This time I’m walkin’ to New Orleans

Edd Merritt

I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’m gonna need two pair of shoes
When I get the walkin’-me blues
When I get back to New Orleans
~ Geoff Muldaur, Walking to New Orleans

Out of time, out of mind?

Is it just me or do others of you question how the local media chooses items for its stories? Let me give a couple of examples. Two omissions of what I consider newsworthy items struck me recently. They had to do with 1) a musical show in the area and 2) a vote at Charlotte Town Meeting. Let me begin with music.

Almost daily, I pick up the Free Press and I find myself flipping through what seem like innumerable pages of announcements of bands and singers coming to town that I have not the slightest desire to hear. OK, it is truly an age thing – and I can relate to it. Growing up, my father had a cabinet full of Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Doc Evans Dixieland and other jazz records from his era. Frankie Carl played an old upright piano in our basement one night and drew the praise of my dad’s friends that here was music as it should be played, that would last on top of the record charts forever. As it turned out, it didn’t quite make it to American Bandstand.

So, what did happen to these records? I couldn’t let dad know my taste in music was changing. As a result they stayed in the cabinet gathering dust. I would put one on the turntable every now and then as a compulsory exercise. I seldom made it any farther than the second track before I shut it down. On the other hand, my collection of forty-fives (not yet tapes or CDs) grew by leaps and bounds next to our pool table in the basement. I was an early fan of Jack Scott and Chuck Berry, one of them white, the other black, but with similar musical styles, and, of course, Elvis whom we could hear once the local radio station power dropped at night and brought Nashville north to southern Minnesota. We also listened to Muddy Waters sing White Rose petroleum jelly commercials and Fats Domino on WLAC plus “Wolfman Jack” from below the Mexican border.

Over the years my collection grew, and now it is pretty extensive. I have several types of players that allow me to listen to vinyl, tape and CD without leaving the room.

So what are my complaints about our local media and what do they have to do with a recent live gig in Hinesburg? The “gigger” was Geoff Muldaur, a singer and guitarist to whom I have listened for 50 years. I have records of him with Jim Kweskin and the Jug band, a group that included, in addition to Kweskin himself, Geoff and his wife to be, Maria, banjo picker Bill Keith, mandolinist Spuds Siegel and various other musicians over the years. I also have a couple of 33 discs of the Muldaurs alone. These are vintage 1960s when “jug band music certainly was a treat to me”—they included some slightly off-color lyrics like, “If you can’t play the jug, then you can’t play with me.”

OK, so my own record history, albeit sketchy by some standards, does go back a ways. But, what did the Free Press, Seven Days and, yes, even The Charlotte News miss reviewing recently? They missed Geoff Muldaur right in our own neighborhood at the Good Times Café. How that happened, I don’t know, although, even I did not think that he was still plucking and singing.

The Good Times in downtown Hinesburg looks like a house more than a music palace. But it has had groups play there on numerous occasions, and it was just such an occasion that brought Muldaur recently. Here was a folk hero in quaint Vermont. Yet, the only thing I saw about his appearance before or after was an announcement in Seven Days; no reviews. Even Donald Trump missed a twitter. (I was out of town; otherwise I’d love to have been there and written something for the News.)

There was a second local item that the Burlington media decided did not deserve attention. That happened here in Charlotte at Town Meeting. We voted to impeach Trump—yes, the Donald himself.

Well, lo and behold, it took the D.C. big guns several months before they decided to follow our small town’s lead. An article in the June 14 New York Times said nearly 200 Democrats in Congress considered filing a federal lawsuit accusing our president of violating a clause in the U.S. Constitution that “prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts or emoluments from foreign powers without congressional approval.” Do you remember that was just what Susan Ohanian moved as an advisory motion at Charlotte Town Meeting in March? And the townspeople there favored it without a great deal of discussion. If you get your information about our local government from the Free Press, you wouldn’t have known, however, since it did not write about the vote in its reports of Town Meetings around the state (Maybe if it had been a Rebel yell it would have gotten six pages of coverage in every issue over the next two months.).

Perhaps Charlotte was playing jug band music in one ear and impeachment anthems in the other. Would Muldaur have agreed with the voters, and that’s why both events were left out of the paper? Did Trump convince the evil press that it was out of line to mention the possibility of his impeachment? After all, this isn’t Russia—well, not yet anyway. I wonder if Geoff has a newer piece reflecting directly on the topic. If so, bring it to Charlotte, and we’ll include it in our town’s bucket of blues. Mainly though, I want to watch Robert Mack play the washboard and Peter Trono pluck the gutbucket. Carrie Spear, how are you on the banjo? Any fiddlers on the Selectboard? Dean Bloch, can you keep everyone in tune?

OK, here we go. . .

Stealin’!  Stealin’!
Pretty mama don’t you tell on me
I’m stealin’ back to my same old used to be