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First Impressions 

"Do you think she's pretty? Do you think he's cute?

I wore my favorite sneakers, kept the jacket, ditched the suit.

Did my 15 pushups and said a little prayer,

Shot a grande capuchino, I'll be talkin' in your ear.

I'm good at conversation if it's surfin' or guitars,

I'll show you my collection, got 'em hangin' on the walls.

Tell me, who's your favorite diva, or do you like Rock n Roll?

I got a picture of Lucinda Williams hangin' on my wall.

FIRST IMPRESSION, checkin' it out

I can see by your expression.

You might be lookin' at your next phenomena,

Wanna make a good FIRST Impression.

 

Take off your shoes and your pre-conceived notions,

Let's take off for Portland, get a place near the ocean.

I got this wonder what is comiin' next look in my eye,

Tell me, would you like to join me for a really good time?

I'm old enough for Woodstock, young enough to know

what is cool, what is not, what is just for show.

I'll leave my fingerprint on a corner of your soul

and you'll be takin' me home whether you know it or not.

FIRST IMPRESSION, checkin' it out 

I can see by your expression. 

You might be lookin' at your next phenomena, 

Wanna make a good FIRST Impression."

Mary Kate Brennan - vocals / Ken Holt - vocals & guitar

Words and Music - Ken Holt 

Are you hearing voices? 

Are you hearing voices? 

Walk into your local Emergency Care and tell the receptionist that you are hearing voices. If those voices are not telling you to harm yourself or someone else, be prepared for a very long wait. If you have the time AND the money to afford a diagnosis, some form of mental health counseling will probably be in your future. Voices can cost you. 

I sometimes hear voices. Actually it's usually a singular voice, and when I pay attention it usually keeps me out of trouble. When I do not listen, a non-original screw up is likely to be repeated. Eventually, without letting the local EMT in on the conversation, I've learned that listening to that “still small voice” is to my benefit. Someone, somewhere, evidently, appears to be concerned about my greater good and is trying to get a word in edgewise. Although my Rock n Roll ears are bad, I still try to hear that quiet yet profound voice. 

As a musician / performer, finding and hearing my own voice is important. In live performance mode, notice how many times the singer motions to the monitor tech to “turn me up!” (That often means that someone else needs to turn down.) Having a voice is one thing. Actually being heard is something else again. Since I usually think of myself as more of a “stylist” than a “singer,” I am still working to develop my own voice AND be heard. I think it’s about FINDING A VOICE in a cluttered airspace; speaking both sonically AND about the amount of content being put out there, most of which is spoken or posted. 

Recently I attended a music conference in Nashville. Joan Osborne was speaking on a panel entitled, “Musicians and Social Action”. She and her co-panelists spoke of the importance for musicians, and songwriters in particular, to find their voice. Notes, pitch, or stylistic riffs were not the issue, however. It was about, for these artists, finding the words to express their pain, joy, and hope for the world. How can they, or we, call for “justice to flow down like an ever flowing stream” and do it in such a way that their voice will be heard. Closing words from this panel were three, “Find your voice.” 

Who I Am is hearing voices. When Mary Kate Brennan and I sing together as a duo, we are developing our collective voice. That voice is about style and blend. Particularly evident in our new material, you will hear another voice as well. That is the voice that Joan Osborne and other artists where speaking of, it is a voice singing about justice. Not a new voice, correct, yet a voice that needs to be heard in this time and place. 

I’m still hearing voices and still learning to listen. Who I Am still has more to sing. As music lovers, the next step is up to you. Will you help us to be heard? 

Peace to you and yours, 

Ken

Liberty and Justice for all  Podcast

Being the son of a career Marine, I was bounced around from duty station to duty station my whole life, right up until the time Ken Holt Sr. retired in Jacksonville, Florida. In fairness to my mom and dad, "Bounced around" makes it sound unduly rough as though I may have arrived at our final duty station as damaged goods. If I had a therapist, he or she might say that my ability to maintain lasting, committed relationships was impaired. But, I choose not to blame everything on my parents, although in later life parents can serve as convenient scapegoats for later calamities. 

The fact is, I credit my "one year here and 2 years there" upbringing with planting what I'm going to call the sojourner seeds of inclusivity. In other words, I'm not afraid of what's coming next and I appreciate the wide variety of folks I am likely to come in contact with around the next corner. Closer to the point, my world view has always been wide open. Walls and fences and unequal distributions of justice and fairness have always rubbed my inclusive backside the wrong way. Even closer to home, I never did like it when the skinny guy (who was often me) didn't get picked and was excluded, and I don't like it now when the black guy gets stopped for a seat belt and my burned out tag light seems to go unnoticed. 

My Japanese American 4th grade teacher on Kaneohe Marine Corp Air Station made us stand every morning and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I recited the words, drilled into my head at an even earlier age, always ending as you know, "With liberty and justice for all." As an adult I’m still working on understanding what I recited all those years in seven schools across the country. Clifford Jones, my first black friend, stood next to me for two of those years. When we got out of the 6th grade, I wonder what his experience was like of "liberty and justice for all." Hopefully those words took on concrete meaning at his job interviews, or when he was looking for a house or apartment to rent, or at the inevitable traffic stop. 

Lots of talk these days about flags. Believe me; I went to more flag parades than your average kid. Ken Sr. actually carried one representing the USMC on the cover of a Sunday magazine once. And they handed me his flag as they lowered him in the ground. I understand the symbolism. Today, I think he would agree with my 4th grade Japanese American teacher, it’s all about fleshing out the words we’ve all recited, even when we were thinking about something else. It’s about “liberty and justice for all” becoming the day to day life experience for all Americans; emphasis on the word “all.” That, for me, is where the energy is best spent.

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What I have is what I want for... 

My 6-month checkup is coming in 2 weeks. The doctor that I chose is one block from my house. I usually jump on my bike. With MEDICARE and a Supplemental Policy, the co-pay is $5.00. They want to keep me healthy. 

I hurt my shoulder requiring surgery. I called the SPECIALIST, made an appointment, and had the surgery. Without my government Health Insurance, I could not have afforded the surgery and therapy to follow. Medicare and the $30 a month supplement work. 

Last November I walked to my VOTING LOCATION in Satellite Beach, FL. They open early and stay open late. With my FL driver’s license as I.D., I was in and out in less than 15 minutes. It was easy. It was quick. They gave me a sticker, I Voted. 

Twenty years ago my wife and I adopted 2 children. In appreciate for us doing that, the State of Florida provided the children with MEDICAID health insurance until they were 18 years old. For all those years Medicaid provided caring Pediatricians who doctored us through measles, a pre-existing asthma condition, a host of bronchial and ear infections, and kept our immunizations up to date. Thank you Dr Agha, our last Pediatrician, who is an immigrant from Pakistan. 

SOCIAL SECURITY checks come once a month. Although those who listen to me vent will tell you that the S.S. bureaucracy drives me crazy, the fact remains that the checks arrive faithfully on the 15th, and I count on them. After all, I’ve been paying into the system since my first job as a J C Penney shoe salesman making the minimum wage at the time of $1.25 an hour. My kids are paying in now. I hope they get theirs. 

My Hot Water Heater malfunctioned recently. With my S.S. check, I had it repaired. Guess what happened when I turned on the water to take a shower? CLEAN, FRESH, DRINKABLE WATER came out of the nozzle. Even though we worry about the health of our water in Florida due to runoff and pollution, the water where I live is still crystal clear and safely consumed. We have some hard charging environmental advocates in Florida, I hope they keep charging. 

So, this is what I have. I’m not lucky. I’m only an American citizen. Some of you have a lot more. More of you have a lot less. What I want for every American is this: regardless of your sex, age, skin color, bank account balance (if you have one). ethnicity, religion, or sexual identity, to have the Health Care, Voting rights, Government assistance, Entitlements, and environmental security that I enjoy and count on. What I have is what I want for...you.

 

Celebrate the Gifts 

To be clear, this BLOG is NOT intended as a review of anyone's performance. Let's leave that for Brevard Live or Florida Today or whoever your local music mag is. This BLOG is rather intended as a CELEBRATION of the gifts that particular artists have, AND an AFFIRMATION of what those artists are doing with their gifts. Let me put it another way, I recently saw and heard two artists perform, Anna Lusk and Anja, and WOW!  

Anna Lusk was performing as a member of Honey Miller, and Anja fronting her band, Anja and the Dreamers. What these two women share in common, in my view, are 3 things: 1) Both have an innate talent that was planted in their being since the beginning. They didn’t start singing and playing their instruments with a blank page. From somewhere or someone, depending on your belief system, was infused the potential for greatness (musical greatness in their case). So, we all have the seeds of something planted in us. The rubber hits the road in what we DO with that potential. 

Which leads to the second thing Anna Lusk and Anja share in common. 2) Each woman has worked hard to develop her particular talents. Of course, I have no way of knowing what these women do in their “spare” time, that is how many hours they spend rehearsing, practicing, writing songs, or setting up the PA. But, for sure, they have not been sitting on idle hands. The proof is in the performing. Whoever your favorite artists may be, rewind the tape to about 2-3 years ago. See the difference??? The seeds have been watered, the fingers have been trained, the voice has been strengthened. From the perspective of someone sitting in the seats, both Anna Lusk and Anja have been working hard and it shows. 

I started my saying that these two women have three things in common. For me, here is the third thing: 3) Each share a likable, thankful humility. That is a loaded phrase and here’s what I mean: It’s possible to be impressed with someone’s musical dexterity but not really care for their vibe or persona. Not the case with Anna Lusk or Anja. These women cause you to “like” them. Secondly they come across as genuinely thankful that you and I took the time and spent the money to come out. You are welcome, ladies. And lastly, a little humility in the entertainment biz goes a long way. Anna Lusk and Anja are deserving of the spotlight and both handle it with grace. NICE. 

Again, this BLOG is not intended as a review, but rather as an expression of appreciation for gifts shared.  Peace  

Sharing Who I Am

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