Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rush Encore

Wow, what a once-in-a-lifetime experience! I was privileged to see Rush twice on their North American tour, this time compliments of my good friend Joe Copple. Joe and I went to high school together and camped out for Rush tickets at Market Square Arena in 1986. Three of the four Rush concerts I've seen were with Joe. I blogged about the experience last summer here.

And while this was the pretty much the same show, it was the last stop on their Snakes and Arrows tour--a concert that had to be rescheduled from June. And let me just say that Verizon Wireless Music Center is one of the best venues around. The show was complimented by perfect weather! Oh, and did I mention that the tickets were free?!?!?! Thank you Joe!


We sat in the same section about 10 rows further back from the stage. The Canadian trio put on one helluva show! The end of their second set was an unbelievable trip into their storied past covering Spirit of Radio, 2112 (Overture and Temples of Syrinx) and Tom Sawyer. Then, during the extended encore they played YYZ, one of my favorite all-time Rush instrumentals.

Other songs of note were Passage to Bangkok, Witch Hunt and Natural Science, songs you don't typically hear at a modern-day Rush concert. Of course they sprinkled in plenty of tunes from the current album, including Working Them Angels and Far Cry. It was an excellent show.

The thing I can't understand is how this phenomenal, four decade band has been excluded from the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame. It defies logic. With 24 gold and 14 platinum records (RIAA searchable Database Recording Industry of America July 29, 2007) and more than 30 years of recording and touring the globe, I'm dumfounded why Alex, Geddy and Neil are not fixtures in the Cleveland museum. Please take a moment to sign the petition to get these legendary musicians (each a virtuoso on his own instrument) into the hall. If you need any further motivation, please watch this video:





Neil Peart has always been one of my absolute favorite rock drummers and a big reason why I took up drumming at an early age. Even if you don't care for the progressive rock stylings of Rush, you have to admire their individual talents and their longevity...rivaled only by the Rolling Stones.

I only hope I get to see them again before they call it quits. Rush ROCKS!!!

Thanks again to Joe Copple for the complimentary tickets!

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Roots

Genealogic research performed by uncles on both sides of my family has piqued my interest in our families’ history. They’ve dug diligently to trace our European ancestry as far back as the 17th century. You can view much of our lineage if you click the Geni link to the right.

My interest in history swings much broader than just my own family tree, however. I’ve recently begun investigating the history of Lyles Station and that settlement’s connection to the Underground Railroad (UGRR) in Indiana. My aim is to establish a solid link between the African-American community in Gibson County and the white abolitionists who aided them, like the Stormont family, and thereby obtain an Indiana Freedom Trails marker as a monument to their efforts.

I guess a combination of these interests caused me to checkout the 30th Anniversary DVD of Roots at the local library. That, and my wife was not allowed to watch it as a child, so this was her first viewing.

I was surprised how little of it I remembered even though it made an indelible impression on me when I first saw it on television in 1977. And while it only gives small glimpses into the UGRR, it continues to stir my curiosity about the secret pathways north and the courage of those who dared to travel it and also those who risked all to aid the escapees.

It stands to reason that free African-Americans in the “lower north,” particularly the settlements in southern Indiana, would have been a first stop along the pathways to freedom. Some escaped slaves would have surely settled there while many others would have continued north to Michigan and Canada.

The problem in documenting all this is that most of the 19th century American history you find in libraries was written by white men. They weren’t particularly interested in elevating the heroes of the African-American community. Their self-serving portraits of abolitionist activity paint an almost white portrait of the UGRR, as if no escape from slavery would have been possible without the aid of anti-slavery whites. While this may be true in part, it is not the whole truth.

Have you ever considered what it would have been like to be a slave on the run and scared for your life? Who would you trust? It certainly wouldn’t be a white man. So my work is definitely cut out for me. This will not be an easy project to document with concrete evidence. Just like my uncles, I will have to dig to uncover the important role the free African-Americans of Lyles Station played in helping others to freedom.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Family Ties--Doyle Cabin Reunion

I've blogged before about the Doyle cabin on Greenbriar Lake in Sullivan County (IN). It has always played a pivotal role in keeping me connected with my dad's family and with our Doyle heritage because we've gathered there annually since I was a kid. Since moving back to Indiana in 2006, I've been able to participate in two consecutive reunions, now. Its always great to reconnect with cousins, aunts and uncles you only see once every few years and to hear the family stories told under the shade of 60-year-0ld oak, pine and sycamore trees. If only those trees could talk!

My dad's younger brother, Al Doyle, has chronicled much of our family's history, recently telling us the story of Noble "Kid Chissell" Chisman who was my grandmother's first cousin. Kid Chissell, as the story goes, was a good friend of Bob Hope's and a witness to Marilyn Monroe's secret wedding which only lasted about three days. His filmography is quite extensive, beginning in the late 30's and spanning three decades. Uncle Al recalls his mother pointing out her cousin on their old black-and-white TV whenever Chisman would make a guest appearance on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color.

Its funny that prior to this year, I never remember hearing the first thing about this famous cousin, or that his mother's nickname was "Toad." I'm just glad that that family name died with grandmother's generation.

It was just as fascinating to hear that a recent barrier was broken in our genealogy from the late 1700's in Pennsylvania. There was very little information about a William Doyle who lived in western Pennsylvania, until my brother and uncle unearthed some clues pointing to a John Doyle who emigrated from Ireland in the mid-1700's and was William's father. Also of great interest is the fact that one of our relatives on grandmother's side fought in the Revolutionary War, and another served as a translator for the French-speaking Indians in the lower Wabash River Valley. Grandma (Louise) Doyle's family were Dutch (Thuis) and French (LaPorte) immigrants who settled in the Vincennes area.

Grandpa (James H.) Doyle's family migrated, as many Irish working-class citizens did, from Pennsylvania westward through Ohio and Indiana. My great-grandfather, Albert Abraham Doyle, was a resident of Indianapolis and did carpentry work on the beautiful Scottish Rite Cathedral. Grandpa Doyle was born and raised here, attending Cathedral High School when it was a Catholic all-boys school in downtown Indy (current site of the diocese headquarters, I believe). After moving to southwest Indiana, he worked for Public Service utilities and built the log cabin on an abandoned strip mine.

The cabin holds many fond memories for me and is a favorite destination for my girls. That's Makenna on the tire swing, pictured at right. You can see the front (SW) corner of the cabin and the old utility poles my grandpa used in constructing the 60-year-old lakeside retreat. I am thankful that we'll have stories to pass onto my daughters, neices and nephews about this family heirloom and about those who came before us. I appreciate my Uncle Al's work and that of Sean Kern and Ryan Doyle to document our family history and thereby ensuring that the stories can be told for generations.

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