This is Buzzy's Country Store blog designed to keep you apprised of what's going on at the Store. Buzzy's is a general store located in St. Mary's County, Southern Maryland near Pt. Lookout State Park. Buzzy and Jean Ridgell purchased the Store from Jean's father Harry Raley in 1953. Buzzy operated it until his passing in 2009. His son J. Scott Ridgell is the current owner.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Rookie Driver

The other day as I was heading up Rt. 5 from Buzzy's Country Store, I got behind a rookie driver.  Not wanting to pass and risk shaking him or her up, I followed along patiently as a line of cars backed up behind me.  Bored at poking along so slowly I made a cell phone video (link below) of the experience. 

I know, I know I shouldn't have been doing this while driving but what the hell,  I do a lot of things I shouldn't do - like use the word "I" 6 times in one sentence!  

Because Blogger here has a limit on the size of videos that can be embedded in a post, I uploaded the 2+ minute video to my One Drive account.  You should be able to see it here by clicking here and going to Shared: https://onedrive.live.com/?v=photos&id=root&cid=A3FA6E571D22140E&qt=allmyphotos

If that doesn't work try this link: 

And if for some reason you aren't able to view it after trying those 2 links, don't worry, you are not missing much as it was just me ruminating about driving home and being stuck behind … well you should know by now.

Thursday, July 18, 2019


At one time in my life I listed "National Geographic Photographer" as my dream job.  Travelling around the world while getting paid to take photos of interesting people, places and things just seemed like a good gig to me. Plus, the National Geo boys always got to use the best equipment.  No cell phone cameras for these folks.  (Click here for a good article on a National Geo photographer trying out a cell phone camera on one of his assignments.)

Every so often then I will check out the National Geo photo  website just to see what they are featuring.  The following image titled Flamingos Yucatan Peninsula caught my eye and my interest.
Photo by Robert B. Haas National Geographic
My first thought was - wow, how'd they get that?  After doing some internetting, I found this article discussing how Mr. Haas managed to capture the shot.  Excerpt follows:
Another article I found on the photo however, was a little skeptical of just how "natural" it was:
Really doesn't matter because it's a great photo regardless.

Mandfred Mann had some big hit songs like Doo Wah Diddy, Blinded by The Light and The Mighty Quinn.   However, for some crazy reason it is this melody from the following, lesser known song of theirs that often runs thru my mind.   

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Stuffed (With) Ham

A buddy of mine, who shall remain nameless for reasons you will see why, recently sent me this email update on how he is doing since moving to North Carolina a few years back.

Last night I accidentally had too much food (ham) in one bite and
almost choked to death. Really was scary. I needed the heimlic (sp?)
maneuver and was alone (of course) in my house. Luckily, I bent over
and coughed hard enough to dislodge the obstruction. Whew! That was
close. I don't remember how to do that maneuver to one's self.

I started to respond with "You and Mama Cass!"  However, given that he is several years younger than me, I figured I'd better give him the link to the story about how Cass died choking on a ham sandwich.  

Well, guess what?  Turns out the Maryland girl did NOT die from choking on a ham sandwich.  Her autopsy revealed that a heart attack did her in (click here for that story and others about her.  The article also has several of her videos for your listening/viewing pleasure.)

Cass died on 29 July 1974 as follows:

Somehow I just new that 29 July 74 was a Monday.

Proves that you really can't trust that day can you?

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Hey Bubby - Forget Cow Pie Bingo, Let's Jump Over Them!

Speaking of jumping the shark (Orioles in previous post) did you catch the Redskins' Josh Norman jumping over that bull in Spain?  He did it twice.  (See video below.  Check out how the bull reacts immediately after Josh jumps over him the first time.  Bull turns around as if to say "WTF?!") 

While I am not always the biggest fan of Stephen A., I did enjoy and agree with his take on this:
Stones are opening their current show with Jumping Jack Flash.  In New Orleans this past weekend they really were dealing with a cross fire hurricane!

Monday, July 15, 2019


Brady and I did our annual Orioles' game Saturday night along with his father-in-law Mickey Bowes and brother-in-law Ryan Lumpkins.

It was Hawaiian shirt promo night, so approximately 25,000 folks were there with us  to watch MLB' worst team the O's lose 12-4 to Tampa Bay.  One of those 25,000 attendees was nice enough to take this photo of us posing in front of a mural of the Camden Warehouse.  (Boog discusses the importance of the warehouse in video below.)  
Long, hot evening but still had  good time and enjoyed "going to the game" (four of my favorite words (click here.)  That the Orioles have fallen so low is still tough to accept.  Brady mentioned some article or story discussing a minor league player being demoted to play for the Orioles.  Turns out it was a story in the satiric Onion:
OK, I admit that it is kinda of funny, but still it hurts when your team is the laughing stock of MLB.

To conclude on a positive note, I did manage to run into Boog Powell out by his barbeque stand and say hello.  It brought back some good memories.  Here he is talking about Camden Yards and what a great ball park it is (regardless how lousy the O's really are.)

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Alyce and Sissy

I took pictures of Alyce and her husband Parran in 1986 when they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  Their anniversary party was held at Little Flower on a Sunday, 13 April 1986 with  Congressman Roy Dyson acting as Master of Ceremonies.  

In his remarks, Roy noted that he had been invited that Sunday afternoon to the premier of Sissy Spacek's movie Violets Are Blue which was filmed in Ocean City.  Roy noted how he had to tell Ms. Spacek that he was very sorry but Alyce and Parran's 50th Wedding Anniversary took precedence and that he would not be attending the movie premier. 

I was not able to find anything in the local papers about the 50th celebration of their marriage, but I did find the following article on Alyce turning 100 years old.  
Enterprise 6 Oct 2017
Found this clip from the movie Violets Are Blue showing Sissy and Kevin Kline at Trimpers Amusement Park in OC.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

96 Tears "And When the Sun Comes Up"

The Washington Post online edition carries readers' comments at the end of its articles.  I had to smile and reminisce when I spied this entry:
Any mention of or reference to 96 will automatically stir up that song's great organ intro.  For a article on Question Mark and the Mysterians and how the song originated (click here.)  

And of course that will then take me back in time to The Montells playing it at Tall Timbers Tavern with Charlie Christman on organ.  The following was an entry recently posted on Massey's You Know You're From St. Mary's FB page.

Found this version of the song along with the added bonus of Ronnie Spector making an appearance:

And speaking of comments there was this one about the song/video: 

Friday, July 12, 2019

Music and Food

This weekend is a music and food weekend.

St. Mary's College continues with its River Concert series tonight.

Tomorrow Trinity Church has its Summer Crab Cake dinner:
Saturday night Sunset Cove features acoustic guitarist Richard Wagner starting at 7.  (In keeping with my post title you really can get music and food together by going there for dinner and then listening to some tunes afterwards.)

But if you are a jazz kind of music fan, head to Leonardtown and St. Clements Island this weekend to catch their Annual Jazz Fest:
Back down at Buzzy's Country Store there won't be any food nor live music but there will be a full house party going down around 4:30 Saturday when the Smith Island visitors drop in.  My daughter in law Stephanie and son Shea have a full crew of Second District folks and friends dropping in so it should be quite a party.  Stop by before you go down to Sunset Cove for some dinner and music. (See how I brought all that full circle even though Buzzy's isn't featuring any food nor music?  They call that "Marketing" I believe.)

George titles this "Blame It On Me" but I think it should have been "What You Waiting For?"

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Wilcox - Started in a Family Corner Grocery Store

I needed a fax number to place a Buzzy's Country Store bait and tackle order with our distributor Wilcox.  I checked in with their website and found this excellent account of how they began and grew thru the years (click here.)

Then there is this great fishin' video from Trace:

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Trivial Hirsute

Francis - One of My Favorite Buzzy Visitors - Even When He Is Not Joking and Smiling
Francis Wood trivia question for you - name the two days in the year when no professional male sports are played (click here for the answer.  Hint - today is one of them.)

When it comes to trivia, trick questions and riddles Francis is the king of such matters.  Whenever he drops in to visit me at Buzzy's Country Store, he trots out a slew of crazy facts and info in a stream of consciousness that it is unreal.  I keep thinking that there will come a time when I have heard all that he has to say.  However, after several years of his frequent visits, Francis still amazes me with the "stuff" that he comes up with.  

The puzzler for me is that I never know if the question Francis asks me is a trick one or not.  For instance he will ask "How many months have 28 days in them?"  I answer "One.  February" and he then informs me that ALL of the months have 28 days in them but some have 30 and some have 31!  He then proceeds with the knuckle trick to show me how to know which months are which.  (I knew the knuckle trick, but he did fool me with the 28 days' query.)

Another of Francis' wasn't a trick question but a straight up geography quiz:  "Are there more states east of the Mississippi or west of the Mississippi?  Remember to include Alaska and Hawaii."  Answer - east has 26, west has 24.  And on it goes.

I thought I had a summertime riddle to stump Francis with the other day.  I hit him with the following that I had read somewhere in my travels:

You throw away the outside and cook the inside.  You then eat the outside and throw away the inside.  What did you just eat?  

Without hesitation Francis said "An ear of corn.  Everybody knows that."

Guilty pleasure confession time, I have always liked the song Moon River even when it was being performed back in the day by the likes of Andy Williams, Perry Como, Frank and all those other crooners.  It took Eric and Jeff to prove me correct in what I had thought all along - this a great song regardless who covers it.  And just to conclude on a trivia note - what movie was it that Moon River won an academy award for Best Song (click here.)

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

All Star Game

MLB's All Star game tonight and 50 years down the road since Washington D.C. first hosted the event in 1969. (D.C. hosted it a second time in 2018.)  Found this little video on the 69 game.

Only one song to play here right? Think I've played it previously but what's the Whitman quote "Do I repeat myself?  Very well then, I repeat myself." (click here.)

Monday, July 8, 2019

Smith Island

This coming Saturday 13 July, my son Shea and his family are heading over to Smith Island with Capt. Greg Madjeski.  Because Shea has close to 20 folks going on the trip, the usual $45 fee will be discounted based on the total number going.

If any of you are interested in going Saturday and want to take advantage of the discounted rate, give me a  call at 301-994-0826.  

Here is a photo I found of Buzzy when he visited Smith Island several years ago.  I'm not sure just who took this photo of him, but it was included with a batch of other Smith Island shots so it had to have been someone who he was with and they used his camera to grab this pic.
And speaking of "island" photos, here is a funny one Linda Lepper took on Tangier Island when she visited there a few years ago.
You know it is officially summer when Jimmy starts to play:

Sunday, July 7, 2019


Someone in Buzzy's Country Store told me that his best friend had recently died and that he was very upset about it.  He was close to my late 60's age, so I made some commiserating comment to him about being at that point in life where our friends start passing away and how sad it is.

He replied that he was upset not only that the friend had passed but more so he was upset that he did not know that his friend had been sick and had been on his death bed for several months.  He said he was most upset with and pissed off at his friend's daughter for not having let him know how bad off his friend really was.  

I commiserated some more with him about how different folks deal differently with bad news things like sickness and death. I even made a comment defending the daughter that those "Dad is dying" phone calls are tough ones to execute. 

My Buzzy friend didn't really get my point(s) and continued to talk more about how the daughter was irresponsible, selfish etc..  He knocked her around some more by noting that the least she could have done was to have let him know that his best friend was down for the count. 

Just to get him off the subject, I simply said that I was sorry to hear about his best friend passing away.

However, what I really wanted to say to him was "If this was such a close friend of yours, why weren't you more in touch with him and would have known first hand what was up (or down in this case) with him?"  There again I backed off and defaulted to my "different folks deal differently" point of view.  As my friend got another beer, I told him that it was on me in memory of his friend.  He thanked me and we began to talk about how hot it is and how we really do need some rain.

All of which brings me to something I hear people repeat often about keeping your friends close but your enemies closer.  I regard that as one of the dumbest sayings ever about friendship.  Whomever came up with that evidently did not have a lot of friends for the simple reason that if you really are keeping your friends close to you, then you don't have any time on your hands to mess with your enemies.  My approach with so called enemies is that I don't want to have anything to do with them, much, much less keep them close to me.

Caught Carole's performance at A Capitol Fourth the other night and again realized just how great she is.  Here then is perhaps the best song ever about having and being a good friend.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Inside Something

The other day folks in Buzzy's Country Store were discussing a breaking and entering crime when someone noted "Sure sounds to me like it was an inside job."  The smart ass in the group, or maybe I should put that, one of the many smart asses in the Buzzy group, immediately shot back with  "I guess it was, they were inside the building when they robbed it."

But on my drive home as I thought about that exchange, it got me thinking about the term "inside job" and then "inside baseball."  I tend to listen to mostly sports and political discussions on T-V and the radio, and it sure seems like I hear "inside baseball" said a lot.  Ironically, it is said mostly by the politicos as opposed to the sports boys saying it.  

The usual political take tends to run along the lines of "Not to go too inside baseball on you but ….." and then out comes some long, convoluted explanation that may or may not make any sense.  Most times another panelist (i.e. the smart ass in the group) will come back with something along the lines "You've been reading too many mystery novels" or "You're too far down in the weeds."

So, to try and get some clarity on this "inside" business (pun intended) you know what I did right?  Googled "inside baseball" and found the following excellent article on the term and its associates such as inside joke, inside job etc. (click here.)  Here are a couple excerpts from that article.

Still the best baseball movie ever made, Bull Durham's Annie, played by Susan Sarandon, gave a whole new meaning to the term inside baseball.  Read her quote here and then watch the following video interview with her.  Better yet, re-watch the movie itself (click here.) 

Friday, July 5, 2019

Busy Weekend

Here is an old joke that I have told previously on Fridays: every dog has his day, but when you cut off his tail he has a "weakend."  However, I guess I should probably give that one a rest because with all these the new felony laws about animal abuse, that joke is probably illegal!

Weak or not it is a busy weekend throughout the County particularly so in Leonardville.  Here is a sample of some of what's going on.
In South County, Trossbach's Produce stand is now open and dealing some good stuff for your home grown delightsPam and I were just there yesterday and it's a hopping place.
Music-wise South County has something going on Friday thru Sunday.  In addition to St. Mary's College having fireworks at their River Concert Friday evening, Joe and Cindy Salvo have the Bootleggers playing at Sunset Cove on Saturday night.  (I guess it's semi-sexist for me to point out that this is an "all girls band."   However, in Buzzy's Country Store, where I have a flyer up showing who is playing at Sunset, every time someone notes that it is the Bootleggers a comment will be made "Oh yeah, the all girls band." )

Sunday afternoon Mary's Hope has an Artisan Show with my buddies the Bushmill Band playing there.  Stop by, listen to some tunes and check out some arts and crafts.
One warning though - it will be hot and humid all weekend, so plan your soirees such that you end up some place where it is cool inside and there is a cold drink awaiting you.  Let's see, I may just know a place.  

The Bootleggers' Patty Dorsch and her 6 Pack to Go band played at Buzzy's 50th Anniversary party in 2003.  Here is a nice tune/video from her about autumn.  Maybe thinking about fall, will help cool things down:

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Happy 4th!

Hope your 4th is a good one and that everything in D.C. today goes as smoothly as Frankie's performance did in 2014.  He was "only" 80 back then and is still out there getting it done and touring today.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The World IS Flat

She smiled sweetly as she handed me her id to confirm that she was over the age of 21 and could legally purchase the 18 pack of beer that she had placed on the counter at Buzzy's Country Store.  Turns out that she was the mature age of 25 so I traded her id for her debit card which I then ran thru the credit card reader.

We were chit chatting about the weather being so hot when a message DECLINED popped up on the card reader.   Whenever this happens I always try to be semi-tactful  by advising the card holder "For some reason, my machine doesn't like this card."  Usually, the card holder will say something like "That's weird. Here, try this one" and give me another card to use.

However, this time around my young friend smiled again and said "Oops, I need to transfer some money. I keep my money in my savings account so hang on while I move some over to cover that."  She of course had her cell phone in hand and then proceeded to dick around with it while I stood there thinking "This ain't gonna work."

She logged into her banking account and after some finger flying manipulations told me "Try running the card again.  It should be ok this time."  Expecting another DECLINED response, I re-ran the card and was surprised when it went thru without any problem.  I handed her a copy to sign and told her that I never thought that that was going to work.  She said "I do it all the time."  I started to say something about maybe leaving a bigger chunk of change in her debit account so that she wouldn't have to do this all of the time, but I knew that she had already written me off as an old fart, techno troglodyte.  I simply thanked her as she again smiled sweetly and bid me goodbye.

Maryland resident Tom Friedman wrote The World is Flat in 2005.  For the cover of his book Tom used this print which I have previously discussed.  (Pam and I bought a copy of the Ed Miracle print several years ago in St. Michael's, Maryland.)

Jimmy Webb wrote Macrthur Park and of course it was Richard Harris who had the big hit with it.  Yet, I never cared much for this tune until Donna came along with her take on it.  (Speaking of "take" Harris singing that line "I don't think that I can take it" summed up my overall feelings when trying to listen to all 7 minutes of his version (click here if just have to hear it by him.)  However, if you are pressed for time and can only listen to one version,  Donna "takes" it to a whole nother level.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

What Are the Odds?

With over 25,000 renditions of it, what are the odds that the one version of the song Summertime that I pick is the one that does not include it's most famous lyric?

After my post of yesterday, a sharp eared listener advised me that Norah Jones does NOT sing the lyrics "Your Daddy's rich and your Moma's good looking" in the video I included.  To be honest, I did not really listen all the way thru her take on it so it is my fault for passing along bad info.  I compounded my omission by specifically referencing that line in my comments about the song.  Recognize now, I should have done a better job ensuring that it was in Norah's version of the song.

After listening all the way thru Norah's song and confirming that the line is definitely not there, I then began to wonder how and why she could have omitted it.  (Yeah, I know I hear you saying I got wa-a-a-y too much time on my hands but hey, stuff like this amuses me so gimme a break.)  Not to go too Freudian on you,  but I'm thinking Norah avoided singing that line because it had something to do with her very own relationship, or lack thereof, with her Daddy (click here for story.)  I'll just have to PM her and ask if my theory about this is correct.

But to prove that the line I quoted really is in the song, here then is Billie's version of the song. I'm a day late, but at least today I'm not a line short.  Billie sings the line at the 0:40 mark.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Hello July You Hot.......

Ah yes, July, summertime and the livin' is - HOT.  Say what?!  Where are all those tweets  about how this global warming stuff is just a made up hoax?  Oops, my bad, as we only see those tweets in January when it is freezing outside.    

But fake news notwithstanding, the number of July birthdays we celebrate in Buzzy's extended family this month are very real and include the following:

Robby Hall 3 July, Berta Pratt on the 6th, Timmy Marum 10 July, my Daughter-in-law Stephanie Ridgell and Marcia Raley on the 11th, Greg Cullison and Pam Birmingham the 14th, Karen White 17th, Chris Axtell 18th, my great niece Chesa Allen 18th, Herbie McKay 19th, Amelia (Madjeski) Ray the 22nd, Steve Decker 26th,  my step-daughter Jennifer on the 27th and Ricky and Ronny Yeatman on the 28th.

With over 25,000 recordings of the song Summertime  it is up there as one of the most recorded of all time.  Music was composed by George Gershwin but the lyrics were written by DuBose Heyward. I can't explain why but his line in the second verse "Your daddy's rich and your Mama's good looking" still bounces around in my head whenever I run into someone who's led what I call a cake-walk life, i.e. the livin' is easy for them.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Road Less Travelled

I took Mom to a weekday Mass recently and because it was the Feast Day of St. Barnabas,  Father Giovanoni gave us a brief overview of his life and role in the early Church.  It made me want to learn more about St. Barnabas other than just knowing that there is a road in Marlow Heights named after him.

Turns out that Barnabas (originally named Joseph) was a very influential member in the early formation of the Christian faith.  Barnabas and St. Paul were among the early missionaries who travelled around preaching about and converting folks into the Christian faith.  Eventually he and Paul had a falling out over something silly.  (Aren't most falling outs over something silly?)

For a good summary of Barnabas and his life's works (click here.)  Also, there is this short video on him:

Speaking of roads and travels, why not get out there today and take a ride down to Buzzy's Country Store?  It's too hot to do anything else!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

A Tale of Two Neighbors

Believe it or not but I still have folks ask me about my awful neighbor George whom I blogged and complained about several times here on the Buzzyblog.  Folks will still ask me "How's that crazy neighbor of yours doing?" Or "Are you still dealing with that neighbor who was such a pain in the ass?"  If I ever have to list my biggest regret about anything that I have ever published here on  the Buzzyblog it would be having made George one of, if not my most, famous, make that infamous, of subjects.  Being the kind of person that he was, George does not deserve any such fame that I may have given him whether good, bad or otherwise.  Thank God he's gone to that eternal neighborhood.

However, today I would like to shed some attention on my "Good neighbor" Kennard aka Pinky Nagel.  Pinky recently celebrated his 86th birthday and later today his daughter Janaree is having a party for him.

For over forty plus years I have had the pleasure of living next door to Pinky and have enjoyed knowing him.  Great guy, Pinky, unlike idiot George,  is the perfect neighbor.  I have never once had any quarrel nor run in with Pinky of any kind.   Even when I accidently backed into his paper box and smashed it up several years ago, Pinky was very understanding, forgiving and kind.  (George on the other hand wanted Pinky to call the cops on me.)  All of my dealings with Pinky through the years have been very cordial and pleasant.  I couldn't have asked for a better neighbor.

Pinky and Charlie Simms were stationed in the Navy together and still remain good friends.  Here are a couple photos I took when Pinky and his wife Gloria dropped in to Buzzy's Country Store to help Charlie and Dot celebrate Charlie's birthday.
Pinky and Charlie 2011 at Buzzy's

Charlie, Dot, Gloria and Pinky
Happy Birthday Pinky and thank you for being such a good neighbor and friend.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Remote Possibilities - SRFOP

Here is an idea whose time has come - a simple T-V remote for old people.  A remote that they can't mess with other than turn the T-V on and then will only let them change channels and the volume.  All other features, particularly those involving the Source or Inputs, will be disabled or unavailable on the SRFOP (Simple Remote for Old People.)

My Mom calls me at Buzzy's Country Store with some regularity to ask me to come by and fix her T-V for her.  "I've tried everything and now I can't get anything on it," she will say.  From previous attempts I don't even bother to try and walk her thru the process of ensuring that the remote's Source button is set correctly.  I just get someone to mind the Store and run up to her place to reset the remote so it works properly with her T-V. 

I recall discussing this problem with an engineer who had a clever but expensive solution to his Mom messing with the remote.  He spent a couple hundred dollars to purchase a very sophisticated remote which he then "dumbed down."  He kept the On/Off, channel and volume control buttons intact but then reprogrammed all of the remote's other buttons so that they would NOT work.  His Mom then could not mistakenly reprogram  any settings on the remote.  The Buzzy in me would not allow me to spend a bunch of money on something so high tech just to make it dumber.  Thus, I keep running up and down the road whenever Mom calls for help.  

P.S.  Looks like someone has come up with the SRFOP (click here) so I will have to check that out for Mom.   Shoot, in a couple of years from now, I'll probably be needing one for myself.

Women's World Cup action at 3 p.m. today as the U.S. takes on France.  I will have it on to watch at the Store if I am not up Mom's working on her remote.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

One Poem, One Quote

Years ago I stumbled upon the following little poem that has always stuck in my mind.

One seed can start a garden
One drop can start a sea.
One doubt can start a hating
But one dream can set us free.

Curious as to who wrote that, I did some digging and found that it is from a 1967 book of poems titled A Cup of Sun by Joan Walsh Anglund.  

I also learned that Joan was involved in a bit of controversy involving a quote mistakenly attributed to Maya Angelou.  When the U.S. Post Office decided to issue a commemorative stamp for Angelou they mistakenly cited the following quote as hers.
Turns out that it was Ms. Anglund who originated it (click here.)

My mention of Three Dog Night the other day led me to their keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon's biography One Is the Loneliest Number.  Here is the tune that came from: 

TDN is another of those popular groups who are NOT in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Here are some reasons why (click here.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Music Fees

As Terry Shiner Leads Group Doing 22 Pushups, Billy Thompson Is Thinking "I've Never Seen This at a Bluegrass Event"
With Gary Rue and the Smoke Creek Rounders set to play some bluegrass music for us this past Saturday at Buzzy's Country Store 22 March for Life Fundraiser, the issue of music performance rights crossed my mind.  (This involves businesses such as mine having to pay music licensing fees to organizations that represent music artists and composers.)  I wondered and worried about just what were my obligations as to having these licenses in place.
The reason why I was so concerned about this issue stemmed from a couple of conversations I have previously had with folks familiar with how this process works.

John Porter was in Buzzy's Country Store recently and  told me an interesting story from his days back in the early 90's running Monk's Inn.  He noted that he was visited by some guy who said that he represented the music industry.  The fella proceeded to tell John that because he (John) was having bands playing in Monk's on Friday and Saturday nights, he owed $500 in music licensing fees which he (the music dude) was there to collect.

John told him that it would take him a couple days to come up with that kind of money.  The guy told him that he had other stops to make and that he would be back in two days.

John then called Dickie Gatton, owner of the Brass Rail, and asked whether or not this was a legit request and should he pay this guy.  Dickie told John to just go ahead and pay it.  Dickie noted that he had been fighting the music licensing folks for years, even took them to court and had lost each time he contested paying the fee.

John noted that he ponied up the $500 when the music dude returned a few days later.  As they got to talking, the music guy said that his job involved visiting different areas of the country and doing just what he did here in Southern Maryland - shake people down for royalties and fees owed to the music industry.  He noted that it was lucrative enough that the music industry folks flew him around in a private jet to perform this task.

A second story on this matter was related to me a few years ago by one of our local beer distributor folks.  He told me that a representative from one of the music publishing companies addressed them at one of their company staff meetings.  The music rep asked that the beer sales reps and the beer truck drivers make note of bars and taverns that were featuring live music and report back to him so that he could then visit these places and ensure that the businesses were paying their music fees.  My beer buddy said that as soon as the music rep left their meeting after talking to them, his boss took the floor and informed them "I let him have his say, but I just want you to know that we are NOT going to do what he's asked us to do."  The boss went on to note "It's called - don't bite the hand that feeds you.  We sell the bars and taverns beer and we don't rat them out about having music on a Saturday night."

Legally then, any business featuring live music is on the hook for paying these licensing fees to the music rights' folks.  Ask any bar owner with live music about it and you will immediately get a groan and a comment to the effect "Yeah, I have to pay those guys."

The whole Performance Rights issue was recently addressed by Congress who actually did something for a change.  In October 2018 Congress passed the Music Modernization Act designed to improve and simplify how musical rights and royalties are determined.  

However, one of the unintended consequences of passing this bill has been that it may actually end up costing small businesses more in the long run (click here.)  It has something to do with revamping the guidelines pertaining to "consent decrees" which were put in place years ago to try and keep costs down.

As a member of the American Beverage Licensees' association, I recently received the following email from them giving business owners a heads up about possible coming changes.

You probably know firsthand how difficult the process is to secure the performance rights licenses needed to keep the music playing at your business.  Now, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) could possibly make this process even harder.

The DOJ is currently considering getting rid of the few safeguards (the "consent decrees" governing ASCAP and BMI) that protect small businesses like yours from being subjected to anti-competitive behavior at the hands of the largest Performance Rights Organizations.

Without these consent decrees in place, licensing music at your establishment will become even more complicated and costly.  In order to keep these pro-small business decrees, the Justice Department needs to hear how eliminating these decrees would hurt your business. 
So to get back to whether or not I had to obtain a music license for Gary and company to play a couple hours of bluegrass this past Saturday, I did find some explanations stating that music for charitable events and fundraisers was exempt from the licensing requirements.  Also, I found a discussion about what music is or is not in the public domain.  For songs that are in the public domain they too are exempt from the fees.  Since most bluegrass and traditional music songs qualify as being in the public domain, fees are not assessed on them.  To be honest however, I am still not sure what I should have or did not have to do with regards to the whole music licensing issue.  Bottom line however, I don't plan on having any live music again without making sure first that everything is cool with regards to music fees.  

Here are the Smoke Creek Boys Billy, Troy Jones and Brian Deer at Ann Marie Gardens a few years back:

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

"Two" For Tuesday

Jim Palmer was on my mind a lot this past weekend.  Those of you who are die hard Orioles fans will immediately know why.  For those of you who are not big fans here is a little clue in this photo I took of son Shea at Palmer's Hall of Fame induction in 1990: 
All the talk of 22 March for Life naturally made me think of Palmer.  (For a good article on Palmer's Jewish background and adoption as a baby (click here.)

And speaking of the Hall of Fame, my buddy Keith Raley came by Buzzy's Country Store the other day to talk about us possibly doing a road trip to this year's Hall of Fame induction ceremony.  Our overall goal would be to witness perhaps the last Oriole in our lifetimes to be inducted in the Hall of Fame - Mike Mussina.
Good article appeared recently in GQ magazine on Bob Weir (click here) and no, it was not titled "What a Long Strange Trip It's Been."