Driving on the Edge of the World

By Bob Howard

These are some strange days we are living through. The Mayan calendar is about a month away from ending, and Israel and Hamas are engaged in a bloody, terrifying conflict. The sitting United States President is visiting Myanmar for the first time in history. Stateside deal-crazed consumers are camping out in front of department stores, spending days of their lives to capitalize on low priced electronics, and a certain segment of the population is wildly hoarding Twinkies and Ho-Ho’s, driven by the announcement that Hostess may be going out of business. As of this writing, the evening news is indicating that the Twinkie hoarding could turn out to be unnecessary – rumors of Hostess’ imminent demise may have been exaggerated. The relief is palpable.

Blinded by the White
One of my dad’s earlier jobs was working as an accountant for Hostess, and as a result I have assuredly consumed more than my fair share of “Wonderbread.” For those who’ve never had the pleasure, that is a bleached, processed, sugary and fluffed form of more traditional breads that would give your average whole-foods advocate or nutritionist a strict case of the night terrors. These days I’m happy to say I eat slightly more healthily than that, but I make up for it with beer, and lately wine. Trish discovered that the Grocery Outlet was selling boxes of wine for slightly under four dollars a pop, and now we’ve got a virtual wall of them in the kitchen. That’s the equivalent of more than five bottles of wine for less than four dollars – take that two buck Chuck!

Songwriters Attack!
I’ve been taking part in a few different songwriting contests lately. The last was the GEM Management event at the Studio Inn Lounge. Once again a lot of good local talent turned out. Hard-working troubadour Kyle Williams took the prize this night, and second place went to the multi-instrumental “Sons of Jefferson” songstress Mandalyn May. They both impressed the hell out of me with quality songs and superb deliveries. Keep your eyes and ears open for third place finisher Sasa Mae. Her voice is beautiful and her songs are tight and top notch. Mae’s songwriting combines elements of pop with a hint of country, and her lyrics are smart and heart-felt.

The next competition coming up will be held over the course of three consecutive Saturdays at my old local haunt the Maltese. Personally I love the proposed format the contest promoters have come up with. On December 1st ten songwriters perform a couple of songs a piece, then, on the 8th, the top five square off and everyone plays for fifteen minutes. On the finale, held on Saturday the 15th, the remaining two performers square off, and get to play forty five minutes a piece. This is when you really get to see how deep the writing talent goes.

Anyway, these showcases are a real treat for those music-goers who are interested in listening to original songwriting. You get to experience a variety of styles, themes, and voices in a single evening.

Hope to see you at the Maltese one of these Saturdays!

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Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.