Monday, January 28, 2013

Panama makes it into the Top Ten

hey, i made it into the reverbnation top ten blues artists for rockvale. this is really great because there aren't ten blues artists IN rockvale. but it's been a long hard struggle, and thank you fer puttin me over the top.
    Vid Mars John Lee would say: "boogie chill'yun"!
    Norine Mungo I am still hearing Popeye The Sailor Man in my head, so when you talk Blues, I'm like, really? LOL. But hey, your picking will take you anywhere my friend. Still, I cry every single time you do that song!!! Dang, now it's in my head again. LOL. Enjoy your Blues success, I will still hear your incredible Cat Stevens like song rendering in my dreams. It inspires me to write even better every time I start a song! Always, Norine.
    Danny Finley Norine: Yeah. Basically I think 'blues' and 'bluegrass' are the flavors of the moment. But since you know my repertoire, then you know that I'm not any one of those or other genres. I just write what comes down through the fog. I'm not even folk, except once in a while. For a while I thought I might be Americana, since that implied some sort of American-ness, but lately even that has seemed to elude me. I could go on and on, and perhaps will. I do appreciate the favorable comparison to Cat Stevens. See you in Tampa/St Pete in March/April, I hope?
This genre business has been a thorn in my side since we're talkin fifty years of forever. Too country for rocknroll, too rocknroll for country. Too blues for folk, too folk for blues. Sometimes I write in a style that prompted one old black jazz club owner I met in the psych ward at VA to say I reminded him of Hoagie Carmichael. Hell, I floated on that for days. Invariably there will be disappointed audience members, club owners, presenters, critics. Sometimes I wonder if it's all been a waste of time, if perhaps a light plane crash will increase the desirability of my catalogue so that my heirs at least can benefit from the privations I've put them through.
Then I get a note from some sweet person like Norine. And the sun comes out.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Murfreesboro, TN January 26 @ 3:22 am --Well, I didn't achieve my lifelong dream of playing the Aura Lounge in Murfreesboro, last night, but it's understandable.

Blame it on a lack of communication. Blame it on the Bossa Nova. Nobody involved was Wrapped tightly enough to make a difference. I include myself.

I booked myself through the owner's putative agent, while my friend Ryan booked himself through the owner directly.

So I don't know. The guy who owns the bar was back in Gatlinberg or someplace for a short while, and no conversations ensued between his august self and his putative (I love that word, but it just means “reputed”) agent.
(This is more than somewhat speculative on my part. It's only a possible scenario.)

So he books Ryan. She books me. Nobody notices this until Wednesday night.

So it came down at the Wednesday songwriters' thang at 3 Brothers, that they wuz a conflict. Of dates. Ryan, who has the upper hand (quite rightly, per musician rule #21), having booked directly says we'll work something out. Well, he also says he needs the bread. Like, hello? Who doesn't? I think, but despite the Facebook boring effortful stuff, I figure, what the hey?, probably ain't my kind of joint anyway, trust in it and let it go.

The lord will provide.

Except that yesterday, Ryan called and said the owner, see?, he still doesn't have a name to me. He asked him (Ryan) to text him my number so that he could ring me up. Blame it on a bad intelligence apparatus or on I don't give a shit, it don't matter.
I figured if the guy wanted to talk to me he'da given me HIS number so I could call HIM.
It's an amazing trip these guys who own bars and these guys who play guitars get on. Always gotta have a drama. It's like any initial contact has to be like psychological arm-wrestling....

So of course I never did hear from the guy (if you know him, tell him I said Hi) who owns the club.

Tomorrow, Saturday, Jan 26 \ WMTS, your local, sometimes extreme, sometimes hip college radio station right here in Mumblesbury, Yay! Is having a benefit at 3Brothers2-nite. Bring a small negotiable donation.
I go on at 8, and I'm gonna do a whole set. Please leave your weapons at home.

3 Brothers. On the north or west side of Main Street certainly not the south or east at least I don't think. They're really bubbas to each other, too. A nice buncha beers. Best dang sangwidges in town. Three Brothers...they have the art of hospitality and good food flows through their life...

It simply is not hard for you to find 3 Brothers. Get on West Main. You'll figure it out. Corner of walnut I think

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Remembering Liberace

Panama Remembers Liberace

The other night Patty introduced me to a film I'd never seen: “Shining Through”, starring Melanie Griffith and Michael Douglas. It's a good flick and you should see it, but that's not why we're here today. In the movie they used the song “I'll Be Seeing You” a couple of times. I was thinking about that song and remembered that it was Liberace's closing number on his syndicated TV show in the Fifties.

Back in the 50s, when most of you had yet to arrive from Tralfamador, there was a daily afternoon television show starring Liberace. It was fifteen minutes long, and came on just after the afternoon soap operas and game shows, and just before Dad came home from work.

It's hard for you to comprehend, I know, but there was a time in America when most moms stayed in the house while Dad brought home the bacon. That is, there was once a glorious time in America when one salary could support a whole household. So that there were a lot of moms watching the afternoon shows while cooking, cleaning and the other things that moms did back then. Not that they don't do this stuff now, bless them, for they still do, but back then they didn't have to work for 75% of the money that men make for doing the same jobs. But I digress into socialism, feminism, and the disappearance of the American middle class, and we're not here for that, either...

Liberace's afternoon shows were not carried on any network. Rather, they were syndicated to scores of local television stations by Liberace's team of agents and publicists. Financially this worked out well for Liberace, because he was earning for himself what the stations would have had to split with the networks for carrying the networks' commercial-laden national programming. It worked out well for the stations, too, because they could cram some local advertising into the time slot and, except for what they had to pay Liberace, keep a whopping amount of this money for themselves.
Liberace was, for a time, the highest-paid entertainer in the world, selling out Madison Square Garden for a single performance which netted him $138,000 in 1954 dollars or about $1,200,000 today.

I can't talk about the Liberace television shows without talking about the Fifties in America. Liberace and the Fifties and America's housewives are seamlessly joined together in my memory. So you'll please forgive me.  I used to watch Liberace's daily afternoon shows with the same ardor I lavished on The Lone Ranger or Sky King on Saturday mornings. I was a fan. Well, not a fan, exactly, but even as a tad the young Panama was fascinated by pop culture. And Liberace popped. He was so far out there back in the Fifties that seeing his show was an open-mouthed event. Or something. He was fascinating is what I'm trying to say.

The other night I was talking to my wife about Liberace. Fortunately we are of a similar age and recall much of the same cultural phenomena. We will sometimes talk about the
summer (1957) that everybody was wearing pink and charcoal color combinations. Or the craze for madras that followed that. So that she is often a very effective sounding board for my unending (and unendurable she sometimes says) strokes of insight.

Today I want to return to those thrilling days of yesteryear and talk about Liberace. I want to make one thing clear: Liberace was gay. I mean he flamed. Yet no one who watched his shows and there were millions of us, ever mentioned this.
Why was this?” I asked Patty. “were people really that polite back then?”
No. It wasn't being polite. It was taboo. Nobody talked about it because it didn't exist. There was no such thing as being queer, or faithless marriages, and being born out of wedlock was, as you know Panama, an incredibly shameful thing. Best not to mention these things. So nobody did.”

Why was Liberace so popular with these Fifties moms?” I asked.

Because he was gentle and polite and soft-spoken and pleasant. Always dressed very well, always smiling, never needed a shave, and didn't put you on the spot for sex and stuff like that. He loved you for who you truly were. He was every woman's special friend.” I thought about this for awhile, remembering Liberace's shows. It seems to me that Liberace was to the moms of the Fifties everything that perhaps their husbands and their husbands' friends were mostly not.

He had a rigorous education in classical piano, spanning decades. As a concert pianist there were truly few who were his equal. Yet he realized that there was a much greater chance of personal and financial success in performing popular music. Quite often in all his shows, whether televised or live, however, he would feature a classical piece. For many of us, including me, he was the initial conduit to the finer aspects of music, while his performances displayed a joy in his music and love for his audiences that was lacking in the acts of many of  his contemporaries. He was a showman.

More than anyone else before or since, Liberace knew how to work television. He would look right into the camera, just as though the camera were a friend with whom he was spending a pleasant, small portion of an afternoon. And the effect was that he was looking right at YOU, and so happy to be there and especially to be in the company of such a special person as you. I mean the man was killer. Liberace would be playing along and singing and he would lean into the could see his flashing pearly teeth and his exquisite coiffed hair and his sparkling eyes, I mean it was like he was about two feet away from you. Yet he never violated your personal space.

And of course when the culture finally caught up with him and his type and he became merely camp,  a stock figure in a very tasteless joke, I turned away from him, as did so many others, mostly I think to spare him.   But there are still those of us who remember those wonderful afternoons in the Fifties, in a somehow better America when a smiling friendly wonderfully talented piano man would come onto our televisions and into our lives, and just for a little while, we would count, and we would be loved.

I'm not the only one who's been thinking about Liberace. Steven Soderbergh has directed a biopic of Liberace's relationship with his lover, toward the end of Liberace's life and career. Starring Michael Douglas(!) as Liberace and Matt Damon(!) as his paramour.

It'll be on HBO in February so they say. I can't wait.

Until then, I'll be looking at the moon, but I'll be seeing you...


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Legendary
Panama red ! @THE AURA!
Friday 9 pm
January 25
There are those, guitar in hand,
who still prowl the seamy outskirts
of greatness. Panama Red is one of them...
songs that remind you of Townes,
Billy Joe Shaver, and Blaze Foley in turn.”
---Dave Pilot, Outlaw Magazine

Genius Manifested...”--Big Jay Johnson,
Honky Tonk House Concerts, Cleveland, Ohio


114 South Maple Street Murfreesboro

Saturday, January 5, 2013



Rockvale, TN, January 5, 2013-------This is probably the kind of thing one is not permitted to do on the internet. I suppose I'll find out pretty quickly if it is one of those things. But I'm gonna spew my guts here and send this epistle out as far and fast as I am able, and with any luck some person with lots of money and the fortitude to do something with it will read this and take action.

Couple of months ago you may have seen the feature in National Geographic about the wholesale slaughter of elephants – 25 THOUSAND last year alone – for their ivory, and about how the ivory makes its way to China where it is carved into various trinkets by skilled craftsmen and then somehow gets to the Philippines where this jaded old Catholic cardinal, bishop, whatever, collects it and has a manse chock-full of the stuff in the form of Jesus-type items. There were some pictures, but apparently the photographer was dissuaded from taking an actual picture of the monsignor(or whatever)'s huge (life-size?) crucifix made of ivory. (Note to Pope Benedict: you should maybe look into this, papa)

This doesn't account for all the ivory poached each year, but it does go a long way toward explaining the level of jerkitude involved at the consumer end of the ivory chain. After the Philippines, which seems to be the main terminus and transshipment point of all the ivory swag from China, the ivory not converted to Holy use goes to other can probably buy some in any large coastal city on the planet. I am of course shocked, shocked I say, at the non-involvement of the Chinese government in this matter.

Why do we let this go on and what can we do to stop it?” we bleeding hearts have been asking this question while making snowballs with our hands for the last twenty-five years. (October 7, 1988 "AFRICAN ELEPHANT CONSERVATION ACT” 16 U.S.C. 4201-4245, as amended 1992) Here at least and in most of the rest of the world as well.

The remedy has been the one that has worked so well with the preservation of the mountain gorilla. Send in some armed rangers to apprehend the poachers. Wait. That didn't work out so well, actually. Ask the 300 or so mountain gorillas left.

Today in the New York Times, the watering hole where we liberal antelope go to drink in the daily blab and become impotently infuriated, I saw this morsel:

The Price of Ivory

Deadly Risk for African Wildlife Rangers

As ivory poaching gets more militarized, with rebels and even armies slaughtering elephants across Africa, rangers are wading into the bush to confront hardened soldiers. (NY Times, Jan 5, 2013)

Well, this is not working out well. You got these underpaid but well-meaning, we'll assume, wildlife rangers confronting the “hardened soldiers” Africa has been turning out since, well, since post-colonialism actually, and the rangers seem to be getting the worst of it.
There are many reasons an African might turn to poaching ivory. Well, no. There's only one: Money. Africa is a hard place to live, there is no food, no drinkable water, Jim, and if killing an elephant will net me enough money to get by a little longer, to further my cause or feed my family, then chances are I'm going to take my AK-47 and go kill me a elephant. And anyone who tries to stop me.
So over here in the First World we've been shelling out dough to keep our rangers, our elephant shepherds if you will, going and they've been trying. But it ain't working out. Bust one poacher, up pops another to take his place. Because Africa is, as I just said, hard. But this has gone on for far too long.
What to do, what to do?
You can't do it from either end. You can't take out this looney archbishop (or whatever), because he's got more money than God, in fact it IS God's money, and further, there are many more heartless and selfish bastards like him out there, and you can't take out enough poachers to make a dent on the supply end.
The solution to the problem.
Since we can't get at the problem from either end, we have to approach it from the middle. This makes sense, as it is in the middle that the greatest crime actually occurs. And it is in the middle that the chain has its weakest link. Why do poachers poach? Money. Who pays them the money? Why, the broker sitting in Mogadishu or whatever eastern African port where this stuff flows through on its way to China. Take out the broker, and you take out the money. When the broker's brother-in-law shows up to take his place, take him out, too. Continue taking out brokers and it becomes too risky for them to continue buying ivory. The price of ivory becomes too high. The brokers hire guards. You buy a drone. They escalate. You escalate more.
Why, Panama, you say. This sounds like you're advocating murder. Why, yes. Yes, I am. But I'm advocating for elephants, too.
So if there are any well-heeled, ballsy liberals out there reading this, you know what to do.
Every week last year, 500 African elephants were murdered. This carnage can be stopped, and the only way to do it is what I've just said.
It's time for the activists to act.