Belated Valentine

  • Too bad we can’t meet in person. I’m always open to suggestions.
  • I don’t wear a mask except as legally required. I avoid venues where this is the case.
  •   Sing what you like.   Be careful everything is recorded.   Anyone who would like to make their own recording just ask and I’ll be happy to show you how it’s done.   

For those with an interest in current events, here are a few thoughts.

This episode was recorded on February 19th, 2022. Rex Murphy joins Dr. Jordan Peterson to discuss the most recent actions of Trudeau’s Government, including the arresting of protestors, the freezing of the bank accounts of Canadians suspected of participating in the protests, and the long-term consequences of these extreme measures. Rex is a Canadian commentator and author who deals primarily with Canadian political and social matters. He is best known for working on and for CBC Here and Now, CBC Radio 1’s Cross Country Checkup, writing for The Globe and Mail, and writing for The National Post.

“All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”  — Edmund Burke

I’ve done enough for a while unless I add a verse or two to some songs that I wrote.

Convoy 2022

This is an annotated protest song. Links lead to the stories in the news that support the text or to documents from reliable sources. Thanks to CW McCall for the inspiration:

  1. A – Its been two years with the place locked down
  2. G – and everybody wearing a mask
  3. D – You meet your friends – you can’t see them frown
  4. A – Are they happy? Don’t even ask
  5. A – John Hopkins says lockdowns don’t work
  6. G – World Health says the same about masks
  7. D – Justin says we’re a tiny fringe
  8. A – We better take him to task.
  • ‘Cause we got a little ol’ convoy     F    C
  • Rockin’ through the night             G    C
  • Yeah, we got a little ol’ convoy    F    C
  • Ain’t she a beautiful sight?          G    E
  • Come on and join our convoy           F    C
  • Ain’t nothin’ gonna get in our way   G    C
  • We gonna roll this truckin’ convoy   F    C
  • Ottawa all the way                       G    E
  1. A – The conservatives ditched that fool O’Tool
  2. G – Maybe things are goin right
  3. D – Some say, “What we need is a case in court”
  4. A – Brian Peckford says he’s in the fight
  5. A – Constitution Act of ’82
  6. G – Stick that in yer craw
  7. D – Freedom to Travel is a human right
  8. A – Supposed to be the bloody law
  • So we got a little ol’ convoy     F    C
  • Rockin’ through the night             G    C
  • Yeah, we got a little ol’ convoy    F    C
  • Ain’t she a beautiful sight?          G    E
  • Come on and join our convoy           F    C
  • Ain’t nothin’ gonna get in our way   G    C
  • We gonna roll this truckin’ convoy   F    C
  • Ottawa all the way                       G    E
  1. A – Was the dark of the moon on the sixth of June  
  2. G – In a Kenworth pullin’ logs                     
  3. D – Cab-over Pete with a reefer on                  
  4. A – And a Jimmy haulin’ hogs                        
  5. A – We is headin’ for bear on I-one-oh              
  6. G – ‘Bout a mile outta Shaky Town                    
  7. D – I says, “Pig Pen, this here’s the Rubber Duck   
  8. D – “And I’m about to put the hammer down”          
  • ‘Cause we got a little ol’ convoy     F    C
  • Rockin’ through the night             G    C
  • Yeah, we got a little ol’ convoy    F    C
  • Ain’t she a beautiful sight?          G    E
  • Come on and join our convoy           F    C
  • Ain’t nothin’ gonna get in our way   G    C
  • We gonna roll this truckin’ convoy   F    C
  • Ottawa all the way                       G    E
  • A –
  • G –
  • D –
  • A – more to come put your verses in the comments.
  • A –
  • G –
  • D –
  • A –


Stick it to the Man – Feb 9

Protest Songs.

Seems like we all need to vent a bit now and then.   Anyone with a suitable song can protest whatever they dislike the most on Feb 9 at 7pm.   If you  can play a tune, you are welcome to set your favorite rant to music.   

Those looking for a world class source of opinion journalism can hardly do better than to read the Resignation Letter of Bari Weiss from the New York Times.  If you have an hour to spare you can follow that up with an in depth discussion on you tube.

Urge for Going

Joni Mitchell       5     6    5    5  
        Capo III    Dm    Bb   A    A    Dm    Bb   A  A   
A                 G          G                    A
I awoke today and found  the frost perched on the town
  A             G                   G              A
It hovered in a frozen sky  then it gobbled summer down
D                  C
When the sun turns traitor cold 
    D                 C              E      E7
and all the trees are shivering in a naked row
   A               G                         A
I get the urge for going  But I never seem to go

  G        D       A              G               D      A
I get the urge for going When the meadow grass is turning brown
G              D       A       A         G       A
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in

A               G                   G              A
I had a girl  in summertime She had summer-colored skin
     A          G                G                     A
And not another man  in town  My darling's heart could win
    D                    C
But when the leaves fell on the ground
    D                  C                     E              E7
And Bully winds came around and Pushed them face down in the snow
      A              G                           A
She  got the urge for going and I had to let her go
 G           D        A              G                D        A
She got  the urge for going When the meadow grass was turning brown
G     D          A             A          G       A
Summertime is falling down and winter was closing in

A                   G                        G               A
Now the warriors of win ter           gave a cold triumphant shout
A                    G                   G                A
And all that stays is dying ;   all that lives is gettin' out
D                C
See the geese in chevron flight 
D             C        E            E7
Flapping and racing on before the snow
  A                    G                    G                    A 
They got the urge for going And they got the wings  so they can go

 G           D        A              G               D           A
They get the urge for going When the meadow grass is turning brown
G     D       A                A         G       A
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in

Dm    Bb   A           5  6  5    fret
A                      G                      G                 A
I'll ply the fire with kindling I'll pull the blankets up to my chin
A             G                           G                  A
I'll lock the vagrant winter out and I'll bolt my wanderings in
D                            C
I'd like to call back summertime
D                 C            E        E7
Have her stay for just another month or so
A                 G                   G                     A 
But she’s got the urge for going So I guess she’ll have to go

G            D         A             G               D           A
She gets the urge for going When the meadow grass is turning brown
G             D       A                A         G        A
And all her empire is closing down and winter is closing in
Here is an analysis of the chord progression in Nashville notation.  Note the flat 7s and flat 3s.  The 57 is the E7  the seventh of the fifth.   When we transpose the A shapes to C shapes to remove the need for a capo we find that amazingly only two shapes, E-bar and A-bar are needed.

C is played at the 8th fret with an E-bar shape.
Bb is played at the 6th fret with an E-bar shape.
F is played at the 8th fret with an A-bar shape
Eb is played at the 6th fret with an A-bar shape
G/G7 are played at the 5th fret with an E-bar shape

 / 1  b7   b7   1   //   4  b3   /  4    b3    5  57   /   1  b7  1 /         
A Shapes  
/  A   G   G    A   //   D   C   /   D   C     E  E7   /   A   G  A /      
C  Shapes 
/  C  Bb   Bb   C   //   F   Eb  /   F   Eb    G  G7   /   C  Bb  C /      

I'll ply the fire with kindling I'll pull the blankets up to my chin
I'll lock the vagrant winter out and I'll bolt my wanderings in
I'd like to call back summertime
Have her stay for just another month or so
But she’s got the urge for going So I guess she’ll have to go

/  b6   4    1    b6   b3   1   /   b6   4   1      1    b6   1 /                            
/  G    D    A     G    D   A   /   G    D   A      A    G    A /
/  Bb   F    C    Bb    F   C   /   Bb   F   C      C    Bb   C /

She gets the urge for going When the meadow grass is turning brown
And all her empire is closing down and winter is closing in


Becoming Professional

I have some questions regarding folk music in Vancouver.  One is whether you have any advice for me on the possibility of doing some folk songs in a local pub or restaurant. First of all, it’s clear that I’ll have to wait until Covid restrictions are cancelled. 

As far as I can tell there is a ladder to climb in the music business that look like:

  • Play in your basement
  • Play for your family and friends
  • Play open mics –  mostly on Zoom these days   
    • Jam at Trout Lake with the Bluegrass folks. 
    • Vancouver Folk Song Society – meetings on Wednesdays,  Pacific Bluegrass and Old Time music — meet Mondays
    • Music and More off Main – meets Thursdays on Zoom – used to be a coffee house in a neighborhood house
    • Pickers Circle –  meetings on Wednesdays  —  small group everyone welcome  — some good pros hang out there

All of the above pay only what you get out of them for entertainment and self-improvement. Paid gigs are tough.

  • There are Facebook groups for Vancouver Musicians.   Not many old folkies, but some.
  • Rogue Folk club would be the next place I might try but they appear to be pretty high end.
  • Some local restaurants  have live music.  Bring your set list and talk to the manager.  A demo tape or a Youtube channel is helpful here.
  • Rent the Quaker hall.   Sell Tickets to your friends and family.   This may or not be a break even effort but could still be a better investment than studio time.  Quaker Hall is a possibility if we get past Covid.  The folk song society will help if you are a member.
  • There are other possible venues to rent if Quaker Hall sells out.
  • Take your show on the road.   

The second question deals with recording.  I’d like to make a file of, say, ten or a dozen songs that I could give out to family and friends.  What I’d need is someone who has the technical ability to record me to the best advantage.  Ideally it would be someone with a lot of experience who could advise me on volume, style, etc.  I’d like to do some different songs now while I am still physically able.

This is a really good idea.  My best advice here is use Audacity on a Windows machine or Garage Band if you have a Mac.  I can help out with Audacity but my Mac experience is near zero.  Zoom recording is not studio quality but is sufficient for what used to be called demo tapes. Recording is much more stressful than just playing for friends and recording studios are not cheap. You should be comfortable in front of a microphone before you start hiring pros.

If you make a lot of your own recordings and some of them are pretty good then you are in a better position to spend money on studio time.  One of my reasons for hosting the Pickers Circle is to provide a place where everyone gets recorded.   It is easy to create a web page of links to you tube videos.    Here is an example:

Another alternative once you have material is to  create your own channel on You Tube.  The bottom line is you should record a whole lot of material and hang around with people who play a lot.  If you record everything you do you will get better.   If you are good enough already then take your best recordings and your set list around to spots that have live music.   

Another Year Another Circle

For the first circle of 2022 I thought it time to “thank whatever gods there be. . .”, with apologies to WEH, for events of the past year, since my GOD is music and his prophet is J.S. Bach.

Thanks to Amanda McClean, for hosting Sharps in Isolation in London during this difficult time. Sharps set the standard for efficient use of time, for recording and cataloging every performance and for grace and tolerance of diverse points of view.

Thanks to Tim Mar and Stoo Born for continuing to host Music and More off main. This is an eclectic collection of musicians who usually allow their features to be recorded and who provide weekly entertainment for the community.

Thanks to John Wade for help and advice with the operations of our circle and for hosting the Brock Music circles in person where possible. We have had many good meeting in the tent in good weather and hope to Zoom on during the winter.

Thanks to Eric Hartman and the folks at PBOMS for keeping music alive on Zoom and for their recent efforts to reopen the ANZA club for music.

Thanks to Steve Deering for managing the Vancouver Folk Song Society and providing much needed technical expertise. Thanks to Christina Rae and Leona Axbey for organizing the bi-weekly Zoom sessions and keeping the folk alive.

Thanks to Watson Seto for suggesting I start a website for beginner guitar players and for his efforts to convince the board of VFSS to consider reopening the Quaker Hall. And a special thanks for continuing to run the in person song circles at Trout Lake. I will try and attend more often.

A very special thanks to John Lyon of the Deep Cove Coffee House. John has provided advice and support to both our circles and our website. He has shown us how to make music together over the internet using Jamulus and Sonobus and he is the most popular performer on the Pickers Circle channel.

Thanks to everyone who attended a pickers circle. Graham Baldwin has attended every circle and has been a valuable source of ideas for the organization. He is a man who will always do a request. Alan Sherman is an amazing guitarist with a fine background in early music. Garth Gibson has an endless repertoire of blues and country music. Don Gilbert has brought us many fine songs from the southern states, Nigel Bell has brought his blue grass collection to the circle and Stoo Born entertains us with country blues and Jazz. Stoo was kind enough to host a workshop on open tunings when our circles were just starting out. William Jordan has played us a tune or two and Amalah and Penelope Johnson have livened up what might otherwise become an exclusive boys club as have Di Skippen, Leona Axbey and Bibien Pierce.

Thanks to Rumi for putting up with the noise in the basement and many thanks to those who simply enjoy the videos and share them with their friends.

Somebody wake up CBC

I have defined the center of this Blog as belonging to folks who may disagree but who are still willing to contemplate the possibility that they may learn something from folks on the other side. So for those who have nothing to learn from Fox News here is a Canadian perspective.

Today, in my inbox was a surprising article from a former CBC producer, Tara Henley, who has decided she can no longer work for that organization. The politics have become so one sided that her only recourse is to resign and become a journalist on Substack. Glenn Greenwald, founder of The Intercept, and a man worth singing about , along with Edward Snowden, has made a similar choice.

Tara makes the case that although she started out as a Canadian liberal her job has become impossible in the woke world of the CBC. Here is her story.

Pickers Politics in Four Parts

Suppose we divide the political landscape into four parts from left to right. The center is occupied by the productive and the compassionate. They engage in a rational discussion about how to make life better and how the good fortune of the most productive can be shared with those in need. They often disagree but respectful disagreement is the only way they know how to manage improvement in a complex environment. As soon as we get more than two people involved in a project things become complicated.

We can separate the “far” left and right from the center simply by their refusal to allow free speech. When people are not allowed to say stupid and hateful things we miss the opportunity to observe what idiots they are and how little attention they deserve. When I say something stupid, which happens from time to time, my friends will call me on it.

On the far left and the far right there is no room for discussion. You will do as they say or you will be attacked, de-platformed, lynched. Observe the KKK on the far right and the Cancel Crowd on the far left.

Two Sides to the Story?

The world we live in is a complicated place. Most good stories have way more than two sides. I like to think of many things as being like a rubric cube with a different phrase on every minor face and at least six main themes that constantly change. Toss the cube. See what comes out on top.

Anyway to keep things simple I’ll have another look at Covid 19 in Canada. A family friend commented on my last post. What about the surge in cases? That is certainly another side to the story.

I often hear that cases are important because death follow about two weeks later. That is so but only on the x axis. The y values do NOT track.

The Whole story in one chart

Deaths in Black, Cases in Red, Tests in Gray. Even as the daily deaths have trended lower we have been testing our little hearts out. Unsurprisingly as the test go up so do the cases. We can see that peak deaths really do ‘follow’ the peak cases in time by a week or so but not in numbers. Cases are plotted on the secondary axis which is 60 times the primary axis. On that scale the deaths, the most important indicator, are just a black line at zero. Does that tell you something?

Data Models

Let’s take a deeper look at the Covid 19 data for Canada.

  • What is the story?
    • Outbreaks come and go in waves.
    • Each wave has a peak and a duration.
    • Experts tell us that as a pathogen matures it often becomes less lethal
    • Let’s start with the simplest model — y = ax + b the straight line.
  • If this was a stock chart your broker would tell you to sell it now.
  • Charles that is way too simple.
  • OK. Lets look at some expert models from IHME.
  • We often hear that growth of a new variant is exponential.
  • That can be confirmed by looking at the start of every wave. Each wave starts out as an exponential – and then tops out. A better model for the next wave would be a gaussian – the bell curve loved by statisticians everywhere.
  • Here are the “expert” projections from IHME. The dotted lines for future scenarios are shown on the right with a shaded area of uncertainty.
  • The projection is for the doom to peak on Feb 23 at 0.26 deaths per 100 thousand. Without getting too far into the mathematics we can see that the width of the projection conforms approximately to the width of previous outbreaks and the height is a reasonable projection of the first two peaks .
  • The model on the left is a 7 day rolling average which is used to “clean up” the picture of the past. I have already said I prefer to look at the raw numbers which allow me to estimate the uncertainty in the data as reported.
  • Clearly the further apart we draw the black lines the less confidence we have in the data. The model in the previous figure appears very certain and precise. Right — the truth is likely in there somewhere.
  • Notice how the uncertainty, the shaded portion of the projection, is much greater than the area between the black lines. The future is always uncertain but so are the past and the present. It is to the credit of IHME that they acknowledge the uncertainty in their projections if not in the reported data.
  • The green line is the optimists projection. The “republican” view of the data. It is just as uncertain as the “expert” projections and could have been shown as a box. It says the death rate will be zero on Feb 23.
  • IHME has another model, not shown, for Total deaths. We know this is a model because it gives us numbers about double those “reported”. What we do not know is exactly what fudge factor was used to transform reported data into “Total” data. We used to call these factors SWAG, like the green projection.
  • Lest I appear too cynical about the science here is a wonderful video about the models we use to predict the high and low tides. These models are a beautiful use of mathematics to accurately predict a very complex phenomenon.
  • “All models are wrong, but some are useful.”- George Box

How do you recognize a useful model? Simple. Good models make accurate verifiable predictions. Some examples are: tide tables, Google Maps trip times, and sunrise and sunset from my home automation setup DomoticZ.

A model in predictive form tells you the probability that an event will happen. The weatherman says forty percent chance of rain. You look out the window and the sun is shining. Oops. Weather forecasts are actually pretty good, mostly because they are so easy to verify and a lot of serious work has gone into their verification and calibration.

I’ll be back on Feb 23rd to see which model was closest to the truth.