Sunday, July 22, 2012

Just your average summer day (with the All-American Girl)


I really wasn’t planning to post a new blog this weekend (been a little busier than usual lately) and then there’s been all that tragic news with that gunman and the theater in Aurora, Colorado which truth be told, has made anything I normally share here seem pretty inconsequential.  

But then my sister Shawn and her husband Jim invited me down for a cookout this weekend, and when Shawn gave me this recent picture of my 7 year old niece Sophia, I wanted to share it here and write something.  It was just a good reminder of all the things that are still right in this world.

Is this the All-American kid or what?  (Shawn was quick to point out that Sophia’s softball team lost only one game this season.)  Anyway, while Jim cooked steaks on the grill and Shawn was busy in the kitchen fixing everything else (she usually makes enough to feed an army), my niece & I sat on the couch and had a nice chat.  She asked me if I would be coming to her wedding, I assured her I’d be there.  (She knows I “have a thing” about weddings, and wanted to know if I’d make an exception in her case.)  She then told me who she was marrying (Jacob) and where they’d be living--“right here, when you come down to visit you’ll still use the back door” and when I asked if her mom & dad would be living here too she shook her head no and informed me they’d be moving in with Polly, who owns the house on the street behind theirs.  Does Polly know about this?

My sister’s house, nestled between her neighbor Jackie’s blue house and their church—it’s been a good home to Sophia, I suppose I can’t blame her for what’s she planning to do

Then my sister came in and announced dinner was ready, and I suddenly felt a little concern about where Shawn & Jim would be spending their golden years.

And that’s about it; after dinner, Shawn invited her neighbors (Jackie, her husband and their 12 year old son Levi) to walk across the street with us for ice cream cones, where we talked about favorite ice cream flavors and superheroes of all things; and after that, we petted some rabbits and played ‘Corn Hole’ in the backyard (and thanks to my sister who was on my team, we won). 

I know, I know--it doesn’t get more uneventful than this.  But given what’s been going on in the news lately, the day suited me just fine. 


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dad, I wish I could see you and your brothers playing together again

 A couple weeks ago on Father’s Day, my cousin Amy posted this picture on Facebook.  My jaw literally dropped when I saw it. 

How is it that I never saw this photo before?  The oldest kid on the right is my dad!

Summer 1950, from left to right:  Uncle Mike, Uncle Shane & Dad

I was surprised and happy to see this old photo of the “original” Morris Brothers on their family farm, but when I think about their playing together, I was referring to their music.

I’ve written on here before about my dad’s musical career, but it actually began in the 1960s when he and his brothers formed a popular local group, “The Morris Brothers Band”.  They had a country rockabilly sound, and played on weekends at different clubs, lounges and public events. 

They were an annual fixture at the Greene County Fair & even recorded a couple of their earlier songs.  They sort of went their own way in the early ‘70s, and Dad pursued a more “solo” career; but my Uncle Mike started ‘The Country Rockers’, and then Dad headlined with his group.

Uncle Mike, Uncle Shane, Dad - The Morris Bros Band

Uncle Mike on guitar, Uncle Shane on drums & my dad who sang lead & played piano; Howard Pritchard is the the second guitar on the far right

Here’s the 45 they released in the mid-60s, “Cruel World” and a pretty frantic sounding “Rockin’ Country Fever” on the flip-side.  I’ve included links to their songs below (if you click on either 45 label).

My dad later recorded “Up My Street” and “In the Springtime”, which you can also hear by clicking on either label below.







Click on either record to listen to the Morris Bros songs or my Dad’s singles “Up My Street” & “In the Springtime”

I think what’s really interesting is that “Country Fever” on the B side became a sort of “rockabilly cult favorite” & it’s still sold today—a copy of the 45 sold on Ebay a few months ago for $152.00!  (Click here to see it.) 

Also, I recently came across the song on these 2 compilation CDs.  (Click on either album to visit the website it’s sold from and the list of tracks per album.)


Truth be told, my memories of the Morris Brothers are pretty hazy;  just some vague recollections of my uncles coming to our house on Franklin Street on Saturday mornings and rehearsing, and Mom always pointing out the band’s billing for the upcoming weekend in the Friday paper.

I remember on my sixth birthday, my parents took me along to one of the Morris Brothers shows at the local Moose, and midway thru I was invited to come up on stage and belt out a godawful song I’d been rehearsing all week just for the occasion, “Who Fell Down the Well”.  

After I finished singing, Uncle Mike said “well, he’s got lungs” which cracked Dad up good!

But I can still remember all those faces in the audience, and wondering how my Dad and his brothers could stand up there & do what they did—but when I finished singing & heard that polite applause, it all made a lot more sense.