July 9, 2012 – A Sad End to Someone’s Pride and Joy

We were saddened to see not only another barn destroyed and burned, but an entire farmstead and woodlot.   This farm is a bout a mile away as the crow flies. This one is a haunting reminder of our impermanence.  The last person to live here just left everything like he was going to church when he went into a home.  No family came back to put the items in order.  In the photos below, you can see a comb still on the bathroom sink, suit coats still in the closet, overhalls and coats hanging in the mud room, shoes and Christmas tins scattered by the coons and salvagers.  There are extensive financial records, old letters, old Christmas cards and the like scattered around.  All the equipment from a career of farming, from single-row steel wheel plows, to combines and tractors – all left like they were 25 years ago.  Neighbors tried to buy the place a number of times, but never got anywhere, before the house deteriorated and equipment rusted.  It just sat. On its commanding view of the countryside on the crest of a hill.

Here’s and aerial view of the farm (left side of the road) before the bulldozers and backhoes flattened the trees and dug holes and pushed in and burned the buildings – presumably to get ready to plant corn and beans.

The following album shows some pictures of the “progress” in making the land ready to plant.  Click through to see all the photos.


July 7, 2012 – 80/35 Day 2

Final day of 80/35. Most of the bands I saw are below and most I’ve got a link to a performance by the band in the text below their picture. At then end is a rather random mish-mas of bits and pieces from my camera during the day. If you only choose to look at two, the variety of 80/35 is perhaps best captured by the Delta Rae and Leslie and the LY-s!

Fairfield Iowa based Little Ruckus is shall, we say, irreverent?

It’s nice to see brass bands still on the musical horizon as Central Iowa Christopher and the Conquered and his Black Gold Brass Band funk it up.

After listening to a few of this band’s songs, I’m not sure if it was the band’s lineup or its sound, but I thought they could do a killer Fleetwood Mac cover.  And by gosh, they did, they can also go gospel as in this video.  They were recently signed to warner Bros and were a SXSW band.

The Mumfords, another SXSW band from Ames, again show there is a future in this country for trombone players wearing red and white duct tape underpants to make their mark in the world!

Atmosphere is a band that I would never find on my own – the indie rap band was fun for at least 15 minute.  They hail from Minneapolis and had a #5 album on the billboard charts.

Greensky Bluegrass is another SXSW act with a great bluegrass vibe.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit hail from Muscle Shoals – the band is a wonderful spawn of the Drive-By Truckers (plus he looks a lot like my dad when he was young).  I remember hearing one songwriter – it may have been Dylan or Cash or Emmy Lou say, one of the hardest thing to do is to write one true lyric that hasn’t already been said.  I think Jason’s lyric “There’s one thing I can’t stand, There’s one thing I can’t take,  It’s the sound that woman makes, Five seconds after her heart begins to break” counts for me.

Leslie and the LY-s need to be seen to be believed.  Some kind of a glam-dance satire.

My favorite group of the day was Leftover Salmon, what’s known in the trade as a jam grass band – a bit of of the Grateful Dead mixed with Del McCoury band.  The band seemed to have as good a time as the audience.  It strikes me that most people’s musical tastes are much wider than commercial radio suggests – many of the same people fist-pumping for Atmoshpere, danced to Leftover Salmon.

Closing the evening was Death Cab for Cutie, probably the most commercially successful band of the festival, but not quite as compelling as some of the other acts.

Random short clips of the day.

July 6, 2012 – 80/35 Music Festival

Two days, 46 bands, 3 stages at the intersection of I-80 and I-35 and you have the 80/35 festival.  It’s a homegrown festival, virtually totally volunteer run and organized (only two employees).  There’s a good mix of bands, both local and national.

Headlining the day was the Avett Brothers.

With a cello, upright bass, banjo, acoustic guitar and more, the  band runs on high octane!

Earlier in the day Pieta Brown and Bo Ramsey.  Bo is a fixture in the Iowa music scene, as a solo artist, as Greg Brown’s lead guitar player and stints playing with and producing albums by Lucinda Williams.  Nobody plays the silence between the notes like Bo – his sparse, mournful style is pretty distinctive.  Now he’s playing with Pieta Brown.

Useful Jenkins is a Minnesota based jam bluegrass band based on acoustic guitars and mandolin.

Opening the day was self-described hippie bluegrass band Dumptruck Butterlips from Lawrence KS.

July 2, 2012 – Fishing Wrap up

I bought a three-day fishing license, so was able to get out a bit – either in the morning before everyone got up, or after dinner when the day’s trips were over.

brook trout

Here’s a nice brook trout.

brown trout

I mostly caught Brown Trout, the biggest about 16 inches, which was plenty big for the creek.

castle creek

One view of Castle Creek below Deerfield Lake.

castle creek, black hills trout stream

A great hiding place for some trout.

The last day’s catch, not including an equal number which were released.  It was a great creek to fish.  There was little traffic – I didn’t see anyone on the creek, the fishing pressure is pretty light, based on the lightly used footpaths along the creek, and best of all, there was an old gravel road near, but not too near the creek, so I could fish until dark and not have to walk back along the stream.  There’s not much more satisfying feelings than walking with the coolness of the mountain air enveloping you, moonlight at your back, and gurgling stream in the distance and a fishing trip where the catching was as good as the fishing.

When I said I didn’t see anybody on the creek, it was technically incorrect.  When I drove up, there was a party parked on the bridge where the stream crossed the road.  They looked as though they had all the greatest gear – shiny new creels, fishing vests and fly rods – as though they had just stopped in Cabela’s in Rapid City.  However, the fact that they were fishing off the bridge in a shallow, fast-running part of the creek told me they had more disposable income than fishing sense!

July 1, 2012 – Badlands

The final stop on the trip was the badlands.

Emma in the magnitude that is the Badlands.

This is for Claire.  We have an old black and white photo from the same place, but I can’t locate it at the moment.

On the ladder on the Notch trail.

Emma taking the ladder.

Emma taking the ladder in years gone by.

A bit of the terrain of the trail.

It is a rather ethereal landscape, much like what walking on the moon might be like (sans the spacesuits).

At the end of the trail.

Yes, it was hot!