Donal Hinely


The days are getting longer as we edge toward summer. It has been a kind spring for some of us in North Texas. Neighbors to the north and south have not been so lucky.

The night cooled off beautifully. The stage sound was particularly good and Alex and I ripped through a long set of 22 tunes.

I will struggle with the exact placement of each small crop, being careful to rotate them from last year's location.  I must decide what to plant. Tomatoes are a given.

Last Sunday marked the halfway point of the season at Scarborough Renaissance Festival.

It's a cautionary tale about rediscovering the love and transcendent wonder of art. It's true that once things become rote for the performer, they become boring for the audience 

The whimsical buildings that line the paths are not just fanciful facades. Each structure represents someone's hard won dream. Soul and personality pour from the plaster, the parapets, and moss covered shingles.

As we returned to the spot with the second load, my son looked back at me aghast and said, "Dad! Someone ran over your stuff!"

For a number of years now, reliable sources have been telling me about this young writer from Woody Guthrie's stomping grounds, a profound lyricist and magnetic performer poised to be the next Dylan. Due to stubborness or perhaps professional jealousy, I put off listening to it, even as the self-produced record earned a Grammy nomination for abum of the year in the Americana category this past year.

Filmed, directed, edited, and produced by Fergus Hinely. On his iPad.

He signed up on his 18th birthday and found himself in Baghdad at the height of the surge in 2007. He was wounded but went back again in 2010, only to be wounded again. Two tours, two purple hearts. "Commendations," he said with a wry grin, "for being both blown up and shot."

The minor calamities and small celebrations of everyday life inform your existence, but they rarely earn a spot on the timeline. Maybe that is why Facebook is so popular. Every single day can be highlighted in the infinite ether. As long as the internet is accessible, you can see what you had for lunch exactly 4 years ago.

Mardi Gras beads hung in clumps from the trees overhead like neon Spanish moss, a constant reminder that the party never ends here.

Besides running 26.2 miles without major injury or death, I had a number of items on my wish list for this trip. With Saturday night in the Big Easy near at hand, I set about checking off a few of them. 

In my mind, I cursed the Australian I met in the Sydney pub who told me, "Tassie is where you ought to plan your bike trip, mate. It's temperate and flat with very little wind!" (Free song download!)

In explaining my marathon obsession to friends and family, I often say that it's just part of an ongoing middle age crisis. Some men of my vintage turn to little red sports cars. My legs are way too long for that option.

Hop a train a plane or an automobile and meet me in the muddy river home of the blues. Come on!

When I play "Henry Ford" live, I introduce it as a love song for my truck.  That line usually gets a laugh or two, but I suspect some in the audience have had a similar heavy metal love affair.

On every festival day, little moments manage to cut through the noise and bring you much needed perspective.  Your conscience comes calling, reminding you why you got into music in the first place.

I was a sophomore in high school--newly liberated by a driver's license and a seriously cool 1972 Buick Grand Sport muscle car with an excellent stereo system.  I was driving down down a country road east of Denton, coming back from seeing a friend who lived in a trailer park out in the country, when a song exploded from the radio.

You've seen that guy in the cafe before, sitting behind a floating wall of hand rolled cigarette smoke, reading Bukowski or Vonnegut or maybe pretending to read Das Kapital or the Tao Te Ching, drinking pot loads of the darkest brew, studying his role like a method actor, blissfully unaware of his own self awareness.  That was me.

In 1990, I bought a beat up Alvarez acoustic guitar for $150 and a one way ticket to Australia. For the next year, that tonally challenged 6 string was my ticket to ride, my passport to the boundless horizon.

Fred Flintstone's new digs and his feelings on file sharing!

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