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Your 4th of July Soundtrack... 2 Days Before

Going from the unofficial start of summer with Memorial Day... we time travel full tilt into Summer with The 4th!

Back when life was simpler and Mom was able to cook, I remember a holiday feast of barbecued spare ribs she prepared with onions/garlic/tomato sauce in the kitchen before I grilled them in the back yard.

The night before she’d be preparing these along boiling massive amounts of fresh potatoes--her signature potato salad still unbeaten in memory these decades later.  And after all the ribs and side dishes, dessert was a death by chocolate homemade chocolate cake wearing a gleaming, solitary red cherry.

Those were also the days of sometimes we had fireworks and sometimes we didn’t.  It was almost Christmas-in-July when my Dad rumored we might have a mat of firecrackers--in those days ceaceless dozens of packs neatly bundled.  You could set them off by the pack for effect or singly and sling at imaginary enemies.  The smell and stain of the silvery powder often colored the brightly clad foreign wrappings.  They seemed so exotic at the time.  As a kid, having a mat made you feel like you discovered a suburban armory.  During lean years when none were available, I'd shoot my air gun in the backyard as its report mingled in with the surround sound popping of neighbors igniting their ‘crackers’ blocks away.

Then there was the local school marching band.  Playing a valved bugle (sounded close to a trumpet) was fun, but having printed music that accomodated a missing note of A was most likely my first acquaintence with conspiracy theory–less fun though than the navy uniform pants seemingly manufactured from steel wool or the white buck shoes that would chalk mark any object within one solar light year.  I will admit those shoes (not ours) did provide amusement at other schools expense.  Tear a small corner off a ketchup packet, toss under passing marching feet and instant landmine for the competition. Yes–the wonder years of my reality.

As the years rolled by, I placed speakers in the windows and thought I was edifying the neighborhood in unique fashion–at a decibel level I thought appropriate, of course.  I mean, who doesn’t like hearing Moutain, The Who or J Geils in their prime?  More years streak by.  And a grand celebration in my backyard for July 4, 1976.  Grills/beer/and live music provided by our own guitars & the odd fiddle as the case may be.

Friends and locations have changed... my love of sharing germane holiday music has not.  And instead of hanging speakers in windows I now swirl FM signals for those of like mind–not exactly Gandolf but retired neighborhood pest.

Old traditions remain... new ones are formed.  Like seeing one special band live at VA Beach on the 4th weekend 6 years ago.  What are the chances of seeing a band you thought would never tour and then having them open with a 25 year old classic you also thought would never hear live.  I’ll keep that a secret for now--simply because I want that band & all the  music to burst in your mind and body as colorfully as the artfully made works of fire will sign the skies on this special day.  However, see how well you know my tastes.  The initials of sonic colors include SV...DF...JF...SM...RC...AM..GMASCOD...TH...RT...TW...and GK.

From opening instrumental to the closing acoustic number, each song and tune has been specially chosen to enhance and remind what a great country we live in compared to others.  I’ll also remember those who will be without our celebratory accoutrements a half world away and raise a glass to our armed services.  So many of them nowadays look like kids to me as the years plow on.

Happy 4th of July everyone and God Bless America!

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The Electric Croude airs every late Saturday at the midnight hour EDT only on WCVE Public Radio HD. Simul streaming on ideastations.org/radio.

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