Category Archives: Music

Bagpipe Singing

I like to play music, but I’m not crazy about performing for an audience. That’s just not the interesting aspect of music to me. My fascination has always been with the puzzle of playing the right chord on the guitar, and then adding some bass notes with my thumb, and finally imagining what other notes I might slip in without completely losing my place. Once, for example,  inspired by  Chet Atkins, I learned to play Yankee Doodle and Dixie at the same time. Whatever the idea, it is impossible at first and only becomes music after much repetition, and sometimes not even then. Singing a song while playing a complex guitar part and remembering all the words doesn’t leave much brainpower available for producing good vocal sounds. So I’ve never worried too much about that; improving my voice doesn’t intrigue me. I’m an adequate singer for most campfires. Continue reading →

The Pecan Grove

Last year, a tornado blew through Winfield, Kansas while we were camped at a music festival there. It got dark as night at five in the afternoon, the wind howled, the rain sounded like insane drummers beating on our old motor home. There wasn’t much for my wife and I to do but watch in amazement while wondering if this would be the final day of our lives. Continue reading →


by Kenn Amdahl

A pride of mountains, restless, rolling sure,
Quenching flatness, as the blind man’s flute
Satisfies the silence, or day obscures
Dawn’s subtle shades; their brawn transmutes
The small to nothing, the huge to little more.
Shudder – as creatures near a lion must,
Their life or death a whim, their will ignored–
At granite-fisted rage and craggy thrust,
Made small by mountains, shrunk and awed by stone,
As God or Truth would do, as they are known.

Most of you have seen this poem of mine, it was published years ago in a literary journal. I recently had a conversation about poetry and rhyme schemes and it made me think of this poem. I couldn’t recall if it was a sonnet, so I pulled it out. It’s not– I ran out of juice a few lines early.  It’s technically a “decastich” or ten line poem, which is a form that has gotten some notoriety recently, but that story would be completely boring to just about everyone.  There are other names for this form– one would probably call it a “Sonnetina tre”  or “miniature sonnet” if you wanted to impress an English Lit professor. But then, why would you? Continue reading →

A Quiet Voice in a Lonely Room

Writing is like whispering. A breath of an idea swirls; we release it in a wisp of language too soft to hear, too delicate to survive the literal world’s breezes. No matter the subject or genre, written words represent the triumph of optimism over common sense in almost the same way that prayer does. To true believers, the secret chapel  of pages in a drawer feels just as holy as the colossal cathedral of the blockbuster bestseller. Continue reading →

New Years Day, 01/01/11

I decided to start the New Year by playing some guitar, a practice I’ve been neglecting. If I just played a few minutes every day, I would not backslide so quickly. Perhaps guitar practice could set a good example for so many aspects of my life where I tend to procrastinate and get distracted by side projects. With almost no effort, I’d be able to check something off the list for the first day of the year. To make it seem even more like a fresh start, I decided to use my good steel-string guitar, which I haven’t played in a while. For the last several months I’ve mostly played my wife’s classical guitar, primarily because she keeps it conveniently located upstairs, while mine is in the basement. This was getting better and better. Maybe I’d even return to my traditional practice spot.
Continue reading →