HISTORY OF THE DOG
Prairie Dog Music began back in the stone age when we, Doctor Walker, that's me, and Dan "Daddy Squeeze" Newton were recording on cassette tape. We needed a label so I created this one. Since then, this li'l ol' independent label has become home to dozens of musicians and hosted numerous CD release parties, giving birth along the way to the "Prairie Dog Social," a special kind of release party where we not only play the tunes but serve up a dinner of Doctor Walker's Hot Flash ("Makes You Feel Like a Real Woman") Gumbo, Okie style boysenberry cobbler, cornbread, and an assortment of corollary dishes. Boy Howdy. Fun, fun. And, now, years later, it still feels like we've just begun. Here's some highlights from the journey so far.
We had the party, boy howdy did we ever, releasing the brand spanking new
50-tune, 3-cd box set,
John Walker: From An Okie Boy To The Loup River -- 1975-2005. We filled up The Loft @ The Mill with a bunch of eager folks, ate gumbo and cornbread and cobbler, and served up two sets of selections from the box set, featuring the way-soulful accompaniment of Dr. Walker by a couple of different combos, including Pete Blakeslee, Dave Fowler, Steve Hanson, Rob Kloefkorn, Dave Morris, and Jim Pipher. Oh Lordy, we had so much fun we should have been arrested. Remember the old definition of a New England Puritan? A Puritan is somebody who suspects that somebody, somewhere is having fun. There were some New England Puritans rolling over and over in their graves Friday, April 7, 2006, I'll tell you what.
So the box set is out there. You can order it from us or through CD Baby.
New Year's Day, 2007
And, my Lordy, look here what happened. Dr. Walker's CD Release Party was dubbed "Best Performing Arts Event of the Year, 2006" by the Lincoln Journal-Star. Meanwhile, the box set was named "Album of the Year" in KZUM's Listeners' Choice Awards for 2006.
Happy New Year to everybody! Thanks for supporting live music and especially the kind of traditional acoustic folk music that gets played with such love and enthusiasm and skill all over the country. It is its own reward and asks nothing of itself but to serve us all in the art of speaking our feelings through melody and rhythm and lyrical language. Keep on playing. Keep on singing. Knowing that no matter what small town or far-off place we come from if we keep on picking up our guitars and fiddles and mandolins and joining them with our voices to keep on making music we will no doubt, no maybe-so about it, have a collective effect on the ways of the world. When you are making music you cannot make war. Love and Peace to you all.
May 10, 2013
Wow, long time no PD newsy talk. Just rolling along, I guess, a couple pf CD release parties featuring The Hokum Boys, C. A. Waller, David Boye, and Terry Keefe. And now, May 10, a special treat: a magical night organized by David Merrill, a "Tribute to John Walker" night at the Crescent Moon in which some 20 local artists spent an evening rendering Dr. Walker tunes. Wonderful. It was great to see how folks chose to interpret these songs. I remarked that the supreme virtue is gratitude. If you have gratitude, all else is possible, courage, truth telling, faith, etc. Without gratitude, hardly anything is possible, really. That's what I felt that night. Gratitude. Yessir.
June 20, 2014
CD Release Party! Yezzir, for C.A. Waller's "Floyd's Blues," at the Crescent Moon. A bunch of us, Fuzzy Blazk, Dave Morris, et al., helped with the celebration. It's a really really good album, makes me think of how American country blues must have sounded around, say, 1943, somewhere in Southern Indiana or rural Kentucky, where barbeque sauce was more of slight, sweet "dipping sauce" than a thick vinegary sauce in the Kansas City style. I'm not saying...all I'm saying is...C. A.'s music is totally unique ands heartfelt and raw but sweet and when you get down to it that's what you want, am I not wrong? You got it on this C. D., sho nuf.
The Prairie Dog Music Stable
Welcome to Steve Hanson and his re-issue of the classic album, Pick And Choose. This is a truly unique collection, traditional American bluegrass, artfully and tastefully done, showcasing the legendary talents of Professor Hanson in a way that stands up over time like some mid-Western Rock of Gibraltor.
Paddywhack. You know them as Lincoln's long-time, I mean loooong-time, favorite Irish band, with Dan Newton, Terry Keefe, Chris Sayre, and Dave Marsh, featuring inimitable renderings of traditional Irish tunes and "the man who parts his hair on both sides of his head."
C. A. Waller, two-time winner of KZUM-FM's Blues Artist of the Year, released his new CD, Everyday Blues, on PD. Hoop-de-doo and boy howdy, it's a good one. We are trying to talk C. A. into doing an all-instrumental album, sometime soon, sooner the better. Meanwhile, he's about ready to release a new collection of all original bluesy tunes, probably around September.
Also, we've got The Bluegrass Crusade, a collection of tunes from the legendary Lincoln bluegrass combo, including a re-issue of tunes from Steve Hanson's Pick And Choose.
Robert Kloefkorn, founding member of the Loup River Nightcrawlers and fine, fine banjo player, has a collection of original tunes now available, Sail Away, lucky for us and lucky for you, on the Dog label. Grandpa's banjo never sounded like this.
A whole bunch of Lincoln songwriters are represented on A Tall Grass Sampler, produced by Jim Pipher at Barking Gator. Nicely done, lots of variety, blues, bluegrass, folk, neo-folk, old timey folk, good stuff.
Long-time Lincoln musicians Steve Hanson, Jim Pipher, Terry Keefe, and Erin McGovern have conspired to create The Toasted Ponies, a combo (banjo, mando, fiddle, guitar, bass) that features tight harmonies, smooth picking, and a kind of alluring accessibility that makes people want to run out and find some instrument and start playing it themselves. In the words of one perceptive critic, their music is "like a train wreck at the intersection of bluegrass, Western Swing and old timey American country." The Ponies have 2 discs on the label, "Why the Long Face" and their newest, "Bluegrass of Champions."
Chris Sayre has finally come out with a spanking new CD at the request of his many fans. They wanted something that would display his talents on all the instruments he plays. Ummm, lessee, that would be about 5,000 tunes, give or take. He whittled it down to 14, including "Nebraska Waltz" and "Something Ate the Garden." It's called "Tunes from Along The Way."
The talk scuttling around about a Prairie Dog Sampler has come to fruition. We are poised to release a 14-tune collection from the horses in our stable. It includes blues, gospel, bluegrass, folkie stuff, waltzes and an assortment of pickers that can play like nobody's bidniz. It's called "A Year in the Life of the Prairie Dog" and features a tune from a Dog or a group of Dogs for every month of the year plus 2 bonus tracks and a poem by Bill Kloefkorn. Should be out in September.
Doctor Walker's New CD
13 new songs, including the title tune, "The Monarch," referring, not to kings or ermine robes or palaces but to the lowly butterfly that flies from Mexico to Canada every spring. Amazing. Doctor Walker is assisted ever so ably, again, by Dave Morris on the bass and Pete Blakeslee on 6- and 8-string dobro. Other Dogs making their appearances are Wendy Jane Bantam, Steve Hanson, John Hischke, Terry Keefe, and Jim Pipher. This one, too, should be out and about in September.
The Hokum Boys
Soon to be out to a gullible public: "John Walker and the New Hokum Boys: 'Valparaiso.'" That's me with Pete Blakeslee (5-, 6-, and 8-string dobro) and the Morris boys, Dave (bass) and Nate (percussion). 14 tunes, including the title number, "Valparaiso." We'll have another PD Social, sponsored by LAFTA, May 12, 2012.
Guitarist and writer David Boye joins the stable with his collection of 8
original instrumental tunes, "North
Some fine, lyrical picking.
Doctor Walker's Favorite Things:
Hot Sauce: Currently, it's Melinda's Triple XXX Habenero. Hmmm, yum, yum. It's hard to beat Cholula, of course, and Jump Up and Kiss Me still jumps off the shelf at me now and then, too.
Barbeque Sauce: No question. Mac's Hot Sauce from Mac's Barbeque, Skiatook, Oklahoma. If you're traveling through there (20 miles north of Tulsa on Highway 20) stop by and pick up a gallon and have a pork sandwich while you're at it.
Beverages, alcoholic: I'm reminded of John Huston's death-bed remark: "I only wish I had drunk more wine and less whiskey." I'm trying to correct myself in that regard before I get in John Huston's shape. A little Johnnie Walker Red is still good now and then, some single malt when I can afford it, a Bombay and tonic in the summer time, a Guiness now and then in the winter.
Beverages, non-alcoholic: S. Pelligrino sparkling water, hmmm. Fresh squeezed grapefruit juice in da mornin. Tomato juice with a little pepper and Melinda's. After the Fall spritzers. And my favorite favorite: plain ol' ice water...especially with...
Coffee: Yum, can't live without it: currently my addiction is to the finely ground French Roast from Mojava. I brew it a cup at a time with those little one-cup filters.
Food: My favorite food is food. Anything I happen to be working on at the moment. Last night's moment centered around a li'l ol' chicken I bought whole at Hy Vee grocery store for $3.00. I put him in a li'l ol' roasting pan and roasted his li'l ol' hiney and pulled all the meat off dem bones and made chicken salad and then used the broth for a base for chicken soup. The chicken salad has both green onions and yellow onions, celery, a dollop of creamy mustard, mayonnaise, a couple of dill pickles and a handful of greek olives chopped up, a lot of pepper and a little bit of some other secret spices. The soup has your standard veggies, carrots and onions (both kinds again) and potatoes, some celery and some garlic, lots of pepper, oh and some brocolli.
Nap time: 3:00 in the afternoon.
Sport: Basketball. It is a holy game. We're not talking about whatever it is the NBA does. Whatever that is, it's not basketball. We're talking about pick-up games where guys know to pass the ball and move and set picks and try to create a flowing thing that encompasses all ten players in a timeless, egoless moment.
And: One of my favorite favorite things: Okie Style Gumbo:
Doctor Walker's Hot Flash Gumbo
"Makes You Feel Like A Real Woman!"
The Secret: The Roux. You have to have a good roux, for seasoning and thickening the gumbo and providing that je ne sais qua those Cajuns knew all about. It's simple but not necessarily easy. Get a cup of peanut oil, heat that up in a nice cast iron skillet. When it's hot, dump in a cup/cup and a half of flour and start stirring. Stir over medium heat for 45 minutes to an hour, adding flour if it's too watery and more oil if it gets too thick. It should have the consistency of a fairly thick pancake batter, smooth, pours out of the spoon with no lumps but not like water. You're done when the roux thickens and takes on the color of deep dark chocolate. Then let it sit in the skillet until you're ready to use it.
Some turkey thighs, half dozen or so.
Some chicken thighs, say 10.
Some chicken breasts, 4.
2 pounds of spicy sausage, andouille or kielbasa or smoked pork or beef.
3 yellow onions.
2 bunches of green onions.
1 bunch of celery.
2 or 3 bell peppers.
A couple of yellow banana peppers.
2 or 3 jalapeno peppers.
A half dozen carrots, or (what I prefer because I don't have to chop them up) a bag of baby carrots.
2 heads of garlic.
1 bag of frozen corn.
1 bag of frozen okra.
2 or 3 different hot sauces, Trappey's Red Devil, Louisiana, Crystal, almost anything but Tabasco (sorry, a prejudice).
Cayenne pepper, paprika, black pepper, white pepper, garlic powder, sea salt, thyme, bay leaf, Tony Chechere's Creole Seasoning.
Putting It All Together
I like to boil the turkey and chicken meat in one pan and start the veggies in another, bigger pot. While the meat is cooking, you'll be chopping up all those veggies, starting with the onion and garlic, sautéed in olive oil. Add the rest of the veggies, with a little water, just enough to cover the veggies, the peppers, the celery, the carrots, everything, except I save the corn and okra for last, I don't know why. When the meat is done, let it cool off a little bit, then take the meat off the bones and throw it in the big pot along with all the broth it has cooked in. Add the sausage. Dump in a bunch of hot sauces and liberal doses of the seasonings. Use your good judgment. Taste it as you go along. And NOW start spooning in the roux. Oh my Lord, you will see the broth start to darken and the pot of meat and veggies seeming to smile and lap up that roux like it was chocolate gold. Keep stirring and spooning and adding more seasonings if you like, dump in the corn and okra and lemon, smell it, taste it, stir it, more seasonings, or not, and you will see finally what the Buddha saw, that time is truly an illusion. You are now in some timeless moment, just you and the gumbo and God, and it's tasting like You Cannot Believe How Good This Is! That's when you know you're done, although the whole process has been so magical you want it not to be over. But you're done.
This recipe makes a big bunch of gumbo. You can cut it down, of course, simply by minimizing the ingredients. But it keeps well and you can freeze some of it or give it to your neighbors or have a big party or all the above. But you do want to share it with other people. Serve it over plain white rice.
- thanks to Dan "Daddy Squeeze" Newton, Jeff "The Frugal
Gourmet" Smith, and Lona Bessie Hambleton Walker