ To be in his ‘presence’

brought her so much meaning to her life.

During this timely period in the United States, there was another

young ‘mover and shaker’ in the music industry. Mavis spent a lot of

time with that curly haired, good looking Bob Dylan.

There came a time, Mavis recounted that,

“Bobby told my Pops, ‘I want to marry Mavis.'”

Pops responded,

“‘Don’t tell me, tell Mavis!'”

While grinning happily, telling the interviewer this love story,

he asked with some excitement,

“What did you say to Bob?”

She reflected, smiling and said,

Well, remember I was very young, so I told him, ‘Let’s wait awhile.'”

She went on to say (the essence of this moment being the real meaning

in her words, paraphrased here):

She wondered what changes her life would have had, how marrying Bob

Dylan would have impacted her life and then used a phrase that I will

tell you the interviewer had to ask her to repeat and explain.

Mavis wondered what it would have been like to make ‘chrome-crushers’

with Bobby.

The words meant, children or babies with him. She was pondering this

and looking happy, still. She felt that she had been attractive, I

forget if she called herself a ‘fox’ or what, but he was definitely

someone she had love for and a huge crush on, too!

Mavis says that her life was spent ‘coming at it with her heart.’

When Mavis Staples won her first Grammy, she remembered that her

Pops had said not to worry about that but they were (basically)

singing for the Lord and “to reach people.” It was a great piece

of philosophy, not to worry about your awards in life, just what

actions you do and how it effects people.

At the 55th Grammy Award ceremony in February, 2013, Mavis Staples

won the Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, looking very

stunning and vibrant. If you punch in her name and Grammy 2013, you

will see her the way she still looks. So beautiful inside and out!

She performed, by the way, in a tribute to Levon Helm, with the ‘likes’

of Elton John, Zac Brown Band and Mumford and Sons that fantastic

evening show to remember!

Mavis laughed, saying that she did, “Buy a stand for that Grammy,”

though!

The upbeat tone in her speaking and singing voice wins you over,

despite her vocal range not being as wide as I am sure it was in her

‘heyday!’ She has two songs that were very special to me.

I have sometimes, like many people do, worried about my appearance

and this song, “I Like the Things About Me,” including her comments

in the song disparaging her hair and her lips. She uses this verse,

“I like the things about me, that I once despised…”

“There was a time I wished my hair was fine…”

“There was a time I wished my lips were thin…”

In the end, the message was similar to today’s artist, Lady Gaga’s.

Mavis’ lifetime of having racial hurdles to overcome, make her

simple songs even more powerful. And timeless…

“Love yourself.”

(The essence of the lyrics was she came to the point in her life,

when she could accept ‘the me that I am.’)

The lively and pretty song, “Freedom’s Highway,” still has a world

wide application. As she mentioned the children (girls who were

kidnapped in Nigeria) and ‘everywhere looking at America to see what

we will do.’

“March each and every day,

Made up my mind and won’t turn around,

Made up my mind and won’t turn around.

There is just one thing,

I can’t understand, my friend.

Why some folk think freedom

Was not designed for all men,

Yes, I think I voted for the right man,

Said we would overcome.”

She repeated that ‘the whole world is wondering why America

is not stepping in to help those girls.’

Mavis Staples’ songs to look up on Youtube and listen to are:

“You Are Not Alone,” (2010)

“Eyes on the Prize,” (2007)

“One True Vine” (2013).

I was uplifted by Mavis’ energy and her loving nature shown in the

interview this Saturday morning. I needed only to see her face, to

remember that, not too long ago, Grammy Awards Show.

Where I had really listened to Mavis Staples’ singing and messages.

Adding to everyone’s loving voices raised in tribute to Levon Helm.

(If you were a fan of “The Band,” you were listening to his drumming

and percussion skills.)

Now go out, sing dance and march to the music!

Escape to the Islands!

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While walking into our distribution center this morning,

I noted that there were several of the “kids” (anyone under

30) in their shorts and their tank tops. They had sweatshirts

that zipped up over this attire. While we were doing our

morning exercises, they were already peeling those off! Then,

in my work zone, that I was assigned to work, I found that

someone on ‘nights’ had turned on the fans! They were blowing

profusely! Brrr!

Not even on the ‘low’ level!

Come on, everyone! I have a sense of humor about it,

once I turn off the fans and start working… Then,

on the way to break, I saw Native American Ted, he

was wearing a brightly colored tropical shirt. All

of this ‘fun and carefree’ attire made me start to

hum the words to the Beach Boys’ song, “Kokomo.”

“Aruba… Jamaica, ooh, I wanna take ya…Bermuda…”

This song was released in 1988 timed for the movie

release of Tom Cruise’s “Cocktail.” I had to laugh

when I accidentally whispered the words too loudly

and Darryl asked me if I were going to travel to

all of those islands! Guess what? There are people

who do just that!

Here are my favorite islands, some I have been to

and some I have YET to go visit the delightful

scenery. Nallorca, (in the Mediterranean) yes, I have

been blessed as a teenager to have that thrown into

our Spanish Club trip… Bahamas, Hawaii, Aldives,

Puerto Rico, the Florida Keys and Aruba are on my new

islands’ tour bucket list!

Describing an idyllic set of crescent shaped islands down

in Florida will come a little more easily than the teens’

island cruise in the Mediterranean Sea. My ‘newer, fresher’

memories are since I was a fully grown adult when we went to

‘play’ down there!

If you wish to travel there, going in the fall will help your

ability to find a place to stay. You may drive to Ft. Meyer’s

Beach and stay there for less money and fine accommodations.

Staying on Sanibel Island was satisfyingly self-indulgent!

You will find the coconut palms, migratory birds and other

wonderful island ‘elements’ on Sanibel or Captiva Islands.

I will start with looking for sea shells and which beaches

were the best to see them. It is a great place to exercise,

by bending and squatting to pick up shells. Also, you may

rent bicycles to further explore the islands.

There is nothing better, (almost) than digging one’s toes

into cool, wet sand on a hot day. As you will find warm,

clean, fine white sand along these beaches it is easy to

spot the larger shells particularly. The two beaches I was

fortunate to rest, on my behind in the sand, on and search

fervently for shells to take home were on the mid-Island

beach called “Bowman’s Beach” and on the eastern point,

“Lighthouse Beach.” It is also a immeasurable pleasure to

have a towel, book and hat with a wide brim to provide

welcome shade on your book you may wish to read and revel

in the atmosphere, too.

In the tidal pools and bright blue water with azure skies,

sometimes not a cloud to be found… you may find this list

of shells:

Alphabet cones of brown and white with spots.

Tellins of rosy pink and peachy colors.

Scallops of patchy calico patterns, my favorites are a mix

of caramel, brown and white. These have ridges on them.

Conch shells are those ones that look like horns, you can

hear the ocean in them the best!

Angel wings, try to find some pairs. I have a card with 20

of these sets glued on it, that my Grandmother Mattson took

days to collect and my Grandfather wrapped first in tissue,

then with bubble wrap and finally brown paper-packaged with

my name and address when I was in third grade. You bet, I

took that pretty card with “shell butterflies” to school to

show off! (Every time I see special shells, I remember their

little trailer, close to Clearwater Beach. I have wonderful

memories of the Gulf side of Florida. The ocean is more of

a New England memory, for me…)

Lightning whelks are grey, silvery on the inside and have some

different patterns, all swirly and unique.

There are the occasional jelly fish, watch out, crabs,

not to eat! You can purchase them at restaurants and/or

enjoy the fresh seafood there!

With the sea gulls flying and possible dolphin sightings,

this is a wonderful place filled with nature. Sunsets with

cool, iced drinks that feature little umbrellas and fruity

‘ka-bobs’ on long skewers or a simple, chilled glass of your

favorite beer (or wine cooler) are such awesome sources of

rejuvenation. Well, at least I always feel younger, while

sipping one of these! Smile!

Each little tiki bar will have the tunes of the Beach Boys,

Barry Manilow, Bruno Mars or Jimmy Buffett playing, sometimes

you may develop an ear “worm” from listening to them! A newer

“Island Song,” by the Zac Brown Band (August, 2012) is one of

my new favorites! My old favorite one, “Island Girl,” sung by

Elton John (released in 1975) can just get me up and dancing,

slowly in the arms of a stranger… My mind wanders off…

Here is a practical list of conditions and suggestions to find

more shells (wherever you are vacationing!)

1. Usually one hour before to one hour after low tide. You

will need to check local tide charts.

2. Weather factors that all increase your chances for more

shells, are a) cold spells, b) storms, and c) new or full moons.

3. Another fantastic adventure to find sea shells, is to go

snorkeling! See the bottom of the ocean, the sea life, unique

fish and gaze upon fresh, living shells. Of course, your

common sense will tell you it is illegal to take a living

shell. It will stink on your way home, if you accidentally

found one inhabited.

The two kinds of birds that are less likely to be found in

Ohio, for example, are white pelicans and cormorants. We

see blue and white herons, along with egrets up on Lake

Erie and around Alum Creek, too. On my good friend, Bill’s

Mill Street you can look down from the bridge and see

a couple of herons with their feet in the cold Mills Creek,

these days!

If you are a painter, you may wish to bring a portable easel

or if a sketcher, you may wish to bring an artist’s pad of

paper (sketch book) or if your craft is writing, take your

journal. Although, you ‘are on vacation,’ it doesn’t mean

you cannot practice your ‘art’ or ‘craft!’

Local museums and shops on islands are also places you may

find more than souvenirs. You may wish to bring more exotic

items, like shells that have been made into wares, such

as jewelry: necklaces, bracelets for wrist and ankles

and earrings, too. I once brought a gorgeous shell mobile

home and hung it over my baby’s window sill. It brought her

many smiles, induced delighted expressions and little sounds

that were like ‘chortles.’ Rare shells you may find in the

gift shops are junonias shells and pointy horn snails.

If you are very adventurous, there are many air sports and

water sports to engage in. Boating and para-sailing come to

mind. Hang-gliding and speedboats may put a little zip into

your step, once you come down from the ‘high’ of exhilaration

you will experience.

I enjoy napping on the beach, but try to remember to slather

extra sunscreen with high SPF all over, even on your ears and

the tops of your feet! I had an ex who adored going back to

the motel or hotel, and taking a nap. Sometimes while he

was just waking up, he may have wished for some ‘afternoon

delight,’ too. I may not reveal if this was also, my idea

of romance, too!

Where else, other than traveling to the beaches on islands, do

you find your serenity and sense of tranquility?