Welcome to the May 2008 issue of The Kitchen Musician, my monthly folk music newsletter featuring “Another Box from the Combat Zone” — new words added to “Ohio”, a Neil Young song about the events of May 4, 1970 on the campus of Kent State University.
Photo: Phil Knudsen
May 7, Wednesday, 8:00 pm, Main Streets Market, Concord, MA. I am doing a one-hour guest set for “High Sierra”, an entertaining six-piece folk group. High Sierra starts at 7:00 pm. If you want to come for dinner, I suggest calling to make a reservation. Nice menu, and a bar.
May 8, Thursday, 8:30 pm, Amazing Things Arts Center, Framingham, MA. I am the feature performer at this wonderful open mike. Arrive by 7:30 pm if you want to be added to the list of performers. This is a very warm and friendly venue. Please join us!
May 28, Wednesday, 7:30 pm, Emack & Bolios, Roslindale, MA. A rare co-feature with my daughter, Mally Smith. Click for details.
Click for details about all upcoming shows.
While cleaning up my office a few weeks ago, I discovered a rare reel-to-reel tape recording of a 1975 production of “Bound for Glory”. This was a presentation of the music and prose of Woody Guthrie in which I participated with the Folk Song Society of Greater Boston. I digitized the entire production and posted it here. Numerous kind e-mails from members of the cast expressed fond memories of that production.
My interview and musical performance on the Norwood Public Access Acoustic Music TV show was great fun. Bruce Jones talked with me about my music, then turned me loose on the microphones. Have a look and listen.
My favorite comment this month on my YouTube Talking Posttrauma Blues page:
My friends and I LOVE your tunes.
You are my example for our psychology project.
Never been a psychology project before. 🙂 All kidding aside, I have been asked by several psychologists if they could use this video in their lectures and treatment for PTSD. Individual PTSD sufferers and their families also continue to tell me that hearing their story sung is helpful in their struggle.
This Month’s Song: Ohio (Another Box from the Combat Zone)
“Ohio” © 1970 Neil Young, New words © 2008 Tom Smith
(Photo: John Paul Filo) Last Sunday, May 4th, was the 38th anniversary of the shootings at Kent State University. Students were protesting the Viet Nam War, and the Ohio National Guard were brought in to help control the situation. At some point the National Guardsmen, reportedly fearing personal harm from rock-throwing protesters, opened fire on the students, killing four. This event was immensely powerful for me, a college junior in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It transformed me from an angry observer, to an angry activist, working to end the Vietnam War and setting my political compass solidly left of center.
Shortly after the Kent State incident, Neil Young wrote his song, “Ohio”. Recorded by Crosby Stills Nash and Young, it quickly became the anti-war anthem of the summer of 1970 and beyond. When I hear it today it still gives me goose bumps and brings back all of the emotion of that highly charged time of my life. On Sunday, the CBS “Sunday Morning” show noted the anniversary and played this song. I quickly picked up my guitar to play along, and found myself transferring the familiar emotions to our current situation in Iraq. For such a powerful song, it only has a single verse so there seemed to be room for my two new verses and revised refrain. I hope Neil doesn’t mind. (Neil, If you are reading this, please send me the address where I can send bags of cash as the royalties are starting to fill up my work room.)
Praying and working for peace,