Sixty-two years ago yesterday, ten-year-old Johnny Wilkinson rode his bike from 951 S. Weller Avenue, in Springfield, Missouri’s Rountree Neighborhood, to the Shrine Mosque auditorium downtown, where Elvis Presley was set to perform that night. Elvis was only 21 and had just started to top the charts and make television appearances, but his popularity hadn’t … Continue reading GRACE LAND
One criticism we’ve heard over this last year is we aren’t talking to a wide enough variety of people. A typical comment is, “You should talk to my aunt. She watches InfoWars everyday and thinks the Parkland shooting survivors are all paid actors in their twenties who never attended that high school.” I will talk … Continue reading I DON’T WANT TO TALK TO EVERYONE
Here's my latest song. I wrote it a couple of years ago for Springfield's "Wild Bob's Musical Book Club," which meets every month at Lindberg's Bar. The book was Ozark native Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone. Further inspiration came from Melissa Millsap's stories from Urban Roots Farm in downtown Springfield. I recorded the one-take video at the … Continue reading HERE WE GO AGAIN
We've been traveling the country listening to all kinds of people tell their stories. When we're on the road we generally listen to NPR, podcasts, and audiobooks - we'll post more about those things later. Sometimes we listen to the wind and wheels, or we talk to each other. Weird, huh? We also listen to … Continue reading WHAT ARE WE LISTENING TO?
If there were a soundtrack for my childhood, it would feature verse after verse…after plaintive, supplicating verse of "Just As I Am." The 19th-century hymn by Charlotte Elliott – not to be confused with the mawkish ‘80s soft rock hit by pop phenom, Air Supply – was the signature altar call in Billy Graham’s evangelistic … Continue reading JUST AS I WAS: BILLY GRAHAM AND LOSING MY RELIGION
"Come to the wet, swampy land of North Florida," they said. "It's a great place for a young mosquito just starting out," they said. "You'll be drunk every night on the blood of sweaty white meat, so numbed by Budweiser, box wine, and Airstream pride, they'll forget to keep up their defenses." So I arrive … Continue reading GOING (WEST NILE) VIRAL
We ended up in the middle of the Olustee Battle Festival in Lake City, Florida, quite by accident. It's hard to find a campground on the weekend without a reservation, so we sometimes stealth camp in places like Planet Fitness or Walmart parking lots, or on the street. We ended up downtown amongst the vendors … Continue reading GRAY AREAS
I have this report from nine months on the road across America: There are deranged shooters, bought-and-paid-for politicians, and belligerent internet trolls. There are judgmental, self-righteous, and hateful people out there. But there are more of us than there are of them. More students who are making friends, working hard to get good grades, and … Continue reading #MoreOfUs
A couple of weeks ago, we left Springfield and did a little Western swing to meet three former governors (who've also been ambassadors, congresspeople, Cabinet secretaries, etc.): Dick Celeste in Colorado Springs (former Ohio governor), Bill Richardson in Santa Fe (former New Mexico governor), and Kathleen Sebelius in Lawrence (former Kansas governor). The meetings were … Continue reading TOUR de GOVERNORS
Here's another original song video from the road. I wrote and recorded this while we were back home in Springfield for the holidays. I hope you enjoy it.