"What are you thankful for"? It's a question posed quite often, and you will probably be hearing it a lot over the next few weeks as we make our way through the "Holiday Season". I guess there is really no right or wrong answer to it. But for what it's worth, here's my take.
I'm thankful that there are at least some people left in this world, not a lot, but a few, that appreciate the simple things. I am thankful that there are still some people that do not just take everything for granted. I am thankful that there are still a few people out there that actually care about more than their own personal lot in life. I am thankful for Those few people that do not use whatever hardship they have had to face, or in many cases imagine they've had to face as an excuse for insisting on their entitlement to whatever it is they think they are entitled to receive, because they know that however rough things can get, there is someone else that has it even rougher. I am thankful for those people that gratefully play the hand that they have been dealt, without bitching about the dealer, or the cards or the other players. I am thankful that there are still some people that,day after day, try to do the next right thing rather than whatever is easy. I am thankful that even though so many things in the world are unjust, unkind, or just plain broken, there are still those people that seek the truth, that live a life of compassion and kindness, that fight for justice, and try to repair what mankind as a whole has broken.
This past Sunday after the Patriot's were done beating up on the Oakland Raiders 60 Minutes aired a segment about the civil war currently going on in Yemen. Two factions of the population of Yemen, the Houti and the Shia, are at war with each other. Both groups happen to be Muslim. The civil war has been going on now for over three years. The Houti faction is backed by Iran, while the Shia faction is supported by the bordering country of Saudi Arabia . The Saudi government, in an attempt to prevent Iran from supplying arms the Houti "rebels", had blockaded imports to Yemen. Without fuel coming into Yemen, their water purification and waste treatment facilities were forced to shut down, which in turn is creating an epidemic of Cholera. The blockade is also preventing the delivery of necessary Food and Medical by the United Nations to Yemen. As a result, the people of Yemen, and in particular, the children of Yemen, are faced with one of the most devastating Famines of our time. For anyone old enough to remember the famine in Bangladesh in 1974, which, brought on by war, government mismanagement of food supplies, and flooding, claimed the lives of 27000 people from March through December of the same year.
At the current death rate in Yemen, which is about one child dying from starvation every 10 minutes, the death toll in Yemen will drastically exceed in less than half that time. This does not even take into account the hundreds, possibly thousands of innocent children that will die from Cholera. In addition to the deaths, it is estimated that well over sixty percent of the population of children in Yemen are malnourished to the point of stunted development. During the 60 minutes piece we saw video evidence of a seven year old girl that weighed less than eighteen pounds, a three year old child that weighed only eleven pounds, and these were not isolated cases. Something has to be done.
I don't have the answers. I wish that I did. I am not an expert on the subtle intricacies of international diplomacy involving countries in the Middle East where conflicts have roots reaching back for thousands of years. I do know that the Saudi Arabian Government needs to allow food to get to these people now, before thousands more innocent children die of starvation. I know that this is yet another example of a war fought under the flag of religion. Whatever the differences between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Iran exist, they need to be put aside for the sake of the children of Yemen. It needs to stop, and it needs to stop now. Wouldn't that be something for which we could all be truly thankful.
. Well, here we are, already two thirds of the way through September and I am still going through beach withdrawal. I know it does me no good to look back, but this summer just went by way too quickly. I had to take the beach chairs and umbrella out of the back of the Nitro Tour Bus to make room for amps and equipment but instead of stowing them away in the storage closet I made Elise stick them in the trunk of her Mazda just in case. It's probably wishful thinking but just a couple of more hot days would be so nice, I am just not mentally ready to start wearing socks yet. And is anyone else bothered, like I am, about how early it gets dark at night? I need to find some positive thoughts about moving through this Fall Season. So here goes;
For starters, the kids are back in school. That has to be a plus for any parents with school age children. Of course that also means Elise is back to working full time and I am spending a few days a weeks filling in as a sub.......instead of being at the beach.
Secondly, the MacIntosh apples are ready at Parlee Farms in Tyngsborough. I like apples. The thing is , I like nectarines even more, and those just aren't even close to as good as they are at the beginning of the summer when I can spend time.......at the beach.
Thirdly, Football season is in full swing. This is genuinely a good thing. But the Red Sox are also still in the mix, and I do love baseball, so watching the Boys of Summer still reminds me of those warm nights..... at the beach...........( I'm starting to think this is not working taking my mind of the beach.
So tomorrow night I won't be at the beach, but I will be appearing at the 110 Grill in Chelmsford Massachusetts from 7:00 until 10:00 p.m. . Stop by and we'll raise a toast to say goodbye to summertime. Maybe a couple of Jimmy Buffett tunes can work their way onto the playlists.
Well it's Monday morning and I am sitting in the kitchen watching Bill the Plumber cutting a large hole in what used to be the ceiling, and I am actually happy about it. Good service and quality work seem to be hard to come by these days, but if you ever need plumbing, A/C, or heating service for your home or business I strongly recommend that you contact the good people at CoolAir Company, You can find them on the web at www.CoolAirCompany.com.
On Saturday morning when Elise and I were starting off our day, I noticed a small drip of water hovering above my head and when I reached up to touch it......my finger went right through the ceiling. Apparently the bathtub drain pipe in the upstairs bathroom was leaking ever so slightly, and after who knows how long, decided it was time to reveal itself by dripping through the textured kitchen ceiling that used to be there before I poked a hole though it. Unfortunately small leaks can sometimes mean big repairs. This is not good. I am less than handy around the house, at least when it comes to most plumbing and electricity, and even as an adult I am still not allowed to operate anything resembling power tools.
I ran upstairs and abruptly ended Elise's morning shower by knocking loudly on the door and telling her that we had a problem. Normally in our house, time in the bathroom "alone" is nothing less than sacred. I am a firm believer that a little mystery helps preserve the romance, and in addition to that, one of my biggest pet peeves is when someone tries to carry on a conversation through a closed bathroom door. So when I interrupted her bathroom time she immediately panicked, thinking that either I was having chest pains, someone died, or at best, I had cut my thumb off slicing a bagel. When she calmed down and realized that it was only a plumbing issue she was quite relieved that my digits were all in tact and I was not in need of an ambulance ride to the emergency room.
We called CoolAir Company, a plumbing and heating service we have used in the past and scheduled them for first thing Monday. Since the leak seemed relatively small, we figured we could survive through the weekend by taking submarine showers and avoid the higher rates that often come with an emergency weekend service call. So our drill for the weekend was simple; No long showers, just wet down,turn the water off, lather up, turn the water back on, rinse off as quickly as possible, rinse the tub and turn the water off. Then, I would head back downstairs and mop up the water off of the kitchen floor, which by Monday morning when Bill the Plumber arrived had been swabbed more than the deck of a Navy training vessel.
Back to my Monday morning. After determining the source of our leak, Bill's reinforcements arrived and helped him complete the tasks of replacing the drain pipe, the trap, and installing an access panel into the kitchen ceiling. During the work they covered all the floors, counters and appliances with drop cloths, and they even vacuumed everywhere they worked before they left. In short, they did an awesome job for a price that didn't completely "drain" the budget. And with that really bad pun, I think I'll call it quits and take a long, hot shower.
Hope you all had a great summer. It's always tough to say goodbye to the beach but such is life. Hopefully Elise and I can sneak in at least a couple of more beach days before the New England weather transforms and all of you DD fans start running around with your Pumpkin Spice drinks that I refuse to call coffee.
Tomorrow night your Hugh McQueen Music Project takes to the stage at the Country Tavern on Amherst St in Nashua NH . Dinner set starts at seven and our party sets play until ten o'clock, so come on in, grab a great meal or some apps and kick back with your favorite beverage while we play all of your classics.
Joining me on stage tomorrow night will be Mike Dobrowolski. Mike is a phenomenal guitarist from the Nashua area I actually met right there at the Country Tavern and he will be accompanying me for one of my sets. It promises to be a great night. And for ALL OF YOU PATRIOTS FANS, with an 8:30 start to the season opener you can rest assured that all three screens in the room will be broadcasting the Pat's so you can still hear tunes, party with us and still not miss a single down!!!!!
So No excuses, we need you at the Country Tavern tomorrow night from 7 til 10.
No Cover, plenty of free parking, full bar, great menu, reasonable prices, ghosts, The Pat's Opener and all of your favorite classics. Is there really a better way to spend your Thirsty Thursday? I think not!!!
Sorry for the last minute notice, but tonight from 6 until 9 we will be appearing at the Country Tavern on Amherst St. In Nashua.
It's a great venue and it should be a fun evening, so if you are in the Nashua area stop in for a cold one. The Tavern features a full menu and they have awesome appetizers on the cheap!!!!
Hope to see you there, and by the way, it's fully air conditioned so the ghosts there are really chill.
Good morning all,
Hope everyone is enjoying a great summer. On July 4th we posted a video on FB of an old Gordon Lightfoot tune. It received well over two hundred views, and many of you left really nice comments. Several of you shared it on your own timelines as well. Thank you for that. We really appreciate the support and the feedback.
There are HD versions of our video posted both on our HughMcQueenMusicProject YouTube Channel and on the Audio/Video Covers page of our website at HughMcQueen.com. We are working diligently at improving the audio quality of the videos and we will be posting more soon, so if there is anything you would like to hear please let us know and we'll do what we can.
You can subscribe to our You Tube Channel for FREE. All you need to do is log in on You Tube, type Hugh McQueen into the search bar, and you will see a link to the channel. Then just click subscribe.
You can also message me privately through the website or via email at HughMcQueenMusicProject@gmail.com.
Posting Cover tunes on FB can be tricky so look for us on You Tube. Thanks again for listening and for taking the time to share our posts. We hope you enjoyed it.
With Father’s Day just a few days away I’ve been thinking a lot about my Dad, but especially after something that took place on Monday.
We lost our Dad about two years ago to cancer. It was one of those all too typical cold and snowy February days in New England that make me question why I still haven’t packed my belongings and moved to somewhere warm like San Diego or the Florida Keys.
My brother Kevin, a year and a couple of weeks my senior, phoned me around five in the morning to let me know the hospice nurse had called him to say things were not looking good. I headed up to Brentwood in my truck,driving through the storm, only stopping along the way twice to clean the ice and snow off of the windshield wipers, and once to pick up my brother.
We arrived at the Nursing Home at about ten o’clock in the morning. I will always be thankful that we got the chance to spend his final day with him, but in truth, with the heavy doses of morphine the hospice nurses were giving him to keep him comfortable, he really was not very responsive. We spent the day by his side, but it was not until we left to grab a quick dinner that he finally passed. I got the sense that somehow my Dad wanted to wait until we left his bedside before he finally checked out, like it would have been rude of him to leave before our visit was over. I get that; that’s just the way he rolled.
My Dad was one of those rare individuals that had the ability to live in the moment, and always make the most of any situation. At the risk of sounding cliche’, given lemons he would not necessarily make lemonade, but would more likely convince someone else to make it for him. And as anyone that knew him well could attest to, he would have preferred you made a very dry martini. Still,even greater than his passion for dry martinis was his passion for sports.
My dad loved Baseball. Truth be told, he was obsessed with all sports, and it didn’t matter if it was high school, college or the pros. Football, Basketball, Hockey,Tennis or Tiddlywinks; if there was a game on, he would be watching it. But baseball always held a special place.
Dad was a die-hard fan of all of Boston’s sports teams ,especially the Red Sox, and he hated the Yankees. He once said, only half-jokingly, that he disliked New York sports teams so much he refused to eat New York Sirloin. He took my brother and I to our first Red Sox game at Fenway Park back in the sixties. As best as I can recall it was against the Detroit Tigers. We watched the great Carl Yastrzemski in left field play a ball off the wall on one hop like it was nobody’s business ,then make the perfect throw to second base to gun out the batter trying to stretch his single into a double. We saw Tony C., Rico Petrocelli,Mike Andrews,Joe Foy and my favorite player George Scott. It was magic. He also took us to see the Celtic’s play at the old Boston Garden back when Bob Cousy knew all the dead spots on the parquet floor and Bill Russell led the Green; back in the days when Red Auerbach would actually light up his cigar inside the Garden when he knew they had a win in hand. One late summer day he took us to see the Patriot’s practicing at their summer camp, and we got autographs from Babe Parilli, Houston Antwine and Bob Dee. Whatever the season, it was always sports, sports, and more sports.
When Dad read a newspaper, the front page headline story always took a distant third place behind the sports section and the crossword puzzles. Aside from the fact that from time to time he was known to place a wager or two, he truly enjoyed the games for their subtle strategies and adjustments that are oblivious to the average fan. He was the antithesis of a “pink hat”. His knowledge of sports statistics, player personnel, and his uncanny ability to recall the batting average of some journeyman ballplayer or the details of a random mid-season game played back in 1976 earned him the nickname “the Computer’ in some circles. He had more than a few nicknames over the years, and usually a great story on how each name came to be. He was “The Wildman” to some, “Bull” to others, Then there was “Skip”, “Jack Sullivan”(don’t ask), “Sully”,”Pop”, and even my mother’s entire side of the family knew him as “Don”. One such story about one of his strangest nicknames comes to mind.
My Dad was by no means a “great” athlete, but he was pretty fast in his younger days, and a relatively decent ball player. I remember back when I was about seven years old he was asked to join a men’s softball team that was in need of a second baseman. His wife, my mother,the incomparable Anne J, voiced serious objections, thoroughly convinced that he would end up getting hurt. In short, her response was,”ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!”. After weighing his options , he decided there was only thing he could do; join the team using an alias (just in case the box scores made the local paper on a slow day in sports) and not mention it to Anne that he was playing. On game nights he was “working late”. . Everything was going along smoothly until one fateful night, while going back for a pop up, he collided with a center fielder that was roughly twice his size. After a trip to the Emergency Room where he was attended to by an on call doctor that appeared to have drank his dinner, the diagnosis was that his ribs were either bruised, broken, or cracked. Rather than bothering with an x-ray, the good doctor just taped up my father’s unshaven torso and sent him on his way. Unfortunately for my father he had no choice but to come clean with Anne J.. After a couple of weeks the ribs healed and it was time to remove the tape. My mother did the honors, painfully pulling the wrap off about an inch at a time. She made no attempt to conceal her glee as my Dad screamed in agony. Thus ended the brief but spectacular playing career of the speedy “Cheetah McHugh”, second baseman for the Stuart Shaines Men’s Softball Team.. I must mention here that in my Dad’s account of this tale, he would emphatically state that ; (a) “I did not drop the ball”.(b)”It really was a spectacular catch”.(c) “I didn’t scream that much when your mother ripped off the tape”. Now, I was not present to witness the catch or the ensuing collision, but, I can tell you that on the night my mother removed that tape, there was a lot of screaming. I guess my old man could be guilty on at least one count of revisionist history.
Back when we were young kids my father always managed to find time to be our designated quarterback, to play catch or pitch to us, or be the necessary third guy my brother and I needed to play a game of “ rundown”. He might not have made it to every single Little League game but he made it to many. He coached Babe Ruth Baseball even before my brother and I were old enough to play. When he wasn’t coaching he was working as an umpire. He also worked as a radio broadcaster for a stretch,doing High School Basketball and Football Play by Play, and he was really good at it. When he had to sneak out of work on Saturdays from his regular job to broadcast the High School football games he became the on air persona “Don McHugh”, just in case his boss happened to be traveling through the area and turned on the local radio station.
Marty Klickman, and old New York broadcaster that used to do the N.Y Knicks and Jets games used to always sign off his broadcasts saying,”and remember, next to religion ,sports contributes more to the American way of life”. To my Dad, sports was religion, so it comes as no surprise that my brother, after college, went to school to become an umpire, and soon after that, began his coaching career.
My brother started his coaching career in Salem New Hampshire. After a couple of years he was hired as the head baseball coach at Timberlane Regional High School. where along with coaching, he taught Calculus and AP Mathematics for fourteen years. Then around 1996 he was hired by Exeter High School where he has taught and coached for the last twenty-one years. In 2013 he coached Exeter to their first state Championship in Baseball since the early 1960’s. My Dad was there to watch it happen, and it was, without question, one of the proudest moments of his life. My Dad was Exeter’s #1 fan, and never missed a game if he could help it.
So on this past Monday afternoon, I went to Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester N.H, home of the NH Fisher Cats, to watch the Exeter Blue Hawks baseball team, coached by my brother, win the N.H State Championship by defeating Bedford High School. They finished their season with the incredible record of 21-0, making them the first and only high school baseball team in the history of New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletics to achieve such a record. Sitting in the stands that afternoon, I couldn’t help but think about how proud and pleased my father would have been to witness his beloved Bluehawks complete such an amazing season.After recording the final out of the game on a fly ball to right field that left two Bedford runners stranded on base, the Exeter players piled onto the diamond in a joyous celebration of their record setting Championship season.My only thought at that moment was a wish that our Dad could have been there to see it all happen. Then, after receiving their trophy, the players hoisted it in unison, high over their heads, almost as if they were giving the old man a better view...and that’s when I realized he had been watching the whole time.
Happy Father's Day
This is our 1st blog since the end of March, and it's good to be back.
April and May were spent healing digits and recovering my voice, which I sort of lost in a battle with Laryngitis after a series of the nastiest allergies and most un-common colds I've ever had the displeasure of getting over. The good news is that my thumb is finally a whole thumb again and the voice is back, just in time to take the stage this evening at the 110 Grill in Chelmsford.
Our first set tonight kicks off at seven and I am really looking forward to a fun night performing for a great crowd at a really cool venue. If you've never been to the 110 before I encourage you to come check it out. The food is awesome and the staff takes awesome care of you. You won't be disappointed.
I spent most of the morning finalizing set lists which is always difficult for me. I usually end up switching things around as the night progresses based on what the audience is in the mood for but it helps me to keep things moving if I have a plan.(even if I don't stick with it)
Well I have just another couple of tunes to run through in final rehearsal before I embark on the least favorite part of my day ahead, which is to play roadie and load all the gear and equipment, which seems to be expanding with every new show. We've added some new technology to the set up that allowed us to expand our play list and enhance our sound. I think you will enjoy the improvements. We are going to try and video/record portions of the show tonight so we can post some new footage to the website.
Hope to see many of you in Chelmsford tonight at the 110 Grill. Until then, be good to yourselves and be kind to each other.
So here we are just two days away from April and we have ten inches of snow in the forecast for Friday into Saturday. It just doesn't seem right, but hey, it's New England. As Yogi Berra would say, "It is what it is".
Life is like that sometimes. No matter what you do I guess there will always be things that do not go as planned. I've been dealing with that a lot lately but hopefully persistence will eventually overcome resistance.
A huge THANK YOU to everyone that came out to our St.Patrick's Day Party at Angela's in Tyngsboro. A special thanks to Kayla and the dancing Leprechauns that joined us on stage for "Sweet Caroline" and "When Irish Eyes are Smiling". You were awesome!
We've added a couple of new show dates to the calendar . We have shows in June at the Country Tavern in Nashua and the 110 Grill in Chelmsford. We are also looking at a couple of new venues in Massachusetts and NH and we will We'll keep you posted on additional dates as they come in. Check the Upcoming Appearances page on the website at HughMcQueen.com. And don't forget, every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month we'll be hosting the Open Mic Night at the Hearing Room in Lowell.
It's a great Venue to hear some up and coming local artists and typically I open the shows with a few choice tunes to get the evening started, so check it out at 119 Chelmsford St. in Historic Lowell Ma.
I've been trying to do more song writing lately, Every once in a while ideas will come out of left field that are less than lyrical but still have to be said. Today I thought I would share a sample of such a work in progress. I don't really know if this will ever turn into a song but if it ever does I can pretty much guarantee it will be in a minor key. I welcome your comments in the comment section of the blog or you can message me directly. YOUR FEEDBACK IS APPRECIATED .
( no title yet, so this is about a child at the funeral)
I remember the day,
the organ music, the burning incense,
and sermons making little to no sense,
and wishing that I had a better view.
Grey skies at the cemetery
the coldest day in February
thinking to myself that
some sunshine’s long overdue.
Then back at home
I’m coming down the stairs
and all these extra folding chairs
a sea of legs I had to weave on through.
A pile of coats up on my bed
and awkward pats upon my head
from all these strangers
that I barely knew.
As if afraid they’d wake the dead
they mumbled underneath their breath
the awkward, “Sorry for your loss” and
the obligatory, “If there’s anything we can do”.
The smells of whiskey, beer, and cigarettes
lilies, roses and white carnations
And following all condolences and invocations
we passed around the trays of finger sandwiches
I recall the day so well
The sight the sound
the taste the smell
But it’s hard to remember you.