Sunday, March 23, 2014

                            Stayin' Close With The Redneck Road Dogs
                                           Dennis and Brenda Kippa

We've been running up and down the roads of East Texas and into Dallas
a little more than usual lately. So much, in fact, that we haven't
paused to tell you about it.

In trying to decide where to start so we could catch up telling you
about all of the great bands we've been hearing, it occurred to us
that we've overlooked someone that's right close by. We hate when we
do this!

Anyway, to give you a bit of backstory, we'll remind you that we spend
our Saturdays over at the Lindale Care Center, calling the Bingo games
for the great people who live there. It's one of the best highlights
of our week, and it starts out with an hour or so where we share
whatever baked goodies we've made the day before, while we all listen
to a couple of musicians who come every week just to sing to the
residents. We profiled one of these musicians several months ago.
("The Troubadore Wears A Derby Hat").

Now it's time to tell you about the other one, with our apologies for
not doing so sooner.

Royce James is a guy who loves music. His passion for it seems very
familiar to us; he loves music for it's own sake. The difference
between him and the two of us is that he has applied himself over the
years and has become a very accomplished mandolin player. Neither one
of us ever did that. Well, Brenda tried for a couple of years and
could pick out a few tunes, but then she dropped it because she knew
she could never begin to match her brother's God-given talents.
Dennis, on the other hand, never even tried, but he has an ear for it;
he could almost judge the Idol competitions, that's how good he is.

Another thing we both have in common with Royce James is that all
three of us put the necessary dedication into our careers until we
reached retirement age and were able to reassess our lives.The beauty
of Royce James is that he never stopped playing, all those years.
While he got up every day for some 35 years and put on his "banker
hat", he knew all along that in his heart, he was a mandolin player.

It really was just that simple: he was a mandolin player. Now, between
me and you, he is also a singer, but he doesn't sing as much as he
plays. And the thing about his playing is that he isn't chasing
stardom or a big bag of money. In fact, most of the time he plays for
no money at all; the money is not what it's about for him. It's about
getting to play, about hearing his mandolin as it interacts with other
instruments, and about entertaining people.

In addition to hearing Royce every week at the Care Center, we've also
been able to catch him when he plays at festivals; the Edom Arts
Festival comes to mind. And most recently, we saw him at The Forge in
Ben Wheeler. We've been to this venue once before, and loved it. You
already know that we love everything about Ben Wheeler,  with their
other venue - Moore's Store - possibly being our very favorite place
to go. But a close second place goes to The Forge, which is much like
Moore's, only smaller and slightly more quiet. Royce was on hand at
The Forge to accompany Rick Babb and Paula McClannahan. Royce has
often played along with Rick Babb, but one thing or another kept
getting in the way of our seeing them. It was very fortunate for us
that we finally got out to see them on a night when they had Paula
McClannahan with them. Paula has only recently joined Rick's show, and
her stand-up bass adds one of my favorite instruments to the stage.
What a great show it was! The Forge had a full house for their show,
and everyone who was there, stayed there, until the band packed it in
to leave.  I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Rick Babb did
a fine job in showcasing his songwriting and his vocal interpretation
of the songs he has written. His easygoing manner with the crowd made
it impossible to have anything other than a great time. Rick's CD is
available on-line and at his shows.

Is there anyone out there who long ago put their talents on hold? If
you did, how about considering dusting off that passion for another

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